Watermelon

summer-1572433

Watermelon summed up summer with it’s brightness and freshness. It was better then any other fruit and more refreshing then oranges. We joked about melons growing inside of us as we swallowed the seeds, red water juice dripping off chins and fingers. The rind we give to the dogs to chew on, they too loved watermelons and we’d get back to our play.

 

Juramentrum #AtoZChallenge (Part 2)

viking-4601896_1920

Juramentrum – oath

Siegfried breathed deeply and smelt the nature drifting his way. It was mid spring and everything was waking up after the long dark winter. He could smell something sweet, maybe flowers hidden from sight in the grass that covered the rocks. There was a damp earthy smell from soil that had found its way into the cracks of the rocks.

The river smelt of nothing but has he dipped his fingers into the water, Siegfried felt the coldness and smoothness of the flow. Removing his hand, he took a few sips of water from the waterskin.

He didn’t have to worry about steering the boat, it was making its own course as if being pulled along by unseen hands. The boat was also small enough to pass by and over any threatening rocks. It was a good boat. His brother, Hrothgar, had done an excellent job.

One of the old dogs yawed and Siegfried twisted to look at them. They were settling down again. Grey heads resting on the edge of the boat and their bodies curled together for warm. They looked peaceful and not worried.

Siegfried grabbed one of the furs and threw it over them. He could trust his dogs sense of things and if they weren’t worried about any danger then nor should he. It was growing colder though.

Grabbing a fur for himself, Siegfried drew it around his shoulder and noticed how dark it was getting. The height of the gorge was blocking out the warm sun and casting everything into darkness the further you entered in. Soon, he wouldn’t be able to see.

Searching in the boat’s hull, Siegfried found a lamp and lit it. Carefully and slowly, he crawled to the front of the boat and placed the lamp into its place. Going back to his seat, he found another lamp, lit it and placed it beside himself. Clutching the oar in one hand and his sword in the other, Siegfried was swallowed by darkness.

An icy wind swept down and Siegfried smelt snow in the air. It was normal of winter to hold on has long as he could and he found hiding places where the sun couldn’t find him. Siegfried hoped the river was frozen and that it didn’t start snowing. Just in case though, he threw another fur over the dogs and pulled a large one onto his head.

Siegfried might be a mighty Viking but he was old now and felt the cold stiffen his bones more and more.

Perhaps, I should have waited till the summer? he thought.

Shaking his head, Siegfried got the oar back out and began paddling again. He’d rather meet the ice sooner rather than later. A few small flakes of snow landed in his beard and boat. The darkness pressed deeper down, everything had been blocked out above him as if the gorge had a roof.

Not stopping, he rowed faster, not liking the darkness and the gathering cold.

‘This can’t go on for much longer,’ Siegfried muttered, ‘how you doing back there dogs?’

There was a muffled moan and Siegfried glanced over his shoulder but he couldn’t see the back of the boat. The light from the lamps was hardly anything but he was grateful to not be in total darkness.

He turned his face up, looking for glints of blue sky. His oar hit something hard, probably just a rock, he felt the vibrations going through his arm. Nothing to worry about. He padded faster, not liking this at all and feeling uneasy in his gut. Telling himself there had to be an end to this soon spurred him on.

There, was that a hint of blue above? Did the path ahead look lighter? Siegfried concentrated on that patch of blue and slowly came out into the light once more. Sighing, he stopped rowing and blew the lamps out. He took a few deep breaths and let the furs slip off him.

Blue sky angled it’s way into the gorge, filling the gap above the rocks. Sun cast light on green things and grey surfaces. Warm slowly tricked down to the river and soon the way widened. The river burbled along as if happy to be out of the darkness just as Siegfried was.

Pulling the oar in, he let the boat drift again. The river lapped against the wood and the shore in a calming way and carried the boat along its course. Siegfried settled back, watching more and more of the sky open above him. He could tell the gorge was coming into an end.

Shutting his eyes, he rested, feeling the cold leaving him and warmth filling him up. He dozed then when the boat slowed and began bobbing against something, Siegfried opened his eyes and saw he had arrived at the gates of Valhalla.

 

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

Juramentrum #AtoZChallenge (Part 1)

viking-4601896_1920

Juramentrum – oath

Siegfried stopped paddling the wooden long, narrow boat and looked up at the rising landscape around him. It was quiet. Too quiet he thought. He could hear the far cry of birds, the wind playing through trees and long grass, the flow and lapping of the river but that was all.

He pulled the oar half in and watched water dripping off the neatly shaped paddle. There was nothing smoothing about the steady sound, just reminded that he was alone out here.

I hate this, he thought and lowered the oar again.

