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by Shade ©1995
The knock upon the humble door broke their attention. It was thrust open so quickly the hinges were almost shattered as a man was hurled across the floor to their feet. "Traitor! There be a traitor amongst us!" 

Robert took in the familiar visage of the two watchmen he had placed in shadows outside, striding in after the wreak of a man. Their pale faces were livid with fear and anger. "The devil's own are just behind him. He could not wait to crow, Robert."
The hair on Robert's neck stood on end as he stared down at his brother Rolland, his face bloodied and smeared with hate. "What have you done!" The Lady Serena shook him from his spell. "It is nigh too late for that. Look at the talisman!" Already it throbbed, with the emotions around it into heightened prisms of spiraling light.
The seductive whisper of an arrow's flight struck the hallmark of the hard oak door, then another appeared in the back of the watchman standing in its way. Scarcely had he fallen than a rain of arrows descended. 

With all the rage in him, Robert sprang to the broken door and heaved it back in place. "We are caught!" The cry of despair was followed by cackling laughter from Rolland as he stared up into the scene from maddened eyes. "Shall we die together as we were born together, brother, kicking and screaming at each other?" 

"By our mother's blood, why have you done this!"
 
"Wait!" Serena's voice spat into the heated cursing around her. "Gather! This is no world for us. Come!" 

Robert's back was to the door, braced against torture and death. Already, fire was dancing outside the walls. Smoke curled in tiny searching fingers through the cracks of the doorway.

Rolland pulled himself to his feet, one arm dragging at his side, broken. "You and your mysteries. They will die where you lay, all of you! I have put an end to this misery. Better our people have a future than live in the hovel of such a past. Now our people will listen."
 
"Quickly, to me, while there is yet a moment." Serena commanded. The small group hastened to her, each hugging tight to the other, all looking at the jewel spinning high in her hand. "Robert, join us. I have need of you."

She watched the struggle in his eyes. The murderous rage that was upon him carried him to Rolland's side with dagger raised. "Leave him. He will yet be a thorn in their side. To me now!" Robert staggered back as hands dragged him to the circle. 

Smoke wreathed the group of innocents and fire licked at them as Rolland watched . Soldiers broke through the doorway but reeled back from the heat and fire. Rolland fled for the doorway, crying out a traitor's code word to save his burning hide. Each of the believers held fast, disappearing in the flames without a cry as their sanctuary tumbled about them.
"There are no bodies nor bones. It is as if they never were." Martin, The King's emissary watched as Rolland poked through the rubble. "They could not have escaped. My men saw no-one leave but you. You, yourself swore none left." 

"Aye, they were foolish but brave." Rolland felt a prickle of fear dance down his spine. "I yet feel their eyes upon me, even as I turn and see only shadows. They talk to me at night from the Other World until I am half mad for sleep."

"If you were not already mad, we would have slain you long ago. Here, take your money and go. Your wild dreams do not interest me. You'd best travel as far as the money will take you. I hear your death is already written on the walls here." 

"No, they tell me to stay, and my life will be long. I cannot bear to look in Robert's eyes, but it is his voice that is full sworn."

"Be off with you, mad man. They are dead in all but your faithless dreams. Be off before I shorten your destiny and turn even your dreams into nothing." 

A flash of light spun in Martin's eyes as Rolland turned, nodding, mumbling to himself of Druid myths come real. The shadows crawled after him and the cold wind moaned, whispering in an unknown tongue.
 
In the shadows of the Other World, Robert and Serena watched this final act, their arms entwined together from the security of their ghostly haven where their small band had escaped. The glowing orb of the jewel pulsed with unearthly power as it hung from her neck. "Life flee's here and grows. See how our shadow land gains strength from the wanton destruction of our mother world? Life flee's here and grows. In this we will yet have our revenge." 

Behind them the towering monoliths of Stonehenge rose in mirrored power, alive and well in this place of wholesome beauty. Robert looked into the jewel, turning one last glance into it towards that shadow of power which lay in ruin on a distant plain they once had called home.
The sea crashed unerringly against the shore falling in a fine mist. At it's edge, blood called to blood, and Robert whispered in the wind, yet again, in haunting refrain. "Life calls it's own, dear brother. Listen and wander, telling all you see, what happened here. When your world chokes on it's own vomit, we will return and gather our own back to us, here, in the world of love we are creating."

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Revised: March 11, 1999
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