Lucinda: Nails of the Crucifixion #24 by Terry Thorp (Book 1, The Lucinda Trilogy)– A Fantasy Adventure in which the Fate of the World Depends on a Woman’s Decisions .Lucinda, a gifted psychic is sent on a quest to find two objects of great power. She has an adversary the Ninth Master seeking to prevent her from carrying out this quest. In this paranormal adventure,Lucinda’s journey takes her back in time to ancient Egypt and to the island of Skellig Michael, off the south-west coast of Ireland.
'LUCINDA' - A Fantasy Tale of Adventure & Romance
Hey! Welcome to my book club!
Today, I present you with an extract from CHAPTER 23 of my fantasy adventure novel 'Lucinda: Nails of the Crucifixion' (Book 1, The Lucinda Trilogy). This is the final chapter. An outline of the story so far is given in the following section.
Hope you enjoy reading this paranormal, fantasy story of adventure and romance!
(To read the previous episode of 'Lucinda: Nails of the Crucifixion' (#23), please click on the appropriate link below).
'LUCINDA' - A Fantasy Adventure - The Story So Far
Lucinda is staying with Jacinta, her minder, in the south-west of Ireland. She has met Joe, a friend of Jacinta's, in a local pub. On her way back, she has seen a strange figure in the distance looking at her. The figure disappears, leaving Lucinda wondering who - or what - it was. That night this figure - St Fionan - appears to Lucinda and informs her of the quest she is on - and on which the fate of the world depends. Meanwhile, Joe has asked Lucinda to accompany him to a festival in the nearby town. She agrees to go. But before that, she sets out for a walk along the cliff where she meets a stranger. He warns her to return to London, otherwise she will be killed. Lucinda ignores this warning.
That evening, she and Joe attend a summer festival in the nearby town. Here, Culian, a fire-eater and mystic, leads them to a safe-house where Lucinda is to meet one of the Lords of the Path of Purest Light. Here she learns about the quest she is being sent on - to discover the location of two nails from the Crucifixion Cross. These nails are immensely powerful and the Lords are afraid they may fall into the hands of the Paths of Darkness. Lucinda also learns that she has the power of time travel and she must use this power to locate the nails - either in ancient Egypt or on the nearby island of Skellig Michael.
She decides to start her quest by journeying back to Egypt towards the end of the 6th century AD. Using a technique she learned from an ancient Tibetan monk, Lucinda travels back in time to the year 587. She lands in an Egyptian desert and is cared for by a Sheikh and his family. He takes Lucinda to the nearby city of Hermopolis, on the edge of the River Nile. A friend of the Sheikh has promised her passage on one of his boats sailing north to Alexandria. Meanwhile, a young man - Abdullah - guides her to an inn near the Gate of the Sun where she hopes to find lodgings for the night. During the night, Lucinda is attacked and she and Abdullah barely escape to the ship that will take her to Alexandria. However, Abdullah is captured as he struggled to board the boat. Abdullah is taken to a prison on orders of the Roman Governor. Here, he is threatened with torture if he does not reveal his connections to Lucinda and where she is heading. He is questioned by a stranger who has some sort of hold over the Roman Governor. Abdullah tells his captors that she is making for Alexandria then to the Monastery of St Macarius where she wants to meet some monks.
The stranger orders the Governor to have Lucinda followed.
Lucinda meets a monk called Lazarus the Lazy and discovers he is to bring the two Crucifixion nails to the island of Skellig Michael. She is then captured by the Romans and thrown into prison in Alexandria.
She receives a visitor - Ethan Thomas, the Ninth Master. He urges Lucinda to join him - together they could rule the world. She is very attracted to him but on moral grounds she refuses. They fight, there is a fire and they escape from the prison cell. Lucinda knows now that their lives are inextricably intertwined. She travels forward in time to the present. Once back in Ireland and Jacinta's cottage, Lucinda plans her next move - to travel back in time again - but this time to the island of Skellig Michael, to the year 824 AD when the Vikings invaded, seeking out the nails thought hidden in the monastery there. She arrives on the island and now goes to meet the Abbot of the Monastery, Eitgal. She is allowed to join the community, pretending she is on a journey of penance. Some days later, a Viking ship filled with warriors is seen, heading towards the island.
