Just a Splash

 

A splash of colour –

Dull worlds to brighten,

A splash in show biz –

Their celebrity to heighten.

 

A splash of rain –

Our garden to save,

A splash of vermouth –

Two olives to bathe.

 

A splash or a sprinkle –

Is oft all that’s needed,

No call for excess –

Or quantities exceeded.

 

Padre

Rag Tag Daily Prompt: Splash

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

 

The Pass: A Sisters Tale

Image result for path between mountains

source: Twitter

The Sisters Peaks loomed as the road descended into pass between them. A mile or so before the actual pass a pillar written in the Ralulee tongue warned that sovereign Sultanate lands lay beyond the pass. This pillar, however, also bore evidence of the graffiti left by the kingdom’s men at the close of the late war.

Further on two guardhouses, one on either side of the pass stood in ruin. Their doors had been smashed, and chipped masonry bore witness to scores of arrow strikes. Seymour had a look inside one of the structures and announced, “It doesn’t look like anyone is home.”

The party was careful to look for anything irregular on the road, or in the peaks above. Once Breena has a brief inkling of a presence, but it soon passed. Thilda’s keen eye also caught what she thought was movement among the rocks above.

It was as they neared the far end of the pass that a rock fall tumbled down the left hand Sister. It was ill timed, however, and swept behind the party. It did, however, make any return into the pass more difficult. They readied for an attack, and spurred onwards towards the twin guardhouses at the embouchure of the pass.

Right before they reached them five Ralulee stepped from the sentry boxes, blocking their exit. Two more appeared among the rocks on their left, and one more on the right.

The party dismounted and formed a defensive stance. Thilda made a quick analysis and was relieved to see that the men in the rocks were armed with spears rather than bows, and those before them bore a mixed array of scimitars and short swords. These were bandits, not soldiers.

The Ralulee on the right hurled his spear which landed short, embedding itself in the road by Seymour’s feet. The man then drew a scimitar and scrambled down to join the men on the road.

Thilda was quick to take the man down with a scarlet fletched arrow before he could join his comrades. Breena in turn mumbled a few mystical words, then pointing to the men on the left said, “Dark!” Both men seem instantly confused and one blinked as the other threw both his hands over his eyes. The first collapsed where he was, turning his head in all directions trying to comprehend his sudden blindness. The other tried to come down the slope, only to trip and tumble violently onto the road below him.

The lead three bandits raised their blades and shouted Ralulee curses as they burst forwards. Thilda loosed an arrow into the belly of the man on the right, while Seymour jogged forward to meet the other two. He buried an axe into the chest of one, then made a sudden swerve avoiding the slice of the second’s short sword, and struck his second axe into the man’s back as he came to rest facing the bodies.

One of remaining two outlaws seemed to have no appetite for it. He paused and took a moment to consider what to do. This hesitation cost him dearly as one of Gwendolyn’s crossbow bolts caught him in the groin. He fell to his knees, only to be struck in the eye by Wilberta’s well aimed dart.

The last culprit fared no better, for as he began to rush at Seymour he was caught squarely in the chest by a fireball.

Thilda notched an arrow to finish off the blinded man on the mountainside, but Breena said it would be unworthy of her in his present condition.

“How long will he be like that?” Thilda asked.

“It depends. If he finds a good healer, a week or so. If not, it might be longer.  His sight will never be quite the same again though, you can be assured,” Breena responded with obvious sadness for the necessity of her actions.

*         *        *

A thorough search was made of the men. Several copper coins, and a small silver ring were the only things of monetary value. Wil took a silk scarf from around the neck of the man who had fallen, and tied it around her waist. The men’s weapons were largely useless, though the three spears were strapped to a mule.  Thilda as was her practice collected the arrows and bolts, as well as Wil’s dart.

Seymour went to the far side of the guardhouses where he found four tethered donkeys, and two rather average horses.

It was decided that the older horse and three donkeys would be left behind. Wil would take the young horse, thus returning Seymour to his original mount. The remaining donkey would be used to lighten the load of the injured mule.

The bodies were dragged into one of the sentry boxes, Breena insisting on then being covered and appropriate words said. The party then again began their descent into the Dry Lands.

