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).

 

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Postcard #47

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Hi Grandma,

Hope you are okay. The weather here is really sunny. Cornwall is a nice place! Mum and Dad took us to a castle and we learnt about King Arthur. We went to the beach and I built a big sandcastle but then Laura knocked it down! Tomorrow we are going horse riding!

Wish you were here, love, Chloe.

Turrets #writephoto

It was one of those moments that had seemed a good idea at the time but as we arrived at the crumbling castle doubt set into my mind. Breathless from our climb up the jagged hill, we collected around the tall, rusted iron gates which were bent inwards.

Through the bars, I could see the remains of a drive poking through the nature that had taken over. I couldn’t see much of the castle from this view, the trees were too high but I could just make out some turrets and roof sticking out. The sky above was cold stony grey, threatening more heavy rain and though we were a bit sheltered from the wind, I could still feel the chilly sting on my face.

‘Here,’ Duncan’s voice brought me back.

He was handing me an open bottle of water. I took a few sips whilst watching him dig around in the side pockets of his bag.

‘I know it’s in here somewhere,’ he muttered.

My other friend, Wyatt went over to the gate and tried to rattle it but the gate didn’t move. Instead one of the bars snapped in his hand. He backed away, dropping both halves as he did so. The broken bar hit the ground with a cushioned thud.

‘Oops,’ Wyatt said, ‘it’s really rusted right through.’

‘I wanted a photo of that,’ Duncan snapped.

‘Take it quick. It’s raining again,’ I pointed out a few drops fell.

Duncan shoved a small paper thing in my hand, snatched up his huge professional camera and began setting it up. Wyatt moved out of the way, into the cover of some trees, tracking the iron fence. I looked down at the paper and realised it was the photograph that had brought us here.

It was a square, black and white photo of what seemed to be castle turrets, roofs and chimneys rising up out trees. I looked around, trying to see what I could on the photo around us. Whoever had taken this about fifty years ago had really been standing back. There seemed to be a rocky outcrop that could be the same in the photo a few feet away. And thinking that the trees had been smaller and the area clearer it could be the same place but it was hard to know for sure.

I heard Duncan’s camera clicking away. I had no interest in taking photos of the abandoned places we visited nor did Wyatt, we just liked walking around and looking, sometimes taking stuff. Just small things, that wouldn’t really be missed and we could sell on to carry on funding these trips.

The rain and wind picked up turning into a storm which seemed fitting for our location. I shoved the photo into my leather jacket and ignoring Duncan’s unhappy cries, forced my way through the bent gate and along the drive. I heard them both following me as I broke into a run. The quickly darkening sky made it hard to see and we all stumbled about and swore.

As we reached the cracked stone steps leading up to the broken wooden doors, there was a rumble of thunder. The rain start pelting it down, drenching us through and forcing us to dash inside. I cut myself scrambling over the door which was almost falling off it’s hinges and wedge at an high angle.

Swearing loudly and repeatedly, I clutched my left arm. My feet shuffling and crunching on the stone floor. Pain was shooting along my skin and my other hand was becoming wet with blood.

A bright light flickered on and I stumbled blindly away like a wounded animal. I bumped into something taller then me but not solid, knocking the thing over. There was an awful clattering sound and I fell in the middle of it as a suit of armour tumbled around me.

‘Jay? Are you okay Jay?’ Duncan’s voice high with panic echoed in my ears.

‘Jay, mate?’ Wyatt spoke right next to me.

I opened my eyes. My body felt numbed with pain and weighed down. There was a ringing sound in my ears and a stinging pain my left arm. I groaned and tried to move.

‘Lift that end,’ Wyatt said.

I felt a piece of the armour lift off me and I pulled myself out and then along the wall. Cold stone scrapped across my jacket, I propped myself up, pressing my cut arm to my chest. I realised, I couldn’t feel my fingers and there was so much more pain there now.

Wyatt shone the torch on me and give a low whistle.

I was struggling to breath and so couldn’t get the words out to ask what the deal was.

They both clustered around me, looking down and concerned but not saying anything.

‘Have some water,’ Duncan uttered handing me his bottle again.

I took it with my right. My left arm didn’t feel like it belong to me anymore. Sipping the water, helped make me feel less sick and dizzy. I shut my eyes and calmed down for a few moments. My mind thought about another time I had felt like this; a fall on a school football pitch.

