Let the Balefires Burn

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Of fireworks, bonfires, and Guys

While no one much cares what it all means

Its an excuse to light up the skies


For some its sparklers ’round barbecue grills

For others huge piles of pallets to light

The result is the same – full of pyromania thrill

As neighbourhood dogs* cower in fright


Remember, remember the fifth of November

Or some weekend there round about

A party’s a party, an opportunity to enjoy

A drink, a firework, a shout



Thursday photo prompt: Balefire #writephoto

Guy Fawkes Night/Bonfire Night (an explanation for non-Brits).

*Many people in England begin to set off fireworks a week or so before the actual night, and may continue to do so for a week or so afterwards.  Many dogs hate the noise, and it is a time of distress for them and their owners.


Old Fagin

Old Fagin was a sly old bird.  In his youth he had been a prince among thieves.  But now his eyes were dim, and his back and wings sore.  But as I have said, he was sly.  Rather than forage for himself, he had collected a group of young birds around him.  It was they who took the risks now, and in exchange for his tutelage and “protection,” they supplied his every need.

But how did an old magpie attract such a loyal following?  You see, Fagin unlike his fellow magpies did not eat the eggs or kill the young of smaller birds.  No, he took them to his perch and there nurtured them.  His retinue now consisted of twits, sparrows, and robins – each able to move unobtrusively as they robbed the nests and roosts of others.  None would see the coming of the harbinger of their misfortune.   I told you he was a sly old bird.


Thursday photo prompt: Harbinger #writephoto


Beyond the Lair


Autumn was returning and the long hibernation of the Dragonette had come to a close.  Her sleep had been interrupted this year.   For reasons still not fully understood by her, she had risen in August.  The brief foray up the stairs of her lair had caught her quite off guard. Too early! she had mused.  But it also was far to late to return to her slumber.  She had, therefore, spent the month silently pacing her lair – waiting,  just waiting.  How she hated those long sun-filled days, with the blinding light and hot, humid air.  But now, the days were getting shorter, and the air was beginning to become crisp at night.  Her time to emerge was nearly at hand.

As she awaited the sunset, she thought of all that was before her.  She would fly through the lengthening evening.   She would soar above the unsuspecting people below, her airborne form so nearly that of a bat in flight that she would be mistaken for such.  She would feel the cool breeze in her fur and the fresh air in her lungs.   October, how she longed for All Hallows Eve, and then her work could begin.  From then until March, she would prowl the nights breathing her icy frost breath – freezing puddles and icing window panes with the cold signature of her passing.

But for now the miniature frost dragon was poised for all that would come.


Thursday photo prompt: Poised #writephoto




Ildris and Hannon continued northwards.  Their orders were simple: cross the Great Nord River and then follow its feeder tributaries north seeking any sign of the Griffin Legion.  The Scout-Rangers knew this would be an arduous journey, and perhaps even a fool’s errand, but the orders had come from the king himself.  Seventy scouts travelling in pairs were sent north and fan out to follow all possible passages north.  Surely the Griffins could be contacted in this way.

The previous spring the Legion had set out on a grand expedition to stamp out the Nuar Raiders once hand for all.   Four thousand men commanded by General Neston had left the capital to the cheers of adoring crowds.  Everyone expected the raiders to be vanquished before the end of summer.   Why shouldn’t they?  Neston had never been defeated in battle, and the Nuar were no more than disorganised bands of barbarians.

A messenger had arrived in late May to announce that the Griffins had encountered a coalition of twenty bands, numbering nearly three thousand warriors.  The battle had been swift and decisive.  Within three hours the discipline and superior arms of the Legion had left over two thousand barbarians dead or dying.  Neston’s losses were fewer than two hundred.  The general pushed onwards in pursuit of the remnants of the coalition.

The last that was heard of the Legion was in mid-June, however.  A rider had arrived in the capital with reports for the king.  These indicated that the Griffins had crossed the Nufow River about a week after the battle with the coalition. This news was greeted cautiously as the Nufow was the furthest north that anyone from the kingdom had ever ventured.  It was so far north, in fact, that  it was flippantly referred to as the “No Flow,” by school boys seeing it on their maps at school.

Now Ildris and Hannon were following a frozen stream that had merged with the Nufow from the north.  The crossing of the watercourse proved easier than expected as it proved to be frozen for at least six months of the year.  Their crossing had been three days earlier, and the surrounding country was cold and bleak.

As the frozen creek they were following made an eastward turning, they were greeted with a poignant scene of devastation.  The surrounding flats were strewn with the shattered equipment, armour, and remains of the once noble Griffins.  At the centre of the grizzly scene were thirty posts on which the heads of the Legion’s officers had been impaled.  The head on the central post was encased in the horse plumed helmet of Neston.

The two scouts had found irrefutable proof of the Legion’s fate.  They respectfully removed the general’s helmet and buried the thirty officers’ heads.  Then with the helmet secured in oilcloth they began their melancholy journey southwards.




