PDA

View Full Version : Inception Trilogy



QDOS
November 27th, 2011, 02:11 PM
Hi

I’m still perfecting my craft and part of the reason for joining Writers Forum was to rekindle the enjoyment of creative writing. The concept for Inception Trilogy started life in 2002 with an original synopsise and three chapters shown to a publisher. Its first airing as a semi-completed work left it sitting on the shelf while I pursued other interests. So this seems as good a time as any to overhaul the text as it never quite fulfilled my aspirations at the time.

The storyline is in the guise of an investigative high adventure. It unfolds through a series of archaeological finds, translation of ancient scripts and developments in modern science. The principle characters and their friends are tasked with recovering ancient relic’s. This leads to the discovery of a dark secret from prehistory. Therefore, the search is on to find a way of changing events in the past to save humanity from an impending extinction.

The journey begins:- The Sebtin Lords were masters of the light. The Elders, their descendants fashioned the Stones of Light to preserve their knowledge, but in doing so they triggered something both wonderful and deadly.

Book One - Prophecy end of innocence.

Short Synopsis:- Set in the modern era - Mark and Rhian in returning a lost fueros to the son of a Basque aristocrat realise their fate is bound to a family Prophecy. A journey is undertaken to reunite the Stones of Light and reawaken their ancient knowledge.

Opening Chapter - part one

It had been a long journey, taking many moons since the three had left Alullin. Sentag stood on top of the sand dune overlooking the beach. It had taken all of the previous day to traverse the hinterland from the southern coastal township of Zacro. Their journey had taken them north-west to the very tip of the island. There lay the remains of a small fishing village long abandoned. Here the sea’s cold fingers of early winter’s ice stretched out to meet the land. Sol was approaching mid autumn and the nights had not yet fully drawn in, yet already there were places where the ice had gripped the beach. Sentag watched as the heavily cloaked figures of Henrac and Bengathad made their way down to the shoreline.

Along the narrow strip between land and sea lay the remnants of several boats. Their rotting and broken keels, rib tips, stem, and stern posts poking out of the ice and snow. Henrac and Bengathad walked up and down the foreshore until coming to a place where the ice seemed thickest. The two halted, turned and waited for Sentag to join them. Henrac then walked out from the beach, stopping every now and then testing the strength of the ice. When he was satisfied, he strode out some distance from the shore. Turning he beckoned to the others to follow.

His companions came more cautiously testing the ice every few steps. Tap, tap, tapping the surface with their strangely fashioned staffs. To any observer their antics might have seemed almost comical. Farther out from the shore, they tested the ice less and less. Soon the three strangers with their long hooded cloaks were small dots on the horizon. Far out from the shore the icescape became more uneven. Winds had blown last year’s broken ice flows into small hillocks.

Yet the travellers continued at an even pace without stopping until dusk. Then the three rested. A light fall of snow began. Even though they spoke softly, their speech carried across the silent landscape. The sound of their voices was almost tuneful, but there was an underlining urgency in their discussion. There was a foreboding that transcended the more pleasant tones of their conversation. After a while, the three fell silent waiting for the moon to rise.

As time passed, the light fall of snow gradually thinned and began to fizzle out. Majestically the moon broke through the cloud cover and bathed the ice once more in a white brilliance. An unexpected cry came from Henrac, the others turned to follow his gaze. On the horizon far to the north was a streak of light, red, and gold in colour and already fading. Another flash of red and gold came and went. As if drawn to this beacon the strangers raised themselves up and moved off.

For the next three days and nights, the strange company trekked slowly northward. On the fourth day as Sol rose, its rays illuminated an island with high cliffs rising from out of the ice. The cloaked travellers’ quickened their pace and by late morning they were approaching the base of the island’s cliffs. There they found their way barred by a dense mist.

The three conversed for a long time as if checking and rechecking their bearings. Then convinced of their deliberations they moved forward into the island’s shroud. They had walked perhaps a thousand cubits when the mist started to thin, then rapidly cleared. Tall cliffs on either side opened out to reveal a glass smooth stretch of frozen water. In the distance stood a high mountain and at its foot a harbour. Beyond buildings stretched inland to either side, houses of grand design. Then half lost in the mountains high mists and near to its peak stood what could only be described as a great temple. A great flash of gold and red shot skywards the mists that rose about and behind the temple illuminated by their colours. In timely response, they felt the vibration of the mountains rumble as it passed underneath their feet.

Sentag then spoke, “behold the Holy Island of the Lords of Light, and sanctum of their ancient knowledge.”

In respect, Sentag together with his two companions went down on their knees. They bowed low towards the mountain, the great tower of stone at the islands centre. Then Sentag recited the ancient promise in the common tongue.



“To all who encompass the spirit I will endow knowledge, wisdom and a path to eternal peace.”





QDOS :cool:

bazz cargo
November 27th, 2011, 09:59 PM
Hi Qdos,
I can see where you are pitching the flavour of the story, mythic, semi Tolkien. There are some nice descriptions, and the details you are putting into the back story are nice. But.

(I hate buts), so far nothing has captured my attention. This is not a problem, a lot of people like to read this kind of work. For me it would take a glimpse of 'The Battle.' (Good v evil, underling aspiring to make a move, revolution). Whatever is behind the drama yet to come. Either that or drop me into the middle of a
méléé. I get easily distracted.

Technically you are a better writer than I, all you need is a touch of the theatrics.

I wish you luck.
Bazz

Cody
November 28th, 2011, 06:08 AM
A few things that sound kind of weird when you read it out loud.


As time passed, the light fall of snow gradually thinned and began to fizzle out.

In the paragraph prior this one you tell us that a light snow fall starts. That's cool. In the next paragraph you have the above quote. You don't need to say that the light snow fall thinned, because we would have remembers from reading not so long ago that the snow was thin. The other thing is how thin can an already light snow fall get? You could just say that there was a light snow and then after a little while it stopped. I like detailed writing and my issue isn't with the amount of detail, it's just that some of it doesn't make sense.

After I write stuff I put it aside, take a break, then I come back and re read it to my dog. I catch a lot of mistakes early on that way, but not all of em !

QDOS
November 28th, 2011, 10:29 PM
Hi
Bazz
My hope is that you check out the next few posts at least until the end of chapter two. You might be surprised, it’s not a mythical semi Tolkien far from it. Others have likened it to a cross between Indiana Jones and a Dan Brown. If you expecting wizardry, grand battles etc. you’re going to be disappointed.

