When the Psalm ended, a quiet hush descended upon the whole company. The King simply took his seat motioning for everyone to follow suit. The whole assembly sat in silence reflecting upon the profound solemnity of the occasion.
After many minutes, the King motioned for Shepherd Amos to pray. This he did, requesting God’s aid and wisdom for what was to be done.
After this, Twombly stood up as the reader. He had been given a prepared speech which explained the need for secrecy regarding the proposed pilgrimage of the Patternstone. If fewer numbers of people knew what was happening on the pilgrimage, there was less chance for information to fall into the wrong hands. Consequently, the ensuing counsel would consist of a small group who had previously received invitation from King Titus.
The remaining people in the feasting Hall were encouraged to enjoy the music and pray for God’s wisdom regarding the Council. A small group were escorted once again into the Council chamber.
“From whence derives these patterns?
From whence, this use of time?
From heaven’s throne,
to call our own,
reflected in the Patternstone.
Ancient builders made them known.
‘ere hammers rang to chime.”
As Ezra finished the poem again, the chamber continued to resonate with his voice. A hush fell again and he spoke: “Over the centuries, we have made annual pilgrimages to the seven cathedrals. We have always renewed them with the Patternstone.”
“Now we face a new situation, however,” continued Ezra. “Though there have been years when the pilgrimage was not made, never has it been neglected so long. After a year or so, the gargoyles begin to leap from their gutter spouts. Never has it taken more than a year of this scourge to motivate us to pilgrimage. As you know, we have endured increasing trouble from the gargoyles for 13 years.”
I hand was raised. Twombly, who was moderating the Council, motioned for Brownbeard to ask a question. “Has anyone had trouble Monday through Saturday?” he asked with an air of humility and deference. “They trouble us on Sunday. They don’t bother my produce stand. The bother us as we come in to Adelphia to attend the Cathedral. Many of my friends began worshiping on their farms to avoid them on Sunday mornings. Some have continued to worship in small groups, but many have begun to make Sunday like any other day. Good friends of mine have forsaken worship altogether.”
Brownbeard paused and gazed at Twombly, Ezra and the King as if to be sure he should continue. “Please continue,” prompted Twombly.
“Well, thank God, the stone has been found.” I know three families who are planning to attend this Sunday now that the threat of gargoyles has passed here in Adelphia.”
Cheers went up at this.
“It is not easy for me to send my daughter Millie on this venture. But she sincerely desires to risk her life in this cause. She has been singing Psalms and studying the history of Highpattern.” My suggestion is this: could we obtain the help of the local farmers outside of each city before we attempt entrance into the cathedrals? I know many of them may help much when they realize that the Patternstone has been found.”
“Absolutely!” replied Ezra. “When Queen Tirzah and her retinue would march toward Phesus or Myrrh the farmers and townsfolk would begin to fall in with them. By the time the Queen reached each Cathedral to renew its stone, nearly the entire city along with those in the outlying districts would be gathered.”
“By your leave, Ezra,” interjected King Titus. (His role as King gave him privilege with respect to councils. He could interrupt them at any time.) “So now we come to it. As Brownbeard says, some farmers still remember after 13 years. But let us keep in mind that those farmers surround Adelphia where we have been more faithful than most cities to remember the patterns– with the possible exception of Myrrh. The difficulty we are facing is that many have already forgotten the patterns. I suspect that most of the local farmers and tradesmen near Sarbad have given up on them.”
At a wave from the king, a man clothed in a cloister robe stood forth. “Please let me introduce to you Harnold who has ridden in haste from Sarbad.”
Martha remembered the face of the man she had seen from parapet near the Chapel that afternoon. The man still looked weary though he had been washed and given a meal. The hair on the left side of his head was singed.
“The wrath of Chaozz the Black is terrible!” Said Harnold. “Never in our history can we remember such a display of his terror. Over the past 13 years, people have observed him flying further and further from the Black Mountain. But, last Friday evening, he simply went on a rampage! Reports poured in of his terrors all night Friday night. By Saturday morning, we saw that he had gained a large following of gargoyles and seemed to be headed for Adelphia. We sincerely feared for you, but we had no way to warn you who could ride faster than they could fly.
I was chosen to ride here as fast as I might. Around midday on Saturday, I saw the gargoyles descend upon Adelphia. I thought perhaps all was lost. Chaozz, true to his ways, was circling the perimeter of Adelphia, but not attacking the city himself. Suddenly, a brightness appeared from your Cathedral. The best I can do to describe it is that it was like a rainbow emanating from it and flinging all the gargoyles away. Many of them rushed back toward Sarbad. Chaozz himself was thrown back from the city by the rainbow. It was as if he had been stung by it and he flew away from it with amazing speed.
