Encounters: A Sisters Tale

winter mesa, mesa verde national park, colorado, united states of america copy

© Patrick Jennings

Thilda and Breena continued into the hills, followed by Wil and Gwendolyn with the pack animals. The snow was falling quite heavily by now, and they were now truly glad they had taken the furs from the temple. The camels, however, were not in the least way impressed by their new surroundings.

“We are being watched,” Breena said, without turning to look at her companions.

“For about an hour now, I think,” the archer replied, “but I can’t see anyone, just little clues in the snow.”

The drifts were beginning to really become deep in places, and the mountain path had totally disappeared. It was only the spacing of the trees that gave any indication of where the trail might lead.

“There is movement to our right, but nothing seems to be there,” Breena said quietly. The blanket of snow was unbroken, she started to question herself, had it only been the falling snow she sensed?

Then, as the “path” began to descend a small hill, four white-clad figure appeared ahead of them. They were tall and fair, and even with their hoods pulled up against the weather it was obvious that they had the features of Mountain Elves.

The “Old Ones” didn’t draw weapons, or do anything threatening other than block their path.

Breena began to say something in the “Old Tongue,” but it didn’t seem to mean anything to the white-clad figures before them.

Suddenly to everyone’s surprise, Thilda held two fingers to her forehead and said “I give you honour,” in the modern elvish tongue.

“We share your respect,” was the reply of one of the centre figures. The Elves, for they were indeed of that race, were of the Snow Clan,  who had lived in the upper passes of the mountains for longer than anyone knew. They were fair, indeed almost albino in their features, though their eyes shone as azure or sea green depending on the individual.

“Thilda, how in the hells,” Wilberta began.

Thilda raised a palm to silence her, and mouthed, “Later.”

“We have lost our way and three of our companions,” Thilda said to the Elves.

“Your companions are safe, and on the opposite peak,” one of them replied. “If you come with us, you can wait for the snow to pass. Then we will see to the others.”

“Guys, trust me on this one,” Thilda said turning to Gwendolyn.

They looked uncertain, but they had no way of knowing how many Elves surrounded them. They took her lead, and followed the white-cloaked figures.

It took about half an hour before a break in the rock face opened into a narrow gorge. This in turn led to a cirque-bed in which a ring of about twenty cottages stood. It was then that the colleagues noticed about a dozen additional white adorned figures who had followed them into the enclosure.

They dismounted and tethered their animals, and they were then led into a long building which was larger than the others. Once inside the Elves removed their hoods revealing their braided platinum hair. Gwendolyn noticed that the inhabitants were indistinct in gender, and quickly remembered Thilda’s “friend” from the armourer’s stall.

“You little . . . ” she said with a smile and a wink at her long-time friend, “I would have never imagined.”

Thilda, uncharacteristically blushed.

An Elf who seemed to have some authority over the others, gestured to some stools for the companions to sit upon, then pulled one close for them-self.

The fair figure held two fingers to their forehead, and said “I give you honour” in elvish.

Thilda replied, “We return your respect,” on behalf of the party.

Another older elf drew a stool close to the leader and sat down. “You are far from the lower paths,” the Elf said in a thickly accented common tongue.

Gwendolyn sizing up the situation, put two fingers to her forehead and said, “The snows fooled us, and we lost our way.”

“Where are you bound?” the Elf questioned.

“To the Capital in the kingdom.”

Thilda added in elfish, “We did not mean to trespass.”

The authoritative one raised a hand in a dismissive gesture, “This is of no concern, unless you have ill intentions.”

“None, I assure you,” Thilda said with an imploring voice.

The leader smiled. “How do you come to speak the ‘High Tongue’ so well?”

“I, I um, have a friend,” she said blushing again.

“You are welcome here,” the leader said in elvish. This was repeated in the common tongue by the other elder.

They were then brought a filling stew and bowls of tea in the elvish fashion.

Comfortable beds were prepared for the night, and they were told that the Elves would find their friends in the morning.





The Sail-Maker

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evening news

The Sail-Maker


Simon Sullivan Shanassy

Was simply a sight to see

Swiftly sewing sailcloth

In shore shed by the sea


Simon Sullivan Shanassy

Sewed several sails each day

Sewn smoothly and securely

So sure as not to fray


Seams so straight so slender

Silken soft and still so strong

Simon Sullivan Shanassy’s sails

Surely seldom e’r go wrong



Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s  on 26 January was to write a Tongue Twister poem.  Though a few days late, here is my go.

