"Take the empty barrels and tie yourself on, we're going down." He could just be heard over the roaring of the sea and the screaming of the Seloth.
As he spoke, a wave hit the stern of the ship, throwing the first mate crashing down into the hold. His head smashed against the floor. A large beam of wood slid the length of the hold and pressed him against a locker. As he lost consciousness, his face was submerged in the water. The youth took the barrels and with discarded rope from the sail-mender's locker tied them to the first mate. Thick salt water splashed against his feet as gallons of spray showered down through the open hatch.
"You all right down there?" the captain yelled into the hold. Then he turned to see a large wave looming above him. The sea was rising like a large mountain, higher and higher, coming closer and closer.
The biggest wave he had ever seen lifted the ship from the stern and tipped it over, end upon end, ripping out its very heart and spinning it through the spray towards the beach. It crashed the ship upon the rocks, splintering it like matchwood. The vessel cracked in two as the keel snapped. The sound of the breaking beam cut above the noise of the waves, echoing into the heart of the wood.
Seeing the ship in such distress, Demurral jumped up and down on the hand stone: "It's mine, all mine, I will have it tonight. Tonight, Beadle...tonight, I will have the Keruvim." Beadle looked up at Demurral and saw his face change. His eyes began to glow as wisps of green mist swirled around him.
"I will have both the Keruvim. They will be mine," Demurral repeated over and over. The black hand on the acacia pole began to glow brighter and brighter.
He thrust the pole towards Beadle. "See. The hand tells me the Keruvim is coming closer. When I have it in my grasp, then the power of God will be mine. No more begging for a favour, clucking like a chicken at his altar. When I have the Keruvim, then he will have to listen to me."
Demurral shouted into the sky and jumped down from the stone to the gravel beach. In his hand he held the acacia pole. "Come on, Beadle, let us await the arrival of the Keruvim!" With that he grabbed Beadle by the ear and pulled him along the beach. In the distance the Friendship lay broken on the rocks. The masts had snapped off. The sails and the rigging were torn from them, hanging like a gallows in the calming waters. The ship was broken open, exposing every deck to the torture of the sea.
The captain floated facedown in the water, gently buffeted by the waves. He was dead, like all the crew, including the first mate, although he had been kept afloat by the barrels. Their broken bodies bobbed in the ebbing tide as the Seloth gathered their souls, taking them back into the deep. The storm faded into the night, the dark clouds parted and the moon dulled as it set behind the hills to the west.
In the bay, pieces of the Friendship were washed ashore by the now gentle waves. Demurral walked up and down the beach, becoming ever angrier.
He screamed at the sea, "Come to me, my pretty, come to me." In his hands he held the acacia pole. The glow of the divining hand was beginning to fade.
Beadle followed his every step. "How do you know it was on the ship? How do you know it will be here?"
"It has to be here. It has to be tonight. There are only two Keruvim in the whole universe and they must be together. They will always find each other, that is the Law." Demurral looked out to the ship.
"What if it's gone down with the wreck? Gold doesn't float," Beadle asked.
"Then you, my friend, will have to learn to swim or you will go the same way as they have and the Seloth will feast on your soul as well." He pointed a long bony finger to the ship lying slaughtered on the rocks.
"Where are you? Come to me, come to me!" the priest shouted at the waves. The sea gave no reply. The wind was silent and the waves babbled over the shingle. Beadle followed Demurral along the beach, both men searching the tide for the Keruvim. It was nowhere to be found.
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.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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