Since he can remember, young Jack Dore has had the strangest of dreams. Another world and another life! He can’t escape when he’s awake either, being followed every moment by his ‘shadows.’ Jack believes it is only he who can see his shadows until he meets a mysterious old lady. Following an incident at the local swimming pool, where he nearly drowns, he finds himself transported in his unconscious state to the Celtic Otherworld ‘Annwn,’ where he meets Queen Eigyr. He is told he is the only one who can save the world from Armageddon.
Jack, best friend Maddie and Truffle, the Bernese mountain Dog embark upon a fantastic journey through The Tunnel of No Dream back to Annwn, where they find themselves in a life and death struggle against The Empress of Deep and her evil cohorts Sorbus and Salix, as they search for the legendary Caliburnis – ‘The Rod’ – broken in half and hidden by Jack in a different life. Jack will need to reach into his innermost soul to help him fight evil. Can he find his King Arthur within?
Jack cannot do this alone. He needs Maddie who has her own inner secret. A soul within no one ever expected to see least of all Maddie.
A book full of legendary creatures and characters from the darkest of ages in British history, Hengist, Horsa, Morganis, Eigyr, Ronixen, Vortigern and Myrddin. What is the connection between the Welsh Dragon and the legendary sword Excalibur? Will the Dragon Hunters, The Ropen and Palug and his enormous cat, stop Jack in his tracks, as he fights to save the Realm of Queen Eigyr from destruction?
An action-packed adventure, which will constantly have you on the edge of your seat with excitement.
Targeted Age Group:: Young Adult/Teen
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Where I live is a place steeped in a forgotten history. I was walking my Bernese Mountain dog 'Truffle' one day on a hill fort in the area and wondered what its history was. I read a book called The Keys to Avalon by Steve Blake and Scott Lloyd, then started researching the history of my area more and more. I discovered I lived near what some have claimed is the true Avalon where 'Cadwaladr' – King Arthur, as you know him, lived and died. Suddenly a whole new world of forgotten adventures and battles opened up before me. Stories passed down from one generation to another make a rich tapestry of folklore in Wales and with my belief in the Elysian Concept of Consciousness, where souls pass on to new generations, there grew a story where I could easily travel between the Dark Ages and modern times, so creating a fantasy adventure for all to enjoy.
By the way, Truffle is a Bernese Mountain Dog who sadly is no more but I love dogs and just had to feature her in the book.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters in Armageddon’s Rod are taken from the rich history of Dark Ages Wales, but you might know them by other names:
Cadwaladr is King Arthur (Dux Bellorum – Battle Leader)
Eigyr – King Arthur's mother; also wife of Uthyr Pendragon (father of King Arthur)
Gwenhwyfar – Guinevere, wife of King Arthur
Myrddin – Merlin. The ancient prophet, healer and thaumaturge.
And many more characters of course, all of whom form a great story between Dark Ages Britannica and modern times where one or two of the characters pop up.
Excerpt from Chapter Four
'The Face in The Window'
Jack walked into the mist and he was there. It was an extraordinary place to be.
Where Jack was, he did not know, but he had been there many times before in the past. This was the only place the shadows did not follow. He couldn't remember exactly the first time he'd visited this place, but THIS PLACE was one of his first memories in life.
THE FIRST memory in his life.
Most people remember what they would call their prominent life events, ordinary things really, the like of which we all have memories of, such as the first time they went to the beach or the first day they went to school. Not Jack, this place was such a distinguished place to behold that, even though he was probably aged two when he first saw the room, he knew even then he’d been there before.
The walk through the mist was worth it to get to the sacred place and although he had walked through the mist many times before, he never once thought the journey wasn’t worth it. The mist was now gone, as it always was when he found himself in the warm and colourful room. The colours of the room were the most vibrant reds, golds and blues ever seen. The room was full of the most elegant furniture from some forgotten bygone epoch, and light streamed in through the velvet-surrounded windows, which were palatial in appearance. Jack never failed to be amazed by the sight on every occasion he visited the room. It might as well have been in another world, yet a world where Jack felt safe. The room led to other rooms he knew well, and he knew the people around the place well too. From a very young child he had called it his 'lovely world' and had even told his mum Harriet about it, but she never listened and once again put it down to his vivid imagination. As he got older, he thought his mother wasn't wrong either. This surely was a dream world and the creation of his childlike mind.
“You’re back!” exclaimed the person Jack knew as his mother in this other dream world. The delight on her face was plain to see as she ran over to him, hugging him tight. It didn't seem like a dream. He was there and could feel and touch her. Jack hugged her back. She was definitely real and real warmth was exchanged between the two. He sighed and felt safe.
