Lucinda: Nails of the Crucifixion #16 by Terry Thorp – A Fantasy Adventure in which the Fate of the World Depends on a Woman’s Decisions (Book 1, The Lucinda Trilogy).Lucinda, an obscure but gifted psychic is sent on a quest by the Lords of the Path of Purest Light to find two objects of great power. She has an adversary, sent by the Fallen Lords of the Paths of Darkness, to prevent her from carrying out this quest. In this paranormal adventure,Lucinda’s journey takes her back in time to ancient Egypt and to the island of Skellig Michael, off the south-west coast of Ireland.


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'Lucinda' - A Fantasy Tale Of Adventure & Romance

Hey! Welcome to irish-rover's book club!

Today, I present you with an extract from CHAPTER 15 of my fantasy adventure novel 'Lucinda: Nails of the Crucifixion' (Book 1, The Lucinda Trilogy). An outline of the story so far is given in the following section.

Hope you enjoy reading this fantasy story of adventure and romance!

'Lucinda' - A Fantasy Adventure

Lucinda is staying with Jacinta, her minder, in the south-west of Ireland. She has met Joe, a friend of Jacinta's, in a local pub. On her way back, she has seen a strange figure in the distance looking at her. The figure disappears, leaving Lucinda wondering who - or what - it was. That night this figure - St Fionan - appears to Lucinda and informs her of the quest she is on - and on which the fate of the world depends. Meanwhile, Joe has asked Lucinda to accompany him to a festival in the nearby town. She agrees to go. But before that, she sets out for a walk along the cliff where she meets a stranger. He warns her to return to London, otherwise she will be killed. Lucinda ignores this warning. 

 That evening, she and Joe attend a summer festival in the nearby town. Here, Culian, a fire-eater and mystic, leads them to a safe-house where Lucinda is to meet one of the Lords of the Path of Purest Light. Here she learns about the quest she is being sent on - to discover the location of two nails from the Crucifixion Cross. These nails are immensely powerful and the Lords are afraid they may fall into the hands of the Paths of Darkness. Lucinda also learns that she has the power of time travel and she must use this power to locate the nails - either in ancient Egypt or on the nearby island of Skellig Michael.

 

She decides to start her quest by journeying back to Egypt towards the end of the 6th century AD. Using a technique she learned from an ancient Tibetan monk, Lucinda travels back in time to the year 587. She lands in an Egyptian desert and is cared for by a Sheikh and his family. He takes Lucinda to the nearby city of Hermopolis, on the edge of the River Nile. A friend of the Sheikh has promised her passage on one of his boats sailing north to Alexandria. Meanwhile, a young man - Abdullah - guides her to an inn near the Gate of the Sun where she hopes to find lodgings for the night. During the night, Lucinda is attacked and she and Abdullah barely escape to the ship that will take her to Alexndria. However, Abdullah is captured as he struggled to board the boat. Abdullah is taken to a prison on orders of the Roman Governor. Here, he is threatened with torture if he does not reveal his conections to Lucinda and where she is heading. He is questioned by a stranger who has some sort of hold over the Roman Governor. Abdullah tells his captors that she is making for Alexandria then to the Monastery of St Macarius where she wants to meet some monks. The stranger orders the Governor to have Lucinda followed. 

Lucinda meets a monk called Lazarus the Lazy and discovers he is to bring the two Crucifixion nails to the island of Skellig Michael. She is then captured by the Romans and thrown into prison in Alexandria.

She receives a visitor - Ethan Thomas, the Ninth Master. He urges Lucinda to join him - together they could rule the world. She is very attracted to him but on moral grounds she refuses. They fight, there is a fire and they escape from the prison cell. Lucinda knows now that their lives are inextricably intertwined. She travels forward in time to the present.....  

