“Is everyone alright ?” Asked Listener.
“A little shook up!” said Mercy. The companions were stumbling a little as they held the rope and followed listener through the other side of the labyrinth.
Mercy had heard her parents talk about an adrenaline rush and how it left you weak and shaky. “Weak and shaky?” she thought, “How about ready to faint and shook?” As if in answer to Mercy’s thoughts, Miriam took out the flask and gave everyone another drink of the new wine.
“Grab the rope everyone,” said Listener. “Timing is everything now.” It was uncanny the way listener knew exactly where to turn in the labyrinth. He spoke up again, “Duman says there are only 34 measures left before I must shoot the arrow into the square. There are two doors that we must go through. The first gets us into the crypt chapel below the level of the sanctuary floor, under the Cathedral. The King has given us the Key of David for that.”
The greenish glow had faded from Malachi’s sword, which was comforting. They had got past the Minotaur. Now the edge of the steel began to glow with a grey light.
“Gargoyles ahead,” said Malachi forgetting to be quiet.
“Talk low,” said Listener. “I don’t think we will meet gargoyles until we hit the Cathedral floor. They will not be able to get into the crypt because the Open Door will be shut for them.”
“Oh, I get it. The Open Door is a one-way door,” said Mercy.
“Not really. It is a magical door,” said Listener. “It’s purpose is to give access to the sanctuary for anyone who is fleeing and has not received a fair trial. That person could go either direction anytime–the door will be open. The door is also open for worshipers. However, if someone has evil intent, the door will be shut to pursuers.”
“25 measures,” said Duman.
The group had now arrived at David’s Door which signified the successful completion of the labyrinth and away in to the crypt. At its center was a beautiful mosaic depicting a King on his dais with a purple robe and golden crown.
“Take courage,” said Listener. “Now for the last lap.”
“Can I come with you when you shoot the arrow?” asked Malachi. Weariness had almost consumed Martha and Mercy, but he was still ready for action with his little energetic frame.
“Yes, you’re my man,” said Listener, patting Malachi on the back. “Here’s what we’re going to do. Together, you and I go into the crypt chapel, cross it, run up the spiral stairs, and through the Open Door. You guard me with your sword and I fire the arrow into the town square. If the King and his troops stand ready, it should take less than a minute for the gargoyles to be distracted and run to the front door of the Cathedral facing the square. If some of them come toward us, Malachi, sadly, we must dispatch them with your sword. Otherwise, they will raise the alarm. My silver tipped arrows can only slow them down.”
He looked at Malachi, “the only weapon we have which can dematerialize them is your Sword. It will send them into the abyss forever. Don’t do this unless you have to. After all,” he said with a wry smile, “we need good gutter spouts! Our objective is simply to get Martha to the center of the floor.”
Listener turned to Martha: “you must wait here until we come back for you. When you do go up, stay on course–no matter what. All the minions of hell may be thrown at you in that moment. Sing with Miriam. Don’t let fear get the best of you. You must expect the gargoyles to rush toward you, for they will sense the stone. This is a community effort: Trust us to block for you.”
“You’re going to block for me?” Martha asked.
“Here’s where you come in,” he said to Mercy. “You must be the backup for your sister. Martha, use the blinding light of the Patternstone and sing as you did with the Minotaur. If Martha faints or falters, you must guide her hand with the Adelphia stone to the center of the floor mosaic in the middle of the Cathedral. Malachi and Duman will ward off the enemy with the Ramfaya sword.”
“12 measures left,” said Duman. “The Lord be with you!”
Miriam pulled a beautiful golden key out of her pocket. “Behold the Key of David,” she said, as she placed it in the lock. As soon as she turned the key, the organ in the Cathedral began to make beautiful music. “Sing!” She shouted. Miriam began to sing a warrior Psalm that was simple enough for the others to join in. It was majestic! As she sang, Listener sprang through the door taking Malachi and Scrapper with him.
They sped across the crypt, up the set of spiral stairs, and there stood a huge imposing door. It was a double door standing under a Gothic arch with beautiful lettering and a carving of the Patternstone radiating into pictures of life such as farming, marketplaces, sewing and the like. The seventh ray radiated into the Cathedral itself.
Malachi’s sword was a burning grey fire. He swung it in an arc like a glow stick. “They’re in there,” he whispered.
“We seek sanctuary,” Listener whispered in the direction of the door. Silently, it swung open of its own accord.
They looked through the door into the Cathedral. They could see in without being seen. Listener touched the tip of his arrow to the fire on Malachi’s sword. It had been prepared with oil and quickly lit up.
There was one gargoyle standing sentry by the door. He was fully awake and alert, sensing their presence but not knowing where they were. “He can’t see or hear us,” Listener said to Malachi. He can’t even see this flaming arrow. Now, sadly, we must slay him. It is the only way I can get the shot off. I will grasp the sword with you and thrust, then, you jump back through this door while I shoot the arrow! Got it?”
Malachi nodded. His hands were trembling.
Together they stabbed in through the door opening and the magical sword went through the gargoyle with a searing flash. The creature wailed before it turned into a wisp of smoke. Quickly, as planned, Malachi jumped back through the Open Door and turned to watch Listener. He could see the black shadows of the other gargoyles rushing towards him from across the Cathedral floor using their wings to glide over pews. But Listener’s years of training showed themselves. He remained focused on the shot. Despite the tons of hideous stone racing toward him, he didn’t miss a beat. Malachi saw him stand in his archery stance, pull back the bow mightily, and fire: one, two, three… The flaming arrow shot nearly 200 yards right through the center of the broken rose window out into the town square. Reflected moonlight provided the target. The rose window was perhaps 70 yards away, so even though it was some 4 yards across, it was like hitting a bulls-eye at the usual 30 yards.
Listener was an experienced archer. With the gargoyles running toward him, he had to resist the temptation to drop the bow right after the arrow release because it might still affect the shot. He held the bow steady another full half second as a gargoyle struck, knocking the bow out of his hand. He just had time to step aside from the path of the first gargoyle. He avoided the head-on collision. But, even the outstretched arm of a stone creature running toward you can do plenty of damage.
What saved his life was the Open Door. The gargoyle slammed him back through the doorway. For Listener, this meant sliding through into the crypt landing. But for the gargoyle, this meant a very solid magical door, which he took full in the face.
Malachi watched, frozen with terror. The gargoyle had broken to pieces on what looked like nothing but air. Listener was thrown into the landing with a dented breastplate. Malachi saw other gargoyles coming up and throwing their weight against the door. He could sense hundreds of pounds of mass thudding on the door making deep booms. The Open Door, however, remained shut for them.
He tried to wake up Listener: “Get up! Get up! Oh please get up!”
Listener did not stir. Scrapper whimpered near Listener’s face. Malachi leaned in and felt Listener’s breath against his cheek. He was alive but unconscious.
Malachi was riveted to the spot as he realized the next decision was up to him. Scrapper looked up, and Malachi followed his gaze. Something had turned them the attention of the gargoyles away from banging on the door. There was a tumultuous noise of battle coming from the front of the Cathedral. Silver tipped arrows were flying in from the square. Some were finding their mark. Malachi could see the forms of a few gargoyles sprawled on the floor.
Suddenly, one of the arrows stuck in the Open Door with a thud, seeming to be suspended in midair. That did the trick. Malachi woke from paralyzing fear and knew what he had to do.
“C’mon Scrapper!” he said. Using the flaming sword for light, he ran back down the spiral stairs to get help.