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Legacy of the divine scroll chapter 1

by nyckiban 

Posted: 31 January 2006
Word Count: 2673
Summary: Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

On a portentous night, the untimely death of an immortal woman would unleash a chain of events that would prove to be the single most important threat to humankind‘s existence, and it all began with a dark night at Gracehold manor. The wind was billowing and as the clouds gathered overhead, there was a sense of ominous foreboding in the air. The dark expanse of land that surrounded the manor gave it a disembodied quality; it seemed like a floating island in the midst of a deep black chasm. The shadowy figures of the trees and mountains in the distance provided a natural backdrop to contrast with the mock grandeur of the dwelling. Leading up to the front of the imposing property were the huge gates at first only visible by their silky midnight silhouettes. As the wind whipped around the mountains making the trees sway in an almost hypnotic fashion, the air seemed charged and it was clear there was a lightning storm coming. Leading up the courtyard inside the gates was the impressive portico, above which sat two watchful gargoyles keeping an eye on all that entered and departed. The manor looked deserted except for the occasional speck of light escaping from behind the closed curtains. Margarite Furlong owned Gracehold Manor, the house, and its land had belonged to her family for as many generations as she cared to think about and now it was to be no more. She’d never had children or even married, and it was a widely held belief amongst her peers that she remained virtuous. Margarite contemplated this as she lay in bed waiting for death to take her. She was in the library, a huge room by any normal standard but relatively small considering the size of the manor. All around her were her beloved tomes lined in bookshelves from floor to ceiling; the volumes that hadn’t been allotted a space on the already crowded shelves were piled up on the floor around the bed and sitting area. Her death was near; knowing when she became mortal that there would only remain several decades of life for her to enjoy. She had learned some terrible things whilst fulfilling her legacy as guardian, horrific enough to frighten her into giving up immortality, it wasn’t a quick resolution having considered carefully for years. Acquiescing to her fear in 1975, feeling the evil that awaited the Divine Scroll was coming ever closer. The library was decidedly rustic in keeping with the age of the manor, it had not changed much throughout the years, but this was how she preferred it. Margarite wasn’t a huge fan of all things modern; indeed, favouring the ways of old. Her bed was covered with a luxurious damask bedspread in gold and red tones; Rahul had moved it into the library so that she could be near her beloved books. It was far too difficult to climb the stairs at her late age, and she adamantly refused to have the modern convenience of an elevator or stair lift spoil her home. It was far too substantial for her, appearing to be swallowed up by it with only her frail head and shoulders visible on the huge red plumped up pillows. Her once long dark lustrous brown hair had all but turned white and her once beautiful huge brown eyes had faded to a rheumy hazel colour. Nevertheless, she had lost none of the nobility her looks and mannerisms had provided her, even on her deathbed she was most dignified, aware that death was her final journey and perhaps after that, blessed peace. Born with a huge legacy; knowing it as soon as she had left her beloved mother’s womb and every waking minute of her life. Margarite only knew she would probably have made the same choices if she were to do it all over again. She had come to terms with her path in life during her mortal years; when, ironically, there had been time to ponder her decision. The regret felt at what had been started, having died to an acceptance of a future that was inevitable. She was no more in control than any mortal person was, her immortality hadn’t leant her any special wisdom into the outcome of the decisions made. Her destiny was foretold in the Nefertarian text and she had realised too late to try and make a difference, provided she even could have. Margarite had gradually learned to accept and cease feeling guilt over this. At least the wisdom afforded to her in her guardian status had allowed her this mercy, this peace in her remaining years. A smile touched her lips whilst she contemplated the other areas of her life in which she might have made different choices. Perchance she would have had a child or two, one’s twilight years had been lonely at times, the company of her children and grandchildren would have been much loved. Margarite emitted a sigh, whom was she fooling with these flights of fancy? Well aware that she couldn’t have children, no guardian could. Three hundred and thirty three years old and now finally able to rest. Having felt she had given as much as she was destined to give and now it was time to pass the legacy on to its next appointed heir. The new guardian would be better equipped to deal with what lay ahead, of that she hoped and prayed. She looked for her journal and reached for it just as there was a light tap on the library door; she called out ‘Enter.’
It was Rahul. Margarite’s trusted butler, valet, friend, and confidante amongst other things. He had been with her for the most part of his life, discovered in India, New Delhi begging for rupees and then stealing them anyway. An orphan, his parents having both died of cholera, he’d been on the streets for over a year when she had rescued him, only five and far too worldly for her liking. He was caught in the act of thievery and from a fleeting glance at his soul through his eyes; Margarite had recognized his old soul and that she would know him for some time. Thus, making plans for him to come back to England with her and she’d personally seen to his education and metamorphosis into a man of the highest calibre. And in some ways he had been like a son to her. Margarite looked at him with affection; Rahul had been very strong throughout this time hiding his pain well. She asked whether the lightning had begun, motioning for him to sit on the edge of the bed.
‘No.’ Rahul replied; sitting and taking her hand, his expression softening as he gazed at her. Margarite was so dear and precious to him, a culmination of the strong feelings that had grown profoundly over the fifty years of knowing her. They also resulted in him feeling unsure of how he would continue when she was…gone. He checked himself and held back his tears; the journey they had taken together had been nothing short of remarkable. Conceivably owing this woman his life and perhaps his soul too, he cleared his thoughts and reminded himself there was a job and tasks to fulfil, which had been entrusted to him from an early age. Intending to honour those behests even if it cost him his life, however, there was a lot more dependent on it than just his life; there was the future of all humankind to consider. Rahul took a deep breath, looked down at Margarite, and heard the first peel of thunder. He knew her time was coming to an end and somewhere else for another, time was just beginning. Squeezing her hand he said ‘It won’t be long, dear heart.’
