Excerpt for The Keeper of The Flame by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




THE KEEPER OF THE FLAME


VINCENT GILVARRY


Book Four

of

Tales of a Yumi Master


Published by the author

in association with

www.smashwords.com


COVER IMAGE

Designed by Andrea Danti


Getty Images (www.istock.com.au)


COVER CREATED BY THE AUTHOR


Copyright

2017

©





INTRODUCTION

According to the Bureau of Intergalactic Travel, Planet Earth is over ten million light years away from the star system, Alpha Centauri. But if you were to travel even further you would encounter yet another equally extraordinary galaxy.

As of the early 21st century, there is no established form of transport between Earth and the Khavala. But if you were so inclined you could hitch a ride on an interstellar vessel, but that isn’t the only way to get there.

One alternative is to summon an inter-dimensional portal. They are the most efficient form of transportation in the universe, but portals have their secrets. Another alternative is to physically relocate from one place to another. The primary advantage of this particular method is that you arrive at your destination a few seconds later, but not always in the same condition as you left.

It is not a commonly known fact, but some aliens do have that option. For an advanced race of beings known as Yumi Masters, physical relocation is their standard mode of transport.

A young Yumi Master called Addric Sharano is about to make a social call on his brother Dheago. What he doesn’t know is that it’s customary to make an appointment in advance. Earthlings can be an unpredictable species, and you never know what sort of reception you are likely to get from a flustered householder.

















CHAPTER 1

Part One

Life on Planet Earth

1985


Ask any intergalactic traveller and they will no doubt agree that Planet Earth is the jewel in the crown of the Solar System. And for a very good reason, it’s a truly awe-inspiring spectacle. There is every possibility that it’s at the top of the list as an interstellar tourist destination. Thousands if not millions of aliens would love to explore its natural and man-made attractions, but unfortunately, at this point in time, that is not possible.

There’s an intergalactic law which clearly states that Earth is out of bounds to aliens, but it does not apply to everyone. Yumi Masters visit quite regularly with the permission of the Intergalactic Alliance. They have a special role to play in the scheme of things. And when they are not required to sort out a problem in one part of the universe or the other, they have the freedom to go wherever they choose.

Yumi Master, Addric Sharano, is in between assignments and he has a little time on his hands. So, he has decided to make a return visit to Earth for social and personal reasons. He hasn’t seen his brother Dheago and his girlfriend Elisabeth for almost two months and that’s as good a reason as any.

One fine winter morning in the month of December, in the year 1985, Addric appears at the front door of Elisabeth’s house. The little village of Bumpton is a typical English country town, several hours north of the city of London. It’s the sort of place where nothing much ever happens, but there’s an old saying that walls have ears and some even have eyes. But if you are planning to sneak up unannounced, it would be a good idea to keep a lookout for those ever-nosey neighbours.

All hell could break loose if they happened to see a Yumi Master materialising at your front door. One of the drawbacks of physical relocation is that it not only makes a mess of your hair, it also plays havoc with your clothes. And as a consequence, Addric does his best to make himself as presentable as possible.

He knocks politely on the door, but the last thing he expected to hear is a flurry of activity. There is every possibility that Elisabeth is running around doing a last minute clean up. Addric has obviously caught her on the hop. And when she finally opens the door, Elisabeth is looking a little bit flustered.

‘Addric, how wonderful to see you,’ she says, ‘but get inside quickly, before someone sees you.’

In some places visitors are welcomed with open arms. And in others they are likely to receive an icy reception at the very least. Addric was expecting to see the beautiful young woman he had come to know. But this is not the Elisabeth he remembers. Judging by her disheveled appearance and the mess around the house, a lot of things have changed over the last two months.

The last time he saw Elisabeth was the day they escaped from the long lost continent of Lemuria. It was an experience that changed their lives. But before he left, Addric adopted a little orphan boy who would have perished when Lemuria was destroyed by a natural catastrophe.

If things had been different, Addric would have settled down in the house next door. Unfortunately, he had a major responsibility and had no choice but to go back home and give Jatoo the life he had never had.

Dheago has had a few rocky romances over the last few years. The poor boy was given the flick by one heartless floozy after another. But on the day he first set eyes on Elisabeth Trundle he knew he had met the love of his life.

Elisabeth and Dheago haven’t ventured much further than the village square over the last two months. But they did spend a few weeks with her parents in tropical north Queensland. Most people have no choice but to book a seat on a global carrier, especially if they want to travel to the opposite side of the world. But they didn’t have to spend thirty hours on an international aircraft. As a Yumi Master with the ability to physically relocate from one place to another, Dheago saw to that.

It was an interesting few weeks and an opportunity to meet Elisabeth’s parents. Over the last few years, George and Helen have been working on an archaeological site in a remote area of north Queensland. Chillagoe is several hours north of the tourist mecca of Cairns, a town of approximately two hundred people. And even though it is not a major tourist destination, Chillagoe is famous for its magnificent limestone caves its beautiful pink speckled marble.

Elisabeth is not her usual self as Addric can see. She obviously has something on her mind, other than an unfinished thesis on Lemuria. But this is not the time to ask. She leaves Addric and Dheago to their own devices as they haven’t seen each other for ages. When she does emerge from her study several hours later, Elisabeth decides it would be a good idea to get out of the house for a while.

‘Addric, how would you like to explore a typical English country town,’ she says.

After such a cool reception, he was seriously thinking of going back home, but he didn’t really want to, not if he could avoid it.

‘I would love that,’ he says.

The village is a short walk through a tree-lined park known to the locals as The Commons. Bumpton has a history that dates back for one thousand years. And as Addric is delighted to see, it’s not so different to any other country town in Vela-Rishan.

Elisabeth is a student of archaeology, but she is also a font of knowledge on the local area. And she’s more than happy to point out a few things of interest as they wander along the High Street.

‘The focus of the village is the town square and a rather elaborate if somewhat grubby old fountain,’ she says.

‘Bumpton has a long and interesting history and was once the site of a Roman garrison. It’s been around in one form or another since the time of our Saxon ancestors.’

