About Me

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My name is Richie Earl. I'm a forty-something Indie Author, writing YA fantasy novels. I have self-published two books in the Tales of Finndragon Series: The Legend of Finndragon's Curse and Return to Finndragon's Den. In creating One Thousand Worlds in One Thousand Words, I hope to give other authors some valuable exposure, and help them find readers and success.

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Day The Curse Came Down

I'll never forget that day when the curse of Finndragon befell Castell y Mynydd and all of the Kingdom of Morgannwg, even if I live another fifteen hundred years. I had been serving as apprentice wizard to Myrddin for just over a year and he was still filling my time with the most unpleasant tasks, whilst neglecting my tuition in the arts of magic making.

That entire sunny day had been spent scrabbling around at the bottom of the large, filthy duckpond, trying to gather the roots of the countless reeds that adorned the pond. Apart from being dirty, the water was very cold particularly at the bottom which, in the middle, was about twice as deep as I am tall. The task was especially difficult as I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face. And of all the days to have such a duty, it had to be right in the middle of the Feast of August when everyone else in the kingdom were having so much fun at King Dafydd's castle.

Of course I had tried to get out of it in the first place, "I can't swim!" I objected, but Myrddin was having none of my excuses.

"You won't need to swim boy, just crawl along the bottom and pull out the roots, but be careful not to damage them as I need them intact for my spells!" he had shouted violently at me.

I don't know why, but I don't think that Myrddin liked me very much. Nevertheless I continued to plea my case, "The water is very deep, so I won't be able to get to the bottom!"

"Don't you think that I'd thought of that, you idiot. You can tie this sack around your waist, I've weighed it down with heavy stones. There's plenty of room in there for the roots too!"

"But I will surely drown if I am weighed down, then what use will I be to you, Master?"

By the look on his face I could see that Myrddin had just about lost his patience with me and the next words he hurled at me were streaked with malice. "I am Myrddin, the mighty wizard to King Dafydd, the ruler of the most powerful kingdom in Wales!" He spat each syllable, covering me in tiny beads of his saliva.

"Don't you think that I would have a spell suitable for such a task?"

With that he swirled an arm around his head and then swung it in my direction. I felt nothing at first, but then a strange sensation came over me. My chest seemed to tighten and try as I might I could not get any breath into my aching lungs. I could feel me eyes starting to bulge and I put my hands to my throat, vainly hoping that that would somehow help. Myrddin stood there laughing and passers-by stopped to see what the fuss was about. In any other circumstance I would probably have felt embarrassed, but at this moment the only emotion that I had was of sheer panic. 

Myrddin continued to laugh as he tied the heavy sack around my waist and I sensed a blackness creeping up on me as my eyes became heavy. The crowd slowly disappeared from the edges of my vision and now all I could see was Myrddin as he started to push me towards the pond. I could barely stand and I staggered, stumbled and then fell to my knees on the water's edge. I knew at that moment that I was about to die, it felt as if I were drowning on dry land.

Then just as I felt that I could last no longer, Myrddin kicked me in the small of my back and sent me sprawling into the muddy water. "You must fill the bag with roots and only then will the spell wear off!" he half laughed, half shouted.

I splashed head first into the pond still gasping for air and my lungs quickly filled with the stagnant, slimy disgusting water. But then the most amazing thing happened; gradually I realised that the suffocating feeling was slipping away and I could actually breath. After a couple of minutes of being half submerged, my head cleared and the pain had left my chest. I pushed my head up and out of the water and struggled to get to my feet due to the weight of the still attached sack. My head had barely been out of the water for a few seconds when the awful feeling of breathlessness returned.

"You are an idiot Gwayne," Myrddin roared with laughter. "Get back into the pond and you will be able to breath water. Fill the sack and you must get out quickly, because you will once again need air."

