Hopeful Rest (Part 1)

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Some days, I just mindless walk whilst listening to music. It’s a habit that comes from when I was a teenager and just had to get away from my family. I was so anger and upset all the time back then and I couldn’t talk properly to anyone about it because I didn’t know how to. Being autistic didn’t help either.

It still doesn’t, but at least things have become a little easier. I like my job as an IT assistant at a large office. People come to me with their PC problems and I fix it. Though the world still has a habit of getting on top of me.

I was wandering to cool off after a bad day at work, listening to classic Linkin Park albums on my phone when I came across the old stone gate and fence. I stopped and checked for any signs telling me not to trespass etc, it’s important to pay attention to those things. There didn’t seem to be any and now I had stopped, I realised I wasn’t sure where I was.

Around me, thick trees and bushes blocked out most of the light. The path I was on was overgrown and it seemed nothing had been here recently. I was far from any road or house, in the middle of the moors. There had been something man-made here once and nature had claimed it back.

Getting lost had never scared me, my autistic brain didn’t really understand emotions or feelings. I get them sure, but not on the same level as everyone else. Also, if you wanted to be away from people you had to get lost sometimes.

I went through the gap were a wooden gate once had been and found myself on a fading path heading upwards. There were piles of stones dotted around, all of which had fallen off the wall. Past the trees lay an open, tangled snarl of a clearing and popping up from the super long grass and trails of ivy were headstones.

Counting them slowly, I came to about thirty in total, though there was probably more hidden in the grass. So, a graveyard then. I couldn’t see a church poking above the treeline, maybe if there’d been one it was long since gone. I didn’t give much other thought to the hows and the whys. I liked burial places, they were often quiet and didn’t have that many living people about.

I walked to the first row of headstones and tried to read them. Weather, age and moss made it difficult. I traced some letters and numbers with my fingers and got a few of them. I tried to clear the stone, interested to see the date on it. 1879 seemed to be it. The last line on the stone was clear to read, as if someone had gone to great lengths to make it stand out; We hope they have gone to rest.

I moved on to the next which like the first was a plain arched shape. The inscription once again was faded but at the end were those same words again. I went down the row, looking at each headstone carefully, but they were all too hard to read expect for that repeating last line.

There was an odd sound to those words my brain realised. I had seen many epitaphs but that was just different. Who was ‘we’ ? The family? and why ‘hope’ for something that was true? I don’t really get why people do things sometimes.

I walked around the other gravestones. Some of them were clearer then others and I got the sense this resting place was for members of a small village that might now be lost to history. The earliest date I found was mid 1800’s and the most recent 1930’s close to the start of the Second World War. On all of them though were the same last words; We hope they have gone to rest.

To Be Continued…

Empty #writephoto

When the moors were empty, it made them far better to walk upon, Wish decided. There weren’t noisy children running around or dogs barking or horses clopping everywhere. There was just the wind blowing through the dry grasses and heather. The sweet smell of just flowering plants and spring. Birds singing off in the distance and nothing more.

Wish came to a stop and looked around. She spread her arms out and threw back her head. The sky above was a lovely pale morning blue. Not a cloud insight, she noticed. Smiling, Wish dropped her head and arms, she got back to walking, feeling totally calm and satisfied.

 

(Prompt from: https://scvincent.com/2017/03/23/thursday-photo-prompt-empty-writephoto/ With thanks).

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)

Ghostly Secrets (Part 3)

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Annabelle hurried back to her chambers forgetting all her manners. The skirt of her nightdress whipped around her legs and she almost tripped over many times. The flame of the oil lamp flickered madly and made the shadows along the walls more darker. Her bare feet pounded the floor almost as loudly as her heart.

She almost missed her door in her flight. Annabelle stopped and looked desperately around, she barely recognised the corridor but then saw where her bedchamber door was and hurried in. The room was just as she had left with it; with the fire now out and the bed cold. Annabelle placed the lamp on her bedside table and scrambled into bed. She shivered violently and clutched the sheets tightly.

Annabelle calmed herself. She rested against the pillows and took in deep breaths. Despite everything, she heard the grandfather clock in the front hallway below chime three am. She tried to settle, but sleep would not come and her mind was too drawn back to the room. Why had the ghost taken her there? Who’s room had it been? She knew parts of the manor house had been shut away because they were no longer needed. Perhaps, she could ask her uncle and aunt, maybe even the maids and house keeper? Somehow though, Annabelle did not want to tell anyone about the room.

She shut her eyes, feeling tried but at the same time unable to sleep. She wondered when she could try and go back during the daytime. Maybe in the middle of the afternoon? her aunt always took a nap and her uncle went out for a walk. The servants would be busy preparing the evening meal and finishing their tasks for the day. Annabelle decided that would be the best time and promptly fell asleep.

