An issue of a powerful scream came from overhead, M’ntar; the mighty Red Lord Dominie and his daughter, The Purple Queen, Alushamenta, along with their riders Winn and Mira appeared.
Two of the giants had vanished, already passed through a tear, one remained, about to follow, it hesitated as though it had a hint of the presence of other beings nearby.
Lusha flew directly into its face, a spout of searing flame spewing from her mouth covering the giant’s visage with blazing fire. Lord Dominie flew to the back of the giant’s head, his great talons tearing and clawing at the rock armour; chunks of granite were ripped off and fell to the ground. Winn stabbed at the exposed pink skin with a long spear.
In tune with Lusha, Dominie and Winn leapt away from the giant as The Purple Queen blasted the giant once more with a further jet of flames.
They returned as the conflagration subsided, tearing and stabbing once more. The giant began to spin slowly, its mouth opening wide in a horrendous screech, its arms flailing, blindly reaching for its tormentors.
Paul came to a halt, a mere hundred yards from the battle.
“GRANDFATHER, HOLD THE SWORD ALOFT, I HAVE NEED OF IT,” he shouted at the sky.
‘Ready” came the reply moments later.
Paul with the power of his mind willed the sword into his hands.
The blade appeared.
‘Make a cut and let it drink, then seal the wound with the side of the blade,’ sent Adalstan.
Paul remembering his mother’s first touch of the blade did as his ancestor bid. Wincing he cut his palm, then allowed Meinrad to absorb the crimson flow, then sealed the wound as instructed. All pain immediately left him as the wound closed. In moments he could feel his body fill with the sword’s power and lust for battle.
‘Attack, bring me close to its ankles,’ he sent to Carilla.
The Runner without a moment’s pause sped fearlessly towards the giant. Meinrad flamed, the sword spewed blue fire around the charging pair. Its humming song rose higher and higher, reaching an ear piercing scream as they closed on the colossal being. Paul struck at the giant’s heel severing its Achilles’ tendon. The giant bellowed and staggered.
Carilla spun on the spot and raced for its other leg. Paul filled with blood-rage swung Meinrad, the sword primed by the lad’s blood now able to slice through steel, bone and flesh cut deep. Paul thrust again and again.
Above him Lusha blasted the giant full in the face with a stream of flame once more, blinding it. Dominie then with tooth and claw tore the back of its neck open. Blood flowed from the wound; as the granite slabs fell, Winn sunk her spear deep into the monster’s head.
The Anakim sunk to its knees, Carilla, nudged mentally by Paul, leapt up the back of the dying giant, reaching the open wound left by Winn and Dominie; Paul thrust Meinrad deep into the bloody mess and left the sword to drink its fill.
The golem fell forward onto its face with a huge crash; its red bag fell to the ground and flew open. From within crawled men and women, over a hundred of them, terrified beyond imagination, others still within were either dead or seriously injured.
Finn and Xjang galloped up, having observed the entire episode. Paul dived from Carilla’s neck and gathered his little companions in his arms and burst into tears.
“Thank God you’re alright,” he sobbed.
Winn rushed across to Paul, ‘You OK little buddy. That was some fight hey? You done real good.’
‘Needs must we deal with these people,’ Mira cut in mentally, ever the clear-headed one, gesturing over her shoulder at the crowd of frantic survivors who were milling about, afraid to leave the mouth of the red sack. Many of them simply stood staring in horror at the mound of dead flesh that once was a terrifying Anakim.
“I’ll go get your mom, she’ll know what to do with them,” said Winn, she and Dominie disappeared.
Paul with his strange crew of companions approached the survivors. “Where are you from?” he asked.
“Wimbledon,” a young woman stammered, “we were at Wimbledon.”
“What year?” asked Paul with a flash of insight.
“2012, of course.” The woman shot back.
At that moment Jeanne and Tom along with Ny-mo arrived with Winn and Lord Dominie.
“I know you,” said the woman to Jeanne, “You were sent to stop those things, I saw newsreel after you disappeared. “They said you were all dead.”
“Well, I’m not, and as you can see, we are here and trying to do our job.”
Others rushed to join the woman, plaintive cries of; “Where are we?” and “I want to go home,” assailed the three leaders.
Jeanne passed the task of explaining their predicament to Tom, “Take me back please,” she said to Winn, “We’ve a fair bit of work to do back at camp if we are going to accommodate this crowd and deal with the injured. And you young man, you come with me.”
“Sorry mum, no can do, I’ve my Runner here and I need to return grandfather’s sword.”
