Lake House: A Cousins Tale

 

The party joined the Farmington South Road about twenty miles south of the market town.  Turning south towards the border they could see the foothills before them, and the mountains rising beyond.  It was only mid-day and there was no reason, even with the slow-moving wagon, that they would not reach Laketon before dusk.

 

It was about five when they came across the road marker saying Laketon was only two miles ahead.  The landscape had become hilly, and large lakes could be seen the low-lying spaces between the rises.

 

They soon came to a wide side road which bore an emblem of a wheat sheath enclosed by a marquise’s crown.  It also bore the clear inscription “Lake House.”

 

Gwen was driving the wagon, and Andrea sat at her side.  Luke meanwhile was riding alongside of Uran on Gwen’s grey mare.   Andrea looked down at the small map her father had given her, and   after a moment’s hesitation, she said, “Here’s where we turn off,” pointing to the sign.

 

Gwen then turned down the road indicated, and others followed.

 

A large lake came into view, and on its shore was the foreboding edifice of a fortified manor-house.

 

“Are you sure this is the right place, Andi?” Gwen asked.

 

“I think so,” Andrea replied.  “It’s the right place on the map.”

 

The huge structure with its bleak walls and commanding location looked nothing like one would expect to be the home of an invalided Watchman.

 

The party hesitantly made their way to a porter’s gate which was adorned with the same wheat sheath crest.  The party halted and Andrea climbed down and approached the porter’s chamber.

 

“I, um – I am looking for Toby Barn’s house,” she said nervously.

 

“You have founded it,” the old retainer said.  “Are you Mistress Binman?”

 

“I am – Andrea Binman,” Andi replied uncertainly.

 

“His Lordship has been expecting you,” the servant said, and giving a nod towards an unseen colleague, the gates to the manor began to swing open.

 

The Fifth Marquise of Farmington, Toby Barns had been born the son of a mere farm laboured.  Years before he had travelled to the capitol to prove himself worthy of the hand of the Farmington mayor’s niece, Breeze Fairweather.   Her uncle and guardian, Horace Foddervendor, was a rich seed merchant, and powerful regional politician.  When the third marquise had died without an heir, Foddervendor had been elevated to the role.

 

Now some fifteen years later, the former Roseman having won the hand of the now Lady Breeze, had inherited the title.

 

The party were lead into the manor house by a footman, while servants tended to their wagon and mounts.  They stood in an entry hall, which was richly panelled, and staircases rose on either side of the reception area lined with portraits and suits of armour.

 

Soon a man of about forty-five came down the right hand stairway.  He was wearing green satin suit, richly embroidered in silver thread.  His empty left sleeve was pinned across his chest, and he wore the Silver Rose Medal of valour as a medallion around his neck.

 

“Andrea,” he said walking straight for Andi.  “It is so good to meet you,” he said leaning to give her a kiss on the cheek.

 

Andrea gave a nervous curtsy, and the expression on her face betrayed her confusion.

 

“Don’t be so alarmed,” Toby said, “It was easy to pick you out. You look just like your mother.”

 

Thanks loads, she thought, but then considering that her mother was considered quite a beauty when she was younger, she smiled and said “Thank you.”

 

An attractive woman dressed in a similar satin material, had come down the other stairway, and now stood beside her husband.

 

Andrea gave her a curtsy, as the attractive Lady Breeze asked, “And, who are your companions?”

 

Introductions were made and Lady Breeze pointed to the left hand stairway.  “Welcome to our home.  Please come in.”

 

Padre

 

Castle #writephoto

 

The Bullies: A Cousins Tale (excerpt)

Image result for bullies

image Star2.com

One day as Antony Sweep and his friend Tom Carter were taunting the fourteen-year-old Wai Yen, his father Seymour de Klod, hero of the Dunes Wars happened to be passing through the marketplace, and overheard them.

“Look, it’s Wayne the grandson of the mighty One-Fun-Duck,” the Carter boy taunted.

“Please don’t slay us,” Antony said falling to his knees as if making supplication.

Just then the huge warrior planted his feet firmly in front of the prostrated lad.