'Lucinda' - Excerpt From CHAPTER 15

It was early evening when Lucinda reached the cottage. The time line had landed her back on the cliff top below the house, so close to the edge that she almost slipped over when she regained consciousness.  But now here she was, in front of the familiar, dark green door. She paused for a moment, feeling a rush of nervousness, listening for any sounds. She heard nothing. She pressed the latch, pushed open the door and went in. Jacinta and Joe were sitting at the table in silence. The remains of a meal were on each plate; trails of steam arose from the mugs of hot tea in front of them.  A couple of open beer cans stood beside them.  Jacinta and Joe both turned to see who was entering. Lucinda stood quietly in the doorway, gazing at them whilst her two friends, for several seconds, just stared back at her, as if unable to comprehend who it was that had come.  Joe was the first to move. He suddenly stood up, sending his chair crashing over backwards. He stepped towards the dirty, dishevelled figure in the monk’s cloak standing in the doorway.

“Lucinda?” he queried. “Is it really you? Are you back?”

When she nodded and smiled, he rushed to her. He put his arms around her and held her tightly to him. Lucinda could smell the beer on his breath but, for the moment, she couldn’t care. It felt so wonderful to be back. Jacinta joined in and for several minutes the three of them stood there, hugging each other and crying.

 

 

“We really didn’t expect you to come back. You were away so long or so it seemed to us, over a week,” sobbed Jacinta.

“You smell terrible,” said Joe, laughing and crying at the same time. “But it is so wonderful to be able to smell you again!”

“I haven’t washed for days, nor been able to put on fresh clothes,” replied Lucinda. “You will both just have to put up with me until I can give myself a good scrub.”

“Never mind the smell,” said Jacinta, pulling Lucinda towards the table and pushing her into a chair. “Sit down and I’ll get you a fresh pot of tea. You look very tired and drawn. You were never fat but now you look all skin and bone under that cloak.” She fussed around Lucinda like a hen with her chick.   

Lucinda accepted the seat gratefully. She did feel tired, too tired to start talking now about her journey back to Egypt. That could wait. But whilst Jacinta was in the kitchen boiling the kettle, she looked closely at Joe. Something had changed in him. His eyes were dull; they had lost the sparkle that had been there previously. His posture was slightly stooped. His skin looked grey.

 

“Did they hurt you badly?” she asked. “The Ninth Masters - they must have given you a terrible time.”

 

Joe sat down on a chair. He just nodded. Lucinda saw the pain in his face and eyes. She swore silently to herself. Damn them! Damn Thomas and his friends! How could she have even for a moment thought of joining him? Then she remembered the warmth and charm he had exuded when they were together in the cell. How she had longed for his kiss and, when it came, how eagerly she had returned it. She cursed herself for her weakness. I shall make him pay for this, she promised to herself. Lucinda reached out and squeezed Joe’s hand. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

“I had to tell them in the end,” Joe said. “I did my best but I just could not compete with their psychic powers. I’m sorry I failed you.”

With tears in her eyes, Lucinda shook her head. “You did not fail me, Joe. I have failed you. I’m the one that brought all this on to you. I should get down on my knees and ask for your forgiveness.”

“Don’t you dare do that!” Joe was smiling now. “Did they follow you to Egypt?”

“Yes, one of them did.” Lucinda hesitated, wondering what she should tell Joe.

“Which one? The one that you saw at the airport and that threatened you in the field at the end of the lane?” asked Joe.

Lucinda nodded. “Yes, that’s the one.”

 

“He was different from the other two.” Joe had a thoughtful look on his face. “Somehow a bit more human. His friends were like animals, although that’s not being fair to animals. They were worse than animals. They were only interested in finding you and killing you.”

 

“The one that came to Egypt is called Ethan Thomas. I met with him after he had the Romans throw me into a prison.” Lucinda looked Joe squarely in the face. “How was he different from the other two?” 

Joe shrugged. “It’s hard to say precisely. He just seemed to have a different attitude, as if he was genuinely interested in you as a person. But still tough as old boots.  I wouldn’t like to meet him on a really bad day.”

Jacinta joined them at the table with fresh mugs of tea and some sandwiches (jam, of course) for Lucinda. As she sipped her tea and ate the sandwiches, Lucinda felt her energy gradually returning to her. Slowly, between sips of tea and mouthfuls of strawberry jam sandwiches, she told them of her journey through sixth century Egypt. She omitted the details of only two items:  her conversation with Brother Lazarus the Lazy and the nails; and the details of her encounter with Ethan Thomas, the Ninth Master, in the prison cell. After an hour of talking and answering questions, Lucinda felt thoroughly exhausted.

