Dillon Annual Collection 2018!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW PULP’S MOST EXCITING HERO FINDS A NEW HOME-
DERRICK FERGUSON’S ‘DILLON’ MAKES PRO SE DEBUT WITH 2018 ANNUAL!

When fans of modern Pulp Fiction discuss characters that have made their mark, Derrick Ferguson’s Dillon tops the list. While hitting all the expectations a hero should, Dillon also stands out as a unique character, thanks largely to Ferguson’s skill as a writer. And now, in a showcase of great stories, Pro Se marks Dillon’s first appearance under its banner with DILLON ANNUAL COLLECTION 2018, now available in trade paperback, hardcover, and digital formats.

A soldier of fortune gifted with an astonishing range of remarkable talents and skills that make him respected and feared in the secret world of mercenaries, spies and adventurers. A world inhabited by amazing men and women of fabulous abilities that most of us are unaware even exists. Fueled by a taste for excitement, driven by an overpowering desire to protect the innocent, see that wrongs are righted and assisted by a worldwide network of extraordinary men and women, all experts in their fields, DILLON spans the globe in a never-ending quest for the wildest and most breathtaking adventures of all. 

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In this oversized omnibus of past adventures, Dillon faces new enemies, battles a phantom buccaneer on the shores of Xonira, runs a deadly jungle race against a criminal overlord, battles dangerous agents on a speeding train in an attempt to prevent a kidnapping and spends an unexpected wild night out with celebrity rocker SLY GANTLET, whose life offstage holds some surprising secrets. Pro Se proudly presents its debut of Derrick Ferguson’s International Instigator in some of his wildest adventures in the first ever DILLON ANNUAL COLLECTION!

With an exciting cover, logo design, and print formatting by Sean Ali, DILLON ANNUAL COLLECTION 2018 is available now at Amazon athttps://www.amazon.com/Dillon-Annual-Collection-Derrick-Ferguson/dp/172244357X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1531318009&sr=8-2&keywords=dillon+annual+collection+2018 for 18.00.

This book is also available for $35.99 in hardcover athttp://www.lulu.com/content/hardcover-book/dillon-annual-2018/23102381

Dillon’s Pro Se debut is also available as an Ebook, designed and formatted by Antonino Lo Iacono and Marzia Marina for only $3.99 for the Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/Dillon-Annual-Collection-Derrick-Ferguson-ebook/dp/B07FDHVXVD/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1531321825&sr=1-1&keywords=dillon+annual+collection+2018+kindle. Kindle Unlimited Members can read for free.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies to review this book, contact Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at directorofcorporateoperations@prose-press.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.

 

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Dillon and The Big Ass Book by Sean E. Ali

To start: I’m okay if I don’t have to work on a DILLON book for bit.

Now I’m saying this in a “Daniel Craig bitching about Bond, but he’s coming back” sort of way, but a few days off from the International Instigator will be nice in the aftermath of my completing the latest book that will be showing up under the Pro Se Press banner. This was a long, mean, ugly slugfest and I for one am glad this particular proof is in the can.

Okay, you’re not used to that level of grousing. Let me explain…

Once upon a time, your partner-in-crime and mine, Derrick Ferguson, tells me he’s mulling over an offer to take Dillon over to Pro Se. He asks my opinion and my response was simple: “So I’m still doing covers and layouts, right?”

Be careful what you wish for, friends and neighbors, because you will probably get it…

…usually between the eyes if you’re not careful.

So fast forward, then stop, then fast forward again and Tommy is looking for a cover for the up coming DILLON book which is being called an annual. So I’m laboring away on that and we already covered the saga of Derrick shooting down the initial idea, so I design a new cover. Derrick approves, Tommy lets out a sigh of relief, I get text and a green light to lay out the book and…

…well this is where it gets a little tricky.

In the interim on the cover art and the redo of same for the annual, Derrick is kicking around another DILLON book idea and discusses it with me in such a way that I run off and do what is the Annual but thinking it’s the other thing Derrick and I were talking about…

So basically I lay out the entire book under the wrong concept and title. To make matters worse, the cover I designed is basically earmarked for a book that’s more or less not written…

…oh and the book I am working on is too thick to work as a standard DILLON or Pro Se book.

