A CURIOUS LIGHT – EXCERPT # THREE

October 20, 2007

          The away team has returned to their ship and are reporting to the captain.  They begin to connect the glow from the planet with what has been found there…

 

Kiota dumped his bag of stone chips on the counter in front of Captain Smith expecting to see the dull pastel stones he’d put in the bag

          “What the…!  Where did those come from?” he stammered.  The other two men dumped their sacks in separate piles and stood mute before the dull shine of ruby, emerald and sapphire chips.

          “Where did you find these stones?” Smith demanded.

          “Right where we landed, Sir!” Brasker found his tongue and stepped back to the counter.  He picked up a fist-sized emerald.  Uncut, it still gave off a soft green glow in the brightly lit ship’s lab.  “These were common stones down there!  We chipped them off big outcroppings.  Do you suppose ALL those rocks are gems?  Why didn’t they shine like this on the planet!”

          Dobrowski looked from the stones to the observation window beside him.  The little planet below shimmered in the odd halo they’d wondered about before.  “That’s not common light,” Dobrowski whispered. “That’s the reflection of one damned big precious rock!”

          “But why couldn’t we see it down there?” Brasker scratched his head. “I gotta think about this, sir.  Could we discuss this after supper?”

          Smith motioned the men out of the lab while putting a stone under the microscope.  “To their backs he ordered, “Not one word of this, do you read me?”

          “Yes, sir!” came from all three as they headed for ship’s quarters.

 

          Kiota palmed his keypad and entered the small cabin he shared with three other junior officers.  He was still stunned as he turned over in his mind the events of the past few days.  Why couldn’t they see the gemstone?  What masked its real properties?  Alone in the quarters, he dropped down on the bunk, hands clasped behind his head.  In the corner on a small altar stood a statue of his family’s god, its sapphire eyes remote and mindless. 

 


A CURIOUS LIGHT – EXCERPT # TWO

October 19, 2007

Lt. Brasker is now ready to return to his starship.  Angari bids him goodbye and curiously….

 

“Very well, I shall bid you farewell,” said Angari, bowing. But before he turned away, he paused.  “May I ask you a question Lt. Brasker?”

“Of course,” the spaceman turned back.

“Do you believe in the One who made the universe through which you travel?”

The Lt., who was frequently razzed about his stubborn belief in a transcendent God, smiled.  “I certainly do, Angari.  I certainly do!” He raised his hand in a salute. “I almost hope we meet again, friend.”

Lt. Brasker walked on around the bend and the winged creature turned back toward Skye.  Just before Brasker disappeared from sight, he pointed the scancom once more at Angari.  Still no reading. Hmmm, the One who made the universe.  Wings…” He shrugged his shoulders and walked on, tapping the comlink. “Brasker to beam up!”

Angari saw the sparkling cylinder of light and, breathing a sigh of relief, sat back down on the moss-covered rock through which there now peeked the shine of Emerald.  Two tiger cubs appeared out of the bushes and rubbed against his legs while squirrels and rabbits hopped to the sparkling stone beside him.  Fragrant blossoms drifted in the air from the ever-blooming trees and several tiny creatures lit on his shoulders.  On closer inspection, however, one noticed that these were tiny winged people.  They laughed and sang in their chiming voices, pulling at Angari’s hair and coaxing him to come back to Skye with them.

“Ok, let’s go!” Angari laughed. “You were very cooperative and very careful!” Suddenly he was as tiny as they were and the whole retinue winked out and reappeared over Skye. Here, the castle was shining with a refracted light that, had he been allowed to see it, would have blinded Brasker as the sun caught the facets of amethyst, ruby and diamond.  They swooped inside where translucent walls allowed the rich sunlight to fall in tiny rainbows over the amber floors and strike fire from the rich, faceted crystal saucers and goblets.

The Queen was just coming into the main hall with a circlet of minuscule Alari ornamenting her snowy hair.  Angari assumed full stature, something short of seven feet, and bowed before her.  “Come, Angari, and let us discuss what you learned of the stranger.” The Queen smiled at him.

