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Continue The Story: It Was a Dark and Stormy night.

Posted on 02/22/2005 4:28:09 PM PST by utahguy

Continue The Story: It Was a Dark and Stormy night. Attention Writers, Wouldabee’s, Wannabee’s, Amateurs, Hacks, etc. etc.

Now is your chance to perceive, pen and publish your punishing purple prose planetwide.
Just take the last line from this, or any post/comment and add your prose. No need for this turkey to come out linearly.

Any genre, any style. And without concern if it’s bad, it’s SUPPOSE to be.

Comments and Groans are welcome.

It was a dark and stormy night. The wind howled out of the north like a bereaved banshee, roaring over the moor, funnelling its fuming ferocity down the valley toward the opulent manor.

The gale twisted bits of flotsam, flora and fauna into the frigid air, creating a clammering cacaphony of wretched debris hurling headlong into the walls of the estate as if on some suicidal mission to find refuge.

Inside the manor Percilla pouted. Thurgood and Eason had undoubtedly cancelled their visit, since her butler had informed her earlier that the bridge had been washed out due to the storm.

The only other route was a narrow, twisted trail through the moors of which she was told no sane person would dare venture at night, much less in this weather.
And they could be such cowards at times, she thought, for she so looked forward to a rousing game of whisk.
Oh, bother. Nothing left to do but get tiddly.

She poured the sherry herself, as she had dismissed the servants early. Pressing her voluptuous lower lip to the edge of the glass, she took a long sip of the amber liquid while giving a blank stare toward the immense fireplace.

Percilla watched impassively as the flames flickered fluidly, like dozens of Dante’s dancing denizens, pirouetting upwards to a silent symphony.

She signed, placed the goblet on the table, which now was adorned with a baby's bottom of crimson on the lip of the leaded crystal.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door . . . . . . .


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: badwriting; fiction; potboiler; writers; writing; zaq
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To: StarCMC

"Woohoo - BTTT!!
And btw - I love your tagline!
Thanks for my bedtime story! *grin*"

Appreciate the props. Tagline courtesy of Uncle Ted, One hellofa Rocker and a great American.
I'll post my last "chunk" come Sunday PM or Monday, then It's Old Sarge's turn to shine. We'll keep you posted.

Glad you're enjoying this. Tell your friends! :)


51 posted on 03/12/2005 6:41:54 PM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: utahguy; Old Sarge; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus
”It matters to me not what is in your blood, but what is in your soul.”

He reach the area where he saw the man sitting in the middle of the lane. Suddenly, on impulse, he stopped the vehicle.

Then he did something he had never done in his life.

He looked toward the sky and prayed.

*________________________________*

“Such a difference from this morning,” Eason thought, as he and Percilla were chauffeured to the train station. The clouds swooped down from the north with feverish speed, dark, menacing, accompanied by increasing winds and a rather dramatic drop in barometric pressure.

Percilla sat by his side, with a calm demeanor, projecting a silent confidence. The soon to be inclement weather reminded him of that evening so few days ago, before the storm which had washed out the bridge, cancelled their plans for whisk and had changed there lives. Forever.

So many questions, so many loose ends, the quantity of such which surely would, had he concentrated on it, leave him in a state of dizzying panic.

Yet just by being in Percilla’s presence, observing the way she conducted herself through all this, gave him a somewhat queer yet comforting sense of well being and composure. If was if he was feeding off her, relying on her new found inner strength for solace and continence.

The rain had just to arrived on it’s downward journey to earth as they boarded the train and made their way to the sleeper car.

After securing his traveling case, Eason joined Percilla in the adjacent berth.

“Settled in?”
“Yes, thank you,” she said.
”Well,” he stated, “shall we visit the club car to pass the time”
“I would rather just stay here,” she answered, “But please, feel free to go if you would like.”
“Well then, would you like me to ring the Steward and have him bring some refreshments?”
“I am fine,” she indicated to him with a soft smile, ” though nice of you to ask.”

He sat beside her on the upholstered bench. In he seconds of silence that followed, what would have, in the past, been an awkward situation was replaced by a foreign yet welcomed feeling of congenial relaxation.

Eason was about to comment as such when there was a rapid knock, followed by the opening of the door.

“I say,” exclaimed a voice from outside, “do you mind if I come it?”

He was of average height, thin, dressed neatly in a gray three piece suit. He had a boyish face, light hair combed straight back and a pencil thin mustache over his upper lip.

“Frightfully decent of you to let me join you,” he said, as he sat down facing the pair. “Pettibone’s my name. Alfred Pettibone.”

I do get a tad nervous,” he continued, before they could respond. “Riding on trains and such. An inner ear problem, I suspect. A dreadful nuisance it is, but what can one do?”

“I say,”, he stated, nonstop, “did you notice how scant the passengers are? Why the club car is hardly half full. Not at all like during the war, when one had to fight tooth and nail for a passage.
And outside of us three, there is only an older couple on this car, two berths down. Frightfully nice they are, frightfully nice, however all they wishe to discuss are teapots!
Yes, that is correct, teapots! They are collectors, you see, and travelling to London they are to scour the antique shops to add to their collection.
Not that I have anything against teapots mind you, but it can get a bit tedious if that is all that is discussed, don’t you agree?”

Eason managed to get in a quick, “Well,” before Pettibone extended his thoughts.

“Now Mother, she rather likes to travel on trains. She says getting there is half of the enjoyment. I fearfully wish I had her constitution for such things, but alas, I do not.”

Before Eason or Percilla could respond, Pettibone interjected, “I do however, have a way of taking a bit of the edge off.” He reached in his coat pocket and produced a silver coloured flask.

“Excellent whiskey it is,” he said, thrusting the container to Eason. “My word as a gentleman. “Grateful if you would join me in a drop old Boy. Frightfully grateful.”

Eason saw that Pettibone had a coin pressed against the flask. It bore the etchings MDXXXLXXXIII and Devlesa araklam tume

Pettibone waited, arm outstretched.

He got no response from Eason, so he settled his glance on Percilla, who immediately pulled up her blouse sleeve to reveal her coin. He glanced back at Eason, who followed suit and produced out of his pocket his coin.

Pettibone, in a deft movement of his fingers flipped his coin to expose the Dragon. The pair, in unison, did the same.

After a long moment of silence, Pettibone spoke. This time in a low voice with a serious intent.

“There will be a man, a cabbie, that will meet you at the London station. He will utter the phrase, “Isn’t is a gorgeous day for a cruise.” Go with him.

Pettibone pocketed his coin and handed the flask to Eason. Eason uncapped the container, now grateful for the drink offer.

“This has been a bit of a rush for us,” Pettibone said, in a slightly more relaxed tone. “only had but a few hour notice. But we were expecting as such, so we will manage.”

“I do hope you will forgive me,” uttered Percilla, “But are you - what I mean to say is that you do not exactly look like -”
“Romany?” Pettibone smiled. “A bit. But completely dedicated, like my constituents, to the cause. A rather long story it is, on how I can to possess the bloodline. And a rather interesting one, but I am afraid my time with you is short. I must leave you at the next stop, which we are due to arrive in but a few minutes.”

Pettibone stood. Eason took a quick swallow from the flask, spun the top tight and attempted to hand it back. “You take it, old fellow,” Pettibone said, “I have a feeling you may need it.”

Then in a quick motion Pettibone opened the door. He gave a quick glance too see if the coast was clear. Satisfied that it was, he turned back.

“Two things I must stress to you two. One, use your coins only in response. Always wait for your contact to first produce his.”

A slight pause, then, “If your contacts are true, they will show their coin back-side out first. Please let me repeat. They will first show you their coin back-side out. If they are true.”

“May fortune be with you, my friends,” and before he departed, Pettibone added,
Devlesa avilan”

Pettibone closed the door of the sleeper berth.

Eason, on impulse and emotion, followed him out. “Mister Pettibone?”

“Pettibone turned.” Yes sir?”
“I - please forgive me for asking this, for it may very well be stepping out of my station,”
Pettibone stepped closer. Eason continued. “I do wish to inquire of something.”

Eason took a deep breath. “I get the feeling that there is more to this than Percilla simply, - how shall I put this, - than an unlocking of true blood and a restoration of an order.”

Pettibone met his gaze and gave an almost imperceptible nod. “You are a fine fellow,” he said of Eason, and slapped the side Eason’s arm gently with an open hand. “Stay by her side. Protect her. She needs you.”

Pettibone then swiftly turned and left his presence.

This brief conversation, rather than satisfy his craving for information, only left Eason more wanting.

Such cloak and dagger! However at least, as he quickly recollected, that subtle nod had given him an a modicum of affirmation to one of his questions. Yes, there was more, much more going on that met the eye.

He turned back to the berth. Percilla, who though all this had remained remarkably calm. And it was with this, as he had repeated to himself many times during these recent hours, he would find strength to curb his wanton curiosity and up welling fear.

He recalled an old proverb: All things come to those who wait.

Well, he thought, that would be his motto. At least for the time being.

“Excuse me,” Eason said as he sat beside her in the sleeper berth.

“Eason,” she asked, in that newly found continence, “What do you think the reason for producing the coin first ‘back side out’?”
“That I can tell you,” Eason replied, grateful to contribute.
“Without specific instructions, one would have a natural tendency to show someone a coin face side first.”
“I see,” she replied, accompanied with a slight nod. “Thank you.”

As an added precaution against treachery , he thought, but he would keep that rather disturbing revelation to himself.

“Eason,” Percilla chimed, “What do you say we adjourn to the dining car.”
“Now that you mention it,” he said, his mood shifting quickly, “I am feeling a bit peckish.”

She moved close to him and took his hand in hers, not in a voluptuary way, but in a manner reminiscent of two comrades sharing a common goal.

The narrowness of the corridor prevented them from continuing this union, and after she released his hand he felt, through her - yes, that was it - that he discovered yet another unique feeling.

A feeling that he was needed.

* * * *

After a rather non descript meal of curry and mash, they retired to the sleeper berth.

Eason had procured a rather excellent bottle of claret from the Steward, and they finished off the day penciling crosswords.

Those last few hours before retiring were somewhat surrealistic in that despite their predicament the mood was light and gay, with word placement interluded by delightfully breezy conversation mixed with gentle back and forth bantering.

During a time when Percilla, who took the responsibility of filling in the letter squares, pondered a ten letter word for “brilliantly beautiful,” starting with R and ending with T, Eason mused that if nothing else this journey had made him realize an important item: that despite the transpiration of events in the past few days, the one thing that protruded foremost in his mind was not only the immense change in Percilla, but the atmosphere surrounding them being together. Though he steadfastly agreed to his new found personal agenda of which he would implement once this was seen through, he now would seek and maintain contact with her. For as he - and confident that she had amassed the same feelings - had realized by these neo-moments together, that a special bond had developed.

