Dragon Rider – Part Ten

Dragon Rider

Chapter Six Continued

Going Nowhere, Fast

Willow sat cross-legged on a crumbling window ledge, flicking through the pages of a black leather book with fat gold hinges that Drake had managed to “borrow” from an Antique Book Dealers.  ‘Here it is,’ she said, clearing her throat, ‘The Emerald Key is not a key as such, but a magickal text that allegedly allows the reader to unlock all of the wisdom in the Universe and, because of this, anyone who possesses it can wield great power.

‘It was the first book ever to be created and was written by the God Mercury at the request of Zeus so that he had a full record of everything he possessed.  Unfortunately, it was stolen from Mount Olympus, along with fire, by Prometheus who gave it to Hermes Trismegistus, the Book’s Guardian on earth.

‘The Emerald Key has been passed down through generations of Guardians who swore to protect it as Hermes had once done.  It is believed that Guardians have included Roger Bacon, Nicholas Flamel and Edward Sampson, among others.’

‘That’s it?’ asked Drake.

‘Yep, apparently the book simply vanished around 1832,’ finished Willow.  She dropped the book on to the window ledge and went to sit next to Drake on the sofa.

Drake closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose.  ‘Okay Gizmo, what’ve you got?’

‘Not much more than what Funestus told us,’ said Gizmo.  ‘Apparently, that Canches guy-‘

‘The one who wrote the notebook?’ asked Drake.

‘Yeah, he was friends with Nicholas Flamel, one of the most famous Alchemists of all time-’

‘Nicholas Flamel?’  Drake laughed, ‘The crackpot who allegedly created the Philosopher’s stone?’

Gizmo nodded his head.  ‘It was Flamel who had the book, he just showed it to Canches.  It was The Emerald Key that gave Flamel the instructions on how to create the stone so that he could conquer death-’

‘Conquer death?’ asked Drake, his voice full of scepticism.

‘Don’t ask me,’ shrugged Gizmo, ‘I’m just reading what it says here.’

‘Okay, sorry,’ said Drake.  Boy, was this guy sensitive.  ‘Do you think you could do some more digging, see what else you can find?’

‘I’ve got Ailsa on to it, if she comes up with anything, I’ll let you know.’

Drake sighed.  ‘We have no leads, nowhere to start.’

‘Give it a couple of hours and I’m sure Ailsa will come up with something-’

‘I don’t think we’ve got a couple of hours, Fenrik’s already on to it, I know it.’  Drake banged his fist on the arm of the sofa, ‘If only we knew what he was up to.’

‘What we need is someone magickal, someone who can give us another angle on The Emerald Key.  Know anyone at the Uni Giz?’ asked Willow.

‘No, I’m sure-’

‘That’s it!’ said Drake smacking his forehead with the heal of his hand, ‘How come I didn‘t think of that before?’  He jumped up from the sofa.  ‘I need to pay an old friend a visit, she’s a Mystick, she’ll know where we need to start.’

‘You know a Mystick?  Why haven’t you told us this before?’

Drake shrugged.  ‘Her name is Alchymia, she’s helped me out a few times, maybe she’ll be able to help again.  She’s a good place to start anyway.’

‘So where do we find her?’

‘Nowhere.’

‘Drake, now isn’t the time for jokes-’

‘I’m not joking.  It’s an old magickal town to the north-west of here.’  Drake rubbed his chin, deep in thought.  ‘Didn’t think I’d go back there so soon.  It’ll be dangerous, can’t risk Falkor-’

‘Dangerous, how exactly?’ asked Gizmo, who had stopped flicking his hand over the images on the screen in front of him.

‘Long story.  Let’s just say I’m not very welcome there.  But still, it’s the only lead we’ve got.’

‘So when do we go?’ asked Willow, jumping off the sofa.

‘We don’t,’ said Drake, grabbing his Zephyr, ‘I go alone.’

‘Drake,’ said Gizmo, ‘you’ll need help.’

‘You,’ said Drake, slapping Gizmo on the back, ‘need to fix the problem you’re having breaking into the Enforcerer’s computers.  You also get to send Ailsa to infiltrate Fenrik’s system-’

‘No!’ cut in Gizmo, ‘I can’t allow that, it’s too dangerous, I-’

‘I know, but we need to know what he’s up to, what info he’s got, how close he is to finding it.  Find that out and we’ll have half a chance.’

