10
Oct
12

It Is Said (MBKS1): The Castle In The Sky

The Castle in the Sky has a long history and many names. It has a past, a present and a future all at once. Designed by one man, drafted by a dozen, and executed by thousands, at its birth it was an idea so radical that some thought it would topple over on top of them.

Applying all their craftsmanship and the inventive designs of Elias Darke, the villagers labored to build what they first called the Castle on the Rock. They put their hopes and dreams into their work and imbued their construction with a special energy all its own. The castle compound consisted of three distinctively separate sections that all worked together to make a whole.

The Exchange was built for commerce and equity. It was the working machinery of their world. Trading and lending houses were put side by side with guilds and societies, and merchant and business concerns. It managed the goods of the people. It fueled the practical side of their hopes and dreams.

The Institute was a place of learning. Great minds would gather with young and old alike to teach in classrooms and lecture halls. Important debates and discussions were held there, volumes of knowledge and learning were stored there, all with the belief that an educated people would be a strong people. This was of cardinal importance to securing the well being of future generations.

The Towers housed the family, their staff, and those who cared for the castle and its grounds. The seven gabled mansion and its three towers were a glorious legacy from the ones who built it to the ones they chose to lead them. It was to be a safe haven from the pressures of ruling. It was meant to be their home.

The castle complete, the villagers gave their accomplishment its second name. They named it Darke Tower Castle after the man that inspired its creation, and because the villagers knew of Elias’s unbounded love of the void up above, they named the endless emptiness around their world the Darke Sky.

Since then the Castle in the Sky had seen many events that brought it to its current condition. The buildings and shops of the Exchange had long ago fallen into the sea. Instead of freeing minds, the Institute had become a prison to the very minds they tried to free. The Towers and the mansion buildings were still a haven and home, but now it was murder and mystery that resided there.

It was in the presence of this once magnificent but still imposing structure that Mathias and Ulysses had stopped. They had made their way through the blockade in silence. It was an exhausting endeavor. Once passed it, they made their way to the end of the path which stopped at the edge of a cliff.

They sat at the drop with their legs hanging over the edge.  Directly across from the two men were the rock tower and the castle. Below them was the inky blackness of the sea around this world. Remains of buildings and shops littered the gentle surf far beneath their feet. Large pieces of what once must have been a massive bridge leading to the tower was still trying to make its way there, but it was broken and drowning.

Their first attempt at a conversation was awkward and forced. Ulysses had told Mathias a bit about the castle and its history. But that wasn’t the tale he wanted to tell.

There were graver things on his mind.

“We wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do it and we did,” Ulysses began again. “It was our obligation to make it work and we failed.”

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver flask. He tugged at the cork that kept it sealed, took a drink and then passed it to Mathias.

“Have a drink,” he insisted. “You’ve earned it.”

Mathias sniffed at the mouth of the flask. The smell was fruit filled and inviting.

“It’s mulled wine distilled from branchberries,” Ulysses said with a hint of pride. “I make it myself.”

Thirst made Mathias adventurous.

The wine was sweetened and spiced well. The drink warmed his innards and almost immediately made his head spin. It was a strong wine. Ulysses chuckled as he took the flask back, took a quick swallow and passed it back to Mathias.

“Elias wanted a tower that would reach up into the void. He wanted a crystal flame lit from within. He wanted to project our presence out into the void,” he said loudly as the drink emboldened him. “He used the finest sand from the village shores to create the intricate glass shapes. Each one then projected a different magnification of brilliance to the outer reaches of the Darke Sky.”

Mathias was listening intently but he was looking at the silver flask in his hand. The engraving provided validity to the man he was drinking with.

 

 ‘to my faithful friend and fellow traveler’ e.d.

 

The innkeeper was the man he portrayed himself to be.

Ulysses was a firsthand witness to everything that had happened to this place. Here he was, sitting at the end of the broken road that once led to the amazing structure he and his fellow traveler had brought to life. He spoke lovingly of his friend as he stared into the open gash that now separated his world.

“At the celebration and dedication, Elias lit the crystal flame with a type of light we had never seen before,” Ulysses continued. “The mirrors he designed to reflect and further magnify the light began their circles turning within circles movement, and the signal of our existence began to pulse out and into the void.”

Mathias handed the flask back to the innkeeper. He took a long drink and passed it back.

“Have another drink stranger,” Ulysses said with a smile. “You’re going to need it.”

“How did Elias come to power?” Mathias asked before he took another smaller drink.

“We wanted only the best for our families so we selected the one among us who would always steer us in the right direction. He was the most skilled inventor, scientist and thinker in the village, but Elias’s greatest talent was his ability to inspire people to accomplish the extraordinary. He believed that if we could reach beyond ourselves then great things were possible.”

Finished with the flask, Mathias handed it to Ulysses. The innkeeper took yet another long drink.

This time Ulysses held onto the silver container.

“We chose Elias, and Eleanor came with him. She was our jewel. She cared for all the people in the present while he shaped our future.  She was there when we grieved, and encouraged us to celebrate whenever we succeeded. She reminded us that we were all related by blood, marriage or guild, and together we became the People.

