The Giant’s Pocket Watch #fridayfictoneers

PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast

The wooden back of a huge pocket watch had stood in the corner of the town’s park for hundreds of years. The origins of it had long been lost, but the myth was that the pocket watch had once belonged to a giant.

The giant Haldor was running late for the yearly Giants Together meeting. As he trod over a village, ignoring the fleeing of little people far below him, he drew out his pocket watch and checked the time. Seeing, he was going to be very late indeed, he hurriedly put the watch back into his pocket.

However, he missed and the watch hit the floor. Angrily, he bent to pick it up and swiped down two cottages as he did so. Hurrying on, he didn’t notice that his pocket watch had broken in the fall.

Years later, a shepherd lad was searching for a lost lamb when he came across the back of the pocket watch. He stared up in awe at the huge wooden circle then spotting his lamb nearby, he hurried to collect her. When he returned home, he told his father about what he had seen, for the lad was too young to remember the giant Haldor. His father clearly recalled the day though.

And that was how the myth of the giant’s pocket watch began.

 

(Inspired from a prompt from; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/03/15/17-march-2017/ with thanks. PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast)

Swan

swan river

The Duchess sat by the lake, looking out over the sunset kissed water. She sighed deeply and wondered what she was going to do now. She had lost everything beside a trunk full of things and her pet swan. She could cope with that though. It was the betrayal of her husband and the kingdom she would never live down.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/01/12/thursday-photo-prompt-swan-writephoto)

The Visitors

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The High Priestess had heard the crying at the temple door for some time now. She had been hoping that one of The Sisters Of Syreth,  her followers, servants or anybody else taking shelter in the temple tonight would have opened the door by now. Wondering why that was, the High Priestess swished down a connecting hallway in her large and heavy blue dress.

Going through a small door, she entered and passed through the huge nave down a side corridor. The air was heavily scented with hot wax, incense and winter flowers from the mountain sides. Flickering candle light glowed from clustered candle groups, but it was not enough to keep the shadows away. A handful of people were sitting in the large, cold wooden pews. Most were silent in prayer or sleep, but every now and then sobbing, moans and whispered voices could be heard.

The High Priestess stuck to the shadows and hurried past. It was late in the night and she had all ready given a long service this evening then spent time with a number of different people. She was tried and had been trying to fall asleep, but the crying had disturbed her.

Going through the large doors into the small welcoming area, she saw the door opposite which led to the porch was all ready open. Voices and light were drifting from the area. Not bothering to be quiet she walked on and came to a stop behind a small group of people. There were five of them; two Sisters of Syreth in there pale blue robes, a male servant and a tall man dressed in a travelling cloak.

‘I am telling you, do not let them in!’ the man was saying.

‘Everybody is welcome in this temple of Syreth. She is the Goddess of protection and guardians. It is our duty to offer whatever we can to anybody who comes to our door,’ the High Priestess broke in.

The two Sisters turned and did little bows. The male servant, who was holding a lantern bowed too, but his was a lot lower. The traveler did not move and the High Priestess saw the tiredness and worry on his face. But he was also trying to mask his fear. Behind them all and coming from the other side of the temple’s double front doors the loud crying continued.

‘What is it? Who is crying out there?’ the High Priestess demanded to know.

There was a pause then the traveler spoke out, ‘creatures. I saw them on my way here and I think they followed me. You must not let them in for surely they are demons.’

‘What do they look like?’ The High Priestess asked.

‘There is two of them,’ the traveler replied, ‘one small, the other tall. They look like ghosts to me. I heard them whispering and calling out to me. But I did not stop. I rushed here and closed the door upon them and since then they have been crying,’ the traveler explained.

The High Priestess fell into thought.

‘We want to open the door to see for ourselves,’ one of the Sisters spoke.

‘Perhaps in the darkness the gentleman was mistaken,’ the second Sister finished.

‘I am not blind! I know what I saw!’ the traveler snapped.

‘Of course,’ the High Priestess murmured, ‘please see to his needs,’ she said to the servant.