Cody
What you pointed out is the sort of thing that is really helpful. These are my changes:-
Then the three rested. A light fall of snow began. - to - The three rested as snow began to fall.
As time passed, the light fall of snow gradually thinned and began to fizzle out. - to - As time passed, the snowfall gradually thinned and began to fizzle out.

Book One - Prophecy end of innocence

Opening Chapter – final part

Raising themselves the Seers crossed the iced over waters to the ancient port. There they clambered up an old stone stairway set into the side of the harbour wall. As the small company walked towards the main plaza, they espied that many of the walls and roofs of the fine buildings had collapsed. Their rubble had spilled out onto the streets. The result of some past cataclysm that now lay engulfed in thick layers of ice.

The central area was wide and spacious. On its furthest side from the harbour lay a raised platform. The stone steps that led up from the plaza were almost as wide as the platform. The Seers ascended the steps and pressed on. They passed ranks of carved statues; over half lay fallen lying as if in death. Figures encased in ice tombs, there details obscured behind a soft blue hue. Yet here and there, the ice had cracked and sheared away. This left a few statues still standing proud on their pedestals. Behind on either side, heavy solid pillars marched down the length of the platform. They were free standing for there was no roof to support. High walls ran along the outer edges of the sides and back. The whole purpose of the arrangement was one of grandeur on a grand scale. Beyond the rear wall, a steep flight of steps could be seen zigzagging their way up the side of the mountain to the Temple high above. Yet on approaching the back wall of the platform there were no gaps or doorways that might provide access to the stairway.

Sentag called a halt before a large ice encrusted statue. The height of its plinth stood many hands above their heads. What appeared to be carved on its surface was a recess set between two winged guardians of a forgotten faith. Supporting a lintel were pillars ornately decorated with winding vines leading to a scene centred above. Here a figure stood holding up a light that was shown radiating out in all directions. In truth, it was a doorway. The entrance blocked by a cascade of water that had formed an ice sheet.

Bengathad walked forward and tapped the frozen mass gently with the base of his staff. For several long moments, he stood studying the surface of the ice sheet. Then having decided on a place, he pulled back his arm, and made as if to swing the knurled end of his staff with great force. However, he stopped its motion but a fraction from the designated point. The three stood in silence and waited. At first, there came a soft creaking sound, as traces of thin lines started to spread out in all directions from the point of the intended blow. The lines turned to thin cracks, which began to deepen. In the next moment came loud splintering sounds of the ice breaking. Then with a great crash, it fell away.

Daylight illuminated the gloom of the recess to reveal a flight of steps leading downwards. The other two Seers proceeded with Sentag following. The flight of steps was short and at the bottom was a passageway. The exit of which brought the Seers out from under the rear wall of the platform. Standing at its foot, the three surveyed the steep flight of steps that led to the Temple hovering in the mists atop the mountain. Henric went first with Bengathad following. Sentag came last, each step taken slowly, his old bones creaking with the effort.

High up on the stairway Bengathad had stopped to catch his breath. Turning he watched Sentag’s slow progress toward him. When he had started his studies at the monastery halls of Alullin, Sentag was already a senior and one of his mentors. It was in his youth that Bengathad had first heard of the Shebtin. They were myths, stories told around the campfires. To ordinary men they seemed like gods, a tall race, proud and strong, their women were beautiful, fair skinned and with long silky hair that flamed like the setting sun.

Then came the Elders of Edagneath who were tricked by the Dark Lord. In their obsession to control wisdom and knowledge, they had unleashed a force that led to their own downfall. Yet the Dark Lord was thwarted in his aims by the very act he had instigated. The age descended into chaos brought about by an illicit union that became both a blessing and a curse. What followed changed the world, the times became hard and men turned from the path of truth. They became vengeful in their acts upon each other.

Those of the remaining Edagneath left their homeland in order to escape and journeyed west. The island of the Sebtin became their haven. However, all this had happened many millennium in the past. Since then the winters had grown ever longer, the summers short. The strong took what little the land had to offer, with scant regard for their neighbours or the other tribes of hominoids. Forced by the harsher conditions many had drifted ever further south. At first, they came in small numbers, but later for protection they joined forces with others. Soon they came as invading armies. Then great battles had followed decimating the land even further.

The last to abandon the monastery halls of Alullin, the three Seers had wandered for many years seeking out the text of the ancients. Now these masters the most knowledgeable in ancient lore had agreed on this final path. In a quest to remedy the world of its ills they had sought out the holy island of the Shebtin, there to cast one last incantation. They had lived well beyond the age of normal beings, and now they sensed their time was nearly over. This was to be their last pilgrimage. In a world cursed with a perpetual winter, all of their hopes lay in the writings of an ancient manuscript.

As Sentage’s rested at one of the many stops he made, there was a call from above. Henrac the most energetic and youngest of the three Seers stood waving down at them. He had reached the temple plateau. Bengathad together with Sentag took a while before finally joining him at the top of the stairway.

A circle of columns bridged with lintels stood on a levelled plain. All was constructed or dressed in a smooth white stone. At its centre positioned around a sunken floor were twelve seats carved from solid blocks. They were in groups of three, set equidistant along its edge. The gaps were set to the cardinal points and gave access to steps that led to the lower floor.

Sentag now leading, walked across and stepped down into the sunken area. He tapped the central stone with his staff. Looking up, he nodded, and the others joined him. After a short discussion, the three Seers then proceeded to carry out a strange dance. This entailed clapping their hands twice, followed by a jump, and stamping their feet hard down on the centre stone of the flooring. They repeated this with intervals of silent prayers. Then as they crashed their feet down yet once more, a loud click was heard.

The three Seers now took their position on one side. Slowly the centre stone of the floor began to sink. As it did so, sections of the surrounding floor sunk to different levels, revealing a circular flight of steps. Sentag helped by the other two Seers proceeded down. At the bottom, they followed a passage that led into a large chamber. A source of ambient light seemed to emanate from the centre of the subterranean hall. The design in many ways replicated that of the temple above. Carved columns set with lintels ran around its outer edge. All of which together with the domed ceiling were cut from the solid rock. In the centre lay a circular dais, and on the opposite side, stood a great black monolith of polished stone. Shaped in white and red stones edged with gold the raised area was marked with an eight-pointed star. A hole at its centre looked down into the heart of the mountain. Far below lay the molten fires at its root. Yet an object hung suspended there that faintly glowed with the light from the flames below. This was the last stone of destiny brought from the east by the fleeing descendants of true men.

Sentag called them to their task. “The time has come.” He said in a soft but commanding whisper.

The silence of the chamber was now broken with the low rumbling monotones of the Seer’s reciting words they had memorised from ancient text. Their words swelling from some hidden depth rose and fell. The rhythm of the mountain flowed through them, its periodic tremor like the breathing of some huge monster. The fire of the mountain was now seen in the glowing of the destiny stone. It grew brighter, and brighter, pulsing with a primordial energy. Suddenly a cone of white light burst upwards. Fingers of light danced and flickered off the domed ceiling. Suddenly the whole area of the platform became a shimmering sphere of silvery white. Then from within its depths a shadowy figure started to take form.

Now they made their plea, their plea of hope. The Seer’s chanting intensified, becoming louder. They called upon the mother goddess to restore their world. The figure half turned at their beckoning. Then the sphere of light started to flicker and fade its intensity diminishing. Near exhaustion, the Seer’s voices rose higher, calling out the name of the chosen one. Then for a brief moment, the sphere rekindled and blazed white, there, there in the light was a second shape. Their hopes rose.

Rumbling deep from below, the mountain spoke. The surface of the shimmering sphere suddenly rippled over to turn a golden hue, it quickly obscured the view of the figures within. Then the dais began to shake with the rising power from below. The Seers, depleted by their efforts collapsed to their knees their work now done. The mountain erupted sending its magma high into the sky. Sol would not be seen for many months. Then a warmer climate would follow finally freeing the world from the long winter of ice.

QDOS :read:

josh.townley
November 29th, 2011, 03:03 AM
Hi QDOS. I enjoyed reading this. It was well written (although there a few parts where you faltered a bit, repeating words, or clumsy sentences) and I had a fairly good visual of it the whole time.
There were a couple of negatives for me, though. I agree with bazz in that there is no hook to captivate the reader. The long descriptions and the near absence of dialogue makes it a bit difficult to get through and when you couple that with the so far undeveloped characters, you will probably lose the attention of a lot of readers.
I also didn't like the way the history and their objective was suddenly dumped on me all at once. I think it would be much better to spread it out a bit so the reader has time to absorb each piece of information. For example, you could mention the 'perpetual winter' (which was a good way of wording it, by the way) earlier on so that the reader knows something unnatural has happened and can begin to guess at what the characters are doing. Once the seers arrive at the ruined mountain city, it might be a good time to give a little bit of the history. Who lived there and what happened to them? Putting it in later makes it harder to absorb. Remember, the world, the characters, the setting, the history is completely new to us, so it needs to be laid out in a way that's very easy to follow. You definitely don't want to make people re-read the opening chapter to understand it properly.
Also, I didn't realise that Sentag was an old man until more than half-way through. None of the characters are really described at all, making it hard to visualise them or identify with them.

You say the story is similar to things like Indiana Jones or a Dan Brown, but those are very action-packed adventures, usually opening with a bang. If you want to appeal to a similar audience, you might want to consider ways of starting with some action to grab the reader's attention. A prologue maybe?

On the whole, I think it is very promising, and it sounds like an original take on the fantasy genre. You're clearly a very good writer, and this is a good opening, but I think with a bit of rearranging it could flow much better and really draw the reader in. Thanks for posting. :)

QDOS
November 29th, 2011, 05:02 PM
Hi Josh
I’ll take your valid comments on board and I guess reflects my own feelings as to why I left this work for a while on the proverbial shelf. Reading many of the classics or even a Harry Potter it quite often takes a few pages to open up the story. For that reason, I’ll continue with the posting of the second chapter, but in the mean time play around with a few re-edits of the opening.

Book One - Prophecy end of innocence

Chapter Two – part one

Mark Robert’s earliest memories were of a recurring nightmare. He was held within a sphere of light, which suddenly began to drop downwards at great speed. A gut wrenching experience as if travelling in one of those New York high speed lifts. It left him with the feeling of his stomach crashing up into his diaphragm. Yet he was held in this sensation of being drawn to somewhere or to something. This subconsciously induced imagery never reached its goal. Always failing to finish and allow Mark to discover his true destination. On awaking, he usually found himself entangled in the bed sheets and lying on the floor. This continued infrequently from the age of four until Mark was nearly ten, then suddenly it stopped. Nevertheless, it left an expectation that as the years slipped into double figures, made him more fascinated and susceptible to the unusual and unexplained.

Myth, Mystery and Magic, they all came to play a part in the background to his growing up. Mark from his mid teens became interested and indulged heavily in the reading of classical Mythology. He theorised how they had influenced much of the customs and religions that remained essential elements of day-to-day existence. Reading again the stories told to him as a young child, he began to formulate a new understanding of their unobtrusive conditioning of people’s lives. Mysteries that had become buried deep into the psychic of the world’s diverse cultures. A secret knowledge written into the subconscious, the potential of which Mark felt was unexplained. What truths and secrets to these mysteries were held by higher sects of Religious orders, or closed societies. Did they exist to protect or control.

Mark liked to read horoscopes and check the media for unexplained events, ones that often occurred in some far of part of the world. Then there was wizardry, the casting of spells and the magic of magicians conjuring tricks. Mark often wondered from what strange quarter events might enter and change his life. Where would his own journey take him? Maybe he thought or hoped it would start with that basic of all human enigmas. The magic of the moment, charisma, charm, all linked to the most fatal of all, love.

Unfortunately, although Mark’s adequate good looks turned a few heads, his obsession with Mythology created something of an obstacle. The fairer sex considered him as sweet but a bit of a geek. However not being able to form a fulfilling partnership did not deter him from obtaining a degree in early European history.

It took a few months of rejected CV’s, but Mark eventually managed to secure an appointment at the prestigious British History Museum. Friends helped to find a flat not too far away in a location near to London’s Euston Station. Mark settled into his Williams Street accommodation, one of many among a long line of terraced houses. On weekdays the street outside was filled with the passing of noisy traffic, on weekends there was a more leisurely flow. Mark’s pad as he liked to called it, was at the top of a narrow four-storey flight of stairs. The single room and his furnishings consisted of an ageing settee that folded out to make a bed. On the opposite wall a set of self-assembled bookshelves. This housed a growing collection of dusty second hand tomes and an old TV, which sat precariously in between the books.

The bathroom facilities were one flight down. They were shared with his neighbour across the small landing, and those occupying flats three and four below. As to a kitchen, an area at the back was separated from the rest of the accommodation by a false arch and a curtain. It housed some fitted cupboards, a sink with hot & cold taps and a foldaway table. A toaster and a two ring electric hob was the only elements for cooking. Depending on your point of view, the small fridge contained little in the way of food. On what might be considered a good day, it held cans of beer or lager for self and friend’s consumption. Mark usually ate out or brought home a takeaway. At least he did when earning the money.

