Entrance #WritePhoto

The return journey home was a long one but finally after all these years they had been gained back the country of their great-grandfathers. The land was war torn and reclaimed by nature but they didn’t care about that. They could start again and live as their ancestors had once done.

Stopping to make camp as they did every night, the hundreds of people who had banded together to travel in safety, began the normal bustle and rushing to get things done. Horses, ponies, dogs and other animals needed to be sheltered, feed and watered. Watches for bandits and monster attacks need to be arrange. Lanterns lit, fires to be started, food prepared and cooked. Then finally, shelters and beds to be made.

A chilling winter wind was blowing and the sky looked heavy with snow. Prayers were said to try and ward the worse of winter away for bad weather would make the next few months difficult. Darkness began to fall and fires crackled into life, fighting away the growing shadows.

Tonight, they were camping in a low valley. Rocks jutted out from clumps of grass and small trees grew out from cracks in the mountain like rock. There was shelter from the elements here but it came at a price; venerability to attacks. The high rock sides and narrow ways in and out, meant that it would been easy for enemies to sneak up on the large group.

Some people would have chosen to stay out in the open but they had woman, children, elderly and non-fighting men who needed protecting. So, the best shelter had to be sort even if it wasn’t ideal for battle.

Through the noise that had risen up, the voice of a small child shouted out, ‘Look, mama!’

Fial turned wearily to her five year old daughter who was standing next to a pile of fallen boulders and pointing a finger upwards at the side of towering rock side.

Fial was exhausted and not in the mood for anything other then a hot meal and sleep. She was heavily pregnant, almost eight months gone with her ninth child. She was not happy about having to give birth in the wilderness but had lost the argument with her husband about travelling.

Fial sighed and addressed her youngest, ‘Ierne, please, I am too busy. I have to prepare the last meal and your sister, Aibell, still has a high fever.’

‘I wonder what is in there….’ Ierne spoke, ignoring her mother as her eyes were fixed on what seemed to be the entrance of a cave.

With a shake of her head, Fial turned back to her task and left the child, who was too young to help out much, to amuse herself.

Ierne began climbing up the side of the rock. She dug her hands into the soft soil and gripped onto rough grass to help pull herself upwards. She laughed as taller plants tickled her and frowned as sharp rock scraped her skin. The cave opening was high above but she was determined to reach it.

Stopping for a rest on a large outcrop, Ierne looked down and saw her family. Her mother and oldest sisters, Ciara and Dearlu, were preparing food into a large black pot. Aibell was still resting in the covered cart.

Their father was coming back from placing their horses in a more sheltered area with his youngest son, Faolan at his side. Whilst the other three brothers; Naos, Eion and Bricin, were getting the fire going after chopping down a nearby tree for wood.

Ierne turned her head back to the entrance and started her wonder again.

What is up there? Is it a bear cave? The home of a mighty dragon? Will there be treasure? 

Smiling, the little girl began her climb again. It took her awhile to stand before the cave and she felt tired and hungry. The sight of the gloomy darkness and broken rocks around the entrance re-sparked Ierne into action.

Standing before the cave mouth, she peered in. It was darker in there then outside and only slight outlines of the rock faces and a narrow way in could be made out. There was no guessing how far back or if other passages lead off the cave ran. The wind whistled through like a low, mournful flute backed up by an echoing water drip.

Ierne smiled and cried out, ‘elves! Do you live here?’

Her voice give a soft echo and she listened for a reply but none came back.

She stepped forward and tried to peer into the dark entrance. Icy wind clawed at her face and she shivered in her travelling cloak. Ierne wiped her nose on the back of her mitten cover hand then rubbed her face. She was getting sleepy.

The wind began to pick up, pulling her towards the cave now and a few flakes of snow fluttered by. It was too cold to stand still for long. Looking into the cave again, Ierne slowly walked inside and put her fingers to the damp, cold wall.

Out of the wind and the arriving snow, the girl sit down and huddled in her cloak. Lulled by the whistling, Ierne started to drift off. Her eyes were heavy, her limbs ached with the cold and she tried after her climb. Sleep thickly stole her away.

