The Old Sawmill

Old Sawmill

Fairy lights twinkled in the single window of the cabin, like a beacon through the trees. The sounds of a small river racing over a waterfall and turning the old wooden wheel at the bottom echoed in the pause I had made. The snow lay thick on the ground and trees, giving everything a white coat like icing on a cake. The sky above was dark blue, nearly black with the promise of nightfall and more snow to come.

I carried on walking, my boots crunching on the snow and making a trail of clear footprints. My torch provided a small circle of light with which to guide my eyes with but I knew this forest so well that it didn’t matter. I carried a few logs under my other arm, cut from a dying tree I had knocked down a few days ago. Shifting the heavy bag on my back, I climbed the slope upwards, towards the cabin.

It had once been an old sawmill which had kept a now long lost village in some industry, but now it was my home. Reaching the front door, I kicked the snow of my boots and went in. I didn’t bother locking the place unless I was away for a few days; there was no one out here and not much in there to steal.

Opening the door, my old dog woofed and wobbled over to me. I patted him then closed the door and went to the fire. The wood was low, so I put some more logs on and watched the flames grow back to life. The dog joined me, curling onto the rug. The electrical lamps above flickered but held their dim light. I took my bag off and laid it with my axe next to the single cold bed.

Warmed by the fire, I took my boots off and sat in the single chair. The fairy lights looked merry in the window but were a sad reminder of the past. I hadn’t always called this small wooden cabin home… At least I wasn’t outside in the snow, frozen. Getting up again and keeping myself busy, I emptied my bag and made something to eat.

Catching anything in winter was hard, but rabbits and smaller creatures could be tempted with a bit of food. The water in my canteen had turned solid, so I had to place that close to the fire and wait. The dog snored loudly and woke a few times, I shared my meal with him. Then after adding more wood to the fire, we both got into bed.

Once I’d had a wife and children. We’d lived in a bigger cabin then this but then there had come hard times. One day, my wife took the children into town and sold them. She told me we could have more when things were better again.

I had my axe in my hand and felt a rage I had never known before consume me.

There’d been no other choice but to run away. I had lost everything but my freedom and that was something man of the wildness could never give up. I now lived the life of a hermit, selling whatever I could to whoever I could and hoping to live out the rest of my life in quietness with my happy memories of the past.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/12/10/sunday-writing-prompt-232-its-all-in-the-title/ with thanks).

Winter Forever

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The world had never been the same since the Evil Knight had taken over. We were all trapped in a snowstorm of winter, waiting to be freed. I didn’t believe the stories that a princess would come and melt his heart, this was beyond fairy tales now. No, I was going to do it; the village blacksmith with muscles described like ships’ anchors and a mighty warhammer made of long lost dwarf metals which I had perfected for years. There was no failure in my mind, only the hope that I was going to change the world.

(Inspired by; https://bikurgurl.com/2017/12/06/100-word-wednesday-week-48 with thanks).

Apple #TwitteringTales

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‘Eat the apple, child.’

‘Will it really work this time, step-mother?’

‘Do you want a prince?’

‘I’m having doubts….Isn’t there a better way?’

‘Not if you want true love.’

 

(Inspired from; https://katmyrman.com/2017/09/26/twittering-tale-51-26-september-2017/ with thanks)

 

 

Messenger #writephoto

corvid in flight - Sue Vincent

Picking up the football which Micheal had kicked across the road, I looked up and saw a huge black bird in an nearby tree. I wasn’t sure what the bird was so I thought about the arrow diagram poster at school. Black and yellow and smallish; blackbird. All black with a grey beak; rook. Sooty black and cries loudly; crow.

‘It’s a raven that is,’ Michael said over my shoulder.

I jumped because I didn’t know he was there. I turned and pulled a face at him.

‘How do you know?’ I pouted.

‘Because I’ve seen them at the Tower of London,’ he replied.

I stuck my tongue out at him. He didn’t seem to notice and carried on talking.

‘They say if all the ravens leave the tower then England falls.’