FOWC with Fandango — Irrefutable

Thursday photo prompt: Frozen #writephoto

Your Daily Word Prompt – Poignant – August 29, 2019

Deeper Understanding

The wizard led his most able student through the southern wood.  At last in the midst of a grove of ancient trees they came upon a mirror-like pool.  The magician opened his travelling bag and withdrew a horn cup.  He stooped down and drew some water and handed it to the lad to drink.

As the apprentice sipped the cool water, the mage said, “It is said that the pool is as deep as sea, though it has but little surface.  Drinking of these enchanted waters will allow those who know of them to see deep truths and have even deeper thoughts.”

“Master, if it is so deep, how does it reflect back so?” the boy questioned.

“Why would it not be so?” the wizard asked. “In a shallow pool you can see the stones on the bottom, and the fish darting about.  Can you not?”

“Yes, I suppose you can, ” the boy said, mentally conjuring such an image.

“And a piece of glass is transparent, but if painted on its back, does the darkness not cause it to become a mirror?” the magician coxed.

“Yes, it does,” the boy said. “I can see now that the water must be dark, but does that mean it is necessarily deep?”

The wizard again pulled a horn cup from his traveling bag and handed it to the lad. “Now draw some water from the pool.  Is it opaque or transparent?”

“It is clear.  But that alone does not indicate the pool’s depth,” the boy answered.

“How then might you determine the depth?” the wizard asked.

“I might tie a weight to the end of a rope, and then drop it into the waters to see how much rope it takes to meet the bottom,” the apprentice said thoughtfully.

“Do you have such a rope?” the magician challenged.

“No Master, I do not.”

“What else might you do then to answer your query?” the wise old man asked.

The boy thought for a moment, then without a word, he stepped into the pool and was submerged to his waist.

“It is only a few feet deep,” the boy said triumphantly.

“Did I not tell you that drinking from the pool would give you deep thoughts and insights?  Well done, Lad.”


Mirror #writephoto





The Shadow Man’s Journey


Some say he was a forest spirit, others that he was some the offspring of an Elf-maid and a Satyr.  Whatever the truth of the matter, one thing was true, no tree could be felled or deer hunted in his realm.

The woods that he called his home were deep and virgin.  The animals thrived and woodlands flourished.  Even the fields and meadows surrounding his forest were blessed by his presence.

For over eleven hundred years, tells of strange interventions in behalf of the woods had been related by foresters and woodsmen, but few were the actual sightings of the dark, lank figure.

Then suddenly in 2019 of the Common Era, a tall shadowy figure emerged from the wood.  With a staff in hand he strode through field and dale, his destination – London.  The ice caps were melting, plastics filled the seas, and politicians of a certain ilk continued to deny it was happening.

Soon they, like the ill-fated woodward, Gilbert Forrester who felled a tree in the Shadow’s forest back in 1120,  would know the wrath of the Shadow Man.


Thursday photo prompt: Journey #writephoto

Destination Destiny

The battle had been ferocious.  It had started out well enough, and Hannon and his comrades were advancing on both the centre and the right.  Then suddenly the Rathians let loose with catapults, and barrels of melted tar crashed down upon the advancing men.  Some were killed outright, but before anyone could truly react, a rain of flaming arrows showered down from the battlements.  Hannon could vaguely remember men running about in flame and the total disarray of his once great legion.

He awoke to darkness.   In the distance a few dying flames could be observed, but near him all was silent.  He arose and began staggering through the dark towards the direction the army had come.  Home was all that was on his mind.  He stumbled upon the fallen a few times, but then found the ground to be flatter, and easier to travel than he had remembered.

As morning broke, he found himself on a wide smooth path which led through green grass and majestic oaks.  How odd, he thought.  Where is the desert they crossed to reach the besieged city?

Ahead of him he could make out a mist or fog covering the pathway.   He could just make out the image of a helmeted man wearing the red cape of his legion entering the fog.

Stepping up his pace, Hannon entered the mist.




Thursday photo prompt: Destination #writephoto

Reposting by Tygpress.com not authorised.


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.”




Castle #writephoto


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.



Thursday photo prompt: Span #writephoto



Miscellaneous Prompted Micro-Poetry 8


Go left for North or right for South –
Or turn back West from which you came –
Straight ahead to be “outstanding in your field”-
Or of course you can just at the crossroads remain

Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo Decisions #writephoto 17 May 19


Spire reaching skyward-
Faith to Direct –
Arms opened wide – Energies to collect

Three Line Tales, Week 172  16 May 2019

Greenish bristles upon a purple frame –
Minty paste soon to spread –
A pearly smile to bring – free of every stain

TLT Throwback – Year 3: Twenty 16 May 19


A Globe Warmed

Ceramic soil, cracked and split –
Long unaccustomed to the kiss of rain –
Crops lay ruined in fallen rows –
Like those on a battlefield slain

Nature, she can be so cruel –
Her wrath shall be our bane –
Is this the cost for all of us,
Because of a few’s economic gain?

Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company!: Draught 17 May 19