When she had finished reciting the words with her right hand on my shoulder, she handed me the amulet necklace. I placed it around my neck. Then she handed me the staff with one desperate plea. “The demon must not take this from you. If he does, you will die horribly and you will be forever trapped in his world. I’ve done all I can do to protect you and you know what you must do. Take this staff and go quickly. Find the stone in the box under the stone archway of the church and return to the wall.
You must destroy the wall in the basement when you return. Only by destroying the wall, will you trap the demon in his world for eternity and set the souls of children free. Once the stone wall has been destroyed, scatter the stones in as many locations and as far apart from each other as you can so they were never be used to rebuild the wall.” she told me. We left her house and when we reached the back door of the boarded house I stopped and picked up my crow bar.
I knew I needed something to break apart the old stones of the basement wall when and if I returned. As we made our way through the darkness of the house I saw the light of my flashlight and picked it up. In a few moments, we were standing at the stone wall and I laid my flashlight and crow bar down. I can't describe the fear and uncertainty I felt at that moment. In the light of her torch she saw it too. "Remember what I said.
If you’re in danger, make a circle in the ground with this end of the staff. Move quickly within his world. Make no noise as you walk. You will remain as a shadow to the creatures that lurk there and do his bidding." she whispered. Seeking reassurance, I asked the old woman, "You'll be here waiting for me to return won't you?” I asked nervously. With sadness in her eyes, she shook her head and in a soft voice she replied, No, I won’t be here, for my time has come to die.
I’m so glad I was able to give to you the task of protecting your world, before I die." she said with sadness. With those words echoing within the basement walls, she vanished before my eyes. Now, it was up to me. As I stood before the ancient stone wall, I could feel myself tremble. A thousand questions raced through my mind and I had no answers. The old woman had vanished and I didn’t think she was coming back.
In fact, I believed she had died. And me? I was a stranger who stumbled onto a war. A war of good against evil and it appeared the final card was about to be played, but to what end? I was no hero. Nor was I brave and I knew what was about to take place would take all the courage within me. I knew I was unprepared to face the unimaginable on the other side of this wall. What was so terrifying was I didn’t know what was on the other side and worse, I wasn’t sure I would know how to come back.
That was of course, if I lived. I sensed the urgency to begin my journey and reached up and rubbed by fingers against the amulet the old woman had given me. Then I gripped the staff in my right hand and begin to walk through the stone wall. I wish I could describe what it felt like to walk through stone, but I can find no words. When I came out on the other side, I found myself in a swampy forest. Up ahead were the stone ruins of a very old church.
Very little of it remained though. It looked like it had been blown up, yet the explosion had to have been from inside the church. Judging from the immense weight of the stone blocks scattered everywhere, I couldn’t imagine what would cause such a tremendous explosion. The front wall of the church remained, with a cross resting on top. The stone steps descended into the murky waters of the swamp. I thought it very odd that people would build a church in a swamp of all places.
I looked up and couldn’t see sky, only grey clouds. The smell in the air was that of rotting flesh. The waters were brown and now and then I could see the ripples of something under the surface swimming past. I had no intention of stepping into the water. Through the trees, I barely could see the rear of the church building and the archway the white haired lady had spoken of. That was my destination.
I wondered as I stepped through the grass, if I had passed through time and was now in medieval times? Could it be that I had went back in time to the days of knights and castles? It was at that moment of distraction that I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard the most anguished scream. The sound was so loud, it was deafening. The sound seemed to come from everywhere at once. Then I saw them. They were neither human, nor beast, yet part of both.
They walked like a man, but they were slow, holding swords, in clawed hands. Their skin was dark grey and their eyes sunken. I stood still, held my ground and gripped the staff tightly. I remembered what the old woman had said before she vanished, for me to draw a circle around me with the staff, if I was in danger, but I didn’t move. I felt that if I moved, they would hear me and I was a long ways from the arch. All I could do was watch them as they walked in my direction.
They walked perhaps 15 feet apart and were searching for something or someone. Did they know I was here or why? Then I remembered what the woman had said about the spell she had cast. The shadow spell. Yes! That’s what she had called it. She said that I would be able to walk in this world unnoticed. Rather than walk and make noise and see if she was right, I stood still. Besides the staff, she had given me no weapons.
