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Time beat onwards interminably. The aeons flowed past like the wave-
The eras swept by. The sun now looked down on a world that was sat-
On the surface nothing seemed to have changed; the great drifting mats
The millennia rolled forwards. Genetic variation begat the develop-
The uneven struggle continued over even more vast passages of time
He reflected on that which was most precious in this world. Of course he
Far below Aquila had awakened. She felt uneasy that her mate had left
For a few moments he knew not where he lay. All around him there
Doubtless he would have remained in this entranced state much
Their eyes glowed with a warmth and intensity that were altogether un-
But they appeared a little taken aback by his reaction. He struggled to re-
He reassured himself with the recollection that he was confident that this
It was the woman who first seemed to grasp what was passing between
The conversation from that point onwards was most enlightening. His
Thus he sojourned in this delightful realm. There was no counting of
Where factual or emotional communications possessed quite distinct
What would the frame of reference be? On the next awakening the same
Cold penetrated through the sleep of the man as the first faint touches
About him his fellows were stirring with groans and grunts. Not one
Now they barely mustered twenty-five all told; and they were on the
He looked around at his friends. All had that same despondent and de-
He did not even bother to look behind him as he stumbled down the
He could hear no noises behind him so he guessed that none were fol-
His sight was now almost totally obscured by the blood dripping
She was dead. There was no sign as to the cause; there was not a mark
With much noisy chattering and excited shouting the body of the deer
The death of the deer marked a dramatic change in the fortunes of the
People would travel from far away to seek his counsel. He took a wife
But the passage of the years led inevitably to the approach of that old
He was blind now and entering the last year of his life if he but knew
It was an autumn day and the sun was very low in sky. It was ap-
And then it was as if all these years had been but a dream. His wives and
And so that eagle consciousness whirled endlessly from world to
The night sky rose darkly above his head. He found himself again ly-
The night died away into the silence. But if he attended carefully even
Beneath him through the half open window he could hear the sounds
Masters of Psychical Study at the most prestigious school of learning in
To one side of the room stood a couch that was presently occupied by
Light dawned even upon the preoccupied scholarly mind of the inquisit-
The master had returned to his perusal of the script. The writing was
Master roared the last with utter venom. So vehement was his declara-
He knew with complete certainty that before him stood the person who
Through the veil of his rage the master could just distinguish the shiver-
He could not be certain that this new realm would be any more friendly
He had already passed well beyond the boundaries of the farm. It was
Bold as the spirit may be the body will make its demands regardless
Though he was driven forward by the excitement of this undertaking his
It was an affectation on his part to pretend ignorance of such trifles as
As he was passing through the doorway the master looked up. Perhaps
As he busied himself cutting up the vegetables and meat he pondered
The stew was bubbling nicely as Celarent slopped the juices on the
Celarent? enquired his superior. Well sir. Very well. Almost there I
Celarent looked over his shoulder to ensure that it was indeed the master
Mmmmphh. Ggggghhh. Rawwwwlllll! were the appreciative grunts
Not at all. Now where was I? Ah yes! How long is it? For a moment he
He was never sure if it was intended to further his knowledge or simply
Frustrated by the fact that the kings forces had anticipated their ambi-
His thoughts again returned to the task. He recalled his great excite-
The problem was not the language but the dreadful condition of the ma-
Master were to have any chance of making sense of this information. He
The young boy looked down upon the open slope before him - and
Yessssss. Melaskkoli was not at all sure where all this might lead but at
Melaskkoli towered easily over the other. This sense of physical superi-
Ahhh. Visitiiing relaaatives. Yesss. Thaaaat wassss whaaat I tooo was
The master awoke to the sounds - and quite delicious smells - of his
Celarent had presented to him. It was largely pointless now to speculate
The master looked at him blankly. Youve finished your meal? Yes thank
He had not figured out how he might bring down any prey since he had
Someone was at home
Celarent left his master to his reveries and descended the stairs that
Already the street was busy with citizens going about their business. It
He was moving away from the centre of town and against the direction
Celarent had to smile to himself. No! Even he could not swallow that
Studies should he choose that course. It would be wiser to continue on
He climbed up the few steps that led from street level to the massive
Damn door! was all he could hear. Finally there was a creaking and
Should've warned you. Mind the steps. He acknowledged the professors
Celarent. How fares my old friend? How long is it since Ive seen him?
But before he could reply the former dispensed with the matter. Ah!