Addric has no idea what she’s talking about most of the time. As to who the Saxons were, he can only guess, but it’s obvious that Bumpton oozes history from every wall and window.

‘But one of our most treasured landmarks is the Church of St. Bartholomew,’ Elisabeth says.

‘It was built in the Romanesque style, and as you can see, it’s adorned by two steeples and a bell tower, but it also has a rather imposing roofline.’

St. Bartholomew’s is obviously a place of worship. And other than a few elderly women sitting with their thoughts, the church is deserted. But it’s on that day that Addric has his first encounter with Jesus. As to the purpose of a huge crucifix with a rather dismal-looking man nailed to a cross, he cannot begin to imagine.

‘What’s that all about?’ he says.

‘That’s Jesus,’ Elisabeth says, ‘he was the Son of God and renowned as a miracle worker.’

‘And that is how he’s usually depicted.’

‘Very interesting,’ he says.

Addric is in two minds about this idea and just has to ask.

‘Elisabeth, there’s something about this that I don’t understand.’

“And what is that Addric?’

‘It seems to me that the thoughts of the congregation would be better served if they could contemplate their saviour in a somewhat different way.’

‘Such as,’ she says.

‘Well, if Jesus was seated on a golden throne dispensing the generosity of heaven in a more positive manner.’

“I agree Addric, but it’s a very long story.’

‘I am sure that if he had his way Jesus would prefer something better than being nailed to a cross.’

‘After all, he was some sort of highly advanced being,’ Elisabeth says.

‘Really,’ Addric says.

‘Yes, he did things like cure people and walk on water. He brought a man called Lazarus back from the dead. And believe it or not, he even rose from the dead.’

‘That explains the cross,’ Elisabeth says. ‘That was the ancient Roman way of getting rid of troublemakers like him.’

‘It also explains the look of pain and misery on his face, and the gaping wound in his right-hand side.’

‘That’s the part I can’t come to terms with,’ Addric says.

‘But you will be relieved to hear that isn’t the only way in which he is portrayed.’

‘Come on boys, it’s a little too chilly in here for my liking. I’ll tell you all about it over a cup of coffee at the local cafeteria.’





















CHAPTER 2

As they wander down the hill to the village square, Addric is intrigued by this character called Jesus. It’s an overcast day and that makes it so much easier to visualise the horrors of the crucifixion.

Winter is settling in and the sky is ponderous with dark grey clouds. Addric and Dheago are dressed in the standard clothes of the day, blue jeans and a leather jacket. Elisabeth is wearing a blue woolen coat and a big furry hat that only accentuates her natural beauty.

Today is market day and the square is a hive of activity with people inspecting the produce of the local region. One stall after another offers a range of freshly baked cakes and biscuits, while others have a variety of locally made cheeses, and an inexhaustible range of homemade jams.

A cup of coffee from the local cafeteria and a freshly baked pastry from the local bakery is Addric’s idea of a good time. And according to Elisabeth, it’s standard practice on Earth to have at least one a day.

Addric is savouring every moment of this experience when he just happens to notice something out of the ordinary.

‘Dheago, can you see what I can see,’ he says.

As Yumi Masters, they have the ability to do a number of unusual things, one of which is see the energy field around the human body.

‘I can Addric but I have seen characters like that before. They often appear out of the blue at the most unexpected times.’

‘They do?’ says a surprised Addric.

‘Yes, Elisabeth and I spent a day in London recently and I saw quite a few there as well.’

‘We were wandering around soaking up the atmosphere,’ Elisabeth said, ‘when I noticed that Dheago was acting a little strange.’

‘I presumed that it was culture shock at first, being in London and all. The city is ridiculously busy at Christmas with people rushing around everywhere. But every now and then he would stop and stare at someone or other.’

‘After a while, I demanded to know what was going on.’

Elisabeth spent two weeks with them in Lemuria and knows only too well the sort of power they have at their disposal.

‘We were on our way to Jolariel’s bookshop when we encountered the first of two very strange characters,’ she said.

Jolariel was a physician they met in Lemuria. And after studying for seven years at the Temple of Rejuvenation, he acquired the ability to extend his lifespan indefinitely.

Elisabeth had brought a book from his shop several months before. It was a history of the lost civilisation of Lemuria, a culture in which Jolariel had lived for almost two hundred years.

‘As to who those men were, I have no idea,’ Dheago said, ‘but one fellow came up and just stared at me.’

‘The curious thing was that he was completely bald and his skin was almost translucent. He had no eyebrows, but his eyes had a sort of pinkish glow.’

‘We were a little shocked to say the least, but the curious thing was that he didn’t say anything at all,’ Elisabeth said. ‘He just looked Dheago up and down and wandered away.

‘However, a few minutes later, another character appeared out of the blue, and he was seriously creepy.’

‘His eyes were cold and empty, but the moment I saw him, I had the distinct feeling that he was looking deep into my soul.’

‘And did he say anything.’

‘Yes he did, something very un-nerving.’

‘And what was that?’

‘Your time has come.’

‘I was a little taken aback as you can imagine as I had no idea what he meant.’

‘But a passing stranger came to our rescue and he was definitely a human being.’

‘Leave these people alone,’ he said. ‘You know the rules.’

‘I was somewhat shocked, but I didn’t realise until later who it was.’

‘Addric, he had vibrant green eyes and short cropped hair.’

‘It was Yusef,’ he says.

‘It was indeed and I’d know that face anywhere, but he had no idea who we were at the time.’

The last time that Addric saw Yusef was a bleak and miserable day when he and Jolariel set sail in an effort to escape the imminent destruction of Lemuria.

Yusef was just one of millions of people in Lemuria who were desperate to overthrow the tyrannical High Priest, Hyperion. And if he had his way, he would have achieved that dream with Addric’s support. But Addric had to comply with his Yumi vows and there was nothing he could do.

If they had done as Yusef asked, their very short lives as Yumi Masters would have ended there and then. If a Yumi Master ever breaks the Yumi code of conduct, they will be judged by their masters. And if found guilty, they could spend the remainder of their lives in the Phantom Zone, a nightmare of a place from which they could never escape.

