Nine months of cataloguing records at the BHM ended, and for a while Mark was back on the unemployment list. Time had moved on since then and Mark had been some two and a half years at his London flat. Work had been far from consistent, but somehow he survived. Being fortunate and frugal with his first job he’d managed a moderate saving. Work from then on, and especially the payments, had never been regular. There had been better employment moments as was the months spent away on archaeological digs. At times there were short spells back working at his favourite place, the hallowed halls of the BHM.

But recently life had taken an unexpected turn for the better, or at least he hoped it had. Living off a rapidly dwindling bank account had not been a joyous memory. The change in circumstances had begun nearly a month back following a friend’s introduction to some TV types. Mark had secured a small research job. The work started in earnest almost immediately. In the last two weeks, he’d had what seemed like endless meetings with his new TV bosses. Finally, agreements made on the Friday gave him six weeks to pursue his own methods of research. To his satisfaction, this was to be his first contribution to a TV documentary. What made it even more appealing was the generous and most welcome advance.

On the Saturday Mark had been out celebrating. Not that he needed any real excuse, it was his twenty-fifth on the Sunday. Late back he’d finished up with two friends staying over at the flat. So this was now, Tuesday morning, Mark still suffering a partial hangover was back in the strange dream of his childhood. Only this time there was something else. He could make out another figure. It was as if the person were trying to communicate with him. Reaching out from beneath the folds of a cloak was a white forearm with the hand beckoning. Was this a gesture of friendship, or a call for help? And for the first time he heard voices in the background. They were reciting rhythmically in a strange tongue.

Suddenly an explosion of sound crashed upon Mark’s eardrums. His vision within the sphere clouded over and he felt as if he were slipping away. That’s when Mark awoke with a jolt. He lay suspended over the edge of the sofa bed entangled in the sheets. His head was almost touching the floor. Again, Mark registered a second outburst of sound, but this time a heavy drumming. Someone was knocking on his door. Then for a third and last time, the pounding was repeated. It suddenly ceased. There was the muffled voice of Jonathan from across the hall. The words were received as if heard deep underwater. Eyes still blurred from a disturbed sleep Mark glanced across the floor in the direction of the door. The white envelop of a letter appeared as it was pushed underneath.

QDOS 8-)

bazz cargo
November 29th, 2011, 10:24 PM
Hi Qdos,
so far I have stuck with you. It does have something, not sure what. It may be that you could put a bit of chapter two at the beginning, as a tease. Dunno... Usually I end up rewriting the start to fit something in as a foreshadowing of something later.

Btw, I didn't mean the story was like, mythic; I meant your style of writing was referencing the the feel of the genre.

Don't get hung up with the crits, finish the story, then edit for polish and iron out any glitches.

Nevermore
November 30th, 2011, 01:08 AM
You set the scene very well, though it doesn't sound much like modern times. It's well written, exemplifying description without waxing too much on necessary details. I'd recommend a quick runover of it, as punctuation is needed in some places.

QDOS
November 30th, 2011, 06:26 PM
Hi
Buzz - thanks for hanging in there.
Nevermore - English is not my forte. I’m more a hands on technician/engineer/Project manager. Punctuation is still something of a mystery to me, although I hope I continue to improve.

I read fiction because I like imaginative escapism. Writing is a hobby to indulge my own creativity and of course, if appreciated and enjoyed by others my reward.

Looking at my text, I reflect on the fact that this is somewhat monolithic in tone. As things progress the quantity of dialogue increases as does the number of characters. However, this is the beginning of twenty-one chapters around 120,000 words and only book one of a trilogy. My theme was to build on the word innocence through the early sections until the Prophecy of the title is revealed. The latter part of the book is more high adventure seeking out, discovering, even stealing while avoiding capture in collecting the stones of light. The climax entails releasing their knowledge and hence culminating in the end of innocence.

Book One - Prophecy end of innocence

Chapter Two – part two

His head clearing a little Mark squinted across at his clock perched on the top of the bookcase. It showed that it was still early. “Thanks Jonathan, thanks a bloody bunch,” Mark mumbled sarcastically.

Jonathan the self-declared fitness freak, probably been up since the bloody crack of dawn. The thoughts continued to run through Mark’s hung-over brain. No doubt, Jonathan had eaten his high roughage diet of whatever, then a jog around the park. Regents Park that is, it being only a couple of streets away. On his return, he’d obviously picked up the morning post from the main entrance.

Mark still in a half awaken state, released himself from the entangled bed sheet. Getting up, he shuffled across to the door and bent down to pick up the letter. Still moving awkwardly, he fetched a knife from the kitchen drawer and used it to slit open the envelope. It was from Aunt Evans. She lived in a small village southwest of Shrewsbury. The content was an invite to visit, asking if Mark could come as soon as possible. She stated there was something very important she had to pass on to him. It was unlike his aunt to be so insistent, and requesting Mark to make such journey made it sound very ominous.

Feeling somewhat intrigued, Mark realised he’d not been back to his aunt’s cottage for some time. In fact, as he recalled the last time he had seen Aunt Edna face to face was at his Graduation. That had been three years ago. There was a sudden thought as to his aunt’s health. Mark was sure he could dismiss any worries of that nature. The odd letter or two from his grandparents in Shrewsbury kept him up to date on family matters. The last contact with his aunt was a phone conversation some months back. A lapsed thank you for the socks she had sent for Christmas. However, on reflection that was probably only a few weeks into the New Year. Holding the letter reminded Mark how much he’d missed seeing his aunt.

Mark had already made arrangements to visit a colleague in Cheshire. Part of his information gathering for the new job. Therefore, a slight detour to visit his aunt would make for a pleasant distraction. It could give him some peace and quiet, time to work out an angle to the research he was about to embark on. It being towards the end of September, a short vacation before the grey clouds of winter set in could be a welcome bonus. Having convinced himself, Mark searched his address book, scanning for Aunt Evans telephone number.

The phone rang several times before being picked up. “Hello,” aunt Edna spoke the words in her telephone voice. It was her interpretation of someone with posh pronunciation and with almost no hint of her Welsh accent.

“Hi aunt, its Mark. I got your letter.” “Oh! Good, well if you can come visit dear,” there was a short pause. “Nothing to worry about I can assure you, but it would be nice if you made it soon, quite soon.”

“I’m due up in Cheshire next week, I could visit on my way back.” Mark replied.

“Oh I see.”

Mark sensed the air of urgency and nervous anticipation in his aunt’s voice. He made a spur of the moment decision.

“Look if it’s that important, I could travel up to day.” Mark glanced across at the clock perched on the top of his bookshelves. “If I leave soon I can make it late afternoon, early evening.”

