Bridges

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Giverny ©Padre’s Ramblings

 

Bridges

Bridges bring us together,

Span gaps that keep us apart.

They may be of wood, stone or concrete,

Or sometimes a “sorry,”

When comes to matters of the heart.

 

Bridges link things divided,

Be they lands, people, or tongues.

They like words take us closer,

Far more effectively than walls or guns.

 

Bridges bring us together,

Span gaps that keep us apart.

Simple structures that lead us,

To discoveries and at times a “new start.”

 

Padre

 

 

2019 Photography Challenge: Bridge

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The Priestesses: A Sisters Tale

Sisters 3

In the morning, “the sisters” felt far more rested than they had in days.  It had been especially refreshing for Star who had not really had a deep sleep since she had locked herself into the tapestry room.

A quick check of the adjoining rooms and hallways was made, and the companions began the task of rolling the tumbrils towards the main hall. As a precaution the lead cart was pushed rather than pulled so that it might trigger any traps rather than the women themselves. The other two were pulled, as it made for an easier transit. Each woman strapped a fur coat to their backs with cords, and Thilda carried an extra for Wilberta.

“Too bad there wasn’t one large enough for Seymour,” Breena said.

“Yes, that would have been something to see,” Thilda smirked.

The carts made an echoing rumble as they went down the corridor, but nothing seemed to be stirred by the noise.  At last a doorway could be seen ahead of them, and Star and Thilda squeezed past the lead cart to check it.  It did not seem to be locked, so as avoid any surprises, the carts were left behind as the women pushed the door open with weapons at the ready.

They found themselves on the opposite side of the nave from the cloister door they had passed through on their entry.  But, there standing defiantly before the statue of the Succubus were the three missing priestesses. They immediately began to chant in chorus, flailing their arms above their heads.

There was an energy exuded from them, and their features seemed to have returned to their youthful forms. Star and Thilda began to feel sick, and the room started to feel as if it were spinning.  Gwendolyn too began to succumb to the vertigo.

Breena and Maya, however stood their ground.  Breena seemed immune to their spell, and Maya quickly said a protection charm over herself as soon as she felt dizziness coming on.

Maya struck first. She made an exaggerated gesture with her hands then clapping them to her ears said “Silence!” Immediately the sounds of the chanting ceased even though the mouths of the attendants continued to move. Breena afraid that their spell might still have power, took her short staff and after mumbling an incantation slammed its end into the floor tiles and said “Be Moved.”  A visible wake moved through the paving stones towards the priestesses, and as it reached them they were toppled like ninepins.

Maya drew her kris and advanced a couple of steps, while Breena pulled the “reviving potion” from her pouch and placed a drop of it on the tongues of her comrades. They regaining their composure and prepared for battle.

One of the attendants pulled a star-shaped disk from her pouch as she regained her feet. It narrowly missed Maya, and embedded into a nearby pillar. Thilda had sufficiently recovered by then to loose an arrow into the woman’s torso. Star picked up her curved sword and bounded forward, catching another attendant across her midriff dividing her in two. The remaining priestess came to her knees and began to beg for mercy.

Star caught the woman by the hair, and yanked her to her feet.

“Are there any others?” Gwendolyn shouted as she advanced towards the whimpering woman.

“No, I am alone now,” the priestess cried.

Thilda scanned the room, as she was not prepared to just take her word for it.

Breena came up calmly to the woman, and gently laid a hand on her shoulder. “Where is the ‘Crown of Truth’?” she asked kindly.

“I will show you,” the woman squeaked. Raising one hand to point to as of yet unexplored corner.

Star held the woman’s left arm behind her back, and she and Breena accompanied her in the indicated direction.  There was a small cabinet against the wall, with a silken cloth over it, which made it look like a small pillar from a distance.  It had a candelabra on it, and it could easily have been overlooked.

“In there,” the woman sobbed.

“Maya,” Breena called. “Can you spare a rat?”

The enchantress brought over a trap rat, which seemed to be content with the case.