So I had little choice other than to do as my master had ordered. I didn't know how long I had been down there, but I must have spent many hours clawing at the muddy bottom, pulling out the reeds by their roots, but always being careful not to damage them. When the bag was nearly full I tried to find my way to the shallower water near the edge of the pond. I popped my head out of the water quickly and was surprised to find that it was night-time; the bright sunshine having been replaced by a brightly glowing full moon. I resumed my task and ripped up the last few reeds that I needed to fill the sack. Myrddin was right, for as soon as it was full I was overcome by a new feeling of drowning, a true feeling as I was now actually drowning. 

I stood tall and scrambled out of the water, coughing violently for several minutes before my breathing returned to normal, much to my relief. I was lying on my back thinking that as long as I live, nothing as awful or frightening could ever befall me again, but then a terrible storm came up from nowhere. Suddenly everything was in pitch darkness except for Castell y Mynydd, which was illuminated by a single shaft of moonlight. Every fire and light within the castle was extinguished by the howling wind and the lashing rain. The waters in the pond began to bubble and boil and the ground began to shake.

I saw Myrddin rushing by, saving himself by turning into a hawk as he fled, and he flew away before the kingdom sank into the earth. Everything began to spin around violently in the same way as water gets sucked into a whirlpool. Then a mountain rose up above the spot where the kingdom had been just a minute before. Orange flames suddenly, but dimly illuminated the whole land.

Everything changed that day and has been the same ever since. Fifteen hundred years spent in the largest cave imaginable waiting and hoping for someone to break Finndragon's Curse. And I still have a large sack, full of the roots of all those filthy reeds!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Hello Again

Hello again, sorry that it's been so long, but there's been so much going on lately. Some old friends have returned to the Kingdom of Morgannwg and it's been great to see them. The last couple of months where you are has been over two years down here. Don't ask me how that's possible, it just is. All manner of unusual things happen here since the curse.

I think I'd better update you on what's been happening. Well since I spoke to you last Finndragon has unleashed a new demon upon us. It is bigger, faster and far more fearsome than any beast I have ever seen.

I've also been very busy practicing my magic. Emma, Megan and Scott's father James has been helping me a little. I'm very pleased with my progress, but I'm still no match for Finndragon; I don't think that there will ever be such a magnificent magician, or such an evil one.

Emma has brought some interesting things with her from the 21st century, although I had an unfortunate experience with one of them. I can't go into that just now, but I'm sure that you'll find out. All I can say is that there was much merriment at my expense.

Megan asked me a good question the other day, she said "Could medieval magic work in the modern world above?" As I've never been to this world of theirs, you know the one that you live in, I couldn't really answer that for sure.

Magic is magic and I would guess that my magic would work anywhere. I just need my spell book, potions and my amulet, but as I'm trapped by Finndragon's Curse I'll never be able to visit your world.

What worries Emma is that Finndragon might be able to get through Finndragon's Gate and find his way to your time and place. Now if that happened I don't think that even with all the wonderful inventions that she has told me about, that have come about over the last fifteen hundred years, anyone would be able to stop him.

His demons would bring havoc to any place that the evil wizard should decide to send them and that gives us one more reason why we must break his curse.

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Making of a Wizard

So Finndragon had cursed the Kingdom of Morgannwg and the cowardly Myrddin had fled leaving me with no master wizard to teach me the finer arts of wizardry. The few lessons that Myrddin had taken the time to teach me hardly stood me in good stead to progress to the position of a powerful wizard that I so craved.

You may wonder as to what exactly makes a wizard. Truly great wizards, such as Finndragon, are born with magic coursing through their veins, whilst others have to learn the art over a very long period from their master. It would take even great wizards many years to attain the incredible power of one such as Finndragon, who is probably the greatest that there has ever been. It is said that although he was an old man, he had been able to cast a spell on himself in his later years that had virtually stopped the march of time for him. Thus he had now lived at least five lifetimes.  Unfortunately I fall into the latter category and I now had no master, but I had at least learnt from Myrddin that there are four main aspects to creating a spell:

1) You need a good book of spells. Every wizard has at least one book of spells. Sometimes a book is passed down from a master wizard to his apprentice, but I had been left with Myrddin's as he had no time to collect his belongings before fleeing.