The servant give a nod and led the man away. The traveler began to mutter under his breath, but he followed the servant and the steady lantern light.

The High Priestess went to the door and opened it. She peered out then stepped aside.

A strong winter wind blew harsh snowflakes into the temple and set the candles flicking violently. Coldness seeped in and snatched what little warmth there was within the stone walls away. The sound of the river gargling and the rattling of bare tree branches echoed through the temple.

The crying stopped. A large white and light brown cat padded inside followed by a pure white young female deer. Snow dusted their coats, but they seemed unharmed.

‘Do you seek shelter here?’ asked the High Priestess.

‘Yes,’ the cat spoke in a clear voice that was not male or female.

The two Sisters gasped and backed away. They reached for each other, holding hands tightly. Fear passed across their faces, but they did not run away.

The High Priestess shut the door. Snowflakes were melting in her long loose blonde hair and the wind was tugging at the edges of her dress like a naughty child.

‘You are both welcome here,’ the High Priestess continued.

‘Thank you,’ the cat replied.

‘What are your names and how can we help you?’

‘I am known as Horven, the druid,’ the cat spoke, ‘and she is the Princess Graceuvial.’

The white deer nodded and seemed to give a little bow with her long neck.

‘A Princess?’ The High Priestess breathed.

‘We have become lost in the snowstorm,’ Horven added.

‘Yes. It is quite a bad one,’ the High Priestess responded, ‘please let me take you to some warm rooms. There you can rest and I shall see to it you have everything you need.

‘Thank you,’ the cat said.

The High Priestess held out her hand then led the way into the Temple.

 

(https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/microfiction-challenge-27-rescue/)

A Winter’s Dream

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The snow was falling thickly outside, burying the moor further under a white blanket. Lisbeth watched the flakes from the library windows which were the biggest in the small manor house and gave the best views. After a few moments of peering out of each of the three windows, Lisbeth climbed into the window box which was in the second window.

The window box had a soft red cushion covered seat and hand stitched square cushions at both corners. It was cosy and always made Lisbeth feel safe in the large cold library. Bending her knees up and tucking her long dark green dress underneath her, Lisbeth wrapped her arms around her legs and stared out of the window.

She could see the small dirt circled driveway, with the fountain turned off for winter. The red brick wall and black iron gates with their covering of ivy. Beyond, was the moor, which seemed to stretched out forever like the sea. Being covered in snow, the landscape looked bleak and boring, but Lisbeth knew come spring and summer, the moors would be brightly colored with flowers and alive with baby animals.

A loud knocking on the door drew her attention away and Lisbeth turned her head to see her maid walking into the library. The young woman was wearing a black dress and a white pinafore. When she got closer, having come around the big oak table that sat in the middle of the room, Lisbeth saw she had something in her hand.

‘This has arrived for you, Miss. A gift from your father,’ the maid spoke.

Lisbeth reached out a hand and took the brown paper and string wrapped packet. It was a rectangle shape and heavy. Slowly, Lisbeth unwrapped it and and found a book inside. The cover was a light brown and golden letters which she couldn’t read, spelled out a title and an author.

‘I’ll lit the fire in here for you, Miss,’ the maid said.

Lisbeth didn’t say anything as her fingers touched the golden lettering. She knew it was French, but she only knew a handful of words. Opening the book, she flipped through the pages and noticed that some of them had drawings on. In the background, she heard a fire being started then the closing of the door.

Turning the pages slower, Lisbeth come across an image that made her stop. There was a man with black curly hair and blue trousers carrying a girl in one hand and leading a white horse in the other. The horse was carrying four or six other girls through what seemed to be countryside. Lisbeth tried to read the pages on either side of the picture, looking for any words she might know. However, the few she did know give her no clue as to what the drawing was about.

Looking harder at the picture, Lisbeth tried to figure out what was going on. Clearly, this man was taking the girls somewhere. Maybe, he was rescuing them? Was he a Prince? A Lord? A poor farmer? And who were the girls and why were there so many of them? Lisbeth counted again and decided there was six of them riding the horse and the girl in his arm made seven. Were they sisters then?

