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The Edge of Darkness


The Night of the Darkness

By Tony Stewart

Copyright 2017






Episode one

The Night of the White Light


The chants of witches and warlocks alike grew louder and louder in the small farmhouse; their voices reverberating across the fields, through the still night air and into the ears of the village that lay beyond the hill.   And while the coven sang their joyless hymn in worship to their demonic god, their leader read out the words printed on the ancient parchment he held in his hands with the enthusiasm and reverence a general would read to his troops prior to the commencement of battle … the words that had been given to them by the stranger who had told them he understood their desires and ambitions.

   The words, the stranger had told them, that would bring them their lord and master, and they had been more than willing to believe him – to believe every word he had uttered.   For they were not simply the witches of Trenthamville – they were the worshippers of Rangor, the god from well beyond the most distant planet in the universe.  The god that was soon to reign over all mankind, and they would be his willing servants.

   They had taken control of the farm as had been requested by the stranger.   They had stolen the sacrificial knife as instructed, but they had failed to find the statue, it had not seemed to be anywhere on the farm.  ‘It mattered not,’ they had thought, ‘our master will still come.    He would instruct us further – guide us to its site if necessary.’

   And they were right - the hideous creature did come.   Its evil, repulsively deformed face emerging, albeit; enshrouded in fire and smoke, from a dimension that existed someplace well beyond the bricks and mortar that was the farmhouse wall.

   The coven members of the Trenthamville chapter were elated at the realization of the creature's emerging appearance: the thoughts and heart beats of the witches and the warlocks alike were fast approaching fever pitch as they mentally wished Rangor, the Punjaniti, into the room.

   To their way of thinking their lord and master could not arrive fast enough.

   But when the creature realized the statue was not in the room the response was swift ... almost merciful: perhaps even a benevolent gesture, considering its mood … but never the less, the witches were made to pay for their mistake … paid for - with their lives.



As the dawn broke on the first day of the twentieth century – a scorpion scurried across the hot sand doing its best to try to remain hidden in the dark shadows that were quickly shifting with the rising sun: the brilliant glean of the carnivorous red and black creature shimmered in the rising heat as it moved sideways, its head down, it’s tail and claws up – as if in some hideous succumbing welcome to the approaching cavalcade of men and camels.

   A cobra, in the process of burrowing in the sand to escape the oncoming heat of the day, froze in its movements: black, beady eyes stared menacingly at the oncoming strangely shaped animals.   The approaching camels momentarily shied, their fear nearly dislodging the riders before they settled their beasts and coaxed them to move forward.

   From somewhere in the distance behind them another roar of thunder flowed jarringly through the still morning air.

   In the minds of these weary travellers, the events that had just now taken place were simply further ominous warnings of the possible futility of their dangerous journey.

   Hostile, unforgiving conditions had made their progress slow … and lethal.   Already three camels, and two men, were dead: the men buried in some quickly forgotten sand dune a day and a half’s ride away … the camels, their precious cargo destroyed as they fell, were left to rot.

   Now, as the travellers reached the border that connected the hot, desolate sands that covered the vast, wind blown nothingness of the desert to the rugged, stony terrain of the mountain base, they knew normal men would have long ago heeded the signs of inevitable defeat and returned home to a safer environment.

   But these were no ordinary men … and their reason for their journey was beyond reproach. They were on a quest for the safety and survival of their tribe: their sect: The Punjani … and, most importantly, the survival of their way of life.

   For too long they had been forced to live in fear of discovery of who they were and what they represented in this, their own country.   Too many of their fellow countrymen were both suspicious, and jealous, of their continuous good fortune while others around them suffered through the miseries of bad land … and bad times.

   The time had now come for them to move to a country more hospitable to their ways and needs. To move somewhere where they would be both welcomed, and accepted, with their eternal wealth – and no questions asked.

   But once they had left the country of their birth they knew the possibility of recovering the one thing needed to ensure their survival, their wealth, their future … the one thing they and their families needed more than life itself … the statue of Rangor, the Punjaniti, would become an impossible task to fulfil.   They knew their chances of locating the statue of Rangor, the god that provided them with their current way of life would most likely not exist once they had moved to a new country, because any return to their homeland would arouse suspicion. They knew, to come back to search for the statue and then return to their new home with it would never be allowed to happen.

