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The Maelstrom and the Mermaid (Michaela Francis)

The Maelstrom and the Mermaid by Michaela Francis

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The storm falls on Mathomdale. In the aftermath of the terrible attacks on Jennifer and Julie, the valley, still choked with crowds of festival goers, is engulfed in a terrible hurricane and now the lives of thousands are in danger. With folk displaced all over the valley by destructive winds and catastrophic flooding, the valley must pull all its people and resources together in the face of the common peril. The elegant chambers of Mathom hall are turned into a refugee centre and its slaves must step forward in their duty to become heroes of the hour.

Even as Mathomdale hunkers down under the hurricane, another storm erupts on the distant blue water of the Indian Ocean and this one the creation of people themselves.

This, the sixteenth chapter in Michaela Francis’ epic saga, is a breath taking ride of danger, the heroism of people caught in extraordinary circumstance and the strength of humanity in the face of shared adversity. As the Order of the Amethyst series draws to a climax, the reader is in for a whirlwind of excitement and adventure.

Product type: EBook    Published by: Fiction4All    Published: 3 / 2019

No. words: 86000

Style: Male Dom - M/F, Fem Dom - F/F

Available Formats: MobiPocket (MOBI)  EPUB  PDF  MS Reader  This book has a format which can be downloaded to Kindle

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Narrator's Foreword

The storm that struck Mathomdale on the last day of the festival in that pivotal year has long since acquired a symbolic significance and mythological status far in excess of its actual physical impact. Indeed the destruction wrought by the storm in the valley was only a sideshow to the greater effects of the hurricane that struck Northern Britain and Mathomdale’s own suffering was afforded no particularly great importance in a National tragedy which saw the loss of dozens of lives and billions of pounds worth of damage nationwide. Only the fact that Mathomdale was caught by the storm in the middle of a large festival attracted any interest and then mainly to draw attention to the efforts of the valley’s own emergency services. It was noticed, almost in passing, that Mathomdale had not called for help from the national services and neither did it draw upon any disaster relief fund; preferring instead to deal with the emergency as an internal matter.
To a few outside observers, this curious and largely unnoticed chapter in the greater story of the storm was singular and hinted at the extraordinary nature of this obscure enclave. How, they wondered, was it possible that the enigmatic Duchess of Mathom could command such resources as to render her personal fief almost independent of the rest of the nation in the midst of crisis? Of course, those in positions of authority and its attendant knowledge had long been aware of the economic clout and multi-national influence of the Amethyst corporation which had its headquarters in Mathomdale yet the true power emanating from the valley was largely unknown to the general public. The storm briefly shone a spotlight on that power as a handful of journalists and commentators noted that the valley could not only stage a large and oddly private festival but also cope with a localised disaster without resort to anybody’s assets but its own. Those who dug deeper would discover that the valley not only funded its own private emergency services but also its own police force and, even more remarkably, what amounted to its own private military. It was a slightly worrying insight into a most strange corner of the nation and one which raised troubling questions of national sovereignty.
In spite of these concerns, the valley’s own unique experience during the hurricane barely registered on the public at large simply because its own tragedy was subsumed beneath the greater one which engulfed the nation. The attention of people was elsewhere and if the storm blew open a crack in the concealing door of Mathomdale temporarily then few bothered to peek inside before that door was firmly shut once more. The exposure might have been potentially dangerous had attention persisted on it but events elsewhere soon drew public attention, always an ephemeral thing, away and the valley receded once more into obfuscating obscurity.
While the events in Mathomdale did not impinge themselves on the outside world, however, they nevertheless assumed enormous significance to those most affected by them… the Line of the Goddess; the sub-culture to whom Mathomdale represented a spiritual and cultural importance. The storm was ever after known as “The Storm of the Goddess” and it seemed, in some strangely mystical way, the herald of a new age dawning in the history of the Line. Some have even fancifully thought it the birthing pains of the new dynasty or the cauldron into which the ingredients of the new dawn would be tossed and brewed into the rejuvenating elixir of the future. People have always required their symbols and their myths. The new dynasty of the House of Mathom had, as this narrative has tried to show, been in formation for some time but it was inevitable that people would come to view the storm as the watershed; the cataclysmic event which welded all the elements together into something new and wonderful.
Yet if the storm in Mathomdale was but one part of a greater storm in Britain, it was also a part of a greater storm amidst the people of the Goddess too. The storm struck, after all, during a global conflict and, even as Mathomdale endured the fury of the hurricane the greater storm was reaching a crescendo elsewhere. Nobody yet knew just what shape the world would fall into in the aftermath of this larger maelstrom and only a few, as yet, knew what challenges this newly formed would would face

