Authors: G.M. Dyrek
SPEAR OF DESTINY
A MEDIEVAL MURDER MYSTERY
Published by Luminis Books
1950 East Greyhound Pass, #18, PMB 280,
Carmel, Indiana, 46033, U.S.A.
Copyright Â© G.M. Dyrek, 2011
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover art design and interior illustrations for
Spear of Destiny
by G.M. Dyrek.
Cover art direction by G.M. Dyrek and Elynn Cohen.
Medieval border adapted from engraving by Master I. A. M. of Zwolle, The
Netherlands, 1480-1490, entitled “Allegory of the Transience of Life.”
Printed in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To Jeff and David,
my encouragers, and to
Hildegard and Volmar, their
I'd like to credit all my brilliant teachers who have influenced me over the past years with their finely crafted murder mysteries: Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, P.D. James, Umberto Eco, Ken Follett, Ellis Peters, Peter Tremayne, Laurie R. King, Ariana Franklin, to name a few of my favorites. Reading murder mysteries has always been a secret indulgence of mine and like any artistic apprentice, I've learned so much from these talented authors and owe them all an enormous debt of gratitude. On a similar note, I'd like to thank those authors that have taught me about the 12
century and Hildegard's life and works, namely the works of Barbara Newman, Sabina Flanagan, Barbara Lachman, Anna Silvas, Priscilla Throop, Dr. Wighard Strehlow, Dr. Gottfried Hertzka, and Matthew Fox. It has been their meticulous research and translations which have fueled and enlightened my own research. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.
On a more personal note, I'd like to express my deepest heartfelt appreciation to my son David, who from infancy on has shaped my passion for storytelling and has always been my most enthusiastic supporter. As my first critic on the earlier drafts, his insightful comments strengthened the story considerably. I also owe a special thanks to my niece, Melissa McIntosh, whose image appears on the cover as Hildegard and my son David who posed as Volmar for both the cover and the inside illustrations. I will always be indebted to my husband Jeff, who has endured with such loving patience the temperament of a dreamer and optimist, while tirelessly editing my works over the years.
None of this, however, would have been possible without the kind support, advice, and encouragement of my editor and publisher at Luminis Books, Chris Katsaropoulos, and the market director and president, Tracy Richardson.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE SEER AND THE SCRIBE:
“Dyrek draws readers into the world of medieval monastic life with a keen knowledge of the era and an eye for compelling characters. Opening the book will feel like stepping back into a long ago world of mystery, murder, and faith.”
A. LaFaye, award-winning author of
The Seer and the Scribe
has created almost a new genre; the book is a mixture of historical fiction, mystery, fantasy, and romance. The historical fiction takes place in the untapped 12
century, including secret societies, religious life, and the hierarchy of those in power. The twists and turns in the book weave a masterful and intriguing plot that appeals to a wide audience.”
Jim David, Seventh grade Social Studies teacher
“This book takes you on a wonderful journey suitable for readers of any age.
The Seer and the Scribe
was captivating from page one, and my only complaint is that it had to end so quickly. I am anxiously awaiting Book Two and the further adventures of Volmar and Hildegard.”
Dr. Joel K. Barnes, Assistant Principal, Cleveland Middle School
THE SEER AND THE SCRIBE
SPEAR OF DESTINY
A MEDIEVAL MURDER MYSTERY
At the Porter's Gates of Disibodenberg Monastery
of November, Thursday, in the Year of Our Lord 1102
“There are no mysteries here, my son, no secrets, and certainly no romance. The brotherhood will be your new family. Through these gates, you will find only peace and quiet.” The words were whispered by the venerable lord Abbot Burchard, whose chilled, wraith-like breath wrapped around the trembling boy like a shroud.
There are truths worth knowing; yet, lies sometimes can feel better than truths. Volmar had seen more in his seven years than most, and knew a lie when he heard one. Nowhere on this earth would he find peace to still the inner torment he felt. Why not welcome this lie from the kindly holy stranger who promised him a new family, peace, and a quiet sanctuary away from the pain of his life?
“Please sir, Anya has a fever and needs medicine.” Volmar spoke these words with clarity, having at last found his voice, his diction leaving no doubt of his upper-class pedigree. He reached awkwardly for a coin from his finely-tooled leather pouch, still trying to cradle his younger sister's limp, lifeless head.
