A Letter from the Past

Pictures on Table.jpg

A Letter from the Past

Emmaline hummed softly as she lifted the bundle of pages from the shelf, instinctively weaving magic to ensure the fragile sheets remained intact as she transferred them to the desk. Dust puthered in the air. She turned her face into her cowl, avoiding breathing in the muck with practiced ease. The archive had been neglected for far too long. Many of the documents within were threatening disintegration, whilst others had faded beyond legibility. It was a situation that put her talents to good use.

Even before she’d lost Raen, she’d been fascinated by the historical records that mouldered within the dimly-lit rooms. After her husband’s disappearance she’d allowed her work to consume her days – leaving only when her eyes grew too weary to read and her mind too weary for thought.

With deft movements, and a few more woven spells, she opened the bundle and spread the pages before her. Only to stop, confused, by the array of life-like images revealed. She frowned. That couldn’t be right. From the condition of the items, and the appearances of the captured people within them, she’d have said they were hundreds of years old. But as far as she knew, the magical weaving used to create such images had only recently been developed. Her husband’s friend, Hendin, had spent over a decade developing the pattern for such captures. She’d never heard of anything similar existing in the past.

One page, covered in writing, stood out from the others. She lifted it free, curious to discover whether an explanation was contained within the faded text. It was possible, she supposed, that another person might have developed such a weaving, only for it to be lost to history. And if they had, then any pictures they’d captured would be invaluable sources of historical information.

The last thing she expected to see was a letter addressed to herself, written in a familiar, elegant script. Her hands began to shake. She dropped the page back to the desk, staring in breathless shock. She’d long since given up hope of ever seeing that handwriting again.

“Raen,” she breathed. Tears filled her eyes as she ran trembling fingers over the sheet. How could this be…? She bit her lip, blinking away tears, and began to read.

My dearest Emmaline,

I can only pray that this letter is someday reaching you, and that I have not been absent from your life for too long. My circumstances at present are unusual to say the least. My intention is to place this missive, and an accompanying set of captured images, within the city archive, as I know that your recent studies have led you to shelves there that have been untouched for centuries. If fortune smiles upon me, no other hands will touch these papers between them leaving mine and reaching yours.

Fortune, however, has not been smiling upon me of late.

As you know, my own studies have been in the development of weavings through which we might observe the history of our land. My intention was to simply observe reflections of events upon the mirror glass. If only that was all I achieved. Somehow I have managed to transfer myself into the very history that I wished to observe. Unfortunately I am not entirely certain as to the exact time I am in. Nor do I know how to make my way home. I have already tried to recreate in reverse the weaving that led to my current circumstance. I have not yet been successful, though I will endeavour to continue my efforts.

My darling, I can only wonder how long it has taken you to find these pages. For myself, I have been here for a span of mere hours, but I know only too well that days, weeks, months, maybe even years, might have passed since I vanished from your life. If you have ever cared for me as deeply as I care for you, I pray that you take the images I’ve captured to Professor Kalaen, as well as to anyone else you know of who might be able to help. Kalaen’s research has always followed along similar lines to mine. I’m certain he will not have hesitated to make use of my notes in my absence. If anyone can work out how I moved through time, it will be him. I am hopeful that if you can pinpoint the exact date I am in, a way could be found to bring me home.

The images I have captured are views of the people I have seen around me today. Hendin will be pleased to know that his technique works, though I’m not certain as to how the pictures will survive the passage of years. I know that I am at least five, possibly six or seven, centuries prior to our own time. The University has not yet been built. I would guess that the language being spoken is Old Ilraian. There is little influence of the Jakrian tongue, which also places me before the Imperial Conquest. This is not a time period I have studied in any depth. I am currently hoping that you know of at least one person within the University with the knowledge to discover the exact date from the images.

I place my fate within your hands, my love,

Eternally yours,

Raen Ki Masrah

Emmaline dropped the page back to the table, her hand lifting to cover her mouth as shock and hope warred in her. For over nearly seven years she had wondered. Was he dead? Had he left her for another? No trace of him had ever been found. No explanation for his disappearance. Now…

Now the possibility that she could maybe see him again was more than she could stand.

Excitement thrummed through her, setting her pulse racing as she gathered the pages and hurried out if the archive. Raen had suggested she find Professor Kalaen. She didn’t plan to waste another minute before doing so.

