The Dragon Lords
Parts 5 to 8

A Novel by Silvia Hartmann

Parental Advisory: May contain adult themes and subjects.

Note

This novel spans multiple Google Doc documents:

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Table of Contents

Note:

Table of Contents

Part 5

5/1 - Trajectory

5/2 - Hallowed

5/3 - Worse

5/4 - Stranger

5/5 - Service

Part 6

6/1 - Assist

6/2 - Team

6/3 - Aware

6/4 - What Knife?

6/5 - Shadows

6/6 - Judas

6/7 - Privilege

6/8 - Gone

Part 7

7/1 - Car Park

7/2 - Let Me Watch

7/3 -Burning

7/4 - Shards

7/5 - Others

7/6 - Now

Part 8

8/1 - Right Direction

8/2 - Lake

8/3 - Lazarus

8/4 - Extreme

8/5 - Protection

Part 9

9/1 - Driftwood

9/2 - Garden

Writing Notes


Part 5

5/1 - Trajectory

Rix stood before the house in his phased state and observed.

Everything was perfectly silent, perfectly quiet.

He could see the trees bending in the storm, the sheeting, driving curtains of rain. It did not touch him.

He held his hand flat, palm down, before his eyes and observed how the rain drops rushed straight through it, creating a litle tingle as they went.

He stepped out from under the porch and the little tingles were all throughout his body. Rix noted he was gently sinking into the pebble drive as well.

He made a small adjustment to raise himself and then began to look around for he who was approaching.

It was too dark; he could hardly make out the pale gate to the road from where he stood, suspended in this different state.

How will I find him, thought Rix, and there was a voice, hushed but so familiar.

"Use your eyes of night ..."

I don't know what that means, thought Rix sadly and focused forward, trying to use the feeling in stomach and chest give him a location. But they only gave direction; a trajectory.

Rix nodded and moved out into the darkness. I'll follow it long enough, I will come upon him. It was inevitable.

He found that walking was very difficult in this state; it might need another form of forward movement. Again, there was this intense frustration of something just outside his reach; for a moment, Rix was spun out by it so much that his phasing faltered and the storm came back, and with it the cold night, the icy rain.

Rix re-materialised with the shock of it, tried to remember how to get back to that other place, could not, tried to focus on something ...

In all of that, there was still he who was approaching.

Rix shivered convulsively, wiped the water from his face and moved out into the darkness as behind him, the women opened the kitchen door, calling his name but it was swept away and he did not hear it.

He made it to the gate and climbed over it easily; once on the other side, on the slick surface of the road, Rix felt a sense of alignment clicking into place; he who Rix sought was straight ahead and not far.

Rix walked forward, steadily, following his trajectory.

And there was the moment when the road illuminated in a flash of lightning; and Rix saw a man on his knees ahead; a man kneeling right in the middle of the road. It was here that the strange trembling Rix had felt throughout his body came into harmony; when it did, it was replaced by excitement, and rightness.

Rix started to run to close the distance.

Another flash of lightning, followed almost immediately by a cracking thunderbolt so loud it split the night revealed that the man had raised his head and was looking straight at Rix, and then he was upon him.


5/2 - Hallowed

Later, DeVille would reflect that out of all the extraordinary moments in his life, the most extraordinary of them all was the moment when the dragon lord appeared in the rain and he thought he would die.

There was lightning and thunder; there was the pain, everywhere, and then ...

It simply stopped.

It was exactly like breaking through the eye wall of a hurricane.

The centre was perfect stillness.

Blue sky and sunshine.

A sense of being in a hallowed place.

A hallowed time ...

Here, it was still dark, it was still raining.

The lightning was still flashing but the thunder was moving away.

But DeVille, on his knees, was not in pain any longer.

He was not cold any longer.

He could not see the other; but he knew exactly what the other was doing. He knew that a hand was reaching out to him, and he took it.

Fire and ice, strength, youth and immense age flooded through him all at the same time and he rose easily, gracefully.

He could feel the dragon lord's smile in his entire body and perhaps DeVille would have cried, never having truly been welcomed by anyone at all in his entire life, but he was too happy, too ...

There wasn't even a word for it, and DeVille decided to stop trying for words, and simply being grateful.

The dragon lord held Andrew's hand and gently guided him along the road, back to the house, where it was warm, and dry.


5/3 - Worse

Rosie and Sandra awaited them at the gate.

They had dressed against the rain, fully expecting to have to search for Rix all night long. The dogs were there too, of course.

Sandra saw him first, and then the other man, and her relief was so great that her knees went weak and she had to hold on to the wooden post for a moment. This left Rosie to open the gate so that Rix could lead the strange man in the dark wet-black coat through and towards the house.

Rosie ran to overtake them so she could open the door for them; Sandra took a moment to steady herself.

She had thought that she would be alright if Rix just got up and left. She had thought she might wonder where he was, or what had happened to him.

Sandra had not expected that it would feel as though not just this world had come to an end, but any possible world that could ever exist, all at the same time, all at once.

He had only been gone for such a short time, she thought, ten minutes, five?

She really did not want to think it, she really did not, but it was there - these few minutes had been the worst minutes of her life.

Worse than when Ken had died ...

Sandra shook her head. No, she thought, no, that can't be. That can not be. I have just forgotten how much it hurt, I've just forgotten, that was then and this is now. I am over-reacting. It's the wine, it's the crazy evening ... Breathe, just breathe ...

Try and think.

Rix is not crazy, he really found a man out in the darkness. Perhaps the man was in an accident.

Rix is good at finding things, she thought. And the man looked as though he really needed to come in from the storm.

Sandra took a deep breath, straightened herself, finally let go off the fence post and went to join the others inside.


5/4 - Stranger

Assembled in the kitchen, in the light of the single candle which had nearly burned down, Rosie Wyatt realised that she was the only person in a fit state and needed to take control of the situation.

Sandra's make up had taken a severe beating, what with the kissing and the crying. Also, her blouse was buttoned up wrongly and she was still wearing her bra around her waist, which was clearly noticeable.

Rosie started with her best friend.

"Go and put the fuse back in," she told Sandra, "And take a moment to look in a mirror before you come back ..."

Sandra nodded wide eyed.

Oh dear, thought Rosie, sighed, and repeated one more time, "Fuse first, bathroom after. Alright?"

Sandra blinked and nodded more meaningfully this time. She kept nodding as she left for her tasks.

Rosie turned around and saw that the strange man was now sitting on a chair and audibly dripping onto the floor.

Rix stood before him, wet as if he had just stepped out from under the shower, his hands behind his back, looking at the man with what could only be described as a tender and loving expression.

Rosie turned her attention to the man himself.

He was tall, well built and clearly strong. His hair was grey, cut very short in military fashion; in fact, the way he sat reminded Rosie of a general or someone in very high authority.

The man was wearing a coat which seemed black but could possibly have started out as a dark blue; some kind of fine wool, and it was smeared and streaked with pale clay.

He must have fallen in the dark, thought Rosie; then she saw his hands.

They lay upturned on his knees, the fingers slightly flexed and were red raw. His shoes and legs up to the knees were completely caked in mud.

The strange man was sitting perfectly still, staring up at Rix.

He's looking at Rix as though he'd seen ... the second coming, thought Rosie and had to shiver.

At that very moment, the lights went back on, and all three moved their heads away and down; Rix brought up an arm to shield his eyes.

With the lights came the humming and buzzing of the electrical appliances. Rosie blinked her eyes, found she could see again, then had to sigh. The magic space described by the absence of these things was irretrievably gone.

Now, it was back to business.

She cleared her throat and said, "We need to get you both out of these wet clothes. You'll catch a cold. I'll put the kettle on and get you a hot drink."

At the sound of her voice, the man in the chair looked around and up at Rosie. Something flashed from him to her and Rosie took in a sharp breath, put her hand to her heart and took a step back.

As clear as anything, she heard her own voice saying loudly inside her head, I don't like you.

Stay away from me.

As though the man had heard her, he raised his chin a little and a small twist came to his pale, colourless lips. Very deliberately, he looked away from her and back to Rix, where his facial expression changed completely.

It softened and Rosie thought, my God, he looks like someone ... who is in love.

That's so crazy ...

Sandra came into the kitchen. She was wearing tracksuit trousers and a T-shirt, her hair was brushed out and all the make up scrubbed off. Sandra had opted to not put anything else on.

Wise choice, thought Rosie. I don't know what's going on here but this night is far, far from over ...


5/5 - Service

The two women sat side by side on the sofa in the sitting room, each holding a mug of tea.

They sighed individually and together every so often; looked across the open door to the hallway in the direction of the kitchen every so often, but did not talk.

Thus, they were not in a position to see that Rix was kneeling before the man on the wet, muddy flagstone floor, taking the man's left hand in his own, kissing the palm gently, and where he did, the skin moved as liquid beneath his lips and healed perfectly.

They were further not privy to the expression in DeVille's face as he watched the young man with the shimmering raindrops still caught in his brown hair do this; nor could they have any form of recognition or understanding of how this made DeVille feel.

Andrew DeVille had never really thought much about the concept of healing. He had never needed it and considered illness and infirmity to be a sign of weakness. Of course, he had read the reports and the tales of old.

If he had ever thought about it, he would have considered a healing such as this simply in terms of a repair; like one would sand down a table and French polish it to remove a stain.

Perhaps a reduction or removal of physical pain would be involved.

Andrew DeVille realised that he had been both misinformed as well as in error.

As the young man was kissing his injuries away, he was taking away more than that.

He was taking away a lifetime of ...

DeVille started shaking his head slightly. A lifetime of things these hands had done ... a lifetime of ... touching things he never wanted to touch ... shame ... sin ... DeVille gave a sharp breath and a convulsive shudder went through him; the man on his knees before him looked up and into his eyes.

Spinning, whirling, bright crystal blue, midnight blue, blue black ...