Abbot Eitgal and his monks prepare to be invaded. Lucinda knows there is nothing she can do to help them. The Vikings land on the island and Abbot Eitgal is taken prisoner. He refuses to reveal the location of the nails from Christ's Crucifixion. He is abandoned on a small rock to think it over. Lucinda plans to visit him during the night. With the help of Brother Killian, she does this. She obtains some information which she hopes will help her locate the nails. Then Lucinda returns to the present time.Lucinda travels to the island of Skellig Michael where she teams up with some Swedish archaeologists. As she explores the island looking for clues to the possible whereabouts of the Crucifixion nails, she thinks she has found one - a small stone cross engraved with a few enigmatic words. The next day, she climbs a cliff face searching for the nails. Something hits her on her back and she falls off the cliff, landing on a very steep grassy slope. In spite of her desperate efforts, Lucinda is unable to prevent herself from slipping down this slope towards the edge which drops away to rocks hundreds of feet below. As she goes over the edge, her arm is caught by something - or someone.
She looks up and finds herself staring into the eyes of her adversary, Ethan Thomas - the Ninth Master. Thomas pulls her up and they climb back up to safety. He tells Lucinda how he had reached the island and she explains that it was a member of the Swedish Archaeology team that had knocked her off the cliff face. Later she confronts the team, accusing them of attempted murder. The Skellig Michael guides agree to have the team airlifted off the island the next morning.
'LUCINDA' - Excerpt From Chapter 23
Lucinda was awoken by the clatter of a yellow helicopter as it swooped low overhead, banked to the right and made its way to the lighthouse landing pad at the south end of the island. In spite of the hard surface on which she had lain, Lucinda had slept quite well. Thomas’s body was curved round her back and his left arm was resting lightly on her shoulder. She turned over and kissed him. His lips felt cool and dry from the night air blowing across them. At some stage during the night, they had both woken at precisely the same moment, with the same thoughts in their minds. Although the rock surface on which they had been lying was rough, they had found a comfortable way to make love. It had been some time since Lucinda had been with a man and she took this opportunity eagerly. She still felt the delicious, caressing touch of his fingers on her breasts and thighs; and the shivers that had travelled up and down her back as those fingers had explored every part of her. At the end, her cries had floated on the night breeze round the small terrace and out over the ocean.
She poked him teasingly in the stomach. “Time to get up.” She threw off the covering blanket and stretched. Then she stood up and walked to the end of the narrow terrace. From there, she could just make out the lighthouse and the helicopter. Figures were moving closer to it and she assumed that these would be the archaeology team preparing to board. Thomas stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. He squeezed her. What a woman! Not only was she a top psychic but she was equally good at being a lover. During the night, she had tickled and cajoled every last drop of excitement from him, leaving him gasping and drained. Yet he sensed that she could have gone on if only he had been able.
“Whatever you did to them seems to have worked,” he murmured in her ear, brushing it with his lips, nibbling at the lobe.
“The memory of it will stay with them a long time, I’m pretty sure of that.” She gave a delighted laugh as her ear was tickled by his mouth.
They watched in comfortable silence as the helicopter took off and headed back to the mainland. The guides had done their job and Lucinda reminded herself to thank them. To the east, the sun, rising above the Kerry mountains, was obscured by cloud. It was a calmer day but the sea below still moved restlessly as the big Atlantic swells, generated a few thousand miles away by some unknown storm, continued to roll in, battering the island on all sides. It would be another day without tourists.
“I’m feeling very anxious about today for some reason,” said Lucinda.
“Well, today will bring the end to your quest. At least I hope so.” He paused then said with a teasing edge to his voice: “Perhaps you’re worried that I may try to take the nails from you?”