A bond of relaxing comfort while in each others presence.

A bond of true friendship.

* * * *

The London air was thick with fog and drizzle.

An aromatic presense, as thick as the present haze, and unique to the city, greeted Percilla and Eason as they stepped out from the train onto the station. Both ventured to each other the common belief that if one did not dwell on the origins of such emanating odors, you would get used to it within a time.

It took but a minute before contact was made.

“Excuse me, Sir,” said the cabby, suddenly appearing out of the mist, “But Isn’t is a gorgeous day for a cruise.” It was anything but, which confirmed the signal.

The tradesman motioned the pair to his hanson. After securing their luggage in the trunk, and opening doors for passenger entrance, he, without a word, affixed himself behind the drivers wheel.

The cabbie popped open the glove box and retrieved an envelope. He then directed it toward the back seat.

The coin, back-side out, was visible on the side of the envelope.

As per the newly discovered protocol, Percilla and Eason produced theirs.

The cabbie handed Eason the envelope, pocketed the coin, started the motor and drove off towards the docks.

Contained within the envelope were two boarding passes.

After a rather rapid drive through the crowded streets, they reached their destination.

“You have a bit of time,” the cabbie said as he unloaded their bags from the trunk of the vehicle. “There’s a tea shop just down the street where you can get a bite. It’s a bit worn ‘round the edges, she is, but the tea is hot, the ale’s strong, and they serve a good pork pie.”

Eason reached for his coin purse to pay the man. The cabbie waved it off.

“Devlesa avilan,” he said, then climbed into his cab and drove off.

Eason now thought it a good time to clear up a bit of the mystery.
“Percilla,” he said, after a quick glance to insure he was out of earshot from outsiders, “do you happen to know the meaning of these phrases?

“Why yes,” she answered, “yes I do. In fact,” she took his hand in a manner reminiscent of the way she did in the sleeper car. “I have been waiting for you to ask.”

“The phrase on the coin, ’Devlesa araklam tume,’ means, ‘It is with God that we found you’”

“What these men have said,” she continued, “Devlesa avilan . . .”

She moved closer.

And as her exotic eyes, full of meaning, met his, she whispered, . . .

“It is God who brought you.”

52 posted on 03/14/2005 10:24:25 AM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: utahguy
It was a dark and stormy night,

And we were all seated around the campfire,

When the leader got up and he said,

"Johnny, tell us a story!"

So Johnny got up and he said,

"It was a dark and stormy night,

And we were all seated around the campfire,

When the leader got up and he said,

"Johnny, tell us a story,

So Johnny got up and he said.

.....

Get the idea??

53 posted on 03/14/2005 10:28:13 AM PST by Logic n' Reason (Don't piss down my back and tell me it's rainin')
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To: Logic n' Reason
'round and round she goes, and where it stops, nobody knows...

That it?

54 posted on 03/14/2005 10:33:04 AM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: utahguy

Preeeee - cise - lee!


55 posted on 03/14/2005 10:57:50 AM PST by Logic n' Reason (Don't piss down my back and tell me it's rainin')
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To: Logic n' Reason
Preeeee - cise - lee!

Great minds think alike :)

56 posted on 03/14/2005 11:05:41 AM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: utahguy

BTTT - gotta read when I get home!! :o)


57 posted on 03/14/2005 12:13:06 PM PST by StarCMC (It's God's job to forgive Bin Laden; it's our job to arrange the meeting.)
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To: Old Sarge; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; utahguy
Almost forgot the lead-in:

I now pass the baton to Old Sarge. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts, return your tray tables to their full upright position and get ready to experience Profetic Prose, Perfectly Penned by non other than Old Sarge himself.

58 posted on 03/14/2005 5:17:08 PM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: utahguy; Old Sarge; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus

And with that baton, it's going to be a bit before the next installment, but worry not - it will come!


59 posted on 03/14/2005 5:38:28 PM PST by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: utahguy; Bethbg79

You need to check this out!!


60 posted on 03/15/2005 7:10:43 PM PST by StarCMC (It's God's job to forgive Bin Laden; it's our job to arrange the meeting.)
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To: utahguy

Teddy's a good one. We have a friend who interned at WRIF in Detroit - said Ted was just a regular guy.


61 posted on 03/15/2005 7:12:54 PM PST by StarCMC (It's God's job to forgive Bin Laden; it's our job to arrange the meeting.)
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To: utahguy; StarCMC; bentfeather; Darksheare; writer33
Swiftly, Eason and Percilla located the ship listed on their tickets, headed out and bound for The Continent. The information on them showed that passage had only been arranged hours in advance, and it was obviously on the first ship available.

"Not POSH, by any near means, but then, it feels like were flying from danger behind", Eason said lightly.

"Or maybe, flying towards danger," Percilla said. Her eyes began scanning the arrayed ships, then alighting on one, "There it is, I believe - the S.S. Cypriot, bound to Cherbourg before evening."

Eason checked his watch. "The cabbie was right, we have some time before boarding but I think we'd best be aboard, though. The dock might be watched. And what if another contact awaits aboard? It might be prudent to find our next meeting."

Percilla considered this, and said, "You're thinking ahead, my friend, but not behind. Recall what the driver said, about the tea-shop? I think that we are to meet yet another contact there."

After a moment, Eason conceded, "Perhaps you're right. And he did mention a menu - 'the tea is hot, the ale’s strong, and they serve a good pork pie.' Perhaps that's the next sign? Let's go and find out."

Percilla followed Eason's lead down the street, and there, just around one bend and as the cabbie had said, stood a tea-shop, tucked away partly down an alley. The weather-worn sign above the entry declared the place to be -

"The Water Dragon! And, Eason, look there!" Percilla pointed to the top of the sign, where faded but plain, there it was: the Dragon-symbol!

"Well, if nothing else, I shall take it as a marker, that this is a safe place to await the off." And the two walked to the door, and entered.

Their eyes adjusted to the gloom, and took in the interior of the place. Tables and chairs were scattered over the common room, with a few chairs resting near a hearth and good fire. Twin doors led, apparently, to the kitchens, as youths in soiled aprons bustled in and out, laden with trays piled high with food and drink.

Eason conducted Percilla to a booth near the window, and within a moment of seating themselves, were met by an older lady, whom Eason took as the proprietress.

"Good arfternoon, Good Sair, an' Madam", she drawled in a thick accent, "an' what might ye be havin' thess day, eh?"

Eason spoke first, "Madam, this establishment was recommended to us, by a local cab driver. He made it a point to mention your shop, and told us that, oh let's see now - 'the tea is hot, the ale is strong, and they serve a good pork pie.' Is that a fair assessment?"

As Eason quoted the cabbie, the proprietress's face hardly changed, but her eyes reacted. Quickly, they began darting two and fro, quickly taking in Eason and Percilla, then the clientelle, then the doors to the kitchens, then the entryway.

"Roight y'arre, Sair, an' thos're fair wairds, sure, from thet cabbie o'yours. Now, might I not be clearin' up th'table, a bit?" And before she finished speaking, she had bent over the table, brushing aside some invisible mess, but showing an ample busom to Eason - including a coin-shaped medallion in her cleavage.

"Ar, silly me, me jewelry always gettin' in th' way!" she slurred, taking the medallion in one hand. "A pretty thing, ain'tit, Sair, see how it shines so!" And she extended the medallion for Eason's examination - back-side first.

Percilla followed Eason's lead, in producing the now-familiar counter-sign.

The proprietress's demeanor changed not a bit, but straighenting up, she produced two bills of fare from the folds of her apron, and said simply, "Thair y'are, Sair an' Madam, an' if I moight recommend t'the good Lady, read yer bill closely, like?" And with a whirl, she left the table.

Percilla, dutifully looking down the bill, and after a minute, looked over the paper at Eason, here eyes flashing.

"It seems, Eason dear," Percilla said, handing the bill of fare to him, "we've been contacted further..."

62 posted on 03/15/2005 7:37:17 PM PST by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: StarCMC; Old Sarge
This is really cool! Thanks Star!!
63 posted on 03/15/2005 7:37:58 PM PST by Bethbg79 (God bless our Troops and their families!)
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To: Bethbg79

I knew you'd like it!! *grin*


64 posted on 03/15/2005 7:43:39 PM PST by StarCMC (It's God's job to forgive Bin Laden; it's our job to arrange the meeting.)
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To: Old Sarge

You have learned well -- always leave 'em wanting more!! More! More! More!!

:o)


65 posted on 03/15/2005 7:47:49 PM PST by StarCMC (It's God's job to forgive Bin Laden; it's our job to arrange the meeting.)
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To: utahguy

http://www2.sjsu.edu/depts/english/2004.htm

Bulwer-Litton award winners, 2004. For inspiration and laughs.


66 posted on 03/15/2005 8:07:55 PM PST by Veto! (Opinions Freely Dispensed as Advice)
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To: utahguy; StarCMC; bentfeather; Darksheare; writer33; syriacus
Percilla, dutifully looking down the bill, and after a minute, looked over the paper at Eason, here eyes flashing.

"It seems, Eason dear," Percilla said, handing the bill of fare to him, "we've been contacted further..."

And Eason, taking the bill of fare from Percilla, began reading not the menu, but the hand-scripted message inside, while Percilla feigned interest in the patterns of sunlight in the glass. The top of the paper had the familiar Order of the Dragon crest, centered on the top like letterhead, and the following narrative:

THE WATER DRAGON, London, 17 May 1935

Unto Miss Percilla St. Cyr, of Maison St. Cyr, Hempstead, do I, Istvan Horvath, send greeting.

It is with urgent haste, and great trust to chance, that I leave this written message to you, while you are in flight from this land to the next. I regret that I cannot join you personally at this waystation on your journey, but our meeting will come soon, I give my word.

DO NOT BOARD THE CYPRIOT! Nor let anyone convince you to do the same. Just prior to your boarding time, a motorcar will approach you. The driver will contact you, in a manner you by now understand, and I bid you accompany him. He will conduct you to meet me, from where we shall make safer and more secure passage from this land.

I can well imagine the depth of your curiosity, at your new circumstances. I give my word to you, Ms. St. Cyr, that I shall answer each question you have, as well as I can contrive, upon our meeting.