So not only do I have to re-set the text of the book (which would eventually take five different attempts and an emergency consult with Derrick to get a solution), I also have to rebrand the book…

…oh and create yet another cover because the cover I have can’t be used yet.

So Derrick suggests the “lost cover” I already discussed in another post…

…but you folks have seen that.

I mean the goal of a cover reveal when the time comes is to have you folks see something new. I’m not saying that cover won’t show up in some form (I’m looking at you DILLON AND THE PROPHECY OF FIRE), but that can’t be here after I’ve already revealed it as invalid.

It would be like hyping an event then pulling the rug out from under folks by not delivering.

So Tommy tells me we had to get the book in by July 4th. I had a completed book, an altered title logo, the guts all worked out and all of that was good to go on July 2nd…

…but no cover.

And I’ll be damned if I’m responsible for Tommy having a heart attack that close to a holiday.

So I started to go with the back up idea based on DILLON AND THE PIRATES OF XONIRA…

…which, by odd coincidence, was the first DILLON book I worked on as a cover artist, and inspired a revamped animated concept you may have seen bits of from me under the header of DILLON AND THE MASK OF AMIRI EZANA…

On paper, that should’ve worked. I had an image already set for the back cover, I’d just drag that puppy to the front and done, right?

Oh man, no, WRONG!

It’s great on the back, stinks on the front. So I spent the 3rd of July creating an all new cover based on PIRATES…

…and I am pleased to say it’s so much better than the other three covers that will never be on this book that I’m almost not exasperated about it.

…almost.

So after all this skin of the teeth designer action…

…I’m kind of glad I’ve got this one in the rear view.

Dillon, my man, I’ll leave the last minute saves to you.

…I need a nap and a vacation.

So coming at some point soon, the DILLON ANNUAL COLLECTION will hit the stands…

…and it’ll be under 500 pages with a damn fine cover.

Okay, if you think it isn’t, keep it to yourself, I’m already seeking counseling for my PDSD (Post DILLON Stress Drama).

So until we do the cover reveal…

Be good to yourselves and each other.

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The Lost Dillon Cover That Wasn’t by Sean E. Ali

So yesterday, Derrick Ferguson and I finally got around to a reveal and his blessing on the cover for Dillon’s first run as a Pro Se Press product…

…no this is the rejected version, I’ve blown the doors off and went in a whole different direction since this first attempt.

But I just had to shout D out for not only having faith in waiting for a final, but giving me some necessary time to deal with matters off camera in the real world which stretched this out longer than intended…

…and before you ask, “personal stuff” is my default answer on the real world stuff I had to deal with…

With a little luck, we’ll have a book to wrap my new bad boy cover around in short order. In the meantime, I’ve got an order to fill for another job I was contracted on just last week which I’m not at liberty to divulge…

So keep your eyes peeled for a DILLON update as soon as I’ve got one for you.

After I clear my plate, I’ll get a taste of Derrick’s side of labor and begin to do a loose framework for DILLON AND THE MASK OF AMIRI EZANA, so he can prop up my own humble efforts of something I wrote for kicks that most of you didn’t see…

So enjoy the lost DILLON cover that wasn’t until we show off the one that is…

…I think you’ll like it.

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Sam Elliott & Eli Creed: Separated At Birth?

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As everybody knows by now (because I’ve said it enough times, Odin knows) that the Great, Great Man Sam Elliott is the template I based Dillon’s best friend and partner Elias Patrick Creed on. Whenever I write a scene with Eli, it’s Sam Elliott I’m seeing and hearing. Over at The Ferguson Theater I wrote a review of SHAKEDOWN, a 1988 Action Movie starring Sam Elliott and Peter Weller. I was in the middle of writing the very first draft of “Dillon and The Voice of Odin” and still trying to get a handle on who Eli was and what he looked like.

One day after work I headed on down to 42end St to take in a double feature and one of the movies was SHAKEDOWN. Fifteen minutes into the movie all I could do was sit there dumfounded while this badass cat did his thing on screen while one thought pounded in what I laughingly refer to as a brain:

“Yep. THAT’S Eli.”

Coming Attractions: February 2018

Hello and a Great Big Happy New Year to one and all! As always, I hope that you, your family and loved ones are enjoying peace, happiness and prosperity and I pray that continued good fortune and blessings will fill your house in the year 2018.