CHAPTER 3

It was on a bleak and miserable day in Lemuria that Addric vowed to track Yusef and Jolariel down and resume their friendship once again.

‘I am relieved to hear that they’re still friends, ‘he said. ‘I can’t wait to see them.’

‘When can we go?’

‘Anytime you like,’ Elisabeth said.

The following day, Addric gets his first taste of train travel, but the big city of London is a real eye opener in every way. It’s the festive season and every shop is decorated with tinsel and glistening lights. To see so many people loaded down with bags of Christmas presents is a new experience. And even though Addric is intrigued by this curious custom, he just can’t wait to see two old friends.

Jolariel’s bookshop is just one of many in a quaint little alleyway off a major London thoroughfare. And to Addric’s surprise, it’s called, Secrets of the Ancients.

‘A name like that must have a special meaning.’

‘More than likely,’ Elisabeth says. ‘Everyone is searching for meaning in this day and age.’

Addric has often wondered what life must have been like after they left Lemuria. They would have travelled from one place to another, and lived in just about every civilisation that has ever existed. But the very last thing that Jolariel ever said was that he would eventually settle down in the city of London.

‘I have a plan,’ Addric says, ‘please wait here for a few minutes.’

He steps through the door, only to discover that the shop is like a sanctuary. Wooden display cabinets line the walls with thousands of books from the floor to the ceiling. They have titles like Energetic Healing, Meditation, Crystals and Channeling. And to Addric’s surprise there is even a shelf devoted to Lemuria.

Chandeliers hang from the ceiling and a hint of incense floats through the air. But not everyone is rushing around in a frenzy. Some people are quite happy to pass a few lazy hours reading a book in one of many comfortable chairs.

Yusef and Jolariel are busily serving one customer after another, and they look resplendent in the colours of the season. Yusef is dressed in a red velvet coat but as to why he’s wearing a truncated hat without a brim, Addric has no idea. As he will one day learn, the fez is a hat with a long and chequered history.

Jolariel looks equally festive in a deep green coat with a red trim. His silvery grey hair is somewhat shorter than it used to be, but his eyes are still a vibrant blue. And it’s apparent that he has never lost that air of quiet respectability.

Addric waits patiently as he serves another contented customer.

‘Now young man, how can I be of assistance?’

‘I am looking for a book,’ Addric says.

‘Well, you’re in the right place.’

‘This particular book is a rarity. It was never published and is virtually unknown. And as far as I know it has never been in circulation, if at all.’

‘Now that is a mystery,’ Jolariel says. ‘What’s it about?’

‘It’s a story of a long lost civilisation.’

‘It sounds very interesting, but does this particular book have a name?’

‘Yes,’ Addric says, ‘it’s called, A Tale of a Lost Land.’

Jolariel is mystified as to the identity of this young man and isn’t sure what to say. Yusef has been listening closely and suddenly realises who it is.

‘Addric,’ he cries. ‘Is it really you?’

‘It is indeed, Yusef, after all this time.’

‘But you haven’t changed one little bit.’

A Yumi Master rarely ages if at all, but any young girl would agree that a handsome young man with fair hair and deep blue eyes would be a very good catch indeed.

‘Addric, you are a most welcome surprise,’ Jolariel says, ‘but how I have missed you my friend.’

He wipes a stray tear from his eyes, takes a long deep breath and does his best to maintain a little decorum.

‘I’ll be back in a few minutes as we have a lot of catching up to do.’

Jolariel wanders around the shop and asks the few remaining customers if they would kindly leave.

‘I have a personal emergency to attend to,’ he says.

As he is about to lock the door, he happens to notice two familiar faces standing on the footpath.

‘Elisabeth and Dheago, please come in my friends.’

‘It seems that we really do have a reason to celebrate.’



CHAPTER 4

They spend the remainder of the evening in a beautifully decorated room at the rear of Jolariel’s shop. It’s a treasure trove of antiquities and personal memorabilia. Over a very long lifetime, Jolariel has obviously been an avid collector of things both rare and beautiful.

The contents of one particular cabinet are treasures that any museum would love to get their hands on. A bouquet of dried flowers, a brass ring, a wooden toy and a bronze spoon are just a few of Jolariel’s mementoes. But the most poignant thing of all is a faded parchment inscribed with a poem from a little girl to her father.

Yusef has set a lavish table of exquisite European wines and a veritable feast of delicacies. And it is, in every way, reminiscent of the time they spent in Jolariel’s villa in Lemuria.

Yusef and Jolariel really have lived in almost every civilisation that has ever existed. And over the next few hours, they listen with interest to tales such as they can hardly believe.

For Elisabeth, this is rare information indeed, primary evidence from the horse’s mouth, and not second-hand information from some old book in a library.

‘I am curious to know how you survived after the cataclysm,’ she says.

‘We were stranded on the highest peak on the planet for several years,’ Jolariel said, ‘but there were hundreds of others as well. And we didn’t starve to death because someone was looking after us.’

‘And who was that?’ Elisabeth says.

‘It wasn’t until sometime later that we found out. But every few weeks, we would wake up to find a stockpile of food.’

‘And did you ever get to meet them.’

‘Yes we did, eventually, and as we now know, they are the people that live inside the planet.’

‘What do you mean by that?’ Elisabeth says.

‘The years passed uneventfully, until one day, we received a visit from a group of very unusual-looking people,’ Yusef said.

‘You’re not talking about aliens, are you?’

‘No Elisabeth, they were not aliens at all, they were very much human.’

‘Living conditions were abysmal and people were dying every day, but they invited us to live in their world until things settled down.’

‘We were somewhat hesitant at first, but we had no other option, so we decided to go with them.’

‘We had to travel high up into the mountains and then through passageways that went deep into the planet.’

‘And what did you find once you got there?’

‘You may not believe it, Elisabeth, but this planet is hollow.’

That is something Elisabeth had not expected to hear and hastily opens another bottle of wine.

