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Before returning to the Bay they threw a party at the Town House to celebrate Twelfth Night. Although it wasn't as grand a setting as the big house, it was still a fairly stylish and exciting affair. Hillyard spared no expense. When the guests went home in the early hours of the morning, he presented them with gifts gold fob-watches for the men, and diamond necklaces and bracelets for the women.
Julian woke up the following lunchtime to find he had a disturbing tingling sensation in his left leg. For a moment he was consumed with panic, fearing that he had had a mild stroke in his sleep. It turned out to be merely an attack of pins and needles, which slowly wore off after he head limped and stamped around his bedroom a few times. Before going downstairs he gave his usual cursory glance out of the window to see if Joby's "horned person" had put in another appearance. All he saw was the street, looking grey and dismal in the January slush. It was high time they were back at the Bay, he thought, now that Hillyard's had his party there was nothing to stop them returning there.
Remnants of the party littered the house, mainly in the form of empty bottles lining the stairs. He got the shock of his life when he reached the hallway, where he found Hoowie sitting on a suitcase. Hoowie didn't look in the least penitent about being cast out of the big house in disgrace. On the contrary, he was wearing a frighteningly pious expression, as though he'd performed a valuable public service. Toppy, needless to say, was beside himself with rage that Hoowie had returned.
"He's not staying here again, he's not!" Toppy exclaimed, constantly adjusting his dressing-gown in excitement "I'm making a stand, Julian. If I don't have your word that he's leaving, I shall leave myself. Immediately!"
"You'd better change out of your pyjamas first, old boy!" said Julian.
Massed sniggering broke out in the dining-room, where the 4 clowns were noisily decimating breakfast cereal.
"Put some clothes on, all of you", said Julian, standing on the threshold "And take Hoowie to the Little Theatre".
"What, now?" said Bengo.
"No time like the present", said Julian.
"The new star of the Little Theatre!" said Farnol, expansively.
"Hardly", said Bardin "Hawkefish says he intends to make him an ASM, lowest of the low".
"Cleaning loos and sweeping the boards", said Bengo.
The 4 of them got dressed and then trudged through the sludge, with Hoowie struggling along behind them like an unwanted and much-reviled kid brother. The general consensus was that Hoowie Should Not Be Allowed To Speak, so none of them were to engage him conversation at all. Once they reached the theatre, Bardin and Farnol took him to see Hawkefish backstage. Meanwhile, Rumble and Bengo went into the bar to order bottles of beer.
Bengo was dismayed to find Godle in there, clutching his drink, which looked like a toy beer in his hand. He hoped that Godle wouldn't start on him. Unfortunately, Godle was feeling lonely, and was just in the mood for moaning on drunkenly about the pains of unrequited love. Rumble felt sympathy for them both. He knew that none of it now was Bengo's fault. Unless one could blame him for being as cute and huggable as an overgrown baby, and therefore irresistable.
Whilst the bartender was getting their beers though they were diverted by another tremor going off. Whilst it lasted they all grabbed the edge of the counter and hung on silently until it had passed.
"Getting beyond a joke", said the bartender.
Bardin and Farnol came in, both so full of Hoowie's latest example of cheek that they weren't interested in commenting on the tremor. Hoowie had even managed to distract Bardin from another fit of fear over it.
"You should've heard the little bastard just now", he said, indignantly "Told Hawkefish he wanted an acting job no less. When Hawkefish pointed out that he'd had no training or experience, Hoowie says 'That's alright, mate, I'll blag it!' Blag it, I ask you! As if we're talking about a fucking brush salesman's job!"
"Have a beer", said Rumble, handing him a bottle.
"You're always getting at someone, Bardin", said Godle, well lubricated "Still I suppose whilst you're having a go at others, you'll lay off poor old Bengo. I'm surprised you're not having a go at him".
"Why, what's he done?" said Bardin.
He had meant this to sound teasing. For once he wasn't about to nag and lecture Bengo. He could see for himself what state Godle was in. Bengo though reacted in panic.
"I haven't done anything!" he cried "I haven't said or done anything! But I still get blamed and persecuted. Now I know how Tamaz feels!"
He hurtled out of the room. Bardin watched him in astonishment.
