Chapter 28 - The Swords of Wayland
Tobias's voice echoed eerily in the enclosed space. Behind him the pixy dropped off the ladder and stared around.
The room - if it could
be called that, was a small circular chamber no larger than thirteen feet in radius.
"Feck me !" said Pisky as his eyes took in the strange images adorning what looked like pure rose gold walls.
Outside the entrance, KayEm, Sarah and Fingal milled, all looking down the hole into the chamber buried many feet below what was left of Wayland's
"Where's the light coming from ?" Tobias asked, running his hand along the wall.
"No idea", Ravenna replied, peering at an icon that looked suspiciously like Pisky's ATS avatar, "Its almost as if the walls themselves are
emitting it - like those glow-in-the-dark fungi and fireflies"
Pisky looked across to where KayEm was decending the golden ladder. "So what's this all about then ?", he asked Ravenna as she turned to
investigate another image.
"If you look here", she gestured to the left, "and here", now she pointed to the right, "You can see little inscriptions in between the images.
Some of them I recognise - Runic, Coelbren, Greek, Arabic - but some are just out of my scope".
Pisky traced a squiggle on the wall with his fingers. "So you can read some of it ?"
"Some", the archaelogist replied, grinning; "For example, the inscription you are so lovingly caressing is the Arabic word for 'Death'"
Pisky pulled his hand away and scowled.
"Nice place for a nuclear bunker", KayEm exclaimed as she walked over to the opposite side of the room and faced the entrance ladder.
Sarah was descending gingerly, one hand grasping a mug of coffee while Fingal sat on the edge waiting his turn. Tobias stood in the centre of the
room, as awestruck as it was possible for him to be, while Ravenna stared at an inscription encircling the topmost section of the walls.
"Chosen of Myrddin ...
, She began "Thy tests are
... whats this ? ... hmmm ... nigh ? ... here ? .. whatever. Anyway, this line
basically says that the 'Chosen ones' are to undertake tests to see if they are fit to wield the swords".
"and exactly what are these 'tests' ?", Pisky asked, "and when are they supposed to happen ?"
"Sorry", Ravenna replied, "I haven't got to that part yet". She turned back to the inscription.
Fingal reached the floor, his white hair shining gold in the ethereal light.
"Don't you think someone should wait outside", he said pointing towards the entrance, "Just in case the ..."
And the cover slammed shut.
And the light went out.
Pisky looked around him. Dark stormclouds rolled above, threatening a downpour which was unlikely to be the refreshing rain of classic novels. A few
dismal buildings that looked as if they should have been condemned years ago stood either side of an old cobbled street, while along the cracked
footpaths a few depressed looking people walked slowly along. It was a dark place, not just physically but spiritually. A place that reeked of
suffering and death.
Around a corner, voices could be heard. Awful, mocking voices raised in jeers and catcalls. Hearing those hateful voices, the few people on the
streets scattered away in fear, leaving only the solitary pixy standing in the road. Carefully he walked silently towards the junction. What he saw
made his blood boil.
Three men stood around a crouching figure, shouting and spitting, while all the time laughing as if at a particularly good joke.
They were dressed in uniform and held rifles in their hands. It wasn't that fact that stopped the pixy in his tracks - he'd seen enough Corporate
thugs acting like animals. It was the uniforms they wore. The uniforms of Hitler's Third Reich.
"Oh bollocks !", muttered the Pixy, and started towards them.
The target of their scorn was a man. A small, old man with a long white beard. His hat lay on the floor where it had landed when knocked from his
head. He held his arms up to shield his face as the three Nazi thugs taunted him, spit on him and struck him viciously with their hands and rifle
butts. As the pixy approached, one of the attackers saw him and with a grin on his face picked up a brick and hurled it through a nearby window. The
sign above said 'Cohen - Tailors' and Pisky could just read the remnants of graffiti painted on the now shattered glass below.
"Here", said the Soldier, holding out another brick and nodding to a similarly 'adorned' window. Pisky didn't have time to wonder how he could
understand the language. He had never bothered to learn German, but it seemed that he could
understand it now. He reached out and took the
brick. He hefted it in his hand, gauging the weight - then slammed it straight into the temple of the grinning nazi. The man dropped like a stone as
Pisky grabbed his fallen rifle like a club. Shocked to see their comrade fallen the two remaining members of the 'Master Race' failed to react for
just the split second it took for the pixy to slam the butt of his rifle in the genitals of one, while simultaneously emptying the barrel into the
face of the other.