Lucinda shook her head and linked her fingers through his. “No, that’s not my main worry. You see, I don’t yet know what I’m to do with the nails, once I’ve found them. The silence on that subject is deafening. I just have this awful, gnawing pain in my stomach and when I feel that, I know that something bad is going to happen.”
Thomas moved away from her. He picked up the packet containing the remains of the loaf of bread and he threw a slice to her. “Maybe you are hungry,” he said lightly. “We haven’t eaten a proper meal for a while.”
She tossed the bread back to him. “I couldn’t eat a thing at the moment. I’m too tense. I think we should start looking for those nails now.” She went to her rucksack, removed her water bottle and took a sip, then handed it to the Ninth Master. “Can I leave you to bring the bedding back down? I want to go to the Saddle and start focusing my mind on locating these relics.”
“Sure, I’ll follow you down in a few minutes.”
Lucinda climbed down from the terrace, squeezed through the cleft that was the Needle’s Eye and reached the ground below. She walked up to the ridge of Christ’s Saddle and peered round the side of the South Peak, up at its northern rock face. She was very mindful this time of the steep, grassy slope that ran down towards the north cove. She had no desire to repeat yesterday’s experience.
But paradoxically, it was through sliding down that slope and climbing back up via the large crack that the location of the nails had been revealed to her, or so she thought. For a monk looking for somewhere to hide them, it would be the obvious place. But now, looking sideways across the rock face, she couldn’t see where it was. She would have to send Ethan back down the crack and ask him to guide her to it.
“Do you think you could climb back down the rock and guide me to where I want to go on the rock face?” she asked when he had come down from the Hermitage. “It’s difficult to identify the place when standing close to the mountain.”
“I went down yesterday so I’m sure I’ll manage it again today.” Thomas had a puzzled look on his face. “Tell me what I’ve to look for.”
“When we were climbing back up yesterday, I saw this crevice in the rock wall that leapt out at me. It seemed an obvious place for a monk to deposit the nails from Christ’s Crucifixion. The place just beckoned to me: here I am, come and get them!”
The Ninth Master laughed. “Well, don’t keep me in suspense!”
“You must look for a fissure that has a cruciform shape. It’s amongst a lot of other cracks so at first it may be hard to locate - but once you’ve seen it, the crucifix shape is as clear as daylight.”
“So you think that the monk placed the Crucifix nails inside a crucifix-shaped crack.”
“Yes, the symbolism wouldn’t be lost on him, I’m sure. It would be the perfect repository,” declared Lucinda.
“It’s certainly worth a try. You know the working of a monk’s mind better than I do. So let’s get started.”
Together, they worked their way across the top of the steep slope, using the many handholds available to them on the northern rock wall. Thomas then made his way down the large, rock crack towards the cliff edge at the bottom of the slope. When halfway down, he stopped, turned and wedged himself securely in the crack. Then he began to scour the rock face above him, looking for the cruciform shape that Lucinda had mentioned.
“Look for an area on the rock wall where there are many cracks and fissures of different sizes and shapes clustered together,” Lucinda shouted down to him. “Somewhere in the centre you should be able to see the cross.”
There was silence for a few minutes. Then Thomas called out: “Yes, okay, I have it. You will have to move a couple of feet to your left, then go straight up for maybe fifteen feet. Please be careful.”
“I’ll be all right,” she called back. “It’s my destiny to discover these nails. Falling off the rock was for yesterday, not today.” Confidently, Lucinda started up the rock, her hands searching out places to grip whilst her feet found suitable projections and hollows to support her.
“A little more to your right!” he shouted. “It’s there, six inches from your hand.”
She was now staring into the centre of the crack. There was a hole, a little wider than a man’s clenched fist. Holding on tightly with her left hand, Lucinda inserted her right hand into the hole. She found nothing. Then she pushed her arm in to its full length. The initial disappointment turned to elation: she felt something. Carefully, she explored it with her fingers. It was some kind of container, hard to the touch, probably made of metal. She closed her hand around it and slowly began to withdraw it. Her heart was beating faster; her lips and mouth felt dry with excitement.
“I have something!” she called to Thomas, unable to keep the excitement she felt out of her voice. “You can come back up now.”
