In 7th Grade…I wasn’t a good person. All of middle school was a jungle, but 7th Grade was the worse. In 2010, I discovered “Worst,” a manga about a fictional high school filled with delinquents who liked to fight. I think the reason why I was so drawn to those stories was because it reminded me of my own middle school. It felt like my entire class was a gang and honestly…it was ridiculous.
In 7th grade, I cultivated a reputation that I’m not exactly proud of…and yet it served me well. I barely passed, and the main skills I learned was to lie, cheat, and get my way. It was fun at first. But then, it got terrifying. Heads up…I use profanity in this one and this is a long read. Might want to bookmark.
So let’s back it up for a second. Let me take you all the way back to 1999. Think Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie” or Juvenile’s “Back that Azz Up” and you got it. In 1999, I was living in a place called Augusta, Georgia. This is like Atlanta’s more down-south distant cousin, spread out with a lot of woods, flannel, 3XL shirts, and its own state of mind. Here, the culture wasn’t dictated so much by New York or Los Angeles, but by South Park, Power 107 and Y105. This was the true Dirty South. And they were proud. This song was our 7th Grade Anthem.
And the racism…Don’t worry, this isn’t to complain. I don’t know about the other kids, but at thirteen, I never knew the racism was racism. Is self-segregation racist? Because that’s more or less what happened. It’s like if you were born in the sweltering heat of Africa before you knew what air conditioning was. You just accept it as a way of life. We didn’t complain. We truly co-existed. Some blacks were racists against whites. And some white kids were racists against blacks. I had two white kids throw a big ass rock that almost hit me in the back of my head, but instead banged against the dumpster. Almost like a prison, in fact, a lot like a prison, everyone seemed to stick to their own.
Except if you were in my class. The arrow is pointing at me.I’m not kidding. If there was any racism from my classmates, none of us showed it. The blacks got along with whites and vice versa. Like I said, we were like our own gang and we took care of our own. I think that’s one of the reasons why we had so much fun. Team 7B’s Ms. Thompson’s class was the place to be. Even other kids were trying to get transferred to ours.
You see, middle school was a place where money doesn’t matter. No one was driving cars. No one had a job. You’d think this’d give us room to focus on things like grades and studying…but for us guys, all we cared about was our reputation. Whether you were a punk, whether you were cool, a baller, a wanna be gangster…or whether you could fight.
Ever since I was a kid…it was very difficult for me to ignore the truth.
“Rock did you have a good time?”
“Rock, are you happy to see us?”
“Rock, you should focus on the positives!”
I can do that…but that’s not what you asked…Sounds mean and heartless, doesn’t it. But those were literal answers I gave to grownups when I was just a child. Back before I had any concept of tact or sugarcoating…telling people what they want to hear.
If it’s the truth and you asked for it, I think a piece of me really does die inside when I have to come up with some pleasant positive response while skirting about the honest truth. And worse…if you go about doing this all your life just to make others feel good when the responses you give are far from the truth, do they really know who you are? Do they really know the truth about you? Or is it, that so many of us don’t want people to know the truth about us?
When you die and they describe you to others at the funeral…wouldn’t it piss you off to hear how far off from the truth they are? Last year, an associate passed away and I experienced such a case. I’d hear others describe him as such a happy person and they couldn’t understand why he died. That may be the truth as they knew it…but I saw a different truth. One that left me with little questions when I heard he had taken his own life.
During my sophomore year in high school, I truly was a pathological liar. In an upcoming essay about Sigmas, you’ll get a better grasp of why I was like this, but I can tell you there’s a lot of credence in the phrase, “it takes one to know one.” I was a pathological liar, thus, I understand what it means to lie and why people do it.
“What do you mean you were a pathological liar? I thought you were dropping truth bombs as a child? So what happened?”Continue Reading
One of the coolest thing about reading the Gospels every night, is that it’s gotten to the point where I can literally say, “There was something about what Jesus said last night…” I just went for a walk on break and I smiled. Because his words were on my mind. And I love thinking about it!
It’s like having the most dependable friend in the world right here with me. Someone I can talk to and hear from every day. He’ll never abandon me. He’ll never betray me. He’s there when I’m down and out and he’s there in my triumph. Some one I can talk to, unburden myself, ask for guidance, and then receive it by reading the scriptures.
