Task

Architecture, Nature, Leopoldinen Temple, Pond
Pixabay

It might be cliche, but Arandia saw no rhyme or reason to the Goddess‘ oracle pronouncement.  The message lacked the usual poetic style, and it was in no way cryptic, as was the Goddess’ custom.

For six years, Arandia had served the temple as a Keeper of the Doorway, as her mother had served before her.  Thus was the thread of life that wove together the Keeper Clan.  A keeper would begin her duties at twenty, and then leave at thirty to marry and raise the next generation of Keepers. 

At twenty-six it was odd for Arandia to be sent on a mission so far from the holy site.  Such tasks usually fell upon Keepers in their twenty-ninth year, before ending their service at the gates.

But the Goddess had called her by name for the task.  She was to go to the Shrine of Eskalese and bring back three chalices full of water from the pool there.  No one from the Goddess’ temple had been sent there in living memory, and the link between the temple and the shrine were tenuous.  There was, of course, the ancient legend that the Goddess once had a relationship with the hero, Eskalese but the details were shrouded in time.

As Arandia approached the shrine she was surprised to find it overgrown and in disrepair.  She nonetheless continued up the weedy path towards the shrine and the pool within.  

The pool was covered with thick algae and pond weed, and had a foul stagnant smell to it.  Arandia took out the stone jar and silver chalice from her haversack and took a deep breath before using the lip of the chalice to clear away the algae.  As she did, she was startled by the sound of movement behind her.  

Glancing behind her she saw a woman, the exact likeness of the statues of the Goddess at the temple, tied to a stake and being loomed over by a serpent-headed figure.  

Arandia bolted towards the assailant and bludgeoned the fiend over the head with the stone jar.  After several blows, the creature collapsed to the ground and then seemed to dissolve into the soil.

“Well done, Daughter,” the woman said in a clear hypnotic voice.  The woman was now standing unbound before Arandia and radiating a warm glow.   “You have proven your worthiness, Daughter,” the Goddess said.  “Come,” the deity said, pointing the way to the pool.

Arandia followed with a mix of reverent excitement and fear.  The Goddess leaned over the foul pool, and taking Arandia’s hand, she pricked the Keeper’s finger with her nail and a drop of blood fell into the pool.  It worked as some sort of catalyst, for no sooner had the drop fell into the waters that they became clear, and the entire shrine seemed to be renewed.

It was then that Arandia saw her reflection and that of the Goddess in the pool.  She was taken aback by how similar they were.  

“Long ago,” the Goddess began.  “I was in love with the human Eskalese.  Our love was not approved of by my mother, and she banned me from seeing him again.  In sorrow, I gave to him his legendary powers as a warrior, and he unknowingly left me with a child.  She grew to be the first of the Keeper’s and my half mortal children have stood by me and served me ever since.  But I saw in you something special, something divine.  Drink from the pool, and join me, Daughter, claim your birth right.”

Arandia dipped the silver chalice into the clear waters, and then drank deeply, savoring the sweet taste of her transformation.

 

Padre

 

Wordle #216:

Reason, Thread, Life, Goddess, Prove, Catalyst, Bludgeon, Message, Savor, Keep, Reflect, Doorway

Exit

Door, Portal, Goal, Input, Gate
Pixabay

“Are you sure this is the right place?” Dion asked.

“The smuggler said it was a blue door on the south wall.  This is the south wall, and that is a blue door,” Brema said.

“Yes, but it looks a bit – well, too convenient for a secret way out of the city.”

“Maybe that’s why it’s a secret exit, because it seems too obvious for the authorities to suspect it,” Brema retorted.

Dion pulled the key they had paid the smuggler handsomely for from his pouch and placed it into the lock.  The two spies then pushed the door open to find six members of the city watch standing there with weapons drawn, while a seventh handed a bag of gold to the smuggler.


 

Padre

Second Thoughts

MorgueFile

Arit was a fairly skilled pickpocket and shoplifter, but when the opportunity to join a real expedition was offered to him, he jumped at the chance. He was in awe of Benhayat, the axeman who led the party. Willow, the archer was something spectacular to behold. She could split her previous shaft with her next arrow at 200 paces.

But when it came to the funny looking hunch-backed magician, Milnar, Arit couldn’t help but snicker at his halting, stumbling steps. Milnar’s eyesight wasn’t great either and on at least two occasions he mistook tree stumps for adversaries and blasted them with rather feeble lightening bolts. It was just too much for Arit though when the old wizard chose coppers instead of golds for his share of the booty.

