Chapter 60 - The Sundering of Stokesay
It was the hour before dawn. The darkest time.
Within the courtyard of Stokesay Castle those who were left congregated for the last time in this place of refuge. People and horses milled around
making preparations to leave. Five hummers stood beside the ruins of the stable block, each emblazoned with the corporate insignia. Within the great
hall a single shadow could be seen, cast by candlelight as it moved purposefully around. Tobias leaned on one of the tables, a new light shining in
his eyes, one of determination and hope. The pain was still there of course, but he was filled with an optimism and a desire to begin his new quest.
Beside him Ravenna stood, arms crossed, staring into the night sky.
"You are sure ?", Tobias asked as he turned to his companion.
"Yes", came the reply. "I know the place like the back of my hand" And so saying, Ravenna lifted her small white hand into the torchlight and
"Thank you", the soldier replied softly. "From the both of us."
"And where exactly do you expect to find her ?", Asala asked as she walked towards one of the hummers, "I mean, it's not as if he advertised where
he was keeping her ?"
LadyCool hefted her bag onto the back seat of the vehicle, "Warwick", she replied. "That's their base, and that's where I plan to try first"
"And if she's not there ?"
"Then I'll beat the info out of someone and carry on from there"; LC grinned and moved away as Sarah walked over and dumped her own kit onto the
"Et tu, Sarah ?", Asala said grinning.
"Me too", came the reply, "Someone
has to make sure that LC doesn't end up in the dungeon"
"Hey !", LadyCool said in mock annoyance, "The day I need a Colonial to look after me is the day I join the Blue-rinse brigade and collect my old
"Well", Sarah replied looking at LC's hair, "You're half way there already" and the three companions fell into each others arms, tears of
laughter and sadness combining in their eyes.
"You'll really do this - for me ?" Isis stood beside the Gatehouse with a look of surprise on her face.
"I may as well", MacKiller replied, "I've got sod all else to do and I can't go back to the army now anyway"
"I don't know what to say." Isis sighed in relief. "I really had no idea what to do. Whether to try to get back to the Temple or what. I mean, I
MacKiller stopped her with a grin; "Just do one thing for me", he asked.
"Keep that fecking snake away from me", he said laughingly, then strode away to collect his equipment.
"I get to drive", Cpr12r said, tearing open the drivers side door of the lead hummer.
"I don't think so", Annie replied opening the back door and sliding her bow and quiver inside. "I wouldn't trust you with a bloody scooter let
alone a hummer"
"Oh come on", Cpr said, "You're just sore because I shot more mercs than you."
Annie glared, her fiery Welsh temper coming to the fore. "As I've said before, it's not a bloody game ... its life and ..."
"Death, yeah, I know". And with that Cpr12r placed his own bow into the hummer and walked away shaking his head.
"He can be a right pain in the arse at times", Annie said as Fingal joined her at the vehicle, the obligatory bottle of 'Best Pixyland' in his
"Can't we all", the priest replied smiling. "Anyway, how're things going ?"
"Just waiting for the off", Annie said. "You know, I've only been here for a few weeks but it seems like years"
"True enough", Fingal replied, "It's going to be difficult to leave, that's for sure. Still, where I'm
going, I'm guaranteed as much
'Best Pixyland' as I want.
Annie grinned. "So its all sorted then ?"
