She was drifting on a sea of dreams to lands unknown.
She was drifting on a sea of dreams to lands unknown.
After endless days of drifting in the sea, Mongrel spotted something. The sun was just rising, casting a sick yellow glow over everything and the sky was opal blue. Gentle waves were lapping the small wooden boat as if it was a rocking cradle.
‘Look!’ Mongrel cried.
The four sleeping bodies in the bottom of the boat stirred.
‘Something coming!’ Mongrel added.
A head rose up, a hand rubbing at the face and a man’s voice said, ‘what?’
‘See,’ Mongrel replied and pointed at the strange shape arising out of the sea.
Elk, the leader of the remaining Spear tribe family, looked. Frowning, he rubbed more sleep from his eyes then focused on the shape again. It had been so long seen he last seen anything other then water and sky.
‘Is it food?’ a young girl’s voice asked.
‘No. It’s building,’ Mongrel gushed, ‘Row! Quick!’
‘Aye!’ Elk shouted.
There was a scramble in the little boat as two adults, a man and a woman sit on beaches facing each other and took up the battered wooden oars. Whilst a six year old child scrambled over them all to come to Mongrel’s side to see what the fussy was about.
‘Go ahead, Jagger and Thistle!’ Mongrel directed.
After a few moments of floundering, the boat began moving swiftly towards the structure. The oars slapped the calm water, breaking through the stillness that had settled in the night.
‘What is it?’ the girl asked.
‘A totem? A watch tower? Don’t know, Ember,’ Mongrel answered quietly.
Ember huddled against him. Feeling safer snuggling into the bear skin coat Mongrel was wearing in. Keeping her eyes fixed on the building, she watched it growing before her.
Soon, the little boat was close enough for them all to see that the structure was a white stone tower on top of a cliff face.
‘Land,’ Elk whispered.
He licked salt from his lips and moved around the boat to take the oar from Thistle.
She passed it on and moved to the back of the boat to rest.
Sea water began spraying over the boat as Elk rowed fast. The tower grew then they passed it and saw before them a golden beach edged by trees.
‘Land,’ Mongrel cried.
Spurred on, Elk and Jagger rowed harder. The boat bounced over the waves then started to ground in the sand.
Mongrel scrambled out, Elk and Jagger joined him. They pulled the boat ashore.
Falling into the sand, they cried out wildly.
‘This!’ Elk declared, ‘will be our new home!’
(Inspired from: https://scvincent.com/2017/05/04/thursday-photo-prompt-obelisk-writephoto/ with thanks)
Morgrim Redsbeard sat in the far corner of the Dragon’s Broken Claw inn, nursing his eighth pint of ale and believing it would cure his headache. Keeping low, Morgrim tried to blend in with the shadows, hoping no one recognised him. He wasn’t in the mood to tell tales of his victories tonight.
The Dragon’s Broken Claw was the most popular drinking hole in Eleria Town. It was just bad luck that Morgrim and his adventuring companions had decided to spend the night here. Morgrim glanced up, taking in the packed room with hooded eyes. The loud noise of voices wasn’t helping, but he didn’t feel like going to his shared bedroom just yet.
Taking a mouthful of ale, Morgrim wished he was drinking something more to his palette, like a nice golden dwarven beer. Also, instead of being in this man inn, he wanted to be in the great dwarf halls of his home, surrounded by kin.
Sighing into his tankard, Morgrim tugged at his long red beard which his ancestors had always been famous for. His finger caught in one of the knots and he was distracted for a few moments. Then out of the crowd, a voice caught his ears.
‘There’s always been outlandish rumors surrounding the Grey Tower. Only a few have ever be there though and many more have tried but The Dead Marshes have seen to ’em.’
Morgrim turned and scanned the over-crowded room for the speaker. There was a tall man standing at other table close by on the left. At first glance, the man could be mistaken for a elf, but Morgrim’s eyes could tell he was just a fair skinned and haired man. There were other men seated or gathered around the table, they were all holding tankards and there was the remains of a meal on the table. The men looked eager to hear a tale.
‘They say an evil wizard rules the land there and he binds all creatures to do his bidding!’ the man continued.
Morgrim huffed into his ale. He had been to The Dead Marshes months ago and he had seen this so called evil wizard with his own eyes. For him, the fight hadn’t be worth it, but at least there was no more trouble for the surrounding villages.