Aware that the container might be quite fragile, Lucinda took her time in removing her hand from the cleft in the rock. Finally, she saw what her fingers were gripping. In her hand, she held a slim, metal box, about ten inches long; it felt quite heavy. The box was deeply rusted, frayed at the edges of the lid. Carefully, she placed it in her rucksack. This was slung sideways across her body. Then she climbed back down. She joined the Ninth Master on the Saddle and sat on the ground.
“Well?” he demanded, as Lucinda seemed to be speechless. “What’ve you found?”
“A rusty, metal box,” she finally replied.
Thomas’ voice sounded impatient. “What’s in it?”
“I’m reluctant to open it and find out.” She took off her rucksack and placed it gently on the ground in front of her. “More than just reluctant - I am afraid to open it. It will be as if I’ve let the bloody genie out of the bottle and it can’t be put back in.” With a sigh, she reached into her bag and withdrew, first, a small, cotton towel. This she spread on the grass.
Then she removed the metal container. She placed this in the centre of the towel. For several minutes, she and the Ninth Master just stared at it, taking in its shape and size, noting the dark metal that had been deeply savaged by hundreds of years of slow rusting in the damp, salty environment of Skellig Michael.
“Would you like to open it?” Lucinda asked him.
Thomas shook his head slowly. “No, I think it’s best that you do that.” He moved back involuntarily. “I, too, feel an unexplained fear which is unlike me.” He stood up and moved away to where the flight of steps led up towards the monastery site.
Lucinda’s eyes followed him. She was now very concerned because she knew that the Ninth Master normally was fearless. What had he sensed when looking at this metal box? She reached down to it with both hands and attempted to open the lid. It moved slightly then stopped, the ancient, crude hinges seized with rust. She took out a penknife that she kept in her rucksack, one similar to a Swiss Army knife. She selected a slim blade. She inserted this under the lid and eased it up. Reluctantly, it opened, revealing a cloth, with some object wrapped within its folds.
As she began to lift up the cloth-covered object, the fragile material disintegrated at her touch, to reveal two metal nails. She hastily withdrew her hand as if she had been burnt. She estimated that each nail was at least eight inches long, or would have been if they hadn’t been slightly twisted and buckled. They were forged of iron, square in shape with large heads and tapering to points. Having a wide knowledge of archaeology, Lucinda immediately recognised them to be typical of ancient Roman nails. After hesitating a further moment, she reached into the small box and carefully lifted the nails out. As she did so, she felt an energy coming into her head. She closed her eyes, triggering her firewalls until she ascertained who was attempting to communicate with her. Gradually an image formed. She recognised it to be the Higher Entity she had met in Lisserdaniel on the night she had talked with Inannah, Lord of the Path of Purest Light.
“Greetings, Lucinda,” it said. “You have achieved the quest you were sent on. The Lords of the Path of Purest Light have asked me to convey to you their pleasure at your success. There is now only one thing more for you to do.”
“I await Inannah’s instructions,” Lucinda replied humbly.
“Please listen carefully. These are the Lords’ instructions. Needless to say, they must be obeyed to the letter and carried out immediately.”
“Yes, of course, I will do whatever the Lord Inannah requires,” said Lucinda impatiently. She had waited for this moment for some time now. At last, the purpose of these nails was to be revealed to her.
“You must take those two nails and drive them deep into the chest of that man who accompanies you.”
Shock surged through Lucinda. For a moment, she was speechless. She felt she could not have heard the emissary correctly. “Into the chest of Ethan Thomas, the Ninth Master?”
“That very same man,” confirmed the Higher Entity. “Both nails must be struck into his chest.”
Shock now turned to deep anger and resentment. “I cannot do that - it would be murder! And, besides, he’s my friend. Only yesterday he saved me from certain death. Why do the Lords ask me to do something they know I cannot do?”
“All these things you say are true. Nevertheless, you must strike the Ninth Master through the chest and utterly destroy him.”