Margarite heard the thunder, saw the flash of lightning, and knew her time was near. She grabbed her journal and passed it to Rahul with a wistful smile. Placing it on his lap he continued to hold her hand. Moments passed by like the immeasurable tranquillity of an untouched pond as they were caught up in their thoughts of each other. Then like a ripple dancing across the once calm façade of the pond, the lightning tore down and the thunder cracked particularly loudly finally breaking their reverie. ‘How many times was that?’ she asked,
‘That was the fifth.’
She sighed; feeling the lassitude lifting from her bones, lassitude that could only accompany an inordinately long life; it was complemented by a growing sense of euphoria at what was coming ensuing in her legacy being no more. ‘Rahul, you know what to do?’
He nodded; knowing too well what must be done, having known for over four decades, find the next guardian, and guide her until she knows her purpose. Sensing it wouldn’t be a hard task the child would know, the information was innate; it would be part of the genetic make up and thus her inherited knowledge. They heard the sixth peel of thunder and waited for the lightening to come crashing down, clasping Margarite’s hand tightly, she squeezed back. He opened his mouth to say something and closed it deeming there was nothing left to say, they were both aware of what they had meant to each other. As the seventh peel of thunder opened the heavens the lightning arched down, Margarite smiled as a luminescence entered her eyes. At that exact moment the library was plunged into darkness, Rahul felt her hand go limp in his. The lights came back on and he was painfully aware that she was….gone.
Hearing his name whispered, he turned to look behind him, and saw…. Margarite, she was standing…..floating there, no more substantial than a ray of sunlight….he realised it was her spirit. He gasped as much in shock as in awe; she was so beautiful. Appearing as young as when he had first seen her, beautiful lustrous long brown hair, huge brown eyes, high cheekbones, and skin that was olive and flawless. Her svelte body was clothed in a white flowing dress and she had gained all the vitality of her earlier years, moreover there was an unearthly glow around her.
‘Rahul’ she repeated, ‘the child is being born in an alley in Doncaster, somewhere in North England, you must go at once…the mother is young. I see a store nearby Bentley Food and Wine, behind there. You must go now…..something is wrong.’
He stared as the spirit of Margarite began to fade; the glow around her intensified, resulting in pure brilliance as she echoed her warning, ‘Something is wrong…. Goodbye Rahul’
Smiling as she faded away, a content look took the place of the worry that had furrowed her ghostly brow only seconds earlier. He reached out to touch her now letting the tears flow freely, sighing; he wiped them away with the back of his hand as his other hand passed through the ethereal remnants of what was left of her, reminding him that there was work to be done. Turning back to the bed he leant down, kissed Margarite on the forehead, and said ‘Rest in peace, dear heart.’ Pulling the damask cover over her head he stepped back and paused, then bending he picked up the journal, which had fallen onto the floor and walked toward the other end of the library. Heading for the computer, one concession of a few that Margarite had allowed in her dislike for modern accoutrements. Her aversion for contemporary appurtenances was outweighed by the sheer admittance of the need for speed and discretion. Besides she liked being self-reliant, having become fascinated with the internet and seeing its necessary use in an increasingly technological age. On route Rahul picked up the phone and dialled the chauffeur asking him to get the car ready and to call the pilot. Margarite had her own personal landing strip on the grounds, which accommodated her private aircraft ranging from a Cessna Sparrow hawk and Piper Cherokee bought quite simply for her love of flying. Being an accomplished pilot she found great exhilaration in somersaulting and spinning in her planes. The aircraft weren’t just restricted to the smaller planes, and led to another of her concessions for modern things, there was a Hawker 800XP jet for the times she preferred to be flown whilst revelling in luxury, and a Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche stealth helicopter, which had a cruising speed of 165 knots, proving expeditious. Rahul knew she had acquired it through the many contacts she had made in her lifetime. Having seen to the car and helicopter he popped the phone handset back into its cradle, turned to the computer and began a business search. After typing in Bentley food and wine, he came up with an address found on an online business directory. Quickly jotting down the details, he left the computer and made to leave the library. Just before exiting he paused to gaze at the old guardian, her once spirited body now still as a statue, such profound and complete equanimity caused only by death. Pondering this, he closed the door and left the manor to board the limousine that was waiting and instructed the driver to take him to the airfield. The night was still; an eerie calm seemed to pervade, the lightning had abated and the thunder was no more although it was unusually dark for a July evening, perhaps it had something to do with the unique events the night held, deliberated Rahul. It only took a few minutes to reach the airfield and he was pleased to see the chopper was ready for take off. Running across the tarmac, clutching the journal and keeping his head lowered he boarded the helicopter and shouted evening to the pilot, the pilot responded by saluting. Rahul pulled the door shut and grabbed the headset to cut down on the noise of the propellers, and informed the pilot of their destination. As they became airborne the pilot conveyed to his passenger that he knew of a private helipad in the neighbouring area to Bentley where they could land. That would be fine Rahul thought, nodding to him in affirmation. He further added that he had arranged a car to drive him to his destination. Moments later the helicopter was airborne and flying north to Yorkshire, away from Leicestershire.
’ETA should be approximately thirty minutes time, around twenty thirty hours’ the pilot informed him.
The chopper’s propellers made a rhythmic, repetitive sound that allowed time for introspection. Thinking of Margarite, Rahul couldn’t help wonder about the legacy and whether the next guardian would be worthy of her predecessor’s title, would she be wise beyond her years? Would the parent or parents accept his help? The legacy had been around for an exceedingly long time, would it be here for the rest of time? For some inexplicable reason hope coursed through him, perhaps the answers to these questions would come with the next Guardian. The night was clear as though it had never thundered; it seemed dull with strange electric undercurrents, leading him to speculate whether anybody else could sense the charged atmosphere tonight. Glancing at his watch he noted it was just past 8.15pm and it was the 7th July, everything was as expected and the guardian could be born any minute as he flew ever closer to her. The flight passed quickly and before long the pilot announced that they had arrived, he spoke into his microphone again, and brought them in for a landing on a helipad located in the grounds of a moderately large house. Rahul noted the BMW X5 waiting for him, not too far from the helipad. Jumping out of the helicopter he thanked the pilot and informed him he would be back within an hour or so and hastily made his way to the jeep and climbed in, instructing the driver to take him to the address he had sourced off the internet.

