Monica Scott

Monica is an attractive, twenty eight year old, dark haired beauty born and raised in Boston, whom, falling into an academic life as a teenager, has remained single in her pursuit of a PhD in archaeology, specializing in paleography and medieval semiotics. It all sounds very high-minded, but in the job market it qualifies her to be a library assistant. However, just as Monica has resigned herself to that fate, she receives an offer from a small law firm in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to work for them in her field of expertise. Although it seems odd to have been contracted by a law firm, Monica packs up her life and moves to Halifax without any hesitation, going there to help identify and interpret the strange runes carved into a rock found by a confidential client at a nearby archaeological site.

After spending a brutal winter nearly confined to her small apartment in Halifax, Monica meets Rick Townsend, who has just been contracted to work with her on the same project. In her opinion, Rick is cocky, overbearing and unqualified for the work, but her employer, Marc Blair, makes it perfectly clear that Rick is in charge and she will be reporting to him.

Blair added, “Oh, by the way, Monica, you’ll be traveling with Rick, so you’ll need to get packed.”

Monica expressed both surprise and consternation. “Where? When?”

It was Rick who answered, not Blair. “The Bahamas, tomorrow.”

Blair spoke up then, adding, “All the arrangements have been made. You’ll leave in the morning.”

Imagine Monica’s surprise. She was at first uncomfortable with the idea of traveling at all, she hadn’t the clothes for it, nor was she prepared in any other way. The Bahamas sounded nice, after a long, brutal winter in Halifax, but she wondered why, if the archaeological site was here, in Nova Scotia. What were they looking for in Bahamas?

She was repulsed by the idea of traveling with a man she’d only just met and had nothing but disdain for. Still, maybe it was time for her to expand her horizons, to step outside her ivory tower and learn something of the world out there. Maybe it was time to put some adventure in her life, to go out and do some real field work. Besides, personalities aside, he wasn’t bad looking for someone in his mid thirties, she thought, guessing at his age.

Getting to their destination required a long and arduous journey involving two taxi rides, four flight changes, the final leg, from West Palm to the Bahamas, in a private plane followed by a thirty minute boat ride over crystal clear, aqua blue waters to their final destination. Try again to imagine Monica’s surprise when she learned, at the end of her travel, that “the arrangements” made were for her to stay aboard Rick’s private yacht, “Mi Tesoro”, alone with him, anchored in the small harbor of a remote Island of the Abacos chain, a place called Green Turtle Cay. So the adventure of a lifetime begins for Monica Scot, in the Bahamas, researching a dig in Canada they call, “The Pit.”

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Rick Townsend

Rick Townsend is the main character of my current work-in-progress called, “The Practician,” let me tell you a little about him. Without describing his physical characteristics, because I’ve not settled on that yet, I will give you something of his bio.templartreasure

Rick is many things to many people, but on the surface he is an avid and very successful treasure hunter. He is considered to be the world’s leading expert in hunting down lost treasures, though he rejects the title, chalking his many successes up to luck. His main focus is on marine treasures, a field of expertise he stumbled onto as a child and has pursued ever since, though he has been hired on occasion, as in this case, to hunt down land based treasures, for which he has also succeeded spectacularly, living on the residual percentages from these and from his own finds.

Before he was hired to work “The Pit,” he was focused on finding the 1584 wreck of the Spanish galleon, “El Dorado,” aboard which lies a 3800 pound table made of solid gold, along with many other treasures. But Rick had been sidetracked even before accepting the contract from Blair and Matthews, a small law firm in Halifax. Too much income, a laid back lifestyle and an overwhelming need to forget painful times in his past, led him to drinking, a binge he’d been on for nearly a year before his best friend, King Arthur Jones, was able to convince him to give it up and get back to work. The offer from Blair and Matthews came just in time to save him from himself.

Before that, before his successes, before the wealth and income, Rick had been in special forces in Afghanistan, working for the CIA, doing wet work, most of which he would very much like to forget. And before that, before college, as a young man, he’d grown up in a house where his mother held seances and told fortunes for a living. His father had been a moderately successful magician, an entertainer, who thought, like most fathers that his son would follow in his footsteps. He’d tried to teach Rick the art of magic, but Rick was shy of performance and very little interested in a life of illusion. Most of the disappointment his parent’s felt lay in the fact that Rick had the “gift.”

They had spotted it when he was very young, second sight, inherited from his maternal grandmother. Rick’s gift was exceptional, more powerful than his grandmother’s, or his mother’s. Worth a fortune in the family business, but for Rick it was deeply disturbing and he did everything he could to suppress it, in spite of his parent’s desperate encouragements to do otherwise.

When he left home and the strange, small town of spiritualists he’d grown up in, he swore he would never return. He hadn’t kept that promise. He loved his parents, irrespective of their occult way of life and, when they needed his help, he hurried to their aid. He could no more leave them behind than he could the gift that often drove him to drink. Better to work, however, and, since he was stymied at the moment in his pursuit of the el Mayor, working The Pit would suffice nicely.

Prologue

suffugielYou don’t know me, and I may not appear to you as a sympathetic character in this age of disbelief, but it has not always been so. People today have become too skeptical, a condition based on what passes for knowledge in the information age. Oh, please don’t misunderstand, there is no doubt that knowledge has increased, we, myself and the other members of The Five, have seen to that, but only in exchange for the precious commodity of wisdom, an exchange mankind has been more than willing to make in their foolish rush to become their own god. But neither wisdom or knowledge hold any value when compared to understanding. Now there is a thing to be desired, “understanding.” It is a gem that has been lost to men since before the Dark Ages. You see, before the collapse of Rome, most men understood that other worlds existed, worlds beyond their sight, beyond their science.

