The Prince And The Pine Cone

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The booming knocking echoed throughout the quiet castle. Wondering who was at the door at this time on a miserable night, the guard hurried to find out.

‘Who’s there?’ he called above the wind.

‘A brave man, lost and weary from fighting and travel!’ a voice yelled back.

The guard peered through the small door and looked out into the darkness. He could hear armour clinking together and the shuffling hoofs of a horse. Taking a lantern he had brought down from the tower with him, the guard shone the light outside and confirmed the figure of a knight walking his horse in the heavy down pour or rain.

‘What is your name, Sir?’ the guard asked.

You could never be too sure about travellers theses days.

‘I am Prince Adrian Bardun, of the kingdom next door. Can you offer shelter or not?’

‘Right away, Sire,’ the guard responded and opened the gate.

The prince led his horse inside and they stood for a few moments under the keep, rain water dripping off them. The guard pointed out the door to the castle and agreed to take the horse to the stable.

The prince walked up to the door and knocked just as loud. A elderly servant opened up and after making inquires, let the prince in. He was given a chance to dry off for a minutes whilst the servant went off to announce him.

The swishing of a long dress and soft padding of shoes on the castle floor, brought the prince’s head up and he saw walking towards him a beautiful a young woman. Her dress was dark blue, her hair was long and golden and she had a small crown on her head.

He bowed to her and introduced himself, ‘I’m prince Adrian Bardun. I seek shelter. I became lost in the forest and lucky happened upon your castle, my lady.’

‘I’m princess Aurora. Welcome,’ she said then turned to the servant, ‘take him to the kitchen to get warm and give him some food. And get someone to make a room up for him.’

The servant bowed, ‘follow me, sir.’

‘Thank you, your highness,’ the prince said and followed the servant to the kitchen.

The princess waited then drifted back to her chamber. She was tried after a day of helping her people sort out their disagreements. Sitting down at her table, she began to brush her hair again. It was task she greatly enjoyed.

A knock came at her door and when she told whoever it was to enter, her adviser, Walden Duner, walked in. He was tall man with a long nose, wearing a dark red robe. He was in her father’s, the king’s, service and had been for a long time. With the king being away, he had been charged with helping to direct the princess.

‘My lady,’ he said and give a small bow.

‘Sit, please,’ Aurora said.

The old adviser gratefully sank down on a small stool.

‘What do you think of our guest, the prince?’ she asked as she turned back to the mirror and carried on brushing her hair.

‘I’m not sure about him, your highness,’ Walden answered, ‘I’m not sure he is a prince from the neighbouring kingdom. I haven’t heard of him before you see.’

‘Oh. What shall we do?’ the princess asked.

‘Well…there is a test we could give him to prove if he really is a prince,’ Walden spoke slowly.

‘Go on.’

‘We pile his bed high with mattresses and blankets then we put a pine cone at the bottom and if he can feel the pine cone then he’s a real prince.’

The princess laughed, ‘that’s so silly. It’ll never work!’

‘Perhaps, it is just an old wives tale….’ Walden trailed off.

The princess finished brushing her hair whilst she thought then she spoke, ‘okay, do it. Pile everything you can on his bed and put the pine cone in. Even if he doesn’t turn out to be a prince it’ll be really funny.’

‘Yes, my lady,’ Walden said and got up to leave.

Trying to control her giggles, the princess got ready for bed.

The next morning, the princess dressed quickly and hurried to the guest chambers. On the way, she asked a maid which room the prince had been given. Going up to that door, she knocked and waited.

‘Who is it?’ the prince’s voice spoke out.

‘The princess,’ she replied.

The prince opened the door, he was dressed in trousers and a half opened shirt. The princess had not been able to see him clearly last night and he had been wearing a lot of armour too. She admired him, taking in his broad shoulders and large chest. He was a tall handsome man with dark hair.

The princess smiled up at him, lost for words.

‘Good morning,’ the prince said.

‘Yes. Good morning…How did you sleep?’ she asked.

‘Not very well to be honest, princess.’

‘Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.’

The prince held the bedroom door open wider and said, ‘I was actually just trying to see why and I think I’ve found the cause. Would you like to take a look with me?’

