The lightning illuminated the Sultan's skeletal features, the direction of each flash bringing into clarity a particular bony protrudence. His face was horrific in the stark black and white of the stormy Ocean coast of Breton. It was as if his skin had been wrapped so tight that it was compressing the bone beneath and at any moment the fragile film would rupture bringing into complete presence the skull. The bulging frog-like and lidless eyes were veinless. The whites of his eyes were a sickly yellow. The irises were olive green, the pupils dilated and huge.
His clenched jaw bulged in time with the clenched fist which gradually was crushing to powder an ancient vellum text.
It had been written in Old Manx but used the coptic alphabet. Few could have deciphered it. Never now would man know it. But the fact that such a thing might even exist would have quickened the pulse of a any who have sought to delve into the conspiracy of the Illuminati. Yet by paths hidden now it is possible to guess what Zhpat had read, what had sent him to this spot and why now he looked up at the starless sky, cursed God and begged the sea to swallow him up. It had said something to the effect of this
Two hands clap at Sophia's death,
A decade err the third age draws breath,
From whence Arturius sons cast glares,
Towards their lots now Saxons' shares.
Old Gaia ne'er crushed opens her womb,
And forth spills the sea from San Grayls tomb,
'Tween lotus and star the pattern makes,
Take salt, three rings, for Pan awakes
Herman Mao put his hand upon the Sultan's shoulders. Cold comfort, the comradeship of the damned. "I think, perhaps, dear friend, the storm has got the better of you."
"The tide is coming back in, the barometer is still falling. You will not find the place tonight."
"Not tonight?" Zhpat snarled, "not tonight than not ever."
"The wyrm turns it is a dyrythmic drama, and you are foiled by an alliance of God and science."
"I believe in neither. Consume that philology if you must and die. Only fate exists, that star under which we are born...
"And Gaia herself of course, the lotus flower. Its your philology which needs rejuvenation."
"Bah... where is Bigoyle?"
Heavy flopping steps were rapidly approaching. Zhpat and Mao exhanged uneasy glances. Was it the Inuit? The Canadians? Zhpat, drew his saber from out of the cane pole that masquearded as a walking stick, while Mao, took his luger from its holster at its hip, snapping a fresh clip in. "Hold friends," a deep phlegmy voice called out, colored by a touch of a Basque accent. Out of the murkiness, a man appeared. Duck-like and majestic in its eeliness, the flippers slapped down in a final quick stocatto burst and he was at attention, rubber riding crop raised in salute.
"Oh, its you Juan-Henri, how is the Queen?"
"She is perfection incarnate."
"Glad to hear it. Please relax and report."
"This is for the Sultan, sir. Sultan, my men saw beneath the cliff, right at your feet almost a great cave has opened up, it has since disappeared under the waves, but we clearly marked it, and even now we have four men at its entrance."
The Sultan's face almost beamed with delight. He sheathed his saber and rubbed the back of one hand with the palm of the other. "Take me there."