Why do all author interviews fail miseraby?

author-interview

In my view, because they tell you absolutely nothing about the author. Read one and you’ve read them all…

I’ve read literally hundreds of them over the decades. Without exception they follow an inevitable mind numbingly boring formulae.  I’m sorry, but the last thing I wish to know about is an author’s favourite book, or where they live and with whom. Or even what their latest book is all about and other entirely banal questions!!!

What I really want to know is how their mind works. Don’t you?

To begin to gain an insight into what makes any author tick, all you have to do is read their books for yourself. It couldn’t be simpler! Do that and there is no need for the totally redundant author interview.

Each and every single one of us reveals far more about ourselves in our storytelling than any damned interview ever will. You just have to have the intelligence to sift out the often unconsciously inserted clues which we leave about ourselves by the way we write the text. Believe it or not but actually reading our blog posts (not just liking them) will also help you to get to know something about us you never knew before as well.

Only a publicity seeker (you know the beast – those who refer to themselves as Author Bill or Belinda Smith across the entire social media system) will ever delude themselves into thinking that by having taken part in an author interview, that somehow or other, by osmosis their book sales will automatically increase. What total bunkum – they won’t!

Book sales still only occur after someone has actually bought and read your work, and told their friends about it. Granted, these days they may have been initially attracted to it by its often lurid cover and quite possibly, its range of good and bad reviews.

If you are a fellow writer, take my tip, get on with your writing and forget about participating in any interview until the questions on offer show a far higher degree of intelligence. As far as I can ascertain, the day when interviewers pluck up the courage to dare to break the mold and ask truly pertinent questions of their interviewees, is the day when hell will finally freeze over!

PS – As you will have gathered I have little time for time wasting foolishness in its many forms. Something else you’ve just learnt about me.🙂

The Fifteenth Chapter

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Chapter Fifteen

The investigation begins

The flight from Moscow landed at Rome’s airport in the fading light of the late summer evening, where a limousine bearing the seal of the Vatican awaited its passenger. Patrick would first report to his superior Cardinal Spinoza before beginning his research into the Order within the Vatican’s vast library. As he was being driven through Rome’s streets to the cardinal’s private residence, his mind was working overtime. If half of what he had heard was true, then the antichrist was a real entity after all. He nervously crossed himself and absentmindedly stroked the tiny silver cross that hung from his neck. The Cardinal’s limousine stopped outside the door to his official residence and Patrick quickly disappeared inside. Cardinal Spinoza held out his hand as Patrick knelt to kiss the proffered ring bearing the ancient insignia of the Inquisitor General –Ricardo’s holy badge of office. Assisting his young protégé to his feet and motioning him to follow, Ricardo entered his private office.

~~~

Ricardo’s rise through the backbiting ranks of the Roman Catholic’s ruling body had not been an easy one. He was the illegitimate son of an impoverished aristocratic lady from a minor family within Brazil’s elite. To keep her shame from her immediate family and social circle, she had given him over into the care of her most trusted female servant and confidant, Silvia, immediately after he was born. Silvia brought young Ricardo up as her own child in her home deep within the sprawl of favelas which cover the hills around Rio de Janeiro. He knew nothing of his birthmother except what his much loved adopted mother Silvia told him from time to time. He entered the church after graduating from the seminary in Rio. Over the first few years of his vocation, he ministered to his poverty stricken flock in the favelas, and to the homeless living on Rio’s dangerous streets, where armed gangs controlled the daily lives of the poor. Eventually through sponsorship from his superiors in the Latin American branch of the Catholic Church, Ricardo finally made it to Rome.

He immediately took advantage of infighting between jealous members of the Vatican hierarchy. He became highly adept at playing the very real Machiavellian political games employed there. The end result of his deliberate manoeuvrings was the eminent position he now enjoyed as the most powerful and feared cardinal, second only in the hierarchy to the pontiff himself. Ricardo was fully aware that his position within the Roman Catholic Church differed little from his historical predecessors, when they occupied similar positions of power in the churches’ former incarnation as the Roman Empire. The cardinals constantly fight among themselves  in their bid for power and riches, while supporting their spiritual leader the Pope, the modern day equivalent of Emperor, by waging holy war against the evils that their flock are subjected to on a daily basis, while at the same time seeking riches and power. In many ways, they were not so very different from the Roman senators of old.