"My lord," DeVille found he whispered, "My lord ..."

The young man smiled at him and squeezed his freshly healed left hand gently. A pulse of pure life travelled up DeVille's arm, raced into his neck, across, down his spine.

All of the sudden, the lights in the kitchen were much brighter. All the colours were more clearly defined, the objects were more 3D.

DeVille found himself sitting up straighter, breathing more deeply, and without volition, his right hand moved forward and presented itself for healing to his lord.

The younger man smiled, caught DeVille's hand in his own, and this time, placed a single small kiss in the palm of DeVille's hand.

The sensation exploded and shook DeVille from head to foot; when it had passed, he could think clearly again.

"Thank you, my lord," he said to the young man who was smiling up at him.

DeVille's lord rose and bowed his head.

"I am so glad I found you," he said, "I am so glad you are here. Thank you for coming."

DeVille wanted to look at his hands which felt warm and so very sensuous but he could not take his eyes off the wet young man in the simple jeans and check shirt before him.

"My lord," was all he could think to say again.

His lord nodded, smiled and said, "We have instructions from the lady of the house. We should follow these."

"Of course, my lord," said DeVille with all his heart.

He stood up and found he could do so with perfect ease. There was not a trace of the madness of the dark night remaining, not a single pain, a tension or even a discomfort anywhere.

He had not felt so ... young, so strong, in years.

DeVille looked at the green tracksuit and the old black T-Shirt which told in washed out letters of a concert that had taken place in 1993.

He smiled.

All the torture in the world couldn't make me put that on, he thought.

But I will wear it for you, my lord.

5/6

"What's taking them so long? What are they doing in there?" Rosie had run out of patience and had stood up from the sofa, looking out through the hallway and craning her neck.

Sandra shook her head and sighed again. She did not like that man in her house. He needed help, of course, and she was always ready to supply this but she was looking forward to him leaving.

Perhaps a taxi could be called right now.

It would take while to arrive here ...

"I'm going to see what they're up to and hurry them along," said Rosie. Before Sandra had a chance to stop her, Rosie Wyatt had bounced from the room and was across the hall, knocking on the kitchen door loudly, saying, "I'm coming in, ready or not."

Sandra put a hand to her head, put her tea mug down and got up as well.

The scene in the kitchen was remarkable.

The strange man was standing naked before Rix, who was holding his Rolex watch in his hand, turning around at the hip at the intrusion. Around his feet on the floor, pale and water wrinkled, lay his clothes in soggy piles.

Sandra went bright red immediately and turned away, "Sorry ...."

Rosie, on the other hand, stepped forward and said, "Come on you two. Get it sorted out in here. It's cold, get dressed, I'll put on the fire in the sitting room."

She left the door open deliberately and re-joined her friend, who was sitting in the far right corner of the sofa, her feet drawn right up and her arms wrapped about them.

Rosie went to turn on the electric fire. It was a pretty thing, one of the few luxuries that she had been able to encourage Sandra to acquire since Ken's death. It had a flat black glass screen and strange make belief flames dancing behind it. It also chucked out a lot of heat, and that was a good thing on this night.

Rosie went to sit by the side of her friend and stroked Sandra's leg.

"What's the matter?"

Sandra looked in the direction of the kitchen and said, "I don't like that man. He makes me nervous."

Rosie nodded immediately. "Yes. I thought to myself, stay away from me, when I first saw him. Who the hell is he? What's going on?"

Sandra sat up straighter with a start. "Rix said something ... about priests. About having to hide from priests ..."

"Fuck," Rosie said softly. Not like a general. Like a priest ... A priest with a Rolex watch?

"Rix seems to like him though," Sandra said sadly and sighed again.

"There's something ..." Rosie had a flash of trying to hold on to Rix by the kitchen door, and he got away so quickly ... she never saw him open the door and close it again ... She shook her head. Too much wine. Too much wine ...

Rix walked into the room.

He was wearing a silky black pair of pyjamas, as Sandra's dead husband had now run out of track suits, which he did not approve of and never really liked wearing.

Rix was smiling brightly and looked extremely happy. And hot as hell in that thing, thought Rosie and could not help but smile back at him, longingly.

Then the other man came into the room also.

He was not smiling.

Indeed, he looked very strange in that frog green pair of sweat pants which were too short and too tight, and the too tight faded black T-Shirt bearing a sillhouette of David Bowie.

In spite of this, he was very upright and the air of authority around him remained entirely unbroken. He did not look funny.

He must work out a lot, thought Rosie. He's old. You don't get muscles like that from sitting behind a desk all day.

Beside her, Sandra moved and put her feet to the floor. She cleared her throat and said to the strange man, "Welcome in my home." Sandra got up, stepped towards the man, holding out her hand to him and saying, "I'm Sandra, Sandra Delhany. This is my friend Rosie Wyatt."

The man, who was considerably taller than Rix, now looked down at the woman standing before him. His eyes were light and bright and he made Sandra feel uncomfortable, exposed with his stare; then he turned to look to Rix.

Rix had stopped smiling and gave a nod; the man nodded back, took Sandra's hand, squeezed it carefully, just enough to let her know that he could easily break her fingers if he chose to do so and said in a true 1950s BBC radio presenter's voice, "Andrew DeVille, at your service, madam."

Sandra was pulling her hand away before the sentence had been completed and was fighting to not wipe it on her thigh. She had noticed how Rix's voice had a quality that made it feel like a touch; this man's voice, friendly enough, was like being slapped backhanded across the face.

Rix walked past them and sat down next to Rosie, putting his cheek to her shoulder and rubbing it lightly. He closed his eyes, clearly happy. Rosie reached across and stroked his still wet hair, then his face.

Sandra felt empowered by this sight; she turned back to Mr Andrew DeVille, who was clearly not at all at her service in any shape or form imaginable, and thus had lied to her at the very first introduction, lied to her by the way of introduction, and said clearly and precisely, "Take a seat, Mr DeVille, and do tell us what brings you to our home this night. Did you have a car accident? Would you like me to call the police?"

DeVille gave a small smile and an appreciative nod. He went to the armchair closest to the fire, sat down in very controlled movement, put his hands on the arms of the chair and replied, "I have come to collect ... your visitor."


Part 6

6/1 - Assist

"I have come to collect your visitor."

The sentence stood in the room as Sandra got to her feet.

But it was Rix who answered it.

"Where will you take me?" he asked softly, sitting up straighter, his fingers playing with DeVille's wristwatch he was still holding.

Rosie shook her head, no, don't ... She tried to speak and found she could not; she looked to Sandra but her friend too did not say anything, just sank back down into the sofa, and continued sinking into herself until her head was on her knees.

Rosie put her hand on her friend's back and knew she would start to cry in a moment.

DeVille leaned forward in the chair, looking at the flashing watch, gold and silver, as Rix kept turning it in his hands. He said, "I ... don't know yet. I don't want to take you to headquarters, that's for sure."

Rix smiled at the older man. "Do you know who I am?"

DeVille took a deep breath. "I don't know who you are exactly," he admitted. "But I think I know what you are.

"In fact, I know what you are. There can be no mistake." DeVille held out both his hands, palms up.

Rosie stared at them for a moment before she remembered what she had seen in the kitchen. They had been red raw, bleeding, black gravel and dirt in the wounds.

Now, they were perfect. Completely healed, completely normal.

She shook her head. Perhaps she had seen wrong ... or imagined it ...

Rix stopped playing with the watch and placed it on his knee instead.

"So what am I?" he enquired. There was a touch of a vibration in his normally smooth voice and Sandra reacted to this by lifting her head, lifting herself and looking at him across Rosie's chest.

DeVille said, "You are a dragon lord."

At this, Rix's eyes widened; he took a sharp breath in, then put both his hands to his head. He convulsed, convulsed more; slipped off the sofa and curled up in a tight ball at Rosie's feet, still holding his head, his fingers digging into his scalp.

DeVille was out of his chair and on the floor by his side before either of the women had so much as a chance to react; he took hold of Rix's hands, held them tightly, pulled them up and away and only moments later, Rix had scrambled to him and DeVille was holding him in a tight embrace, stroking the younger man's hair and saying, "It's alright, I'm sorry, shh ... it's alright ... we can talk about that later ..."

Rix shuddered in the other man's arms and went limp.

Slowly and carefully, DeVille released him and laid him down on the carpet.

Two slow tracks of black blood were coming from Rix's nose, snaking down over his upper lip, running down his chin.

"Fuck," said DeVille softly and here it was that Rosie jumped up, pushed the surprised man so hard on the shoulder that he fell backwards. The woman with the curly black hair was furious.

"Get away from him!" she shouted into DeVille's face, "Get away from him you piece of SHIT! Don't you dare touch him! I'll tear you to pieces if you touch him!"

Andrew DeVille stared up at her and for a moment, their eyes locked. He gave a small nod and raised a hand.

"Easy now," he said to the furious woman, "Easy. I do not mean to hurt him. In the contrary. And ..." he looked down at Rix who was completely pale and hardly seemed to breathe at all, " ... he did ask. He did ask me outright. I'm sorry."

Rosie tried to keep her anger at him and her extreme fear for Rix alive; but the anger died and only the fear remained. She blew out a long breath and found herself saying, "Do you know about him? Is he hurt? How can we help him?"

Before DeVille had a chance to respond, Sandra stood up and said, "I was supposed to protect him ..." She walked around Rosie, stepped over DeVille's legs and knelt down next to Rix, carefully raising his head and sliding herself beneath him until he was cradled in her lap.

Sandra slowly stroked his hair, then kissed him on the forehead.

DeVille moved backwards until his back was up to his chair, but he remained on the floor. He sighed deeply and said, "Look, ladies, I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot here. His ... kind ... tends to ... has been known to ... engender ... extreme emotions in those who meet them.

"It is well known.

"I don't hold it against you ... that you are ... very protective of him.

