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GUEST POST and EXCERPT
The Merlin Chronicles
by Daniel Diehl
Author Daniel Diehl stops by today for a special guest post about Merlin, as featured in his series, The Merlin Chronicles. The series consists of three books: Revelations, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and Out of Time, all of which are ON SALE for only $0.99 each (save ($4.00 each) to 1 January 2016.
For more books by Daniel Diehl, check out my blog post on Deluge and my blog post on Apparition Atlas: The Ghost Hunter's Travel Guide to Haunted America.
(The Merlin Chronicles Book 1)
(The Merlin Chronicles Book 1)
by Daniel Diehl
Merlin the Magician only exists in myth and legend – at least that’s what archaeology student Jason Carpenter thought until he discovered the mysterious orb that had housed history’s greatest wizard for 1,600 years.
Forced into an uneasy alliance, Jason and Merlin are sucked into a web of deceit, intrigue and murder that sends them on a chaotic race to outwit, and out run, Merlin’s ancient nemesis, the evil sorceress Morgana le Fay, her gang of drug smugglers and a 500 year-old Chinese necromancer. Tis a race against time to complete their quest before an army of dragons are unleashed on a vulnerable and unsuspecting 21st century world.
Greasy smoke billowed and churned across the landscape like some living thing trying to devour the countryside. It seared the old man’s throat and lungs and stung his eyes, making them water fiercely, nearly blinding him. Stumbling through the matted grass, he hunched forward into the smoke while briars tugged at his gown, causing him to trip and lose precious seconds. It seemed like the very plants were in league with the soldiers who were attacking the tiny village.
The soldiers were now gleefully slaughtering men, women, children and livestock in their mindless quest to kill one old man they did not even know. They did not know him and did not ask why he was their target. They were simply carrying out an assignment and doing their best to enjoy their work. They had been doing this month after month and never seemed to tire of the game. Brutality comes naturally to some people.
The old man tried to gauge his progress by the decreasing level of screaming, shouting and drumming of horses’ hooves. If he could make it beyond the curtain of smoke without the soldiers cutting him down, he still had a chance. How many times over the past four years had this happened? Five? Six? Eight? He had lost count.
He had lost a lot of other things, too. Those few friends who had not deserted him out of fear for their lives were now dead. Even the king was dead; buried in some secret place so that evil woman could not desecrate his grave. Once her soldiers had killed the old man there would be nothing to stop her from wreaking vengeance on the entire kingdom. But he knew she would never stop there. Her greed could not be bounded by the shores of one small island. Nothing stood between the realization of whatever unspeakable goal she and her monstrous allies had in mind except one old man and the bag of scrolls and books he had pilfered from her library four years earlier.
When he finally broke through the smoke into the pale, salmon-colored dawn, Merlin slumped forward onto his knees and rolled to one side in the soft grass, careful not to damage the small object clutched tight to his breast. The wails of the dying and the shouts of their tormentors had faded into the distance, but the fear still clung to him like a leech. He could breathe again, but the tears would not stop coming. Rolling onto his back, he stared at the brightening sky and silently asked the single question. Why?
If he had been one-tenth the all-powerful magician the balladeers at Arthur’s court had made him out to be, none of this would have happened. Now, his only chance was to escape the carnage and find a way to stop that damned woman once and for all. He had to make it across the last few miles to the coast. If he could make it that far, and if Vivian was there as she promised she would be, he would have all the time he needed.
Hoisting himself off of his knees, Merlin moved as quickly as he could. Once the mounted bullies had trod over the last charred body in the village they would know he was not among the dead and start scouring the countryside. He kept as low to the ground as his seventy-three year old body could manage, but the sparse undergrowth of Cornwall offered little in the way of cover. If he were not in such a panic, he could have cast the spell to render himself invisible. But as it was, God, and the off chance that the butchers were not bright enough to figure out which way he was headed, were his only allies.
Just after dawn the next day he crested a small rise. There, a few miles distant, lay the cliffs of the Cornish coast. Beyond was the endless, heaving gray of the sea merging with an equally gray sky. Merlin turned and looked back over his shoulder. Still no sign of his pursuers. He leaned forward and pressed his ear to a bare spot on the earth. No drumming of distant hoof beats.