~~~

Ricardo seated himself in his high backed, ornately carved, red leather bound chair behind his large marble topped fifteenth century desk. He could see that Patrick was clearly worried by what he had found. Motioning him to sit, Ricardo folded his hands around the large gold cross that hung from its chain around his neck and nodded to his young friend to begin. “Eminence, I hardly know where to start. Miles and his old friend David have proof that the antichrist actually does exist!” Patrick began nervously, as beads of sweat broke out on his forehead, hardly able to believe the words that were tumbling forth from his own mouth. Ricardo silently gestured for Patrick to continue. “I also have proof of an organization called the Order whose members follow the antichrist, blindly doing his bidding. Eminence I am also sure that another evil entity exists. I planted a small listening device when I left the meeting outside Moscow. I have their unguarded conversation about the real purpose for wanting our help, captured on tape. Miles may be my friend eminence, but he and David are conspiring against god by their involvement with this other entity,” Patrick finished, collapsing back into the chair trembling with fear and at the same time, constantly crossing himself while sweating with nervous excitement.

Ricardo sat silently for a few moments with a grave look on his darkly handsome face and then posed a question. “Do you know the name of the antichrist my son?”

“Yes eminence, his name is Asima. David’s friend and co-conspirator is…”

“Yes, yes my son, I know of Doctor Nick Palmer and his work on ancient Sumeria,” Ricardo interrupted. “Asima is the name of an ancient Sumerian deity – correct?” Ricardo continued. “And what of this other entity you say they are working with, what is its name?” he casually inquired.

“It is a female they call Ithis your eminence, and…”

“Your main target my son, must be to find out all you can about Asima and the Order. Did you manage to find out who the members of the Order’s inner circle may be?” Ricardo enquired, once again cutting Patrick off in midsentence.

“Yes eminence,” Patrick began, “David and Miles have managed to uncover two names – Malcolm Davies and Doctor Palmer’s former tutor, Professor Joseph Randle.”

“Very well my son. I suggest you start with them. Find out all you can through our contacts in the United Kingdom and expose them through Miles’ newspaper, The Times. Also, make sure that the story is syndicated by all news media worldwide. The sooner the Order is exposed the better, I’m sure you will agree. Through intensive interrogation of Davies and Randle by some of the more forceful brethren within our ranks, you should have no difficulty in finding out the rest of the Order’s inner circle. Use all of our holy office’s resources to discredit and destroy the Order first. Then we shall deal with this Asima – understood?” Patrick nodded and started to leave when Ricardo added, “Leave the taped conversation my son. I wish to hear it for myself.” He passed over the tape-recorder, bowed, kissed the ring on Ricardo’s hand once more, and left to begin his investigative crusade. “Well my dear did you hear?” Ricardo looked towards the wall of his office where Ithis now stepped forward into the room.

She smiled and nodded. “What of your priest Ricardo. How will you manage to control his obvious zeal for finding out about our real purpose?” she asked as she crossed the room towards him.