There was nothing for it but to get through the gorge and hope nothing attacked him.

‘I’m tried of fighting and that’s saying something coming from an old Viking!’ Siegfried spoke then chuckled.

He paddled swiftly, with years of experience, his eyes watching his surrounds and not his oar or the front of the boat. He could trusted the craftsmanship of the vessel his brother had built it and there was no finer ship building then Hrothgar.

Siegfried wished his brother was here with him now, instead his traveling companions were two old hunting dogs who never left his side. Still though, this journey was Siegfried’s alone to take.

The gorge rose up on either side, blocking out some of the afternoon sun. Solid multi-coloured rock with bits of green plant life sticking out seemed to stretch endlessly to meet the blue sky. Rocks jutted out of the river, covered with moss and worn smooth. Boats still had to be careful though as there was no telling if some of those rock edges could still break through wood or not.

Entering the gorge would mean no going back. It was a long way to the other side. Most people tried to avoid going through, preferring the other, longer route the river divided into further back up. This way was favored by bigger boats because in some places the gorge forced the river to narrow far too much.

Siegfried stopped rowing and let the boat drift as he went inside the gorge. He knew being quiet as much as possible would help if anyone or thing was listening above. He picked up his shield which he had rested in the bottom of the boat and lifted it over his head.

Only arrows or rocks or other things could be rained down on him from the gorge’s high cliffs because nothing would be stupid enough to jump down and try to get him. No, if a wild animal or monster wanted him they would track him to a more suitable place.

I’m being over cautious, Siegfried thought, this too dangerous journey is getting to me.

He lowered the shield and studied the view above. Nothing was moving up the clouds and he could hear the river singing along. He looked at the two dogs, both now awake and looking around as if they sensed there could be danger.

Siegfried looked down into the hull of the boat once more and gripped his long sharp edged sword. The weapon comforted him even though it was no use currently. In the boat was also some daggers, a bow and arrows which he hardly used anyway, some food, water and other useful items. He had packed well for this journey, not sure what he might need.

Siegfried shook his head then ran his hand through his long plaited grey beard. He felt uneasy and wished things were different. But he had made an oath to his brothers, wife and children that he would do this. He would go first….

To Be Continued…

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

Little guard dog #3LineTales

three line tales, five year anniversary edition: beware of the dog

I never had a problem with dogs until I started a newspaper and magazine delivery job. I tried to make things easier by introducing myself to the dogs and giving them treats, most accepted me and so when I came to their doors the dogs would calm down when they saw it was only me.

One dog I just couldn’t get near and that was a black and white terrier that would go nuts when it saw anyone. That little monster was the bane of my life and I was forever in fear of being attacked.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2020/01/23/three-line-tales-week-208/ with thanks).

Chill #WritePhoto

The snow froze the ground and lay not as a solid blanket but more patchy and lumpy. The Wastelands were like that, rising and falling, all wild with long grass, spiky bushes and stunted trees.

A small cabin, easily missed, stood nested in between two hills and the cover of trees. Smoke rose from the chimney as the clouds blocked the last rays of sun. The chopping of wood echoed and the whooshing of an axe came from the behind the cabin.

Lance collected the newly sliced logs and juggled them with the axe. He could have left the heavy tool outside but he had lost his last one to the Imps. Going inside, he knocked the snow from his boots and dumped the wood and the axe by the fire.

The two dogs growled at him then settled again on the sofa at the sound of his voice, ‘it’s only me. It’s fine.’

Lance went outside to get the rest of the wood. It was dark now the sun had set and a few flakes of snow fluttered from the heavy clouds above. Lance couldn’t see that far into The Wastelands but he knew the layout as if the map was drawn onto his skin.

Back inside, with the rest of the wood, he put two pieces on the fire then put the other logs into the basket beside. It felt too early to light the lamps but if he didn’t the Imps might try to use the shadows to sneak in.

The lamps went on to the two window sills and on the small table next to the door. Lance touched the holly above the door, the leaves were bright green and the red berries shone in the light. There was also dried sage and other plants that The Hollow Witch said should help to keep the Imps away.

The snow was falling faster now and sticking to the ground. A chilly wind was creaking the cabin and creeping through the gaps to try and freeze the inside up. Night rolled in, claiming The Wastelands in darkness.

Going back to the fire, Lance sit in the only other seat in the cabin, an armchair. One of the dogs thumped his tail, whilst the other didn’t even raise her head. Lance didn’t mind, when the dogs were calm it meant the spirits were away.

‘Let’s hope we have a quiet night,’ Lance uttered, ‘the snow is coming down again and that should help keep things at bay but other things might be seeking warmth and we don’t ever invite anything inside.’