Alas, I had not yet attained the borders of Adelphia. The rainbow simply stopped at the border, like a shield of protection around the city. One of the gargoyles who had been flung back toward Sarbad fell onto the road not 15 feet from me. In his mindless frenzy, he injured both me and my horse before he could see that I did not intend to stand in his way. Thankfully, he continued to try to fly off after Chaozz. After this, I spent three days tracking their movements. Chaozz has definitely retreated to Sarbad, but he has dispatched a steady stream of gargoyles to patrol your borders. Knowing that today was your feast day, I endeavored to journey here and warn you of his movements. I stand ready to help in any way I can.”
“Thank you Harnold,” said King Titus. After this, the King called upon Duman to convey his discovery of Rasha’s movements during the sneaky business on Tuesday. Scrapper stood dutifully and almost seem to nod and confirm Duman’s report.
Next Miriam reported on the advantage singing gave even in battle situations with the gargoyles and the Minotaur. Everyone nodded in agreement with this after the demonstration in the feasting Hall. She also demonstrated the use of the Treeano and small silver horns to magnify the singing voice.
Lastly, Listener was brought forward. He was bandaged and mostly immobilized on a rolling chair. His voice was weak and his face was white. He gave a brief account of his part in the adventures, calling attention to the use of silver tipped arrows and swords when dealing with gargoyles.
In honor of her mother, Queen Tirzah, Queen Lydia was called forward to propose the pilgrimage. Her beautiful queenly festivity gown shimmered in the torchlight of the Council chamber. She sat next to the King and began:
“I think all of you know that I would very much like to rescue my mother. The Patternstone truly is magical and we have seen Queen Tirzah and know that she is held captive in a cave somewhere near the black mountain. But, I fear if we attempt to rescue her first, our rescuers would be overpowered by Chaozz and his minions. If there is a chance of rescuing her, I believe it comes with fulfilling the mission. We must set all seven cathedrals free for worship again.”
“Therefore, I believe it would be best to begin by traveling toward a Cathedral that Chaozz will least expect. He hopes to lure us to Sarbad, and that is closest, but it is too much to risk with the children. What then?”
She motioned to Twombly who used a long pointer on a very large map which everyone could see.
“Laodice?” asked Lydia. “It would be the next obvious choice. But Mayor Kleearos has not been consistent in promoting worship. We can’t count on his aid. We have attempted to be neighborly and we do a fair amount of trade with them. We must remain friendly toward them. Please, all of you, welcome them to come worship at our Cathedral. They must see the value of the patterns. Let us be hospitable and winsome.”
“But I do not think that they have the commitment to withstand a full-scale attack of gargoyles yet. Therefore, let us consider a third option. It is an option that Chaozz will not expect. Let us start with Phesus. The road is more difficult. In fact, there is no road in places. I propose going through the mountains.”
She looked around the room. No one spoke. Heads were bowed in contemplation of what she had said.
Finally, Ezra spoke up: “As to the passage of the mountains, I can say that it has been done, but the way as dangerous. Others know more of this. But as to gaining the Cathedral at Phesus next, I think it is a good plan. Some there will be receptive and it is a cultural center. If we were able to win those who perform the plays and paint the pictures, it would help communicate the patterns to others.”
King Titus spoke up, “can anyone here see a major flaw in this plan? We do not want to take such a venture lightly, but too much deliberation could also paralyze us.”
Listener, who was still present, gave his thoughts: “I have been through the mountains. The going is very rough. But the advantages of secrecy would seem to outweigh the danger. I have not fully explored the caves which descend into Phesus, but there is opportunity for shelter and secrecy. Jeremy, would you show us a few of your display items?”
With that, Listener motioned forward Jeremy, the blacksmith’s son. He brought rope and pulleys and stakes and a harness which he had made and set them on the table in the middle.
“With my guidance over the past few years, Jeremy has fashioned a system of rope and harness whereby we may descend into caves and navigate cliffs or steep terrain,” said Listener. “If these items are used wisely, the mountains can be traversed safely with God’s help.”
“You have answered the only objection I had,” said Brownbeard.
“Can we then decide here and now upon this pilgrimage?” said the King. “Any further objection?” He paused to give ample time. “It is decided then. To Phesus we send our pilgrims!”