"Master Race, my arse !", muttered the pixy as he reviewed his handiwork. Two dead nazis and one lying on the floor groaning in agony.
Pisky cocked the rifle and aimed at the fallen soldier.
"No", An old gnarled hand grasped his arm; "You are better than them".
The pixy turned. The face that regarded him was old and crinkled like crunched up paper, but the eyes glittered merrily in their sockets.
"Thank you", he said, bending down to pick up his hat. "For what you have done. Now, follow me".
Shrugging his shoulders, the pixy dropped the rifle and followed the old man through a dingy looking alley, across an equally dismal looking street
and into an old house similar to all the others in the neighbourhood.
Opening the door, the old man gestured to Pisky to enter before closing it and removing his coat with the yellow star of David sewn on the chest. This
he hung on a hook beside a small cupboard, which he opened with a flourish, removing from it a long package wrapped in sacking.
Pisky watched interestedly as the man placed his package onto a table near to a small fireplace and began unwrapping it, carefully untying the string
holding it together. Finally he removed the sacking and held up its contents.
"Feck me !", whispered the pixy.
It was a long, finely made sword. The wooden hilt gleamed in the light of the fire while the blade itself reflected the flames like a mirror. The old
man turned and held it out towards Pisky. "Yours, I believe", he said.
The pixy took the sword in his shaking hands and stared at it for a little while. The balance was perfect, as the pixy knew it would be.
" he whispered.
", repeated the old man, holding out the scabbard.
"....you are condemned from your own mouth that on the thirty-first of October sixteen hundred and ninety two, you did traffick with the devil and
did sell to him your immortal soul !
KayEm opened her eyes. Then she closed them again.
"... That you did worship Satan and defile this congregation by spewing vileness into the ears of the ..."
"Oh sh!t !" KayEm opened her eyes again and looked around. She was in the centre of a group of people, all facing the same direction - the direction
from where the voice issued. The direction of the scaffold.
"Now what ?"
A hand touched her arm. "Quiet thy speech, Goodwife, lest Repentance Pitts take upon himself to convict thee
too! - especially with thine
strange garments". The woman smiled worriedly and removed her hand. KayEm stared in disbelief. The woman, in fact everyone
- KayEm excluded -
were dressed in clothes more befitting a Seventeenth Century living History group. Except that KayEm knew
that this was for real.
"Who ?", she asked.
"Repentance Pitts - yon judge"
"And jury too, by the looks of it" KayEm muttered to herself.
"I am innocent", came an anguished cry. "I am a healer. I used herbs to cure Goodwife Hope's baby. I never meant harm - I only wanted to help. I
never sold my soul to ..."
The first voice burst out once again, shaking the air; "So thou sayest. But I
sayeth that thou are a witch and a sorcerer and that thou
dids't circumvent the will of God by taking the child from the grasp of death".
KayEm pushed forward, slipping through the throng until she was at the very front.
An old woman was on her knees beside a dark garbed man in the dress of a Puritan. The man glared with disgust at the woman, who was covered in grime
and badly beaten. Her hands were lumpy with arthritis and her hair grey and lank. The man, on the other hand, was tall and scrawny and his eyes those
of a fanatic. He clasped a Bible in his hand, the other hand pointed towards the sky as if calling down the wrath of God upon the unfortunate wretch
"Look, thou believers - behold the witch. Behold her who will soon appear before the Lord God for judgement. And thou knoweth well the judgment
will receive !!!!" He turned his gaze towards KayEm. "Hell and Damnation waits for her, and for all who serve the devil !!!" KayEm
glared at the man. He turned away. "She will hang this very morn", he said, "For it is said 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live'".
The old woman looked up. Her eyes pools of anguish. "Help me", she whispered, her battered mouth struggling to form the words, "please".
KayEm turned and walked away.