Present in all their minds would be the need to ensure that their activity
He hesitated there for a while. He was mindful of his last surprise en-
Apart from the thin trickle of grey blue smoke that issued from the roof
Melaskkoli hesitated. It seemed that there was no one in. The doorway
Now he stood just outside it. The door was fast closed and he was most
Again he looked about him. The stream bubbled merrily on its way as it
It was at this moment that he noticed the ground falling away beneath
His attire was equally designed to avoid undue comment by strangers
There had been some heavy storms in the area that had been accompan-
He was not at all sure what he might encounter once he returned to the
He moved deeper into the pass. The mountains crowded up on either
It was much quieter now as he retraced his steps through the narrow
Yes! He could almost taste those delicious traditional roasted sweet-
There were lots of people going that way when I was outside. Again the
Celarent became uneasy. It seemed that there might be some misunder-
Festival? Festival? he repeated. With the last repetition it was obvious
Yes. Yes. Of course you may go; but it was not that to which I was refer-
The sights and sounds of the storm had abated now. All that could be
It was some hours later that the subterranean traveller finally came to
Gone was the pale light of the moss; instead the whole scene was ablaze
Once Celarent had made his departure the master and his guest settled
Im sure that between the two of us we can make some sense of this. They
'Its mine'? He was on the point of remonstrating with him when Feri-
Hesvee listened to his friends account with growing interest. So these
- an almost overwhelming desire to race headlong from the spot. His
Ahead of him stood the mountains of the north. He had changed the
The red glow of torchlight permeated the whole district. The wavering
He moved deeper into the great metropolis and as he did so the
Yet still could he see the long trails of dark rain pouring down from
It was as if the two times had merged; and neither forward nor back-
After some time iDarii came to the doorway leading to his section. He
The directors office was no more elaborately furnished than the ante-
- which was quite infrequently fortunately - he had always been presen-
Gorval could not possibly have any intimation of his concealment. He
Gorvals voice addressing his departing back. Weee wiiiill reeeecaaaall
Now that the decision had been made there could be no further delay
The street and the city were still cloaked in darkness when the three
As these barriers drew nearer they could see the state of disrepair into
Some time must have passed since he had lost consciousness. The sky
If he could dig himself into the ground then he could make a small nest
Gorval watched the rapid departure of his underling with what might
Seers - of which Gorval was one - were a small group of adepts within
The first rays of the sun were spreading over the plain. At their touch
As Melaskkoli advanced along the path the light became gradually
The mosses at this deeper level seemed to grow in yet greater profu-
Moreover he was surprised that he had still seen no sign of any side pas-
It was Celarent who first wakened from his postprandial slumbers. He
Hesvee raised himself upon one elbow and looked across at his servant;
Celarent had been a frequent witness to these dialogues but he rarely
Night had well and truly fallen by the time that a halt was called to the
There was nothing of note upon its surface; just the same bare monotony
The material of which it was constructed was of the same nature as the
This exit had been constructed to ensure the greatest secrecy. Most of the
Gorval to do the same. He was typical of their species but for one notice-
As their confidence grew in him he was finally shown the path to the
Now he recalled his presence. As his physical form drifted down-
Ministry itself. Now he was entering the rock that formed the base of the
Melaskkoli had made some considerable progress across the undulat-
But it would seem that the place was quite deserted. He moved through
He went into the kitchen and found some morsels of bread in a storage
Whaat soort of trooouble wooould that bee then? She looked at him
The three of them passed a peaceful and uneventful night. Despite the
Zikar should be where they would rest on their way to the Northern
He presented a somewhat forbidding appearance. His skin was burn-
The vision was slightly marred for he seemed to bear the evidence of
Gorval and the elder remained in the darkness of the chamber for
Without hesitation Gorval re-entered the column of stone by which he
The frozen sea seemed to stretch away endlessly on all sides. There
The circumstances of both their deaths had been hazy. His uncle had ar-
His father seemed quite non-committal and more inclined to concentrate
Both the process of ingestion and the associated noisy accompaniment
He was a hard worker and invested a great deal of time and effort in his
He made his way out of the room and onwards into the street. He felt
Ferioque took the opportunity to examine the dwellings that lined their
Celarent. Almost came a cropper myself. Alaste had disappeared into the
It took a few moments before their eyes adjusted to the shadowy forms
Hesvee who first broke the stunned silence. This really is quite marvel-
It would be true to say that at least one of the party was already exceed-
All of these she had surely inherited from her mother. Her even white
Her expression communicated both keen intelligence and an acute curi-
The pain had gradually lessened until only a slight limp was discern-
At first the light was so intense that he feared that he might be
Gaki could do. He had followed his instructions; the rest was up to his
He paused in his reflections and looked up. From this slightly elevated
Despite the cool temperatures of the interior of the house their bodies
- whereupon Fate would truly enforce her presence; and then both hu-
What he could see from his present position was that the corridors them-
On the following day iDarii made his way to the Ministry offices. He
They continued up to the higher levels of the building. iDarii was just
Buuttt teeelll noo oonee off thiisss. Dooo yoouuu unnderssstaanndd?
