Guardian

Viking, Warrior, Vikings, Sword

Pixabay

Ulias sat at the little guard table and rolled the dice.

“Eleven,” he declared triumphantly.

“Yeah, yeah,” he responded to himself, “Guess I win again,” he sighed, and picked up the dice and placed them in the cup.

He stood up and walked over to the calendar on the wall.  Only the Fourteenth, he mused, and stepped to the large sand-timer and watched the last few grains fall.  He flipped the timepiece over and went to the logbook.  Twelve O’Clock and all is well, he scribbled.

Two more hours and he could go wake Eriad.  What would that be, the seventieth time?  Ulias shock his head.  It wasn’t like it really mattered.  After all they were less than three months into their six-month watch.

He went to the cupboard that served as their pantry, and took out a loaf of crusty bread.  It crumbled as he cut himself a thick slice.  He glued the scattered chunks together with a butter and took a bite.  Three days old, but not bad, he thought.  Fresh loaf tomorrow if Eriad baked like he is supposed to.

His bread finished he walked over to the weapons stand and hefted a decorated battle axe.  It was a magnificent weapon, perfectly balanced and forged in dragon’s fire, they said.  He ran his finger over the runes which glowed blue in turn as his finger passed over them.

Returning the artifact to its place, he turned to the game table and frowned at the cards before him.  His hand was laid out perfectly, a sure sign that Eriad had been cheating again, as Ulias distinctly remembered leaving the third card sticking out above the other.

Just then a little bell tinkled.  Ulias turned and looked at the row of bells on the wire by the guard desk.  It was definitely the signal from the main passage.  He watched the bells waiting for the counter signal to be rung.  Nothing.

He tightened his breastplate and drew out the magic axe from the stand.  Finally something to do, he thought.  He then banged on the door of the sleeping chamber with the haft of the axe, “Eriad, get up!  We have company.”

 

Padre

 

Sunday Writing Prompt “Guardian”

 

Noontime Mishap

Pixabay

 

The twins, Haya and Laya made their way through the wooded hills.

“Mum said we should never come this way,” Laya scolded.

“But it’s a lot shorter, and it’s a hot day,” Haya retorted, adjusting the heavy bundle of supplies on her shoulder.

“But what about the Trolls?” her sister asked, taking a quick look around her as she uttered the word.

“Relax, it’s nearly noon, and Trolls sleep during the day.”

Laya was far from convinced, but accompanied Haya anyway.

Shortly afterwards, the sisters were passing through a little rill when Laya spied a pair of sleeping Trolls snuggled under a blanket of moss.  “Let’s get past here as fast as we can,” she whispered.

“Why should we?” Haya queried.  She then set down her bundle and began to make faces at the slumbering giants, just as the moon began to eclipse the sun.

 

Padre

(146 words)

Sunday Photo Fiction – Apr 5 2020

 

Terms and Conditions Apply

Genie

 

While beach-combing one day, I came across a rather battered, and tarnished oil lamp.  While I cleaning away some sand and seaweed, there was a whoosh-sound as a D’jinn materialised from the lamp.

“Oh Master, you have freed me from the curse of the lamp.  Now you will receive three . . . , ” the apparition began.

“Yada. Yada. Yada,” I interrupted. “I know the drill. . . .”

The D’jinn looked on quite confused as I continued, “. . . First, I want a complete list of terms and conditions, including explanations of all the small print.  These will include an exhaustive explanation of all probable consequences and repercussions, as well as a cost benefit appraisal.”

“Um, ah, hmmm,” the D’jinn muttered dumbfounded.

“Secondly,” I proceeded, “I would like an expert team of lawyers: local, international, and mystic, and in sufficient numbers to thoroughly examine the document provided in accordance with the aforementioned wish number one, to analyse and summarise the document within a time period not to exceed five years on the current agreed calendar.”

“Ahh,” the D’jinn gasped as I continued.

“The third wish I will defer to a later date while the above mentioned stipulations are scrutinised.”

“I hate Union officials,” the D’jinn said under his breath. “Yes Master, as you wish,” he said returning to the lamp.