‘Have you been there?’ a drunkard shouted.
A wave of voices followed demanding similar answers. A few other voices called for more drinks and someone else shouted for bread and cheese.
A ghost of smile appeared on the man’s face and he replied, ‘no, but a friend of a friend has! And he said it was the worse thing he every saw. There were armies of goblins and other such creatures working for this evil wizard. The whole land had been stripped bare and fires were burning everywhere. The smell was vile and chocking.’
‘Evil wizard my a-‘ a voice roared but was cut off by raucous laughter.
The man banged on the table and shouted above the noise, ‘This wizard is so wicked that soon everyone will be in danger! He is coming here and either he’ll bend you to his will or slay you all!’
Silence slowly began to fall over the inn. Heads turned and a few voices whispered.
‘It’s true! I tell ya. His name is becoming the most feared across the lands. He wields power no one has every seen before. He is blessed by dark Gods and he is friends with the giants and dragons. Right now, he is gathering his armies to invade. He’ll stop at nothing till he has complete rule!’
Morgrim slide his empty tankard away. His headache finally fading. He reached behind him and from the wall took his warhammer into his hand once more. The weight of the weapon give him great comfort and he always made sure it stand by his side.
‘How do you know this, Man?’ Morgrim spoke quietly in his deep voice.
Heads turned Morgrim’s way and a few elbows nudged each other as people recognised him. A full silence fell on the inn room and it seemed like breathes were being held.
‘It’s been circling for months. Travellers and messengers have been bringing word to the courts,’ the man explained, ‘though I’m sure a dwarf like you would know all about it.’
Morgrim stood up, the table pushed away by his broad and muscular body. He held his warhammer tightly but none threateningly. Casting his eyes, around the room to see that he had everyone’s attention, Morgrim turned back to the man.
‘I see you don’t know who I am, Man. I am Morgrim Redsbeard and I have been to that Grey Tower in The Dead Marshes which you speak of,’ Morgrim stated, ‘and I’m tell you now no such wizard ever lived in that tower.’
The man swallowed, looking deflated and started searching for words to make a come back with.
‘If you want a tale about an evil wizard, I could tell you one. Many have fallen to my warhammer,’ Morgrim declared, ‘innkeeper another pint of your finest ale. I’ve a tale that will chill your very ears off.’
(Characters originally from The Dead Marsh story. Which can be found here; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/the-dead-marshes-part-1/)
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)
It was the first time Shell had been outside since early autumn. Strangely, everything looked the same; there were leaves on the ground, the trees were bare and clear water was still running in the man made stream. The air felt cold and wet, yet fragranced with freshness.
Shell breathed in, held it then on release heard the crackling of a cough in her lungs. She tried to hide it, but the cough burst from her like popped ball. She clutched her chest, feeling the tightness growing. She bent over, unable to do anything other then let the coughing fit hack through her body.
Flopping down on the wet grass, her simple dress collecting about her, Shell rubbed her chest and tried hard to catch her breath. She glanced back at the remains of a castle. The light grey stone walls and roofs rose above the brown branches of the tree tops. She had been trying to get there but defeat was creeping in.
Pushing herself up, she went towards the stream and sat down by it. Even though Shell knew the water would be freezing, she scooped up handfuls and drink deeply. There was a few minutes of peace and then another cough tickled up her throat. Giving in to it, she let this cough out.
It was worse then the one before and tears started in her eyes. Sniffing, she wiped her face and made herself look dignified again. Struggling to her feet, Shell walked back though the woods. Glad no one had seen her.
Slipping inside the cottage’s back door, she went up the two flights of stairs and into her attic bedroom. Shell sank down on to the bed and looked around. Someone – her old handmaid probably- had cleaned the room she had just spent the last four months almost dying in.
The windows were open, letting in the early spring air and there was a vase of just budding flowers on the window sill. The bedding had been changed, the floors scrubbed and the fire place clean. There was nothing to say the place had almost been a death chamber.
Shell turned to the window. She couldn’t see the castle from here, but she could feel it. Her home was always close in her mind. She sighed and didn’t let the memories build up. It was time to bury them, just like she had her parents and grandparents.
There was a knock at the door, but before Shell could call out the door opened. Her handmaid walked in carrying armfuls of clothes. the woman was short, busty and getting in late age.
‘Oh! You have returned. I’m sorry. I’ve just brought you some new dresses. Would you like to see them, your highness?’ the maid spoke.