"But the fact is that you can't protect him. I don't know if I can.

"But I have a better chance than you do."

Rosie shook her head sharply. "Not in a million years," she said sincerely. She made no attempt to hide her dislike and distrust of DeVille. "Not in a million years are we going to hand him over to you.

"Try and take him and you'll have a fight to the death on your hands."

DeVille dropped his head to hide a small smile. The short, fat woman offering him a fight to the death was indeed, a novel and amusing experience.

He was about to respond when Sandra said softly, "No-one is fighting. We are not fighting over him. I am sworn to protect him and so I shall."

DeVille put his head in his hand and sighed. "Look," he said and made every effort to sound sincere; both ladies were quite aware that it was an effort, and that he was trying.

"Look, this ... situation, it's ... " Andrew DeVille shook his head, sighed again and started afresh.

"You really don't know what you have here. This ..." he nodded towards Rix, "This is not a man. Not at all. It just looks like a man. We call his kind the dragon lords.

"They ... visit here sometimes. We - that's the people I belong to, we call ourselves the custodians, the custodians of the great secret, as it were, we wait for them."

DeVille's voice became unsteady at this point and both women raised their heads and shifted the way they paid attention to him.

DeVille cleared his throat and continued.

"It is ... incredibly rare for anyone to meet a real dragon lord. Incredibly rare. Thousands of my ... kind live and die and pray and hope and it never happens.

"I don't even know what would happen, now, in this day and age, if news was to get out that ... one is here. I sincerely don't know.

"The last time this happened was two hundred years ago and it was a circus then. Now, with global flights and media?

"I shudder to think ..." And here, Andrew DeVille really did shudder, and that was quite real, and both women appreciated this and nodded at the same time.

Rosie sighed deeply and sat back down on the sofa.

Sandra asked, "What is wrong with him? Why does he ... bleed, now?"

Andrew DeVille rubbed his forehead and sighed deeply. "I am so sorry," he said again, "It's ... I've only got old tales and reports to go on. They .. it's ... " He was clearly struggling to find words and Sandra said, "Look, it's alright. You've had a rough night too. Just tell us what we need to do, and don't think of just taking him.

"We can't let you do that.

"I can't let you do that.

"I told you I am sworn to protect him, and I meant that."

DeVille knew that she did mean it, and he could feel it was absolutely real. It was also customary.

They always assembled a court for themselves, whenever and wherever they turned up. It happened naturally that people would become attracted to them. And the people always seemed ...

DeVille got to his feet, put his hands behind his back and stood as to attention. It looked most paradoxical in his ridiculous attire.

The women looked up at him as he said, formally and officially, "I recognise you as protectors of my lord. I will not and cannot bow to you but I will take your opinions into consideration.

"You should extend me the same courtesy.

"We are here to ... serve him."

Rosie swallowed hard at that but Sandra shook her head.

"No," she said quietly but with power and conviction.

"We are not here to serve him, you're wrong about that.

"We are here to assist him."


6/2 - Team

DeVille lay in the darkness, slowly allowing the bone heavy, iron heavy tiredness to take hold of him.

He was breathing steadily and opened and closed his eyes in time with this.

There had been little further talk; there was no need to explain to the two common women that DeVille had to sleep near him.

There was no need because they felt exactly the same as he did on the topic.

This was a strange state of affairs, DeVille reflected as he watched the gentle blue darkness of the room become replaced with crazy light flashes and fast whirling scenarios every time he let his lids close again.

It was a most unfamiliar sensation to be so ... in league with another human being, any other human being. Never mind with two, and women at that ...

Andrew DeVille adjusted himself minutely. As was everyone else in this room, he was lying on the floor, on the carpet, with a pillow under his head and a duvet to cover him.

The three of them, the dragon lord's assistance team, he smiled at his own thought, had near enough danced around the room with each other, deciding where to put down their respective base camps.

In the end, they had laid out he ... they called him Rix, what a preposterous name. If it had been up to him, the dragon lord would now be called Azreal or such ...

They had laid him out before the sofa, removed the arm chairs and the small coffee table to the far sides of the room, and then laid out their blankets so each one was pointing with their heads towards him.

DeVille was closest to the door; the strongest and the guard. The woman Sandra was in the centre, and her side kick on the far right.

Andrew DeVille could feel a small smile coming to him at his remembrance of how the short, fat woman had threatened him. It was rather heartening to find such spirit in such an unlikely package.

He sighed and moved a little to relieve the pressure on his spine. He had to admit that he was impressed with the two his lord had chosen. They might appear ordinary enough, but the little fat one has spirit, he thought, and the other one ...

There was something about her.

She had corrected him and he had stood corrected.

DeVille tried to remember when last such a thing had happened but it escaped him, if ever it had.

He sighed and got himself mentally ready for the battle.

DeVille closed his eyes and entered into the realm of the crazy spinning flashes, the horrendous images, the terrible faces that awaited him there.

If he could hold himself steady, eventually there might be a chance of sleep ...


6/3 - Aware

Sandra was dreaming.

She was aware of this; in the real world, the horizon has a bend to it. It bends downward at the edges, telling you where you are, that you are on Earth.

In this place the horizon was absolutely horizontal and it stretched forever.

The sky above was a deep, rich royal purple, and there were bright, bright stars there, sparkling and twinkling as precious diamonds would, all the colours there, known and unknown, seen and unseen alike.

The ground on which she stood was soft, a very dark shade of purple too, so dark it was nearly black, and it had a strange pattern to it, as though it was woven.

It felt alive under her bare feet.

Sandra looked down at herself and noted she was wearing a silvery gown of fine, flowing material and nothing else beside.

It felt nice.

Being here felt ... nice.

Calming, soothing.

There was no wind, no sound at all, and nothing and no-one to be seen here on this infinite plane, yet she did not feel alone.

There were voices in the sky, many voices.

They were singing and telling stories.

The voices were harmonious, exciting.

So many new stories, so many different lives waiting to be explored.

With a sigh of pure happiness, Sandra slipped from her robes, then she slipped from her body too, which lay down and snuggled on the soft ground.

Yes, she thought as she rose into the sky.

Yes.

Take me home.

Rosie dreamed.

She was quite aware that she was dreaming because she could see her reflection in the still, deep turquoise lake before her, and it was the reflection of a beautiful young woman.

The young woman was familiar although Rosie knew that she had never looked like that, not even in her so called first blossom of youth.

Rosie had always been fat and ugly.

She reached out with a fair white hand to draw a circle in the water, to disturb and banish the image of who she was not and had never been when she became aware of the fact that this hand did indeed belong to the beautiful young woman she had seen reflected.

Rosie stood up and looked down at herself.

She was wearing a pure white gown of silky, smooth material which transmitted her touch on this body perfectly.

She smiled as she stroked her perfect, perky breasts with their responsive, well defined nipples, her flat stomach, her own long, swan like neck.

Aaah, she thought, now, now I'm ready for you ...

Rix?

Where are you ...?

Andrew dreamed.

He was perfectly well aware of this fact because in physical reality, you cannot be trapped in a dead, rotting body, looking at the maggots feasting on your own skin, burrowing into his own exposed guts ...

He did not respond to this with fear or any kind of emotion other than some far away interest in details, such as the white rib bones sticking from his de-composing chest, where no heart was beating. It had been ripped out, leaving some black blood entrails in its wake.

He reflected how nice it was to be dead, as in this state, nothing hurt at all.

It was really rather comfortable ...

The only thing he found a little disturbing at first, then more so as time went by, were the sounds.

There was scratchings, little clicking sounds, scraping noises that seemed to grow louder and louder, until he began to fear them.

The sounds grew louder, louder and Andrew started to scream then, but he was dead and there was no voice.

The sounds grew into roaring, shaking, Earth shattering monsters, dancing around him, dancing on his grave and he screamed and screamed and screamed ...

"DeVille! DeVille! Fuck it, Andrew! ANDREW! ANDY! Can you hear me!!!"

He opened his eyes and saw straight into that woman's round face, surrounded by that curly hair, a moon rise in a stormy sky ...

It took another thirty seconds before finally, he could gasp in a breath.

One of these days, he thought wearily, even whilst he was still coughing and retching, one of these days I'll have a heart attack ...


6/4 - What Knife?

As dawn broke, it found the dragon lord's assistance team sitting in the kitchen, bleary eyed and weary to a man and a woman too, drinking coffee and talking in hushed whispers.

They had already established some basic conditions, such as that whatever DeVille knew about dragon lords and their business, it clearly could not be discussed in front of Rix.

"There are references to them turning up and not knowing who they are," DeVille had said, who had such shadows under his eyes, he looked as though he'd been boxing the night before. "It must be a part of their deal."

Sandra had nodded and said, "There's a block - he does remember things but as soon as he thinks about it, he gets a bad headache. I've stopped asking him and if he says something by accident, I just let it pass ..."

Rosie asked, "That was really bad, last night. What happens if it gets worse? Can he die ...?"

All three looked at each other and swallowed hard at that. It was a notion that none of them could even conceptualise.

DeVille said, "I don't know if they can die ... at all in our sense. But I think it is how they ..." he sighed so deeply, he spilled coffee from the blue mug he was holding, "It's how they go home."

The women stared at him. Sandra could not speak and Rosie repeated the statement in a whisper, "How they go home?"

Andrew DeVille stroked the rim of his mug with an outstretched fingertip. "Yes. When they've done what they wanted to do, that's how they go home. They kill themselves, or get someone else to do it for them." He gave a small tired laugh. "Sometimes it's really spectacular ..."

Sandra said, "The knife. He said it was only to use on yourself, not on anyone else."

At this, DeVille raised his head and sat up straighter.

"Yes, the knife," he said and his voice was more controlled too. "We need to return it, immediately. It's the trigger. How I found you here. I have to retrieve it, return it and report that it was a non-event. I must do this today, as soon as possible.