“And, what he did not learn of us!” Angari offered the Queen his arm as they walked into the garden. 


A CURIOUS LIGHT – EXCERPT # ONE

October 18, 2007

 This is the first excerpt from the sixth book of The Windfallow Chronicles.  A Curious Light takes place many centuries after the Thomas family’s adventures there.  All gates have been closed between the two worlds and no one from earth, good or bad, can use them.  However a light ship exploring the far galaxies has observed a small planet wreathed in a curious light.  They decide to investigate…

Angari smoothed his wing feathers, brushing his hands casually over their five-foot length. The rocky ledge on which he sat was a drab green with soft moss its only ornamentation. The man, unaware that Angari had watched him appear in a sparkle of light behind a stone outcropping, now stood before him. He was using his mouth to form words, though Angari could clearly understand his thoughts without physical expression. “Can you tell me the name of this place?” The sound was guttural and harsh.

“It is called Spring Hollow,” Angari answered, letting his words take the same form the stranger had used.

“Spring Hollow. Is that the name of the planet or a country?”

Angari crossed his feet and assumed a casual air. “The planet is Windfallow. Do you have a reason for asking? Do you not live nearby?”

“No, I come from a great distance. I am interested in learning about the people who live here.” The man – Angari assumed he was human- was a few hands taller than Angari, who had been caught in a slightly smaller version of himself. “Are all the people who live here, uh, winged, like yourself?” The stranger tried to appear unperturbed at the appearance of a humanoid dressed in silky, iridescent leggings and tunic with wings that surely had a span as wide as the creature was tall. A head of bright yellow curls topped a tanned,  well-proportioned body.

“No. Some of us have wings and some do not. You seem to know very little about us. Did you say you were from a far place?”

Brasker decided to trust his instincts and level with the native. “Yes, I do come from a far place and it is not this world. We fly through space in a big ship called Outrider, and explore any planet we find that might support life. Your world registered on our machines as one of those. Do you mind that we are visiting here?”

“No, as long as you come in peace and do not stay long. But why do you come here and what is your purpose?”

“As I said before, we explore planets that have the possibility of sustaining life. Yours registered as one of that type and so we chanced a landing.”

Angari noted the use of the pronoun, ‘we’, but did not comment on it. Instead, he tendered an invitation to the man. “While you are here, would you like to meet some of our people, perhaps the King and Queen of Lower Windfallow?”         “Yes, I’d like that. By the way, my name is Lieutenant Brasker. And your name is…?”

“Angari. Follow me, please.” The winged man turned to a path through the flower-studded meadow.


CARNIVORE – EXCERPT # FIVE

October 16, 2007

Having failed to corrupt the animals of Windfallow, the Jackal recruits and sends in a band of thugs with instructions to kidnap the Royal Family, thus supposedly bringing the world under his command.  We catch up with the thugs as they stealthily make their way through the darkened palace…

 

They walked carefully down the hallway keeping one hand on the wall and trying to be ready for whatever they bumped into.  Which came quickly enough.  The man in front gave an inadvertent grunt as he encountered a wall.  They all stopped and Butch suggested sotto voice, “Take out your contacts!  Maybe we can see better!”

           They could indeed see better after removing them and were able to distinguish interior walls.  With this problem solved they navigated to the interior of the building.  What they did not know and could not see were the Alari who had gathered in groups to walk with them observing their every move. 

           Cede, who’d come with Krill’s family, mindspoke across the miles to Angari.  “Better come to the Skye Palace and bring some friends.  Looks like the humans are trying something.”  She’d no sooner put the thought out than Angari was beside her.  The halls were now filled with Alari of all sizes being careful not to bump into the humans.

           “How did they get so far into Windfallow without our knowing?” puzzled Angari.

           “We didn’t watch at night,” offered Willow, “maybe they knew enough to travel then.”

           If David and Cory had seen the large group making their way through the palace, they could not have helped laughing.  Especially knowing the humans had no idea who or what was following so close.