When she woke it was late morning. Annabelle rubbed her eyes and face as she came too. She knew the maid had been in because her clothes were laid out and there was fresh water in the jug. Annabelle got up and washed herself before ringing the bell for the maid. Whilst she waited, she looked outside and out over the moors. It was a grey dull day and there was not much to see.

The maid appeared and helped her get dressed into a plain blue day dress. Somehow, Annabelle held her questions about the ghost and room in. She went down to eat and found her uncle and aunt had already eaten and where in other parts of the house. Annabelle ate her eggs and toast in silence then went back to her room. Stepping through the door, she saw the maid was cleaning out the fireplace.

‘I’ll be done soon, Miss. Is there anything I can do for you?’ the maid asked.

Annabelle looked at her, recalling that the maid was younger then herself, so the girl might not know anything about the room. The girl had chestnut brown hair, so different from Annabelle’s blonde curls and she was wearing clothes that ill fitted her, as if the maid had been given another woman’s clothes. Annabelle pressed her lips together and decided to ask, ‘do you anything about ghosts?’

The girl, paused and looked at her, ‘no, Miss.’

Annabelle  went and sat at her dressing table where she played with a silver hairbrush and mirror. She watched the maid in the mirror and thought carefully.

‘You must know some stories though…’Annabelle muttered.

‘Sorry, Miss?’

‘Have you ever since a ghost?’ Annabelle asked.

‘No, Miss,’ the maid said quickly, ‘I must go and get some more coal.’

Annabelle turned to stop her but the girl hurried off before she could call her back. Sighing, she looked around then noticed the match box on the floor. Getting up, she collected that and a candle from the mantel and left her room. Though she had meant to find the secret room later, the urge to go back and see it again was too strong.

She hurried along the corridor and around into the next one. She remembered the way perfectly and arrived at the door, which was still slightly ajar. Annabelle opened it and stepped in. Closing it behind her, she found herself in darkness and had to go out again so she could light the candle. With that done, she walked through the bedchamber and light the few candles that were dotted about.

It was just a man’s bedchamber and beside from the envelope on the desk, Annabelle found no other names. She paused over the letter and then picked it up. The envelope had been sealed and never opened. It had never been posted. She almost opened it then she could not bring herself to break the seal. Placing it back, she walked into the other room and lit the single candle there.

The small flame hardly cast any light, so she went and picked up another candle from the next room. Then she could see that it was a personal library. A few molding books rested on a few bookshelves, but someone had taken away the others a long time ago. Annabelle went to the tapestry and inspected it more closely. She could not see anything else within it though. Moving it aside, she opened the door to the secret room and stepped in once more.

Straight away she saw the long curtains and went over to open them. Weak light drifted into the room from the dirty windows, but Annabelle could now see a lot more. She brought candles from the first room and placed them around. Then she saw that the room had once been heavily decorated and wonderful, but now time was decaying everything. It appeared to a be a lady’s private room, but Annabelle did not know how that was possible since it was clearly connect to a man’s room.

She walked about, looking at the pretty objects that decorated the room. There was a large chair and sofa, books on the shelves, dried flowers in vases, makeup and hair items on the large dresser. Small paintings hung on the walls of countryside scenes and the actual manor house. Two porcelain dolls sat together in a baby crib, their dust covered glass eyes staring up at Annabelle. Soft rugs covered the floor, muffling her footsteps as she moved around to looked for another hidden doorway. Perhaps she thought this room did connect to another somehow.

After much searching and looking at the placement of the items and furniture, Annabelle decided she had been wrong. There was only one way out of this room and someone had moved everything in here to make it look like it did. She went back to the desk and looked at the items there. There was a ink stand complete with pots and what had once been quills, yellow writing papers, an old book and the jewelry box.

Annabelle touched it, feeling dust under her fingers. She opened the large wooden box and saw the glitter of jewels in the candle light. No music came from the box, but as she inspect it and the contents more, she found a key and was able to wind it up. A soft lullaby rose up and she thought she knew it, but could not place it. She picked up necklaces, bracelets, earrings and loose gem stones, all very expensive and just left hidden in this dark room.

She started putting everything back and that was when she spotted the letter.

To Be Continued…

Beacon

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They had been travelling for two years when the wood elf spotted one of the last beacons. He dismounted from his bay horse and on long legs ran up the hill. The adventuring party watched him go, wondering what he had seen before realising themselves. Three of them dismounted from their horses; the two human fighters and the half-elf wizard. Whilst the dwarf healer and halfling thief stayed on their stout ponies.

The elf came to a stop before the burnt ruins. He nudged an untouched wooden plank with his deer hide boots, flipping it over and staring at it. His hand rested on the  jewelled pommel of his magic sword, ready for a possible ambush. He could hear the wind howling through the long moor grass and the small valleys of the hills.

His companions came to join him, but he ignored their whispers for something had caught his sharp eyes. On another hill, higher then this one and a good few miles away he could see another beacon raising. It appeared unlit. He frowned and looked farther around, but he could see nothing other then the moors and the coming storm clouds.