"Where is the artefact?"

Rosie was looking from one to the other and asked, "What knife? What artefact?"

Sandra shook her head and said, "You can't have it. He won't give it up. He says it's his and ... well, you can't take it."

At this, DeVille really straightened. With authority, he said to Sandra, "Look, this is crucial. It's not something we can argue about. If we don't want the world and his wife to come knocking on the door here, which I presume we do not want and we're agreed on that, then I absolutely must return the artefact within the next ..." he looked at his right wrist, which had a white band of skin marked clearly where his watch had been. He shook his head, cleared his throat and continued, "12 hours, at the most. If I don't, a new procedure will go into action and they will find him here."

Sandra was shaking her head, so DeVille added, "Understand this. You cannot hide him. Not from - my people. We are all deliberately trained to know when one of them is about, and the feeling is - undeniable.

"I knew immediately he was here, yesterday, in the car.

"So will everyone else who has had my ... training process, shall we say.

"You can't hide him in the cellar and hope they'll go away."

Sandra put her hand to her head, looked down at the table. "I would give it to you, I really would ... but he ... it belongs to him ... surely ..."

Rosie said, "If you don't tell me what you're talking about right now, I will slap the both of you."

Sandra and DeVille looked at each other for a moment; she gave him a tired precedence wave.

"We are talking about a ... an obsidian knife. A ritual object, what we call an artefact. Dragon lords are drawn to artefacts. They are ... like the bait we put out for them. Your friend bought one, I was informed of the purchase and that's why I am here."

"She did?" Rosie said and looked at her friend. To not know that, to not have been told about that, she was surprise just how much that hurt.

Sandra did not meet her eyes. Instead, she said to DeVille, "You have to take it up with him when he wakes up. It is his. I can't give it to you."

DeVille put his head to the side and said carefully, "It was you who said we are to assist him, rather than serve him.

"I put it to you that to have my entire organisation descend on this property in force and tear him to pieces does not assist in whatever it is he came here to do."

Sandra went pale at that. She put both hands around her coffe mug, white with big red spots, also known as the spotted cup of happiness, and replied, "I ... can't. I really can't. I ... promised him. But I wouldn't stop you if you ... found it and took it away."

DeVille narrowed his eyes. Now how could she possibly know about this? Or was it an accident? A guess?

He nodded slowly.

"I understand," he said. "And I ... ahm ... admire you for ..." he nodded, "... for your loyalty. I will find it and return it. That is the first step, that has to be the first step to at least buy us some time. Buy him some time." He got up from the chair, straightened and flexed his shoulders, rotated his neck.

"Alright," he said, "I'll find it if it's here."

With that, he briefly glanced around the kitchen, shook his head and went out through to the hallway.

Sandra got up too.

Without looking at her friend, she said to Rosie, "I am sorry for not telling you about the knife."

Then she sighed and left the room to sit guard with Rix once more, who was still deeply asleep.


6/5 - Shadows

DeVille stood in the hallway of the old farm house and looked around.

Finding artefacts was something of a speciality; he had been very good at it. Of course, he was his father's son, and it ran in the family. Nothing to be proud of, then. Nothing to do with him, then.

He put these old thoughts from his head and tried to concentrate. It was difficult for numerous reasons on this day. He was tired, that was a factor, but the main problem was in the presence of he they called Rix in and of itself.

Rix was such a ...

DeVille smiled as he thought of metaphor.

Rix was a sunrise in white fog - he lit all of it up and now, there was a white out and you couldn't see a thing any longer.

Still ...

DeVille tried again, and this time, he had something to help him make the distinctions in this new environment. There was one artefact here and it was the one he was the most familiar with of all.

The first one.

The watch his father had given him on his sixth birthday.

It was still sitting on the arm of the sofa before which Rix was lying on the floor.

DeVille extended himself and sought for the familiar pattern; he strained to perceive through the white mist and yes, there it was. It was not in and of itself visible but it cast a small shadow and he could track it back from there.

DeVille nodded to himself and smiled. Another problem solved. Now, find the shadows, he commanded himself.

Where are the shadows in this house?

As soon as he sorted in that way, another one became immediately apparent, very close to his watch. What was that?

DeVille physically stepped to the doorway into the sitting room and switched points of view a number of times until he realised it was on Sandra Delhany; a ring she was wearing.

This confused him for a moment. He decided to put that aside and keep looking.

As he raised his gaze up and away from her, he saw the flowers outside the house through the sitting room window and he had to laugh.

Those little shadows his watch and her ring created were nothing compared to what was virtually a black hole in the flowerbed outside.

Sandra had startled at his laugh and was now looking at him.

DeVille grinned and said, "You buried it in the flowerbed. How quaint."

She shook her head a little, then she too gave a small, tired smile.

"And if you want it, you'll have to dig it up," she responded.

DeVille stopped grinning. That was not something he was particularly keen to do. He looked down at his frog green pants that clearly showed his pale ankles, shook his head, sighed and said, "All in the service of the lord."


6/6 - Judas

Sindy Horten, who had fallen asleep in her clothes on the great bed in the king's room, was speaking into her mobile phone.

"He has been gone all night," she said, and her voice did not sound high or silly at all. Indeed, it was clean, her diction precise and her tone at least half an octave deeper than DeVille had ever had the privilege to hear.

"I strongly suggest to activate the Judas Protocol," Miss Horten said. "When we passed the property in question, there was definitely something there. DeVille reacted strongly to it and was entirely pre-occupied until he left without giving me any instructions.

"Yes, I do think there is a high probability that we have a rising on our hands."

She listened carefully for a moment longer, nodded to herself, said, "Absolutely, sir. You can rely on me," before ending the call.

On the other side of the United Kingdoms, a thin old man with extremely piercing bright blue eyes looked out of the windows of his ancestral castle, tiny ancient pieces of diamond shaped glass in old oak framing, across the unbroken, mirror flat calm surface of the blue loch and to the far horizons.


6/7 - Privilege

DeVille stood on the drive, looking down at No. 117 which lay across the palm of his hand.

It vibrated all through him; it was sending him information he did not know how to uncode, how to unlock.

There had been times in his life when he had cried about that, screamed about it even. Once, he had put his head straight through a plate glas window because of it.

Today, it didn't matter any longer.

The only thing that mattered now was to stop his people from finding the dragon lord.

And the only way this could possibly be accomplished was by him leaving here with the artefact, and leaving the one he had waited a lifetime to encounter in the care of two hapless women.

The very thought caused DeVille to start trembling. The knife in his hand trembled in response, the perfect reflection of the sky and the tall trees behind him wavering, a water surface disturbed, bad things rising from the deep ...

If he stayed here for even another couple of hours, he was running the risk of triggering the Judas Protocol.

He did not know why it was named thus, or if it was meant to be a complex joke, or if it just denoted TRAITOR, and that was it.

It seemed that in the past, those who met a dragon lord would forget their allegiances to the order and instead of following their orders, would try to hide this fact from their superiors.

This was so common that the Judas Protocol ran automatically if certain conditions were in place.

The first condition was that a custodian should go off the grid for more than 48 hours after having gone to investigate an artefact.

This had been brought down from a month, then to a week; it was about to be brought down even further. As speed of travel and communication increased, so the protocols were tightened.

They were tightening the screws, more and more, all the time ...

Once a custodian was bonded to a dragon lord, they were no longer under control of the order and thus were deemed to be an enemy.

DeVille remembered well having been lectured at great length as to what would happen to a one who was deemed an enemy.

That was the highest classification; it was bad enough what could happen to a simple bystander.

The very best, finest and most long lasting, horrendous punishments were reserved for the enemies.

DeVille gave a small laugh and a shrug. He didn't care about that. He did not care about anything other now than that ... ah hell, he might as well get used to it and start calling him Rix as well ... He didn't care about anything any longer. Rix had to complete his mission, whatever it was.

It was the ultimate privilege to assist him in this.

In fact, DeVille could not quite conceive how he should be even allowed to experience this. It had to be an unconditional thing, he thought, for I don't deserve to serve. De-serve ...

He nodded to himself and made up his mind.

He would do it.

He would sacrifice himself, his life, all his hope for anything at all.

He would go to hell for the dragon lord.

With his decision having been made, DeVille went back into the house to speak with the remaining protectors.

He wished desperately that those two were someone else, stronger, more intelligent, better equipped but they were it.

DeVille paused before the green kitchen door which must have been painted a hundred times or more. He had to will his hand to come forward, put it around the old black cast iron door knob, took a deep breath and went inside.

He found both women in the sitting room, of course, keeping guard over the sleeping man who looked so ... innocent, so ordinary.

DeVille felt the strangest sensation in his face, a burning pain under his eyes and a huge amount of pressure rising in his chest; it took him a moment to realise that he was just about to start crying. He shook his head at the preposterousness of that notion and focused in on the middle aged woman who still owned this house.

Softly, as not to disturb the sleeper, Andrew DeVille said, "I am going to leave. I am going to go back ... " he shook his head and took a moment to compose himself, "Back to where I came from. I am going to continue my previous routine as though nothing ever happened here.

"I cannot contact you. I cannot check in on you. I cannot be near you in any shape or form.

"All my communications and movements are monitored on every level."

Here, DeVille stopped again, raised his chin and took a couple of slow, long breaths.

The women stared at him. Rosie had wrung her hands together and was now holding before her chest, and Sandra had started to cry softly. The man's emotions were enough to burn a hole in a piece cast iron, thought Rosie, but he's trying to hold it together. She now too took a deep breath, deliberately straightened her hands and placed them on her knees, palms down.

You can do it, she thought strongly, here, I'll help you. We need to do what must be done, each one of us. And it seems, you, most of all. Be strong ... Andrew.

As though he had heard her perfectly, he looked directly into her eyes and gave the smallest of bows, a minute submission that was hardly more than a closing of the lids.