The dog grumbled in agreement and rest his head on the arm of the sofa to watch Lance.

Looking into the fire, Lance fell into wondering why him. He could see things people couldn’t for as long as he could remember. It had drove his parents away and he had been left as an apprentice to a shoe maker. That had only last a year though because he hadn’t been able to stop talking about the little elves who mended shoes in the night.

Lance had tried to be a baker, but couldn’t stop talking to the Spirit Keeper of the Ovens and the bread ended up burning too many times. Next, he had tried to be a blacksmith but the Talker for the Horses had kept telling him he wasn’t doing it right and Lance had kept getting in trouble even though it was the Talker making the mistakes.

He had found not pointing out the spirits was the best thing to do but somehow everyone in the town and the neighbouring ones knew he could see things. That unknown was frighting to simple people so Lance had moved away and tried to be a guard in the King’s City. But the spirits were worse there and Lance found seeing them and hearing them all the time too much.

Seeking out the help of people of magic or others that saw the spirit world had helped. Though it had also lead to him being exploited. As a young man he wasn’t aware of this, just glad to have found he wasn’t alone and someone wanted to help him.

As time went on and Lance become more awake to things, he realised that some of those magic people couldn’t see like he could and were using him to trick people into spending money and sometimes getting their houses robbed.

Lance had come all the way out here, to The Wastelands were people didn’t live. He had wanted to be away from everything and not bothered by spirits. He had built his cabin and made a living for himself as a carpenter. He carved bowls, cups, spoons, buckets, children toys and other useful items which he sold anywhere he could do.

The money he used for food and to pay for The Hollow Witch’s services. Lance was grateful to have discovered her. She had come to his cabin one night, seeking shelter and warmth from a snowstorm.

Lance had been unsure at first then The Hollow Witch had told him she could see that he was being hounded by a group of Imps and in return for a night or two of shelter, she would get rid of them for him.

Agreeing, Lance had let her in and once she was warm, The Hollow Witch had cast spells about and got out some sage to banish the Imps.

‘I’m the Hollow Witch because I live in a tree hollow down in the valley on the edge of The Wastelands,’ she had told him, ‘I can help you with your other spirit problems too. But I can’t take away your Sight, only help keep things at bay.’

‘Do you know anyone who can take the Sight away?’ Lance had asked her as the wind had whipped the snow outside and the fire had crackled away.

‘No one can take away your gift or your curse if that’s what you call it. It is your’s alone. You can use it as I have, to aid people and yourself or you can try and ignore it. But some spirits won’t like that,’ The Hollow Witch spoke.

‘The imps?’ Lance had pondered.

‘Yes. They will stop at nothing till they have your attention. They will steal from you, pinch and bite you, laugh and scream in your ears. Anything that makes you speak of them. Then they will continue because that is what they do. They plague us, trick us and led us to danger.’

Lance nodded and had fallen silent. He had felt coming out here would help him escape but it seemed he had been wrong.

Coming back to the present, Lance heard the growling of the dogs. He watched them get off the sofa and go to the door. They stood with ears and tails up, fur raised, growling deeply.

Lance followed them and tried to look out the window but it was too dark. He pressed the side of his face to the door and listened. He could hear laughter like a child but he knew it wasn’t.

He stood back and repeated what The Hollow Witch had told him to, ‘you are not welcome here. Go away. Don’t do anything to this place nor myself or my dogs. Stay away. I banish you from this space. Return to where you come from. BE GONE!’

Taking a few deep breaths, Lance pressed his ear to the door again and heard the wind blowing the snow.

The Imps were gone now but he knew they would be back soon enough.

 

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

Non-fiction Announcement Hugh’s Charity Appeal

Image may contain: dog

I found this on one of my fellow blogger’s pages and I wanted to share it on here. All you have to do is go to Hugh’s blog and leave a link to your own blog and then Huge will donate a £1 to Battersea dogs and cats home for each link!

The 2019 Christmas Charity Appeal – Help Me Raise £250 For Battersea Dogs & Cats Home By Leaving Me Links To Your Blogs and Books

Pictured above is my current dog Patch who came to live with us when her owner, my uncle, passed away a few years ago.

My first dog though, Sandy, pictured below, came from Manchester dog’s home. She passed away years ago now but I’ve not forgotten her and do miss her sometimes. It felt get to rescue Sandy and give her a great home for the rest of her life.

There’s so many animals in need of care and new homes right now and it would be great to help as many as them as possible.

Saying that though, Christmas isn’t the best time of year to get a new pet, so think carefully if adoption is on your mind.

Image may contain: dog

(Photos both my own).

