Onward #WritePhoto

The people of what had been Kirby town had been traveling for months, walking on the hard rocky animal tracks through the foggy and rain soaked mountain range. There seemed to be no end in sight and it was like they had been cursed to walk forever.

Wearily and hungrily, they followed their prince on his bedraggled white stallion and his surviving guards in their tattered livery. No one was sure where they were going but the wizard kept claiming the Gods would tell the prince soon enough.

A fine rain was falling and the wind kept driving into the people and animals. There was little shelter and half delirious some of the people started to believe the mountains were judging them.

But what would mountains know of having to flee your burning town? Of trying to save women from rape and murder at the hands of an army from a distant land? Of there being no help, no hope, nothing left but charred reminds of what had been?

‘Is that a cave or a gap?’ the prince muttered.

He was exhausted and finding it hard to keep the strength his people needed of him. Steering his horse off of the track and up a small ledge. He saw that a gaping hole opened inside the nearest mountain, like mouth that had been punched in.

The prince slide off his horse and lead the stallion over. The cave seemed back enough for everyone and it was also dry inside.

Prays were said to the Gods and a few people suggested that perhaps their fate was turning. Maybe tonight the prince would be told where to lead them too. Everyone settled into the cave, finding a large chamber for twelve horses, seven ponies, five goats, four dogs, two cows, one ox, one kitten and a crate full of chickens. There was also other chambers which the hundred odd humans scattered themselves about in.

No fires could be lit, there was no dry wood. The people ate whatever they had foraged, got as comfortable as they could and tried to sleep.

The prince woke early, feeling uneasy. He looked at the ceiling of the cave and wondered what to do.

‘My prince?’ ask the wizard, ‘any new thoughts?’

‘None,’ the prince uttered.

The wizard nodded and taking up his gnarled staff went out into the misty, rainy morning.

‘Shall we move on?’ the captain of the guards asked.

The prince looked around, taking in the closest children who were so tried and hungry they could no longer cry.

‘No. It seems safe enough here. We shall rest as long as we can.’

A few days passed and the people had made the best of things. Wood had been dried for a fire big enough to cook and dry clothes upon. The animals were providing milk and eggs now they were rested and grazing often. Everyone felt less hungry and tried.

On the four day, the wizard came back.

‘I have been seeing what there is to be seen,’ he announced, ‘and it looks like we must continue. The weather is turning and I fear we shall face greater hardships.’

The prince was fell silent in thought. A few voices give suggestions but at last the prince spoke, ‘tomorrow we leave. Go and find food, wood and prepare. We can’t stay here and must make it to some other town or city for the winter.’

Onward, the people of Kirby town traveled though a gap between two mountains where it stopped raining and began snowing. Some regretted leaving the cave but they knew if they had stayed they would have died, at least this way they had a chance.

On and on they pushed as winter bit in and heaped more harshness on them like never before. Some did not make it, but other weeks later, on the eve of the winter festival stood and looked down upon a valley and a town within.

Spirits soared and the people head forward. The prince feared they would be rejected or find the town in ruined but they were welcome in. A great hall lay at the heart of the town, heated by many fires and decorated with evergreen plants. The Lord welcomed them from his high seat and the prince counseled with him.

Dawn arose on the winter festival morning, crisp snow covered everything and a fine mist hung over the mountains. The people of Kirby all slept peacefully for the first time, warmed by the fires of the great hall, knowing they were safe for the time being.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/12/06/thursday-photo-prompt-onward-writephoto/ 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)

 

 

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.)

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)

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.