Four hours later, as he neared the edge of the world, he spied a tiny, wavering shape walking toward him along the cliff edge. Exhausted as he was, he pulled himself erect and walked toward the figure, which quickened its pace to meet him.
Even at this distance, and in spite of the sea wind, the woman’s voice was as clear and musical as a tiny glass bell. She rushed forward and embraced him, laying her delicate blond head against his chest.
“Thank you for coming to meet me, pretty lady. How on earth did you know where I would be?”
“I can find you because I love you.”
Merlin smiled and gently kissed the top of her head. Her hair smelled as fresh as the salt spray from the ocean.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it.”
“You know you could have come to me at any time. She would never have found you.”
“Then why do you insist on staying here?” Her watery blue eyes stared uncomprehendingly at him from a childlike face.
He wondered how old she might really be. She looked no more than sixteen or seventeen; but she had looked that way for as long as he could remember, more than half a century, at the very least. He was too tired to think about it.
“I don’t dare leave until I can find a way to defeat her. As long as I remain here, I can keep her and those monstrous creatures in check. Eventually, I will find a way to stop them permanently but I need you to help keep me safe till then.”
She sighed and nodded. “You mortals are all the same. So involved in doing things. Plotting and scraping. You will never change and I will never understand you.”
“You never change either, my love.”
“That’s different and you know it.” She slapped his chest playfully with one tiny hand. Then, after a pause “But you know I will do anything I can to help you.”
“Thank you, Vivian.” He looked around at the landscape as though expecting it to reveal some bit of information. “Where is the place?”
“Just up here. Less than a Roman mile.” She tugged at his sleeve. “Walk with me.”
He fell in step beside the tiny, sylph-like figure as she trod barefoot along the edge of the cliff, her translucent gown floating before her in the gentle breeze. “Are you certain she won’t be able to find me?”
“The lines of earth-energy are very strong here. They will protect you from her scrying. You brought it with you?”
With one hand, he reached out and took her gently by the arm, turning her to face him. With the other hand, he held out the bundle he had kept clutched to his chest for months and pulled back the folds of tattered cloth that kept it hidden.
For a moment she simply stared at it. “Oh.”
“You were expecting something else?” A gentle, humorous, mocking tone had crept into his voice.
“I was not expecting anything. You humans have your own queer magic, we have ours.”
Half an hour later they drew to a halt.
“This is the place. You may put it down now, if you like.”
Merlin leaned forward, placing the object on the soft ground like some precious, votive offering. As he straightened up, the girl laid her hands on his chest. “It’s still not too late. If you were with me you would be safe forever. You know that.”
Merlin nodded. “I know.” He pulled his eyes away from her, scanning the watery horizon, afraid that if he looked at her face, his resolve might crack; just a little.
“Very well.” She rubbed a hand idly across his thin stomach. “Are you ready?”
Now he looked her squarely in the eye. “Yes.”
“Do what you must do and then I will seal it in the ground here...” she pointed to a spot a few feet to the left…“where the energy is strongest.”
They stared at each other for what seemed like a moment removed from time, filled with longing and impending loss. Then Vivian spoke again. “When you have done whatever you think is necessary to stop her, call me again. I will hear you and come for you.”
“I don’t know how long this may take. A year, ten years, I just don’t know.”
She laughed and hugged him. “You know such things mean nothing to me. And so long as you are here they will mean nothing to you either. A day, a century, they will all be the same to you as they are for me.” Merlin nodded silently as she spoke. “And when you have done this foolish thing you feel you must do, and I have come for you, then you will be free to be my love forever.”
Wordlessly, suddenly, the old man grabbed the delicate girl-thing whispering “Yes. I promise” and crushed his lips to hers.
“Good. Then it’s settled.” Her eyes sparkled like a happy child. “Do you have your precious scrolls?”
Merlin smiled thinly and patted the cloth bag slung over his shoulder. “If I didn’t, it would be a little late to go back for them now.”
“Then do what you must do.”
Merlin turned toward the sky, raised his hands and began invoking the power of God. “In nominos Patri... Wait.” He broke off, turning back to her. “I’ve been so confused and so tired, I almost forgot. The sword...”
