By Michelle Lowe
Under the washcloth that rested over his face, he sensed a presence in the room.
“Is this where my money went?” Archie asked.
“Fuckin’ hell!” Pierce exclaimed, snatching away the washcloth. He nearly went for his gun belt hanging on the doorknob, but Archie had him dead to rights with his own pistol.
“I thought you were going back to France,” Archie said.
Pierce narrowed his eyes at him. “Once I get what I came for, I will.”
“Meaning the Toymaker?” the lad inquired.
Pierce tossed the washcloth into the water. “What are you doing here? Came for the masks, I reckon?”
“Clover is in danger.”
Pierce wrapped his arms around his knees. “What happened?”
“Your damn brother, that’s what happened. He kidnapped her and brought her to Norwich Castle.”
“Wait a tick,” Pierce replied, holding up a hand. “Did you say Norwich Castle?”
“Yes, it’s here on the island. It has been in our family for centuries.”
“Right,” Pierce grumbled. “A castle. Bloody perfect. In any case, she’s safe there, yeah?”
“Pierce, your brother turned her in to be used as slave labor,” Archie said with malice.
It was the first time Archie had called him by his first name.
“I haven’t been there in many years. Before my mother kill—” Archie stopped, shying away from the memory. His pained expression betrayed him. “I can’t risk them thinking I’m an impostor. I might be killed or imprisoned. My father is very upset with Clover at the moment, and when he’s upset, people get hurt. Badly.”
“What makes you think I can help?” Pierce asked, not liking this conversation one bit.
“I don’t know,” the lad said in a testy tone. “We can think of a plan together.” He then tossed in. “You owe her, Pierce Landcross. She saved your life more than once, remember?”
Pierce gritted his teeth and huffed vexingly. “Bastard. Are my clothes out there?”
He stood up and grabbed a towel. “This better not be a trap.”
“If I wanted you prisoner, I’d put this gun to your head and put you in shackles.”
Archie holstered his weapon and stepped out of the room to let Pierce dry himself.
“What do you propose we—” Archie started to say from the other room, but then stopped, leaving the sentence in limbo.
“What?” Pierce demanded, stepping out of the WC, carrying his gun belt while rubbing the towel over his wet hair. The lad was scanning the room as if searching for something. “What are you looking for?” he asked, reaching for his clothes on the bed.
“Sorry?” Archie asked, turning back to him. “Oh, um, nothing. I’m not looking for anything.”
Pierce sniffed the clothes and relished the fresh scent of his newly washed duds. “Don’t think I’ve ever had clothes so clean before.”
“Congratulations,” Archie said mildly. “What do you propose we do?”
Pierce mulled it over while he put on new undergarments. “That arsehole brother of mine turned the little lass over as slave labor, you say?”
“Yes. Apparently, my father has converted the castle into a weapons factory, which remains at a standstill until Peachtree and the book arrive.”
Pierce fastened his gun belt around his pinstripe britches, leaving the suspenders hanging over his sides as he normally did. “Sounds like the whole place will be heavily guarded then, eh?”
“Most likely, yeah.”
Pierce returned to his thoughts. Even if they managed to enter the castle through deception, he didn’t see how they could rescue Clover from wherever she was being held, nor get out without drawing attention to themselves. Also, there was a chance that Tarquin Norwich was either there or on his way. He envisioned Archie turning against him if they encountered his father, especially if it meant saving his sister. In order to push toward a successful rescue, they would need help.
As he pulled his shirt on, he knew of only one person who was equipped for what they needed. The price, however, for this kind of help from this particular individual would be the ultimate one for him.
Damn that girl for saving my life! He buttoned his vest savagely, nearly tearing one button free.
He slid the drawer of the bedside table open, where he’d stashed the coin purse he’d stolen from Archie and took out a silver shilling. On the bright side, Pierce knew what he’d have to give in order to obtain help from this person and therefore had already thought of how to get around it. He didn’t fancy the idea of putting himself in such a risky situation, yet to stick it to that bastard, Norwich, he’d pay just about any price.
“Let’s go visit a magician, eh?” Pierce said, taking his coat off the hanger.
“A magician?” Archie repeated, brows hiked up to his hairline.
Pierce headed for the door as he slipped his arms through the coat’s sleeves. “Just follow. Don’t ask too many questions.”
He put the coin in his pocket and opened the door, then suddenly stopped. The feeling that someone else had been in the room rushed through him. His eyes went immediately to the satchel on the table.
