A team of archaeologists, led by Afro-Caribbean Alycia Graham is a Stone Age site in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland when they uncover a remarkably preserved copper ring ... a ring which seems to have the power to give the wearer a glimpse of the past ... but is their own past or that of the Ring? Why are all the team somehow connected with the ring? What is a metal ring doing so far back in the Stone Age, and who is seeking the ring over millenia?
The drum beat kept a time which was easy for an oarsman to follow, even one as new to the task as me, and we slipped round the maze of canals at a steady pace. The city is a good walk from the sea but the main channel is wide, straight and deep and the ship made it with no alarms. Once out in open water we shipped our oars,the crew hoisted our sail and the helmsman set a course round the island and across the true ocean, for that was where 'Gate of the Sun' was bound.
I am - was - probably the best smithy and metalworker in the whole of the city, of the country perhaps. There may be the odd one as good as me, I suppose, but none better. I'm not a young man any more and I've worked in metals all my life, and it's thirty summers or more since I began my apprenticeship. Now I flee for my life.
I started the usual way, casting the rough blocks of metal into the blades of swords, for the hands of the more expert craftsmen, who heated and hammered them into shape, so that the metal took an edge. As I became a more expert craftsman myself I began to specialise in finer work. I set up alone, making lamps for homes and temples, thuribles and containers for incense, carefully hammered into shape and all of them delicately decorated.
In later years I have had time to experiment with other ores, heating them and noting the effects. The ones that melted easily I tried mixing and working. I found some which were too soft for swords but good for jewellery; some I decorated with painted clay and heated again, and others were very tough and took a fine edge. I never had a mate. I lived alone and metals were my life and my hobby - I think that's why I became so skilled.
So how does an established, skilled, respected craftsman like me become a wanted man, hunted in the city and forced to flee for safety across the true ocean? No matter: I slowly, carefully, thoroughly, angrily called down the wrath of the gods upon that corrupt little man and his overweaning, usurping, insidious power I had fled to escape. I cursed him to his doom.
All the cursing made me feel a little better, but probably did him no harm at all. Eventually the top of the highest mountain fell from sight, the wind dropped and we got out the oars again.
After the noon break on the sixth day there was a sudden sound. The sea and air shook. The sky began to fill with the smoke of a great volcano far astern and the sea became an uneasy calm. There was a kind of greasy swell, like dirty water when you cool heated metal in it. Then a great wind came and we drove before it: a hot and fiery wind and the ship sped over the water, hastened by that fierce furnace of a blast. But fast as we travelled we could see a great wave coming towards us even faster. A wave like a great and towering cliff. A wall of water many mastheads high.
I do not know whether the high priest was yet struck down, nor whether my curses had been heeded, but the gods were none too pleased about something!