The Archer's Diary Book One by Liam Cadoc Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery
THE LEGEND IS REAL
Since the 14th century, Robin Hood has proven to be one of the most enduring and versatile folk heroes. Medieval historians believed Robin lived during the 12th or 13th century but despite decades of intense research by contemporary scholars, solid evidence has never been found.
Logan Daggett, son of Donald Daggett, well known CEO of one of Australia's largest international corporations, has his 21st birthday celebrations disrupted by a family tragedy, the revelation of his mother's decades-old secret—and a birthday gift of a collection of centuries-old family heirlooms. This series of events contrive to change the course of his life forever.
Accompanied by his two closest friends, the young Aussie sets out to uncover the truth behind the accident that irrevocably changed his life, and to research the authenticity of the priceless heirlooms, completely unaware of the adventure and dangers lurking around every corner.
During the course of their journey they uncover irrefutable evidence that causes further turmoil among the family, spark controversy among medieval scholars worldwide, and the potential of sparking upheaval to a country's history and creating conflict between two nations.
Liam Cadoc's stunning debut to historical fiction sweeps readers into a ruthless world where greed and corruption threaten to deprive a nation of historical riches and the world of the truth behind a legendary hero. This is Book 1 of a 2-book set.
He hit the brakes but nothing happened. The car continued to pick up speed. He stamped down several more times, only to achieve the same outcome. Nothing. He could feel his heart racing, the blood pounding in his ears as he fought to regain control of the runaway vehicle. Donald Daggett, CEO of one of Australia's top three wine producing companies, was losing a fight for the first time in his life. He knew it and his wife, Elizabeth, knew it. He saw the knowledge in her terrified gaze as he glanced sideways at her. She had her arms out, bracing herself against the dash as he fought to keep the car on the road. He swiped madly at the sweat trickling into his eyes, burning them, and causing his vision to blur. Damnit, I can't save us if I can't see, he thought. He reached for the emergency brake, hauling back on it with all his strength. Once again, nothing happened. None of the brakes seemed to be functioning. A leisurely day trip in the bucolic English countryside had become an unexpected hellish nightmare ride through the quiet evening streets of Bourton-on-the-Water.
Daggett sensed an aching pressure building and clutched his chest as the tension suddenly turned painful. Dark blotches swam into his vision, and he tried to shake them away but succeeded only in losing his grip on the wheel. His wife seized her seat belt and turned her face to her window, screaming at the houses flashing past. Moments later the car careened across the road, with a screech of skidding tires, and tore into the solid stone pillar of an ancient bridge before flipping into the turbulent stream below.
Water rushed in through the shattered windows, swirling around their heads as the Daggetts dangled by their safety belts. Donald twisted and fought to free himself as water rose past his head. He reached out frantically for his wife only to encounter her limp body. The pain in his chest exploded and everything went black.
Moments later a dark figure slipped from the nearby shadows. It eased down the embankment towards the wreckage with one intention in mind. And it wasn't to be the Daggetts' salvation.
* * * * * * *
Meanwhile, back home . . .
Logan Daggett was up to his neck in trouble—again. He couldn't risk a backward glance but his heightened senses were keenly aware of the men closing in on him rapidly from behind. His latest predicament was yet another result of his inherent cockiness. He tucked his head down and bolted forward like the hounds of the Baskervilles were snapping at his heels.
The ground shuddered with the sound of a dozen sets of heavy feet giving chase. Two hulking shapes moved to bar his path. Logan didn't hesitate. He tucked his head down and, leading with a solid shoulder, he bored straight into them. He sent one of the human barricades careening backwards.
Logan's momentum faltered. A wave of bodies fell on him before he could move. Beefy arms wrapped themselves around his neck and shoulders, others clawed at his legs. Just as he collapsed under the attack, he caught a glimpse of his Aborigine mate, Gavin Allawa, charging to his aid. With a deft flick of his wrist, Logan released his death-grip on the object in his hand and sent it flying to Gavin's outstretched hands.
He felt pure satisfaction to see his friend making a perfect catch and dashing past before Logan disappeared beneath a writhing mass of sweating, grunting, swearing attackers. He laughed as the breath was crushed out of him.
A tumultuous roar went up. Logan extricated himself from the heap of bodies just in time to witness Gavin's victory dance and bow of appreciation to the thousands of fans enjoying the regional intrastate football game.
Logan staggered toward the sideline. Then he spotted them—a couple of stone-faced cops. Shit. What now? Logan thought as a bystander pointed him out to the police, and they began walking in his direction.
