Chapter 10

She burst into the Peverells living room, bringing Colin to his feet and his pregnant wife upright from where she reclined on the sofa.

“It’s Liam…something’s wrong with him”

“Is he ill?”  Velda rose awkwardly to her feet

“He’s gone” Sue turned to Colin, her eyes frantic. “We have to find him”.

Pulling on a thick jersey, he followed her outside where she stammered out a summary of what had occurred upstairs. A shadow detached itself from the darkness. Dave.  “Liam passed me like a bat out of hell. Didn’t even see me”. In the ensuing silence Dave watched them quizzically. Sue was looking towards the cliffs. The night was dark and clear yet a heavy closeness hovered menacingly.

“Maybe he’s gone to find Rowena”.

The fisherman gave a shout of laughter. “Why would a man like Liam want anything to do with the likes of them? They be nothing but thieves and no-goods”.

“But Rowena seemed to understand” murmured Sue, pleading with Colin. Reluctantly, he nodded. “Come on.”

They ran most of the way, only stopping to collect a torch from Dave’s garage. It was dark in the lane, and once they took the footpath through the forest it grew more dense.  Colin went first with Dave following Sue. They climbed steadily. The silence of the forest surrounding them with an eerie quiet and Sue stayed close to the two men, thankful when they reached the cliff top, and the night sky covered them.

“You know where the ruins are, Sue. I’ve not been up here in years”.

Taking the lead from Colin, she feared coming across the ruins in their original splendour but as the three of them pushed through the bushes and shrubs, the crumbling ruins rose up, starkly outlined against the night sky.

The gypsy encampment was silent. “Its not that late” Dave was scornful “They can’t be all abed”.

“Sue …” Colin was gesturing towards the ruins where a small group of gypsies sat together around a small campfire.

“That’s Rowena” whispered Sue.

The old woman’s voice was kind. “You got trouble, girl?”

“Is he with you?”

The old matriarch pulled herself upright, clinging to her son for support. “Liam?  He is not here”  Rowena still supported herself on Daniel’s arm, but she turned her gaze upon Dave. “What do you know?”

“Me!”  he laughed out loud “I don’t even know why I’m here. He’s probably gone walking til he feels better”.

“Liam is unwell?”   Rowena moved away from her group. “You did right, child, to come. Tell me what happened?”, calling out in her own tongue to her companions who moved away, all except Daniel.  Sue described Liam’s strange behaviour while Rowena nodded encouragement. “You trust me, girl?”

Sue had no qualms, no suspicions. Rowena turned to Daniel, speaking swiftly.  He went off towards the footpath.

“You”, Rowena pointed a long bony finger at Dave. “Come”.

He frowned, resisting suspiciously, but Sue urged. “There’s nothing to be afraid of ..”

“I know differently.  You ask the Blakes about the gypsies …”  He was stepping back as he spoke, distrust in his face.  Rowena stared into his eyes and while holding her stare he began to move back towards her. ” Liam needs your help”.

Unexpectedly the young fisherman nodded.  Rowena  gave her hand to Sue. “You realise that your man is possessed.”

Colin began protesting but Rowena lifted her hand. “The word is more fearsome then it merits.  Liam is sometimes taken over by the spirit of the earlier Lyam. You know the story of the Rosmerrryns?”

Sue was nodding.

“So you know that you have returned to your birthplace”.

“No” denied Sue “I was born in London”.

“No, child” Rowena’s dark eyes became jewel-like. “Carenza of Rosmerryn was born here, a few yards from this very spot. In the big house, and she died just a short distance away – at the Monestery. She died in torment, heart sick. As your man is possessed of the Captain, you are possessed of the Lady”.

This time it was David who scoffed. “What a load of bunkum! And the devil’s bunkum too. Come on, let’s get away from here while we still can!”

Rowena’s eyes glinted angrily while she continued in her rich voice. “I believe that this night Liam felt the power of his other self and to save you, girl, he took flight”.  Rowena watched them all. “The story will unravel and you will know all the answers in time but first we must find him.  He could be in danger from himself”.

“How?”   Colin finally submitted to her for guidance.

“I tried to warn him, to prepare him, that there would be a time like this. I warned him of the times when he would hate …”  Her jet eyes returned to Sue. ” …that he would be capable of violence.  I had hoped he would come to me if that happened. He did not heed my words completely but he did leave, child, to protect you from harm. It could not have been easy for him to fight his other self but he succeeded in leaving you.”

Sue was bemused. “Then I have to find him”.

“WE shall find him. Just now, you are the last person to seek him out.”

Comfortingly, Dave’s arm slipped around Sue’s shoulders. In the moonlight her face had a wan fragility  but it was the gown she wore that startled him.  The soft satin gown. She hadn’t been wearing that on the climb up through the forest! “Your dress!”  he was pointing at her legs.

Sue looked down.  Her faded jeans were torn and dirty.  “What dress?”  He gulped a nervous laugh. “But …  I could have sworn .”.. .Rowena’s eyes sparkled with jet laughter. “Even the most hard headed succumb in the end.”

A few miles inland at the Lewis farm, Richard was sat watching television when Sally sprang to her feetl. “I have to go.  Quickly, we must hurry”.  Richard sighed. “Sally, my dear, please stop this. You’re making yourself ill”.  For the third time that evening she had behaved strangely, murmuring words that made no sense. This time she was heading for the front door. “She needs me … I have to go” Pulling open the door, she rushed out into a human wall.  Daniel looked across her head at Richard.  “You’re to come too”. Although Sally did not seem surprised to find Daniel on their doorstep, Richard was, and with a protective arm around her, refused to go anywhere. “And I don’t want my wife involved either”.

