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Octavia's Wake

Octavia's Wake

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Octavia's Wake

Longueur:
319 pages
4 heures
Sortie:
Jun 22, 2015
ISBN:
9781908299765
Format:
Livre

Description

For twelve summers, the Abula nation has enjoyed peace and harmony under the rule of King Theorum. That peace is about to be shattered. The mighty force of the Trogan rats has been gathering strength and power, waiting patiently for the day to strike and take revenge... that day is now!
As the battle rages on and darkness descends, a glimmer of hope remains in the bravery of a few spirited and unlikely warriors.
As the Trogans seek to destroy and conquer, loyalty, friendship and love are tested to their very limits.

It is impossible to classify Octavia’s Wake. To call it a fantasy novel does not do it justice. Nor is it a children’s book. Octavia’s Wake deals with the fundamental themes of our time. It is an adventure. Love, death, friendship, war, joy, loss and pain are all here. Above all, Octavia’s Wake is a story about love.

Sortie:
Jun 22, 2015
ISBN:
9781908299765
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur


Catégories liées

Aperçu du livre

Octavia's Wake - Patrick Wilson

me.

FOREWORD

by Mr Michael Lee

In my meetings with Patrick Wilson we usually discuss issues such as economic development and youth employment. It was at the end of one of these meetings that Patrick informed me that he was writing a book. He then explained what sort of book it was and why he was writing it.

He told me that he was writing it for Emily May. He even began to write it whilst lying on the floor of Emily May’s bedroom. Adding to the story each night became part of the normal bedtime routine.

Every father wants to leave a legacy. This is Patrick’s gift to Emily May and it is something which will be hers for the rest of her life.

It is impossible to classify Octavia’s Wake. To call it a fantasy novel does not do it justice. Nor is it a children’s book. Octavia’s Wake deals with the fundamental themes of our time. It is an adventure. Love, death, friendship, war, joy, loss and pain are all here.

Above all, Octavia’s Wake is a story about love.

It is a story that is written with love and it is one that will live long in the memory.

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals."

Immanual Kant

Let my wrath move swiftly with the birds and the bees;

And let my soul grow strongly like the bark of the Bangan Tree;

Let me stand firm, alongside the brave memories of my brothers;

And let this be the day, that I conquer, where once, I would falter.’

(The cry of the Bhulan Warrior)

CHAPTER ONE

THE BATTLE OF MANSULA

Twelve summers had passed since the fateful battle of Mansula had ended. On the hill of the last resting place of the legendary King Osthfeld, the war had not been truly won, but the decision to make a stand by the Bhulan warriors had been vindicated. No longer would the Trogans march unabated across these lands. The strength of the Bhulan army had nearly brought the might of the once great race of rat to the brink of extinction. Only a full retreat by the Trogans had prevented a catastrophe for their leader, Cerberus. He knew that he could not muster another meaningless assault onto the embankments of the Mansula ridge without complete annihilation.

At the end of that day, the field was littered with the remnants of the dead. Gathered together in a sea of blood, the dead lay strewn, dishonoured side by side to rot where they had fallen. It was not long before the scavengers seized upon their prey at will. As night fell, they hovered and swooped at random on the carnage below. This was no battle glory; even the victors could not stomach the cry of song or the spirit of dance. Now, the warriors stood silent, contemplating the pointless loss of life and the destruction they had witnessed. No one could be certain of the actual number of dead; so great were the number of animals heaped together in row upon row. Many rats had perished as their leader had miscalculated the determination of the King’s own guard.

King Theorum was now the rightful Lord of all the provinces. It was he who had brought together all allies to defeat their nemesis. All knew that without such bravery, this realm would not have survived. From this day forth, the Mansula battle song would be sung to remember those that had been lost:

As battles were lost and the walls torn down

The warriors stood, for country and crown

For we fight, we fight

For the King and his Crown.’

But there would be no armistice. Although the King demanded reparation for such acts of wanton violence, Cerberus would never accept such a sign of defeat. Instead, the rats were banished to Panula, a district over five days’ march from the edge of the King’s land. A distance far enough for Theorum to be assured that the Trogans would not wish to travel so readily. No longer could the Trogan rats march without fear that they themselves would be attacked. This was not what the King had fought for, but he knew that he did not have the strength of numbers to push the enemy back further. If he did, they would not be walking this earth. No diplomacy could ever have prevented this warfare by an army whose sole purpose was murder. Darkness had been opposed, but could it last?