2) A good stock of ingredients for the potions and lotions required to perform a spell are essential. A wizard may take a lifetime gathering all the necessary items to be able to cast any number of spells. Again I was fortunate enough to have been left with everything that had once been Myrddin's.

3) A successful wizard must be able to incantate the relevant spell in a tone suitable for that spell, taking great care to pronounce each word clearly. Alas I had not had anywhere near enough tuition in this important aspect of spell casting. Myrddin had told me on more than one occasion that a spell spoken in the wrong tone could lead to all manner of unexpected and unwanted results. I was to learn at first hand, and on many occasions, how easy it is to get a spell totally wrong just by using the wrong quality of voice.

4) Most importantly, a wizard has to be able to harness the many spirits that are always around us, but are never seen. Spirits that most people will never even know exist. There are good spirits, bad spirits and even mischievous spirits who take a great delight in having fun with a novice wizard. At least Myrddin had helped me to channel my will onto these spirits by giving me what looked like a plain small pebble. I was very surprised at how much importance he had placed upon the simple stone. "When casting a spell it is essential that you focus all of your power into the stone," he had told me during my third and final lesson before he decamped. "Always keep the stone about your person and never let anyone else know that you have it!" So I threaded a thin leather strap through a small hole that seemed ready made for such a purpose and hung it around my neck, the strap long enough to let the stone fall below my tunic and remain out of sight. Unfortunately he didn't explain exactly why this stone was required. It was only when I first tried to cast spells that I realised that this was no ordinary stone as it started to pulsate and began to glow a bright red colour. This was repeated every time I tried to use my magic, but glowing different colours each time.

So here was I, left high and dry, in a world plunged into the bowels of the earth. King Dafydd soon sought me out, hopeful that I may have learnt enough from Myrddin to be of some service to him. He quickly realised that I would be of no use and I was left to my own devices.

For centuries I tried to teach myself the craft of magic, but without even the slightest encouragement of a wholly successful spell, until one day I was visited by a strange group of children. The day that I met Emma, Megan and Scott was the day that I at last started to fulfil the potential that until then only I believed that I had.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

In The Beginning

Is this curse thing a load of old infertile bullocks, you might be entitled to ask? Myths, legends, fairy tales, folk lore; there can be no, or very little, truth in all that nonsense. But throughout time there have been stories of Giants, Banshees, Cyclops, Minotaurs, Phoenix and Griffins, to name but a few.

When I was a young lad; well I'm still a young lad, but what I mean is that a long time ago Finndragon's Curse really did happen. I can just about remember the day that majestic Castell y Mynydd was completed. It was a glorious summer's day and the wonderful sun shone down and blessed all of the people in the Kingdom of Morgannwg. The wonderful Welsh realm had been ruled by King Dafydd, who was widely known as The Defiant. This was due to the way that he had been able to repel all would be attackers from the other side of what today is called Offa's Dyke, for many years. But that King Offa had a cheek trying to claim that he had constructed the whole of the dyke.

For two centuries before that, Dafydd's magician Finndragon had raised an earthen barrier that protected the whole of  Morgannwg from attacks from the east. And I should know because I, Gwayne, was there that amazing day to watch the mighty wizard lift his hands to the sky. I looked on in wonder as he strained every sinew in his body as the ground shook and then sprung up before my very eyes. That was the day that I knew that I too would one day be a mighty wizard! Offa may have continued that dyke to the north and the south, but a large section was already there before him.

So Morgannwg was well protected and so were its people who dwelt in and around the almighty castle. Soon after, I got my wish to be a wizard, well an apprentice wizard; you have to start somewhere, don't you? I was taken on by Myrddin, who was still quite young himself, but I soon came to realise that he too was a very powerful maker of magic. It was with great excitement that I began my apprenticeship; I expected to be performing all manner of wonderful spells, but alas, all that I was allowed to do for almost two years was collect ingredients for Myrddin's spells. It was absolutely awful, I can tell you!