Feeling frustrated, Lisbeth closed the book and set it at her feet. Resting her head on her knees, she looked out the window again. The glass was misting up and the snow was falling faster making the view of the moor even more distant. From behind her came the first curls of warmth from the fire. She heard the flames cracking around the logs, the noise was too loud in the silence of the library.

Lisbeth shut her eyes and though she didn’t want to think about the drawing anymore, she couldn’t help it. Desperately, she wanted to know who the man and the girls were.

Father will know, she thought, when he gets back from his business trip, he can read it to me.

Sighing and feeling the chill leaving her, Lisbeth went to open her eyes again, but found they were too heavy. With the fire lulling her to sleep, she let herself slip away.

When Lisbeth finally opened her eyes again, she found herself not at home in the library watching the snow falling on the moor, but outside in the countryside. The sun was blazing in a too blue sky, tall green trees were dotted around and the grass under her was long. Birds were singing, insects buzzing and the smell of flowers filled the air.

As she was wondering what had happened, Lisbeth heard the sound of horses hoofs. Getting up, she looked around and saw a road close by. Walking over, she soon saw a large white horse being led by a young man with black curly hair. He was wearing medieval clothes like she had seen in paintings. In his other hand, he was carrying a child wrapped in white strips of cloth who had very long blonde hair. Upon the horse, six other girls rode and they were also wrapped in cloth with tangled long blonde hair.

Lisbeth stepped onto the road before them all.

‘Excuse me,’ Lisbeth called, ‘Hello. Could you please tell me where I am?’

The man brought his horse to a stop and looked at her. The seven girls also fixed their eyes to her and Lisbeth could now see that the girls all looked the same, but they were different ages. They all looked weary as if they had been walking for awhile.

‘You are far from anywhere,’ the man replied.

Lisbeth frowned.

‘This is the middle of the French countryside,’ the man explained, ‘there is nothing but farmers and wine makers out here. We are days from the nearest village and a month from the nearest town.’

‘And who are you all?’ Lisbeth asked.

‘You are clearly a stranger here,’ the man spoke.

Lisbeth nodded.

‘I’m Prince Louis and these are my sisters. Our kingdom was burnt down and we could not stay there. We are traveling to the next kingdom where my oldest sister is betrothed to the Prince there.’

‘I see,’ Lisbeth answered.

‘And you?’ the Prince asked.

‘I do not know. I woke up over there.’

Lisbeth looked at the spot and fell into wondering how she got here.

‘What’s your name?’ the oldest and first Princess on the horse asked.

‘Lisbeth. That I am sure of!’

‘Do you want to come with us?’

‘I do not think I can. I am waiting for my father. He should be home soon,’ Lisbeth replied thoughtfully.

‘Then we must leave you now,’ the Prince spoke out, ‘the road is still long ahead of us.’

‘It was nice meeting you all,’ Lisbeth said.

With nods of goodbye, Lisbeth stepped off the road and watched the Prince leading the white horse away. When she could not seen them anymore, Lisbeth walked back to the spot she had woken up in and sat down.

‘How do I get out of here?’ she spoke aloud.

Resting back, she looked up at the cloudless sky and felt the heat on her skin. She felt tried and hot. Shutting her eyes, she told herself that after a little doze she would figure this all out further.

Someone was calling her name. She could hear them in the distance. Fighting away sleep, Lisbeth opened her eyes. She blinked a few times then sat up. She was back in the library. Rubbing her face, she looked out of the window, but darkness had now settled outside. Turning away, she saw her maid standing before her and the fire still burning brightly further back.

‘I fell asleep…’ Lisbeth said, ‘and it was all a dream.’

‘A pleasant one I hope, Miss?’ the maid asked.

Lisbeth nodded.

‘Would you like some supper now, Miss?’

‘No, thanks. I think I shall go to my room,’ Lisbeth said.

She slipped out of the window box and picked up the book. Even though she was tempted to open the pages and see the drawing again, she kept the book closed and walked out of the library.