Chapter One

In the valley they would call it the “Storm of the Goddess”; the great hurricane that would lash the gentle vale with its fury like some retribution of an enraged deity for her subjects’ foibles. In truth it would ever after seem to have been some symbolic act of nature that would whip the entanglements of the valley of the Line into chaos and, by doing so, would whip them into order. Many a fanciful historian has seen the great storm of that summer as a watershed event that marked the transition between an old decaying order and a new and vibrant one as if the very wind had picked up the pieces of the old, whirled them into a maelstrom of a mixing pot and then abated to let them settle into a strange and dynamic new pattern. Of course such a viewpoint is hopelessly romantic for the winds of change had been blowing gustily throughout the valley all summer and those gusts would not diminish for the parting of the storm that unleashed its spite on the last day of the summer festival. But then people need to have these reference points to which to point and even the most coldly analytical historian would have to confess that the symbolic significance of the storm in the collective memory of the valley would long outlive the actual physical effects it imposed.
It was certainly a memorable storm. Even within the context of the changing climate of twenty first century Britain, with its new standards of extreme weather, it would stand out as a very severe example of untamed nature. The storm’s effects however were exaggerated and exacerbated by its timing. Had the storm fallen during a more quiescent period of the valley’s calendar it would never have created the disruption it did nor would it have lived so long in memory. That it happened to strike at the very time that the valley was still full of festival goers, whose numbers were further augmented by refugees, lent the storm its peculiarly vivid place in the valley’s history. That it also occurred at the moment that the fighting in the war came to a crescendo around the world would seem to place upon it some significance beyond its localised effect. Finally, that it came at the climax of a day already stained in horror and tragedy would grant it a status beyond its stature in the annals of Mathom Hall.
Fourteen was the official death toll in the valley from the great storm of that summer but that figure has been debated ever since because three of the official dead disappeared in the storm and were never seen again. It was a common habit of those people born of the Line with increasingly embarrassing official birth dates to vanish without trace at this time and the disappearance of those people whose bodies were never found was viewed with a good degree of scepticism. In addition to the sad toll of the dead there were scores of injuries, some major, and many breathtakingly narrow escapes. It would, on the face of it, therefore, appear to have been a major disaster. However this is misleading. Naturally the deaths that did occur were great personal tragedies and were long lamented and grieved in the valley. In spite of this there is universal agreement that it could have been much, much worse. It has been estimated that on the Monday morning when the first warnings were issued there were still at least fifty thousand visitors in the valley in addition to the local population and most of these were encamped or housed in some of the most vulnerable and dangerous areas in the path of the storm. That the death toll did not reach into the hundreds or even the thousands was due largely to the energy and inspired efforts of Daniel Foreman-Mathom.
Daniel would prove to be the true hero of the Storm of the Goddess. Operating from a makeshift headquarters in the Mathom village Hall or his own mobile command spot in a military vehicle he seemed to be everywhere that night, marshalling his resources and battling to bring people to safety. By the time the storm struck in full fury, he had several hundred men from the military under the nominal command of his improvised headquarters team and liaising with the regular emergency services. Without this body the police, fire and ambulance services would have been quickly overwhelmed. Daniel had requisitioned nearly every vehicle he could lay his hands on. Every truck, coach, tractor or even private car that Daniel could find was pressed into service to evacuate people to higher ground from the flood zones along the valley floor. The entire fleet of buses from the Mathomdale Bus Company found itself attached to the relief effort and there were few people in possession of a pick-up truck or tractor that did not find themselves called upon to lend assistance. Daniel brilliantly mobilised the entire population of the valley into the collective effort and it would stand as a shining example of community spirit and endeavour in the face of tremendous adversity. Mr Hawthorne would not have the time to rush to the Hall once informed of the terrible assault on his daughter. Instead he would find himself driving one of his own trucks ferrying bewildered and shocked festival goers to safety. Julie was at least safe; thousands of other people were yet in terrible danger.
