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

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I was ‘summoned’ to Millar’s Tower a while ago, for what the flabby monster tried to make me believe, was simply an invitation to “break bread together,” because it had been quite a while since we had spoken.  He was at pains to assure me, “he valued my ideas.” I was suspicious. Either, he was losing his mind, he wanted to trick me into something or, at best he was worried about something he considered important.

I learnt long ago, that when I was dealing with the devious pale creature, it was better to say very little and just patiently wait for him to reveal his hand. My strategy worked its usual magic and after the expected social manoeuvres were concluded, Millar started to tell me of his, “minor” worries regarding the changes to come. I knew precisely what he was hinting at. Those same terminal concerns are never far from my mind, though for distinctly different reasons.

It didn’t take him long to get around to my Ruby ring and its connection to, “The Tears of Taklamakan.” As I was eating the rather delicious fish he provided for the meal, he enquired as to whether I’d felt any connection between the ring on my finger and the mother stone, that had been lost many years previously? By Oden, he’s so obvious! As if I would fall for that one. Yes, it glows when his ring is close by and as both rings are related to The Tears, I assume it will glow if the parent stone is near too but I was hardly going to tell him something, which may be of advantage to him.

He intends to use The Tears for nothing but ill purposes. With that kind of power, he could free himself from his confinement and top of his list of vengeance, is the murder of his Father.  With the demise of Lord Meklar he would have the freedom and power to wreak havoc and slaughter, on an unimaginable scale.

Whatever happens, Millar cannot be allowed to get his hands on The Tears.  If he does, there will be no end to my slavery, he will keep me as his toy to use and abuse forever. Saying that, I don’t actually know where the Great Ruby is. I only know, that my ring indicates it’s definitely on this god forsaken rock! I’m beginning to think that maybe I buried it along with one of the endless corpses that Millar has tortured to death, in his pursuit of energies to grow and to furnish his world with their agonised imaginings and abject terror. One of those body’s must have been wearing it when I laid it in the ground, or maybe it fell into the earth of its own accord? The ruby is known for its ability to transform and deceive, to desert its wearer just when they need it most.

In truth, I may have occasionally been less than diligent, when I’ve carried out my duties to Lord Meklar but being on the head of a pin, for a thousand years without error, is an unreasonable demand. Regardless of how it happened, the faint glow of my ring when Millar is absent, tells me The Ruby is here. I’ve even tried to use the glow to divine its location but it’s too tricky for that, it keeps shifting its position. 

*

 I have come to the conclusion, that the Ruby arrived during one of the frequent times of hunger to strike this place over the years. At these times, food and your next meal become all-consuming passions, both Millar and I become weakened. Though neither dies, he shrinks in size and I am weak as a feather and seem to fade.

It was during a time great famine across the whole land, that I first heard the legend of a mighty spirit known as, “The Paladin of Souls.” This dread tale was oft told to novices who were recently enrolled into the Brotherhood. It was something of a ‘badge of office,’ when an individual Father was asked to impart ‘The telling of the tale,’ to a new class of inductees. It was always given in the common parlance, warts and all. It was meant to shock the listener into obedience but that was in the days when there were still some Monks left on Ynys y Niwl. Those days are now long gone and that old kind of knowledge, has all but died out. It was said, that all the dead who had fallen and buried on Ynys y Niwl, would be protected by the aforementioned “Paladin.” That one day, he would lead them to their release from the clutches of purgatory, to be welcomed into Valhalla, or heaven or whatever afterlife you believed in.

Well, that’s the bones how the original story goes, belief is not required. However, they do say, “That the true power of legends is felt most acutely around a campfire, with a full horn of ale in your hand and a belly full of food, weighing you down. Then, as the embers turn red and the night comes on, anything is possible.”

Nevertheless, I know that the Ruby is somewhere on this island. I don’t know what form it’s presently assuming but the search is drawing ever closer to home, I can feel its presence crawling in my mind, sense its power rising to some fateful conclusion.

I used to think I could maybe use it to control Millar but these days I’m not so sure that’s possible, I’m more inclined to use it to fashion my own release from this slavery. 

**

 

Death Dances in the Shadows: Wyndwrayth Chapter 11 Excerpt

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Once, or twice, Alan stopped whatever he was doing and stood upright, to listen out for a recurrence of something that he thought he’d heard, coming from away back down the far end of the drearily lit cellar. ‘Just stop it,’ he thought. ‘There’s nothing in here and there hasn’t been for a long time, so just get hold of yourself and stop being such a big girls blouse,’ he said to himself, sternly. That pep talk, made him feel better for a while but as they were leaving, he was sure that he heard something shuffling about, just out of sight, down there, in the deep shadows. He stood motionless, trying not to breathe, for fear of spooking, the ‘whatever it was,’ he was beginning to seriously suspect, was in the cellar with them. For some unknown reason, Alan just knew, deep down, that this unseen ‘stalker,’ could somehow hear his heart beating in his chest and was able to easily disappear, back into the darkness from whence he came, if he spooked it. However, he quickly dismissed it as just another paranoid moment in his bizarre life. ‘One for the increasingly large, phantom perturbances file,’ he thought, ‘engineered by your own furtive mind.  Oh well, never mind, even Carter mentioned in his biography, that when he was alone in Tut’s tomb, he always felt as if he was being watched, so you’re in good company.’ He reassured himself.