What have I been up to? Busy as always. I know it doesn’t seem like it since you haven’t seen any new stories of mine around lately but that’s the nature of the biz. It’s feast or famine. In a few short months you might be seeing my name so much you may tell me; “How can we miss you if you won’t go away?” And I haven’t posted here much in recent months but that’s because you know I only like to post stuff when I actually have something to say. I’m not one for posting just to fill up space. That’s a waste of your time and mine. But it has been quite a while since I’ve updated you on my various Dillon projects so let’s get started in what I hope will be a year full of Dillon adventures for you to enjoy. And cue the bumper…

The DILLON ANNUAL COLLECTION VOL. I is done. I spoke to Tommy Hancock about it just the other day and he assures me that all that needs to be done is the cover and the formatting and it’s a wrap. Just in case you’ve forgotten, the contents of the ANNUAL COLLECTION is as follows:

Young Dillon In The Halls of Shamballah

Dillon and the Bad Ass Belt Buckle

Dillon and The Judas Chalice

Dead Beat In La Esca

Dillon and The Alchemist’s Morning Coffee

Dillon and The Last Rail To Khusra.

Those of you who have purchased Four Bullets For Dillon will notice that four of the stories in this volume were in that one as well. I assure you that this isn’t a case of me trying to get you to buy this book just for two extra stories. My intention was simply to put as many Dillon stories floating around out there loose under one roof so that those who didn’t purchase Four Bullets For Dillon wouldn’t have to go buy Dillon and The Alchemist’s Coffee and Last Rail To Khusra separately as they were originally published on their own as e-books.

And the other four stories aren’t exactly the same as they were originally published. I took advantage of this opportunity to tighten up the grammar, add some scenes and expand others. It’s not like I completely rewrote those stories but I did do a little spit and polish here and there.

There’s also going to be a DILLON ANTHOLOGY this year. I dunno if that’s going to be the actual title but if somebody doesn’t come up with something snappier I guess that’s what we’re gonna go with. The hook here is that these are going to be stories featuring Dillon or members of his supporting cast in stories written by diverse hands other than mine. You’ve be pleased to know that I already have in hand two stories written by Russ Anderson and Joel Jenkins. And while both of them are utter knockouts, it’s the one featuring the mother-and-son mercenary team of Allie and Shon Pierri that you’re going to want to read first. Mark Bousquet is hard at work on a third story and Percival Constantine has expressed interest in writing a fourth one. Stay tuned for further developments.

THE RETURN OF THE SPECIALISTS is still coming along nicely. I admit that I haven’t been writing this one as fast as I could have simply because I’m having way too much writing this. Writing is supposed to be all about anguish and angst and despair and grief, right? But I’ve got to get this one out of the way because there’s two other projects that I need to get to…

If you peruse this blog you’ll see a series of absolutely astounding covers done by Sean E. Al for what he calls the greatest cartoon miniseries never made: DILLON AND THE MASK OF AMIRI EZANA! Sean not only had covers but also provided excerpts of the story, which I assumed he’d had written out in its entirety. He told me that he didn’t have the full story as yet but he had notes and the fragments he’d posted. My imagination sparked by what he had done already I assured him that as soon as I finished THE RETURN OF THE SPECIALISTS we’d jump on THE MASK OF AMIRI EZANA.

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But I gotta find time to work in DILLON AND THE DEVIL’S BOUNTY. Why? Because in Sean’s story fragments it’s obvious that the 21st Century incarnation of Fortune McCall is a major player in the story but in the incredibly muddled cosmology I carry around in my melon of a head, Dillon and Fortune McCall first meet in THE DEVIL’S BOUNTY which is based on a plot provided by my good buddy Joshua R. Reynolds, my VRIL AGENDA co-writer. And the plot is a good one. The Heart of Fortune V, the world’s most advanced self-sustaining sea-going vessel is hijacked by pirates. Dillon is hired to either recover the vessel or sink it. To accomplish this mission Dillon needs the assistance of one of his proteges, that mysterious mistress of mayhem, The Pulptress! And neither one of them count on the participation of Fortune McCall!

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Yeah, yeah…I know…I could write THE DEVIL’S BOUNTY later on and just put in a note saying it takes place before THE MASK OF AMIRI EZANA.