On that final day, as the King watched the rats slip from sight of the battlefield, he prayed; prayed harder than he had ever done so before, praying that the Trogans would be vanished from these lands forever. As he looked upon his warriors desolately, he knew that he could never be party to such a hollow victory again. For this must be his army’s final battle, for what King could sacrifice so many in his name again? As the thunder clapped above his head, Theorum looked chillingly at the dark clouds and wondered if he would ever see the blue sky return. For now, he closed his mind from the cheers and hollering of his soldiers and invoked within his prayer for the thunder to send forth a mighty hail of lightning bolts to strike at the heart of the rats and burn them where they lay. For the Trogans could never, must never, return.

Twelve years on and the fields still bore the scars of war, with the original trench line remaining desolate. Whilst the bodies had long disappeared, eerily, the indigenous creatures and insects did not return to their manor. The mud was not replaced with grass or flowers, and rabbits no longer burrowed in this part of the field. Hedgehogs, beavers and badgers distanced themselves from this space and even the birds and the bees manoeuvred their flight from this solemn ground. Legend had foretold that the sun steered its rays away from the site, as if to punish the very ground that had been involved in such atrocity.

Along the fringes of the battleground, the rushes stood proud within the grass, with hogweeds, elderflowers and daisies paying homage to the area in great swathes. Thistles were aplenty amongst the ferns and horseflies and all around, the innocent creatures basked in their natural habitation. To the Bhulan tribe, this would always be Holy ground which, although would never recover from the ferocity of violence that it had borne witness to, would be a place of remembrance for those who had fallen to save the many.

To commemorate this victory, the King instructed his finest architects to design a legacy at the peak of the Mansula ridge; with the Five Stones of Tanniston built as a monument of courage, standing proudly at the highest point of the hilltop. Five rocks were carefully built so that they formed a stepping stone with the fifth arranged at the head of the wall. Four stones represented the Kings of old, that of Bodwin, Osthfeld, Danute and Aldrew, with the highest stone in honour of Theorum who wanted it so that his would be the most visible upon the landscape.

On its completion, Theorum instructed that each stone should be symbolised with the decorative colours of each Kings’ motif colours. On his coronation, the King had adopted the prestigious motif of Danute which consisted of a bold white cross with a back-drop of black. Within the centre of the white cross lay the eider flower which was a short-runner that tilted and lifted towards a vibrant red and yellow flower. The eider had been chosen by the King as it had colonised the region long before his kingdom had migrated to this land. It was the first sight that visitors to Bhulan would see and in the springtime, the eider flowers covered the whole meadow in a vibrant and beautiful array of its colours.

Directly below the thickened stones, the architects had created a defensive tunnel and for those now wishing to trade or pass into Bhulan, this would be the only passage for them to cross. Facing out onto the Abula side of the tunnel, there was a crafted oak wood beam gate. Each beam had been methodically soldered together using the finest leaf to make it impossible to break.

King Theorum was astute in his positioning of the five stones as it had multiple purposes and meanings. Firstly, it was a statue of remembrance; moreover it was a show of power and authority of their leader. No animal that entered the area could be in any doubt as to who was in control of this region. The stones provided a perfect watchtower for Theorum’s warriors who could observe the comings and goings of their tribe and any strangers moving across the mass of fields below the hill. Primarily though, it acted as a fortified wall that if the region were ever attacked again, would prevent even the most defiant invaders from simply stalking into the area.

But the stones were only the beginning and over many seasons, a high wall was carefully constructed and extended from east to west using the natural rock face. This impenetrable wall now separated the Bhulan region from the northern hemisphere of Abula. It stretched as far as the Dhavla and Cardamon Mountain to the east and drove west, overlooking Carlem Banks, along the Fens of Gelden and Sturlon, brushing the side of Mountvirnor, travelling far beyond the dark passages of Bragan and Helt, where the sun would not venture, and past the three rivers of Aesin, Laye and Adden until it touched the twelfth sea.

This was now the age of the cat. This was now the age of King Theorum.

CHAPTER TWO

CHANGELINGS

I wish you two would stop teasing each other! snapped Aspen. As she turned around, Mitford looked sheepish as she glared at him, her eyes ordering the over-zealous tom cat to remove his teeth at once from his brother’s ear. Why do you both persist in antagonising one another?

Mitford shrugged his young shoulders, knowing what his mother’s next words would be.

You should know better, you’re supposed to be the role model in this house, but I would rather trust your friend, Alfred, any day of the week over you.

Mitford had been chastised on so many occasions by his mother on this matter that the words slipped down the sides of his ears, never truly penetrating his consciousness. Today though, Aspen had been ruffled by the play fighting that had yet again spiralled into a bruising affair of all-out-wrestling. For once and for all she would make her two sons know that she took a dim view of their behaviour. Whatever their resistance, they would listen.

Both of you sit next to me now. I know what you’re thinking, Mitford, but you are wrong. Words of anger live long in the memory of the young and I refuse to be a mother who is responsible for scarring her children’s every waking day in years to come. It was clear from his expression that he did not understand.