As always in such moments of crisis, the greatest enemy of the relief effort was not the relatively predictable dangers of the storm itself but the tenacious perversity of human stupidity. Although warnings were made early to clear the festival sites lying along the flood zones there were still thousands of people that simply ignored them until the situation became critical. Even then they ignored the continuous stream of instructions being issued from the emergency headquarters. Daniel’s team was trying to shepherd the endangered people into relatively safe gathering points where they could be evacuated with relative ease. Had everyone obeyed the commands to muster at these evacuation points then the whole effort would have been ridiculously easy by comparison. But of course people don’t work like that. Thousands tried to simply leave under their own steam and the net result was that the narrow roads along the valley floor quickly became hopelessly jammed with vehicles effectively blocking them for the use of more orderly evacuation. The resultant chaos became a logistical nightmare with military and other rescue vehicles simply unable to move and with thousands of people stuck along low lying roads that were themselves lying in potential flood zones. Compounding this was the fact that there were additional hundreds of people wandering about, apparently aimlessly, without a clue as to what they were supposed to be doing or where they were going. Rounding up all these stragglers and directing them to safety was another continuing headache and casualties were high among these randomly wandering people.
Daniel cleared the road jams by the most ruthless of measures. He barred the roads from anything other than essential emergency vehicles and had the military order people out of their cars and caravans and, where necessary, simply had the obstructing vehicles bulldozed off the road. There would be numerous claims for damages posted as a result of these actions but it is gratifying to note that most of these claims were treated with less than sympathy. The policy worked however and some degree of sanity returned to the road network around Mathom. At last people could be shepherded to safer ground with efficiency and speed and, although it would ultimately prove impossible to clear the valley of these evacuees, at least they were removed from immediate danger. Anybody who doubted the necessity for these measures would have only needed to see the churning brown angry waters full of the flotsam of the wrecked festival sites that swamped across the low lying areas once occupied by thousands of people when the levees and flood defences of the river were breached later that night. It would be a mark of the success of Daniel’s urgency, and the desperate measures he resorted to, that, of the fourteen officially numbered dead of the storm, only five were directly confirmed to have drowned in the floods. It could have been much, much worse.
Simply moving people off the flood zones was, however, only the beginning of Daniel’s worries. In the teeth of the storm it would have been sheer insanity to simply move these people to higher ground and then leave them to fend for themselves. They had to be sheltered and protected from the elements. Those that still had the use of their own vehicles could be herded out of the valley along alternative routes but with the congestion on the roads it would prove nearly impossible to evacuate more than a tithe of them. In any case the main road along the valley floor was liable to be an early casualty of the flooding and of being cut initially between Mathom and Cropton in a dangerous area of potential flooding where it would be madness to contemplate hundreds of stranded motorists. Then there were the thousands of people that had arrived by coach or public transport. Needless to say, their means of escaping from the valley evaporated with the requisitioning of the available transport for emergency purposes and there were simply not enough resources available to do more than move them to areas of greater security within the valley whether in the requisitioned vehicles or on foot. Then again there were the hundreds of war refugees housed in the valley and many of these were in temporary accommodation, itself under threat from flooding. It was, of course, unthinkable not to stretch every effort on behalf of these most unfortunate of all the valley’s inhabitants. The thought that these wretched people could flee from terrible danger in their own lands only to perish in the supposed sanctuary of Mathomdale was quite simply unbearable. They had to be moved and sheltered also.
