Zemblanity #AToZChallenge

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Zemblanity; the inevitable discover of what we would rather not know. 

I stood by his headstone and re-read the words written there. They revealed a secret I  never wanted to know about.

For years, mum and I had thought dad had abandoned us because he was depressed over the death of his brother. I told myself that story so many times it had become truth but now I knew it wasn’t the whole truth.

Dad had moved countries looking for peace in the aftermath. However, in Spain he had found more then that; a new wife and children.

The headstone told me I had a younger step-brother and step-sister but I didn’t ever want to meet them. Their father wasn’t really the same person my dad had been to me. I’d rather not know anything about his new life or family, all of that could stay with them.

I had just wanted to see where my dad was buried and the gravestone prove he was gone.

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Yoicks #AtoZChallege #Writephoto

Yoicks; a fox hunter cry urging on the hounds.

The peacefulness of the woods was shattered by the sounds of many dogs barking and horses’ hooves stomping. Animals fled, running for hiding places but it was the fox who burst through the bushes that was being chased.

The loud cry of a hunting horn pieced the air followed by the led man’s voice urging the hounds forward. The dogs crashed through the undergrowth, eagerly searching for their prey.

The fox, full of blind panic tripped into a muddy pool. He sank to the bottom before struggling up the surface. He swim across, leaving waves behind and came out on the other side coated in mud.

Slower now he made his way in between two trees and stopped by a large stone trove. It was deep enough to hide in but not to be come trapped in. He looked down and saw a leave covered bed at the bottom. Slipping in, he found a chest high level of stinky, collected rain water under the leaves but since he could stand, he settle, letting the leaves cover him listened and he listened to the noise above.

The hounds had followed the trail to the pool where the spent a few minutes sniffing around. This give the hunting party time to catch up, the men in red coats milled around on the backs of their horses, waiting for the hounds to re-find the trail. Once the dogs did, they give howls of joy and set off again.

The scent of the fox was weak though and now as the hounds came towards the stone trove they found the fox smell had gone again. The dogs sniffed; earth, rotting vegetation, stagnate water, decomposing autumn leaves, the smell of each other, horses and men but no fox.

Desperately the dogs search, wondering a bit further away each time, letting their noses led them. The horses and riders joined them, coming to a stop again but some of the men could see the dogs had lost the trail.

The led hunter rallied the hounds, encouraging them to find the fox. The dogs did as he asked but they became more and more stressed at the vanished prey.

Deciding to press on, in the hopes the scent was found again, the hunting party left the area.

After a few minutes, making sure the sounds of dogs and horses were in the distant, the fox climbed out of the stone trove with a struggle. He was weighted down by mud and slimy water, he smelt bad but it had saved his life.

Walking back through the trees, he went to the muddy pool again. He swim across, shook out his coat then trotted off into the undergrowth, leaving the hunting party far away in the opposite direction.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/04/25/thursday-photo-prompt-shade-writephoto/ with thanks).

Xylophile (Part 2) #AtoZChallenge

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Xylophile; Someone who loves forests.

The cold river water rushes over my bare feet and legs. I feel small stones against my toes and move slightly to be more comfortable. My hand are flat on the rock I’m sitting on and I can feel the slightly damp moss brushing against me. I shut my eyes and just listen to the sounds of the water, the trees and everything else around me.

A few minute later, I feel the natural energy gathering. It’s hard to describe, but it feels like a warm wind wrapping around me then sinking into me. I feel little electric charges dancing across my skin, they go and I feel calmness, sleepy almost. I drift, dozing on and off, letting the wind and water carry me away.

Time passes, I’m aware and not aware of it at the same time. I just feel the magic filling me up and the sense of the river against my feet and the mossy rock under my hands are not there anymore. Dizziness makes my head swim and I lay down on the rock to make sure I don’t fall. I don’t sleep but I’m not fully awake either. I’m just drifting in and out, around the energy that takes over.

When I next open my eyes, I lay there and listen. I can hear the trees whispering to each other. They are having conversations and telling stories but I can’t make out their words clearly enough to understand.

The river laughs and tickles my feet. The water is happy to tumble down the waterfall and around the rocks. The river asks me to give it sticks and leaves to race with.

I slowly get up, make my way back to the grass bank and in a daze, I find anything that will float. I collect a few sticks, leaves, bits of things and place them into the river, above the waterfall. I watch the river play with the things, turning them and making them race through the tumbling water. The river laughs loudly like a child enjoying a good game.

Going to a near by tree, I sit down. I hear the tree talking, the leaves above moving not by the wind but by the energy of the tree itself. The tree tells about the owl that lives in a hallow high above and the two baby owls inside the nest. The tree says it is happy to give the owl and her babies a home.

