“…Will you forge the straight track for us, old friend?” Merlin asked the giant. Ogmios’ eyes gleamed in the starlight.
“Come, it is long since we walked such a path together. Stay close and have your children gather their courage.” The giant walked to the centre of the plateau, caressing the earth and chanting softly. Merlin gathered the Champions and himself took up the rear, rekindling the golden orb which danced above his head. Slowly the ground melted away beneath the giant’s hands, leaving a depression in the ground. Ogmios smiled at the company, and never breaking his chant, stepped into the hole, sinking into the rock as if it was quicksand.
“Follow the song, don’t be afraid to breathe. I am behind you and you are perfectly safe.” Hand in hand Alec and Rhea stepped into the ground. Reality had been redefined so often over the past few days that they did not question Merlin’s instructions. Jamie would have followed, but Anna hung back, horrified. The young man caught her hand and led her forward.
“Come on, I know this seems hard, but trust Merlin.” Anna closed her eyes and stepped into the hollow. She felt herself sinking, down and down into some amorphous substance that was not the earth she knew. Terror welled inside. There was no solidity beneath her feet, no air, nothing but the weight of earth closing above her and the pressure of Jamie’s hand. She dare not breathe. Seconds passed like hours as she fought back the screams. Her chest felt that it would explode. She had been buried alive.
“Breathe, Anna, you’ll be okay. I don’t know why or how, but it’s okay.” Jamie’s voice brought her back and she instinctively gulped in a lungful of sweet air. “Now, open your eyes and look. It’s amazing!”
Anna obeyed. The space through which they moved was filled with sparkling motes that danced to the giant’s song. The air tasted clean and fresh as a spring morning with a warm afterglow of autumn. Ahead, Alec and Rhea were shrouded in the dancing starlets of colour, behind Merlin’s witch light turned the air to gold.
Anna held out a hand, and tiny particles clustered around her fingers, clinging to invisible lines of force like iron filings round a magnet. Jamie, beside her, wore a nimbus of colour which pulsed and shimmered with every breath. Terror was forgotten as the company passed through the earth, following the song. Time had no meaning here, there was neither weight nor effort. Just a flowing. A strange, sleepy peace crept over them as they moved. They were aware that here was a life infinitely slower than their own but just as vital.
None could have said how long that journey lasted but eventually, the light changed, becoming harsh and cold and they felt the chill of stone beneath their feet. Merlin was bowing deeply before Ogmios in the moonlight.
“Thank you, old friend. I had almost forgotten that glory. It is good to be reminded.” Merlin turned to his companions. “Never forget that you have travelled through the veins of the Earth. You have been carried in Her stream of life and breathed Her very essence. I do not think any other mortals have been so blessed.”
Extract from Sword of Destiny