‘As we now know, the world within is the home of several highly evolved civilisations that no one even knows about.’

‘That is so incredible Yusef.’

‘Some of the people on the streets actually come from deep inside the Earth. There are many others as well, but they’re not from here at all.’

‘Aliens are not permitted to interfere in the lives of Earthlings,’ Addric said.

‘However, there is one particular character that does not follow the rules at all. But he has a particular interest in young women.’

‘He does,’ Elisabeth says, ‘and why might that be?’

She has every reason to be wary after her experience on Oxford Street.

‘No one knows Elisabeth. It’s as if he’s searching for someone in particular. And if he does speak, he usually says the same thing.’

‘And what is that.’

‘You time has come or you have one more chance, that sort of thing.’

‘Those words have been the cause of nothing but misery for some women.’

‘Why do you think he does that?’ Elisabeth says.

It’s apparent from the look on her face that she is visibly disturbed.

‘I have no idea at all.’

Elisabeth’s experience has obviously left an indelible imprint on her mind. And even though she has never mentioned it to anyone, she can’t stop thinking about it.






CHAPTER 5

In days gone by, Jolariel was a travelling physician and Yusef was a sailor. Jolariel has long since hung up his gloves, but Yusef still does a bit of sailing every now and then.

They had no choice but to change with the times. Today, they lead very different lives and are both independently wealthy men.

‘But there always came a day when we had to pack a bag and disappear into the mists of time, never to be seen again,’ Jolariel said.

‘That was always so heartbreaking, but it was my children I missed the most.’

‘The fact that I never aged often became a topic of interest, and it even got me into trouble on a number of occasions.’

‘But I always made sure that my family was well provided for.’

They often went their separate ways, but would meet up again at a pre-arranged time and place. And even though they have lived in many different places they eventually settled down in London.

Jolariel is the owner of several bookshops, and Yusef is the proprietor of a chain of inconspicuous antique shops scattered throughout some of the oldest cities in Europe.

Elisabeth’s experience is still very much on her mind, but she comes back to life when Jolariel continues his story about life in a subterranean world.

‘The people who inhabit the world within are the descendants of the people who found safe refuge beneath this planet, before Lemuria was destroyed.’

Thousands of people had planned to live in a vast underground city, one designed as a refuge from the cataclysm that was about to destroy Lemuria.

‘They discovered in time that it was possible to thrive deep inside the planet.’

‘Do you have any idea why that fellow might have said that to me?’ Elisabeth says.

‘Numerous women of our acquaintance have complained of the same thing, but try not to take it to heart.’

It is obviously far too late, because Elisabeth has taken it to heart, and a few too many European wines do nothing to help her agitated state at all.

Thousands of people have become obsessed with spirituality, and Jolariel’s bookshop is like a magnet that attracts people from a wide cross section of society.

‘As a consequence, we have a fascinating network of friends and acquaintances, some of whom are channellers.’

‘And what are they?’ Addric says.

‘A channeller is the means by which beings from the heavenly realms communicate messages of interest about spiritual matters and other related issues.’

‘But their messages are always couched in metaphor, as if they can only reveal an insight into what is about to happen.’

‘And what sort of things do they say?’ Elisabeth says.

‘It seems that changes are about to take place, that the inhabitants of this inconspicuous little planet are about to become members of the grand alliance.’

‘I have no idea what that means at all Jolariel.’

‘It probably means that they’re about to go to the next level,’ Addric says.

Elisabeth takes a moment to think about that and shakes her head. She really has had one too many wines and when she tries to stand up, she topples from side-to-side.

‘Dheago, please take me home the fast way,’ she says. ‘I have to get to bed immediately.’

Dheago wishes everyone a good night, takes Elisabeth by the arm, visualises Bumpton and vanishes from sight.

‘I hope she’ll be okay,’ Addric says.

‘I’m sure it’s just the wine. However, on a different note Addric, perhaps you’d be interested in accompanying us on a short journey?’

‘Of course I would Yusef. Where do you have in mind?’

‘Ostensibly, it’s to spend some time in our house on the east coast of Scotland.’

‘But we will be making a detour to the Scottish Highlands first, to see an old friend of ours.’

‘Count me in,’ Addric says.

Addric loves nothing better than a new adventure, and has so many ideas as to what he wants to do. But for some unknown reason, Elisabeth is weighing heavily on his mind. And even though he has no idea what it means, he has a feeling that something is about to happen.

Their original arrangement was that they would take Elisabeth home after they left Lemuria. But she couldn’t face the thought of being left alone, especially after what she had just been through.

She encouraged them to stay a little longer, and while she was baking up a batch of scones, Addric decided to take a look around. One room had cabinets crammed with objects from different eras in time, treasures that her parents had collected on their travels.

But in another room was cabinet with a collection of objects that obviously belonged to Elisabeth. They were representations of a colourful bird with its wings raised high. Some were hand-painted porcelain, while others were carved from semi-precious stones.

Addric had no idea at the time that it was a phoenix, a creature of magic and legend. When the phoenix dies, it does so in a ball of flames and is miraculously reborn from its ashes.

Yet another cupboard was full of devotional objects, one of which was a small figurine, a white alabaster image of a woman with watery veils.

If Addric was correct it was a depiction of Esperanta, the cosmic being that inhabits his home world, the Khavala.

"Addric, this is my soul sister," said a quiet voice in his head. "To the people of the future, she will be known as Gaia. Her spirit has inhabited this planet for millions of years as I have inhabited the Ocean of Infinite Mystery. She will be calling upon you soon, as I once did. Listen to what she has to say as it is important."

‘The plot thickens,’ he said.

Gaia will no doubt make contact in her own good time, but before that day dawns, Addric is looking forward to something completely different. His long held dream is about to come true. He is about to see a few of the attractions of the British Isles, and Scotland will be the first country on the agenda.










CHAPTER 6


Elisabeth sleeps in later than usual the following morning, a result no doubt of one too many glasses of European wine. And when she eventually recovers, she hides away in her study, but no matter how she tries she just can’t concentrate. She decides to do a spot of housework instead, but doesn’t get much of that done either.