Outside the snow continued to fall.

 

(From a prompt by https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/microfiction-challenge-26-a-journey/ with thanks)

The Red Tree

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The Princess stopped by the thin twisted red tree that stood alone in the far corner of the glass house garden. The four branches were bearing a number of different fruits, but as of yet they were not ripe.

Leaning towards the tree, she began to sing softly and as the words left her lips, the trunk began twisting around. The branches slowly moved down towards her, making the fruit more easier to reach. She could clearly see now the fruits needed a few days longer.

The Princess stopped singing and the tree rose up once more. When the branches had become still, she began to debate which fruit she would pick to eat at the midnight celebrations of the year’s longest night. As traditions in the Kingdom of Moon went it had always been her favourite. All members of the royal family were allowed to pick one fruit from the red tree and eat it before the midnight feasting started. It was seen as a blessing for the year to come and to celebrate the true ending of the harvest.

Perhaps a plum or the pear? She thought, no, no, the orange. There’s only one of them this year. 

Lifting her eyes away, the Princess looked out of the nearest glass pane. It had started snowing again and the flakes were melting on the warm glass. Smiling, she went to the nearest door that led outside and quickly going through, she twirled around in the white fluffy snow.

 

Based on a prompt from; https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/microfiction-challenge-25-the-red-tree/ With thanks.

Postcard #28

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Greetings from the middle of snowy nowhere!

Of course, I can’t tell you were I am because that has to stay a secret! Let’s just say I’ve been made to feel at home by a married elderly couple who love the color red and children. They also employ a lot of ‘short people’ in the making of toys and gifts.

The couple have their own farm with the normal animals, but also a few special ones. I was out there the other day helping to feed the deer and brush their coats. The wife breeds animals, mostly puppies and kittens because of the high demand for them, but she has a soft spot for bunnies.

I’m still not sure how long my stay here will last, but the old man has said he’d give me a lift home on the 24th, if I still need it. I’m keen to take him up on that. Lord knows the trek out here nearly killed me! But it’s such a wonderful and beautiful place. I can really understand why they choose to live out here.

I’m out of space now, so give my love to everyone and I’ll see you all soon!

Hector.

Fairy Shrine

mystery

Lucy walked briskly through the woods, letting her dogs run free. This early in the morning the paths were almost empty and Lucy thought how wise people were to stay in bed. She longed to be back in the dry warmth instead of out here in the freezing damp.

Winter had arrived over night shaking away the mild glorious autumn. A thick frost covered the ground turning everything white. Small puddles were iced over and tree trunks were splattered with water crystal patterns. A thin fog hung high between the tree tops, hills and clear bright blue sky.

Lucy’s breath misted before her face and no matter how much she tried she couldn’t stay warm. Her boots scuffed over the stone pathway then she turned off and walked up a slope of grass into large group of trees. The frosty grass and fallen leaves crunched under her in nice crispy sounds. Ahead, she heard dogs barking and as she walked passed the first tree, she saw her four dogs fighting over a large branch.

The big husky was yanking one end of the branch whilst the border collie cross and cocker spaniel had the other. The jack russel was stood in the middle barking his head off.

Laughing, Lucy took out her phone and snapped some photos.  Then calling the dogs to her, she carried on walking. The jack russel was the first to come to her heels. Encouraging him on, the others gave chase and they all vanished into the trees once more. Following the path upwards, she walked her normal route.

However, as Lucy reached the top of the hill she decided to go left instead of right and take the shorter way back. Calling the dogs to her, she headed into a more dense part of the woods. The tree branches were bare above her and arching upwards to the sky. There were less leaves covering the floor up here and the ground was hard. Hurrying on and making sure she had all the dogs with her, Lucy noticed something.

Above her was an exposed rocky section of the hill and there was a doorway a meter further down.

‘What is that? I’ve never seen it before,’ Lucy spoke aloud.