“Devlesa avilan,”

ISTVAN HORVATH

"Eason, we have less than twenty minutes!" Percilla hissed. "We must leave!" Reaching for his watch, Eason saw that indeed, the time had passed swiftly. And from the docks nearby, a low thrumming horn sounded. The Cypriot was about to sail.

Rising quickly from the table, Eason and Percilla moved with urgency out of the Water Dragon, and retraced their steps back to the wharf where the ship lay, ready to depart. As they approached the quay, a motorcar pulled up to them, slowing then stopping. The driver, in a chauffeur's uniform, got out, moved around the side of the car to meet the couple. His face was a mask, without emotion. In his outstretched hand, lay the familiar coin.

Face first.

Eason saw. And guessed.

The driver's other hand was drawing out of the coat.

Eason's hand drew in answer.

A shot rang out.

And another.

Percilla shrieked, once, quickly cut off.

The driver's eyes widened, then faded as his knees buckled, sinking to the pavement.

Eason realized that he had only fired once. He turned, and saw a man, in a trenchcoat, a wide-brim hat pulled down over one eye, holding a still-smoking pistol, aimed at the driver.

The man's other hand held forth the coin, back-side first. Eason and Percilla responded.

"Come," was all their savior said as he whirled and strode toward a second car. Eason and Percilla followed swiftly and in shock. More surprise to come, though, as the car they were ushered into was a black touring car. On its sides, was blazoned a crest. The crest of the Church. And their savior, removing his coat, wore the robe and collar of a priest!

"His Excellency sends his blessings for you both, my friends," the priest said, "and it appears I arrived timely. But their is no further time, I fear. When the messenger fails to report, They will know. We must move swiftly."

Eason stammered, "But - but what happened back there -"

"Please, sir, no further questions until we're somewhere safe," the priest replied. Turning to Percilla, he said, "Your choice of guardsman was admirable, My Lady, but our resources must be employed now.Quickly, get in, and we shall leave."

So they did. And they were off. Percilla took one glance back, the ship pulling its gangplank away, the final horn sounding, and the other car still where it stopped. The body of the driver was masked by the car. And then they rounded a corner, and they were gone.

67 posted on 03/15/2005 8:27:42 PM PST by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: StarCMC
Teddy's a good one. We have a friend who interned at WRIF in Detroit - said Ted was just a regular guy.

Hey, StarCMC. Thanks, as always, for your messages; but to be honest, I'm lost on this one.

Appreciate you helping out this senile old Irishman on expanded verbage and/or meaning.
(Brain cells now working . . .. working . . .. Ted Nugent?)
More than a little slow on the updraft..... :) Take care
utahguy

68 posted on 03/16/2005 10:47:40 AM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: utahguy

Yeah - sorry - the Nuge! LOL! (Your tagline!)


69 posted on 03/16/2005 10:56:00 AM PST by StarCMC (It's God's job to forgive Bin Laden; it's our job to arrange the meeting.)
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To: utahguy; StarCMC; bentfeather; Darksheare; writer33; syriacus
Down the winding London streets wove the black car, carrying Percilla and Eason from danger into the unknown. The couple sat together, hands entwined unconsciously, in the back seat of the car. Alongside them, at the other door, sat the priest who had rescued them.

"Father", Eason began, "thank you for that back there. But, you -"

"Killed someone? It was a necessity, my son," said the priest, "and one for which I shall perform a proper penance for my soul. And for his," he added. "Besides, had I allowed that deed to transpire, your questions would not have been answered - because the lady would not be alive to ask them. You were not the assassin's target - she was."

Percilla was pale and white, but not from fear, but from anger, boiling up from her heart and near to bursting forth. "I did not 'choose a guardsman', Priest. I asked my friend to accompany me on a journey, which he accepted. And now, you're saying that I am to be swept up in some conspiratorial tale, with events out of my control? I assure you, that will not happen, while I have a say in my own affairs!"

"And so you still do, My Lady," the priest said. "The time for your decision is almost at hand, and once made, will certainly put events "out of your control". Are you not aware of what your terrible power to decide can do?"

"Whatever are you talking about?" Percilla asked.

The priest turned to her, and said patiently, "Think, my child, on the very word, 'decide.' Its roots are ancient in language, but it comes from the same root as, 'to kill.' Suicide, Homicide - DE-cide. Choices and options die when a course of action is chosen. When you commit homicide, you kill someone. But when you decide, you kill all other choices but the one you have selected. So, when you decide, be mindfull of what you kill..."

"Now, we are almost at our destination. I will take my leave shortly, but I daresay we shall meet once again." Eason saw that he was right: the car was just now pulling up to a gate of iron and stone, ornate columns flanking the medieval-looking portcullis. A guard was barely visible in the shadow of the gate, but as the car moved inside, Eason noticed the plaque upon the wall:

"Hungarian Embassy."

**************************

The motorcar came to a halt outside a grand entrance on the Embassy Grounds. The priest got out, and ushered Eason and Percilla inside, passing through an opulent Victorian foyer and along a corridor leading away from the door. The Hungarian Embassy was an old building, a series of London townhomes with the adjacent walls removed or holed through for access. The trio entered an anteroom to the right, a room of oak panelling and sparse furnishing.

"Here, friends, is where I must part," the priest said simply. "Devlesa avilan, My Lady," he said to Percilla, who nodded her head at the familiar salutation. To Eason, he said, "Stay by her side. Protect her. She needs you." And he turned and left.

That phrase again, Eason thought. What significance, beside the obvious, I wonder...

Percilla began observing her surroundings. Accustomed as she was to English opulance, she was curious as to the spareness of the room. No unecessary funriture, no displays of diplomatic largesse; it would be proper to put forth some show of wealth, as befitting the impressions of international custom. But here, there was little to be seen.

"Eason," she said, "have you noticed, there aren't any windows, and only one door?"

"Yes", he replied, "but to keep us safely in, or others out?" Eason moved to the door, and seeing it was not locked, opened it a crack to view down the corridor. A single man stood nearby, partway down the corridor, watching both ways. The man made eye contact with Eason, briefly, nodding his head and motioning him back into the room. The message was polite, but firm: please stay where you are.

"I assure you that you are quite safe here, my friends. Diplomatic immunity, and all that!" came a voice from within the room. Eason stared around, and saw Percilla staring at a man who had entered the room, seemingly out of thin air.

"Welcome, My Lady, and Good Sir. My name is Horvath - Istvan."

70 posted on 03/16/2005 5:27:31 PM PST by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: utahguy; StarCMC; bentfeather; Darksheare; writer33; syriacus
Percilla was in the middle of her perusal of the anteroom, when she heard the grind of a door beside her, and turned to see one corner of a bookshelf rotate out on a hidden hinge, to reveal a passage behind it, and a man walking out into the room.

"I assure you that you are quite safe here, my friends. Diplomatic immunity, and all that! Welcome, My Lady, and Good Sir. My name is Horvath - Istvan."

Eason had turned from the door, and moved toward Percilla, standing next to her, protectively. He's suspicious, and rightly so, Percilla thought, with death or worse pursuing us!

"I ask you, be at ease, here," Horvath was saying, "for inside these walls, you are under His Majesty's protection, as are we all. Here, also, we might speak as friends, and in confidence." At this, he produced the coin, in its proper aspect. Percilla and Eason did likewise.

"Would you care for refreshment, either of you?" Horvath said. "If you follow me, please?" And he turned to the passage in the wall, beckoning them to follow. Percilla, her eyes flashing once more, stood her ground and did not move. Her composure returning, her tone turned biting.

"Not one step shall I take, Sir," she said, "until I get my answers! I demand to know why I've been brought here, by a foreign power, so it seems, and why we were assaulted, and what manner of enterprise it is, that I have seemingly stumbled into!"

Eason rose to Percilla's defense. "Sir, even though you have demonstrated your connexion to Percilla and I, can you not tell us more? We have so little information to go on. This whole thing started when Percilla's uncle died on her very doorstep -"

"Ah, yes, and the unfortunate circumstance that was," Horvath admitted. "Yes. It is time for both of you to know what it is, we ask of you. And, what your desity holds for you, My Lady St. Cyr."

"I am the Assistant Attache' to his Excellency, the Ambassador from Budapest to The Court Of St. James. As such, my schedule permits greater freedom of action, and allows me to assist The Order in its activities. We were alerted to your discovery of the document, and anticipated your departure, based on what we knew of your temperment, My Lady. We were fairly certain that you would set out to find more on your own, and expected that our resources would be required."

"You knew of our finding the scroll?" Eason asked.

"Certainly, young man," Horvath said. "As you shoulld have surmised, we have been following the descendants of Baron Mircea since his death, fifty years past. And it was Edgar who, unwittingly, set our plans in motion, thogh they are premature and forcing us to react, rather than act at a time of our choosing."

"Uncle Edgar knew of you!" Percilla said. "Of course! He was a member of The Order of the Dragon, all this time -"

"Yes, and no, My Lady," Horvath said. "Edgar was never a member of the Order, though due to his unique family connexion, he divined our existence, and our mission.

"There are three ranks to the Order: The Outer Court, the Inner Court, and the Elders. I, as a member of the Inner Court, have been charged with two missions: to ensure your safe passage out of England and on the next stage of your journey; and to bring you advise and counsel on what is to come."

"So, does this mean," Percilla said, "that Eason and I are now members of the Order?"

"Not precisely, no," Horvath replied. "While you, as the heir presumptive to Baron Mircea, have a blood claim to membership, and your friend, Eason, is your protector and companion, out of necessity you have only been presented with the lesser passwords, and knowledge of the Order. But neither of you is even inducted into the Outer Court - yet. Once I receive communication from the Elders, that staus most certainly will change."

"But, sir," Eason asked, "what IS the Order of the Dragon all about? It must be more than simply the continuation of an obscure noble family in Europe! And to have international reach and resource, as you claim, there must be more than what we already know!"

"Eason speaks for me, Your Excellency," Percilla said. "I, too, wish to know more. My mother and grandmother, apparently, knew of their heritage, as I now do. And there are forces involved who are willing to use deadly force to stop them from some unimaginable goal of their. Will you now make this plain, even to me?"

71 posted on 03/16/2005 7:20:38 PM PST by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: utahguy; StarCMC; bentfeather; Darksheare; writer33; syriacus
After a minute's pause, when Horvath called through the portal for drinks for them, he continued his instruction of Percilla and Eason, who were enraptured by the unfolding story:

"The Order of the Dragon dates back to the Fifteenth Century, when the Holy Roman Emperor, King Sigismund of Hungaria, along with Queen Barbara Cilli, formed the Order from members of the crowned heads of Europe. The Order's purpose and mission, was to "defend the Cross and to do battle against its enemies", wherever they might be found. These were the times of the Crusades, and the greatest threats to Christendom were the Ottoman and Turkish Empires, especially after the fall of Istambul.