Breena slowly opened the door, to reveal a white crystal crown, which she gently removed. She then took the silk from the cabinet and wrapped the artifact for safety.

Just then the priestess broke free from Star’s grip and leapt to the open cupboard and grabbed a cruet from the shelf. She guzzled the liquid, then turned horribly pale and fell down dead.

“Poor misguided soul,” said Breena, and shedding a tear covered the woman’s face with a handkerchief.

 

Padre

 

 

 

The Chambers: A Sisters Tale

 

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©Padre’s Ramblings

Two additional doors led from the throne room.  The first was a large store chamber, in which even more baskets of treasure were kept.  In the centre of the room was a marble plinth and upon it was a faceted ruby heart about the size of a man’s fist.

“It does exist!” Breena said with uncharacteristic excitement.  “The Life Stone.”

Maya was just preparing to place the trap rat onto the pedestal, when Breena in one of her dazes said, “It isn’t it.  This one is made of glass.” She then went back to the throne room and opened a panel at the feet of the fallen Succubus.  An identical stone was found to be in the enclosure.  An investigation of the recess proved it to be safe and Breena removed it, wrapping it carefully and taking absolute care tot to touch the demon’s form with it.

“What does it do?” Star asked.

“It you lay it upon a person’s chest who has passed within the last hour, they will be restored to life.  They won’t be healed of what killed them mind, but it does allow time to treat them. It is the reason I agreed to come on this expedition,” Breena explained.

No traps could be found in the treasure chamber as well. Apart from the glass heart, all else seemed genuine, and if they could manage to carry it, it would fund a small kingdom.

A search of what lay behind the other door was more disturbing. There they found the lodgings of the attendants. But there were six, not three beds, and there were an equal number of vanity tables and clothing trunks as well.  On some of the tables were cruets similar to those found in the entryway of the temple.  They seemed to be responsible for the continued “youth” of the Succubus’ minions. Breena carefully wrapped a few of these as well.

The clothing was all luxurious and silks and furs were abundant.

“Gwen,” Thilda called, “Should we take some furs for the mountain crossing?”

“If we can carry them, we can try.” Gwendolyn said after a moment to consider it.

This room had an additional door, and what lay behind the other door seemed almost too incredible to be believed. It opened into an alcove where three tumbrils were stored, and beyond them there seemed to be a long straight passage which if Maya’s calculations were correct led back to the main temple chamber, avoiding both the labyrinth and the galleries.

Star stood guard at the throne room door, and Thilda did the same in the newly found corridor. The other three women began to sort through the wonders contained in the chamber, prioritising the items to be taken, and arranging them in the carts. It was decided that copper, brass, and silver would be left behind (at least for the immediate time) and that portability by horse and mule needed to be factors in their choices as well.

When they had packed the carts, the women met back in the attendant’s bed chamber. What had eluded them, however, was a crystal crown which “The White Ones” had told Breena of, and which had been in some of the artistic representations of “the goddess.” It was nowhere to be found in any of the three rooms.

“Why do we need it?” Thilda asked.

“It is not so much needed as wanted,” Breena said.  It allows the wearer to understand the speech of those who speak to them.”

“It translates?” Gwendolyn queried.

“Yes, but more. It also lets you know their true words, not just what they have said,” Breena explained.  “It reveals lies.”

“Why do you want it then,” Maya asked. You seem to have a gift for detecting them already.”

“For me, it is its first power that is most important,” Breena corrected. It would help my work to know what ails people. Okay, and yes, people seem to always lie to Healers, it would make diagnosis simpler to know the truth.”

It was growing late, and it was decided that they would block the passageway door with furniture, and get some sleep in real beds for the night. Thilda would take the first watch, then Gwendolyn, Star, and Breena. Maya would have the night to rest.

It was a quiet night, and dreams of home seemed finally on the agenda.

Padre

Watchman Binman: A Roseman Tale

rosemen

Andy Binman was a skinny redheaded lad of about twenty.  His wavy hair, and abundance of freckles, however made him look more like fifteen.  He came from a long line of municipal workers, whose steady salaries allowed them to afford meagre, but comfortable lodgings in the Old Guilds district between the Great Market and the Alleys.

Andy was the second child of Arthur and Alice (nee Mucker) Binman.  The elder Binman was a supervisor for the city’s “Streets Department,” a civil service tasked with the sweeping of roads, and the collection of the metropolis’ refuse.  The Binmans, in fact, were one of the three primary families of “the Streets;” and being born into a “Streets” family was tantamount to being born to the service.

The Binmans were a proud family.  Their homes well kept, and as a matter of principle they (like their colleagues the Muckers and Sweeps) always named their children with a name beginning with the letter “A.”   No one knew for sure where the tradition had began, but each “Streets” family was proud the have a brass plaque upon their front door which bore the legend, “A Binman,” or “A Sweep.”

Andy, however, dreamed of greater things than municipal service.  This in part was the result of seeing his father returning home exhausted each evening, or suffering from long bouts of “sweeper’s elbow.”  No, Andy’s mind set on serving the kingdom, not the city.  He at first considered joining the army.  However, on learning that soldiers often slept on the ground, and ate meals comprised primarily of field biscuit, he decided that another avenue must await him.

The turning point occurred when he was accompanying his older sister Annabelle, and her friend Andrea Mucker on a shopping trip to the Great Market.  The two young women couldn’t take their eyes of a well groomed watchman standing his post near the stalls.  Both were expressing their admiration of the sharp black uniform, with its rose crest and shiny buckles.  Andy’s mind was made up.  He would become a “Rosie.”

*            *            *

Arthur would hear none of it.  It was total nonsense, and a betrayal of all the family stood for.  Alice sat quietly sobbing in front of her unfinished dinner, unable to even look up at the boy.  In the end, after a shouting match with his father, Andy stormed out of the house.

He really had no idea of what to do or where to go.  After wandering the Old Guilds for a while, the thought struck him to go to his Aunt Agnes’ house.  She welcomed him in, and after hearing the entire story said quite surprisingly, “Good for you.”

She made him up a bed on the couch for the night and on the next morning she accompanied him the Fourth Precinct Watch House.  He walked cautiously to the desk where a middle-aged sergeant was sorting some papers.

“Yes,” the watchmen said without looking up.

“I have come to enlist,” young Binman said quietly.

“Speak up, Son,” the Roseman said firmly.

“I have come to enlist.”

“Enlist? No, you have come to apply,” the sergeant corrected.

“Apply, then, please, um, Sir.”

“Sergeant, not sir,” the watchman again corrected.

“Yes, Sergeant, I have come to apply,” Andy said more boldly.

The man slide a couple of forms towards Binman.  “In duplicate,” the man said, again without looking up.

Andy took the papers and went to sit between his aunt and “a lady of easy virtue,” on a wooden bench near the door.

On completing the forms “in duplicate,”  he returned them to the sergeant.

“We will be in touch,” the man said.  And that was it.

  *                      *                        *

For the next three days Andy slept at his aunt’s.  Then a letter arrived which instructed him to report to the same watch house at 10 the next morning.

He arrived about ten minutes early and was directed to a room at the end of a short corridor.  When he arrived there were already four other young men sitting at desks, with a stack of papers turned face down before them.  Andy took the remaining desk.

At the stroke of 10, a rather tired looking senior constable came in and sat at a larger desk at the front of the room facing them.  He then said “You have one hour.  Turn the papers over and begin.”  He then flipped an hourglass over to start the sand, and proceeded to nod off and snore loudly for the next fifty minutes.

The man, without any indication of the time, sat up abruptly at exactly 10:58 and opening one eye said, “You have two minutes.”

At eleven the papers were collected, and the five candidates were again told, “We will be in touch.”