Aspen continued. There will come a time when you will need each other, more than you think. Layton steered a low hiss towards his brother until Aspen tapped his nose to make him pay attention. If only you knew what I know now, perhaps then you would behave differently towards one another. Aspen continued to tell a story that she hoped would stop their rivalry…

Long ago, brothers Travis and Sedgewick Apius, two very energetic hares, lived in Thetford in the days of King Aldrew. They would spend their days fighting and teasing each other to the point where their father, Montague, lost complete control of them. They must have been very strong willed hares as Montague was a stern disciplinarian. From the moment the brothers awoke to the day’s end, they would try and outwit each other; hiding from one another, ready to pounce from beneath the myriad of tunnels dotted around the village. These hares must have lived on their nerves, never knowing when one would attack the other! In the early days of their life it was fun, but then it turned to more fiendish behaviour. Gone was the playfulness. The other villagers, annoyed at the constant fighting, did not even bid them the time of day and soon they were expelled from their pack. But this did not stop their ways. Nor did it bring them together. What they now lacked in company, they made up in cunning. Aspen felt her sons draw closer to her as they began to heed her words.

"As they each spent their days and nights apart and alone, exhausted by their own manipulative games, sleep deprivation crept in. In the deep of night they lay silently, lurking under a self-made burrow, covered in leaves with only a peephole to see out of, their minds wandering. Every noise would give them a fright and even the slightest sound would alert them to the fact that they were at the mercy of an imminent attack by one or the other. Even during the day, alone in their thoughts, Travis and Sedgewick, now emaciated by a lack of food, dared not sleep. Their minds were on a constant loop of when or where the next attack may spring from.

"The weeks went by with this stalemate and, in the heart of Bhulan, King Aldrew had returned from one of his hunting expeditions, this time with the greatest prize of all, for the King and his warriors had snared and captured Fellon Bell, the most revered and sought after bear of her generation! With the backing of one hundred of his finest warriors, Aldrew had ambushed Fellon Bell as she lay peacefully blissful with her two young cubs. They tied her to the point of breathlessness, wrapping rope around her neck and separating her from her cubs. For days and days they marched the bear back to Bhulan. Helpless, the bear was consumed with thoughts of returning to her offspring, knowing they would not survive in the unforgiving territory of Altomane. But Aldrew did not return to a hero’s welcome. Instead, his villagers looked on in horror at what the King had brought to their door. For they knew it was not wise to awake a sleeping brown bear, certainly not one of the magnitude of Fellon.

The show of animosity that descended on Aldrew was the first sign of friction between the King and his tribe. So shocked was Aldrew with this reaction, that he immediately banished his show-piece catch to a prison cell etched in the rocks of the Mansula wall, where once lay a drinking well. The prison cell was positioned behind the King’s palace, out of sight from the nearest village of Darum, and Fellon Bell was immediately marched to her new home where she was thrown down into the old well. In the weeks that followed, the villagers were haunted by the eerie sound of the bear, crying for her cubs. Until one day, it stopped. Mitford and Layton gasped, encouraging their mother to continue.

"Montague could not give up on his young like the other villagers had done and chose one day to find them and bring them back into the civilised world. This was a more difficult feat than he first anticipated. Travis and Sedgewick had been secretly hiding for so long that they had almost lost themselves and it took their father days of searching before he smelt their scent. First he found Travis, burrowed close to an oak tree, wide-eyed with tiredness and dehydration. Then he found Sedgewick, not a few feet away from his brother, hidden under a pile of dead autumn leaves. Montague embraced them but also threatened that unless they changed their ways, this would be the last time he would look for them. In their exhaustion, the brothers agreed. And so, filled with hope, Montague took them both home and cared for them.

"As for the two brothers? They slept and slept and slept. They could hardly stay awake long enough for their father to feed them. While they slept, Montague took the time to build bridges for them with their neighbours. When they finally awoke and lifted themselves from their burrow and into the light, they were welcomed by everybody around them. Hares they barely knew embraced them like only long lost friends do. The brothers revelled in the attention and were inseparable, catching up with friends and family on what had been happening whilst they had been gone. They even started to appreciate each other’s company for the first time. Whilst, Fellon Bell now poor of mind, lay half-dead in the deep and dank well, constantly thinking of her cubs. As day and night remained but a black void for the bear in that dark hole, all that kept her alive was the white light that burned bright in the silence of her beating heart. She knew, knew that she must stay alive.