The Figures In the Fog (Part 2)

avenue-4620141_1920

I stumbled around on the track, calling and calling Melody back to me. The mare was long gone, lost somewhere in the bank of fog.  I gathered myself and checked for injures, just a few cuts and bruises. My skirts, red velvet jacket and black cloak were damp and covered with mud, leaves and grass.

Breathing the frozen air, I got my bearings and decided it would be faster to continue walking forward then try to go back. My father had planned the road out so that it circled to the house no matter which way you went.

Wrapping my cloak tightly around me and putting the hood up, I set off. The fog parted as I went into it then rolled back behind me. The toes of my boots tapped against fallen branches and I crunched over brittle leaves.

I shouldn’t have bothered to come out here to find my father, brothers and guests. I should have stayed in the warm kitchen overseeing lunch being made and listening to the gossip of the servants. I should have brought my dog with me. Jess could have sniffed out my father faster then my eyes could have spotted him.

It had been, I don’t know, instinct? A whispering voice at the back of my head? That had brought me out here telling me something bad was going to happen. I trusted that voice and my mother had always encouraged me to do so.

I heard footsteps ahead. I stopped and called out, ‘Hello?’

No voice replied but the footsteps continued. Had someone else been thrown off their horse and were lost like myself in the forest?

‘Hello! It’s Rufina. I came to find you,’ I spoke.

The footsteps stopped.

My breathing was harsh in my ears and I thought I heard a rustle in the distance but it could have been anything as the fog muffled all sounds. Then, had it really been footsteps I had heard?

Unsure, I walked on, feeling my way more then anything. When the path didn’t feel solid under my feet, I stepped about till I found it again. It felt like being in a dim light, like it was evening time instead of late morning. Branches and leaves brushed me, heightening my senses.

I spotted movement ahead and thought a figure was coming out of the fog. Was it my father? One of my brothers? Or one of the guests? It was hard to tell but it looked like a tall man.

‘Hello? Who’s there?’ I shouted., ‘It’s me, Rufina!’

No reply came.

I picked up my pace and approached the figure but as the fog parted, there was no one there.

I turned around, peering as if I could see the figure somewhere else but there was only the fog and the shape of the close by trees.

‘Is there anybody there?’ I shouted, ‘please come to me! No playing games, it’s too dangerous out here for that!’

The wind shook the trees, there was a rattle of dry leaves and I felt a few brush against my legs as my skirts was whipped up. I pushed things down and straightened my cloak out. I tied the ribbon of my hood tighter and ordinate myself.

I did have a big imagination thanks to all the books I read but I couldn’t have really conjured someone just being there on the road?

Shaking the thoughts out of my head, I carried on and tried to work out how far away I was from home. I knew the road looped down to the edge of the forest before going back up. I must be close to that dip now.

A howling echoed through the forest. My all ready cold skin chilled further and I tripped a step. I held my breath and tried to listen. Where had the howl come from and what creature had made it?

No wolves roamed here. Was it a wild dog? Perhaps, it was the gardener’s pet dog? Or one of the hunting pack hounds?

‘I’m over here!’ I cried then realised how silly that was surrounded by this fog.

The howl sounded again. It was just a single one and it wasn’t answered by another. Not a good sign as the hounds would have been making a lot of noise. There must have been fifteen to twenty dogs all together, so there was no way they could be quiet.

I fretted, unsure what to do. Should I call the dog to me and risk it being a stray or wild dog that could bite me? Or it could be a friendly dog who would guide me back home?

Before I could decided there was a ruckus close by and something jumped out. I screamed and tried to run but something hit into me and I fell.

To Be Continued….

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).

Insouciant #FridayFictioneers #AtoZChallenge

Insouciant; free from worry, concern or anxiety.

Knowing my attacker was locked away in jail meant I could take my nightly walks in peace. I hadn’t realised how fully the event had effected me and how much I had missed being able to take my dogs for a walk without having to look over my shoulder all the time.

I took a deep breath of spring evening air and felt for the first time in a year free from worry. It was like I had my freedom back and I hadn’t even realised that he had taken that as well as my body that night.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/04/03/5-april-2019/ with thanks).

Bright #Writephoto

Spring had been getting stronger over the last few days, but today as I walked my foster dogs in the woods, I noticed that it officially had become. The birds were singing as they built their nests, there was green everywhere, broken by bright flowers, the trees looked alive once more and the mud puddles were drying up.

I stopped under a row of trees and looked up at their budding leaves. The sun shone through dappling the ground in small spot lights. I felt a gently, lovely warmth on my face that made me smiled.

Spring was the best season.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/03/28/thursday-photo-prompt-bright-writephoto/ With thanks).