Wide eyed, the princess nodded and stepped into the room. Straight away she saw the bed was piled almost to the ceiling with mattress, blankets and cushions. The four poster bed frame looked like it was about to collapse and the curtains were bulging off to the side.

‘What a strange custom your kingdom has, princess. Your adviser told me this was a tradition here for guests….He refused to explain it to me. Can you?’ the prince said.

The princess smiled, fully impressed by Walden and her servants. She looked at him shyly, taking his body in once more.

‘But surely,’ the princess said slowly, ‘that’s not the reason for your bad night sleep?’

‘No, but look under here,’ the prince said.

He walked over and lifted all the bedding up and laying in the middle of the first mattress that had been bought on was a small pine cone.

The princess picked it up and looked at it. The pine cone was still complete and didn’t seem to have taken any damage from the mountain of bedding. The prince let the bedding fall back into place with a huff.

‘That, my lady, is what caused my sleepless night,’ the prince said and plucked the pine cone from her hand.

‘Oh…You felt this? I wonder how it got there…’ the princess wondered.

‘I have no idea…another custom maybe…?’ the prince asked with a smile on his face.

The princess smiled back. She lend in close to the prince, her fingers touch the pine cone as her lips brushed his.

 

(Inspired from: https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/tale-weaver-121-25-05-17-reversenaughty-fairy-tales with thanks.)

Derelict #writephoto

There was no telling what the small abandoned building had been used for over the years. Still though something drew me towards it every morning as I was running with my four dogs. It was a small sunken old fashioned pile of stones with a red tile and wooden frame roof. It sat at the end of a field which seemed abandoned too.

My dogs; a breeding pair of yellow labs called Peaches and Teddy, a husky mix named Dakota and a lopping great dane who had come with the name Frankenstein – Frankie for short, avoided the place as if there was something nasty inside. If I went too close they’d bark and howl for me to come back to them.

Today, the abandoned building was looking more forbidding. It also looked like some youths had taken to hanging out there. I slowed my pace and came to a stop, catching my breath. I bent over, putting my hands on my knees and dragging in deep warm breathes of summer.

Peaches came over to me, whining a little as she lay down at my feet. This was her first long run in awhile. She had five pups, who were almost twelve weeks old at home. They didn’t really need her any more, but she was a super good mother. I reached down and stroked her soft head.

‘We’ll go back home now,’ I told her.

Behind us, the other three dogs were having a tussle in the long grass. I whistled and they all began racing back to me. I glanced at the abandoned building and with a shrugged decided to check it out.

Walking over, I could see that someone had made a fire. There was a small circle of black ashes on the ground and the grass nearby had been burnt and flattened. There was a little graffiti on the side of the building, but that could have been there for ages. A beer can crunched under me and I stepped back in slight alarm. Nudging the can out of the way I went closer.

An unhappy barking came from Dakota and I turned to look at the husky. He was pacing, low in the grass watching me, his body language showing he was afraid. I looked for the others; Peaches was where I had left her, Teddy now sat at her side and Frankie was sniffing something far to my left.

There was a strange smell in the air as I got closer. The remains of the fire and wood which was understandable, but there was a sour stinging note as if something shouldn’t have been burnt. A feeling inside of me told me to get away, but I pressed on. What was so scary about a small tumbled down building with a funny smell to a fully grown man with protective dogs?

I peered through the doorway and heard a low moan. The wind? A person?

‘Hello?’ I called.

Teddy started barking loudly behind me. I ignored him and stared harder into the gloom. There was a little light coming in from the half open roof but not enough to fully see the inside of. What I could see was a mess of bricks and wood which might have been apart of the roof.

Horror movies began filling my mind out of the blue. I shook them off. There was nothing here and that sound had just been the wind. Stepping away, I went back to my dogs and made sure they were okay.

That’s when I noticed that there was no wind and the abandoned field was silent.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2017/05/25/thursday-photo-prompt-derelict-writephoto with thanks)

Tried

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I was too tried to do anything. It had been a long week and the only thing I wanted to do was curl up in bed and go to sleep. However, I couldn’t. There were too many things still left to do. I  had to pack for my holiday in Greece, I had to find my passport, print all the tickets and information etc. I stared at the computer screen willing myself to stay awake, but it didn’t happen and I fell sleep.