Honestly, I think that’s one of the coolest things about the Bible. My older brother said it best years ago. When I told him that I prayed every day. He told me, “It’s great that you talk to God, but don’t you want to hear what he has to say to you? Wouldn’t it be cool if he talked to you too?”
Last night, in Matthew Chapter 15, Jesus talked about it’s not what enters the mouth that defiles you, but what comes out of it, the product of the heart. I know I have all kinds of twisted and messed up thoughts. So I wondered if that meant my heart was no good. But in thinking about what he said and how he dealt with that Canaanite woman in the same chapter, I’ve come to the conclusion that…the fact that I have such impulses and horrid thoughts, but don’t act on them, that I restrain myself…it shows that clearly there’s more goodness in my heart than wickedness.
And all I can do is continue to try and get better. So that, doing what’s good to the best of my abilities gets easier and easier. #jesus#bible
The following is one of the more popular videos from a Youtube Vlogger who discusses his version of Alpha Male Strategies, how attract women, how to treat women, and pretty much how to be a player. I warn you, the language is a bit vulgar and he gives you some perspective that you might not be aware of, and thus will probably find offensive.
I’ve seen about ten of his videos. They’re quite amusing. I appreciate how straight-forward and honest he is about his perspective on the dating scene. But mind you, it’s his perspective. He claims to have dated over a hundred women. Having sex with multiple women in a given week. And assuming this is all true, it’s understandable why he’d have these world views about the dynamics between men and women.
However…When it comes to all the crap “Nice Guys” are getting on the dating scene…I had some choice words. Here’s what I told him:
After watching about ten of your videos…I really do walk away with a greater understanding. Mind you, when I hear of new philosophies and perceptions of the world, I really do go in with a humble heart, the mind of a pupil. But in the end…it’s as you say. These tips are for your interpretation of the “Alpha Male,” which I think is a bit different from my own interpretation of the phrase.
To me, the Alpha Male is the master of his world. He does what he wants. He takes responsibility for what’s going on in his life and blames no one. The Alpha male is “on his purpose” as you say. But that purpose can include the goal of getting married to a good woman. The kind of woman your suggestions and tips attract…in my opinion, is the wrong women. Which, these days, seems to be a majority for a great deal of their youth until they’ve been hurt, dated enough jerks, or pumped out a few children out of wedlock before finally growing up and realizing they’ve had the wrong priorities and values out of life. Of course, the majority, doesn’t mean all women are like this.
Now, let me tell you about the kind of Nice Guy that doesn’t seem to get a lot of representation. So much so, that it seems like these caliber of nice guys don’t exist. But they do. A lot of them are married. Some stay single because they see what’s going on and refuse to betray their own personal constitution, which in most cases, revolve around their Christian values. These kinds of nice guys are aware of what’s going on. They know that women and men will think this or that about them based on their nice guy actions, but we don’t care. We will still be gentlemen, polite, respectful, and strong. Our confidence, our discipline comes from doing what’s good in God’s eyes and having faith that this is the ultimate fulfillment of purpose. I say, we don’t care about how we’re perceived, but really that’s only part of it.
The truth is, a person’s perception of those nice guy/virtue qualities tell us a lot about who you are. If you look down on them. Keep walking. If you want someone to play mind games with you. Keep walking. If you want the drama of having us argue with you over silly things like being late, keep walking. If you think that we’re thirsty because we genuinely text when we feel like it, which could be right away…keep walking. If you think that we’re your fans because we show how much we cherish you and that this somehow makes you our celebrity, our everything…keep walking.
And more importantly…if you take away nothing from this, remember that nice guys of my caliber aren’t in it just for the sex. If all you bring to the table is your body, i’m sorry, but you’re worthless to us. Every woman on earth has a body. Even straight 10s are a dime a dozen.
For those still scrambling for the pieces, allow me to introduce special investigator, Cloud Beaudry. When people think of spoiled, entitled, Millennials with bad work ethics who complain about everything…let’s just say that Cloud forces everyone to rethink those stereotypes. And it probably has something to do with the fact that he’s tormented by a curse that allows him to hear and see ghosts all the friggin time. And of course, when you know secrets that are supposed to be buried, you tend to make enemies among the living.