Another sound, a soft dull thud, resonated through this ancient, secret and seemingly forgotten cellar. Alan instinctively turned to look in the direction the noise had emanated from. For a moment, he thought he saw a form, attempting to manifest itself within a swirling dust devil, which was dancing its way across the stone floor.

“Oh, come on Turnbull. What’s it they say about seeing shapes in clouds?” He spat out loud, “You see whatever you want to see, depending on your mood at that time,” he cried a touch too loudly.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Nick called back, from thirty yards ahead of him, behind some casks.

“Nothing, worth fuck all really, you know what I’m like in lonely dark places.”

“Yeah, a big girls blouse,” Nick responded with a chuckle.  Then, after a few seconds of silence, his head popped round the barrels, “Go on then, we’re all waiting with suitably baited breath, spill the beans,” he added sarcastically.

“Fuck you Nix! And if you must know, I thought that I saw a ghost, or something, moving around down there,” he said, pointing in the direction of the apparently growing darkness at the far end of the cellar, while moving towards Nick. Nick turned and looked into the gloom while Alan caught up to him. As his eyes acclimatised to the darkness, something almost invisibly, moved in the mirk behind his friend.

Nick suddenly stopped and Alan watched as he speechlessly tilted his head to the right. Experience had taught him that this meant that Nix was either, looking at something he couldn’t easily explain away, or he was considering something heavy, that was going on behind his back. Either way, Alan didn’t want to be jumped, he seriously doubted that his heart would be able to withstand a shock on that level, so he quickly turned and looked back down the cellar, in the hope of seeing what was intriguing his compadre. Seeing nothing sinister, he let out his breath then took in a great gulp of air and in relief, put both his hands on his chest.

“There’s nothing there, Nix. This is what happened to me earlier. Perhaps we’re getting a little drunk, with all the alcoholic vapours, or fungal spores that are undoubtedly in here with us. Perhaps we’re just viewing this place, through proverbial beer goggles?”

It seemed logical to Nick, that there would be some kind of a residue in the air left over from all the barrels, some of which were obviously damaged by the passage of time and had seeped away onto the floor, or completely evaporated into the dry air. He knew spores could also be affecting their judgement so, any visions had to questioned more than once, if they were ever to be verified. “O.K, let’s get moving and remember, only what we can carry of the best vintage’s go back across the lake with us. Remember, you’re the expert, so I’m relying on you, to only pluck the sweetest nectar for us to carry off,” Nick pointedly stated.

“Yeah, yeah, I get it,” answered Alan caressing a small keg of something called ‘Cullen Skink,’ and slipping it into his pile of ‘treasure,’ ready to be transported back to Bethyn Bryn, onboard Venezuela.

 

Death Dances in the Shadows: Wyndwrayth Chapter 10 Excerpt

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Nick reached for the gate latch and turned it.  The gate swung open easily, like it had just been oiled, to reveal the pathway to the imposing front entrance of Wyndwrayth.  Nick frowned momentarily as he looked down the path. ‘It looks like it’s been brushed clean,’ he thought, ‘I’m sure it wasn’t like this the other day……’

At this point, Alan pulled out his iPad and rustled up a copy of the layout, that Nick had sent to him in the last e-mail. “I showed this, to Phil Drake, a history bod who I’ve known nearly as long, as I’ve known you. I met him at Magdalen College during my student days and we’ve kept spasmodically in touch, ever since. He’s now a professor at Christ’s in Cambridge, ‘n he reckoned he’d only seen one other place honeycombed like this, located on The Hebrides, up there in ‘Jockland.’”  Alan paused as he realised Nick was moving towards the house, before following. “He thought, that if we could find the hidden route, from the lowest to the highest point of the house, then we would have cracked the mystery, of Wyndwrayth,” he said, while studying the layout of the place on his pad. “Cool name by the way. It’s Viking, you know and the best translation, into English, is ‘Ghost Wind’ but that hardly covers it. In ‘The Saga of Hummolt,’ it’s described as ‘a supernatural wind from hell, that carries all before it.’ In Norse mythology, Hel, with just one L, was Loki’s daughter, whose upper half resembles a human while the lower half is a rotting corpse. She was assigned to receive the souls of the dead who died of sickness, or old age. However, in Norse mythology, evil doers and oath breakers were sent to some place called Niflheim, where the dragon Nidhogg will gnaw on their corpses. I just thought you’d like to know that,” grinned Alan.

Nick, for his part, just kept on nodding his head, more to disguise his ignorance, as anything else. The silence only encouraged Alan to carry on with his insights, into the history, of what his friend knew as Ynys y Niwl, or Fog Island.

“Here’s another thing for you to contemplate,” he proffered, as Nick, just looked at him askance. “This dot of land was known as The Isle of Niflheim, or the island of fog, for centuries and in Norse Mythology, it was the door to what we would call, Hell, with two L’s. According to the legend, there’s a creature who lives here, who eats the souls of the dead, how cool is that?”

Alan’s information, somehow rang slightly true in Nick’s mind, what with the fog thing and the inescapable fact, that the lake was formed in the crater of a long extinct volcano. “Hmm and I suppose, that it wasn’t too great a leap from all that fire and brimstone, to Sto-vo-cor,” he said and laughed.

“Well, only as distant as Klingon is from actual ancient Norse mythology,” replied Alan.

“Shall we go inside, then?” Asked Nick?

“You bet,” came the response and they both reached for the enormous brass ring, that hung directly above their heads.

 

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.           

*

 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

pendle+hill

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.

Pendle-witches

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.