I have read that the first sentence in the first paragraph of a story must grab the reader.
The first sentence should give the reader some idea of the tone or the mind set they need to expect to use when starting their involvement in the story. Who will they expect to meet there in the story? What’s in it for the reader to spend time in the story.
Then of course the writer would just love to give an information dump to get the reader up to speed. But life is not that way. Normally in life we just join in where ever and try to figure it out. Again the reader’s benefit and imagination must be stimulated to get them to move ahead – to just join in – discovering both the characters and the point of reading the story.
So I decided after writing chapter one, that something was missing. There needed to be true benefit to the reader right up front. What could I give the reader’s imagination that would motivate them to read this story?
Alastar Whybow, demands no introduction, he just moves ahead and does what he does best. In a prologue I decided to land the reader with both feet on the ground right there beside Whybow within his work, his intentions, his dilemmas and his interaction with those that matter to him. Alastar working and investigating for a guild he is aligned with, on a hunch he has about what he thinks is happening in the world through the use of magick. Who better suited than a ceremonial magician with years of experience and a history of practicing on both sides.
Of course he meets his target and while doing so we get to know his working companion in this mage’s guild, Edita Plotke. Edita is equally competent in the craft and methodical in her work as a magician. His target a young woman who does not know who or what she is at this point. A young woman who he must guide in to a realization of her uniqueness. Whybow feels he also knows time is not on his side to accomplish what he suspects is needed with his target Candice le Wilde.
The photo above is Art by Tomasz Alen Kopera. I thought it best represented the beginning of the work of Alastar and Edita – full of magick and nature – bringing the light & dark – helping Candice realize her purpose.
Reader Support of up coming Chapters in | The Unicorn Rider | Book 1
The Story is free to read, but Reader/Fan support of Anna Le Doux is very, very much appreciated!
In preparation for lowering the driver’s window, Alastar took off his white panama fedora tossing it into the passenger seat. The black 1963 Porsche Carrera was backed into an alley, but still blocking the sidewalk to afford a full view of down the street. The warm humid air rolled into the car and clung to his freshly pressed dress shirt.
“Yes, yes I am sure of the location and what it means,” Alastar Whybow said to the Skype feed on his cell phone. He again lifted the faceted lapis stone pendulum at the end of a long elegant silver chain and witnessed its characteristic energetic dance.
“I see your results too Alastar,” Edita Plotke said in a low nonplussed voice trying not to sound too surprised.
Alastar with a flick of his left wrist pulled in the dowsing pendulum and its chain into his hand, then slipped it into the pocket of his tan linen dockers. “The estate has been in the hands of a very eccentric family and recently passed to an Ana Berisha from her son-in-law who’s work we all are familiar with. I am just surprised Osbert Stanhope ended up here. He had been farther north. Something must have happened and now we are faced with this possible transition. Edita, you saw how the pendulum reacted. There is more to this than a portal or at the least a well source. There is a rider concealed here too.” Alastar became silent for a moment. “The involved individual may not suspect or grasp the importance yet of events. That is if there has not been any contact by the Guild Maleficia for this person to deal with.” Alastar said, as he squinted out the open car window up the narrow street to the maison, that reflected back the golden morning sun.
Edita appeared to look down in the Skype phone image as if totally preoccupied with the straightening of the seams of her dark red high collared ceremonial robe. Letting a short breath out she said, “Yes, it was very unfortunate about Osbert. He was a good friend. He had a familiar that worked with him. I wonder what became of it? I am also wondering how this Ana Berisha came into the picture to now hold this property? The estate was held jointly by his brother Osborn and himself, I heard. Could Miss Berisha have had something to do with the disappearance of Osbert? But still none of this answers the real question about your results Alastar.”
“I know. I must do some actual footwork now. You know the kind you hate. Find out what is really happening and who is involved.” Alastar said, as he rolled back up the driver’s side window. “I will be out of contact for a while, but I am sure you will be able to keep tabs on me from where you are Edita as you always do.”
“You are not hard to miss Alastar. The problem too being without your usual concealment deployed, even Maleficia will know something is afoot. If they had something to do with Osbert, even they will know what it is you are looking for. They may know already what you will find too.” Edita said making preparations to break cell phone connection and go to her more conventional ways of following events in the world through scrying.
Alastar reached for his hat and then his brown dress jacket from behind the passenger seat as he got out of the Porsche. Making sure he had his keys in hand he looked into the cell phone. “Edita see you soon in a call or in person which ever should happen first.” Alastar tapped the screen on the cell phone and the image of Edita faded as he placed the phone into the side pocket of his jacket. Brushing off his slacks and straightening his white fedora to a slight slant on his short reddish hair Alastar walked away from his car and up the street.
Alastar saw at the end of the block a slender figure of a blonde young woman struggling with a number of books, a purse and a backpack. She had come out of the alley entrance for the house he had been observing. Allowing the girl to walk ahead he followed undetected attempting to get a feel for what and who she was before making his first contact with her. Alastar sensed determination and a purpose about her. He had no problem negotiating the changing texture of the sidewalk between concrete and cobble stone. The girl seemed to transition well these differences wearing her black spiked heels, that is until she came to a house with a long stretch of short decoratively pointed wrought iron fencing out front of it. This fencing enclosed a thick over growth of Calendula flowers. Alastar noted them since he had used this particular type flower in the past in healing oils. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the shadows change almost without his notice. The girl stumbled. Alastar covered the gap between them in an effortless sprint that defied time. He grabbed hold of the least burdened of the girl’s arms and pulled her away from eminent contact with the protruding spear like points of the wrought iron fence. The girl let out a breathless forced vocalization and came to a halt with books and pack still intact.
