King Titus was no fool. He read old Proverbs. He read history. He prepared regularly for drought or famine by laying up stores to share with the people in their need. He prepared for sickness and plague by building a huge hospital to the west of the city. And he wisely prepared for invasion.
For many years, beginning over 1000 years ago, Adelphia had cultivated intelligent Castle building. The kingdom had created a labyrinth of tunnels and secret passages known to guards, servants, and the royal family. King Titus now carried special keys giving him access to hidden rooms.
He knew that the stability safety of his kingdom partly depended on keeping the Royal family, including himself, safe. Some thought it a very noble thing for a King to sacrifice his own life in defense of his people. Titus was prepared to do that. On the other hand, he knew that if he could live to a ripe old age it would be better for the kingdom. Consistency, peace and stability meant good conditions for people to prosper. He wasn’t going to throw his life away in some vainglorious way.
Because of this, the royal palace in Adelphia had many secret passageways. The Chapel was no exception. His father, King Thomas, had taken the precaution of creating a trap door on the side of the altar which connected by passageways to his bedroom chambers.
As the gargoyles were smashing on the Windows, his childhood memories came flooding back like a dream. One night, when Titus was about 12, his father had waked him and they had come to this very Chapel…
Together, they sang the vespers. Titus liked singing vespers with his father– snippets of Psalms and prayers. Just sitting in his dad’s lap or feeling his big hands and just being with him! When the two of them were in the Chapel alone, it was like heaven and earth were connecting around them in the room. Thomas stopped singing and sat in silence for a few minutes. Titus felt a sense of awe and wonder in his father’s arms.
With a small chuckle, Thomas broke the silence saying, “where do you suppose you would go if the palace were under attack right now?”
“I don’t know, Dad,” said Titus.
“Look here,” said King Thomas. He showed Titus the trap door skillfully placed on the side of the altar in such a way that you could roll into it. “Ready?” And to Titus’ lasting delight, his father rolled into the trap door and disappeared!
Normally, he was afraid of dark unknown places in the Palace, but chasing his dad caused him to overcome his fear. He rolled in sideways and found a little slope kept him rolling like a grassy lawn. At the bottom, he bumped into his father and the two of them laughed and wrestled!
King Thomas then lit a small lantern light and began to work with Titus teaching him the number of steps to each turning of the passageway. The two of them had already done this in the three passages leading out of Titus’ bedroom…
With a start, King Titus is mind snapped back to the present. Three gargoyles smashed through the windows from different sides at once. It was a well-coordinated attack, but 15 seconds too late. Martha and the necklace were already 10 stairs down past the iron door.
These gargoyles operated mainly by a sixth sense, but the other five weren’t particularly keen. The Patternstone drew them.
With a deafening crash, they came through the stained-glass windows, pounded across the short space, and hurtled themselves against the iron door which Duman had just secured from the other side. They did this a few times, bruising themselves (if stone could be considered “bruised”), before they realized its futility.
The poor creatures reluctantly turned their attention back to the Chapel guided by the evil will of their master. Unfortunately for them, King Titus hadn’t wasted a second. As soon as the gargoyles had broken the plane of the Windows, He had immediately somersaulted to the trap door as he had done with his father so many times growing up. He lifted the latch, rolled in sideways, pulled the trapdoor shut and locked it from the inside.
One of the creatures smote the side of the altar, sensing where the King had gone. It did some damage, but the heavy mahogany was not to be broken easily, even by stone creatures.
King Titus’ two guards had hidden themselves in the corner. Now they sprang out and lunged with their silver tipped swords. The silver bit into the gargoyles and burned. Not wanting to be thrown forever into the abyss, and foiled in their mission, the creatures quickly flew back through the void where stained-glass windows had been.
Meanwhile, with practiced motions, the King had first rolled, then crawled, then run down the hidden passageway which led toward the front gate.
He arrived at the gate with a fairly severe bruise on his left side, but otherwise, he had hardly broken stride in fleeing from the Chapel. Bartholomew, the captain of his personal retinue of guards had already arranged to meet King Titus where the secret passage could be pushed from inside to come out just before the palace gate onto a large porch of sorts overlooking the city.
“How many did you see fly at the Chapel? asked the King.
“Must’ve been at least three, Sire. Look!” replied Bartholomew.
The King looked out over Adelphia, now bathed in moonlight. The gargoyles appeared like a flock of overlarge birds. They appeared black above him, but reflected silver when they were below him in the city. He could see that some of them had flown toward the palace, but were now wheeling in confused spirals. The largest portion of them surrounded Cathedral square.
“The Patternstone is probably down in the labyrinth by now and so they can no longer sense its presence,” said the King. My mother, Tizrah used the labyrinth to hide herself and the Patternstone from unfriendly eyes. She would actually sleep down there until the gargoyles gave up, then come up and the Cathedral and turn them all back to stone. Do you have a regimen in the square?”
“Uriah is there with perhaps 200, Sire,” responded Bartholomew. “They have left a large space 30 yards to the east of the fountain for the flaming arrow as arranged. They are generally along the edges to avoid being hit by one of the creatures.”
“Well, it is time,” said the King. “I don’t relish attacking them openly.”
“Nor do I, Sire,” said Bartholomew.