Fenrus shocked me by feeling the screen. "Just a little give, reminds me of an old time movie screen. I wonder.." He began checking the side wall of the tunnel.
Understanding hit me, and I looked at the frame around the 'screen'.
Finding a button in the corner, I pushed it.
As I backed up, the screen came to life.
Fesstry and Fenrus pushed the rest of us back.
The screen came to life. I recognized stars, then Saturn ahead. A flicker, and we were passing Mars.
Then Earth was on the screen. The ship, viewpoint, or whatever went into orbit. "A voice spoke in a pleasant voice. Unfortunately I could not understand what he said.
Fesstry gasped. "Uriel! Rogue Gate, cloned Hell Gate!"
Sharle almost whispered. "That's why it feels wrong, it's one of those the Zrex spun off when Edsel killed Ashaylra in the original. But where do those fungoid slime worms come from?
"Dreams, Sharle, dreams." A voice, almost like her own, but older, and softer. "The little boy was alone too much. He dreamed. He asked for a friend. the Wyrms answered."
Sharle nodded. "Thanks Sis, join us if you will." She looked at the rest of us. "The price for Sharon coming will be a member vanishing. Something to do with time and space. Garl tried to explain it, but it was over my head."
Rodsy and Fesstry vanished, as an even shorter than Sharle woman appeared, an orange classic tabby cat by her feet.
She looked at the screen. "At least Uriel finds and marks rogue gates when they occur. Shannon's Hell Gate keeps creating them."
She looked down at the little dog, now at her feet. "And you miss him don't you."
It's tail just wagged a time or two. She frowned in concentration. "Oh, Hod went this way too?"
Fenrus looked from woman to dog. "Ah, he's one of the 'Companions?"
She nodded. "Yes, Hod's companion, Bennu, once Bennu Watanabe, now, he's more, he's Deimos."
"The Winter Wolf? How can he be so small?" Sherie asked softly.
"Or me not recognize him?" Sharle looked down at the dog.
He almost seemed to grin at her.
"I suspect he didn't want you too yet. He lived with an old man here in the castle for many years. I suspect he wants to go to him for now. On Earth, he is just an ordinary dog physically." The older woman answered quietly.
"Oh, we sent him into the light Bennu, do you wish to go to him?" Sharle asked the dog gently.
He looked toward the lake, and the quiet brown eyes grew fierce. He looked at the cat, and an understanding look was exchanged.
"Oh, you may go with us in that case. Sharon turned to look at the rest of us. "He changes in a fight. He's a real asset you'll find."
Since the viewscreen had frozen after Uriel's speech, we headed back to the hover disk.
Fenrus flew us quietly to the second tunnel.
It was different. No clean square cut entrance here at all.
They were rough and somehow fused, as though something had burned the stone into vitrification.
They looked like black glass.
"I wonder, could this be some version of the wyrm that Khunn fought?" Sharle mused aloud.
"One way to find out." Fenrus sort of waved a hand over the control pedestal.
A face and shoulders appeared in the air over the pedestal. "Yes Fenrus?" A smooth, velvety Irish brogue asked.
"Does this look anything like the cave where you fought that wyrm so long ago?" Fenrus asked softly.
"A little, but not burned." The voice replied. "Just smoothed like a wormlord tunnel. Want help?"
Sharon laughed. "You just like to fight, Con."
The image vanished. The group faced the tunnel. "Torches." I suggested, not wanting to stand there all day.
Unlike the other tunnel, this felt 'dirty'.
"Yes, you're right." Fenrus suddenly had three torches. He gave one to Sharle, and the other to me.
As we moved forward, I noticed that they kept Sherie and Sharon in the middle. Sherie looked annoyed, but the older woman just looked amused.
A bit of ancient lore told to me by my old teacher many lifetimes ago in Greece came to mind.
The Norns, or Fates, or Kindly ones. We seemed to have the Matron and the Crone with us.
Why was I getting all these strange visions? I am just James Turner, owner of the Jerseyside Paper Mill. Yet, I kept getting these flashbacks to another time. Why?
I kept seeing three women. One on a three legged stool. The young girl draped in black robes and hood who had looked at me in that cave full of noxious fumes and exclaimed -
"We will meet again, warrior, and fight the elder thing, the formless, the Slime Fungi Wyrm! Send him home.
My own voice demanded. "And what of the Romans?"
"They will prevail, for now. When they lose this castle, they will leave traps." And she had passed out cold.
The priest caught her as she did. "Go to your fate, she pays a high price for these true visions."
And I was back on the disk, Fenrus holding me up. I managed to tell what I heard and saw.
"Yes, that was the lousiest life I ever lived." Sharon sighed.
"Traps? What type?" Fenrus asked the three women.
Sharon simply shook her head. "Not this tunnel. This was done by the gate. I suspect we have to cleanse much more then just tunnels and gate.
We finally headed up the tunnel. Somehow, I felt both fear, --- and eagerness. Like that long ago warrior was helping me; and eager to finish what was ahead.
To be continued..................