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CHAPTER THREE

Fred, a stocky Maori with attitude, was waiting for them with a small four wheel drive, three spare seats and an explanation of the complexities in transporting them to the prearranged meeting with his tribal elder. Jim was selected to ride shotgun while Nat and Buzz contented themselves with the back seat. The others were to wait for Fred’s return if they wanted to make the journey and rather than argue with him, that’s exactly what they did. Soon, a quartet of happy travelers was bumping along a very overgrown track which slowly meandered its way to higher ground.

No matter how much they tried to pump Fred for information about this clandestine meeting, with the mysterious elder, all he would say on the matter was ‘when we get there all will be revealed’. Eventually the overgrown track opened up into a small clearing which seemed to be the end of their journey. The fourby circled around to pull up facing the direction from whence they had come; while pointing to a walking track in the undergrowth, Fred offered the first bit of info on whom they would be meeting.

‘She wants to speak to Ms. McHale and Dr. Izzard privately so you can stay outside Jim, they’ll be all right.’

‘Is that O.K with you?’ asked James

‘Sure.’ Answered Nat

‘Just keep your ears on.’ Added Buzz as they got out of the car and began heading towards the well camouflaged hut.

After a short walk, they approached a gnarled front door; Buzz attempted to knock on it but at first touch the unlocked obstacle creaked open, ‘that was spooky’ he commented

‘Come in and close the door behind you.’ Came an equally creaky voice from a shadowy figure seated at a table pushed into a corner of the badly lit one room abode.

‘I am Gabriel Izzard and this is…’

‘I know who you are, I sent for you and now you are here.’ Said a very old woman as their eyes adjusted on her.

A small hairless dog scampered out from underneath the table and began sniffing their legs.

‘Ko likes you, I haven’t seen him do that before he normally doesn’t like strangers; sit and have some tea with me.’

They obeyed and made themselves as comfortable as the two small stools would allow. Boney fingers guided the spout of an ancient teapot, stained with the tannin of countless brews, towards the cracked lips of cups already in position. Pungent vaporous odors snaked the way to their nostrils through a conglomeration of musky smells and Nat began to feel warmly welcome, as she dutifully sipped her hot beverage, in the middle of an abundance of weird paraphernalia.

As their host came more into focus, one noticed she cultivated long silver dreadlocks matted with feathers and small carvings atop her sigmoidal framework of skin and bones. Her sparse cotton covering was threadbare enough to expose to view all the tattooed flesh above table height and the effect heavy golden nipple rings had on breasts long since depleted of any nourishment, all stitched into place with lashings of multi-colored gemstones.

‘Now down to business,’ she said ‘our spirits have brought us together for an exchange of mutual benefit. You have something for me and I have something for you.’

‘I’m sorry but we didn’t bring anything with us’ apologized Buzz whilst impersonating a stunned mullet

‘SILENCE! We will commune with the great spirits within.’

Immediately the crones’ eyes went back in her head and she began emanating strange noises from her long muscular throat. It expanded and contracted viperously, forcing air in and out of her toothless mouth, producing harmonic notes of a hypnotic nature. Buzz prized his eyes away from this rare woman to pass a glance Nat’s way but she had succumbed to the seduction of the moment and was beginning to writhe in a similar way; her countenance was that of someone entranced. He started to look more like a sideshow clown as his head went back and forth between the two and with his mouth wide open, he felt himself going the same way.

He awoke as if he’d been zapped by a heart starter, aware he was walking down a long corridor of hewn stone lit by naked flames licking the walls at regular intervals for as far as the eyes could see. Without any alteration in his gait, he rotated his head almost 180 degrees to see the old woman following him looking young and beautiful in some kind of primitive costume that left little to the imagination. Before reacting he looked down at his own body, but it wasn’t; this seemed impossible but he was in no doubt about it. As if transported in time and space, here he was in a different reality and the only thing that seemed familiar was the nubile woman following him; but she wasn’t, was she?

He stopped and turned to face her, she just kept on coming until she had rammed a hot body smack into his, forcing him onto his back; he just laid there without moving until they had fully come to.

Slowly she lifted herself off him and with big smile on her face, started speaking in a language he had never heard before, but fully understood. ‘Where do you think you are?’

‘I don’t know.’ He replied in a language he’d never spoken before

‘We are about to enter the underworld kingdom of limestone caves caved out over many thousands of years by the constant erosion of the underground waters of the Waikato regions; now you will follow me.’ She turned and strode off leaving him to quickstep in order to keep the image of her tattooed backside insight.

‘Wait-a-mo!’ He yelled after her

‘You can call it that, if you want.’ Echoed the reply

They moved through the maze of passages with the ease of experienced cavers, crossing bubbling hot mud pools, stepping in limestone water at times, past enormous stalagmites and ducking under the points of ominous stalactites.

Managing to keep at least one of the many torches burning to light their way, they eventually emerged into a giant cavern with crystal-clear water filling the center of it. Amazingly enough there was a wooden barge available for them to cross the expanse so they could continue on their journey; he stepped onto it, she remained on the elevated bank, brazenly standing over him.