‘What does this mean?’ I asked.

‘Don’t know,’ Michael shrugged.

We both watched the raven then with a large caw sound, it flapped its large wings and took off.

‘My granny says ravens are the messengers of witches,’ Michael added.

‘Messengers of witches?’ I repeated to myself.

He looked at me as if he knew I didn’t believe what his granny said.

‘It’s true,’ he snapped, ‘a witch tells a raven to bring her ingredients for potions and to communicate with other witches.’

‘I thought they had cats,’ I answered slowly.

‘They do, but ravens are better. They are ancient and know old magic,’ Micheal added.

I wanted to ask him if he really believed in all of this. We were too old for fairy tales but still young enough to think that supernatural people were real.

‘Maybe he’s come to take you away,’ Michael spoke in a ghoulish voice.

I shivered. hating how he stretchered the words and made his voice drip with creepiness.

‘Ravens can’t kidnap people!’ I snapped.

‘No, but they can find people who have the potential to become witches and led the head witch to them.’ Michael explained.

I pushed the ball into his chest, shoving him backwards. He was bigger and older then me but he wasn’t expecting it so stumbled back.

‘That’s so not true! A bird is just a bird And there are no witches!’ I shouted and stormed off.

I ran home which was only a few streets away. I didn’t know why I suddenly felt upset about what he had said until I saw the raven again. He was sitting on the left gate post of my house fence.

‘Hi,’ I said shyly.

He was a huge bird up close and his beak looked sharp. He put his head to one side, cawed more softly then before and jumped into my front garden. I opened the gate and watched him hopping up the path to the front door.

And that was the day my life changed…

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/07/13/thursday-photo-prompt-messenger-writephoto/ 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.)

Swan

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The Duchess sat by the lake, looking out over the sunset kissed water. She sighed deeply and wondered what she was going to do now. She had lost everything beside a trunk full of things and her pet swan. She could cope with that though. It was the betrayal of her husband and the kingdom she would never live down.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/01/12/thursday-photo-prompt-swan-writephoto)

The Red Tree

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The Princess stopped by the thin twisted red tree that stood alone in the far corner of the glass house garden. The four branches were bearing a number of different fruits, but as of yet they were not ripe.

Leaning towards the tree, she began to sing softly and as the words left her lips, the trunk began twisting around. The branches slowly moved down towards her, making the fruit more easier to reach. She could clearly see now the fruits needed a few days longer.

The Princess stopped singing and the tree rose up once more. When the branches had become still, she began to debate which fruit she would pick to eat at the midnight celebrations of the year’s longest night. As traditions in the Kingdom of Moon went it had always been her favourite. All members of the royal family were allowed to pick one fruit from the red tree and eat it before the midnight feasting started. It was seen as a blessing for the year to come and to celebrate the true ending of the harvest.

Perhaps a plum or the pear? She thought, no, no, the orange. There’s only one of them this year. 

Lifting her eyes away, the Princess looked out of the nearest glass pane. It had started snowing again and the flakes were melting on the warm glass. Smiling, she went to the nearest door that led outside and quickly going through, she twirled around in the white fluffy snow.

 

Based on a prompt from; https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/microfiction-challenge-25-the-red-tree/ With thanks.

Secrets

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Who knew what was locked away in the tower? Everyday life carried on as normal and no one give the crumbling structure a thought. It stood alone in the middle of the forest. Raising up over the top of the green pine trees and looking across at the village.

Maybe the tower had once been a part of a fort or a castle? A building now lost to time and the nature. Perhaps it had always been a watch tower, built to keep the village on the edge of the forest safe and warn them of coming danger?

Whatever it’s original purpose had been the tower was long abandoned now. And it would have slipped from history if not for a single story that involved it. Two brothers traveling across the country discovered the tower and made inquires about it.

‘Why do you wish to know?’ the oldest member of the village asked them.

‘It is so unusual out there by itself,’ the first brother answered.

‘We were think it might have a good story connected to it for the book we are writing,’ the second brother replied.