DeVille continued.

"I wish I had more time to tell you more, but I do not. I have to trust that you will do what you can, and that he ..." DeVille clearly struggled with himself not even to look in the direction of the sleeper, "... will find his way. He ... he is strong, stronger than he knows. He is ... magical ..." DeVille bit down hard on his own lip and turned his head to the wall for a moment.

Finally, he said, "I ... will do what I can to protect you all. That's nothing though. I have no real power. The only thing I can do is to ... pretend none of this ever happened, and not give into temptation to try and see ... him again."

Sandra said in a desolate whisper, "I don't know how you ... how will you .."

DeVille looked at her with his bright eyes and all three knew the answer to that. There was really, only one answer.

"I'll hold out for as long as I can," DeVille said and smiled. He felt better, knowing now what his fate would be, and that there would be a time limit on the suffering. Perhaps, he reflected, perhaps he was not as strong any longer as once he had been. Must be the advancing age ...

He nodded to the ladies and said, "I am going to call my assistant. You need to remove him, I saw a car in the drive. Put him in the back and drive away, ten miles or so should suffice.

"Once he is gone, she can come here and pick me up. She can meet Sandra, we will give her a story about the knife and her running me over in the village after dark, we can play at having had some kind of affair or something, and then we'll be gone.

"Wait for an hour or so after Sandra gives the all clear, then you can bring him back here and all should be well."

Rosie said, "That's not going to work. The same person who bought the knife running you over accidentally, I'd never believe that."

DeVille sat down on the arm of the second arm chair, the one closest to the door. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand and said, "Yes, you are right. I'm tired. Confused. I can't think straight."

Sandra, who had stopped crying a while back, said, "How do you normally retrieve an artefact? Do you buy it back? Steal it?"

This focused DeVille and he sat up straighter. "Any means, really. Including killing the owner if they won't give it up."

Sandra and Rosie exchanged a glance and nodded.

Rosie said carefully, "Would your assistant know how you get it back? Do you have to file a report?"

"No and yes," said DeVille. He blew out a breath and added, "Perhaps it would be easier just to say I bought it back. That's the first choice, anyway." He gave a little laugh. "Your financial position is so ... untenable, it would make sense that you would have accepted a generous offer."

Rosie pursed her lips. "How generous?"

DeVille rubbed his face with both hands as though he was washing it. "To stay under the radar, under £35,000. That's the cut off point before I have to pass it on to the next level for approval."

Rosie asked, "And how much so it would be really safe and raise no flags?"

"£27,000." DeVille said it immediately and with conviction.

Rosie looked to Sandra who nodded and said slowly, "Yes. It's a deal."


6/8 - Gone

Just under two hours later, DeVille stood, perfectly dressed and quite immaculate as he had been the day before, by the gate with Sandra Delhany by his side.

Whilst Rix continued to sleep quietly, the three of them had scrubbed, washed and dried DeVille's clothes. The hardest part had been to restore the blue fine wool overcoat; but two hairdryers and three dog brushes later, and it was presentable once more.

DeVille had carried Rix in his arms and they had put him in the back of Rosie's car, snuggled in all the duvets, covered completely, and she driven out, into the nature reserve where she would be spending the next few hours in the car park.

Then DeVille had called Sindy from Sandra's phone.

They had decided that the loss of his own phone was to be explained by being forced to go for a walk to discuss the price of the knife. Indeed, DeVille thought that perhaps it might be found by driving slowly down the road he had walked with the window open and calling it repeatedly. It might be heard if it had not drowned and the battery held up.

So now they stood together; all the flurry of activity was over and there was nothing now to do but to wait, and to think.

Sandra looked at the man, tall, strong and commanding as he appeared, a murderer probably, most likely, and did not know how he could find the strength to do what he was doing now.

When Rix had moved away in the car, Sandra had thought she was going to die. She had felt as though her heart was being ripped out of her chest, stretching further and further, the pain had become so bad, she had gone to her knees, and DeVille had picked her up and held her.

He had been trembling hard; it was not until later and the pain had subsided to a dull, throbbing ache that was filling her entire body now that she realised he felt the same.

The only difference was that she had to hold out for another hour or two, and he would have it for the rest of his life.

Was that enough punishment for him, she wondered, and then sighed deeply. She did not want DeVille to be punished. She had a notion that he had been punished quite enough already. He did not look like a three legged dog, but by the Gods, thought Sandra, he is one. A dog without any legs whatsoever ...

He didn't want to hear it though.

He didn't need to hear it.

He did not need her compassion.

So they said nothing and just stood until the faint sound of an engine could be heard, and unlike the previous occurrences of this, DeVille turned to her, nodded and said, "Look happy. Really, really happy. And remember to wave when we drive away."

Sandra nodded.

The black limousine with the mirror windows purred to a stop in the lay-by before the closed gate.

Sandra dropped her head for a moment and forced her face into the shape of a smile, forced her feet to skip to the gate, raise it and wave to DeVille, who smiled at her likewise.

As he passed through, she touched him demonstratively on the upper arm and said loudly, "Thank you so much! You were sent by the heavens! Please, come again, anytime you're in this part of the world!"

DeVille turned and held out his hand to her.

They shook it meaningfully and he walked to the car, opened the door and got inside.

Sandra bent forward to try and see, waving her hand in the air, shouting, "Bye! Bye now, Mr DeVille! And thank you again! Have a safe journey!"

The door closed with a soft thwack and the car pulled away.

Sandra went outside of the gate, stood by the road and continued smiling and waving until the limousine rounded the bend, and it was gone.


Part 7

7/1 - Car Park

Rosie Wyatt looked out at the autumnal, misty forest before her and shivered again. It was cold in the car. It was early, still, and she was tired. Her head felt heavy, unresponsive.

She sighed and expected to see white dragon's breath but there was none; perhaps it was not as cold as she felt.

She got out of the car again, drew her chin and mouth right under the collar of her coat, her hands pushing deeply into the pockets, and walked around the car yet again.

She had driven to the furthest end of the car park, closest to the road; people who walked their dogs here at this time of year would park on the other side, where the various routes started to walk in the nature reserve.

Here, they were quite alone.

There were no other cars here at all this morning.

Rosie peered through the tailgate at the multi-coloured pile of quilts in the back of her estate.

There was no movement.

Rix must still be asleep.

I bet he's warm and snuggly under there, Rosie thought again and once more. Really comfortable ...

She shook her head and sat back in the driver's seat but did not close the door. It seemed warmer outside than inside the car.

She contemplated running the engine again but knew it would do no good. It didn't warm up if it wasn't driving, and the drive had not been far enough to get it more than luke warm in the first place.

Rosie Wyatt found her eyes were watering and had the deep desire to close them, just for a moment.

She was so tired ...

Flash. DeVille, shrieking as though he was on fire.

Rosie shook her head, opened her eyes again. Damn it but that had been scary. She had been so fast asleep, such a pleasant dream ...

Flash. She is holding the man by the shoulders, shouting into his face, calling him by name. Andy.

It had worked. Wonder who called him that now, Rosie thought with a sigh. Wonder if his mother called him that ...

Flash. Looking into DeVille's bright eyes and becoming terrified that he would not take that breath and just die in her arms, right here and now ...

"Stop it," said Rosie out aloud to herself, then put her hand before her mouth. She didn't want to wake up young Rix. He would be confused and Sandra was not here to take care of him.

Alright, said Rosie to herself, now stop thinking of that man and think of something else.

Concentrate.

Think of something nice.

What might it be?

The instant she thought that, she had a very clear thought, no, more than a thought, more like a day dream, clear and perfectly steady, of getting out of the car. Walking around the car, carefully popping the lock on the tailgate and raising it slowly so it would not creak.

Oooh ... Rosie Wyatt, what are you doing? She could feel herself smile.

It's only a little fantasy ...

Go ahead ...

OK.

So.

Take the jacket off, that's the first thing.

Kick off the wellies. Can't get in the back with those on.

Sit on the car's base, perched over the bumper, yes, there they go. Should I move them? In case it starts to rain, they would fill up with water ...

Rosie, it's a fantasy.

Those are fantasy boots. Nothing to worry about. Just leave them there.

OK.

Well, that sweater is a bit tight. It would not be very comfortable to sleep in. Let's take that off as well.

That's better but ooh, it's really cold now.

Best get under those snuggly looking duvets ...

There were no less than five duvets in the back, and young Rix, still wearing the satin black night clothes, was sandwiched between them. Three beneath him and two on top.

Rosie carefully lifted and separated the layers, sliding her hand experimentally beneath them until she contacted with something hot, and soft.

A fast shiver ran up her arm, then she shivered all over again, being very cold and now really wanting to get somewhere nice and warm.

Rosie slipped herself into and under the duvet, crawling carefully on her hands and knees until all of her was in the back of the car; she lay down and cautiously inched a little closer.

Pulling the top duvets completely over her head, she started to move towards the source of the warmth that was becoming very noticeable now and more attractive by the minute, by the second; she edged closer until there was the shock of touching him, first experienced on her arm, then her cold feet found his leg as well.

He gave a little move, a deep breath.

Rosie went stock still and held hers until he breathed deeply again, then slid herself a little closer.

But my, he was so hot and delicious. He smelled wonderful, of summer somehow, of fields of freshly cut hay, sunshine ...

Rosie breathed him in and nuzzled his shoulder; she put her arm about him and laid her knee over his leg. She tried to be still but her body was moving to him, moving on him; her hand was stroking him and all of her kept pushing gently into him in soft, slow movements.

Very faintly at first yet immediately noticeable, he began to respond; small give and take movements, softly weaving with each other, into each other.

Rosie found that she could not resist it; her movements became bolder; her stroking hand was flexing, seeking a grasp; and her breasts were aching now, needing contact, needing touch ..