"Yes", the old priest said with a smile, "I'm off to Cornwall. Muryannan's offered living quarters in Tintagel to anyone who wants to go. Pantha
and Asala are coming along and KayEm has something to do down there, so she'll be another friendly face", Fingal took a drink of cider before
continuing; "LadyCool and Sarah are going to Warwick to see if they can hunt down Isabella. They're still pissed at the old bitch and I certainly
wouldn't like to be in her shoes when LC catches up with her. The soldier, MacKiller, is taking one of the hummers to return Cleo to her Temple, and
Feck only knows what the heathen pixy is up to but whatever it is, it's bound to be something messy." Fingal lifted his bottle and toasted 'Pixies
Annie smiled at mention of the pixy. She was well aware of his antics and hoped one day to be on hand to witness them. But for now she had to prepare
for their own journey back to the mountain fastness of Meibion Glyndwr where Loki would install their transmission tower and give them access to the
"This is a dangerous endeavour you are undertaking", Muryannan said as she stood beside Tobias with Kelyonan's reins in her hand. "Even if Ravenna
is corrent and there really is
a complete copy of Necronomicon
in the Vatican archives, without many years of training it is virtually
impossible to translate it correctly.
"That's why I'm going with him", Ravenna said."I have access to the archives and have seen the book personally. I know where it is and I know the
dangers. Without sufficient expertise and protection the contents of those pages can drive a man insane. Don't worry - I was taught by the
Muryannan cocked her head to one side; "And who exactly is that ?"
"Trade secret", Ravenna grinned. Muryannan just shook her head and turned back to Tobias.
"Then I wish you Godspeed", she said vaulting upon Kelyonan's back in an instant. Then she settled her dress around her, nodded her goodbyes and
cantered across the courtyard.
The Cornish riders stood beside the gatehouse, their horses eager to be off. Fingal was mounted behind a tall Cornishwoman with short red hair and
green eyes which sparkled in the early rays of the sun. Asala sat behind Pickwick who was looking over to where KayEm was having last words with
"Once you're done, get back straight away", she said to the pixy who stood on the short bonnet of the hummer he had commandeered, "No pisking
"Yes, dear", said the pixy laughingly, "Your wish is my command"
"I should hope so too", KayEm replied with a grin, and after a goodbye kiss she rode away towards the head of the column.
Pisky jumped off the vehicle and, with a few minutes to spare, went to work with a few spray cans he had picked up earlier. Soon enough the Corporate
insignia was removed and replaced with the grinning face of the pixy baby. Pisky smiled to himself, threw the cans away and strode over to the gates
to watch the riders leave.
They stood at the top of a nearby hill watching the sun rise above Stokesay for the last time, each with his or her own thoughts. Soon they would
depart for pastures new and who could tell if they would ever come together again. Fingal stood with his arm around his God-daughter, Ravenna, knowing
that despite all her skills she was still his little Gem. Asala, Sarah and LC lent each other their strength as they looked down sadly at the place
that had become their home. Pantha spoke in hushed tones to Loki as he fiddled with a small remote control unit while Pisky and KayEm peered through
the morning mist at the place they had known for years.
Tobias moved to the edge of the hill, his eyes taking in the vista before him. Stokesay, the thirteenth century fortified manor house which had been
both his home and his refuge. His eyes scanned the Great Hall and the Gatehouse before moving inexorably across the graveyard to St Philomena's
church where the love of his life now slept the sleep of death. He closed his eyes and wiped away a tear, then turning to Loki, raised his hand. Loki
The hand fell.
Loki aimed the remote and pressed a button.
A moment passed.
Then with a massive roaring which sounded almost as if Thor himself had struck the ground a powerful blow with his hammer, Stokesay blew apart as the
explosives placed within the walls detonated. A hundred thousand pieces of stone, wood and glass erupted into the air, followed by a mushroom cloud
which blotted out the last few faint stars in the sky. Great gouts of flame shot upwards, casting eerie shadows across the walls of the nearby church
and the watchers covered their eyes as the dawn day turned for a few seconds as bright as noon. Within seconds the castle was no more, for in order to
deny it to the corporates, in order to deny them a base in the Welsh Borders, Stokesay had to die. And die it had, in a blaze of glory befitting its
many centuries of service.
And as the smoke of Stokesay's passing floated towards the heavens, the castle's final inhabitants moved on. Destined to travel to the four corners
of the world, leaving the past behind in an attempt to make a better future for the themselves and for the whole of humanity.