“That’s right, Son,” the hero said in a deep booming voice. “These lads haven’t done anything to deserve harm at your hands.”

Antony looked up and gazed at the huge battle-scarred arms of the warrior, and then up into his cold eyes which showed no sign of sarcasm.

Carter had fallen silent, and Sweep gulped dryly at the man’s words.

“Wayne, you head home and help your mother in the kitchen.”

Wai Yen turned and headed home without a word.

“Do you know who I am, Lad?” Seymour asked Sweep.

“You – you’re Seymour de Klod,” the boy squeaked.

“That’s right, the owner of the Two Axes, Seymour said with no sign of arrogance.

“Now do you think, that I would marry a woman that wasn’t special?” Seymour asked.

Both boys croaked replies to the negative.

“And do you think that the son of such a woman, would be any less special?”

“No Sir,” they both whimpered thoughtfully.

“That’s right,” Seymour said.  “All of her family are amazing.  Now you get along,” he urged.

Both boys sprinted from the market place.

She is amazing, Seymour mused, the best washer-woman in the entire city, if you ask me.

Padre

Ceremony

 

friendship

The party assembled the in dim light of the new day, in the stable-yard of the Two Axes. A wagon had been loaded with supplies, and Luke stood next to it checking the harnesses of the two mules, as Gwen tied the leads of a grey mare to the back.   Seven other horses were saddled and most of which were also burdened with extra provisions.

 

Wai Yen then called the others to come together in a circle.

 

Around him gathered his cousins: Gwen, Omar, Bryana, and the twins Arun and Uran.  Next to Uran stood their Aunt Maya.  Gwen was flanked on either side by her boyfriend Luke, and her best friend Andrea.

 

“I know it might seem silly, but before we set off, can we have a little ceremony for good luck?” he said.

 

“What kind of ceremony?” Bryana asked.

 

“I was thinking we could, maybe all hold hands and recite a poem I wrote.  It is in the Sea Lands style.”

 

“Why not?” Gwen said and stuck her hand into the middle of the circle, and Aunt Maya and Omar followed their lead.  Soon all nine companions overlaid their hands in the centre of the ring.  They then all repeated the pledge after Wai Yen:

 

 

In fellowship bound,

In friendship and purpose tied,

“Family” always!

 

Padre

 

I am aware that this piece is not strictly speaking a “classical” haibun as it is based on a fictional story.  The haiku is in the classical form, and stands on its own I think as an expression of friendship.  I am thankful to Chèvrefeuille for the prompt as it gave me material to make my latest writing project richer.

The Vision Quest: A Cousins Tale

 

chad-michael-ward-photography-fine-art-amanda-jones-flower-crown-02

Image: Chad Michael Ward

Ajda, the daughter of the sorcerer, Omar bin Omar sat in front of a round, gold inlaid table.  The surface was highly polished, and the reflection of the regent looked menacingly up from the dark wood.

The regent sat in the chair opposite her, and gave an impatient sigh.

“Let’s get on with it,” Yaqub demanded.

“The blood, My Lord,” she said softly but with chilling power.

“Yes, yes,” the man said, and then picked up the black needle which was one of the only two item on the table.  He then pricked his finger and an allowed a few drops of blood to drip onto the small onyx disk on the table.   The disk was one of the original pupils of the famed bust of Razuli the Second, and it was imbued with great power.

As the droplets fell they began the steam and boil upon the disk.

Across from the regent the young sorceress began the shiver and then to spasm.  She closed her eyes, and she seemed to become two superimposed likenesses of herself, her spirit self being freed from her bodily confines, yet still connected.

Speak!” Prince Yaqub ordered.

A voice emanated from Ajda’s spirit-self.  It was cold and hollow.

“Do not make demands on that you cannot control, Mighty Prince,” the spirit voice said, with an emphasis of sarcasm put upon the word mighty.

“Tell me – please,” Yaqub said in a more conciliatory tone, “does my brother still live?”

“He does, but he his trapped within his own mind, a coma the physicians call it,” the voice said coldly.