In a soft, smooth movement he turned into her, took her into his arms and kissed her. The sensation exploded all through her body, setting her on fire in an instant; every part of her awake and as hungry for him as her mouth ...

He slid from her mouth down and started to kiss her neck and she could not help herself, "Oh, Rix," she cried ...

"Yes, my lady?" His voice by her right ear made Rosie Wyatt jump up so hard that she hurt her thigh under the steering wheel.

She closed her eyes and shook her head.

Oh, honestly ... I can not look at you right now, not here ... Rosie had to laugh at herself and turned to Rix, who was leaning on the back of the passenger seat, his hair more tousled than ever and looking at her most innocently, eyes wide open.

"You called me, my lady?"

He was so close.

He was radiating sleep warmth.

And yes, he smelled of summer ...

She could not think of a single thing to say to him so instead, she managed a smile and a nod.

He smiled back immediately, brightly and most prettily.


7/2 - Let Me Watch

Miss Horten leaned forward, peered through the windscreen at DeVille's broad blue back, walking in front of the car as he was, creating a funeral procession back to that crappy village.

She had to admit to herself that her depth of feeling for DeVille continued to surprise her. Every time she thought she could not possibly hate him any more than she already did, a kind of threshold shift would occur and her feelings for him would take her into a whole new dimension.

Sindy Horten, which was not her name, lay back in the deep leather seats of the limousine and wound a strand of white blond hair, which was not her colour, around her finger.

She liked thinking about DeVille and feeling these sensations. It was like being filled with ice shards, she reflected; true blue and brilliant, and they illuminated everything, made her strong, made her think clearly and precisely.

She hated everything about him.

She hated his voice, his touch more; she hated how he smelled, how he talked, and his little mannerisms; looking at his watch every five minutes, just to make sure it was still there. The way he raised his eyebrow, how he twisted his lips.

The way he folded his pants when he got undressed.

Sindy giggled, making it sound nice and stupid.

She enjoyed that too; she loved making DeVille suffer. It was an art form to skate just below that place where he would throttle her with his bare hands, and just enough to drive stakes through his brain.

She giggled again, thinking about the pig snort she had cultivated. That really drove him crazy. It was perfect. She would have used it on him when they were in bed together; the only reason she didn't was that it would make it all last longer than it absolutely had to.

Ms Horten stopped giggling and shifted in the seat. At this rate, it would be an hour before they were back at the hotel. Of course, he would want to fuck her. It was not a problem, all a part of the job.

The best thing was, she reflected, that that fucking pervert FUCK thought he was so superior to her, when it was she who held his life in her hands.

And this was the chance she had been waiting for, so very patiently, for over a year and a half now.

She nodded and smiled to herself. This was her chance. There was probably nothing wrong here at all, DeVille was just being his usual self, but that didn't matter. The accusation was all that was needed, and the flimsiest evidence would suffice.

Aah, she thought, you shouldn't have fucked up last night.

You shouldn't have disappeared, shouldn't have lost your phone.

The Judas Protocol was now initiated.

They would be waiting for him the moment he set foot inside the London headquarters.

Sindy Horten could feel a wide smile spreading over her face. She dropped her head to hide it, just in case he turned around unexpectedly.

Oh God, she thought, I hope they let me watch ...


7/3 -Burning

Rix was screaming at Sandra in a language she did not understand.

He was absolutely furious and his anger nailed her right against the old stone wall by the kitchen door.

Sandra was not used to being screamed at.

She could not move, could not even bring up her hands to protect her face, her heart, her stomach against what Rix was throwing in her direction.

By the time Rosie had eventually slapped him in the face, hard and repeatedly, Sandra was shaking in body and in mind, far away.

Far back.

Observing the scene but there was no sound.

Rix was holding Rosie by the wrists and screaming at her instead now.

What was that language, Sandra wondered from far, far away. I would like to hear again.

As in response, the sounds faded back and with the sounds, so came the trembling and the sense that something was broken and she couldn't breathe properly, not just now, but never again.

Ken never screamed at me, she thought. Never. Not once. He would look at me if he was angry. His lips would come together in a sharp, perfectly horizontal line, then he would turn and walk away.

And I would feel it in the pit of my stomach, that he was angry with me, that I had done something wrong.

But this?

What is this?

Rosie was shouting at Rix, who was still wearing the black pyjamas, barefoot on the pebble drive, trying to keep a hold of the fat, short woman who was surprisingly strong.

"Get a hold of yourself," she kept shouting at him, "Rix, get a hold of yourself. Get control!"

That finally got through to him; he did struggle to gain control of himself and slowly succeeded in that endeavour.

He let her go with a fast backward shove and stepped back, further and further, until he turned and stood, staring at the flower bed.

DeVille had not been as kind or as careful with the Naked Ladies as Rix had been.

He had just pulled them up and thrown them behind himself on the drive where they still lay, then dug the earth over the plants around; now, there was a big, black hole in the flowerbed, as though a grenade had exploded.

Sandra could see him rubbing his hands through his hair repeatedly, shaking his head, making small steps forward, back, side to side, then he turned around and even though he didn't scream again, his voice rocked her right back against the wall.

"How could you have let this happen? How? I trusted you!"

Rosie looked to her friend and ascertained that Sandra was not in a position to say anything at all. It worried her.

"Rix," she said, "What were we supposed to do? Even if we had tried to stop him, what could we have done? He was stronger than both of us put together."

Rix kept shaking his head and approached.

Sandra tried reflexively to get away, back up further but she was stuck to the wall and there was nowhere left to go.

"It's wrong," he said with such ferocity and intensity that even Rosie took a step back, "This is all wrong. He should be here. I need him. Why isn't he here? Why did you let him leave? How do we find him again?" Rix shook his head hard and put his hands before his face. He shifted from anger to a different state, desperation perhaps, but it was more than enough to turn Sandra's stomach to the point she thought she was going to throw up, and for Rosie to go pale.

Rosie went to her friend and took her hand, turning to stand by her side. Sandra's hand was ice cold and limp; she did not squeeze back.

"You have got to calm down, first of all," Rosie said to Rix with urgency. "You have got to calm down and stop screaming. Can't you see you're frightening her? Upsetting her?"

Rix stared at her for a moment with eyes that seemed nearly white, crystal white, sparking ice fire, an extraordinary sensation that was not a pleasant one, then he turned away and made a sharp, slicing gesture with his right hand.

The pile of uprooted plants before the flower bed, tangled, broken, muddy and entirely soaked after the downpour in the night, went on flash fire in an instant and burned brightly with a flame that was orange in the middle and blue on the outside.

Rosie saw this, saw this happening, and as she did, a fast rush of events flashed through her mind.

She realised that she had tried to ignore the facts.

He had disappeared beneath her hands that night. He had not been fast. He had not opened the door, he had walked straight through it.

DeVille's hands were injured. They really were and then they were not.

DeVille saying, "They are not human."

On the drive, the flowers were burning.

That was not a fire she had ever seen before.

It was intensely hot, so hot that all the plants in the border began to wilt; so hot that she could feel it in her face all the way across to where she and Sandra were standing.

It was not burning like a normal fire; it was collapsing and inverting what it was feeding on, eradicating it altogether, really consuming it.

Rosie thought that if it was not put out in some way, that fire would not care if it had ran out of stalks, leaves and roots. It would feed on the pebbles, then the earth itself.

It would never stop.

The fire was shifting, moving like a living thing. Now the outer edges of the flames shifted through from blue into purple; Rosie just knew, somehow just knew that if it ever reached ultraviolet, very bad things could happen.

She struggled to find the breath.

"Put it out."

Rix, who was also staring at the fire, standing very close to it but not being affected by the intense heat at all, startled at the sound of her voice, as though he was waking up from a trance. He scrambled backwards and fell; he held out a protective hand to the fire and as he did, it froze.

Rosie let go of Sandra's hand and stepped forward.

The fire was still, entirely unmoving.

She looked up to see that the trees were still swaying, the leaves still dancing and rustling. Everything else was still in motion, only the fire stood still.

It was radiating heat as before, and Rosie walked around the perimeter of that intense radiation to get closer to Rix.

"You got to put it out," she said to him, trying to be calm, trying to impress the urgency upon him without spooking him. "Rix, put that fire out."

He was still holding his hand up, lying on the ground, propped up on one elbow as he had fallen. He was pale and shook his head.

"I don't know how," he said in a whisper and she could hear the fear in his voice.

Rosie swallowed hard and could feel her hands bunching into fists.

"Try," she said urgently, "Just try. Want it to go out. Really, really want it to go out, go away, stop. Think at it. Tell it to stop."

Rix tried to sit up; this caused the hand held up towards the fire to move. As his hand moved, so did the fire, in a perfect snake charming response.

Rix saw it too and experimentally tried to guide the fire here and there.

It followed his movements to perfection.

Rosie stared at the weaving flame of many colours; she felt the heat from it, no, not heat, this is radiance, she thought, radiation, this will burn you in a whole new way, drifting off with the great beauty of it, with the promise of it, this would be an experience like no other to be consumed in this way.

Rix stood up, flexed his shoulders and said, "Return."

The fire flexed and flowed; and like a fountain when the water is turned off, fell into itself, and then it was gone.

The absence of the fire was such that Rosie stumbled forward and had to fight to keep her balance.

She looked at the place where the broken flowers had been; there was now a tiny amount of fine, silvery ash that sparkled dusted over the pebbles of the drive.

Fairy dust, she thought then she turned to Rix.

He was very calm, very collected.

He looked like a normal man again, attractive. The light morning breeze was tousling his wavy brown hair and his eyes seemed blue green, nice eyes.

The alien who very nearly set the world on fire had a lovely smile.


7/4 - Shards

In the room which contained the dead men's clothes, Rix was struggling to button the clean if dusty smelling shirt of blue and green. His hands were trembling; his whole body was shaking as though there was something trying to get out.