Right. Sure I could.

Anyway…moving right along…

DILLON AND THE PROPHECY OF FIRE is up to Chapter Nine over at my Patreon site and if by now I haven’t convinced you to part with your hard-earned baksheesh to read the furshlugginer thing then I can only move onto Plan B and no, I’m not telling you what that will be. Heh. It should be coming to a conclusion in another two or three chapters and while I had planned for DILLON AND THE ISLAND OF DR. MAMUWALDE to be next, I’m now thinking of doing THE DEVIL’S BOUNTY as the next serial so as to get to THE MASK OF AMIRI EZANA.

And on top of that, my pal Percival Constantine emails me the other day to give me a gentle nudge in the direction of DILLON AND THE SECRET OF SHAMBALLAH. Which he has good reason for after I pestered him unmercifully to allow me to use Elisa Hill, The Myth Hunter in the story. Here’s the basic plot: Elisa Hill is hired by [Redacted] to find a way to fabled Shamballah itself. Once Dillon gets word of this he’s got to figure out a way how to prevent Elisa Hill from finding Shamballah. Hopefully without having to kill her.

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Think that’s enough for now? I certainly do. Keep your fingers crossed and pray for me. I dunno if I’m going to get all this done in 2018 but I’m sure going to work my ass off trying. As always, thank you for your kind attention, your support and your patience. Until we get together again, go see some good movies, read some good books and be good to yourself.

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Glenn Walker Is Gone And I Really Don’t Know What To Say About That

Maybe it’s because I knew Glenn but then again, I didn’t know him. Like so many of you reading this, I only have become friends with you because we’ve exchanged stories, anecdotes, ideas, life experiences, jokes and tragedies via The Internet. Yes, there’s a shared intimacy on a certain level but most of you I’ll never meet. That doesn’t mean to say I don’t want to. I hope to do so as so many people I’ve met online are some of the most fascinating and interesting people I’ve ever met in my life. Glenn was one of those.

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Glenn wrote for the Biff!Bam!Pop! entertainment website and that was one of the maybe six or seven websites that I would visit every single day while having that most important first cuppa joe in the morning. Thanks to Glenn, I got turned onto a lot of excellent writing and media information via that site and I can’t recommend it enough. Glenn wrote reviews, think pieces, what could be considered op-ed pieces and I would frequently read what he wrote and email him my thoughts and we’d go back and forth for a bit. Not arguing, mind you. But the email discussions were stimulating and Glenn always made me THINK, something I truly value in all my friendships, be they Real or Electronic. You want to be my bosom buddy? Then challenge me and make me THINK.

One of the highest compliments I’ve ever been paid as both a writer and as a human being is when Glenn said in his review of “Dillon and The Legend of The Golden Bell” is that when he was trying to write a story in a pulp style he wrote on a sign “I want to be Derrick Ferguson when I grow up” and taped it on the wall above his desk. He was an enthusiastic Dillon fan and wrote several reviews of two of my Dillon books. We spent many hours online discussing pulp both Classic and New, movies, comics and I always came away both amazed and enriched. I always came away from a conversation with Glenn Walker having learned something new. Because Glenn had more ideas in a hour than most of us have in a week and it came out in his writing, his podcasts and his blog.

Apparently, Glenn was in poor health for a while, something I didn’t know but that was like Glenn and something I suspect we had in common; he wasn’t a complainer so his death took me totally by surprise and affected me in ways I’m sure won’t hit me until later. I’ve lost a few people this year and while they all were deeply affecting, on a whole different level, losing Glenn hurts. I had planned on making it a point on meeting him the next time I went down to Florida and now I’ll never get the opportunity and that is yet another reason to mourn.

But I did know him and that is reason to rejoice. And it gives me more incentive to meet more of my friends who I’ve only known online. So if for no other reason than I can touch them, hug them, share laughs and stories while actually in their company and connect. I think Glenn would approve.

Here’s a link to Glenn’s personal blog; Welcome To Hell. He wrote about movies, television, pop culture…the whole bloody business and he did it with style and grace. You want to honor the memory of the man? Then go read what he wrote.

And here’s a link to a wonderful elegy written by Andy Burns.

