Picture it Write: Darkest Chains

This is my entry into the Picture it and Write creative writing challenge hosted by the authors of Ermiliablog.

Photo Prompt

Photo Prompt

Darkest Chains

“Don’t dawdle, girl.”

Lady Aehtia swept into the citadel with barely a glance at the guards standing sentinel, her presence unquestioned. Lytle hurried in her wake. No matter how much she wished to give warning about the monster in their midst, dawdling was not an option.

The ties binding her might be invisible but she felt their presence from the moment she was awakened until she was finally permitted to sleep. Her every action was controlled by the tangled network of coercions and compulsions upon her. She ate, drank and relieved herself only when ordered, her voice forced into silence and her long days filled with whichever tasks Lady Aehtia deemed necessary.

Only her thoughts remained free and they were mired in darkness.

Memories of better times merely heightened the misery of her current existence: her parents’ love, her sweetheart’s caress, laughter, pleasure and happiness – all seemed like a distant dream. Choice was an alien concept. Her mistress’s enchantments made sure of that.

As she followed Lady Aehtia into her chambers, Lytle couldn’t help but imagine the joy she’d feel driving a dagger into the other woman’s back. It was a futile fantasy but one she returned to often. It wouldn’t even be the first blood to stain her hands.

“Tonight you’ll wear the green dress,” her mistress ordered. “Lord Dryhten has a fondness for red-heads. You’ll seduce him.” Her smile was chilling as she looked at her puppet. “And then you’ll kill him.”

Lytle had no option but to obey

Word Count: 250pictureitandwrite2copy-1

One-Four Challenge: September Week Four

It’s time for the final September edit of Robyn’s One Four Challenge.  I can hardly believe it’s week four already – this month has flown by! For this week I wanted to create a soft look of an impressionistic painting for the image.

Week Four Edit

Week Four Edit

This week’s edit was actually the first one I created, as soon as I started playing around with the image. Because of this, I’m not 100% certain of all of the steps I took, although I did note down a few of them.

As far as I can remember, this is what I did.

In camera raw:
Reduced shadows and blacks.
Increasde clarity to 100.
Increased vibrancy to 75.
Increased luminance to 100.
Reduced luminance detail to 25.

In photoshop:
Added accented edges brush strokes with an edge width of 4, edge brightness of 26 and a smoothness of 3.
Selected and brightened the sea by increasing the saturation.

In FotoSketcher:
Added a canvas texture.

Before putting up the post today I’ve had another play around with the image, giving the impressionistic painting a sunset colouring using gradient maps and photo filters. I also slightly darkened the shadows and blacks.  

Week Four Sunset

Week Four Sunset

I’d love to know which edit people like best, so please leave your vote on the poll below.

Here all the edits together for comparison:

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Cee’s Black and White Challenge: Perspective

This post is in response to Cee’s Black and White Challenge. This week’s theme is, Perspective. And here are my photos:

A little while ago I was wandering along the lanes around the village when I discovered a piece of farm equipment, unhitched at the edge of a field. I think it might be a disk harrow but my knowledge of farm equipment is very limited, so I may well be wrong! Usually when I’m photographing things like this they’re attached to a tractor at work in a field. I couldn’t resist snapping a few shots of it from some different perspectives.

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The pictures were all taken at the time when my  camera was out of use (it’s  so good to have it back and working again!) so these were taken on my phone, a Samsung Galaxy S4. I spent quite a bit longer editing them than I’d intended. You can probably tell that I’m quite liking the grunge filter at the moment…

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FFfAW: Delicate Brushstrokes

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt was provided by Graham Lawrence. Thank you, Graham. The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the picture prompt below. I hope you like it.

Photo Prompt: © Graham Lawrence

Photo Prompt: © Graham Lawrence

Delicate Brushstrokes

“Elsie?” Frances’ tremulous voice broke through Elsie’s absorption. She turned to face her friend, blinking in the early afternoon light as she tore her gaze from her painting.

“Hmm?” she replied absently. Hadn’t it just been morning…? Her sluggish thoughts meandered as if she was emerging from the depths of sleep.

“This… I don’t remember painting this. Why did I paint this?”

“What?”

“This!” Frances lifted her board. Rather than the other woman’s usual bold flowers two fairies danced upon the stretched paper, elegant forms captured in delicate brushstrokes. “And look.” She pointed at Elsie’s own picture.

Tiny winged figures peeked from behind vibrant blooms. Elsie stared in shock. She hadn’t painted fairies since she was a child! Whilst she’d always been able to lose herself for hours as she painted, this – this was different. She couldn’t remember a single moment of it.

As they packed away their paints and easels Elsie couldn’t resist peering into the flowerbeds, hoping to catch a glimpse of… something.