In Ierne’s dream, there was a cosy fire, hot stew and warm bread. Music was playing somewhere and little people were dancing. They looked funny with their really long hair and clothes made out of plants and small animal skins.  Laughter, singing and voices rose high, echoing in the cave. There was red wine and golden mead flowing and splashing on the floor.

Ierne joined in with the dancing and tried to sing but she didn’t know the words. The little people had a different language to her’s. When her feet got tried, she sat by the fire and it was then that one of the little people offered her a goblet of the mead.

She took it and looked into the shimming liquid. The fire light reflected off the surface and the mead smelt so sweet.

‘It looks and smells like honey!’ Ierne spoke, ‘I love honey and have not had it since the spring.’

‘Take a sip, A’stor,’ the little person said.

Ierne raised the goblet and was just about to taste the gold mead when everything started to shake.

The little people screamed and began running away. The goblet slipped from Ierne’s hand and she looked around confused as a faint, familiar voice called her name.

Coming too, Ierne woke up and felt light stinging her eyes. Someone was shaking her shoulder and repeatedly saying her name. She tried to question what was going on but only mumble sounds came out of her mouth.

‘Ierne!’ her brother, Naos snapped, ‘everyone has been looking for you!’

‘What happened?’ Ierne asked, rubbing sleep away.

‘You can not go wondering off! It is dangerous!’

‘I was safe. I was with the little people.’

‘There’s no one here,’ Naos pointed out and shone his lantern around.

‘That’s ’cause you scared them away!’ Ierne cried.

‘Come along now,’ Naos growled, ‘it’s supper and bedtime for you.’

Naos picked up his younger sister and carried her back down to the safety of their family.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2020/01/23/thursday-photo-prompt-entrance-writephoto/ with thanks).

Christmas Eve

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All the children but one were in bed. I looked at my oldest from across the living room, he was sat on a beanbag next to the Christmas tree, playing on a game console, headphones in and switched off from the rest of the world.

My wife give me a nudge with her elbow and and nodded towards him, her eyes telling me I had to convince our son to go to bed now. It was an hour or so before his normal time and I was finding being the father of a fourteen year old difficult.

‘It’s too early,’ I whispered back to my wife.

‘I know, but we have presents to wrap,’ she replied back.

‘So? Josh can help.’

She shook her head, ‘I want him to have one last magical Christmas.’

‘You said that last year…He’s a teenager now,’ I hissed back.

My wife pulled a face and turned her attention back to the TV. We had been watching some old Christmas movie but it wasn’t that interesting and followed the same old plot that other seasonal films did.

There would be no arguing with her. It really wasn’t the time. Christmas was stressful and more so when you had a big family and an even bigger extended one. We had six children; four girls and two boys, ageing between five and fourteen.

I had four older siblings who had many children of their own and my wife had three remaining siblings with families of their own, plus the children from her two brothers who had passed away. Then there were all the cousins, distant relatives and friends who were like family. Also, the people who only seemed to appear at Christmas then fade into memory for the rest of the year.

I got up, trying not to be grumpy. I was just as tired as she was and not in the mood for dealing with argumentative teenage boys. Perhaps, there was another way though?

Tapping, Josh lightly and motioning the removing of his headphones and I got his attention.

‘Why don’t you go and play that in bed now?’ I said.

‘It’s still early,’ he replied, a moaning tone in his voice.

‘I know, but we have present wrapping to do and you wouldn’t want to spoil any surprises.’

Josh fixed that look, the one that said he didn’t believe me and was getting on the edge to start arguing, ‘No, I won’t. I know what you’ve got me all ready. What I asked for; new headphones, Zombies Revenge Battle Two and The Haunted Earth games, Zomboz and Bomboz books, a download of the newest Death Rattle album, one of their band hoody and matching t-shirt.’

I took a deep breath, ‘and how do you really know we got you all of that?’

Josh shrugged and turned back to his game, ‘mum told me.’

Avoiding looking back at my wife, I spoke, ‘but we might have brought you something else too. Please, Josh, be good and think about your brothers and sisters. We know you don’t believe anymore but it’s important to keep things nice for them.’

I had noticed he had been keeping his distance all day. The other kids had been over-excited and unable to focus on much. Josh hadn’t spoke much and spent a lot of time playing his games. Even later, when we had gone out to lay the glitter and oats trail for the reindeer then put out the mince pie, whiskey and carrots, Josh hadn’t been with us.