           In good time the men came to the sleeping quarters.  The first room they happened upon was the one in which the cousins were sleeping  “Ok,” whispered Butch.  “There’s two of ‘em.  Vermit, you take Rail and get those two.  But don’t grab ‘em until we get the parents.”

           “How are just two of us gonna get the parents!” Vermit asked.  “That king ain’t gonna be no pushover!”

           “You got a knife on you, ain’t ya.  Use it to make ‘em do what you want.  We’ll do the same with the little princes here!  But don’t use no gun!  We’ll stand by the bed ‘til you come with the king and queen.”

           “Have you heard enough, Willow?” mindspoke Angari.

           “Yes, friend.  I think we’d better stop this now.”

 


Carnivore – excerpt # four

October 16, 2007

Cory and David, sons of Zach and Jake Thomas, are staying with a craftsman in Lower Windfallow.  They have been watching him create a table for his daughter, Jade.  She and Pax’l have become friends with the cousins… 

 

Cory and David could hardly wait next morning until the chores were done and they were back in the workshop.  Krill sat at the workbench where the materials were laid out, with a table, the same size as Jade’s in front of him.  He would glance up at his template from time to time but everything was done freehand with no tracing or measuring.

           “Can everyone do this kind of work, Pax?” David asked in a whisper.

           “No, my dad is known for his artwork.  He’s made a lot of stuff for the palace in Windemere as well as most of the newer artwork at Skye.”

           Individual petals were cut from pale sapphire with a diamond blade.  Krill knew just where to tap the gems to flake them off in the shapes he needed.  Cory was amazed to see the petals darker blue at the center to duplicate the natural coloring.  “How did you do that?” he asked Krill.

           Krill looked up, obviously surprised to see the boys still there.  “I’m sorry, Cory, when I get into my work I forget what’s going on.”  He turned to the petals.  “See how there are variations in the coloring of this stone?  I just flake off pieces that incorporate the colors I want in the picture.”

           When the flowers and leaves had been cut they were positioned on the tabletop and the artist took heavy silver wire, cut it to a proper length and curved the trailing stems.  Soon the flowers and foliage had been reproduced on the worktable.  At this point, Krill moved to a round table made of black wood and obviously shaped from a single log, since it was one piece from top to bottom.  It had a slightly dished top with a ledge about an inch high and stood about waist height to Krill.  A mallet with a head made of the same wood lay upon it.

           “This is the ‘marble-working table’,” he told the boys.  “It is made of rockwood, the hardest, densest wood we grow on Windfallow,.  This is the only wood that can hold up to working marble.”  He tapped the marble with the mallet and it broke into several pieces.  Then, he began tapping harder until the pieces became smaller and smaller, finally turning into the consistency of rock salt.  Using a brush and small dustpan, he picked up the marble sand and put it in a container.  Twice more he repeated the exercise, once with blue marble and once with green.

           “Now the fun begins!” he said.  “But I need a steady hand and a good eye, so let’s have lunch before we do any more.”

           As David and Cory ate lunch, they became aware of the furniture in the house.  The subtle blend of wood and stone had been so natural their eyes had been fooled into thinking the furniture was an extension of the outdoors.  Now a chair was noticed for its form, a table for the pattern so delicately inlaid upon it.  That afternoon they were to see how this was done by a master craftsman.

           First, Krill mixed the three containers of marble with a clear liquid that produced a heavy, malleable mix.  He poured the mixture onto various portions of Jade’s tabletop filling it almost to the top of the rim.  “This marbling will remain soft long enough to fill in the design,” he told the boys as he worked.

           “What is that rim around the inside made of?” asked David.

           “That is a non-heat conducting metal,” explained Krill.  “You’ll see why it is necessary later.”

           When he had the swirls of color to his liking, he placed the silver wire on top and tapped it gently with a small mallet.  When it was even with the top of the marble he took tweezers and began picking up petals and leaves placing them along the wire and tapping them in place.  Soon the design in the picture was duplicated on the tabletop.

           “But how do you make it smooth?” asked Cory.