When God Says No


Gethsemane  ©Padre’s Ramblings


God is not a cosmic Father Christmas, where our lists are checked twice, and then placed under the tree for us.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that God does not bless and prosper us, nor does He never “give in” to our whims.  It is more that God as an omni-benevolent being, gives us what is good for us, and sometimes that necessitates the answer, “No” to our petitions and entreaties.

A few weeks ago some of my students were struggling with the Epicurean dilemma.  If God is truly good, how can he allow evil?  The short answer is that firstly, He is not the author of evil, but rather of free will.  We in our abuse of that freedom, cause moral suffering.  Why have, I deviated from my starting point?  It is to illustrate that when we ask for things like, “God make so-in-so do this or that,” His answer will be “No.”  He will not restrict free will, as that would be contrary to His loving nature.  Just turn the request on its head.  Would you feel as if God (or anyone else for that matter) loved you if they “forced” you into compliance?

Associated with this are the other “No” answers we might receive.  “Let me win the lottery,” or “Make me famous,” may sound like positives, but are they actually what is “good for us?”  God cares about you and like “the birds of the air,” He will provide your needs, not necessarily our greeds.

And there is the ultimate “good” we also have to consider.  The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12: 7 – 9 wrote, “. . . a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me—so that I would not become arrogant. I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.” God’s ultimate concern is for our salvation, our spiritual growth, and our relationship with Him.”

This was shown as well in the mission of His Son, Jesus.  Even He received the “negative” reply in the garden at Gethsemane.   Mark notes, “Going a little farther, he [Jesus] fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him [14:35].  “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.”  Yet not what I will, but what you will [36].”  While not explicit, it is clear in Jesus’ yielding to carry out the plan of salvation, the Father’s will was to hold the course, or more simply, “No.”

We do not always see as God sees.  Our views are limited, and our insights to the consequences flawed.  His never are.  Let us not take the “silence of heaven” or the failure to have our wish list filled in every instance to “evidence” of the lack of a deity, or that that God is mean, but merely that He is looking after us in a way we have yet to understand.  In those instances let us, like Paul trust that His grace is enough for us.

For most of us, we have abundant evidence if we look back upon our relationship with God, that he is there, and that He has provided for what we have needed.





Lost: A Sisters Tale

photo credit: V. Foret

No matter how hard they might try, the trio could not get warm.  Maya made an attempt to generate a magical flame, but the exertions of the day’s battle had left her powers drained.  The cold too had its effect, the lightly dressed woman shivered continuously.  Seymour, for all of his failings, still knew sleep might bring the end of her.  He cuddled the two women in tightly to him, but it was of no use.

“Star, don’t let her sleep,” he said as he stood.  “I will be back soon.”

The massive warrior then climbed to the site of the battle.  Snow was falling steadily now, and the bodies of the dead appeared as small mounds on the hillside.  He went to the body of the man he had decapitated.  Removing the snow, he struggled to pull the man’s leather jerkin off of his stiff remains.  He then uncovered Star’s first victim, and pulled a woolen cloak from off his back.  Further up the hill, a third corpse yielded a fur-lined cape.

Seymour then returned to his “sisters” and gave the cape to Star.  He then rubbing Maya’s arms to restore some circulation, proceeded to pull the jerkin over her light silky garment.  Finally, he wrapped the cloak around her, and said, “Let’s go.”

Movement at least kept them a little warmer, and the extra layers seemed to ease Maya’s chills some.  They continued up the rill in the dark, using the left hand bank as a guide in the darkness.

After a short journey, Star stumbled over something in the stream bed.  It proved to be the body of the archer Thilda had shot in the throat.  From him, Seymour took a hooded cloak.  It was a bit small for him, but it offered a little relief from the cold, and the falling snow.

Another hour led to a place where the left hand bank merged with an incoming tributary.  The companions unaware of the convergence, continued to follow the left bank up the smaller channel, leaving the main stream behind them as it continued up and to the right.

By dawn the trio found themselves over five miles up the wrong stream, still searching for Gwendolyn and her party.

  *           *          *

The snow had fallen steadily through the night, and as morning broke Thilda looked impatiently down the little stream valley for any sign of Maya and the others.  It soon became clear that they were not going to arrive any time soon.

It was decided that Wil and Thilda would make a cautious return to the ambush site to see what they could learn.  When they arrived there was no more to see but a blanket of snow.  They made a careful search and found some bodies, but none were of their companions.

