The classic team role-playing game of conspiracy and strangeness

The Palace Of Wisdom

Noon, 18th November 1998, both locations

Nora, keeping tight hold of the baby, drops to the floor of the helicopter, as Kawanagi's wild shot passes over her head and splinters a window. The baby stretches somewhat but does not complain, at least not audibly, although it continues to hold Kawanagi's gaze and he continues to scream.

A black mist start to boil out of the air, seeming to emerge from the corners of the cockpit, as Kawanagi mouths syllables in a language unknown to Nora (but she is pretty sure it isn't Japanese). She lashes upwards with her left foot into Kawanagi's groin, and he yelps and doubles up, toppling off the seat as the helicopter slips sideways and downwards in the air.

The tops of trees are scudding by underneath, Nora can all but smell the flowers, and she and Kawanagi are now rolling around on the floor, the baby sandwiched between them. She hits him with everything she has, elbows, knees and teeth, and he endeavours to crush the baby between their chests, working his hand down to grasp it round the neck. The black mist continues to boil forth, and there is a hot, acrid smell to it.

The helicopter sideslips once more, and for a sickening moment Nora feels all three of them slide through the doorway. She releases her grip on Kawanagi's ear and frantically grasps for the sill, still holding the baby's leg int he other hand, dangling free. Kawanagi has had to release the baby and is doubled up over the helicopter's skid as it levels itself once more.

The surviving monk, pressed back against the seat, is chanting a prayer himself, spinning his prayer wheel at an alarming rate, and the black mist seems to be dissipating - just as well, as it was making Nora's lungs burn severely.

Her wrist is at an awkward angle, and her strength is running low as she fights for breath, but she manages to bring up her feet and stamp downwards with both together at Kawanagi's head.

He gives a last despairing wail and loses his grip on the skid, falling with a plunging rush into the canopy of the forest below.

'He is very lucky, to be able to stay here, with these so charming people. I envy him,' Marie-Claude sighs. 'In a month I will be in Reims again, and he will still be here, married and happy. It is like Paradise here, isn't it?'

Greg looks at her earnestly. 'The people are charming, yes, but no more than you are, or our fellow survivors. And while I am a little reluctant to disillusion you, this is not paradise, Marie-Claude.

'There is a young man here named Andrew who wanted to marry Roxana himself. The elders clubbed him over the head and tied him up to keep him from interfering in the ceremonies. And one of our survivors was hit over the head by someone else, who smashed the radio he was working on. Why would anyone want to do that?'

The young stewardess looks horrified. 'This is terrible! Who would do such a thing?' Then she grows reflective. 'Only someone who wanted very much to stay here, I suppose. But even so, this violence, it never does any good for people.' She looks up at Greg. 'I was a child not in Reims, but in Drancy - you know? - the banlieue - the suburb of Paris. Near to Le Bourget airport. It was a very bad, very violent place. The Front National were strong there. They still are. I looked up at the aeroplanes that went over our heads and said, One day I will ride those aeroplanes and get out of this place. But the world outside Drancy is also full of violence, I find.'

She suddenly looks very pale and defeated, and Greg instinctively draws her to his shoulder, stroking her hair. 'There, there - don't be upset. Humans are capable of some terrible things, it's true, but also some marvellous ones. The urge to hate is strong, but the urge to love is stronger.'

'Do you really think so?' She breaks from snivelling to hold his gaze. 'Do you really think this is true?'

'Of course I do,' says Greg stoutly. 'If not, why would we have ever been put on this Earth?'

He lets her cry herself out, then tells her softly that if she wants to return here once they have made it back to civilization, he will find a way to get her back here. 'We could go and ask George about this now, if you like. For myself, I prefer to remain a part of the larger world. Staying here would be too much like sticking my head in the sand while I know that there are things that need to be done. It may be, by the time that we are back home, safe and sound, you may agree with me - and if so, we can talk about the sort of things that I refer to.'

She looks at him rather worriedly. 'You are a man with a mission, then? I thought so. A man with a mission is a dangerous man to know.'

Ella rushes to find the group and tell them what she has overheard. 'We should try and catch our turncoat in the act!' she exclaims.

'It must be Perez,' says Iain confidently. 'His were the only feet that could have laid out Loki, remember?'

'The thirteenth survivor. He's the one who will have his face enshadowed when they do the fresco,' Greg says, half to himself.

'All the same, we should be very careful just in case it's not him,' says Ella. She glances at the Senator. 'We'll probably need your gun for this, Greg.'