Five years ago his mother was killed and the local police was quick to pass it off as an accidental suicide. It was a dark, depressing time in his life where Cloud was on the verge of ending it all. Then he met Maggie. And for seemingly no reason at all, she helped him avenge the death of his mother. Cloud was grateful. So grateful, in fact, that he vowed to hunt down those responsible for killing Maggie back in 1959. And unfortunately, there are still names on the list.
Chapter 3 – Meritocracy
By Rock Kitaro
It’s a brisk morning, just before the auburn glow makes its ascent. I was once told that this is the best part of my day and it goes downhill from here. But that’s just a matter of perspective, one I choose not to entertain. There’s nothing like busting out a 5K at five in the morning. There’s no one around. Barely any traffic. With Korn’s “Take a Look in the Mirror” album blasting through my earbuds, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come. It doesn’t make me proud, it just… it strengthens my resolve. And I need that strength. Else I would have killed myself a long time ago.
For those still scrambling for the pieces, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Cloud Beaudry. Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been able to hear, see, and feel the presence of the dead.
It started with my ancestors during the Salem Witch trials. The family matriarch wasn’t a witch herself, but was hanged for speaking up in their defense. Since then, a wretched curse has been passed down the Beaudry line from generation to generation.
This curse…you can call it a curse, however, I choose to believe it’s just some twisted sick coincidence. For instance, every generation in my family gave birth to just one scion. Every family member died before they reached the age of forty-five. And nearly everyone has been regarded by his or her peers as crazy or delusional. I’m probably the first to embrace the paranormal instead of letting it drive me insane.
To me, the traditional concepts of weird or normal are no longer relevant. I’ve trained this ability to interact with the dead so well that it’s now about as familiar as my sense of sight or sound. I know. It sounds unbelievable. That’s why there’s only one person on Earth I’ve told this to.
I’m only thirty but the atrocities I’ve faced have advanced me well beyond the years of any average Millennial. That might sound like I’m bragging but I’m not. Dread doesn’t even begin to describe my life. When I was growing up, I couldn’t remember a single night that I didn’t hear people screaming for help. Dark twisted faces, weeping dead children, relentless murderers and the toe curling sounds of ripping flesh and wet hacking…I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone.
Dark eye circles of sleep deprivation stayed with me until I was at least twenty-one. It was during that year that something snapped in me. My mother. She was raped for the second time and nearly beaten to death. I’ll never forget sitting by her hospital bed with a permanent scowl lined with crusted dried tears. I never had any best friends. I never had a social life where people sought me out. But paranoia and fear followed me every day of my life almost as constant as the sun and the moon.
It was fear of letting shit like that happen to my mother again, the paranoia of forever being a loser, the butt of the jokes, and everyone’s punching bag. It was fear of failing to make something out of myself. The fear of going mad by watching the rotten assholes move up in the world while decent honest hardworking individuals are stepped on because they lack “ruthless ambition.”
I won’t say I embraced the fear. I only use it as motivation. I turned this negativity into a fuel for production. It’s what prompted me to take my fat ass in the gym and shed 140lbs over the span of four years. I dropped from 320lbs to a healthy, athletic180. Working out and martial arts became a source of therapy for me, an outlet for my frustration. It was fear that prompted me to stay in shape, which is why I’m on this exhilarating jog around my subdivision.
As far as my encounters with dead people, I’ll not go so far as to say I’m no longer terrified, but it’s more like I gradually adopted an air of defiance. I strengthened my mind and stopped worrying about what ghosts could or couldn’t do to me. I laid awake on countless nights watching the blinds rattle and the shadows crawl along the ceilings. Then I’d close my eyes and drift to sleep, fully aware that I may never wake up again. If any demented phantom stared at me from the fog or through some milky reflection or behind that dead tree in the distance, I’d glare right back at them.
If they wanted to kill me, they were more than welcome to try.
After my mother was raped, I switched majors and enrolled into law school. I would’ve preferred to send assholes off to prison as a prosecutor, but defense attorneys made way more money. The idea was to get a good paying job so my mother could quit waitressing and stop sleeping with every flannel-wearing cowboy who just so happens to throw a wink at her.
That plan went up in flames just days before I was about to graduate. After four years of endless studying, of sacrificing the holidays and weekends to climb my way to the top of my class, someone went off and killed my mother. Her body was found floating beneath a bridge on the outskirt of Athens.
