Death Dances in the Shadows: Four Star Reviews for Powderfinger and Wyndwrayth by J Bronder Books.

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My Review of Powderfinger

4 stars

Nick Swann works at the St. Joseph’s Hostel. Some of the guys want out to celebrate a couple 21st birthdays. Nick has to write several late passes but doesn’t think too much about it. But when a girl is found murdered, his guys are blamed. He doesn’t think they had anything to do with it but then finds himself suspended for issuing too many late passes.

But when another woman is murdered he starts working with the detectives and doing some research. It seems there is a supernatural creature called Powderfinger that has been killing people for numerous years.

This was an interesting read. The story starts out like a regular thriller but takes a paranormal twist. It seems Powderfinger is a demon that has been killing those that disturb it. The group plans to stop it but it is quite powerful and they are going to have their hands full.

This was a good read that kept me interested the whole time. It had some good twists and turns and of course I was not expecting the ending. Definitely check out this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

My Review of Wyndwrayth

4 stars

It is three years after Nick’s adventure with Powderfinger and two years since his mother has passed. He now lives on the shore of Llyn Isaf in Wales. But he finds himself curious about the island in the middle of the lake, Ynys Y Niwl. He has researched it and makes plans to explore it and the crumbling mansion on it called Wyndwrayth. But Nick is going to find himself wrapped up with the supernatural once again.

We also follow a man that accepted a god’s offer at a better afterlife as long as he was the guardian to the god’s troubled son for a thousand years. Gideon soon finds himself on an island with a hate filled being that is intent on escaping and getting revenge on his father.

This was a great sequel to Powderfinger. I felt for Nick with the move to the country and the loss of his mother. It seems to be a habit of him to get himself neck deep in trouble. Of course his friends are there to help him but things don’t always turn out like he would like.

This is a good series and I’m curious to see that Nick is going to get himself into with the next book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

Death Dances in the Shadows: Wyndwrayth excerpt Chapter 9

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Karen stopped as she reached the huge and imposing carved wooden doorway. It had an enormous latched entrance with a suitably impressive knocker, which appeared to be a huge breaching whale, made of brass. By the look of it, this piece of ‘fools’ gold’ hadn’t been used for many years, for it had a number of apparently mature pieces of Ivy, running through and around it. It only took Matt a couple of seconds and he joined her, looking up at this almost monumental entranceway.

“Can you imagine, having this thing built as your front door?” Karen postulated. “It must have cost a fortune.” Matt was looking at the strange lettering which adorned the stone arch. He wondered if it was runic. It was difficult to decipher covered in lichens, it was almost as if it was attempting to blend in with its surroundings.

“Speak, friend and enter,” he uttered and spread his arms out in front of him, almost in a gesture of adoration.

“O.K, so now what,” Karen asked, as she smiled and stood looking up at the latch, which was about eight inches out of her reach. “Got any more lessons from Middle Earth that might, at least, be of some practical use?”

“Leave it to me,” Matt said slowly, in a fake ‘deeeeep’ voice. He set his feet slightly apart, for better balance, suspecting that the doorway would be rusted shut, or at least stiff through lack of use. He braced himself for the impending strain and with a grunt, he reached up and at full extension, turned the old clasp. “Fucking hell,” he exclaimed in surprise as it swung open easily and he almost fell on his face. “Jesus,” he groaned, regaining his composure. “A small child could have opened it!” He took a few opportune deep breaths, then stood up straight.

“Strange, look how high off the ground it is……” They both just stood there in a state of confusion, as the door swung back and almost closed. Karen reached up and gently touched the unlatched door with her finger tips, which swiftly swung back open. Despite her bravado, underneath she felt alarmed.

“I barely touched it,” she whispered defensively and with a touch of abject astonishment in her voice. “I thought it’d be harder than that, to get into this place,” Karen muttered to herself, as she boldly took the first step inside. She slowly walked up the hallway, with her head turning from side, to side in an attempt to take in every detail. Matt, still on the threshold, watched her carefully and peered into the shadows on either side, looking for signs of danger. Then, Karen suddenly stopped. Before he could ask why, she called back to him,

“You really should come and take a squint at this place, it’s fucking amazing.” To hear her swear like that was quite unusual and in his state of heightened awareness, Matt could almost hear his heart beating in his chest.