In ancient days and for millennia before, magic and sorcery were very real, not mere illusion or slight-of-hand. In the distant past, men accomplished amazing feats of dark sorcery in concert with Dominions and Powers, entities, like myself, from a world beyond your making, a world beyond your sight, your science, or your ability to imagine; a world I refer to as “reality,” while, for me, your world exists only as a shadow of my own. I speak of a time when Moses’ staff turned into a snake. That was no illusion, it was reality, a reality that goes beyond your comprehension, a reality reproduced by Pharaoh’s magicians. Their feat was not mere illusion either, but, like Moses, they actually changed their wooden staffs into living snakes by powers unimagined in your narrow-minded worldview today.

If you are willing to take a little of your time, I will tell you a story from the past, a story of magic and quest, but not at all like the stories of magic that are so popular in this day. This story is real and true, and within the history that it reveals, lies the seed of understanding, an understanding that might allow your eyes to see beyond these present, dark shadows into the world of my reality, for therein lies the entire purpose for your existence.

You see, I was there when it all began, and even before. I was there before the great flood, even before your kind came to be upon the earth, for I am not like you, I am not a temporal being. Over the millennia I have been called many names, but my true name, my given name is Suffugiel. I am a founding member of The Five, one of the leaders of the Great Rebellion. It is I who have been entrusted with the quest that I am about to relate to you. It is my assignment and sole responsibility to recover that lost power of old, the Quod Magicae that was stolen on the day of His crucifixion, in Jerusalem, where this story began more than two thousand of your years ago.

I was there on that day. I watched from within the storm as Joseph carried out his secret mission. I was in the lightning, watching, as he violated the temple, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. I watched him sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat and I have been manipulating people and events surrounding the blood of Christ ever since. I play a great game of pursuit and intrigue, biding my time as I maneuver many hosts, through many ages in order to arrive at this place and time, but now the time has come for revelation. It is time for The Man of Lawlessness to take his place on the world stage and bring events to an end; to draw the whole world order into darkness, blending it into the invisible singularity of the master’s purpose. That is to paradoxically use the power of Christ’s blood as the very instrument of our final victory over The Light. For that reason, I continue to manipulate world events in the current age, on this very day in fact, but enough about me, let me rather introduce you to the latest cast of players who will take their place on my puppet’s stage.

Project #1, A New Start

happy-new-year-2017-holidaysNow that “Triangle:…” is complete and published, Project #1 becomes a Grail Mythology with the working title, “The Pit”,  in which my protagonist, Rick Townsend, will seek to learn the source and nature of a treasure being sought by a mysterious employer, who’s identity is being kept from him. In the course of his research, the story flashes back to medieval Europe and even ancient Roman times, in the same way that Michael and Kathleen Gear used historical period transitions in their trilogy, “The Anasazi Mysteries.”

In the first of the four novels in this series, our protagonists, Rick Townsend and Monica Scott, begin researching their client’s sought treasure, a quest which leads them from mysterious carvings on an ancient stone, to an elderly widow who holds the key to their quest in an old, family Bible which they will come to call, “The Leichti Bible.” From there, our two intrepid heroes are inexorably drawn  into the dangerous pursuit of objets de magie, long sought by powerful entities who will stop at nothing to gain their prize. At the same time, Rick and Monica become the targets of other powerful entities who are equally ruthless in their determination to prevent them from recovering the well hidden treasures. But, before we go further into plot, or characters, I think I should talk a bit about the genre itself. When I say, “Grail Mythology”, you say….  You see, most people don’t know what I’m talking about.

If you have read Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” , or “The Hiram Key”, by Christopher Knight, or “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”, by Mark Twain, or the more traditional tales of King Arthur by Thomas Malory, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Maude Radford Warren, or Mary Stewart then you’ve read a grail mythology. Over many centuries the theme of the Holy Grail and its various plots have been very popular, not only as books, but also as screen plays like “The Fisher King.”

More than a few years ago now, Umberto Eco wrote “Foucault’s Pendulum”, a satire on the genre, in the manner of Mark Twain. About that same time, however, in the late twentieth century, the genre took a turn away from the traditional view of the Holy Grail, to a more sinister, denial of Christ, an attack on the orthodoxy of the Bible and the very tenets of Christian faith. Perhaps the first of this new wrinkle in the genre was  “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. The novel’s plot is a complete fiction, though it is presented to the reader as documented history. It was followed then by many others, “The Da Vinci Code” and Kathleen O’Neal Gear’s “The Betrayal,” to name just two. My vision for Gray Empire, however, is to use this sinister turn in plot to direct the genre back to the more traditional tale, but with a surprising new twist at the end, a reveal of an aspect of the grail never before told in fiction, or in truth.

I hope to have “The Pit”, book one of the series called, “Gray Empire”, completed and released for the new year, 2017. At this writing I am more than 51,000 words into the first draft of the manuscript and making fairly steady progress each day. My hope is to use this blog to introduce you, in advance, to the characters in the novel, to talk about the complicated research involved and to keep you up on the progress, or lack thereof, whichever the case may be. I hope you will follow along as our character’s develop and are launched on their quest into the arcane world of grail mythology, a genre of writing that can truly test any author’s skills.