Shell shook her head and let the woman put the clothes away in a roughly made wardrobe.
‘Did you make it to the castle?’
‘No,’ Shell replied.
‘Another day then. Shall I bring you some tea and cake?’ the maid asked.
Shall paused and patted her chest, feeling another cough building, she squeezed out a ‘yes, please.’ Then coughed loudly. she tried to make it seem like she was only clearing her throat, but they both knew better.
With a little bob, the maid left and Shell spent a few moments catching her breath. After, she got up and went to the window. Letting her thoughts roam, she thought about all the times she had dreamed of being Queen and now she really was, she didn’t want it.
The troll had lived under the bridge for a long time, however he had finally decided it was time to move. The river was too polluted and the smell was making him sick. Every morning, the troll would sit at the edge of the river and watch rubbish floating by. Sometimes he would pull things out; a bent bike, a rusting shopping trolley, a dead dog. He would add all these things to his collections and in the afternoon he would make art.
The troll enjoyed bending metal, snapping wood and breaking other things up to constructed his sculptures. Then he would leave his art in random places so that passersby would see them. His favorite pieces were; the owl made out of wire netting and car parts. The horse made out of shopping trolleys, bikes and wood. The armless mannequin who’s dress was made out of plastic bags and coat hangers.
That morning, instead of sitting by the river and collecting things, the troll began packing. He dug out two huge suitcases he had dragged from the water and ponder what he would take with him. He emptied the broken wardrobe of his clothes, – he enjoyed being fashionable- the cupboards of his kitchen equipment, – he liked cooking tasty meals- his shelves of books, – the troll was a great reader- his chest of drawers full of trinkets, – he liked shinny things- and finally he took his paintings from the wall, – the troll enjoyed experimenting with different mediums.
Putting on his huge coat and large hat, the troll picked up the suitcases and left home. Waves of sadness washed over him as he left the bridge and sculptures behind. Of course, he hadn’t been able to take any of them with him for they were all far too big. Trying not to think any more about it, the troll walked and walked.
Hours later, he arrived at the seaside. He took in deep lungfuls of fresh salty air and decided he liked it here.
(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/02/23/thursday-photo-prompt-bridge-writephoto with thanks)
I rang the door bell of the mansion and stood on the step waiting. Struggling to control my excitement, I looked at the letter in my hand. The script was large and loopy, almost rushed so that the words blurred together, but I could still make out what it said; the world’s most powerful wizard had hired me to be his cleaner!
My mind rolled with all the things I might see in his house. There’d be a library for sure! Books and books lining the walls. There’d be a lab for making potions, comfy rooms to rest in, kitchens to feast in and spaces to amaze guests in. Oh, it’s going to be so wonderful!
Slowly the door creaked open, light and darkness met in the middle.
‘Hello? I’m Henrietta. The wizard’s new cleaner,’ I declared.
The door got thrown backwards, banging against the side and a loud, booming voice said, ‘Of course you are!’
I felt my heart and stomach jump. The wizard was standing before me! He was very tall and dressed in a bright blue robe with a large pointy hat on his head. There were yellow crest moons and stars on the hat, as was tradition for someone as high up as the wizard. Most of his face was covered in a white curly beard, which was actually shorted then I’d thought it be. Nice blue eyes stared back and the face look youthful.
Suddenly there was a flapping of wings and a large brown bird that had been siting on his shoulder took off and flew past me. I gasped as feather brushed my cheek.
‘Blast! Adrastos! Come back!’ the wizard shouted.
I glanced over my shoulder but the bird was gone into the early afternoon.
‘Was that an owl?’ I asked politely.
‘Damn right it was! And the last I’ll see of him! Took me years to capture and train him! I knew giving him that name was a jinx!’ the wizard yelled.
‘Do you know what Adrastos means?’
I shook my head.
‘Not inclined to run away,’ the wizard answered, ‘and look what’s happened!’
‘Maybe you could tempt him back?’ I asked gently.
The wizard fell to muttering and ignoring me. Peering about and around him, I saw there was a large toad at the wizard’s feet. The toad was croaking but didn’t seem interested in escaping.
‘Well,’ I said, ‘at least your toad stays. Does he have a name?’
The wizard snapped back and looked down to where I was pointing. He scooped the toad up and held it close to his chest.