“I’ll make up the bed in the spare room,” Edna replied. “See you soon and drive carefully.”

Putting down the phone Mark busied himself with the preparation for his departure. Gathering up some cloths, shower gel, shaving gear, and a large towel, he headed for the bathroom on the floor below. After showering, he wiped the steam of the mirror ready to shave. As he worked up the lather on the brush, he took a good look at his face. The hair cut very short for his recent job interview was beginning to thicken and grow back its normal length. The square jaw with its two-day stubble gave him a ruggedly butch look. However, the most striking feature were his deep steely blue eyes.

In just under the hour with a bag packed for a couple of nights, Mark set of to walk the half-mile to a friend’s house. Parking in London was a nightmare, so with their agreement his car occupied their permit space. Marks trusty transport was an old green Vauxhall viva. It had seen better years but for a few quid who was arguing. Throwing his bag on to the back seat, he set off. It seemed to take forever crawling along in and out of long queues negotiating the mid morning traffic. However, once on the motorway his speed picked up. For the rest of the journey the drive was mostly uneventful. Northwards up the M1 and then off onto the M6 heading towards Birmingham. Mark stopped at the service station to take a coffee break and to fill the car. He continued on following the signs to Shrewsbury and then on towards Welshpool. Leaving the main ‘A’ road he then journeyed southwest down quieter lanes banked with high hedges.

Eventually at a little after five ‘o’clock, Mark finally reached the vale in which Aunt Edna’s village was situated. As the car topped the last rise, the familiar group of buildings lay before him. A mixture of dull cement rendered houses together with older slate grey stone cottages. At the village centre was a junction, the road upon which Mark was travelling carried on. It crossed the stream over an old stone bridge then continued up to lake Llyn-Tarwi.

Mark slowed to take the left turn before the bridge. He passed three other properties before stopping the car outside the front of Ty-Nant. This was Aunt Edna’s home. He surveyed it from the road; the familiar grey slate roof, the white painted window frames, the dull granite stone walls. A few flowers still lingered, the last blaze of summer colour. To the western corner of the garden stood three trees, the onset of autumn had already turned their leaves all the hues of gold and brown. The wild brambles edging the fields on the right still held ripened berries for picking. Memories of childhood holidays came flooding back. As he walked the path to his aunt’s front door there was a sense of release, the slipping back to happier times. Those lost days of a simpler life. Mark’s nostrils aspired to a mix of aromas, newly baked bread, hot cakes, and pies from the oven. It reminded him with some disgust, his life of bake beans on toast, pot noodles, and the oriental takeaways that had now become his big city lifestyle.

Standing at the door Mark knocked twice. A short time past and there was a rustle of someone in the passageway. The door opened and from Mark’s full height of six foot, he looked down expecting to find Aunt Edna. The ankles were slim beneath the equally shapely legs, covered over by black tights. A navy blue pelmet size skirt hung from a wisp of a waist. A white jumper continued all the way up to a roll neck. Topping this model like figure was an oval face with high cheekbones and a slightly pointed chin. A shock of auburn hair, shoulder length completed the picture.

Somewhat bemused, Mark stood admiring and drinking in this heavenly vision, which of course could not possibly be his aunt. The bright blue eyes looked deep into his own. Under the returned stare, he felt the sudden weakening of facial muscles, his jaw dropped open. Mark saw the eyes twinkle with humour at his predicament. Then the mouth smiled generously and widened to a grin, revealing a perfect row of milk white teeth. The impish sprite pulled back the door, skipping back down the hallway. Chuckling at Marks awkwardness, the young woman laughingly invited him in.

Aunt Evans called from the back kitchen. “Is that, that mischievous nephew of mine?”

“Yes.” Mark shouted back.

Aunt Edna came out of the kitchen and they greeted each other with a big hug. Mark thought she hadn’t changed a bit. Still straight as a die, a slim bubbly seventy-year-old, all of four foot eleven. She wore a fall length pinafore, covered with motifs of wild flowers and neatly tied at the back. Her hair had turned grey through to nearly white over the years, giving her the topping of a platinum blond, and there seemed hardly a wrinkle on her well-tanned face.

“I see you have met Rhian,” Edna said.

Mark turned and looked long at Rhian. Could this be the girl from the Thomas Farm? The same Rhian whose brothers he had shared marvellous adventures. Being an only child Mark had missed sibling company, except for those long summer breaks with his Aunt. He almost felt like an adopted son of the Thomas’s. Rhian back then was like a little sister. As they entered the kitchen, Rhian leaned against him and planted a respectable peck of a kiss on the side of his face. Mark forgetting his normal shyness gave Rhian a hug that lifted her off her feet.

Aunts Edna’s voice made Mark realise the depth of his action. “I am glad to see you two getting on so well. Now put that girl down and come and have some tea.”

He released Rhian with guilty embarrassment. She giggled in response to Edna’s chivvying.

Nevertheless, quickly regaining his composure, Mark said teasingly. “I shall also need a big slice of that famous Welsh cake of yours.”

Rhian stayed for dinner listening throughout to Mark’s retelling of his youthful adventures with her brothers. He and Rhian then helped Edna with the washing and drying of the dishes. It seemed they had hardly sat down again when Edna announced it was late, and that Rhian should be on her way home. Mark suggested, although in truth insisted, that he should walk back with her up to the Thomas farm.

It was a clear moonlight night although a bit nippy. A stiff breeze was coming from the northeast. Rhian put on her boots and slipped into the wax coat she had brought with her. The best Mark could manage was his well worn Parker raincoat, he’d had since starting college. That and a trusted pair of sneakers that had seen better days.

It was about a half a mile to the Thomas’s farm. The road zigzagged back on itself twice to accommodate the rise in altitude. Rhian used the route across the fields, which lessened the distance to just a few hundred yards. However, the climb was something Mark’s legs were not use to. In trying to keep pace, they were beginning to ache with the strain. He was sure she had taken this route on purpose just to ridicule him. They had nearly reached the farm when Mark stopped, and not for the first time, to catch his breath. His heart was pounding in his chest.

“Shame on you Mark Roberts, letting yourself get so flabby,” Rhian mocked.

Mark looked up to see Rhian standing just above him, her figure silhouetted by the moonlight. Mark acting as if completely drained of energy took three big laborious steps. As he drew level, he suddenly reached out and grabbed her. Together they tumbled laughing in the grass with Mark holding Rhian in his arms. Without thinking, he leaned across and kissed her on the mouth. Then he kissed her a second time taking a lot longer. Eventually the kiss was broken and they clambered to their feet.