“Tell me why I must do this? Without his help, I wouldn’t have found these nails. Indeed, I would now be dead. What has he done to deserve such a cruel punishment?”
“It is not necessarily what he has done in the past, although that may also deserve punishment, it is true. It is what he will do in the future. He will be the critical link in the chain of events that have already started and that, even now, are leading to the destruction of the world. If this destruction is to be avoided then this link, this man whom you call the Ninth Master and who is there with you now, must be eliminated.”
Lucinda opened her eyes. She looked across to where Thomas sat on the steps with his head bowed, his hands covering his face. How could this man, whom she now was coming to love, somehow in the future be responsible for destroying the world?
“And why is it important that he be murdered with these nails?” she asked bitterly.
“Only these nails have the power to ensure his complete destruction, to consume him so that not an atom or particle remains.”
“Matter cannot be destroyed in this way. It is a fundamental rule of the Universe,” argued Lucinda, desperately trying to delay any decision or action on her part.
“Normally that is so,” acknowledged the Entity, becoming impatient. “That is why these nails must be used. Only these nails have the power to destroy matter.”
“I would sooner kill myself than kill this man,” she said quietly.
“As an emissary of Inannah, it is beholden on you to carry out these orders. Did you not, only a few moments ago, confirm to me that you would carry out the Lord’s commands?” The voice of the emissary was raised. “Go now and complete what you set out to do.”
“I did, it is true but that was before I understood what the command was to be. Surely as a follower of the Path of Purest Light, such violence is not permitted?”
“You refused previously to join the Path when you were invited. Now, you are but temporarily employed - as you wished. You are not, therefore, fully under the Purest Light Directives. You can, you must, carry out these orders. The fate of your world depends on you doing this.”
“And what if I refuse to carry out these orders?”
“Never before has a Special One, such as you are, refused to implement the orders of the Lords of the Path of Purest Light. To do so is impossible, utterly unthinkable. On your head would be the end of your world and maybe other worlds, unknown to you. What is one man’s life when set against such destruction? Go now and do it quickly!”
The image of the Higher Entity faded from her mind. Lucinda stared down at the two nails. They looked innocuous enough. Yet according to the Emissary, the fate of her planet rested on them - and on her. She took hold of the two nails, one in each hand. It was only now she realised that there was not a sign of rust on either of them. They felt warm to her touch and she sensed a slight vibration running through them. She stood up and walked slowly over to Thomas. He heard her approach. He took his hands away from his face and scrambled hurriedly to his feet.
“Have you been told what to do with the nails?” he asked.
Lucinda nodded, gripping each nail more firmly. Her voice was low and listless. “Yes, I’ve been given my instructions.”
“Well, go on, aren’t you going to tell me?”
She looked at him despairingly. Her mouth was so dry that she could hardly speak her next words. “No, I can’t tell you.”
He stared at her. Lucinda could feel his black eyes boring into her. “Even though I fear what you might say, you must tell me now.”
She shook her head. Her voice was a whisper. “What I’ve been asked to do is impossible for me.”
“The word ‘impossible’ doesn’t exist in a psychic’s vocabulary.”
Her next words came out in a choking sob. “I am to stab you in the chest with them.”
Thomas stared at her in silence. Then he gave a shocked laugh. “That’s what I call a terrible joke, Lucinda.”
She shook her head. “It is no fucking joke. That’s what I have been ordered to do – stab you in the chest. Both nails.”
Thomas sat down on the grass. “I’d a feeling it might be something to do with me but I didn’t think it would be that.” He glanced up at Lucinda. “For what reason? What’ve I done?”
“It’s not about what you may’ve done in the past. It is what you will do in the future. At some later date, an action of yours will be critical in bringing about the destruction of the world. To prevent this happening, you must be killed now.”
She stretched out her hands, turning them over so the palms were uppermost, exposing the nails to his view. “You were correct. The Lords of the Path of Purest Light were seeking out these nails, not the Fallen Lords.”
“Why look for these nails? There must be easier ways to destroy me if they wished to do so, surely.”
“Because only these Crucifixion nails have the power to completely annihilate you.”