The shelter problem would prove to be an enormous and intractable headache for Daniel and the emergency services. Daniel had already requisitioned every large public or private building he could find away from the flood zones but even these, filled to capacity, could not house all the people urgently requiring shelter from the storm. In one respect Daniel’s plans had gone awry for it had proved impracticable, in the event, to relocate more than a couple of the large marquees erected for the festival in safer more sheltered sites in the time remaining. The task was simply too time consuming and both difficult and dangerous in the mounting gales. This miscalculation left innumerable people without shelter.
Once again the people of Mathomdale came to the rescue. Mathomdale had always been a somewhat enclosed community and it might be thought that the inhabitants would be wary of opening their houses to strangers. This is misleading, however, for, in some ways, the festival goers were not strangers at all in the valley. The festival after all was a gathering of the Line and even those people of Mathomdale not themselves born to the Line nevertheless had close affinities to it and the people in need of shelter were, in some deep fashion, their own kindred; their brothers and sisters. The festival was a gathering of the clans of the Goddess and the festival goers mostly had their affinities and roots entrenched within the valley. In a fundamental way, they were all one family under the Goddess and good families help each other. With complete commitment and generosity, the people of Mathomdale opened their homes to those requiring shelter and, in the dark hours of the storm, there was scarcely a house lying in a safe area that did not have its share of people bunked down in spare bedrooms, living rooms or even kitchens and bathrooms.
This spirit of the storm would come to be one of the most gratifying and heart-warming aspects of the whole dreadful affair. It was the kind of human compassion and togetherness so often seen when people are thrown together in the face of collective danger. It would have been instantly recognisable to those communities that had faced Hitler’s bombs together in the Blitz. Perhaps it takes such terrible things to remind humanity that all its petty squabbles and rivalries count for nothing in the end and that people survive and prosper best when obliged to help each other. The storm had many lessons to teach Mathomdale but perhaps this sense of oneness and of a greater community of peoples was the most lasting. In any event it is pleasant to record that there were virtually no cases anywhere where the hospitality of those who invited people into their homes was abused. Indeed there would be many a lasting friendship forged between people who shared the shelter and provisions of a Mathomdale household in those dark hours. There would frequently be more than just friendship too for the storm united people in even deeper ways and the year that followed would become famous for its marriages and the co-joining of families into larger units that had discovered each other in the hours that the storm had thrown them together in mutual cooperation. There would even be a wry joke in Mathomdale to refer to such unions as “marriages made in heaven”, the heavens having opened up in fury over the valley.
Up until literally the very minute that the storm unleashed itself on the valley, such communal singularity was not universal, however. There was indeed a great deal of grumbling over the heavy handed measures being taken by the emergency services. There was talk of “over reaction” among those being bullied away from danger. This was England for heaven’s sake. You expected a bit of bad weather from time to time. A bit of rain and wind never hurt anybody. All such doubts disappeared the moment the storm front moved in force into the upper valley.
All those who saw it (and most people did) no longer had any doubt that something of an extraordinary nature was about to strike the valley. The storm had been announcing its imminent arrival with heralds of high winds and heavy showers for most of the afternoon but its final entrance on the scene was as spectacular as it was terrifying. The great black wall that dramatically appeared over the upper valley in the evening has been described with awe by innumerable eye witnesses. Indeed, for a minute or two, the high winds seemed to drop in the approach of the main front and many people recorded an almost eerie lull; a strange moment of calm before the storm struck in earnest. It was, some people would say theatrically, as if all the strong winds and heavy showers were but lesser minions of the great storm itself and that they had paused in their labours to bow before their great master as it made its appearance. In that curious lull people rushed from their houses or paused in their doings to turn their gaze upon the monstrosity bearing down on them. The massive angry looking front blotted out the last of the light from the west and poised ominously over the valley and the inhabitants stared at it in awe and horror like animals hypnotized by the stalking approach of some dreadful predator. Even the emergency services came to a momentary halt as the personnel stopped to regard the appalling spectacle.