“What?” Archie asked.
Pierce studied the satchel. It sat in the exact same spot as he’d left it, the flap still buckled.
“We have to go,” Archie nagged.
He shook off the urge to check inside the bag, dismissing it as paranoia, and left the room. He locked the door and started down the hall when Archie said, “Maybe we ought to go out the back way.”
“Uh, I might have led the desk clerk to believe that you’re a madman.”
“What? Why the bloody hell did you tell her that?” Archie was about to answer when he waved him off. “Never mind. Let’s just crack on, eh?”
They left through the back and headed toward Medina Road. The wagon no longer sat in the middle of the street but had been moved and parked off to the side; the horses had been unhitched and most likely taken to a stable for the night. The crowd, of course, had vacated.
Pierce reached up to the wagon’s door with a shaking fist, ready to knock, when Archie said, “Do you know this man? And how will he help us?”
Archie’s sudden inquiry made him jump. The danger he was about to place himself in had frayed his nerves.
“Fuckin’ hell,” he cursed through gritted teeth. “Yes, I know ’im. And once you meet ’im, you’ll understand, all right?”
“Who’s out there?” someone asked before opening the door.
Pierce again jumped and felt his insides dry up. He began to tremble. His voice was dry when he spoke. “I wish to see Robin the Magnificent?”
“The master is not receiving guests at the moment, señor,” the Spaniard said. “If you want an autograph, then return for tomorrow night’s show.”
The short man was about to close the door when a voice from inside the wagon said, “Wait, Ramirez. Allow the gentleman in, please.”
Ramirez turned back to Pierce and moved aside. “Come in, señor.”
Pierce gulped hard as he climbed up the short steps leading into the large wagon. To his relief, when he entered, Archie was right there beside him.
Despite his terror, Pierce was impressed with the size of the wagon. The inside was large, crammed with all sorts of things. Clothes and costumes hung on a long iron rod, stretching from the front of the wagon to the back. There were long shelves attached to the wall, housing many knickknacks. The floor was old dark wood, and gold decorative trim traced out the ceiling, with the air smelling of incense. Pierce spotted an ancient longbow resting on hooks on the wall and couldn’t help but reach over and touch it.
Sitting in front of a mirror, with a pair of green glass lanterns mounted above, was the magician. He was dressed in a dark red robe; shoulder length hair tied back, pulling every strand away from his pale face. He was wiping the blush from one cheek when he spied Pierce’s reflection. His grin split his face.
“Pierce Landcross,” the magician said in his magnificent voice.
After all these years, the authority in his tone hadn’t withered.
Pierce fixed a smile to his own face and said, “’Ello, Robin. It’s been a long time, eh?”
The man turned in his chair, his smile widening, showing his teeth. “Has it?”
“Well, perhaps not for you,” Pierce replied.
“No,” Robin said.
Robin the Magnificent was not a tall man. In fact, he stood a little shorter than Pierce. It didn’t stop Pierce from holding his breath when he rose, however.
“Erm, nice wagon,” he muttered.
“Ah, thank you. I had it commissioned in Romania. It’s a Burton Vardo.”
“We could’ve used these in the family,” Pierce remarked.
“If the Romanians continue to manufacture them, I’m sure their uses will legion.” Finally, he shifted his bright blues over to the Spaniard. “Ramirez, would you be so kind as to go to the restaurant across the way and fetch some hot water for tea?”
“Sí, mi señor,” Ramirez said with a slight bow. He plucked a kettle from one of the shelves and headed for the door.
As his servant left, the Magician gestured to a small red table. “He’ll not be long. The restaurant always has boiling water ready. Sit, please. We have much to discuss.”
Pierce looked at Archie, who kept his silence. His expression, though, told of his confusion.
“Aye,” Pierce said, “s’pose we do.”
Pierce moved over to the table and sat on a wooden stool. Archie sat beside him, and Robin took a seat directly in front of them. Robin folded his hands on the table and said, “I see that you still have it.”
Pierce looked down at the coin hanging on the chain around his neck. He folded it tightly in his trembling hand and turned his chin up, meeting the magician’s gaze.
“Of course,” he said with a forced grin, trying to keep things light.
“How do you two know each other?” Archie finally chimed in.
“You should tell him,” Robin said.
Pierce sighed. “Everything?”