Had my son really grown out of Christmas?

‘Come on, Josh. Bedtime or else you’ll have to help wrap presents,’ I pressed harder.

Josh sighed and gathered his things. He went upstairs and I followed after him.

‘I’m staying up to finish this level,’ Josh said, threateningly as he flopped down on his bed.

‘That’s fine. Thank you,’ I answered and went to shut the door.

‘Dad?’

‘Yes, son?’

‘Was Santa real?’ Josh asked.

I frowned and paused in the doorway. Where had that question come from?

‘Like, did he ever existed?’

I came back into the room, pushing the door closed behind me. Josh was sat up now, his game forgotten for the moment. I joined him on the bed and thought how to reply.

‘And don’t give me a fairy story, I know none of that is real,’ Josh added.

‘I guess there might have been an old man once who inspired the stories,’ I said carefully.

‘Like Robin Hood and King Arthur? There’s not much fact they existed, is there?’

‘Yeah, that’s right. It’s that kind of myth, legend thing. There must have been someone who inspired those stories,’ I replied, latching onto his way of thinking.

‘I guess that makes sense,’ Josh answered, ‘I wonder who he was? I bet the internet would know!’

‘The internet knows everything,’ I muttered, ‘but you know that some stories can’t be captured.’

‘What?’

‘Get into bed and let me tell you about an old man in Iceland who was the first Santa.’

‘Dad,’ Josh groaned, ‘I’m not a kid and I don’t need a bedtime story! And I have this level to finish.’

‘I know all that but just this once okay? I thought you wanted to hear about it.’

Pulling a face and muttering, Josh did as I asked and settled into bed.

‘Once there was an old man who lived alone but he loved children. He had longed wished for his own but, and though he’d had a few wives, he never had any of his own. He was black smith and also a carpenter because where he lived in a small town in Iceland it was far from anywhere else.’

‘He could have moved,’ Josh cut in.

‘Not the point,’ I replied and got on with the story, ‘the man made little money mending things, so he made things to sell but soon no one wanted anymore chairs or tables or shelves. The man decided he would have to make something else instead or he would have no money to get food or firewood.’

‘Sounds like he needs a new job,’ Josh muttered.

‘One day, watching the children play in the snow, an idea came to him; he would make them some toys. He spent a long time planning and trying to make things. At first he wasn’t sure what the children would like and because there was so few toys around, there was little for him to go off. The man asked the children and they told him they would like dolls and blocks, hoops and spinning tops, rocking horses and pull along dogs.’

‘Baby toys?’ Josh scoffed, ‘why?’

‘No, these where old fashioned toys. They didn’t have computers and TVs back then! Or even plastic. The toys were all made of wood and spare things that were left over from making other things. Children didn’t have a lot of time to play in the old days. They had to help their parents run farms and they had to go out to work as money was always short,’ I explained.

‘Like the Victorian children? We learned about them in history class.’

‘Yes,’ I replied.

‘So, he made these toys and then what? He went and give them out?’

‘Erm, no, because he wouldn’t have made any money then. The man tried to sell the toys but people weren’t interesting. They didn’t have spare money to buy toys, they had to buy meat, bread and firewood instead. The man was disheartened but then another idea came to him and he asked some of the children to come and work for him. He give them easy tasks and paid them with toys.’

Josh laughed and asked, ‘for real?’

‘Sure, why not?’ I questioned, ‘the idea did work and other children came looking for work because they too wanted toys and the man found them jobs, sometimes helping him to make the toys themselves. When he ran out of jobs, the man got the children to help other people and because the children were getting toys instead of money, there was more money to go around.’

‘But, he wasn’t making any money himself was he? So, the man was just as poor as before.’

I give a nod and carried on, spinning the story I was making up on the spot as if it was a well known tale, ‘but because there was more money to go around now, people could offered to buy toys for their children. They could have special presents on their birthdays and Christmas. Then, one of the adults came to the old man and asked him to start making gifts that the adults could give each other because they had seen how happy the children were and the grown ups wanted to celebrate too.’

