As of now, The name of the novel I'm working on outlining right now is tentatively called African Firestorm, and I've outlined it out to Chapter 29. It's still looking like the 40-45 chapters mark is still holding, but I think there's a third of the novel left to outline, leading to the exciting climax, so we'll see. (I hope!)
Now that I've filled in some of the mystery, I'll keep you updated on my progress.
And speaking of novels....Here's the start of Chapter 4 of Merlin's Legacy:
The bouquet of flowers was on the passenger seat when I pulled into the cemetery. Rolling Hills Cemetery was west of the town, on a hill overlooking the harbor The cemetery was surrounded by a five foot stone wall, with black iron spikes adding another foot. The gates were the same black iron.
I drove in slowly, getting a long look at the place. The grass was green and well-tended, and the headstones were intact. A man was pushing a wheelbarrow toward me. I pulled the car next to him, stopped the car and rolled down my window. “Afternoon,” I said.
The man put his wheelbarrow down and gave me a friendly smile. “Afternoon to you, sir!” he said. “My name’s Dorsey, head groundskeeper. What can I do for you?” He looked like he was in his mid-fifties, with a tanned, weather-beaten face, fit, with worn clothes, dirt-covered boots and a wide-brimmed hat.
“I’m looking for a certain grave,” I said.
A cloud a sadness covered his expression. “Yes,” he said. “Lucian was a good man. We’re all morn his passing.”
“Yeah, I’m learning that.”
“Anyone, Lucian doesn't have a grave. He has a tomb, near the top of the hill. You can see it from here, just look up and to the left. It’s the pure white one.”
I scrunched down and looked out the passenger's-side window and up the hill. The tomb was right where Dorsey described. “How do I get up there?”
“Oh well, sir,” Dorsey said, motioning with one arm in the direction he had come from. “Go down here until you come to an intersection, make a right, go uphill, then make your third right.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“You related to Lucian?” he asked.
“Great-nephew,” I replied. “I got into town last night.”
Dorsey scratched his chin. “Never knew Lucian had any family.”
"He did. Thank you for your help.”
“Not a problem. I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you,” I rolled up window and rolled away. In the rear-view mirror, I watched Dorsey pick up his wheelbarrow and continued on his way.
I followed the directions, and was soon parked near Lucian’s tomb. I took the bouquet, got out of the car and looked around. Again, I felt I was being watched, but saw no one except Dorsey, and he was down near the front gates, raking up some leaves and ignoring me. I did another slow spin, but saw no one. It was cool and clear, with a light breeze blowing in from the sea. Otherwise, it was silent. No birds or insects sang their songs, and I was too far away from town to hear any noise from there.
It was unnerving.
“It’s the place that’s creeping me out,” I muttered. I started walking up the grass slope to where the tomb stood.
Even in this well-tended memorial park, the tomb stood out. It wasn't very large, maybe eight feet wide, twice as deep and eight feet tall at its highest point. It was made of white marble, with symbols engraved on each stone block. I recognized only a few of them — the Ankh, some runes, and what looked like symbols from the book I Ching. Over the what had been the doorway, but was now a solid block of stone was the word MERLIN. Below that, carved in base-relief was the twin dragon holding a stone shaped into a form of a gem — just like my ring.
I bowed my head and whispered a prayer for Lucian’s soul. There was a hollow calender cared from the stone that looked large enough to hold the flowers. I put the flowers into it, and was about to step back, when I felt the urge to touch the stone. I did so, placing my right palm flat against the door.
I could feel the stone vibrating under my hand, gentle, quiet and peaceful. The feeling of peace flowed down my arm and into my body, and all tension and conflicting emotions in my body and mind was swept away in the feeling of tranquility.
I hadn't intended on saying anything, but the words came out before I could stop them. “Uncle Lucian, I grieve for your death and I thank you for your kindness you have shown this town. Had the family known you were still alive, we would have visited you and made sure you were never alone. I will pray that the police find out who murdered you and bring them to justice.”
I felt a subtle change in the energy around me. The hairs on the back of my neck began to rise. I knew something was happening, but I didn't understand what. Several of the engravings seemed to start glowing, though it was hard to see it in the daylight. Then, without warning, I head a soft whisper. “I’m sorry, Roger.”
I yanked my hand away from the stone as quickly as I could. I looked around for any reason to explain what I’d just heard. Nothing. I walked around the tomb and again, found nothing.
I scratched my head. I had to imagining it, right? There was no such things as ghosts, right?
Then why couldn't I dismiss it as such?
I squared my shoulders walked up to the sealed door and placed my hand on the stone. I felt the energy again under my hand and the feeling of peacefulness flowed into me again. I closed my eyes this time and concentrated. I felt the energy and saw flashes of lights on my eyelids.
Then like before, I heard the whispers. “Beware the Dark Master,” it breathed. “Beware the Dark Guide.”
“Who?” I asked softly. “Who are they?”
“Death,” the whispers answered. “Destruction, Chaos, Evil.”
Before I could ask for more information, I heard the squeals of wheels, and the sound of an engine, both getting closer and quickly. I opened my eyes and pulled my hand away. I turned and saw a black van coming up the road at a nearly insane speed. Something told me I was the reason they were here.
I stepped away from the tomb and started for my car, but suddenly, there was a hooded figure in front of me. “Not so fast, Merlin,” it hissed, pointing a loved finger at me.
I stepped back. “Who are you?” I demanded. All I could see was a cloaked and hooded figure, with a void where the face would be.
“Your enemy,” the figure replied as the van turned onto the road and raced toward us. It shot past my car and came to a stop in front of me in a cloud of smoke and squealing brakes. The side door slid open as the van came to a stop, and the same hooded thugs who’s jumped me in my apartment hopped out, plus one. Well, same in dress, ski masks, and weapons, baseball bats.
One of the thugs pointed his bat at me. “You had you chance,” he growled. “You should have given us the letter when you had the chance!”
“You were too early, asshole,” I said, “I didn't get the letter until after you tried to beat me to a pulp.”
“We’ll take care of that now. You ain't welcomed here in Pilgrim’s Cove, and now we’re going to make sure you regret ever coming here.” He looked at two of his friends. “Watch it, he knows some Kung-fu moves. Take him.”
Two of the thugs came at me. I knew more than a few “Kung-Fu” moves, and unlike last time, I was alert and prepared. The first thug tried taking my head off with his first swing, But I ducked and sidestepped him, kicked him in the side of the knee and shoved him into the second thug, sending both of them sprawling.
Before I could go after them, the head thug came at me, his swing scraping down my arm instead of landing on my collarbone. I yelled and kicked out, hitting him on the thigh instead of his groin, but it was enough to made him stumble back. I surged forward, punching him between the eyes.
Before I could follow up, the fourth thug stepped forward and hit my left arm near the shoulder with his bat. I stumbled sideways, right into the path of one of the first two thugs who tried to double me over with a had swing into my solar plexus. I exhaled and tightened my stomach muscles just in time. The blow hurt, but I wasn't disabled. With adrenaline surging through me, I grabbed the thug’s wrist and kicked him as hard as I could in the groin. He screamed and doubled over, and I followed up with a knee to the face. I felt his nose crack under the blow and I shoved him away.
Thug four charged me, screaming at the top of his lungs. I stepped inside his swing, blocking his arm and slamming a palm into his nose, barking a short, sharp yell. His head snapped back and he fell on his ass.
The head thug rushed me, swinging his bat fast and hard. I backpedaled, then ducked as the other unhurt thug tried taking my head off. I caught a glimpse of the hooded figure just standing there, watching the fight.
The head thug and his partner started working together, forcing me on the defensive. They managed to get in a few glancing blows, but they were forcing me back toward the tomb I saw one of the other thugs slowly get up, his mask a bloody mess and murder in his eyes.
As I stepped back to avoid a thrust, my right heel caught a buried rock and it threw my balance off. I stumbled back, and found myself leaning up against the tomb. There were now three thugs on their feet and number four was getting up.
“Kill him and take the ring,” the hooded creep said.
I put my hand on the tomb to steady myself. As I did so, energy flowed into me, lots of energy. I was suddenly full of energy and even more kept flowing in. “Lift your left hand and will the energy though it,” the whispers said.
I lifted my hand, and forced the energy through my arm and out through my hand.
The result was unbelievable.
A wave of energy flowed out of my hand and slammed into the thugs, sending them flying. Two hit the van hard enough to stun them, while the other two were sent tumbling across the road and into the gravestones on the other side. Only the hooded creep was unaffected by the blast.
Once the energy was gone, I dropped to one knee, and dropped my head, feeling like I’d run a marathon while wearing weights. In the distance, I heard sirens, getting closer. I lifted my head. Creepy cloak was still standing there. “It appears I have underestimated you, Merlin,” it said, sounding like a snake. “I will not make that mistake again.”
“I don’t know who you are, your third-rate Nazgul,” I managed to snarled. “But stay out of my way!”
“No,” it replied. I have no idea if it was male, female or even human under that hood. It turned its head in the direction of the stunned thugs. “We must leave now.”
The thugs were up on their feet, but moving slowly and in pain. I grinned nastily, but I had no energy of my own to do anything to add to their pain. They climbed into the van and roared off, even as the sirens got louder.
Nazzy looked back at me. “Lord Zamaka will not be denied his reward, Heir of Merlin. The Black Guide will show him the way.” And, like a ghost, Nazzy faded away.
I pushed myself into a sitting position, feeling drained. I head an electric motor A golf cart into sight, driven by Dorsey. He jerked to a stop and got out. “Are you all right?” he asked.
“Fine,” I replied. “Just a little tired.”
He knelt next to me. “I’m sorry, but they faced into the park and nearly hit me! When I saw where they were going, I called the Sheriff and told them what was happening!”
The sirens were getting louder and I could see flashing lights. “I’ll stay here,” I said. “You go get them.”
Dorsey nodded and ran back to his golf cart and roared off. I just sat there and let the pain hit me. “I looked up at the tomb. “I sure hope this is all worth it Uncle Lucian,” I said.
“It is,” the whisper replied.
All for now -- Later!!