   Ten of the sect’s most reliable and resourceful members had been chosen for this gruelling, last chance journey, informally led by Nardoon Kashmi, an outsider who had claimed to have seen the location of the statue that their forefathers had sought for eons, in a vision but ten days earlier.

   How Nardoon had found the Punjani, or how he had known about the Punjani in the first place, had never been satisfactorily explained.   The clan’s constant survival depended on their anonymity; on their unknown existence, but nevertheless, regardless of the unknown truth, the sect’s elders had found Nardoon’s description of the statue believable, his story viable, and had financed the search.

   For three days the small group had travelled deep into the unwelcoming desert, fought bravely against the invisible hostilities that had threatened to destroy them, had somehow managed to survive against the odds, and now they were possibly but minutes from their destiny.   Mere minutes of their lives to be used, and in return they would be guaranteed to be continually rewarded with enough wealth and power to last for them and their families for a thousand lifetimes.

   But as they began the task of adapting their mount’s movements from the relevant safety and speed of the hot desert sand to the slow, cautious manoeuvring around the hundreds of rocks that lined the base of the mountain their hopes of an early end to their travels waned.

   To add to their chagrin, the dust began to roll in. The breeze that had sprung up earlier was slowly gaining strength, and though still gentle enough to ensure they could still see their destiny with some degree of safety, nonetheless the floating dust itself was making their task that much more uncomfortable … and again it forced them to wonder about outside forces controlling their destiny.

   Their search would take place, not high up in the towering mountain they now faced, but somewhere nearer its base Nardoon had told them, saying he would know the instant that he saw the cave that housed the treasure they sought.   But when the men got closer to the mountains, they had wondered how this would be possible … for caves littered the mountain base, their presence as thick as the swarm of flies the men and camels constantly flicked aside from their sweat beaded bodies.

   Never-the-less, individual hearts beat wildly in excitement as the riders cautiously steered the camels between the huge rocks until it very quickly became too awkward to continue; the men dismounted, tethered the remaining camels and began to unload the varied equipment they had brought with them in order to move it all by hand. 

   Among the diversity of items spread upon the ground was a length of heavy duty canvas, some strong rope and some timber which they assembled into a stretcher they hoped would be strong enough to carry their statue across the mountain’s rough terrain and then through the desert on their return journey.    

   The task was a simple one, a fruitless task possibly considering their fortuitous luck to date and the stone and rock littered path they would be forced to try and transport it over, but a simple task it was … until the camel that had carried most of the items laid out for assembly suddenly reared, the head on its long neck shaking violently, its front legs striking out in all directions before finding a target as it broke the arm of the nearest man.   The man fell to the ground in agonising pain, almost the target again as the huge hooves thrashing out in a wild frenzy crashed down into the ground all around him.

   Then before anybody could do anything, foam began spewing from the camel’s mouth, it made a gurgling sound - then for a second it stopped moving and remained balancing on its’ rear legs … then with a loud plopping sound it dropped to the ground … stone dead.    Narrowly missing the injured man as it fell to earth the weight of the huge animal destroyed the remainder of the water, food and other necessities it had been carrying.  

   Ranji, the man with the broken arm, had noticed Nardoon appearing to pat the rear of the now dead camel just prior to the animal’s strange behaviour.   He hadn’t put much thought into the matter until he saw the glint of reflected sunlight that had bounced off something in the guide’s hand, but before he had a chance to identify what he had been holding, the camel had reared and the entire episode was wiped out of his mind – along with the use of his arm.

   Eventually, the stretcher assembled, the men assumed a position along its length, including the man with the broken arm, and began the arduous task of moving it as they made their way on foot, under the directions of their guide.

   Initially they moved with vigour, certain that their quarry was so near that they could smell it … in their minds they could almost reach out and touch it … but they were still to be disappointed.   For what seemed like a lifetime they traversed the mountain base.  Their ill prepared footwear constantly slipping on the loose stones; making little headway as the increasing winds blew huge chunks of abrasive sand at them, half blinding them, and creating numerous cuts and abrasions on their exposed skin … and the hot, baking sun was now almost completely overhead.