“Will he live?”

“That is dependent on many things, and it is too early to tell.  There also seems to be a green mist hanging before his fate which veils my view,” the spirit replied.

“What of my order’s to eliminate the chamberlain’s family?”

“They are being followed, though the daughter’s future seems to be hidden by the green mist,” the cold voice said.

“And the son?” the regent asked.

“Even now the son is preparing to take his own life to protect his sister,” Ajda’s voice said.

“Good,” the prince said in a satisfied tone.

“It may well be,” the voice said. “However, I see the man’s death bringing about a storm of fury.”

“A storm?” the regent asked.

“War!” the spirit Ajda said.  “A one-eyed man, he will distrust the stories of the the death of the Sultan, and the poisoning of his son.”

“Which one-eyed man?” Yaqub demanded, growing angry.

“I see the northern mountains. . . ” the spirit began, then Ajda’s physical body screamed, and the spirit form disappeared.

Yaqub jumped to his feet, “What happened?” he snapped.

“A green mist came flowing over the mountains, and my spirit’s burned and became blind,” she said, her physical eyes bloodshot and watering.

Yaqub felt a momentary panic, then composing himself resumed his usual arrogant manner.  He turned and left the chamber tossing a gold coin onto the table as he departed.

Padre

 

Photo Challenge #271

Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: Speak

Memento: A Cousins Tale

Treasure Map, Map, Old, Paper, Parchment, Antique

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

For much of his childhood Wayne had accompanied his father, Seymour, on the weekly rounds to the Alleys and High Guilds laundries to safely take the weekly profits to Aunt Gwendolyn’s vault in the Parliament Square premises.  Though the purpose of their visits was well known in the seedy Alleys District, only once did a fool hearty would-be thief attempt to rob the huge warrior.  “Would-be thief” is an apt description, for now the man has a regular spot on the corner of Low Guilds where he shakes his cup to passers-by, the eleven breaks to the bones of his legs never quite healing properly.

In recent times, Wayne had begun to occasionally make the rounds on his own.  This was one of those occasions.  His mother, Honey was still uncomfortable with the young man making these solo visits, so had insisted that the day and time of the collections be varied.

Wayne had protested that the precaution was unnecessary, as he had total confidence in his own skills.  But mothers being mothers, he relented.  Because of this “arrangement” Wayne arrived at the Alleys not long after the Friday opening.

His “Auntie Thyme’s” daughters, Rosemary and Saffron were just bringing the huge wash cauldrons to the boil as he arrived.  Both teenagers gave him a smile through the steam as he entered.

“Good morning, Wai Yen,” Saffron said drying her hands and going to join him at the counter.

“Morning Saffy,” he said giving her a peck on the cheek. “Is the bag ready yet?”

“No, Mother’s getting it ready now,” the girl replied.  “You can go on back if you like.”

Wayne moved around the counter, and stopping to give Rosie a kiss, then moved on to the back rooms.  In all his visits to the “original” wash house, he had never been in the back rooms before.

As he entered the central “office space” he saw Thyme stacking copper coins in neat piles and counting them before raking them into the leather satchel.  She was sitting at a table that was too large for the task at hand, it having once been his Aunt Thilde’s work bench for fletching arrows.

“Wai Yen, dear,” she said looking up. “You’re early.”

“Mum, insisted,” he said with a sigh.

“I will only be a few minutes,” Thyme said, returning to her count.

Wayne wandered about the small space, and then noticed a framed piece of parchment hanging between the doors of the two sleeping chambers.  He leaned close to inspect it, to discover it was a map of the south of the kingdom, and of the old disputed lands.  It was keyed and annotated in two languages, and bore an impressive seal of a Ralulee sultan.

“Is this THE map?” the young man asked excitedly.

“Yes.  Your Aunt Gwendolyn put it there.  She said she was ‘Saving it for a rainy day’.”

“May I take it with me?” he asked.

“Well . . .” Thyme began.

“I am on my way to see her, and I promise to take it straight to her,” he interrupted excitedly.

“In that case, I guess it might be alright.”