“There you go miss,” Alastar said as he let go of her arm once he sensed she was in control again of her faculties. “The heat must have made you dizzy?”
“No I am fine,” Candice said attempting to hold all of her books with one arm, while working down her short skirt with her free hand. The same hand she quickly offered to Alastar in greeting. “I must have tripped. Thank you for your help.”
Alastar could tell she was still unaware of what had just been avoided. He looked at the spot where she was almost impaled by the fence and saw a faint darkened discoloration of the spikes. His eyes casually rejoined the girl’s gaze at him. “Yes, a good catch. My name is Alastar Whybow,” he said with a slight bow from the waist once his hand was free from her’s.
“I am Candice le Wilde,” she said still struggling with her load of books, laptop and backpack. “Do you live near by Mr. Whybow?”
“No, I was passing through town on the way to the train station in Brookhaven, but heard about a mail drop business service near by. I decided to check it out to see if it were reputable. Since I pass through this village often in my line of work I thought it would be fortunate to find the very thing I need to keep in contact with my clients here.” Alastar said, offering his own hands to hold the books held in Candice’s arms.
“Yes, I have that business Mr. Whybow. Is there something you would like to know about it?” Candice said in earnest to a potential customer. Her hands now free to get the small purse off of her shoulder and find a business card to give to Mr. Whybow.
“Excellent then. I would so appreciate your card. How long have you had your new business Miss Candice. Are you new to town as well?” Alastar said, picking up on this opening to ask a few questions that might not be appropriate at another time. Turning his head toward the direction of the house. “How old is the house? It looks amazing from the outside.”
“I decided the house was just right to begin a business in due to its central location near the pier and the detour from the main road someway out side of the village. I felt the place offered a safe and secure location for businesses to establish a presence in this area. My grandmother gifted me the house from my family’s estate holdings. I feel very lucky. It feels like home to me.” Candice said, by way of a condensed explanation to Mr. Whybow’s questions. She was hoping to catch his interest in her business.
“I would imagine it has many of the typical Victorian amenities. Did it come furnished? That would be amazing. Is there a typical well as found in most turn of the period homes for house hold use? If so the water must be full of minerals and sweetness.” Alastar said, leading the conversation into necessary inquiries of the moment.
“Yes, there is a functioning well in the northern part of the basement and the water is as you describe,” Candice gushed. There were plenty of furnishings, so much so that there was no need to purchase any additional at this point. Are you interested in the Victorian era Mr. Whybow?”
“No, just in how people manage to use what antiquities come to them in their normal life,” Alastar said, with a rounding motion of his book laden hands. “Why don’t I walk you to your destination Miss Candice.”
“Oh yes certainly Mr. Whybow. You must be in a hurry to get back on the road and to your next appointments.” Candice said in a swift and professional way fitting a business owner she thought to herself.
Alastar kept an eye open to any more shifting shadows mingling with the landscape as they arrived at the Jazz Club.
“Well here it is. I want to thank you for all of your help Mr. Whybow. Really if you need to use the services of a mail drop I would be only too happy to help you sir.” Candice said grasping firmly the burden of books from Mr. Whybow’s arms.
“Yes, now that I have your card and a very thorough description of the services you provide. Yes, you will be hearing from me.” Alastar said, with the gesture of slightly tipping his panama hat towards Candice. “Oh yes, by the way, I am wondering if you have met any other theatrical booking agent types or actors who also use your business at this time? I may know them.” Alastar said as a broached parting aside to Candice.
“No, I have not met anyone like that Mr. Whybow; though I do try to keep that sort of information confidential as part of the services offered.” Candice said, giving an answer only in appreciation for what this potential customer and apparent gentleman had done for her.
“Oh, so I will be the first then,” Alastar said smiling. “I am sure what business trade I add to your budding business will be of great interest to you. I also appreciate your enforcing the services of confidentiality toward all of your clients. I will be contacting you soon.” Turning about on his heel with a nod Alastar headed back the same direction they had come. The purpose was to retrace his steps observing for any thing unusual and then to stop at the wrought iron fencing to drop a clean handkerchief over a selected spike to gain a sample of whatever discolored the blacken metal there.
Once back to his car and seated in side out of the heat of the mid-morning sun. Alastar reached over to the Porsche’s glove compartment and pulled out from there a well used folded brown leather sleeve. In the sleeve were rows of liquid reagents all very colorful and securely corked. Alastar opened the well marked handkerchief and dripped a few sample drops from a select few of these ampules. None but the last gave a reaction of a slight stench of burnt flesh and a color reaction similar in appearance to dark fresh blood. Alastar shook his head, while pulling out his cell phone snapping a picture of the result. The title of the picture to be sent to Edita was simply, “they are here”.