His mother here was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She had long flowing flaxen hair, styled in many separated out long plaits, each with pearlescent intricately woven metal ties at the end of the strands. She wore, as usual a long silky ivory gown, which floated around her as she walked. To Jack, she looked like the most stunning queen or princess you might imagine from the best fairy tale you might ever read. Jack knew for sure she was not some royalty from a fairytale. This was his mother and the place he came to through the mist was Jack’s refuge from the dismal life he lived at Old Abbey Road, North Hope or ‘No Hope’ as he termed it from time to time. His life at North Hope was going to a school he never wanted to go to, in rain he never wanted to be in, with people he never wanted to live with. Plain and simple he was in a life he didn’t want to live.
“Come,” she said, “let’s go into the sunshine in the gardens and we can talk together. We don’t get the opportunity to talk so much nowadays.”
Jack had been in the gardens many times before, but this time his mother’s face looked more serious. He knew intuitively there was something on her mind, and he braced himself for the conversation to come. The two walked into the garden where the sunshine always shone and where he always felt at his happiest. They walked amongst the colourful flowerbeds and headed towards the fountain in the corner of the garden. He loved this corner of the garden with its resplendent fountain. Water spurted skyward from the trumpets of a trio of cherubs. The spray from the fountain took him back to days, not so long ago, when he would run around and around the fountain, chased by his mother who would catch him and swing him lovingly into the fine mist rainbowing through the air. He had played in this corner so many times as a younger child and loved to run in and out of the trees and dip his fingers into the cooling fountain water.
“Sit down, Jack…”
Jack sat down, ready to listen. Jack understood from her serious demeanour she was about to divulge something important.
“… the time has come.”
“Time?… Time for what?” said a surprised Jack, nuzzling his head against his mother as they sat down together on the neat stone balustrading which encircled this area of the gardens.
Jack’s mother sat Jack up and taking hold of his shoulders, she looked at him directly in his eyes. Her own eyes were like blue diamonds sparkling in the forming tears.
"My son, I must warn you whilst I can. There are troubled times ahead. A cataclysm of unprecedented proportions is coming. Great death and misery will soon be upon us if we…if YOU don't act soon to stop this. You are the only one with the power to save us. There is a great shadow of evil coming, and desolation will befall our lands. She is acquiring the means and we slip into darkness. Such terrible darkness will come. The abode of The Deep will be forever present and humankind in Annwn will be no more. Come to us… come to us… come to us… our only chance is to possess…"
He didn't catch the last word. Shock waves invaded his body and he felt his head shaking from side to side. He felt asleep but wasn’t sure he was asleep. He felt he was dreaming but felt so awake. He wanted to sleep but couldn’t drift off. He wanted to wake up but couldn’t!
‘This can’t be happening!’ he thought to himself. He had experienced nothing bad about this place. This was the place of his dreams; his lovely world away from his dreary life at 2 Old Abbey Road in North Hope. He started to panic, then suddenly and without warning, Jack found himself sitting with his back against the door of his bedroom, facing the closed curtains covering his small bedroom window. Now imprinted on his mind was Sorbus's face pressed to the window.
“What the heck are you doin’ Jack?” came the shout from Harriet, his mother, accompanied by strong pushing on his bedroom door.
“Let me in. What’ya hidin’ in there!”
Truffle, who had spent guarding the window, was tired and had now transferred herself to Jack’s empty comfortable bed. She dozed on the bed, occasionally drifting a lazily opened eye towards the bedroom door.
Jack’s mother was forcing her way into the bedroom with the help of Dave and both were pushing strong enough to move Jack along the bedroom floor so they could peak in around the door. The sight which met them was the sorry sight of Jack, wrapped in his quilt against the bottom of the door.
“We thought you’d collapsed from that bang on the head,” the voice of Dave uttered with an unconcerned air and using the most words he used in months to Jack.
“Yes, I… I… I forgot about that,” his mother added tardily, with the same equally unworried facial illustration.
“I’m fine.” Jack wearily blew a trill of his lips. “I’m so damn bloomin’ fine,” he whispered quietly to himself.
But Jack wasn’t fine. Besides the minor gash on his head, which was now pretty sore, he was still reeling from the sight at the window during the night. Words his otherworld mother had uttered fired off through his head.
Cataclysm, great death, misery, evil, desolation, darkness…
Jack had never even heard the word cataclysm before but it sounded bad and what the heck was 'The Deep.' He recalled it was a word Sorbus had used. He sat dazed and still half asleep.
“That wind’s frightened him” said Dave as he excelled himself with another sentence. Dave headed off to the bathroom, his work of opening the door with the heavy weight of Jack behind, done.
“We were concerned, you know… ‘bout last night.”
Jack listened. He wasn’t sure his mother meant it. Harriet then examined Jack’s injury on his head. “Your head looks a little better today, it's only a small cut. Bled a lot though as head cuts do, eh?”