“You swear beautifully,” he inappropriately offered, as his part in this curiously disjointed conversation. Matt, not wishing to lose her in this slowly decaying edifice, strode on through the open door and instantly looked for Kaz. “Christ, that’s bright,” he said, holding up his hand as a temporary shield against the shattered sunlight, which streamed into the dusty hallway, painting countless pin pricks of almost florescent light on all the surrounding surfaces.

Through those splintered slivers of luminescence, he could see her, standing some twenty yards in front of him. She was looking up a flight of pristine, white stone steps, leading gracefully to the floor above.

“Are you O.K?” he called out to Karen, with a tone which insinuated concern. When she didn’t answer, he continued clumsily, “You’ve been motionless, for what seems like ages…. I was getting worried you were hurt, or something…..” Just then, the front door swung closed behind him, with a resonating thud. Matt swung round quickly but there was no one there. Just a gust of wind, which swirled into a pile of dead leaves by the door, making a skittering sound.

“What?!” She suddenly blurted out, as if she had just been woken from a dream. Matt noticed the tone of her voice, this time had something close to an edge of wonder within it and ever more intrigued, he increased his pace towards her.

“I know this is going to sound really stupid but I can’t get away from the feeling that someone, or something, is watching every move I make in this place,” said Karen quietly. “It started the moment I walked in here. It just hit me like a wave of emotion and for a few seconds, I felt slightly disoriented.” Then, almost without taking a breath, she continued with the same train of thought but in a slightly higher register. “I’ve got this fucking weird feeling …..,”

He knew instinctively, what she was talking about.

“It’s this place,” he said but nothing else followed. He could sense that Karen had more thoughts to reveal but he wasn’t going to push her, so he waited for her to speak again.

“It seemed like the door closing, sealing us inside, brought this old place back to life. Like sealing us in, was just what it wanted,” she explained. “I feel like there are millions of pairs of unblinking dead eyes, just staring at me.” He moved towards her, intending to bring reassurance but as he moved closer, her disquiet grew. “It’s just fucking freaky in here!” Karen hissed and her eyes burned with fear.

Matt realised this was no hoax and the way Karen was talking, actually disturbed him. “Believe me, Matthew, it’s plain old fucking weird in here and I mean weird, to the max!” Then, instead of waiting for reassurance from him, or heading back to the doorway, she inexplicably began to ascend the stairs.

Postcards from the Wilderness: Season of the Witch – Guest blog

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The Season of The Witch, is one of my favourite movies because right from the beginning, it drops the viewer into the era of The Crusades.  An era that I find fascinating. Even though it’s a fantasy, it successfully comes across as believable. As usual, the critics took it all far too seriously.

From the beginning, it’s plain to see that the whole cast are playing this one, with the same historically accurate intent, as was displayed by The Python’s crew in, “The Life of Brian” and a good job they make of it too.

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Claire Foy, who plays a) The girl, b) The witch and c) The demon, can hardly keep a straight face and with Nicolas Cage, (Behmen von Bleibruck) and Ron Perlman (Felson), playing opposite her and who can blame the poor girl. Nothing is underplayed in this film, the bad guys are just so wonderfully evil and conniving, that they make your toes curl on a regular basis. A prime example being the ‘God Crazed Preacher,’ who is seen raving on at the beginning of this movie. He is just a warm up act, one that sets the scene for the rest of this excellent film.

Anyway, let’s get back to the story.

The Hag scene,’ at the beginning of this film, is a classic and cannot be missed if you truly wish to understand, where this one is coming from.

It goes like this……….

Three women are accused of being witches and are paraded before the local priest, who not surprisingly lies to them and tricks them into confessing. Two of them, are quite normal looking, for the 13th century. You know how it goes, raggedy clothing and it’s yet another bad hair day all round, so they must be guilty, as charged!

Anyway, they object, as you would and protest their innocence but the other one is just a bit too ‘haggy’ and starts acting up. To no avail, all three of them meet a grisly end at the end of a rope.