‘And what do I get to do?’ asked Willow, her hands firmly on her hips, her eyes thunderous.

‘You get to stay here and help Gizmo.’

‘Drake?  Come on!’

‘I’m going alone.’

‘You’re not even taking Falkor?’ asked Willow, suddenly concerned.

‘Who’s Falkor? asked Gizmo.

‘No, it’s too risky, they’re not exactly pro-dragon where I’m going, and on the subject of Falkor…’

‘Dragon?’ asked Gizmo, swinging around in his chair, ‘no one said anything about dragons-’

‘No Drake, I’m not looking after him,’ said Willow shuddering, the thunder in her eyes now replaced by a look of horror.  ‘Look, I like dragons, really, I do, but I couldn’t look after one.  Anyway, if you’re not taking him you’re going to need transport.  We can use my Metatron, it’s a bike that Gizmo’s souped-up, very fast, very cool, you’ll like it.’

Drake chortled.  ’I was only going to ask if you could keep an eye out for him and give me the heads up if anything happens, that’s all.  But the Metatron sounds like a good idea.’

‘Great!  You get to go on an adventure and I get to babysit a Dragon.’

‘Will someone tell me when we got a pet dragon?’ asked Gizmo.

 

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Death’s Apprentice – Part Twenty-Five

‘You’ll be fine,’ said Mrs Crow.

‘Fine? Fine? I haven’t even been out of Bloxwich,’ said Joe. His heart was beating hard in his chest. Sweat was pooling in the small of his back. Please, please, he thought, let me wake up. Let me wake up!

‘Are you sure about this?’ asked Morana. ‘He doesn’t look too well -‘

‘He’s all we’ve got,’ said Mr Crow, with a shrug. Mrs Crow gave her husband a sharp kick under the table.

‘I’ll go with him,’ said Lucifer.

‘And me,’ said Marcus, ‘I am the War Horseman. And I do know my way around the Under-‘

Mrs Crwo shot out of her seat waving her arms around maniacally. ‘No, no, no!’

‘But -‘

‘DON’T. BE. STUPID! She knows who you are you moron.’

‘Well,’ said Marcus, his face like thunder, ‘I’ve never -‘

‘Okay, okay,’ said Morana, her hands spread in supplication, ‘let’s all take it down a notch. Let’s all calm down -‘

‘When, in the whole history of calming down, has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down?’ asked Mrs Crow. At that moment, Joe couldn’t decide if he hated her or admired her because she did have a point.

Morana sighed heavily. She closed her eyes and rubbed the bridge of her nose.

‘She has a point you know,’ said Febris, moving her mask aside to speak.

‘Okayyy. Who’s in favour of sending Joe down into the underworld?’

‘Just fucking do it and let let me get on with getting my scythe back,’ snapped Mrs Crow.

Everyone except Joe raised their hands.

‘That’s eleven for. Okay, motion -‘

‘Do I not get a say?’ Joe could feel his insides shaking. This was so typical of any adult that he’d ever met. They never fucking asked. Always telling. Always moaning at him. Always yelling.

‘What?’ asked Mrs Crow. ‘You want to go back to your miserable existence? Go on then, Joe.’ She pointed at the door. ‘There’s the door. Use it.’

‘Corvina!’ Morana slapped her hands on the desk. ‘Stop!’

‘Go on Joe, run back to the stepdad that hates your guts. And your mother who wishes you’d never been born.’

‘CORVINA!’ Morana jumped up. Her chair fell backwards and hit the floor with a thud.

‘So? What are you waiting for Joe? Go on. Leave. Leave like you always do.’

The anger was boiling inside him. He could feel it burning in his chest.

‘I’ll do it,’ he said.

Death’s Apprentice – Part Twenty-Three

Joe took his seat in between Mr and Mrs Crow.

‘I will explain when -‘

‘Sorry I’m late everyone!’ Joe turned to see a tall blonde woman enter the room wearing a long black cloak, followed closely behind by a rather small man with a long crooked nose that was too big for his body.

