Tonight's blog is the remaining part of chapter 3 of Leap of Faith, my latest humorous, adventure e-book for Young Adults of all ages! It's the first in the Temporal Detective Agency series. The second, Trouble with Swords will be out in October.
If you like it, then please buy it on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble.
Hope you enjoy it and rest assured I'll be posting my usual blog posts as well.
Blog on, Dudes!
Chapter Three (cont)
“Over there to the left,” Ted pointed, “is the public house where they serve strong liquor to people with weak spirits. Sorry, that was a vicar’s joke! The place is very old and I believe they have rooms for the night if you’re interested. Way over to the right is the Salt House.” Ted pointed towards where the rocks and grass met on the far headland point, and where Bryn and Neets were probably still rummaging. “They make salt there from seawater but word has it the building is used for other, less legal purposes. If you look over to our right behind those trees you’ll see the manor house. A family called Lewis lives there.” Ted paused theatrically. “Wait a minute, wasn’t that the name of the people you want to know about?” I nodded. “Well there we are then. We have the house, but where are the people I wonder? Could they be hiding? Could they even now be creeping up on you, because you won’t leave them in peace?” The last words were said as though he was telling a children’s spooky story. The only bits missing were the hands in the air and the stupid ghostly Wooo, Wooo noises.
I turned and stared at Ted. “That’s a strange thing to say and an even stranger way of saying it.” I dropped down from the wall and nervously brushed stone dust off my robes. “I have a sneaking suspicion there are things you’re not telling me. What’s more I’m probably not going to like hearing them.”
The bald giant smiled at me without humor. “You don’t recognize me do you? I met many of your friends years ago and have every reason to resent your presence in my village. Prove me wrong and tell me why you should live. You have...oh, let’s say ten seconds.” Ted started to count.
“Because I want to?” I said it with just the hint of a tremor in my voice as I edged away from the giant. It was time to take the initiative. “Let me guess. You’re not the real vicar are you?” It was a wild guess, if a bloody obvious one, but I hoped it would be enough to stop the man for at least a second so I could work out an escape plan.
“Very good,” said the fake vicar, all traces of a Welsh accent gone. He easily cut off my retreat. “You’re right, of course, the real vicar is down in the church trussed up like a chicken. Oh, he’s not hurt, well not much. However please think of me as your worst nightmare because you will not be using the stairs to go down, whereas I assure you I will.”
I was slowly being backed into a corner of the tower where there was only the unpleasantly quick way down to the churchyard. “I’ve done nothing to you.” I protested, but Ted shrugged his shoulders, grinned devilishly and continued to advance. “Or maybe I have?”
“Girl, I’ve been watching for you ever since I saw you in the cellar with the boy...”
Ah! and Oh piddle!
“... and I can’t allow you to disrupt my life for a second time. I can’t allow that for two reasons.”
“Please tell me both reasons in the greatest of detail.” I said it in a verbal rush playing for time, in fact the very time of my life. I looked round desperately for any means of escape. “Take as long as you want.” Leaping around on Nelson’s column was a walk in the park compared to trying to stay alive on this church tower.
“Very well. Firstly I’ve built up a very profitable enterprise in this little village and secondly, a long, long time ago you and your friends caused me considerable trouble.”
“Not enough detail...Mr. Black Knight Lewis,” I mumbled to myself, guessing like crazy as the giant of a man advanced again picking up a handy piece of wood as he did so. “Tell me all about your little enterprise here and I’d be fascinated to learn how we met in the past though I suspect I already know. Moreover, I ought to point out that I’m a fully qualified wizard and could easily turn you into a rabbit,” I looked around, “or at least I could if I had my blasted staff. Bother!”
Ted picked up his stick and swung it experimentally, testing it for balance and head-denting qualities. “Be quiet, silly girl. I wouldn’t bother shouting for help either. You could scream up here and no one would ever take notice.” To prove his point Ted bellowed at the top of his voice. “The interfering brat is up here, but soon she’ll be down there!” He put his hand to his ear and pretended to listen intently. “No, not a peep. You see no one cares, so you’ll just have to die alone and in silence.”
My back pressed against the low wall and I began to think that the great days of Tertia the temporal detective and apprentice wizard could be over before they’d even started. Worse still, this was my first vacation in ages and it had to end so badly when it wasn’t even raining. As a final humiliation, Ted took out the small lace handkerchief and offered it to me.
“Perhaps you’d like to wipe away a tear or two before you fly, or would you like to have a little blow? It’s time to depart I’m afraid.”
I took the piece of lace but decided it was probably too small to be effective as a parachute. I was at a loss for anything else to do, then read the monogrammed initials that confirmed at last I was right. I pointed at Ted. “I know who you really are. GP is Guinevere Pendragon. You’re that thieving, murdering bastard that almost toppled Camelot and nearly killed my parents. You’re the Black Knight!”
“How astute and that’s even more reason for you to die.”
“But you had hair in Camelot, lots of it, and here as well. I saw you on your horse less than an hour ago and you were definitely hairy then, but now you’re bald except for the beard.”
“A minor accident in Camelot.”
“But the man I saw come into the cellar had hair and no beard.”
“A major wig. Time to fly, girl.” He pulled off the false beard and cast it to one side. Evidently there wasn’t much about the man you could trust.
“But you galloped away when I saw you in the lane.”
“Not away, girl. I doubled back and followed you. When I realized where you were headed I dealt with the Reverend Lewis and waited for you.”
“But why disguise yourself as the vicar and try to kill me?”
“It’s partly because I love the theatrical side of life and let’s face it, I’m the Black Knight with no name. However mostly it’s because you’re completely unknown here and your fall from the tower will be another tragic accident soon forgotten; you’ll just disappear as will your little friends when they come to find you, because I will be waiting. And now prepare to die.” He made a lunge for me and I tried to dodge to one side, but gorillas aren’t easy to avoid.
I kicked, gouged, and scratched using every dirty trick I knew and stood back as the Black Knight gave a groan and slowly collapsed in a heap, clutching the growing lump on the back of his head. Inspector Smollett put the police truncheon back in his pocket, wiping his hands in satisfaction.
“I’m not really supposed to carry this thing anymore,” he said almost apologetically, “but I like to for old time’s sake. Just as well, as it’s turned out.”
I grinned and ran my fingers through my hair. “Mr. Inspector, right now I think you’re the most wonderful man in the world.” I grabbed his head in both hands and gave him a massive and very noisy kiss on the forehead. “Come on, let’s get down those stairs before you remember you hate heights and baldy here wakes up.”
Half way down the stairs Smollett not only remembered he couldn’t stand heights, but that he also became a quivering wreck in confined spaces. He descended the remaining steps in seconds and erupted through the doorway into the church nave with a half-suppressed whimper. I followed at a more sedate pace and locked the door after me.
A sound like a cat with a sore throat reminded me we weren’t alone. I ran to the rear of the church and cautiously peered round a screen just in case the Black Knight had a noisy accomplice hiding there, but the figure in front of me was no threat and had definitely been the victim of a knot-and-gag expert with an excess of rope. The man was the absolute opposite of the unconscious impostor. He was short, thin, had a full head of dark, bushy hair, and was almost completely covered from head to toe in a bell-rope.
I grabbed Smollett by the arm and between us we managed to unravel the little man until he was almost recognizable as a vicar. The gag came off last which was just as well because some of his words were decidedly unvicarish and more navy bluish.
I waited patiently. “Finished?” The verbal flood died down and I got a reluctant nod. “Good. The nasty piece of work that did this to you is fast asleep at the top of your tower.” I paused and cocked my head to one side. “However, knowing him he won’t lie down for long and I may have locked the door, but if there’s another way down he’ll find it. Er.. is there?”
The vicar snorted. “Of course not, it’s a church tower, not a public thoroughfare. There’s only one way up and the same way down. Unless of course he uses the ivy and can climb like a monkey.”
“More like a gorilla!” I said. “You mean he could climb down the outside of the tower all the way to the ground?”
“I suppose he could, but he’d need to be incredibly agile, extremely brave and very stupid.” The vicar laughed. “Probably all three, so I would think he’s safe up there.”
“Rule out stupid,” I said, “because he certainly isn’t, but two out of three’s not bad, which means he’s probably already down and gone.”
