Books #TaleWeaver

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Upon opening the book, she let out the waterfall of words that were trapped inside. They filled her head and took her on a journey through the pages. A part of her vanished into that world. She walked with the characters and listened to their conversations. Her thoughts judged them and her feelings rode the waves of emotions.

The plot carved its way, twisting this and that, giving up the secrets like a shipwreck. Soon, things waxed to climax then waned as the rush of words settled. The tided went fully out and the pages became empty before her.

The book was over but the characters would remain with her.

 

https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2020/05/21/tale-weaver-276-books-21st-may/

Orrery #AtoZChallenge

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Orrery – a clockwork model of the solar system

The Engineer’s workshop was a fascinating place and Kit Benedict Kettle was having a hard time keeping his hands to himself. There was so much temptation to set off the devices and see what they did.

Withdrawing his fingers from almost touching an hourglass that was attached to a series of cogs and bubbling tubes, Kit rubbed the sweat on his brow. He pulled his leather flying cap further up his head, causing unruly boyish brown hair to escape out. Then putting his hands in the pockets of his short, brown leather jacket, Kit looked around the room again.

There was a heavy smell of hot oil, a smoky fire and faint whiff gas from the lights filling the room. Steam, smoke and coloured mist rose from a number of items and gathered on the ceiling looking for release. It was hotter than outside which was really saying something as this city was on the edge of a desert.

It was hard to tell how big the room was because of everything packed inside, but had to be the size of small warehouse. As well as all the devices and parts of them, there were towering bookcases stacked with not only books but models and other things. There were a number of work benches, each crowd with tools that did multiple jobs. Everything and anything you could imagine was in some state of construction in this room.

Kit walked around a cage that had some pink rats inside and spied the Engineers’ two apprentices. One was a lanky young man who kept pushing up the heavy framed glasses on his nose and the other was a hollow older woman who had shown them in when they had ring the doorbell. Though she had tried to hide it, Kit had seen her bronze metal left hand.

The apprentices were hunched over a small workbench and whispering to each other whilst they fixed a small engine that was burping steam. They hadn’t shown any interest in the guests, nor offered a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Kit sure wanted a drink. He felt his hip flask at his side and took a few sips of lurk warm water. The absinthe had run out days ago and he was desperate to try and get some more. Clicking the flask back on to his belt, he walked away from the apprentices, around strange machines that God only knew what did. Though a huge glass bowl that was empty but connect to some scientific test set up, through it Kit saw Patience Jane Castleton.

The ace navigator of their airship The Lost Harmony had found a dirty window and was lent against it. The top panel only half opened but it was enough for Patience to let some fresh air in.

She was taller than Kit, thanks to the high heel and knee length silver boots she wore. Patience had on brown leather trousers like Kit had but covering some of the front and all of the back was a ruffled dark brown top skirt. She also had on a short sleeved white blouse and a brown corset with bronze straps. Her leather jacket was thrown over a pile of books and balanced in her piled high and twisted up blonde hair was a small black hat were a netted veil and peacock feather.

Kit turned away from her and left Patience to her thoughts. The navigator had been touchy since they had landed here. Something about how she hated deserts.

Meandering around more piles of things and ignoring the gutting of gas lamps, Kit found himself back where he had headed off from; the main pathway to the Engineer’s metal desk. Surprising this one stretch from the door to the elephant of a desk to another smaller door in the back wall was all clear of things. As the Engineer needed an escape route.

Kit walked up to the four people gathered at the desk and found a bookcase to lean against. Three people- the other crew members of The Lost Harmony- where on one side of the desk and the Engineer, who to Kit looked so much like a dwarf because he was so small, yet studly built and had a long well groom red beard and a shaved head, that the Engineer must have been a dwarf, was sitting on a high chair on the other side and fiddling with a blunder bluster gun whilst he listened to his guests.

The engineer of the airship, Meriwether Bramwell Redsmith the third and the gunner, Nicodemus Radulphus Langridge were putting in an order with the Engineer. It was why they had come here; airship and weapons improvements. The two men were taking turns to talk in low voices as if they were worried about being overheard.

Kit didn’t blame them. Meriwether might claim to have known this Engineer well and to have used him before but everyone knew that Engineers were not to be trusted. They were the listening devices of the world thanks to all the contraptions they could secret about.

From the back, it was easier to tell Meriwether and Nicodemus apart. Nicodemus was built like a rock giant. He was almost seven foot tall, all bulging muscles and skin tight leather and rough cotton clothes. He had long black hair, tied in a plait that ran down his back. His accent give him away as a man of the cold regions, he spoke with a harsh voice and Kit had never heard someone speak as much foul language as Nicodemus did.