He sat under the soft flickering of the torchlight and began his attack
But there was no dismissing the Gakis excitement at this news; and then
Ive given some thought to your requirements and believe that Ill be able
The lower levels of light within the corridors of the maze were a wel-
He could still feel the light caress of a cool breeze kissing his face. For-
Strange visions came rushing up to greet him as he fell into the void
You startled me there. Yeessss. Nooottt uusseeed tooo oouurr kiinndd
Weee haavveee beeenn waattchiiinng yoouu foorrr soommee tiiimmmee
It was then he noticed that they had come to the end of the maze. The
He was not a creature greatly inclined to compassion but even he had to
Ferioque and Celarent before replying. "Of course"; and the last residue
Northern mountains. These three peaks form a kind of triangle between
Vsquala. If I’m right then it's a simple matter to follow these. At least it'll
Celarent looked at his colleagues. If ever one had wished to see how
Would you know of someone who would be willing to conduct us there?
Alaste hesitated. He was a man who enjoyed high drama and this really
At least he had some food with him so he was not going to die from hun-
He could remain where he was and run the risk that his unwitting land-
From the steep declination of the path it was evident to Melaskkoli
I must get back to the surface. But this way just leads down. Where are
Pleeeasssee doonnt coonnnceerrnn yoouurrssseellf. Alllll wiiilll beeee
His guests smiled at this reference for they found little to fault within the
There was barely a moments hesitation before Hesvee grabbed Alastes
He looked at her questioningly. Yes. Quite odd. Shall I tell you about it?
Melaskkoli observed the creatures return as he/it he still was not abso-
It would seem he recognised for the first time that the young human
Weee haaaveeee nooootttt mmuuucchh ffuurrrttheerr toooo gooo. At last
He refrained from looking downwards to estimate his progress for the
Dawn had risen. Hesvee was awakened from his slumbers by the
Within this were provided a few seats so that people might rest their
Well commented Alaste. What do you think of our little garden? Truly
For the most part iDariis life settled back into its usual routine. There
Melaskkoli although all had heard the myths. There had been many ru-
Tales of their brethren's activities in the neighbouring caverns were
It really was quite bewildering. His guide had suddenly turned off the
Now he was truly surprised. He had never encountered any of these
NOOOWWW. The power of the words rocked his body violently. It was
They proceeded like this for sometime. It was with some relief that
Melaskkoli observed they were not descending any further into the
Weee muusssttt gooo bbyyyy thiiissss waaaaayyy. He caught up with his
His short-lived hope that they might once again ascend towards the cav-
He could not quite make out what it was that Gorval intended. But then
FOOOLLLOOWW. The voice echoed through his mind like a detonation
The sun had not yet raised her head above the encircling horizon of
Now they were wading through a low sea of silken coolness that flowed
They followed the main route from the town before turning off this
Northern mountains. Alaste had reckoned that it would not be too long
It was sometimes difficult to distinguish between those mighty grey bul-
Alaste heard the approaching footsteps but continued his march
The pair continued into the deeps. Melaskkoli was entirely helpless
They had now emerged from the passageway and were entering a
Issssss heeee preeeepaarreed? one figure demanded; Melaskkoli could
The words seemed to have come from every direction. He scrutinised the
The desert travellers had already covered a considerable distance in a
He was about to call out to his industrious friend to be more careful
Alaste had instructed them in the first rule of the desert. You can do
Not a murmur was to be heard in the room. Melaskkoli felt his heart
Speech between us is usually limited to the conventional methods. But
The seer could see that the young one was very bewildered. Ill proceed
You encountered one of these during the course of your descent. Do you
The Great Hunger of the Gaki race is represented in these stories as a
For this to happen it was necessary that the Gaki should send an envoy
We could not be sure how you would be treated; according to the histor-
Gaki envoy simply had to remain in the upper world for a significant
Gaki. When you came back through the Cave of Life you relinquished
Ive nothing left. Im neither Gaki nor human. Should I remain here or re-
Alaste was quick to see which way the wind was blowing. And what of
It would be something of an exaggeration to regard Alastes suggestion
Dont be modest here. Youve a right to be heard equally amongst us
He was just about to drift of into an enveloping slumber when he
Well. What on earth are you doing here? Your father doesnt know? The
No. He doesnt know Im here. And I want it to stay that way for the time
Im not generally inclined to disobedience. I would neither wish my fath-
Theres a significance to this mission that goes beyond my comprehen-
I assure you. When we reach the foothills Ill make my presence known
And no mention of your part in this will ever be made. He was still torn