Bitch,’ said Mrs Crow, under her breath. Joe could see Mrs Crow’s hand tightening on the arms of her chair, so much that her knuckles were turning white.

‘What was that?’ asked the blonde woman.

‘Sorry Morana, I was just coughing. It’s one of the pitfalls of being so old. My throat gets very dry.’

‘That’s okay, Corvina. I can’t stay long. Meetings all day. What’s the latest on your problem?’

Morana took her seat at the head of the table. The small man sat at her right. He took out a notepad, ink pot and quill from his tatty leather satchel and placed them on the table.

‘It’s not just Corvina’s problem,’ said the man who had been introduced as Marcus.

‘I agree,’ said Febris. She stuck her finger in the air as if she was going to say something else but then began a coughing fit. Everyone ignored her.

‘There have been no death’s in England for sixty-seven -‘

‘Nearly sixty-eight,’ interrupted the blonde woman, looking at the giant watch on her wrist. It looked to Joe like it belonged in a museum.

‘Nearly sixty-eight days,’ finished Mrs Crow.

Joe noticed the small man to the right of the blonde woman was scribbling notes furiously on his pad as everyone spoke.

‘And what do you intend to do about it?’

‘Well, I asked my sister to attend this meeting but, as you can see,’ said Mrs Crow, pointing to the only vacant seat around the table, ‘she hasn’t taken me up on the offer.’

Morana placed her pale hand up to her face and gave a short, fake cough. ‘Forgive me, Corvina, I don’t seem to quite understand. You asked the woman, your sister, the person who has stolen your scythe to come to this meeting, in the hopes of achieving what exactly?’

‘Well,’ said Mrs Crow, leaning forward in her chair, her hands still tightly clenched around the arms of her chair, ‘it wasn’t to offer her tea and biscuits. I was going to fucking stab the bitch.’

Everything went quiet.  The little man beside Morana dropped his quill on the table, sending ink splattering across the table. Mr Crow coughed to break the uncomfortable silence.

‘I hope you’re going to clean that up!’ said Mrs Crow.

‘Let me get this right. You were going to stab your sister?’

‘Yes. Well, not me, Marcus was going to do it for me.’ Everyone in the room turned to look at Marcus who nodded and moved his jacket to the side to reveal a dagger attached by a belt to his waist.

‘Okayyy. But how would that get the scythe back?’

‘I was going to send Joe,’ she said, flicking her head in Joe’s direction, ‘once the bitch was dead.’

Suddenly everyone looked at Joe. Joe turned red.

Death’s Apprentice – Part Twenty

Just a short one today. It felt like a good place to stop because I’ve had an idea about what happens next and I think it needs to be in its own section.


Ten minutes after leaving his house, Joe was walking towards Crow’s Funeral Home with a tiny bag of belongings, his loyal dog and the clothes on his back.

He really hoped that Mrs Crow didn’t have another one of her turns. Not now. Not in front of everyone on the high street. That would be really embarrassing and well, awkward.

‘What changed?’ he asked, finally, hoping to keep her awake long enough to get her to the home. He wanted the job. He really did but going from a week’s trial to nothing? What was that all about? And what exactly did she mean about being desperate?

‘What do you mean?’ she replied, coming to a standstill in the middle of the very busy path. A guy with a crew cut and a large bulldog tattoo on his neck skidded to a halt to avoid bowling her over. He tutted before moving away.

‘Prick!’ she shouted, showing the middle finger to his back.

Joe felt strangely unwell. No, maybe not unwell, unnerved was probably a better description. The past two days had been rather surreal and he was beginning to wonder if he was, in fact, going a little crazy.

‘Well,’ he said, trying to gain his composure, ‘you said I needed to have a trial and now you’re just giving me the job? What’s changed? It’s not like I’ve done anything to impress you, is it?’

She stared him, eyes narrowed and shrugged. ‘Like I said, we’re desperate. Now, are you going to stand there whining like a little child, or, are you coming?’ She spun on her heels and raced off towards the home.

Dragon Rider – Part Two

Dragon Rider

Chapter Two

The Flaming Truth

With Pyro in sight, Drake pulled his Zephyr guitar from his back and ran his fingers over the ice cold strings.  The guitar sprang to life, pulsating like it had its own heart beating deep within it.  It begged him to play; to let its magick loose on the City.