Meriwether looked the total opposite on the giant. The airship engineer was short, skinny and capable of getting into the smallest gaps on the airship. Meriwether’s mind was always racing with this or that improvement or task. He hardly spoke but when he did it was thoughtful and scholer like. Thin glasses balanced on his nose, his eyes were a strange teal colour, his hair short and greying. He wore black trousers, a spotless white shirt, a red velvet jacket, a perfect cravat was tied up at his throat and a long black top hat on his head. Meriwether had dressed up for the occasion.

The third person was Captain Cornelius Horatio Featherstonehaugh. He was standing apart from the others at the corner of the table. He had on a massive sky blue coat with a golden high collar that was up and pressed against the back of his neck. His thinning black hair was tied in a small ponytail and poking out of a large tricorn hat pulled low over his heavily scarred old face.

Two fingers were missing from the Captain’s right hand and he had a metal right leg which was always seizing up and has he often said, ‘causing me more grieve then the real one ever did!’ He wore specially made boots with magnetic heals and toes and baggy, flaring blue trousers. On the Captain’s shoulder sat a creature that made everybody but the Captain uneasy.

The creature was half monkey, half clockwork. One side of it’s face was normal but the other was all made up of cogs, gears and metal pieces. A flashing glass eye whirled around whilst the real black eye stayed still. Brown fur met dark grey metal plates across cheek and skull, they screwed together with tiny bolts.

The monkey’s heart and lungs had been removed and in there place were steam powered ones which could be viewed through a piece of glass in the monkey’s chest. The right arm and leg had been replaced with bronzes replicates and random cogs that seemed purely decorative had been stuck into the monkey’s fur. The monkey’s tail was thankfully normally.

The Captain had rescued the clockwork monkey and Kit could repeat the story off by heart. The Captain had fought some sea pirates when he had been a sea mercenary and he had found a ship full of mutilated animals who had had things replaced cockwork parts that were being smuggled into different countries and sold to people as novelties.

‘There is nothing novel about animals experimented on and changed,’ the Captain always added into his story, ‘unfortunately the ship was blown up and the only animal to escape was this little one who I was trying to save at the time. He bit me fingers off and we’ve been best friends ever since.’

Kit shivered at the thought of the horrible monkey creature and his elbow slipped further into the bookcase. A pile of cogs flew to the floor, making an awful din as they fell and scattered. All the heads in the room turned towards him.

The monkey broke into loud cries and began jumping on the Captain’s shoulder in worry. The Captain raised his hand and began comforting the creature. Meriwether rolled his eyes and Nicodemus mumbled something in his own language. The two apprentices shot out from nowhere both armed with guns as if they had thought the loud sound was a fight starting, followed by Patience jogging over with her two heavy pistols drawn.

Kit held up his hands and mumbled ‘Sorry.’

He bent and scrambled to pick the rolling cogs up. Some of them were heavier than he expected them to be and he felt bruises blooming underneath his leather arm guards.

‘Be careful there, boy,’ the gruff voice of the Engineer spoke, ‘everything is fine, Priscilla and Elijah, go back to work,’ he added and waved the apprentices away.

Leaving the cogs stacked on the floor, Kit slipped off and went to hide his flushing face in one of the devices. He stopped before one and stood there not really seeing it for sometime. Then his eyes and brain focused and he saw he was standing before a large moving clockwork model of the solar system. Each planet and some of the larger constellations had been painstakingly handmade and fixed to thin metal poles which was attracted to a heavy wooden base.

Kit looked underneath and saw a mass of cogs and gears, like the inside of his pocket watch, working away to turn all of the solar system representatives above. There was the harsh sticky smell of warm oil and a tricking of burning steam. A piston was pumping away and Kit followed it to see an coal fueled engine hard at work.

He went back to the clockwork model, his fingers reaching to touch one of the moving planets whilst his thieving mind tried to work out how to steal this rare and expensive item.

‘Don’t you think you’ve caused enough trouble?’ Patience said, her posh voice softening.

‘I can’t help it,’ Kit muttered, dropping his hand.

‘I know, Thief,’ Patience tacked on like a pet nickname.

Kit slipped his hands into his pockets and turned away, pressing his redden cheek into the soft fleece of his jacket.

Footsteps creaked on the wooden boards and some of the devices shook with the vibrations. Kit looked out of the corner of his eye as Patience turned and spoke something to the Captain. Meriwether and Nicodemus were close behind, looking pleased with their agreements with the Engineer. 