‘I think my arms broken,’ I muttered.

There was a pause of silence. I could hear the storm raging outside and a flash of lightening came though the broken door, capturing the scene like a camera; me on the floor, Wyatt and Duncan before me and the suit of armour scattered across the floor.

‘No. You’re just in shock,’ Duncan rushed, ‘it’s just bruised and cut.’

I shook my head, ‘I broke this arm before, in high school. I know how it feels.’

‘What can we do?’ Duncan replied, he was casting around as if expecting to see something or someone of use.

We were all alone though, in an abandoned castle with no idea what was actually around us. But I knew the chance of a first aid kit was slim.

‘We find something to keep his arm stable,’ Wyatt cut in, ‘ next, we find a good place to hole up in till the storm is over. Then we get the hell out of here.’

Duncan nodded, ‘I’m sorry. This is all my fault,’ his voice cracked.

‘No,’ I said sharply, ‘stuff happens. Help me up.’

Wyatt took my hand and Duncan grip me as I got to my feet.

‘Guess he’s not going to be guarding anything again!’ I joked as I kicked a leg brace away.

It clattered across the floor and the sound vibrated around us.

Excited and nervous, we searched the castle. The small grand hall lead off to a few ground floor rooms and also a stone staircase. There were some mould and collapsed furniture in the rooms. Nothing worth taking but I could see Duncan itching to take some photos.

Upstairs where some bedrooms though the roof had caved in on the left side so all the rooms there were dripping water. The wind was also howling through adding to the unfriendliness of the place.

‘This will do,’ Wyatt said finally.

We settled in a small room that had once been a pretty girl’s bedroom. There was still strips of patterned wallpaper and a rug on the floor. I sank onto the bed and pulled a mouldy blanket over me and a pillow under my arm. I stayed there, hissing in a pain, whilst the other two made a make-shift split from the bottom of a wooden draw and some cotton strips from what once might have been a night dress.

Once my arm was strapped up and Wyatt had cut up some of the thick bed curtain with his penknife and made a sling for me, I felt a little better.  I rested back against the other pillow, my body going stiff with cold and bruises. I listened to the rain drumming against the window, the wind battering things around and the thunder rumbling as if this was a horror movie.

‘We are going to explore more and find something to start a fire,’ Wyatt’s distant voice told me.

I hummed a reply, feeling suddenly sleepy.

They were still gone when I came back and for a few moments, I was disorientated. It was gloomy dark but I felt a torch at my side and went to click it on.

‘It’s cold,’ a voice whispered.

I stilled. The voice had been soft and a female’s. I couldn’t tell where it had come from.

‘So cold,’ the same voice uttered.

There was a soft ruffling sound like a skirt moving.

‘Hello? Wyatt? Duncan?’ I called after a few seconds.

From beside the small fire place were the shadows seemed to be thicker, a dim spot of white light seemed to flicker. I tried to blink it away, but the light grew bigger and brighter.

I turned on the torch, aiming it over but there was nothing there. I looked around the room it was empty. I was torn between staying and going, after a few moments though, I concluded it was best to stay as I had no idea where the other two were and wondering around the castle looking for them seemed a bad idea.

Telling myself it was my imagination, I lay back. Clicking the torch off to save the battery and letting darkness settle again.

‘Hello-oh?’ the soft girl’s voice a came again.

There was slow creak as if someone had just stepped on a loose floorboard.

I swallowed and barely got my greeting past my lips. Then it felt like a ice cube had been dropped on to my right hand was working up my arm. Turning on the torch, I looked and saw all the hair on my arm was up and goosebumps were rising. I don’t know why, but I had the feeling of a hand trying to touch my wrist.

I withdrew quickly, shoving myself against the headboard of the bed. Pain hit my shoulders were I bumped into the wall. A scrapping sound, like someone moving a book or a light object over a table tickled my ears. I shone the torch around again, looking for mice or rats, this place was probably full of animals. My breath caught in my throat, had that end bed curtain just moved?

‘No,’ I muttered then shouted, ‘Wyatt! Duncan!’

My voice carried, echoed slightly then faded. I hoped they had heard me. I pushed myself up and slide of the the bed. I had a creepy feeling that I wasn’t alone and something was watching me from the shadows.