"Please", said a wizened old voice from the crowd, "Let her go. She's been a good wife to me and only meant the best". The crowd parted and an
old man walked towards the front. "She only meant to save the babe. She's no trafficker with devils".
"So you say", spat the Judge. "Yet she admits to the crime. That of denying the will of God. The child was destined to die and your wife
went against the will of He who will judge the world".
The old man dropped to his knees, tears pouring down his creased old face. "Have mercy sir, I beg of thee".
Pitts' face went purple with rage. He glared angrily at the old woman's husband. "Have a care lest you join her upon the scaffold !", he snapped.
"She is a witch and a sorceror and she defied the will of the Lord !!!
"The Lord tells me he can get me me out of this mess", came a cute female voice, "But he's pretty sure you're fooked !"
... Who dares blaspeheme the holy name ????" Pitts scrawny neck bobbed forward and backwards as he scanned the crowd for the
"Actually", said KayEm, "I'm not blaspheming anyone. I'm just stating fact". And at that she pointed back to the nearby village where a plume of
smoke could be seen issuing from one of the barns. "Looks like you have something more important to do now than string up a poor old woman".
Seeing the fire, the crowd gave a collective gasp before rushing off in a vain attempt to put it out. That left five people left. KayEm stood beside
the old man. His wife still kneeled at the feet of Repentance Pitts while behind her stood a large brute who looked more Neanderthal than anything.
"Demon from Hell !!!", spat the Puritan judge, "Thou useth thy magick to set our barn afire".
"I used an oil lamp actually", came the sassy reply, "Now - are you going to let her go or do I kick 'thine' ass ?"
"Vile Jezebel !!! - thinks't thou that thy actions here will save this witch ? Nay ! - for she will'st be in Hell with Satan by the end of this
day - and thee with her !!!"
KayEm laughed. "I wish the pixy was here", she said in between giggles, "He'd love this."
Pitts glared. "A pixy ?!?!?!? ... Thou speaketh with a pixy ?!?!?!? ... thou surely art a trafficker with ..."
"Yeah yeah ... trafficker with the devil ... etc etc and all that crap", KayEm moved closer, her long dress swishing against the grass.
"Take this demoness and hang them both together !", Pitts ordered his brutish partner while stepping deftly away from the angry looking KayEm.
The Neanderthal, obviously the village hangman, moved forward. KayEm put her hands on her hips and glared.
Grinning maniacally the hangman reached for the disrespectful woman. He would enjoy beating this one. Torturing the old witch who kneeled before
Pitts didn't even make him break a sweat. This
one was stronger. But not as strong as him
. Yes, he would enjoy torturing this one.
Breaking her bones and listening to her cry for mercy. He leaned forward, saliva dripping from his lips. Then his head shot backwards with a crack as
KayEm leaped into the air, spun around and slammed her dainty right foot into his teeth.
The hangman crashed backwards, bounced once and was still.
"I taught Trinity everything she knows", KayEm grinned. "Now then ..." and she turned to where Repentance Pitts had been, only to see him running
as fast as he could back towards the village, his tailcoats flapping in the wind. As to which
wind it was, only Pitts knew, and his position as
pillar of the community forbade him from ever speaking of it.
KayEm strode over to the old woman and took her hands. Her husband beamed in happiness. "Problem is, I don't know what to do now", KayEm said,
"Obviously you won't be able to go back there
", she looked towards the village, "And unless you hurry they will just catch you again".
"Don't worry about that, lass", the old man said with a twinkle in his eye, "We've got a nice place to go. But before we do, I have something for
you". And he handed her a long, leather wrapped package which seemed to appear from nowhere.
"What is it ?" KayEm asked, although deep inside she already knew.
" said the old man.
"What the .... ", Sarah spun around in search of the noise that assaulted her ears. She obviously wasn't in Kansas anymore, if she had ever
been there. Neither was she in Wayland's Smithy. In fact she had absolutely no idea where she was.
Sarah stood beside a rough looking river which rushed headlong towards a large bank of mist far to her left. It was from that mist bank that the noise
was issuing, denoting the presence of a powerful waterfall. Looking around her, she saw a few people camping nearby, while a group of young children
played with a frisbee and a dog lazed beside a Winnebago.
"Obviously the US then", Sarah mused, "But where
exactly ? And more to the question, Why?
