Simply put, I forgot about it. I've been working on the Valiant RPG, trying to find any scraps of information I can use for the characters I'm responsible for. That means lurking around Valiant message boards, podcasts about the comic lines, and any wiki I can find. The 90s versions of these characters are vastly different (Including one that doesn't exist in the previous era!), and can supply little more than a quote or two and some minor details that I can use. Still, I've got most of the characters stats laid out, and I hope my approach to the background that has to combine three versions of the same character into one will meet with Valiant's approval.
I've also been googling stuff for African Firestorm. Locations, vehicles, weapons, and even language. Every detail I need to I need to write what I hope will be a great action thriller. The outline is complete through Chapter 35, and I'm still on course for my estimate. It's a bit of a challenge, as this is the first time I've done an outline in such detail before.
And so to make this a post worth reading, (Laugh now if you need to), here's another scene from Merlin's Legacy, Chapter 5!
We took Charlie’s Lincoln up to the house, some three hundred years in the opposite direction from the Nesbille house. The house was hidden by trees until we were almost on top of it, but when the last trees were past, it showed an unusual and somewhat foreboding, house.
My first thought when I saw it was “Castle.” Two large round towers were connected to each other by a square middle section, all made from the same stone I’d seen in the other buildings on the estate. The windows were narrow and each one barred with a single iron bar running lengthwise and one width-wise set into the stone.
Charlie parked the car in front of the middle section. We got out and I craned my neck to look up. “Wow,” I said.
“Impressive, isn’t it?” Charlie said.
“Yes, in a highly mediaeval way.”
“The view from the tower top is breathtaking,” Donella said.
Without warning, a pack of dogs appeared from every direction and surrounded us. All were large, well muscled animals, Pit Bulls, Mastiffs and a couple of other breeds I didn’t recognize. Then as one, they sat and stared at us.
A large man came around the side of the house. And I do mean large. He was pushing seven feet and broadly built. His face was broad with shaggy dark hair and half-closed eyes. His scowl was fearsome, and he held a stick that would be a baseball bat in anyone else’s hands. His clothing consisted of a shirt, army jacket, cargo pants tucked into hard-worn work boots. He stopped behind the dogs and glared at us.
Donella stepped forward. “Leal,” she said softly.
“Miss Donella,” Leal said gruffly. He looked at the Lawyer. “Mister Charlie.
he looked at me. “I don’t know you.”
“That’s Roger Merlin,” Donella said. “He’s the new owner of the estate. Lucian left the estate to him.”
“I want to see the ring,” Leal said, his voice sounding like it was coming out of a cave. “Mister Lucian said that the owner of the estate would be wearing the ring.”
I held up my right hand. “This ring?”
Leal stared at it for a few seconds, than dropped his head. “Yes,” he said.
Donella stepped between two of the dogs, who sat and watched her, and stood before the giant. “I know you don’t want things to change,” she said softly. But Lucian’s gone, and we can’t change that.”
“I know,” Leal said, his voice higher and more child-like. “But I miss him.”
Donella reached out and placed her hand on Leal’s chest. “I miss him too. We all do.”
Leal raised his head and looked at me. Gone was the firce glare. Instead, a lost child looked back at me. “I want to stay,” he said. “I can take care of this estate all by myself. Mister Lucian knew I could do it.”
I looked at Donella, who nodded. I looked up at Leal. “Leal, if you want to stay, you are welcomed to do so. If you keep this estate in the shape I’ve seen so far, than I’d been a fool to let anyone else do it.”
He smiled. “Thank you, Mister Roger. I promise to keep doing good work.” He looked at the dogs. “Come!” he barked. He turned and strode away. As one, the dogs leapt to their feet and followed Leal. We watched him walk away until he disappeared into the trees, surrounded by the dogs.
“That’s Leal, huh?” I said.
Donella turned and walked back toward me. “Yes, and he does good work, as you can see.”
“Then I see no reason to change anything,” I said.
“Let’s get this over with,” Charlie said.
We followed Charlie up to the front door, which were actually a pair of large, iron-reinforced wooden doors. He took a large, old fashion key from his pocket, unlocked the door with a heavy “thunk” and opened both doors. The doors opened silently, instead of the creaking I half-expected. Charlie stepped to one side and with a flourish, motioned us forward. “Your castle, Mister Merlin.”
We entered a hall large enough to play a full court game of basketball in, including a two story high ceiling. A set of stairs were on the left side of the hall, leading up to a balcony that ran along the back of the hall. Three sets of mediaeval-style wooden doors lead deeper into the home. One set was to our left, near the base of the stairs, another set was to out right, and the last set straight ahead of us, under the balcony. The walls, floor, staircase, and ceiling were all stone. There was plenty of light, coming from several skylights, but there were a pair of chandeliers handing from the ceiling for other times.
Furnishings consisted of a large blue and white carpet in the center of the hall, and a large coat rack to our left with enough hooks for a couple of dozen coats. A pair of full-sized suits of armor stood sentry next to the doors on out right and left. and several paintings hung on the wall.
Charlie walked into the hall and faced us. “Lucian made it clear in his will that the south tower,” He motioned to the doors on out right, “is yours to furnish as you see fit. It’s empty, but it’s move-in ready.”
“How many bedrooms?” I asked.
“A total of six,” Donella replied. “Four in the south tower, and two in the center hall here. The kitchen is through there.” She pointed at the doors under the balcony.
“What’s in the north tower?’ I asked.