Padre


 

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Three (prompt on day the piece was started)

Word of the Day Challenge: Appetite

Your Daily Word Prompt – Embouchure

 

Sisters 3

 

Southwards: A Sisters Tale

Image result for owl perched on a branch

image: Media Storehouse

The party breakfasted early and packed up a quickly as possible. Activity in League Town was just beginning for take shape for the day, and they wanted to avoid any uncomfortable questions about the happenings of the night before. They decided that a fast exit through Westgate was advisable to this end, even though it would necessitate an additional delay as they skirted the town to gain the South Road.

They had topped up their provisions however, and all but Seymour had had at least some rest in a real bed.

Harvested fields were seemingly all the landscape offered them until they reached the south of the town, though it was punctuated by a few orchards still waiting to be picked. Here and there a cottage or small hamlet could be seen in the distance westwards.

They eventually reached the South Road and the foothills and mountains lay open before them. The map while dated, had made it clear that little lay between them and the hills, as League Town was the last true settlement this side of the Ralulee frontier.

The mountains were not their only concern, however. With the departure from the town, they were also leaving behind the last vestiges of law and order. In addition, the old races of Goblins, Trolls, and Elves still had a sizable presence in the highlands.

They were by now already several days behind schedule. The bridge collapse, and the “scenic route” from the town had cost them time they couldn’t well afford. The mountains would already have snow, and they needed to make their return journey before the passes became blocked.

By early evening, they had put nearly twenty-five miles between themselves and League Town. As they crossed a small stream which was home to a large number of geese, Gwendolyn suggested that they find a suitable camp site for the night.

Thilda quickly secured their dinner at the stream side. Though they would have preferred their goose roasted, cooking it on skewers still seemed to do the trick.  There would be few leftovers, at least not with Seymour along. Thilda made sure to keep the best fletching feathers as well so in the end there would be little evidence of their presence there come morning.

The band settled in for the night, and their usual rota was set. It was during Breena’s third watch that an own settled above their bivouac. There is sat for the next two hours without making a sound, or looking for prey.  It was still there as dawn broke and Seymour raised the party for the day.

*       *       *

The next day was breezy and they met no one along the roadway. The road in fact was now not much more that a wide path as it snaked its way into the first of foothills.

The party settled a little before dusk, and had a light meal of biscuit and cheese. The breeze broke as the sun set, and it was to be a clear and quiet evening.

As Thilda woke Breena for her watch, the healer noticed what seemed to her to be the same owl perched above them.

“We have a watcher,” Breena said to her companion, nodding towards the bird.

“Watcher?”

“I think it has been with us since we left League Town,” Breena said.

Thilda slowly began to notch an arrow.

“No need,” said Breena. She then muttered a few incomprehensible words, then boldly proclaimed “Obscure!” The owl blinked irritably, then flew off northwards.

“What do you think it was looking for?” Thilda asked.

“Not it, someone or something else, to be sure, but as to why is a mystery,” Breena responded. “For now, I think we are safe though. Now, go get some sleep.”

Padre


 

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Mystery

Inspiration Calls: Open

This tale follows from: “The League” Tavern

 

 

 

The Crossing: A Sisters Tale

Image result for horse powered ferry boat

image: National Geographic

The party easily found the small wooden bridge the sergeant had mentioned. It was in fairly good repair, though many of the timbers were green with moss. In fact, the growth was in several places on the span as well, giving the clear indication that it was seldom used.  It had an eerie feel to it, and it was just wide enough for the party to cross two abreast.

“I’m glad I have my Troll ring,” Seymour said stopping to look over the railing at the shadows below. “Really don’t need to lose any more time with a fight.”

The women gave him kind smiles, and a couple nodded as if in agreement.  Even Wil fought the temptation to snicker, as she was starting to get the hang of just going along with his asides.

The far side of the expanse was more heavily wooded, but as they were still within the kingdom they were not overly concerned with security in daylight hours.  At night the resumed the practice of camping well off the road, however, and night watches became part of the routine.

It was largely quiet with the usual woodland sounds; the creaking of trees in the breeze, and the song and flutter of birds. The caw of the occasional crow stood out, and by in large the main sound was their own conversation and the hoof beats of their mounts.

On the third day the underbrush began to be less dense, and it was clear this part of the wood was maintained by a Woodward. Then the trees too became more spaced and charcoal burning mounds began to fill the gaps.  They emerged from the forest into a meadow land, where a small village, of no more than a dozen cottages and a tavern stood by the roadway.

It was evident by the lack of any agriculture that the residents made their living as charcoal burners.  The way-side inn was a testimony to this as well, as it bore the name, “The Embers.” Not wanting any further delay, however, the company hurried past the settlement towards the river crossing before them.