‘Don’t be silly! Toads are not worthy of names. Now, come in before anything else gets out!’ the wizard snipped.
Nodding, I followed him inside. The hallway was cluttered with coats, shoes, umbrellas and contraptions. A number of kites were on the floor tangled together as if they had just fallen from the sky. Wires dangled down with things attached to them and there was a whole stack of cardboard boxes to my left before the towering staircase.
We went into through a door to the right and I had to stop as the room was jam packed. There were so many things, it was hard to describe them all. Furniture poked out from piles of books, papers, paintings, shinny objects and bric-a-bric. I saw the wizard placing the toad in a cloudy bowl of water then shuffling through a mountain of paper on his desk.
‘Oh my,’ I uttered.
‘I don’t have time to show you around the house,’ the wizard spoke, ‘I’m too busy.’
He waved me away and sat down with a little puff on a stool.
‘Well….where should I start?’ I asked.
‘Where ever you like! But remember when you move something always put it back where you found it! There are some things in this house that are very dangerous,’ the wizard explained.
Without further words, I left and began picking my way through the house. Ever room and hallway was full of stuff, dust and dirt. The place hadn’t been cleaned in decades! How could the world’s most powerful wizard live like this?
Finally, I found the library, the place I had dreamed about and it was nothing like I wanted. Most of the bookcases were empty and the books were scattered on the floor or on the desks and chairs that were dotted around. Dust and spider’s webs covered everything and it seemed no one had been in here in years!
Deciding it would be the place to start. I got down to cleaning. Somehow though, I had a feeling this job wasn’t going to last.
By the time the goblet was handed down to Wisdom, the legend that the sliver helmeted skull was that of an forgotten ancient King killed in an unknown battle, had long been lost.
Wisdom placed the goblet on to his bookcase, not knowing what else to do with it. Staring at the empty eye sockets, he decided the skull was too real looking and he turned the goblet around.
Feeling a little better, he sit down at his desk and loaded a fantasy war game up on to his PC. For some reason though, his eyes kept drifting to the goblet and he couldn’t concentrate on his game.
There was something creepy about the goblet he decided and he didn’t want it in his bedroom. Getting up, he picked the goblet off the shelf and took it downstairs. He went into the dinning room and placed it in the glass corner case. The helmet wearing skull goblet looked out of place beside a small crystal rabbit and a hand painted porcelain box.
Wisdom went back upstairs and sat down at his desk again. He felt a lot better now. He got back to his game and forgot all about the goblet.
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.
I’ve no idea how I ended up walking through this field. But here I am surrounded by long grass, wild flowers and the calling of birds. It’s a warm afternoon, but I can’t see the sun above me and the sky is a strange off blue color.
There’s a cottage ahead. The yellow thatch roof rising through the green leafy trees and tall bushes. There’s nothing else to do but go over and see if anybody is home. The field leads me to a small brown fence over which is a short carpet of grass. Bright flowers dot around the cottage and a wire washing line is stretched in the garden.
I go to climb over then stop. There’s an old woman beating a green rug on the washing line with a wooden tennis racket looking thing. Her white hair is piled up on top of her head and she’s wearing many skirts, a grey blouse and a pale blue apron. I can just about hear the thwacking sounds.
Climbing the fence, I walk slowly over, hoping that she spots me before I have to call out. Luckily, she does and she stops her work long before I reach her.
‘Hallo!’ she calls out and waves the tennis racket thing.
‘Hi,’ I answer back with a wave too.
‘Nice day for a walk,’ she adds.
‘Yes,’ I reply.
I come to the end of the washing line and look up. There are many green rugs hanging down…actually….they are strips of grass….
Puzzled, I look across the garden and see strips of dirt close by. There’s also a small red wheelbarrow, a spade and a large black bucket.
‘I’m just dusting my lawn,’ the old woman says, cheerily and as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to do.
I open my mouth, questions popping, but no words come out.
‘It can get quite dusty you know. And yes, there are other ways to do it but I prefer the good old fashioned method!’
She shows me how by beating a strip of grass. Only, she does it lighter then before.
I nod and slowly say, ‘how does it get dusty?’
‘Oh! Heaven knows!’ she cries and throws her hands up to the sky.
I glance up, half expecting to see a pig flying by.
‘Do you some time to spare? I’d be ever so grateful if you could help me,’ she asks and nods towards the dirt strips.
