Willow’s Key

skeleton key surround with dry leaves

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

“It was here.  I had it my hand just a moment ago,” Rosemartin said kicking among the twigs and leaves on the forest floor.

“You’ve done it now,” Nettleblossom taunted.”

“You should hush and help me find it,” Rosemartin demanded.

“You’re the one that lost it,” Nettleblossom said accusingly.  “Why should I look for it?”

“Because, if we don’t find it, we can’t open the cellar.”

“Good point, but I’m helping only because I want some honey cakes,” Nettleblossom retorted.

Rosemartin and Nettleblossom often squabbled, though they were the best of friends.  This time it was different though, as Rosemartin had lost the key to the cellar beneath the old honey-elm where the Fey folk stored their harvest.

“Doesn’t Willow have a spare?” Nettleblossom asked after an unproductive search.

“Yes, but she will be angry all the same,” Rosemartin replied.

“She’s always cross,” Nettleblossom retorted.  “So what difference will it make?”

Rosemartin choked back a giggle and then said, “She won’t give us honey cake.  That’s the difference.”

As the two Brownies bickered, a boy of about five years of age arrived and they barely had time to duck behind a bramble thicket to avoid detection.

The lad looked curiously at the freshly disturbed forest floor.  He had noticed that squirrels left similar traces when the buried or retrieved nuts.  The boy looked up into the canopy to see if he spied any squirrels.  While he didn’t see any, the notion of nuts now was firmly in his mind, so he began to forage through the leaves to see if he could find any.

While no nuts were forthcoming, a small bright brass key did catch his attention.  He bent down and picked it up, and without a second glance popped it into his pocket and headed back in the direction from which he had come.

“Quick – we should follow it,” Nettleblossom said.

The Brownies began darting back and forth between trees, keeping pace with the boy.  They were forced to come to an abrupt halt, however, when two large hounds came bounding through the woods to join the lad.

“What should we do now?” Rosemartin whispered.

Nettleblossom swiftly placed her hand over her companion’s mouth to silence her as one of the dogs stopped and cocked its ears in their direction.

A moment later the beast turned and sprinted after the boy and the other dog.

“We – we will tell Willow that – that the child stole the key from us, and that we barely escaped.  That’s what we will ‘do now’,” Nettleblossom instructed.

“I don’t know Nettles, it sounds a bit unbelievable to me.”

“Was the key ours?” Nettleblossom asked.

“Yes.  Sort of,” Rosemartin replied.

“And does that child have ‘our’ key?”


“Then the child has stolen our key,” Nettleblossom concluded.

The plan thus hatched, the Brownies left to face the wrath of Mistress Willow.







The Man At The Spring


image: ebay

Keeli sat by the side of the springs and played with the wooden horse that his uncle had made for him.  It was a bright summer day, and turquoise dragonflies flitted about.  Suddenly both dogs’ ears perked, and Dunder stood up and faced the treeline.  Dunder let out a low growl and his ears swept back.  Almost at the same instant Blisser rose to join him and assumed a similar stance.


A moment later a man with a prominent nose and a long forked beard emerged from the trees.  He wore a green cloak and coarse brown britches, much like those worn by the Nordlanders.  As he advanced he applied fire to end of a long white stick that he had in his mouth.  Dunder began to show his teeth and to growl louder.  The man responded by drawing his breath deeply through the white stick, and then blew a cloud of blue-grey smoke in the direction of the dogs, both of which immediately lay down and fell asleep.


The man was shorter than Father or Uncle, and had very jerky mannerisms.  But Keeli wasn’t alarmed when the man came and sat opposite him at the spring.   The fellow leaned towards the lad and poked his large pointed nose in his direction sniffing deeply, then cocked his head sideways with a puzzled expression on his face.


“Are you a boy child, or a girl child?” the man asked, and though Keeli did not recognise a single word that the man uttered, he nonetheless understood his question.


“I am a boy,” Keeli said.  “Mother says I am nearly a man, as I am almost five.”


“A boy child, and five,” the strange man said distractedly to himself.


“My Cousin April is a girl,” the lad volunteered.  “But she is just a baby.”


“A girl child, a babe,” the man mumbled.


After a pause, the man asked, “What do you have there, Boy-child?”


“It’s a horse.  My Uncle Hal made it.”


“May I see it?” the man said reaching a knurled, liver spotted had towards the boy.


Keeli handed the man the toy, and the stranger turned it over in his hands several times before returning it to the lad.


The man tapped some charred substance from a little bowl on the end of his white stick, and then refilled the bowls with brown fibres from a little pouch on his belt.  He then reached behind his ear, and a small flaming stick appeared between his fingers.  He lit the fibres and drew a deep breath through the stick before blowing smoke into the boy’s face.  It tickled his nose, but the scent was not unpleasant.  Then Keeli became very weary, and put his head down on the rock next to the spring.


It was very late afternoon when he awoke, and the two hounds stood watch over him.  Was it all a dream? he wondered. But then he noticed that his wooden horse was gone, and that an exact replica of it in silver was in its place.