"Bengo?" he said, more in puzzlement than as an order to return.
He went to follow him, but Rumble held him back, and said it would be better if Farnol went to fetch him. He'd be good at calming him down, he said.
Farnol caught up with Bengo outside. Bengo had slipped on the icy road and taken a tumble. Fortunately his clown's training had come in handy, and he had managed to turn it into a very deft pratfall, without hurting himself.
"Bardin wasn't getting at you, you daft sod", said Farnol, helping him to his feet "Anyone can see Godle's away with the pixies!"
"I didn't want Bardy to be upset because of him", said Bengo, dusting himself down.
"Watch out!" a man driving a pony-and-trap at a reckless speed bore down on them.
He was coming from the direction of the causeway, which led out over the marshes. The horse had its eyelids and lips peeled back in terror, and the man's wife was screaming, clinging to her seat.
"What the hell's going on?" Farnol shouted "You're a fucking maniac, driving like that in this weather!"
The man brought the trap to a jerking halt.
"C-creature out on the marshes", he stammered.
"A giant!" his wife sobbed.
"With a scythe!" the man yelled, before whipping the horse back into action.
Farnol and Bengo looked at each other blankly, and then ran a short way out onto the causeway to see for themselves. The light was very bad, but in the far distance they could make out a massive creature, about 10 feet tall, having the appearance of an unwrapped mummy, clutching a giant scythe in its hand, with which he was taking random and vicious swipes at the bleak countryside. From the way it was moving it was apparent that it wsa moving slowly towards the town.
"I'll go and tell Kieran", said Bengo "You go and tell the Town Constable".
"What for?" said Farnol "What's he going to do, arrest it?!"
"O.K ... um ... well, you g-go and tell Bardy", said Bengo "He'll know what to do".
Bengo ran as fast as he could down to the chapel, where he knew Kieran was inspecting the finished artwork, along with Jonner, Adam and Lonts. He blurted out his incredible news as soon as he rushed through the doors.
"What on earth can it be?" said Adam.
"I'll take a wild guess and say it's something from the future", said Kieran "Something that's managed to slip through a time-pocket. Angel warned me back at the Castle in the rainforest that things like this might happen from now on".
"B-b-but what are we gonna do about it?" Bengo cried "Kieran, it's massive, it could destroy the whole town!"
"We've got a very useful weapon, Bengo", said Kieran, calmly "Never fear. One that can destroy even giants with lethal weapons I'll go home and get Tamaz. I'll take him out onto the marshes with me".
"Oh for goodness sake be careful, Patsy", Adam sighed.
"NO-O-O-O!" Lonts roared, stepping in front of him in the aisle, as though to block his path "I won't let you use Tamaz, Kieran. He'd be in grave danger, it's not safe. You said, you swore, you promised, that he would only have to use his powers once. And you don't know it would even work on that thing. You might both be killed!"
"Lonts, he's our only hope", said Kieran, feeling like David facing Goliath.
"Patsy, climb over the pews", said Adam, softly "Don't waste any time. I'll deal with Lo-Lo".
Kieran clambered out of the chapel. Behind him Lonts was breaking into loud sobs, which Adam was desperately trying to pacify.
There really was no time to think, not properly anyway. The whole town by now was in a state of panic. Some were even collecting guns and rifles, and threatening to go out and tackle the creature head on. Kieran knew it would be a disaster if they did, so he rushed Tamaz into a rickshaw which he stole off a nearby rank.
In the fading light of the afternoon they both drove out onto the marsh, along the causeway, and straight into the path of the monster, which was straddling the road directly ahead, swinging the scythe, like a giant version of the Grim Reaper.
"Remember", Kieran shouted over his shoulder, as he peddalled the rickshaw along the causeway "This isn't just for the sake of the whole town, but Bardin's sanity!"
Tamaz accomplished his second miracle. Driving straight up to the creature was like flying into the eye of a storm, but by the time he had finished the creature was reduced to being a very large and interesting sculpture, straddling the causeway like the Colossus of Rhodes. It would stand there for many generations to come, but as time went on the idea that it had been caused by a Ghoomer gorgonising it, would become nothing more than a myth.