“Do not worry. The women of your Christian Church delivered it back to me after they buried poor Arthur. I returned it to my lake where it was forged in the time of his father. That woman will never have it. At least that is one power she can never wield against you and the world of men.”
Merlin stroked her cheek with the back of one long, slender hand and returned to his work.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
(The Merlin Chronicles Book 2)
(The Merlin Chronicles Book 2)
by Daniel Diehl
After being accidentally thrown into the modern world of the 21st century, the wizard, Merlin teamed up with archaeology student, Jason Carpenter to aid him in his battle against the evil sorcerous, Morgana le Fay.
In this second book of The Merlin Chronicles, Merlin braves the mysterious depths of Morgana's underground lair in search of the alien device with which she communicates with the Dragon Lords.
Meanwhile, Jason is forced to battle his way across war-torn Central Africa in search of a legendary gem that holds the key to closing the dragon gate forever. When Merlin is captured by Morgana's thugs, Jason and Beverley, must risk their lives and the future of mankind in a desperate effort to save their friend.
Mumbling and twitching in his sleep, Merlin snuggled deeper into his heavy bearskin coat then, after a restive moment, he began to dream again. He dreamed of a time when he had been priest and court wizard to the warlord Uther, known as the Pendragon, and of his time as mentor to Uther's son Arthur. He dreamed of the ambitiously evil Morgana le Fay who had driven him into fifteen centuries of self-imposed exile in a six inch crystal sphere buried deep in the earth beneath Tintagel and he dreamed of Jason Carpenter, the young archaeology student who had dug up the sphere, thrusting him into a world for which he was emotionally and psychologically unprepared. But mostly, he dreamed of dragons.
First appearing as legends and stories brought to Briton by travelers from distant lands, when the dragons finally appeared in Briton during Uther's reign they brought with them a tidal wave of death, fire and destruction that destroyed Uther's fragile political coalition. Appearing out of the sky, the dragons swooped down on the primitive armies of fifth century Briton, leaving in their wake a land burned and blackened, much as it had been foretold in the biblical book of Revelations. Merlin’s troubled dreams recalled the time when their common greed had brought the Dragon Lords and Morgana le Fay into a mutually advantageous compact designed to wipe out all civilization and install the mad Morgana as regent over the shattered remnants of the earth. Their plans were only thwarted when Merlin broke into Morgana's library and secured enough information to temporarily close the invisible gate through which the dragons came to earth. Lastly, he dreamed of his brief time in the twenty-first century when he and Jason Carpenter had chased Morgana le Fay in a crazy race across three continents, finally facing the last of Morgana's pet dragons at a monastery inhabited by a band of Buddhist monks in the icy mountains separating Mongolia and Russia. They were terrible dreams, nightmares filled with danger, death and blood. Worst of all, they were completely real.
“Merlin. Merlin, wake up.”
“Mph? What? Oh, I'm sorry, Jason, I must have dozed off for a moment.” Merlin opened bleary eyes, focusing on the haggard face of the tall, slim young man in the seat next to him.
“A moment? You've been out cold for nearly four hours.” Jason grinned wryly, tugging idly at his long blond ponytail.
Pulling himself upright in his seat, Merlin looked around, taking in his surroundings, bringing himself back to the world. “Oh, good heavens. I am sorry, I must have been dreaming.”
“I know, you were muttering in your sleep. It was her wasn't it? You were dreaming about Morgana, weren't you?”
“Yes, her and the creatures. It was very disturbing. You’d think I’d be used to it after a millennia and a half, wouldn't you?”
“I understand. And don't apologize. After what we’ve been through in the last six weeks you’re entitled to a little sleep, I'm just sorry it wasn’t more restful.” Jason's voice was placating, reassuring.
“Where are we?”
Glancing up at the flashing seat-belt light on the overhead panels, Jason answered “We’re just coming in to...” Before he could finish he was cut off by the public address system.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we will be landing at London Gatwick International Airport in approximately ten minutes. The weather in London this evening is cold and rainy, and the temperature is five degrees Celsius. Please remain in your seats until the plane has come to a complete stop and the overhead seatbelt lights have been turned off.” The stewardess’ voice droned through the close air of the 747, grating on the nerves of more than two-hundred tired passengers.