   Every step, in every direction, of their long, strenuous trek to this inhospitable site had been fraught with danger.   By now they were certain that their task was being monitored and disrupted by forces that they had not reckoned with.    Forces that were hell bent on preventing them from reaching their goal and fulfilling their destiny.

   Now, as close to their final destination as they could get, they still felt there were ominous signs warning them not to go on.  The dust storm that was slowing them down could soon be followed by the violent desert storm which had been threatening them since the rising of the morning sun … and judging by the odd rumbles that could clearly be heard … it was not far away.

   Heavy rain in this area could easily cause flash flooding, and that would almost destroy their chances of achieving success. There would be no way possible to transfer their treasure through water … certainly not by hand, and even with the camels it would be way too heavy to drag behind them if the sand below was soggy.   As it was, they had been uncertain that they would be able to move it on dry land without causing damage to it.   Their master had long warned them of the danger involved in transporting it once they had located it and he had constantly reiterated the need to have no damage done to it whatsoever.   Their lives were at risk should they not heed his warnings, he had told them.

   But for the moment their problems were put behind them as their guide excitedly announced they had reached the cavern where his dream had prophesied they would successfully find the object of their quest. “Here! This is the one.” Nardoon cried out jubilantly.

   The men put down the stretcher, and, with great excitement, followed Nardoon as he made his way towards the entrance to the cave, but their excitement quickly dispersed when they confronted the dark, unwelcoming, musty hole in the mountain.   Their minds were in confusion as they stared into the eternal darkness, for as hard as they looked they could not see an end to it.   The narrow corridor seemed to lead to the very bowels of the mountain and they were mistrusting of the guide, feeling he was leading them into a trap.   But, as if reading their collective thoughts, Nardook stopped and smiled at the men, his eyes glinting in the rare shaft of light that was following them down the corridor.   “It is safe,’ he said happily, ‘it is deceptive in its appearance.   The corridor veers to the right just a few steps further along.  There you will find your statue.’

   “How will we see anything?” the leader snapped.  “It will be as dark as a tomb in there.”

   “Fear not, Master.  There are holes in the wall that allow the outside light to filter in to the part of the cave where the statue awaits you.   You will be able to fulfil your quest once you have entered the main cave.”

   Dubious, the men said no more and followed the guide who suddenly seemed to disappear, but it only took the leader three more steps to relocate him, and he realised the corridor did turn as the guide had said it would, only it ran downhill for a distance inside the cave, moving constantly downwards until it reached level ground by which time the entrance they had come through was now well and truly above their heads.  The leader cursed as he realised the difficulty that they would endure as they tried to move the statue outside the cave.  The stretcher was never going to be able to be turned in the narrow corridor when they reached the top.   This meant that the statue would have to be removed from the stretcher, stood upright on the ground, twisted into its new position before being lowered back down to the stretcher - and even that seemed to present problems, not the least of which was the possibility of damage to it ... and therefore to them.   At the moment he was not a happy man.

   The light inside the burial tomb, however, was a different thing.   At first their eyes absorbed nothing but the soft darkness within, but slowly, as their eyes adjusted to the room, the light from outside began providing them enough brightness to look around the apparently bare cavern.  

   As promised by the guide, a series of oddly shaped holes situated on the upper level of one wall, almost within the ceiling itself, allowed scattered shafts of light to splatter across the floor - a light that appeared inconsistent as, presumably, a cloud moved out of the way of the sun’s rays and the light in the room increased by almost fifty percent.

   “It is empty. There is nothing here!” the leader fumed. “You have wasted our time and money. Where is our god? Where is our statue?”

   “Do not fret so, master” Nardoon replied in a calming voice; half a dozen crooked teeth glistening on the saliva that dripped out of his mouth as he attempted a calming smile to match his voice, “it is here. You just have to dig for it.”

   “Dig?   Dig where?”   The leader demanded, his voice rising with every syllable his tongue spat out at the harassed guide.  His demeanour frayed almost to the point of hostility as the constant frustration of the journey began to take its inevitable toll.