Interested, she walked towards it and came to a stop before the doorway. It was made of white stones and seemed to lead into somewhere. It was too dark to see though. Walking on, she wondered if there was a pathway along there. Forgetting about the cold, she headed on and when the path came to lead off in a few directions, she turned left on a path that rose up and matched the one she had been on.

The dogs were barking in the distance and for a moment she wonder what trouble they were causing. Her eyes spotted the white doorway and all other thoughts left her mind. The doorway was low and narrow, but she could fit inside. Digging out her phone again, she turned on the torch and shone it in.

A passageway led further in, the walls, floor and ceiling were white like the doorway. Lucy stood up and glanced around. She thought about calling the dogs back to her. If there was something dangerous in there they could defend her. However, they were bound to get in the way. Shrugging, Lucy walked inside.

A few steps and the passageway opened into a small room. Objects were scattered everywhere; dried and dead flowers, statues of fairies and angels, coins, a small plastic waterfall, burnt out candles, teddy bears, tea cups and note cards.

Puzzled, Lucy shone the light around more then bent to look at one of the note cards. It was in a child’s handwriting and she could hardly read it because of the bad spelling. It seemed to be a wish of some kind. Lucy looked at the next few and they all seemed to be wishes.

Something wet pressed against her hand. Lucy cried and jump twisted around.

‘Benny!’ she cried at the jack russel, ‘don’t do that!’

The little dog wagged his tail and barked.

Lucy patted his head and looked around again.

‘What is this place?’ she asked.

Benny barked and jumped up at her.

Scrubbing his ears, Lucy heard her other dogs scuffling outside. Sighing, she headed back out. Dusting herself off, she walked back along the pathway, wondering about the tiny cave, the offerings and the wishes left inside.

 

(Story inspired from: https://scvincent.com/2016/11/24/thursday-photo-prompt-mystery-writephoto/ with thanks. Click to read stories other writers wrote.)

Frost

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Jack Frost opened his eyes and raised his head up. Around him, in the small underground cave he called home all the dead leaves with covered in ice. He rolled over, stretched and feeling -but not feeling as it- were the chill of the air around him. He rested back, putting his long pale blue arms across his skeleton chest and interlocking even longer fingers.

Looking up at the soil and roots above him, Jack listened to the earth. He had half hoped he’d been wrongly awoken, but no, autumn was coming to an end and it was time for him to go to work. He wiggled his long pointer toes then rolled back over and got on to his hands and knees.

He climbed out of his home and using the roots of the tree above, stood up. He could see the woodland floor was covered in leaves and mud, the tree branches above were bare and the sky was a dark grey wash. He began walking, leaving a trail of shiny white frost behind.

Jack reached his long fingers out and began touching the tree trunks and tall bushes. The icy spikes began to spread and he left them to cover everything. He walked down to the river’s edge and though there was little he could do to make the whole thing ice over, he tried anyway. It just wasn’t cold enough yet though and he could only form small ice patches.

He wandered on, trailing his fingers everywhere and leaving the frost behind him. Jack became lost in thought and sometime later he stopped and looked up at the sky. He could see the coming dawn.

How much longer until Santa arrives and brings the snow with him? Jack wondered.

He could never tell, only he knew it when he felt it.

He walked to the top of a hill. The highest one in the woods. He rose his hands to the sky and sent out waves of frost. Small snowflakes fell about him, telling Jack his frost was on its way to places. Yawing, he saw that dawn was tinting the sky yellow. He walked slowly back to his home, crawled inside and curled up to sleep again.

Tomorrow he would awaken again and create more frost.

Secrets

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Who knew what was locked away in the tower? Everyday life carried on as normal and no one give the crumbling structure a thought. It stood alone in the middle of the forest. Raising up over the top of the green pine trees and looking across at the village.

Maybe the tower had once been a part of a fort or a castle? A building now lost to time and the nature. Perhaps it had always been a watch tower, built to keep the village on the edge of the forest safe and warn them of coming danger?

Whatever it’s original purpose had been the tower was long abandoned now. And it would have slipped from history if not for a single story that involved it. Two brothers traveling across the country discovered the tower and made inquires about it.