And so he played; a quiet, haunting melody, magick to anaesthetize the soul.

‘NO, NO, NO!’ screamed the Fire-djinn as he danced frenetically upon the ground, his blazing hands stuffing chunks of cotton wool into his ears.  ’NO, NO, NO!  Not again!’

Drake shook his head and continued playing.  They’d been through this routine twice before, so you’d think even a stupid djinn like Pyro would know when to give up and stop fighting it, wouldn‘t you?

The music took effect almost instantly, racing through Pyro’s veins like a fast acting poison, making him incapable of anything except sleep.  Pyro fell heavily to the floor, his skin crusting over like the dying embers of a fire, although the smell of petrol still lingered in the air.

Drake stopped playing as Falkor landed beside Pyro’s body.  The dragon leaned forward and nudged Pyro with his bearded snout but the djinn didn’t move.  Falkor nickered softly but his body remained taut beneath Drake.

‘It’s okay,’ soothed Drake, as he slung his Zephyr across his back.  He slid off the dragon and ran his hand along the silky scales lining the side of Falkor’s neck, just below his crest.  The dragon nickered again and stretched out his front paw, clamping his green claws around the middle of the djinn’s body.  It was only then that the dragon relaxed his stance and allowed Drake to crouch beside Pyro.

Drake knew it wouldn’t be long before Pyro came to; the music’s influence was stronger on certain beings than others and for some reason this djinn was a tricky little guy who woke up almost immediately.  He had found this out the first time he had took him in for setting fire to a bin; Drake had gone to tie his hands together and had received a nasty burn on his wrists.  Luckily it was nothing that the healers couldn’t fix but Drake would never make the same mistake again.

Pyro woke up, saw Falkor’s deep blue eyes staring back at him, let out a shrill scream and fainted, his head flopping to the side with his long tongue hanging out.

Drake sighed.  ‘Now, now Pyro, you know the drill,’ he said leaning in closer, slapping Pyro’s cheek with his cold hand.

‘Huh?’ said Pyro, his red eyes struggling to focus.  His face was struck with fear as he caught sight of the dragon again, ‘Just get it off me!’

‘Sorry, can’t do that just yet.’  Drake stared hard into Pyro’s red eyes.  ‘You’re going to tell me what you’re doing here.’

‘I…I was just out for a walk-’

The dragon’s foot began to constrict.

‘Tell me the truth Pyro.’

‘I am, I am…I…’  Pyro’s eyes began to bulge in their sockets.

Drake shook his head.  ‘See Pyro, I don’t believe you,’ he said tapping his lips with his index finger.  He pointed at Falkor.  ‘My friend here wouldn’t be trying to squeeze you like a sponge if you were telling the truth.  He knows Pyro, he knows if you are lying.’

‘Okay…okay…’ gasped Pyro, struggling for air, ‘ just get the djinn-eater to ease up, please…’

Falkor loosened his grip slightly.  ‘Now talk,’ demanded Drake.

‘Thank you.’  Pyro took a deep breath.  ‘Okay, I wasn’t just out for a walk, I was feeling a bit hot under the collar, just lost a serious amount of dough on a job I was gonna do, needed to vent my frustration and I just happened to be close to the museum-’

‘Why the museum Pyro, you’ve never gone for anything that big before?’

‘You have done your homework on me, I’m impressed.  What can I say?  I can’t help it, I love fire!  Besides, thought I needed a challenge.’

Falkor began to squeeze down on Pyro‘s body, the bones crunching under his muscular foot.

‘STOP!  STOP!’ cried Pyro, ‘I CAN HEAR MY BONES…AH…POPPING!’

‘There’s no point lying.  He will kill you if you continue to lie.  Just tell the truth and he’ll release you.’

‘Okay, no more games…please…get it to stop.’

‘Go on.’

‘Alright, I wasn’t here by accident and I wasn’t here to set fire to the place, not this time anyway.  I was supposed to steal an artefact for some geezer who summoned me.’

‘Artefact?’

‘In my pocket’ said Pyro flicking his head to the right.

