The noise was deafening. Even though the waterfall was still eight kiloque away, the thundering roar of the water cascading over a vertical drop a thousand times the height of a person echoed throughout the valley, mingling with the churning rapids below that were, even as they watched, carving a new channel in the very rock upon which they were riding. It was extremely difficult for the clerecy to talk to each other, and in the noise, BlitzGirl could hardly hear the foreign couple, nor they her, as they tried to communicate. But this turned out to be an advantage. Even though she couldn't hear the words, she could put together the meaning from their gestures, which were exaggerated to compensate for the din around them. She did the same, making lexical leaps with abandon, and the sounds started to filter in and make sense in context. She got a lot wrong, but that was quickly corrected, and pretty soon she was communicating with the couple as easily as the clerecy was communicating amongst themselves. That is to say, not very well, but it was something.
Even on coconuts, it took a full ong to cover the distance to the edge of the narrow slip of land they were clinging to. The mist coming off the falls was thick, giving the entire ride a surreal look in the morning sun, and slowing them down enough so they could appreciate its awefulsomeness. As they got closer, the sheer height of the waterfall began to overwhelm the clerecy, as if they were walking into the terrifying mouth of the Creator itself. It was a true test of their faith, not only in the Pope, but in all that they believed in. Each one felt humbled by the faith that the rest of the clerecy had in continuing on, and emboldened by that devotion, drew further on his or her own. None of them however realized that everyone else felt the same way, or they would have long ago turned back. The Pope was right, where they were going, they had to go together.
Soon they came to the end, and for better or for worse, could go no farther. The waterfall stretched in front of them from left to right as far as the eye could penetrate. It would go clear to the horizon if the mist would allow them to see that far. So great was the height from which it cascaded that the torrents of water seemed to be falling from the sky itself.
If ever there was a time to feel insignificant in the face of nature, this was it.
The Pope took the Holy Arrow of Armageddon out from under his cloak, and turned to face the clerecy. In a voice that would have echoed across the valley, he spoke, but nobody heard anything over the noise. Realizing the futility of this, he stopped and turned to the second scribe and said, "Take this, the Holy Arrow of Armageddon, and wish upon it your most fervent desires, and imbue it with all your faith and all your strength. We must do this, each and every one in the clerecy, ere we loose this power against this Most Holy Torrent, that it not destroy us, but instead nourish us in Glory."
The second scribe took the Holy Arrow of Armageddon from the Pope, bowed her head, made her wishes and prayers, and then passed it on to edfel, saying "Take this, the Holy Arrow of Armageddon, and wish for your most fervent desires, imbuing it with all your faith and strength. Each cleric must do this ere we loose this power against this Most Holy Torrent, that it nourish us in Glory and not destroy us."
Then edfel took the Holy Arrow of Armageddon, bowed his head, made his wishes and prayers, and passed it on to CasCat, saying "Take this Arrow, and fervently desire all your faith and strength. We must all do this ere we lose the battle against the Holy Torrent, and nourish it in Glory as it destroys us."
CasCat took the Holy Arrow of Armageddon with a look of puzzlement, bowed his head, thinking to himself that he wished he were strong and had enough faith. He then handed it over to the fourth cleric, saying, "Take this fervent Arrow with all your faith and strength as we lose the battle against the Holy Torrent as it destroys us in Glory."
It went on like this until the sixth scribe got the Arrow. Rather than pray, he walked up to the Pope and asked, "Are you sure you have the right prayer?" He told the Pope what the previous holder had told him, and the Pope thought for a moment. He then gave the Holy Arrow of Armageddon back to the Second Scribe, and asked if she could repeat the prayer verbatim.
"Of course I can. I'm a scribe.", she said, and she repeated it back flawlessly. The Pope then told her to carry the sacred Artifact to each and every member of the clerecy herself, so that the proper instructions would be carried out. This worked out much better, and she could feel the power of the Arrow increase each time. This took the better part of an ong, as the sea continued to rise. Soon the water had reached up over the edge of the ledge and their little prominence started getting smaller, but by that time all the prayers had been made, and the second scribe brought the Holy Arrow of Armageddon, now bristling with Power, back to the Pope. BlitzGirl followed her, trailed by with the foreign couple, who were talking agitatedly.
The Pope took the Holy Arrow from the second scribe with reverence, and felt its new Power. It would not be enough. He looked over the clerecy as the waters crept around them; how could it not be enough? This represented the entire faith - all the hopes and dreams and fears of everyone there. And everyone was there... except of course for the Blitzers, who were still on their Quest. He contemplated this. We are all vital to the life of the clerecy, including the blitzers, and this Arrow is now reflecting this very fact. But we must act now or there won't be anything for them to return to when their Quest is done. The Pope bowed his head, and once again made his prayer unto the Arrow, with all his most fervent desires, all his faith, and all his strength. Still, it was not going to be enough.
BlitzGirl interrupted his reverie. "I think I understand what our friends are on about!", she said. She pointed downstream. "Their family, their friends, all that they know and love, is there. They tried to rescue them but could not. They are asking for our help. Somehow." The two foreigners began to speak excitedly to the Pope, but the Pope could not hear or understand anything above the din of the waterfall and the rapids. He looked at them, then at BlitzGirl.
"Do you think you can tell them what the Prayer over the Arrow means?", asked the Pope. "Do you think they can do it?"
"I don't know", she replied, "but I'll try." At that moment there was a huge noise off in the mist, as if a mountain had broken off and fallen into the sea. Everybody heard it, and to say they were not frightened would put the Redwood Forest on Pinocchio's nose.