‘Let’s go, kid,’ Patience said turning back to Kit.

He give a swift nod and trailed after them. At the door, Priscilla saw them out, scowling at Kit as he had been a bad dog she was kicking outside. The door snapped shut behind them and Kit carefully went down the dimly lit metal staircase.

At the bottom, night was falling in the city and the fading voices of people could be heard alongside the hissing of steam and the creaking of ropes. Kit took in lungfuls of fresh air, glad to finally be outside. Cooling wind wrapped around him, wiping away the heat of the Engineer’s workshop.

‘Are you coming to have a drink with us?’ Captain asked.

Kit shook his head, he wasn’t in the mood for that, ‘I’ll go back to the Harmony. Will you buy me some bottles of absinthe, if they have any?’

‘Sure,’ Patience repiled, ‘though you should really lay off that stuff.’

‘I’ll come back to the airship with you,’ Meriwether cut in, ‘I have to be up early to find some parts I need. It’s market day tomorrow.’ 

They said their goodbyes and split into two groups. It felt like a long walk back to the dockyard where The Lost Harmony was awaiting for them but Kit didn’t mind, he was glad to be outside and couldn’t wait until they took off once more and were flying high over the cities below them.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

(Writer’s Note; Though this story might seem like it’s from a longer piece it’s not. I had the idea of the character Kit come into my head then the Captain and the monkey – the imagine in my head of the monkey kinda scares me! 

I’m a massive fan of steampunk and I try to go to a few events during the year. With everything in lockdown, I’m missing it. I don’t think I’ve tried to write a steampunk story before, though there may have been hints of it in some of my stories. I’d really like to write a steampunk novel but I’m not sure where to begin with it. Perhaps this short story scene is my gateway?)

 

Reaching #WritePhoto

The five adventurers had been walking towards their quest for weeks now. They had across woodland, swamps and moorland, through sun, rain, snow and darkness, fighting goblin night raids, giant raven attacks and other monsters.

Stepping through a clump of wild brush that had been sneakily trying to ensnare them, the group saw they were at the base of sweeping hills as far as the eye could see. Weak sunlight fell through the cloud cover, causing beams of light to touch the hills.

In the dim light and under a dead tree, they gathered and talked quietly.

The elf ranger was certain this was the right way. The two men- one an aged wizard and the other a hardened solider- agreed with him for the elf had yet to lead them wrong. The dwarf cleric and the halfling thief weren’t so sure.

Nobody really knew what was beyond The Reaching Hills, those that went there didn’t often come back and when they did their minds were lost. It was said that evil ghosts and outcast Gods walked the hills, snatching souls and murdering. The hills were always cast in gloom and no normal light could break though the darkness that lay in patches providing perfect cover for enemies.

‘We must go on and see,’ the wizard spoke, ‘I can give us the magical light we need to see by and stop anything sneaking upon us.’

‘We don’t need to go through The Reaching Hills!’ the halfling cried, ‘we can go around them. To the west they only go as far as the Red River. We can cross the Long bridge there and go around!’

The elf shook his head, white hair spilling around his shoulders, ‘it would take too long.’

‘We could die!’

‘We could have died back there!’ the dwarf shouted, ‘we barely got out of that poisonous man-eating plant patch!’

‘We go forward then,’ the solider said and he started walking up the first of the hills.

The rest of the party followed, wondering if the tales of The Reaching Hills were true and what they would encounter there.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/09/12/thursday-photo-prompt-reaching-writephoto/ with thanks).

Mirror #WritePhoto

At the bottom of my great-grandfather’s land is a small shallow pond. In the summer, my younger brother, Dusty, and I would go to stay with him, great-grandma and Grant, one of our many cousins. We would spend all day playing outside. Unless it was raining then we would play in the barns.

Those were our golden days. We became wild children of the woods with no cares or worries. We would play all kinds of games, forge for food and create worlds of our own. Sometimes, the sound of the farm would bring us back to reality; the mooing of cows, the bleating sheep, a tractor engine.

We would stay out for however long we pleased then return to the large farm house for a hot meal, bath and bed. The fire in the kitchen would always be lit, no matter how hot it was outside.

The pond had held a fascination for both of us. It was where the Lady Of The Lake rose up from and give us Excalibur to help us on quests. In other stories; the water had magical powers, drinking it could bring you back from the dead or kill you or give you protection. Whatever we needed it to be in that particular moment.