As soon as Thyme sealed the money bag, Wayne took the map from the wall and grabbing the leather bag and rushed from the wash house, hesitating only for a moment as reached the front door and called out, “Love you,” over his shoulder.

 

Padre

Sunday Writing Prompt “Idioms”Saving it for a rainy day

Under The Bridge: A Cousins Tale

After several hours Uran and Arun left the protection of the willow boughs.

“Do you have any idea where we are?” Uran asked.

“We traveled downstream so we need to go back up against the flow,” her brother said.

“I’m not stupid.  I was asking if you knew where we were, not how to get back.”

“Then, no,” he admitted.

“It is lush here, I would love to stay,” she said looking around, “but we need to get to the city.”

“Come on then,” he said.

The pair followed the bank upstream for about a quarter of an hour and then saw what seemed to be the tributary they had joined the main river course from on the opposite bank.

“Okay, ready to swim over to the other side, and follow the stream back to the road?” Arun asked.

“You aren’t doing you best today, are you?” his sister taunted.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“First of all, if we follow the stream back to the road, we will come out at exactly the place the robbers tried to ambush us in the first place.  Secondly, if you opened your eyes you can see that the river gets narrower up ahead and – oh shock of shocks – there is a bridge crossing over to the other side.  So why swim?”

“Fair enough,” he conceded.  “But if you are right about the robbers still being around somewhere, we need to be careful near that bridge.”

The Elves pulled the hoods of their fish-scale cloaks over their heads and continued up the bank towards the bridge, letting the glittering of the rushing waters reflect off of them, breaking up their outlines as they advanced.

When they were nearly to the structure Arun nocked an arrow in order to cover Uran as she darted under the bridge.  She cautiously glanced up at the span to see if anyone was on it.  No one was there.

It was then that she noticed a corroded copper talisman nailed to the stones of the bridges arch.  It was difficult to make out what was moulded into the metal, and the long greenish-blue streaks running down the stonework from it indicated that it had been there for some time.  She drew her curved knife and pried the disk from the stone.  She then signaled Arun to join her.

When he arrived, he showed the piece to him.  He reached into his travel sack and took out a small vial of vinegar and dipped a piece of bandage in it.  He then rubbed the medallion and the green corrosion began to melt away.  After a short while, a set of runes became clear on its face.

“It’s an Ogre charm,” Arun said.  “I think it was put here to keep the beasts from settling under the span and waylaying travelers.”

“Should we put it back then?” his sister asked.

“I don’t think there has been an Ogre around this district for a century or more,” he said.

“It must work then,” Uran said teasingly.  Then is a more serious tone she asked, “Should be take it with us?  It could be useful when we get into the mountains.”

“We better put it back though – just in case,” Arun said after some consideration.

The twins found the bent nail that Uran had removed and hammered the disk back into place with a rock and then climbed up and crossed the bridge.

Later that autumn, a large Ogre came lumbering through the nearby wood.  Seeing the bridge, it made a beeline for its shadowy arch.  The beast stopped suddenly and sniffed the air.  Sniffing again, it let out a roar, and then reversed direction, and returned to the forest.

 

Padre

Thursday photo prompt: Span #writephoto

 

 

The Wailing: A Cousins Tale

 

Jaffa, Night, Israel, Architecture

image: Pixabay

There was a disturbance somewhere on Grope Lane.  The proprietors of several of the licensed premises had complained of an eerie wailing which was putting off their customers.  Roseman Bryan Fuller went to Easy Virtue House to investigate the complaint.

“It’s coming from down Welcome Alley,” the buxom Madame Fantasia said. “You should see to it right away.  It is a dreadful racket.”

The constable made his way to the alley, and as he neared it, there was indeed a terrible hollow wail that seemed to echo in a deep unworldly tone.  It sent shivers up his spine despite of all that he had seen in his many years in the Watch.  Whatever it was, it was not anything he had come across before.

He drew his truncheon and tightened his belt before rounding the corner.