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Comments by other Members

sazzyjack at 13:23 on 02 February 2006  Report this post
Hi Nicky,
You have marked this piece with "go on I can take it", so I will be as honest as possible with you here. I will start by saying I loved your prologue, the story that is quickly shaping up here is very exciting, and definitely the type of novel I would buy if I came across it in Waterstones, which is why I think it is important to make sure that the technical side of the writing is perfect to do it justice. If you don't agree with my advice, feel completely free to ignore it.

The opening is very nice, it plunges the reader into the tension of the piece immediately BUT

The huge manor was set in its own grounds of nearly five hundred acres of land; comprised of fields and woodlands, and there appeared to be mountains in the distance.

This sentence undid everything that came before it for me. I felt it was unncessary detail which broke up the flow of your opening paragraph. Also, I don't think the mountains "appeared to be... in the distance" works. They either are or they aren't.

I also think there are a few instances of telling instead of showing here.

Surrounding the manor were tall hedges with huge black iron gates leading into the courtyard, this only added to the mysterious and imposing feel of the place

This is one example. Show us the atmosphere through description, and let the mystery speak for itself.

I really didn't like the line

but this was how it was preferred

It suggests that this state of affairs is preferred by a general concensus. Couldn't you just say "this was how she preferred it"?

I think there are quite a few instances of innapropriate use of the past continuous tense in this piece, especially in the first half. One example is

The bed was too substantial for her, seeming to be swallowed up by it with only her frail head and shoulders showing on the huge red plumped up pillows

You are talking about the bed here, so it sounds as though you are saying the bed seemed to be swallowed up. Try simply "she seemed".

Again, I think you could simply say "she had no recollection" in the following line:

There was no recollection;

Also, you need a fullstop here as it is the end of a paragraph.

The following sentence is a little jarring and doesn't flow properly.

This, Margarite had gradually learned to accept and cease feeling guilt over, at least the wisdom afforded to her in her guardian status had allowed her this mercy, this peace in her remaining years

Perhaps you could add a fullstop between "...guilt over. At least..."

she was stood…

The above is an exmple of a regional dialect which is innappropriate here. Grammatically it should be "she was standing..." or "she stood..."

one concession of a few that Margarite had allowed in her dislike for modern accoutrements. Her abhorrence for modern accoutrements was outweighed by the sheer admittance, of the need for speed and discretion

The above repetition of modern accoutrements so close together doesn't really work. Could you come up with another phrase?

I'm sorry if all of this seems a little harsh, and it is only my opinion. As I said before, the basics are there and I can see that this is going to be a fantastic story. Exactly the kind that appeals to a large market and could find itself on a best sellers list one day.
I hope I was of some help.


nyckiban at 11:17 on 04 February 2006  Report this post

Thank you, and I have made some changes and think your suggestions were spot on.

If I post chapter 2 would love your feedback.


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