“I don’t get you old man,” Arit said scornfully. “Are you any use at all? I bet you don’t even have any real skills left.”

“Those are rather bold words for one so young,” the wizard said.

“Well, do you?” Arit asked.

“Do I what?” Milnar asked.

“Have any ‘real’ magic.” Arit said.

Now as Arit slowly made his way home, he was having second thoughts as to the advisability of his words. You see, the old wizard gave the young thief a new perspective on life. In fact, the road home looked far longer and much more daunting as a toad.


Padre

The Red Badge of Adolescence


Dominic bowed his head to hide his face. And why should the best looking and most popular guy in the entire school do such a thing? Was it because he had failed to complete that pass in the game last Saturday? Was it because he was cheating on Sally Hood with her cousin Chloe? Was it that he had cheated on Mr. Allan’s Geography exam? No, it was because he had the most swollen red pimple of all red pimples on his nose.


Padre

First Line Friday: Dominic bowed his head to hide his face.

The Little House

A modified (female only) field latrine set up at Camp New Jersey, Kuwait,  during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM - U.S. National Archives Public Domain  Image
Public Domain

Some called it “the little house on the prairie,” and others the latrine or head.  But that little corrugated steel shack was the prime real estate in camp.  Yes, the “head-shed” or battalion headquarters might’ve been more prestigious, and the CP tent that served as the chapel might have been more revered.  Many would tell you that the chow hall was the most important structure in camp, or the dugouts and bunkers if there was a mortar attack going down.  But, truth be told, when several days of backed up C-rations called, no place else was going to compare.

Padre

Flash Fiction Challenge: Toilet

The Hail

Pirates, Sailing Ship, Frigate, Ship
Pixabay

Robert Hilyard was far from the most likely pirate.  He was the captain of the schooner Lilly Margaret and costal trade had been hard of late.  It was owing to this that he decided to try his hand at being a Buccaneer.

He consulted his men, and they too were up for the enterprise, and with the two small defensive cannon on board they decided that they needed to up their firepower.  After hard work on small jobs afloat and ashore, they managed to scrape together sufficient funds for a ten-pounder to augment the ship’s two six-pounders.

When all was ready the Lilly Margaret sailed from Philadelphia in search of prey.  She sited a cargo vessel off of Cape Hatteras and set out in pursuit.  As she was drawing near, a massive fog bank swallowed the two ships, but the relentless Hilyard carried onwards.  At first he could see its running lights, but soon after he lost track of his quarry.

As the sun rose higher, the fog began to break up and the Lilly Margaret caught glimpse of a vessel ahead of her to starboard.  The crew rolled out the guns and prepared to call for the ship to prepare to be boarded.  

Hilyard grabbed his long-hailer and announced his presence.  “Ahoy, vessel – this is the Black Lilly.”

Before he could continue his demand a voice came from the fog, “Ahoy vessel this is the US Frigate Essex.”

Hilyard gulped and quickly responded, “Hallo Essex, can you tell us how far it is to Charleston?”


Padre

FOWC with Fandango — Hail

Darklands

CCC #106

“Here’s the boundary to the Darklands,” Dillion said matter of factly. “You are on your own past this point.”

“Those blocks don’t seem like they would stop much,” McCann observed. “Why aren’t there any fences, or guard posts?”

“Well first of all the D’landers love to steal the wire, and we don’t want to put anything in place that might draw them nearer. The second thing is that the guards are three clicks back at the stone rampart we passed.

“Is there anyway else to get to the coast?”

“Sure there is. You can fly like everybody else.”


Padre

CCC #106

The Lessons

 NASA

A long space mission seemed to be the perfect opportunity to learn to play an instrument. She had never been very musical, and in fact, her junior high school music teacher had remarked than she had a tin ear. The timing of her endeavour was fortunate for her friends and family back on Earth. Not so much for her crew-mates. Ridley Scott must have got it wrong when when it said “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

Padre

Photo Challenge #341

Celestria

Jordan_Singh at Pixabay.com.

Celestria walked along the sandy path with pretty little balls she had captured along the shore.  She loved catching the colourful spheres and watching all of the interesting things that happened on them with the magnifying glass she kept in her little case.  It always made her a little sad to let them go again, but Mother was very strict about that.  The pretty objects could not be kept captive, but always had to be set free at the end of the day.

Padre

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #92