Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bill's Books Part Four: Legend of Silene

Bill Says:

"It's about time, it's about's about the journey of the human race", now I may not have the line quite right, but it was the lead in song for a 1960's sitcom. Two astronauts find themselves back in prehistoric times and living with a family of cavemen. This was a big TV sitcom at the time and a break for several of the actors, but my point in all this was how some writer came up with an unusual comic idea and presented it to the networks. An idea that has been used over and over since then, from Disney to Universal, but if we look back further we can find the story idea for this was originally written by Mark Twain in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court", where a modern day blacksmith finds himself transported back in time to the days of King Arthur. I bring this all up to demonstrate there are very few original ideas out there now and the best we can do is add our own slant to the story. I've accomplished this in my Christian tale, "Legend of Silene"

This is my slant on the St. George and the Dragon Legend. For those of you who not aware, such as I at the time I began my research, the legend actually took place in the latter part of the 12th Century in the country of Libya- North Africa. I thought it had begun in Europe. But the story came out of Libya and was carried into Europe by returning crusaders- you know, those valiant knights who journeyed to Jerusalem, to reclaim the land for Christianity... and some of these so-called Christians committed some of the most heinous acts in history and we are still paying for it. Now if you look at all the statues of St. George, the dragon comes in various sizes: from overgrown lizard to a very impressive and horrific creature from hell.

In my tale, I toss in a bit of Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter-Warlord of Mars, with Robert Heinlein's "Glory Road" hero, add in a drop of John Wayne and the visual image of Tom Selleck, and you have GW Sanders.

A current day master story teller entertains the tourists and locals with an ancient tale, for which he has added his own slant for the visiting Americans and he begins the Legend of Silene: where a Californian, GW Sanders,  is a member of the 101st Airborne. It is 1968 and GW is preparing for a major helicopter assault into the ominous A Shau Valley of South Viet Nam. A location believed by the locals to be filled with demons and haunted by the ghosts of 400 men, who simply vanished into the dark mist a hundred years ago. Now a basic fact: the A Shau Valley was indeed a scary place and we never staged a successful operation there in the 10-years of war, and a lot of this was actually due to the South Vietnamese being scared out of their wits every time we entered there. The enemy also had complete control of the place and were pretty dug in, following World War II and their war against the French afterward.

GW, recently promoted to Corporal and assigned as assistant squad leader, had just finished a quick breakfast before the operation was to begin, when he is called over to meet with a South Vietnamese Military Police officer. With him is a very old Montegnard Holy Man, who has apparently come more than 100-kilometers to specifically meet with GW. The Holy Man has received visions of GW and told to prepare three things for GW: A wooden cross hanging from an elephant hair necklace, a bag of dried water buffalo meat and a large flint spear point the Holy Man was told to call- Ascalon. He presents these strange items to GW and then disappears into the crowd of soldiers waiting to leave. Quite confused by the meeting, he places the items into his rucksack and then hurriedly prepares his squad for departure.

Flown to the A Shau Valley and dropped off, hoping to take the North Vietnamese by surprise, they soon find themselves surrounded. After 10-hours of battle, the order is made to evacuate the encampment. GW and his shot-up squad are chosen to be part of the rear guard, joining with three other squads from his badly wounded company. But before they can be evacuated, GW's newly appointed platoon commander is killed, along with their radioman. They are overrun and being the only survivor of his squad, GW is forced to flee into the jungle. He is soon joined by two other soldiers from other squads; Corporal Grant and a PFC Hughes. These three lead the enemy ever-deeper into the valley and soon take refuge in a small cave. After camouflaging the opening, they take turns for some badly needed sleep. The enemy passes them by, but that night an earthquake hits, rendering the three of them unconscious. Through mysterious events, the three men are swept up in a swirling vortex and upon awakening, they find themselves in an even larger cavern. Their rifles are destroyed in the quake and they are now forced to hike through a series of caverns for 6-days. Food gone and water nearly all used up, the three of them share the buffalo meet and GW tells the other two men of the strange old Holy Man.