“I must go and have a good hard scrub and then sleep,” she said to the other two as she stood up. “Tomorrow, I want to start on the next step of my mission.”

Jacinta looked dismayed. “Do you really have to start again so soon? Can’t you take just a few days rest?”

“No, I can’t. I must keep going.” Lucinda turned towards Joe. “Can I use your computer tomorrow morning? There are a few things I need to research.”

 

 

“Of course you can,” Joe replied. “If I am not there, just help yourself.”

 

Lucinda nodded her thanks, then said goodnight and made her way wearily up the narrow, wooden stairs to her bedroom. She heard the muffled voices of her two friends downstairs discussing her in worried tones but she did not care. All she now wanted was a hot shower and sleep. She went into her room which looked just the same as when she had left over a week ago. She picked up her teddy from where it lay on her pillow and cuddled it for a few moments, pressing its soft fur to her cheek. Then she caught sight of herself in the mirror that hung on the wall. She went over to it and gazed incredulously at the image of her face that was reflected back to her. No wonder Joe and Jacinta had stared, speechless, at her for a few seconds. She hardly recognised herself. Her face was darkened by sun and dirt, the whites of her eyes gleamed like two neon lights against the surrounding dusky skin whilst her hair was a tangled mess of dust and sweat. She slipped off her clothes and stood naked in front of the mirror. She had never paid particular attention to her body. She knew men liked it, often making clichéd remarks about the softness of her skin or firmness of her breasts. One had been quite lyrical, quoting an ancient Japanese poet. She had been quite impressed. But he had a couple of unlikeable habits so he was quickly booted out of her bed. 

But now, perhaps for the first time in her life, she noted how thin and skinny she was. She was enjoying the healthier food provided by Jacinta. So Lucinda resolved to stop eating out of cans and have more regular meals. But Jacinta was right: she, Lucinda, had lost weight over the days she had been away. Her breasts seemed to have shrunk slightly in size whilst her ribs were more obvious. She went to the bathroom and turned on the shower. She stood under the hot water for fifteen minutes, exhilarating in the glorious comfort of the water as it sluiced over her body, dissolving and washing away the dirt of Egypt. Then she climbed into her bed and was asleep as her head touched the soft pillow. 

*

When Lucinda awoke, the sun was already high in the sky. It was an early summer’s day, with no clouds to hide the sapphire blue. A gentle breeze hardly ruffled the grass whilst, down in the bay below the house, the sea water was moved by only a slight swell that broke lazily on the yellow sand of the beach. She glanced at her watch. The time was a few minutes after eleven o’clock - she had slept for about fourteen hours. She got out of bed and hurriedly dressed in fresh, clean clothes. Downstairs, she drank a glass of orange juice and, grabbing an apple from the fruit bowl, rushed through the open doorway. Jacinta was outside, hanging up Lucinda’s freshly washed clothes from her Egyptian travels on the clothes line at the end of the cottage.

 

“Hello and goodbye!” she called out as Lucinda gave her a wave before disappearing round the corner of the opposite gable end.

Lucinda sank her teeth into the apple as she hurried along the laneway to Joe’s house. Its fresh, tart taste ignited her hunger but she ignored the feelings. She wanted to be at Joe’s computer as quickly as possible and get stuck into her research on Skellig Michael. She knocked on the farmhouse door but there was no answer. The key was in the Yale lock so she turned it and went in. She still found it difficult to accept that people in this part of Ireland would often leave a key in the front door lock even when no one was in the house. She went across to Joe’s computer and turned it on. In a few seconds, she was searching the internet for information on the Skellig and its ancient monastery, making notes on a sheet of paper as she went along. After one hour, she turned the computer off. She sat back in her chair and stretched, then glanced through the notes she had taken.