   “I will show you, Master.” Nardoon walked forward about ten paces, careful not to trip in the shadows, then he stopped and pointed to a spot on the ground. “Here, Master.”

   The leader stepped forward, going down on his knees, and began to dig with his knife. “It had better be here – or you are a dead man.”

   “It will be, Master.” Nardoon replied, bowing as he slowly moved back from the site.

   The leader began to dig harder. “Come here, you fools,” he rasped at the others as, presumably, a cloud moved in front of the sun’s rays and the light in the room diminished rapidly, “somebody light a lamp … it is as dark as night again in this foul smelling tomb.”

   Six of the men stepped forward and they too began to dig with their knives while several lanterns were quickly located from their meagre stores by the man with the broken arm and shortly the cavern was illuminated adequately for their needs.

   “Look!” one of the men suddenly cried out excitedly, “I have found something.”

   The others stopped their own actions and looked to where the man was still digging, his fingers moving furiously around something buried just below the surface.   A lamp was brought closer, its flickering light casting an eerie glow across the semi-lit cave.

   “It is a head of a giant! It is a grave-site!” somebody cried in fright, as some of the others also jumped back in fear.

   “No,” the leader exclaimed excitedly. “It is the statue … it is the head of the Punjaniti.  It is Rangor.   See!   There are rubies and diamonds.   This is it … we have found our god!”

   As if in approval of their discovery, a clap of thunder roared through the cave, shaking loose some of the dirt from its walls.

   “Faster,” the leader instructed, “we must hurry and remove it before the rain starts.”

   The leader’s words were understood and acted upon immediately, and as the crew dug feverishly, outside, in the heat of the day, the build up to the storm intensified.   Lightning that ripped through the dusty air cast unnatural green-tinged flashes of light throughout the cave: thunder rocked the foundations – soft dirt continued to drift down from the walls, gently cloaking the men with streaky layers of a brownish /greyish soot; their steadily darkening features adding to the strange eeriness that hovered throughout the cave.

   The men of the Punjani dug as fast, as hard, as deep as their limited equipment, and the non co-operating soil, allowed them to, finally reaching the neck, then the shoulders, then the torso.   The greater depth they made, the more they were encouraged to continue, and the more they continued, the more they became confident of achieving a result in the quest they had undertaken for their future, for their family’s future – and the arrival of Rangor – the master of the Punjani.

   And while the men sweated and toiled in their task, their thoughts single-minded in their duty to recover the statue and return it to the Punjani elders, a strange, unnerving colouring began entering the cave.   A unique, filtered, invasion created by the rising dust that a breeze was still swirling around, both outside and inside the cave, and the constant light changes that were taking place between the sunny skies that still reigned supreme over the mountain, and the wild, erratic streaks of lightning contained in the fast approaching dark clouds to the north.

   Inside the small, time weathered, rocky room, a kaleidoscope of colours bounced off the exposed rubies and diamonds and splattered like bullets from a machine gun around the walls of the cave – a beautiful, exhilarating display that would have been proudly exhibited at any art museum in the world.   But so engrossed in their work had the small group become they failed to notice the changes within their environment, never mind the fact that their guide had disappeared … and had they realised his disappearance – fear may have entered their hearts… for he, and he alone knew the fullness of his dream … and how it ended.  It had not been something he had shared.

   Suddenly the entire room lit up, making it as bright inside as it would have been had the roof of the mountain been lifted off and the cave exposed to the fullness of the outside sun.   The men stopped their digging and raised their bodies to full height and their hands to their eyes to protect them from the harshness of the light that glared down on them, as a voice boomed from out of the heavens.

   “This is not the time,”   The voice that rang out was soft, without display of rage or emotion, yet so clear, so vibrant that it commanded attention and obedience, “the future awaits the fulfilment of promises: the end of night-mares,” it said, “The future has already been written.  It has already been implemented.   This is not your destiny, men of the Punjani.   Do not attempt to change it.  Go now – go, while you still can.”

   For a moment there was nothing but silence in the cave; the men looked at each other, but said nothing.  

   The silence seemed to grow louder, but not a word was uttered.

   The men grew restless: frightened, but still nobody spoke.