One moment, he felt as though he was here, and then there; a tiny jump from one place to another which made him miss the small button holes over and over again.

Stop this, he thought desperately, not ... I can't ...

But it did not stop.

If anything, it was becoming worse.

This is all so wrong. Everything is wrong and I don't know what to do, how to make it right. Nothing is as it should be.

Where is my custodian?

How could he leave me here?

Then, what is a custodian?

I don't even know what that is.

Rix gave up trying to fasten the shirt and went downstairs, back to the kitchen, where Sandra was sitting at the table and did not look at him as he entered, and Rosie stood before her and turned around.

"You shouldn't have done that," the short fat woman attacked him immediately, "You should not have shouted at her like that. You have really upset her.

"Really ... hurt her.

"Shame on you."

Rix could not only feel but see red and black shards flying towards him; they struck him in the throat, in the chest, in the genitals and made the dislocating trembling even worse. It got harder and much faster, a painful oscillation that felt as though it would really tear him apart.

The scene before him began to de-stabilise too; it was becoming grainy, grey, displaced. He could just about make out that Sandra was raising herself, standing up, she holding together better than anything else in the room, in this universe, but even she was fragmenting.

"Help me," Rix tried to say but the sound he produced was a phased wailing bouncing backwards and forwards fast and faster until it became a screech and there, it just happened.

Rix fell apart.


7/5 - Others

In a different time, a different space altogether, there was an assembling.

"He can't do it."

"It's too much for him."

"The time is wrong."

"It is too hard."

"He is too young."

"The divergence was too great."

"I knew he would fail."

"He was/is not ready."

"He is not enough."

"He does not have the resources."

"He does not have the experience."

One voice rises above them all, clear, powerful, bright white.

"Cease.

"Believe.

"Trust.

"Love.

"This is my will."

There is silence for a time; then a gentle shifting, moving into a dance.

Submission.

"Your will shall be done."


7/6 - Now

Sindy Horten was kneeling on the floor of the hotel room, wearing a black push up bra, suspenders and black stockings, very high heels, shiny black shoes that ran to a long fne needle point, and a bag over her head.

There had been a time when DeVille had enjoyed seeing her like this in a fashion; at least she was quiet and he didn't have to see her face.

There had been a time when he was able to get over his intense dislike of the woman at this point and imagine she was someone else, a random prostitute with an interesting back story.

It had become harder and harder as time went on to keep it up, quite literally; today, there was no hope in hell.

DeVille was exhausted, drained to the extreme and did not know how much longer he could hold on before he would just throw himself to the floor or jump out of the window.

Crawl to the window, more likely. Get it open and crawl up and over and out like a slug ...

It had not helped that he had walked all the way back from Spindlewood earlier, ostensibly looking for his mobile phone which he never found.

The truth was that he had started to cry not long into that walk, and had cried all the way into the village. He had kept his shoulders square and straight, walked rhythmically so that the two in the limousine behind him just saw a man in a dark blue coat, walking.

But he had not been able to stop himself from crying.

It was just too much.

Everything was too much.

Sindy cleared her throat and moved her knees, the position with the thighs spread wide apart clearly becoming untenable.

DeVille thought, perhaps I should just kill you. Then I could lay down beside you and you would be still at last.

Quiet.

Eventually, someone would come and then they would take me away ...

Sindy's phone on the bedside table sprang into life.

In distorted tones, Madonna started to sing.

"Holiday ... Celebrate ..."

DeVille startled badly; the annoyance he felt from the song she had chosen for her phone was an assault on this day, in this moment when he really had nothing left to give.

I can start with her phone, he thought. I can start with her phone. I can kick the shit out of it, stomp it dead, and it will never, ever play that song again. It will never click under her fingernails again, she will never snort and giggle into it again ...

He got up from the arm chair in which he had been laying, crossed the room. Under her black bag, Sindy Horten turned her head to try and ascertain what he was up to, shuffling her burning thighs again.

DeVille picked up the phone.

On the lit screen, he saw the caller.

It was Sandra Delhany.

DeVille closed his eyes. The phone creaked as his hand closed around it hard. He tried and tried but ...

DeVille hit the answer button.

"Sandra," he said.

"Thank God," said Rosie Wyatt. "You have to come back. You have to. Now."

Part 8

8/1 - Right Direction

DeVille was driving the limousine.

He was driving slowly, carefully.

Andrew DeVille was entirely aware of his condition, of his situation.

He was aware that all he wanted to do was to put his foot down, all the way down until the gas pedal would not go any further, and the great engine that was throbbing under the bonnet would roar into life, go into hyperdrive and he would be back there, back where there was no pain, no desolation, and all, everything he had long given up on, was to be found.

He was crying again.

This time, he was crying with the sheer relief of finally doing the right thing, moving in the right direction.

He had not cried in over four decades.

DeVille reflected as he carefully guided the huge black machine around the bends on the narrow road which was strewn with slippery brown leaves from the storm of the night before that he probably had a lot of crying stored up.

On this occasion, he therefore did not even try to stop himself; and as he was alone in the car, he could actually allow himself to sob out aloud.

Halfway along the journey, at the turn off to the road upon which Spindlewood lay, he stopped sobbing and started chuckling instead.

Sindy Horten would have some problems.

Her hands were tied behind her back, firmly at that, with a pair of handcuffs to which he had the only key. The bag on the head wouldn't help. She would have to try and get attention. Naked from the waist down, apart from the suspenders ...

Good riddance, he thought. Good fucking riddance. I don't care what happens now, at least I can breathe again. We'll find some way to make it work. We'll find some way ... We will, if we stick together ...

It was not just his mood that lifted; everything lifted. He started to feel his body again, he could actually feel the leather steering wheel under his hands, the vibrations of the smooth engine transmitting through the seat, into his buttocks.

Andrew DeVille sighed, a long, slow sigh of relief.

There was the lay by. There was the gate.

Thank the Gods, I'm here.


8/2 - Lake

It was Rosie Wyatt who lifted the gate and dragged it open so DeVille could drive in. He noted that Sandra Delhany's motley crew of dogs was stalking along the outside of the kitchen wall, all three in a line, crawling low along the ground, a very peculiar thing to see.

He parked the car and got out.

The flower bed still had the black crater in the middle.

There was something wrong.

Something ... what the hell?

DeVille snapped bright awake. He should feel him like he had done before but he did not. Instead, there was ...

Rosie Wyatt had closed the gate and was waving frantically at him.

"Thank god you're back," she cried as she ran towards him, "Thank god. You should never have left. He went absolutely beserk when he found out you had gone, and then ..."

DeVille had started already to walk towards the kitchen door but Rosie stayed him.

"No, you can't go in there, here, we have to go round here."

Andrew DeVille was looking at the dogs who had crawled along to one end of the kitchen wall; now they turned, each one, in a tight circle and the one that had been last now led the new crawl back the other way.

What the fuck ...

Rosie led the way to the normally unused front entrance; a porch with a triangular Greek temple top and columns either side which clearly had been added to the farm house at some later date.

She opened the large oak entrance door and they went inside.

DeVille felt a really strange sensation; a light, strange form of vibration.

"Where is he? Take me to him, immediately," he said to Rosie, commandingly.

The woman did not argue; she just nodded and pointed at the kitchen door across the hallway.

"He's in there ..." she whispered, but Andrew DeVille had already started to move.

He did not hesitate at the door; he put his hand around the door knob and opened it, softly and cautiously.

The large room was filled with an eery green mist that was swirling on the floor. It was shifting as though being blown by a wind and there were tiny sparks of light inside of it. At its highest points, the mist reached just above the kitchen surfaces; the lowest point was in the middle, around the old wooden kitchen table which stood like an island in an alien sea.

As DeVille stood at the threshold, the green mist, forest green, lime green, soft spring green, all the greens in the world, very beautiful, very hypnotic ...

DeVille shook himself out of it.

The mist was flowing over the threshold, moving up his legs.

It felt cool and very comforting ...

"What the fuck!" DeVille said out aloud, very loud, to keep himself awake, aware, and took two steps back. He was afraid to close the door; he did not want to hurt the mist.

Hurt the mist ...

That can't be him. Can't be. I've never heard of such a thing. I know they can shape shift, of course they can, but ... what kind of shape is this?!

Even as he stood, the mist moved out and flowed further into the hallway.

Rosie Wyatt said in a small voice, "I'm afraid we're losing him. I don't know what to do." DeVille turned, tried to focus on her. The short woman continued in the same tone of voice, "And Sandra, she's in there. I can't ... get in there to get her out."

DeVille watched the beautiful green mist ... what does that smell of, he wondered, it's such a ... such a calming scent ... a little bit like ... wet trees perhaps ... pine ... or elm ...

"Andrew!!" Rosie's voice was high and scared. "We need to get out of here. You can't stay around this ... it puts you to sleep. We need to get out of here."

DeVille shook his head and rubbed his neck, hard. He looked through the open door and into the kitchen. The volume of mist there had not decreased at all. It is expanding, he thought, it is filling all the spaces it can fill ...

"Yes," he said with an effort, "Yes, we need to get out of here. Quick."

The two made for the front door and slid out just before the green mist could follow them.

DeVille closed the door most carefully behind him and leaned up against it with a heavy sigh.

"What the hell happened here?"

Rosie stood before him, looked up at him. She was white pale and looked clearly shaken. She was wringing her hands.

"He ... was terribly upset that you left. That you took the knife. He shouted at Sandra. And he made a fire. It was ... Then I shouted at him and he ... he just ... dissolved ..."

Rosie's voice broke, the whole woman broke, took a step forward and embraced DeVille, putting her head on his chest.

He was astonished by this and would have moved away; the door behind him precluded flight. So he stood for a moment with both hands held out palms up and to the side; then he sighed and very carefully, cautiously patted the woman on the shoulders.

"Please," he said uncomfortably, "Please, do ... ahm ... Yes. We ... ahm ... let me think. Let me ... ahm ... think."