Josh nodded sleepily but didn’t interrupted. He was curled in bed, looking like a child once again as he started to doze off.

I continued, ‘The man was happy to do this because it meant more work and more money. So, he made gifts the adults could give each other and soon that become a tradition too. On the winter solace that year, the town celebrated the shortest day and the man give away many toys to lots of people, thus another tradition was born.’

Getting up, I tucked Josh in, he was almost asleep so it was time to finish the story, ‘ word began spreading about an old man in Iceland who give children toys in winter and people liked that idea and decided to make it so. Stories were told and added to and changed over the years. Santa was created from all them, but who knows what is true or not now? Like all great myths and legends, we’ll never know for sure but doesn’t that make them more interesting?’

 

 

 

 

 

Sight #writephoto

I peered through the viewing hole in the rock and the damp moors transformed before me. The pale grass became bright and lush, the washed out sky turned blazing blue and the other rocks in the distance shimmered. I held my breath and waited.

‘There’s one!’ I cried out.

A fairy with blonde hair, wearing a green filly dress and carrying a small wicker basket fluttered by, her wings a purple irradiant colour. Her toes skimmed the short grass then she flew away.

I gasped and took my face away from the rock. I rushed around it and looked for a flash of green or purple. There was nothing but a late summer butterfly, lazily hovering above the grass.

I scampered back to the rock and looked through the hole again. Behind me, I heard my grandfather chuckling.

‘You can only see the Fae folk through that portal, Harmony,’ he spoke, ‘they use it to get in between worlds, like I told you in the stories.’

‘And I believed you, grandpa!’ I spoke, my voice slightly muffled by the rock.

‘What can you see now?’ he asked, his voice full of laughter.

I looked harder, the vibrate colours of the moor and sky stinging my eyes. I saw two small figures walking through the grass. They were male, wearing brown clothes and brown caps. They were carrying cleaning tools and looked like they were on their way to work.

‘Brownies?’ I muttered, trying to recall what they looked like in Grandpa’s big book.

‘What was that?’ he asked quietly.

‘I think those two are brownies,’ I said, coming away from the rock, ‘you look grandpa.’

‘Alas, child, I can’t. These eyes aren’t what they use to be. I lost the sight gift a few years back,’ Grandpa spoke sadly.

I nodded thoughtfully, remembering one of the stories he had told me about seeing the king and queen of the fairies. That was the last time he had seen the Fae folk. I glanced back at the rock then asked, ‘do I have the sight gift, grandpa?’

‘Probably, Harmony. It has been passed on to all the Turner children but only some of them have embraced it. Your mother was only interested up until her late twenties. Then she got married and had you. She said she didn’t have the time anymore,’ grandpa explained.

‘She never talks about them,’ I pointed out.

Grandpa nodded, ‘she’s lost her belief. That’s the key to seeing the Fae peoples and everything else too. Having a hard belief in something will always make it real even if some times you can’t actually see it.’

‘Then I’m going to hold on to my belief forever, Grandpa!’

I smiled brightly and he smiled back then I turned back to the hole in the rock. Looking through again, I could see that other world taking shape around me and the Fae people going about their lives.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/08/31/thursday-photo-prompt-sight-writephoto 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)

Drifting

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She was drifting on a sea of dreams to lands unknown.

The Giant’s Pocket Watch #fridayfictoneers

PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast

The wooden back of a huge pocket watch had stood in the corner of the town’s park for hundreds of years. The origins of it had long been lost, but the myth was that the pocket watch had once belonged to a giant.

The giant Haldor was running late for the yearly Giants Together meeting. As he trod over a village, ignoring the fleeing of little people far below him, he drew out his pocket watch and checked the time. Seeing, he was going to be very late indeed, he hurriedly put the watch back into his pocket.

However, he missed and the watch hit the floor. Angrily, he bent to pick it up and swiped down two cottages as he did so. Hurrying on, he didn’t notice that his pocket watch had broken in the fall.

Years later, a shepherd lad was searching for a lost lamb when he came across the back of the pocket watch. He stared up in awe at the huge wooden circle then spotting his lamb nearby, he hurried to collect her. When he returned home, he told his father about what he had seen, for the lad was too young to remember the giant Haldor. His father clearly recalled the day though.

