Atlantic Bridge – 16 –
The Monastery, Ambialet
Henri had returned to the main hall.
“Henri, what did you mean by…” began Dryden. Henri cut him off.
“It seems, mes amies, that we have been afforded some assistance by our friends and allies in the United Kingdom. To be specific, I expect to be joined for dinner by ten of his majesty’s finest fighting forces. It seems that our fears about poor Malachi were well-founded. We are threatened, and soon.”
Henri grabbed a coffee from the pot and sat down at the end of the long table, lost in thought.
Dryden looked a little confused. “So, I should really prepare a little more food?” he asked, dubiously.
Henri smiled at him, a weary smile. “Of course, my friend. One cannot fight on an empty stomach, non?”
“I’ve found it, Lieutenant!” exclaimed Percy. A curious grinding sound filled the recess they were standing in. Percy had his hands in the air. It looked as though they ended at the elbow, but closer inspection revealed he had pushed a great stone upwards into the ceiling. Evidently counterbalanced, it was now operating some unknown ancient mechanism.
“Look!” said Vann. In the right hand corner of the recess, a whole section had slid back and sideways to reveal a narrow, smooth-stoned passage heading steeply downwards.
“Let’s move” said Ben. The men filed in, ducking their heads, into the darkness beyond. “How did you find it?” asked Ben of Percy.
“I noticed a faint inscription on it sir, just like that one.” He pointed to a stone protruding out of the otherwise smooth wall.
“Clever” said Ben “The reset. Let’s keep the Cathars’ secret, shall we?” he pushed the stone, and, protesting, it eventually slid flush with the wall, and the huge stone door slid sideways and out to block the entrance once again, plunging the passageway into total darkness.
“Flashlights” ordered Ben. ”Let’s move!”
The passageway wound its way down quite steeply, and rivulets of water sparkled on the walls in the play of their beams.
“We must be moving under the river” said Corporal Vann.
“Yeah? Who’s to say the River hasn’t flooded this passage further down?” said Withers, nervously. A tough soldier, he nevertheless fought a constant battle with claustrophobia. Ben answered him.
“Unless it has flooded in the last two years, I think it’s safe to say the intel from L de L is sound. They’re hardly likely to give us an emergency incursion route and then drown the cavalry, are they?” He kept it light-hearted, knowing Wither’s fears. He’d read the files on all his men. He liked to know who he was taking into combat.
“If you say so, Lieutenant Commander” replied Withers. With some effort, he pushed his fear back down, and moved on.
Eventually, they felt the passageway bottom out and begin to head upwards. The rock became drier, the air fresher. At some point, Ben noted, they seemed to have emerged above ground, and he sensed they were within the Monastery walls. Suddenly, the passageway abruptly ended. Dead ahead, at shoulder height was another rock with a faded inscription. Here goes nothing, thought Ben as he pushed hard against it, and the passageway filled with light. Another stone doorway had slid out and sideways, revealing a large hall.
“Bonsoir” announced Henri from his chair in greeting, as Dryden, Marie-Christine and the others stared open-mouthed at the eight black-clad soldiers emerging from the fireplace. “A glass of wine, peu t’etre?”
© Kev Moore 2008 All Rights Reserved