"As the centuries passed, the Crusades ended, and the expansion of empires continued apace, but the Order fell into obscurity. But their purpose never changed: to defend Christendom. And the Order changed with the nature of the threat. Rather than leading the fight for temporal power, the Order recognized that the metaphysical threat was no less great. And that the natural world, might become the target of the forces of the supernatural, as well.

"So, the Order exists today, in the Twentieth Century, with its ancient purpose intact, but fighting a two-front war. Forces of one world will attempt to use power of the other world, for its planned confrontation. And the Order stands in their way, even now.

"You, My Lady, were born Percilla St. Cyr, of an English noble family. Your true bloodline, however, brings you in direct line of descent from Mircea Szilagy, who was Baron of Sibiu, and a Knight-Commander of the Order of the Dragon - and one of the last ones to hold the rank who possesed temporal authority as well as supernatural. The time and opportunity have arrived, Madam, to make claim to the Barony - and to the knighthood, and possibly help to restore some of the power and influence of the Order, so that the imminent confrontation with the Enemy will be successful!"

72 posted on 03/16/2005 7:47:59 PM PST by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: Old Sarge; utahguy; Bethbg79

BTTT - I can't wait to read the next! :o)


73 posted on 03/16/2005 8:53:32 PM PST by StarCMC (It's God's job to forgive Bin Laden; it's our job to arrange the meeting.)
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To: writer33

ping.

I know you are a good writer. But can ytou be a good BAD writer?


74 posted on 03/16/2005 8:55:30 PM PST by m87339 (If you could see what a drag it is to see you.)
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To: m87339
But can ytou be a good BAD writer?

I'm assuming you meant: "But can't you be a good BAD writer?

And yes. You can.

Of course I can make people fall asleep so I know it's true. But if you're speaking in a metaphorical sense, that can also apply.

75 posted on 03/16/2005 8:59:24 PM PST by writer33 ("In Defense of Liberty," a political thriller, being released in March)
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To: utahguy; writer33
"Time to call it a day," Tomas intoned in that "So-much-more-clever-than-the-room" voice that grated on everyone like a cheese slicer on a timpani drum.

The fact that they had all been awake for 48 hours seemed not to affect Tomas' clear inability to grasp even the most
simple situation. His awareness had all the alacrity of Michael Jackson after 3 days in a kindergarten boy's restroom.

Susan finally took the pig by the horns and went for distance. Tomas' surprise was only exceeded by his pain as
he found himself air born like a theoretically-non-flying bee. The satisfying thud of his re-entry into earth and unbidden concomitant yet inexorable obedience to gravity was appreciated by all in attendance, as if they were all Bobby Blake in a Van Nuys courtroom.

The vigil would continue. Tomas would understand his place in the new hierarchy.

But he wouldn't like it.
76 posted on 03/16/2005 9:07:26 PM PST by m87339 (If you could see what a drag it is to see you.)
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To: writer33

I really meant Purple Prose.

My humble attempt is above, but I didn;t eant to write a novella.

Not Asimov, but then again who/what is? ;)


77 posted on 03/16/2005 9:10:08 PM PST by m87339 (If you could see what a drag it is to see you.)
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To: writer33

One-key-off disease tonight.


78 posted on 03/16/2005 9:10:34 PM PST by m87339 (If you could see what a drag it is to see you.)
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To: m87339

That's pretty good. Of course far be it from me to tell anyone about writing. I'm definitely an amateur in a sea full of amateurs trying to get noticed.

:)


79 posted on 03/16/2005 9:25:22 PM PST by writer33 ("In Defense of Liberty," a political thriller, being released in March)
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To: Old Sarge; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; utahguy; writer33; m87339
"You, My Lady, were born Percilla St. Cyr, of an English noble family. Your true bloodline, however, brings you in direct line of descent from Mircea Szilagy, who was Baron of Sibiu, and a Knight-Commander of the Order of the Dragon - and one of the last ones to hold the rank who possesed temporal authority as well as supernatural. The time and opportunity have arrived, Madam, to make claim to the Barony - and to the knighthood, and possibly help to restore some of the power and influence of the Order, so that the imminent confrontation with the Enemy will be successful!"

____________________________________________________

Then all three, as if by command, paused to sip their drinks.

Eason, with a serious eye, turned to Percilla then to the Assistant Attache’.

“In all due respect,” he said, in an acute manner, “so far all you have done is elaborate on this Order of the Dragon as you call it.”

Eason created a slight interim of silence to ponder his upcoming words. “However I, for one, am still in the dark on all that has transpired , and I daresay more now then when we started.”

“For one thing,” he continued, “If Percilla is, as both you and the document we unearthed stated, to make claim to the Barony, one would expect a full entourage of not only bodyguards but others of equal or greater nobility as we make our way to our destination. Which,” he added, “has yet to be divulged.”

“Please,” Horvath answered, “ I beg you two to be patient. All of your questions will be answered in due time, of that I promise. It is only due to the untimely manner of your discovery of the document that we behave in such a manner.”

Eason stated, “That still does not excuse - “

“At this moment, Father Patrick in on the telephone attempting to garner additional information,” Horvath interrupted, “And as soon as he is finished you must go with him to the docks. There is a boat waiting to transport you to the continent. On your way he will - ah, there he is.”

The man who foiled the would be assassin entered the room swiftly, gave a quick nod to Horvath then set his eyes toward Percilla and Eason. “Time is of the essence,” he told the pair. “We must go now. Quickly!”

Eason’s eyes widened. In the light and without the wide brimmed hat he wore throughout the car trip, he revealed a shock of crimson hair, ruddy freckled complexion and bright blue eyes.

“Your bags are in the truck,” the Father said, “So shake a leg, both of you.”

Eason caught the priest’s accent, which he failed to do so before due to the tumultuous nature of their initial meeting .

An Irish Priest in a Hungarian Embassy assisting in this Romany journey.

___________________________________________________

Father Patrick hustled the pair to the rear of the Embassy and into the back of a rather ramshackle delivery truck. He extracted a small torch from his pocket, which gave a modicum of light to the dreary, well used enclosure which smelled heavy of petrol, raw boxwood and citrus.

The engine started and they were off, bouncing along the cobbled streets towards the docks.

“You’re Irish,” Eason commented, in an attempt to harvest a conversation.

“Very observant,” the priest replied, grinning at the obvious. “And I’m sure you see all this as a ruddy Chinese fire drill, but we’re doin’ the best we can with what little time we had.”

“We understand,” Percilla interjected, and gave Eason that now famuliar look.

“Now,” Father Patrick said, “questions, which I am sure you have. I shall tell you what I know, however it will be slight.”

“Let us start with the cabbie,” Eason said with vigor, “He showed the coin in the proper manner, yet directed us to that ship.”

“Yes he did,” the Father replied. “But I assure you that he is as dedicated to the cause as any, and followed instructions to the letter.”

“But if we hadn’t of gone to that cafe, we would of . . ..” He let the words trail off.

“But you did,” Patrick said, “And without specific instruction to do so. Which showed us that you were indeed true.” “You were guided, since you are true. But not by anyone on this earth.”

Father Patrick shot a glance upward. “The ship’s captain may have more information. We are gathering it as quick as we can.”

He reached into his pocket, then extended his hand. “You take this, he said. “It is a medal of Saint Christopher.”

Eason accepted the gift, nodded, then added, “So long as it isn’t one of Saint Jude.”

Father Patrick locked eyes with Eason for a moment, the burst out in a raucous laugh.

“You know your Saints well, Laddy!”

Percilla gave Eason a querulous look.

“Saint Jude,” Eason whispered, “is the patron Saint of lost causes.”

_______________________________________________

They made their way in the dark down an embankment to a waiting dory. After assisting them into the boat, Father Patrick pulled the cord to the small motor, which coughed to life, and guided the craft out into the inky waters to the outer harbor.

After many minutes of running, It looked as if they were heading into an abyss until Father Patrick shined his pocket torch into the blackness. It was met with a similar illumination around a hundred meters ahead, slightly to port.

The Father guided the dory to a waiting trawler, it’s engine running, awaiting its passengers.

The calloused hand of the Captain extended to first assist Percilla aboard, then the pair’s luggage. “They be true,” Father Patrick said.

Before Eason could join her on board he felt a hand on his shoulder.“Laddy,” Father Patrick whispered, “be aware there are forces that are bent on stopping you. Be careful, my son.”

He turned to the Father to inquire further, but was directed in a swift motion to get on board. “He may have more for you. Good luck, and may God be with you both.”

As Eason climbed the short ladder he heard these words emanating from the dory.

Devlesa avilan

80 posted on 03/21/2005 9:52:59 AM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: fanfan

There he was in all his uniformed glory, the animal control officer.

"Are you the owner of black cat recently seen murdering the Cardinal babies in the holly bush?" he queried?

Viking said nothing and looked at the man with utter contempt knowing that a collarless killer safetly at home could never be proved to be a maurading murderer.


81 posted on 03/21/2005 10:00:48 AM PST by bert (Peace is only halftime !)
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To: bert; Old Sarge; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; utahguy; writer33; m87339; fanfan

Almost forgot the heading again.... sheese...
This'll be a few chunks from me, then Old Sarge will take the helm. so tune in Tomorrow for another installment of "The Order of The Dragon, Supersized. (With Fries)"


82 posted on 03/21/2005 5:36:17 PM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: utahguy

LOL!
Supersized!


83 posted on 03/21/2005 5:43:33 PM PST by Darksheare ("Gaz, Ya gotta help me! Zim wants to destroy the Earth!" -Dib "But he's so BAD at it." -Gaz)
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To: Old Sarge; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; utahguy; writer33; m87339; fanfan; bert
Before Eason could join her on board he felt a hand on his shoulder.“Laddy,” Father Patrick whispered, “be aware there are forces that are bent on stopping you. Be careful, my son.”

He turned to the Father to inquire further, but was directed in a swift motion to get on board. “He may have more for you. Good luck, and may God be with you both.”

As Eason climbed the short ladder he heard these words emanating from the dory.

Devlesa avilan

________________________________________________

The captain Escorted Percilla below decks, offered tea, which they gracefully accepted.

“You bunk down here,” he said, pointing to adjacent beds on either side of the hull. “First mate’ll be running us. She’s a calm one tonight, thank God. Take us around three hours to reach France.