While Iain and Ella excitedly discuss various concoctions they plan to prepare, Greg shares his thoughts with Daniel.

'We've got to get the heck out of Dodge, or it will be too late for any of us. And we must discover what is hidden in that tomb and see if it's something we need to take with us. I have a strong feeling that it is something that we will need, and that the nature of it will give us some answers to such questions as why we crashed here in the first place, and why we survived. As for help with the tomb, I think that we can trust Sarah, Marie-Claude, the Noc Los, and maybe Terwilliger & Bondu.'

'Or maybe this Andrew bloke,' says Daniel. He glances around to make sure Robert is not within earshot. 'We have to interrupt the ceremony. Maybe we should kidnap Robert, hide him in a cave near the ancestors. If the ceremony is strictly timed, the danger might pass if we can just make sure he misses it. And if we free Andrew, he can help us.'

'Ella,' says Greg, 'do you have any ideas about why you pulled your shirt off the other night?'

Ella looks more surprised than embarrassed, but her arms unconsciously cross her body.

'It can't have happened at random,' continues Greg. 'If you were in communion with benign forces, they must have caused you to do that for some reason. I'm not proposing that we all take part in some New Age style Skyclad ritual, but this seems to me a clue or message that we ought to unravel. Maybe it has something to do with demonstrating your female nature?'

'You mean that her femininity is a clue to how to deal with Robert's problem?' says Daniel dubiously. 'Perhaps we should start feeding him hormones, so he can grow breasts of his own.'

Ella glares at him. 'I think it was just the part of me that calls to the Goddess wanting to get closer to her,' she says slowly.

'Or maybe Robert just leant across and undid your shirt himself, while you were unconscious,' Daniel suggests helpfully.

'Anyway,' says Greg, hastily changing the subject, 'the skeletons and the tomb here are powerful Death symbols. The forces that you called upon are strongly associated with fertility - speaking of which, has it occurred to any of you how powerful the associations are with Sarah as a corn goddess, weeping for her dead, handsome lover? but I digress, I think - and this community is one that in many ways is closely in touch with the Land, compared to our larger civilization, but not so much so, I suspect, compared to others which still exist at comparable levels of technological development. Could it be that we need to right the balance in some way in order to deal with these problems? If so, the marriage ceremony is the obvious occasion upon which to do that.'

'Sorry, old boy, you've lost me there!' says Iain cheerfully. 'What do you mean? Stage some fertility-cult takeover of the ceremony? Get Ella to run through the middle of it sprinkling everyone with corn?'

'I'm not sure what I mean,' says Greg with some asperity, 'but it might be important, it seems to me. Let's all think about it and see if we can come up with anything concrete.'

'What the hell's wrong with him?' Nora asks the monk, indicating the gibbering pilot. She has sat down at the controls herself and is trying to remember what they all do: it is a long time since the days when she flew with her father in the outback, and she never got her licence.

'He is driven mad by the force of Shaitan - of evil,' says the monk sombrely. He has finished picking bits of broken Plexiglas out of his arm and has wrapped the baby up safely.

'Is the Kongwai Lama going to be OK?' They are at least flying level now.

'I think so. He will need any prayers saying, though.'

Nora nods, concentrating on the controls. Fortunately Angkor is visible in the distance: navigating as well as flying would be too much for her, and she doubts if the monk would be much use. 'Erm... talking about prayer... that black mist stuff - some sort of leakage from the fuel system, right? Or else we were blacking out because of the sudden dive?'

The monk looks at her.

'And Kawanagi's pulmonary aneurysm - I don't reckon he'll survive that, will he? Not and the fall as well.'

The monk continues to look at her silently, and embarrassedly she turns back to study the route.

Sarah is sitting by the stream again, listlessly going through a small pile of things. 'Here's another photo of Jack, look. Just a few days before he died. This was pretty much the last day I saw him.'

Daniel peers at the photo and sees that Jack is wearing a small badge on his chest, with the SITU logo clearly visible.

'That's that organization I told you about, the conspiracy people.' She smiles wryly. 'If it hadn't have been for them he'd still be alive, most probably. They sent him to investigate that house, and that was when he got shot, because of these mysterious enemies he went on about in the dream. But that Iain's said that he'll do what he can to help avenge Jack.'

'That's nice,' says Daniel warily. 'Listen, Sarah, I've been wondering - you and Jack, were you getting married? Only you asked me if I was, and...'