Windicott walked over to the doors and opened them. “Come see,” he said, and stepped inside. “Lucian requested that you leave the tower as is, for the entire time you live here.”
We followed him and in the doorway, Charlie turning on the lights as he walked into the room. I stopped short and stared at amazement.
I love books. I love puttering around bookstores and libraries, seeing what they have to offer. I have nearly fifteen hundred books in my personal collection and have been teased by a few friends for having so many of them.
But this —
The library took up two entire floors of the tower, floor to ceiling bookcases built into the circular walls of the tower. The second floor of the library was accessible by a staircase built into the wall that rose to a balcony that ran around the tower’s circumference and the bookcases located there. The only breaks in the books were four narrow windows in each floor, the staircase, and a large oil painting of a man leaning and a pedestal. In the center, a massive four sided fireplace sat, a block column rising up through the ceiling holding the chimney. Half a dozen chairs and a trio of couches were scattered around the room, forming small conversation areas. Three large lights hung from the ceiling, and there were a few lamps on side tables near the conversation areas.
“Wow,” I whispered.
“Impressive, isn’t it?” Charlie said. “This is the most magnificent room I have even been in.”
“Lucian loved to read,” Donella said.
I turned and went over to the nearest bookcase. One shelf held leather-bound classic, while the shelf below it held modern hardback novels, including several authors I knew and loved. The next shelf held paperbacks and a few graphic novels, and even a few volumes of Manga.
“Fiction is down here,” Donella. “The non-fiction books are on the second floor. Somehow, Lucian knew where every book went, but I don’t know how he kept track of them all.”
“Amazing,” I said. I looked at the painting, which was hanging between a couple of bookcases. “That’s Uncle Lucian,” I said.
“He was very proud of that painting,” Charlie said. “He had that painted right after the war. He said that a concentration camp survivor painted for him as a thank-you for rescuing the artist and several hundred survivors from a concentration camp.”
I walked over to it. The man looking out of the painting was only a little older than me, wearing a bomber jacket, military trousers, and boots. The man was smiling, but there was a sadness in his eyes, and falseness about the smile. On his hand, he wore the same dragon ring that was on my finger right now. “What did he do in the war?”
“I really don’t know,” Charlie replied. “He mentioned very little about his service, but I always got the impression it was still classified.”
“Even after all this time?”
Charlie nodded, then looked at his watch. “I haven’t shown you the most unusual room,” he said. “It’s on the third floor.”
I followed Charlie and Donella up the stairs, past the balcony and up to the third floor. Charlie flipped on the light and I found myself in a museum.
Display cases lined the wall and were scattered around the chamber. The stone column that held the chimney ran up through the center of the room. As with the library below, there were four narrow barred windows paced evenly around the room.
I felt the hairs on the back of neck rise. I could feel there was something in this room, subtle, complex, and just beyond my reach. Something was going on here, but I didn’t know what.
“What is this place?”
“Lucian called it his ‘Museum of Light,”” Charlie said. “He rarely talked about it.”
“I looked at the display case closest to the stairs. It had a beaded head dress wrapped around a mannequin’s head. A small printed card laid in front. “HOPI MEDICINE MAN’S HEADBAND, GIFTED, JUNE 15, 1955," it read.
“Lucian traveled the world,” Charlie said. “Sometimes, he came home with items like that. I can’t tell you where he got some of these things.”
I walked around the room. There were a few weapons, most looking as lethal as they day they had been made. But most were mundane items, ranging from a bible used by a fifteen century saint to hairpins of a eighteen-century French courtesan. Everything was displayed and carefully mounted. After one circuit of the exhibits, I looked at Charlie. “Are these insured?”
“I don’t know,” Charlie replied. “Vikki Spiro handled all of Lucian’s insurance needs. I’ll give you her phone number in the morning.”
“Fine,” I said, looking around the room. “It’s just wow.”
“There’s one more thing you need to see,” Charlie said. “It’ll be a bit windy, but worth the effort.”
We went back to the stairs and went up. At the top of the stairs, the door had two strong springs keeping it close. Charlie unbolted the door and pushed it open.
The wind was strong, a constant strong breeze that smelt of salt spray. The tower roof was flat and surrounded by a waist-high wall and crenels that rose higher than my head. I moved to one of the opens and was struck with a blast of moist wind.
Charlie was right — the view was magnificent. I could see far out into the ocean. I moved to my right and could see some of Pilgrim’s Cove, through I could have seen more of it from the other tower. Another ninety degrees to the right and I could see several miles inland. And the final quarter showed mostly forest, couple of roads, and a few houses.
I turned and looked at Donella and Charlie. “Incredible!” I shouted with joy.
“We’d better get inside!” Charlie shouted.
I nodded and we went downstairs to the library. We spent another half-hour looking at the rest of the house. The kitchen was large, with plenty of places for food and cooking supplies, with an attached dining room large enough for twenty people. The second floor of the center hall had two bedrooms, a study (With an actual window!) and a sitting room. The south tower was an empty, three-story structure with enough room for a family of six. Behind the house, a courtyard lead to a second courtyard that looked out across the cliffs to the ocean. The wind was constant, but on days of calm, this would be a nice place to have a party.
When we returned to the main hall, Charlie glanced at his watch. “It’s about four-thirty,” he said. “Abby won’t be serving dinner until about six. So, what do you want to do until then?”
I thought for a moment. “Shopping trip,” I replied.
I'll try and be on time Thursday!