And that was how the myth of the giant’s pocket watch began.

 

(Inspired from a prompt from; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/03/15/17-march-2017/ with thanks. PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast)

The Visitors

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The High Priestess had heard the crying at the temple door for some time now. She had been hoping that one of The Sisters Of Syreth,  her followers, servants or anybody else taking shelter in the temple tonight would have opened the door by now. Wondering why that was, the High Priestess swished down a connecting hallway in her large and heavy blue dress.

Going through a small door, she entered and passed through the huge nave down a side corridor. The air was heavily scented with hot wax, incense and winter flowers from the mountain sides. Flickering candle light glowed from clustered candle groups, but it was not enough to keep the shadows away. A handful of people were sitting in the large, cold wooden pews. Most were silent in prayer or sleep, but every now and then sobbing, moans and whispered voices could be heard.

The High Priestess stuck to the shadows and hurried past. It was late in the night and she had all ready given a long service this evening then spent time with a number of different people. She was tried and had been trying to fall asleep, but the crying had disturbed her.

Going through the large doors into the small welcoming area, she saw the door opposite which led to the porch was all ready open. Voices and light were drifting from the area. Not bothering to be quiet she walked on and came to a stop behind a small group of people. There were five of them; two Sisters of Syreth in there pale blue robes, a male servant and a tall man dressed in a travelling cloak.

‘I am telling you, do not let them in!’ the man was saying.

‘Everybody is welcome in this temple of Syreth. She is the Goddess of protection and guardians. It is our duty to offer whatever we can to anybody who comes to our door,’ the High Priestess broke in.

The two Sisters turned and did little bows. The male servant, who was holding a lantern bowed too, but his was a lot lower. The traveler did not move and the High Priestess saw the tiredness and worry on his face. But he was also trying to mask his fear. Behind them all and coming from the other side of the temple’s double front doors the loud crying continued.

‘What is it? Who is crying out there?’ the High Priestess demanded to know.

There was a pause then the traveler spoke out, ‘creatures. I saw them on my way here and I think they followed me. You must not let them in for surely they are demons.’

‘What do they look like?’ The High Priestess asked.

‘There is two of them,’ the traveler replied, ‘one small, the other tall. They look like ghosts to me. I heard them whispering and calling out to me. But I did not stop. I rushed here and closed the door upon them and since then they have been crying,’ the traveler explained.

The High Priestess fell into thought.

‘We want to open the door to see for ourselves,’ one of the Sisters spoke.

‘Perhaps in the darkness the gentleman was mistaken,’ the second Sister finished.

‘I am not blind! I know what I saw!’ the traveler snapped.

‘Of course,’ the High Priestess murmured, ‘please see to his needs,’ she said to the servant.

The servant give a nod and led the man away. The traveler began to mutter under his breath, but he followed the servant and the steady lantern light.

The High Priestess went to the door and opened it. She peered out then stepped aside.

A strong winter wind blew harsh snowflakes into the temple and set the candles flicking violently. Coldness seeped in and snatched what little warmth there was within the stone walls away. The sound of the river gargling and the rattling of bare tree branches echoed through the temple.

The crying stopped. A large white and light brown cat padded inside followed by a pure white young female deer. Snow dusted their coats, but they seemed unharmed.

‘Do you seek shelter here?’ asked the High Priestess.

‘Yes,’ the cat spoke in a clear voice that was not male or female.

The two Sisters gasped and backed away. They reached for each other, holding hands tightly. Fear passed across their faces, but they did not run away.

The High Priestess shut the door. Snowflakes were melting in her long loose blonde hair and the wind was tugging at the edges of her dress like a naughty child.

‘You are both welcome here,’ the High Priestess continued.

‘Thank you,’ the cat replied.

‘What are your names and how can we help you?’

‘I am known as Horven, the druid,’ the cat spoke, ‘and she is the Princess Graceuvial.’

The white deer nodded and seemed to give a little bow with her long neck.

‘A Princess?’ The High Priestess breathed.

‘We have become lost in the snowstorm,’ Horven added.

‘Yes. It is quite a bad one,’ the High Priestess responded, ‘please let me take you to some warm rooms. There you can rest and I shall see to it you have everything you need.