The captain explained that they will be met by a man, a good man he emphasized, that will escort them on the next leg of their journey.

After finishing their tea, he motioned them into the bunk beds. “Learn to rest when you can,” he said.

The Captain waited until they had settled in, then continued.

“I have information you should know, he said, with a seriousness in voice, “ . . . you have a right - to know.”

He looked toward Eason. “You familiar with the Hun living in your own back yard?

Eason nodded. After the war, a number of German POW’s which were interned in Great Britain elected to stay. They by and large became hard workers, upstanding citizens, and most agreed that they brought a refreshing diversity with their old world customs, food and manners.

However, the Captain continued, since Hitler came to power and gave an edict that all Germans should return the Fatherland to assist in the great cause, there has been Nazi sympathizers infiltrating the island for recruiting and spying purposes, amongst other nefarious things.

He explained the brief history lesson by stating that one who was present in the document discovery, a taller Gentleman with light hair, had ventured into a predominantly German public house on the edge of town that evening he and Percilla left on a train to London.

Thurgood.

This man, with a voice bolstered with drink and a heart singed with rejection proceeded to tell anyone who would listen He talked about a dear John letter, a parchment they discovered that in his words, ‘this half breed gypsy’ took its contents with serious intent.
Most patrons considered it to be a very tall tale.

Most in the pub, the Captain said, but not all. One, most likely in an attempt to curry favor with the Nazi’s and knowing the party’s obsession with such matters, took the information and passed it along to Berlin.

“We feel this is the cause of the immediate resistance to the completion your journey.”

The Captain enumerated that outside of a stern warning to hold his tongue, delivered outside of town by a trio of rather large followers, no harm would come to this man; for it was determined that he spoke in innocence and knew not of the magnitude of his betrayal. However he will be watched.

“Try to get some sleep,” the Captain finished. “I’ll wake you just before we arrive.”

**

Percilla waited until the Captain went topside, then asked, “Eason, what is a dear John letter?”

“A good bye letter. A letter of rejection,” he answered.

“Oh.- Dear. My letter to Thurgood-I wrote nothing of the kind.”

“Knowing my cousin as I do,” Eason said, “I suspect that in his state of inebriation he received the addressed envelope, and without reading its contents, assumed the worse.”

“I do hope the poor dear reads it,” Percilla said, “I would hate to have him think as such.”

Eason added, “Not to worry. Thurgood does relish his bouts of self pity.”

“And those men who confronted him. I hope he came to no harm.”

Somewhat puzzled by her words, Eason answered, “according to the Captain, all he received was a warning. And well deserved,” he added, “ in my opinion.”

Percilla turned and faced the hull of the boat. Eason, feeling the damp chill of the channel, pulled the rough wool blanket tight to his shoulders.

Such a confusing contrast, he thought, as he closed his eyes. She has gone from a warm estate, silk sheets, with maids and servants to provide all manners of comfort, to the bunk of a dank trawler in the middle of the channel. Not to mention the other inconveniences of the last few days. And being shot at!

Yet she took it all in stride, like a trooper.

He more than just admired her new found continence, he drew strength from it.

However this sudden concern for Thurgood, his vain, narcissistic cousin, who continues to live in luxury and takes full advantage of his station, baffled him.

He once again thought of his commitment, both to this journey and after, to himself.

Those thoughts helped to calm him, by reflecting from his mind the the harrowing itinerary of these past few days. Soon the weariness of the day took over and he succumbed to sleep.

****

It seemed like mere seconds before Eason felt a shake on his shoulder and the smell of strong tea.

He sat up in a grog, as the Captain put placed the cup in a gimbaled holder affixed next to bunk. “Your Lady’s in the head,” he told a sleep ridden Eason, “I suggest you hit it too, then drink this down. We’ll be at our stop in a few.”

The - head?”Eason said, as he tried to blink the sleep off.

“The crapper,” The Captain answered, then pointed.”Out that door, forward past the wheelhouse to starboard.”

The Captain Saw Eason’s befuddlement. “Just follow your nose, Mate” he grinned, “But hurry.”

* *

Eason and Percilla stood on deck as the Captain and first mate winched overboard a small dingy. Eason saw what looked like a small fire burning from shore, which he judged to be less than a kilometer from their position.

As the Captain lowered their bags to the rowboat, Eason thought about the souls that had assisted them on this quest: most were common men, working men, men, who he, just a few short days past would have eschewed their presence with disdain.

My, he pondered, how things have changed. And Percilla, how different her conduct has been! Yet that late exchange regarding Thurgood still troubled him. Not, as he told himself stiffly, due to her possible lingering feelings for him, but more to the fact that it just did not fit with her ‘new’ demeanor. Or did it?

Perhaps, he wished, that he should live long enough to finally understand women. Then a bit more, he prayed, so he could finally understand himself.

* *

The rhythmic slosh of oars to water eventually beached the dingy in a small inlet. From their position he could see a man, setting cross legged next to the fire, dressed in dark attire, his head capped in a beret set at a jaunty angle.

The Captain pulled the small rowboat to further anchor on shore, then waved to the man. He responded in kind.

Helping them out of the boat, the Captain bade them adieu, with these words: “remember, my friends, there are many praying for you and for your safe completion of this journey. May God Speed.” And with that, the Captain was off.

As they approached the man sitting by the fire, Eason saw that he produced a coin, held it up with his thumb and forefinger, back side out.

Immediately after they responded in kind, he rose, removed his beret with a sweeping flourish motion. “Monsieur,” he said lightly, “Madame, I am Marcelle. I am to be your guide. Please if you will follow me but a short distance, you will find your chariot is waiting.”

A short climb to the top of the slope revealed a large touring car. Marcelle ushered Percilla into the back seat, which would, as he stated, be of more comfort, and Eason climbed into the front.
“Sweet Percilla,” Marcelle stated, as he keyed the engine to life, “ The wicker basket of which you share a seat contains both food and drink. Please partake, both of you. You look as though you are famished.”

They were, and as Marcelle directed the auto car south toward Paris, Percilla distributed portions of bread and cheese to herself and Eason, and poured a heady red wine into goblets to the three.

As they ate and drank the early sun rose from over the eastern hills, illuminating the pastures, farmlands and hedgerows, revealing a smattering of movement as beasts grazed and farmers began their morning tasks.

Marcelle, with one hand on the wheel the other on his wine vessel, guided the vehicle through the country lanes with a speed and deftness of one who had veteran experience in traversed this route.

Eason noted that he was a slim man, of average height, with thick black hair that fringed the edges of his beret in tangled curls. He had dark yet gentle eyes, well spaced, topped by dense eyebrows and a rather prominent nose which crooked slightly to one side and an amicable smile which he did not hesitate to use. Though what outweighed all of his features was the panache he demonstrated with every move and gesture, from a turn of the wheel to a sip of his wine. Eason could not help but like the man.

As they progressed the countryside the air warmed quickly, evaporating the nights dew into a translucent haze which lazily hugged the ground and gave forth a surrealistic tinge to the unfolding scenery.

A sense of tranquility came over the lot fueled by food and wine sated cravings, and supplemented by the burgeoning warmth of the day.

After a time within this state, Marcelle, after glancing at his rear reflector, commented to Eason, “I see that Madame has fallen asleep.”

Eason turned and saw Percilla, her head resting against the wicker basket, and with a mild grin noticed that she was snoring softly.

“Madame such a beautiful Lady, ” Marcelle commented. “I envy you, to have such a resplendent woman.”

“We are simply friends,” Eason interjected swiftly, “Old friends. Since childhood.”

“But there must be more than that, Monsieur Eason. A sacred and unique bond I see, or else why would she choose you to accompany her?”

“She did not,” Eason answered, “others did.”

“Ah, the prophecy,” Marcelle elated. “Once again, the words bear fruition.”

“Tell me about this prophecy,” Eason asked with eagerness.

Marcelle raised his forefinger. “A time and a place, which is not at this moment, my friend. However it is now time I should tell you this: a meeting is being arranged, as we speak, for you two to attend early next morning. Those in attendance will appease your every question and concern, of that I promise you.”

“But for now,” Marcelle continued,” let us enjoy the ride. It has turned into a marvelous day, has it not? and if you would please extract the bottle of brandy hidden in the glove box, we shall drink to this superb day!”

Eason did, and after passing the bottle to Marcelle, inquired, “So tell me, my good man, how does a Frenchman come to get involved in this?”

Marcelle laughed. “you have subjected yourself to a common mistake, my friend. Marcelle, you see is Romany, not French.”

He then flared out the fingers of his right hand. “I, Marcelle, Gypsy by birth, an actor by trade and a knave by choice,” he said with theatrical flair, “and have been very blessed to be a part of this, let me assure you. Exceedingly blessed.”

“And of you my friend,” he continued. “What of you? A traveller no doubt, or perhaps a soldier of fortune, or an adventurer; one who, like I, who craves the mystery and excitement that life offers?”

“I daresay,” Eason answered, in a deep sincerity, “none of what you speak. Is with shame that I inform you that but a few days ago you would consider me nothing more than a dandy. A spoiled, pampered, sheltered child existing in a mans body.”

Marcelle rapped Eason’s leg with his open hand. “Ah, but you now have the perception to understand, to access your position in a truth you did not possess before. Of that I see. And I will predict that you will handle it well, and you will mature with wisdom and realize things about your person that you would never have dreamt of before.”

“I wish I could exude your confidence,” Eason replied.

“Time, my friend, time. Now. If I may remind us both of our present situation: we will arrive at the hotel in a few hours. After a wash, which if I may say, you both need dearly for you smell like spoiled fish.”

He flashed a smile. “Then a good meal, and off to bed for the both of you. The morning will come early. And with it,” he added, “responses to your every question.”

* * * *

The hotel was located in a quiet area off the Left Banke, reserved primarily for small shops and bistros. An older establishment, it showed its age, looking frayed around the edges.
However the rooms were quite spacious, housing a small circular table with chairs, a writing desk and two small beds situated near the window. In addition the room had been recently renovated to include a separate water closet with hot running water, and much to the relief of Percilla and Eason, a large claw foot bathing tub.

Percilla cited ladies first, and retired to bathe.

“You should be safe here,” Marcelle said to Eason,” though I suggest you should stay here with Madame for the night, and that the two of you do not leave the room. No sense in taking chances.”

Eason agreed. “I will be across the hall, “Marcelle continued, “if you need anything. Now, Monsieur, I suggest that you two retire early, for I will fetch you before sunrise for your meeting.

“We will,” Eason said, “And thank you for all your assistance.”

