Zen and Inevitable Destiny

It’s all connected, Reese.

2732008356_e62ec015aa_oIf you’re at all familiar with Damian Lewis, you might recognize that quote. If you’re not familiar with either, it comes from a show he had starred in a few years ago, called Life. In it, he played a police officer who turns to Zen after being wrongfully accused for a murder and sent away for a life imprisonment. When new evidence comes to light which overturns his conviction – twelve years later – we learn Eastern Philosophy has kept him balanced while incarcerated. We also learn both his spirituality and his desire to rejoin the police force are thinly veiling an involved revenge vendetta.

In the show, however, his character, Charlie Crews, is constantly telling his partner, Dani Reese, how much the many facets of both a case and the universe are intertwined. “It’s all connected, Reese.” She bristles each time he says it, but falls prey to the concept at the same time, following Charlie through each thread of the intricate spider web he weaves. You all are my Reese today, and I’m going to be your Charlie for a moment here.

It’s all connected, guys.

Poor Andy can't even catch a break while playing football with Scott.

Poor Andy can’t even catch a break while playing football with Scott.

I haven’t had the chance to tell many people this, because it often seems like putting the cart before the horse. You’ve only met Peter and Flynn. You haven’t met Scott and Andy, and only barely know Christian. Andy, I keep picking on, the poor guy. He and Scott were my first two protagonists and someday, I’ll dust off their story for you to read. But if you notice the reporter Flynn keeps picking on here and here, it’s the same guy whose best friend is actually a superhero. Christian might be a medieval mercenary, but that’s all I’ve told you about him so far. Rest assured, his life gets very interesting very quickly in The Unquiet Dead.

So when I tell you that they all inhabit one very large universe, I hope it doesn’t come as any surprise. Unfortunately, I don’t have any stories written out which connect Scott and Peter (other than those blog posts), but as I’ve been working on Inevitable Destiny (which is delayed only because it’s turned out to be more of an involved project than I realized), a small, incidental story about an ill-fated vampiress finally connected Christian to Peter’s world. Since I don’t know whether or not this scene will even make the final cut of the book, I decided to spill a little of it here for you.

Christian, a medieval character, in Peter’s world?

It’s all connected, Reese.

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An excerpt from Chapter Eight of Inevitable Destiny…

Whoever penned the text wasn’t as concerned with intrigue as they were with thoroughness. The first few pages were the most difficult to muscle through, but after turning to Chapter Two, a story played out which carried Julian through the rest  of the book.

Her name had been Eleanor, and she had been a beauty.

It was how he chose to imagine her, which suited him just fine even if his mind had embellished the details. The 1920s were in their waning years, summoning thoughts of skirts, stockings, and feathered hats; strong necks adorned with necklaces made of pearls. While the text had failed to say what color her hair and eyes had been, he chose to envision her with charcoal-colored waves and opalescent blue irises. Pale-skinned and strong-natured, she had lived through hell from the sound of it and remained one of the first of Raulin’s lot to defect.

8314189805_c8dd0fe00ePrague was where she met her end, but her life had unfolded throughout Europe. The Medieval Period tracked her through France and Spain. She started the Renaissance in Italy, but arrived in Russia by the start of the Victorian Era. A brief entanglement with Germany preceded her dash for the Vltava River and there, she placed her final stakes on the edge of the Czech capitol. While her constant movement could’ve been attributed to wanderlust, another truth came to light the day she stumbled into the small, Prague branch of the Supernatural Order.

Your name, Madam?

Eleanor Fiedler. Not my human name.”

What is your purpose in coming here?

Julian imagined a room filled with smoke, a rustic, wooden table placed in the center with three chairs on one side and one chair on the other. She wore her long hair in ringlets, and black gloves had been fastened to her elbows, an elegant dress clinging to her slight curves in a flattering manner. Her shoulders were squared and an elbow rested on the arm of her chair. The sigh which preceded her opening comment bore the weight of too many years. “I come to you for help,” she said, glancing from one man to the next down the line. They stared back quietly, allowing her to continue. “You don’t know who I am or why this is important, but I need sanctuary. And you need to provide it to me.”

