This post if for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. This week’s picture was provided by Dawn M. Miller. The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the photo prompt below. I hope you all like it.
Genre: Historical – Neolithic Britain
He led the procession in the pre-dawn haze as a drum sounded a heartbeat. They gathered to appease the gods. Long winters and wet summers produced poor harvests and starvation. The toll had been high. Rites had begun at sunset, potent food and drink consumed beneath the full moon. Conclusion would be reached with the dawn.
As king, his role was vital.
His chant began at the water’s edge, as the sun broached the horizon. The more names spoken before the whole orb appeared, the more gods appeased:
“Dyēus, Sky Father;
Plethwih, Lady of Broad Lands.”
He spread his arms in supplication as offerings were tossed into the water.
“Perkwunos, Lord of Thunder -”
The blade sliding deep into his back caused him to scream, even through the drugged haze – halting his chant. He forced himself to continue.
“Welnos, Protector of Crops…”
The rope settled around his neck and pulled tight. He choked the final words.
The head-blow toppled him into the water. As the sun lifted fully into view the gods claimed their prize.
Word Count: 175
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I apologise for the darkness of this one but as soon as I saw the pond picture this story came into my head. I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with bog bodies. I imagine my ancient king became one of them.
The names of the gods are those projected by Proto-Indo-European, a linguistic reconstruction of a period of which little is known. Both the language and the religion are things I’ve researched on and off over the years for my Wildwood stories. I watched a documentary recently (unfortunately I can’t remember which one) that suggested the sacrificed men may well have been ancient kings – the greatest sacrifice they could offer their gods when they truly needed appeasing.