Daniel was in a military command vehicle supervising the final clearing of the riverside strays at that moment. At his side was William Richards of the Mathomdale Water authority, a man who would make his own reputation in the crisis. Sergeant Oldfield, who was becoming Daniel’s most trusted subordinate, was outside but he rushed to the vehicle to poke his head in the door. “Bloody ‘ell lads! Yer just gotta see this.” Daniel dashed outside with William at his side and they followed Sergeant Oldfield’s gaze and stood transfixed by the spectacle in the western sky.
“Oh shit!” breathed Daniel.
“I’ve not seen owt like it since the Bahamas in ’96.” remarked Sergeant Oldfield in awe. “’Urricane Lilli that were. I wonder if this bitch ‘as got a name.”
The storm’s approach was rapid. Even as they watched it seemed to roil along the valley towards them with each successive fell top being blotted out in turn by its approach. “Somebody, Daniel didn’t know who, muttered, “Here it comes!”
And come it did. Although by the strict definitions of the term some would argue that it was not a hurricane it nevertheless held hurricane force winds. There were recorded gusts of well over 100 miles per hour in some of the more exposed areas and even in the more sheltered regions the gales stooped down to hit the valley in a solid wall of blasted air. In many respects, the first hour of the storm, as darkness fell in Mathomdale, was the most dangerous for it was during that time that the most people were still abroad and not under shelter. Adding to the danger was the debris whipped up by the storm and thrown like shrapnel about the streets and festival grounds of Mathom. Sadly the festival had left its own residue of discarded material; only partially dismantled stands, abandoned stalls, boarding, temporary erected shelters and beer gardens, canvas awnings, collapsible chairs, temporary fencing and all the other structure of the festival. It had taken weeks to put the infrastructure of the festival in place. In the short warning time allotted, it had proven impossible to clear it all away. All this material added to the broken boughs of trees and formed a deadly hail of material flying through the air, smashing windows, damaging property, destroying abandoned cars and swatting down anybody foolish enough not to have sought immediate shelter. It was this first fury of the wind that caused statistically the highest rates of injury during the storm and soon the temporary medical centres were inundated with casualties.
The material damage caused by the high winds of the storm was extensive and grievous. Many buildings suffered heavily as the wind tore off their roofing tiles but, by and large, the mostly solid stone construction of most residential buildings in Mathomdale precluded any serious structural damage. This did not extend to more flimsy constructions, however. It was a bad time to possess wooden winter gardens, outdoor sheds and greenhouses for example for these were very often flattened. In economic terms the hardest hit area in this regard was Cropton for it was around that village that the large nurseries of extensive greenhouses that had earned the village the title of the flower garden of Mathomdale were located. Many of these large greenhouses, as well as fields of flowers, were devastated in the storm and there were a number of casualties associated with them. The economic hardship on the flori-culturalists was somewhat ameliorated, however, by the fact that they had already enjoyed a bumper festival season for the sale of flowers. Indeed the festival that year had been a record one in respect to the sale of flowers. Well over one and a half million blooms had adorned the summer festival, complements of the Cropton flower gardens, and the income generated by that amount of sales was a comfort in the aftermath of the prodigious damage of the storm.
Another institution of the valley whose physical losses were more than offset by its recent healthy sales figure was the Mathomdale brewery which had some bad damage to a modern storage warehouse adjoining the brewery. The solid old main building of the brewery, unusual in Mathomdale for being constructed out of red brick, was largely undamaged but the most painful loss was the collapse of a tall, much loved, graceful old brick chimney that had graced the skyline of the village for over 120 years. This landmark was so mourned by the village in the aftermath of the storm that the brewery, at its own expense, would eventually painstakingly reconstruct it even though there was not the slightest economic sense in doing so.
Another landmark in the village escaped the ravages of the storm most handily although many people would wonder why. The village vicar had been bemoaning the state of the parish church roof for so long that it was easy to believe that the whole thing was on the verge of imminent collapse. In fact the old church proved far more robust than the vicar’s negative campaigning on its behalf would have led anyone to have assumed. There was some damage to the roof it is true and the rumours in the village that the vicar himself, armed with a crowbar, had largely been responsible for the damage in order to obtain restoration money from the storm relief funds are almost certainly spurious. There was also some damage to the venerable stained glass of the church but the magnificent east window came through the storm with barely a scratch. Even more remarkably, the tall spire, which made such an elegant feature on the skyline of Mathom, took everything the storm could throw at it so stoically that the vicar would long claim it as evidence of the benedictory protection of God in the pagan valley of the Goddess. In fact the only blot on this claim came as a result of the spire shedding its weathercock in one particularly energetic gust. This worthy artefact came to rest in the back garden of Joseph Rowland and Joseph took a fancy to it, mounting it with pleasure on his newly reconstructed garden shed. The long standing and bitter dispute over the possession of this item of church property between Joseph and the vicar would amuse the village for several years and would become contentious enough to warrant ringing denunciations from the pulpit.
If most of the permanent structures of the valley weathered the effects of the wind more or less intact the same could not be said of the temporary structures within the valley. Four large marquees erected for the festival were damaged beyond repair and several spectator stands were blown over. There were still a large number of caravans in the valley and the destruction among these both from the wind and later flooding was enormous. Thankfully the vast majority of these caravans were unoccupied. There had been time to move the occupants of them but the physical removal of the caravans themselves in time was quite impossible. The caravan parks were largely along the river and those caravans that were not upturned and shattered by the wind would be swept away once the river broke its banks and inundated the flood zones. The devastation was almost total. Three people died foolishly trying to rescue their caravan.
Among the most grievous of material losses in the valley was the destruction caused to the trees. Mathomdale adored its trees and with good reason for few places in Northern England could boast such a magnificent collection of venerable and spectacular trees as the valley of the Mathom. Many a beloved and venerated old tree was lost in those wild hours to the lament of the valley’s inhabitants. A particularly agonising loss was the huge old oak tree on Cropton green known as the Lady Mary oak for it was reputed in legend to have been planted by the matriarch of that name in the fourteenth century in thankfulness for the sparing of Mathomdale from the ravages of the Black Death. That the tree was old, senile, partially rotten and surely nearing the end of its days in any case was immaterial. It had a symbolic significance within the valley that stretched back through even the living memory of even most of the oldest inhabitants. In the days following the storm there would be a clamour for its replacement and the High Lady Jennifer, the Mistress of Mathom Hall, would find herself obliged to ceremoniously plant a vigorous new sapling on the site to evoke the protection of the valley from disease for the second time in her career.
It was not the only much beloved tree to be lost. The beech grove known as the fairy’s picnic ground was devastated in the storm for instance and throughout the valley dozens of locally renowned trees were lost as well as many trees of less aesthetic or cultural value. The biggest commercial loss was however of those trees of negligible value in terms of their beauty or place in the valley’s folklore. The plantations of Sitka spruces planted for timber at the top end of the valley were ravaged by the storm with the loss of hundreds of trees. These commercial mono-cultured forests suffered far more in the storm than the more natural mixed forests elsewhere in the valley and it must be said that, apart from those people with a purely commercial interest in them, the loss of these forests was hardly mourned at all for they were ugly, uniformly regimented stands of trees; gloomy and cheerless that were mostly improved aesthetically by having swathes of them cleared to allow the sunlight in and the incursion of natural growth along the clearings. Indeed their loss was a blessing in disguise for the valley for a far more ecologically sensible system of forestry management would result with their demise.
