This is a small excerpt taken from a new series soon to be released in the next few weeks. The work is a collaborative effort from Brendan Carroll and D’Lani Elliott, and is the first in a series designed to follow the action of the Red Cross of Gold:. Assassin Chronicles series from the Point of View of the younger members of the Order: The Apprentices. The series is titled: The Knights of Christ:. Apprentice Diaries. The first novel is “The Journey Begins”.
The idea will be tailored for a younger audience and though the title may invoke the idea of Christian Literature or Religious writings, these novels are not intended to be either. They will be listed as YA (Young Adult), Adventure/Action/Fantasy.
So without further ado, the sample:
Armand doused his thumb with alcohol, sucked in a sharp breath and then put a bandage on it before pulling on his gloves. Time to work on the trellis. It needed a few repairs. Some of the little wooden cross pieces had fallen down and he needed to wire them back together. After that, he would trim the dead portions of the roses back and thread the runners through the trellis. Then there was weeding to be done in the bulb beds at the front of the house.
The sun was up, shining bright when he stepped outside. The air was warm and filled with fresh smells. A light rain had fallen overnight and the ground was perfect for weeding. He grabbed the old wheelbarrow from the potting shed and rolled it next to the trellis. Within a few short minutes, he was completely lost in his work. The sun rose higher and the temperature rose as the barrow filled with weeds and briars. He slipped his shirt over his head and headed inside for a bottle of water and well-deserved break. He’d made much more headway than he had expected. Soon, he was feeling warm and sleepy as he leaned against the front porch bannister.
Sitting on the steps with the sun shining in his face made his eyelids droop. It was the perfect place for a nap and he thought he would have made a fine cat like old Gamelli’s fat Tom, sleeping on the porch all day and chasing mice at night. He finished off his water, crossed his arms over his chest and closed his eyes. Soon he was snoring softly and did not hear the bicycle that coasted into the drive and up to the porch.
The young woman got off the bike and leaned it against the side of the cottage. She smiled and then winced and put her hand against her cheek where a number of bandages were stuck here and there on her chin and jaw and forehead.
She approached the sleeping apprentice and bit her lip as if trying to decide whether to wake him or just leave. It was an awkward moment, but his bronze skin gleamed with moisture and his chest rose and fell under his crossed arms as he slept peacefully. He sniffed and jerked his head slightly and then said “Genevieve,” almost too quietly to hear. The girl smiled and then laughed aloud.
Armand snapped his eyes open and looked into a complete stranger’s face. He almost screamed and then jumped to his feet.
“Sacre bleu!” he exclaimed. “You scared me!”
“I’m sorry,” she said, but laughed again.
“Why are you laughing?” he looked down at himself and then grimaced. “Oh, I am sorry. I seem to have lost my shirt.”
“I was not laughing at how you look,” she said. “I was laughing at what you said.”
“What?” he frowned and looked about for his shirt. It was out back.
“You said ‘Genevieve’,” she said. “That is my middle name.”
“Oh,” he said and nodded his head as if what she had said made sense. It didn’t. “What is your first name?”
“Collette,” she said and held out her hand. “I am Collette Genevieve Bordeaux.”
“Yes, like the wine only not so expensive,” she said and frowned.
“Oh,” he said and took her hand, shaking it soundly. “I am pleased to meet you. Armand de Bleu.”
“Yes. You saved me.”
“Yes, the accident. I was in the ditch,” she said and turned to point back toward the road.
“Oh! You were the driver?” His eyes widened. “Are you well?”
“I’ll live,” she said. “I came by to say thank you.”
“You are welcome, mademoiselle,” he said and felt his face burn. He had not saved her. He had simply flagged down some help. “It was nothing. The medics were the ones who helped you.”
“Yes, but lots of people would not have come to the aid of an accident victim,” she said. “You were very brave.”
“You were. Yes.”
“Oh… well, would you like some water, Miss Bordeaux?” he asked.
“No thank you. I have to get going,” she said. “I have to go back and argue with my father. He won’t let me have another car just now. He says I am wreckless. Dangerous.”
“I cannot possibly be seen going about Paris on a bicycle. What will my friends say?”