“I’ll explain all Dr Jeanne, but we better go now.” In so saying Winn with a hand on Jeanne’s shoulder disappeared once more.
Tom had managed to calm most of the survivors and by the time Winn returned with a medical team, the un-injured had managed to extract the seriously hurt and dead from inside the bag. Most had broken limbs and badly sprained joints. Those badly injured were immediately flipped to the main camp.
Those with minor injuries were treated in-situ and joined their subdued companions. Lusha and Dominie flipped back and forth to the main camp ferrying the injured and returning with provisions and water. None of them were dressed suitably for the high plains and needed to be properly equipped.
‘WE NEED TO REST, AND FEED, BATTLE FOLLOWED BY MUCH FLIPPING COMES NOT EASILY, BUT WE WILL RETURN AS SOON AS WE CAN,’ sent Dominie.
‘We remain to assist, rest well beloveds,’ replied Mira.
Paul called the sword, still embedded in the giant’s brain, “Meinrad, to me.”
The sword appeared in his hands, pristine clean. “I return you to Adalstan,” he called and held the sword aloft, it flamed blue but refused to move. He tried again with the same result.
“Methinks it has chosen who it now wishes to bear it,” said Mira, “and I would struggle to think of a better choice.” She un-strapped a sheath from her waist, “You will need this,” she said.
Tom led the survivors and the walking wounded to a small valley about half a mile from the cadaver. They waited there, until the M’ntar returned an hour later. The survivors maintained a shocked but thankful silence as they lay around Tom. One or two posed questions which he answered as best as he could, but for the most, they remained deep in thought.
It took a further two hours for the one hundred and thirty survivors to be transported to the fort, the two M’ntar and their riders worked tirelessly until the last had been moved. The four, exhausted, then flipped to their caves in the M’ntar caverns to rest.
The three youngsters remained until the plains were clear. They watched as scavengers and other carnivores, creeping from their lairs, gathering from the plains, or swooping down from the high air currents, began feasting on the corpse.
The M’ntar and the Runners refused to touch the flesh, claiming it to be tainted with evil.
“Hopefully there won’t be much left when that lot are through,” Paul remarked from his seat high on Carilla’s neck, his two friends nodded in agreement.
‘It will leave a veritable mountain of rocks and bones,’ the Brosynan responded.
They began to move out, making their way back to the main camp. “That’s the last time I’ll be allowed to go hunting, I’ll bet.” Paul remarked sardonically.
‘Your mother is no different from mother’s anywhere, she wishes not to see her offspring injured, it is the way of mothers,’ Finn remarked.
“I guess,” the young Scot replied.
“Tom, I’m concerned.”
“I know. You forget, I can feel your every emotion.”
“We need to find out about any appearances of Golem since we left home. These people are from now on the other side, and I don’t like the bit about us being reported as being LIA.”
“What? Lost in action, when did you hear that?”
“That woman who said she recognized me from news reports, after we’d left … I think we better get them together and have a de-brief,” Jeanne concluded after a lengthy pause, her mind a whirl.
An hour later the walking wounded, and those lucky few who had come through the horrifying experience without harm, assembled in the inner quadrangle of Fort Lixeb.
Jeanne opened, speaking and broadcasting, “My name is Jeanne McLennan Pinkerton, and this is my husband Tom Pinkerton, I would also like to introduce you to Prince Ny-mo, Vovoide of all the Croninn peoples, and King of the Croman tribes.
“In miniaturized form, I have the greatest honor of introducing Lord Dominie the Red, and his Daughter Lusha, The Purple Queen, along with their esteemed riders, Lady Mira Witt, and our own dear Lady Wintergreen Evans. As I am sure you are aware some nine months or so ago we were tasked by the USA and UK governments, to investigate and if possible assist the indigenous peoples of this land in eliminating the creatures which attacked our world.
“We have found that not only are the people here facing the same threat from those giants, but also from an increasing number of enemy forces from the middle ages. These middle-ages warriors originate on the plains of Asia, at the time when Mongol hordes were attacking pretty much anything that moved. The leaders of the incomers have discovered a number of openings in the Northern plains that give them access to this almost untouched and highly desirable land. The wars against the Chin have been raging for almost three hundred years, on and off. One thing that concerns us is that although time is passing on this side of the tears, that’s the portals, it does not seem to be on the other side.
“Another concern that is paramount in our minds; if the giants can move through time and space as they seem capable of doing, should they begin to appear and attack people from our past, say our grandparents time, and those worthies should be taken and killed, at a time before they had become parents, then their progeny in our time would cease to be, they would simply wink out of existence, all trace and memory of them would cease to exist. We would not even have been aware of their existence.