For an embarrassing long moment both stood looking at each other, then Rhian without speaking turned and ran on up to the farm. Mark watched as she negotiated the gateway in the corner of the field. Then she disappeared behind the blackness of the large barn that lay beyond the hedge. Waiting in the silence, he heard the noise of a door open and close. He knew she was safely home.

Mark remained in deep thought surveying the grandeur of the stars from his position on the hillside. It was fifteen to twenty minutes before he began to make his way back down to his aunt’s cottage.

QDOS

Cody
December 1st, 2011, 09:32 AM
You use the word "ice", a lot. After reading the first sentence I get the idea that everything is very cold and very icy, because it has to be very cold for ice to be thick enough to walk over safely.


Raising themselves the Seers crossed the iced over waters to the ancient port.

This sentence sounds redundant, because we already know that it is cold. I think the cataclysm part is good and maybe should become apart of another sentence somewhere else.


The result of some past cataclysm that now lay engulfed in thick layers of ice

here is another weird ice line.


Sentag called a halt before a large ice encrusted statue.


For several long moments, he stood studying the surface of the ice sheet.

In your first post you use the word ice a whole bunch too.

There are other ways to convey these same meanings using sentences that do not use the word, " ice".

This is a longish bit of writing and there is only one line of dialogue. I don't mind that really, but since it is a lot of us reading about old people walking through an ice land,.....I mean maybe something semi exciting should happen if there is going to be so little dialogue.


I like the names for your characters.
I love what you have going on in the story. I like the race of giants and the ruins of a forgotten religion. I like how it's always winter, but never Christmas. I love how it's old person driven. It seems like it's going to be a story of the younger generation cleaning up after the older one.

You refer to these people as seer's , but I'm not sure what that means in the context of your world.

This is called opening chapter- final part, but to me it reads much more like a prologue.

QDOS
December 1st, 2011, 10:03 PM
Hi Cody

I take your point about using the word ice a lot in the opening chapter. As others have suggested I’m re-editing to juggle some of the referenced background earlier in the text and add more dialogue. I’ll try revamping the sentences you mention as less icebound. Chapter one for me was an easier choice than calling it the Prologue.

Seer - an authoritative person with unusual powers of foresight who divines the future.

The lack of dialogue! Maybe I’m not so out of touch. Looking around our local bookshop, I checked out a couple of this year’s best sellers in the fantasy, SiFi section. Only two and three lines of dialogue towards the end of their first chapters and precious little in their second.

All of your structured comments are critically important to me. (Oh! Is that a writers pun, maybe.)

Book One - Prophecy end of innocence

Chapter Two – part three

The spare room had been aired and the bed made up especially for his stay. Mark retired to find it warm and comfortable. However, he had great problems in getting to sleep that night. Rhian, their kiss and so many other thoughts gave him little rest.

The next morning the events of the previous evening were still on Mark’s mind. He found himself playing with, rather than eating his aunt’s full breakfast of eggs, bacon, mushrooms and fried bread. He thought his aunt guessed more than he wished to admit. For the present, he was thankful that she made no comment. However, Mark’s thoughts were brought to an abrupt end with his aunt’s unexpected announcement. “Well Mark, you had best get ready. You have to attend a meeting with Alun Jones, the solicitors in Welshpool at 11 o’clock.” She pointed to the clock on the kitchen wall.

“I what?” Mark stammered.

“You know, the reason I wrote for you to come down,” she said. “I arranged it after your phone call yesterday.”

The letter, the reason Mark was there, the mystery of having to attend in person. He’d completely forgotten with Rhian on his mind.

Aunt Edna went on, “I’m only following Isaac’s wishes dear. Do you remember him? He lived in the cottage near the head of the valley not far from the lake. He was like an uncle to you and the Thomas boys.”

Mark’s feelings were one of bewilderment. He’d almost forgotten the kind old gentleman who lived up near the lake. During the long summer holidays spent with the Thomas brothers, they had often been invited by the old boy to have afternoon drinks and cakes in his cottage.

“Not to worry, he remembered you, and I think took a keen interest in following your career.” Aunt Edna paused as if to add more meaning to her words. Then with the slight hint of a tear in her eye, she spoke with sadness in her voice. “Well he passed away a few months back and I think dear he may have left you some of his things.”

Mark stood up suddenly from the table. Dropping his knife, it clattered on the stone slates of the kitchen floor. To be reminded of the kind old gentleman was one thing, but the possibility that he might have left Mark some of his possessions all came as a bit of a shock. He saw it hadn’t been an easy subject to speak about for his aunt either. Looking up at the clock, Mark thought it prudent to save any further embarrassment and quickly retired to get ready.

Dressed a little smarter than what he had come down to breakfast, Mark left a few minutes before ten. He drove back into Welshpool for the prearranged 11 ‘o’clock appointment. At the solicitors, Mark was ushered into the office of Alun Jones. The senior partner looked old enough to be an octogenarian, but was probably more likely in his mid-sixties. He was dressed in a dark blue pin striped suit, the appropriate dress for solicitors of his generation. After giving a customary welcome, Mark was directed to take the seat opposite a large and impressive desk. Mr Alun Jones then took his place behind the desk, seating himself in a high backed well-worn leather chair. Positioning thin metal wired bifocals low on the end of his nose, he looked Mark over. The spectacles, the desk and chair, presented Mark with a humorous image. It was as if he was seated before the headmaster of an old Public school, as depicted in a book of John Brown’s school days.

Mr Jones addressed Mark. “Master Roberts. I have to make known to you certain instructions with regard to the Last Will and Testimony of the late Isaac Horatio Davies.”

Mark realized that the Will was one of the documents lying in front of them on the desk. Making a deliberate gesture of clearing his throat Mark replied somewhat hesitantly.

“Err! Yes, yes Mr Jones. Please proceed.”

If not for the serious nature of the occasion the way in which Mr Jones wished to conduct the reading bordered on the comical. There was a long pause while Mr Jones removed papers from an envelope residing on the desk. The contents of the Will he read aloud in a low rumbling voice with the end and beginning of each sentence punctuated with a sharp inflection. Mark listened in silence. He half imagined Mr Jones reading from the pulpit of the local church to a devout congregation.

All Mark could say of Isaac Davies was that the old boy had been extremely generous. Later, Mark was to understand the condition and obligation that came with his unexpected inheritance. At the time Isaac’s interest in Mark and the connections with his family were not so apparent. Nevertheless, here was Mark suddenly wealthy from an unexpected source. He thought again of the happy summers and the occasional Christmas visits to his aunt. The times spent roaming the upper regions of the valley and the invites to Isaac’s cottage near the lake. In one way, he felt exhorted with the knowledge of his new financial status. Yet there was a sense of sadness, wishing he had spent more time with his benefactor. Thanking Mr Jones and accompanied with various instructions, papers and a small parcel Mark returned to his parked car.