“Don’t concern yourself with him. He will obey me in all things I assure you. I wish you had told me about your quest much sooner Ithis. If I had known about it, Nick and David would not now be in hiding. But with Asima still physically trapped inside his tomb, at least you can continue your important work. Go back to your friends with my blessing. Tell them that two more recruits to the cause have joined the ranks in their quest. If I know one thing about my young protégé it is that he will move heaven and hell to expose the inner circle members of Asima’s murderous organization my dearest Ithis. Now go in peace. Come back from time to time and I will fill you in on our progress.” Ricardo smiled, before destroying the incriminating taped conversation, and kissing her hand in fond farewell.

~~~

More later

😉

The Fourteenth Chapter

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~~~

Chapter Fourteen

An unholy alliance

With Ithis still incapable of helping them sort out the next artefact’s location, until she had got over the physical and mental shock of encountering her deadly nemesis, thanks to the mental torture he had inflicted upon her, Kolya ordered the whole group home to Cernigov in the Ukraine. At least back there, Nick and David would be well protected until they had time to formulate plans for the next target of their continued quest. David was dreading being back in Katya’s insatiably sex starved clutches. Nick and Kolya welcomed a break from the frenetic search through the rapidly growing list of possible archaeological sites, and the immense difficulties, and possible dangers involved with each one. As for Nicolai, he was glad to have Nick as his guest once again. He was looking forward to spending many evenings talking about ancient Sumerian archaeology with him. Nick related all that had happened, leaving out the accident David had endured for both Kolya and Victor’s sake. When it came to the almost accidental discovery of the creator of the Order and his sinister organization’s great age and growth worldwide, both aspects bothered Nicolai greatly. Asima’s incredibly powerful mind, and the way he had used it against Ithis, was something else that also disturbed both he and Nick. If he could influence a group of people to form themselves into a powerful fighting force from the sealed confines of his living tomb, what else might he be capable of in the future?

Katya and David spent all of their time, much to his relief, under the watchful eye of Victor, newly promoted by Nicolai as protector and chaperon to his future nephew-in-law, after he had been told of Victor’s heroic leadership of the villagers. Katya resented having the gentle giant constantly there in the background, frustrating her insatiable sexual need for David, making it practically impossible for her to be alone with her man. But even she dare not disobey her loving uncle’s desire for old fashioned propriety.

Kolya had been given time off, glad for the chance to visit his family for a few days while Nick and David turned their minds to far more pressing matters. It was Nicolai who one evening sowed the seed of an idea in Nick’s mind, when they were discussing Asima’s Order and its implications for the future of their quest, and now at Nick’s suggestion he put it to David. “What if a prominent journalist could be persuaded to take up the story by exposing the Order, making their existence public knowledge to the world? Hopefully somehow or other, because of the story we could convince the Vatican, and the leaders of all the other major religions worldwide, that your blog is actually a serious warning about the followers of the antichrist in his guise as Asima, and not just another crackpot conspiracy site? What better way could there be, to publicly lean on the more religiously inclined among the political leaders of the world, and at the same time, embarrass them into action against the Order? And through that same journalist, hopefully expose the members of the Order’s inner circle. To begin with, if Malcolm Davies and Professor Randle are exposed as the joint heads of its English chapter, showing the world that they are willing and fanatical followers of Asima by their very actions so far, then hopefully that will be the first positive step towards closing down the Order worldwide. If somehow the journalist could convince the Vatican that your blog had already actually exposed the Order for what it really is, months ago; and that in order to silence you, it had tried unsuccessfully through its willing ranks of hired killers to assassinate you on no less than two separate occasions recently David, wouldn’t that create enough of a diversion to allow you and Nick to continue – yes?”

~~~

David sat deep in deep thought for several days and nights, thinking over every aspect of Nicolai’s intriguing possible solution, totally ignoring Katya’s constant pitiful pleading for his attention. There were far more important things to consider than her insatiable animal needs. The big question was who in the journalistic world would be able to take up such a challenge? Who among their number had the ear of someone sufficiently high enough within the tight circle surrounding the Pope to start the ball rolling? Then as if a bolt of lightning had suddenly struck him, his face lit up as the heavy veil was lifted from his mind. He knew the answer. Of course it was blindingly obvious – Miles O’Shea! Miles is the Vatican correspondent for the Times newspaper based in Rome, and a long time silent supporter and anonymous contributor of sensitive information to his blog. Miles has the perfect inside contact in his old and trusted friend – father Patrick O’Neal. Patrick had come to the notice of the senior ranks within the church, early on at the beginning of his vocation. Because of his diligent application to his holy vows, and his natural ability at sniffing out fanatical antireligious groups that posed any kind of threat to the immortal souls of the faithful, Patrick had enjoyed a meteoric rise within the church’s hierarchy. Under the mentorship of his friend and former teacher in the seminary, the newly appointed member to the College of Cardinal’s – Ricardo Spinoza, a man who could put the fear of god into god himself if need be, Patrick was the golden boy of Catholicism. The Cardinal had taken young Patrick with him as his deputy, when he was appointed as leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Despite its new title, the institution still invoked great fear among the devout throughout the Catholic Church. Formerly run by the previous pontiff, in its original incarnation it was known and greatly feared throughout medieval Europe as the Inquisition.

~~~

Through Nicolai’s many contacts beyond the Ukraine, a meeting was quickly arranged between David and Miles at a secluded, well-guarded dacha, hidden deep within the heavily forested outskirts of Moscow, home to Nicolai’s old friend Dmitri Nedvilev, the undisputed leader of the ruling triad of mafia families that runs all organized crime in Moscow. Kolya and Victor would escort David on the perilous assignment. Nicolai would fully acquaint Dmitri of the reason for the meeting, and ask for his unconditional support in his future nephew-in-law’s fight against an enemy so powerful, that even the politicians of the world bowed down to him in fear of their lives. Nicolai realized that the last part would sound a bit over the top.  But if Kolya and David were to succeed in convincing Miles of the gravity of the situation, maybe, just maybe an unholy alliance between the Catholic church and the worldwide underworld network was needed. With luck on their side, as well as the most feared organisation within the Vatican, hopefully they could flush out enough of the Order’s cells to create the diversion they so desperately needed. Above all, no mention must ever be made of Ithis by any of them. To do so would place the whole exercise in serious jeopardy.