‘Thank you,’ the cat said.

The High Priestess held out her hand then led the way into the Temple.

 

(https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/microfiction-challenge-27-rescue/)

A Winter’s Dream

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The snow was falling thickly outside, burying the moor further under a white blanket. Lisbeth watched the flakes from the library windows which were the biggest in the small manor house and gave the best views. After a few moments of peering out of each of the three windows, Lisbeth climbed into the window box which was in the second window.

The window box had a soft red cushion covered seat and hand stitched square cushions at both corners. It was cosy and always made Lisbeth feel safe in the large cold library. Bending her knees up and tucking her long dark green dress underneath her, Lisbeth wrapped her arms around her legs and stared out of the window.

She could see the small dirt circled driveway, with the fountain turned off for winter. The red brick wall and black iron gates with their covering of ivy. Beyond, was the moor, which seemed to stretched out forever like the sea. Being covered in snow, the landscape looked bleak and boring, but Lisbeth knew come spring and summer, the moors would be brightly colored with flowers and alive with baby animals.

A loud knocking on the door drew her attention away and Lisbeth turned her head to see her maid walking into the library. The young woman was wearing a black dress and a white pinafore. When she got closer, having come around the big oak table that sat in the middle of the room, Lisbeth saw she had something in her hand.

‘This has arrived for you, Miss. A gift from your father,’ the maid spoke.

Lisbeth reached out a hand and took the brown paper and string wrapped packet. It was a rectangle shape and heavy. Slowly, Lisbeth unwrapped it and and found a book inside. The cover was a light brown and golden letters which she couldn’t read, spelled out a title and an author.

‘I’ll lit the fire in here for you, Miss,’ the maid said.

Lisbeth didn’t say anything as her fingers touched the golden lettering. She knew it was French, but she only knew a handful of words. Opening the book, she flipped through the pages and noticed that some of them had drawings on. In the background, she heard a fire being started then the closing of the door.

Turning the pages slower, Lisbeth come across an image that made her stop. There was a man with black curly hair and blue trousers carrying a girl in one hand and leading a white horse in the other. The horse was carrying four or six other girls through what seemed to be countryside. Lisbeth tried to read the pages on either side of the picture, looking for any words she might know. However, the few she did know give her no clue as to what the drawing was about.

Looking harder at the picture, Lisbeth tried to figure out what was going on. Clearly, this man was taking the girls somewhere. Maybe, he was rescuing them? Was he a Prince? A Lord? A poor farmer? And who were the girls and why were there so many of them? Lisbeth counted again and decided there was six of them riding the horse and the girl in his arm made seven. Were they sisters then?

Feeling frustrated, Lisbeth closed the book and set it at her feet. Resting her head on her knees, she looked out the window again. The glass was misting up and the snow was falling faster making the view of the moor even more distant. From behind her came the first curls of warmth from the fire. She heard the flames cracking around the logs, the noise was too loud in the silence of the library.

Lisbeth shut her eyes and though she didn’t want to think about the drawing anymore, she couldn’t help it. Desperately, she wanted to know who the man and the girls were.

Father will know, she thought, when he gets back from his business trip, he can read it to me.

Sighing and feeling the chill leaving her, Lisbeth went to open her eyes again, but found they were too heavy. With the fire lulling her to sleep, she let herself slip away.

When Lisbeth finally opened her eyes again, she found herself not at home in the library watching the snow falling on the moor, but outside in the countryside. The sun was blazing in a too blue sky, tall green trees were dotted around and the grass under her was long. Birds were singing, insects buzzing and the smell of flowers filled the air.

As she was wondering what had happened, Lisbeth heard the sound of horses hoofs. Getting up, she looked around and saw a road close by. Walking over, she soon saw a large white horse being led by a young man with black curly hair. He was wearing medieval clothes like she had seen in paintings. In his other hand, he was carrying a child wrapped in white strips of cloth who had very long blonde hair. Upon the horse, six other girls rode and they were also wrapped in cloth with tangled long blonde hair.

Lisbeth stepped onto the road before them all.

‘Excuse me,’ Lisbeth called, ‘Hello. Could you please tell me where I am?’