I touch the bare earth, my name sake, that the tree has disturbed with it roots. The earth tells me to take it’s energy and to use some of them to anchor myself down, like the earth does to everything.

I breath deeply, filling my lungs with the energy. I hear then feel a spring rain began to fall. The drops patter onto the trees and plants before reaching my skin. It feels like warm, soft kisses on my skin.

Getting up, I walk out from under the tree and stand in the rain. It’s soft and warm. I let the rainfall wash me and from it I take more energy; the elements of air and water.

I feel better and like I can face my problems again. It’s hard to leave the forest, the place of my birth and where I feel most like myself, but I must do. I have to get back to things but I’ll keep returning, drawing the energy and making the magic until the day I return to nature and am buried under the soil here to await re-birth.

Xylophile (Part 1) #AtoZChallenge

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Xylophile; Someone who loves forests.

I was born in this forest, like most of the coven members. It’s a centuries old tradition for babies to arrive out here. It’s said to be the most natural channel of magic in the area and also gives a connection to life, death and rebirth just like the cycle of the forest.

My love for the forest and it’s magic comes from that moment. I’m in tune with the nature around and can use that energy to create magic. But these are not the fantasy or supernatural magics of books and movies, this is a neutral magic that can be used in help me or others or to cause negativity towards others.

Nature’s magic doesn’t always work though and we can only ask so much of it. I guess that’s why so many people have stopped believing in it. They have turned to the world of technology and forgot how to ask the different energies to help them.

A few years back, magic users got away with saying they didn’t have phones, computers or TVs but now the world relays on all of those so much, we can’t avoid them. I don’t spent a lot of time with technology, I’d rather be reading books or walking in the forest.

My mother called me Ela which means earth. She never told me who my father was and the coven members don’t know either. My story is that my mother desperate for a daughter ask Mother Nature to give her one. My mother created a spell which involved swallowing an acorn – the seed- to make her pregnant. I’ve always believed it to be a true story.

And this story isn’t going to be about my search for truth to that tale because I’m happy with that knowledge. Today, I want to tell you about my current situation. Things haven’t been great for me lately, lots of stuff has gone wrong in my life all at once. It’s the normal young adult stuff; the struggling to find a job, the break up with the boyfriend, the falling out of the best friend. You know, the normal life problems.

So, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the forest, getting away from all of that and trying to use the magic to fix things. There’s a favourite spot of mine which I always go to and spend a good few hours there. It’s next to the river and a rushing waterfall. There was lots of rocks around which the water has to make its way over or around. These rocks make good places to sit and dip my bare feet into the cool water.

I let the water take the negativity away and draw from it clean energy to help me get through things. The sound of the water calms me and adds to the wind shaking the trees and the animals playing about.

Dear, Nature I draw energy from you. Today, I wish to make magic to help my life and others around me. Please, give me the energy I need to cast those spells.

I call upon the elements to aid me. Water, I take energy from you to help cleanse and heal me. Air, I take energy to speak my spell and to cast it out. Fire, I take energy for heat and passion. Earth, I take the energy of life force you give us all.

Mother Nature, hear my request and grant me what I need.

 

To Be Continued…

 

 

Veld #AtoZChallenge

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Veld; a grassland of southern Africa. 

It stretched far and wide, a seemingly empty grassland but I knew that wasn’t true. Out here there were herds of wild animals and my camera finger was just itching to take their photos. The life of a photographer might not be easy but it give me the chance to experience places like this.

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.

Letter Fall #AtoZChallenge Missed A Day

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In the dream, all the letter of the alphabet fell on top of me and I become buried under them. I cried out for help but the letters filled my mouth and out come strange words that made no sense. I tried to free myself, but the letters weighed too much. I knew if I could break them it would be easier but they began to form powerful words and I realised all was lost to them.

 

(Note; I somehow missed a day of the A To Z Challenge even though I have also kept on track with the letters each day so I’m not sure how it’s happened. A lot has been going on in my life which might be why I missed this day. I can’t cope with that, so I filled in the gap with this story. Just in case anyone came across this post and wondered why it had been missed and what I was going on). 

Tohubohu#AtoZChallenge #FridayFictioneers

Tohubohu; choas, disorder, confusion

Over night the world froze. Thick snow fell, covering everything in a deep blanket of white. The weather forecast had predicated it but no one could have guessed how bad it would be.

‘It’s the middle of spring, it’ll be a light dusting,’ people said.

When they woke, it was like being in the grip of a bad winter. The only way to get to places was by walking and most cities ground to a halt.

‘It’ll pass,’ people said.

More and more snow fell and soon the big freeze of everyone’s nightmares arrived.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/04/17/19-april-2019/ with thanks).