~~~

A large black armoured limousine stopped outside the door to the heavily protected dacha, where its two occupants got out and were immediately escorted  inside by armed guards. They were shown into a room at the centre of the wooden building and the door was shut behind them. All around the dacha, armed guards patrolled its grounds. Hidden trip wires, minefields and lasers stood ready to prevent intruders from gaining entry. The two men sat in silence at the table in the centre of the room, patiently waiting. A few moments after they had been shown into the room, a panel in one wall of the room silently slid open allowing Kolya, David and Victor to enter.

“David, it’s so good to see you again my friend, I’d like you to meet father Patrick O’Neal.” Patrick stood to shake David’s hand, and then Kolya and Victor’s. Patrick’s fierce black eyes bore into David and his two companions from his unsmiling face making all three men extremely nervous. Years of experience in the art of intensive interrogation, combined with the subtle and sometimes, brutal questioning methods carried out on behalf of his boss Cardinal Spinoza, had taught him how to put anyone not intimately associated with the Congregation, and its holy mission to root out evil, immediately on the back foot even before a word had been uttered.

Patrick sat down and opened the attaché case he had before him on the table, silently making a great show of his power over their immortal souls while withdrawing a sheaf of papers, his bible and fountain pen. “So David, Miles has filled me in on your blog about time being reversed, and about this organization you refer to as the Order. Are you absolutely sure of all your facts?” Patrick inquired, without once shifting his penetrating gaze from David’s face. Kolya fidgeted uncomfortably on his seat, clearly nervous in the presence of this Vatican inquisitor, more unnerved by him than by anyone he had met before in his entire life. It was as if the priest could see deep into his soul. Victor in his childlike innocence merely sat there, oblivious to the priest’s sinister gaze. David and Miles both recounted all the information they had gathered over the years and months leading up to the discovery of the Order. David told of his friend Nick, and how between them they had made it their personal mission to search the world’s archaeological sites for artefacts to prove the theory about time being reversed. He left out any reference to it really being a protection system for the entire solar system, and made no mention of Ithis and the Crypto-terrestrials who had set it up so long ago.

“And what is your involvement in all of this?” Patrick suddenly asked, directing his question at the already nervous Kolya like a bolt of lightning.

“My boss has placed me in charge of protecting David and Doctor Nick while they are inside sphere of Russian Federation influence,” Kolya managed to say, before he totally lost his nerve under the withering gaze of the priest, signalled by the fact that he had now soiled himself out of fear.