She sauntered over to the nearest campsite, her hair blowing in the warm wind and a smile of recognition on her face as she smelled the heavenly scent
of newly brewed coffee. Beside a small campfire an old couple sat reminiscing. The woman was laughing as her husband finished a particularly humorous
story, emphasising the punchline by taking off his baseball cap and waving it in the air.
The woman looked up, her eyes glittering with happiness, and noticed Sarah standing nearby.
"Don't just stand there like a spare part, hun", she said, gesturing to the campfire, "Come over here and have a coffee. Shoot the breeze and all
Sarah grinned and strode quickly to the campfire. The old man stood and thrust out his hand in welcome "John Schitt", he said, "But you can call me
"Pappy had a rare sense of humour", the old man continued; "Still, you can now honestly say that you know Jack Schitt", He grinned and gestured to
the old woman who shared his campfire. "This here's my wife Olivia", he said still grinning, "but we hereabouts call her 'O'"
Sarah closed her eyes and shook her head.
"I see you've brought your own coffee mug", Jack said, easing his tired old bones beside his wife. Sarah looked down and saw the cup, still half
full of coffee, that she had taken with her inside Waylands.
"It's a long story" she explained, plopping down opposite the old couple and sitting cross legged at the fire.
"So what brought you here to the Great Outdoors ?", Olivia asked after refilling Sarah's mug. "Vacation or ..."
The conversation was brought to an abrupt halt by a high pitched scream of terror coming from one of the children. The dog leaped up, barking madly
and running around as the first scream was answered by a series of others, each more terrified than the last.
Sarah jumped to her feet, scanning the area for the source and gasping in shock as she realised what it was. There, in the roughest part of the river,
a small child could be seen struggling desperately against the waters. Sarah threw her coffeecup to the ground and sprinted towards the riverbank. At
the edge of the water a young couple stood completely immobile as their child was dragged inexorably to the waterfall and his inevitable death. The
mother was screaming in terror, the father stood shaking. They would be of no use. Sarah tore off her jacket, kicked off her shoes and without a
second thought dived into the fast rushing river.
The coldness of the river knocked the breath out of Sarah as she cut through the water. Looking desperately for the child, she saw a tiny arm waving
before being pushed down into the icy depths. Taking a deep breath, she pushed away, heading downstream towards where she had last seen the little
child - heading towards the waterfall and, if she wasn't careful, a watery death.
A piece of branch hit her head as she swam desperately in search of the toddler. She swore as it got tangled in her hair, causing her to tumble end
over end before she was able to dislodge it and continue the desperate search.
Breaking water having disentangled herself from the branch, Sarah saw a flash of yellow - the child's jacket - and she redoubled her efforts. He was
almost at the waterfall now and Sarah knew that it would be a close call. Tiring, she nevertheless managed a final burst of speed, her hand caught the
boy's jacket and within seconds he was in her arms.
The river was strong. Far stronger than the now weakened Sarah, especially with one arm wrapped around the child. She kicked desperately for shore but
knew in her heart of hearts that she wouldn't make it. With a scream of definance she hurled the boy out of the water, to land unharmed on the muddy
riverbank. She was all of five feet away from safety but it might as well have been a mile. Sobbing for breath, she watched as she approached the
waterfall. She had already reached the mist. It wouldn't be long now. She tensed for the fall, for the landing. Maybe she would survive. Maybe - but
probably not. She closed her eyes, not wanting to see the inevitable and something grabbed her arm. She stopped. The river rushed past, the tree
branch that had hit her earlier disappeared over the waterfall, but Sarah was still. Something
was holding her. She opened her eyes. Jack
Schitt stood - actually stood
in the river holding onto her arm looking for all the world like a strong tree-trunk - completely impervious to
the water racing around him. Sarah grabbed onto his arms and without a word he waded out of the river, back to the bank. He released his charge and
she dropped to the floor, breathing wonderful air into her lungs. Turning her head she smiled to see the little child being gathered up by his
relieved parents then, as the realisation of what she had done hit her, she started to shiver.