The two men shook hands. “The pleasure in mine, Monsieur Eason.”

Marcelle headed to the door. “I will be leaving to insure that the proper arrangements are made for this meeting, and will return with your dinner. I shall not be too long.”

“Thank you again,” Eason replied.

Marcelle turned, gave a large grin and with a theatrical flair, doffed his cap and bowed.

* * *

Marcelle returned with not only the usual wine, cheese and bread, but with veal in a lemon butter garlic sauce, potato and leek soup and spinach salad.

Bidding them adieu he left the two to enjoy their meal.

They ate with hurried civility, with only a modicum of conversation to interrupt the sounds of silverware on plates.

. . . . . .

“This is delicious,” Percilla stated.

“Yes, yes it is. Quite exquisite.”

. . . . . .

“Marcelle is such a dear.”

“Quite. The Captain said he was a good man, which did not do him justice.”

. . . . . .

“Did he tell you any more about our meeting?”

“Only that we should feel free to ask any questions.”

. . . . . .

“It will be nice to have these mysteries cleared up.”

“Could not agree more.”

. . . . . .

Finally they were finished. Eason distributed the last of the wine, and rose from the table.

“I feel so much better,” Percilla smiled.

“I second that,” Eason said.

“Eason, did you notice if there was a telephone in the lobby?”

“Why no, I did not. Why pray tell, did you ask?”

“I would like to send a cable to Thurgood. Let him know we are safe, and inquire as to his state.”

“Marcelle said we are not to leave the room,” Eason clipped, in an acerbic tone, “And I agree. No sense taking any chances.”

“Then I should pen him a letter, letting him know I am concerned-”

“Concerned?” Eason took a step back. “Concerned? Oh yes, we should all be concerned about poor dear Thurgood! Let him know immediately that his welfare is foremost on our minds!”

“Why yes, poor Thurgood,” Eason continued, with dripping sarcasm. “The dear man has it so rough. Why next to what we’ve been through the poor dear must be positively miserable in his primitive state!”

“Eason, you misunderstood me.”

“Why if I am not mistaken, this is his personals Valet’s day off! Horror of horrors, he might even be forced to wipe his own lazy ass!”

. “Eason!” Percilla screamed. “Calm down, for heaven’s sake!”

“And Let us not forget that your Dear Thurgood placed both you and I in danger by his antics.”

“Unwittingly,” she defended.

“But it is a fact.”

“Oh, Eason,” she groaned,” you do not understand.”

He placed the palms of his hands on the table with force. “Understand this, madame. I will reiterate to you now of my commitment to see this through. This, I promise I will do to the utmost of my ability.
What your feelings are to Thurgood or anyone else for that matter is none of my business or concern. However what is my concern is that this constant pining over Thurgood may interfere with our primary mission.”

“Eason, you are impossible!”

He stood erect. “Then this conversation is terminated. I shall now go and clean up. I suggest you retire immediately. We have an early and long day ahead.”

Percilla buried her face in her hands. “Whatever you wish,” she said in a whisper.

************

It was not until he had immersed himself in the warmth of the bath that his anger started to subside.
How could she do this?
How could she? What with all the trials and hardships they have gone through and no telling what lies ahead, all that blasted woman can think of is her dear, bloody, Thurgood! That dear, spoiled cousin of his that almost got them shot!

Well, he sighed, no matter. He let it be known, as he felt he had to, what their priorities were. That exchange should settle her down, or so he hoped.

As the soothing water took effect and his anger sated, a twinge of discord came over him. Perhaps he had been a bit too rough on her, too blunt in his manner of speech. The myriad of thoughts, emotions and responsibilities she must bear up to, and with all that has happened, must by very trying indeed.

As opposed to himself, whose only purpose was to insure her safety.

After a minute of contemplative thought he came to a conclusion, and with it a promise to himself that he would attempt to be more supportive.

* * * *

She had drawn the curtains closed, which gave the room a feeble light, and was on her side fast asleep. He sat down on the adjoining mattress and allowed himself a moment to look at her prone form, musing on how she now everything in stride.

He could not help but admire that new found charisma, nor could he help but admire her physically as well. Her form, proportions, and that slight exotic quality which shown in the slant of her eyes amongst other features, no doubt due to the Romany blood within her.

A sudden stirring erupted, and as he fought it off a mental one rose up.

If Thurgood had just exited a bath, she would not be asleep.

Cursing himself for these juvenile thoughts and feelings, he quickly got under the covers.

84 posted on 03/23/2005 9:40:02 AM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: Old Sarge; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; utahguy; writer33; m87339; fanfan; bert

Yet another chapter of "The Young and The Whatever."
Enjoy.


85 posted on 03/23/2005 9:42:43 AM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: utahguy

"A damp, chill wind lapped across the transclucent mauve drapes that teased more than a winking glimpse of the morbid gunmetal Moon, whose dull light peeked through black scudding clouds wrapping the fallow fields in a glistening sheen..."

Jack.


86 posted on 03/23/2005 10:01:39 AM PST by Jack Deth (Knight Errant and Disemboweler of the WFTD Thread)
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To: Jack Deth
"A damp, chill wind lapped across the transclucent mauve drapes that teased more than a winking glimpse of the morbid gunmetal Moon, whose dull light peeked through black scudding clouds wrapping the fallow fields in a glistening sheen..."

I love it! you have the purple prose perfected, my friend. Keep it up!

"As his dreary eyes dappled upon the desolate deserted dunes, Danial doubted if destiny decreed his doubting desires be denied."

Carefull Jack, as you can see this stuff is addictive. :-)

87 posted on 03/23/2005 5:28:55 PM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: utahguy; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; writer33; m87339; fanfan; bert
Excerpt from Eason's Journal

19 MAY 1935

As difficult as it is recalling anything pleasant about my cousin Thurgood, especially after the news of his witless blunder of two days past, I do remember his statement about "written records". Seeing a gem in the offal, I shall endeavor to keep a journal or log of this journey, mine and Percilla's, to whatever conclusion this takes me.

We arose, just as Marcelle promised, just before dawn, and left the place by a back way, appearing back onto the street a block away, so as not to be followed out of the building. Marcelle took us by winding ways through the early morninng streets of Paris - not the fabled "City of Light", by any means. In fact, it almost looked like any London district, but for the delectable aromas coming from every shop and window. But all misinterpretation of location was dashed, when we began coming out into long streets and open plazas, and beheld the most amazing sight!

Le Cathedral de Notre Dame rose majestically before us, its spires rising to the heavens in the most breathtaking tableau. The early sunlight had only touched the peaks and the steep turrets, but as we approached, one could watch the sun paint the building in a pallette of colors that only The Master Painter could have conceived of - truly, the architects of this magnificent place were inspired from above, to create such a soaring tribute to the human spirit!

Marcelle must have seen the reaction on my face, and Percilla's, who was enraptured by the scene of color and column before us. "Ah, mes amis," he said, "you too see the grand beauty of Our Lady, eh? No one of pure heart could fail to be moved by Her! And this is also our destination, for They are waiting to meet us, in the cloistered chambers within. Let us go quickly, now, time is passing!"

We quickly sped up the steps to enter the grandness of the church's columned interior, which echoed tranquilly with the footfalls of the faithful, the tuneful round tones of the monastic choir, lifting their voices in praise, and the occasional cooing of doves that had found their way inside the cavernous cathedral. If my breath had been taken away by the outside, I was struck dumb by the awe of Notre Dame's interior.

Percilla was no less inspired by the world within these walls. I looked at her face, upturned toward the glass which was aglow with morning light, two delicate streams of light coursing down her cheeks like rain, her mouth slightly open in part gasp and part sob, her eyes as brilliant as diamonds - a moment which I shall treasure imperishable for all time.

Marcelle recognized our spellbound features for the sincere joy they were, and gently led us by the arms through the nave, and passed quietly to the side doors near the massive altar, and abruptly left the light, plunging into fitful light and shadow. I thought to myself the appropriateness of this: passing from light and glory, into darkness and a shadowy intrigue.

88 posted on 03/23/2005 6:31:02 PM PST by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: utahguy; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; writer33; m87339; fanfan; bert
Eason and Percilla drew closer as Marcelle took them down a passage which echoed with their footsteps, the feeling of cold dread growing with each door that they passed. The silence pressed in upon them, making any words a whisper, trying not to disturb what waited outside the corridor.

At last, Marcelle drew up to a door off the corridor, knocked - a rather intricate tatoo, actulally, thought Eason - and was admitted to an antechamber of stone and wood beams above, growing brighter in the coming daylight. There within, stood a man, impeccably dressed, and a broad smile on his face -

"Why, Mister Pettibone!" Percilla exclaimed. "How on Earth did you come here!"

"Why, the same way YOU did, Miss St. Cyr," Pettibone said grandly, a slight bow creasing his frame. "I simply did not tarry on the way, but came straight here. And you, Sir" turning to Eason, "welcome to Paris! I see your duties as the lady's guardsman have been discharged with distinction?"

Eason was sincerely pleased. "Mr. Pettibone, it IS good to see you - a familiar face, well, you can imagine -"

"Of course I can, sir," Pettibone said. Turning to Marcelle, he said, "Ah, Marcelle, tu es ici, aussi - ca va, mon frere?" And he moved forward, embracing Marcelle in a great hug, each man kissing the others' cheek.

"Alfred, ma cher, c'est bon, eh bien!" Marcelle replied. "I found our lost doves without incident, and here they are, feathers clean and well-fed for today's trials."

"Trials?" Percilla said. "And you call each other, 'brother'?"

"Yes, Madame, and brothers in many ways", Marcelle said, his arm around Pettibone's shoulder, "for not only are we brothers in the Order, but also, we share the same father, do we not?"

"Yes, good friends", Pettibone explained, "Marcelle and I are half-brothers. Father had a certain continental manner with the ladies and, this is how I came to posess the Romany blood, as well.

"Miss St. Cyr, good sir," Pettibone went on, "it is time for you to enter into confidence and covenant today. I have been asked to accompany you, as a vouchsafe reference, to this conclave. All that is required of you, is truth and honesty. I know you posess great store of both. I and Marcelle shall be with you. This way - They are waiting." And Pettibone conducted them through the door back into the corridor, and to the very next door, where after a single knock, entered in.

The chamber they entered was best described as a courtroom. Before them were several old medieval-style siege chairs, almost thrones, arrayed before a long table of heavy wood, polished and aged almost to black. At this table, seated and facing them, were three men in robes: one the black and brown of the priesthood; another the black of a judge of the courts; and the third, the red of a Catholic Cardinal. A fourth chair, more ornate than the others, stood empty.

"Approach!" intoned the "priest". Pettibone went first, followed by Eason and Percilla, then Marcelle, and they seated themselves in the chairs opposite the table. The "judge" was old, seeming aged before his time, and rose to address them.

"You are Percilla St. Cyr, daughter of Lord Westerfield. You are Eason Nordstrom, son of Colonel Sir Edward Nordstrom, retired of His Majesty's Hussars. The Order of the Dragon bids you welcome to France. Know that you are under the protection of The Order, and that protection is extended to you in the name of all Christendom. Welcome." After speaking, he sat, and the "Priest" rose - and to Eason's surprise, the priest was indeed, Father Patrick from the London Embassy!

"Brethren of the Order," Patrick began, "we are met to judge and to hear, the tale and report of the revalation at last, of the true identity of Miss St. Cyr, who is now factually revealed as the rightful heir to the Barony of Sibiu', and the sole claimant to the vacated office of Mircea Szilagy, Knight-Commander of the Order. Testimony having already been given to satisfaction by members of The Order, it is now to be decided by the Elder as to the disposition of the claimant -"

"And I have arrived, Father, so let us begin to my satisfaction," came an ancient voice from the shadows, as all heads at the table bowed to the figure moving to take the fourth seat.

89 posted on 03/23/2005 7:33:40 PM PST by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: Old Sarge
Pretty good, there OS!

I enjoyed that immensely :)
90 posted on 03/23/2005 7:36:43 PM PST by freedumb2003 (First you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women (HJ Simpson))
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To: utahguy

A damp, chill wind lapped across the transclucent mauve drapes that teased more than a winking glimpse of the morbid gunmetal Moon, whose dull light peeked through black scudding clouds wrapping the fallow fields in a glistening sheen..."

The Manor's Mistress, Portia cast cold despondent green eyes upon the scene beyond, then turned slowly back into the surreally lit main room; whose guests enjoyed aromatic brandies after the night's fine repast, basking in the welcome glow and warmth of the blazing fireplace; throwing long, shap shadows about while the Mistress turned her gaze back to the approaching darkness; that seemed to flow from the low cloud, through the trees and into the rising gray mist upon the moors...

Jack

91 posted on 03/23/2005 9:52:40 PM PST by Jack Deth (Knight Errant and Disemboweler of the WFTD Thread)
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To: utahguy

...and the Democrats still sucked.


92 posted on 03/23/2005 9:55:49 PM PST by Deb (Beat him, strip him and bring him to my tent!)
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To: utahguy; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; writer33; m87339; fanfan; bert
Percilla watched in controlled silence, as she watched The Elder of the Order of the Dragon glide across the dais, and take the empty seat at this - tribunal, there's no other word for it, she thought - and took in the sight of someone who apparently, from all she had learned of the mysterious Order, wielded power that crossed nations and oceans, and dealt with things darker than she ever dreamed.

The Elder was a woman, a regal dowager, slender as a whip, but giving the air of someone to whom frailty was a foreign concept, and beneath her station utterly. Her limbs and neck were thin as willow, robed in black silk and velvet, her high cheekbones fine and defined, hinting of the great beauty that she posessed in bygone times. Handsome features were framed by platinum hair, and eyes of gunmetal blue bore into Percilla's very soul. This was a woman to whom few could meet those eyes, and lie. Percilla knew, instinctively, that she was not one of those few.

The "cardinal" spoke next. "Your Grace," he said in an accented voice which Percilla instantly recognized as Hungarian, "we have already settled on the authenticity of the document, and the circumstances surrounding -"

"Da, Gregor," The Elder snapped, "and an interminable bore you remain, when recounting facts. The time of the Elders is ours to spend, and not yours to squander."

"Yes, Your Grace", Gregor said, strained as if listening to a death sentence being pronounced.

"My lord Stavros, I would hear you," the Elder snapped to the "judge", who Percilla judged to be of southern Europe, Greek or Italian, most likely Greek.

"Your Grace," said Judge Stavros (not Greek, but what? thought Percilla), "it remains for you to give your judgement on this matter, since we have not had your counsel, nor have we had access to the intelligences Your Grace posesses."

"Meaning you have already given your judgement, tovarich?" the Elder asked. "Honest enough, as you have indeed not benefitted from the knowledge of this morning - only what you have at the moment. You do not fear the unknown - but the unknown is the Enemy, is it not so?"

"Indeed, Your Grace, the Enemy is known, simply not the most current policies," Stavros answered. "Might Your Grace not share your mind?"

The Elder turned her gaze to each person, one at a time, speaking clearly in her clipped accent. "I have been appraised of the story of our young and beautiful Miss St. Cyr. I will know her mind, and not merely reports brought to me with haste." And her gaze bore into Percilla's. "Now, then, Percilla Raymondeva, you knew nothing of your mother's heritage until this past week? No suspicions or rumors carried through the family, whatsoever?"

Percilla's tongue cleaved to the roof of her mouth, and she swallowed once, more of a gulp, before answering, remembering her manners and education. "Your Grace, my Romany past was a closed subject in our family. Mother forbade it to be broached at all."

"And yet, your uncle, Edgar, whom only just expired, knew more", The Elder said. "He, who had no bloodline save his own, and who by his interference with the affairs of his betters, was the catalyst for all that happens. Such is the way of things. Young Percilla, I bid you to answer my questions, as I ask them. We shall begin."

And Percilla was interrogated at length, on each point of the adventure from the dark and stormy night, through the flight from the wharf and across the Channel, and closest about the manner of her finding of the document. Through the ordeal, Eason simply sat at her side, restraining himself from talking, as Percilla could sense through the tension of his hand around hers, as she gripped him tightly, then relaxed, then tight again. After what seemed to be an age, The Elder began asking in Romany, of which no one seemed to understand, but all in the room hung on each word, and watched Percilla's response.

"{You do not deceive, yet you do not reveal. Why do you wish to discover the awakened blood?}"

"{I do not understand why. I seemed compelled - called, by something beyond me.}"

"{To what end? This title means nothing to you, you are already of noble family. What do you seek to gain by claiming it?}"

"{I do NOT claim anything, beyond my right to know the truth!}"

"{How would this truth affect your idle life? You have title, and property, and wealth enough -}"

"{But the truth threatens that life! Something pursues me, and I shall defend myself. Give me your knowledge, that I might be armed for the fight!"}

And at that, the old woman's demeanor relaxed, even a small grin came to her face, softening the years and revealing even more of her long-ago loveliness. The others saw it, and waited, carefully silent.

"My friends," The Elder said, "she has petitioned me. She has asked to be granted the knowledge we hold. She asks to be armed for the fight. Miss St. Cyr, the question is the key that unlocks the door to wisdom. You now posess that key, and have used it. You have petitioned me to be included in our knowledge, and to arm yourself for the trials ahead."

And she smiled, truly smiled. "I accept your request, Percilla Raymondeva. I have decided that you shall be admitted and included in the Order of the Dragon, from this day forward. You shall be instructed in our history, our policies, and our purpose. And now, my friends, and guests, Attend Me." And she rose, all rising with her, Percilla and Eason instinctively bowing their heads with the rest, followed her as she swept out into the corridor and around the turns, deeper into the cathedral below.

93 posted on 03/23/2005 9:58:27 PM PST by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: Old Sarge; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; utahguy; writer33; m87339; fanfan; bert; ...
Good evening!

So nice of you all to join me.
Allow me to introduce myself: I am Sir Robert Morley; Actor, Painter and Connoisseur.
Please enter my humble abode. And you, young man, if you would be so kind to close the door behind you.Yes, it does take a bit of effort, as these old castle doors are rather ponderous. Very good. Now if you will please follow me to the sitting room . . ..
Here we are. Please convenient yourselves by a seat near the fire, and indulge yourselves in a tot of this excellent brandy. . ..

Excellent. Now if I may, I shall convey to you the reason for your presence: I have received an invitation to address this soiree by one of the authors of this novel, none other than the Gentleman you refer to as Old Sarge.
And if I may take a moment to inform you, to the delight of the Ladies I am sure, Old Sarge is a very debonair gentleman, exceedingly handsome, and he cut a dashing figure during our meeting with his pipe and smoking jacket.

He wished for me to inform you that despite the fact that he is in the midst of several important tasks, he has continued to work on, and will soon publish, another exciting chapter of this, . . .how you Americans say, Cracker Jack of a story.

So allay your fears, Ladies and Gentlemen, for soon you will once again be enthralled in this most ambrosial mystery, featuring of course, the Fair and newly enlightened Percilla, and the intrepid yet troubled Eason.

And what of Thurgood? Has he, as they say, dropped out of the picture? Or will he reappear at some further date?
Only time will tell.

94 posted on 03/29/2005 10:28:10 AM PST by utahguy (Ya gotta kill it before you grill it: Ted Nugent)
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To: utahguy; Old Sarge

LOL!! I have been on vacation and really enjoyed catching up on this thread. I'll be glad to read the next installment as always! :o)


95 posted on 03/29/2005 1:49:33 PM PST by StarCMC (It's God's job to forgive Bin Laden; it's our job to arrange the meeting.)
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To: utahguy; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; writer33; m87339; fanfan; bert
Eason and Percilla followed the Elder, along with the rest of the assembled Dragon Order, down the corridor beneath the great cathedral above them. Eason could almost swear he heard the stones groaning with the strain of the massive towers above him, and wondered at what other secrets these walls protected. And as he looked around him, at the others in attendance of the enigmatic Elder, his thoughts took a back seat to his awareness of what was happening.

Percilla, now being recognized as a member of the mysterious Order of the Dragon, was a tempest of emotions, and she struggled to keep them all in check. But she had her anchors, familiar names and faces about her - not the least of which was Eason, dear reliable Eason, who walked next to her behind the Elder and her three companions. Percilla's emotional whirl alighted, for a moment, on the thought of Eason, and how the news of Thurgood's mistake might have caused them all such trouble. It had to be a mistake - poor dear Thurgood, such a reaction to their last conversation...

Thoughts and musings ended, after climbing back several staircases to the ground floor, and up into the main apartments and chambers of the cathedral's clergy. They were now in the residences, high above the streets of Paris with the sun now approaching noon, such was the length of the tribunal in the catacombs below.