   Then suddenly, the ground below their feet began to vibrate.  

   At first the movement of the ground was soft: gentle … almost massaging in its effect on their aching feet and legs.   A gentle calmness began to cloak over the men, subduing them into a feeling of complete mesmerisation.   So quiet their minds became; so tranquil and peaceful they felt, and in this subdued state the more they were content to simply stand still and let the pleasure from the earth flow through their tired and weary bodies until it completely engulfed them.

   But the vibration began to increase.   Soon the men found themselves rocking on their feet, finding it increasingly difficult to remain upright, their arms waving every which way in the air, their knees bending and straightening in quick rotation as they tried to retain their balance - and then, without further warning the men were violently shaken beyond stability.   Flung in different directions across the rough sand and stone floor as they tried frantically to right themselves, one falling forward so quickly and with such force that he smashed his head into the sharp edged statue, hitting the idol so hard blood flowed freely from the cuts to his face and skull.

   His vision blurred by the fast flowing blood that ran down his face, and his head in confusion from the concussion he was suffering from hitting the rock, the man forced himself back into an upright, but unstable stance.   But as he stood, awkwardly, slightly unbalanced, the man’s mind quickly became a volatile mixture of sheer pain and absolute terror.  His right arm begun swinging uncontrollably in all directions as his damaged mind fought off imagined demons that had begun to appear before him – and attack him.

   It took only a second for the sharp knife he had been using to dig out the statue but a minute earlier to do the damage it had originally been designed for.  The man closest to him felt the full force of the knife as it dug deep into his stomach, and continued its path of destruction as it went upwards towards his heart where it finally came out of the man’s chest so quickly and cleanly that the knife holder once again lost balance.

   But as the knife wielder fell forward, his travels to the earth below were halted by the simultaneous movement of his victim whose death fall was also halted mid-movement as the two men became so entangled in each other’s arms that they both remained upright as if in scene from a Greek tragedy or an opera.

   The man who had inflicted the damage had no idea of what he had done, but his mind began to explode inwardly as he felt the warmness of the blood from both of them gushing all over his face and body - and his mouth exploded in a scream as he saw the dead eyes of his friend only inches from his.

   The man’s loud, anguished outburst as he collapsed sideways to the floor in a dead faint, taking the dead man with him, would have normally attracted the attention of every man within the confined space, but from the bowels of hell came a sound so horrendous, so intimidating, that they dared not move, or lend their ears to any other sound.

   “This is my destiny,” a deep, penetrating, anger filled voice demanded, “Keep digging and release the statue so that I can enter and take my rightful place on this filthy planet.”

   “Your destiny awaits you in one hundred plus years,” the first voice retorted, then, its tone and volume unchanged, turned its attention to the men of the Punjani, “You must resist his demands.   To follow his advice will result in your deaths, but not his release.   Resist him!  Leave now and you will survive!   This is your last warning!”

   “My destiny is now,” the walls shook violently as the second voice roared back defiantly, “loosen the statue, and prepare for my arrival.  Now, or I will kill you all and use your splintered bones to lever the statue out myself!”

   The men realised that the more dominant voice belonged to their god, Rangor, and immediately resumed their digging as fast as their bleeding hands would allow them.  The man who had knifed his friend awoke from his faint and said nothing.   The body lay where it had fallen, but he ignored it … instead he got back on his feet and, bloodied knife still firmly held in his hand, moved back to the statue and joined in the excavation.   Once again the men, now bar one, were reunited in their task.  The men were desperate to appease Rangor and they dug even faster – their fingers were torn and bleeding: the skin on their hands almost bare to the bone, but still they dug as hard and fast as they could.

   “You leave us no choice,” the voice in the roof of the cave had become softer, resigned, “you have assumed your own destiny – so be it.”

   The extreme brightness left the room, replaced once again by the eerie glow caused by the amalgamation of sunlight and the flashes from the storm that filtered through the gaps in the ceiling of the cave and the long winding tunnel that led the way out of the cave to the waiting desert.       

   Without a word of protest, or acknowledgement of pain, the men threw themselves into the urgency of their task … while outside the desert sky grew darker and darker.

   Then the storm arrived.  

