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The Highwayman - Part Eleven
Part Eleven – Who Should Be Waiting
“Thomas Allerton, the Highwayman,” said Kent later that evening, as they sat before the fire Carrick had kindled. Margo rested beside him on an old sofa, radiating a feeling of alert contentment. She had changed, he could feel it; their adventure had caused her to re-integrate the broken pieces of her psyche into something stronger – something new. Unlike Carrick, her mind was not an entirely open book, but that much he knew and the knowing brought with it a healing of its own.
Carrick looked at him curiously, but said nothing. The fire painted his face and hair in warm color.
Kent spoke in measured tones. “He said, ‘I will see thee all again soon when the moon is full. I trust ye know the place and the hour,’ to us before he vanished.”
“That he did,” said Carrick. “The moon is waxing and will be full in four days.
The Highwayman - Part Ten
Part Ten – Where the Light Enters
“May I heal you, Kent Allard?” asked Carrick, his voice penetrating the grey fog that blood loss had wrapped around his brain.
“Of course, why not?” Kent replied. He tried to shrug but his shoulders felt numb. Through his closed eyelids he could see a soft glow of light somewhere above him. Where did Carrick get a lantern? He wondered and then thought, or bandages for that matter. Wait, I remember, he doesn’t need those.
“Should I try and get some of this off?” asked Margo, plucking at the damp folds of his outer cloak. She was worried for him, that much he could perceive, but she kept it under an admirable level of calm control.
“It will be fine as it is,” said Carrick, who promptly moved whatever light he was holding downward to press it gently onto Kent’s chest.
Something warm flowed into his body, draining the pain fr
The Highwayman - Part Nine
Part Nine –Stairs of Avalon
Carrick managed to bear the Shadow perhaps twenty yards from the pavilion of the elves when Kent stirred, struggled, and when he was not released, fired his pistol into Carrick’s upper left thigh. Carrick fell heavily from the shock of the blast and his burden rolled to one side and rose into a crouch, one hand against his chest, the other holding his pistol at the ready.
“Carrick!” Margo drew the unicorn-man to his feet, pulling his right arm over her slender shoulders and hauling him further away from the pavilion and their deadly rescuee. “How bad is it?”
“The bone is unbroken,” Carrick replied. “I can walk.” He showed his teeth in a tight grimace. “Five shots out of nine he has spent.”
Margo thought the fact that Carrick wasn’t screaming in pain or dead a major miracle. “Wasn’t he was supposed to get his mem
The Highwayman - Part Eight
Part Eight – Light and Shadow
“Let us see if we can bring our friend forth with the strength of words alone,” said Carrick.
After Carrick had opened the invisible gateway between England and Faerie for all three of them, they had traveled swiftly on a track through lands that had once been forested. Only a few slender trees remained and much scrubby undergrowth had sprung up in the wake of the lumber-harvesters. Ahead of them lay a large pavilion, with banners in blue and gold flying merrily in the breeze. A fair number of people went about their business outside the structure, carrying wood and water and caring for horses. They could see a pair of elves clad in armor and bearing long spears standing guard on either side of the large doorway, which was wide and high enough for a pair of mounted knights to enter. Carrick slowed and stopped far enough away that their conversation could not be overheard.
“I do no
The Highwayman - Part Seven
Part Seven – Lost and Found
Margo tightened her belt, the paladin’s sword at her side. “I don’t care what they are, we’ve got to get going and get him back.”
“Agreed.” Carrick smiled at Margo. “We may be at some pains to extract him.”
“But we will.” She echoed his determination. Returning her attention to the ghostly Highwayman she asked, “Can you lead us to where you last saw him? There must be a trail we can follow.”
He nodded. “I can guide you thence, and a distance along the track the Sidhe took, but when they went through the barrier between their world and ours, I could not open the way to follow, and they faded from my sight.”
“Have no worries about that. I can get us through the border.” Kneeling, Carrick shifted shape.
The Highwayman sat his horse in silence as Carrick’s human shape vanish
The Highwayman - Part Six
Part Six – He did not come in the Dawning
“Carrick!” Margo’s voice came from the front door. “There’s a big crate here on the first step! I nearly ran into it!”
Carrick joined her at the door, teapot in hand. “I see – the markings are those of Light’s Hope Chapel.”
Setting the teapot on the table, he returned to the doorway and with some help from Margo they wrestled the crate through the entrance and pushed it further into the parlor.