“I don’t want to alarm you, but we have reason to believe each and every one of us is here because we are required for some reason or other. Don’t think that it was a random happening that you were sat in a particular seat and you, and not your neighbour was taken, to survive and now be sat in front of me, at this very moment and in this place.”
A clamour of questions was fired at Jeanne as she paused to take a drink of water and collect her thoughts. “I’ll answer as much as I can when I have finished,” she said flatly.
“Who do you think you are, we don’t have to take orders from you?” A thick set middle aged man shouted and scrambled to his feet.
“And who are you?” Jeanne asked coldly.
“Henry Swift, I am a member of Parliament, The Minister for Agriculture.” He replied pompously.
“Well Mr. Swift, I have two things to say to you;
“1, if it was not for the intervention of these two young ladies, their M’ntar colleagues and my son Paul, you probably would have been stirring gently in a rather large cook pot by now, if you hadn’t been eaten raw as a starter.
“And 2, it might interest you to know that here, in this place if you don’t do as I, or any of my trained and experienced troopers says; instantly and without argument, you will die. We do not play games here, this is a battlefield and you are in the midst’s of it. Now do you wish to ask me any more questions, or make any more comments? Because if not I would like to continue?”
Henry Swift MP gave a shocked grunt and sat down almost as quickly as he had stood. A few of the survivors clapped, one shouted, “You tell him girl!” The others simply sat with fear and trepidation written on their faces.
‘You fizzin’ overly much sweetcheeks, I’ll handle this for a bit.’ – “Any of you medically trained?” asked Tom, picking up Jeanne’s annoyed thoughts and taking over. Winn sniggered, having followed the interchange between the two. “We need medics of any kind.”
“Aren’t you going to let us go home?” It was Henry Swift again.
“Mr. Swift, If it was possible to be able to return you to the time and place of your exit, I would be more than pleased to do so, – but until such time as a lot of Shaman can give their full attention to the matter, at the moment they are struggling to keep the golem from over-running this continent, you and anyone else who feels they have priority will have to wait.”
“How long?” Swift was determined to have his say.
“As long as it takes. – I think my husband asked a question.” Jeanne’s voice was flat as she fought down the desire to kick the politician in the butt.
Out of the eighty four sat in front of the leaders, fifteen raised their hands, one was the woman who had initially spoken to Jeanne.
“That’s a good percentage,” whispered Tom.
“We are a group from St. Barts, off duty and on a day out. Didn’t expect to come quite this far though,” said the woman.
“Can you come and join us for a moment,” Jeanne gestured to her. The woman rose to her feet and weaved her way through the seated group.
‘How many can be opened?’ Jeanne beamed to the two M’ntar.
‘OF THE ENTIRE GROUP, SOME TWENTY FIVE WOULD BE COMFORTABLE, FOUR WOULD STRUGGLE FOR A WHILE, AND THE REMAINDER WOULD NOT BE SUITABLE.’ Lusha responded to Jeanne. ‘THE FAT ONE IS NOT ONE OF THEM.’
Tom laughed out loud, startling the woman, who had just arrived. “Sorry Ma’am, personal joke,” he said, reaching out to touch her shoulder reassuringly. “What’s your name?” he finished.
“Rona, Rona Cooper, I’m a ward sister.”
“Pleased to meet you Rona, sorry about the circumstances, we’ve got one doctor and three medics; they’ll be more than pleased to see y’all, especially as we have some serious injuries amongst your colleagues.”
“But how, – I can’t speak for the others, but I need to get my head around this before I can say if I will help you.”
“Did you hear what I said to the politician?” Jeanne cut in.
“Um, yes, but…”
Jeanne turned to the group once more; she broadcast her anger with her mind as well as her voice… “I have said once and I am only going to repeat it this once more, we are under a war footing here. You have been given a chance at life, where your life was about to be taken from you are still alive, be at least grateful. In this place I am in command, what I say goes, you may not like it, and to be truthful I don’t care. You are under military law, my law. I am not a petty despot, a dictator or whatever you deem to think of me. My motives are in order to keep you alive, nothing more and nothing less. I don’t care if you hate my guts, but you will do as I and my troopers, all of them, say or I will slap you in jail, and there you will stay until this is all over, or something decides you might look good on the end of a toasting fork.”
Swift climbed to his feet, and began to speak, “And you Mr. Swift, will be the first if you raise any more objections.”