Finally she was able to stand and with Jack's help walked back to a heroes welcome and a nice hot cup of coffee. Once she was dry and warm once
again, Jack squatted beside her, his eyes glinting with pride. From inside the Winnebago, Olivia brought a long package wrapped in oilskins and tied
by leather thongs. Handing it to Jack, she too had a glint in her eyes. The old man stood and held out his hand to Sarah.
She put down her coffee cup, took his hand and was lifted to her feet. Holding the package in both hands, Jack offered it to the New Yorker.
, he said, with a smile on his face.
"Too bad bitch - too fookin bad !"
Alys moaned softly and moved closer to the wall. It was grimy and smelled of old paint but right now it was her only refuge. How stupid she felt, how
scared. She knew she shouldn't have come back for her things. She knew what 'He' was like. And now she knew she was going to suffer for it."If
only I had waited for Joe to get off work", she thought - although it wasn't so much of a thought, more like a feeling
- Joe would have come
with her and 'He' wouldn't have dared to take on Joe. Alys thought of her big brother who had always taken care of her and protected her especially
after their parents had been killed. She wished Joe were here. But he wasn't, there was only little Alys and 'Him'. Alys couldn't bring herself to
use his name, the name of the man she met and loved and married in a whirlwind romance only to discover that he was more Mr Hyde than Dr. Jekyll.
"Hyde", thought Alys as she cowered into the kitchen corner of the house she had once lived in, "That's what I'll call him from now on ... If I
have the chance. If he doesn't kill me today".
A large grimy hand grabbed her by the shoulder, hauling her to her feet.
"Think you can just dump me ???
" The sound was harsh to her ears, like a bulldog chewing gravel. The smell of stale tobacco and whiskey made
her feel ill. "You piece of crap. You ugly old bitch. You dare
dump me ?!?!?!
Bloody whore !!!".
Alys shivered, then screamed as a fist slammed into her stomach, driving the air out of her and making her see stars. After the first few months of
marriage she hadn't been able to please him. She had tried, she really had. She'd dyed her long brown hair blonde because he liked blondes. She'd
left her job because he thought she would be chatted up by her co-workers. Finally she had even stopped visiting her uncle and aunt because he didn't
And still he hit her, still he beat
Eventually she had left him. Two days ago. Now she was back and he was going to finish what he started.
With a roar, Hyde grabbed her by the hair and pulled her away from her only refuge, spinning her around and slamming her battered body into the table
before dropping her to the floor.
Alys groaned as the pain throbbed through her. Her head spun, the stars threatened to overwhelm her. "Oh God", she moaned as a dull sickness rose
from her gorge.
Hyde laughed. "No chance", came the taunting reply, "You're fooked. He won't help you now"
"Now I really wouldn't be so sure", came a soft Irish voice from behind the thug, "I wouldn't be so sure at all"
Hyde spun around his arms raised to crush the bastard who dared
to challenge him in his own house. His own house !!!
. He opened his
mouth to shout imprecations towards the interloper before beating him to a pulp.
It wasn't going to happen.
A fist crashed into his mouth, shattering his front teeth. He reeled back as a punch to the solar plexus drove the wind from his lungs. "Who the f
..." Hyde started to say, only to receive a powerful uppercut that rammed him into the wall, turning his legs to jelly and his brain to mush. Not
that he had much brain to start with.
Alys whimpered as a soft, warm hand touched her cheek. She looked up dizzily. A small white-haired Catholic priest stood beside her, offering his
hand. She took it and was helped to one of the chairs beside the now broken table.
Alys looked at the priest. Then she looked at Hyde who was sleeping the sleep of the unjust with a massive bruise forming on his jawline.
"Who are you ?", Alys asked as the priest walked to the sink and returned with a glass of water.
"Father Fingal O'Flaherty", came the reply, "At your service". He sketched a bow and grinned.
Alys sipped the water. "How did you get here ?", she asked once her mouth was no longer so dry.
"Its a very
long story", Fingal replied, "But I'm pleased I was here. That gob#e could have killed you".
"I think he wanted to
, the woman replied, "But if you don't mind me asking - how can a Catholic Priest fight so well ?"
Fingal grinned. "Well, officially I shouldn't be doing that at all, but I'm sure Our Lord will forgive a poor old priest, especially when he's
defending a pretty young lady such as yourself".