Addric is excited at the thought of spending a few days in Scotland and he just can’t wait. To pass the time, he and Dheago spend most of the day in front of the television. It’s all new to Addric but one way of finding out about life on Planet Earth. But the six o’clock news is a lot more frightening than it is educational.

Elisabeth has been moping around for most of the day, and it’s obvious that she is still in a bit of a tetchy mood.

‘Gentlemen, it’s time to get your act together,’ she says. ‘We are going to Scotland tomorrow.’

‘And there is every possibility that the weather will be a force to contend with.’

‘I am not just talking cold, boys, it will probably be blustery as well. And as a consequence, you will need suitable clothing.’

She hands Addric a copy of the latest fashion magazine and suggests that he study it closely.

‘Check out the men’s section in particular.’

‘Okay,’ he says.

‘You should have a range of options at your disposal. And that means clothing suitable for all occasions, including breakfast, lunch or even a formal or informal dinner table.’

Elisabeth goes to some pains to point out the difference and demands that they conjure up a readymade wardrobe just to be on the safe side.

‘After all, boys, you’ll need something in your suitcase apart from a toothbrush, won’t you?’

‘I guess so,’ Addric says.

This isn’t like Elisabeth at all. She’s about to flip out at any given moment. But to Addric’s relief, she’s in a much better frame of mind the following day. He wasn’t game to say so at the time, but she was starting to get on his nerves. After a hectic start to the morning, they eventually make it to King’s Cross Station with plenty of time to spare.

The distinctive aroma of smoke permeates the air, and hundreds of people are making their way from one platform to another.

Addric has no idea what to think when a swarm of bizarrely dressed people pass by. It’s only four o’clock in the afternoon, and they look as if they haven’t recovered from a night on the town.

‘They look so dark and strange,’ he says to Elisabeth.

‘They’re a generation of youngsters inspired by modern music Addric.’

‘Those with shaved heads are called Skinheads, while those with even stranger hairstyles, ripped jeans and jackets festooned with safety pins are called Punks.’

‘If I didn’t know any better, I would say that they’re going through an identity crisis.’

‘That is what the older generation and people from outer space tend to think as well, Addric.’

‘Hmm,’ he thought, ‘Elisabeth is still a little overwrought. There is obviously more going on than I realised.’

If Elisabeth does have a dark side, Addric hasn’t noticed it before. But he’s relieved to see Jolariel and Yusef waiting under the clock on Platform One. As to why they’re wearing such unusual travelling clothes, he has no idea.

He has never heard of Sherlock Holmes, and has no idea that this is a style of clothing made famous by a legendary but fictional detective of days gone by. Sherlock always wore a distinctive coat and cape, but the accessory that most people remember is his very dapper travelling hat.

‘Elisabeth, why are they dressed like that?’ he says.

‘Because they can I suppose.’

‘Sherlock Holmes was rarely seen without his famous pipe or cape But his hat is a deerstalker, one that was traditionally worn by a rural gentleman,’

Yusef and Jolariel couldn’t care less what people think. After all, they have seen it all and done it all and survived to tell the tale. And as far as they’re concerned, they can wear whatever they like. If anyone does have something to say about it, well, that’s their problem.

‘Now that everyone is on board,’ Yusef says, ‘let’s get this show on the road.’

As they make their way to Platform Six, he takes it upon himself to fill Addric in on a few of the lesser known details of train travel.

‘We will be taking the overnight train, which means that we’ll be travelling on a high-speed express, the latest addition to the British Rail fleet.’

Addric is all ears and dying to know more, but it soon becomes obvious that Yusef has a particular interest in some of the more gruesome aspects of rail travel.

‘The passengers leave a lot to be desired, especially the young ones. Their language alone would have deprived them of an essential part of their anatomy in days gone by.’

‘But I have no idea what sort of qualification you need to be a train driver in this day and age.’

‘It’s a rollercoaster ride from start to finish.’

‘The train careers around one corner after another, and when it comes to a screeching halt, half the passengers fly out the window and they’re never seen again.’

‘He’s just pulling your leg,’ Jolariel says. ‘Don’t take any notice of him Addric.’

‘His imagination can get the better of him sometimes.’

‘Sounds like someone I know,’ Dheago says to Elisabeth.

An hour later, they’re still waiting around and while she has the opportunity, Elisabeth decides to record a situation of historical importance.

‘Line up gentlemen, as you are about to be immortalised.’

‘Yusef, what does she mean by that?’ Addric says.

‘She is going to take a photo. And one day she will probably sell it for a million pounds and retire to a life of luxury.’

‘I don’t understand, Yusef.’

‘It means that Elisabeth will have a photo of two aliens from Vela-Rishan, and two men from the long lost continent of Lemuria.’

Addric is perplexed. Would Elisabeth do something like that? Not the Elisabeth he first met perhaps, but now anything is possible.

‘She wouldn’t, would she Yusef?’

‘In her current state, Addric, anything is possible with a woman on the edge.’

‘You’ve noticed too.’

‘Hard not to,’ he said.

While they’re waiting to be called, Elisabeth ruffles around in her bag, removes an elegant silver box, pops a catch on the side and reveals a dozen perfectly rolled tailor-made cigarettes.

Addric has never seen a cigarette before and has no idea what she’s about to do.

‘What are those things?’ he says to Yusef.

‘They’re cigarettes, a product that contains tobacco leaves and numerous other unpalatable ingredients.’

‘Francis Drake, part-time pirate and one time favourite of Queen Elisabeth the First introduced this habit to England in the 15th century.’

‘Since then, it has taken off like wildfire, you could say.’

‘In other word, Elisabeth is about to smoke a cigarette.’

She offers one to Jolariel and Yusef who happily accept.

‘Addric, would you like to try one?’ she says.

‘No thanks, but I wouldn’t mind a peppermint if you have one.’

To Addric’s mind, this is another strange habit of the people of Planet Earth. Perhaps a cigarette contains unidentified medicinal properties, and even if it doesn’t, he has no interest in finding out.