OK, there must have been some good times, but all that I can remember is the dirty, smelly jobs that I had to do. If you've never stood behind a cow in calf, who's about to give birth, then you probably don't know what I mean. And if you've never had to scrape bat dung from the floor of a cave, then you would find it hard to place yourself in my shoes.

But I loyally followed all of Myrddin's orders, with the promise that he would soon start my tuition in magic and wizardry. It was about that time that Finndragon got banished from Morgannwg and Myrddin got the job of Court Wizard. I couldn't believe my luck; here was I, Gwayne, about to become apprentice to the King's wizard. I only had to bide my time, obey my master and one day.... yes one day it would be mine.

I have to admit that I hardly paid any attention to that old curse, you know the one where Finndragon warned that unless his exile was lifted, he would sink the Kingdom of  Morgannwg into the earth and all that. I was just so excited that I would be living in the palace with Myrddin and our king. But that no good Myrddin had no intention of taking me into the palace with him. He made me look after his dwelling and all of his lotions and potions whilst he lived it up with the nobles and the gentry. He may have occasionally given me a little instruction in the art of wizardry, but I was not progressing as well as I had hoped.

More than once I told Myrddin that I had had enough and no longer wanted to be his apprentice, but he wouldn't let me go, threatening to turn me into all manner of unmentionable and unimaginable creatures. So there I stayed until the fateful day that Finndragon's Curse befell my beloved land.

It was exactly a year after Finndragon’s banishment, with a full moon in the beautiful night sky, that a terrible storm came up from nowhere, right in the middle of the Feast of August. Suddenly everything was in pitch darkness except for Castell y Mynydd, which was illuminated by a single shaft of moonlight. Every fire and light within the castle was extinguished by the howling wind and the lashing rain. The waters in the moat began to bubble and boil and the ground began to shake.

Myrddin's magic was not yet powerful enough to stop Finndragon’s Curse as he had claimed. So the coward saved himself by turning into a hawk and he flew away before the kingdom sank into the earth, and a mountain rose up above the spot where it had stood, but Dafydd and everyone and everything else weren’t so lucky.

Well that's Finndragon's Curse for you; believe it to be a legend if you will. But beware, because Finndragon still lives and his demons persecute us all and we are only just beneath your very feet!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Mobile Phones and Magic

Well I am really struggling with this technology thing-a-me-jig, I have to say. Just talking into this mobile phone as Emma calls it and seeing my words magically appear on the screen blows my mind. Where (or should I say when) I come from we are still living in the Dark Ages! But Emma has given me an insight into life in the 21st century - that's where she says that she's from. I can't say that I believe everything that she tells me though - I can just about believe in flying machines. After all, there's a spell in my book that I have tried, OK it didn't exactly work, but I'm sure that it could if only I was a better wizard. But I know that she is playing me for a fool when she says that men have walked on the moon - I may be a little bit dumb sometimes, but I'm not stupid you know!

I would love to be able to visit Emma's world; if she can come to mine, then why can't I go to hers? Oh, that's right, how could I forget about the curse - I'm not going anywhere. I've been stuck here for 1500 years and I'll be here until the end of time because of this damned curse.

I guess that you must be wondering - what's he blathering on about, what is this curse? Well Finndragon fell out with King Dafydd; probably about a woman and the king banished him from the land. Now Finndragon didn't take too kindly to that, as you might imagine and he said, "Unless you lift my banishment before thirteen moons light the sky, then you, your castle, kingdom and everything in it shall sink into the earth and be set upon by monsters and demons until the end of time and never be seen again."

And so, here we all are just like....oh sorry got to dash. Here come those dastardly demons again. Oh, I mustn't forget to tell you about some inter-web thing-a-me-jig http://www.finndragon.com that Emma thought you could take a look at. Bye, got to go now. LOOK OUT!!!