I slept like a log for fourteen hours and felt like one when I woke up — stiff and cracking. I ached from the kicks and other blows and I hope the thugs were feeling the same way I was. I got out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom. One look at my torso showed me the red and blues were now joined with a tinge of yellow, adding more to the abstract art that was my torso. As for my face, I looked like a surly raccoon.
After a careful shower and breakfast, I tidied up a little more. I took a break, picked up the mail and want over to my recliner and sat. I went through my mail, tossing the junk mail out, dropped a couple of credit card offers on the end table next to me to be shredded and sent back to the credit card companies, and putting aside a couple of magazines to be read through later. Half way through, I came across an legal-sized envelope that wasn't junk, nor was it from an address I recognized, someplace in Maine. I used my letter opener, slit the envelope open, and took the contents out.
Several folded thick cream-colored papers were inside. Frowning, I unfolded the papers and a couple of somethings dropped into my lap. I picked the first one up and stared at it. A cashier’s check for fifteen hundred dollars stared back at me. Once I was convinced that it wasn't a figment of my imagination, I picked up the second item.
It was a man’s ring, gleaming silver, with a pair of finely detailed dragons forming the band and holding a large red gemstone between their claws, all of it done by someone who knew their craft. I got the impression of great age, despite it looking like it had been made recently.
I put the ring and check on the table next to my recliner and read the letter.
It is with heavy heart that I must inform you that your Great-Uncle, Lucian Augustus Merlin, died the first of this month. I was Lucian’s lawyer for fifteen years and I considered myself his friend as well as his legal advisor.
This letter is to inform you, Roger Alvin Merlin, have been named Lucian Merlin’s sole heir of his estate, an estate that is valued over twelve million dollars. I ask that you come here, to Pilgrim’s Cove, Maine, to take control of your great-uncle’s estate as soon as possible. Lucian was most insistent on that. The cashier’s check is to cover your travel expenses, and the ring is to be worn immediately as the symbol of Lucian’s heir. Lucian was insistent on that also.
I hope you will respond to this letter in a timely matter. Lucian was my friend and I wish to resolve this matter as soon as possible.
Charles Windicott, Esq.
I read the letter again, then looked at the other sheets of paper. They were instructions on how to get to Pilgrim’s Cove, which was located on the cost, near the Canadian border.
I sat back and rubbed my chin. I vaguely remembered my Great-Uncle Lucian for a couple of family gatherings. A older man with clear gray eyes and a sad smile who watched us kids race around and play. But otherwise, I couldn't remember much about him.
I picked up the phone and dialed the best person I could think of for answers.
“Hello,” the voice on the other end said.
“Hey dad,” I said. “I need to talk to you.”
I told him about the letter, the check, and the ring. When I was finished, he let out a long exhaled and said, “Wow. I thought he died years ago.”
“Apparently not,” I said. “Did Uncle Lucian ever marry?”
“Not that I know of. Lucian wasn't the most sociable person in the family. Don’t get me wrong — Lucian was always friendly and generous to the family when they needed help. But I haven’t heard from him since dad’s funeral.”
I frowned. Grandpa’s funeral was a dozen years in the past, and the Merlin Clan wasn't a huge one. “Do you know what he did for a living?”
“Not a clue,” my dad replied. “He told me once he was a consultant, but I have no idea in what field. It sounds like he was good at it.”
“Do you remember the ring?”
“I do. I asked him about that once. He said it was a family heirloom.”
“What can you tell me about him?”
My dad sighed. “Not a lot. He was dad’s younger brother, fought in World War Two, traveled the world, and visited the family every couple of years. He was there for the birth of all the kids, including yours.”
“Yes. When your mother went into the hospital, he turned up out of the blue and stayed around until you was born. Once were delivered, he stayed around long enough to congratulate me, then left. He did the same with Miranda and AJ. I still don’t know how he knew when and where you kids were being born, but he always knew.”
"So, you don’t know much about him?”
“Come to think of it, no, I don’t.”
“Could you talk to Uncle Jim and Uncle Fred? Maybe they know something you don’t.”
“I doubt it, but I’ll give them a call and see if they can shed any more light on Uncle Lucian.”
We talked for a few more moments. I assured him I was all right and would think about the trip. After I hung up, I picked up the ring and stared at it for a few seconds, then carefully, I put it on my finger. It slid on easily, as if it had been sized for me.
Suddenly, my eyes felt heavy and I felt myself lying back in my recliner. My eyes closed and I dreamed.
I was lying on my back, staring up at the ceiling. I couldn't see much and it was hard turning my head. I felt my arms and legs waving, but it didn't feel right. I tried saying something, but all that came out of my mouth were sounds that didn't make sense. I finally managed to look to my left and saw a clear plastic panel rising. Beyond that, there was a small cradle with a baby in it, and beyond that one, another cradle. slowly, I looked to my right, and saw the same thing – a ling of babies in cradles. I caught sight of my hand and stared at it. It was a baby’s hand, small pink and chubby. I glanced at my other hand, with the same result. I was a baby?
Suddenly, someone appeared over my crib. On older man with clear gray eyes and a sad expression. “Hello Roger,” he said softly. “I’m your Uncle Lucian. This will take just a second.” He reached out and gently placed a finger on my forehead. “Deprehendere Magicae Facultas,” he muttered.
I felt something. I don’t know what, but it was like a warm glow covering me. My eyes widened as I felt good. I burbled happily and tried grabbing Lucian’s finger.
Lucian, on the other hand, looked unhappy. “I’m sorry, Roger,” he said slowly. “Your future has already been written. The least I can do is make sure you enjoy your life before you’re called.” He caressed my face and whispered, “Artus.”
I woke up and looked around. My apartment, check, Sitting in my recliner, check. My hands normal, check. I shook my head to clear the last of the cobwebs. “Weird dream,” I muttered.