In a few minutes both creatures passed by me, one on each side and neither looked like they had seen me. I felt sweat running down my face. I knew they would have killed me had they seen me, they were that close. I waited until they were well past me. Ever so carefully I made my way through the tall grey grass, doing my best to step over dried limbs and anything else that might snap.
I chose to climb onto the moss covered steps of the church, where it was quieter. The sides of the church had huge scattered stone blocks with brush growing all around them. I stood in the doorway of what would have been the front door. But there was no door. All that was left were the ancient hinges that were twisted, as if the door had literally been ripped off the hinges with tremendous strength.
Yet the hinges were bent and twisted inward, meaning whatever ripped off the door had once stood on the outside of the church. Judging from the size of the hinges, the door must have weighed a ton. I took one more look back because the hair was standing on the back of my neck, but I saw nothing. Besides a huge cave like crater hole in the stone floor ahead of me, nothing remained but scattered pieces of stone debris.
Up ahead, maybe 100 feet was the stone archway I was looking for. I could see on the ground a large, heavy wooden chest. When I reached the chest, I saw that it was intricately carved with words and symbols, neither of which I understood. The hinges were brass or were they gold? Either way, they showed no sign of tarnish, even as old of a place as this place was. That was when I noticed the lock. The woman who had healed me and guided me to this place didn’t say the box would have a lock.
She had given me no key. What was I to do? There was a heavy wide leather strap on both sides of the chest. I tried to lift one side up, but it weighed too much. I hadn’t planned on taking the chest back with me anyway. She had told me to remove the stone and bring it back to my world and destroy the stone wall. The longer I stood there, the more uneasy I became. Just on the off chance the lock was no good, I lifted it up and twisted it, but saw it was a very strong lock.
I knew there was only one thing I could do. I had to use a piece of stone at my feet to break the lock off. I didn’t like that idea at all. Whatever was in this world that was guarding this box, would also know someone was here. I’m sure the two creatures I had seen earlier would come to investigate. Not to mention the demon who had attacked me. Sometimes, when you’re the most scared, it’s also the moment you find the courage to do what must be done.
I sat the staff down and lifted the heaviest stone I could lift, which had a sharp edge to it. With all my strength, I threw it down and barely missed the lock and jumped back as the stone hit the floor. The sound seemed to echo like a hand grenade. I desperately grabbed the edges of the stone again and threw it at the lock once more.
This time I hit the lock dead center and the bottom half of the lock fell to the floor. Anxiously, I knelt down and flipped the hasp and with both hands I lifted the lid.
The voices of a thousand children’s voices swirled around me, all crying out, “Please help set us free!” Lying on top of a velvet cloth with gold braids was an unbelievably beautiful turquoise blue stone. It had the same shape as the stone amulet on top of my staff but it was larger. Its turquoise blue color was almost transparent. I had never seen something so beautiful. That’s when I heard the sounds of terror fill my senses.
I grabbed the stone in one hand and placed it in my pocket, picked up the staff and stood up. As I spun around, I was facing not two, but four of the creatures, each holding a sword. They had no eyes that I could see, but it was clear they were walking right toward the box. The problem was I was in front of the box. In less time than it could take to blink, I stepped aside and rubbed the end of the staff around the floor in a circle.
I now held both hands on the staff like a spear and waited. One creature reached the box first and moved the velvet cloth, then picked up the broken lock as the other three arrived The scream I heard next was so blood curdling that I thought my heart would stop. Evidently the shadow spell had done exactly what the woman said it would do. They couldn’t see me. But the one who looked or acted like the leader sensed something.
Something the others hadn’t. He was the closest to me and just a couple of feet away. Perhaps it was the magic of the Circle of Protection. Perhaps it was the amulet around my neck, The Magic Circle of Solomon. Perhaps it was the scent of my being human. Whatever it was, all hell was about to break loose. One never realizes whether you will be brave or afraid until faced in a life and death situation. Will you hesitate or act with courage?
For me, at that moment, I acted with courage, not knowing what would happen. I used the staff as a spear and thrust it deeply into the creature nearest me and pulled it out. He screamed as his body exploded into a million flashes of light. I thrust the amulet on the staff into the second one and he too vanished in anguished screams. The other two, who I considered the walking dead, were farther away.