Smultronstalle (Part 2) #AtoZChallenge

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Smultronstalle; ‘place of wild strawberries.’ a special place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation a personal idyll free from stress or sadness. 

The small town of Norrtälje sits next to the Norrtäljeviken bay that leads out to the Baltic sea. There’s a large harbour here which is used by pleasure boats and opposite is a nice restaurant and ice cream parlor. In the town there’s all kinds of shops and it’s pleasant to wander around.

We go shopping first and as much as I want to walk around by myself I can’t. So, I keep my headphones on, ignore Oscar’s demands and put a few things I want into the baskets from the shops we visit. I even get some new clothes, books, stationary and snacks without having to pay for any of it myself. Hugo is generous like that and doesn’t seem to care about flashing lots of money around.

Morning of shopping done and we drive to the harbour. We are meeting Hugo’s two cousins and their families at the restaurant for lunch. There’s six of them all together- four adults, one teenage daughter and one child son. They all have blonde hair and blue eyes, nice tans and good figures.

We order food. Oscar decides he wants pancakes and nothing else. I get a burger and watch the boats till the food arrives. A mixture of English and Swedish conversations happen but I don’t join in any of them.

When the food all comes, Oscar changes his mind and kicks up a fuss. He decides he wants a burger like mine. So, Hugo has to order him one but then Oscar has to eat his pancakes as the ice cream inside of them is melting. I can only roll my eyes and feel embarrassed for mum and Hugo but they made Oscar a brat, so it’s not really my problem.

After lunch, we go onto the cousin’s yacht and go out for a ride in the bay for a few hours. It’s really nice with the water spray air and wind whipping my hair. It clears everything out of your head. Also, I really wanted to but I didn’t push Oscar overboard!

Later, we go back to one of the cousin’s house. Oscar and their son play some games outside whilst the teenage daughter and I watch TV but most of the shows are in Swedish, so I soon get bored and find some books written in English to read. We have a late tea outside in the evening light then stay until it’s really dark and Oscar gets overtired and becomes grumpy.

We go back, passing only one other car on the road on the way then we arrive home and all go to bed.

In the morning, I’m the first up. I grab some food and pack it in my bag then I head out to the clearing. Once there, I check the berries but none look ready to eat. It’s a lovely day out though, so I have breakfast then do some reading and writing till lunch time. Mum text’s me then asking where I am and if okay?

I reply back letting her know then eat my lunch. Birds are singing in the trees, there’s the noise of a tractor in the far distance and sometimes cars along the road. Once, I hear the clip-clop of horses’ hooves on the road. A dog barking for a minute or two. The wind plays through branches, bushes and leaves making gently noises but that’s it!

I lay down and relax. Feeling calm and safe here. I watch the sun shinning through the tree leaves and I shut my eyes for a nap.

I still miss England and my grandparents and the fact that my new home is miles away from anywhere! But I’m getting use to it and things are not so bad here after all.

 

Smultronstalle (Part 1) #AtoZChallenge

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Smultronstalle; ‘place of wild strawberries.’ a special place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation a personal idyll free from stress or sadness. 

The Swedish countryside reminded me of England’s farmland and meadows. There was so much open space broken only by a few trees, hedgerows, red houses and barns. All of it was circled by gigantic lakes and wide rivers, which were dotted with islands. On the shores, small docks with pleasure boats moored up, waiting to be taking out on adventures.

I could walk the countryside and lake shore for hours, sometimes even take the small boat out on the lake, lost in my own thoughts. Until my step-dad, Hugo, appeared in his old black jeep, claiming, ‘ I’ve been searching all over for you, Lacy! It’s time to come home now.’ Though it wasn’t really my home that was back in England with my dead grandparents, father and brother.

The Swedish house was a huge three bedroom bungalow with a massive kitchen, living room, dinning room at the front of the house then a walk through pantry with the bathroom and a short hallway into a snug room. This joined the back of the house were the bedrooms where. Outside there was a nice decking seating area, a large rectangle lawn surrounding the house and half hidden in the left to go wild back garden was a small wooden sauna.

It’s a world away from the two down-two up terrace house I had grown up in with my grandparents. Dad and my brother Alex aged ten, died in a car accident when I was three. Mum couldn’t cope so her parents looked after me.

Then mum meet Hugo, a rich businessman who’s half English half Swedish, they married and had a son, Oscar, and decided to settle in Sweden moving between Hugo’s summer house in the countryside and his smaller house in Stockholm in the winter.

I hadn’t seen them or even been to Sweden until two months ago when my grandma passed away, almost three years after grandpa had died of the same lung cancer. I didn’t want to come but being seventeen it was either that or go into a foster home and that really didn’t appeal to me.