Gavin watched his buddy from across the far side of the field as the two officers converged on him and a sudden lump of ice formed in the Aborigine's stomach. His head rang with warning bells going off. I thought all that business surrounding the girl's death had been sorted out.
Jostled by his jubilant teammates and supporters, Gavin fought to keep sight of the cops confronting Logan. He strained against the pull of the crowd, twisting and turning. Something was definitely wrong, and he grew more desperate to rush to his friend's side. One of the coppers laid a hand on Logan's arm and the young player's shoulders drooped as he hung his head despondently.
That was the last straw. Gavin tore free of the raucous celebrations and raced across the field as Logan dropped to his knees.
Three weeks later
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." The somber voice of the pastor drifted upon the melancholy breeze sweeping the hilltop as the congregation looked on as the two caskets were lowered into the double grave. Logan heard quiet sobbing ripple through the crowd as they dropped from view. After the ceremony he smiled weakly as people shuffled up to him with their sober condolences before slowly drifting off to their waiting vehicles.
A short time later Logan shook his head slightly realizing, except for one other, they were alone. Beside him his best mate, Gavin, stared grimly down at the caskets covered with a smattering of dirt.
Logan was of two minds. On one hand, he felt overcome with despair at the loss of his closest friend and confidant—his mother. Together they had faced life filled with endless trials and tribulations melded with moments of elation and promise, with unflinching positivity. On the other hand, his insides were ratcheted tight with contempt and fiery anger towards his father. As far back as he could remember, the bastard always perverted his position as patriarch. He ruled with an iron-will, as uncompromising as a steel rod. His word was law, final and incontestable. As Logan approached his early teens a noticeable shift took place in the family dynamics. Following the laws of nature, the young man tested the extent and real strength of the patriarchal boundaries. Elizabeth Daggett found her role as wife and mother shift to one of arbiter in the household constantly rocked with clashes between two alpha personalities. Donald Daggett avoided confrontations by simply spending more time at the corporate office than with his family at home. Why couldn't the bastard have died alone? Why did he have to take Mum down with him? The questions battered Logan's mind like a hurricane as he stared blindly down at his parents' graves.
Gavin laid his hand gently on Logan's shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze, feeling the tension in his mate's muscles. He knew all too well the animosity that surged like a river between Logan and his father.
"C'mon mate." Gavin's voice sounded uncommonly husky with emotion. His normally jovial eyes were dull and brimmed with tears.
Logan placed his hand on Gavin's, nodded and turned from the graveside and recognized Stan Beaman standing patiently beside their car. The bloke had always been his mother's personal financial advisor as long as he could remember and as he and Gavin drew closer, Logan could see how distraught he was at his mum's passing.
"G'day Stan," Logan said. "What can I do you for?"
The financier collected himself, reached inside his coat and withdrew an envelope. "I didn't want to appear as if we were conducting business at the service, but before leaving for England your mother left this in my possession, insisting I hand it to you as soon as possible should anything untoward happen to her." He passed the item to Logan. "The way she spoke sounded like she expected something to occur, but I never thought . . . "
"Funny you should say that," Logan murmured. "Before Mum and Dad left, I noticed something was weighing heavily on her mind, but I never got the chance to ask her what was bugging her. My only regret now is that I never bothered to ask her." Logan fidgeted with the envelope. "Did she happen to mention what's in this?"
"It happens to be the key to your mother's safety deposit box at the bank," Beaman replied.
"Oh? I didn't even know she owned one . . . particularly one of her own," Logan said. "Did my father know about it?"
The financier frowned. "I don't think so."
"Well, thanks Stan." Logan shook the man's hand. "Give me a couple of days to get my bearings and I'll come in to claim Mum's stuff."
"I understand perfectly, Logan. Take as much time as you need. Gavin, always a pleasure." Beaman smiled sadly at Logan and Gavin and left for his car parked nearby.
The two men watched for a moment as his mother's friend drove off. Logan turned and approached the group of cemetery laborers standing quietly off to one side. He handed each of them an envelope before quickly rejoining his friend and when the workers inspected their envelopes they were amazed to find them each filled with five crisp one hundred dollar bank notes. They stared in wondrous gratitude as the two young men climbed into their car and drove off.
"Well, if that don't beat all," one of them mumbled.
"Nothin' like his old man at all," another said. "As far back as I can recall, old man Daggett went out of his way to bicker with anyone to save a miserly few pennies."
