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By Sarah Hapgood

“I have not yet told you everything”, said Lady Pegotty.

She was sitting the following afternoon in the little living room at the monastery which had originally been given over to the Indigo-ites for their own use. They had in turn given it up for the Islanders. Today, Lady Pegotty and Adam were in there talking alone together.

“I told you that the air-buggy containing the Lebiccans had crashed trying to land in the storm”, continued Pegotty.

“Did that not happen then?” said Adam.

“Oh yes it did, it was entirely an accident”, said Pegotty “But we knew that the Lebiccan government would never believe us. They are so corrupt and paranoid that they believe everyone is as bad as they are. They would never believe it was an accident. They would have hauled us back to Lebicca, with little hope of mercy. That was one of the reasons why we fled Abbus Isle. And that is what I wanted to tell you. So you see, I suppose His Grace The Arch-Pater is right to be nervous about having us here. We ARE political refugees”.

“I’ve had an idea though”, said Adam.

He went along the corridor to the Arch-Pater’s study. The Arch-Pater was understandably ill-at-ease at seeing Adam. His confrontation with Kieran the day before had left him feeling somewhat shaken. He wasn’t a tyrannical man, but he wasn’t used to his word being challenged. He wasn’t used to people contradicting him, let alone shouting at him! Fortunately, Adam was in a conciliatory mood.

“I hope I’ve got an answer to your dilemma”, said Adam “This is a religious building, and as such it has long been held - throughout history in fact - that such places should be above politics. You can claim this as a place of sanctuary, and as such the Lebiccan government would have to respect that”.

“It could potentially put us into a siege situation”, said the Arch-Pater.

“I agree”, said Adam “We would have to be a ready for that situation if it should arise, so I would advise that the place is well-stocked at all times. The thing is you see, that at the moment, it seems to be the only answer to this predicament”.

He had been wandering around the room as he spoke, and at that point came upon a pile of books and files propped on the edge of a table. On top of the pile was a pencil sketch of a young girl with long flowing hair. Adam recognised who it was at once. She was Carilla, a girl in her late teens who had been Lady Pegotty’s sewing-maid, and who was one of the small band of Abbus Isle refugees. Adam had often seen her at the Governor’s House, sitting behind Lady Pegotty’s chair, quietly threading needles for her employer.

Adam guessed the situation at once. The Arch-Pater had developed a deep affection for this fragile, timid girl. She was precisely the sort that would bring out the protective instinct in sensitive, intellectual men like him. Adam decided it was time to be thoroughly unscrupulous.

“Just how long do you think little Carilla would last in a Lebiccan government prison?” he asked the Arch-Pater, who painfully closed his eyes in response.

“Consciences can be a painful thing for us humans to bear at times“, Adam concluded “And I don’t think you would want that on yours”.

“So how exactly have you brought him round then?” said Hillyard, when Adam got back to the galleon.

He was with Bengo, Bardin, Joby and Hoowie in Julian’s cabin.

“That good old standby, lust”, said Adam.

“Just what have you been doing up there?” Julian demanded to know.

“Not me, you filthy-minded old fool!” said Adam “The Arch-Pater has a quiet little passion going for Carilla, Lady Pegotty’s maid”.

“Then he’s the filthy-minded old fool!” said Julian “She’s young enough to be his daughter, if not grand-daughter!”

“Oh nothing will come of it”, said Adam “He just likes to have her around to gaze upon”.

“I don’t believe that!” said Julian, who took a rather more bullish approach to passion.

“It’s true”, said Adam “I’m sure, if circumstances were different, you’d be the same with Hoowie”.

“You could gaze longing at his gentle, fragrant beauty”, said Joby, sarcastically.

“Oh very funny”, said Hoowie “I knew it was only a matter of time before we got round to bashing Hoowie!”

“So he is actually going to let them stay then?” said Bardin.

“That’s what he said”, said Adam “I think I’ve put the fear of God into him with thoughts of Carilla in a Lebiccan prison”.

“Good”, said Julian “then if that’s settled we can think about moving on. It’s a good time of year for it, particularly if we intend to head North. It’ll give us several months before the worst weather kicks in again”.

“And we haven’t been able to exercise the horses properly here”, said Bardin “So I am anxious to find a place where we can”.