They returned to Gwendolyn in a rather somber mood.  After explaining what they had found, it was decided that they would wait until noon, then they all would descend back to their original road.

“Maybe they have gone on ahead and are waiting for us,” Wil said hopefully.

“Maybe,” said Thilda with far less hope in her voice.

Breena seemed deep in thought.  She had tried all morning to receive some sort of guidance from the White Ones, but they were silent.  She didn’t give up hope however, as the angelic figures often had long intervals between their visits.  She did really wish they would answer her calls however.

When the party arrived back at the road, they again conducted a search of the battle site, but no further clues could be found, and snow had erased any tracks they might be able to follow.

In silence, they reluctantly turned their faces towards League Town.




Brief Stop at Cheddar Gorge

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Aging Cheddar

We had the opportunity to stop off at Cheddar Gorge for an afternoon.  This is a really fascinating natural feature, and while we only made a flying visit, it offers a lot for a variety of interests.

The Gorge itself is said to have developed over a period of 300 million years.  Geologists say that its foundations were laid down when the area was a tropical sea.  Over time sediments like fish and bones and shell accumulated, and were eventually converted into layers of  limestone.  These layers were in time thrust upwards, and began to become weathered and exposed.  During the Ice Age the limestone were temporarily frozen, but as the ice melted and all the water gushed into huge rivers and one carved out the gorge.  The climate has continued to warm, and the rivers started to sink into and through the gorge where it flows today through narrow caves and cracks.  This is what has given us the dry valley, Cheddar Gorge of today.  (Well that is what Key Stage 3 Geography says, anyway).

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The Gorge Late Summer

Whatever the cause this natural landscape is sought after by tourists, climbers, cavers, and adrenaline junkies.   The natural beauty makes for wonderful photo opportunities, and walkers and bird watchers enjoy its paths and upper walks.  The steep walls of the gorge are challenges for climbers going up, and BASE jumpers coming down.  The areas many caves provide not just a place to age the famous cheese, but for cavers and others to explore.

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Cave Features

We visited a cave, and enjoyed the rugged beauty during our visit.  But there is so much more to do.  And cheese of course.

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The Rill: A Sisters Tale

Sisters 3

The following day Star checked the general health of the donkey, then led it to base of the left hand Sister.  She then gave it a good smack, and it bolted off in the direction of the hills.

In the meantime the others prepared for the journey.  It was a cold morning, and their breath clouds stood out in the new day’s light.  They were soon at the point where the Ralulee warning posts stood, and from there they were well aware of the immediate risks of the road.

It didn’t take them long to arrive at the pit trap in the road.  It was wide open now, but there was again a disturbing development.  It had seemingly been reset after Thilda had tripped it on their outward journey, for now the bloated carcass of a horse lay impaled in the bottom of the pit.  It was still bridled and saddled, though there was no sign of a rider or of any saddlebags.

As they began to climb higher up the slopes, it became obvious that the snow caps on the surrounding mountains were larger than when they had passed by only a brief time before.   Both Maya and Breena began to have uneasy feelings as they approached the sheltering place with the “Dwarf” warning.  It seemed just as deserted as it had been, but there was definitely something ill afoot.

As they ascended, the road again deteriorated into what might be best described as a path.  Shortly after noon they came to a place where the trail descended into a place where bases of four hill converged.   A little rill cut between hills, running from east to west, and their path carried them across its flow.  Suddenly, as they were just entering the stream, their way was obstructed by over a dozen men cresting the next hills.  A man of about forty, wearing the robes typical of a journeying conjurer, then stepped into the trail above them.  An owl stood perched on his left shoulder, and the array of men accompanying him were of the desperate looking sort.

The magician called out, “Let’s not make this any more difficult than we have to.  I know you have the map, and by the look of those packs, you have had some success with it.”  As he spoke, a second, younger conjurer joined him at his side.

Seymour immediately dismounted and assumed a defensive posture.  He nodded his head in the direction of the stream bed’s upward course and shouted, “Go!” to the others.  Gwendolyn, Thilda, Wil, and Breena instantly complied in hope of at least gaining a better position.  Maya and Star, however, began to dismount to assist the big warrior.  Maya handed her reins to the passing Wil and said, “Take our mounts.”

Star too had handed her beast to Wil, and as she turned to face their assailants she caught sight of a flash from the corner of her eye.  The younger wizard had drawn a wand and thrown a fire ball in her direction.  She instinctively covered her face with her hands.  As she did the orb of fire seemed drawn directly towards the gilded gauntlets.  The blast struck them and then ricocheted back at an angle striking one of the magician’s own retainers.

Maya responded in kind, launching a perfectly aimed flame at the junior conjurer.  He worded a protective spell in time to prevent his incineration, but not soon enough to avoid being knocked from his feet.

Breena could be heard to say “Shield,” just as a bolt of bluish lightning struck an invisible dome surrounding the fleeing companions, illuminating it with an incandescent glow.

While these initial exchanges took place more culprits appeared on the rise behind the senior magician. Two of these minions rushed in at Seymour, who with a rather matter of fact motion removed the man’s head from his shoulders with a single blow, and Star having recovered from her shock, stepped forwards to take the legs out from under the other man with her curved sword.

As Gwendolyn’s group struggled up the rill, they found that that route of escape had been anticipated.  Two additional men stood atop the embankment on their right side.  The first shot a crossbow bolt which embedded itself in the rolled up tent on the flank of Gwendolyn’s horse.  Before the second man could shoot, however, he was struck in the throat by one of Thilda’s arrows.  The first man frantically tried to reload, but he too felt the impact of one of her shafts.

Seymour, Maya, and Star now began to back towards the protection of the stream bed the others had retreated to.  They were cut off, however, by a surge of another ten of the villain’s henchmen.  The trio were forced to turn their backs to the downstream course, and to make a fighting withdrawal in the opposite direction of their friends.

The early magical exchanges had weakened Maya, and by the middle of the battle she had been reduced to spells of a more defensive nature.  As she slowed to cast one of these protective spells, one of the wizard’s men bounded into the rill and grabbed her by the cape.  She struck out at him with her twisted blade catching him across the thigh.  She then undid her neck clasp in order to make her escape, leaving the wounded villain still clutching the fleece-lined garment.

The wizard’s band suffered greatly for their pursuits.  Seymour’s trio killed eight in all, and wounded a similar number.  Thilda dispatched six in her rearguard action for Gwendolyn’s contingent, as well.  The young wizard had been injured sufficiently to remove him from any additional role in the fray, and the older magician after several lengthy exchanges with Maya, decided to call it a day.  He and a mere handful of wounded followers retreated.

The battle and pursuit had taken several hours, and the two groups of friends were now miles apart from each other.  This was further complicated by Seymour’s band being now on foot.  By the time they returned to the site of the initial confrontation, snow had begun to fall. Night would fall soon as well.

Gwendolyn halted her party about three miles upstream once it was clear that they were no longer being pursued.  The weather had turned all the more cold, and the stream now was frozen except for occasional areas of faster moving water.  Thilda wanted to go back downstream to find out what had happened to the others.  She was overruled, however.

“They know which was we went,” Gwendolyn said. “And, we don’t know what is waiting for us down there.  We will stay here until morning to see if they catch up.”

As night fell the snow became more intense.  Both parties tried to find protection from the elements, but it was especially difficult for the trio who were now without as much as a blanket.




This Seat Has Been Taken


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Oslo Chair image by Padre’s Ramblings

This Seat Has Been Taken

Has this seat been taken?

May I please take a chair?

Are you sitting alone?

Is anyone else there?


No the seat is vacant,

Its occupant no longer there,

Gone the lively chatter,

Now only their empty chair.


Has this seat been taken?

It seems nobody’s there.

But this seat has been taken,

By the memory of those who care.


Maria Antonia posted a list of 52 prompts for weekly photos for the year.   I have tried to link this not just with a picture but with a poem.  This weeks prompt is: “Take a seat.”

The photo from Oslo, Norway is of a memorial sculpture in the city’s port.  It commemorates the empty places or “seats” left in Norway’s society by the deportation of the Jewish community during the Nazi occupation.


For a fuller more prosaic discussion of the memorial see: Empty Chairs

MARIA ANTONIA 2019 Photography Challenge

Homeward: A Sisters Tale

Sisters 3

After their encounter with the Ralulee, the party made for the Sisters Pass with some haste, but the failure to secure water left an uneasiness among them.

“Maya, is it true that water can be made from sand?” Gwendolyn asked.

“Yes, It’s so.  It is seldom done, however,” She replied.

“Is there something wrong with it, then?” Gwendolyn pursued.

“No, it is quite good, but costly,” Maya said.  “If it is a matter of life, it is of course always worth the price, but not so if you are to do it frivolously.”

“You’re not saying that you have to kill something, or anything like that, are you?”  The Washer Woman asked.

“No, nothing as drastic as that,” Maya responded.  “Gold.  It takes gold.”