“Tell me about this tomb you have just sealed please David, and why you believe it is the Sumerian deity Asima who you claim set up the Order to do his bidding. I also need to know its exact location,” Patrick said coldly, shifting his steady unnerving gaze back to Miles’ old friend once more. The coldly clinical interrogation by the inquisitor went on into the late evening as each point of the story about the Order, and the various attempts on David and Nick’s lives, by the Order’s goons were gone over in fine detail. When David casually injected into the conversation that they also knew the names of the two highly placed English members of the Order’s inner circle, it made Patrick’s eyes almost gleam with pleasure. Now having his complete and undivided attention, David told him of Davies and Randle’s involvement, in particular, Randle’s deliberate action to discredit Nick to the world of academia, before the hunt for the artefacts had even begun. Here at least were two targets he could start with at the beginning of his official investigation into the Order. Further research on his part about Asima, would wait until he was back in the hallowed confines of the Vatican library, which is still the best of its kind in the world when it comes to knowledge gathered down the centuries on demonic beings. Kolya tried hard to regain some of his normal composure. He hesitantly suggested that his boss Nicolai, and others within the various criminal families across the world, would gladly act as Patrick’s eyes and ears, in penance for their many sins. He informed Patrick that Nicolai was already speaking with the heads of all the crime families within the Russian Federation and the rest of the former soviet countries about that very subject. Patrick barely nodded his acknowledgment in response to Kolya’s proposal before turning back to David and Miles once more. “Very well, I have all I need for now gentlemen. I suggest you return to wherever it is that you are hiding for the moment. I have no doubt that Kolya and his boss have you well protected from this Order and its henchmen. In the meantime Miles, I suggest you stay here in Moscow acting as liaison between David and me, until I have completed my investigation. Now I must get back to Rome immediately to report to his eminence.” Patrick looked at Miles, David, Victor and Kolya one last time before he left the room. He was positive all of them were hiding something. But for now he would leave them to get on with their hunt for the archaeological proof they needed, if that was indeed the true purpose for their investigations – only time and persistent detective work on his part, would tell.

Once Dmitri’s man had informed them that the priest had been driven to Moscow’s main airport and put aboard his flight to Rome, Miles, David and Kolya finally relaxed. Victor was the only one who wasn’t nervous. All he cared about was David’s safety. “Ok David, fill me in. Just what the hell is this all about?” Miles said as they sat drinking and eating courtesy of Dmitri’s staff. Between them, David and Kolya related the whole saga from the time when Nick first became aware of the time lag at Stonehenge, and how he and David met and formed an alliance to reset the Solar Defence System with the aid of Ithis. Miles almost choked on his food when mention was made of her and what she was, as well as the true purpose of the system her people had constructed. By the time they had finished, Miles sat deep in thought, struggling to believe even half of what they had told him. Both Kolya and David made him swear never to reveal anything of the conversation they just had. It went against his journalistic principals to sit on a story like this, but he reluctantly agreed. As the four men left the room in Dmitri’s dacha, none of them had noticed the electronic bug stuck beneath the table.

Patrick smiled to himself in his seat aboard the Rome flight as he removed the headphones of the receiving unit from his ears. His first order of priority was the Order and Asima. He would deal with David, Nick and Ithis later. While his clear instructions regarding the extraction of confessions differed somewhat from those of his predecessor’s  in centuries past, who used excruciatingly cruel physical torture in their quest for the truth, he had the advantage of twenty-first century technology to aid him in extracting pertinent facts.

~~~

More later

😉

In This Business, It Always Pays To Have Highly Talented Friends

As many of you will know, I had to temporarily put aside working on the new version of my one and only fantasy anthology ‘Goblin Tales’, until the artwork I had commissioned was completed.

Well, it was finally sent to me on Sunday afternoon via email by its artist Duncan Nial Boswell. Not only did he produce the family portrait of the five goblin brothers – Glob, Neo, Byz, Make, Mous and Bejuss the one eyed lisping raven that I asked him for, but he also threw in a revitalised map of Goblindom and a whole new cover. Take a look for yourselves.

I’m sure you will agree with me when I say that his work is absolutely faultless. It was definitely worth waiting for…

GoblinTales(Portrait)

Top Left – Make, Top Centre – Neo, Top Right – Mous, Lower Right – Byz, Lower Left – Glob with Bejuss on his shoulder.

GoblinTales(Map)

GoblinTales(Cover)

~~~

With the artwork safely in my possession, I’ll get back to completing ‘Goblin Tales’ for publication after I’ve published the new version of my archaeological adventure ‘The Seventh Age’.

PS – Duncan will probably kill me for saying this, but if you are impressed by his work and would like to ask him to do the same for you at some time in the future, contact me by message on Facebook at Jack Eason and I’ll pass your request along to him. After all, he can only say no.