Logan sighed deeply. He was bone weary and selfishly glad to see the last of his guests depart. It was the longest and saddest day of his young life—having to bury his mother. Today was his 21st birthday, and he vowed he would never celebrate any of his future birthdays in deference to her memory. It looked to him like most, if not all, the townsfolk from Mudgee turned up at the family homestead to pay their condolences. A few, unable to attend the actual funeral service and burial for one reason or another, dropped by afterwards at his home with their soft-spoken words.
Despite the solemnity of the occasion, Logan was troubled. Putting aside his anger, there was something that didn't sit quite right with him about the circumstances surrounding the death of his parents. He read the official reports sent to him from England at the request of the New South Wales Police Department, thanks to his father's corporate attorneys, but they left him with more questions than answers. Regardless of his animosity towards his father, Logan knew him to be anything but a reckless driver and as soon as he could, Logan was determined to set out for England to carry out his own investigation. The report concluded his father had suffered a possible heart attack at the wheel; something Logan rejected out of hand. He regarded his father as too much of a heartless bastard to leave the planet like that. He must find out for himself if it had actually been an accident as reported or whether, for some unimaginable reason, his father committed suicide and murdered his mother in the process.
The more he thought about the incident, the more things just didn't add up. My gut is telling me it was no accident. Mum always went on about how good her intuition was, so for her to leave that envelope with Beaman must have meant she really did feel something was going to take place on their trip. And despite his mind leaping to the notion of his father committing suicide, Logan now dismissed it. The codger had made enemies of a few locals right here in town because of his obnoxious attitude and his way of doing business, so what if he had made enemies in the corporate world? Maybe one of them had it in for Dad enough to--
"Here ya go, mate." Gavin appeared at Logan's side with a heavy crystal tumbler in each hand. He passed one to his glum friend and raised his own in a toast. "I feel bloody guilty bringing it up and you can clout me if it suits you, but for what it's worth . . . Happy birthday." The afternoon sun enhanced the rich inner glow of the Scotch whiskey.
Logan lifted his glass in return. "I know how you feel. Weird ain't half of it, but thanks, Gav." For a split-second his dark eyes twinkled with flecks of gold and then returned to the deep green color people always found intriguing, especially the women. His voice was quiet, strong, but to Gavin's discerning ear there was an unmistakable undercurrent of melancholy tinged with anger. Logan's gaze was unfocused, as he savored the mellow liquor.
It was darker now. The sun having slipped behind the distant hills painting them in purple hues against a deepening golden spring sky. The first stars twinkled overhead and the nip in the air forecast a cold night ahead. He and Gavin sat in heavily cushioned wooden chairs handcrafted by Logan's grandfather and stared at the surrounding vista of the rolling country property from the covered veranda.
They could smell the sweet scent of impending rain on the breeze and to the west a line of dark clouds roiled along the horizon. The bush was coming alive with nocturnal sounds of birds settling down for the night while unseen animals such as the Echidna and Eastern Bettong shuffled about foraging in the undergrowth for their evening meal while off in the distance sheep bleated as they hunkered down.
Beyond the spill of light from the house a shape lurked deep in the shadows stealthily observing the two men through military-grade binoculars equipped to take photographs. He adjusted settings on his equipment to allow for the mediocre lighting on the farmhouse veranda and, zooming in on the two men, began snapping photographs.
Cadoc endeavors to create a feasible balance of historical fact and fiction into his writing in order to meet his obligation, as an author, to his readers. To that end he spends a large part of his conceptual writing on researching the world in which the characters will inhabit. "I've always had a fascination with history, particularly the medieval period of England and the Arthurian Legend. Though my genre is historical fiction, I hope that my readers will come away with a better understanding and appreciation for how people survived and endured before the inception of the basic luxuries we take for granted each day."
He penned his first fiction while in high school and was quickly recognized by the English staff and his class for his vibrant imagination. He was also a talented artist and, after graduating, followed a career as a graphic designer in the publishing industry compelling him to put aside writing for a number of years.
In 1998, he met his wife-to-be on the Internet when online dating was in its infancy. After 18 months of long-distance romancing, they wed in Sydney, Australia and he returned to America with his wife to begin a whole new life together.
Now retired, Cadoc has the time to return to his beloved writing and has spent 9 years working on THE ARCHER'S DIARY, his first historical fiction novel.