'We were... I was thinking about it. I would have liked to. I think he would too. But if we'd been engaged, you know, you get that ring to go on your finger, that's protection, isn't it?'

'Protection from what?'

'From, you know, guys who are trying to hit on you. To "chat you up",' she adds in tones of revulsion.

'Do you have a lot of trouble with that, then?' asks Daniel, trying to force sympathy into his voice. You may be good looking, love, but you're not that good looking, he thinks to himself.

'Once is too many if you're not interested, isn't it? I think it's so dehumanizing, isn't it, when some guy thinks he's God's gift or whatever, and just because you're female and single you must automatically fancy him. It really pisses me off. You know, "'Ullo darling, want a bit of company, nudge nudge?" - it really pisses me off. Why can't we just have like traffic lights on our foreheads, or something, so they could see the red light and they'd know that means "I'm not interested, now sod off" or whatever?'

Ella spends most of the afternoon prowling around the margins of the village and up the slopes of the valley, looking for mystical ingredients. She has opened her mind to nature, being careful not to open it so far that the influence of the thing in the tomb - which she can now feel pulsing away behind her, like a sluggish drumbeat - to take her over once more. She rejects a large clump of mushrooms. Too phallic. Close by, though, is an arum lily, its interior sweet and sticky. Ah! Much better!

Iain meanwhile is scouring the village for makeshift explosives. He has been trained to survive off the land, but this sort of thing is a little out of his experience. You need something to burn quickly, and something to provide oxygen. And something to hold it all together. Glancing about to make sure he is not being observed, he starts to delve into the compost heap that is behind one of the larger huts.

Daniel wipes Loki's forehead once more, but he can see no improvement in his friend's condition. At least there is no deterioration, either. If his skull is fractured, he will need hospital treatment, he thinks.

'Do you see what I mean?' says Greg earnestly. 'The same motifs crop up across different cultures. The mother goddess - the trickster - the fisher king, whose sickness makes the land weak.' And the temporary king, who must die once he has fertilized the queen, so that the land may prosper, he thinks to himself. An image of a naked Robert being pursued along a cliff path by a horde of ecstatic villagers pushes into his mind.

'But that must be because there is a truth to these beings!' says Hekkhme slowly, his brow furrowed. He has not been as receptive to the idea as Greg had hoped.

'No,' says Lulan forcefully, speaking for the first time. 'It is that these figures play important roles in the society, and that similar societies will have similar roles.' His voice is deep and flat in tone.

Greg nods encouragingly, glancing from one to the other. They are sat around George's fire: the old man himself seems to be asleep. 'That's it! Beliefs develop to fit those roles. Like Voltaire said, "If there were no God, we would have had to invent him." - meaning, of course, that -' He pauses suddenly, wondering if he has perhaps wandered onto too sensitive ground.

'It is fortunate that there are gods, then,' says Hekkhme. 'But no, not fortunate, because if there were no gods, there would be no people, either.'

Lulan looks scathingly at him. 'If there were no people, there would be no gods, you fool, that is what he is saying.' He turns back to Greg. 'But this must only be true in primitive societies, like ours before the Iskander came. When the Iskander came, we were given a god in living form. Like when your Christ Jesus walked the earth. After such an experience, these king fishers and so on must disappear - is it not so? Once there is historical fact to base belief upon, instead of just myth? The society then shapes itself around the belief, instead of the belief being created to fit the society? So in the outside you all live and act in the knowledge of the living Christ who will return, as we do here in the knowledge of the Iskander?' His eyes are bright.

'Well... yes, something like that, I suppose,' says Greg, feeling obscurely defeated.

'... and that's the last we'll see of him, I reckon,' finishes Nora with more than a note of triumph in her voice.

'Don't be so sure. He's an agent of the Ylid, that much is pretty clear. Like Yatsuo Shimaya in Norway, remember? They're very tough,' says the crackly voice of Andre Swahn. 'Clearly this child represents a threat to them - or something - if they want to kill it. I don't suppose they'll just give up now.'

'Well, I'm going to get my guys - my bodyguards and army guys - keeping a watch on the baby solidly, until he ceremony at least. We'll have to see. But - listen, what should I be doing? Is this baby part of the mission now? I've eliminate Kawanagi, does that mean I can come home after tomorrow?'

'Nora, I really can't say,' says Swahn with a note of desperation. 'We're reacting from moment to moment here. I'm going to have to ask you to play it by ear for the next couple of days. And keep reporting in! Did you find out anything about the ghost?'