Jack remained silent.
“Thought you’d been kidnapped or something worse. PC Chambers told us you were probably doing boy things and that you’d be home as soon as. We got so worried when you were late. Are you sure you’re okay?”
Jack was scarcely listening as his mother spoke to him about getting checked in hospital. Even the dulcet disgusting tones of Dave’s ablutions and the drifting pungency from the toilet nearby, were diminished by the thoughts now going through Jack’s head.
He couldn't shake from his mind the menacing face of Sorbus at the window. The pale leathery skin and ugly facade of his face, tinted green from Salix’s lamp, were burned into his memory. Jack still thought the entire episode was unreal. He shook his head in an attempt to clear it of nasty images, but the images remained there. Whole, fresh and alarming!
Jack came back to reality with a shake on the shoulders from his mum. “You’re not listening to me, are you? We might need to get that bump checked out in Cilchester, hey?”
“I AM!” he insisted in an annoyed teenage manner, repeating to his mother several times he was okay and reinforcing to her the fact he did not want to go to hospital.
Jack's mobile phone pinged on the side. He stretched to pull the phone from the side, still sprawled on the floor, to look who'd texted.
It was Maddie from school. Madelaine Miracle. She had a great surname. She was Jack's best friend by a country mile. He'd known her since they first met on their first day at school when, seeing him looking so worried by the ordeal, Maddie had told him everything would be all right. School was never all right, but Maddie had made it bearable and had made it easier, helping him cheat with his maths on more occasions than he could remember.
Jack saw that Maddie had texted last night at eight. 'C u 2moro? SPST?'
He hadn't replied, so there were several '?' texts and then she'd given up until just.
'U comin 2day or what?'
Jack sent a quick reply. 'C U SPST.'
A thumbs up pinged in.
Same place, same time meant he was going swimming with Maddie and he'd see her around 11am in the cafe at the pool. Whether he would swim or not and whether his mum would let him go with the bang he had on his head, had not yet been decided. Without even a prompt, the question was answered for him.
“We’ll keep an eye on you through the day! You can go swimming as usual, if you keep your head out of the water… and bring me a loaf and some milk from town on your way back… AND get that dog off the bed – I’ve told you before!” bellowed his mother, as she left the bedroom.
Truffle was used to this. When Jack’s mother was around, she made sure she kept off the furniture downstairs and off any of the beds upstairs. She slept anywhere when Jack’s mother was out and on Jack’s bed every night as soon as his bedroom door was closed and Harriet was nowhere to be seen.
As regards Dave and his authority around Truffle, this was an altogether different matter, Dave was too frightened of Truffle to tell her to get off any furniture, since the 'lounge incident.' He had misjudged her stubbornness and resistance to authority when he'd tried to pull her off the sofa by force. Truffle had growled and air-snapped like a Komodo Dragon in response to his rough handling. He had insisted to Harriet when she arrived home later that day: ‘that damn dog is dangerous’ but nobody listened to him. No one had ever seen Truffle growl or snap at anyone; except Henry the Jack Russell but he didn't count and neither did Dave, as nobody believed him.
‘Truffle wouldn’t hurt a fly, well, maybe Henry!’ had insisted Harriet.
Dave just gave Truffle dirty looks nowadays and Truffle ignored him, usually engaging in a huge doggy smile when in deliberate disobedience mode. This was the mode used with Dave constantly.
Truffle had slept her way through Harriet’s entrance to Jack’s bedroom this morning and had continued to doze after she had left.
Jack got up from the floor and with trepidation, went to open the curtains of his bedroom. He made his way carefully over to the window and grabbed hold of the centre of the curtains like some praying mantis waiting to pounce on a short-horned grasshopper. Jack was still in denial about the appearance of Sorbus and was struggling with his mind whether he had really seen anyone at the window during the night. The bump on his head reminded him the incident in the cemetery was real but WAS the appearance of Sorbus at the window real, or was it a figment of his imagination?
Jack took a deep breath and opened the curtains with his eyes partly closed. The bright light of the sunny November day closed his eyes completely and when he opened them again slowly, he saw there was no one at the window.
‘Thank God’ he thought. ‘It must have been a dream.’
His dream like notions were soon dispelled and he did a double take when he noticed the faint outline on the centre windowpane. A FACE!
The shaft of light, which had, at that second, caught the window at a different angle, highlighted the imprint of a visage so disgusting that it could only be that of Sorbus. The macabre mask-like visualisation was detailed in every respect, even down to the strange black bird Sorbus had between his eyes.
Sorbus had not come back but the mark of Sorbus was there and his voice hissing eerily lingered in the air uttering the words ‘Mark my words, I will be back for you Jack!’
Jack hung his head low.
‘What could this man want? Why had he come to his bedroom window in the middle of the night?’
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