Of course, mum was shocked when I agreed to move to her and even more so when she met me at the airport.

‘You’ve grown so much, Lacy!’ mum had said, ‘you look more like your dad then me. It’s all that curly dark brown hair and you wear glasses too. Your eyes are brown like his were. You have my freckles though! But you’re tall like him, he had really long legs. Well, you’ll be able to show them off. Sweden is hotter then England in the summer, but the winters are so much colder!’

I don’t hate my mum or step-family or Sweden, it’s surprisingly nice here and there’s very little traffic or people about. It’s so much quieter, stiller and cleaner then the council estate. Most of the field are either for food growth, left wild or for animals to graze on, which are mostly horses. This area is famous for it’s prize winning horses across all sports.

I sometimes like to sit and the watch horses in the fields when I come across them but most of the time I just walk around. That is the one draw back to living around here; there is nothing close by. The nearest shops are a twenty minute car drive away and they are like a small corner shop and a petrol station. It’s about an hour Stockholm, though there are other towns and big shopping places in-between.

Of course, Hugo’s summer house as a TV, DVD player, internet etc but Oscar normally wants to watch something or be on the computer at the same time I do and since he’s a spoilt brat he always gets his own way. Oscar is eleven and mum baby’s him far too much whilst Hugo is too busy to really care.

So, that’s why I spend most of my time outside.

Recently, I found the perfect spot to hide in for awhile. Following the road away from the cluster of houses that make up the neighborhood by the lake shore, through a farmer’s field that has a footpath at the edge and into a wooden area which has a smaller clearing where lots of wild fruit, vegetables and herbs seem to be growing.

There I can sit on the grass in the shade of the trees or the full sunshine if I move further out. I can read books, write in my diary, do school work, daydream and anything else I fancy doing. It’s become like my sanctuary away from the world. I’m happy there and don’t feel sad about my past and issues.

Currently, I noticed that wild strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are growing in the clearing. I’ve been watching them and wondering when they best time to eat them will be.

That’s how Hugo came to know about my special place. I asked him one day over breakfast. Oscar was stuffing his face full of pancakes which I’m sure he was addicted too, mum was busy making him some more and Hugo was reading a newspaper whilst I was picking at the cereal in my bowl.

‘Hugo?’ I asked.

He hummed to show he was listening.

‘Can you eat the wild berries around here?’

‘Sure,’ he replied, ‘as long as they are wild and not in a farmer’s field. Wild berry picking is something my parents always enjoyed doing. Bit of a tradition in Sweden.’

‘How do you know when berries are ready?’ I asked.

‘Their colour changes and they don’t taste tangy or sour. I guess it depends what the berry actually is.’

Hugo folded the newspaper and give me his full attention which I didn’t like.

‘Strawberries?’ I shrugged and tried to act like it had just come to my head.

‘When they are all red and have no green left on them,’ Hugo answered.

‘Okay, what about blueberries?’

‘When they are a sort of dark purple.’

‘And raspberries and blackberries?’

‘When they are red and black,’ Hugo said and he give a small laugh, ‘where have you found all these berries? Maybe we can pick them together?’

I debated telling him then reasoned he probably knew about the place anyway, ‘in a clearing in the patch woods, passed the first field opposite the road that turns down to here.’

‘Oh, that clearing! The fruits are good from there,’ Hugo spoke.

I nodded and took a few sips of orange juice.

‘Why do you care anyway?’ Oscar snapped, bulling his way into the conversation.

Mum put two more pancakes on Oscar’s plate – his seventh and eighth-  then sat down to finally eat something herself.

‘None of your business,’ I muttered.

‘Tell me!’ Oscar shouted, ‘mamma make her tell!’ he banged his fork on the table.

‘I found some all right and I wanted to know when I could eat them,’ I explained angrily, ‘you don’t like fruit and veg anyway, so there!’

‘I do like fruit and veg!’ Oscar yelled, ‘show me where they are! Mamma make her show me! I want some!’ and he began kicking his legs about under the table.

I moved so he wouldn’t hit me and abandoned my breakfast at the same time.

‘Oscar stop that,’ Hugo said.

‘Stop kicking, darling,’ mum added, ‘today we are going into Norrtälje to do some shopping and visit your dad’s cousins. We can get you some berries there if you like.’

I got up to leave, thinking of grabbing my things and heading out to the clearing.

‘Lacy, you’re coming to. You agreed last night,’ Mum said.

I turned ready to argue, teenage mode on and angry flaring in me. I opened my mouth to say no but both mum and Hugo had stern, no arguments please faces on and I knew there was no point. The last thing I wanted was to turn into a second Oscar and at least in Norrtälje I could go shopping.

 

To Be Continued…