He enjoys bare-bow target archery, reading, writing, kayaking, movies, traveling, and doing the occasional commissioned portrait of pets or people. He currently lives in central Florida with his wife.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author? Okay, good question. Even as far back (several centuries) as high school, I had a gift for writing and always earned A+s for my English writing assignments. The various English teachers I was fortunate to have all encouraged me to keep writing in order to nurture my gift.
That said, I decided to take another career path because I also excelled in art class and turned to graphic design. In a serendipitous way, several years later I found myself as art director with one of Australia's major publishers designing and laying out books. Then, a few decades later, I happened to read an article that inspired a story idea that took me some 9 years to evolve into my foray into historical fiction — The Archer's Diary.
What is something unique/quirky about you? I've always been intrigued by the supernatural and psychic powers. I read somewhere that we (as humans) utilize only a small portion of our brain's capacity. This led me to experimenting with my mind during my commute to my job with the publishing house. The drive took about an hour and snaked through beautiful bush lands. And for the most part, oncoming traffic was hidden from view by trees and the numerous bends. At first all I accomplished was giving myself some hefty headaches, but over a couple of months, I was able to 'detect' oncoming vehicles with my mind — even to discern the difference between trucks and cars, and eventually their colors.
A few years later, I was introduced to, and subsequently invited to join, a coven of white witches where each of us possessed an unique gift and, combined as a group, we worked to help people outside our group who had physical and mental problems. Unfortunately, being the inquisitive person I am, all this led me down a rabbit hole of experimentation that caused me to have a 'psychic breakdown.'
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you! Following on from #2 above, I learned the dangers of 'playing' with the ouiji board, working with mirrors, and the like. I was even invited by various private schools to talk to their students about the subject.
Where were you born/grew up? I am an Australian, born in Sydney. My parents were living and working in Lae, Papua New Guinea (Google it) and when the time approached for me to enter the world, my mother decided to return to Sydney. Two weeks after being born, we flew back to Lae where I spent the first 5 years growing up.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie? This might be a trifle self-indulgent, but something I would hazard to guess most — if not all — authors have thought on. I can well imagine Book One being made into a 2-part movie, with Book Two the rip-roaring sequel.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less! An incurable inquisitive empathic romantic.
What are you passionate about these days? I believe my compassion for the welfare of innocent animals has heightened ever since looking into the 'blood sport' of dog fighting, and its prevalence here in America and around the world.
What do you do to unwind and relax? As well as a writer, I am a painter and do commissioned portraits of animals and people. My wife and I are also very keen bare bow target archers; we also love camping, kayaking, traveling, movies, and catching up with old friends.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? I can see myself as an Anatolian shepherd dog-sized Border Collie.
What inspired you to write this book? I have always had a fascination for historical fiction and medieval England. After spending 2 vacations driving around England, Scotland and Wales, the immersion in all that history combined with my love for the legend of Robin Hood to conjure up an idea that led me to write The Archer's Diary.
What can we expect from you in the future? Should my debut to historical fiction with The Archer's Diary (Book One), and subsequently Book Two create a substantial following of eager readers, then I dare say I may well be tempted to remain writing in that genre for the foreseeable future.
How did you come up with name of this book? Truthfully, the title for The Archer's Diary gave birth to itself. I had already settled on a broad outline for the story and was giving thought to a suitable name when it just 'came to me.' After all, the diary itself is the pivotal point of Book One and is the cause of all the mishaps and mayhem that occur. Then, in Book Two, readers are given the unique privilege of reading over Robin Hood's shoulder as he pens his thoughts and deeds in his private diary.
Who designed your book cover? After a career of some 30+ years as a graphic designer in the publishing industry, both here and back in Australia, I plead guilty to having the audacity to design my own cover — and will continue to do so while I remain writing. Wouldn't it be crazy to toss aside all that experience?
What did you enjoy most about writing this book? As much as I love writing, when it came to deciding to tackle my first historical fiction, it was the thought of the research that stirred me. Thankfully, with the Internet available at my fingertips, I was able to achieve a great deal of delving into the background of the period. But I was well aware others before me had trodden that path, and it was to their books that I turned for a lot of reference. Then there were those gracious people who were willing to step up when I approached them for professional consult --Ian Richardson, Treasure Registrar, British Museum, London, UK; The Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, British Museum, London, UK;The National Archives, Kew, UK;Mark Strong, Senior Access Assistant, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Wales; Pat E., Hay-on-Wye Tourist Information Bureau, UK;Lynne Moore, Coflein, National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW); and others.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Ryan Kwanten, or any of the Hemsworth boys.
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