The magician nodded slowly. “Why not? I sense he is the trusting sort.”
Although he disagreed, Pierce had to admit that when it came to reading a person’s true nature, Robin was always spot on.
“All right,” he said, steering his attention to Archie. “A couple of years back, when I was twenty-five, I broke into his house in Nottingham.”
“Don’t be shy; tell him what you were after,” Robin urged.
Pierce cleared his throat. He could really use that tea right about now, with some brandy in it as well. “It was rumored that the master of the estate,” he gestured toward the magician, “owned the thirty pieces of silver. I thought I could get a pretty penny for it.”
“Wait,” Archie interposed. “Thirty pieces of silver? The thirty pieces of silver? From Judas?”
“The very same,” Robin said. “I acquired the coins many years ago when I was in the Holy Land.”
“The Holy Land? When were you there?” Archie asked.
“When I fought in the Crusades, my boy.”
Archie’s face went slack, his mouth hanging open. Pierce couldn’t blame the boy. He decided to stop beating around the bloody bush and just tell him.
“Archie Norwich,” Pierce said, “meet Robin of Locksley, vampire.”
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READ THE ENTIRE LEGACY SERIES SYNOPSIS HERE:
This is a post containing brief synopsis of each of the six books of the Legacy series. Warning: there are mild spoilers.
Our story begins in Egypt, 1636, when a wanderer who calls himself Jack Pack, stumbles across a Cambion demon named Thooranu, who has set up camp after hunting for jackals in the Blue Desert. The demon and wanderer chat throughout the night and Jack Pack earns the demon’s friendship. Some years pass and Jack Pack proposes for he and Thooranu go into business together. He presents a contract to the demon to sign, but when Thooranu fills in his name, something goes very wrong. What happens is the start of the beginning of everything . . .
England, 1843, Lord Tarquin Norwich visits an enchantress named Freya Bates who also calls herself Mother of Craft, to ask if she will locate the Toymaker, Indigo Peachtree and his journal. She claims she cannot find him, but knows of two others who can. Outlaw brothers, Joaquin and Pierce Landcross. She tells him where they’ll be and when, and instructs Tarquin to use all his children to capture them.
Tarquin does as Freya advises and leaves north to Bristol with his oldest son, Ivor, to seize Joaquin and sends his youngest boy, Archie, and daughter, Clover to Le Havre, France to snare Pierce.
They achieve in doing so, however, on their return trip across the English Channel, Pierce is rescued by Chief Sea Wind, commander of the legendary Sea Warriors. Instead of fleeing with his mates on board their ship, the Ekta, Pierce strikes a deal with Archie to help locate Indigo in exchange for the journal.
And so, the adventure begins!
Pierce Landcross has been arrested by the royal guards and is being taken back to London to face trial. On the way, Lieutenant Darius Javan informs Pierce his parents, Nona and Jasper, are imprisoned at Newgate Prison. That evening, the soldiers make camp, and in the dead of night, they’re attacked by a supernatural assailant who frees Pierce. The outlaw thief heads for London where he’s reunited with Archie and Clover. With the help of Clover and an old friend from his days as a smuggler, Juan Fan, Pierce crafts out a plan and goes in to save his folks.
Locked away with his parents is a beautiful young Russian woman named Taisia Kuzentsov. After hitting a snag, Pierce barely succeeds in getting everyone out. They regroup at Fan’s opium den where Nona and Jasper tell Pierce they had come to London to see a lawyer about an inheritance left to them. Pierce goes to the lawyer, Christopher Ainsworth, and finds out that in order to gain the loot, Pierce has to follow a series of clues through the Netherlands to its location. While his parents leave for New Forest to stay with Indigo Peachtree, Pierce and Taisia set off on their mission.
Meanwhile, the greedy lawyer sends a dangerous bounty hunter, Rupert Swansea, out to tail Pierce in order to lead them to the wealth. The bounty hunter soon discovers he’s actually following none other than Britain’s most wanted thief! He then makes plans of his own.
With every clue found, Pierce and Taisia uncover secrets about Pierce’s family and come to realize there is more to the inheritance than they ever thought.
Pierce’s estranged older brother, Joaquin Landcross, finds his way back to the family. He’s very sick and is dying of a mysterious illness. After doing some investigating, they learn the virus is no ordinary disease and to save him they must travel to Edinburgh, Scotland and locate a hustler named Faolan Shea who will lead them to a demon. Pierce, Taisia and Joaquin head north, eventually finding the hustler in the underground section of the city called Mary King’s Close.