“I don’t know.”
“They will say plenty.”
She laughed and he felt as if he would fall into her eyes. They were changeable hazel, green with blue and brown flecks and streaks in them. Her hair was streaked blonde with one very dark black streak across her bangs.
“Of course,” she said. “You know how girls are.”
“You are playing with me,” she said and shook her head. “What did you do to your thumb?”
“I cut it on a knife.”
“Oh, too bad. Well, I must be going Armand de Bleu.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Yes, I mean no… yes!”
“Well that explains everything,” she said and tossed her hair over her shoulder. “Goodbye then.”
She started to walk away and then stopped abruptly and turned around.
“Your book!” she said, pulling the little green book from her jacket pocket. “They thought it was mine. You put it under my head. I’m afraid I don’t know what happened to your shirt.”
“That’s quite all right,” he said.
“This is an interesting little book.”
“Yes, it is.”
“The Art of School is it?”
“Complete with witchcraft.”
“Ahhh, yes, I believe it does have some witchcraft in the back.”
“Are you a witch, then, Armand de Bleu?”
“No! Of course not.”
“Oh, too bad.”
She turned on her heel and ran back to her bicycle.
“Wait!” he called.
“What is it?”
“Will I see you again?”
“Only if you are a witch.”
“I… could be.”
“Then perhaps we will meet again!” she called over her shoulder as she pedalled up the drive.
The four Templars, now bound with a variety of ropes, chains and bungee cords were totally disgusted with themselves. Simon was still in trouble from the blow Christopher had dealt him on the back of his head and his lavender uniform had a sizable bloodstain to Christopher’s chagrin. He felt awful about hurting the Healer. Worse yet, he felt awful about having failed to help his Master by allowing Beaujold to escape and go after him.
Cecile Valentino had already been in twice to check on them and to let them know that she would soon have Ramsay back in custody. She never mentioned Beaujold and neither did they. Her second trip down to see them had brought news of sightings here and there, but nothing concrete.
Von Hetz had informed them in the interim that Ramsay was recovering from a rather potent poison that he had administered to him in order to test the truth of his claims, but he did not tell them what he had learned.
Valentino walked in front of them, staying well out of reach of their boots as she looked them over once more. This time, she carried a notebook tucked under her arm and a ceramic mug with a smiley face on it in her right hand.
Simon raised his head and blinked at her causing her to shudder.
Von Hetz watched her steadily from his deep-seated, black eyes. She stopped in front of Dambretti and he smiled up at her, crinkling the scar on his face. He winced as the smile also caused pain in his latest injury: a deep purple bruise on his left temple.
“Which one are you?” she asked him and took a sip of her drink.
“I am Lucio Apolonio Dambretti, at your service, madam,” he answered politely and continued to smile at her.
“and what is it that you do for the Order?” She returned his smile and took a sip from the mug. Christopher could smell the hot chocolate. He licked his lips and sighed. He could have used an Egg McMuffin® and a cup of coffee himself.
“The Order? I put things in order. I read books,” he said. “Old books.”
“What is your title?” She tried again.
“I am le Chevalier l’Aigle d’Or. Knight of the Golden Eagle,” he looked at her quizzically. “Does that mean anything to you, signorina?”
She set her mug on a shelf behind her and opened the book at a place marked with a red ribbon.
“Let’s see,” she held it up to the naked lightbulb as she read from it. “The Knight of the Golden Eagle. Keeper of the Egyptian Secrets. Scholar of the Book of the Dead. He has passed through the Mysteries of Egypt, of Osiris and Isis, and of Serapis. He has seen the sun rise at midnight and has been over the threshold of death at Thebes. How romantic. He reveals the light of the soul. Very impressive, but I have seen the sun at midnight in Norway. These things do not sound mysterious or useful to me.”
“But you have not seen the midnight sunrise at Thebes. It is much more… enlightening,” he shrugged and cast one of his knowing winks at Christopher.