*                *                 *

Two more days passed, and Andy gave in and returned home.  His father was still not speaking to him, but mum seemed glad to see him back.  Another week passed and the entire episode was beginning to become just an unpleasant memory, when a letter was dropped off by Agnes.

Andy broke the seal, and looked at the brief instruction for him to report the the Main Watch House in Parliament Square at nine on Thursday.

With some anxiety, Binman arrived at the marble pillared home of “The Firsts.”  He reported to the desk sergeant, who read his letter twice before directing him to a chair outside of an inspector’s office.  Shortly afterwards he was called in.

“Andy Binman reporting,” he said a little uncertainly.

“Binman, Binman . . .” the man said as he shuffled some papers. “I knew a Binman once, Arnold, I think it was . . . Ah, here, ” he said picking up a folder.  “Andy Binman, quite impressive scores for an Old Guilds lad,” he continued.  “I am pleased to be able to offer you a position in the Ninth if you want it.”

“Yes, Sir.  I would very much like . . . ”

“Good, good,” the officer interrupted.  “Report to Inspector Cruikshank first thing on Monday morning at the Alleys House.  Welcome to the Rosemen.”

 

Padre

 

 

 

 

“The Goddess”: A Sisters Tale

Image result for beautiful woman statue

artwork: Benjamin Victor

At the end of the labyrinth stood a large ivory door, inlaid with gold. Two braziers flickered before it, with eerie green flame.

The door was not locked, and swung open with only the gentlest of pressure. There sitting on a throne constructed of the same materials as the door, was a tall beautiful woman. The statues and images they had encountered within the temple proved not to be exaggerations, but rather pale reflections of this woman’s glory.

Three attendants served her, each in her own right would be seen as a great beauty, if they had not been in the presence of the seated woman.

“Greetings, my daughters,” the woman said, with words that flowed with honey.

The “sisters” stood for a moment in awe. Then regained their composure.

“You have travelled far, and yet, I perceive you have not come to worship,” the woman observed. “Such a foolish act, to come to my house with ill-intention.”

“We, um, ah,” Gwendolyn began.

“We are honourable,” Breena interjected. “It is you who are false.”

“How dare you!” the woman screamed. Her attendants each drew a dagger from their robes and shielded the still seated figure.

“You are no goddess,” Breena continued. She then muttered a few mystic words, and concluded with a raised voice, “Truth!”

Immediately the seated figure was revealed to be a Succubus, with harsh facial features, leathery wings, and a forked tongue. Her attendants were likewise transformed, each aging to reveal their true nature, with haggard features, grey hair, and stooped postures.

The lead figure, a woman of about eighty, howled and sprung forward with her dagger. Maya parried the blow with her kris and pushed the woman to the floor. Another hurled her blade at Breena, giving her a graze on her left shoulder. Thilda countered with an arrow to the woman’s midsection. The first woman struggled to regain her feet, and was struck down by a blow from Star. The remaining attendant attempted to shield her mistress, only to be hit by a crossbow bolt from Gwendolyn.

The Succubus rose from her seat, bringing herself to her full eight feet in height. She called out in a sultry voice, “Lovers, attend me.”

Throughout the complex the bodies of slain males rose.

 *         *         *

It was shortly before noon on the second day after the other “sisters'” departure.  Seymour had just returned with a supply of fire wood, when Wil noticed movement in the sands around them.

The bodies of the fallen were animating, skeletons and less decayed bodies were taking to their feet. Some of these crawled around as they were missing legs, or wandered aimlessly for want of a head. Others, however, began to retrieve weapons.

A small group of these approached Wil and Seymour’s camp. Wil embedded a dart into the throat of a staggering corpse with no sign of any effect. She then grabbed one of the Ralulee lances from the mule, and prepared to meet the ghoul. Seymour, however,  lashed out and split the animated form from crown to groin, and it fell in two pieces quivering on the ground.

Wil was quick on how to proceed. “Cut off their legs,” she called out to Seymour.