The most revered trees of all and most of the valley’s most spectacular trees lay within the parklands of Mathom Hall and here was the one great blessing in this regard during the storm. The parklands, lying in the sheltered folds of the hills to the North of the valley, escaped the worst of the storm and very few of its most valuable trees were seriously damaged. There was of course some damage around the Hall and its parklands but in general the Great Hall and its gardens weathered the storm with the same obduracy with which it had weathered all the vicissitudes of history that had gone before. When the people of Mathomdale came to count the cost in the aftermath of the storm it would be tempered with satisfaction that the Hall, the heart of Mathomdale, had so obstinately defied the storm with no more sign of disturbance than a fine lady’s irritation at having a lock of her carefully coiffed hair displaced by an annoying little breeze. The Hall stood steadfast; a rock of adamant; the foundation of the valley and barely flinched at all.
But it wasn’t only the wind that so ravaged Mathomdale that grim night. In fact it wasn’t ultimately the wind that caused the most damage. Furious though the wind was, it had expended a good deal of its energy already on the west coast of England where its effects were even more devastating than in Mathomdale. It was the rain that really hit the hardest. It would be misleading to say that the rain fell in sheets for anybody exposed to it would have told you that it didn’t seem to fall at all but rather lashed horizontally in the gale. A person stood outside was drenched to the skin in seconds. Umbrellas were useless. Even the hardiest of waterproof clothing seemed unable to keep that soaking downpour at bay for it insinuated itself into every crevice to pour inside your protective clothes in a misery of cold wetness. Every smallest depression in the ground quickly became a puddle and every tiniest rut a rivulet and these would join in seconds with others to become ponds and streams and then lakes and rivers until the valley itself seemed awash with water. Whole village streets became torrents, entire fields disappeared under blankets of water and Wellington boots became simple benchmarks of depth as you tried to struggle across the street hoping that the level would not lap over your boots to soak your feet. The water got everywhere. It poured through the roofs of houses that lost their tiles to the storm or it crept inexorably into the basements and ground floors forcing the occupants upstairs before its unstoppable advance. As all the huge quantity of water drained from the hills by way of thousands of streams and rivulets the River Mathom turned from its habitual clear running sparkling stream to a dirty brown turmoil of churning debris filled water and climbed higher up its banks. By the minute the river rose higher and more furious in its torment and still the rain came down. Soon the river edged towards its restricting boundaries and threatened to breach its banks completely. Courageous people braved the storm to observe the ever swelling waters of the river with mounting anxiety. The call for evacuation had long been urgent; now it became critical. The last remnants of the people still in danger were dashing as best they could through the storm to shelter and they were running for their lives. And still the rain came down. It seemed incredible, to anybody who witnessed it, that any rainfall could remain so heavy for so long. Surely, it seemed, the sky could not hold so much water. Yet the supply seemed endless and the wind gusted to even more manic levels and drove even greater sheaths of water down on the valley until everywhere seemed like some demonic cauldron of wind and water. And then, just then, when it seemed that things could not possibly get any worse, the lights went out.

Author Information

Michaela is a UK author based in Yorkshire. Born in the city of York, Michaela spent many years travelling throughout Europe during a career as an entertainer before returning to the UK to study for a Masters degree in history. The author of several novels and many short stories, as well as several works of non-fiction, Michaela's style mixes romance, fantasy and eroticism in a rich blend of well researched authenticity and descriptive imagination. Widely travelled, multi-lingual and multi-cultural, Michaela draws upon her own experiences and adventures to enhance the diversity of her writing while adhering to Tolkein's mantra "the inner consistency of reality" to bring realism and credibility to the imaginary worlds she creates.


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