But, he’s equally intrigued as to the purpose of a box of little wooden sticks.

‘They’re matches,’ Elisabeth says.

She strikes one against the side of the box and moments later, they’re puffing away and inhaling the residue.

‘The modern world has many interesting pleasures,’ Yusef says, ‘and smoking is just one of them.’



















CHAPTER 7

An announcement over the loudspeaker advises passengers that the hi-speed express will be out of action until further notice.

‘Passengers travelling to Scotland are to proceed to Platform Eight and board the train from there.’

‘That can only mean we will be travelling on the Grand Deliberator,’ Jolariel says. As far as I know, it’s been out of service for many years. Which means we will be travelling in old-fashioned style.’

Addric grabs the first available trolley and loads it up with their bags.

‘Well, off we go,’ he says.

They’re just about to set off when Yusef holds them back with his walking stick.

‘Stand back everyone, it’s a stampede.’

Hundreds of children pushing trollies loaded up with huge wooden travelling trunks come storming along the platform. They’re chatting away excitedly and obviously eager to get to their destination.

‘What an odd-looking bunch,’ Addric says. ‘But why do they have cages full of owls, cats and birds.’

‘They’re wizards and witches,’ Jolariel says.

‘Really,’ Addric says.

‘Yes, purveyors of the fine art of magic who live in an alternate reality to the one you see around you.’

‘You obviously have no idea what I’m talking about. Do you?’

‘In which case Addric, I will have to introduce you to a famous book based on the torrid experiences of a trainee wizard, a young man who is not unlike yourself in some ways.’

‘Okay,’ he says.

‘However, we will probably meet a few witches over the next few days, but of a very different kind.’

When they arrive at Platform Eight, it is only to discover that the train on which they will be travelling really is the Grand Deliberator.

‘This is a relic of the past,’ Yusef says, ‘but it was withdrawn from service many years ago. But it’s a luxurious way to travel.’

The Grand Deliberator is one of great icons of the early twentieth century, and for many years it was the flagship of British Rail. It was a celebrity in its day, a magnificent black creature with two flaps on its invisible eyes. It was the workhorse of a generation and renowned for the speed at which it travelled from London to Edinburgh.

A team of porters dressed in the distinctive uniform of yesteryear are waiting to be of service. They look resplendent in a peaked cap with a British Rail badge, a blue blazer, polished buttons and a glistening epaulet on each shoulder.

Addric is allocated his very own compartment, a relatively compact space that has everything but the kitchen sink, but it does have a wash basin. It’s a miniature bedroom with a lower and upper berth, baggage racks and a window with a retractable blind.

‘Considering its size,’ he says, ‘it looks relatively comfortable.’

It appears to have everything a passenger would need when travelling on a fast moving train.

‘There isn’t much room for a party and barely enough room for me, but it will do.’

He collapses onto the lower bunk, and within seconds, he’s fast asleep. Addric drifts away into a very strange dream where he and Dheago float along through a world of mist and vapors. They travel high up into the mountains and eventually arrive at the mouth of a cave. They are just about to venture in when Addric is rustled from his sleep by the sound of someone knocking on the cabin door.

‘Addric, wake up, ‘Dheago says, ‘it’s time for dinner.’

He opens the door, only to see Dheago dressed in a very impressive dinner suit.

‘You look very smart,’ he says.

‘According to Elisabeth, this is what you will have to conjure up,’ Dheago says. ‘We’re having dinner in the dining car.’

One of the advantages of being a Yumi Master is that you can have a Yumi style bath, especially when you’re in a hurry. It’s a no-fuss, no bother routine and you don’t even have to take your clothes off. A Yumi bath will not only clean your teeth, but style your hair as well. Addric does a quick Yumi wardrobe change, and in the blink of an eye he looks equally resplendent.

‘Apparently, you’re wearing a tuxedo,’ Dheago says, ‘a very classy version of a dinner suit.’

A tuxedo is a stylish black suit with two tails at the back. As well as a starched white shirt with a winged collar, a tuxedo is worn with a black bow tie and a deep red sash around the waist.

‘Apparently it’s called a cummerbund,’ Dheago says, ‘for reasons lost in the mist of time.’

‘Probably to make you look sexier than you actually are,’ Addric says.’

CHAPTER 8

‘This must be a very classy dining car,’ Addric says.

‘It has a silver service menu, and according to Elisabeth, that mean class and style.’

They have barely moved ten feet when they encounter two men dressed in long white robes. The fact that they have a snow white complexion, pink eyes and no hair or eyebrows is a dead giveaway, and Dheago recognises them immediately.

‘You’re from the underworld, aren’t you? Who are you and what do you want?’

‘You’re Addric and Dheago, are you not?’ one of the men says.

‘Who wants to know?’

‘We have been sent by an old friend to give you something useful.’

‘And who would that be?’ Addric says.

‘Tariq ben Hassan, I am sure you remember him, don’t you?’

‘Yes we do.’

‘We’re here on his behalf to provide you with a keystone,’ he says. ‘When you visit the inner Earthly realms they will of invaluable assistance.’

‘The inner Earthly realms,’ Addric says.

‘Yes, that is correct, and the easiest way to get there is through the realm known as Hyperborea, but you will need a special key to gain access.’

‘These are keystones,’ he says as he places a sliver of emerald green glass onto the palm of their hands.

‘They will become a part of your energy system and glow with a green light when you’re in range of any of the doors that lead to the world within.’

‘Simply raise your hand and you’ll be given permission to enter. You are welcome to visit at any time, and hopefully, we will be seeing you soon.’

‘Good evening gentlemen and enjoy your dinner.’

They’re somewhat baffled by that experience and not really sure what it means.

‘I guess we’ll find out eventually,’ Addric says.

The dining car has a distinctive old world charm, a series of private cubicles furnished in the Scottish baronial style. They take their places on high-backed chairs with cabriolet legs, a style that owes its origins to the days of knights and medieval castles.