😉

The Thirteenth Chapter

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Chapter Thirteen

Trouble in Siberia

Kolya and Nick went to visit David in hospital. Victor’s face was beaming, happy that his little friend was gradually recovering. The doctor informed them that David would be able to leave in a few days. Nick asked Kolya to guard the door to David’s hospital room while he told him all that had happened in the cave. Over the next few days, Ithis spoke to David on several occasions about a tomb hidden beneath a megalith that troubled her deeply, in far off south central Siberia, in the mountainous Republic of Khakassia. By the time she had given him all the information she had concerning the megalithic tomb, he was out of bed and walking in the hospital grounds assisted by his giant minder Victor, who fussed over him like a doting big brother. David had spent his time recovering from the accident by teaching Victor some more words in English, much to the simple giant’s great delight.

~~~

Three weeks later they were all on their way once again, this time flying across the vast southern mountain ranges of the Russian Federation, aboard Nicolai’s personal Mil Mi-24 gunship, bound for the Khakassian settlement of Safronov on the eastern edge of the Stanovoy Range of mountains, the location that Ithis had emphasized was extremely dangerous. But why it should be so, for the moment she was unsure. All she really knew was that the very real danger she sensed was buried somewhere beneath the megalithic tomb that stood close to the settlement on the vast parched silt plains that acted as a natural soak away for the many small rivers of the high mountains to the west.

The weather pattern they were flying through suddenly changed for the worse. It threatened to cover the whole area in thick cloud cover and violent thunderstorms. Their tough ex-military helicopter was almost at its altitude limit, being buffeted by strong headwinds and driving rain. Climbing much higher to clear the danger that the thick brooding clouds presented, was out of the question. Equally, to drop below cloud level, they ran the very real risk of collision with the saw toothed peaks of the range, which stuck up like jagged fingers into the lower reaches of the boiling cloud mass. Nicolai’s seasoned pilot now flew the gunship by the seat of his pants, abandoning instruments in favour of long experience. His co-pilot’s eyes were firmly glued to the small radar screen in front of him, barely able to distinguish between the peaks and steep sided valleys that fell away from the mountainous spine of the Stanovoy Range. He struggled to make sense of the clutter of radar echo’s bouncing back from barely five hundred meters below the gunship’s landing gear. Everyone aboard was on edge as lightning bolts crashed through the thick, rain filled cloud cover, before violently grounding themselves on the iron loaded mountain peaks below, threatening at any moment to strike the gunship. Kolya’s best shots nervously manned the deadly 30 calibre chain guns in the open side doors of the gunship, while Kolya sat at the controls of the missile and rocket pod launching system, waiting to strike. To everyone’s immense relief they finally flew into a brief break in the cloud cover, large enough for the helicopter’s flight crew to quickly get their bearings and begin a slow controlled descent to the settlement below and the megalithic tomb.

The small settlement’s inhabitants rapidly disappeared inside their homes when they heard the familiar sound of a Russian helicopter gunship overhead. The army was always paying surprise visits to the area in search of arms smugglers and local animal trappers who barely made a living from the harsh Siberian lands. They were forced to supplement their meagre income by illegally selling the pelts of endangered species like the elusive Siberian Tiger, and the many bears they shot, along with their bones, for sale in the traditional medicine black markets across the border in China, hundreds of kilometres to the south. The gunship finally landed half a kilometre away, beside the megalithic site. Ithis was close by, increasingly sensing extreme danger for Nick, still unable to discover exactly what it was.

Kolya immediately organized a defence perimeter around the gunship and the tomb, while Victor, helped by his friend David, erected a tent to act as accommodation and temporary headquarters for the duration. Nick walked around the tomb carefully studying it in great detail, checking each stone in turn, looking for anything that may indicate where the hidden chamber containing the artefact was. Ithis shook with fear; she was now seriously troubled. She was beginning to sense the presence of another far more powerful being than herself, stirring somewhere in the world below. If what she believed was true, her age old nemesis Asima was slowly awakening from his long slumber. He wanted her close to finish what he had started, waiting patiently down the millennia for this very moment.

~~~

“Doctor Nick, we have visitors!” Kolya pointed to the small delegation coming towards them from the settlement. His men cocked their weapons in nervous anticipation as a party of equally nervous locals drew near, stopping barely a hundred meters from the defensive perimeter of the camp. An old man dressed in the traditional garb of the Kyrgyz people, leaning heavily on the shoulder of a young teenage boy, came forward. Assisted by the youth, he sat down cross-legged between the two groups before waiving the boy away. For a few moments he got his breath back, before he began speaking in the local Khakas tongue.