           “Like this.”  Krill picked up what appeared to be a lump of pale amber.  He gave it to Cory.  Cory’s hand sagged beneath the weight of the object.  “That’s gold, Cory.  We need to take it outside where Sare has the furnace heated.”

           Krill’s wife, Sare, was tending an apparatus that David thought looked like a kind of barbeque grill.  However, it was made of crystal and had a series of pipes fitted with more crystals.  After Krill put the gold in the center of the furnace, he stepped back and Sare realigned the pipes and crystals to direct sunlight onto it. 

           “Here,” she produced four pairs of glasses the lenses of which were black, opaque crystal.  Jade and Pax put theirs on immediately and the earthlings followed suit.  At first they could see nothing.  Then, a brilliant light began to grow in the general direction of the furnace.  Soon the light was so bright that it lit the whole area where they were standing.  David could see Sare and Krill were also wearing glasses and the light was coming from the lump of gold sitting in the center of the furnace. “This works on the same principal as the ovens in our homes,” Krill explained, “only this one gets much hotter!”

           Krill had two pairs of tongs in heavily gloved hands and he motioned for Pax to bring something over to him.  Pax sat the new table beside his father and David and Cory watched in awe as the artist picked up the blazing gold with both tongs and began to manipulate it.  Slowly the lump became flattened like a pizza and, as Krill kept turning it, it became more and more transparent.  When it was the right size, he lowered it to the tabletop in one smooth motion. 

           The epoxy holding the marble, gems and silver together kept the design from shifting and the gold settled onto it like a layer of transparent glass.  Krill was tapping the gold layer with wooden mallets, smoothing and finishing the surface.  “Come away now, children and let it cool.” 

Cory realized he’d been holding his breath while Krill worked the white hot metal and now he began to breathe again and knew as he saw the smiles of delight on the faces of those around him that they, too, were overcome with joy.  Suddenly he remembered a passage from the Bible.  And the streets were of pure gold like transparent glass…”  He looked at David.  “We’re seeing it!” he whispered to his cousin.  “We’re really seeing it!”

 


CARNIVORE – EXCERPT # THREE

October 14, 2007

In the third excerpt from Carnivore we find Zulah and Carmen arriving in Windfallow with the captured snow leopard, Rajah.

Rajah was beginning to stir and would soon be alert.  “Open the cage door.”  The voice still echoed in the silent wood.  “I have put a control over the animal and he will obey your commands.  But take care, for he will not love you!  Now, let the leopard do his work!”

           Zulah’s hand fell limp to his side, sore and stiff from being held up and out for so long.  Carmen’s hands trembled as she opened the door of the heavy metal cage.  Rajah raised his head and looked into her eyes.  She stepped back as the beautiful cat rose unsteadily to its feet and half jumped, half fell from the cage.  He swayed, his legs still weak, then took a step into the right-hand path.  Immediately he stopped and they could see that he was forced into the left-hand path instead.  Soon his walk became a lope and he was gone.                         

           Zulah and Carmen looked at one another.  Carmen was first to speak,

“Well, we’re here.  The wood is peaceful and inviting, but I don’t see any of the gemstone we were told of.”

           “Don’t be ridiculous,” scolded Zulah.  “This is our base of operations.  You wouldn’t expect to see much here.  Come on, let’s get this cage and cart back through that hole so no one sees it.”  They worked to turn the cart and direct it back to the shed.

           The little shack in the wood held two rough cots, a table and chairs.  A pile of clothing lay on each cot with a small leather bag on top.  Each dressed in the slim leggings and silky tunics, slipping the strange moccasins on their feet.  The leather bags held the contacts.  Two pair apiece and colored brown to match their eyes.  They sat on the cots looking at one another.  Even Zulah looked a bit daunted now that they were actually here.  To cover his uncertainty he grabbed Carmen’s hand and said, “Let’s get a look at this place.”