'Not really.'

'Well, I don't suppose that's important. Oh yes, did you hear the news about the plane crash?'

'No, what?' Nora puts a finger in her other ear to hear more clearly.

'The Chinese think they've spotted it, apparently - an aerial reconnaissance. But the snow's come down, so it'll be a day or so at least before they can get their troops to the site. I don't think any of our people were carrying anything incriminating, so we should be safe.' He laughs. 'God, listen to me, I'm just automatically assuming that the Chinese are Ylid-controlled as well, although we've got no evidence for it.'

'Are you all right, Andre?' Nora asks, her brow furrowed. He certainly does not sound his usual smooth self.

'We've had a bit of trouble on one of the other missions. It's crisis time, I'm afraid. But that doesn't mean we're not thinking about you, too - you're doing a great job!'

'Thanks,' says Nora, not feeling at all reassured.

As the evening meal arrives, steaming clay pots of stewed vegetables, Ella keeps a keen eye on Maurice Perez, who is edging towards it nonchalantly.

Mary sets the tray of pots down, and as she does so, Perez, staring out of the doorway, cries out 'Look! A monkey!' He points frantically at the alley opposite.

As everyone crowds forward to see, Perez takes a step backwards and his other hand opens, strewing a brownish powder over the food.

'Not so fast!' cries Ella triumphantly, leaping to grasp his wrist.

All is confusion as the Frenchman tries to shake himself free, but Iain grabs him round the shoulders as Ella twists his hand round and open. In it is a folded leaf, which still contains traces of the brown powder. 'What's this, eh? Trying to poison our food, were you?' she exclaims loudly, making sure all the survivors hear her.

Perez quails guiltily, as best he can in his pinned state.

'Maurice!' exclaims Paulette Bondu. 'Qu'est-ce que t'as fait!'

Mary stares, her eyes wide with excitement, at the gun Greg is levelling at Perez: it still really looks more like a camera.

'He has always been a little... how do you say... dedicated,' confides Paulette to Ella. 'That is why we... well, you know, we are not together. That and it was causing difficulties with the work. It is not good to be together with the man who is your chief at work.'

'I can see that,' says Ella sympathetically. 'What was he dedicated to?'

'This thing for little children, the franc-maçonnerie, what you call it, he is very active. He would not let me to come along and see it.'

'Surely women can't be freemasons, anyway?'

Paulette looks at her in surprise. 'Not in France - there are not as many women as men, but many women, yes. We in France are a little separate from the other - free-masons? - I think. An English friend once told me that in England they are very much of the Right, of the ruling classes? At home it is very different: Voltaire, Diderot, Madame de Stäel, these great figures of the Enlightenment, of the Revolution, they were free-masons. It is a revolutionary tradition, Maurice says.'

'What's he revolting against, then?' wonders Ella.

'What have you got?'

Meanwhile Iain has Perez tied up in a small chamber in one of the deserted huts. Greg, Daniel and Robert stand by him. 'You'd better talk, and start talking quickly, or it'll be the worse for you,' he says menacingly.

'I have nothing to hide,' says Perez proudly.

'Who are you working for? How do you contact them? How were you supposed to get out?'

Perez looks puzzled. 'I am not working for anyone. Well, I am working for Charles and Lulan, and the villagers. I have not contacted anybody, it was your Mr Smith who was trying to do that. And I will get out after the wedding, with everyone else.'

'Why were you trying to drug us, then? And why did you attack... Mr Smith?'

'To help with the ceremony. I thought that you lacked the stomach for it.' He stares insolently at Robert, who bridles angrily. 'Smith might have contacted the outside and had us rescued before the ceremony could happen.'

Iain waves Robert to silence. 'Why's this ceremony such a big deal to you? What difference does it make if it goes ahead or not?'

'And don't say that you didn't want our delightful hosts to be disappointed and have their big day spoilt, or I really will have to start weeping,' advises Daniel.

Perez sighs. 'You would not understand.'

'Try us,' says Greg. He is not completely happy with the way Iain is treating Perez, but they need answers quickly.

'Everything is tied together, do you see? By a web. Nothing is in isolation. Helping these people here with their aims, helps us at home with ours. It is all part of the same thing.'

'Who's "us"? What are your aims?' asks Iain.