The old woman looked them up and down in the firelight of her wooden shack. They were young men; handsome and strong, yet tried from their travels.

‘Here, have some broth and I shall tell you the story I know of the tower,’ the old woman answered.

Gratefully, the brothers accepted the warm bowls of broth and settled down to listen to the old woman’s tale.

‘It was a long, long time ago and the king had just had a baby daughter. There was a big celebration as the kingdom now had an heir. The next day his wife died and an old hag, claiming to be a witch came to the king and demand his daughter. She showed him a contract his wife had signed in which the queen had brought a spell to make her pregnant.’

“By rights,” the witch said, “The child is mine!”

‘The king fought hard, but that night the witch kidnapped the baby and fled to the tower. Everyone searched high and low, but they could not find the old hag or the baby. Heartbroken the king died and his kingdom fell into war then ruin.’

‘And the child?’ the first brother interrupted.

‘Was locked in the tower,’ the old woman stated, ‘the witch raised her there and taught her how to spin and make things. Later, the lost Princess learnt about herself from books. She begged the witch to release her and the witch told her that could only happen when the Princess’ true love came to rescue her.’

‘And did he?’ the second brother asked.

‘No. Of course he did not!’ the old woman snapped, ‘they say to this day the Princess’ bones are still resting on the floor of the tower. The door magically locked so no one can get in.’

The brothers fell silent and finished their broth. They thanked the old woman and left. As they headed out of the village the first brother turned to the second, ‘I want that story,’ he declared, ‘but I’m going to change the ending.’

 

Inspired by: https://scvincent.com/2016/11/10/thursday-photo-prompt-secrets-writephoto/ with thanks.

Wishing Well

The Wishing Well

 

Lost Princess Ashling Glamourlance, Sovereign of the Twilight Swamps beheld Ravens Wishing Well. She breathed a sigh of relief and pushed the last of the tree branches away. Stepping into the small clearing, she brushed down her body covering black dress. Autumn leaves, twigs and dirt clung to the frilly layers of the skirt and patches of dried blood stained the bodice. Her knee length boots were also mud splattered.

A soft, almost worried neighing came from behind her. Turning, she encouraged the Midnight Stallion, Thorn, to come forward. The mighty horse shied away, stamping the soft soil and shaking his head. Ashling stopped and debated going over to him. However, it didn’t seem worth using up the last of her energy to force the stallion onwards.

‘Stay there,’ she called to him.

Thorn lowered his head and fall silent. Ashling turned back and walked over to the Wishing Well. The circle of grey stones was moss covered and the water rising to the brim lapped against the sides, seemingly by its own force, as there was no wind in the clearing. Ashling peered into those depths. A single red leaf floated on the surface, creating small ripples. She put her hands on the cold stone and leant in further, but she could not see anything.

A twittering noise and flipping of wings caused her to look up. A small regal finch had landed opposite. It regarded her black eyes and then looked into the water. She looked down again and started to recite the spell she had memorized.

‘Oh, Wishing Well of Ravens old, listen to my tale upon this moonlit eve. Save me from this haunting fate that I desire no more. Take away this curse, so cruelly cast at birth and let me survive this dying light.’

The leaf bobbed and caused larger ripples. Ashling held her breath and kept her eyes on the water. Nothing else seemed to happen. Her fingers grabbed the stone tightly, going numb. At last she let go of the breath and gulp down cold air. Tears prickled at the corners of her eyes, but she kept them on the water.

‘Please,’ she whispered, ‘I do not want to die this night. My people need me still and there is no one left to protect them. How can this be the will of the Gods? I’ve done everything that was asked of me. Please, grant me this one wish.’

Thorn neighed loudly in a definite warning and clopped over to her. He nuzzled her shoulder and went to put his nose into the water. Ashling caught him and pulled him back.

‘No. None must drink from the Enchanted Well,’ she told him.

He whined and pressed his head into her chest. She patted him and casting a longing look at the Well, mounted him. The sense of hopeless filled her and she knew nothing would unseal her fate.