‘Over there is what you seek and much, much more but I warn you, if you take what is rightfully yours and lash it to the raft there is only one way out.’ she pointed towards the flow of the river. ‘If you don’t turn around and leave here the way we came, empty handed with me now, then you will face a multitude of enemies that will want to kill you for your possession. Out there in the light, await savages who don’t dare to do what you are about to do, they won’t even come in here for fear of me, but out there you will be on your own.’

He felt his resolve harden as never before, as he looked up at her standing like a warrior, destiny had opened wide the dangerous direction he must now choose. She knew exactly when he had come to his conclusion and as if by magic, suddenly produced a warriors sword and shield, handed it to him and concluded herself; ‘Once you have begun don’t stop for anything until you reach the ocean; only when you have left this country will you begin to be safe. I know you have to succeed and if you have faith in yourself you will, now go.’ With that she turned around and disappeared into the blackness.

Buzz was now alone and someone he was yet to fully explore; he felt bigger, stronger and much more powerful. Filled with all the enthusiasm she had bestowed on him, he quickly paddled the raft to the other side of the nocturnal lake and with huge leaps and bounds, located the treasure she spoke of. What a treasure trove it was, items from every culture in the known world and then some, every type of gold and silver trinkets, jewelry and gems, statues of redundant gods; Then he saw it, hovering above everything else, as if it was protecting its nest and for now it belonged to him,

The Great Golden Eagle.

From the moment the wheels of Nick’s transporter touched down on New Zealand soil, a large army of loyal employees sprung into action; they would be under his command.

‘Where are they?’ he shouted as he walked down the gangplank to the entourage waiting on the tarmac

‘Waitomo Caves, about an hour drive south of here.’ Replied the first man in the line up to meet him

‘Well what are we doing here?’

‘We have a unit descending on the precise cave as we speak, Sir.’

‘Have they anything to report?’

‘Not yet.’

“Let’s get this farce pointed in the right direction; I want one of your men in the cab with my driver and I want to be there by the time they drag them out of those rat holes.’ He said as the plane was giving birth to the eighteen wheeler and as predicted they were there within the hour, in communication with the heavily armed crack troop of men that were waiting for further instructions at the mouth of the very cave they were expecting their prey to emerge from.

‘How can I be sure you’ve got it right?’ asked Nick

‘Because we have our very best remote viewers on the job as we speak and they assure me the man we want is heading downstream

into our net, right now.’ Replied the one who was chosen to sit with Nick in his lounge and sip the very best of scotch

—————————-

The water was running wide and fast as Buzz emerged out of the cave looking like an ancient warrior riding on the back of his solid golden eagle; well strapped to the large logs that were floating both of them. It wasn’t long before the attack began; screams pieced the air as did arrows and spears that were now flying in his direction. He easily fended them off with the shield and as the savages began swimming out to attack him, he dispatched them just as easily with the sword. The battle went on for some time and many lives were lost in their efforts. Nothing or no one seemed to be able to stop him, he was winning and as the water began to pick up speed, he realized why; he was heading for a high waterfall and a serious going over the edge.

Nick’s men waited patiently outside the entrance to the cave until the screaming began, then the bravest of them moved into the opening to investigate why no one had emerged. Hours passed while the reports kept coming in, all saying the same thing, no body and nothing out of the ordinary. There was no obvious reason why anyone would even be there, people were losing their jobs, everyone was confused and upset; this whole situation was becoming ridiculous.

Nick was berating all the men he could draw into his wrath; Elisha was doing the same to Silvia and her people who had supplied them with the bad intelligence. When nothing more could be done and there was no one else to tear strips off, Nick settled for ordering a systematic search of the whole greater area with all the resources at their disposal. He kicked everyone out of his place and ordered a massage for himself so he could begin to calm down; this seemed to do the trick and by the time the tranquilizers he prescribed himself began to kick in, Elisha was able to get him into bed which seemed to be the best place for him at the moment.

——————————-

Buzz floated back to the surface of his consciousness, again unsure of where he was but as he breathed in the musky air surrounding him, it occurred to him that he was still in the home of the old woman and that he must have been hallucinating.

Nat was happily chatting away with her when they both noticed he was awake.

‘Good you finally back with us,’ she said ‘don’t say anything just get up and get yourself ready to leave. Fred’s back without our friends and is reporting there are people searching for us, so he thinks it is important we get back to our boat and out of here as soon as possible.’

He agreed and with Nat’s assistance, they made their way to the door; she stepped out while he turned and asked the old woman

‘Who are you?’

She smiled at him and said ‘surely you mean, who was I? But what you really should be asking is, who were you?’

It was all too much for him at the moment and he just shook his head and began walking towards the waiting fourby but before he got there, he turned again and called out to her as she waved goodbye from her doorway ‘Please tell me your name.’

The name Lai Choy San echoed around his head as they sped off down the track towards the rendezvous with Laurence and Grant. https://wayneswordpress.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/the-eagle-of-shambhala/ Chapter Four

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