Elisabeth looks resplendent in a gown that could have been designed by any of the leading couturiers of the day. But if it had not been for Dheago, she would not be wearing a collection of gems to rival that of the British royal family. Her necklace and earrings alone are worth a fortune, encrusted as they are with diamonds and emeralds.

It is personal service from start to finish and they even have their very own waiter. Henry is dressed in a classy version of the British Rail uniform and serves up the first of many classic wines.

Not long after they have dispensed with how wonderful they all look, Elisabeth asks the first and last of her leading questions.

‘Jolariel, why exactly are we going to the Scottish Highlands?’

‘Yusef and I are to be keynote speakers at a conference,’ he says.

‘On books or antiques?’

‘Neither of those things Elisabeth, this will be a conference of a different kind, a convergence of like minds, you could say.’

‘And what does that mean?’

‘Well, you’ll see, but it’s been organised by a friend of ours, a woman of some interest called Lady Felicity Originalis.’

Addric comes back to life the moment he hears that name.

‘You know Lady Felicity,’ Jolariel says.

He’s about to deliver a barefaced lie, but then thinks better of it.

‘Maybe, but that name does ring a bell.’

He and Dheago are acquainted with a Felicity Originalis, but not Lady Felicity Originalis. As far as he knows, she is not a resident of Planet Earth. If this is the one and only Felicity, then she comes from their side of the universe. Addric has no intention of playing his cards, not until he has heard what else Jolariel has to say.

‘We’re old friends of Lady Felicity, a woman we first met in another life, so to speak. She came to our rescue when we found ourselves in a very dangerous situation.’

‘For a number of years, we were advisors to the Duke of Milan in Northern Italy. That was in the 15th century, and the Pope of the time, Julius the Sixth, was a warrior Pope.’

Julius had every intention of bringing Italy under his control using military force. Jolariel and Yusef acted in an advisory capacity only, offering the Duke suggestions as to his options on a number of issues. They were always aware that anything they said in such a volatile climate could be considered heresy in the eyes of the church.

The Papal troops had guns and cannons and were edging their way into the city. And on the night that Julius and his troops entered Milan they had no choice but to escape.

‘Soldiers had infiltrated the city and were roaming around the countryside searching for anyone they considered to be a heretic,’ Jolariel said.

‘You could be accused of the vilest of all crimes at their say so, a crime for which you could be burnt alive.’

‘We made our escape and headed for Venice where we had a home,’ Yusef said. ‘But the moment we reached the front gate, we encountered the secret police of the Pope’s most vindictive general.’

‘In today’s world, Cardinal Menchino would be considered a psychopath.’

‘He had a reputation as a butcher with spies at every level of society.’

‘He knew all and saw all, and no one was safe if word filtered through that he was coming to visit. ‘Our only option was to make a speedy retreat in our boat.’

Jolariel had designed a crystal powered ship, the very same boat on which he and his family escaped from Lemuria before it was destroyed.

‘Addric, you will be happy to hear that we still have that boat and even today, it’s in pristine condition.’

‘In those days, Venice was a city of cut-throats and we had to travel under the cover of darkness.’

‘It wasn’t safe to be out and about in the early hours of the morning, and we had no choice but to creep down side streets and alleyways.’

‘Like every other house in Venice, ours was concealed behind an inconspicuous wall and an equally non-descript gateway.’

‘Safety was only moments away when we heard a rustling sound in the darkness,’ Yusef said. ‘We were acquainted with many of our neighbours and knew their lives were also at risk.’

‘If you were ever accused of anything by the Papal inquisitor, your fate was sealed. You were dragged off to prison and left to rot away in a dungeon.’

‘Hundreds of people were tortured for no reason at all. Just as many were accused of any number of fabricated crimes for which they could be burnt at the stake.’

‘However, on that night, a posse of the Cardinal’s Special Forces was hiding in the shadows on the opposite side of the street.’

This was the home of a woman who held a position of power in the Duke’s court. She was a confidant of his wife and someone who had already come to the attention of Cardinal Menchino.

‘She was suspected of being a witch, which was the standard crime of the day. It automatically meant that you were in league with Satan and the penalty for that was death.’

‘But the reputation of her Ladyship, the Countess of Farago, as she was known then, was one of the best kept secrets of the time.’

One of Addric’s passions is sampling the food wherever he goes, but he barely notices the soup or the roast that follows. He is still trying to decide if this really is the same Felicity Originalis from the little village of Ditafarago. The fact that she’s using the name of her home town is a dead giveaway. The Felicity he knows is a master of the arcane arts, which is exactly the same thing as being a witch.

‘If it had not been for a cannonball that almost took the life of her mistress, the fate of the Countess may have been very different.’

Felicity barely escaped with her life and her only option was to return to her home in Venice.

‘The Cardinal’s troops were planning to ambush her Ladyship, but we had no idea how powerful she was.’

A lady of her station would normally arrive in a carriage and not under the cover of darkness.

‘We couldn’t alert her to the danger as that would have given us away as well. But the moment she appeared, the Cardinal’s men stepped.’

‘Addric, I have never forgotten the power that you and Dheago have at your disposal,’ Jolariel said, ‘but Felicity does not have to adhere to the vows of a Yumi Master.’

‘She sensed the presence of danger, and within seconds, twelve men had been reduced to ashes.’

‘We had no choice but to leave Venice that night and did not return for many years,’ Yusef said.

‘We set sail for the Middle East, and in the process, we made a new friend. But now her ladyship is an authority on an area of interest to women in particular.’

‘And what might that be?’ Elisabeth says.

‘White witchcraft, my dear, a most subtle and powerful tool if ever there was one.’




CHAPTER 9


It is five o’clock in the morning and bitterly cold when they arrive at a little train station in the middle of nowhere. As well as a very interesting group of women there is also a dashing young man with a Clark Gable moustache. As they are relieved to see, a bus driver is also waiting on the platform.

‘Lady Felicity sends her apologies,’ he says. ‘Unfortunately, she will not be able to catch up until morning tea.’