‘Season of The Witch,’ offers the concept of purposeful and spiritual interference in daily life, which sets a tone of both good and evil. One side is trying to prevent a virulent demon driven plague from ravaging any more of the countryside and the other, doing its damnedest to prevent them from succeeding.

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The introduction and inevitable interference of a standard model of hellfire preacher, as usual solves nothing. It only serves to make Behmen, more and more disillusioned, resulting in his desertion from The Army of God. Felson, never the smartest cookie in the tin, joins him in his act of contrition and hence, gets caught at the same time. Both naughty knights then get given the task of delivering The Girl to the Abbey of Severac and finding the cure to the Black Pestilence.

“Oh, that it was so simple.”

Alas, it is not exactly a cake ride. Behmen and his chum Felson, along with young wannabe a knight, Kay, have to handle an attack by a pack of CGI Wolves and negotiate the crossing of an extremely rickety bridge, in order to reach Severac, which, if they’d just stopped and looked up, they would have clearly seen in the distance.

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With some great acting by the stars of the film, Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman and Claire Foy, plus a brilliantly complementary cast, this film, holds your attention from start to finish and manages, as all the best movies do, to compress time. It’s almost two hours long but seems to be much shorter, due, just like a book, to its excellent editing.

The final battle between the Demon and the surviving Teutons is to put it bluntly, quite hilarious and only Claire Foy and the now knighted sidekick, Kay survive to ride off into a scenic panorama.

The story never lingers anywhere for too long and the tale has a great pace with a climactic and deadly, demonic conclusion. It is this pace I think of when I write. The story never slows down, or backs away from a gruesome reality, which is quite a relief, during these days of warnings about everything.

Death, fear and adventure, with a thoughtful and considered finale. What more could you want from a movie?

Or, a book for that matter?

Whenever you choose to watch this one, you should always remember the simple truth that, “He’s not a Teutonic Knight, he’s just a very naughty boy, with a very recognisable sword” and like most of the best things in life, it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

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In conclusion, ‘Season of The Witch,’ is one of those movies, that really sits well with a few pints of Guinness and/or something good to smoke.

Death Dances in the Shadows: Excerpt from Gideon’s Journal

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I don’t know how much time has passed since I last made an entry in this log but it does seem like quite a long sojourn, ‘tween then and now. As the monastery wound down to nothing and slowly the protestant or catholic monks drifted away, or died, I found myself getting lost in the maintenance of the place. There were occasional high points in the passing decades but mostly, they seemed to have been fundamentally empty and easily forgettable times.           

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 Millar, is the only constant as the years roll by, though nothing I say to him regarding his perverse nature in the almost ritual slaughter of his victims, ever seems to take effect. I use the word ‘slaughter’ to describe Millar’s preferred method of dispatch, due to the abattoirial nature of the whole thing. He carves them up, while revelling in the terror and excruciating agony he inflicts upon them, as he cuts away small strips of tender flesh from their convulsing bodies. He loves to hear them scream, as his razor-sharp finger nails pierce the top of their skull and he removes a tiny portion of their brain. This, he dangles in front of their horrified eyes and then ever so delicately, he drops it onto his slavering tongue and takes it into his hideous maw. Piece, by piece he strips the unfortunate victim’s flesh from their bones, taking great care not to let the living carcass die, before reaching in and taking hold of the still beating heart and ripping it out of the prey’s shattered chest.

I’ve observed this process many times over the years and it still makes me shudder. I think, it’s the length of time that he can keep the agony flowing through the veins of each individual, as he exquisitely tortures them for his own somewhat disturbing needs. Millar has made an art of sadistic behaviour. To be honest, it doesn’t do me any good to consider the paths that he walks to keep us both fed, after all these years of being marooned on this godforsaken island. The Lord Meklar chose to imprison his errant Son here and I am the fool, who agreed to watch over him. So, for as long as I live, I am also a prisoner on Ynys y Niwl.