The police heard about her promiscuous reputation with men. They also heard from neighbors and co-workers that she believed in aliens and claimed she could speak to ghosts. Eventually, the detectives ruled her death as an accidental suicide. They said she got drunk, bumped her head on the railing, and tumbled over to drown. She was only forty-two.
I can’t even begin to describe how livid I was. My worst fears had come true. This woman was my life! She was the reason why I toiled so hard, put up with so much shit, why I sacrificed so much. Nothing else mattered. We had come so far! Only for it to end like this!?
No one showed up for her funeral. It was just me and fifty white chairs on a cold rainy day. The rage in my heart, it forced me to ask questions no decent human being should ever need to ask themselves. The police were wrong. I knew it from the get-go but as a mere law-grad I was powerless to do a damn thing about it. The outcry of inner demons demanded an audience and to be honest, I was about ready end the torment once and for all. Perhaps it was hitting rock-bottom that lured me to Maggie.
Brooding in the shadows, Morgan begins plotting her escape from Tintagel Castle. Under the watchful eye of Tristan, this is easier said than done. Then, a glimmer of hope shines through in the form of two teenage boys fresh from the battlefield.
Gaheris is an inquisitive playboy while Agravain’s an arrogant upstart who’s quick to draw his sword on even the slightest offense. The two make up Gawain’s little brothers and they’re the only ones Morgan can depend on to help her escape. Just be careful. There’s more to these brothers than meets the eye and the last thing you want to do is call them orphans. The castle lads find this out the hard way.
Chapter 3 – The Violent Orphans By Rock Kitaro
SIMS – “Crows” (Gaheris and Agravain’s theme)
It wasn’t the first time Morgan was laughed out of a room, but still, it was getting old. The blatant disrespect for authority was no longer cute and she knew it. For two days, Morgan kept to the darkest towers where no one could find her. The cackle of Tristan’s laughter haunted her. She couldn’t shake the sight of his cold blue eyes staring down at her wherever she went. It was maddening.
In the depths of her despair, she wrote poems and limericks, scribbling down all the harm she wished upon him. She made a list of all the times the lion had foiled her plans and designed a punishment for each incident.
For hours, she stared at the ceiling from the stone cold floor and fantasized about beasts feeding on his carcass. She dreamt about his lengthy crucifixion. She smirked wondering how loud he’d scream if he had to burn at the stake. Such thoughts were therapeutic. It seemed to be the only way to pacify the screaming Furies chained within the depths of her heart.
For two nights, Morgan sulked in the shadows of the royal banquet hall. It was here that the Council of Gold Clovers held their lavish feasts, joking and laughing as if they weren’t just at each other’s throats mere moments earlier. Musicians played their fiddles and flutes. Squires dazzled their maidens. Wine drizzled from beards and wives dined on gossip.
The tables were arranged in a U-shaped formation with the king’s platform raised directly in the center. King Mark, Duchess Igraine and house royalty lauded Tristan for his bravery. Morgan watched it all with her back against the wall, glaring with torchlight blazing from her eyes. Their laughter made her sick. Their smiles made her snarl. She remembered a hundred dirty old men laughing at her, how Tristan called her insolent and mistempered.
She crossed her arms and grumbled, “You want mistempered? I’ll give you mistempered.”
While everyone was asleep, Morgan confined herself to one of the storage closets. Her tiny book of spells and potions were written with coded languages and symbols, made legible only to those trained in the arts of Lake Avalon. For hours, Morgan would grind crystals and brew concoctions in a black cauldron. She poured these shiny potions into small milky glass vials, tiny enough to fit into the pockets of dagger sleeves she planned to strap over her shoulder like a bandolier. If the men weren’t willing to save Gawain, Morgan was prepared to do it herself.
The third night…
It was the third night since Morgan was humiliated in front of the Council of Gold Clovers. It’s been three days since she saw the vision of Gawain chained in a ship. It was the final night of feasting, after which, the lords were scheduled to depart in the morning and return to their domains.
Again, Morgan stationed herself in the solace of the shadows. Then the giant doors of the banquet hall opened. The herald announced a new visitor. No one was paying attention. The music and revelry was so loud that no one heard.