“God, it’s good to be home again.” Only Jason's eyes betrayed the depths of his exhaustion, but at twenty-five, he was expected to have more resilience than his companion whose bearing and agility belied his physical age of seventy-five and whose chronological age was only slightly shy of one-thousand-six-hundred years.
“It is, indeed. Unfortunately, there is still much work to be done, my boy.”
“I know, but we don't have to think about it tonigh. Morgana can't find us anymore and you have all the time you need to figure out a way of sealing the dragon gate once and for all.”
“Not me; us. Remember, it is you who will decipher the riddle of the Gnostic gospel, Jason.”
“Oh, please, Merlin, not tonight.” Jason waved his hands helplessly in the air. “I just want to go home and get some sleep.” He paused, shook his head and let out a long breath before completing the thought. “Sleep, what a wonderful concept.”
“Do you think your young lady is going to let you get any sleep after not having seen you in almost two months?” The old wizard's eyes twinkled.
“You really are a dirty old man.”
“Not in the least,” Merlin protested in a tone of mock injury. “She’s an attractive young woman and love is a perfectly natural thing between two healthy young people.” Then, after a small pause he added almost as an afterthought. “She does love you, you know.”
“You really think so?”
“Yes.” Merlin laid a paternal hand on Jason's arm. “I really think so. In fact, I know so.”
“What did she say to you?”
“Nothing. But one doesn’t have to be a wizard to know love when it stares you in the face.”
“Right.” Walking toward the check-in gate and passport control, Jason looked at Merlin with a side-long glance. After seeing the old man perform a hundred or more impossible feats of magic any doubts concerning his power had long since been erased.
Beverley McCullough elbowed her way through the crowd of people milling around the entry gate outside the international arrivals desk, her long, frizzy auburn hair billowing out around her shoulders like a halo of fire. Craning her head one way and then the other, she searched through the line of tired looking passengers from Air Mongolia's flight number seven as they straggled wearily into the vast bleakness of Gatwick's main terminal. Finally, her eyes came to rest on two disheveled looking figures, a skinny, heavily bearded old man wearing a long grey gown under a filthy fur coat and his tall, slender young companion. Ignoring those around her she rushed forward, throwing herself onto Jason, embracing him and burying her face against his shirt. A second later, she pulled back and began pounding furiously on his chest with one fist while clutching his jacket with the other. Huge, wet tears seeped out of her eyes and rolled down her delicately freckled cheeks.
“Damn, you. Damn you, Jason Carpenter. I’ll have your guts for garters, I swear I will. Seven weeks of running all over the orient and not a single bloody word from you until you were ready to come home. I was worried sick. I didn't know if you were alive or dead. Morgana could have eaten the both of you for all I knew. Then what would I do? I'm not exactly on her list of friends and favorites, you know. Don't you ever do that to me again, do you hear me?”
“Whoa. Easy, Bev, easy. I told you when I called from the airport that we lost the mobile phone when we had to abandon the Land Rover. I'm really sorry. Honest.”
Beverly pulled away, wiping her face awkwardly before nodding abstractly and turning to Merlin to embrace him fondly.
“I'm really glad you're alright, too.” Then, pulling her head back with a jerk, nearly gagging, she choked out “Oh, bloody hell, what is that smell?”
“I'm afraid it’s my coat. It’s had a rather hard time of it.”
Beverley's grimace almost passed for a weak smile. “I told you not to wear dead animals.”
Merlin laughed for the first time in weeks and threw one arm around Beverley and the other around Jason. “May I suggest that we all go somewhere, sit down, relax a bit and get something to eat? I'm famished.”
“What you really mean is you mean you want a drink.” Jason snapped, poking the old man gently in the ribs.
“Ah, yes. That is what I mean, isn't it?”
“Oh, I don't know. If we’re going to drive all the way back up to York tonight, we need to leave now. It’s a long way and you both look dreadful.” There was real concern in Beverley's eyes as she examined the two men's faces.
“Well, then, possibly we should get rooms somewhere near the airport and get a good, fresh start in the morning.” Merlin seemed genuinely enthused by his sudden inspiration when, in fact, staying near London had been his plan all along.