“Light’s Hope?” Margo peered at the glyphs marking the upper surface of the crate. At the center of the crate was stenciled the sigil of a silver sun surrounded by rays of gold. “I’ve never heard of that denomination. Unless it’s some new group that’s sprung up here, like the revival preachers in America?”
“It is not a group from Earth, but rather from the world that birth
The Highwayman - Part Four
Part Four – On a Cold Trail
Carrick had been correct, the Shadow thought, as he sat in a smoky pub in the countryside beyond the town of Oxford, an hour’s drive away from Carrick’s home. He had spent the day prowling the city of scholars, wandering through their markets, shops, and pubs, senses open for any hint of his quarry. This particular establishment had felt promising. The people here, if they are up to anything nefarious, it is the common failings of humanity and not the plotting of evil geniuses. However, they are willing to talk with little to no prompting beyond a round of ale. He turned his attention back to the men sitting shoulder to shoulder with him, sipping their pints of stout and speaking of the object of the Shadow’s interest.
“Yes, there’s folks ‘round here who’ve seen him, the old Highwayman.”
“But no tellin’ where or when he’
The Highwayman - Part Three
Part Three – Through the Day
He galloped as fast as his horse could manage on the rutted post road, moving steadily through a land part of his mind knew was lost to time. But time meant nothing when it came to the work at hand. Soldiers in red coats armed with muskets fired on him as he charged them through a haze of dust and blood. His scream of pain and fury had nothing to do with the physical injuries he was absorbing. He shot one, then another, flung aside his spent pistols, and sprang from his dying horse to skewer two more before the rest of the soldiers fired a fusillade of bullets that tore him to pieces and he crashed into darkness.
The Shadow jerked awake, breathing hard and momentarily disoriented by the sudden change-of-being. He was sitting in his chair by the fire in Carrick’s cottage, the physical memory of bullet impacts fading slowly.
“Dreaming.” He ran a hand over his face, willing his heart
The Highwayman - Part Two
Part Two – Before the Morning Light
“You weren’t kidding, it really is a thatched cottage!” Margo pointed at the house.
After driving through the misty night for another ten minutes, Cranston had turned the car onto a lane that wended its way between fenced fields, past a barn, and finally had pulled up in front of a tidy home, which was indeed thatched with straw. Nearly invisible in the gloom, smoke curled gently from the main chimney. Two lamps glowed on either side of the door. Cranston set the brake and came around the car to open the door for Margo. As he did so, the door to the cottage was flung wide.
“Here at last; bearing the storm under his wings!” A tall man stood silhouetted in the doorway.
“Th-that’s him?” Margo’s voice rose as the man strode around the car to greet them.
He was every bit as tall as Lamont, with eyes that shone in the gloom, bu
The year is 1936. The mysterious crime-fighter known as The Shadow has been defending the cause of Justice in his own way since 1931. Working from his base in New York City and aided by his many agents, he seeks out the masters of evil the police cannot stop and brings their crimes to an end. Accompanied by his friend and companion Margo Lane and masquerading as wealthy socialite Lamont Cranston, the Shadow moves unseen between the many venues of the city, alert for the traces of true evil.
Part One – Ribbon of Moonlight
“You know, Lamont,” Margo Lane scrubbed at the foggy windscreen with her handkerchief, “if there truly IS such a thing as “England’s green and pleasant land,” I certainly haven’t seen much of it yet.”
London, where they had disembarked, had been awash in rain and the weather beyond the city was challenging the wipers. It wasn’t totally du
The Star in the Well - Part 7
The sun was lower toward the horizon when the Shadow, cleaned up as much as possible and dressed in an un‑shredded set of Cranston’s clothes, summoned his transportation. A quick check of the garden confirmed Carrick must have looped back to the house while he fought his way free of the blackberry canes. Both the professor and his clothing were gone when Cranston checked the tree branch where Carrick had placed the latter. Stanley was likewise away, along with the car, leaving him to drive into the city with Shrevvie. That worthy eyed Cranston with astonishment as he climbed into the cab.
“Wow, boss! You look like someone tied you up inna bag with twenty tomcats and tossed you into the river!”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Cranston. He smiled wryly at Shrevvie through the maze of scratches on his face.
“It was at least one hundred cats.”