“But your wife already is” countered Daniel

“Why have you come for me?” Sally’s pretty face was upturned to his and the gypsy smiled as if she could see him. “It is time.”

Richard Lewis had no idea what was planned but the gypsy talked as if Sally knew. Deep inside Richard Lewis believed he knew exactly what was about to be put into action and he believed it to be too dangerous and tried again to stop his wife from leaving their cottage.

Once, a long time ago, he had led an experiment where the subject, a young boy, was given a drug which set into motion the most extraordinary events. It left the scientists with a definite lead into the mysteries of the unknown, but it resulted in serious brain damage for the boy, then aged l4. Richard had never forgiven himself.  Now, those memories returned to haunt him.  He dreaded Sally’s involvement, fearful of what the outcome might mean to her. Bitter that she had already lost her sight, and blaming the ruins for that tragedy, Richard held tight to her wrist. “Please Sally, forget this nonsense …” She turned sightless eyes to him. “I must go now.” The voice was no longer Sal’s. “M’Lady needs me, Sir”. Richard paled before this phenomenon.  Sally, his wife, was a stranger and he watched her walk off with the gypsy, terrified yet fascinated.  With one last pang of guilt he rushed after them.

Sally was briskly stepping out, her head high, and Daniel strode beside her. Richard caught up with them at the bend leading onto the Penvale Road. “Wait!”. The gypsy turned sharply, his hand ready to restrain Lewis. “Please – no trouble, mister.”

“But my wife is not going into this thing without me. She’s blind, damn you!”

Daniel smiled. “Not any longer, mister. Look at her. She can see where she’s going – same as us”. Richard tried to reach for her but Sally was rushing ahead.

***   ***   ***

Up on the cliffs, the air held a sharp chill and above the clouds swelled and gathered. Sue dreaded the impending storm. Glancing at Sally, she worried about the blind girl’s silence. Since her dramatic arrival at the ruins, Sally had not spoken to anyone, staring out towards the sea from her makeshift perch of crumbling rubble in the corner of the ruins.

Colin and Dave stayed near Sue, only Richard Lewis sat apart, anxiety etched on his face.

“Sal’s not spoken a word”. Sue felt guilty; convinced it was her doing and tried to apologise.  “Its not your fault, my dear” sighed Lewis. “I’m afraid it has moved beyond our control”.

“Richard, you really believe that?”

“I tried hard to ignore it; afraid of what might happen, but it cannot be ignored any longer.  Wishing doesn’t always make things right. From past experience, I believe that once we are all together, it is inevitable. The chain of events must unravel. The reason for such an extraordinary happening will soon be made clear to us”. His misery filled Sue with compassion yet it was Richard who patted her hand.”You are the central instrument. I should be comforting you“. He looked around impatiently. “But why are we waiting?”   Rowena’s rich voice answered him. “We are waiting, mister, because one is missing”.

Sue noticed young Tony Owen lurking slyly by the opening to the ruins. “What is he doing here?”

“Don’t ask me” grumbled Dave, seating himself on a lump of uneven granite. “I don’t even know what I’m doing here.” The wind was blowing up sharply against their backs as he muttered. “I must be crazy to get involved in all this balloney”

Rowena, moving behind them, sniffed at his words, wrapping her shawl closer around her thin shoulders. The young fisherman sat hunched over wishing he was somewhere else while Tony Owen stood apart, refusing to meet Sue’s eyes when she attempted to attract his attention.

The moon came out from behind the clouds casting a silvery sheen over the ruins and those gathered there. Below the sea beat an incessant throb against the cliffs and Sue let her mind soak up the magic of its song. Next to her, Sally was very pale but for a moment there seemed to be sight in her blind eyes as they gazed into Sue’s.

Feeling the icy wind rip across her back Sue shivered, looking around for a more sheltered corner.

She was sitting in the elegantly furnished library of Rosmerryn Towers, seated on soft velvet cushions in the window seat while outside the wind howled. Hearing a sound on the gravel below, she leant forward to look from the latticed window. Tony Owen’s long sulky features, glanced briefly towards her then disappeared around the corner and into the stables.

SOMETHING WAS WRONG.

A further sound disturbed her and she twisted about.  An old man in dark green livery waited in the door. “M’Lady …”.

As abruptly as it had appeared, everything disappeared and Sue was back in the ruins, stumbling towards old Tom, who caught her hands. “Easy does it, lover. No need to be afeared”.  But her trembling transferred itself to his thin frame so that he shook too. In afrenzied voice she burst out. “What’s happened to Liam?”  From behind Tom, a shadow stepped closer. He was wearing worn leather breeches and high boots, and a rough woven shirt with the wide, loose sleeves hanging over his wrists. There was a glint of gold about his neck and the crucifix gleamed against his chest. Blue splintered glass threatened to pierce her heart as his cold, accusing hate-filled stare incriminated her.

Sue was gasping for breath. Choking.  Her heart banged painfully against her ribs.  As she tried to form his name, everything dimmed, and a loud buzzing filled her head. A vast blackness was engulfing her. Sue fought it, knowing she must reach him if she were to survive. Struggling to retain consciousness, she reached out. He had disappeared again. She HAD to find him.  But the blackness was closing around her and she could feel herself slipping away.

Close by she heard a desperate cry:

LYAM, DON’T LEAVE ME!”

 

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