"There is do, and do not. There is no try", said the Pope, as the wave of mist and spray from whatever had collapsed passed over the shrinking island.
BlitzGirl took the Arrow, and in her halting version of whatever it is that she thought they were speaking, tried to explain. She gestured towards whence they came, saying "Smopu Glie, kavinchi... uh... manhieb? manhiobu?...", and she raised her hands up. Then she held the Arrow, pointed to her head, and then to theirs, and looked intently at the Arrow. "Ambenni... bu", she said, and held the Arrow tightly and closed her eyes. "Smopu abmenni... uh... ambenni! Kiepu glie."
They weren't getting it.
She gestured to the whole clerecy and said to the couple, "Smopu manhiobu... kai kiepu manhi. Manhiu?... manahi?..." Suddenly the woman's eyes grew wide with what BlitzGirl hoped was understanding, but in any case she took the Arrow and held it tightly, saying "Ini kai manho ka vi miuto!" and the man put his hands around the Arrow. Both bowed their heads intensely.
They kept holding the Arrow, and did not move, even as the waters reached them. BlitzGirl wanted to hurry them up, but she knew better. She'd have to wait for it. While this was happening, the First Cleric strode up to the Pope. "Don't you think you ought to consult the Book of Armaments?"
The Pope responded, "I know the Book of Armaments inside and out. I could recite it to you if there were time, but there isn't."
"We have been carrying the Book of Armaments on this entire quest, you have only one Holy Arrow of Armageddon, don't screw it up.", said the First Cleric. He had a point. If only there were time. "The foreigners have our Sacred Artifact, what else are you going to do?", he asked.
The Pope realized that the best thing to do was to appease the First Cleric. "Would you like to make the call?", he asked. The First Cleric replied with a big smile.
"Bring out the Book of Armaments!", he shouted, but nobody heard him. However, celestial music started playing from somewhere, and it sounded Glorious.
Further down the line, the fifth cleric heard it. "Isn't that the music for the Book of Armaments?", he asked a nearby herald. If anybody were to know which tune goes with which Holy Action, it would be the herald.
"Yes, by Randall, it is!" There is a commotion, as others take note of the music, and the sixth scribe, who was carrying this particular book, came forward, asking if the Pope had called for the Book. Indeed, he had. He gestured to the First Cleric, who opened the Book and began to read. "First gather ye all the clerecy, the timewaiters, the scribes, the heralds, the clerics, yea even the Pope shall ye gather together. All must say the Prayer of Armageddon upon the Arrow, and it goes thus: 'Take this, the Holy Arrow of Armageddon, and wish upon it your most fervent desires, and imbue it with all your faith and all your strength. We must do this, each and every one in the clerecy, ere we loose this power against fill in whatever threatens you, that it not destroy us, but instead nourish us in Glory.'"
Mouthing the words as the First Cleric is reading them, the Pope grew impatient. "Yes, we have done all this", he said. "Skip on a bit."
The foreign couple finished whatever it was they were doing with the Holy Arrow of Armageddon and returned it to BlitzGirl, who brought it back to the Pope. It had gained much in power; the Pope could feel it. This would be enough.
The First Cleric continued reading, as the Glorious Celestial Music continued. "Draw tight your bow, and loose the Holy Arrow of Armageddon upon the very root of thy Great Calamity, and if I feel like doing so, I will snuff it."
"Bow.... bow... did anybody think to bring a bow?", asked the Pope. Nobody answered directly, but the commotion and consternation gave credence to the idea that there was, in fact, no bow to be had. "Molpy Chirping Mustard on a Kaiser Roll!", exclaimed the Pope. The noise from the rapids and the waterfall ensured that nobody heard him, but it was clear that an alternate plan would be a good idea to consider. Unfortunately, there were no alternate plans.
"How about a boa?", asked BlitzGirl, as she removed the pink boa that had been her trademark from the halcyon days of the Buffydashery. The ends of her boa were quickly fastened to the ends of the pole that held the banner she carried with her when she led the caravan, and with the rushing water already almost up to their knees, four of the clerecy struggled for footing as they held the pole horizontally. The Pope himself fastened the tail of the arrow to the boa, and rested the shaft on the pole, pointing directly towards the waterfall. He bowed his head and pulled back with all his might, saying, "In nomine unium verium auctor, et per auctorii heretecii, in observatium uniae veriae comiciae, in servitum unium verium needlepullythingium, et sub occulae unium verium congretatii, nus oreamus que des flechia cumo raptorum volati, et des perilae nus salvadorae."
As the celestial music reached its climax, and with all the clerecy and the foreign couple watching intently, the Pope loosed the Holy Arrow of Armageddon at the very heart of the raging cascade of water they had come to face.
Legend has it that all the sounds around them stopped as the Holy Artifact became airborne, and the mist parted to let it through in a graceful arc that carried it up, and up, and nearly out of sight save for the pink boa trailing from the tail. It seems that it had preferred the company of the Holy Arrow of Armageddon itself to the makeshift bow that launched it. The Arrow continued up as if propelled by a Holy Force, but after a while slowed its ascent, reaching its peak when it was barely visible, and then the Arrow, trailing BlitzGirl's boa, began to gently curve back down to earth. With no sound, not even the sound of breathing, the clerecy watched, and watched, until the arrow was too far away and had faded from view. Their eyes followed where the Arrow would be if they could see it falling towards its target, even though they could not in fact see anything as small as an arrow that far away. They had to take it on faith. Lower and lower in their field of view they followed the phantom Arrow in their minds eyes.
It wouldn't take much longer for it to reach its mark, but still, they would have to wait for it.