Padre

Sunday Writing Prompt “Make a Wish”

 

The Bridge

Historical Odtwórstwo, The Middle Ages

Image by Michał Koper from Pixabay 

It had been a small engagement, and an unnecessary one.  Seventy men fought for a remote bridge that no one really wanted.  Both main armies were approaching each other forty miles upstream.  Even if they were closer to this position, it was unnecessary.  The summer had been dry and the river barely a trickle, especially at the ford which was a mere half mile away.  But fought they did.

The Bear Clan had gained the western approach to the crossing just before dawn. Thirty men, some as young as fifteen massed to block the Wolves’ advance.  Through the morning mist they could hear the quiet conversations of the forty Wolf-men as they approached, unaware of the Bear’s arrival on the span.

Without warning, or orders, young Kildrin let loose a shaft towards the advancing voices.  It fell well short, but served to bring the Wolve’s into battle array.

Forming a wedge the Wolves, led by the veteran Rithard Bonebreaker, mounted the eastern side of the narrow structure.  No more than four men could stand abreast, and that made wielding weapons next to impossible.  The result was a battle of attrition, with each side plugging the gaps of fallen comrades.

Though braced for the onslaught, the Bears had neither the numbers nor the experience to halt the Wolves in the end.

After nearly thirty bloody minutes, the eight remaining Bear-men broke and fled into the forest beyond, allowing the “invasion force” of the remaining seventeen Wolves to enter their lands.

Padre

RDP Friday – Remote

Destiny

 

House in Mountains

(Artist Juan C. Barquet)

Prompt: “It has been a long, exhausting day of walking through harsh mountain terrain. You’re cold, hungry, your muscles are aching, and the sun is about to set. Suddenly you come upon this place, nestled onto the top of a nearby peak. The windows are lit up with a friendly glow, and there is smoke rising from the chimney. The musk of burning wood that carries on the wind makes you long for warm, dry clothes, and a hot meal. But this is a strange place to live, remote and barren, with no good place to grow food, keep livestock, or even hunt for game. Who lives there, and how do they survive in this harsh climate?”

The chill was all the way to Horner’s bones.  He had been warned not to try the mountain pass after Krispert’s Day, but he was young and strong willed so of course ignored the warnings of his elders.

But now he saw the folly of his ways.  The pass had indeed been impossible to traverse and in his attempt to scale an ice sheet, he slid headlong into a ravine.  More flustered and frozen than injured, he tried to ascend the path of his fall, but found that too was impossible.  All he could do was try to work his way upwards on the parallel face of the ravine.

He found the climb easier than he had anticipated, and made good time. In his efforts, however, he failed to notice he had become further and further from his intended path.  In fact, he crested a totally unfamiliar peak.

It was then that he noticed a hint of wood smoke on the crisp mountain breeze.   Nestled nearly on top of the peak was a lone building.  The windows are lit up with a friendly glow, and there is smoke rising from the chimney. The musk of burning wood that carried on the wind made him long for warm, dry clothes, and a hot meal. But this was a strange place to live, remote and barren, with no good place to grow food, keep livestock, or even hunt for game. With night drawing in, and the lights seeming so welcoming, young Horner put the oddity of the place out of mind, however,  and made his way to the door of the dwelling.

Almost as soon as he set foot on the porch, the door opened and a bent, aged man stood before him.

“Come in from the cold, Friend,” the hermit beckoned.

Horner didn’t need to be invited a second time, and stomping the caked snow from his feet, he entered the warm tidily kept house.  A woman nearly as decrepit looking as the man was setting the table for four, and a young redheaded woman, about his age was huddled near the fire with a blanket wrapped around her.  Wet women’s clothes were on a wooden rack near the hearth, and a pair of soggy shoes steamed at the fireside.

“You are just in time,” the old woman said.  “I was a little worried that you might not find your way,” she added.

“Nonsense, Edie,” the old hermit said kindly.  “Young Horner here was always going to arrive today, Just like Rose over there.  Please excuse my wife, young man.  She’s always been a bit of a worrier.”

“How – how did you know my name?” Horner almost squealed as he jumped back from the old man.

“It’s destiny son,” the hermit replied.  “Been so for three hundred years.  Every fifty years, after the first major snow after Krispert’s, a couple arrives here to take over the care of the wayward travellers.  Tonight is your’s and Rose’s night. Edie and I will be moving on by morning.”