She and Thomas gazed at each other, speechless. She recalled his prophecy of just a short time ago - it had come true much sooner than either of them had thought possible or anticipated. But she knew what she must do. Shit! she said to herself. So this is what it has all come down to. The moment of truth. She must strike Thomas down. She stepped towards him. Her eyes took in the smooth, sun-browned skin and the hard muscles. The same warm, beautiful body that she had been caressing, kissing and exploring only last night.
As she did so, the Ninth Master opened his shirt and bared his chest. Although he could have stopped her, he felt the need to make this as easy as possible for her. “Strike hard and swiftly!” he exclaimed in a low voice. “If this is what you must do, then do it.”
Raising her arms, with a nail in each hand, she ran at him. But, instead of striking him, she threw her arms around his neck.
“I cannot do it!” she cried as she clung to him.
The Ninth Master pushed her away from him. “You must! You are bound by the commands of the Lords.”
“No! I will not!” she shouted. “I hate them for asking me to do this. I love you, Ethan Thomas! And I, too, will now defect. I’ll become a renegade like you - but from the Path of Purest Light. Together, we’ll find a way to prevent the destruction of the world. I will be the light to your darkness as you asked me to be in Egypt.” Even as she declared her love to the Ninth Master, Lucinda realised that, in the space of a few days, she had given her love to two men. She genuinely loved them both but for very different reasons. The resolution had to be left to another time.
Thomas held Lucinda tightly as he stroked her hair and kissed her tear-wet lips. “Yes, together we will do that. With our combined powers, we’ll find a way, we must.”
In his heart, he wondered if the love of this young woman would be sufficient to alter his potential destiny. Would her light be strong enough and shine deeply enough to illuminate and change his darkness? But, as he stood on Christ’s Saddle in the early morning glow of the rising sun, he realised that she had already begun that change, so that perhaps there was hope after all. He had bared his chest and would have allowed her to strike him with those nails. At another time, he’d have been the one to attack first. He would have struck her down before she had taken two steps towards him.
Lucinda moved away from Thomas, wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her shirt. She looked at the nails she still held in her hands. “I’ll rid myself of these damn relics so that they cannot be used to kill you by me or anyone else.” She was determined to do this. She walked to the edge of the western cliff that plunged vertically to the sea below. Lucinda drew back her hands and would have thrown the two nails over the edge had not the Ninth Master come behind her and grasped her wrists.
His voice was earnest. “No, you mustn’t do that.”
“These nails have lain dormant on Skellig Michael for fifteen hundred years. That has been for a reason – maybe only to destroy me but who knows for what other purposes. If we’re unable to change our futures then there may come a time when we have no alternative but to use them. It is vital that they remain available to you. If you throw them into the sea, they’ll be lost forever.”
Lucinda stepped away from the cliff edge. She turned the nails over, examining them and becoming aware once again of their warm, latent power. “Perhaps you are right,” she said but without enthusiasm.
“So what will you do with them instead? Bring them back with you?”
Lucinda shook her head. “No, I will hide them again on the South Peak but in a different location. As you rightly say, there may be a time in the future when we’ll need them but until then, let them continue to rest in peace here on the Skellig.” She walked back to where the metal container still lay on the small, cotton towel. She wrapped the nails in the cloth and placed them back in their box, then closed the lid. She beckoned Thomas over to her.
. “Let’s go back up to the Hermitage and conceal this box somewhere near the summit of the mountain. Somewhere that perhaps occasionally a few rays of the sun can shine on it.”
“You must do this on your own. Conceal them where I can’t find them. So that I’m not tempted to destroy them, just as you were tempted.”
Lucinda nodded silently. She went up the steep rock-cut steps to the Needle’s Eye and thence up to the first terrace. From there, she climbed another twelve feet to a second terrace that was at right-angles to the lower terrace. It was called the Oratory Terrace because the early monks had built there a small chapel. At the western end of the terrace, Lucinda found a small, rectangular stone alter. She wondered if maybe somewhere here there would be a suitable place to conceal the relics. But she could find nowhere safe enough from prying eyes and hands so she continued up to the highest and most isolated ledge of all, the Outer Terrace. It was situated just a few meters from the summit itself.