           As they left the undergrowth and canopy behind, the trees began to thin until they were looking out at a vast meadowland.  Trees dotted the landscape and flowers were sprinkled liberally through the lush grass.  All vegetation had a slight bluish tinge and the sky was not quite blue but a shade between blue and green.  Both were glad they had put on the contacts before they left the shack for the sun was blindingly bright here and the flash of gemstone everywhere.  “By all that’s holy, he was right!” Carmen breathed.

           Zulah was also having difficulty taking in the wonder of this place. He pointed to a small band of horses grazing a hundred yards or so away.  “Look at the quality of those animals!  Thoroughbreds if I ever saw any!  And there, aren’t those gazelle?”

           Carmen was about to agree when Rajah reappeared.  He was loping toward them, the carcass of a small deer held in his mighty jaws.  Blood dripped from the broken animal staining Rajah’s silky coat and dropping to the springing moss like temporary flowers.  He dropped to the ground near the couple and began to eat.

           Carmen turned her head away from the feeding animal.  Why did it seem so wrong here for Rajah to revert to his natural instincts?  Bird song and the chattering of squirrels had welcomed them to the meadowland.  But now the silence was complete.  No bird sang, no small animal wandered within sight.  The three figures might have been alone in this new world.  Even the horses had left their sight.


CARNIVORE – EXCERPT # TWO

October 13, 2007

In the second excerpt from Carnivore we get a glimpse of the pair the Jackal has snared to do his work in Windfallow.  The two work in a zoo near the Thomas home.  A black couple, unmarried and now about to take part in another of the Jackal’s plots.  Will this one succeed?

…………………………………………………………….

But he was no more content here than in San Diego.  She knew that.  At least though, he was staying with her and had stopped talking about another wife.  Wife!  He wouldn’t even marry this one; unless you counted that mumbo jumbo ceremony in Africa.  She drew her knees up to her chin, wrapped her arms around them and waited.

           Zulah leaned back in the chair and crossed his legs.  “I had a lot of dreams last night, baby.  At first they were real weird, like images and pictures of a different place than this.  Houses made of sparkly glass, kids playing with tigers and sunlight so bright it hurt my eyes.  Then, I heard a voice.  It kept saying, ‘This can be yours’.  I woke up but as soon as I fell asleep, the voice and the pictures came back.  Finally, I got up and came out here.  I figured if I didn’t sleep I wouldn’t dream.”

           “Yeah, I remember you leaving the bed.  Why were the dreams bad?  Was there something you didn’t like about them?”  Carmen was relieved to hear Zulah’s normal voice again.

           “No, they weren’t bad, except they wouldn’t go away.  It was when I got out here it got scary.  I felt my ring heating up and when I looked at it the eyes of the leopard were shining…”

           “But it has no gemstones…”

           “I know that, woman!  I said shut up and listen!  They didn’t need gemstones and the leopard moved.  The tail moved back and forth like a cat when it’s stalking prey.  And then I heard the voice again.”

           Carmen wanted to interrupt, to tell Zulah he was scaring her, but she knew she couldn’t.  Not when he was in this mood.

           “You want to know what he said?”  Zulah was looking her in the eye and he was not joking.

           “Of course I do, Honey, go on.”  Carmen inched away.

           “He said there’s a place where buildings are made of rubies and diamonds and emeralds.  He said the animals are all tame and the people are so dumb they never fight back.  He said it was ours for the taking.  He said we could be the king and queen if we wanted to.  What do you think of that?”

           Carmen said carefully, “I think we need to know more about the place before we believe any of it.”

           “That’s exactly what I told him.  I said give me some proof.   And he said he would.  Tonight.”

           “Can you tell me who HE is, Zulah?  Who was speaking to you?”

           “I never saw a face.  He spoke through this.” Zulah held up his spread fingers so the ring was clearly visible. Carmen saw the glowing eyes, the tail moving ever so slightly, just the tip, the way a waiting cat’s tail moves.  “Now what do you think?  You think I’m making it up?”

           “No, something’s going on.  It scares me, though.”

           Zulah tapped the ring, “So, talk, whatever you are!  Let my woman hear your voice!”  His hand was clenched on the chair arm.  Suddenly he slammed it to his mouth, drawing blood, and a voice, speaking through Zulah, vibrated between them.