“How much?” Gwendolyn asked, as if not disturbed by the prospect.

“In equal weight to the sand,” was the reply.

“Ah, I see,” Gwendolyn mused.  “Only if needed then.”

“My Sisters,” Star interrupted.  “I think I can help.”

She pointed to a dry stream bed, in which a few scraggly desert bushes grew.  She led the others to one of the shrubs and said, “This is Koiya.”

The weedy looking little bushes had grey twigs with grey-green almost needle-like leaves.  Star dismounted and began to dig down at the base of the plant.  She then pulled out a large twisted root.  She cut this in half revealing a pulpy interior which began to drip a slightly yellowish liquid.

She held the pieces over a cup and squeezed.  A small stream of the liquid filled about half the tin cup.  It didn’t look of much, and was essentially odourless.  It was, however, drinkable and had a slightly citrus aftertaste.

“It is not much good for the animals,” Star said. “It would take too long to get enough.  But if we drink it, then the water bags can be used for the beasts.”

A search was made of the wadi, and drink bottles were filled.  It seemed a profitable delay, but a delay all the same.

What was also becoming clear was that the donkey was slowing them down.  It was in fact becoming more of a liability than a benefit.  Since many of their travelling supplies were now becoming depleted, it was decided that once a place was found where it could fend for itself, it would be set free.

It wasn’t until nearly sunset on their second day when the party arrived at the pass.  They decided to make for the guardhouses on the kingdom-side of the gorge before camping for the night.  The rubble pile which had been created by the bandits had been cleared to the side of the road by someone, and this heightened their apprehension.  Were there people still in the vicinity?  But the transit of the pass proved without incident.  When they got to the guard posts, Seymour and Star inspected each building as Thilda and Gwendolyn covered them with bow and crossbow.

The animals would be kept in one, tended by Star and Wil; while the others would sleep in the other.  Guard duty was assigned, and they settled in.

That evening Wilberta began to take the remaining items from the donkey’s packs in order to redistribute them across the other animals.  As she did the pair of golden gauntlets caught Star’s attention.

“Those are beautiful,” she said admiringly. “Are they Seymour’s?”

“No, I found them among the bits outside the temple,” Wil explained.  “They are not my kind of thing, and they are too big anyway.  I am going to sell them when we get home.”

“May I try them on?” the horse mistress asked.

“Sure, why not.”

Star pulled the inner leather glove of the first onto her left hand, and it almost seemed as if the outer metalwork bent to perfectly accommodate her hand.

“It looks like they were made for you,” Wilberta observed.  “Do you want to make them part of your share?”

They agreed to discuss it with Gwendolyn and the others in the morning.

In the other building, Seymour kept looking up through the bare eaves at the stars.  “I still don’t see why they didn’t put a roof on,” he pondered aloud.  “It’s bloody cold.”

“Why don’t you move closer to the fire, Hun?” Gwendolyn suggested.

Seymour moved next to the flames, but sat back up abruptly.  “Don’t forget to wake me for my watch.”

“We will,” he was assured and he was snoring within minutes.

It was then that Thilda noticed that some of the graffiti on the wall was dated only a few days earlier.   Whoever had been there, had passed by while they were in the temple, and they at least scribbled in the common tongue.

This would bother her all night, she knew, but she didn’t want to unnecessarily concern the others.

None of the companions, not even the vigilant Thilda noticed the owl perched on rocks above them, however.






The Ralulee: A Sisters Tale

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As the party approached the line of towers on the frontier it became obvious that a set of black goat-hair tents had been erected near the fourth signal beacon.  They decided that any attempt at making for the well could not go without notice, so continued on the most direct route to The Sisters Pass.  Hopefully if there was no delay, the water they had acquired in the camel-packs would see them through.

They were nearly to the tower which they had sheltered in, when a party of five mounted men came out from its shadow.

Their leader, a distinguished looking man in his forties stopped just out of bow range from Gwendolyn and her companions.  An attendant carried an azure flag with four white scimitars embossed upon it.

“This one knows what he is doing,” Thilda said turning to Gwendolyn.  “I don’t like it.”

“Yes, unfortunately he does,” interrupted Star. “That is my master’s oldest son.”

 *       *      *

Abu Ral was a powerfully-built man with a well-groomed beard which he kept in two points.  A few hints of grey could be seen in it, but his most striking feature was his eye patch and flattened left cheekbone, the result of him being thrown when the legs were cut out from under his horse at the Battle of the Palms during the late war.