The light of a new day is dawning as the bus winds its way up into the Scottish highlands. And the view is spectacular, endless miles of rolling green hills interspersed with wild and windswept craggy rock formations.

‘Lady Felicity’s residence was once an old baronial hall,’ the driver says, ‘but you will be relieved to hear that it’wild and windsweptnt and ent,’ 267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267267s as warm as toast, thanks to a modern invention called central heating.’

Felicity’s estate is surrounded by spacious grounds and manicured gardens, but the castle itself overlooks the vista of a river valley below.

‘Only the walls of the original castle still exist,’ the driver says. ‘However, this is no ordinary house, as you will soon see. It’s more like the palace of the Sultan of Persia.’

The castle is at least three storeys high, but it also has three distinctive towers and one very impressive dome.

‘I am looking forward to this,’ Yusef says. ‘But prepare for a treat Addric. That’s all I have to say.’

The entrance hall is decorated in beautiful glass tiles and makes a statement as to what’s to come. This would once have been the home of an ancient Scottish family. In days gone by it would have been furnished with furniture local to the region, but that is no longer the case. This is obviously the home of a woman of class and style.

‘Now, this is opulent,’ Yusef says.

‘I am of the opinion that the furnishings originate from Turkey, a place I once called home, in a past life, that is.’

The housekeeper is a rather demure woman wearing old-fashioned glasses.

‘Your rooms are this way,’ she says.

As they make their way up an elaborate staircase, the view down is that of an exotic oriental palace decorated with Turkish carpets and richly embellished furniture.

Addric falls in love with his bedroom at first sight, but has no idea that it’s a recreation of a scene from a story called The Tales of the Arabian Nights. The bed is woven steel of intricate arabesque patterns, decorated with exotic silken veils.

‘Turkey,’ he says,’ it’s definitely on my agenda now.’

The dining hall is equally awe inspiring, decorated in the style of a Turkish palace, but high above is a dome of truly immense proportions.

‘That looks like a replica of one of the most famous of all domes,’ Yusef says. ‘The Hagia Sophia was originally a Christian church, Addric, but it is now a world famous museum in Istanbul.’

Even though the waiters have a distinctly Scottish accent, they look the part in a glittering shirt, a sash around their loose-fitting pants and a pair of shoes that curl up at the toes.

Addric is immediately attracted by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the air. And to his delight it’s brewing away in a samovar, a modern version of an old fashioned water-heating receptacle. The only thing missing from this exotic tableau is Hamad, a Lemurian man who specialised in the preparation of coffee made to perfection.

The youngest woman in the group is about eighteen years old, whereas her companions range in age from thirty to seventy. This is a very eclectic bunch of characters, practitioners of one sort or magic or another.

As to what a swarthy Italian called Armando does has not as yet been revealed. Armando is the prize of the day, and at least three women are quietly planning to snare this handsome fellow and dispose of the opposition before the day is over.

One woman towers over everyone else. With long black hair that reaches to her knees, Griselda Le Chat looks eerily cat-like in appearance. And as she glides around from one place to another, her tight-fitting dress trails along the floor collecting an assortment of little dust particles. Griselda is proud to call herself a shaman, and that as Addric now knows is some kind of witchdoctor, but as to what she actually does he cannot even begin to imagine.

During breakfast, they are advised by a woman called Letitia Lamourre that they have one hour at their disposal.

‘The opening ceremony will commence at 9.30 sharp and please don’t be late.’

Letitia radiates an air of refined mysticism and speaks in breathy pauses. And as she does so her long slender fingers shower the assembled crowd with an assortment of invigorating little molecules. Letitia is an acolyte of the divine soul goddess, and as she is keen to point out, she channels that particular deity as well.

‘This will be a memorable day in every way,’ she says. ‘One of our guests will speak on the healing power of crystals, and another will regale us with the fascinating world of reincarnation.’

‘And yet another master will reveal the secrets of spiritual healing.’

CHAPTER 10

It all sounds very exciting and Addric is looking forward to the opening ceremony in particular. If Lady Felicity is in charge, this conference of like-minded souls is going to be more interesting than he thought.

To his dismay, there’s an agenda in place and he is assigned to sit with a group of women he has never met before.

‘It is not by accident that you have elected to attend this conference,’ Letitia says.

‘As a consequence, it would be a good idea to use this as an opportunity to network.’

Networking was the buzz word of the New Age movement. And Addric has an opportunity to meet a rather unusual woman. Shaddizah Grindalena is a very impressive looking woman in every way.

Her hairstyle alone is a work of art, swathed as it is in silken scarves. Shaddizah is liberally adorned in at least ten carats of solid gold. Her dress is a mass of exotic silken veils. She wears large golden earrings, ornate rings on her fingers and hundreds of glistening bracelets.

Shaddizah chooses to open the window of conversation by discussing the décor of the house.

‘This is a most unique establishment in every way, is it not?’

‘It is indeed,’ Addric says.

‘This is not, as people are saying, a re-creation of the palace of the third Shah of Ancient Persia.’

‘It’s not,’ he says.

‘No, this is a re-creation of the palace of the Grand Duke of Opti-Romara.’

‘Ooh, that is a surprise,’ Addric says.

If it had not been for an old friend called Slinkfoot Sam, aka Samuel Greenleaf, he would never have known about Opti-Romara at all. Slinky is a resident of the little town of Ditafarago, and he was more than happy to elaborate on the history of the local area.

If what Shaddizah says is true, then she has obviously travelled a very long way to get to this conference. Opti-Romara is not in this galaxy at all. It’s a rather small principality in his world. But Addric is equally surprised to hear that Shaddizah is a fortune teller of some repute.

‘I am also the adopted mother of her eminence, and the maestro behind this conference, Lady Felicity Originalis.’

If there was ever a day in his life when Addric was feeling more than a little paranoid, it’s today. He has an awful feeling that he’s about to become the plaything of a woman of substantial proportions. But Letitia comes to his rescue and announces that the conference is about to begin and Addric heaves a huge sigh of relief.

‘She is coming,’ Shaddizah says, ‘Lady Felicity is about to make her entrance.’


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