Hot

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It had been warm for awhile now but today the sun had decided to blaze in the sky, so everywhere was hot.

People gathered outside, hurrying to the shops to by water and BBQ food. Others took to their gardens and basked in the glory.

I went into my cellar and sat there in the dark coldness, praying for winter to arrive early.

Staircase

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The staircase spirals on and you follow each step up even though you are tried. Your hand glides over the wooden banister from which you can feel a strange warmth from. You long ago give up counting the white steps and though you wish to stop you can’t seem to bring yourself to still your feet.

The staircase goes on forever. You can’t see the beginning or the end. A soft white light filters around, but you don’t know where it’s coming from. However, it seems to move with you because when you look below or above the stairs are full of shadows.

The staircase never reaches the surface. You know that within your body and soul. You keep climbing still though. A few times you did turn around and head downwards, thinking that maybe there’d be something different in the opposite direction, but nothing had come of it.

So, you keep walking and hope that somehow this limbo that you are in breaks.

 

Wind Back Time

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Hanging upside down and trying to control her breathing as panic floored her, Lisa tried to think about something else. Shutting her eyes which was easy enough to do because she suddenly felt sleepy, she began listing off everything she had had been heading to the shops to buy.

Tea bags, milk, sugar, bread, cheese, fruit and veg….chocolate biscuits, Lisa thought.

A fire engine siren whipped through the air, causing Lisa to open her eyes and stop the list. From her upside view she couldn’t see the red truck but she knew it was there now. Blending on with the other emergency vehicle at the scene.

Her hair felt wet and she hoped it was only sweat. Wiggling, she tried to see if she could get out, but her hand didn’t want to reach down and undo the seat belt. Dragging in a deep breath, she watched the blur of people standing outside her car. Lisa tried to count them, but the figures seemed to become one.

‘Help,’ she cried weakly. Not sure what else to do.

‘It’s okay, Miss,’ a too young looking ambulance man said.

Lisa turned her head to look at him.

‘Please don’t move,’ he added.

‘Ok,’ she mumbled.

Lisa shut her eyes again. The ambulance man was saying something else but she didn’t hear him.

How had this happened? she wondered.

One moment she had been driving along the motorway the next another car had ploughed into her side and she had spun and flipped. At least that’s how it had seemed to her. Perhaps, that was just her mind thinking of it like a movie.

She wished she could rewind this back like a movie. At least then she might try to do something differently. Maybe more lanes or slow down, just something that might have made a difference.

‘We are going to cut you out now. Please stay still,’ the ambulance man said.

Lisa took a few deep breaths and focused her mind winding back time. However, nothing she could do would change what had happened.

A Little Rain

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I hadn’t been paying attention all day. The events of work yesterday were still reeling through my mind like one of those old films on a projector which had ended but kept spinning. That was why when I unlocked and opened my shoe box apartment door, I didn’t see the postcard on the floor.

The next morning it was laying there, having waited like an obedient dog for me to notice it. Frowning, I stepped off the edge of the postcard and bent down to pick it up, careful of my tight pencil skirt and new coal tights.

It looked an old postcard which had been laying there for a long time. The edges were dog eared, the card was turning from cream to yellow and there was scuff marks on both sides. The picture on the front was a strange nighttime cityscape, with lights on in the tall buildings and the sky behind them dusky dark. I turned it over and read the scribbled handwriting;

Today, it rained that matters a lot nowadays.   

I checked the address but the lines hadn’t been filled in and there was no stamp. Puzzled, I put the postcard down on the side table next to the phone and went to work. I was too busy to decipher the message.

Of course, when I came home the postcard was waiting for me but I ignored it. Slipping out of my heels, my feet hurting after another day of running around, I dumped my stuff on the floor next to them and went into my bedroom.

I ran the bath and had a good soak, letting all my thoughts swirl away. I had something to eat after then I picked up the postcard and went to bed. I was too tried to give it much thought but now that I’d held it again, my mind was interested by it.

There was no date that I could see, nor any little description about the imagine on the front which these postcards always have. I didn’t recognises the handwriting nor the meaning of the words.