And here are links to the reviews Glenn wrote of two Dillon novels. Review that I will always treasure:

Derrick Ferguson’s Dillon and The Legend of The Golden Bell 

Origins of Dillon

The Griot of The Lost Refuge!

I bet you thought we forgot, but we honestly were way too busy at the time to bring you this the penultimate episode of the best animated cartoon miniseries never!

But here it is, the Episode Five of Derrick Ferguson‘s DILLON AND THE MASK OF AMIRI EZANA!

In today’s episode Dillon, Coco Brown, Fortune McCall and the Golden Lady are reunited in time to hear a strange tale from THE GRIOT OF THE LOST REFUGE!

We join our story already in progress…

Dillon and Coco were herded into courtyard. the ground was smoothed and paved in stone that displayed images of ancient warriors in battle with creatures beyond description, an apparent record of the history of the men and women who had surprised them when they approached the hidden city. Dillon was fairly sure that the city, this legendary “Lost Refuge”, had been hidden by something more than natural camouflage. He had spent too much time out in the wild tracking and discovering hidden temples and buried civilizations and there was always something – a marker of some sort, remnants or artifacts… something to indicate that people actively occupying or recently passing through an area had been there in fact as much as fable. The way the ancient structures they entered suddenly appeared was so sudden that it couldn’t be just a trick of light and landscape.

In the center of a circular courtyard, sat a heap of gray cloth, that took the form of a man as they came closer. It was hard to gauge his size and a grim hood obscured his features. From the stiffness of his movements, Dillon presumed the man was quite old. The head beneath the hood craned up but the face was still hidden in gloom despite the small fire blazing before him.

“Do they have it?” The hooded man’s voice was a rasp of sandpaper slowly scraping wood.

The soldier or guard in charge who brought them here nodded. “They do. It led them to us and through the gate without incident.”

“Good, good.” The gray hood nodded slowly. “Bring them closer.”

Dillon and Coco crossed the circle. Dillon’s gaze scanned the courtyard, taking in details and filing them away. Like the weapons his captors carried, the city wasn’t what it seemed to be. The buildings were smooth carved white stone and the architecture resembled what one would find on ancient mosques, but some of the windows were lit from a modern source of illumination despite there being no obvious power generation system that he had been able to determine. The place was a paradox of the ancient and some sort of hidden advanced technology. The “gate” that was referred to wasn’t something that could be seen – one moment, he and Coco were following Fortune McCall’s trail had been blazed an hour or two earlier through a thickly covered jungle, the next they found themselves on a cleared out plain, surrounded by soldiers, with the Lost Refuge laid out before them and no sign of the veldt anywhere near them. Before Dillon or Coco could react, the leader fired off an energy beam from the tip of his spear to discourage any resistance. The soldiers didn’t disarm them, which told Dillon they didn’t feel the weapons the pair had available to them weren’t a viable threat, so they went along quietly. As they stood in front of the hooded man, Dillon was beginning to think maybe he and Coco should’ve taken their chances at the clearing.

“Please, sit. Sit!” The hooded man motioned to several cushions set nearby, some in stone bench frames, but most piled high on the polished pavement near the fire. Dillon settled on those making certain that if the need arose, he could move quickly. Coco followed suit and Dillon could see she was sizing up their host and scanning the area around them. If the hooded man noticed or cared, he made no sign of it outwardly. As they sat, one of the soldiers stepped into an alcove and emerged a few minutes later with a plate of fruit and a pot of tea with three earthen cups. He poured, the drinks, the hooded man took a cup from the tray and sipped gingerly. “You may feel free to join me or not. I do not waste excellent tea and handpicked fruit from my gardens with poison or drugs. You are my guests and your presence is welcome.”

Dillon picked up one of forks on the serving tray, speared a slice of melon, studied it for a moment, and took a bite. The sweetness almost made his toes curl. He waited for the bite to go down and after a few seconds passed with no ill affect, he took another.

“Okay, so we’re welcome guests here,” Dillon said finishing the first slice and spearing a second with his fork. “Just guests that require twenty armed men with laser weapons to stand around while we make nice.” Dillon’s fork made an arc, taking in the soldiers standing alert and ready. “I sure feel cozy.”