*          *           *

The recent rains had made the river level higher than usual, and the bank was still being licked by the current. The ferry could be seen on the far side of the flow, so they waved the flag which had been placed on their bank to summon the ferrymen.

The ferry itself was larger than they had imagined.  It was long and flat with railings along its sides, and rope barriers on its ends which provided some safely during crossings. At mid-ship there was a paddle wheel on either side powered by a horse on a treadmill. It was a relief to see that the entire party could pass in a single crossing, avoiding the loss of time or the possibility of becoming divided.

The signage written in both the common tongue and Ralulee, indicated that it would cost them two coppers each, and a half silver for each animal.

“I’m just glad we don’t have a wagon,” Thilda said to Gwendolyn. “Ten silvers is extortionate. Eight silver and twelve coppers is bad enough.”

Gwendolyn shook her head in agreement, and took the coins from her main purse and placed them in a small bag on her belt, along with a few extra coppers. She then put her the cash bag back behind her cloak.

When the ferry arrived on their side, the rope gate was opened and the party boarded. Then Gwendolyn made a big show of counting out the fare. She then stood with six coppers in her hand, and said to Wil, “Sorry darling, looks like we will only have bread and broth when we get to League Town.”

The ferrymen seemed suddenly disinterested in their passengers from that point onwards, and got on with the task of the river crossing.

Once on the other side, the companions breathed a sigh of relief, and headed on their way to tavern.

Padre

 

=================

Fandango’s Prompt: Temptation

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Cottage

 

Preparations and Departure: A Sisters Tale

 

220px-Pawnbroker's_sign,_Camden_High_Street,_London

source: Wikipedia

The expedition would be costly. There was no doubt of that. While there was some silver left after the robbery of the laundry, it would not be enough. Gwendolyn, however, was able to secure a sufficient loan from Bertram at only 250% interest, half his usual fee. “Well, allowances need to be made for family,” he had hissed as he had her sign his book.

Bertram had also secured a few “particular” items for Maya and Breena. Each piece was expertly (if a little skeptically) checked by the respective “sister” upon delivery.

Breena’s absence from the infirmary was another concern. She arranged to put its day to day operation into the hands of her senior attendant, a corpulent woman of about sixty; and Gwendolyn had negotiated for two medical students, who were regular patrons of the wash house, to take turns at Breena’s between their lessons at the university (with the proviso that they receive a year’s free laundry).

Thilda and Seymour were sent to acquire the horses and mules. These were inspected by Thilda, and were secured at a very reasonable price. It seems that the looming presence of Seymour had aided in negotiating “discounts” from the liverymen.

Seymour seemed to have a fair amount of coin of his own, and Thilda convinced him to part with a little of it to have his armour repaired before their departure.  “It will be so much more comfortable without all those nasty dents,” she assured him, giving her most tender smile. “I know a place where it will be back to you in no time,” she added.  No one seemed to notice that this gave her an additional chance to see the tall pale figure who worked there. Better still Seymour not only provided the excuse to visit, but was paying for it as well.

The laundry itself would be left in the capable hands of Thyme and Mildred. They too lent a hand in the preparations, helping to check deliveries and packing things in more useful-sized packages.

At last departure eve arrived. Seymour led the animals to the Alleys, and careful packing of the saddle bags and mules was completed by dinner time. Seymour then returned to the livery-yard where he would keep watch. The sisters all would stay at the laundry for the night, and join Seymour near the farriers’.

 *       *       *

It was not the most auspicious of send offs, as it was a grey drizzly morning. The companions had planned on bundling themselves a bit anyway in order to hide that they were armed. So in one sense it made them even less conspicuous as others were wrapped in cloaks and blankets as well.

They arrived at the livery gate and found that the horses were already saddled and waiting. “Hello, little sisters,” Seymour greeted with his usual affectionate sincerity.

“Good morning, Seymour,” they rejoined in chorus.

“It looks like a lovely day to travel,” Seymour said, without the slightest sense of irony.

The sisters nodded, looking at the dismal sky, and Wil rolled her eyes, the meaning of which was lost on Seymour.

They mounted and began to make their way to Southgate, where they gave smiles, and a polite nod to the two “Rosemen” stationed there, as they exited.

Green meadows and freshly harvested fields lined their path as they began their journey southeastwards.

Image result for dirt road through fields

source: Zazzle

Padre


 

Ragtag Daily Prompt Corpulent