Alys smiled shyly.
"And to answer your question - I was brought up an a rather unwholesome area of Dublin, to be sure. Kids there learned two things, how to fight and
how to drink. I prefer the latter to be honest".
Hyde grunted, indicating that he would soon be conscious, although probably no longer a danger to his soon to be ex-wife.
"Now then", Fingal said, indicating Hyde, "Your man there will soon be leaving the land of nod so I think we need to skedaddle unless we want to
risk a second bout. I doubt he'll be of use for anything, but its better to be safe than sorry".
Alys nodded her head and, with a final despairing glance at the waking Hyde, followed the priest out of the building.
"Here it is", Alys smiled as she pointed to the small little house with delicate ivy trailing along the walls. Feeling much better, she tripped
along the path to the door and pressed the bell. "My uncle M's house. Actually he's my mom's uncle - well, was
. She's dead now. Uncle M.
took care of Joe and me when we were kids". Fingal nodded his understanding.
An old man answered the door, his face beaming as he saw who was there. "Alys !", he said, gathering the young woman up in his arms. Then, noticing
the priest he smiled a welcome before ushering his neice into the house.
"I have something of yours", he said, his eyes twinking in the moonlight. And, reaching behind him, he drew out a long package wrapped in sacking.
He smiled as he offered it to Fingal.
, he said as the old Priest took the bundle.
, came the reply.
"What the hell is going on now ?"
Tobias looked around. He knew where he was, he just didn't know how he got there
Wolverhampton. Just down from St. Peter's Church. Tobias stood near the Lich gates staring down towards Queen Square. But there was something
different - something wrong
. It took a few seconds for him to realise what it was. "The statue", he muttered to himself, "It's where it
to be. And there are the old public bogs". He started walking, crossing Lichfield Street and was half way over when he realised that the
street itself was different to how he remembered it. The last time he was in the city, there section to his right was accesible only by buses, taxis
and delivery vans. Now it was a two-way road and most of the additions - the expansion of Queen Square, the refitted Lloyds Bank, even the filled-over
public toilets - were no longer visible. "Bugger me !", he said, as he walked over to a newspaper seller hawking his wares with explosive cries of
Express n' Star !!!
every couple of seconds. Tobias handed the man some coins and took a paper from his outstretched hand. He had just managed
to read the date when the hawker grabbed the paper back and thrust the coins back to him. "I weren't born yesterday", snapped the man, glaring at
Tobias. "Tek yer fukkin forrin munny an stuff it up yer arse !", and with this he turned away from Tobias and continued to advertise his wares.
Tobias looked down at the coins in his hand. A twenty pence piece, a ten pence piece and a two pence piece. And then he looked at the dates. 1994,
1997 and 1998. Tobias sighed and stuffed the coins back into his pocket. The date he had read before the newspaper was roughly torn from his grasp was
Saturday ,March 6th 1976
. No wonder the newspaper seller had thought his money was foreign - it was almost twenty years too early. Tobias shook
his head; "Where's John Titor when we need him ?" he said sardonically as he looked down Dudley Street at the shoppers milling around. "A normal,
peaceful Saturday afternoon in the city, er, town ... Wolverhampton was still only a town in '76", Tobias mused as he started wandering along, the
bright spring sunshine glinting on the shop windows.
Moving slightly to avoid an old woman with a pull-along trolley, Tobias noticed a small group of people gesturing animatedly near one of the shop
fronts to his right. Within seconds the group broke apart, yelling, and waving their arms, some even dropping their shopping in their desperation to
get away from whatever they had been looking at.
Tobias grabbed one of the fleeing shoppers, "Run !!!", the man yelled in his face, "It's a bomb !!!"