The hooded man nodded at the lead guard who made a gesture to his men who promptly melted away into the corridors that led to the greater city beyond the courtyard. Besides Dillon, Coco, and the hooded man; the lead guard and three of his men remained in the courtyard but far enough back to be considered a respectful distance for conversation. “Good. Good. Now before we begin, I have one last loose end to tie up with you. Bring them.” The head guard nodded and disappeared for a few moments. When he returned, the Golden Lady and Fortune McCall were in tow.

“I return your friends to you,” the hooded man said. “They have served their purpose by getting you here.”

McCall and the Golden Lady crossed over to Dillon and Coco. “They got the drop on me, Dillon,” McCall began.

“Don’t sweat it,” Dillon said cutting him off. “They jumped us too, probably the same way.”

“Is that better for you, Mr. Dillon?”

Dillon started to ask how the hooded man knew him, but considering everything that had gotten him to this point, he simply assumed that his name had preceded his actual presence for a bit. “That’s fine. Thanks.”

“I presume you have questions,” the hooded man plucked a slice of mango from the plate. “I probably have answers to most if not all of them. However I have one first: Where is the mask of Amiri Ezana?”

Dillon knew, they knew he had it. He slid the pack he was wearing from his shoulders, fished around inside and pulled up the bag he had secured the mask in when he and Coco recovered it in Kaizaro. Dillon loosened the drawstring and pulled the opening loose.

The mask of Amiri Ezana was glowing for the first time since that night he first encountered it in the Golden Lady’s tower. It gently rose out of the bag and hovered obediently between Dillon and the hooded man. The fire was almost directly below the mask and the light of the flames cast shadows on the mask making it seem like a living thing.

“At last!” The hooded man exhaled heavily as if he had been holding that particular breath for several eternities with infinities to go.

“You didn’t say the mask did tricks, Dillon,” Coco said sitting next to him. She seemed mesmerized by the floating mask which held her attention, Coco’s focus went from the mask to Dillon. “What the hell is going on? What’s this about?”

“That, young lady, is why we are gathered here” the hooded man said. “It is a relic finally returned to its rightful home and it is time to fulfill the destiny it was created for.”

“And that is?” Coco asked.

“A story I’m about to share”, the hooded man replied.

“Great”, said Dillon, “You can start with who you are, what this place is and maybe explain why the mask is doing…” Dillon waved a hand in the direction of the floating, glowing mask, “…whatever the hell you call that.”

The hooded man chuckled softly. “The mask is doing what it normally does when it’s near one who has plumbed its secrets. I? I wear many names, Mr. Dillon, but for the next few moments, I am merely a griot with a story to tell. I trust you will grant me time to tell it since it is necessary you understand what has come before in order to understand what will follow.” Coco began to say something, but a look from Dillon made her pause. She was about to ask about what was following what, but Dillon’s look seemed to say that he wanted this self-appointed griot to spin his story uninterrupted. “As to the name of this place, it, like me has many names. Some call it the “Quiet Place”, others the “Palace of Whispers”, most know it as the “Lost Refuge” – but its proper name to us who live here is Chigaro cheMambo.”

Dillon thought he recognized the words, but couldn’t place the language exactly. He ran through a few phrases, things one picks up crisscrossing the globe over the years. No it wasn’t Kissi, or Maasai, or Jalaa… Shona, it was Shona. Something to do with kings…

“So ‘Land of the King’?” Dillon asked.

“Seat, Mr. Dillon, Seat of the King to be exact.” The griot nodded beneath is hood. “You are as advertised and as expected, Mr. Dillon. Very good.”

Dillon looked surprised. “Seat of the King? That’s —“

“Correct again, Mr. Dillon. That is a story from your childhood, is it not?” The hooded man took another sip of tea. “I trust I have your full attention now?”

It was Coco’s turn to look at Dillon in surprise. “The Seat of the King? What are you two talking about?”

Dillon spoke, but did not take his eyes off the griot as he answered. “The Seat of the King is part of a legend of a wandering warrior king who was considered to be one of the greatest protectors of Shamballah and was the first true Warmaster of Liguria. But…” Dillon’s expression was intense, like he was trying to pull a detail from his memory that refused to budge. “…no, there’s something else. The details are right, but they’re not right at the same time.”

“Considering the last time you heard the story, you were probably a boy, that is astoundingly good, Mr. Dillon.” The griot was staring right at Dillon and yet the glow of the firelight couldn’t penetrate the shadow the hood cast to clearly make out the man’s features. “The part you missed was the warrior’s original home before he began his travels and why he was wandering the world in the first place.”