The pond was also home to the ‘Bogoh monster’.  He’d wait in the depths of the mud then crept out, grip you and try to drown you. He took on many different forms but was mostly like a kacken creature with a hundred eyes and two thousand tentacles!

We saved each other countless times from the Bogoh. It was one of my brother’s favorite stories.

I don’t know how many years, perhaps around thirty?- it’s been since I last stood at the edge of the pond. It seems a lot smaller then I remember but then so does everything else.

Looking down into the rippling water, it’s like seeing into a mirror reflecting my past. My younger self playing with Dusty, who has stayed eleven every since that day.

I can hardly remember it. There was a storm, we had gone to the nearest barn but Dusty had forgotten something and went back to get it. I thought he’d taken shelter somewhere else but next morning, Grant found him floating face down in the pond.

The Bogoh had gotten him.

Tears drop from my eyes, I brush then harshly away. I didn’t really want to come here but I had to say goodbye. All this has been sold, tomorrow work will start to make it gone and soon there’ll be houses built on my childhood world.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/08/22/thursday-photo-prompt-mirror-writephoto/ with thanks).

Adventures Await

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In imagination he could be anything he wanted; a knight, a dragon, a explore. His childhood world never let him down.

Uliginous #AtoZChallenge

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Uliginous: growing in wet or swampy ground.

 

Euric knew the Swamp of Maidswell wasn’t a place anyone should go, yet here he was trying to pull his knee length leather boots out of a boggy patch. Swearing, Euric give his right boot a hard tug and tried to move forward. There was a loud slurping sound and the mud returned his boots though they were covered in dark brown and green slimy mud.

Stepping onto a thick mossy bed, Euric caught his breath. The stench of the swamp filled his nose and mouth, it smelt like rot, dead animals and bad gases. It was something no one could ever get use to and the thick cloth Euric had wrapped around his face didn’t help much.

He took a few extra moments to look around. There seemed to be nothing but little islands of green or brown moss surrounded by green- grey waters. Sometimes there was a small tree, being dragged down by draping moss, reeds growing out of the murky pools and skeletons.

Euric had seen plenty of bodies and skeletons before, the life of an adventurer came with all that. He had even fought undead skeletons once but he was hoping on this quest they wouldn’t appear. He guessed the remains around him were from people who had gotten into difficulty out here which was easily done.

Turning, Euric looked and saw his two companions coming over to join him; the druid Alibus had tied his long white robes up and was wadding though a pool to the right of Euric in new knee length boots which had taken lots of persuading to convince the druid to buy.

‘You can’t go into the Maidswell Swamp with sandals on!’ Euric had cried at the market two weeks ago before they had set off on this quest.

Using his long staff for support, Alibus stepped up beside Euric and began getting his breath back too. The druid looked drained and the large bug bite on his neck was weeping pus again. Euric patted Alibus’ shoulder, hoping his friend was going to be okay.

A loud spitting sound and cursing in elfish, made Euric and Alibus look over their shoulders. A tall, golden haired elf female struggled to shake a giant grey slug off her thigh length red boots. With a high kick, she sent the slug flying and stomped over to join them on the mossy mound.

‘I think this is the most stupidest thing you’ve ever agreed to, Euric!’ the elf snapped.

‘You knew the risks, Nimue,’ Euric said in a controlled voice.

There was light flapping of feather wings and a small brown owl appeared out of the darkening grey sky. She drifted down to the group and landed on the druid’s shoulder.

‘What news, Kiko?’ Alibus asked then leaned in as the owl began twitting away.

Euric and Nimue waited then Alibus translated for them, ‘the skull is close by, we are heading in the right direction and there’s a storm coming.’

‘Good to know,’ Euric said and started walking again.

Drops of fat rain drops began to fall and a rumble of thunder echoed over the near flat land. The water of the swamp rippled and the all ready wet ground welcomed more water. Frogs and toads began croaking loudly.

The three adventurers pressed on for a few minutes as the rain around them grew thicker. Lightening forked the sky and the thunder rumbled closer. Then Euric pointed ahead and shouted, ‘there’s the giant Hangant’s skull!’

Just though all the green and rain, they could see a white-grey skull growing larger ahead of them. They hurried on and struggling through a deep pool, they made it to the giant’s skull. It stood as tall as a castle tower above them, the huge empty eye sockets seemed to be looking down on them and judging them. There was a large, jagged crack in the forehead which widened as it ran all the way down the back of the skull.

Through a missing tooth, Euric, Alibus, with Kiko hidden in his robe’s hood, and Nimue stepped inside. Darkness swallowed them for a few moments then the druid cast light on his staff and they could see they were not the first to use the inside of the skull as shelter. The reminds of a fire from months ago was in the centre and landed out against the back of the skull were two human skeletons.