He caught the next skeletal figure across the thighbones, and it collapsed still trying to move forwards. Wil in turn used her spear to trip up another skeleton.  It recovered more quickly than she would have hoped, so she was forced to parry its sword blow with a large piece of firewood. She then swung the log, launching the skeleton’s skull from its neck. It began to flail about swinging its sword randomly. Seymour took its legs out from under it as well.

A recently deceased Ralulee rose before Wil, she threw a flask of oil upon the corpse, and set it alight with a piece of flaming firewood.

Over a dozen figures in various stages of decay began to converse on the pair, and yet others seemed to be proceeding towards the temple. Suddenly, all of the bodies collapsed where they stood.

“What the hells was that,” Wil exclaimed.

“Looks like we did well,” Seymour observed, looking at the nearly twenty prone figures before them. “They fought well for skinny guys.”

“Whatever!” Wilberta responded, rolling her eyes.

*     *     *

As the Succubus rose, Breena noticed a vibration and an audible hum from her side pouch. She reached in and found that the winged crystal figure had begun to dimly glow in the same shade of green as the braziers beyond the door.

She could now notice that the figure resembled the demon before her. There was also the disturbing sound of movement in the tunnels of the maze behind them.  The party was soon to be trapped between the Succubus and who or whatever was making its way towards them.

As the shuffling sounds came nearer, the crystal began to glow brighter. As the illumination increased the Succubus covered her eyes and let out a screech. Just then the bodies of the four Ralulee from the gallery hallway entered the antechamber.

“Come my lovers!” the demon beckoned. But the glow of the figurine seemed to hold them at bay.

Two skeletal figures joined the Ralulee, and they too halted in their tracks. The glow now was nearly blinding to the “sisters” as well, and it had begun to grow hot. Even on the end of its cord, it was becoming too warm for Breena to hang onto. She shrieked as it began to burn her fingers, and she involuntarily let loose of it. As the scorching crystal hit the floor it exploded, and all of the male remains collapsed into heaps.

The Succubus as well seemed drained of power, and even appeared to have diminished in stature.   Thilda used the opportunity to let loose an arrow which struck the fiend in the chest. Gwendolyn followed suit, as black blood shot from its wound. Star then bounded forward burying her scimitar in her neck. The Succubus let out a final scream and crumpled backwards onto her throne.

Padre

 

Today’s Word of the Day is Power

 

 

Carrot/Almond Muffins

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Here is another baked treat which while not strictly keto, is still keto-friendly in moderation. It is basically a carrot cake sans the grains and high-carb sweetening. I have made it as a muffin recipe as it is easier to portion out, than a loaf, but with a little adaption I am sure it would work in a loaf pan as well.

Ingredients:

  • Almond Flour or Ground Almonds 1 1/4 cups (approx 125 g)
  • Shredded Coconut 3 to 4 Tbs (to taste)
  • Baking Powder 1/2 tsp
  • Salt 1/8 tsp
  • Xanthan Gum 1/2 tsp
  • Stevia 3 rounded Tbs
  • Ground Cinnamon 2 rounded tsp
  • Ground Nutmeg 1/4 tsp
  • Coconut Oil 1/2 cup
  • Eggs 3
  • Carrots 3
  • Coconut Milk (as needed)

Method:

Preheat an oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Place 10 to 12 paper baking cups into a muffin pan. In a large mixing bowl add all of the dry ingredients and mix well. Then scrape and shred the carrots and add them to the dry mixture. Whip the eggs well and melt the coconut oil. Add these to the mixing bowl and stir until evenly mixed. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly add splashed of coconut milk as needed.  Don’t over do this last step though, it should end up a very soft dough not a batter. Spoon the dough into the cups and place in the oven for fifteen minutes, then check consistency and that they are beginning to form a crust. Rotate the pan and bake for an additional three to five minute. Remove and allow the cool thoroughly.

These can be eaten as is, or as an added treat a Cream Cheese Icing can be added once they are cooled.