“Umm, we don't really have much cash left and I think my credit card is about tapped-out after paying for the plane tickets.”
Herding Beverley and Jason toward the exit and the car park beyond, Merlin muttered “Don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll find a way.”
“You're not going to do one of those weird things you do to get money, are you?”
“Why, Jason, I’m shocked that you would think such things about me.”
Two hours later Jason, Beverley and Merlin were ensconced at a small corner table in the restaurant of the Gatwick Marriot Hotel. As Merlin and Jason unraveled their adventures in Mongolia they were both careful not to reveal anything that might cause Beverley undue worry. But the knowledge of what they now understood about Morgana, and the dangerous work still ahead of them, punctuated their conversation with occasional awkward silences. They told Beverley about their time with the itinerant Mongol tribesmen and the wonders of the Buddhist monastery, trying to avoid any in-depth retelling of the horrifying deaths caused by the attack by Morgana's pet dragon. Still, Merlin insisted on heaping lavish praise on Jason for coming up with the idea of constructing a medieval ballista with which he had ultimately killed the beast, and for probably being the only man ever to face down a dragon and live to tell about it. When Beverley stared into her boyfriend’s face in shocked awe, Jason pooh-poohed the whole thing as a fluke and admitted he was scared out of his wits the entire time. His humility only made Beverley snuggle closer to his side.
In gentle retaliation for what he honestly believed was unwarranted flattery, Jason deflected the conversation toward Merlin. He told Beverley about the previously unseen talents the old man had displayed; his levitating skills, his ability to create flaming balls of fire from thin air and hurl them at Morgana's army of mercenary thugs. He told her how Merlin had made the two of them appear in Morgana's office even though they were actually standing in a pitch-black tunnel far below ground. With mounting excitement he even blurted out the details of Merlin's duel with the Chinese sorcerer Ling Chow, and how Merlin had hung suspended in mid-air during a bone-jarring electrical storm, fighting the evil necromancer in an epic battle-to-the-death. Already awed by what she had seen of Merlin's powers, Beverley was at once fascinated, and more than a little frightened, at the power of this seemingly eternal man who had suddenly popped into her and Jason's life from the pages of some Arthurian legend, bringing with him tales of the threat posed to humanity by Morgana le Fay. The more Beverley heard about Arthur's step-sister's plots and plans, the more incredulous she became.
“I just can't understand how can anybody can be that WICKED?”
“My dear,” Merlin said, taking her hand gently in his and locking his unnaturally vibrant blue eyes with hers, “the woman's soul is so empty, so completely imbued with evil, that she can only feel pleasure by inflicting pain on others. The more and greater the pain, the more satisfied she is. It may be a sad truth, but it’s the truth nonetheless.”
Attempting to veer the conversation away from the subject of Morgana, Jason and Merlin concentrated on less depressing aspects of their journey. They described the ancient book - probably a form of pseudo-Gospel written by the ancient mystical sect known as Gnostics – they had discovered in the Buddhist monks’ library, and which apparently alluded to the secret of the dragons’ method of entry into the world. With a sigh, Merlin explained that because the manuscript was written in a combination of Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Persian it was almost impossible to translate so that it made any coherent sense. From what he and the Panchen Lama had been able to worm out of it, the dragons’ earthly power cantered on, or around, a cave that had once been used by holy men who were not holy and a warrior who was not really a warrior. There was also mention of the waters of oblivion and something referred to as the light of the underworld. None of it made any sense. Once again, Merlin insisted that it would be Jason, and not himself, who would unravel the mystery of the book, and find the answer which would lead them to the means of permanently closing the ethereal gate through which Morgana planned to call in the dragons and conquer the world.
During the course of their long, rambling conversation, Jason carefully side-stepped his short imprisonment by Morgana and her threats to hunt down Beverley if he refused to cooperate in the capture of Merlin. Since he had escaped unscathed, there didn't seem to be any need to mention the ugly threats against Beverley's life, particularly since she was still dutifully wearing the crucifix that Merlin had empowered against Morgana's scrying crystal, and given to her before he and Jason left on their quest to find Morgana and her fortress on the Mongol-Chinese border. Discussion of the crucifix did, however, remind Merlin of another protective device they had obtained from the Buddhist monks. Reaching into the leather pouch hanging from his belt, he produced a small jar, unscrewed the cap and held it out toward Beverley.