A fisherman called at the island yesterday and from what I am hearing, England is at war with itself but it’s so long since we last had a visitor, the conflict could well be over by the time another stranger calls by. He mentioned that the people, are calling it ‘The Civil War,’ although actually it’s a battle about parliament and who controls it. It’s either The King, or the people and Millar reckons that it was ever so. It certainly isn’t my place to contradict his vastly superior lifespan and therefore, knowledge about such things. The death of the news bearer, was as unfortunate, as it was necessary.

Fish stored in a salt filled barrel, are only tolerable for a short time and then, thirst gets the better of us both and Millar is not the most patient, or tolerant creature at times of stress. He was demanding red meat and some turned up in a coracle. The fisherman, who only stopped on the island to see if he could catch enough fish to feed his family, never got the chance to find out. My seemingly generous offer of a fish and potato meal, completely lulled him into a false sense of security and I allowed him to finish the meagre feast before I nodded to Millar, who was hiding in the undergrowth and he stepped forward and began the long, drawn out demise of his prey.

I ate in Millar’s tower that night, which is to say, he ate and I just sat and watched as he carved up the fisherman and removed the portions, to the Ice House, which lies within the crystal cave hidden below Wyndwrayth.

Millar, is acting very strangely at the moment and he keeps on mentioning, some ancient object, which he calls ‘The Tears of Taklamakan.’ He reckons, that the Ruby Ring Lord Meklar gave me, along with the one he himself wears, are connected to ‘The Tears,’ in some curious way. However, seeing as how I have never seen these mysterious ‘Tears,’ I can offer nothing more on the subject, at this time.

 

Postcards from the Wastelands

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I first bumped into Jericho Writers when searching online for agent contacts.  They were quite high on the list and I was instantly drawn to the idea of their Agent Match Search Engine.  Having spent a long time struggling to find suitable agents to contact using the more conventional means, like the Writers and Artists Yearbook, it seemed the perfect solution.

Luckily, the nice people at Jericho Writers are genuinely committed to assisting authors and give a free trial of their search engine for seven days.  What can I say other than absolutely marvellous!  You can search by genre, location, size of agent house, number of clients and for those actively looking to increase their client list.  In most cases a short agent bio is included along with a list of their present clients, interview and information on their personal story likes. Thereby, not only identifying agents sympathetic to your work almost instantly but those that may actually read it! 

However, that is not all Jericho has to offer.  Not by a long shot!

During the week of free access I received emails with information on how to go about contacting an agent and how to ensure you make your submission more likely to succeed, alongside examples and templates.  All invaluable insights into the nature of agency.

On becoming a member of Jericho writers you also have access to a wealth of information about publishing, writing and marketing that help you avoid pitfalls and increase your chances of success.

Additionally, Jericho writers give you access to editors, run writing courses and events where you can actually meet agents face to face.  They are committed to helping authors of all kinds; fiction, non fiction, screenwriters, experienced and those just starting up.  They give tips and advice on such things as coping with manuscript rejection and everything is written and laid out in such an easy straightforward manner that it’s a pleasure to read.

I really can’t recommend Jericho Writers highly enough.  Take a look and I’m sure you will agree: https://jerichowriters.com/

Keller Yeats

Death Dances in the Shadows: Wyndwrayth Chapter 7 Excerpt.

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“What do you want,” he barked as the door flew open, revealing a rather stern looking Clarissa Cleaver, who was apparently not ‘best pleased.’ As surprised as he was to see her, Nick held himself in check and instead of giving her both barrels, calmly smiled at his near neighbour and enquired politely if there was an emergency he could perhaps help with?

“No, no, I just thought that I would call by and mention the speed limit on the lake, which, with you being a relative newby, may not be aware that it is a maximum of ten mph. May I respectfully suggest, that maybe you could keep a check on your speed next time you venture out onto the water? We would hate to have to confiscate your boat.”

Nick, was not expecting that and his mouth fell open in response to her words. He was about to respond to her request, when she spun on her heels and headed brusquely off down the path, towards her vehicle and was gone before he could utter a single word in his own defence.

“Sorry,” he pitifully called to nobody, “I won’t do it again,” and unable to silence the devil within, he finished the statement with a rather sarcastic sounding, “promise.” A little voice called back, from what sounded like it was far away.