‘I’m not afraid of you!’ I yelled, ‘come out! Show yourself,’

I flashed the light around, hoping to catch them but there still nobody there. I went to the door of the room but something caused me to look back before I stepped into the hallway.

I saw the shape of a person next to the window. I had the impress it was a woman in a long white dress. I shone the torch beam over but of course the light showed me nothing but the window sill and pane glass.

Running footsteps came to me and I walked out of the room and towards them. Wyatt and Duncan were at the top of the stairs as I joined them.

‘I woke up and didn’t know where you guys where,’ I explained, ‘did you find anything?’

‘Not much,’ Wyatt said disappointingly.

‘I got enough,’ Duncan said tapping his camera which hung around his neck.

‘Let’s go then,’ I said hurriedly.

We had to go back to the room to get our bags. I didn’t saw anything about what I’d thought or heard though. Wyatt would laugh at me and call me a chicken whilst Duncan would want to stay and investigate. I though was so ready to leave.

The storm had quietened down as we stepped outside. It was still rainy and windy though but I didn’t care. We started walking away. Duncan taking a few quick photos. I looked back up at the windows without knowing why and saw in one of them a face peering down at us.

I knew then, even though he showed me days later, that Duncan had taken a photo of the ghost I’d seen. I still never admitted it to him or Wyatt, I still didn’t want to believe what had happened was true.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/05/24/thursday-photo-prompt-turrets-writephoto/ with thanks).

Ruining

The castle was pleasant by day but at night it became a sinister blot. Stories of supernatural creatures hung over the place, causing folk to stay away.

I’d set out to prove they were all legends. Peering out of my tent, the full moonlight touched the medieval stones, casting an eerie glow. I heard voices then a fire sprung to life. Before me, the devil and a coven of witches began to party.

I tried to convince myself it was a dream and perhaps it truly was but what I saw that night I will take to my grave.

 

(Inspired from; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/08/30/1-september-2017 with thanks)

Flight #writephoto

Standing up slowly, Cindy felt the aching all along her back. Gritting her teeth as the pain grow worse, she stretched as much as she could. Pausing for a few moments she then wiped her damp and wrinkled hands on her dirty apron. Feeling tried, she looked around at all her hard work. The last corridor in the castle shone with cleanness, the only thing out of place was the wooden bucket and scrubbing brushes.

Letting down her long skirts which were damp from catching wet floors all day, Cindy stumbled over to a window and opened it. Warm, late evening air floated into her face and she breathed in summer deeply. The courtyard below her, hummed with other servants hurrying to finish their tasks before the sunset. Ignoring them, Cindy looked up, over the roofs of the stables and storage huts, the top of the battlements and beyond at the green fields there.

A longing to be out there filled her and despite her tried mind, Cindy remembered once when she was very young riding with her father across those fields. The mighty horse pounding the ground, the brush of her father’s soft clothes against her back and the delight of the rushing wind in her face. The imagine went as fast as it had come, leaving a bitterness for her to dwell on.

Cindy’s thoughts turned away onto tidying up, eating and sleeping. Easing herself away from the window, a movement caught her eye and she saw two pigeons land on a nearby roof. They hopped about for a few moments then took to the dusky sky once more. Signing deeply, Cindy wished she was a bird then she could fly away too.

 

(Inspired by: https://scvincent.com/2017/06/29/thursday-photo-prompt-writephoto-flight/ with thanks)

The Prince And The Pine Cone

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

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

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

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

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

You could never be too sure about travellers theses days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The servant bowed, ‘follow me, sir.’

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

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

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

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

‘Sit, please,’ Aurora said.

The old adviser gratefully sank down on a small stool.

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

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

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

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

‘Go on.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘The princess,’ she replied.

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

The princess smiled up at him, lost for words.

‘Good morning,’ the prince said.

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

‘Not very well to be honest, princess.’

‘Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Outside #writephoto

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

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

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

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

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

Inside #writephoto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, one afternoon the maid complained to her manager.

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Ghost?’

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Waiting

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Time had long ago stopped in the castle. The dust lay thick and the silence heavy. Small animal bones scattered the floors and abandoned spider webs clung to the walls. In a stairwell, a forgotten suit of armour and a clock stood waiting to be used again. And in the rooms where people had once lived and worked, sharing a life now lost to the past, there were only echoes of ghosts.

(From a prompt by; https://scvincent.com/2017/01/26/thursday-photo-prompt-waiting-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.