It was another day in my old life...or so I thought.
My father, Percy Jackson, sadly was a medic in the war. Good old man, he was, he had a coal black beard and a smile that filled you with joy. But on a dark, grim day, he got shot and was rushed back to London to get advanced medical care. No matter how much they tried, they could not save him, so with respect, all of his family gathered round my father's death bed and we said our goodbyes.
After a while, the family left, apart from one and that one was me, sobbing by my father's side until he took me by the arm and handed me something rather heavy. It was his notebook. It belonged to his father and his father before that. But it came with something a bit smaller; a key.
To describe in the best of words what the notebook looked like, it was a dark brown colour with metal branches and leaves as decoration, though it also had a piece of old parcel string wrapped around the middle. However, the key was an object rather different. It looked like some old golden church key hanging from a bright copper chain.
'Protect these with your life.' he said, and breathed his last.
Then my mother came in and told me it was time for me to go to bed. So she and I went to my bedroom. She blew out the candles, and left the room. A few minutes later, I jumped out of bed and threw open the curtains revealing the glowing moon. Then I swept across the room and grasped the notebook and turned to the front page. There was a line of thick black letters spelling,
'My name shall be your start:
I am a void, from which flows
Life, drop a copper into my head
And from there shall your wish be bred?'
That question was extremely challenging but thanks to my father's several riddles that he told when I was young, it was a breeze.
'The old wishing well, down at Old Sarum!' I cried with joy. So there I scurried as fast as I possibly could. When I arrived there, I ran straight to the old well and turned the page of the notebook. I leaned against the stone bricks and then I thought I saw a dark figure in the distance but I bet i imagined it. So I turned back and started reading again.
The next thing I knew, I had been pushed straight into the well. 'I can't go up, 'cause I'll just get shoved back in again. I can't go to my left or my right, so I shall have to go down.' I thought to myself.
So, there I went, I went deeper and deeper, darker and darker until, as if it were magic, the water finally ended and I found myself in deep undergrowth. So I went on, but then came from nowhere a dead end.
I sat down in despair, though just when my backside touched the ground, I heard a slight creak. It was a trapdoor! With a keyhole and everything.
I thought I'd try the key [which I had hung] around my neck but it had no use. Then I thought I saw something gleaming in the distance. I went to see what it could be - it couldn't hurt, could it? There I went, and what a coincidence, it was a lock-pick and bolt. I took them over to the trapdoor, because my father had shown me how to pick locks when once I was stuck in the downstairs kitchen.
It took several tries to pick the lock but at long last the trapdoor was open. Without looking, I jumped down and landed in something vine-like and smelling of dirt, but these were vines with a mangrove tree in the middle. I thought I was completely alone until I heard a deep croaky voice. I looked around to see who might be there. I could not see anyone so I asked a simple question: 'Who's there?' But this time the voice came directly from the tree so I went to have a look.
There was was no one to be seen. I asked one more time who was there but it was obvious now it was the tree who spoke. The vines grew around me; one already pinned me down. The tree spoke again, 'It is I who spoke, and I shall devour you.'
'Please, let's be reasonable,' I pleaded.
'Yes, of course, we will ask each other riddles. If you get one wrong, I will demolish you. If I get one wrong, I will let you live.'
So there we were, asking each other questions until he asked me a riddle I had never heard before;
'I devour trees, rocks, mountains, cities. I destroy planets. I crush humans and all other beings. What am I?'
It took several minutes and then the tree started growing its vines towards me. I tried to shout, 'Give me time!' but all that I could blurt out was 'Time! Time!'. The tree pulled back its vines and said 'Clever boy you are.'
'But....b... b...but,' I stammered, 'But - of course!'
'What do you mean? but of course?' He asked, 'Well, I guess it is none of my business. I have my duty to let you pass through the door as once I let another being.'
Before I could finish my investigations, the mangrove tree split into four wooden planks, one of which was booming down, throwing itself across the cave. Then there was oblivion.
When I got up, there was a nearly blinding light from the middle of the swampy cavern, gleaming like it was about to explode into a frenzy of flames. But as I got up, it started to slowly fade away into nearly complete darkness!
Though I hadn't noticed it before, I was lying on a bony corpse! I threw myself away in disgust and saw there was more to the corpse than there seemed. There were several pellets and a gun beside him, lying there, stiff and peaceful...
[Arrgghh - just as things were getting even more exciting, it appears Trefusis Minor has gone off for his sleepover with Les Jumeaux, neglecting to give me the remaining pages. I will collar him as soon as he is back and type up the rest. So, One Key That Aligns Them All is to be serialised, it seems, on Mrs Trefusis, rather than published in its entirety.....]
26th January: Greatly encouraged by being told he has 'great story-telling' and is reminiscent of the great Rider Haggard (which TM found immensely flattering once I'd reminded him who Rider Haggard was), we have Part Two, which I am instructed to write up below]
.... I slipped the pellets into my pocket and grabbed the gun by the sling and threw it over my back. As I turned, I saw a beautiful stone, covered in amazingly colourful gems. I approached it with astonishment, and there it was again, the nearly blinding light, this time coming from the face of the stone.
I walked towards it with extreme caution, then seeing, unlike the other parts of the stone, a smooth, dark key-hole, inside a golden slab, nestling in its centre. I took the key from around my neck and tried it in the lock. Miraculously, the key fitted and slid effortlessly in, but the moment it turned, I heard a slight crack and then a thunderous rumble of stones falling down from either side of the gloomy underworld. Dozens of mythical beasts jumped from the dark, shadowy tunnels made by the crumbling rocks and leapt towards me.
I gripped the musket I had taken from the skeleton and loaded it with the pellets. I pulled my penknife from my pocket and flicked out the blade. I stabbed a minotaur straight in the stomach as it was rushing towards me wielding a giant battle-axe. I shot a harpy right in the middle of her terrifying forehead with a pellet from the musket. She went howling across the undergrowth, knocking my musket straight out of my fist.
I had only two weapons left: my penknife and my lock-pickers bolt. Another minotaur galloped at me. I reached for him and ripped the ring from its nose but he hit me back with his huge fists, kocking me to the ground, jumping on me until he stopped; I had stabbed him straight in the lungs. I ran up, finding an orc swinging his hammer to knock me senseless, I leaped onto his back and gouged my bolt straight into his gullet, killing him instantly.
I saw my chance; a crack had appeared in the cave wall. I rushed towards it, leaving everything behind except the key clutched in my hand. Slipping straight through the crack, I heard an exploding boom from the cave behind me - but I did not want to turn back to that terrifying place.
I collapsed, exhausted, onto the ground, but at that moment, I found it was not solid rock beneath me but grass. It seemed almost impossible to finally breath fresh, frosty air; I was in a garden, but something seemed to me suspicious.....[to be continued...]