 

 

 

 

Lucinda now had a clear plan in her mind. She left Joe’s house and walked slowly back towards the cottage, enjoying the freshness of the Kerry coastal air and the sea views. From the laneway, she could see the small bay with its sandy beach and the dark, rocky cliffs extending out on either side with their frill of white from the breaking waves. The sparkling blue of the sea and the fresh greenness of the hillsides above the bay were refreshing contrasts to the arid, desert sand and bleached stones of the Egypt she had left only yesterday.

Half way to the cottage, she turned round and gazed back across the nine miles of Atlantic Ocean to Skellig Michael. The craggy island did not look as dark and forbidding to her as before. Perhaps it was the way the sunlight was reflecting off its steep, rocky slopes that rendered it more benign. At any rate, she thought, if my plan works I shall soon be with you. And then I shall see whether you turn out to be friend or foe.  As she continued walking along the laneway towards the cottage, a white van approached her. It was Joe and, as he drew level with Lucinda, he turned down his window.

“So what’s the mood this morning?” he asked.

“Good - I had the best sleep ever. Thanks for the use of your computer. Can you come to the cottage? There’re some things I need to tell you. What I now have in mind to do.”

 

“Of course, I’ll be with you in ten minutes. I just need to unload my van.”

 

He drove on and Lucinda made her way down to Jacinta’s. She caught site of her monk’s cloak flapping briskly in the breeze. She went over to it and felt the familiar material with her fingers. Excellent, she thought, almost dry; I’m going to need your help again, my friend. She entered the cottage. Jacinta was seated at the table with her lap top in front of her, busily tapping on the key board. She stopped and glanced up as Lucinda came in.

“Well, you are looking much better this morning,” she remarked as she began tapping away on the keys again. “What’ve you in mind for the day?” As she looked at Lucinda, she felt envious once again of this once obscure psychic. Now, suddenly, she was potentially the most famous person in the world. Lucinda had managed what people for centuries had only dreamt about – time travel. It is I that has enabled her to achieve this, thought Jacinta, by persuading her to accept the invitation of the Lords to do this job for them. Yet she is the one with all the glory. How unfair life is.

“Joe will be down in a few minutes and I’ll tell you both then. How about having a working lunch? I’m starving.” 

 

Jacinta smiled at her, her smile masking that deep envy she felt continuing to grow inside her. “Good, I have prepared a shepherd’s pie and a salad. The pie is cooked but may need reheating so could you put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes?”

 

Lucinda did as she was asked and then laid the table for three. Joe arrived and they sat down for the meal. Lucinda waited until they had all helped themselves to shepherd’s pie and salad before revealing her plans to the other two.

“Brother Lazarus travelled from Egypt to Skellig Michael in 587 A.D., bringing the nails with him,” began Lucinda.

She seems to have forgotten that I’m not supposed to know all these details, thought Jacinta as she darted a quick glance at her colleague. I should remind her – but I don’t think I will. Why shouldn’t I be part of it all? She sat back with a slight smile.

 

“His instructions were to hand them over to the Abbot whose job was to conceal them on the island. The place of concealment was to be passed on to the next Abbot and so on. In theory at least, no one else was to know where they were hidden.”  Lucinda paused and took another mouthful of minced meat and potato. “I have to assume for the moment that this knowledge was passed on from Abbot to Abbot as planned. In 824 A.D., the monastery was raided by Vikings. According to what the Ninth Master told me - and I believe him on this matter, at least - these warriors were searching for the two nails. The Paths of Darkness already possessed the other pair of nails. These had been stolen from Constantinople by a Swedish trading party about a hundred years before in the eighth century. 

"From my research this morning, I’ve discovered that at the time of the Viking raid on the Skellig, the Abbot of the monastery was a man called Eitgal.” Lucinda glanced at Jacinta and Joe. “Now Eitgal either did not know about the nails or else he was a very brave man. In spite of being tortured to death, he did not or could not reveal the location, so the Vikings left empty handed.”

“My guess is he didn’t know anything about the nails,” interrupted Joe. “I think it highly unlikely that knowledge of the Crucifixion nails would have remained in the memory of the monastery abbots for two and a half centuries. You are talking about at least twenty abbots, I am sure.”