Minniisstrryy. Heeee issss iiinn aaaa deeeepppp sssleeeeppp. Maaakkee
Erame had returned to her small encampment. She was much relieved
Subduing his doubts he forced himself to mount the steps and enter the
Gaki felt that this was perhaps to his benefit. He was not at all sure how
Dark dreams played within his mind. At first all that could be seen
The light had now diminished to a insipid glow. As it did so his eyelids
Well. Ive got the fire going. Weve just time for a warm drink before we
Alaste gave instructions for the cooking fire to be extinguished. Celarent
Now Celarent was quite confused. He really could not see how any of
As is so often the case some matters arent clear to us until we have ex-
Alaste nodded. And now it was time to make their departure. It was
Alaste who extinguished the fire finally. Celarent was careful to watch
Celarent had kept his word. There was no sign of any attempt at pur-
She worked at a leisurely place for she was in no hurry to catch up with
Northern mountains lay
The first thing he noticed was the presence of a figure seated quite near
Melaskkoli regarded him questioningly. I knew it! he repeated. We met
Melaskkoli. Well. Thats some coincidence! I didnt recognise you at first
Melaskkoli nodded. Do you have any idea how long I shall remain here?
Or when I may leave? Im afraid not. My instructions are clear only in
- from human to Gaki. But you've heard some of this already - from my
So when I became conscious I discovered that Id been born to the same
Were quite private in many respects. But more importantly its against
Surely its possible to gain access to the other caves when youre on the
Im sorry. I dont really understand. But please forget that I even said
Most of their journey passed uneventfully. The desert dunes spread
Erame had also acknowledged that the heat was impressing an exor-
She did not turn away though the impulse to do so was almost irresist-
She could not shake the intuition that a message lay submerged within
The council were acquainted mainly with the nature of the problem inso-
These peaks themselves were actually the uppermost elevations of the
The latter was instructed to make his way to the human/Gaki
Time passed in the desert measurelessly. Celarent felt as if he had
He had noted the manner in which each one had adapted in response to
Celarent. He had noted that though the fellow was clearly intelligent and
As his thoughts dwelt on his only child he wondered to himself how she
From that moment onwards he knew that she would seek to attach her-
His suspicions had been confirmed from that point where he had ob-
The Northern mountains were massed along that border of the desert
There seemed little that he could do to release himself from this bondage
Along the track there was a scattering of boulders that had broken free
But the creature was lifeless. There was not a movement to show lifes
The light had begun to fail. The clouds had drawn down upon the
But even with his extraordinary faculty it was quite impossible to discern
Why on earth would there be two groups wandering the desert? Perhaps
He could return to the settlement and raise the alarm. But nightfall was
To Celarents eye there could be no further doubt that they were within
Didnt you mark the colour of the sands hereabouts? The other looked at
The night had descended into a hush. The only sounds that could be
Alaste slyly observed Celarent from the corner of his eye. Erame noticed
Be at peace. Up until that point Celarent had not realised that he had
The Northern mountains are beyond the civilised world. Or at least they
Well proceed together. And we shall see what we shall see. The night
Part of the reason for our conversations was to acclimatise you as far as
There was no one in the vicinity. They must have already entered by this
Gorval sat quietly in the comforting gloom of his office. He had re-
There had been some consultation on the unfolding crisis that was so
He did not care at all to venture into the city streets. But he was aware of
The cool airs of the valley were an enormous relief to all as they
When they again emerged from this chasm they would be in the low-
He reckoned thereafter that it would be but a short stroll as he put it - to
Celarent. All are agreeable? This last was phrased as an invitation to ac-
While the rest took to their sleeping bundles Alaste piled more wood
And yet there could be no question that the illumination was growing
Celarent was transfixed to the spot. An eternity might have passed when
He awoke to the sound of a soft voice murmuring in his ear. For a mo-
He poured some water from a canteen into his cupped hand and
Garuda had followed his course through the valley without further
The night passed peacefully enough though the valley was cold. The
Alaste indicated to his companions to halt whilst he scouted ahead. As
Are you sure we can cross by that way? What about the snows? asked
Hesvee. Well its not so much the snows but rather if a storm blows up
Youve got us this far without mishap. The others nodded in agreement
Very well. Lets make haste. We've plenty of daylight yet. And the sky is
There were only a few hundred more paces to go before he reached the
Garuda like a hawk. He had no fear upon his face but his every sinew