It was a warm, Spring day, and Kieran and Lady Pegotty decided to go up to the top of the monastery bell-tower to look at the view. Pegotty wasn’t a woman to reveal her inner feelings easily, but she was visibly relieved by the Arch-Pater’s decision to let them stay.

“I really don’t think my husband or some of our people could have travelled any further”, she said, as she sat down breathlessly on the stone seat that was cut into the circular walls of the bell-tower.

“A few weeks of the monks’ care and they’ll soon be on the mend again”, said Kieran.

He had brought up a small hand-held telescope from the galleon, and was using it to survey the scene. He was looking in an easterly direction, his back to the ocean, out over the vast landscape, which would eventually lead to Lebicca. Suddenly he gave a startled cry.

“Kieran, what is it?” said Pegotty “What have you seen?”

“I don’t think you should look”, Kieran stammered.

He tried to hold the telescope away from her, but Pegotty wasn’t a woman to be thwarted easily. She grabbed the telescope.

“What on earth is it?” she said.

There was a large flat area of wooded meadow-land in the very far distance. Walking through an avenue of tall trees was a large, dark figure. It was loping along in a low but purposeful manner.

“Is it some kind of gorilla?” she said.

“It’s a demon”, said Kieran “We can’t see from here, not even with the telescope, but I suspect that if we were closer, you would notice that it has no eyes”.

“B-but”, Lady Pegotty was understandably bewildered by this information “It seems to know exactly where it’s going, as though it CAN see”.

Kieran took the telescope back from her, to have another look.

“It knows where it’s going alright”, he said “It’s coming here”.

“We saw it when we were at Sister Fleur’s village”, said Kieran, a few minutes later. He and Pegotty were now both sitting on the stone seat “Or at least Hoowie did, in the forest there. I’m very relieved none of you saw it, or anything like it, on your travels”.

“We tended to avoid the forest”, said Pegotty “And keep to the open land. Nomads had warned us that that was the best way. We didn’t ask why. We just assumed the forests were full of brigands”.

“Not as simple as that I’m afraid”, said Kieran.

“What on earth can we do?” said Pegotty.

“Protect ourselves, first and foremost”, said Kieran “And when it comes to protecting ourselves against evil, we should be in the best place here”.

Adam had been returning from the monastery kitchens when he met Kieran and Pegotty at the foot of the tower steps. Kieran immediately told him what had happened, and asked him to pass on the news to the others on the galleon, whilst he went to see the Arch-Pater.

When he got back down to the galleon, Adam found Joby and Bengo arm-wrestling in the galley.

“Sorry to interrupt this enthralling activity”, said Adam “But I’ve heard some rather dire news”.

“Hang on, I don’t get it”, said Bengo, when he heard the news “Hoowie said that the creature he saw was about the size of a large monkey, but this thing sounds massive”.

“Patsy seems pretty convinced this thing is bad news for us, so we’d better go along with what he says”, said Adam “Do you know where Bardin is?”

“He went down into the hold with Ransey to do an inventory”, said Bengo.

“First things first”, said Bardin, after he had called an impromptu meeting in the dining-room “We move the galleon into the cave, out of harms way. Then we persuade the Arch-Pater that we need to destroy the rope bridge”.

“But that’s their only link to land”, said Adam.

“Makes no odds”, said Bardin.

“I doubt that destroying the bridge will do much to stymie the demon”, said Kieran.

“Hold about, on second thoughts keep it”, said Bardin “It’ll help to hinder its progress. It might even fall off and destroy itself. Now, Kieran, go back up to the monastery and do all that blessing razzmatazz you like doing. It might work”.

“Nice to have your full confidence!” said Kieran.

“And take Joby with you”, said Bardin.

“What for?” said Joby “I was gonna make some tea”.

“Bengo can do that”, said Bardin.

“I’m just about capable of it you see”, said Bengo.

“I still don’t understand why I’VE got to go up to the monastery”, said Joby.

“The monks need mobilising”, said Bardin “And persuading them to co-operate with anything that needs doing. They’ll listen to you because you’re Kieran’s closest friend”.

“If you think so”, said Joby, dubiously.

“They won’t listen to Kieran”, said Kieran “Just Kieran’s closest friend!”

“Look, we haven’t got time for the usual endless hours of wisecracks”, said Bardin “Not with that Thing out there heading this way. Hop to it!”

Ransey was looking very proud of Bardin at this point.

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