“Who’s got away?” asked Smollett as he paced like a good copper. “I’d like to know who we’re chasing, or more precisely who’s been trying to kill us. Before I hit him over the head you told the gorilla you knew his name, but Black Knight is not a name, it’s a colorful title. What aren’t you telling me?” He stabbed the air with a stubby finger.
“I will, but not in front of the Rev.” I gave the tiniest of nods towards the vicar who was concentrating on massaging circulation back into his bloodstream. “Don’t fret, Mr. Inspector. There are some things he really shouldn’t know and the truth about the man who bopped him is probably one of them. Meanwhile why don’t you go and check the tower and make sure the creep isn’t escaping.”
As I watched Smollett stomp out of the church I wondered why on earth Marlene had insisted he should come along. To save my life... ok, that worked, but Marlene couldn’t have foreseen him doing that, so there had to be some deep inner purpose as yet hidden from a dimwit like me. His sharp, incisive, analytical brain and devilishly clever insight? Do me a favor, I thought, and turned to the vicar.
“Your name isn’t Ted by any chance, is it?”
“No,” said the vicar, “whatever gave you that idea. My name’s Frank... Frank Lewis. Not very Welsh I know, but I’m Frank by name and frank by nature.” He rubbed his hands together to make sure I didn’t miss his little joke. I gave a polite grin and then realized what he’d said.
“You’re a Lewis? A real Lewis, like the sort that lives in the manor house?”
“Why, yes, we’re not related though. It’s amazing how many Lewises there are around here. I can trace my family back...oh, let’s see now, well a hundred years. Why?”
I put my arm round the Reverend’s shoulder. “Reverend...can I call you that?” He nodded. “Thanks, Rev. You didn’t see who clobbered you by any chance, did you?” He shook his head. “That’s what I thought.”
Smollett burst through the church door. Or at least he would have except the thing was so big, so heavy and its hinges so rusty that with all my Inspector’s strength it only creaked open a foot at a time, which made the finger flick by the Black Knight all that more impressive.
“He’s escaped!” He paused for affect as he stumbled amongst the pews. “At least I think he has. Either way you’re going to need some more ivy, Reverend, because the whole lot’s come away from the tower, top to bottom and I reckon if he came down that way he had a bumpy landing and serves him bloody well right. Still, I reckon he’s fled.”
“Good,” I said, much to Smollett’s astonishment. “Well, we certainly don’t want him hanging round here. I wouldn’t know what to do with him for one thing, and he’ll almost certainly go back from where he came now he’s given us a warning. It may not have been the permanent one he was hoping for, but he’ll believe it was effective.”
“And was it?” asked Smollett.
“Not at all,” I said with a grin. “Most bullies like him forget that people like us don’t like threats. We won’t hide in a little hole, we’ll come up and smack ‘im one. Come on, let’s go and meet the others.”
It was low tide and the beach was deserted with only three sandcastles for me to jump on, and as one looked just like a roughed-up Camelot I couldn’t resist smashing it into a million grains of sand. Smollett tried to keep up with me, leaping from mound to mound and giggling in a most un-copper-like way, but there wasn’t much left after I’d finished bouncing on the castles. The Salt House loomed ahead, looking like a pile of rubble surrounded by a number of random walls. It reminded me of a Camelot farmhouse after one of the Black Knight’s raids, but without the dying screams and choking smoke.
Neets waved as she and Bryn walked towards us on the low coastal path surrounding the bay. We waited for them to join us because the Lewis mansion was going to be far more interesting than the Salt House, if only from the Time Portal point of view, and the mansion was on the other side of the village.
“Anything worth looking at, Neets?” I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be.
“Not really. Bryn says the place has a couple of hidden cave rooms he remembers from when he was a kid and he’s pretty sure one of them had two iron rings fastened to a wall. He says people reckon the wreckers round here tie people they don’t like to the rings and watch them drown as the tide comes in.”
“And if they really hate someone, Neets, they probably do it twice!”
We’d only been in 1734 for an hour or so and already I’d nearly been murdered, found out for certain the worst villain in Camelot was living here, and found out how the bad guys got rid of their enemies...and I had good reason to think I was one. Things were definitely looking up for the Agency.
It was time to go on the offensive and put our plan into effect, which only needed us to do one thing. We badly needed to think up a plan.