Now, many nights later, Beadle and Demurral came out of the wood that covered the cliff path. The noise of the waterfall and the smell of the sea filled Beadle with a sense of excitement tinged with trepidation. Demurral lowered himself down the rope ladder at the side of the waterfall and then onto the shingle beach. Beadle tied a length of hemp cord onto the case and gently lowered it down to his master.
"Yes," cried Demurral. "It is almost time. Hurry, I can see her sails."
Beadle almost dropped the twenty feet to the shingle beach; he did not want to be left behind on the edge of the wood. A shudder ran up and through his spine and the hairs on his head stood on end. Thulak could be anywhere.
Demurral made his way to a large flat rock only a few feet away from the gently breaking waves. In the full light of the moon everything had a dark blue and silver glow; everything looked so cold.
He noticed that the rock was in the shape of an open palm, cupped to receive the sea. In the centre was a small carved hole. Three steps were cut into the side of the rock. The steps were too small for his feet, so he scrabbled up the stone on hands and knees.
"Come on, man!" shouted Demurral. "We have only minutes, then it will be too late." For the first time he allowed Beadle to see all that was in the case. "Stand back, Beadle, this is holy work...."
Demurral took out the golden staff and placed the shaft into the hole in the centre of the rock. It was a pole made from the finest acacia wood and wrapped in bands of beaten gold. He quickly screwed in the black stone hand and placed the silver dagger in it. He knelt down and opened a long, narrow, concealed lid within the case. From the baize he took out a solid gold winged figure. Beadle giggled with excitement. In the light of the full moon the figure glowed with a ghostly radiance.
Demurral looked at Beadle and lifted the gold statue from the box. "This is a Keruvim. There are only two in the whole world. Now I have one and tonight I will have the other."
Beadle gazed at the beautiful creature as Demurral held it in his hand. It was the size of a barn owl, and had golden wings folded back along the length of its body and the head of a beautiful child with eyes of purest pearl.
"Stand aside, Beadle. Our work begins," Demurral said. He took hold of the golden staff and placed his left hand on the stone fist. He raised the Keruvim with his right hand, pointing it towards the sailing ship that silently cut through the night in full sail. Beadle saw the red and green lanterns for port and starboard bobbing up and down as the ship dipped and peaked in the gently rolling sea.
Demurral shouted out into the night. "Waves and wind, fire and water. Thunder, lightning and hail, hearken to my desire, hearken to my words. Come forth from the north and from deep below. Tempest, storm and ravaging wind, crash this boat to this shore, bring the Keruvim to me."
A single flash of the brightest, whitest light appeared to shoot out of the mouth of the Keruvim. It hit the sea and then deflected upwards until it touched the sky, making a loud crack like a bolt of lightning crashing to Earth.
Beadle jumped back in fear, lost his footing and fell from the stone to the shingle beach, landing on his back with a thud and a crunch.
For a moment he lay motionless. "What are you doing, Beadle? There is no time for resting. Get up, get up," Demurral snapped angrily.
Beadle lay on the shingle and quietly moaned. He placed his hand in the pocket of his frock coat and felt the broken shards and soft mess of the cold boiled egg that he had been going to eat for his supper.
All was silent. At first there was nothing. No movement, just the same calm as before. The sailing ship moved majestically through the rolling waves, cutting further and further to the north.
From Shadowmancer by G.P. Taylor. Copyright G.P. Taylor 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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