Padre

Losing One’s Head: A Roseman Tale

rosemen

There wasn’t much use in trying to dance around the issue; there really was no excuse for it.  Watchman Barns was on the carpet for the second time in a month.  This time he had really done it, however.

He squirmed a bit in anticipation of what was going to come next, despite the fact that he was supposed to be standing at attention.

The desk sergeant eyed him disapprovingly, and shook his dismissively.

A loud barking voice came from the inner office, “Barns! Enter.”

Watchman Barns tugged on the bottom of his jerkin to straighten it, and opened the door and stepped in smartly and stood before Inspector Cruikshank’s desk.

“Barns, you are the sorriest excuse for a watchman I have ever seen,” his superior bellowed, his face turning an incredible reddish hue.

“Yes, Sir. I’m sorry, Sir,” the young watchman squeaked.

“It was one thing when you lost your truncheon,” the inspector roared. “That was a rookie mistake, and I don’t want to hear about it turning up again Madame LuLu’s place.”

“Sorry,” Barns again stammered.

“This time. . . this time . . . . How in the hells did you manage to break the head off of the King’s statue in the market square?” The inspector demanded.

“Well sir, I was trying to show a couple of lads how to use a quarterstaff, and it just kind of happened,” the man whimpered.

“Get out, of my office before I do something you’ll regret,” Cruikshank exploded.

Barns quickly executed an about face, and fled the office before his superior could say another word.  He knew this wasn’t going to be over soon, and he foresaw some long, rainy night-shifts in his future.

Padre

Secret Keepers Weekly Writing Prompt #176 

5) Words: | DANCE | INNER | BREAK | HUE | LOST |

 

The Service: A Roseman Tale

rosemen

In the “old days,” the Watch was known as the “Watch Brigade,” or more commonly as the “Crestmen,” owing to the prominent position of the king’s dragon and crown crest upon their black jerkins.  But with the “reorganisation” following the Dunes War, they were re-titled “The Watch Service,” or “King’s Constabulary.”  Almost everyone referred to them as “Rosemen,” or just “Rosies,” however.

The change of badge was not the only difference.  Before the restructuring, the Watch was a loose network of regional and municipal “Forces,” now they had a clear structure in which a central commissioner oversaw the nine constituent “precincts.”

Lord Oldbridge, a portly aristocrat with little interest in the day to day operation, was its titular head.  All the real work fell upon Sir Orlando Cortez de Montoya, a man who made a name for himself in Harbourhead, rising swiftly from inspector to superintendent.  His reputation as a competent leader led to King Hector personally calling for his appointment as Chief Superintendent.

The organisation and numbering of the Service’s precincts posed a few anomalies.  The First Precinct, known as the “Firsts” were responsible for the security of the district which contained the palace, the Parliament Building, and homes of most of the upper nobility.  The Second Precinct was centered around the New Guildhall and Great Market, they also patrolled the streets where the lesser nobility and wealthier merchants lived.

The Third and Fourth Precincts “served” the High Guilds and Low Guilds districts respectively.  They dealt with more domestic incidents and thefts and disputes within the workshops and shops of their more populated streets.

The Fifth and Sixth Precincts were actually in Harbourhead, with the city being divided North and South along the old Harbour Road.

The Seventh Precinct was technically the largest as it incorporated all of the lesser towns and villages of the realm.  They patrolled the highways and byways, and usually only one or two Watchmen would be stationed in any given locality.

The Eighth Precinct were known as the “Specials.” The “precinct” had smaller Watch Houses or single offices scattered through the kingdom.  Among their numbers were the Trading Standards Branch, The Maritime Branch (who wore a white jerkin with a rose and anchor motif) often called the “Clankers,” and the “Roadies” who collected tolls and enforced parking.

The Ninth Precinct was known as “The Lasts.”  They were the men who patrolled the Back Lane, Alleys, and Old Guildhall areas of the capital.  Theirs was a world of vice, and random violence.  What made their job the more difficult was the restriction they shared with the First through Sixth Precincts of only being armed with a truncheon, a quarter staff, and a pair of wrist shackles.  Even the Roadies had a short sword, many “Lasts” just didn’t see the sense in it.