“Now you two young people come get a bite to eat, we have a lot to teach you in a single evening.  Rose you come sit next to Horner, you two should start to get to know each other,” the crone said with a kind smile.

Padre

Fantasy Art Friday

 

 

 

 

Never . . .

Image result for burlap sack

 

The band of adventurers entered the Andreston by the southern gate and made their way to the cheap side of town.  Their last excursion had not been as profitable as they had hoped, and it was now time to recoup and regroup.

As they worked their way through some squalid alleyways they saw the sign of The Hourglass Tavern ahead of them.  It was a rundown establishment, and what seemed to be large bundles or sacks of woven fabric were piled in a heap.  Clearly rubbish collection was not a priority in this section of the town.

The party entered the dingy inn and took a table.  Tiwyn the band’s leader was far from impressed by what she observed.  Scantily clad “waitresses” blattently flirted with the handful of patrons, and the smells of cooking were less than appetising.   But, budget dictated that this “hole” be their meeting place until a new expedition could be arranged.

As a buxom blonde came to take their orders, she gently stroked the shoulder of Anthrid the Healer.  He recoiled from the touch, clearly uncomfortable with the urge that threatened his clerical vows.

“Fruit juice, please,” he stammered, looking intently at a knothole in the table.

“And you,” the blonde said with a wink to Haley, the archer.  “Mulled wine,” the half-Elf replied, ignoring her flirtation.

“And I will have mead,”  Tiwyn said preemptively.  “And the old one will have ale.”

Branrid, the mage looked a bit crestfallen that the warrior would rob him of the blonde’s attention.

The waitress left to get their drinks, and Tiwyn shook her head in disapproval as a Ranger left the main room with his arm around a redheaded waitress.

The drinks soon arrived, and Tiwyn, again to limit the flirtation and to expedite the beginning of their meeting, ordered stew and dark bread for them all.

As they began to sort out the pawning of a few of the items their last excursion had provided, and to discuss where their next expedition should take them, the proprietress of the tavern came over and deposited the bread on their table.

“And how are you getting on?” she asked with a honeyed voice, and an inviting smile directly at the mage.

“We are fine, and will very much appreciate our stew,” Tiwyn responded abruptly.

“It is on its way,” the plump middle-aged woman responded, again directing her gaze to Branrid.  The magician found it strangely alluring, and smiled at her, the response she had calculated.

The blonde soon after returned to the table with a pot of stew, and the tavern owner went to the bar and collected bowls and spoons for the party.   As she distributed them, she brushed against the magician’s back sending shivers up his spine.

The stew was then ladled into the bowls, and  adventurers began to eat, but Branrid couldn’t keep his eyes off of the proprietress.  She again gave him a smile, and a little nod towards the stairway.

Without thinking, Branrid pushed himself from the table, and oblivious to Tiwyn’s objections, put his arm around the woman’s ample waist, and accompanied her upstairs.

The room was fairly spartan and as he sat on the bed, the tavern owner began to undo her dress, revealing a hourglass shaped birthmark between her shoulders.

She then sat next to the enraptured mage, and pulled him close.  As they kissed, he suddenly felt a numbness coming over him.

Tiwyn and the others waited impatiently for his return, which seemed overly delayed.  While they glanced at the stairs, the redhead descended carrying one of the woven refuse sacks.  A short while later, the proprietress came down alone.

“Where is the old one?” Tiwyn called.

“Didn’t he come down?” the woman responded. “He left me a quarter of an hour ago.”

Tiwyn and the others never saw the mage again.  Which just goes to show that you should never split the party.

 

Padre

 

Desperation

Lightning, Storm, Weather, Sky, Thunder, Strike, Bolt

Image by sethink from Pixabay

 

Things had not gone the way the novice band of adventurers had hoped.  They had been sold tainted rations by an unscrupulous merchant who had sensed their greenness.  Later they had their ponies stolen by the companions of a rogue who had enticed them to leave the beasts behind as he led them to “a secret cave,” where he abandoned them in the dark.  They had barely escaped the huge bugbear, who dwelt in the cavern’s dark recesses.

Battered and beaten they trudged back towards town only to be beset by a party of goblins.  The greenhorns battled valiantly as they made a slow fighting retreat towards a decrepit looking cabin they had spied in the distance.

Now barricaded inside – arrows spent, and weapons and armour damaged – they waited for the final onslaught that would mean their demise.

“Do we have anything left?” Hiam the archer asked his companions.

“My spells are all depleted,” Erin the cleric responded, “though I still have my staff.”

“My axe haft is broken, but I will battle on with this table leg,” Regnald the Barbarian said, holding the piece of broken furniture aloft.

“What about you, Tillian?” Erin asked.

The magician looked downcast as he said, “No, I used all my spells too.”

“Do we have anything else? Anything at all?” Hiam prompted.

Tillian dug through a deep pocket in his robe, and then sheepishly said, “I do have this old scroll my uncle gave me.”

“What does it do?” Regnald asked.

“I really don’t know,” the would-be wizard admitted. “He just said it might be handy.”

Just then, they could hear the battle cries of the goblins as the prepared for another assault.

“Just read it,” Hiam and Erin said almost in unison.

Tillian unrolled the parchment and in a loud voice called, 

“Let there be storms

Let chaos fill the air

Let woe befall those

Who ill to me declare”

Suddenly there were tremendous explosive crashes from outside, and the entire cabin seemed to shake as thunderous booms echoed across the countryside.

When the world again fell quiet, Erin cautiously peeked out of the cabin at a scene of utter devastation.  Trees were shattered, and charred remains of the goblins littered the approach to the party’s shelter.

Tillian looked out over Erin’s shoulder and said, “Uncle Merlin never said it would do that.”

Padre

Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge: “Let there be storms”

 

Where Fantasies Are Born

Dice, D20, Game, Role, D12, D8, Rpg, Die

Pixabay

“Once upon a time . . .”

Is what many stories say,

But fantasy needn’t be written thus,

But is born of innovative play.

 

“Once upon a time . . .”

Back in days of yore –

There were but three slender books,

Some dice and little more.

 

“Once upon a time . . .”

Whole worlds were on graph-paper made,

Rules simple, imagination great,

And that is how we played.

 

“Once upon a time . . .”

Elaborate campaigns – still a distant dream,

Dwarfish warriors, and half-ling thieves,

Were on most every team.

 

“Once upon a time . . .”

We had no way to know –

That skills and feats would proliferate –

And editions come and go.

 

“Once upon a time . . .”

Let your story now begin.

Prep your party – roll your dice,

And may you many victories win.

 

Padre

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Chance

Forest, Hiking, Forest Path, Trail, Away, Path, Moss

Pixabay

In a dingy tavern near the crossroad of the North Way and the Forest Course, Aalof sat across the table from the hardened veteran Thall.  For seven years Aalof had watched parties of adventurers and mercenaries pass through the tavern, and for seven years he had served them meat and ale; and been yelled at by Uncle Harnor, the proprietor for being too slow at his tasks.  Today will be different, he thought.  I am going to leave this lousy tavern behind, and really have a life.

“So what skills can you offer me?” the mighty warrior asked as he reached out a scarred hand the grab a tankard.

“I do magic,” Aalof said confidently.  He then picked up two iron rings from an adjoining table and muttered a couple of mystical sounding words before slamming the rings together.  The two iron hoops were instantly interlocked.

The huge warrior nodded as if impressed, and then chugged down the rest of his ale.

“I can always find use for a wizard,” Thall said reaching for another tankard.  “There are five of us.  You will be the sixth.  Food for the journey, and fifteen percent of the booty will be your share.”

“Great,” Aalof said with an excited squeal.  “Great,” he said again after clearing his throat, in a slightly deeper voice.

“We leave when I finish my ale,” the warrior said matter of factly.

Aalof excused himself from the table, and ran to his room to grab his meagre belongings and then checking that his uncle was not looking, he dodged out a side door to wait for the adventurers near the stable.

Once the party had gathered, they set out along the Forest Course, and then took a side trail into the deep wood.  After a short while they came to a clearing.

“I don’t like the feel of this,” Anson, the woodsman said.  “The ground is too tidy.  Look no fallen sticks or other debris.  It’s been recently cleared.  Be careful of traps.”

The party took a more defensive formation and stepped cautiously into the clearing.

Suddenly an arrow shot out from the opposite tree-line and caught Noor, the healer in the thigh.  A second slammed into Thall’s shield, almost immediately.  Anson let loose a shaft of his own in response, and the party backed slowly to their own tree-line.