“What’s that?” Beverley leaned forward, sniffing at the nearly transparent, creamy contents of the jar.
“It would appear that this is an anti-scrying agent. Sun Wang To, the Panchen Lama of the monastery we were staying at, gave it to us. A small dab of this applied regularly to the center of the forehead makes it impossible for anyone to find you through the medium of a scrying glass. Jason and I have been using it now for more than a week, and we think you should begin wearing it too.”
“If you think that's best, sure. Do I need it when I have the magic crucifix?”
“The crucifix is hardly magic, my dear, and although the stone from which the cross is made has been given special properties to deflect the power of the scrying glass, it would still be best if you used this, too. Better safe than sorry, as they say.” Merlin reached across the table and laid his long, slender hand over Beverley’s, patting her gently.
“Whatever you say.”
Throughout the conversation, Merlin had been glancing furtively over his shoulder, peering through the doors of the restaurant and into the hotel lobby.
“Is something wrong out there?” Reflecting on all they had been through, Jason craned his head around as his voice became tight with anxiety.
“No, no. Everything’s perfectly fine. I just need a moment to investigate something. If you two will excuse me, I’ll give you a little time to yourselves. I should be back shortly and then we can have something to eat.” Thinking about what he had missed most in the world of twenty-first century culinary arts, he added dreamily, “I wonder if they have pizza here?” Rising from his seat, he wandered toward the door, ignoring Jason's protests that they were very nearly out of money.
Alone for the first time since his return, Beverley leaned closer to Jason, nestling her head on his chest, idly tracing the seam on his tattered Levis with one finger.
“You smell. You need a bath,” she murmured quietly.
“You want to help me take care of that?” When she raised her eyes to meet his, Beverley saw the grin playing across his weary face.
“Sure.” And she grabbed his ribs, making him flinch.
Before Jason could carry the thought any further, Merlin swept back into the restaurant and settled down into his seat.
“I took the liberty of getting us rooms for the night. I think we will all feel better if we have a bath and get a good rest before starting out in the morning.”
“Umm, Merlin, where did you get the money this time?” Jason shook his head in anticipation of yet another of the old magi's semi-larcenous money conjuring tricks.
With an air of complete innocence, Merlin answered defensively. “I wasn't the only one. I’ve been watching that machine on the wall of the lobby and one person after another was getting money from it, so I got some for us.”
“That was a cash machine. You’re supposed to have a card and a PIN number and it takes money out of your bank account. You don't have a bank account and mine’s almost empty.” Jason ran a dirty hand over his forehead. “How much did you get?”
Reaching into the pocket of his coat, Merlin pulled out a small mountain of ten and twenty pound notes and laid them carefully in the center of the table.
“I don't know. I paid for the rooms and this is what was left. I would have gotten more, but there wasn't any more in the machine.”
“Oh, Lord, Merlin. You know, you really are a piece of work.”
Furrowing his brow in confusion, Merlin mumbled “Thank you…I think”.
Jason shook his head but Beverley only covered her mouth and giggled softly. “Here, Bev,” Jason said, snatching the wad of bank notes from the tablecloth, “put this stuff in your purse. We don't need everybody in the place witnessing our bank robbery techniques.”
While Beverley made a neat pile of the money and tucked it carefully into her hand-bag, Merlin broached a new subject.
“I know you came down from York to see Jason and give us a ride back home, and I’m sure we both appreciate your efforts on our behalf...” It was obvious he was going somewhere with this, and Jason and Beverley waited to see where that might be. They only had to wait a minute till Merlin held up his empty wine glass, signaled to a waiter and picked up the thread of his tale. “Since you have your car here, I was wondering if you would mind if we took a little side trip on the way back north...a detour, if you will.”
“You mean I finally get to go on one of your little adventures with you?” Beverley's tone was half-mocking, but she was obviously thrilled to be included.
“Yes. If you don’t mind, and it’s not too far out of the way. There’s someone we need to talk to, an old friend of mine. She might help us answer the riddle of the Gnostic gospel.”