“Does anyone know what the old boy is saying?” Nick asked. Kolya shook his head and was about to fire a shot over the old man’s head in warning when Victor stepped forward, bowed to Nick and Kolya, and began speaking with the old village headman. Everyone, including Kolya, was completely dumbfounded. The giant and the old man sat on the parched grass between the two groups for a long time, deep in conversation. Victor finally shook the old man’s hand bowed and returned to where Kolya stood. He related that according to Kyrgyz legend, the monument had been erected over the burial chamber of a very powerful demon thousands of years in the past. The demon had once ruled the world and was worshipped by all mankind. A great battle had taken place between the demon, his human army and the green eyed devils, a reference to Ithis’ people that Nick and David immediately recognized, who were driven underground at the demon’s command. Because he had succeeded in convincing his simple minded, primitive human subjects that they were evil, he turned all mankind against them forever. Once he had achieved his aim by driving away his most powerful enemies, he was free to rule over humanity unhindered. Believing he had no further need for vigilance, he relaxed, only to be captured by Ithis’ kind and placed in a sealed, crystal-lined chamber beneath the monument forever, putting an end to his brutal reign for all time.

Kolya had just one question for Victor when he finished his explanation. “Why are you able to converse with the old man in his own language?” Victor smiled his simple smile. He explained that he is of Kyrgyz stock himself, and apart from being born in a similar village not too far away in the next valley, the people here were cousins of his on his mother’s side. When he was growing up, because of his huge size and strength coupled with his simple childlike ways, his family had been forced by their fellow villager’s superstitious belief that somehow he presented great danger, to drive him out, never to return. So eventually after three years travelling west, mostly on foot, he finally arrived in the northern Ukraine where Nicolai found him and took him in.

Ithis hissed to herself, seething in anger at her own stupidity. By arriving here to watch over her beloved Nick, her very presence and his had now been detected by her arch nemesis Asima. Thanks to what the old man had related, she now knew that Nick and his group were directly over the long forgotten, hermetically sealed, crystal-lined tomb where her people had placed the arch enemy of all Crypto-terrestrials so very long ago. The last surface-dwellers to worship and blindly follow his every decree were the forebears of the Sumerians. Should he be set free by her presence, or through Nick inadvertently releasing him, the havoc he would create would make everything the Order was trying to achieve simply pale in comparison. She had to warn Nick directly. She didn’t yet know if Asima was fully awake, or still in a state of suspended animation, nor what he may be capable of from within his tomb. For Nick’s safety and that of their mission, she had to get him away and remove herself far enough from here until she had worked out the best way to deal with the situation. Then, the mood driven pupils of her eyes rapidly turned white in sheer panicked terror as Asima’s powerful mind entered hers uninvited.

“So Ithis, you still exist. I sense the task you have set your mortal pawn. He shall not succeed my dear. Long before the countdown ceases, I shall be released from this prison you hold my body in by my faithful followers. Then I shall take my rightful place once more at the head of my army, thanks to my willing servants who are now opposing your every move.”

“You shall not stop us Asima; nor shall your minions in the Order.”

“So you know of the Order. No matter. The path they now take was laid down by me millennia ago. The Order’s many members over the centuries have patiently awaited the birth of your human pawn, passing on all my instructions from father to son down the generations, until you finally created it in its mother’s worthless womb. That was when the Order’s members began to reorganize and build themselves into the hunters they have become today. They will soon arrive here to release me. Then my dear Ithis, you and I have a score to settle for what your people did to me so very long ago.” Asima cruelly played with her soul, like a cat torturing its prey before death. His words and laughter, echoed violently inside her mind as she fled to the mountains beyond the settlement.