“From the Kingdom of Lothian and Orkney, I give you Duke Tiburne and his companions, Gaheris and Agravain!” announced the herald.
A smile slowly surfaced for the first time in so long that Morgan’s cheeks began to hurt. The loud crash of shattered wood got everyone’s attention. King Mark’s longtime herald was a large man, well over three hundred pounds. And yet, a fourteen-year-old pup of a lad was now standing over him, having just broken a chair across the herald’s back.
“That’s not how you say my name, you idiot. It’s Agra-vain. I’d commit it to memory if I were you.”
“Vain, you say? You have it right!” Jonah of Mon scolded.
Agravain looked the baron up and down before walking on, as if he didn’t have time to address every shit stain he happened to come across.
Florence meets Maggie. Or rather…they’ve already met. And last time Florence checked, Maggie was dead.
Warning: Contains a Graphic Haunting
Chapter 2 – Horrid Sounds by Rock Kitaro
Florence gets an uneasy four hours of sleep before waking up in a cold sweat. It’s just a few minutes past midnight. Her throat is parched but it’s the discomfort from her drenched blue nightgown that prompts her to open her weary eyes. She doesn’t get up right away. She’s too tired. The AC is set to 70 degrees on an already frigid November evening but her bedroom feels moist and warm. So she lies there, contemplating if she should try and sleep through it.
It isn’t until she raises her knee that her heel drags along the bed. She feels an alarming puddle of fluids as if her foot was sinking into a soggy sponge mattress. She sits up, whipping off her sheets with a frantic gasp before the cracking bones in her back reminds her of her age. Shadow stripes from the window blinds line across her face as she sits on the edge of the bed, planting her balmy feet to the wooden floor.
She wipes the bangs from her forehead with a puzzled look. The beads of perspiration once there was now gone. She reaches over and slides a hand across the sand colored bed sheets. It’s dry. She checks the dent in her pillow. It too is dry.
After a soft confusing chuckle, a relieved Florence lies back down and pulls the sheets over her body. As soon as she does, a thousand fingers rush up from the mattress desperately trying to grip at her flesh from her shoulders down to her ankles in a straight line like a tidal wave approaching the shores of her body. The fingers stay submerged under the bed sheets but violate her with the unnerving strength of a groping maniac trying to peel at her wrinkled skin.
Florence gapes open with a groaning shriek. Entire hands jolt through the sheets to wrap around her legs, slithering, grabbing, closer and closer up her thighs like a determined molester on a mission. In a frantic struggle, Florence’s thrashes herself off the bed.
She lands in a hard thud before crawling to the wall. Her heart’s racing. She’s crazy-eyed and panting like a jarhead in boot camp. The patio light goes dim. She reaches for the lamp on the nightstand. It’s not working. The digital clock says zeros in all slots.
Suddenly, the entire house begins to tremor. Rocks grind with the loud tenacity of a jackhammer on cement. The wooden floorboards crack and splinter as they shift and bend upward of their own volition. The walls contract, popping streams of chalky white plaster like water bursting from a pool. A web of cracks stretch across the windows and the bed sheets bulge as if a monstrous anaconda was emerging, slithering from one corner of her bed to the other, slowly approaching Florence.
The defiant shout comes from the other side of the closed bedroom door. It was a deep bass-heavy voice, hollow and it echoes. Splintering bangs boomed one after another. As if someone was pounding a nail gun into the floor.
“NO! NO! AAHAAYAK!!! OW-HOW-HOW-HOW!!!”
Florence’s imagination takes her to a dark place where murky death invaded and demanded her attention. All of her worst fears consume her at once.
The screams get louder, more desperate, more dire. The hard mechanical pumps of the nail gun were driving sharp metal into someone’s flesh. She hears it, the tearing of tendons, the wet patter of blood splattering on the floor. The harsh guttural cry was from her husband… Her husband! Florence recognized the voice to be that of James Leach crying out in agony.
Here, we’re introduced to the prestigious King Mark of Tintagel. Morgan interrupts his annual conference, begging the king to send an emissary north to rescue Gawain. While King Mark is sympathetic, there’s one person who stands in Morgan’s way.
23-year-old Tristan is the Champion of Cornwall, the strongest fighter in the kingdom and an unspoken big brother to the youngsters. In Tristan’s own words, “I’ll not risk the lives of my men based on the whims of a mistempered brat playing at alchemy!”