“I had no intention of raising any objections Dr. McLennan; in fact I was a member of the committee that approved the finances and manpower for your expedition. I support you wholeheartedly Madam, and if there is anything I can do please let me know.”
“We will Mr. Swift, we will,” said Tom.
“Rona, I need your decision now, you and everyone else here,” she turned to the group, “You either agree wholeheartedly to assist in any way possible and required, or you will be kept apart from everyone else until we are able, if ever, to return to our time. And yes, you heard right, I said ‘if ever.’ – If you are prepared to join this expedition, then stand up now.”
Three teenagers, two boys and a girl remained seated, they were immediately escorted by two Black Suits away from the others.
Dominie then singled out those they had targeted for opening, the three teenagers who had left the scene were amongst those eligible, Jeanne expressed her disappointment to Tom, who mentally shrugged, ‘that’s the way it goes hun.’
Tom separated the remaining twenty two who the M’ntar had shown had latent telepathic abilities from the others. With Winn, Mira and the two M’ntar they moved to one side, and sat as indicated in a circle around the two M’ntar. Winn and Mira then explained what was to happen, not one objected. Once settled, the two young women passed amongst the volunteers placing a hand on the heads of those they opened. They then left the drastically changed humans to assimilate their new abilities and adapt to the rush of thoughts and emotions they were subjected to.
“Tell me about what’s gone on since I left?” Jeanne asked the Politician.
“I remember your leaving for one reason only, we were not told about the time or date, however we were also not prepared for the backlash which was led by your ex-husband.”
“Yes, he is suing the British Government, and building a great deal of support in his efforts from the ‘rent a mob’ crowd.”
“He claims that we were party to allowing you to abduct his son, taking him into supreme danger perhaps even death, without even informing him of your intentions. He has claimed one million pounds in compensation.”
“I hope you told him to get stuffed.”
“Not in those exact words but heading in that direction to start with. But he now has some high flying legal beagle representing him who is making a great deal of noise. I think the government is looking towards an out of court settlement.”
“My God, Oh well, there is not a lot I can do about it from here.”
“Will you forgive my outburst of earlier, I think I lost sight of just how serious things were, as there have been no further appearances, which is crazy really, as here I am, having been caught up in an episode myself.”
“I can understand,” Jeanne said extending her hand, which the politico grasped earnestly. “I prefer having you on my side, rather than not.
“I would like you to bring yourself up to speed on this land and its people, all of them, a very good friend and colleague of mine, who is a little out of work at the moment will be your tutor.”
“Why do you think that’s necessary?”
“Because if ever we get into a negotiating situation, I think you might be invaluable.” Anxious to join Tom and the girls, Jeanne handed the Politician to the care of a trooper, to introduce to Yvonne.
Finn requested the Runners to provide a haunch for their evening meal. Not expecting to receive a great deal that was edible; they were surprised when Xjang’s mount appeared within a few minutes with a young buffalo calf. The two young plains warriors soon had choice cuts turning over a hot fire of dried grasses and peat. Bulbs from the purple grasses roasted, hissing and spitting in the hot ashes. Paul’s stomach began to growl in anticipation, and he found that once he had started to eat he couldn’t get enough; the hot juicy chunks of prime steak were perfect and delicious. He lay in his bivouac after the meal, his stomach full to bursting, his mind full of the previous day’s adventures.
He laid Meinrad beside him in its scabbard; the sword gave a slight vibration which Paul could only interpret as satisfaction. He lay, unconsciously, gently stroking the nondescript brown leather, eliciting even more vibrations and a calming hum. Paul slept.
“Dad!” cried Paul, rushing through the tall grass; “Dad!” he called once more but the figure maintained its steady pace away from him. Try as he might he could not close the gap between then. “Dad!” he shouted again. The figure came to a halt; he stood looking down into the grass. Finally Paul managed to reach the tall man, but when he lifted his face, Paul could see that it was not his father but another. Disappointed he forced the feeling of sadness down, and because he felt it was what he was supposed to do, followed the man’s gaze. The grizzled remains of an old man lay torn and blooded and dead. Paul gazed at the body in horror for a long moment, before his stomach churned and he gagged.
Screaming he woke, opening his eyes to the dingy blackness inside his tent, his body drenched in sweat, even though the night was cool. His two friends began clamouring at his mind seeking assurances.
“No probs guys,” he responded out loud, “Just a weird dream.”
Excerpt from Book 3 of the Tirnano – THE PURPLE QUEEN
©Peter M Emmerson