Kieran and Tamaz returned to the town, to find everybody hiding behind their shutters and doors. All had been fearful of catching a glimpse of Tamaz's extraordinary power, as though he was a diabolical version of Lady Godiva.
The rickshaw was returned to the rank, and then Kieran helped Tamaz down from the seat.
"Everyone's hidden away!" Tamaz squawked, smoothing down his fur coat "They're all hiding from me!"
"I know, we've got the whole town to ourselves!" said Kieran.
Tamaz looked furious, his amber eyes flashing in a way that would have struck mortal terror into anyone else. Suddenly he shoved Kieran, and sent him toppling back against the snow banked up against a fence.
"What did you do that for?" said Kieran, desperately trying to right himself, only to find his goatskin cap had slipped over his eyes.
"You've made me into a monster!" Tamaz yelled, storming down the street to the quayside "I'm no better than Her now! I might as well go back to the woods around Marlsblad and live there!"
Kieran struggled to his feet and ran after him.
"Don't be crazy", he said "You're not making any sense. This lot round here will have forgotten it all by tomorrow lunchtime! I think the elastic in your winter bloomers has cut off the circulation to your brain!"
Tamaz shoved him over again.
"Now you've roused me passion!" Kieran shouted and grabbed at Tamaz's fur coat.
"Joby will have something to say when we see him", Tamaz hissed.
"I suspect Joby'll have plenty to say when we see him!" said Kieran.
He hauled Tamaz towards Persephone's bar, which was securely bolted against the outside world. Kieran managed to get her attention by hammering on the main door, although Persephone opened it barely wide enough to peer out at him with one eye.
"Can you let us in for a drink?" said Kieran.
"I'm not sure", said Persephone, casting a very quick and furtive look in Tamaz's direction.
"You see! You see!" Tamaz began to cry "This is what you've done to me!"
Persephone switched allegiance immediately. In a matter of seconds she no longer regarded Tamaz as a terrifying monster, but as a poor, helpless female used and abused by dastardly men. Kieran was now an unscrupulous fiend, whom she only grudgingly allowed in after Tamaz. After pouring out brandies for them, she offered to take Tamaz's coat.
"It's lovely", she said, stroking the fur as though it was a cat.
"It's very expensive", said Tamaz, smugly "Joby only buys me the very best".
"Yeah, using my money!" said Kieran.
"It was Hillyard's money actually", said Tamaz.
"Persephone, is your guest room available?" said Kieran "If it is I'd like to hire it for a few hours".
"O.K", said Persephone "I'll have to put a match to the fire to take the chill off it".
"Hah, now you want my body!" said Tamaz.
"Well I'm entitled to something, after you've ritually humiliated me all down the street and in here!" said Kieran.
They purchased a bottle of brandy and took it up to the guest room with them. Persephone had lit the small coal fire in the grate, and drawn the curtains against the dreary winter twilight outside. After she had left the room, Kieran sat down on the side of the bed and let out a deep sigh.
"It's all over", he said "All the anguish Bardin's gone through, and some of the tensions that there's been in this town lately".
"Was it really something from the future?" said Tamaz, taking off his trousers and draping them over the fireguard to dry.
"I think so", said Kieran "When I spoke to Angel back at the Castle he hinted at a race of oversized creatures that would develop sometime in the distant future. A race of giants who only know how to destroy".
"And they would destroy everything?" said Tamaz "Is that what you meant when you said that in 2000 years time there would be nothing?"
"Possibly", said Kieran "Although it's all a lot more complicated than that. You see, Mieps had a point when he said about us being at the dawn of time".
"You said that wasn't possible!" said Tamaz "That time went in a straight line, not a loop".
"And that is true", said Kieran "But I never said that straight line went smoothly and rigidly without any breaks or blurrings. There is more than one dawn, or pre-dawn I should say".
"But if this race of giants can destroy everything", said Tamaz "Then Joby was right, all our struggle, everything, has all been for nothing".
"I told you it wasn't simple", said Kieran, standing up and embracing Tamaz "We make a good team, you and I. That's why I want to take you on an adventure".
"I'm not going without Joby", Tamaz pouted.
"I'd love him to come along too, believe me", said Kieran "But he can't come, you'll soon see why. This is the true reason why I've brought you up here. Come with me now, and I'll show you".
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