Faolan takes them to the demon’s owner. A hitch in their plan occurs when the demon’s master turns out to be Coira MaCcrum, Edinburgh’s illegal whisky brewer and old enemy of Pierce’s. While Pierce does his best to stay out of sight, Joaquin and Taisia approach Coira and request to see her enslaved demon. She agrees, but only if they retrieve her stolen canister from the infamous Hellfire Club. The group has little choice, to save Joaquin they must accept the mission.
With time running out, everyone does what they can quickly before the illness takes Joaquin. Soon he is faced with a decision to become healed, but only if he pays a hefty price that involves the life of his younger brother.
After weeks at sea, the Ekta, drops anchor near the Apache village in Sonora, Mexico. Chief Sea Wind introduces Pierce and his family to the tribe. At the city of Guaymas, an annual Industrial race catches Pierce’s interests. He also meets a gorgeous gear head named Emma Rojas, and an Australasian snake-oil traveling salesman, Jaxton Beau.
A living character from the Old Testament named Gog, wanders the universe with his nomadic tribe of Goth ghosts. After centuries of roaming, he yearns for something new and when he spots Taisia at a festival, he instantly knows what he wants—a mate. To have her, though, he must first get rid of her husband.
While at the races, Pierce gets into trouble when Gog causes a massive accident and has Pierce take the fall. The crowd demands satisfaction from Sheriff Emmanuel Flores, who is tempted to allow Pierce to be lynched when Jaxton comes to his rescue. He lies to the sheriff about Pierce being a bounty hunter and suggests that he hunts down the four bandits who have robbed a bank the day before. Sheriff Flores agrees and in exchange, Pierce can pay off his debt for the damages done. If he fails, however, the consequences will be dire, not only for Pierce but for the Apache tribe who the sheriff despises. With the help of Emma and Jaxton, they begin hunting the bandits down. During this time, Gog tries to woo Taisia.
Pierce and Taisia’s love is put to the ultimate test and all the while Pierce tries desperately to set things right before he loses everything.
The Forgotten Story
Britain’s infamous ex-thief is living a stabled life on the island of Maui with his family. The years of bliss come to an end when a series of violent and extremely graphic visions about the Sea Warriors and his old mate, Robert Blackbird, are sent to him by Freya Bates who wants to lure Pierce back to England.
If he doesn’t leave his home, his friends will die, and so he travels to New Orleans where the Sea Warriors are jailed.
He manages a jailbreak and gets the crew to the Ekta where they sail off to France. Pierce sets off to save Robert from being gunned down by bounty hunters. Robert is getting ready to flee to London where his wife, Penelope, and his children are.
With Robert safe, Pierce returns to the Sea Warriors only to find out that the Ekta has sustained thousands in damages during the voyage across the Atlantic. Pierce remembers that Joaquin had once told him about eight thousand pounds he buried at the Major Oak Tree in Sherwood Forest some years back. Pierce leaves for England and takes a steam locomotive north.
While on this errand, there’s an accident involving explosives, and a botched train robbery. Pierce is pegged as the ringleader of the gang reasonable, and overnight he’s put back on England’s most wanted list!
As Pierce tries to escape out of the country and go back to France where the Sea Warriors wait for him, his most feared enemy, Volker Jäger, has resurfaced and is looking for revenge.
Pierce travels with gypsies to London in an attempt to sail out of England on a private boat owned by someone special from his past, Frederica Katz. When he arrives in London, he hunts down Robert Blackbird. Pierce’s hopes of fleeing are dashed when Robert informs him the Queen has ordered her naval fleet to search every vessel leaving England for him. Pierce’s only way out has been cut off.
Robert and Penelope decide to harbor Pierce until things die down enough for him to try for an escape. One night, Robert and Penelope leave to see a play. Pierce believes things will be all right until Freya pays him a visit. She claims that his friends will die if he doesn’t go to them. Pierce understands it’s a trap, but he has little choice. He goes to the theater where Volker is there in the audience. He has his men with him and sends them off to assassinate Queen Victoria who is also there enjoying the play. Pierce is drawn out, putting himself in the forefront of danger.
With the walls closing in, his chances of returning home to his family, waiting for him on the other side of the globe, narrows greatly.
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Click here for our interview with Michelle in the May issue of Brave Wings.