   Lightning crackled in the humid air.  

   Clouds crashed together and the explosive sound of thunder ran amok throughout the thousands of caves and tunnels etched into the mountain.

   Then the rain came; softly at first; then louder and louder it became, until it reached a crescendo … and remained at that level. 

   The consistent, explosive vibration of the combined wind blown rain and thunder that rebounded throughout the mountain rattled loose every piece of dust attached to the walls of the caves and tunnels.

   The miniscule particles quickly joined forces and soon a thick, choking layer of dust floated in the air, moving at a slightly slower pace than the path of the torrent of water that it followed that was now beginning to flood through the interior of the mountain.

   The noise of the flooding water alone; so loud; so vibrating, as it snaked its way between the dark brown and grey walls that lined the cavities that snaked through the mountain was enough to send a sane man deaf in a matter of minutes, yet inside the cave it was ignored.   The men continued to dig, their minds far too busy on appeasing Rangor to even notice the sound that threatened them.

   They heard not the water that rushed down the mountain slopes and along the time-worn channels that littered the structure of the mountain.  They saw not the barrage of a thousand lightning strikes that threatened to blast away the mountain itself.  They knew not of the thick layer of dust that followed the torrent; the dust that threatened to envelope them, to choke them, to deny them the air they required to breathe; to live, once it arrived in the cave.   And they heeded not the warning of caution that ran amok through their brain.

   A warning, had it been listened to, had it been heeded, had it made them search for the errant guide – would have made them aware them that the space the camels had once occupied at the base of the mountain was now occupied by nothing but the body of the one that had died – and rising water.   The camels were now miles away, on dry land, on their way home - their only passenger, Nardoon Kashmi.   

   However, inside the cave, the digger’s minds were far removed from their errant guide, for they were almost finished in their task.  They could worry about their new problem soon enough, but for the moment they had a task to be brought to a satisfactory conclusion.  They had all but uncovered the entire statue.   Another five to ten minutes seemed all the length of time they required to complete the job when the leader ordered them to stop and listen.

   At first it was hard to make it out, the strange, relentless sound coming through channels and tunnels hidden within the interior of the mountain.   At first it seemed soft, almost gentle, but with each second that passed the sound grew louder; angrier; closer – then the fast flowing water exploded into the room like a blast from the bowels of hell.

   In the limited light, still kneeling, the men turned and looked towards the rear of the cave as a torrent of water entered the room from out of the darkness, from holes in the walls, from the ceiling, and the floor itself: invisible outlets for the collection of unseen tunnels and gutters that ran the length, width, height and depth of the mountain.  The fast forming pool of brown liquid quickly dispersed itself across the span of the cave’s narrow floor – then began its inevitable trek to the ceiling.   Within the time it took the men to react and stand up the brown mass had reached their stomachs.

   They tried to run for the entrance and the assumed safety that lay at the end of the bizarre curvature of the wall that had guided them to the statue, but the swirling water flooded in too fast for most of them.   The men stumbled, tripping into and over each other, screaming curses and obscenities as they tried unsuccessfully to push and shove each other out of the way in their frantic effort to move in the swirling, unstable conditions.   Slipping, falling into the muddy quagmire in their panic, some were pushed down even deeper into the water by those who were climbing over them in their attempts to escape, but there was nowhere to run, nowhere to go – nowhere.

   The two men who had all but made it to the far wall; to the short stretch of passage that would lead them to safety; to their escape, were moving as fast as humanly possible in the fast flowing water that was already reaching their stomachs and rising with every step they took forward.   Suddenly their collective hearts began to beat incessantly as their feet made contact with the ramp that ran upwards toward safety, and as they moved upwards it became easier and easier to move as the water receded downwards towards their feet.   Their faces broke into huge smiles and they thanked Rangor for his protection and their extension of life.   But they only did so for a short distance when a large part of the roof of the tunnel, as it lay before them, collapsed.  The dirt and rocks falling down so quickly, and with so much force, that it caused a massive wave to rise, knocking the men down and dragging them back into the cave proper, forcing them to also succumb to the inevitable.