‘What happened to them?’ Nimue asked.

Alibus inspected the skeletons then give a shrug, ‘don’t know. But their things are here,’ he added pointing to two leather bags and a few other things left in a pile.

‘Can we get a fire going?’ Euric asked, kicking the ashes of the last one.

Alibus nodded and using his staff, he created a real but magical fire.

Euric sat down, dug in his pack for a water bottle and some food. Nimue began looking through the abandoned things for anything useful. Alibis walked around, his light showing that there was nothing else inside the skull then he joined Euric by the fire and let Kiko dry off.

‘Sounds bad out there, I’m glad we made it inside,’ Alibis said.

‘We shouldn’t let our guard down though,’ Euric answered, ‘the stories might say that the Maids of the swamp hide during storms but we all know they aren’t the only danger around here.’

‘The bugs are!’ Nimue cut in.

A smile flickered on Euric’s face, ‘anything worth taking?’

‘No. If they had anything worth taking, it’s gone all ready,’ Nimue answered as she came to join them, ‘right. What do we do now?’

Euric looked up at the massive domed roof of the skull above them, ‘we look for the Trailing Fumewort,’ he spoke, ‘it should be around here somewhere. Remember not to touch it or breath it in.’

Alibus nodded, ‘it has small orange flowers that let off a poisonous scent, pin like purple spikes which are also poisonous, black leaves and a thick twisting vines. Death comes within minutes from it’s dual poisons.’

‘Lovely,’ Nimue muttered sarcastically.

‘The white roots, however are the opposite,’ Alibus continued having not heard her, ‘they bring life and cure all illness.’

‘That’s why the wizard Thuneas wants it then,’ Euric spoke.

A boom of thunder went off outside startling them all. Nimue drew her long bow, arrow notched in a blink and moved towards the closest gap in the teeth. An unsettled feeling rose the hairs on her skin.

The lightening flashed and in the few seconds of light, Nimue didn’t see anything through the cloud of heavy rainfall. It was hard to tell if there was anything about even with the elf’s sharp eyes. Perhaps, the feeling was because of the current nature of their shelter?

‘What is it?’ Euric whispered.

‘Not sure. Let’s look for the Fumewort and go. I really don’t like this place.’

Euric nodded and their search continued.

Proficient #AtoZChallenge

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Proficient; well advanced in an art, occupation or branch of knowledge. 

It had started in his childhood as a focus for his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and his love for Dungeons And Dragons had been born. Now, in his mid-thirties he was a Dungeon Master and sometimes player at the local board games club but he also travelled to events, conventions and D&D weekends to Master there.

He knew all the rules by heart, could add up the dice rolls faster then anyone and was great at reading out the adventures and describing the battles. He was proficient at the hobby but to him D&D was more then that, it was the way of his life.

Hitchhiker #CCC

Marsh Road

Rose stopped at the crossroads and looked, her hands wrapped around the shoulder straps of her army rucksack. She wasn’t sure which way to go. Countryside green fields lay all around with no direction signs.

Warm sun touched her and Rose turned her face up to the sky. Shutting her eyes, she breathed clean air and heard birds singing nearby. Rose signed, glad that the chill of winter was almost over.

Shrugging, she picked one of the roads and started walked. It would led her somewhere and Rose would face whatever she found on arriving.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/crimsons-creative-challenge-14/ with thanks).

Glamping #FridayFictioneers

Glamorous camping was the latest fashion trend. I wasn’t impressed, for me camping was sleeping under the stars around a fire, getting away from all things and this ‘glamping’ was a hotel room inside a tipi. At least my girlfriend was impressed and there’s no way I’d ever convince her to spend a weekend without electricity; ‘I can’t survive without my hair drier!’

For me, the scenery and the escape from city life had made up for the luxury camping experience. Outside the Tipi of High Life there was a whole barren land to be explored.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/01/30/1-february-2019/ with thanks).

 

Summit #writephoto

It had been a long climb to the summit of the castle but the adventuring party had reached it at last. The breathtaking view unfolded before them and all other thoughts went away.

The small towns and countryside nested under a grey summer sky looked like the places of miniature people or the child of a giant’s toys. There was so much stretching before them it was hard to take it all in.

Then the weight of their task came back to them and they turned to look at the ruined castle. Somewhere here lived the monster and they had come to kill it.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/07/19/thursday-photo-prompt-summit-writephoto/ with thanks).