“They were partners in all things heart, mind and soul. They loved each other with everything they had. Their love inspired us. They represented everything we wanted to be. They were the best of us, and we entrusted them to lead us into the future.

“Together they decided our first undertaking would be to build a gathering place where we could exchange ideas and knowledge, trade and barter, create commerce, and join together to celebrate the joys and accomplishments of making things better for everyone in the village and for all the generations that would follow.”

Ulysses looked at the flask in his hand.

He rocked his hand back and forth as he looked at his reflected image. Mathias knew he was looking for an image of his friend. Not finding one, the innkeeper ran his fingers across the inscription.

“As the castle rose, Elias quietly invented the Illuminator. He applied that light to the crystal flame. He then contained it within a glass sphere and brought light to the People. He lit the castle and the village. Illuminators were used to light our homes and our surroundings. We applied his work to everything in our lives and it changed us.”

Ulysses took the last swallow of his creation, corked the empty flask and returned the gift to his pocket.

“When Elias died, the Illuminators went out. That’s how we all knew something had happened. Without the man, without the light, the village slipped into the void again. None of us have dreamt since that night. Not since the light left us.”

The slightly drunk innkeeper stood up and stretched. He looked down at Mathias.

“We need to make our way to the shore,” Ulysses said as he started walking. “We’ve been in the same place for far too long.”

Mathias jumped to his feet and tried to catch up.

“We’ll use the path down. It was built as a way to access the shore in order to move supplies and materials down to the boats,” he explained.

Just a few paces from where they sat, there was a wide dirt packed pathway. It was cut into the cliff wall at various angles. Mathias could see that the pathway zigzagged its way down to the shore. The downward angle was sharp, but the walk was comfortable. Carts laden with materials could move easily and would be under control.

Efficiently designed by Lord Darke, Mathias was sure.

“Once completed Elias would spend hours, even days working up in his tower. Always with a book in hand and always looking up at the void. Searching for what, no one ever knew because there was nothing in their void. But he believed there was something out there in his sky.”

“What type of experiments was he working on?”

“Elias had several projects going at once. In one, we took stones and minerals from all around us, ground and mixed them into powders to see what might happen. One batch of powder burned when lit. It would explode when compacted into shapes. Elias began firing those shapes into the void up above. They would burst and fill the void with shimmering colors. That’s when the questioning began. What if there is something out there? What if he angers whatever it is?”

“Did no one support him?” Mathias questioned.

“At first, yes, then an experiment went wrong and there was a great explosion. The top of the central tower and the crystal were destroyed.”

Ulysses stopped and pointed at the tallest tower.

“Elias handpicked a team and it was all rebuilt.”

There near the top was a jagged line between the original stone and the replacement stone.

“The People could see the almost imperceptible difference in the rock and it wore on them. That’s when the People began to doubt,” he said as he continued walking. “They said he had too many ideas. They said he was making too many changes. They said he made them too quickly. They said he was out of control.

“The whispers were that he was full of himself. He was insane and Eleanor was the true power behind the throne. They quietly wondered why they had to care so much for those who couldn’t fend for themselves.

“We were becoming divided. Poets, scientists, scholars, inventors, historians and politicians struggled with Elias, and they pulled at the boy. They questioned him about his father’s work as he traveled around the village in his mechanical carriage. The boy tried to warn his father, but Elias was too busy to notice, or listen to him, and then it was too late.”

The innkeeper stopped at one of the last turns in the downward pathway. He was out of breath, and the wine was taking a deeper hold on him.

“The deaths of the Family Darke reunited us and made us appreciate what we had lost,” he said as he breathed in deeply. “Then we became lost again, and even more than just question, doubt and whisper, we became suspicious of each other. And rather than trying to solve our problems by helping young Oracle, we began to fight amongst ourselves for control.

“We hunted each other like the early days, before fire, only instead of clubs and sharp tools we used words and thoughts. We singled individuals out. We suspected whole groups.

“Fear is a dangerous thing, stranger. It blinds you. We had taken away our ability to see clearly. Some were aware, their eyes were open. They tried to fight back. Other’s watched and did nothing. Some tried to take advantage of the situation for their own gain. A board of advisors put itself in place to help the boy. They tormented him. They pushed and pulled him to their own desires.”

Ulysses motioned to Mathias that it was time to start moving again. The innkeeper stumbled a bit but Mathias held him up.

“Everyone began deciding for the child. Then the child decided for us. Then he released the Fetcher. The children of his advisors were among the first taken. Then he came for the children of those who openly spoke of being better than others. Then he came for all the rest.

“In the end, many parents just prepared their children to go and waited for the Fetcher to come. They were convinced that the situation was only temporary. The Fetcher took those children quickly. Some were hidden by parents who realized the danger. The Fetcher came and tore those children from their hiding places.”

The two men stepped off the pathway and onto the beach. The surf rolled in with a steady rhythm. The ruins in the water would have to be traversed in combination to make it across to the rock tower.

“Why didn’t the bridge hold?” Mathias wondered aloud.