A few minutes later he headed out of Welshpool back to his aunt’s village. On arrival instead of turning left, he passed over the stone bridge and continued the last half-mile to his benefactor’s abode. The lane was narrow and twisted back and forth. Steep banks topped with thick hawthorns to either side almost blocked out the light of midday. On reaching the property, it lay off a bend in the road. Mark pulled the car into the small clearing a space for one maybe two vehicles at most.

The stonework was partly cement rendered, and large areas were covered with climbing ivy. Where his aunt’s garden was neat with lawn and well-maintained borders this one was not. There was a wild and forgotten feel about it. Mark let himself in with the keys obtained from the solicitors. Inside it smelt dank and a little musty. Yet Mark sensed a feeling of being home after returning from a long journey.

QDOS 8)

QDOS
December 2nd, 2011, 05:29 PM
Hi
OK this is it!

Book One - Prophecy end of innocence

Chapter Two – final part

Mark explored the premises of its former owner Isaac Davies. The basic layout was of two spacious rooms either side of a large central chimney. The front entrance gave access to a small hall with doors leading to left and right. The right to the main living room, the left one opened into the kitchen. A high mantle was set above the chimney recess in which sat an old blackened stove. Up against the front windows, there was a table and three chairs. At the back, cupboards housed a butler sink, built in below the rear window. Next to it was a door that led to the back garden. Outside there was a small lean-to extension against the end wall of the cottage. This provided a storage place for the coals, kindling wood and logs used for the fires.

On the opposite side of the central chimney to the entrance hall, a narrow stairway led to the first floor and a small landing. Conversion of the roof space provided on one side a bathroom with a small window overlooking the rear of the property. The other side was the entrance to a bedroom. Dormer windows had been added to the front and back. On the far side a fitted wardrobe spanned the gap between chimneybreast and outer wall. Being inquisitive Mark discovered the access to the rest of the loft space was via a concealed door in the back of the wardrobe.

Having investigated and familiarized himself with the various rooms Mark found some old newspapers in the kitchen. He fetched wood and coals from small piles found in the lean-to. A short time later, the hearth in the living room was laid and the beginnings of a fire started. The smoke rose pulled by a good draft up the chimney. Nevertheless, Mark’s fire lighting skills were not particularly proficient. Twenty minutes later, he was on his third attempt. This time after some further searches, he had discovered some old firelighter sticks in a kitchen drawer. Perhaps four was a bit excessive, but it did the trick and a roaring fire was soon in progress.

Mark sat down to carry out the instructions left by Isaac Davies and passed on by Mr Alun Jones the solicitor. The folder of paper work contained the deeds to the cottage and references to accounts held by Isaac Davies. The amounts added up to a tidy sum. Once the necessary arrangements had been made, Mr Jones had assured Mark he would have the authority to access these savings. Mark contemplated the prospect of surviving on them for a couple of years or more if he needed to.

That left the large Jiffy bag, which he had been instructed to open alone in the cottage. It contained two envelopes. The smaller and newer one was addressed to Mark Roberts, and marked Private and Confidential. The other was large and of a thick parchment like paper, quite old and much creased through use. It had certainly seen better days. The ink markings on its surface were faded and hardly legible. It no doubt had been written many years before. In all there appeared to be five lines of different symbols.

The top one Mark could hardly make out. Most of the ink had flaked off due to the excessive creasing of the paper. The second he took more time over, a good part of it was legible. His limited knowledge of Egyptian hieroglyphs defined it as some kind of cartouche. A family name maybe his benefactors written in the ancient script. The third line resembled one of the handwritten forms used during the Egyptian dynasties, Hieratic or perhaps Demotic. Its deciphering was beyond Mark’s present skills. The forth was more familiar and resembled possible characters of Celtic Runes. However, the last line was modern text written in a European language, but not English. Mark deduced it was one of Latin extraction.

Mark turned his attention to the letter marked Private and Confidential. As he extracted the papers from the envelope, a ring fell out on to the floor. In recovering it, he gave it a casual glance before depositing it safely in his pocket. Smoothing out the sheets of Isaac’s letter, he proceeded to read.


Dear Mark.

I have written this letter to you because I may not have many more months. I know we haven’t spoken for several years, but I always intended to approach you once you had settled down. Perhaps found a long-term appointment. I realise now that our dreams are not always fulfilled within our own lifetime. I therefore have left specific instructions with my solicitor and your aunt. It is my wish not to inform you immediately of my passing, but rather some months later.

That is why though it burdens me, I have insisted upon your aunt Evans to keep my request, and to delay in writing to you. I have asked her to persuade you in such a way that you will attend my Solicitors in Welshpool without prior knowledge of what will befall. As you will now know, I have left instructions with regard to this letter and other documents with the deeds of my cottage near the lake.

So welcome to my home. Your home I hope it will become. I have lived here between my visits abroad and in the latter days of my life for the best part of twenty years. So you may be asking why did I choose you. I have no living relatives and well it seemed natural to find a kindred spirit in the things I hold dear and true. Your mother and father were very much a part of my life. You will be surprised to hear that your father James and I had a common interest. It is one of which I have spent most of my spare time pursuing.

We met, your father and I when both of us were sent out as part of the task force during the Suez crises of 1956. That is where we found a shared interest in Egyptology. I was as you must now realise considerably older than you father, but that did not preclude us from forming a continued friendship after our return.

Your father and I met and worked together on occasions in our roles at the Foreign Office. I guess I even introduced him to your mother Allison. In fact, I was very nearly his best man at their wedding but that is another tale. It saddened me greatly that they did not have long with each other. Their premature death in that fateful car accident was of great distress to me.

However, I congratulate John and Elsie your Grandparents and your aunt Edna in doing such a good job in bringing you up. Now as one of your godfathers, is that a surprise to you. I have to confess at not taking my responsibilities seriously until you reached your teens. The money I contributed to help put you through college was the least I could do after those years of neglect.

I have travelled the world with my job in the Foreign Office, made many friends and a few enemies. I had no lasting ties to any one place, except maybe this home in the Welsh hills. The purchase of this cottage fulfilled a desire to put down some routes. I never married; there was a girl, Elisha who I met in my late twenties, but that was a love I confess I didn’t know the significance of until it was too late.

When I finally took my retirement, it seemed right to make the cottage my permanent abode. I have many happy memories of this area and the people, my kind neighbours the Thomas’s and your aunt especially.