           “Don’t ever speak disrespectfully to me again, human!  I can make you rich or I can destroy you.  Is that clear?”  Carmen instinctively made the sign of the cross on her breast, a reaction from her upbringing in Cajun Louisiana.  Now Zulah’s hand grabbed the one she had used to make the sign.  He twisted it until she gasped out a scream.

           “Forget that stupid gesture!  You won’t need it where you’re going!  Now, listen to me!”  It was the voice again and it was clear something other than Zulah had control of the man’s hand.  It continued, “Close your eyes, humans.  I will put into your minds pictures of a land called Windfallow.  This world exists and you can get there with my help.


CARNIVORE – EXCERPT # ONE

October 12, 2007

   CARNIVORE is the fourth book in the Windfallow series, the first of the second trilogy.  Zach and his brother, Jake, are grown men now with families of their own.  Their sons now become the heros.  The scene opens as the boys find an old wooden box…

 

 

“Hey, Uncle Zach, what’s this?”  Jake’s son came loping from the house with an old wooden box in his arms.  “We found this in the attic but it’s locked.  There’re three more just like it!”  The boy, tall and gangly, looked much as his uncle Zachary had looked at that age.  He dropped to the ground beside his uncle’s chair with the box in his lap.  “Aunt Melyssa says you can tell me about it.”

           At first Zach Thomas looked startled.  “Where on earth did you find that, Cory?”  He took the box from the boy as a nostalgic look played across his face.  “Remember this, Jake?  What a time!  Thirty years?  Been a long time.”

           “You know about this, too, Dad?”  Cory turned his attention to his father. Red hair and freckles contrasted with his dark complexioned cousins.  “Come on, tell us about it!”  By this time two more adolescents had joined the first with a toddler trailing behind.

           Zach looked at Jake.  “Do you think it’s safe now to talk about this?”

Jake shrugged and Zach turned to the children.  Cory stood tallest with David and Sara, Zach’s twins, only slightly below his chin.  Joshua, Jake’s four-year-old, came up beside Jake and lifted his arms to be held.  With Josh seated happily on his father’s lap, Zach took a ring of keys from his pocket and chose one with an ornate design. 

           In seconds the box was open and the children crowded in to see.  No tissue paper had been needed to keep the contents fresh.  A clean, earthy smell came from it and Cory was surprised to see a tear glistening in his uncle’s eye.  Zach sat very still for a few seconds, breathing in the almost forgotten odors of Windfallow.  Then, slowly he lifted from the box a tunic-like shirt, with no buttons, made of a material that glistened in the dappled sunlight under the big maple tree.  Beneath that was folded a pair of slim leggings made of similar but heavier cloth and on the bottom a pair of odd-looking shoes.  Beside them lay an object that flashed and sparkled in the occasional sunbeam.

           “This was your box, Jake.”  Zach lifted the sliver of gemstone from beside the shoes.  “Here’s your knife.”  He handed the knife to Jake taking care not to touch the razor thin edge.

           “That’s a knife?” marveled Sara.  “But it looks like a ruby!  Where did it come from?”

           Jake spoke up.  “Hold on, kids.  You are about to hear a story you will have trouble believing, but I know it’s true, because I was a part of it.  Zach?”


THE DECEIVER – EXCERPT # SIX

October 11, 2007

The Jackal has been defeated again, the crooks sealed into the Barrier Wood, and Terah’s body lies in state

Terah’s body lay in state before the throne of Windfallow. It had been washed and dressed, the wounds left visible as tokens of his sacrifice and honor. He lay on a rectangular block of pure amethyst., a cloth of shining white lay across his body. The thrones behind him were empty for the King and Queen stood with the assembly that packed the huge hall.

Shoulder to shoulder they stood in silence. The Alari, sized down to miniature, hovered just above the people. Except for Angari. He stood between the thrones; his robes were glistening white, his hair and body golden. His wings were spread wide and his hands were raised, palms upward, to Heaven. He was not the blindingly bright creature revealed when the Great Bells rang in unison, but he was undoubtedly an angel.