The elder in charge of the office, Erik Novotny, sat directly across from her, two sorcerers flanking him on either side. He raised an eyebrow while regarding her.  “For what purpose would we need to provide you sanctuary?” he asked.

“There are men after me. They have me surrounded and I have nowhere left to run.” She rolled her eyes and joined the men in smoking, pulling out her own cigarette. “Modern conveniences. It used to be simple to outrun the shadows. Now there are trains and automobiles. Telegraph wires and telephones they can use for communication. The world has gotten smaller and the corners in which to hide in fewer.”

Erik lifted his own cigarette to his lips and took a deep draw from it. His body settled into the chair more, turning into a casual recline. “Madam Fiedler, we are not a safe house for vampires. In fact, I would think your kind might view us as anything but.”

“Desperate times often call for desperate measures.” The expression on her face turned deadly serious. “I wouldn’t have come here if I had any other options left. I haven’t come here for years, but my bodyguard, Christian, stayed back in Germany and the dogs got closer to me than I should’ve let them.” Her eyes developed a wistful look, something she brushed aside with a flip of her hand. “It can’t be stopped now. But I’ve kept something from them for eight centuries and I’m not about to give it to them now.”

“Eight centuries?”

“Yes, from my earliest days to this.”

“And what is this thing you’ve kept from them?”

She crossed and uncrossed her legs, sighing as she fidgeted with her necklace. “First, I must ask you what you’d do with it. Where do you house your artifacts?”

Erik laughed. “You can’t expect us to tell you…”

“Is it somewhere safe?”

The elder blinked and glanced at the sorcerer to his left. They exchanged a glance, as did Erik and the man to his right before all three focused on Eleanor again. “Yes. It’s heavily guarded.”

Exhaling shakily, she shook her head. “It needs to be more than heavily guarded. It needs to be impenetrable to my kind.”

“Such places exist, Madam Fiedler.” Erik drew from his cigarette again, reaching forward to extinguish it before settling against the back of his chair again. “You’ll need to be more specific first before I can make you any promises. What sort of an artifact are you donating to us?”

“Donating.” She bristled against the word, bringing her cigarette to her lips and drawing from it. Her lips held back the puff of smoke, releasing it slowly in a sigh. Eleanor shut her eyes and shook her head. “This isn’t a donation. You all are children. Finite and inexperienced. You won’t take this as seriously as it should be.”

“We have no way of knowing that unless…”

“You have no way of knowing that, but I do.” Eleanor came to her feet, the sound of her chair skidding across the floor interrupting Erik from finishing. Her movements shaky, she struggled to compose herself and gathered her belongings. “Raulin’s sycophants will end this world and everyone in it. I was foolish to think you would grasp the severity of this discussion.” Reaching across the table, she put out her cigarette and righted herself with a resolute nod. “I will take my leave now.”

“Madam Fiedler…” Erik fumbled to a stand, pursing Eleanor all the way to the door. “You are doing nothing to even help us to understand. What sort of artifact? Why do you need us to protect it?” He placed himself between Eleanor and the door. “I thought you had nowhere else to turn.”

“It is a key. Used to unlock doors which should remain shut.” Her eyes shimmered when she turned one final time to look Erik Novotny in the eyes. “And I did have nowhere else to turn. But I’ve survived this far. I will simply have to figure out how to continue surviving.”

Pushing Erik aside, Eleanor made her exit, leaving the befuddled elder in her wake. While Julian could envision the men exchanging confused glances, he understood what had happened more than he would’ve liked. A dedicated sentry would not readily hand over their ward, not without determining the person to whom they had turned would be just as good of a warden. Even if the sentry might otherwise die at their post.

The story continued, depicting conversations exchanged between Prague and London shortly thereafter. A seer and watcher had been assigned the task of keeping watch over Eleanor and while two days passed in quiet, by the third evening, Armageddon descended on the Czech city at last. Shivers ran the length of Julian’s spine when he turned the page and began the next chapter in the story.

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