Of course, Tristan should have known better. As if Morgan’s about to accept “no” for an answer.
Chapter 2 – The Lion of Dumnonia by Rock Kitaro
“Aria” by Susumu Hirasawa –
“YOU, SIR, ARE A COWARD!”
“I DARE YOU TO SAY THAT AGAIN!”
“EVERYONE SIT DOWN! NOW!”
“YOU CAN’T REASON WITH THESE MEN! THEY’RE NO BETTER THAN ANTS WITHOUT A CAUSE!”
“I GOT YOUR CAUSE!”
All class and decorum went out the window hours ago. Spit flew from beards and bugling eyes looked like they were about to pop out of their skulls. Ambassadors from over thirty volatile kingdoms had convened at Tintagel Castle. It was the final week of August. For eight years, this “Council of Gold Clovers” congregated in an annual attempt to resolve differences with diplomacy. With the honorable King Mark presiding, the initiative was supposed to spark hope for a greater future.
However, as of late, the council had turned into nothing less than a competition of who could talk the loudest. Empty words and false promises were passed out like playing cards in a pub. Their resolutions were always unrealistic and there was a running joke that the only reason why people kept coming back was to gorge themselves on the food.
The throne room was large enough to shelter an army of 2,000, yet for some reason it felt congested. Over 150 disgruntled knights, barons, and chancellors had broken from their assigned tables and were now separated in conspiring huddles as if anarchy was in the works.
The day started with everyone dressed in their second-best suits, but by noon, they all looked like sweaty peasants from having stripped off their outer garments. Collars and capes of all colors were discarded like dismantled decorations. Spilt wine lined cracks of the floor. Daggers were driven through tables. It was as if a tornado had ripped through the room and the look on King Mark’s face was priceless.
Mark, the King of Tintagel, just sat there on his gold throne with his head held up by his fists. The black banners hanging above his dais displayed the sigil of fifteen gold coins in an upside-down triangle.
Four knights in full metal armor stood behind the king with their hands resting on the pommel of massive swords. Sixteen servants waited in the wings, ready to tend to the king’s every need. Unfortunately, what the king really needed was some sense of civility, not these animals looking to exert their dominance.
In spite of his position and the veneration bestowed upon him, King Mark’s appearance was far from impressive. He was nearing fifty, shorter than most with a potbelly, bristly hair, and a thick black beard that concealed whether he was smiling or not. Perhaps King Mark’s most endearing feature was his sympathetic gray eyes. He was relatively soft-spoken and hardly yelled, even on the battlefield.
To his left was an empty chair reserved for his wife. However, the queen passed away decades ago and King Mark had yet to remarry. The chair to his right was occupied by the Lord Chamberlain, Sir Cador, a no-nonsense taskmaster. Cador was also Duchess Igraine’s cousin by blood and a strict but doting father to the sixteen-year-old Constantine.
The bickering was unbecoming but everyone knew the topic of discussion would produce such reactions. The main grievance on the tip of everyone’s tongue was the ceaseless terror by the Hibernians.
Unlike Britannia, which was fractious and split with a myriad of formidable warlords, Hibernia was a singular powerhouse of unified clans just beyond the Celtic Sea. It was home to some of the deadliest warriors the world has ever seen. She was a seafaring nation, ruled by a matriarch whose fame and reputation was almost revered and worshiped as the pharaohs of old.
Her name was Iseult, Queen of Hibernia. She benefited from the division and strife amongst the British, fighting for the kingdoms that paid the most. In her web of lies, Iseult orchestrated a number of political murders and framed rival generals, effectively pitting them against each other like pawns on a chessboard. The blood money was steady revenue that made Queen Iseult one of the wealthiest women in the world. She’d promise loyalty and discretion but at heart, the Hibernians were loyal only to Hibernia.
During Iseult’s near thirty-year reign, Cornwall has remained Hibernia’s main rival. Back in the day, King Mark had some powerful allies on his side. Big names like High King Uther, Duke Gorlois, King Leodegrance and even the sorcerer Merlin. But due to a series of unfortunate events, Duke Gorlois was murdered, Uther died, Merlin parted ways, and Leodegrance had to defend own kingdom against legions from an usurping King Vortigern.