TBC

This story was originally intended to be just a short piece of flash, simply an accompaniment to the pictures from the Lincoln Joust that I attended during the summer. Somehow it managed to take on a life of its own!

I’ll try not to take too long before posting the next segment. Unfortunately, I’m not the quickest writer in the world, and I tend to edit multiple times (and that’s an understatement) before I’m happy for anything to be read by anyone else. Part two may be up sometime in the next week, but I’m not promising anything!

I hope you enjoyed the read.

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Monochrome Monday: The Darkness Within

The Darkness Within bw

The light that poured through her window was the only source of illumination in an otherwise dismal existence. They said her harsh treatment was deserved, that her idle ways had led to an inevitable conclusion. Only she knew just how hard she’d strived to avoid such a fate. She tried not to let bitterness consume her as she remembered the long days she’d spent seeking any work available, and the unpleasant tasks she’d undertaken for a few meager pennies. But the work had simply not been there – not for someone like her, without education or experience.

She held on to her sense of self-worth through the darkest times. Like the light through the window that brightened her days, hope cast its rays into her soul, giving her the strength to continue. Someday she’d be able to leave the bleak confines of the workhouse. With the new skills she’d been forced her to learn, employment would be found. Someday, she prayed, her life would be better.

let the light pour in

bright rays alleviating

the darkness within


Like last week’s picture, this is another photograph taken at Southwell Workhouse. If you’d like to know more about the workhouses of Victorian England, check out Millie Thom’s post here.

The Orchard

Tree with Sunbeams

look beyond the urban rush

and glimpse a vanished world

thriving amidst concrete and brick

Orchard 3

Tucked behind a gate on a busy road in the middle of the city of Lincoln (UK), lies an oasis of green amongst the urban sprawl. The place is well concealed, surrounded by buildings, but walk a short path and you’ll find yourself within an area of nearly two hectares, filled with fruit trees – the Cross O’Cliff orchard.

 

The place is a wildlife haven, attracting birds, butterflies, bees, and insects galore. The old trees and dead wood provide perfect conditions for insects and beetles, whilst the fallen apples and pears are a welcome food source for a number of different creatures. In the early 2000s, with the help of a Wildspace! grant from English Nature, the orchard was designated a local nature reserve,

 

The Cross O’Cliff orchard first appeared on maps in the late 1800s, though it could date back further. It’s filled with a range of fruit trees, including a number of specialist heritage varieties. One such apple is the ‘Peasgood Nonsuch’, described by the RHS in 1872 as ‘One of the most handsome apples in cultivation’. Despite it having been awarded a first-class certificate, it never became commercially important as it didn’t travel well. Other varieties include the Allington Pippin, the Blenheim Orange and the Glou Morceau. Only in orchards, such as the one at Cross O’Cliff, do such varieties of apple survive.

 

The story of Cross O’Cliff orchard has not always been a good one. In the early 1990s, after nearly 50 years of neglect, the orchard was nearly lost. The then Lincolnshire county council, who owned the land, granted itself planning permission to build houses on the space. Fortunately, through a change in the council and the tireless hard work of local campaigners, the orchard was saved. Restoration began in 1995.

It is only through the continuing hard work of locals – the Cross O‘Cliff Area Residents Group – that the orchard remains open to the public. Members regularly meet to assist with jobs such as tree planting and pruning, hedge laying and meadow mowing. Hopefully, the orchard will remain for many future generations to enjoy.

Information Board

For further information on the orchard you can go here and here.

Monochrome Monday: Out of the Darkness

The Light Ahead

darkness creeps

sticky tendrils dragging ever deeper

into the depths of

fear and hate and hopelessness

desolation clinging with tar-like viscosity

*

but don’t give up

*

glimpse the light that lies ahead

 encompassing hope of better times to come

leave the darkness behind

and embrace the future’s bright promise

*

don’t give up

*

never give up


This week’s photo was taken at Southwell Workhouse a few weeks ago.

The Victorian workhouses were places designed to help the poorest members of society, giving them a roof over their heads, clothes, food and work, but they were also intended to be harsh, unpleasant places in order to deter all but the very poorest from applying for help. The able bloodied men and women who lived within the Workhouses were labelled as being ‘idle and profligate’, as they were unable to support themselves without aid. The cause of their hardship, however, was actually more often a simple lack of available work, but that fact didn’t prevent hem from being stigmatized.

If you’d like to know more about Southwell Workhouse, and workhouses in general, you can check out my mum’s (Millie Thom’s) post about the place here.