Lucinda drew in a deep breath. This felt the perfect place to conceal the nails of the Crucifixion. The terrace was easterly facing and would be struck by the rays of the rising sun. At the back of the terrace, she examined the rock wall. Amongst the many cracks and fissures, she found one that ran deep into the side of the mountain. She inserted the metal container as far back as she could. Then she turned and, as the morning sun came out from behind a cloud, she raised her arms in the air, feeling its warmth on her skin. Beneath her, the mountain-side dropped vertically to the Atlantic Ocean seven hundred feet below. In the distance, nine miles away, were the greens and yellows and blues and purples of the Kerry fields and mountains. Several fishing boats were leaving the shelter of Valencia Island and heading out into the open sea. As she stood there, on this exposed mountain-top ledge, Lucinda felt that she was hanging in the air, at the very edge of space.
A wind whipped around her body and ruffled her short, auburn hair. It must be a terrifying place to be during a winter storm, she thought. But a monk, kneeling in contemplation here, would have felt spiritually and physically as close to God as he could get. She wondered if Brother Killian had ever knelt at this spot.
Thinking of him and Lazarus the Lazy and Abbot Eitgal, Lucinda cried out: “Glory to thee, thou Glorious Sun, glory to thee, thou Sun, face of the God of Life!”
Then she climbed back down to Christ’s Saddle, finding herself once again thinking of Joe - and the need to begin what seemed an almost impossible search for him in the realms of past time. She walked across the damp, slippery grass towards Thomas. He was standing on the ridge of the Saddle, looking out to the far horizon. As her eyes took in his tall, powerful figure, she felt an unease spreading through her. They had made love last night on a makeshift bed of heather. It had been a glorious, fulfilling experience for her but could she really trust him? Did those moments of love - making really mean anything to him? Did she mean anything to him?
She had so little positive experience of men and their ways. And the words of St. Fionan came back to suddenly haunt her: “Beware the Ninth Master.” And now that she had disobeyed the Lords of the Path of Purest Light and turned her heart and mind from them – what would be her future? And that of the world? The decision she had made had been a purely selfish one. She had been greedy for the love of the man standing there above her on the ridge. He was right – he was the only man who could satisfy her needs. She saw him turn round slowly and smile down at her. She ran up the slope and he opened his arms to her.
“What will happen now?” she whispered after parting from his kiss. “I feel the world is entering a dangerous phase. There will be terrible times ahead.”
“We must take the fight to whatever dark forces are gathering out there. You and I – together.” He raised his eyes and looked across to the Kerry mainland 9 miles away. “But first, we each have our own matters to attend to.”
Lucinda glanced up at him, puzzled. “I must search for Joe as soon as we get off this island. But you?”
“I have some personal concerns to deal with. Shouldn’t take more than a few days.” He grinned at her. “More than that I’m not prepared to say at the moment.”
Lucinda took Thomas’ hand and began to walk down the Saddle towards the southern steps, pulling him after her. “Let’s get down to the jetty and be ready for when the boats arrive. I don’t want to stay on this island for a moment longer than I have to.”
SOME OTHER BOOKS BY TERRY THORP
Lucinda: Retribution (Book 2, The Lucinda Trilogy)
The image showed Christ with his head slumped to his right hand side with the eyes closed. He was naked above the waist. His left arm was curved round the stem of a Cross. Several other of the Arma Christi were obvious to her – the wounds of his Passion were displayed in his side, hands and feet, on his head was a crown of thorns.
“Vir Dolorum!” she whispered in reverence to herself. “Man of Sorrows.” She moved closer, examining each part of the oaken image that had darkened with age. She knew something about the iconic, devotional image of the ‘Man of Sorrows’. It had developed during the 13th Century and was particularly popular in Northern Europe. It was the most visual expression of later Middle Ages piety. She ran her eyes over every detail of the six foot-high statue, starting at the top and working her way down to the feet, kneeling to ensure she missed nothing. Then she stood up and walked quickly back down through the nave to the church entrance. .
