Story

Do you have a head full of questions? 

Curious minds need to know. Imagine a window to our world, seen through a magical looking glass held tightly by hands adorned with pure white gloves.  There’s a hint of blue reflected in the lens, perhaps from the crystalline eyes of the viewer or the sky overhead, perhaps not.  

The story begins with a look through the Earth Emperor’s Eye…

Hertfordshire, England – Autumn Equinox 1812

I-Spy with the Earth Emperor’s Eye something beginning with J.  It’s a cluster of noisy unsettled jackdaws nestled together on a trio of clay crooked chimneys atop a white rendered, moss tiled cottage with small lead lined windows. Quite why they preferred that perch to many in the surrounding woodland was perplexing. Still, the birds black feathers glistened in persistent drizzle. Restless, they fidgeted, perhaps in anticipation of events unfolding beneath them. Their eyes caught the tangerine glow of a setting sun and followed a leaf’s descent. It journeyed toward figures gathered around a muscular, balding, kneeling man with hands tied firmly behind his back. His head leant forward. Blood dripped from a deep gouge to his cheek on to sodden grass. The fugitive’s ankles were bound. His feet bare and muddied. The man was weary, damp and dressed in a canvass smock. Yet he was defiant, angry.  It’s in his voice, “Arrgh. You and all your questions. They sicken me!”

A round-shouldered, silver-haired, vicar in ceremonious religious dress stood over him.  Agitated, he toys with an item in his palm.  For support, he shares eye contact with other members of the group, about a dozen or so, all men except for a solitary woman. Their faces were stoical, determined. The vicar took courage from the shared fortitude, replying, “Very well. Keep your silence!” Only for the accused to say, “Silence, ha! I’ll take the truth to my grave!”

The vicar persisted, “So be it Clibborn, but the truth will out. That aside, there is no doubt on the charges against you and our consensus opinion on the rightful punishment.” He held forth a large crucifix, directing it at the man’s gaze. “Do you repent before the eyes of the Lord? He is our witness!” And then, boldly and in jest, “He and the birds!” Clibborn sneered back, “Ha. What do you know of truth? Hypocrite!” before glancing up at the chattering birds upon the twisted chimneys. “Damn those crows!”

Yet it’s Clibborn who was damned, for an Executioner awaited. He stood tall, motionless and cold. He examines a pitchfork with traces of blood on its tips, but his work had barely begun.  He sniped, “They’re jackdaws, ploughboy! Ha, ha, ha. Listen! Hear how they mock you. Know this sly fox. They’ll come to pick at your bones when we’re done. Filthy animal! Murderer. A cruel Grim Dread.”

“Calm now, restraint,” said the vicar, holding the cross firmly aloft. “Guide me,” he whispered, in the hope of divine intervention. But Clibborn was having none of it, “Ha, ha, ha! Sly fox! Grim Dread. Hear me Plummer! Hear me North! I’m betrayed by my own blood”. A despised look at the woman, who shuddered then looked away. Clibborn continued, “Have it your way. Do what you will. Send me to my grave, but sleep uneasy for I shall not rest. You know of the curse. I will rise again from the deep… from out of the dewy grass. Revenge shall be mine. I will claim all you cherish… your art… your love… and your nature. I will turn the whole world grey.”

As he spoke, the pupils of his troubled eyes revealed an inner turmoil. His soul was seemingly aflame, for they burned an eerie menacing crimson. Was it due solely to the glare of a setting sun or were the gates of Hell already opening to welcome another sinner? Perhaps it was the curse unfolding? De Blake warned them and the shadow cast by Clibborn’s yielding body seemed to vindicate those fears, for it flickered whilst he remained still.

The vicar assumed it was the demon within. He grew eager to proceed. “It’s time! Do you see Clibborn how the sun sets before us… when the day and night are equal in length. See here,” pointing towards a crude tapered long wooden post, “this stake has your name upon it. We will drive it through your heart to keep you from rising. Then sink your body to the depths of Hell.”

Clibborn, though, was apparently fearless. “A sun sets but a Harvest moon rises. Fools. Let the mourners come to weep over my corpse. Tell Kate she shall yet be mine.”  These were to be his last words and they were to prove accurate too, in every sense. The full moon had risen, perhaps as a reminder to all present about the vanity of earthly wishes, and the constant threat that malice can surface in any of us. We are all capable of harm, and so it was with the figures that approached Clibborn who consoled themselves that their actions were in the name of justice. The jackdaws knew it, that Clibborn’s fate was sealed. They shook their wings, once, twice, three times for luck, then took to flight from the twisted chimneys as a pistol fired.  Clibborn fell with a ‘thump, clump, thump’. When airborne, anguished cries reached the birds from the executed man and his observers. “Oh God, it is all over,” cried the vicar, mentally exhausted. But little did he know, for the game of ‘Live of Let Die’, had only just begun.

Do you want a happy ending?

Read on if you dare, but a darkness descends. Time is against us and the signs recorded in the Watch are ominous. The Grim Dread is enacting a cruel revenge upon this world. He feeds upon our egos and the vanity of ‘I Am’. He loathes all the Emperor’s questions except the one that reads, ‘Do you know what its like in the mind of a monster?’ Only one thing can stop him – YOU!

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Earth Emperor’s Eye – Reviews

Summary

"Dismayed at our neglect of his planet, a mystical Earth Emperor challenges humanity to a chilling game of ‘Live or Let Die’. However, if the cursed and insidious Grim Dread has its way there will be only one outcome – the demise of the animal kingdom.

Thankfully, Mother Nature has her allies, including aspiring Earth Champion, Ben Whittenbury, his psychic wife, Julia, and their secretive daughter, Sarah.  Bewitched by a two hundred year old painting, the Whittenbury’s seek sanctuary from the modern world in a remote cottage in rural Hertfordshire.  But their tranquillity is short-lived for the spirit world comes calling with haunting messages linked to the quill of Charles Lamb, a tragic British writer from the 19th century.

As the Whittenbury’s become embroiled in an enchanted quest, love, it seems, knows no boundaries. Does truth lie amid local myth or hide deep in the hearts of close neighbours? And what’s to be made of mystical carvings within ancient Royston Cave and the arrival of a maverick dog who serves as the ‘voice of the animal kingdom’?"

An epic, mildly controversial, but inspirational adventure of love and betrayal spanning two centuries.  Contains some scenes of violence and sexual content.

Reader reviews on Amazon

What an incredible story!

"The author tackled a challenging theme superbly. I think its the first book of its kind to really succeed. The environmental message is handled subtly and immersed in a wonderful, intricate story of sub-plots, ghosts and a strangely unnerving Grim Dread. We all love an intelligent villian!"

A marvellous and inventive book.

"A very original read, full of surprises, wit and unexpected romance. The story had complexity and depth that came together brilliantly towards the end."

It's time to seek out the answers and explore...

" If you like riddles and to question the wonders (and cost?) of a modern, commercially-drive life, then this is the book for you. Focused on a family and a magical talking dog (of course!), it asks fundamental questions about art, love, nature and YOU."

 

Amazon