Fall to Domum

Castle - Book One

by J. H. Wear

Jon McKinney is nothing but an ordinary Boston university student on the path toward a career in computer science, but he's spent his life feeling like he should be more than he is. When he inherits a castle in Ireland from his presumably drowned Uncle Gordon, he leaves behind his education and his girlfriend to see what awaits him on the other side of the world.

Once there, he meets the fascinating and beautiful Liz O’Doul and discovers a strange crystal he mistakenly believes is merely a good luck charm. Liz tells him Miller Castle has a long and colourful history of strange creatures lurking about its stone walls, but Jon doesn't believe it...until Liz catches a dwarf named Gilbert trying to steal unmentionables from her suitcase. Jon pursues the creature up the steep staircases of the castle. But, just as he catches Gilbert, the two of them tumble out the window and through a magical gateway.


Excerpt

 

Chapter One

Relax And Take The Bus. The words chiselled in the sign haunted Robert Jon McKinney as he peered out of the bus window. Jon squeezed his bulk across the hard seats in an attempt to find comfort on the cracked green vinyl; the seat in front of him forced him to sit slightly sideways. He ran his hand back through his short dark hair, attempting to smooth it down. His girlfriend, Nadine Newman, described his hair like that of a dandelion ready to explode. He really didn’t think that it was an accurate assessment or a particularly funny one. Nadine’s comments didn’t stop just at his hair and occasionally she indicated his weight was on the high side as well. More than just indicate, and it made him wonder why she dated him. Jon was a big man and not soft, but he didn’t scare anyone when he entered a room.

The sign, he recalled, was done on chipped paint on the side of a brick wall of a building he saw on the cab ride over from the airport. That should have given Jon a hint of things to come when he boarded the bus.

He felt apprehension about the final leg of his journey when the driver, a heavyset man approaching the age of retirement, yawned as Jon stepped past him. The bus, which had its best years behind it, was less than half full and Jon was able to have a bench seat for himself.

An hour after lurching through stop signs and traffic lights, the bus made its way into the countryside. Jon slouched in his seat and stared out of the window.

* * *

Two weeks previously he sat in a lawyer’s office with Nadine to receive an inheritance from his Uncle Gordon Miller. He recalled meeting his uncle only once as a young boy, when the tall, distinguished man visited the family in Boston. Jon didn’t talk much with him, at nine years old he didn’t have a lot to say that grown-ups were interested in, but it seemed his mother’s brother took a liking to him anyway. At first, he thought it was odd that he was left anything at all but Uncle Gordon often asked about him in his letters and paid for a sizable portion of his college tuition.

The rumours of his uncle’s hidden riches made her excited as they exited the elevator on the twenty-fifth floor of the First National Bank Building. Nadine, a short, small boned blonde with her hair tied tight in a bun on her head, preceded Jon into the office. They had to wait several minutes past their two o’clock appointment time and Jon took in the thick carpet, the dark oak walls and the original paintings on the wall. He felt a bit intimidated wearing just a golf shirt and black jeans. A woman came from around the opening in the reception area and beckoned them to follow her.

“Mr. Van der Velde will see you now.”

Unlike the receptionist, Van der Velde seemed pleased to see them and apologized for their wait. He stood up at his desk and opened his hand toward the chairs sitting in front. Van der Velde, a tall sixty-year-old on a slim frame, had retained most of his silver-white hair.

“First, Mr. McKinney, I need your signature on these documents…and these…and these.” Van der Velde slid a small stack of paper across his desk to Jon.

Jon signed several legal documents as Mr. Van der Velde carefully explained the reason for each piece of the fourteen-inch paper.

“Now you may think the requirements of the will are a bit peculiar but rest assured that many wills have special conditions attached to them before they can be fulfilled.”

Van der Velde paused and peered at them from the top of his bi-focal glasses. They nodded as they leaned forward in the soft leather chairs.

“First, he has bestowed upon you the legal possession of the Miller Castle, its land and any contents inside.”

He paused as Jon sat upright and Nadine gasped as she covered her mouth with her hand. Van der Velde slid over the desk a set of papers folded together.

“There is also an item of some import inside this sealed envelope.”

He lifted up a bulging envelope.

“The instructions in the will stipulate that you may not open this envelope until you have read and agreed to the terms of this final document inside this other envelope.”

He held up a second envelope, this one flat.

“The final stipulation of the will states that you read this document alone, that it is for your eyes only, within twenty-four hours of accepting the legal document giving you possession of the Miller Castle.”

He looked at his watch.

“The time is now fourteen minutes after two o’clock. If you wish you may read the document in a room we have for consultations. I would advise you do this as I can then verify that you have met all legal requirements of the will and will be able to attest to that fact if the need should arise.”

Jon nodded. “Perhaps I better do that now.”

Van der Velde escorted Jon to another office through an adjoining door. The next office was larger, with ten chairs around a rectangular oak table and had a second door that Jon believed led to a hallway. He sat at one of the chairs, opening the envelope after Van der Velde closed the door. The paper inside was plain white, with carefully handwritten words in blue ink. Jon smoothed out the folded paper with reverence and read his uncle’s final instructions to him

 

Robert—his Uncle Gordon had not known Jon had switched over to using his middle name—I can only ask that you follow these final instructions, as I have no way of enforcing them. I can only trust your own good judgment on these conditions.

1) Take particular care of the necklace; it is not valuable in a monetary sense but rather as a symbol and conveyance of power.

2) Visit and claim possession of the castle as soon as possible, hopefully within a few days of reading this document. Please don’t delay this request.

When you arrive at the castle, and it is best you do so alone, you will probably soon discover the secret that I cannot reveal now. I have left you additional information in a desk located in a small study on the main floor.

I also ask you not to reveal the contents of this letter to anyone. In good conscience I must warn you that there is a degree of danger for you. There are forces out there that will stop at nothing to gain what you now have. Be careful whom you trust; they may not be what they appear. I wish I could tell you more, but I doubt you would believe the truth. Besides, as I have learned over the years, the truth is an elusive commodity.

I understand if you think of me as a bit of a madman, but I have given these items to you because of all my relatives and acquaintances, you alone seem to possess the character and intellect for the task that may come to you.

Sincerely,

Uncle Gordon

 

Jon sat alone in the office the lawyer had provided and reread the letter. Uncle Gordon was known as an eccentric in the family. Well off, but a bit odd.

 

J.H. Wear "Castle"

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Genres


Fantasy

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