Friday, 12 March 2010

The Ghosts of New Troy - Part II

As McHat and I left the Latin site the sun was dipping on the horizon. It was the twilight Magic Hour as we approached our final destination - Arbor Low.

We parked the Land Rover in the shade of a dingy copse of stunted conifers and noisily dropped two coins into the battered donations tin. At the sound of the metal there was movement in the outbuildings. We made out the shapes of small folk scurrying hither and thither. They comprehended our visit as little as the doe-eyed cattle in the barn. As we passed the gazes of the cows and locals were equally vacant.

The stone circle was silent and the only motion was the smoke drifting from the settlement that clung to its borders. McHat and I breathed deeply and took in the ancient geometry. The occasional token lay on the damp grass - thread, chalk and a wilted rose, perhaps the charms left by a desperate teenage girl. I searched about and found a limestone pebble which seemed a suitable fractal of the landscape. I added it to the fence staple and the other tokens I had brought and strung them onto a bootlace to form a rosary of sorts.

McHat watched impassively as I strode into the centre of the stones and performed the ritual. There were no signs to indicate its success or otherwise. Afterwards we crossed a wall to examine the nearby barrow. No doubt it marks the resting place of some vanquished hero who slumbers until the final call to arms.

That night I drifted to sleep by the glow of the open fire in my bedroom. Long after the embers had died I was awoken by something a-scratching and a-fumbling about the floor. I listened, heart-in-mouth, but at length it faded, as did I.

When the nights are cold and the air is wet I have visions of a skeletal warrior, clad in verdigris plate, feeling for his sword in the dark beneath the earth.

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1 comment:

  1. As before, absolutely captivating. Keep up the good work!