“Thank you, Mr. Swann, I’ll hold you to that.”

Conversation over, Nick turned and stepped back indoors, closed the door and mumbled something about Lady Cleaver’s remarkable ears to himself as, he made his way back towards the recliner and the remainder of his rudely disrupted doobie.

‘Fucking spooky, Man,’ he silently said to himself, as he took another toke on remains of the joint, inhaled and held his breath. Nick had met Clarissa Cleaver previously but never without Cuthbert being present. Nick clicked on Heddi and put Ynys y Niwl+Llyn Isaf – By-laws and restrictions, into the search engine and waited to see what turned up. There was only one response, on the screen before him.

“You’ve got to be joking,” he spluttered, as he repeated out loud the information on Heddi’s screen. A plume of sweet smoke exited his lungs, through his nose. “Ten miles an hour!” He gasped, “Fuck me, I could swim faster than that, when I was in Junior School!” Nick protested and having gotten over the initial shock of that revelation, he read on. “Shit,” he spluttered. “There’s even a rule about exceeding the permitted decibel levels, in the shore-side gardens.” His interest now piqued, Nick furtively read on, almost as if he were involved in a piece of espionage. A ridiculous mental picture, of a gang of adolescent youth’s in black leather jackets and ice blue jeans, racing up and down the lake on jetski’s, ruining the Lord and Lady Cleaver’s mid-summer lakeside party, enveloping their guests in clouds of exhaust fumes, came to mind. In his fantasy, there appeared to be great waves crashing down on the beach, sweeping all before them.

“Surf’s up,” he quietly stated, while casting a quick look out of the bay window at the lake outside. These unwarranted intrusions of distracting images, which came to him almost unbidden, often danced around in his head and held his attention. They had become more frequent, since he had lost his Mother but Nick, put it all down to a natural sort of trauma and was just, “riding it out.” If it continued over a long period, then he might look into the possibility of engaging a ‘shrink’ but right now, these interludes often did no more harm than making him smile and sometimes delayed him for a few moments.

“O.K, let’s carry on with this ramble through the roses and see what else turns up,” Nick muttered under his breath. As he read on and got further down this list, of what he decided, were mostly petty infractions of the Cleaver’s own vindictive prejudices made manifest, like the one about playing the radio too loudly while fishing. That was a gem of utter spite and from what he’d picked up from his foray’s in The Poacher’s Rest, was undoubtedly concocted in a fit of pique by Lady Cleaver, under the influence of a few Sherries. “She must have been well pissed, that night,” he joked as he read sub clause two, “The penalty for a second infraction of this rule, was the dispatching of the offending radio, to the bottom of the lake.” Nick looked at the words and just to be sure, read them again. “Christ, that really is a bit severe, if you ask me,” he said and broke into a fit of the giggles.

“Far out and solid, you crazy pop pickers,” Nick said theatrically, thrusting his arms out dramatically and then, he started to laugh out loud again. “These people are fucking crazy! Who do they think is going to wade through all these made up regulations and pay any heed them?” There were rules regarding almost everything. The one about being drunk, while ‘in charge of a vessel on The Lake,’ almost made him choke, when he read it. “How can you tell if somebody’s boating erratically,” he wheezed “and the concept of ‘on the spot fines’ levied by old Seth…….Jeeeeez!” Chuckled Nick. “I’m going through ‘Nothing to Declare,’ when I go out there,” he wheezed as a delicious picture of Lord Cuthbert, in a Nazi uniform, chasing Venezuela and him down the lake, sprang instantly into his consciousness. “Oh god, Man,” he laughingly wheezed “and to think that you bought this cottage, off those two idiots.” With that, he flopped back onto the Lazy Boy and put the last inch of his oft disrupted joint between his lips and re-lit it.

 

Postcards from the Wastelands: Pendle Hill

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Some years ago, on a whim, my partner and I travelled to Pendle Hill to watch the dawn. For those unfamiliar with the location it is famous for the trial and execution of the Pendle Witches. It was the dawn of Samhain, the time when it is said that the interface between the worlds of the living and those of the dead are at their thinest. It seemed like a good idea at the time but we should have known better.