The Abbot grimaced, knowing the difficulty any child had in facing the finality of death. “Keep your gold coins, son, only the Lord can save Anya. You must let her go, for she is in His care now.”
Beyond exhaustion, beyond hunger, Volmar knew he had no fight left in him to resist. He lowered his deep-set, smoldering blue eyes and surrendered. There were no more tears left in him to be shed. Abbot Burchard gently lifted Anya, the last member of Volmar's family, from his arms forever.
The Stables of Disibodenberg Monastery
of March, Wednesday, in the Year of Our Lord 1104
“Take that, you belching beast!” Volmar swung hard, his long thin stick stinging the air, hitting the imaginary dragon directly between the eyes, cutting it in half. “Volmar!” Brother Hugo, the Keeper of the Stables, yelled out, his stern voice breaking into the boy's daydream with grim vengeance.
“I'm coming,” Volmar said, tossing his weapon into the grove of fruit trees and scooping up the pail of water he'd gone to the well to fetch. He raced back down the path from the well, the bucket cradled steadily in his arms so the water wouldn't slosh over the sides.
Dutifully, Volmar went to the trough in the stable and filled it with the cold water. He nodded to the sheep and pigs, acknowledging their bleating and grunts of thanks. He turned the bucket upside down and sat on it, warmed by the heat of the animals. By tending the livestock at the monastery he had learned the languages of the different animals and how to care for them, appreciating their simple, direct voices. People, though, were different, he mused. There was always tension between their spirits and the world, a tension which caused their voices to be discordant and misunderstood. Not so with animals.
“Come over here, son, I want to show you one of life's miracles.” Hugo was a morose, uncommunicative monk and spoke to others only on rare occasions. However, towards Volmar he talked continuously. It was as if he held a never-ending conversation with his young apprentice from sunup to sundown, going from one thought to the next with little pause.
“Let me ask you, Volmar . . . Is reflection a vain pursuit?” he queried his young protÃ©gÃ©.
Volmar rose from the upturned bucket he had been sitting on, shaking his head automatically in dissent. He knew what was coming next.
“I think not, my boy, for it allows us frail beings an opportunity to forget death and the endless, relentless march of time. It allows us to reflect on what lives on, beyond our years on God's green earth.”
Hugo reached into the compost pile with his bare hands and pulled up a fist full of greyish leathery-looking maggots. “Look here, Volmar. There is such complexity in God's design, that these tiny maggots with their sharp little teeth give us the rich soil that puts food on our table and sustains our lives. Here, son, feel life's mystery.” Hugo opened Volmar's hand and dropped the crawling black dirt into it.
Volmar cringed, remembering he had mucked out the stalls of the horses only this morning, while they smelled disgustingly of fresh manure. How could he tell his kindly Stable Master that he could not stand it whenever his hands were dirty?
“Ah, breathe it in, son. Don't you just relish the beauty of God's magnificent plan?”
The rusting iron gate swung open and Brother Paulus, the Infirmarian,
walked in carrying a small scroll in his large hand.
“Good day, Brother Hugo,” Paulus said, greeting the man whose face had suddenly turned upside down into a frown. Brother Paulus's voice was rich and deep, fitting for a man of his gargantuan
Volmar, supremely grateful for the diversion Paulus caused, allowed the fistful of maggots to fall through his fingers and wiped his hands quickly against the front of his loose, white wool shirt. The boy noticed with surprise that Hugo was treating this man's visit warily, as a dog would to another dog who invaded his territory.
“I'm working . . . which I see you are not,” Hugo said with little humor, forgoing any polite introductions.
“I shall be blunt, Hugo, for I know you prefer it that way.” Paulus unrolled the parchment and handed it over to the stable master. “Abbot Burchard has agreed that Volmar becomes my personal apprentice. His writing, reading and understanding skills far surpass any of the other young boys, and I am in desperate need of a capable young scribe.”
Hugo did not immediately answer. He was listening but with only half of his attention. He stared at the parchment and its cryptic lines, which Volmar knew were beyond his ability to interpret. With a grumbling
, Hugo rolled the parchment up dismissively. “The boy has to have a say in his future, Paulus. It's only fitting that he is given the choice. What say you, Volmar? This man wants to take you away from here . . .”