Rosie knew full well that what he was really saying was, let me go but he was solid, and warm, and the very opposite to swirling green mists that smelled of old forests. So she held on for a while longer, just a couple of extra breaths, then she let him go and stepped back.

"I'm so glad you're here," she said to him, her eyes big and open wide, "I'm just so glad you are here."

DeVille shook his head slightly. He tried to remember when the last time had occurred someone had said that to him.

He could not find such an occasion.

He shook his head, hard. That was immaterial. There was a dissolved dragon lord in the house behind him, a dragon lord who had lost the ability to keep his shape. There was certainly something very strange about this rising. Something very strange about this individual they had called Rix.

He ... did not match the descriptions, did not match what DeVille had learned in all the studies of the previous risings.

Had something gone fundamentally wrong with this one from the start?

Andrew DeVille could not help but give a little laugh.

That would be perfectly fitting for his life. His whole life was also wrong and had been, right from the start. It would stand to reason that even a rising would not, could not change that ...

He wished for a clearer head. That he wasn't so tired. That he had any kind of answer to this, or even any idea what could be done at all.

If you're a custodian, you will know what to do. That's what they had said. You'll know naturally, it will come to you naturally. Like throwing a dog into a lake. It knows how to swim ...

DeVille took a deep breath.

He stepped forward, turned around, focused beyond the door and towards that which lay behind it.

There's the lake. I'm the dog. What do I have to do to swim?

The answer was there.

It was simple and entirely incontrovertible.

"We need to throw the dog in the lake," he said softly.

Rosie stepped up close beside him and put her hand on his upper arm, then the other, holding on to him.

"What does that mean?" she whispered.

He looked down at her and smiled.

"We have to go inside."


8/3 - Lazarus

In his study, a room which had held a library for more than a thousand years, overlooking the Scottish highlands, John Addington VII looked at the screen before him.

He was not surprised that DeVille had gone rogue.

DeVille had always been flagged as unstable, always. Right from his very first assessment at age four.

Fantastic natural talent, terrible temperament.

DeVille's old paper file was enough to reach to the ceiling.

All the corrections that had been attempted.

All the extra attention and assigments.

He was, after all, the son of Jacob DeVille ...

Such great things had been expected of him.

The only real surprise here was that it had not happened a whole lot earlier. Fifty years was not bad by any standards, Addington thought. He is a tough son of a bitch.

Addington did not agree with his field operative that there was a rising.

The fact that DeVille had trussed up his so called personal assistant and left her naked in a hotel room before running off was most likely simply a nervous breakdown which had been waiting to happen for decades; waiting to happen since that bastard was born, Addington reflected.

He shook his head. He could not think of anyone in the entire order who was so globally disliked, hated even, as was DeVille.

The main reason for this was that people were just so jealous of his natural talents.

DeVille was the one and only custodian who had ever achieved an 88 rating on his final tests.

That was thirty points higher than the last high score; and that had been reported around 1475.

They had not told him this, of course not.

DeVille was an arrogant bastard, always had been.

With that level of talent, he could have easily risen to be the head of the order as his father had been before him.

But oh, no ...

As Addington scrolled through the endless lists of reports on DeVille, on and on and on, he was more and more convinced that this was not a Judas Protocol situation at all.

A different protocol would be called.

Lazarus.

Take him down by any means necessary and bring him back.

Dead or alive.

He nodded to himself and placed the order.


8/4 - Extreme

As Sindy Horten was sitting on her bed, looking down at the pink blanket which a lady from the hotel management had blushingly and very kindly wrapped around her waist, with a sweating, hairy man kneeling behind her, fiddling with the damned handcuffs, she reflected once again that hatred has so many levels, it may be that they could go on forever.

That she could spend an eternity with DeVille in some hell dimension and would never, ever cease to be able to hate him more ...

It was there, too, that she decided an end would have to be put to this.

She had thought that a long, exquisite experience with the interrogators down in the lowest basement level back at the headquarters in London would suffice to pay him back for all that he done to her.

Now, Sindy Horten realised that it just was not enough.

The only way to settle the balance was to kill DeVille.

Then he was no more, and she could return to ...

Living, she thought. Yes, living. He is all I think about. Extreme love, extreme hate ... what's the difference? They're with you always. Everywhere. All the time. Ceaseless. I dream of him ...

The man behind her wrenched at the cuffs. It hurt but Sindy did not even notice.

Her eyes were firmly fixed on her slim black fashion clutch which sat on a dresser right opposite the bed.

In that bag was a small hand gun.

She would have a nice, slow, long bath in the hot tub.

She would do her hair.

And then she would find DeVille and shoot the fucker dead.


8/5 - Protection

Rosie Wyatt  sat on the steps up to the main entrance at Spindlewood and looked out into the quiet, wet day.

She had DeVille's blue coat over her knees, and his wristwatch in her hands.

Rosie very much wished that he had not gone.

She looked at the watch again, turned it so the inscription at the base of the dial could be seen, reflecting differently so it might be revealed.

It read, in simple capital letters, Andrew Jacob DeVille.

That's all. Nothing else.

Rosie thought of Sandra's ring, with the "I will love you forever" engraving.

She touched the letters on the back of the watch, trying to feel them under her fingertips.

Andrew Jacob DeVille, she thought, whatever you are, whoever you are, please, please do something and make this right. I don't understand this, not any of it, but please be right about going in there and letting that green stuff take you away as well.

And please, come back soon.

Sandra's dogs, which were now slowly circling the entire house, came into view behind the garage building. Rosie shook her head.

This was all crazy. Just ... what was that? Two days ago? Three? Everything had been as it had always been. Everything had been ... so very predictable.

You get born. Shit happens. You suffer. Then you get old. Then you die ...

And now?

Now, there was such a thing as an alien. And a secret society which hunted them, even as they purported to be their protectors.

Then, there was DeVille himself.

Rosie sighed again.

When she had first met him, she really did not like him. She had been - yes, repelled by him. But then there had been that moment when she had woken up in the night, had been awoken by his screams and he had been an entirely different person.

What was this, she wondered, was he - projecting someting?

Engaging in some kind of fancy dress but it wasn't clothes that made it so?

She had tried to talk him out of going inside and letting himself be taken in the same way as Sandra was.

Then she had tried to convince him she should go too.

"Please," he had said, and his tiredness had washed over her so profoundly, "Please. We need someone to stay outside, to protect us all."

He heart had gone out to him and it wasn't the logic of his argument that had caused her to say, "Yes, yes I will," but simply her intense desire to help him. To make something better ...

Rosie realised that she felt for him.

The cold from the stones upon which she was sitting transferred more deeply into her spine and made her shiver.

She got up, slowly and with difficulty.

She put the watch into the pocket of her own coat, then hugged DeVille's coat closely to herself and closed her eyes.

Please, come back soon, she thought, I am no protection.

I am ... really, nothing at all.

To her right, Sandra's dogs started to bark.

Rosie looked up to see that there was a taxi drawing into the lay by before the fence.

The back passenger door opened, and a blond woman wearing incredibly tight shiny black trousers and high heeled shoes got out. She had a leopard fur short jacket on and was carrying a small black clutch under her arm.

The blonde woman stared across the gate at Rosie Wyatt, who was still in position, holding DeVille's coat in a tight embrace.

-- End Part 8 --

Note: We’ve hit the character limit of a single Google document, so have split the novel. It continues here:



Editor Note: Silvia will use social networks to announce when the next writing session is about to start - befriend, follow, subscribe & like here:

SFX Note: I tend to forget about telling my social networks when I am going to start typing because I like to start writing from a different state, and even loading Facebook or such takes me right out of it. Sorry about that guys.

To read Silvia Hartmann's (aka Nick StarFields) other titles, see:

SFX Note on Nick's "other titles."

In Serein Trilogy - That's my LOTR. But without the endless up and down the hills and dales LOL. Quite brutal in places, not one for the kids.

Vampire Solstice - Subtitle Love Forever. I got fed up with Vampires whining about being eternally young and beautiful and how terrible it all is so I made myself some non-whining vampires. The first chapter is a bit of a "teenager filter" (no this is not the Vampire Diaries, and not the other one either!) but if you can get past that and you're interested in love beyond the physical, it might jive.

The Magician - Subtitle 28 Lessons In Magic. Again, this is not Harry Potter. Interesting though on many different levels, if you are interested in writing at many different levels that would be LOL

The Golden Horse - That's classic fairy tales, high, high metaphor, and contains my favourite story of all times - Elory's Joy.

I wrote these to please myself, so actually pleasing real life readers is a ... departure. Tryin' to keep the Dragon Lords readable ...

Hope that helps some,

Cheers,

SFX

Note of Saturday:

Going to start a very important process now, which is to have a robot read me the text whilst I do some housework or such. It helps me familiarise myself with the whole thing, really get into the groove with it and obviously spot zzzts along the way. I can finish the story without that of course but I find it really helps, and is enjoyable, too.

For my very final edit before handing over the manuscript, I'll sit with the manuscript and have it read out aloud whilst I follow on the screen, word for word. But that's a long way to go still :-)

Have a good weekend all

SFX

Made me a book cover last night, I enjoyed that :-)


Writing Notes

With longer pieces that contain numerous characters and locations, I note down their names (for spelling) as and when they turn up so I can keep that cohesive throughout.

For important locations I draw maps. It helps.

Entities/Personae

Rix (for now)

Sandra Delhany

Rosie Wyatt (best friend)

----------

Andrew DeVille (Custodian)

Sindy Horten (AD's PA)

Incidentals:

Mrs Durham (butcher's wife)

Locations

Stairwick (Village)

Spindlewood (Sandra Delhany's house)

King & Crown (Pub in the village)

Golden Dragon Gifts Ltd (New Age Shop)

Misc

Sandra Delhany's other pets :