He spoke quietly looking directly at the women.  As he did, his standard bearer called out in the common tongue, “I believe you have some things which belong to me.”  Ral then looked directly at Star, “Several things.”

At this Seymour dismounted, and took a couple of protective steps forward.  On seeing the warrior’s features and stature, the Ralulee showed visible signs of recognition, betraying both hatred and fear.

Ral raised his right arm and waived it without taking his eye off of Seymour.  Almost immediately the signal mirror in the tower flashed.  A couple of minutes, later ten more riders approached from the dunes.

The Ralulee made an expertly executed manoeuvre which left them in a formation calculated to maximise their defense especially against arrows or magical assaults. Seymour took this in and did some quick calculations of his own. He then looked directly at Ral and said, “Okay Friend, It is obvious that we have you outnumbered, so just let us pass without any more bother.”

As his interpreter related this to him,  Abu Ral looked at him with astonishment, and tried to decide if Seymour was crazy or merely stupid.

One of the newly arrived horsemen, however, looked with terror at the axeman. “Il Washa,” he said in surprise. The men on either side of him turned in their saddles to look at him, and became equally troubled.

Thilda and Gwendolyn quietly readied their weapons. As they did, Gwendolyn asked Star what the man had said.

“Il Washa,” she repeated. “It means, ‘The Beast’.”

Despite the tension of the moment, Breena seemed in a world of her own. “Really?” she said aloud as if to no one in particular.   “That’s incredible.”

She then moved closer to Maya and whispered something in her ear. Maya gave an astonished look at the Ralulee leader, then glanced at Star, and to the one-eyed man again.

She then dismounted, and led her horse by the reins to stand next to Seymour. She then shouted out in badly pronounced Ralulee, “My Lord, May I approach unarmed?” She undid her belt and let her kris fall to the ground. She handed the bridle to Seymour and took two hesitant steps forward and stopped.

The mounted riders held their ground, so she took to more steps. “Your Magnificence, I must have a word in private.”  Ral, dismounted, but remained in position.

Maya moved to the midway point between the parties, and then delicately sat on the sand. She remained there for about five minutes before the chieftain strode forward and stood over her.

“My actions will not harm you,” she said in a calm, reassuring voice. “Do not panic, it is no enchantment, only visions of truth.”

A mist came over the Ral’s good eye, and he could see the beautiful image of Star’s mother as a woman of about twenty years. He then saw a vision of himself entering her bedchamber at night. Floods of both ecstasy and emotion washed over him. He then saw the young woman at the height of labour, and the following delivery of a perfect little daughter.  Images of the young Star then filed his mind.

“You were right to tell us that we had something that belongs to you,” Maya said.

The fog before the man’s eye cleared, and his face was bathed in sweat. He tremble as if a chill had swept up his spines, then he slowly walked backwards towards his men.

Once he had made a suitable gap between himself and Maya, she stood up and shook sand from her wrap. She too, then backed towards her companions.  All but Breena looked on with confusion at what had transpired.

Then Breena said to Star, “Translate for me, I want to get it right.”

Breena then said, “This woman was found trapped by evil. We rescued her, and she has agreed to travel with us.”

Abu Ral looked into Star’s eyes. “Is this so?” he asked without translation.

“Yes master, she speaks the truth,” Star responded.

Ral shouted a sharp order in the Ralulee tongue, and the horseman parted to create a pathway.

He then spoke to his flag-bearer, who announced, “You may pass. Go in peace.” Maya and Seymour remounted, and cautiously the companions rode past the bewildered warriors.

Once clear, the party wasted no time in heading for the pass.






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source: Pinterest

Milana rushed into the small farmhouse and exclaimed, “Von Langell’s Russians are coming,” as she quickly closed the door.

Her two twin brothers, Markus and Maksim quickly exited through the opposite door, and clambered into some empty barrels in the rear of the barn.

As a mounted man in military uniform approached the farmstead, at the head of about a dozen infantrymen, Milana carefully placed the lids on the barrels.  She gave the barrels a hasty inspection, then satisfied with what she saw, went out to greet the arrival of the Czar’s “recruiting party.”

(94 words)




During the Napoleonic Wars, the Russian military “recruitment” system was intensified in Livonia, Estonia, and Courland.   The Russian authorities not only increased military conscription, but established a militia throughout the Baltic provinces.  These units were made up of local peasants who were under the command of the German-speaking Baltic Manorial nobility.

What Pegman Saw Prompt: Estonia