The Dragon Hunter Part 5

Dragon, China, Chinese, Asian, Culture, Decoration


“Hows-bout you let’n us loose, and we will make you that there head?”  the Dwarf replied.

“Sounds fair.  My name is Wilfred by the way.”

“Runny – and there won’t be no laugh’n mind – or you won’t get no bleed’n head. Runny Roundbottom.  That’s my name.”

Wilfred choked back a chuckle, and did his best quench his smile.  “Good to meet you Runny.”  The rusty page then began to undo the lead Dwarf’s chains. He then handed Runny the key.

“Not like you folk to trust a Dwarf,” Runny observed.

“How do you mean?” Wilfred inquired.

“Most of you lot woulda insisted on gett’n the head first, then let us go – or not.  After all there’s seven of us, and only one of you.”

“Well are you a Dwarf of your word?” Wildred asked.

Runny scratched his beard and then after a moment said, “S’pose I am.  So let’s be see’n to that there head.”

It was actually an intriguing spectacle to watch the Dwarfs design and fashion the head.  They used several pieces of armour to replicate scales, and several dozen knives and daggers to form teeth.  In the end, the huge head looked every bit the full sized replica of the figure that adorned the crest of Hanon.

“Here’s what I propose,” Wilfred said as Runny presented him with the finished head.  “You lot can do as you like, but it would be more effective if you came with me to the border.  Before we get there, you can send a couple of your lads to get the attention of folks on the other side of the frontier so we have witnesses.  Then I will smear soot on my face and armour and arrive to the checkpoint with the head.  I will say that I slew the dragon, but my map for where I was supposed to claim my reward got burned-up in the battle.  Then you, Runny, can say you witnessed the whole thing, and demand that I get my reward right there and then, as I rescued you and your comrades from the beast.  The Hannies, as you call them, will have to pay up, and I will present them with the head and we will split the reward.”

“What if they say the head’s a fake?” Runny objected.

“They can’t afford to,” Wilfred pointed out.  “If they do, then their whole dragon farce will be exposed, especially once they see you are free.  They can’t risk war with the other nations, as they aren’t prepared enough yet, and there are going to be some angry folks in the Sultanate and Kingdom if they find out that the Hannies have murdered their heroes.”

“I s’pose you’re right there,” Runny said as he thoughtfully tugged on his beard.

Let us just say that Wilfred’s plan played out exactly as he envisioned.  In fact, one of the witnesses was a prominent Nordlandian duke who had just arrived to try his hand at dragon-slaying himself.

In the end, young Wilfred was rich, the Dwarfs were free, and the legend of the Dragon Hunter was born.




























Early Start To A New Beginning

Covered Wagon, Wooden Cart, Wagon, Nostalgic, Wheel


It was a bit too early in the year to venture beyond the western hills.  The last of the winter snows hadn’t even fully melted on the more guarded slopes, but Halian knew that if he was to get a crop in before autumn, he would need to begin the venture.

He, his brother Dalvin, their wives Karianna and Helgi, and Dalvin’s four-year-old son Keelin, therefore began their westward trek on the last day of March.  Progress was good up to the frontier settlement of Caston.  There they stopped, as it was the last sure source of supplies, though water and some small items might be available from the sutler at Fort Wren at the head of the pass.  From there however, the pioneers would be on their own.

“I don’t know why Hal is starting off so soon,” Helgi said quietly to her sister-in-law.  “He could have at least waited a month for you ho have the baby first.”

“Helgi, I don’t know why you carry on so.  I’ll be fine,” Kari assured her.  “Besides, we need to find a suitable plot, and get the grain planted or we might starve once the next snows fall.”

Helgi, gave her quick sideways hug, and the two went into entered the merchants to acquire salt and molasses.

Meanwhile Dalvin tended the oxen, and kept an eye on Keelin who was playing with the hounds Dunder and Blisser.

“I will be back shortly,” Halian called, ” I want to see if I can get some iron nails from the smitty.”

“I will wait for the girls here then shall I?” Dalvin said with a chuckle, as if there was any other choice in the matter as the livestock and little Keelin needed to me watched over.

Dalvin tightened the thick leather belt around his waist.  It felt odd to be wearing a sword-belt.   He was a farmer, nothing more. Okay, Hal had been a conscript in the Count’s regiment two years before, but that was the only taste of war that any in the family had had.   No, it was not since their grandfather’s time that there had been a “real” warrior in the family.

Here they were though, on the road westwards.  “An early start to a new beginning,” his older brother Halian had said.  Beginning of what? he mused.

“Keeli, don’t antagonise those dogs.”

“Sorry Father,” the lad called and tossed the stick he had been playing tug-of-war with Blisser with.  The stick didn’t go far, but both dogs took the few steps to retrieve it.

“New beginning,” Dalvin said aloud.




Woman Wearing Red Hood With Makeup

Photo by Just a Couple Photos from Pexels

Once upon a time . . . well that’s how most of them begin.  The reason is simple, storytellers don’t like it if you check out the validity of their tales.  It stifles creativity, or something like that.  But let’s face it, stories often morph over time.  It may be to make the tales more spectacular, or to curry favour with some patron, but whatever the reason, stories do change.

Take our present tale for instance – Little Red Riding Hood.  Red, well, Agnes Reddanger, was far from “little.”  She stood at five feet and ten inches in height, and had washboard abs that many professional athletes would have been jealous of.   Her father, Guillaume Reddanger,  was a known forest outlaw, and under his alias – Will Scarlet – was the real brains behind the so-called Merry Men Gang, the Loxley fellow being a mere figurehead, but I digress.

Agnes was a force to be reckoned with, there is no question about that.  She could give as well as take, and many a Merry Man received more that he would have liked. Yes, she comely, but only the foolhardy would pay her more attention than she wanted.  That’s the real background of the so called “wolf.”

She was taking a hamper, well a wagon full, of purloined wine for storage in the cave beneath her granny’s house, when a known cad by the name of Owen Wolverham spied her.  He decided he liked what he saw, and told his companion Jack Wood that she would be “a tasty morsel.”  Jack responded, that he wasn’t sure that was the wisest course of action and refused to accompany Owen on what would prove an ill-fated undertaking.

Running through the woods, Wolverham made his way to the Widow Reddanger’s and caught the matron from behind and bound her, tossing her roughly down into the cellar that she had just emerged from.  He then waited for the younger Reddanger’s arrival.  Trying to get a drop on Agnes he wrapped a nearby shawl around his shoulders and turned his back to the door.  This proved a fatal mistake, for when Agnes entered the cottage, she made no mention of “Grandmother’s” big eyes, ears, or anything else, but immediately went into a rage on seeing the villain wearing her late mother’s shawl, something no one in the family would have even thought to have done.  Agnes, therefore, cold-cocked the would be Lothario with one of the wine bottles she was carrying.

And as for her injuries from the ordeal, you might ask.  Well those happened rescuing her BFF Marian, but that’s a different story.



An Immigrant Tale

Cabin, Rustic, Historic, Log, Wood, Rural, Home, House


For five long years they said I’d serve

It ended being ten

For I could not read the indentures

When they handed me the pen

America it did then seem

A prime opportunity

I served my time in Carolina hot

Then it was Pennsylvania then for me

I scratched out a little living there

Got a wife and children – three

Then plucked up the courage to try my luck

Over the hills in Kentucky

Among the Shawnee – I did live

A farm of all my own

Far from old Ulster that had been

My father’s lifetime home






Woman in Gray Tank Top

Image: Andrea Piacquadio

“Forgive you?” Tammy screeched. “How in the hell do you get off asking me to forgive you?  You ruined my life.”

“I really am sor . . .” Dana began.

“No! Don’t you even dare,” Tammy interrupted.

“I really didn’t know,” Dana tried again.

“Did you even bother to ask?  I thought you were my best friend, and then – then you did this.  You are such a bitch.”

“But,” Dana started yet again, now in tears.

“No, in fact we aren’t friends anymore.  I am moving out, and you can get another roommate,” Tammy snapped.   She then stomped off to her bedroom and slammed the door.

A moment later she opened door again and shouted, “You are unbelievable.  You know I love that programme, and you go and tell me how the finale ends, you spoiler bitch.”




Tale Weaver – #285 – Forgiveness

Min Footroom


“Well, it was close one,” the attendant said glancing at the entry sign to the car park.

“So tell me again exactly what happened,” the supervisor said raising her tablet to take notes.

“Well, I was sitting in the kiosk watching the monitors, when this American-style ‘Monster Truck’ came to the gate.   The driver looked at the clearance sign, and then got out and did some visual sizing-up.  Then he got back into his vehicle and started to back away.  I thought he was leaving, but then he revved the engine and threw the truck into gear and jumped the barrier.  As you can see, his rear wheels hit the top of the sign.”

As the supervisor finished the report on her devise, she added a recommendation: “Add additional signage to Beach Road Parking – Min Footroom 6′ 11″.”




Crimson’s Creative Challenge 89



 Google Hub Photo Frame

They had called it the great scurge.  Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of fire locusts has swept across the land.  In the end all that remained was a barren landscape of exposed clay and charred vegetation.  When the rains came that spring the soil shifted, and the burned remains nurished the land.  Slowly, ever so slowly, the first trees began to re-emerge.

It was into to this newly born world that Heravan arrived.  He – the son, of a son, of farmer’s son would transform this stark place.  He, his mule, a plough, and an iron will, would create a paradise of golden fields.  Heravanland, the bread basket of the empire was born on that day.


Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #75


Mushroom, Toadstool, Fly Agaric, Spotted, Points, Red


Petunia June had spent far to long at court.  Yes, she had important functions, and had even been godmother to not just one, but three princesses; but she was tired.  She was what her own godmother called bone-weary.  But now she was going home.  “Home,” the word sounded odd to her.  Hadn’t the palace been her home twice as long as her little village in the glen had?  As she topped a small rise, she caught sight of if for the first time in decades.  There before her in all its splendor were the white towers, and red roofs of her memories and dreams.  At long last, the Fairy Godmother was indeed “home.”