Assembled now, the hang glider looked incredibly fragile. And sinister, because they had painted every tube, every inch of canvas, matt black. As the men carried it forward to the edge of the hill, Bodie strapped the quiver of arrows to his thigh, checked the knife at his boot, and then slung the bow across his back, hoping to God that it would not foul the glider.
He gestured now, and the men lifted the glider and Bodie crouched then stood up within it to take up his grip on the long narrow bar. The men were still holding the glider, but just the same the wind caught and plucked at it. "All right!" Shouted Bodie, and they stepped away. Bodie felt the full force of the gale, felt the bar shuddering beneath his strong hands. He braced himself and began his run down the slope towards the void beyond.
The radio beside Cowley hissed and crackled and then a voice said : "He's off". Cowley lifted the night glasses to the sky.
The glider fell like a stone and Bodie instinctively braced his legs for the bone-cracking impact. But then the giant hand of the wind took it, a sudden jerk that tore at Bodie's muscles and set him rising again, high into the sky. He lay out, like a swimmer, lifting his legs high behind him, angling his weight, forcing the glider level, fighting against the wind and realising that this flight, if it succeeded, would owe as much to brute strength as to finesse.
Doyle could feel the scrape of his snorkel against the roof of the pipe, feel it through his jaws, and hear it filling his head so loud that he thought somebody else must hear it too. He was blind, the darkness was profound. He could only see with his hands, and then they suddenly told him something Cowley had not, the pipe divided at a junction. For a moment he panicked, but then he stopped and tried to remember that plan again; the pipe led in from the west, led towards the centre of the castle, so...the left hand pipe, that was the one he had to take. He entered it and saw the first glimmer of light up ahead.
Cowley picked out that strange huge bird in the sky. "I've got him," he said. "Good man. He's coming in straight and true."
"Straight into trouble, sir."
Cowley looked at the sergeant beside him.
"There's someone on the roof, sir."
"Diversion," snapped Cowley. "Noise, movement, anything....divert him."
The man on the roof prowled over to where the missiles were lined up, their sharp snouts pointed at the sky. He'd been ordered to check out the area and keep out of sight, but now, as he heard the shout of voices far below, he moved across the battlements.
The castle was rushing up at Bodie now and he saw the movement, saw the shape of the man there. If the man turned he would be a sitting duck. No, a lame, flying duck, a target so big no one could miss. He dipped the glider. It was a manoeuvre he had done many times - on bright sunny days with a thousand feet below in which to retrieve the glider and lift it up again, but here, in pitch darkness, at this height, it was suicidal. He dipped the glider below the level of the castle walls. If he couldn't lift it up again he would be smeared against those walls like a fly.
The man on the roof heard the strange rushing sound and turned, but the sky was empty. Perhaps it was someone below? Someone trying to scale the walls?
Bodie twisted the bar under his hands, jack-knifed his body forward and the glider flipped up. The man got just one fleeting glimpse of what appeared to be a giant bat flying up over the rim of the wall , and then Bodie's steel-clad boots took him in the chest.