Tobias released the man who disappeared into the crowd, most of whom hadn't faintest idea of the danger they were in. "Bollocks !", Tobias
muttered. And then the soldier inside took over. Pushing the last few gawpers away, he walked slowly to the object that lay on the pavement. A
battered 'Marks & Spencer' bag could be seen, from which protruded a timing device and a couple of wires. Obviously the person who first found the
bag had opened it, revealing the explosive device hidden inside. "Fookin IRA bastards !!!", Tobias muttered as he bent to examine the package. And
people milled around. It was as if they had death wishes or something like that. They knew by now that something was amiss, but instead
of getting as far as possible away from the source, some of them actually walked over to see what it was. And others just ignored it, assuming that it
was, like many other bomb threats, a hoax. People just strolled along without a care in the world, dragging their children along for the ride. Tobias
grabbed another siteseer by the arm, dragging the man away and pointing to a nearby phonebox. "Call the cops", he ordered, "Tell them to send the
bomb squad". Then, furious with the stupidity of the people around him, he stood and with his best army voice commanded them to leave the area. Some
even took notice. Most just sauntered around as if they had all the time in the world. And then he saw the children.
With a yell of anguish, Tobias ran towards them. A young boy and - Tobias assumed - his younger sister, had approached the package while the soldier
was otherwise employed. "Get away from that fecking thing !!!!", he yelled as he reached the pair, grabbing both of their arms in order to pull
them to safety. "Look !!!", the boy said, pointing to the timer. Cold shivers pulsed down Tobias's spine. The countdown was almost complete.
The timer was an old LED watch, the red numbers flickering as it performed its countdown to death.
5 ... Tobias tightened his grip on the children and pushed them away but realised that they would never get out of the blast range in time.
4 ... He spun around and pushed the children to the ground.
3 ... He turned back. And leaped, landing flat on top of the bomb.
2 ... He closed his eyes.
Tobias opened his eyes and gingerly looked down to where the bomb was jammed between his body and the concrete floor. The little red LED was blinking.
Carefully he lifted himself from the device and looked closer - and gave a sigh of relief. At the very instant of impact, his body had torn one of the
wires free, effectively disarming the bomb. He stood, his legs shaking, his breathing erratic. Everything was quite. The people milling around just a
few seconds ago were now quiet. They finally realised just how close they had been to death.
An old man walked over to where Tobias was mopping his sweat covered brow with his handkerchief. The man was white haired and had a long beard. Tobias
thought of a picture of Tolkien's Galdalf that he had seen when he was at school. The man grinned, his eyes twinkled. In his hands he held a long
package wrapped in leather. "Everyone else - every other one chosen - had a chance to live. Except you", the old man said. "Only one willing to
is worthy of wielding this ..." and he handed the package to Tobias. "This is Excalibur
. The sword of Kings. You were
willing to give up your own life in order to give others a chance to live. You are worthy".
Tobias upwrapped the bundle and removed the sword. Its beauty and power took his breath away.
He wrapped his hand around the hilt and said a name.
Darkness came, and in that darkness which seemed as if he was travelling a great distance, Tobias sensed the presence of others. He sensed the
happiness of Pisky, the humour of Fingal, the sassiness of KayEm and the strong will of Sarah. But there was something more - something undefinable -
the five in a way that he had not felt before. It was the swords of course, but exactly how they did this was something to be
considered in the future. Because at that very point in time the lights came back on. Those reddish gold lights that seemed to issue from the very
walls themselves. And Tobias realised that he was back under Wayland's and his 'team' was with him.
The soldier turned to face his companions. Each sported a grin of success on their faces and variously shaped swords in their hands.
"That was amazing !!!
" Sarah began, "I just don't ...
"Hang on", Tobias ordered holding up his hand for silence, "Where's Ravenna ?"
"She's not here ?" Fingal looked around fearful for his god-daughter's safety, then after putting 'Erin' through his belt, rushed to the stairs
and began to climb.
It was Sarah who found the errant archaelogist. She was lying beside the bole of an oak tree sleeping like a baby. As they reached the tree, Pisky's
shadow fell upon her face. Fingal smiled as he saw her stir when the sunlight was blocked by the pixy's shadow.
Her eyes flickered open. "mmmm", she said to herself, still half asleep,"what a nice dream". Then she looked up, saw her companions ranged around
her, noticed what they carried and leaped to her feet.
"The swords !!!
, she almost shrieked, "How on earth did you get them ??? ... I remember going down into the ... but ... I ... what
Fingal put his hand on her arm; "It's a very
long story, lass. We'll tell you on the way".
Ravenna looked bewildered; "On the way ? - where to ?"
"Stokesay of course."