I look around, shrug and reply, ‘why not?’
‘Good. Then start digging, deary!’
Still puzzled, I walk to where the last dirt strip is as the old woman takes up beating the grass again. Looking down, I see how she’s cut the strips out and then I pick up the spade and start with the next one.
It’s actually easier then it seems as it appears the grass is use to being cut up. I slice the spade in and make my way around. It’s like a knife through butter. The smell of fresh cut grass and unearthed soil floods my nose. The grass strip comes up and I put it into the wheelbarrow. I start on another and quickly cut that strip loose too.
I look up as I place it into the wheelbarrow and I see the old woman taking down the first strip of grass. I watch her replace it into the lawn then return for the second piece.
‘This is so weird,’ I mumble.
Returning to my task, I dig up more pieces of grass and when the wheelbarrow is full I drive it over. I help the old woman take them out and hang them up. She begins beating the first one and dust raises off it.
‘How long does this take you?’ I ask her.
‘A few days,’ she answers.
‘And how many times do you do this?’
‘Oh, three or four times a year!’
‘Grass gets very dusty in the summer, deary,’ she explains.
I look at her, but her face is just that of a plain woman in her early seventies. Her cheeks are fat and wrinkled like the rest of her skin. Her eyes are a warm blue, shinning with knowledge and happiness. Her white hair is long and tightly held back in a bun. Around her neck is a string of white pearls and there’s an old wedding ring on her finger.
‘Don’t you have anyone to help you?’ I ask aloud.
‘Sometimes, I do,’ she replies with a mysterious tone to her words, ‘it’s mostly just me though. I don’t mind. Keeps me busy.’
I nod and hear a shrill whistle sounding. Looking, it seems to be coming from the cottage and there’s smoke now rising out of the chimney.
‘It’s time for tea. Do you want to join me?’ the old woman asks.
She hurries off, leaving the grass strips on the washing line but taking the tennis racket with her. I follow and go through the small blue door after her. It leads straight into a kitchen. I stand in the doorway and look around.
It’s a very old fashioned farmer’s wife like kitchen. There’s a huge black wood burning stove against the far wall. A large oak table and chairs in the middle, a metal sink and draining board under a netted curtain window. Sky blue cupboards and work surfaces line another wall.
The old woman rattles around cups and things. Humming to herself. I pull out a chair and look down to see a fat old ginger cat curled up on it. I pull out another chair instead and sit down. I hear a clock ticking somewhere and the warmth of the kitchen hugging me like a old friend.
‘Here we are,’ the old woman says and sets down a tea tray.
There’s a tea pot wearing a tea cosy, milk jug, sugar cube bowl, a plate of biscuits, two pattern flower china cups and matching saucers.
‘Thanks,’ I reply.
We have tea and it’s good. I nibble at a biscuit and look around the kitchen. There’s not much else to see though. I want to talk, but I don’t really know what to say. Finally, the old woman breaks the silence.
‘I must get back to keeping my corner of the world tidied now and you should be getting home.’
‘Home?’ I say aloud.
‘Yes. It’ll be dark soon and the woods can be a dangerous place. Even for yourself.’
She pats my arm and gets up.
‘But….I don’t know the way…I found myself in that field. I don’t even know where I am!’ I cry.
The old woman tuts at me, ‘just head back the way you came, deary.’
I move my tea cup away and get up.
‘Goodbye,’ she says and gives me a little wave.
I don’t wave back, but go straight out the door, too confused to speak.
In the garden, the grass is still hanging on the washing line and there are dirt strips in the lawn. The sky is turning a dark blue and the birds are still singing. I walk off, feeling like that’s the only thing I can do. I go back over the fence and through the field. I look back at the cottage, smoke is still coming out of the chimney and the old woman has gone back to beating the grass again.
I turn, take a step and stumble. My legs go out from under me and I land face first in the grass. My eyes shut. I take a deep breath and open then again…And I am no longer in the field.
My study comes to life before my eyes. I blink and the rest of the long grass is gone, replaced by the bookcases, my desk and a fire crackling of the fireplace. I sit up in the deep plush chair, disturbing the book that’s slipped down on to my lap. I pick it up and read the title; Maps Of The Old Worlds.
A dose of fetish. Good friends. An incomparable muse.
The Author Blog of Jason H. Abbott
Welcome to my Blog of short and long stories.
Learning and teaching the art of composition.