Do you remember being very ill one summer? You must have been about thirteen or fourteen. That was the year your grandparents sent you to your aunts to recuperate. It was in nineteen seventy-five or six I think. I don’t recall what your illness was, but you stayed for about eight weeks. Well I wonder if you remember the many books you borrowed from me. I like to think it was me who started your interest in early history. Many of the books you read were on Egyptology, Greek Mythology and especially about the Celts.

Before that, our meetings must have seemed by chance. Nevertheless, my summer holidays spent here were not all coincidental. I recall the adventures you had roaming across the Vale and up around the lake with the boys from the Thomas farm. I don’t suppose you remember our meeting out there up on the crag or by the lake where we swapped stories. I regaled to you boy’s tales of witchcraft and folklore and talked of the Spirit paths that abound in these hills. While you boy’s shared your concoctions of daredevil and swashbuckling adventures with me. I hope you will continue to refer to me as uncle, as you did then.

The other documents you now hold I have held on trust these many years for a dear friend. My wish is that you find a way to return them to their rightful owner. My friend Garcia Lopez, I fear died many years ago, but I believe he has a son. They hold the secret to a family heirloom and you could find yourself gratefully rewarded.

Your ever-loving Godfather Isaac H. Davies

PS. The ring is a family heirloom from my beloved Elisha. Having no child of my own, I leave it to you with my blessing. Wearing it has at times brought me to the strangest of places and I have always considered it to be lucky.

That was it, the only formal communication between Mark and his godfather and benefactor. He pondered on the meaning of it all. So much of his life started to fall in to place. The extra money found for tuition fees that helped him through his ‘A’ levels. The several thousand pounds his grandfather had supposedly won from a lucky day out at the races, a fortunate win that funded Mark right through university. He remembered the day he received his degree. The look on his Grandparents and Edna’s happy smiling faces. It was all a bit overwhelming. Mark who tended to be shy and self-conscious was not one for standing in the lime light.

Mark’s thoughts then turned to his parents. His father had held a post in the Delhi Embassy for a number of years. Recalling what he had been told the family had returned to the UK so Mark could start his schooling in England. They had only been back a few months when both his parents were killed in a car accident. On the day of the crash Mark had been picked up from school by his grandmother. At the house, people were coming and going and everyone seemed to be in tears. There were vague memories of sitting in a church between John and Elsie, Marks grandparents. Then holding hands as the three had followed the coffin precession outside for the burial. This had all taken place in September some nineteen years ago. There were many unanswered questions to Marks life, but now some at least might be falling into place.

So Isaac Davies as it turned out was his godfather. That he had a long time friendship with Mark’s father and a common interest in Egyptology. Mark’s thoughts were heightened by the sudden acknowledgment of past events and there links with ancient cultures. As if summoned his inquisitive nature was drawn to the other large and aged envelope. Studying more diligently, he traced the faint ink markings scribed in five rows across its surface. Mark reviewed the second inscription with its Egyptian hieroglyphs. There was a crook or fold of cloth symbol. There were three birds, two the same and an odd one, which he felt represent an owl. A horizontal ripple and another symbol, he recalled as a reed leaf. Mark was never a good student at hieroglyph translations, so what name the letters constituted for the time being stood little chance of being even guessed at.

As to the Runes being a student of early European history Mark felt more confident. However, they differed from any he had previously come across. His best interpretation did not recall any place in Celtic folk law or of gods and heroes with the name:- “Samainngona.”

Trying to decipher it with a more literal translation, he used the meaning of each rune like symbol. It was pure guesswork, but if he trusted his judgement, its literal translation might read, as:-

“Suns, mouth to humans, with mouth of ice, is a gift of light from Ing, a possession need”

The symbol for ‘Ing’ the only one he was fully confident of, was a powerful fertility god. It symbolised the spark of creation. He played around with various interpretations and decided that a more readable description would be simply:-

“the spiritual light is given as man's need from the creator”

He realised it was going to take considerable effort and a lot more research to obtain a correct translation. Moving on he explored the contents inside the envelope. It contained a number of old parchments. The well-worn papers smelt musty, their surface waxy and yellowed with age. Mark has seen similar ones when carrying out research at museums or among some rural parish records. They were hand written in a script with recognisable western characters. By the nature of the parchment, he made a rough guess of between a hundred and fifty to two hundred years old. There was also a much larger sheet. It had been folded in three places. This again was unfortunately written in a foreign tongue. Mark thought it could be Spanish, but at this point confessed to himself a disappointment in his limitations of foreign languages ancient or modern.

Mark read the last paragraph of his godfather’s letter again and leaned heavily back into the leather chair by the hearth. He looked down at the red glow of the burning coals. It wasn’t late in the day, but clouds now obscured the earlier sunlight. Shadows stretched out from the walls. The light coming from the flickering flames of the fire was all that checked their growth. A small twirled of smoke rose upward from the coals. Mark imagined Isaac sitting in this room wearing a velvet smoking jacket, quite the Edwardian gentleman. Swivelling the chair slowly Mark held up the thumb and index fingers of both hands to form a picture frame. Then he let his eyes take snap shots of the furnishings around the room.

By the rear window stood a mahogany bureau. The earlier investigation had revealed an extended writing area provided by dropping down the hinged lid. This exposed a set of pigeon-holes at the back and on either side, drawers designed to take note paper and envelope’s. Below the pigeon-holes in the middle lay a thickened shelf that carried indents to take pens and an old fashioned inkwell. Below, the sides of the desk were supported by square towers, each of which housed a set of three drawers.

The wall opposite the hearth was fitted with shelving to hold a small library of books. Old leather bound ones to more modern hardbacks. Stretched out across the slate flooring was a large Persian rug with an ornate flower border. At its centre was depicted a tree with people and animals sitting or laying around its base. To the left of the hearth was the door to the hall. Also on that side was an old two-seat sofa bound in navy blue fabric covered with an Oriental flower decoration. The flower heads in shades of bright red, orange, and yellow, the leaves an olive green.

Behind it stood a small table pushed up against the front window. On top resided a tray upon which stood a decanter of golden liquid and three small upturned tumblers. Mark raised himself up and walked across the room. Standing by the table Mark picked up one of the tumblers and ran his finger around its interior to wipe it clean. Taking the decanter, he hesitated for a moment before pouring a small amount of liquid into the glass. Holding it up, he swirled its contents. Then drank the smooth and rich much matured malt whisky down in one gulp.

The future was unknown, but Mark now felt sure he had a part to play in its outcome.

QDOS 8)