'You already know that I am a freemason. We seek the betterment of humanity, that is all. These people are followers of the Craft as well, although they do not know it. They are of the Fraternity.'

'The Brotherhood,' corrects Greg absently. He is wondering how this ties in with what he has learnt from SITU.

Perez glances at him. 'If you say so.'

'Anyway, never mind all that, let's get back to practicalities - what exactly is going to happen at the ceremony? And do you know what's in that tomb?' says Iain impatiently.

'In the tomb? The body of Cleitus the Black, I think. But you must know this - I have seen you searching it. He was a dear friend of Alexander, but the emperor killed him.'

'The villagers call him Hiram, as well. Like in the Masonic legend,' says Greg.

'Hiram is a symbol, I am sure you know this. He represents the secrecy of our Craft, and the risks we run to guard it. His story, brought here by Alexander's troops, these villagers have distorted it and attached it to this tomb, the secret thing to them, it represents secrecy to them, do you see?'

Or maybe it's the other way round, thinks Greg with a sudden excitement. Could that whole story have grown out of what's concealed in this tomb? Could the Hiram version that made it back to Europe be the distortion, and the Firis story the truth?

'As for the ceremony,' Perez continues with a supercilious drawl, 'I imagine that you, Mr Locke, will demonstrate what poor lovers Englishmen are. This beautiful Roxana, she is wasted on you.'

Daniel catches Robert's arm as he lunges furiously forward. 'I say!'

'But I do not think anything very much exciting will occur. The heavens will not split open. Mr Locke will not be transformed into an avatar of Alexander. We will all have a drink together, the women will cry - women always cry at weddings - and then we will all go home happily. Except Mr Locke, who will stay here happy. That is what I think will happen.'

There is a brief silence, then Robert says loudly 'Well, that's good enough for me. Wouldn't do to leave little Roxie disappointed, after all!'

Daniel, Greg and Iain exchange glances behind his back.

'You had better let me go, you know,' says Perez conversationally. 'By now the elders will have learned what has happened. This is a small village.'

'Right, you two, sit down there, facing each other, cross legged, knee to knee,' says Ella crisply.

Greg and Robert mutely obey, and Ella sprinkles around them an odorous ring of ground-up plant life.

'Now sit still: I'm going to call the quarters.'

'Will it hurt?' asks Robert nervously.

Ella withers him with a glare.

After dinner, which she has taken with the Senzo Lama - who has been all humility and gratitude since hearing of her heroics - Nora finds Pinkler and goes to check on the baby. Chen's two bodyguards are stood one on either side of its crib, expressionless as ever, and there are also six monks in the room, whispering prayers over it. The baby itself looks rather tranquil, and in sleep it looks much more ordinary.

'The plan for tomorrow is, the baby gets up around nine and is dressed, then they sort of parade it around the town a bit - visit the other major temples,' says Pinkler quietly. 'Meanwhile these boys back here are bringing out the Tooth, and there's some ceremonies to do with that. Not a big public affair yet, though. That happens when the baby gets back here, around noon, and they sit him on that big throne thing they've built on the forecourt, and the lamas use the Tooth to anoint him - or whatever it is they do. And there'll be plenty of spectators at that, I can tell you, like several thousand.'

'The Senzo Lama said I could be on the platform if I wanted to,' says Nora.

'That'd give you a good view of the audience, and of the ceremony, and you'd be close up if something goes crook - but it'll make you a bit of a target, I reckon.'

'Where are you going to be?'

'I was planning to be moving around, taking pictures. I've told our boys to be looking out for Kawanagi, or any of his cronies. But it's up to you, you're the boss-lady.' He grins. 'And if there's anything else you think of in the way of precautions, I'm sure these guys'll be happy to play along - as long as it doesn't interfere too much with the public spectacle. This is a big PR day for them tomorrow, you know. What with your article in Life and all - How I Gave the Lama the Hump, by Rachel Matthews, pictures by J C Pinkler.'

'How did you get on with the explosive?' whispers Daniel as he and Iain skulk through the gathering darkness.

'Not bad, I think... it's not going to blow a hut up or anything, it's not TNT, but it should make a bit of a bang and start a fire.'

'What if he's unconscious like Loki, or he's been drugged?' asks Daniel. They are approaching the rear of Mary's Nan's hut.

'Ella'll be able to whip something up,' says Iain confidently.

'I don't feel any different,' protests Robert to Ella.