   The rain ceased within a second of the last man drowning – as did the fast flowing water that had been pouring into the cave.   An almighty roar exploded throughout the mountain.   A crack, nearly one hundred and seventy metre’s in length, nine metres in depth, five metres in width at the entrance to the cave, speared outward from below the fallen rocks in the tunnel towards the waiting desert.   The fallen rocks immediately disappeared into the newly formed crevice; the water from the cave quickly joined it, then the wind intensified for miles around, picking up dry sand that had not been exposed to the intense rain that had fallen, blowing it towards the mountain and dumping it in the crevice.   The crevice disappeared; the ground was level and once again bright sunlight covered the mountain and the sand at its feet.

   Within the mountain, inside the cave where the Punjani had succumbed to nature’s fury, the last of the water settled on the floor of the cave, its escape now completely blocked by the closing of the fissure and the sand the winds had blown at the mountains.   From high above the cave floor, the dust that had been following the surge of water arrived - entering the cave through the chamber entrances located near the ceiling, and began drifting down towards the floor.

   Several minutes later the cave, albeit a lot wetter, appeared in exactly the same condition as it had that morning … with the exception of the corpses that littered the room – but they were well and truly buried under a sea of drying mud, and the statue was once again hidden from prying eyes.


   Three days later the guide arrived home, his mind on the verge of madness.   But before he succumbed to it, he told his son the truthful ending to his dream, the information he had failed to tell the Punjani.

   He then made his son swear to tell no one what he had witnessed … save his own son, when the time came.   His son’s son, in turn, was to be told the same thing, and swear to the same secret, until the time came to take advantage of the dream’s promise.   The guide had believed in the after-life.   He knew that he would come back.   A new body, a new name, but he would come back.   And then he would receive his reward.   He knew because Rangor had told him so when he had told Nardoon that he was to guide the Punjani to the hiding place of the statue – then leave.

   But, not before the time was right.   And that would be one hundred plus years from now.   A hundred plus years was not a long time to wait for what he had been promised in his dreams.   Power and wealth beyond his wildest dreams … and supplied by the most powerful force the world would ever see … Rangor the Punjaniti.








Chapter one

Fifteen years after the turn of the twenty first century, the curator of a small specialist museum located on the outskirts of London, reflected on the story that his father had told him years ago.   In his dreams the curator also travelled across a desert in search of his destiny; in his waking hours, Professor Augusta Robinson knew that he was the reincarnation of Nardoon Kashmi … and he knew that the time of his destiny was now at hand.   He knew this for a fact, because he too had spoken with Rangor … and Rangor had assured him this was so.


11.00 a.m. The Penthouse: Johnson’s Import and Export: London

   As Professor Robinson’s mind addressed the incredible changes in his life that were due to occur in the near future, high above the never ending stream of traffic and pedestrians that was greater London, in the penthouse office of Johnson’s Imports and Exports’ Chief Executive Officer Johan P Biggs, at exactly eleven o’clock on a Thursday morning prior to a holiday weekend that promised to provide perfect weather for those that wished to travel within one hundred miles of London, Mary Cunningham entered the room.

   “Ah, Mary, right on time I see.  Please, take a seat”   Biggs said in a truly welcoming tone, indicating a lounge situated near the window with his hand as he spoke,   “Would you care for a coffee or a tea?”     

   “Good morning, Mister Biggs, a latte would be lovely, thank you.”  Mary replied, a huge surprised smile on her face as she sat down, “I must say, it was a surprise to hear from you again.   I had no idea that this is where you worked.   It really is a lovely office up here - a truly beautiful view.”    As she gazed around the glass encased room that gave a perfect panoramic view of London from far above the busy streets below, Mary spoke with the familiarity of one that was not easily intimidated by wealth or power.   But having met with the Chief Executive Officer whilst married and living in Paris with her then husband, David, a junior diplomat in the British service, had prepared her for dealing with the man who had quietly summoned her to his office without the knowledge of any other member of the staff that she shared her third floor level with.   “It is good to see you again.”

   “It is good seeing you again, Mary,”   Biggs replied as he began operating the automatic coffee maker that sat on the sideboard close to the settee.   “Everything settled down now, I hope?”  