“No offence, but I didn't know you had any old friends.” Jason's face was screwed up in doubt and confusion. “I mean, with the exception of Morgana, I thought everyone you knew is long dead.”
“All the people, yes, but not everyone.” Still delighted with his ability to mystify his young friends, Merlin was obviously enjoying this new game.
“Ok. I give up. Who is this friend who is not a person and where do they live?”
“She lives in Wales. I am a Welshman, you know. That's where I’m from.”
“I know, you told me. Carmarthen, if I remember right.” Jason knew he was right, he even remembered that the original name of Carmarthen in Old Gaelic, had been Caer Myrddin, and it meant Merlin's fortress.
“Very good, Jason. You have been paying attention.” Now that he had their rapt attention, Merlin leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath. “My friend is someone with whom I was once very close, her name is Vivian...”
“Wait. You said that name the first night in my apartment when you were telling me about Arthur and Morgana. But I can’t remember.” Jason screwed up his face searching vainly for the answer.
“You know her from the stories about Arthur where she is referred to as the Lady of the Lake.” As Beverley stared at him in open-mouthed amazement, Merlin rose from his seat. “But there’ll be plenty of time for explanations tomorrow on the drive to Wales.” Turning to Beverley he continued. “How long would it take to get from here to north Wales?”
“I don’t know, it’s two hundred miles at least so, somewhere between four and five hours. Maybe a bit more if we have a lot of traffic.”
“Would you mind? It could be important and might well help us unravel the riddle and provide the key to closing the dragon gate permanently.”
Her eyes lighting up at the prospect of meeting the legendary Lady of the Lake, Beverly nodded enthusiastically. “I’d love to, if you two aren’t too knackered for another day on the road.”
Jason just shook his head, wiped a hand across his eyes and shrugged wearily. “At this point it’s just another day.”
“Well, then, I wish you two young people a very good night and I will see you at breakfast at eight o'clock in the morning.” With that, he reached into his pouch, produced a room key, laid it on the table, tossed back his half-finished drink and walked silently toward the lobby and the elevators.
“What on earth are we supposed to make of that?” Beverley was talking to Jason, but her eyes were riveted on Merlin’s retreating figure as it glided silently across the marble floor of the lobby, with great dignity, in a filthy grey gown and tattered bear skin coat.
“I have no idea, but if I’ve learned anything from that old man, it’s never to underestimate him. He knows things you can't even imagine and probably don't want to.”
Picking up the key with one hand and taking Jason's arm with the other, she said quietly. “One thing I can imagine is that shower we were talking about.”
Jason leaned over and planted a soft kiss on her temple. “Oh, yeah, I can imagine that, too...but why imagine?”
Pulling him up from his seat she whispered in his ear “Oh, I don’t know, that gamey boy-smell kind of turns me on.”
Out of Time
(The Merlin Chronicles Book 3)
(The Merlin Chronicles Book 3)
by Daniel Diehl
Merlin the Magician, Jason Carpenter and Beverley McCullough return in the gripping conclusion to The Merlin Chronicles trilogy. Catapulted back and forth through time and space the trio are forced to confront their arch-nemesis, the spectacularly evil Morgana le Fay, yet again, after embarking on a spectacular quest to save Merlin’s homeland, the ancient kingdom of the Britons, and no less than King Arthur himself.
Out of Time is in the finest tradition of urban fantasy, classic wizard fantasy and Arthurian legend all rolled into one. Don’t miss it.
Praise for the Series
Guest Post by Daniel Diehl
Since my most popular character seems to be Merlin the great Magician, I would like to take a minute and talk about how I, as an historian, came to write a fantasy series about a man how only exists in myth and legend ... or does he?
Students in one of my writing classes asked me if any of the characters in the Arthurian romances were based on real people. While the standard answer is "maybe, but we just don’t know", there is really a lot more to it than that.
While Arthur himself may or may not be based on any one or more people, and others like his adulterous wife, Guinevere, and his numerous knights are certainly fictitious the most implausible of all, Merlin, was actually a very real person and it is on this man that I based my Merlin. Much frustratingly incomplete work on tracking down the historical Merlin has been done but, briefly, this is pretty much what we know.