A hint of tinkling laughter carried on the breeze.

Word Count: 175


I’m curious as to whether anyone has worked out the reason for the name choices this week… If you haven’t, follow this link!

I apologise to anyone whose posts I didn’t manage to get around to last week. I discovered a new author – Lindsay Buroker, who writes some great fantasy novels set in a steampunk world – and found it rather hard to stop reading! A week later and I’m  on book 6 of the series with several more still to read. Despite the urge to abandon my blog in order to bury my nose in a book, I will try to visit everyone this week.

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One-Four Challenge: September Week Three

It’s time for the third September edit of Robyn’s One Four Challenge.  This week’s edit is in response to Joanne’s suggestion that she’d like to see a black and white version of the image.

Week two edit

Week Three Edit

I again began by opening the original image in Camera Raw where I made these changes:

Temperature: +20
Contrast: -100
Highlights: -19
Shadows: -78
Whites: +21
Blacks: -8
Clarity: +100
Luminance: 40
Luminance detail: 45

I then opened it in Photoshop Elements 13 where I cropped it and added the black and white gradient map.  I also used the blur tool on a light strength setting to smooth out some of the pixelation, which was quite severe in places. I thought at first this was due to the high clarity but after reopening the original I realised it was actually present from the beginning.

I also had a little play around with the image in FotoSketcher, adding an aged look, but decided in the end that I preferred the non-distressed version. I thought I’d share the distressed version with you as well.

week 3.2_FotoSketcher

Week Three Distressed

Personally, whilst I love black and white, I miss the colour in this image and look forward to its return next week.

Here all the edits together for comparison:

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FFfAW: Standpoint

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt was provided by Scott of Scott’s Place. Thank you, Scott  The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the picture prompt below. I hope you like it.

Photo Prompt: © David William Laughlin

Photo Prompt: © David William Laughlin

Standpoint

“It’s just not right.” Steall idly scratched Noble’s neck as the horse head-butted his chest. He barely noticed the rain drenching him – troubled thoughts consumed his attention.

His only task was to look after the troop’s mounts. Overhearing the knights as they talked around their campfires and in the taprooms of roadside inns was an unpleasant extra. The casual cruelty they showed him was nothing compared to the stories they laughed over, making his stomach churn in horrified disgust.

He could listen no longer.

Those were his people they found pleasure in abusing; people with lives and families of their own. How dared they!

A chill blade pressing against his neck startled him alert. He froze as a voice whispered, “Don’t move, don’t shout and you won’t get hurt.”

Stealthy figures moved through the rain, weapons in hands as they surrounded the inn. Rebels, he realised – the very people the troop hunted.

“I’ll raise no alarm.” Steall relaxed as the knife lifted away. “I wish you every success.”

Their abuse would end tonight.

Word Count: 175


As you may know, I generally like to give my characters names with meanings that fit them. For a ‘real world’ story I’ll usually look through various baby name sites but when it’s a fantasy story I’ll often use Old English words. For today’s character I wanted to give him a name connected in some way to horses. When browsing the results in the Old English Translator I actually managed to find a word that worked on several levels, adding extra layers of meaning that perfectly fitted with the story I wanted to tell.  I thought I’d share these meanings with you:

steall Strong Masculine Noun
1. a standing position 2. the way matters stand position of affairs state condition standing se steall cirican the state of the church 3. position place standing 4. place stead brihtweald gehalgode tobian on his steall brightwald hallowed tobias in his stead 5. a place for cattle a stall stall (for cattle) stable 6. a place for catching fish fishing ground

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MftS: Silent Guardian

Here’s this week’s entry into Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, run by Barbara W. Beacham. This challenge gives you a picture prompt and the first line and asks that you finish the story in 100-150 words. The given line is in italics.

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

Photo Prompt: © 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

Silent Guardian

From her small balcony, the witch watched the world go by.

It was a peaceful life – the perfect escape from civilisation’s exhausting demands. Charms draped the house in jingling disorder, shielding it from her neighbours’ notice; others sewn into her clothes diverted their attention as she mingled with their crowds.

As much as she loved the quiet, she did have to admit to the occasional bout of loneliness. Her three hundred years of guardianship had stretched on in the long silence demanded but, at times, she longed to talk to… someone. Anyone.

Those times were rare, however.

As she watched the girl skip along the path – a path that had been familiar with her tread alone for centuries – she knew her peace was about to be shattered. She shivered, unsettled, as she faced the realisation that her duty neared its end. The universe had chosen her replacement.

Her long silence was finally over. She rose to her feet.

“Greetings, Child,” she said.

Word Count: 150

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To read other entries or to submit your own, click the little blue frog.

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