“He’s breathing! Malachi, if I may…your sword,” said Duman.
Malachi looked at Listener, stunned.
Effortlessly, Duman used the fiery blade to slice through the straps on Listener’s dented breastplate. Then he gently adjusted Listener’s body. “Scrapper, guard him!” he commanded as he bent down to check for a pulse. He gave a scruffy little pat. Scrapper sat, knowing to stay put. “We must leave him unconscious.”
All of the companions were standing now, just inside the Open Door. “Time to go in,” said Duman. “Martha, you must hold the necklace upward in order to fend off the gargoyles. They will not be able to stand its light, but do not look at it yourself.”
“Like this?” Martha demonstrated.
“Yes. When you get to the very center of the floor mosaic, pull out the Adelphia stone. It will fit exactly into the small depression at the center of the mosaic. The seventh facet of the stone must face East. Mercy, you must be ready to guide her hand if she falters. Malachi, you and I must protect them with your sword.”
Duman gazed in. Nearly all the gargoyles had gone to battle in the square. Only two were left as sentries inside. These stood between the companions and their goal.
“Malachi, you and I will have to go in first. Let’s try to lure those two away!”
Malachi had never felt so afraid or courageous at the same time in his life. Adrenaline pounded through his limbs and head. Only Duman’s calm actions kept him from fainting on the spot.
As soon as they stepped through, the gargoyles charged at them. Duman moved them quickly to the left: away from the door. Malachi knew that there was no way out of this. He took the courageous step through the door.
Instantly, the leader spotted him. The creature was about 7 feet tall with big fangs protruding below his chin. It obviously feared the Ramfaya sword which was burning with its familiar grey fire. It dove to Malachi’s left, attempting to outflank the sword. Duman simply kept both Malachi and the sword at the ready, rotating his stance.
As with Listener, Malachi had actually got used to Duman’s promptings and moved to where Duman wanted him. It was like a circling dance., luring the creatures away.
Miriam, who had waited with the girls behind the Open Door, could see that it was time to act. The second gargoyle would attack from behind in seconds. “Now!” said Miriam and began singing a psalm into her little horn. As soon as the three girls crossed the plane of the Open Door, there was a gasp of silence from the gargoyles. The singing startled them for about three running strides.
Miriam’s singing was interrupted by a loud wail from the front door 70 yards away. The presence of the Patternstone so close to its objective was like a spiritual shockwave.
Malachi saw the attention of the two gargoyles turn to his sisters. He realized that he must try to stop their motion. Moving as quickly as he thought about it, he slashed the wing of the smaller gargoyle. With the backslash, he tried to kill the larger one. The stroke fell short, however, and he was only able to cut off a few inches of tail. The creature became airborne while the smaller gargoyle was still running toward his sisters. Duman picked Malachi up and charged.
Meanwhile, Martha followed instructions, keeping the necklace raised up with its blinding light. It felt magnetic, drawing her to the center of the floor. She saw the beautiful mosaic: circular and radiating out from its center like a Sun with seven rays.
“Look out!” yelled Mercy.
As soon as she had yelled, Mercy swung Martha around with the necklace just in time to blind the gargoyle descending upon them. The Patternstone held up in faith is a gargoyle’s worst nightmare. It’s light and power were like a bomb going off and seemed to actually physically strike it. The creature reeled to the side. Unfortunately, it was the side where Miriam was. The heavy leg of the gargoyle struck knocking her senseless. Her singing was cut short. Martha was stunned as she saw Miriam hit the ground.
“Martha, it’s now or never!” said Mercy. She saw that they needed to cover the few yards and finish the job.
Just as they got to the center of the floor, so did Gothlond. He swooped in through the broken rose window. The other gargoyles were confused, but not he. He had failed in the feasting hall, but not this time. He did not look at the bright Patternstone, but simply reached out and took it from Martha’s grasp.
There was nothing she could do to resist the strength of the stone creature. Though she wanted to hold on, she knew somehow that he would simply break her hand and arm. “Nooo!” She cried. But she let go and rolled out of the way.
Things would’ve gone really badly here, except that Duman and Malachi had been charging in from the side. Just as Gothlond got his prize, but before he could gloat or move out, Malachi’s sword pierced him.
“You better not hurt my sisters!” he shouted. At the moment of impact, he thrust the burning grey fire upward.
This isn’t a pleasant subject, but the physical sensation of thrusting a magical sword into an enemy made of stone is very satisfying. This time it felt a little less like butter and a little more like, well, poking a chocolate cake when it has come out of the oven to see if it is done.
When Gothlond had grabbed the Patternstone with his hands, Malachi had simply thrust upward, straight into the middle of Gothlond. The sword hilt actually felt cold. Gothlond gave a hideous wail as he dematerialized into a wisp of smoke.
The necklace lay on the floor. Everything was in slow motion. Other gargoyles were rushing in, about to pounce. But Mercy had been paying attention, waiting for her chance. She dove for the necklace and in one motion, took the Adelphia Stone from its setting as King Titus had shown them. Then she looked for Martha who was just snapping out of a state of shock. She looked up just in time to see Duman and Malachi pierce another gargoyle.
“Martha… now!” said Mercy. She tossed the necklace to Martha. The Adelphia Stone fit perfectly. There was a brilliant flash of multicolored light and a noise like a rushing mighty wind. The gargoyles which had been swooping toward them were suddenly sucked out through the front entrance of the Cathedral like sand going down into an hourglass.
And, then, a great calm.
Colorful sunlight streamed in through the stained-glass. There were no gargoyles left inside the Cathedral. The battle sounds, which had been almost earthshaking, had completely ceased. Rays of sunlight showed the dust settling in the cavernous hall. Martha’s head grew wobbly, and, for the second time that day, she fainted and knew no more.