As Noor began tending her own wound, six Goblins and a decrepit looking old mage came into sight.  The wizened figure loosed a fireball which narrowly missed the Dwarf, Bjin and torched a nearby pine.

Thall turned to young Aalaf.  “Do something,” he demanded.

The youth stood dumbfounded for a moment, and then asked, “Like what?”

“Magic, you idiot!” the warrior roared.

Fiddling in his shoulder bag, Aalof fished out a small box. Opening it he said “Pick a card, any card.”

 

Padre

Tale Weaver – #261 – Tale Weaver/Fairy Tale – Wizard

 

Mortbane

Elf, Elven, Fantasy, Poser, Tube, Character, Strong

Pixabay

 

Sacio Boldman’s future was set from the moment of his birth.  He was born into the powerful Boldman warrior clan, and unlike his older two brothers, or any subsequent offspring, he was destined to the Temple.  As far back as anyone could remember, the third son entered the order of healers.

Therefore at the age of seven, Sacio began his life as a novice.   He was an able student, and applied himself to the rudiments of first aid, and the mixing of herbal remedies.  It wasn’t until he was seventeen, when he had just taken his vows, that anything seemed amiss.

As he began the advanced training, which included a complex study of healing spells, he failed.  The tried and true spells of multiple generations didn’t seem to have any effect when uttered by Sacio.  This gave great concern to his superiors.  He had passed all of the rites of the order.  He had dedicated himself to the deity.  He had remained celibate.  The incantations should have worked, but they just didn’t.

Father Prudens from the Mother House was sent for, and Sacio was examined.  The healing aura was strong in him, and no outward flaws could be detected.  Prudens decided that the youth should remain under observation, and that the lad should therefore accompany him back to the Mother House.

As the pair travelled to the mountain top temple, they happened upon a peasant whose oxcart had over turned.  The man’s companions had managed to free him from the wreckage but his legs, which had been trapped, were horribly mangled. 

Prudens ordered young Brother Sacio to intervene with a second level healing spell.  The master healer wanted to see the young cleric at work in a real life situation.  Sacio bent down over the injured peasant and laid hands on his legs and began the incantation.  Though the injuries had not been life threatening, the man let out a tremendous scream and then fell back dead upon the road way.

“But why?” Sacio called to the heavens.  “I did it right.  Why should this man suffer for my ineptitude?”  At this altruistic, self-deprecating profession, the peasant coughed and then stood upright.  He was healed of any trace of the accident with not so much as a bruise to be seen.  Even Father Prudens looked on with amazement.

On reaching the Mother House, the peasant, who Prudens ordered to accompany them was examined by the greatest healers of the chapter.  He was found to be free of any ailments at all.   Even a tooth he had lost two years before had grown back.

This was but the first such healing by Sacio.  All, however, followed the same pattern.  The injured person would, under Sacio’s care, degenerate and die, only to rise again moments later in a better state of health than when they began his “treatment.”

Prudens and the abbot conferred and yet one more test for Brother Sacio was arranged.  A highway bandit was to be hanged the following day.  Abbot Wizeman, Prudens, and Sacio would attend.

The following day, with the execution completed, the highwayman’s corpse was laid at Sacio’s feet.  Sacio bent over him, and touched his neck.  As soon as the man was touched he resurrected, much to the dismay of the guards and the hangman, who were uncertain if this meant that they would have to hang him again.

The fame of Sacio spread like wildfire.  His fellow clerics ceased addressing him as Brother Sacio, but dubbed him Brother Mortbane.

But this was not an end.  Mortbane’s powers increased at a precipitous pace, and soon even the elders were beginning to fear him.   He was called before the council and offered the opportunity to leave the order and become an itinerate “healer.”  It was an offer which he gladly accepted.

Almost immediately, the now twenty year old, Mortbane sought female companionship.  Celibacy was no longer going to feature in his life.   He soon met a young herbal healer named Delores, and the pair courted and wed.  This did not lead to the diminishing of his powers, but rather enhanced them.

A year later Delores delivered a healthy son.  The boy was named Duo Mortbane, the father taking the name Primo Mortbane at the same time.  Thus began the Mortbane Dynasty of Grave Domain clerics.

 

Padre