   Biggs’ reciprocal smile matched the gentleness of his voice, but Mary immediately decided that he probably knew more about her than she preferred anybody to know … especially about David and their impending divorce.   She wondered if he also knew the story behind the break-up,  

   “David will remain in the service for the time being,” Biggs went on as if reading into her mind, “but he is on warning - and any future problems of a similar nature will immediately see him removed from front line service and ending up in a backroom in some remote and hostile outpost; or out into the streets on his own.   However, as far as you are concerned, any future indiscretions that he gets himself into will not reflect on you.   I can promise you that.   The deal you struck with him was a truly well thought out plan and that, along with the information that you kept away from him, will guarantee that your name will not surface under any circumstances whatsoever.”  

   “That’s nice to know, but it was mainly Harry Johnson’s legal advice that made everything so easy.   He was a good friend to me, as was his wife Kathy.”

   “Yes, they were.”

   “Was it you that got me the job here?”

   “Harry asked me if I could help a friend caught up in an awkward situation.   When he told me who was involved I agreed immediately.   As you know I had to deal with David on occasions in order to get diplomatic assistance for certain aspects of my company’s business dealings in France, and in doing so I become aware of David’s indiscretions.   Of course there was nothing I could have done with my knowledge of his affairs, nor would I have taken advantage of it.   It is not my style, and it would have caused more problems for the innocent parties than it would have for a young diplomat who would, most likely, simply have had his hand slapped and told to shape up.   But it would have caused immeasurable suffering and embarrassment to the spouses of those involved, and certainly for you, had I raised the matter with his superiors. 

   To make matters worse, I had spent some pleasant time with you on several social occasions at the embassy and found you to be an intelligent and charming young woman who appeared to deserve somebody a lot classier than your husband.   But, as I have just said, there was not much I could do but let things take their own course, which they did.   When I was then given the chance to actually do something for you it came as a relief and I began making arrangements for your return to London immediately.   It wasn’t all charity and compassion, however.   What I learnt about you as a person, and your skills, I realised I was going to receive a highly prized asset in return for my investment.  So I consider my actions to be of a mutual advantage.”

   “Thank you.   Your kindness is very much appreciated.”

   “You are more than welcome, Mary.   Sugar?”   Biggs asked as he poured hot frothed milk into two medium sized glasses, followed by coffee from two small metal pitchers creating an image on the top of both coffees that a professional barista would die for.

   “No, thank you.” Mary replied, slightly surprised that he was making the coffee himself … and even more surprised that he was performing such a menial chore, but from what she remembered of this man from her days in Paris was that he could be a man of many surprises at the least expected times.

   Biggs placed both drinks on the coffee table that ran the length of the settee then settled down in a single seat directly opposite the young woman.

   “Thank you, it looks amazing … simply beautiful.   I didn’t realise that you were so talented. ” Mary noted, however, as she picked up her glass and began to sip on her drink, a past memory stirred up in her mind, “I did not realise that this was your company.   For some reason I thought your company had another name.”

   Biggs smile turned to one of bemusement before softly replying.   “I have several companies.   This just happened to be the most convenient one to house you.   All my businesses require specialists suitable for the particular operational requirements of that business.   Your resume indicated that you were highly qualified to be more than useful in the sometimes complicated world of importing and exporting which on certain occasions can require someone extremely strong on tact and diplomacy.   That is your forte as far as I am concerned.

   “I do have other qualifications.”   Mary smiled back.

   “Yes, I have become aware of some of them.”   Biggs replied, the smile not yet showing any interest in leaving his face, “but detective work is not one of them I assume … or is it?”

   Having no idea what Biggs was alluding to, Mary had no idea what she was supposed to say … so she said nothing, wincing as she wondered what he was about to reveal, for she doubted very much that she had been invited to the penthouse simply for morning tea and a social catch up.

   The sound of silence momentarily enshrouded the room and Mary was beginning to feel apprehensive regarding the reason she had been summoned to the room.   She sensed safety in Biggs’ company, but she still wondered why she was there.


   When Mary finally pressed the button for the lift to return her from the penthouse to the third floor, at precisely 11.34.30 am, she had absolutely no idea how dark the world his words threatened to lead her into would be.

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