Though Welcome Alley was usually fairly busy at this time of the evening with several free-lance or semi-retired “ladies” plying their trade there, Fuller found it abandoned.  The usual mix detritus common to the backstreets of the Alleys District filled his nostrils with unpleasant sensations, but he continued into the dark passage anyway.

The wailing became louder, and echoed the more as he approached a disused well at the centre of the litter strewn passage.  From it came the sound, sending new waves of chill up his back.  When he reached it, he noticed that a new length of rope had been put onto the beam.  He returned his truncheon to his belt, and then began to crank the mechanism upwards.

As the rope shortened the eerie wail, echoed less and became easily identifiable as the crying of a new born infant.  As the bucket came into view, Fuller could see the naked form of a baby girl in it, the cord and afterbirth still attached.   The child’s mother had presumably tried to drown the babe, but the bucket had floated or come to rest on the amassed rubbish at the well-bottom.

Fuller retrieved the child and carefully wrapper her in his cloak.  He then headed straight to Breena Bright’s new hospital.

He was surprised when found one of the attendants standing at the door, as if waiting for his arrival.  At this hour even this haven of hope in the dark district should have been barred from within.

“Come in Constable,” the attendant said.  “The Prophetess said to expect you.”

As he stepped in another nurse approached him with a clean white blanket, and took the baby from his strong embrace.

“Miss Bright would like to see you,” the first attendant said. “Please follow me.”

Constable Fuller followed her into an office in which “the Prophetess” was sat whispering to some unseen auditor.

“Ah, Senior Constable,” she said looking up.  “I trust that you were not too traumatised by your discovery.”

“Well – I um,” he began. “No matter, it’s all seemed to have worked out now,” he said.  “But tell me, what will happen to the little thing?” he asked with a clear concern.

“She will be checked over, and then sent to one of our orphanages,” Breena said. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, I kind of, you know – feel responsible,” he said looking down at his boots.

Breena fell into a kind of trance, and then said as if to someone else, “Fascinating, I shall.”

“What?” the Roseman asked with obvious confusion.

“Constable, what is your name?” Breena asked.

“Senior Constable Fuller, Ma’am,” he said.

“No, your given name,” the healer corrected.

“Bryan,” he replied.

“Well Bryan, there has been a change of plans.  Little Bryana will be staying here with me.  You may visit her whenever you would like.”

Fuller didn’t know exactly why, but the announcement sent a warm feeling through his entire being.

“Now Senior Constable Bryan Fuller, if you don’t need anything else from us tonight, I am sure you have duties to attend to.”

 

Padre

 

The Meal: A Cousins Tale

Meats, Gourmet Food, Power, Food, Lunch, Dish, Roast

Pixabay

The rumour had been correct.  In the face of certain defeat the prince had donned the clothing of a palace gardener, and quit the besieged fortress with the last of the civilian refugees, before the final assault came.

The gamble had paid off, but at a huge cost to his followers.   Yosef Bak, a leader of much repute, had been ordered to make a sortie and cause as much disruption as possible.  It had been a suicide mission for Bak and his eighty men, but it allowed for the “civilians” to flee through the tunnels before the besieger’s lines could be consolidated again.

The prince’s sycophantic general had then dressed in the ruler’s silk robes and stood upon the battlements for the approaching army to see.  These twin distractions had been sufficient for the despot to make good his escape.

The fugitive prince made his way to the port of Al Bahr where he changed into clothing more in keeping with his station, and purchased passage on a Far-Landian vessel bound for the Hangse.  He looked contemptuously at the high cheek-boned sailors with their long black pig-tails.  So great was his disgust at these men that he failed to notice the one young man with close cropped black hair in the kingdom style, working high in the rigging.

The ship left its moorings an hour later, and the deposed ruler began to relax.

After another hour, he went to the cabin door and unlatched it.  He opened it just enough to call out to a passing crewman, that he wanted something to eat.  He then re-latched the door and waited.

Ten minutes later, there was a quiet rapping upon his door.

“Who is it?” the prince enquired.

“It is your food, sir,” said a voice from beyond.

The prince removed the latch and cracked the door open.  A young Farlander stood outside bearing a tray and a flagon of wine.