Hoping to capitalize on the chaos, Queen Iseult launched a massive siege upon Tintagel Castle. King Mark prevailed in his defense but it cost him dearly. Two thirds of his army was devastated and thousands of villagers loss their homes in the crossfire.
That was nearly sixteen years ago. Queen Iseult’s hatred never faded. Systematically, she’d send hunters across the sea to kidnap sons and daughters from indiscriminate villages. They were brought back to Hibernia and forced to slave labor.
Bereaved parents fell to their hands and knees begging the courts to do something, anything to bring back their children. It was a reoccurring nightmare. To date, all sixteen rescue attempts were crushed at sea. The one vessel that managed to reach Hibernia’s shores fell prey to a massacre that was so barbaric it was omitted from the scrolls.
Thus, the Council of Gold Clovers debated. They argued. They pointed fingers and accused one another of cowardice.
“Are your knights not brave enough?”
“Where’s your courage?”
“Where were you when my daughter was swept off in the night!?”
“I dare you to say that again!”
“You sir, have no class!”
“To hell with you and your antiquated, highborn sensibilities!”
“Let’s see your tongue wag after I’ve split it with my ax!”
“I have five arrows thirsting for your blood!”
“Don’t tempt me!”
“LET’S HAVE IT!”
It was all the same with no end in sight. Duke Guinea slammed his fist on the table every time he felt someone was “missing the point.” The loud bang caused Sir Cador’s shoulders to jerk forward like a pit bull on a leash. King Mark would notice and smirk. The mild amusement was about the only perk King Mark derived from the meetings.
An unexpected knock began to crawl over the overlapping conversations. Initially, no one heard it but its persistence began to annoy the competing speakers. The double doors croaked open.
To the king, Morgan was a sight for sore eyes. As soon as he spotted her in that cotton pink dress he was immediately filled with joy. The cluster of old men glowered down at her as she weaved her way to the throne. She wanted to present herself as a young lady should, humble and modest. But no matter what, she couldn’t stop herself grimacing at the nauseating stench of wine and sweat.
The elderly Florence Leach has a dark secret she’s kept buried for over 50 years. She’s been able to move on, get married, have children and even grandchildren. Then…one day she welcomes Cloud Beaudry into her home. And let’s just say he didn’t come for the tea.
Chapter 1 – Old Smiles
by Rock Kitaro
I should’ve known better. Smiles are so deceptive. Even in her advanced age, it seems wisdom has yet to falter. Still sharp as a whip. Makes things tricky, a bit difficult, but not impossible. Just take notice and tread with caution. For behind those disarming eyes is a tomb fill with secrets. But I’m a man on a mission and I’ve come to dig.
Florence Leach is a longstanding resident of Macon, Georgia. Her children and grandchildren are all of adult age. Each of them well established, either in college or pursuing some profession. The husband, James Leach, died in 2001 not long after the Towers fell.
Those were some depressing times. But from what I heard, the community rallied around her and gave her the strength she needed to carry on. Since then, she’s gone on to publish a number of whimsical children’s books good enough to give Mother Goose a run for her money.
Yes, if she were my grandmother I’d have every reason to be proud of her. Indeed her grandchildren were very proud. In an effort to maintain such affections, Florence made sure to keep her Southern two-story dream house in order.
Her front lawn was mowed recently, groomed, and edged behind a white picket fence. She must have hired a cleaning crew for the five bedrooms and two baths. There wasn’t a speck of dust on the cabinets or the gilded framed portraits adorning the walls. The area rugs were vacuumed, especially the hazelnut carpeting over the staircase. The kitchen had dark hardwood flooring and there was an exquisite dining table that was so polished you could your own reflection.
She entertains me in the formal study with afternoon light flowing through the windows. Silver platters gleam from the China cabinet. The luster fluctuates from clouds moving in and out of the sun’s way. It’s all so very quaint, really.
Before this day, Florence and I had never met. She didn’t know who I was or what I was about, yet she welcomed me in with such zeal. Perhaps it was my well-groomed appearance, my youth, combed blond hair or unblemished tan. Perhaps it was the sincerity she saw in my brown eyes that lulled her to trust and confide in me as so many have done before. She knew I was an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, but that’s not why she granted me an audience.
Ms. Florence was simply lonely. And I was new. The intrigue was mutual.