William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" retold with the cast of Gargoyles.
By Phoebe "DragonWolf" Roberts
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
All about them, the storm raged.
They observed from the shelter of the cave's mouth, Goliath and his daughter Angela, as the gale rose like a demon and the peaceful Avalon shores withstood its fury. The heavens were rent with lightning like knives, icy rain falling in a torrent on soft white sands. Chilling wind whipped through the branches of trees and cut ripples in the waters. Great waves leaped up to wreck against the shore in eruptions of foam. The rumbling crash of thunder shook the island to its stones. It was as the storm was the violence of the sea and sky at war.
Goliath stood strong and tall, his mighty form unbowed by fury of the tempest. His dark eyes peered through the downpour to a solitary ship, tossed by the rolling waves. Her sails were down in tatters, all spars but the mainmast cracked through. She, at the mercy of the gale, was all but swallowed. Angela too watched the falling of the helpless vessel, her face illuminated by the strikes of lightning and her hair swept back by the wind.
Ah, his dearest Angela. The pride of his heart and the joy of his life. She was as good and sweet and beautiful as the angels she had been named for, her heart so gentle, loving, and kind. Dismayed sadness filled her at the thought of the unfortunate souls the vessel carried, feeling the hurts of those others as if they were her own. The tears she shed were heartfelt.
"I would have sunk the sea within the earth or ere it should the good ship so have swallowed and the fraughting souls within her," sighed she.
Goliath could not bear to see her so distressed. "Be collected; no more amazement," he said gently, stroking her hair. "Tell your piteous heart there's no harm done."
He drew her from the storm and back into the cave. He assured her on his honor that no living creature of the ship would come to harm, and that she was now sit and attend, for there was more for her to know. Telling her to dry her eyes, he began.
He told her of their life before Avalon, a time of which she was too young to remember, when they had lived among other gargoyles in a clan of which he had been leader. There had been other warriors, their friends.
He told her of their coming to be on this Avalon; how the ambitious David Xanatos had banished them from Wyvern, the great gray castle that had been their ancestral home. Through trickery and deceit Xanatos had driven them to sea in a skiff, the avaricious lord claiming the castle as his own.
He told her of the noble Elisa Maza, a brave and loyal lady, who had enabled them to escape the death Xanatos plotted for them. She had supplied their skiff with necessities, and, knowing of his love for books, even provided him with written volumes he above all else prized. Without her aid they would not have survived to land on Avalon.
And upon that ship so tossed by the tempest, he knew Xanatos to be, and Elisa, and the members of their clan. If fortune was with him, he would have them restored to their ancestral and rightful home. And so, he promised her, he would allow no harm to come to them.
Spirits greatly lifted by her father's words, Angela slipped back out to watch the storming again. Soon she had disappeared into the rain.
"Come away, servant; come," the gargoyle said to the air. "I am ready now. Approach, my Puck. Come."
A bright wink of light cut through the darkness of the cave in response to the words, and there appeared a fairy, white-haired and pointed-eared, mischievous and, in all respects, certainly puckish.
The sprite fairly danced his way through the air.
"All hail, great master!" said the Puck. "Grave sir, hail! I come to answer thy best pleasure; be it to fly, to swim, to dive into the fire, to ride on the curled clouds; to thy strong bidding task, Puck and all his quality." He bowed with a flourish in the air.
Goliath inclined his head. "Hast thou, spirit, performed to the point the tempest that I bade thee?"
"To every article." The fairy zipped this way and that through the sky as he spoke. "I boarded the king's ship; now on the beak, now in the waist, the deck, in every cabin, I flamed amazement. The warrior Broadway was the first that leapt; cried 'Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.'"
The gargoyle's mouth turned up at one corner. "My brave spirit," he chuckled. "But was not this nigh shore?"
"Close by, my master."
"But are they, Puck, safe?"
The sprite laughed triumphantly. "Not a hair perished; 'bout the isle I have dispersed them..."
It was not long before the sky and sea ended their fierce strife, and the tempest finally died down. The lightning ceased flashing, the thunder silenced, the downpour stopped, and the night eventually calmed. Soon the rain-washed beaches were all that remained of the tempest.
It was over such a beach that the airy Puck now flew, watching with interest the lone gargoyle warrior beneath him, weeping for his lost clan. It was one Goliath called Broadway, one of the fine young warriors of their clan. He was a gentle, idealistic, poetic soul. Much, thought Puck, like Angela.
The fairy, flitting invisible and dancing through the air as gracefully as a snowflake, played lightheartedly on his wooden flute and sang;
"Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands;
Curtsied when you have and kissed,
The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there,
And, sweet sprites, the burden bear!"
Broadway looked up and listened in wonder to the song that came seemingly from nowhere, stopping for a moment his tears. "Where should this music be? In the air or the earth?" He paused a moment at the silence. "It sounds no more. The music crept by me upon the waters, allaying both their fury and my passion with its sweet air. But 'tis gone. No, it begins again."
And indeed, Puck sang again:
"Full fathoms five thy clan lies;
Of their bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were their eyes;
Nothing of them that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring their knell..."
Here Puck clapped together his hands, and a sound like the toll of a great brass church bell resonated through the meadow.
"Hark!" laughed the airy sprite. "Now I hear them- ding-dong bell!"
"The ditty does remember my drowned clan," Broadway whispered miserably. "This is no mortal business, nor no sound that the earth owes. I hear it now above me."
With effort he shook himself from his weeping and continued along the soft white sand. The island, he realized now, was lovely, the most beautiful landscape ever he'd seen. The colors were like the tones of jewels, all the trees and flowers in vibrant health, the moon in the sky casting over everything a bright sheen of silver. It was perfect, magical. Paradisiacal.
Suddenly there was a rustling of tree branches and a flap of leathery wings, and in a moment a sleek lavender-skinned form glided swiftly through the night. She landed in an easy crouch before him, balancing herself with one graceful claw, then rose lithely to look him in the eye. The sudden appearance sent him back a step, and to his surprise there stood before him a young maiden gargoyle.
Deep brown eyes peered inquisitively from a fair, open face. Dark hair, long and the color of sable, was gathered in a thick plait that fell to past her hips. She was beautiful, amazingly so, with a pure, simple sweetness that seemed to glow from her. Most striking of all was that sweetness, an air of gentleness, innocence, her expression one of joyous, bright-eyed wonder.
At last he remembered his manners and bowed to her. He spoke in near whispers, marveling. "Vouchsafe my prayer may know if you remain upon this island; and that you will some good instruction give how I may bear me here. My prime request, which I do last pronounce, is, O you wonder! If you be maid or no?"
Her laugh was like the chiming of silver bells. "No wonder, but certainly a maid." And in a moment, he was laughing too.
Goliath, hidden in the trees and Angela had been, smiled paternally to himself; Broadway was one of the fine young warriors of the clan, and a fitting match for Angela. "At first sight they have changed eyes. They are both in either's powers."
Those less pleased than Goliath with their situation stood on the sands of another shore of Avalon, angry, grieving, and in very poor spirits.
On the beach then stood Xanatos and Elisa, as well as Hudson, Demona, and Brooklyn, sore, storm-tossed, and tired. They knew not where their rookery brother Broadway was, though they had sent Lexington to search by air for him. Hudson, leader of the clan since Goliath's disappearance, was inconsolable.
Elisa shook the dampness from her raven-black hair and tried to rally their spirits. "Beseech you, sir, be merry; you have cause, so have we all, of joy; for our escape is much beyond our loss. Wisely, good sir, weigh our sorrow with our comfort."
But Hudson would have no comfort. "Prithee, peace," he pleaded of the detective, his features bleak and stricken.
Demona scorned Elisa's efforts to cheer him. "He receives comfort like cold porridge."
Brooklyn leaped to stand atop the cluster of sea-washed boulders. Balancing himself with one claw to the rock, he looked about them, intently considering their surroundings. "Though this island seem to be desert," he commented thoughtfully. "Uninhabitable and almost inaccessible, it must needs be of subtle, tender, and delicate temperance."
Elisa nodded her agreement, noting the uncommon beauty of the isle. "Here is everything advantageous to life."
"Save means to live," Xanatos answered, speaking finally. He listened instead, thinking, and noticed with relief that he had not lost his saber in the storm.
Demona was sharp, angry, and bitter. "Of that there's little, or none."
But Elisa and Brooklyn were sure such a lush island could sustain a survivor of shipwreck. Hudson, lost in grief, could not be convinced. "You cram these words into mine ears against the stomach of my sense." He stared across the vastness of the ocean, watching the gray-blue waves crash in foamy laps against the shoreline. "What strange fish, Broadway, hath made his meal on thee?"
A breeze swept back their hair as a flash of olive glided swiftly past them. Lexington, his lean, web-winged form so fast and graceful in flight, was returning from his reconnaissance of the island. He soared in a low arc to touch down lightly on the boulders beside Brooklyn.
No sooner than he landed than did Hudson entreat him for his findings. He had not, Lexington regretted to report, found Broadway or knew him to be living or dead, but agreed with Brooklyn's opinion of the isle's hospitality, and was sure that their rookery brother could have survived the storm.
"Sir, Broadway may live," he told him. "I saw him beat the surges under him, and ride upon their backs, to the shore, that o'er his wave-worn basis bowed, as stooping to relieve him." His gaze met Hudson's squarely. "I not doubt that he came alive to land."
But the old warrior covered his eyes. "Prithee, peace."
Demona, at her patience's end, reeled on him, admonishing his decision to take to sea at all. "We have lost our warrior, I fear, forever. The fault's your own!"
"Demona, the truth you speak doth lack some gentleness!" Elisa cried. "And time to speak it in; you rub the sore, when you should bring the plaster."
The gargoyle only glared, sneering, "Very well."
It was Lexington that noticed the rosy beginnings of dawn creeping above the horizon. He and Brooklyn turned to face the sunrise, striking their customary fierce poses. Hudson sighed brokenly and drew his sword to join them. In a moment, they were no more flesh but gray stone. Elisa stretched out on the soft white sands and was asleep nearly as soon as the gargoyles were.
Demona moaned and sunk her talons into her fiery hair, bending double with the agony of transformation. "I find not myself disposed to sleep!"
Xanatos, still pondering, looked on with sadistic amusement. "Nor I; my spirits are nimble." He gestured lightly in the direction of the sleepers. "They dropped, as by a thunder-stroke. What might, worthy Demona?" he drawled, smirking slightly. Blue skin grew porcelain-pale as wings and tail receded. "O, what might! No more!"
She raised her head, the transformation complete.
Still smiling slyly, Xanatos continued. "And yet methinks I see it in thy face, what thou shouldst be; the occasion speaks thee; and my strong imagination sees a leadership dropping upon thy shoulders."
Dominique met his gaze with suspicion. "What, art thou waking?"
"Noble Demona, thou let'st thy fortune sleep- die, rather; wink'st whiles thou art waking."
She said nothing, but nodded curtly for him to continue.
"Know you, Demona, Goliath is gone? 'Tis impossible that he'd undrowned as he that sleeps here swims."
She glowered at the name. "I have no hope that he's undrowned."
"O, out of that 'no hope' what great hope have you!" chuckled Xanatos. "Hudson leads where Goliath once. There be that can lead the clan as well as he that sleeps; lords that can prate as amply and unnecessarily as this Elisa. What a sleep were this for your advancement!"
"You did supplant Goliath," she mused.
"True," he answered, grinning smugly. "And look how well my castle sits upon me."
Her glare grew slowly into a sly, calculating smile. "Thy case shall be my precedent; as thou got Wyvern, I'll come by the clan. Draw thy sword. One stroke, and I the leader shall love thee."
Xanatos grasped basket hilt of his saber. "Draw together; and when I rear my hand, do you the like, to fall it on Elisa."
Dominique drew her own saber, glaring hatefully at the sleeping woman. "Oh," she breathed, more growl than speech, "But one word." And the two advanced, weapons at the ready.
But a third pair of ears had heard what had transpired, for by his magic unseen and unheard, Puck perched lightly on Hudson's broad stone back. Ahead of the other two, the fairy floated swiftly to hover over Elisa.
"My master foresees the danger that you, his friend, are in," the Puck murmured to the sleeping woman. "And sends me forth- for else his project dies -to keep you living."
To Dominique and Xanatos he swiftly glided, hovering about their heads, and as the traitors neared, he murmured his spell in a sing-song whisper.
"Then let us both be sudden," Xanatos hissed- but then as abruptly as the lightning, they were asleep.
"Goliath my lord shall know what I have done." He tapped two fingers to his brow in salute to the sleeping gargoyles. "So, clan, go safely on to seek thy son."
And in a glittering wink of light, the fairy was gone, leaving the clan to wake them wake later on.
Angela! No name, Broadway thought, more fitting. He marveled again at the sweet, loving, lovely maid before him. "Admired Angela, worth what's dearest to the world! You, so perfect and so peerless, are created of every creature's best!"
