Coffee Break Read – The Golem

Raising a hand for the others to wait, the woman and her bearded companion kneed their horses gently forwards into the moonlight. The woman spoke, her voice light and contemptuous. ‘If it isn’t my old friend the Archdruid. One wonders what business is so fraught with peril that the chosen of the goddess needs the protection of a pair of Paladin knights.’
The bony old man didn’t choose to reply, but the Paladins bowed.
The younger one put up his visor and replied, his voice a pale copy of the ironic tones of the dark-haired woman. ‘One might also wonder what brings a lady warrior with an armed escort to the sacred grove on this of all nights. It is my hope that it means no evil to the Archdruid, as we have a contract to protect him.’
His companion put up his own visor and turned to look at the lady, his eyes burning red in the bloodless face of a golem. He bowed again, then turned to his companion. ‘Don’t be any stupider than you can help, my friend. This is not a lady to be spoken to with disrespect.’
‘Silence golem. Who is in charge of this detail?’
‘That depends on your perspective. According to your uncle, you are. But according to the Council, who rather outrank one knight, even if he is treasurer, I am. This was thought to be an easy job, and I’m supposed to make sure you do it properly, and return home safe.’

While he had been speaking the golem moved his horse closer to the Archdruid, and, moving with the superhuman speed of his kind, he reached over and bashed the bony old man over the head with one mailed fist. The Archdruid slumped over his horse’s neck, quite unconscious.

‘What are you doing?’ his companion almost screamed.
‘Saving the old fool’s life. He was building a forbidden spell and if I hadn’t stopped him, the elf over there in the darkness would have shot him dead.’
‘What elf? What spell? Who are these people?’
The golem looked at his companion with barely concealed irritation in his scarlet eyes. ‘What do you know of the Chaos Lords?’
The young knight closed his eyes, concentrated hard, then repeated as if learned by rote: ‘That they are set over the worlds in order to ensure that the fates of humankind pass according to certain rules, and that they come among us when dark forces seek to interfere with the course of history.’ He opened his eyes and looked at his companion in puzzlement. ‘But what does that have to do with meeting a woman in the sacred grove at Samhain?’
The golem groaned. ‘Use your eyes, fool. The woman you have just insulted is the High Lady of Chaos herself. She could obliterate you with a word. Beside her is her consort. In the shadows are their sons, called in this world Strength and Fortitude. Alongside them is an Elf Lord, with an arrow aimed at your stupid heart. And if you think your armour will protect you, then you are a bigger fool than even I thought. Your family may have paid for all sorts of charms of protection for your armour, but nothing is proof against an elf arrow.’
The young knight swallowed audibly, and when he spoke his voice had risen a couple of octaves, making him sound even younger. ‘Oh. I didn’t know that. What are we supposed to do now?’
The golem groaned again. Then it raised its sword high into the sky and muttered a few words. At once an irritable voice could be heard echoing around the clearing ‘Yes. What? This had better be urgent. It’s supper time.’
‘Golem D10/1 reporting. Have just encountered Chaos Lords in Sacred Grove. Orders?’
‘Cooperate with Chaos Lords, of course. Who is with you?’
‘Newly knighted Sir Amyas.’
‘Just the two of you?’
‘Yes my lord.’
‘Ah yes, I remember now. Well do your best D10/1, and try to keep the treasurer’s nephew alive if you possibly can.’ The voice disappeared as abruptly as it had started.

Jane Jago

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