He was covered i
The Star in the Well - Part 6
The Work at Hand
Above the bureau in Cranston’s bedroom sat a fine mirror, set at the right height for a tall man. In front of that mirror the Shadow removed Cranston’s jacket, then the rest of the various layers covering his upper body. The undershirt held several dried dark stains where he had managed to pop open the surface of his wound during the day’s activities. Pulling off that last article of clothing, he turned his back to the mirror and looked over his shoulder. The partly-healed entrance wound was gone.
In its place was a small, pale mark a half-inch across, bearing a tracery of fine lines radiating out from its center like a rayed star. He turned around to inspect the exit wound between shoulder and chest, which had been larger and uglier, only to find the same small remnant, with the rest of the skin and muscle quite sound and whole.
“Kèxīng,” he said without thinking.
The Star in the Well - Part 5
Over the next several weeks, information trickled in from the Shadow’s agents, but like most matters concerning Professor Carrick, the data were sparse and sometimes contradictory. Within his sanctum in the city, the Shadow culled through what he had received. The results from Rutledge Mann’s methodical enquiries lay on his desk, a neat stack of very old newspapers, articles, and one report. The brief report contained the results of Mann’s investigations into the strange script in Carrick’s journal.
The closest analog my research could turn up was that of the Litterae ignotae alphabet developed by Hildegard von Bingen, approximately 1140 AD. Various researchers at the city library could not translate the language used, however. If the language were known, the experts aver the scripts would then be relatively simple to decode. Curren
The Star in the Well - Part 4
Carrick was at the table in the morning room having his breakfast when Cranston arrived. He sat with his notes and drawings laid out around him, busily writing further notes in his journal. From his position, Cranston could see a new drawing of what looked like a jagged mountain range.
“Good morning to you,” said Carrick, as cheerful as ever.
“Did you sleep well?” asked Cranston.
To his eyes Carrick looked somewhat younger, as if the apparent age he had worn on his face at their first meeting had been a mask he’d been peeling away, layer by layer, over the night.
That is not a clever disguise or makeup, but something he does – or does not – affects how I see him. Cranston suppressed a scowl. I know there is nothing wrong with my vision.
“Yes. Running out to Ithaca and back was very refreshing, and the astronomers at the observatory were willing to fin
The Star in the Well - Part 3
The Shadow eventually found his quarry where he had surmised, talking to an astronomer in front of the Fuertes Observatory on the campus of Cornell University, a nearly four-hour drive from the city. The two men had no thought that they were being followed into their building by a bit of living darkness.
“This is the Irving Porter Church telescope,” said the astronomer, escorting Carrick into the large dome of the observatory. One small lamp burned on a desk, and another tiny light glowed partway up the body of the telescope, leaving most of the interior in gloom. “It was started in 1920, with the glass lenses being ground by Brashear and Company, and the equatorial mounting and dedication was completed in 1922.”
“Quite a marvelous piece of scientific instrumentation, Doctor Brown,” said Carrick, looking upward at the device, which had been covered in
The Star in the Well - Part 2
The professor, despite his age, proved to be an early riser. Cranston descended the stairs and walked into the morning room to find Carrick there with a pot of tea, a plate of toast, and the newspaper. He had laid the paper aside however, and was in happy conversation with Richards. The butler and the professor both noted his entrance and Richards moved at once to bring fresh coffee.
“A fair morning to you,” said Carrick with a smile.
“Is it?” asked Cranston, taking his coffee cup and adding a bit of cream to it. The professor considered his query for a moment then answered.
“It is. The day gives us a good gentle rain to start and the sun will show his face by noon. The city will be the fresher for it.”
“You do not sound as if you enjoy the city.” Cranston accepted a plate of toast from Richards with a nod of thanks.
“In truth, such a place is a sore tr
The Star in the Well - Part 1
The year is 1935. The mysterious crime-fighter known as The Shadow has been defending the cause of Justice in his own way since 1931. Working from his base in New York City and aided by his many agents, he seeks out the masters of evil the police cannot stop and brings their crimes to an end. Masquerading as wealthy socialite Lamont Cranston, the Shadow moves unseen between the many venues of the city, alert for the traces of true evil.
Visitor and Volumes
“Good evening sir,” said Richards, the butler. He held the door open as the Shadow, in his guise as Lamont Cranston, strode into his New Jersey mansion. Lamont expected to have the sprawling house to himself, but Richards spoke quickly before he could vanish into Cranston’s study.
“You have company, sir; Professor Carrick of Oxford, England.”
“A little late for an unannounced social call, isn’t it?” Cranston