 

We set off around midnight in our old citroen, reaching our goal at around 2.30am and parking on the side of the road. The night was clear and crisp as we pulled on our coats and stared up at the Hill, our breath creating cobwebs of mist.

 

The Hill was a dark and strangely looming presence, rising steeply up before us. In high spirits we began to climb, yet each step felt heavier, our breathing more laboured, the Hill more forbidding. The silence oppressive.

We had hardly climbed any distance at all, when the first wisps of wind could be seen silently rippling gently through the grasses, that covered the body of the hill. We started to hear a soft whispering sound approaching from around the side of the Hill.  It grew steadily in volume, whistling as it approached our position. Then, like a screaming Banshee, it tore past us in a single, chilling gust and moved off towards the town of Pendle, which could be observed in the near distance.

 

Disconcerted yet determined, we climbed ever higher as the strange gusts of wind seemed to increase with every step we took towards the summit. About half way up the hill, we stopped and sat looking out over Pendle and the plains to the East. We poured ourselves a steaming mug of coffee, infused it with a nip of cognac and took in the moonlit view.

 

“Listen….”

“Nothing…., no wind.”

 

Tapping the mug on a stone to dry it, we stood up and brushing the grass from our pants, turned to carry on. The first few steps seemed to alert the Banshee’s that we were moving again and the wind, started to blow once more but with increased icy ferocity. As each gust screamed past us we could hear more and more whispering voices and howls within it, sweeping down from above.

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To me, these high-pitched disembodied cries sounded like distraught female voices, though my partner would later describe them as, “wailing witches.” Either way, it was obvious to both of us that the Hill did not want us there. About a third of the way from the top we stopped, turned around and began to make our way back down the Hill as the gloaming began.

The trip to Pendle Hill, had been intended, as something of a laugh but it turned out to be something else. We hardly spoke a word to each other, on the return trip but personally, I’ve never forgotten those disembodied screams, as they tore down that lonely hillside and dissipated in the grassland below.

Death Dances in the shadows: Wyndwrayth Chapter 6 excerpt

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“I think that I prefer, “Wyndwrayth, rather than Wyndwryth,” Nick muttered into his beard and read on. The writer claimed that over the years, there had been many reports of a creature, occasionally seen on moonlit nights, flitting between the bushes in the undergrowth. However, when a search of the grounds had been undertaken by the staff, nothing had ever been found.  The author concluded that these stories regarding a haunting presence wandering around in the grounds, were just superstitious tales told to the families’ children, in order to scare them into being good at bedtime. Nevertheless intrigued, Nick read on. It appeared that many times the local children were told that if they made too much noise, the spirit of the lake would come and get them, carrying them away to its deep dark depths, never to be seen again! The description of this ‘shade,’ varied but it was nearly always described as small, thin and pale.

“Typical Celtic horror story,” murmured Nick, as an imagined vision flashed across his mind. “Jesus, I thought my parents were crazy! Those poor kids must have been utterly petrified.” There was more to read and research but right now, Nick fancied another joint before he ploughed on, “and a nice mug of Coffee wouldn’t go amiss right now,” he commented to Heddi, as he bookmarked the link and closed off the connection. He was two-thirds of the way through this latest information and after a relaxing break, he would be back at it, refreshed and raring to go.

Nowadays, his iPod contained close to five thousand titles, so the once simple act of choosing the correct music to match the moment, had become a lot more complicated. Calming down after a stint at Heddi’s wheel wasn’t the simplest of tasks, ‘Krautrock, or Classics?’ Nick asked himself as he made his way into the lounge, to roll another doobie. ‘Sit in front of the window, man and just take fifteen minutes to regroup before you carry on,’ his conscious mind said but it wasn’t going to be all that easy.

The house plans of Wyndwrayth, were his next topic on the list of exploration. The place had looked intriguingly constructed to Nick, as he’d stood in that entranceway with its knocker in his hand. Furthermore, there was that mysterious tower, rising up and piercing the ever-present single cloud of mist, hovering slightly above the roof of the main house.