She stopped her head long rush for safety to briefly appear in front of David, silently pointing to the valley in the distance, indicating that he should meet her there after nightfall. With Victor in tow, David arrived at the entrance to the wooded valley as the stars began to appear above. Victor sat like a spellbound child, entranced by Ithis’ unusual otherworldly beauty while she spoke quietly to David in her soft melodic ethereal voice, telling him of the great danger they were all in, warning of Asima and his creation of the Order. Whatever happened, Nick must never be allowed to enter below the megalith for fear that Asima may destroy him. Somehow the whole complex had to be sealed up completely this time, preventing Asima from escaping from his tomb forever and making it impossible for any of the Order to set him free. She also explained that she feared her presence had triggered Asima’s reawakening process somehow, after the countless millennia since her people had sealed him into his crystal-lined tomb, regrettably unable to kill him due to his immortality. Instead, they had placed him in a state of suspended animation. Then she quickly vanished from sight.

~~~

David and Victor hurriedly returned to the camp where they found Nick and Kolya deep in conversation. David quickly apprised them of the dangerous situation they were now all facing. Kolya immediately ordered the pilot to take both Nick and David to the helicopter with instructions to head back to Melitopol, while he and some of his men would remain behind to seal the tomb, and stand ready to eliminate the Order’s fanatical foot soldiers when they arrived. Although how he was going to seal the tomb, for the moment completely escaped him. As the sound of the departing gunship slowly disappeared, Kolya and his men lay in wait for the arrival of the Order’s goons. Within five minutes of the gunship leaving their temporary camp, Kolya’s forward scouts reported armed men were rapidly closing in from the south. Hoping to make his force appear much greater in number, Kolya had them spread out in groups of two and three within hand grenade range of each other. While the first rays of predawn light transformed the darkness of night into a faint blue glow, signalling a new clear day, Kolya’s men silently made ready.

The Order’s goons charged like crazed demons from three sides, firing wildly as they ran towards the well protected position, amid a hail of grenades and sporadic, but deadly accurate gunfire by Kolya and his men, from the protection of the large stones of the monolith. They quickly overran the temporary camp site beyond the megalithic tomb and began to assault the monolith itself, to begin searching for the entrance to their master’s tomb. Kolya and his men momentarily held their fire until Asima’s hoard of fanatical followers were almost at the base of the monolith before opening fire at close range. The sound of gunfire and grenade’s exploding brought the villagers out of their houses. They ran to the rescue, armed with old shotguns and hunting rifles, with Victor at their head, to aid Kolya’s men by attacking the Order’s army from the rear, cutting off their retreat. Just as the last of the Order’s goons was finally executed by the victorious combined defence force, all heads looked up to where Nicolai’s gunship suddenly reappeared over the horizon. Moments after it landed, Kolya ran towards it, angrily demanding to know why his specific instructions had seemingly been ignored. David explained. As they were minutes into the long flight back to Melitopol, they saw below them a large abandoned town from the time of the old communist regime. At gunpoint, he ordered the pilot to land near a large industrial plant that had once stood as a proud example of Stalin’s Soviet Empire. Together with the helicopter crew, he and Nick searched the place looking for anything that could be used to seal Asima in forever. Eventually they found several stacks of old cement bags and a rusting pile of reinforcing rods. Underneath the solid outer layers of cement bags, the ones at the centre of each stack were still usable. So, aided by the pilot and co-pilot, they loaded the helicopter’s cavernous interior, leaving Nick behind temporarily as they rushed back.

~~~

Over the following two weeks the gunship shuttled back and forth with as many bags of cement and steel reinforcing rods as it could carry, while Kolya’s men ably assisted by the villagers, dug down below the monument exposing the chamber where Asima seethed with anger, still trapped inside his living tomb. Under Victor’s command, the villagers built a sluice system out of old pipes and rough sawn planks, to direct a flow of water from one of the countless small streams that cascaded their way down the slopes of the mountains. It was collected in a makeshift pool just beyond the megalith, constructed out of old tarpaulins and sheets of corrugated iron. Kolya’s men and the villagers worked tirelessly round the clock, mixing hundreds of tons of cement which they poured into the chamber, forever sealing Asima’s prison with a mix of strong reinforced concrete and the bodies of his dead fanatical followers. Ithis heard Asima’s tortured and insane cries for vengeance from where she sat high in the mountains above the plain. Soon it would be time for her beloved Nick to head further east to the next artefact in the chain. Asima may be silenced for now, but his Order still existed.

~~~

More later

😉