I looked at the small picture framed window covered by it’s thin peach curtain and wondered if it was raining. It was true that I hadn’t seen rain in months. There was a drought and all water was being saved. So, what the postcard said was even more remarkable.

Maybe it was like spy code for something? Perhaps it had been delivered to my address by mistake? Tiredness washed over me and I set the postcard down again. Turning the lamp off, I settled into sleep and dreamt about rain.

Candle

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She put the candle in the window and prayed that her loved ones would come home soon.

 

(In memory of all those lost and injured in the Manchester Arena Bombing on Monday 22nd May 2017)

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Outside #writephoto

He was lost and scared as he walked through the darkness in the rain. There were lights ahead, but he couldn’t be sure what they were. He thought he felt rough stone under his fingers. He carried on walking till there was enough light to see by.

Now, he knew were he was; the back area of his home. He could see the south tower, though it was wrapped heavily in shadows. Running over, he tried not to think about how much trouble he’d be in. Maybe, he hoped, no one had missed him yet.

How many times had he been told not to play on the roof? Yet, still tonight he had gone out there and he wasn’t even sure why. Trying only to think of getting back inside and to bed, he began trying to reach the third window of the tower. It was the only way back in from this side.

He climbed up, finding it easy to hold on to the worn stones. He pressed against the window. Thankfully, it hadn’t be latched back fully. Climbing through and wiggling over the ledge he entered the staircase, leaving behind him small puddles of water on the window sill.

(https://scvincent.com/2017/05/18/thursday-photo-prompt-inside-out-writephoto/)

Inside #writephoto

The maid frowned in her cleaning of the grand staircase as her sharp eyes spotted the water on the stone window sill opposite. Shuffling over, she looked and tried to figure out where the water had come from.

The window couldn’t be opened for it was just a single panel of glass fitted into a thick stone wall so the rain from last night couldn’t have got in. Plus, this section of the castle was currently closed and she was the first person to come in for a few weeks now.

Deciding there must be a leak somewhere above, the maid mopped up the water and give the window a quick clean. Then getting back to her main tasks, her mind forgot all about reporting the problem.

A month later, the maid came back to that section again to keep on top of things. Once again she noticed the small puddles of water on the window sill. This time she checked to make sure there was no holes in the glass and that the other window sills were dry.

Satisfied, she made a note in her little notebook and went back to work. It had to be a little leak somewhere. The castle was late thirteen century so it was to be expected that some of the old lead lining was fading.

At the end of the shift, the maid reported the leak and detailed where it was; south tower, third window on staircase.  

However, every time she went into that section the water puddles were still on the window still. She mopped them up and tried to find a source for them which even on rainy days seemed a mystery. Then she would report the problem.

Finally, one afternoon the maid complained to her manager.

‘The leak I keep reporting isn’t getting fixed,’ she said, ‘it was there again this morning.’

‘The third window in the south tower?’ her manager said straight away.

The maid looked at her from over the top of a very cluttered desk. The manager’s office was a big space that had once been a part of the servant’s ground floor rooms. It had been converted ages ago and was filled with office furniture.

‘It’s been looked at every time you have reported it and no leaks have been found,’ the manager replied with a serious look on her face.

‘But there must be something….’ the maid uttered.

‘It’s the ghost,’ the manager responded with a shrug.

‘Ghost?’

‘The story goes that a young boy fell from the tower. It was raining and he slipped. The servants believed that the boy’s ghost keeps trying to get back inside because he’s trapped on the outside. The third window use to be the only one you could open…’

The maid pulled a face and answered, ‘I don’t believe in ghosts…’

‘Nor do I or anyone else who works here, but for the groundskeeper and the two old gardeners. They use to work here when this place was a stately home, before it got handed over to the Trust. They’d tell you the story better then I can,’ the manager added.

‘No, thanks,’ the maid replied and saying goodbye left to get on with her other tasks.

The water puddles remind still and once a month when the maid was there cleaning, she would wipe them away. She really didn’t believe in ghosts and thought that it must still be a leak somewhere.

 

(https://scvincent.com/2017/05/18/thursday-photo-prompt-inside-out-writephoto/)