“A castaway warrior king,” Dillon said absently. It was obvious he was trying to pull together the details of the legend he recognized. “He caged a demon, but his people cast him out because he became the monster he defeated.”

“Their belief was the warrior king became the evil he fought. The truth was he finally found clarity. He became both the light and the dark,” the griot said. “He became sure of his purpose and that purpose was to lead. To rule. To eradicate the darkness with light and if that wasn’t possible, with a greater darkness than what his foes could muster.” Coco started. She was fairly sure that the griot’s voice was changing, becoming richer and less raspy. “He, and his followers, were cast out of their lost paradise into the world outside by those who feared the power he discovered. To insure that he was never able to return, they locked away his access to their realm by hiding their land from human eyes as well as his own.”

“But not before draining away some of the power he gained.” Dillon’s eyes seemed to focus on some distant marker in his past that no longer existed, but nonetheless foretold of a hazard to come. “It was said they took the very heart of his power as he was exiled. That energy was locked away in a totem and…”

“Patience, Dillon,” the griot said. “There is more to tell. For a time the warrior king wandered the world until he and his followers found Shamballah. They fought, and even ruled there. They formed the core of what would eventually become the Warmasters of Liguria and were also the source for many of the martial arts found throughout what you call Asia and Africa. Their battles were glorious! The Pale Colossus of Shanto, The Night Lords of the Bygone Land, the Deathwalker, the Fourth Child of Doom – so many foes and each one that was defeated restored some of the power the Castaway King.

As they journeyed through the outside world, their fame brought them followers. Warriors who thought that they could become part of the legendary band, but at best could serve as vassals. Pieces to employ as agents among the peoples of the outside world.”

“Like the Azure Dragons,” Coco said.

“Yes, child.” The griot’s hood dipped slightly in her direction. “The Dragons were probably the greatest and most loyal of those outside the Castaway King’s circle of true warriors. Their enthusiasm at being considered the elite among their peers made them the perfect arm into the outside world while the Castaway King and his people looked for a place to settle and wait until they found the means to return to their homeland. Eventually they found an area that was lush, green and full and this place was built as a home to those who served the Castaway King.”

“So this ‘Castaway King’ is dead and gone by now, right?“ Coco’s sentence trailed off as she saw the stricken expression on Dillon’s face. “Dillon?”

“I don’t think so, Coco…” Dillon stared hard at the mask as the light it radiated intensified. He frowned and started to reach for his gun.

The Golden Lady took in a sharp breath. “Dillon the mask!”

“Ah,” the griot rose from his sitting position to his full height and towered over Dillon who rose at the same time. “You’ve figured it out, but you’re too late!” With a savage jerk, the griot tore away his hooded robes to reveal a powerfully built black man with a well groomed goatee covering strong features. He snatched the mask from the air and placed it over his face. As he did so the mask seemed to melt into the flesh it touched and as the man took his hands away from his face, Dillon and Coco saw that the two had somehow merged. The markings on the mask; the gold and pearl crown were now blended into his features.

“And I have you to thank for reuniting me with the totem that held the last of my power. I am Amiri Ezana, the Castaway King, and the one true Warrior Lord of —“

“Usimi Dero,” Dillon said with a whisper.

Amiri Ezana smiled and the aspect of the mask that conformed to his features stretched them into something hideous – an expression that bore the mark of evil and madness behind the pools of molten gold his eyes had become.

Coco placed a hand on Dillon’s shoulder as she looked up at Amiri Ezana. “So how exactly does the legend end?”

Dillon looked at her and pulled his Jericho. “Doesn’t matter, C. We’re gonna have to do a rewrite.”

“I was really hoping you weren’t going to say that.”

Amiri Ezana laughed. “I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you, the children of Usimi Dero are going home. It is a truth that is out of your hands.

“Don’t think so,” Dillon replied. “You just melded with a mask from a time when you were bat-shit crazy,” Dillon took aim. “I think the last thing I’m about to do is let you go on a field trip to the old neighborhood and see what goes down next.”

“Pity,” Amiri Ezana said with the hint of a sigh. “I’ll just have to destroy the world without an audience.”

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