Drake reached down and rummaged in Pyro’s right pocket.  ‘Damn it Pyro, what have you…eugh…’ he said, fetching out a small pickled hand that clutched a stub of candle wax.  ‘What the hell is this?’ said Drake, his face scrunched up in disgust.

Pyro looked at Drake like he was a leg short of a cauldron.  ‘It’s a Hand of Glory.’

‘A what?’

‘A Hand of Glory, basically a pickled hand with a candle stuck in between its fingers-’

‘Yeah Pyro, I can see that.  What does it do?’

‘Lots of things; it lights the way for thieves, it unlocks things -’

‘It’s a key?’ asked Drake, his eyebrows arched.  He turned to look at Pyro.  ’Who were you stealing it for?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘What?’  Drake looked at Falkor but the dragon didn’t move an inch.  ‘You must have had contact with someone.’

Pyro sighed.  ‘Well, this morning I was lying in bed, dreaming about a holiday I was gonna take in Sicily, after I’d off-loaded the stash of Yash Chetana movies me and Tappo had managed to get our hands on, when I was woken by a pain in my gut like I’d been punched by an eight foot Troll.  I knew immediately what was happening; I was being summoned.’

‘Summoned by magick?’

‘No, by the Enforcerer’s Office.  What d’yez think?  Of Course magick,’ said Pyro rolling his red eyes.  ‘Anyways, it comes with the job, being a djinn and all that.  No way of stopping it once it starts.  You just get sucked up,’ he said finishing with a strange sucking noise.

‘Like you say, you’re a djinn, you should be used to it.’

‘True.  But this was different.  I never saw the geezer’s face, just a shadow and a bright green light, then this voice, all distorted like on those really bad horror movies, commanded me to obey.  I was told what to steal and when, and I was under strict instructions to keep it safe until it was needed.  It said that if I put so much as a finger wrong I would be found and put in a chest freezer for all eternity, imagine that, a pyromaniac encased in a freezer.  The cruelty of it!’

Even in the dragon’s tight grip Drake could see Pyro shudder.

‘Yeah, my heart bleeds for you.  When were you supposed to give them the Hand?’

‘I don’t know, I was told I would be summoned again.’

Drake gave Pyro a sharp look.  ‘Did you recognise the voice?’

‘No.’

Drake studied Falkor with a furrowed brow and sighed, before stuffing the Hand of Glory back into the djinn’s pocket.  ’Well, the Enforcerer’s Office can deal with that,’ he said, wiping his hand on Pyro’s trousers, ‘and now I must deal with you.’  He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small glass vial.

‘Oh Drake, come on…no.’  Pyro shook his head, ‘Please not that, oh come on, there’s no need for that, I’ll be good, go in quietly, like a good boy, just not the sleeping draft, it makes me dribble.’

‘Sorry Pyro, my friend,’ said Drake, his face lit up with a devilish smile.  ‘Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone about your problem.’  The stopper gave a loud pop as Drake pulled it from the vial.

‘I hate you, Devil‘s spawn!’ spat Pyro, just as two drops of the grey liquid touched his lips.  His body fell limp and he immediately began to snore.

Drake scooped up Pyro and laid him on Falkor’s back, ready to be handed in.

Eugh!  That smell…

So You Wanna Be A Writer? Where Do You Start?

This post is full of swearing!!

So, you want to write a book, eh? But you haven’t even begun yet because, like, it’s scary and where the fuck do I even start?

Well, you don’t have to start at the beginning, that’s for sure, but you do have to START.

It doesn’t matter how shit it is. You can’t edit a blank page my friends. THAT is the truth.

So, first things first, what do I need to write?

Just a notebook and a pen or pencil and an idea. That’s all.

Simple, eh? Well, maybe not that simple. But we have to start somewhere. You don’t even need a computer in the beginning. A lot of writers I know actually prefer to write their first draft of a novel, or a poem, or a short story in longhand. I do a bit of both depending on how I’m feeling and where I am.

So, number one tip; get yourself a notebook and pen. (Actually, you might need several notebooks. A writer can never have too many notebooks. #FACT)

Okay, so I’ve got my notebook, now what? That is a good question. You don’t have to start out with a grandiose idea. Big Oaks grow from little acorns. If something pops into your head, jot it down. You don’t know where that idea will take you. My Bones, Ashes and Dust trilogy started in this way. Just a single idea. A what if?