‘Why do you wish to know?’ the oldest member of the village asked them.

‘It is so unusual out there by itself,’ the first brother answered.

‘We were think it might have a good story connected to it for the book we are writing,’ the second brother replied.

The old woman looked them up and down in the firelight of her wooden shack. They were young men; handsome and strong, yet tried from their travels.

‘Here, have some broth and I shall tell you the story I know of the tower,’ the old woman answered.

Gratefully, the brothers accepted the warm bowls of broth and settled down to listen to the old woman’s tale.

‘It was a long, long time ago and the king had just had a baby daughter. There was a big celebration as the kingdom now had an heir. The next day his wife died and an old hag, claiming to be a witch came to the king and demand his daughter. She showed him a contract his wife had signed in which the queen had brought a spell to make her pregnant.’

“By rights,” the witch said, “The child is mine!”

‘The king fought hard, but that night the witch kidnapped the baby and fled to the tower. Everyone searched high and low, but they could not find the old hag or the baby. Heartbroken the king died and his kingdom fell into war then ruin.’

‘And the child?’ the first brother interrupted.

‘Was locked in the tower,’ the old woman stated, ‘the witch raised her there and taught her how to spin and make things. Later, the lost Princess learnt about herself from books. She begged the witch to release her and the witch told her that could only happen when the Princess’ true love came to rescue her.’

‘And did he?’ the second brother asked.

‘No. Of course he did not!’ the old woman snapped, ‘they say to this day the Princess’ bones are still resting on the floor of the tower. The door magically locked so no one can get in.’

The brothers fell silent and finished their broth. They thanked the old woman and left. As they headed out of the village the first brother turned to the second, ‘I want that story,’ he declared, ‘but I’m going to change the ending.’

 

Inspired by: https://scvincent.com/2016/11/10/thursday-photo-prompt-secrets-writephoto/ with thanks.

Castle

Alnwick Castle, Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland

It felt good to step back into history, even if is was only in May’s imagination. Approaching the draw bridge, she pictured herself a top a white horse. She would be wearing a plain dress, maybe red and white, with a matching cape? Not like the bright pinks she had as a child dreamed Princesses worn. She knew better now.

The wood bridge did not make a sound under her feet, but she imaged a horse’s hoofs would be pretty loud as they clopped over. Breathing deeply, she thought about what the castle would smell like. Horses and sweaty people for sure, maybe smoke from a fire, cooking food, hay and all the unpleasant smells of a large group of animals and people living together without sanitation.

‘Pretty impressive, huh?’ her boyfriend, Rory asked.

She glanced across at him standing to the left of her. His eyes were fixed on the raising medieval walls and towers about them. His cap was low over his face, but she could still see the excitement in his expression. She took his hand and guided him off to the side as the large family which had followed them in rushed passed.

‘It really is,’ she added, ‘let’s explore.’

May tugged on him like a little child eager to be off. Rory laughed and let her take the led through the nearest doorway. They entered the reminds of some room or another. A notice board on the wall did say where they were, but May was all ready heading off again.

Stepping through another doorway, she let her hand touched the rough wall. She wondered how many others had done the same. Getting back to imaging again, she thought about the sounds she might hear. Now, she saw herself wondering about the castle as it once was; full walled and roofed, doors actually being in place and people dressed in medieval clothes.

May pictured knights standing around or gruffly chatting, their servants helping them with armour, horses or other things. The castle staff roaming about doing their jobs and official looking people on the King’s business getting ready to leave.

‘The church should be quiet,’ Rory spoke out, breaking through May’s daydream again.

She nodded and they followed the signposts to the large chapel area. It was quiet there and very cool. Rory sat down in one of the alcove spaces and pulled May into his lap before she could do anything about it. He nuzzled into her hair then swept it away from her neck and started kissing her.

‘Rory, stop,’ May muttered.

She tried to break out of his grip but he only tightened it. May settled back, letting the kisses get longer. She shut her eyes and thought of her Princess self meeting her Prince. Though really, she did not have to imagine that any longer.