The Elder approached an door which was guarded, seemingly, by a priest of the cathedral, who bowed to her, and held open the door as she swept regally by, the rest following her in. The room inside was remarkable: well-appointed, and to Percilla's aristocratic eye, might pass for any salon in Europe, and not Notre Dame. Bright and airy, with great windows looking south onto the city, there were chairs, small tables, and one great chair similar to the thrones used by the Order in the catacombs. Best of all, to Eason's notice, there was a luncheon laid out, and a sumptuous one, at that. With the Elder seated first by Father Patrick, all there simply helped themselves to what ever foods they fancied, and conversation began to flow.

What followed was a series of conversations, some one on one, others in a mix of voices, with a few punctures of laughter - usually by the brothers Marcelle and Pettibone. And whichever way the conversation steered, Percilla and Eason tried to steer it back to one burning question - what made the Order such a force, and why aren't they known?

"You know some of our history already, from what Father Patrick tells me," Gregor was saying, "and now all there remains is your instruction on what is expected of you, as a member of the Outer Court. Yes, Madam, for that is to be your new station as a member. As the presumptive Baronness of Sibiu', you already enjoyed the Order's protection, though you were not aware of us."

Then that explains," Eason said, "how you knew so quickly that Edgar had oncovered the key, and how we found the scroll."

"Precisely, young man," Gregor replied. "We knew of Percilla's heritage, and as Baron Mircea was the Knight-Commander of the Order, we were obligated to protect his line, no matter what or where. It was mainly a question of timing, as Her Grace stated: Edgar's blundering greed upset a timetable that was balanced with care, for years."

"Can you not tell me more, Sir," Percilla asked, "why was there such a need to wait? What were you all waiting for? What needed to happen, that Uncle Edgar ruined?

"Cardinal" Gregor paused, collecting his thoughts, then said, "Let me say this: the strategies in which the Order must act last over lifetimes. For a proper heir to resume the baronial title, there must be a legitimate heir immediately, or the title falls into vacancy. At the time of the Baron's death, there were no heirs of sufficient degree to make the claim. But we knew that Elizabet'a survived, and had children - and it would be her children who would gain legitimacy. Especially you, Miss St. Cyr, who was born into English aristocracy. So, you became the ideal person to reclaim the baronial title, and the Order's place as well."

"So, the barony and the knighthood go together, then?" Eason asked.

"For our purposes, yes," Gregor said. "It provides much more than legalities. It provides resource, and influence, that the Order needs in that region. Events Are moving throughout the world, young sir, that will require as much power and influence as the Order can possibly aquire."

Across the room, several people were watching the exchange...

"Do you think they will be strong enough? It is too soon for this, My Lady, I had warned you..."

"We must act now, and quickly, Stavros. You know my reasons. Percilla Raymondova will grow into this new life, as we did. As I did, if you recall?"

"It is still a dangerous game you play. She is not schooled, even in the fundamental things all of us know..."

"And was I, Stavros? When my family was exterminated by the Bolsheviks, thank God I had the Order to turn to, or I would have died in a barn in Siberia along with Nicolai and the rest. Only I remain, Stavros, to carry on."

"That is not a fair comparison, Katya, and you know it!"

"Is it not!" the Elder snorted. "The old families are dying out of the world, my friend. The Hapsburgs, the Romanovs, the Draculesti - who will be left to carry on the Order's work? The mushroom growths of England? The orphans and upstarts in America? Who, I ask? No, the great battle of this century for the Order begins now - and this young woman, who is stronger than you realize, shall bear the standard. I have forseen this."

The last sentence made Stavros take a breath. "When you say that word, Katya, I know well what you mean. I have learned not to doubt your 'sight'. Very well, I shall follow your lead in this. May God make your 'sight' clear."

96 posted on 04/01/2005 7:28:09 PM PST by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: Old Sarge

BTTT ~ woo-hoo!


97 posted on 04/02/2005 3:42:51 PM PST by StarCMC (It's God's job to forgive Bin Laden; it's our job to arrange the meeting.)
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To: utahguy; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; writer33; m87339; fanfan; bert
And the conversations continued, as Percilla had moved on to ask Father Patrick more on the Order of the Dragon and its unique nature.

"Father, if I am truly a member of the Order now," she was asking, "is there to be no investiture, no ceremony to accompany this event? Or does the Order not stand on ceremony?"

"Oh, there certainly shall be, Child", Father Patrick said, "once more of the Order are assembled. The Order has some, well, unique methods of communication, that are more reliable and secure than letter posts and telegraphs. And our news travels faster than the radio of the news wires. It is how we conduct our operations, and how we track the working of The Enemy."

"And just who, is The Enemy of which you speak, Father?" she asked.

"The enemies of Christendom, My Lady, as it always has been," he replied. "The faces have changed over the centuries, as have the methods and weapons and policies, but The Enemy itself remains the same today as it was in antiquity."

"How is it possible to get information faster than the best reporters?" Percilla said skeptically.

"Oh, now that, My Lady, is a question that is better suited for the Inner Circle - and they won't tell you," Patrick said. "Not out of anything more than security. The Outer Court has its secrets, of course - they are charged with, among other things, the security and anonymity of the Order itself. They - including you and young Master Nordstrom, now - are the wardens, the gatekeepers who defend the Order's perimeter. The front-line soldier in the trench, is the best description."

Eason was also in talk with Alfred Pettibone, about his inclusion in the Order. "So, if I shall also be included in this enterprise," he was saying to Pettibone, "shall it be only as Percilla's 'guardsman', I think the word was used?

"That," Pettibone replied, "will likely be the least, and easiest, of your tasks, my friend. For the Outer Court does many tasks: guardian, watcher, adventurer and explorer, and many more besides. The great expeditions and voyages of discovery, do you recall them? Well, several of them, though they were fodder for the world's appetite of news and deeds, were expeditions on behalf of the Order of the Dragon, meant as missions to accomplish in some cases, a single task, which was worth the financing of the whole beastly lot!"

"That's an incredible claim, sir!" Eason said. "Some of the greatest adventures were the business of the Order? Such manpower and resources -"

"Ah, but you see, it's not necessary to finance the whole thing, now is it?" Pettibone explained. "Take the Arctic expeditions, for example. It was only necessary for two of our members, to accompany a recent expedition on one stage of the journey, getting us to where we really needed to go - an archeaological site frozen in the far north, which contained data needed for the Order's policies."

"So that way, the resources and personnel of the Order are husbanded! Brilliantly planned, Sir," Eason marveled. "But, hasn't anyone ever questioned their sponsors or benefactors? No suspicion has ever arisen?"

"I regret to say, in several cases, it has," Pettibone said, "and in each such case, it was not the fault of the knights of the Order, but rather the inquisitiveness of the expedition members and other backers. In those cases, it is our policy to sever all contact with that expedition, and make another attempt to garner our goals at a alter date. Of course, if the goal is of such immediate need, other arrangements cannot be made, and the work presses on, despite the suspicions."

All conversation stopped, at the chiming of the clock over the door. The Elder rose from her seat, and said, "It is now nearly time. Our guests shall be escorted to their new chambers. Your effects, my friends, have been obtained, and brought here. As members of the Order, your residence is here, in the safe house of Notre Dame."

"When you are shown your chambers," she went on, "there will be ceremonial vestments prepared for you. You shall don them, for your investiture this evening. We need only await the arrival of the others. Now, you may depart." And all there, Percilla and Eason bowing out of respect for this woman's presence, exited the salon, and the two newest Knights of the Dragon found their chambers, aside each other, with all readied as had been said.

98 posted on 04/03/2005 10:05:07 PM PDT by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: utahguy; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; writer33; m87339; fanfan; bert
THE DIARY OF PERCILLA ST. CYR

Paris, France
May 20th, 1935

I begin this journal, in the hope that somehow, I can bring order to the chaos that my life has suddenly become. And such a whirlwind! But, I must force myself to stay in order, and everything in its proper place.

It appears that now, I am no longer Mistress of the manor, Whitebriar, where I grew up and knew all my life. For that life appears to be somewhere behind me, in a distant place of safety, beyond recall or return. I am today, as of yesterday, Dame Percilla St. Cyr, Knight-Apprentice of the Order of the Dragon, and Baroness-Presumptive of Sibiu'. Titled, knighted, and a quest bestowed upon me, all in short order!

First things, firstly...

Eason and I were knighted in the tradition of all the orders I have ever heard, but not quite like I expected. A sparsely furnished chamber, deep within the catacombs beneath Notre Dame Cathedral served as the Hall of Audience. We were ushered into the chamber by our new friends, the brothers John and Marcelle, who were dressed in red cloaks trimmed in black fur, hats of the same, with the cloaks clasped with the sign of the Order. Immediately upon our entry, we were challenged by a man, a hulking brute with a voice of thunder.

"Who is it, who comes to the circle of the Order?" he boomed.

Marcelle answered, "It is I, Sir Marcelle Favereau, Knight of the Inner Court, and Sir Johnathan Pettibone, Knight of the Inner Court, who approach!"

"What is your business before this Court?" came the voice.

Pettibone replied, "We brings before the Elders of this Court, supplicants for admission to the Order. I present madam Percilla St. Cyr, heir to the Barony of Sibiu'. And I present Master Eason Nordstrom, companion and guardsman of Madam St. Cyr!"

Another voice came from out of the gloom, which I recognized as Judge Stavros, "We recognize the supplicants. Sentinel, bid them approach!"

The Sentinel motioned we four to the center of the hall, and I could now see the tribunal from before - the Lady Elder, flanked by Judge Stavros, and Cardinal Gregor. As we stopped, we all bowed our heads to them.

Standing here in the center of the hall, one could just barely percieve shapes and figures around the perimeter, all robed and clad like Marcelle and Pettibone, and all with drawn swords that flashed slightly in the dark. The three before us each held an artifact: Gregor held a thick, wooden-bound book; Stavros held a sword with ornate gems on the hilt; and the Lady Elder held in her cupped hands, an orb of silver and gold, topped with the dragon and cross of the Order.

And Eason and I, prompted by Judge Stavros, repeated and swore the Oath of the Dragons, which I will not repeat here. But after being ceremoniously smitten by Stavros' sword, kissed the great wooden Bible proffered by Cardinal Gregor, and reciting the Oath while holding the Orb with the Lady, Eason and I were now inductees in what is now, I know, the oldest and most secret society in all of Christendom.

99 posted on 04/23/2005 7:52:21 PM PDT by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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To: utahguy; bentfeather; Darksheare; StarCMC; syriacus; writer33; m87339; fanfan; bert

The continuing developing story of "A Dark And Stormy Night" has finally arrived! Read, and enjoy!


100 posted on 04/23/2005 7:53:06 PM PDT by Old Sarge (In for a penny, in for a pound, saddlin' up and Baghdad-bound!)
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