What if the Angel of Death sent to collect the soul of a person who’d tried to end their own life, saved them instead?

Also, another good tip (obviously it’s good because it’s my tip :)) is to keep an ideas notebook. Random ideas pop into our heads at random times. Jot them down. You never know when they’ll come in handy.

But, I’ve never written anything before. I didn’t even finish school.

First rule of Writing Club, Fuck the Grammar snobs. This is important because, in life, there will always be people waiting to knock you down. That’s especially true when you’re writing. “Oh but that writing is shocking because you haven’t got an apostrophe there and BLAH, BLAH, BLAH! Fucking yawn! I know Sharon, I’m not a fucking grammar snob like you AND it’s a first draft.

Let me tell you a little secret. I’m shit at naming things. What is a Compound Sentence? What is an adjunct? Fuck if I know, Sharon. Doesn’t mean I can’t write. Telling a story is more than just naming things and getting the grammar right. A story can have perfect grammar but it don’t mean shit if the story is crap.

That’s not to say you can just leave bad grammar in writing. It will need sorting. What I’m saying is, don’t worry about grammar in the beginning. Start writing. Grammar is something you can learn. And if you can’t and still struggle, an Editor is your best friend.

DON’T let the fear of grammar stop you from writing!!!

And, finally, for today’s lesson, Practice. Practice makes perfect. Keep writing. It doesn’t have to be anything long. Your ideas don’t have to make sense and they don’t have to all join up. That’s okay. To write, you need to get into the habit of writing.

So, to recap;

Get a notebook, a pen and an idea. Now, go and write. And Fuck anyone who puts you down!

Oh, and apologies to any Sharons out there 🙂

 

Death’s Apprentice – Part Seventeen

‘Joe, NOW, not next week!’

I better go down and face the music, he thought.

Joe grabbed some tracksuit bottoms, slipped a black t-shirt over his head and run his hands through his black hair to calm it down a bit. He breathed in deeply, exhaled slowly and prepared himself for the onslaught of Hurricane Mom. But what could he tell her about the mess? Although he was coming to the conclusion that most of what he thought was a dream, wasn’t a dream, he didn’t really know which bits were really real. Did he really put a dead body in someone else’s grave? And, if he did, he couldn’t really tell her he’d done that, could he? So, what did he say? What possible explanation could there be for making all this mess?

Let’s get it over with, he thought as he opened his door.

‘Lola, come on girl,’ he said, turning back to make sure she followed him downstairs. But she was missing.

Shit, shit, SHIT! Had they loosed her out in retaliation for all the mess? They better not have hurt her. They better not have…

He spun on his heels, shot out of his room and down the stairs. The door to the living room was open and he could see his mom through the gap. She was bent over, her large cardigan hanging off her shoulders. He could see she was looking over at the sofa, a gormless look on her face.

He entered the room, looked at his mom then followed her gaze. He took a sharp intake of breath as he caught sight of Mrs Crow asleep on the sofa, Lola lying across her lap.

‘What the..?’

His mom shrugged. Her cream cardy fell off her shoulder revealing a rough looking tattoo of a bleeding heart. Joe hadn’t got anything against tattoos – having one was on his to-do list – he just had a problem with ones that looked like they’d been done by a six-year-old child.

‘Okay,’ he said, as his brain tried to process what was going on, ‘how long she been here?’

‘Never mind that. Why is a strange woman asleep on my sofa?’

‘Erm…’ Joe scratched his head. Why was Mrs Crow asleep on the sofa?

‘You know her? Please tell me you know her?’

‘Yes, I -‘

‘Well? Who is she?’

‘Mom, this is Mrs Crow.’

‘Mrs Crow?’

‘Yeah, she’s giving me a trial on a job -‘

‘What Job? How much? You know I’ll be needing rent. Water, electricity, gas,’ she said, counting them on her fat fingers, ‘and food. And food for that rat of a dog. That does not come cheap you know. And -‘

His mom jumped in the air as Mrs Crow gave a loud snort.