"As the weeks and the months passed, the cries and pining from the well faded. Fellon Bell was all but forgotten. The King’s ‘must have prize’ was now far removed from his memory. In this period, slowly but surely, Travis and Sedgewick returned to how they had always been. Soon they were wrestling and fighting again, this time with renewed vigour. Nowhere could one of them turn without the other waiting to attack. Again, they lived on their wits end. Even Montague’s constant beating of them could not stop the inevitable. And then one night, Travis, certainly the meanest of the two brothers, asked Sedgewick for a truce and arranged to meet him where Fellon Bell lay, in order to make peace. Travis assured his brother that they should fight no more and instead should avert their attention to the broken bear. Sedgewick arrived to find his brother peering over the ledge of the well, sniggering to himself as he dropped stones onto the bear.

"On seeing his brother, Travis encouraged Sedgewick to come closer and partake in this game. Soon they were both throwing stones into the dark hole. Such a depth was the pit that they had to wait and listen intently to hear the stones land at the bottom, crashing onto the groaning bear. Soon though, Travis was bored with this game and asked his brother to move closer to the edge to listen to the slow breath of the bear. As Sedgewick did so, Travis stepped back and took a running jump, kicking his brother into the depths below. Sedgewick fell deep into the well screaming, until all that was heard was a loud thud as he landed. Travis, at first, stopped in his track in panic. However, the shock turned into uncontrollable, hysterical laughter. The more he laughed, the more he lost himself. He skipped and hopped around in circles in a victory dance. As he laughed and laughed, he suddenly lost his balance as he again peered over the edge and he too fell to his death.

Their misfortune favoured Fellon Bell. For the bear ravaged at the hares’ skin and bones and this gave her the strength to make one almighty leap to freedom. The next day, Montague awoke early with a burning fear and trepidation. He first searched the surrounding area for his sons before he begged his friends and family in an increased frenzy to help his young. All day, a party of hares scoured the area until for some reason they focused their attention towards the back of the King’s palace. The group now moved forward hastily and as they approached the well, they found the fresh prints of hares’ paws scattered around the edge. Montague, his body shaking, looked over and into the well to see the horror below. Bones, which he knew in his heart belonged to his sons, lay before him and the group were alarmed to see that Fellon Bell had vanished without a trace.

Aspen looked at the still and silent faces of her young, who had absorbed her words, and warned, "I want you to remember this story and remember it well, for you will never, must never, become like Travis and Sedgewick. Do you promise me?"

Mitford and Layton nodded in agreement.

CHAPTER THREE

THE OATH

Joram, the King’s High Priest, scoured the corridors with his thick black coat looking intently for Prince Lucian. The Priest knew every segment of these Darum corridors, from the King’s own quarters, the grand hall and the hidden escape tunnels which would enable any quick escape for his Majesty. There was much history witnessed in these corridors and the moist air smell reminded him of kings and queens long gone. Nonetheless, Joram remained as loyal to this King as he was to the last.

He knew that somewhere within here, Lucian would no doubt be perched on some ledge, looking down on him, trying to hide from the Priest who had dedicated much time to mentor the next in line to the Bhulan throne. He often wondered if this skinny-boned cat would ever mature to one day grace this land as King. That day could not come soon enough for the Prince, but for Joram, it should be a long time coming.

Darum was one of four large villages, which included Hopton, Thetfordshire and Aldistone. These were centred within the Bhulan fields and were inter-connected above and beneath the ground through a labyrinth of fortified tunnels. The tunnels, which Joram walked through, had been built over many years and offered adequate space in which badgers, beavers, hares and other acquainted animals lived in harmony. Every detail had been considered in the design of the underground tunnels from the ceremonial quarters to the hibernation retreats.

Joram became frustrated at this game, particularly when having to brush aside lichen from the walls to check in even the darkest hole for this wily cat. Soon, he ventured into the grand hall, where the Castlereine Circle was etched beautifully into the centre of the floor. From the outer circle, there were repeated circles within, each one smaller than the last until they reached the centre, where the Abula nation symbol lay engraved. The symbol was of the great Bangan Tree which had stood proudly on the outskirts of Evoram for a thousand years and its picture had been etched deep into the wood-grained flooring. Although the image had now faded through time, it still possessed fascination and intrigue. Within the centre, the depiction of the tree trunk lifted from the bottom of the circle as if gracefully reaching out from the earth. The pictured trunk was thick; the stern and branches wisped and swirled to the left and top right of the centre circumference. To the top left the Abula sun shone in the background, rigidly formed in the sky with a pensive wry smile. So old was this etching that no animal was allowed to enter this precious marking. Instead, they would have to walk the high beam above the circle which stretched from both sides of the hall ways. To look down on this sacred place, the observer would see that on the outside of the ring, there were seven ellipse oval shapes that congregated around the loop, each carefully separated by equal space so that they represented equilibrium between the seven great animal tribes of Abula. The seven were the Bhulan cats, Deighton hounds, the Forrester badgers, Eddan foxes, Cardamon mountain hares, Brokh stags and the Mist Red squirrels. The leaders of these tribes had been brought together as protectors of

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