Lucinda raised her eyebrows at his words. “You could be right. On the other hand, knowledge and concealment of the nails took place in Egypt for a similar period of time. My intuition tells me that knowledge of the nails on the Skellig died with Eitgal.”

“And what about the torture?” continued Joe. “I imagine that the Vikings were masters of the art of extracting information from their captives.”

 

 

“Well, you’ve got to bear in mind these monks weren’t ordinary people. They deliberately sought out hardship and danger,” replied Lucinda. “Can you imagine the wretchedness of living on Skellig Michael, year after year? The cold, the wet, the hunger, the terrible winter storms, the real dangers faced on a daily basis? Death was something they all looked forward to as they would be then in the presence of God. This is what they yearned for.” She grinned. “A monk like Eitgal would probably have laughed at the Vikings, telling them to do their worst because in his eyes he was suffering as Christ suffered.”  As Lucinda looked at her two friends, she could see the uncertainty and doubt in their expressions.

“I know what you’re planning to do,” observed Jacinta with a deep sigh.

Lucinda smiled at her minder. “You do?”

“Yes, don’t do it. You got away with it once; the second time you may not be so lucky.” And I really don’t want you to succeed.

 “I too can guess what you’ve in mind,” said Joe. “And, this time, I am coming with you.”

 

Lucinda shook her head. “Sorry Joe, I cannot allow that. Going back in time is risky-enough for me but for you the risks would be even greater. The psychic energy required to split that spherule cleanly is enormous. Very few people seem to have that ability. The Ninth Master, Ethan Thomas and I are perhaps unique. If it isn’t done properly the consequences may be dire.”

She reached across to Joe and put her hand on his arm. “Even St. Fionan was unable to achieve time travel. And if the splitting is not done correctly - if for instance that spherule is only half split - who knows what the consequences may be. I don’t want you to be the fucking one to find out.”    

Joe felt a sudden pang of jealousy. Lucinda had used the Ninth Master’s name as if he was now a personal friend; and he had picked up a subtle change, a softening in her voice, as she spoke his name. He wondered if anything had happened between the two of them in Egypt. He recalled the interest the man had expressed in Lucinda when he was extracting information as to where she had gone and how she had done it, after she had first split the spherule and gone back in time to Egypt. Joe felt anger and frustration building inside him.

“Well, that’s my bloody choice,” he said bluntly.

 

Lucinda quickly read what Joe was going through. She squeezed his arm. “I hate the Ninth Master for what he did to you; and what he stands for. His vision of the world is totally opposite to mine. And please don’t attempt the time travel. Your psychic development is not nearly great enough for it.” As she spoke the words, she remembered the Ninth Master’s remark that Joe would never be able to match her psychic level. That’s not important, she said to herself, completely irrelevant.

But even as those thoughts went through her brain, the thoughts that hurried after them were all about the great physical, mental and psychic powers of Thomas, the feel of his arms around her, the tender way he had kissed her lips and held her to him.

Jacinta picked up on the tension between Lucinda and Joe. “Come now, children, stop fighting!” she said, forcing a laugh. “Let’s get on with what Lucinda has planned to do.”

“Well, I plan to go back in time to when Eitgal was Abbot of the Skellig Monastery,” said Lucinda. “Back to the time of the Viking raid on the island. According to the Annals of Innisfallen, this took place in the late summer of 824, probably August.”

“When do you plan to go?” Joe asked sullenly.

“After lunch and as soon as my monk’s cloak is dry. So let’s finish up and get going.”

“Time travel shouldn’t be done on a full stomach,” said Joe, forcing himself to make a joke.

Lucinda stared at him.

“It will cause severe indigestion,” he continued. A slow smile came over his face and then he laughed.

 

 

 

Lucinda joined in the laughter but, as she looked at her friends, Joe and Jacinta, with affection, she had that deep sense of foreboding again.  A shadow hung over them - something terrible was going to happen to one of them but she could not say what or to whom.  She stood up quickly, gathering their empty plates and cutlery, seeking to distract herself from the fogged vision she had had of the future.

“Could you fetch in my monk’s cloak from the clothes line, Joe?” Lucinda called out over her shoulder as she placed the dirty utensils in the dishwasher. “It should be dry by now.”