She made her way to the cloisters where she found Thomas still leaning against a pillar, staring with unseeing eyes towards the skies. He sensed her approach and turned towards her.
“He has come,” he shouted to her, unable to keep a measure of excitement out of his voice.
“What the shit are you talking about?” she called back, slightly annoyed. She was eager to tell him what she had found and his words were interfering in this.
“The Great Lord, the Highest of the Highest, the First amongst Equals.”
“Who the hell is he?”
“Anzu, the storm-bird - one of the great gods of ancient Babylon. He stole the Tablet of Destinies from Enlil, Lord of the Wind, which gave Anzu control over all things. But he was then defeated by Marduk who claimed to have slain Anzu. But Anzu had escaped and went on to establish a nucleus of disaffected gods around him, out of which grew the Fallen Lords of the Paths of Darkness. Ever since that time, they’ve been trying to create a new Chaos out of which they can fire a new Tablet of Destinies and so seize control of the Universe once more.”
“Then that’s got to be bad news.” If the Fallen Lords were starting to intervene, she wondered what the Lords of the Path of Purest Light were up to. Were they deliberately holding back, having taken a fit of pique because of her refusal to obey their orders? Were they just biding their time, waiting and watching to see what actions the Fallen Lords would take? Or perhaps they had decided to abandon the world to its fate. Was it now all up to the Ninth Master and her to rescue what they could out of the ashes of its destruction?
“Not good, definitely not good,” said Thomas. “It means that the Universe is indeed now entering a new Time of Chaos. I read about it years ago in the Annals but never believed it would really happen.”
“Well, I’ve some good news for you, so cheer up.” She took his hand and began to lead him away.
He resisted, pointing his hand to the sky. “First tell me what you see up there.”
“The sky is almost as black as night, although it is only four in the afternoon and storm clouds are piling up overhead. I’m sure you can feel the wind picking up strongly. The crowds are leaving the Abbey and streaming across the causeway to their cars and buses. I sense an air of panic.” She tugged at him again. There were deep rumbles of thunder and lightning flashed. “Where is Angelina? Have you seen her?”
Thomas shook his head. He shuffled after Lucinda. “Of course I haven’t. How could I see her?”
“I’m sorry. I forgot.”
“I assumed she must be with you. Have you found anything?”
Most of the tourists had left. Those that still remained were hurrying out, anxious expressions on their faces. A baby began to cry, its thin screams filling the silence of the great church. Everyone felt something was happening but no one knew what. Some lights had come on but they struggled to shine in the oppressive darkness that flooded through the tall windows above the apse that only half an hour previously had streamed with daylight.
“Yes, I have.” Lucinda began to run and sensing her urgency, Thomas ran with her. They reached the oak statue and Lucinda knelt, pulling him down with her. There was virtually no light to see by but he needed none. She took his right hand and placed it on one of the statue’s feet.
“What is it?” he asked.
“A wooden statue depicting Christ as the Man of Sorrows.” She pushed his hand around. “Feel it? The nails – they’ve been hammered into the wood.”
Thomas felt around, his sensitive fingers following the contours of the carved oaken foot until they felt a hard, metal nail head.
“The second nail’s embedded in the other foot,” said Lucinda. “How will we get them out?”
Thomas gripped the nail head. He twisted and pulled at it, exerting all the strength he had but with little impact. He took her hand and placed it on the nail. “You can do it,” he whispered. “If these are the nails we are looking for, then the two nails you already possess will ensure you pull them out. There’s nothing you can’t do, if you put your mind to it.”
“But these are supposed to be your nails. If I pull them out, I’ll become their owner.”
He shrugged. “Yes, you’ll then have the four nails of the Crucifixion. You’ll be all-powerful. Perhaps that is what is meant to happen.”
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The Lion in the Morning (Book 1, The Savannalands Series)
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The Brewery Owner’s Wife (Book 2, the Savannalands Series)
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