He carefully examined his limbs to ascertain whether he had broken a
Celarent it was quite a sufficient challenge to encounter; he was entirely
It was a shortly afterwards that he was grateful to observe Alaste had
It was on their next halt that Alaste confirmed his observation. The cloud
My only fear would be if the mist comes down before then and we miss
Rogas and his men had moved swiftly up behind Garuda. There was
It was easy to lose all sense of time in this place. Melaskkoli had little
He becomes more reconciled daily to the facts as we've presented them
Youre sure of this? It's only now that the rumours of a human living
Gorval seemed to be leaning towards dismissing his lieutenants sugges-
And all the better for the tidings I bring you. He told Melaskkoli of Gor-
The mists shouldnt last for too long. There was no reply from the two
Alaste had not voiced all his fears he was determined that they find cov-
Rogas led his men up the slopes in hungry pursuit of their quarry
They continued along the thoroughfare until they came to a junction
'sound' to one who has never heard? Its true that our race can be 'visible'
Gaki would not be visible at all. But what I can say is that your Gaki
They had been walking for some time now and were already a good
My mind would just go off on its own. Daydreaming my uncle would
But what I like about this place is that everything seems to slow down. I
The weather was worsening steadily in the pass. The snowfall showed
This place seems to go back quite a way. Stay here while I have a scout
Melaskkoli awoke from his sleep with a start. The soothing effects of
Look. We came to no harm. And no one need know. I wont say anything
But the explosion! His face betrayed his disquiet. Should we get back?
Can we help? demanded Melaskkoli anxiously. His companion seemed
The hunters had reached the snow line; now they plunged into the
They fell silent and moved away; but their words echoed in Garudas
But they would not dream that he would pursue his freedom through
Cunning as these fellows were the vision of the kill now filled their
The winds howled about the mouth of the cave. Such was their viol-
Hesvee looked at him questioningly. Just going to check outside. Who
Theyre hunting me and theyre hunting you. We dont have much time
Im not sure that they're of my race. Theyre quite savage. Alaste uttered a
Erame. But then maybe the plains dwellers dont value their lives as
The explosions and blasts echoed across the plain. The small group
Gaki; as to why Melaskkoli might have thought otherwise is unclear
Perhaps the shock and surprise that he had undergone of late had in-
We must leave the cavern. And perhaps flee the Gaki world altogether
Youre both unharmed? This question was addressed to himself and
At first their course took them on a parallel line to the city walls. All
Rogas and his men were momentarily confused by the unexpected dir-
Alaste thought on the strangers words. He could see no advantage to
They had been travelling for some time now. The gradient had been
Briefly we might imagine that some casual observer could survey the
The seer maintained a fast pace as he drifted along the track towards
But its not the only such in our world. They are spread out across the
The Gaki did not seem inclined to continue the conversation. Just ahead
Youve seen for yourself the consequences. There is no longer what might
In the farms and homesteads of the upper world the pace of life
They had descended some great distance before Alaste decided to call
Erame attended to the mules whilst the remainder seated themselves
My last comment upon the matter might have been construed as some-
Garuda paused. From his more extensive observations of Alaste he had
Alaste looked around at Hesvee and Ferioque before returning to
Alastes comment - and dark look - that he was still reluctant that the
And then he reflected briefly on his own loss. Since he had never met his
Melaskkoli again found himself in that golden chamber. It seemed a life-
Throughout the Gaki realm the cities were burning. The caverns were
They plunged onwards into the depths of the earth. This place played
As they proceeded still deeper there appeared some changes in the
Ive never seen it in that form. He looked at his colleague. Ferioque had
But theres nowhere to tether the mules. Well have to leave someone be-
Both he and Erame retreated up the corridor whilst the others returned
Melaskkoli felt that his mind must be close to breaking point. The agony
Alastes expression indicated that the matter was far from over. But there
Time had passed by in its measureless mode when Alaste observed his
None of the cloaked figures presented any clue as to their feelings on
Garuda. Some meaning to our meeting here in this place. It is holy to
Alaste and Garuda
A timeless moment passed. It might have been his imagination but it
They were surrounded upon all sides by this swelling tide. As it rose
Distantly he heard a voice calling to him through the maelstrom. From
Across the lands and beyond the seas the surface people watched in ter-
Now the Cave of Light had returned to darkness. The walls and ceil-
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Paul Dore - The Ghosts of Earth

Paul Dore - The Ghosts of Earth

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