Padre

 

Riddle and the Maze: A Sisters Tale

Image result for crete maze

photo: Archeologic Museum in Iraklio, Crete.

On the other side of the tapestry was another room. It had one large door directly in front of them and nothing else was in the space except a marble altar at its centre. The marble had been inlaid with bronze plaque which bore the inscription:

The way is open for all to find – 

Pray, you may chose but one guide –                                                

When left is right and right is left,

Your face will reveal the true side.

On the altar top were four disks, each identical in size. The first was of polished gold bearing a diagram on the one side depicting a labyrinth. On its reverse was merely a small inscription “The Way.  The second was of terracotta with a slightly different maze, and a small brass plate set into its reverse with the word “Path.” The third was made of crystal and platinum wires were encased in the glass making yet a third pattern. Its reverse could be seen trough the disk, and the word “Way” was only legible by looking through the front of the pane. The final disk was made of jade, and the lines of the maze were set into it in silver. The word “Path” was in large silver letters across its entire back.

“Only one?” questioned Thilda as she picked up the crystal. She then tried to pick up the gold one as well, but it would not budge. Successive attempts proved that only one disk could be taken from the altar. If one was returned another could be accessed, but no two could be removed at one time.

“That is unnatural,” Star observed.

“Which one should we take then?” Gwendolyn queried.

“True face,” Thilda said. “If we look through the crystal and follow the lines maybe that is the true face. It will be looking forward, not back.”

“Yes,” responded Breena, “but not ‘all’ can afford crystal. The clay one is available to ‘all.'”

“Wait, three of them have kinds of mirrors on them. Left is right, that happens in a mirror,” Star said.

“Okay, so we rule out the costly pieces, and go with the pottery one,” Gwendolyn concluded.

They all agreed, and Breena took the clay disk from the table to aid them in their quest.

*        *       *       *

Maya used the trap rat to inspect the doorway, and it was found to be safe. The carefully opened it and lit two lamps against its darkness. A staircase led downwards into the gloom and they filed down with Star and Thilda in the lead.  When they reached the bottom, a corridor led to the left and right.

Breena carefully examined the plan, then said, “The disk says right. So go left.”

When they came to the first “T” junction, the disk indicated that they continue straight ahead. Gwendolyn shined her lamp down the passage to the right and could make out crushed skeletal remains only about ten yards from the intersection. It was also clear that there were several chipped paving stones around the bones. Her eyes were drawn upwards where it was clear that holes corresponding to the chips were in the ceiling. Gwendolyn immediately examined the ceiling of their passage which revealed no such openings.

“Stay in the middle of our own path,” she said to the others. “Don’t even step into the wrong passages.”

When they came to the next verge, it took the form of a “Y” to which the “guide” indicated a left. “Go right,” Breena warned.

At the next intersection a previous traveller had marked the side route with an “X,” and their present path with an arrow.

“But, the disk says the “X” is the right way,” Breena said. “I think we should trust the disk, not any mis-directions.”  At this, Thilda tossed an empty bowstring spool into the passage before them and a spring loaded trapdoor in the floor gave way under it.

“Keep with the disk, it is,” Thilda said. The others immediately agreed.

After about a dozen additional turnings a green glow became apparent ahead of them. They finally entered into a large antechamber which was bathed in the green light. Murals depicting the beautiful woman, and the adoring men adorned the walls, and baskets of what seemed to be offerings were arranged under the images.

Among the tributes were coin purses, jars of costly oils and perfumes, and various other small treasures. A bronze plaque in the centre of the floor read:

The way is complete

You have passed the test

All who shall Her worship

Now enter into rest.

“Should we rest or go on?” Thilda asked.

“Both,” Gwendolyn answered, as Maya prepared the trap rat to check the door ahead of them.

Padre

 

Today’s Word of the Day is Plan

Ragtag Daily Prompt Quest