Friday, 10 February 2012

For no reason other than because I can...

An Excerpt from 'Albion Wyke'

            Under the Church of St. Tidwell-in-the-Valley there is an eight-century Saxon crypt, once a place of pilgrimage, which had held the bones of St. Tidwell himself for many centuries. Its perfectly preserved vaulted stone roof and relic alcoves are a fine example of their kind. What is less widely recorded is the passage with runs deeper still from beneath the flagstone at which the vicar tugged energetically. The mechanism of the trapdoor had not been used in some considerable while and was initially reluctant to shift but the sly craft of its maker eventually won out and it swung up to reveal steps down into an inky darkness below. The vicar flipped on his torch and stepped warily down the worn and crumbling steps. After a climb down of some twenty steps, the walls, hitherto made of small, rough hewn blocks and mortar, gave way to a passage cut out of the sandstone bedrock. Twenty steps more and he arrived in a small chamber. The rough stone walls carried the traces of colour which may once have been paintings but were now broken and eroded. In the middle of the dusty stone floor was set a rectangular marble slab into which were roughly carved a few lines;

                                                The old, the new,
                                                The willow and the yew,
                                                Cut me down,
                                                And grow anew,                                                        
                                                When the valiant of England,
Are naught but a fling,
                                                But for a crooked stick,
                                                And the grey goose wing.

            Nicholas LeTombé passed the light of his torch across the surface of the tomb. Seeing it undisturbed beneath a film of dust as he had always known it, he heaved a sigh of relief and turned towards the steps. All was well, for now at least. No need to worry. No need even to be late for dinner. Cheered at this un-vicarly thought, the Nicholas LeTombe trotted nimbly back up the stairs and returned the chamber to absolute darkness. Never once did he remove his sunglasses.

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