The real Merlin, like the character in my Merlin Chronicles trilogy (Revelations, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and Out of Time) was of Welch origin, was named Myrddin Emrys ap Morfryn (Myrddin, or Merlin, translating as Eagle), lived roughly between 480 and 570 A.D. and he was either a Christian monk or a priest. Among the verifiable historical characters that he seems to have known was the Saxon warlord known as King Vortigern, who we meet in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Book Two of the Merlin Chronicles. Merlin would have been just a boy when he encountered Vortigern sometime around 490 – 510 A.D although I have placed their meeting half a century earlier to coincide with the Arthurian legends.
It seems that, like my own Merlin, the historical Merlin attended a battle to give spiritual support to his liege lord and that the sight of the slaughter drove him mad. What, precisely, he raved about as he wandered through Wales, northwestern England and southwestern Scotland is unknown but, like my own Merlin, villagers were frightened by this half wild man and drove him off in a hail of sticks and stones and calling him Myrddin Wyllt, meaning Merlin the wild. Supposedly, in his madness, Merlin had gained the ability to "see" or make prophecies and the belief in his power to foretell the future brought him to the attention of many in high places.
Whatever it was that the old man was raving about it seems to have hit too close to home for a petty war lord named Rhydderich Hael (translated as Roderick the Generous, which he obviously was not). Hael fancied himself king of Strathclyde and kept his "castle" – actually a fortified hill fort – at what is now Dunbarton, Scotland and seems to have been, at one point, a friend of Merlin’s, possibly inviting him to court as an advisor. What Merlin might have said, or why it upset Hael, we will never know but there is some surviving evidence that Hael ordered the old man’s murder which took place near the mouth of a Strathclyde river at the point where it emerged from an underground cave.
In the third and final installment of The Merlin Chronicles, I bring in a host of new characters who are, or more correctly were, real people during the Arthurian period. Chief among them are Ambrosius Aurelianus, who is purported to have been Arthur’s uncle; Colgrim, chief warlord of the Saxons; Hoel, King of the Bretons and Duke Aegidus, leader of the Franks.
There are still numerous writings which purport to have been executed by Merlin but unfortunately there is scant evidence to support these claims. But the historical Merlin retains deep roots in his homeland of Wales. The oldest inhabited town in Wales is named Carmarthen, which is a corruption of two words; the first being "caer" often used to mean castle but actually translating as "place of refuge". The second part of Carmarthen came from, as you may have guessed, Myrddin. Hence, Carmarthen literally means Merlin’s place of refuge.
To learn more about the real Merlin I recommend the following two books in the order they are presented The Quest for Merlin by Nikolai Tolstoy and Chasing Merlin by Sarah White.
About the Author
Daniel Diehl has been an author, writer and investigative historian for thirty-five years.
For nearly twenty years Diehl has been involved in writing for publication and documentary television production. Mr. Diehl’s work has won awards from the Houston (Texas) Film Festival, the National Trust for Historic Preservation (US) and the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Arts Foundation.
Working alone and as a part of the multi-award winning team of Daniel Diehl and Mark Donnelly, Diehl has produced work in two main categories; trade publication and television documentary scripts. His canon of work includes twenty non-fiction books (which have been translated into ten foreign languages), one previous work of fiction, and scripts for more than one hundred and seventy hours of documentary television primarily for A&E Network, The History Channel, History International, Biography Channel and Discovery Network.
In addition to his books and scripts, Diehl has served as historical consultant on such films as The Color Purple (Amblin Entertainment, 1986), Darrow (PBS Television Theatre, 1991) and Baskin's Run (Finnegan's Wake Productions, 1994). He has also written for such periodicals as Victorian Homes, Gilded Age (which he also edited), Old House Journal, Sacred Spaces, Country Victorian, FLAIR, Tournaments Illuminated, Popular Woodworking, Conde Nast Traveler, and numerous other publications. He has also contributed short stories and wrote the introduction for Midici Books' collection 303 Short Stories.
Diehl is ranked #72 of the top 100 History books sold per Writer and he is frequently interviewed for magazine articles and radio programs on a variety of history-related topics as they apply to his books.