Reaching the end of the last cavern and facing a sheer wall of rock, they find a small opening up above and use the one grenade they have left to blast a bigger hole. Escaping their dark world, they are startled to find themselves looking out over a blue-green ocean, crystal blue skies, white sandy beaches and a fairy tale like castle set off in the distance. Within moments they are captured by a force of mounted Muslim knights, whose leader- Captain Rynarr, sees the cross hanging from GW's neck and stops his men from turning the three strangers into pin cushions with their 8-foot long lances. The men are taken prisoner and escorted to the Township of Silene, centered by a massive stone castle. Placed in the dungeon, they are soon contacted by a middle-aged monk, a dear friend of Captain Rynarr, who also wears a similar wooden cross and who speaks English. He ends up being a World War II Navy Lt. Commander, who was blown off the deck of his destroyer and found himself floundering off the shores of 12th century Libya. Taken prisoner some 40-years earlier, he had worked his way up to being senior adviser to the king. Stunned by this news, the three soldiers are slow in coming to terms with this news and have a hard time dealing with Muslim laws. Especially the one where GW should have avoided becoming romantic counter-part with the king's youngest daughter.

The Township if Silene is cursed by a dragon, which in fact is in aquatic dinosaur of some size and also transported forward in time by these mysterious worm holes; an idea brought forward by Brother Samuel who has found evidence of other time travelers. The beast lives in a large saltwater lake situated between the castle and the ocean's shoreline. By ancient decree, virgin sacrifices, ( part of the actual legend), are fed to the dragon. The King's daughter is soon chosen by lottery, a plot by the oldest daughter to get rid of her and eventually take over the throne, to become the next victim. GW, who has fallen in love with the princess and trained as a knight in a favor from Captain Rynarr to the Brother Samuel- the monk, rides against the dragon. At the tip of his lance is the flint spear point- Ascalon. No other weapon has been able to pierce the thick hide of the hellish beast, but Ascalon does. The princess is saved, the dragon killed, but GW also falls. The Princess lays the shield of faith, carrying the cross of Jesus on it, a top GW and a ray of sunlight shines down upon it from the heavens. GW returns to the land of the living. The king is ever thankful, GW marries the princess, the evil princess dies, and according to the actual legend, the knight's courageous act transforms the township back to Christianity. It had been a Christian land before thew Sword of Islam claimed it. GW, whose first name is of course George, remains in Silene, while his two friends join in the 3rd Crusades with King Richard, in hopes of stopping some of the atrocities from occurring against the innocent Muslim people. They bring the tale of George's feat back to Europe.

Now I really enjoyed writing this tale. And being a Viet Nam veteran, which greatly effected my life, I tend to add a taste of Viet Nam to all my stories. The dragon part was fun too and while doing my research, I tended to wonder what was actually behind this legend and how did it bring about Sir George to being made a saint?

As I have said over and over again, if you wish to write- then write! Move out of your comfort zone, as I did in writing this fairy tale. Do your research on what you are writing about. If a river is involved or a lake, make sure it exists unless you are of course writing about some other world. Louie L'amour traveled over every piece of ground he mentioned in his hundreds of books, which made his books more enjoyable to read.

I found in my research that it was believed the Township of Silene did exist, but was destroyed in either the 14th o 15th century by a massive tsunami. There are ruins still in existence for the location where Silene was believed to have been. In the legend, the dragon was only wounded, but the townspeople were so afraid of it they demand George destroy it. When it was killed, its blood soaked into the sand and from it, a fountain of water suddenly appeared and it has healing powers. People came from all over to be blessed by these healing waters and Silene, which was at one time cursed and poor, now flourished. Legends can be quite interesting and you have to wonder, how much fact is behind the tale?

I have recently learned by very beautiful and loving wife has began editing my blogs. I am thankful for this, because she was never able to edit my stories due to her workload: Grandma Lee, her non-profit groups and just dealing with my argumentative self. She is a gifted editor and even a better writer. I sincerely hope you continue to read her blogs as I find them very interesting and quite helpful. She is my better-half and I have to know exactly what this term means- for when she is off and away, I feel like half of me is missing.

Bless you all.

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