- Vol. 05
- Chapter 04
The ten acolytes trudged ahead of him, their red robes fluttering. After they rounded the next bend only one hill remained to descend then the final climb to the monastery. It was visible from that point. They followed a worn path now covered with a fresh layer of snow. Already the leaders were out of sight and their laughter reached him. In the watchtower, the bell would peel to announce their approach and the large wooden doors would draw inwards to allow entry. Ravi listened for the first ring but instead a scream echoed.
“Monsieur, the snow collapsed. Talan has fallen. Come quickly.”
He lifted his skirts and with his heart pounding, Ravi picked up speed and rounded the bend. A group of boys were peering over the edge.
“Stay back,” Ravi said.
As they moved out of his way, he slowed and took small steps to the edge. His legs shook as he anticipated another slow slide and tumbling over the hill. But he lay flat and inched to the rim until he saw Talan, gripping a ledge with one hand and a lone shrub with the other. He had to move fast if he was to save the boy. He unfastened his cloak.
“Boys, grab my legs.”
As soon as he felt their hands, he leaned further and slung the cloak over the side gripping one corner. He ignored the cold biting his shoulders and numbing his fingers.
“Talan, grab the cloak.”
The boy shook his head, his eyes wide and his face pale.
“Are you right-handed boy?”
“Keep your right hand on the branch and grab the cloak with your left. I will pull you up.”
The boy’s hand twitched.
“You can do it, come on.”
The boy jutted his chin and Ravi nodded when the boy's Adam's apple bobbed but his hand moved and grabbed the cloak. The weight jerked Ravi and he began to slide but the boys pulled at his legs with gasps and shouts. He gripped the cloak with both hands. “Twist it around your hand. That’s right. Now let go of the branch and put your right hand above your left.”
The boy freed his right hand and another jerk drew Ravi further over the edge. His hat slipped and covered his eyes before it tumbled over the edge but he stopped moving.
“Pull me back now, boys.” His legs slid along the snow as the boys grunted with effort. Ravi dragged the cloak towards him, wrapping each portion of it around his hands until Talan’s head appeared. With only a foot of the cloak left, Ravi stretched, put his hands under the boy’s arms and hauled with a strength he didn’t know he had.
He and the boy lay panting and he realised the bell was ringing. In minutes, help arrived.
When they were ready to march to the monastery, Ravi took one last look over the side. His hat looked like a gaping hell hole in the snow.