“Enter quickly,” the prince ordered.

The young man stepped in and placed the tray on the table next to the cabin’s bed.  He then turned to leave.

“Wait,” the fugitive demanded.

“Yes sir,” the man said halting.

“Pour a glass of wine, and have some.”

The short-haired Farlander obeyed, and swallowed the entire glass full in a single gulp.

“Good – good,” the prince said absently. “Now would you mind trying some of the beef?”

The young man reached down and began to carve some of the meat with the knife and fork from the tray.

“That will be enough,” the prince said. “Now a taste please, and be sure to lay that knife aside.”

The man took a portion of the cut beef onto the fork and dipped it into some gravy, then popped it into his mouth chewing slowly.  He gave a nod to indicate that it was tasty, and then swallowed.

Then quick as lightening, the Farlander slung the fork in a spinning arch and it embedded in the throat of the prince.

The prince grabbed his throat as the blood bubbled through his fingers, and then collapsed onto the floor of his cabin.

The ninja, picked the knife off of the tray and continued to cut himself pieces of beef, which he then put into his mouth on the end of the knife blade.  When he finished the meal, he poured himself another glass of wine, and then departed the cabin, making sure the latch clicked behind him.

Padre

Escape

Image result for willow overhanging river

Arun and his twin sister Uran splashed through the shallows, being sure to keep moving downstream.  The current carried away the silt they disrupted, and they seemed to have lost the party of thieves that had attempted to waylay them on the forest road.

The robber’s hounds could still be heard baying in the distance, and the pair of Sea-elves were trusting in their fish scale sequined cloaks to reflect the moving water and obscure their silhouettes.

They had been on the way to visit their Aunt Thilde in the capital when they were ambushed by the bandits.  Being expert archers they were able to kill or disable three of their assailants and to make a break into the woods.

It had been far from a sure escape at first, but when they happened onto the large stream they had more hope.  Being of the Sea Clan, water was their element.  They quickly changed course to take advantage of the waterway.   Their pursuers slowed at the prospect of wading into the water, and this allowed the Elves to increase the gap.  When the stream merged with a larger flow, they dove and let the current carry them.

They emerged on the far side of the river, and began their downstream course.  There before them was the first place that seemed to offer cover and concealment.  They climbed to the shore into the overhanging boughs of the weeping trees.

They sat silently, and waited.  All they could hear now was the wind in the willows. They were safe.

 

Padre

Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: The Wind in the Willows

Funeral: A Cousin’s Tale

Image result for golden coffin

The priest stood before the assembled dignitaries who were gathered around the golden casket.

“The Great Razuli was a man of vision,” the cleric eulogised. “In his reign we have prospered and regained the true pride of the Ralulee.  Our armies have once again occupied the northern frontiers, and our vessels move freely upon the seas as far as the Spice Islands.  Yet, he was a man of philanthropy and kindness.   Hospitals now grace all of our major towns, and the oases throughout the realm are improved with pumps and troughs for travellers and their beasts.  Surely Razuli the Eighth will be remembered to be as great as his fore-bearer Razuli the Second, the Magnificant.”

In fact, Razuli the Eighth had been a hard man.  The occupation of the north was a fool-hardy move which risked war with the Kingdom, a war that the Ral could ill afford.  As for his philanthropy, this too was more to do with his personal ambition than a concern for his people.  The hospitals would provide care for his wounded in case of war, or as the consequences of his increased slave raids and incursions into the Green Lands.  The fortified oases, as well, provided reliable water supplies for his armies as they crossed his lands along the newly engineered roadways.  But none dared mention these facts, especially in the presence of Razuli the Ninth and his cold, arrogant younger brother, Yaqub.

Instead, all of the nobles shook their heads in agreement, and their wives gave loud wails to show their anguish of his untimely passing.

Little did any of them know, that the forty-eight year old Sultan, had died at his younger son’s own hand, and that his heir was hardly the man to seek vengeance on any who spoke ill of his father.  Yaqub was too uncaring act, and Razuli too weak to care.

 

Padre

 

Tale Weaver – #230 – Eulogy