She blushed a dusky shade of red, but smiled. She was silent for a moment, then:
"Do you love me?"
He clasped her claws in his own, heart leaping at the words. "O heaven, O earth, bear witness to this sound if I speak true! I, beyond all limit of what else in the world, do love, prize and honor you."
Shining drops welled in her deep eyes, and if her smile before had been sweet and lovely, now it was truly angelic. "I am a fool, to weep of what I am glad of!"
Goliath, still observing hidden, shook his head in wonder. "Fair encounter of two most rare affections! Heavens rain grace on that which breeds between them!"
Broadway swept her up in his arms and held her close. "My mistress, dearest; and I thus humble ever."
She wrapped her arms around him, unable to believe. "My mate, then?"
"Aye, with a heart as willing as bondage ever of freedom. Here's my hand," he said, running his talons through her hair.
"And mine," she sighed. "With my heart in it."
A deep laugh of pure pleasure rang out from the trees, and soon after on broad wings soared Goliath down to meet the lovers.
Broadway greeted his lost leader joyously, delighted to see him living after so long. They clasped forearms in clan tradition, and Goliath blessed his and Angela's union. He smiled lovingly at his daughter, fondly touching her cheek.
"Do not smile at me that I boast her off, for thou shalt find she will outstrip all praise, and make it halt behind her."
Tenderly, Broadway smiled at her. "I do believe it against an oracle."
Goliath landed gracefully on the sand beside the clan Puck had enspelled to sleep. The fairy hovered in the air at shoulder height.
"Now does my project gather to a head," Goliath said to him, pleased.
"My spirit obeys, and time goes upright with his carriage."
Puck perched lightly on his shoulder. "You said our work soon should cease."
"I did say so, when you first raised the tempest. Say, my spirit, how fares Hudson and the clan?"
"Asleep till I end it," the Puck answered, shaking long hair from his eyes. "But they were brim full of sorrow and dismay for Broadway. If you beheld them then your affections would become tender."
"And mine shall," the gargoyle answered. His eyes roved to Xanatos, but there was no hatred, no resentment. "Though with Xanatos's high wrongs I am struck to the quick, yet with my noble reason against my fury do I take part; the rarer action is in virtue than vengeance." He nodded. "Go release them, Puck."
Statues that should have woken with the dusk exploded to life, as Elisa and Xanatos rose. Demona, having reverted to gargoyle form with the sunset, stood beside him. Eyes wide and mouths gaping, they took in the sight of the clan leader they'd lost so long lost.
Goliath, smiling gently, bowed. "Behold, mentor, the wronged clan leader."
The old warrior rushed to him, disbelieving, hardly daring to hope. "Whether thou be he or no, or some enchanted trifle to abuse me, as late I have been, I know not." He embraced Goliath tightly, even then unsure if he was real. "Thy pulse bets, as of flesh and blood. This must crave- and if this be at all -a most strange story. But how should Goliath be living and be here?"
Elisa threw her arms around his neck, sobbing and laughing. "Whether this be or not, I'll not swear!"
He ran claws affectionately through her raven hair. "You do yet taste some subtleties of the isle, that will not let you believe things certain." He threw open his arms. "Welcome, my friends all!"
There was much hugging and exclaiming and clasping of forearms, a joyous reunion of clan and clan leader. Goliath met them each in turn.
At last, he turned to Xanatos's rueful smirk and Demona's sullen glare.
"But you, my brace of lords, were I so minded, I here could pluck his highness' frown upon you, and justify you traitors." A chuckle rumbled in his chest. "But this time, I will tell no tales."
Xanatos merely smirked. Unrepentant to the last.
Hudson then clapped their leader's shoulder. "I long to hear the story of your life, which must take the ear strangely."
Goliath laughed out loud, a deep, rolling sound. "I shall at least bring forth a wonder to content you, as much as me my clan."
And hand in hand, Angela and Broadway glided down to meet them.
"If this prove a vision of the island, one dear warrior shall we lose twice!"
"A most high miracle," muttered Demona with bitter sarcasm.
Broadway embraced Hudson comfortingly. "Though the seas threaten they are merciful; I have cursed them needlessly."
Angela's dark eyes were wide and wondering at the clan she had never known, yet always been part of. "O, wonder!" cried she. "How many goodly creatures are here!"
She entwined her hand with Broadway's and shyly smiled. "Oh, brave new world, that has such people in it."