Eighth Circle (Chapter 1, page 1 of 3)

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Chapter 1

Bolts of lightning streaked through the sky. Liala went to the laboratory window and looked out to sea. The island was now bathed in a ghostly yellow light. Before it had been crimson. That was when the dolphins arrived. They swam into the sanctuary pool at the height of the storm and rang the bell.

They usually gave a few pulls on the rope to let them know they were back. This time they kept pulling. Her brother, Crispin, had gone down to see why they were so insistent. Perhaps they had an important message. There was only one way to find out and that was to talk to them.

Dolphins were attuned to forces humans could only imagine. They could detect the earth's magnetic field and navigate along it. They saw with their eyes when it was light and with their ears when it was dark. Their natural skills made humans seem puny in comparison.

But nothing compared with their supernatural skills. Dolphins could detect the sacred pathways between the realms. They kept watch on the gateways and knew when someone or something was travelling along them. Legend said they had saved the world with their warnings.

Sometimes they sensed evil. This time they sensed nothing but good. All the signs were there. The Lord of Light was coming from the Realm Beyond the Ninth Circle. Everything was happening as the prophecies foretold. All the clues were there. The violent storm and the strange lights on the island were exactly as described.

Crispin could communicate with the dolphins. He had built a special tablet. Liala had a rough idea how it worked. Dolphins could transmit images to one another. When it was dark they saw by making clicking noises and listening to the echoes. They sent images by doing it in reverse. Crispin had found a way to make the images appear on his tablet.

Liala figured that her brother must be very clever. At eighteen, he was two years younger. They were brother and sister but very different. He was slightly built and good at technical things like computers and marine science. She was athletic and more at home in the sea than behind a laboratory bench.

She watched as he left the pool and ran towards her.

'They are already here.'

He shouted excitedly as he ran up the stairs.

'You mean the Lord of Light and his faithful servant?'

'Yes. I've got them on my tablet.'

Crispin ran into the laboratory and put the tablet on a workbench. Liala peered over his shoulder as he brought up the images. Two men were crouched beside a rock sheltering from the storm. They were dressed in old-fashioned clothes and looked more like ancient warriors than sophisticated beings from a higher realm.

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