‘Can you see the other beacon? Is that it?’ the half-elf asked at his side.

‘I think so,’ the elf replied.

The two men came to stand beside them and the elf saw they had drawn their swords.

‘What’s going on?’ a voice yelled up to them.

‘It is definitely one of  Abacros beacons,’ one of the men yelled back.

The elf heard the dwarf and halfling dismount and trudge up the hill. the rest of the party began moving around again. Their boots crunching on burnt wood and dry grass. The elf kept his eyes firmly fixed on the other beacon in the distance. Something didn’t feel right. The more he looked the more his eyes confirmed that the wood had not been lit.

That would explain it, he thought, if the chain had been broken, the city of Abacros had been doomed from the start. 

‘This is beacon forty-two,’ the half-elf announced.

‘We have to go over there,’ the elf cut in.

He turned and saw his companions gathered around a tatty map and a large rock. Without saying anything else, the elf went down the hill and back to the horses. He mounted his bay mare and headed in the direction of the other beacon. Disgruntled words tickled his ears, but the growing wind swept them away.

He glanced up at the sky and saw the storm clouds were rolling in fast. This was really not the place to be caught in bad weather. He urged his horse on, knowing the others had joined him. However, the soft, sinking ground was hard going and it took awhile to reach the tall hill. The rain had started falling as the elf dropped from the saddle and walked to the beacon.

The pile of wood towered above him. It was built in a large square with a cone at the top. His eyes had not lied. The thing had never been lit. He looked down and saw something in the grass. Poking it with the toe of his boot, he saw it was a dirt covered dagger. Just above it and still reaching out for the blade was a dead hand.

‘He’s been here years,’ the voice of the dwarf rumbled, ‘crude arrows Outlanders, maybe.

‘So the guards were attacked then?’ the first man said whilst the other just shook his head.

‘That would explain it,’ the elf answered, ‘and after all these years we now know what happened. The guards were slay before they could lit the beacon. The line was broken and that’s why help was too late.’

‘And Abacros fell,’ the halfling whispered.

Thunder rumbled, drawing their attention away. The horses whined, a few stamped their feet and shook there heads. The elf took a last look around and knew they should be on their way. At last they had an answer for the king.

 

Photo prompt from; https://scvincent.com/2016/09/22/thursday-photo-prompt-beacon-writephoto/

Moor

Moor, Swamp, Nature Conservation, Landscape, Nature

They say if you listen closely it’s not the wind that’s crying but the poor souls that have been lost upon the moor.

A Night on the Moors

The rain tapped against the window as Elizabeth stood watching in the gloom. The small bedroom fireplace was lit behind her and letting off just enough light. She was aware of a servant, probably one of the lower housemaids, slipping in through the half open door and starting to light the gas lamps.

The grandfather clock in the hallway chimed the sixth hour. The rings echoed through the quiet house before fading and allowing the stormy wind to be heard in full again. Elizabeth heard the maid putting more logs on to the fire, but still she kept staring out of the window. Below her the small flower and vegetable gardens spread out and beyond the tall hedge was the moor. Even with the darkness, she knew the layout well enough now to see it clearly in her mind’s eye. The urge to go out there was strong. She loved the moor at its wildest and the high peaks of that happened during winter.

The servant was at her side, holding a lamp. Elizabeth went to pull the black veil more across her ice white skin, then realised she hadn’t put the veil on.  She tried to shield her face without the servant noticing too much.

‘Excuses me, Madam, Mrs Dawson, wants us to put some lights in the windows,’ a soft, childlike voice stated, ‘there’s a rumour that some poor child is lost on the moor, Madam.’

Elizabeth nodded and moved away, she went to the fireplace and stood before it, but her eyes fell back to the window. The maid placed a lit lamp on the sill and quickly crossed herself. Turning, the maid picked up her skirts and made to leave.

‘Who is this…child?’ Elizabeth asked.

The maid stopped, skirts dropping and swishing the floor once more, ‘I’m not too sure, Madam. Some says it’s the blacksmith’s youngest son and others a runaway foundling from the town.’

‘I see…Will you please send some tea up, Mary?’

‘Won’t you be taking it with Mr Thornton in the library, Madam?’

Elizabeth shook her head and half turned away.

‘I shall bring it right up,’ Mary said and went to leave again. At the door, she stopped and added, ‘Madam, Mrs Andrews says she wants the lamps removed at ten o’clock. She’s worried they might attract bad spirits into the house.’

‘Very good, Mary,’ Elizabeth answered, almost as if she had not heard what the young woman had said.

Elizabeth listened to Mary leave and bump into another servant in the hallway before continued on. She pressed her hands together and went back to the window. The wind was now lashing the rain against the glass and she could see trees and tall bushes shaking wildly. She thought about the poor child lost on the moor and hoped he was found soon.