The man brought his horse to a stop and looked at her. The seven girls also fixed their eyes to her and Lisbeth could now see that the girls all looked the same, but they were different ages. They all looked weary as if they had been walking for awhile.

‘You are far from anywhere,’ the man replied.

Lisbeth frowned.

‘This is the middle of the French countryside,’ the man explained, ‘there is nothing but farmers and wine makers out here. We are days from the nearest village and a month from the nearest town.’

‘And who are you all?’ Lisbeth asked.

‘You are clearly a stranger here,’ the man spoke.

Lisbeth nodded.

‘I’m Prince Louis and these are my sisters. Our kingdom was burnt down and we could not stay there. We are traveling to the next kingdom where my oldest sister is betrothed to the Prince there.’

‘I see,’ Lisbeth answered.

‘And you?’ the Prince asked.

‘I do not know. I woke up over there.’

Lisbeth looked at the spot and fell into wondering how she got here.

‘What’s your name?’ the oldest and first Princess on the horse asked.

‘Lisbeth. That I am sure of!’

‘Do you want to come with us?’

‘I do not think I can. I am waiting for my father. He should be home soon,’ Lisbeth replied thoughtfully.

‘Then we must leave you now,’ the Prince spoke out, ‘the road is still long ahead of us.’

‘It was nice meeting you all,’ Lisbeth said.

With nods of goodbye, Lisbeth stepped off the road and watched the Prince leading the white horse away. When she could not seen them anymore, Lisbeth walked back to the spot she had woken up in and sat down.

‘How do I get out of here?’ she spoke aloud.

Resting back, she looked up at the cloudless sky and felt the heat on her skin. She felt tried and hot. Shutting her eyes, she told herself that after a little doze she would figure this all out further.

Someone was calling her name. She could hear them in the distance. Fighting away sleep, Lisbeth opened her eyes. She blinked a few times then sat up. She was back in the library. Rubbing her face, she looked out of the window, but darkness had now settled outside. Turning away, she saw her maid standing before her and the fire still burning brightly further back.

‘I fell asleep…’ Lisbeth said, ‘and it was all a dream.’

‘A pleasant one I hope, Miss?’ the maid asked.

Lisbeth nodded.

‘Would you like some supper now, Miss?’

‘No, thanks. I think I shall go to my room,’ Lisbeth said.

She slipped out of the window box and picked up the book. Even though she was tempted to open the pages and see the drawing again, she kept the book closed and walked out of the library.

Outside the snow continued to fall.

 

(From a prompt by https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/microfiction-challenge-26-a-journey/ with thanks)

Frost

snow-21979_1920

Jack Frost opened his eyes and raised his head up. Around him, in the small underground cave he called home all the dead leaves with covered in ice. He rolled over, stretched and feeling -but not feeling as it- were the chill of the air around him. He rested back, putting his long pale blue arms across his skeleton chest and interlocking even longer fingers.

Looking up at the soil and roots above him, Jack listened to the earth. He had half hoped he’d been wrongly awoken, but no, autumn was coming to an end and it was time for him to go to work. He wiggled his long pointer toes then rolled back over and got on to his hands and knees.

He climbed out of his home and using the roots of the tree above, stood up. He could see the woodland floor was covered in leaves and mud, the tree branches above were bare and the sky was a dark grey wash. He began walking, leaving a trail of shiny white frost behind.

Jack reached his long fingers out and began touching the tree trunks and tall bushes. The icy spikes began to spread and he left them to cover everything. He walked down to the river’s edge and though there was little he could do to make the whole thing ice over, he tried anyway. It just wasn’t cold enough yet though and he could only form small ice patches.

He wandered on, trailing his fingers everywhere and leaving the frost behind him. Jack became lost in thought and sometime later he stopped and looked up at the sky. He could see the coming dawn.

How much longer until Santa arrives and brings the snow with him? Jack wondered.

He could never tell, only he knew it when he felt it.

He walked to the top of a hill. The highest one in the woods. He rose his hands to the sky and sent out waves of frost. Small snowflakes fell about him, telling Jack his frost was on its way to places. Yawing, he saw that dawn was tinting the sky yellow. He walked slowly back to his home, crawled inside and curled up to sleep again.

Tomorrow he would awaken again and create more frost.

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.