Now, he began to sing. His words were unintelligible to the humans, but sounded like bells and music. The King and Queen joined him then, and, slowly, sweeping from front to back, the whole assembly joined the stately chorus. When the music had swelled so that the building vibrated with power, Angari stepped forward, lifted the broken body of Terah, and flew over the heads of the people. Escorted by myriads of Alari, he disappeared through the high doors into a cloud of light.

Silently the fallowfolk left the palace until only the King and Queen and the Thomases remained. “Oh, John,” whispered Sarah, “there are no cemeteries. There are no cemeteries on Windfallow! How beautiful!”

 


THE DECEIVER – EXCERPT # 5

October 10, 2007

Terah, a citizen of Windfallow, has offered to take the two invaders back to their camp in Barrier Wood.  Nora and Rex, the woman who formed the Jackal figure and her partner, do not know the fallowfolk are on to them.  They hit Terah on the head with a rock when they get close to camp and leave him tied up…
———————————————————————-
Nora answered. “I tried to find out in a round-about way, but no one knew anything about them. When I saw they hadn’t done their work, I tried to seduce one or two of the men, but they would have nothing to do with me. Even the man who guided us here….”
“What? You brought someone here with you?” The demon’s eyes blazed scarlet.
Rex spoke up then. “It was my idea, Sir. I thought if you wanted him, we could deliver him to you here and you could try to get him under your control.”
The demon went still. Nothing was said for several minutes, but no further punishment was meted out, so the two assumed their master was thinking.
“Bring him to me.”
“Yes, Sir!” Rex went back to Terah and found him awake. “Come along, fallowman, my boss wants to talk to you!”
(Terah has been tortured for some time.)
Terah had neither slept nor eaten for seven days. His eyes were red rimmed and dry, his tongue parched and swollen. Most of his fingernails were gone, his hands bleeding and raw. His body bore bruises; several bones were broken. Unable to sit or stand, he lay chained to the wall of the tunnel. His captors were seated at a table a few feet away, eating a fast food meal.
As hungry as he was, the smell was revolting to Terah. Everything about these creatures was revolting. It had been bad enough having to endure the blandishments of Marigold all the way from Windemere. But what he had endured here had been sheer agony.
He had not been able to disarm the demon or even to talk to it. There was a presence here that directed the humans. He could not see or hear it, but its essence seemed to be held in the figure of a wolf-like animal made of soft metal. Terah had only looked at it once in detail when Samuel (Name Rex gave them.) had held it in front of him and demanded he bow to it. Terah had looked into its eyes and, seeing hate and emptiness there, dropped his head and ignored it. It could not communicate with him or cause him to react in any way, for it was so foreign to Windfallow it created no effect here. But neither could he communicate with it. He could only resist it.
The physical torture had been hard, but he had been in pain before. It was to be endured until it could be corrected. The mental and spiritual torture had been far harder to endure, for it was totally foreign to his experience.
The humans had brought to the tunnel a cabinet containing pictures so foul he could only close his eyes and keep them closed. As long as he shut his mind to theirs, he could not understand the sounds coming from the machine. Then, they put things on his ears, held there by tape, which transmitted sound directly to his mind. He could not understand the words, but the cacophony of noise that assaulted his senses almost drove him insane.
They would take the headphones off for a few minutes and drag him in front of the Jackal, making motions for him to bow to it. When he did not react, they beat him and used every form of torture they knew to bring him into subjection. Now, he lay near death physically, but renewed in soul and spirit by his steadfast refusal to submit to evil. He knew no one could help him, for the Alari dare not let their presence be known to the demon.
Terah turned his bloody hands palm upward in the time-honored custom of prayer. “Almighty Father, Maker of our world and the heavens above it, I pray your blessing upon my brothers and sisters. Do not let this evil loose in our world. Strengthen me with your mighty power and let me die if I must rather than submit to this temptation.” His lips barely moved; his breathing became shallow. “Receive me, Father. Please let my brothers find my body that they may sing me home.”