'Hmm, yes, for some reason it doesn't seem to have worked so well on you,' she says, half to herself. Greg's aura has been cleared of the 'infection' of obsession with Roxana, but in Robert's it seems far more deep-rooted - as though, rather than merely being a recent imposition, it has actually called up a part of his inner being that always wanted her. 'It seems as if this desire for her is a pretty fundamental part of you.'

'How can that be? I only met her a few days ago.' But Robert knows that the way he feels about Roxana is quite different from the way he has felt about the countless other women he has desired over the years. There is a rightness and a truth about it which is quite beyond his experience. Is this what people mean when they talk about falling in love? He has loved before now, but never been in love. If this is what it is like, no wonder people make a fuss about it.

'I know... but all the same. It's difficult to describe... there's a part of you to which this desire is natural. That's why I can't take it out. It was easy enough with Greg, because it didn't fit him at all, and hadn't really taken root.' She sits back on her heels to consider.

'Tell me more about your branch of Freemasonry, Maurice,' says Greg, conversationally. 'What makes it different from what I might have encountered in the States?'

Perez looks him up and down. 'I will not reveal any of the secret, of course.'

'Of course.'

'But you are a suitable man. You could join us if you wished it. Not being French is not a big problem.'

'Maybe I might be interested - but you'd have to tell me more first.' Greg leans forward into the firelight.

'Well, it is like this. We in France have a very ancient tradition. It has only become Freemasonry as we know it recently, the elements of the tradition are older than the first lodges. Although this is true of everywhere. Each branch of Freemasonry has pulled together these important elements, these stories and traditions. But in France our traditions are more important and special to us. Do you know of Joseph of Arimathea?'

'The man who had the body of Jesus buried? Of course.'

Perez's eyes are bright. 'He came not to King Arthur, as the English believe, but to France, to the south-east. Bearing with him what has been called the Holy Grail. But Holy Grail is wrong - it should be not San Greal, as it was written, but Sang Real - the royal blood, do you see? That is what he brought with him, the blood of Our Lord, the lineage.'

'And you've preserved that lineage ever since?' asks Greg doubtfully. 'Do you mean that the blood was figurative - Jesus's succession? Or do you mean literal, physical blood, genetic material?' He is struggling to remember what he has read on this subject. There is a place called Rennes-le-Chateau, near Albi: the Merovingian kings of France are somehow involved: and the painter Poussin.

Perez laughs loudly, straightening as well as he is able within his bonds, and there is a noise behind Greg. He spins round to see Charles entering the hut, looking angry. 'Mr Wentworth! What is happening here?' There are more villagers outside.

'There's no-one else in the sleeping-chamber, except Mary and Roxana,' whispers Iain to Daniel. 'The old lady must be out.'

'Good!' whispers Daniel back. She gives him the creeps.

'You keep an eye on them, then, and I'll try and wake him quietly.'

Daniel stands in the doorway, watching the recumbent forms of the two girls, while Iain bends over the man-shaped sack that lies trussed on the floor of the hut's rearmost chamber. He gently shakes what looks like a shoulder.

The bundle stirs.

Iain draws his knife and cuts a large hole in it, revealing the dazed-looking face of a handsome young man. He at once claps his hand over the man's mouth. His eyes grow wide as Iain whispers 'Keep quiet! We're here to help you!' and he becomes still.

Iain, sliding the blade of the knife down the sack, finds that Andrew is also tied at shoulders, waist, knees, wrists and ankles. 'You want to marry Roxana, right? We want you to as well. We want to break up the marriage tomorrow. Will you help us? And help us escape from the valley?'

Andrew nods enthusiastically.

'Good lad. You could come with us, or stay here - you and Roxana - whatever you thought best.' One by one he cuts the ropes, which part easily.

'Keep quiet in there!' hisses Daniel, as Mary turns over in her sleep.

'But first we need you to help us break into the tomb,' suggests Iain.

Andrew's eyes widen with shock, as he attempts to restore circulation to his limbs. 'That would be very dangerous!' His voice is light and pleasant.

'Look, it's because this village is in thrall to that legend that you're in the mess you're in,' says Iain patiently. 'There's something in there we need -'

'The body of Hiram?'

'Maybe - so are you with us or not?'

'I suppose I must be with you,' says Andrew, although he does not sound too enthusiastic. He straightens up and walks haltingly over to where Daniel is. 'She is so beautiful,' he says sombrely, gazing at his sleeping love.

Daniel flaps him away from the doorway. 'Let's just get out of here!' he hisses.

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