Christopher hoped that Dambretti had another of his endless tricks in store for the woman and he would have especially liked to see the Knight of the Golden Eagle take down her ugly bodyguard. The man was beyond endurance with his insulting remarks and vicious kicks that he had applied liberally when they had first been brought to the damp little room. He was even worse than Sir Beaujold. The thought of Beaujold made his empty stomach turn over. The vindictive Knight of the Sword was out there somewhere pursuing his Master and his Master was not well. If he had not seen how ill Sir Ramsay had been the night before, he would have no worries concerning the outcome of a confrontation between Beaujold and Ramsay, but…
“Bring this one, Maxie,” the woman jerked her head at Dambretti and turned to her watchdog who now sported a shotgun and a pistol. “I want to see how my method works on one who is not brain damaged.”
Maxie handed her the shotgun, put the pistol in his belt and knelt awkwardly beside the Knight. He used a small pocket knife to cut the bands securing Dambretti’s wrists and then stumbled back quickly when the Italian pushed himself up and stretched the kink from his back. Maxie yanked the shotgun from Cecile and trained it on the rather amiable Knight as he rubbed his numb hands together and frowned in amusement at the man’s obvious terror. Christopher urged him mentally to take the man down. He knew that Dambretti could do it without a problem, but the Italian made no move to do so.
“Excuse me, Brothers,” Lucio spoke to them as if he were leaving for a doctor’s appointment in a crowded waiting room. He stepped carefully over their feet and legs. “I’ll just be a few moments.”
“Go with God,” Simon spoke softly to him in French as he managed to sit up.
“I’ll be back shortly, little Brother, do not worry your poor head,” Lucio assured him and then cast an evil smile at Maxie.
As they started out the door, von Hetz struggled to his knees, straining his bonds against the straps holding him in place, making the iron shelving creak and squeak in protest. She glanced back at him from the doorway and he began speaking. His deep voice echoed ominously in the near empty concrete room.
“Heark ye, thou Whore of Babylon for thus sayeth the Lord God Almighty I am the first and the last. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. and upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots and abominations of the Earth. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword…” he quoted directly from the King James Version of the Book of Revelations. “You would come against the true Knights of Christ supposing yourself a daughter of Babylon?”
Christopher’s mouth fell open in surprise. He did not think this was the proper time for prophesying or calling their ‘hostess’ names. He and the other boys at the Academy had often looked up these sorts of things in the Bible and used chapter and verse to curse obliquely at one another in public.
Valentino stood frozen in the doorway, frowning deeply in confusion.
The Apocalyptic Knight’s voice was enough to scare anyone to death. She obviously did not understand what he was asking her. The dark Knight’s frown dissolved only to be replaced by something even more incomprehensible: a smile.
“Shut up, you… you old windbag!” Maxie shouted at him from outside the door.
“No, wait,” Valentino regained her composure and turned her frown on the man. “This is really neat stuff. Let me guess… you are the dreaded Knight of the Apocalypse? The dragon sword belongs to you, doesn’t it?”
“He is not a joke, signorina,” Dambretti said from behind her. His tone was similar to one a father might use to explain the unexplainable to a child and she did not like it. “This situation is very serious. You would do well to let us all go and hope we never return. A lovely woman like yourself should have better things to do than tamper with the unknown. You do not understand his question because your order is a fraud. A pretense based on a lie. But it is of no concern to us. We did not come for you.”
“Hmmph,” Valentino grumped and hesitated briefly before stepping back and locking the door, leaving them in darkness.
“Well,” Simon spoke in the darkness. “That didn’t go very well, Brother.”
“My eye itches,” Christopher mumbled.
“Can you reach one of those bottles behind you, my son?” von Hetz asked him.
“I can, Sir, but how will we pull the cork?”
“I was thinking of breaking the neck and cutting these bonds.”
Christopher’s fingers grasped the neck of the nearest bottle and worked it out of the rack behind him. Within a few short minutes, he tilted it out and let it drop to the floor.
A clunk, a small explosion and a ricocheting cork bounced around the room as the contents erupted from the thick unbroken bottle.
“Mmmm,” Simon said a few moments later. “Ferrari Brut Sparkler. Brother Lucio’s favorite.”
“My butt is wet,” Christopher mumbled in the utter darkness.