“After the last child was collected, the first thing Oracle did was to destroy the land bridge so that none could enter and none could escape.”

“How does Oracle get across?”

“Conveniently, for him the bridge still exists.”

“How is that possible?”

The innkeeper just shrugged and belched.

“Is there a boat?” Mathias asked hopefully.

“Long gone,” Ulysses said with another much louder belch. “You’ll make it across, Stranger. You walk. You jump. You swim. You’ve a strong back. The climb is risky, but relatively easy.”

“What should we expect in there?” Mathias asked as he looked up at his constant yet elusive destination.

“Can’t help you with that.” the innkeeper said with a slight slur in his voice. “I haven’t been in there since it all happened.”

Ulysses squatted down, then dropped with a thump on his rump onto the black sand.

“This, Stranger, is where my services as a guide come to an end.”

“Are you alright?” Mathias asked, trying not to laugh.

“Never felt better,” he said with a wink and a smile.

Mathias walked over to his fallen comrade and plopped down next to him.

“I haven’t indulged in my creation for a very long time,” Ulysses whispered to Mathias. “Alma would not be happy.”

“I’m sure she would forgive this vintage indiscretion,” Mathias whispered back. “We used it for a purpose. It was a bonding agent.”

The innkeeper barked out a laugh.

“I like the way you think, Stranger,” he slurred in a drunken whisper. “I love her very much, you know?” he added after a moment.

“I can sense that,” Mathias reassured him.

“She’s a good woman. I don’t know what I would do if I lost her,” he said wistfully. “She loved those two children. I did too, very much.”

Ulysses put two fingers up to the bridge of his nose and squeezed hard. He was forcing back his tears with a vice like grip.

“I was the one who found the bodies,” he said, letting go. “I raced up the tower and found the boy in the playroom. He was shaking. He was so scared. I tried talking to him, but he stayed silent.

“Oracle went to the window and looked down. He turned back around and looked at me. ‘And I live.’ was all he said. The child then fainted. I tried to aid the boy by bending to pick him up, but there was something else in the room that stopped me. It was the Fetcher, but in his first form. He looked just like Oracle.

“The Oracle Fetcher knelt by Oracle the boy and touched him on the forehead. The boy blinked and opened his eyes. The Oracle Fetcher helped him up and the two walked out of the room hand in hand. As they went, the two turned and stared back at me. Their stares were equally chilling.

“We created the child of all lies, and he took possession of the symbol of our future,” he said with a yawn. “We shaped our destiny in the twisted form of the thing we most loved once. A child.”

Ulysses looked up to the castle.

Mathias could see all the history he was just told written all over the man’s face.

Ulysses closed his eyes and lowered his head.

“I was once a brave man, until I learned to fear a child,” he said through a dozing haze. “When you stand before him, look into his eyes, if you see the child, save him.”

Mathias had to lean in closer to hear the rest.

“If you see nothing, destroy him.”

With that Ulysses, the innkeeper, groundskeeper, inventor’s assistant, thinker’s friend, loving husband, and perhaps the last brave man in the Village Darke, fell asleep sitting up on the black sand beach of his world. He had spoken in truths of the place he called home, truths that had not been spoken of in a very long time, and now he was done.

NEW MBKS1

Amazon author Edward Medina is proud to introduce you to what was his bestselling debut, It Is Said (MBKS1), the first book in the Mathias Bootmaker and the Keepers of the Sandbox trilogy.

This dark fantasy adventure full of mysteries, riddles, and secrets is the story of Mathias Bootmaker, a young man searching for the better parts of himself. His search for what he’s lost begins an amazing journey through a world of extreme imagination. A world he helped to create, but a world he can’t remember anything about. It’s the story of his life, the birth of creativity, and the true power of the energy all around us.

The world of It Is Said (MBKS1) is a dream embedded within a nightmare. A maze inside a labyrinth. It reads like an adventure. It plays like a thriller. It’s designed to make you question every place you go and every character you meet. It’s designed to be a puzzle you must solve.

“It Is Said (MBKS1) is a book for readers who remember what stories can do when in the hands of author who knows a little magic.” – J. Fields Jr. author the Casino Shuffle series.

“If you haven’t tried It Is Said (MBKS1), boy, are you missing out. It’s exquisite. – Jamie DeBree author and blogger

It Is Said (MBKS1) debuted in the top ten on the Amazon bestseller lists for both Fantasy and Action Adventure. To date it has earned 22 Amazon and Goodreads ★★★★★ reviews from readers, reviewers, teachers, authors, and bloggers.

It Is Said (MBKS1) is available at amazon.com.

Alice Author Pic

Edward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.

He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off – Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.

Edward founded a successful independent production company dedicated to family entertainment and children’s causes. He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician.

Currently Edward is a critic and feature entertainment columnist covering Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Clubs and Cabarets for TheaterScene and The Fire Island Sun. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well.

If you’d like more detailed information on Edward’s work, visit his LinkedIn profile or his website. You can also explore his books, follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, and subscribe to his blog on WordPress.

Edward Medina is proud to be a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.


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