Sitting in his recliner overlooking the lake, Nick took a sip of his coffee, waggled his foot to the music and lit his joint. The house, he mused, was around a thousand years old and it must have seen all sorts of changes in that time; ranging from the day that Olaf Gunderson had built his citadel to the dwelling abandoned by the bankrupt Richard Davis, who’d left the island, never to return in 1931. The island, it’s house, lake, lakeside land and properties had then been bought by the grandfather of the present Lord Cleaver, primarily for farming, just using the lake for its fishing rights. Its story was thus complete, nobody else had lived at ‘Y Wake Gwynt’ after the elegant but bankrupt Edwardian gentleman, departed at the start of the thirties.

In its time, the house had seen the fall of Llewelyn, the domination of Wales by the English and the bloody insurrection of Owen Glendower, followed by his mysterious disappearance. The Civil War, where a King lost his head and a huge empire was forged and then lost. Plus, two world wars, the first one had seen it turned into a hospice for returning shell shocked soldiers. “Now that’s what I call history! A citadel, a private home, a monastery and a hospice!” He excitedly exclaimed and slapped his hands down, hard on the leather armrest.

Nick couldn’t wait to get back to it but over the years, he had learnt to take things more slowly and steadily, rather than going at it like a bull in a china shop. ‘O.K, sit down, close your eyes and take in all that information. The house isn’t going anywhere, so just relax and anyway, what difference is an hour, or so going to make, really? You’re not getting paid for this one…..’

For twenty minutes, or so, Nick gazed across the water towards Ynys y Niwl, picturing the house sitting there on that island amidst the trees, brambles, thickets of bracken and lilac rhododendrons. The old Preseli, granite built house, ‘Wyndwrayth,’ had been deserted for decades and from what he had seen, would be for many more to come. It was hard to imagine Gayle and Harold renovating the place, or having it rebuilt as a restaurant, or something equally esoteric. ‘Wyndwrayth,’ in its brooding silence, fully occupied his mind and Nick found himself, both lost in the past and washed up in the stillness of the present. He’d learnt, that to get the most out of this kind of research work, it was often best to immerse yourself in the topic and just allow your imagination to roam free. Many time’s past, he had, using this method of transcendentalism, opened up whole new avenues of investigation, which from time to time, had resulted in a unique insight.

Later, back on Heddi, he opened section four of a house plan document, entitled ‘Inner Spaces.’ To his surprise, before him on the screen was a veritable maze of secret passageways, which appeared to lead from anywhere in the house, to anywhere else that you cared to go, without once being observed by anyone. ‘Wow! It’s like a honeycomb,’ Nick thought, observing there was barely a single wall which didn’t contain some form of hidden walkways or ‘priest hole.’

“I need some help here,” he murmured and Alan Turnbull’s name sprang into his mind. “He’ll know who to get hold of, so that I can start to understand the meaning of all these passageways.” Why such an intricate web should exist at all, was in itself a mystery, which Nick was determined to unravel the truth behind.

“This’ll be right up Alan’s street and it’ll give him something else to do, besides play with his train set,” he commented offhandedly to Heddi. “I’ll stick it in tonight’s e-mail and see what he makes of it.”

However, now Section five was catching his eye, it appeared to contain details regarding which levers to pull and buttons to press, to open and close all the hidden passageways distributed around this intriguing property. “Christ, it’s like a secret code. It’s going to take ages to decipher……. I need copies of all these plans,” he whispered. He searched around the cluttered desk, for some ink for his printer and loaded some paper.

This was simply exciting! Making sense of something, which on first viewing appeared to be utter indecipherable gibberish, was what Nick did best. His patience knew no bounds and he would dedicate vast swathes of time, to decrypting anything as enthralling as this was proving to be. ‘Looks like another double shift’s looming tonight, Mr. Swann,’ he thought as he reached for the print outs, grabbed a series of coloured pens and headed for his lazy boy. Resting his printouts on his lap tray, Nick settled into his leather recliner, turned towards the lake and started to use his coloured pens to trace pathways through the maze that was, Wyndwrayth.