WPC: Edge

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time flows

with the shifting tides

tumbling over castle walls

to drown in watery

obscurity


This post is for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is edge. The photograph was taken on the battlements of the castle at St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, UK.

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FFfAW: Celebrations and Sorrows

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

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Photo Prompt: © The Storyteller’s Abode

Celebrations and Sorrows

For the third time in less than a week Lili climbed the steps in search of her brother. She knew he’d be there even before his voice carried to her ears.

“She always loved this view,” Raen said.

“We used to play here.” Lili’s voice caught in her throat. “Silveia and I would dream of adventure while you were busy being Father’s perfect prince.”

He jumped, spinning to face her, and Lili realised his words had not been for her. Raen gazed at the baby in his arms with eyes red from weeping. “I was just telling my son about his mother.”

The first time Lili had climbed in search of him her feet had been so light upon the steps. Her news had burbled free in an excited torrent as she hugged him: his son was born.

Two days later she’d sought him again, fear driving her as the midwife’s concerns grew: something was wrong.

This day grief weighed her down.

“The funeral cortege is ready,” she said. “It’s time to tell Silveia goodbye.”

Word Count: 175

To read the other entries, click the little blue frog!

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I’ve had a vague story idea for this picture since I picked it out as a prompt for PJ. I knew I had a young woman looking for her brother. I knew it was a medievalesque setting and that they were royalty. I didn’t, however, know why she was seeking him out. The rest of this story was definitely inspired by my recent viewing of Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey!

The picture, for anyone who’s curious, was taken in Corfe Castle in Dorset, UK – a wonderful ruin with lots of fascinating nooks and crannies to explore. It was built in the 11th century on the orders of William the Conqueror. Whilst it would originally have been built mainly out of wood, it was actually one of the earliest castles in England to have used any stone in its construction, a sign of its high status and importance. As happened with the castle in my own hometown of Newark on Trent, it was destroyed in 1645, during the English Civil War, after the Royalist occupants were defeated by the Parliamentarians.

Here are few other pictures that I took around Corfe Castle:

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MftS: Interlude

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

Interlude

Now this is living the life of Riley.

Axien blinked open his eyes, yawning as he rolled away from the bright sunlight that bathed him. He felt as indulgent as one of the pampered cats that stalked the temple precinct. It had been so long since he’d last been able to relax.

He’d savour it while he could – after all, it wouldn’t be long before work summoned him again. For months now he’d been kept busy. The war kept everyone busy. It was… draining. Even sleeping in his own bed had been a scarce occurrence of late.

Axien groaned as a tentative knock sounded. He reluctantly rose from his bed, pulling on work clothes as he ordered the visitor to enter. It seemed his interlude was over.

“Sir.” The servant’s voice shook. His eyes remained lowered. “A new prisoner has been brought in. Lord Brecan asks that you to attend.”

The Chief Interrogator’s work was never over.

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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MftS: Guardian upon the Tower

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

Guardian upon the Tower

Few knew about the castle hidden inside the island. Only the watchtower was visible to the world beyond. The chambers within which his people lived, where intricate carvings gleamed in softly enchanted light, were hidden beneath the rocky slopes. As Garrin watched a group of tourists wheezing their way to the island’s summit, he hoped it stayed that way.

From his vantage point upon the tower, concealed behind a veil of magic, he observed such groups with unpleasant regularity. He felt little but disgust. Their disrespectful antics as they traipsed over the ancient masonry, voices loud and brash, was nothing compared to the debris left in their wake.

The girl was different.

She fascinated him. Day after day she sat in silent serenity, her pencil skimming over the sketchpad upon her knee. An enticing curl of auburn hair tumbled over her forehead. A gentle smile curved her lips.

He wondered how she’d smile at the sight of the citadel below.

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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Warwick Castle

Last week I visited Warwick Castle, a beautiful fortress on the banks of the River Avon.

Warwick Castle on the River Avon

It was a beautiful day, both weather-wise and as it was spent in the company of my parents and  my nephew. Many of you may know my mum, Millie Thom, as she also blogs and we take part in some of the same flash fiction challenges. She writes historical fiction (Shadow of the Raven and Pit of Vipers) and often posts  about history, as with last week’s Medieval Siege Warfare.  I’ll leave the full post about the history of the site to her (I believe she’s added it to her rapidly lengthening list) and just share a few facts about the place and some photos from the day.

I hope you all enjoy them.

In 1068 William the Conqueror, the new Norman King of England, had a motte-and-bailey castle built on the site of an old Anglo Saxon burh. This was to ensure control of the midlands during the Norman conquest of England. It was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century.

Much of the architecture that can now be seen was added during the the 14th century re-fortification of the castle. It was at this time that the gatehouse, barbican, several towers and the riverside facade were all added.

You can climb all the towers and walk along the walls, getting some great views over both the castle itself and the surrounding town and countryside. Before climbing Guy’s Tower you’re warned that there are 540 steps ahead of you as the route takes you along ramparts and into other towers along the way!

Numerous fascinating figures have had connections to the castle over the centuries but one of the most interesting of these was the 16th Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville (1428-71). This man was given the epithet ‘Kingmaker’ as he had an instrumental hand in the deposition of two different kings during the War of the Roses.

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Nowadays the castle has become what is known as an ‘interactive historical experience’, with both waxwork figures and a host of actors and actresses to demonstrate what life would have been like in the past. Some areas are set up to represent the medieval period, others for the late 19th century. There are living history tents, and even a joust! Some areas are set up to give visitors the smells and sounds of the period as well as the sights.

They have a two different siege machines on display, a ballista and a trebuchet. The trebuchet is the largest working siege machine in the world and demonstrations of it’s use are given – unfortunately we didn’t manage to see that.

There were so many things to see and photograph around the castle that I’ve included barely a fraction of them here. There were some areas, such as The Dungeons where photographs weren’t allowed to be taken and other areas that were just so busy it was impossible to stop to take them. I hope you’ve all had a nice taster of the day, however. Whilst it  wasn’t a cheap day out, and at times it felt more like a theme park than a castle, it was very enjoyable. I would happily recommend the place to anyone interested in history.

FFfAW: The Lady’s Flight

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

Photo Prompt: © Sonya O.

Photo Prompt: © Sonya O.

The Lady’s Flight

Isabella dashed up the spiral staircase with a desperation born of terror. She could hear them behind her, their loud voices echoing. She needed help – surely someone still fought! Each arrow slit she passed was empty of defenders; no familiar faces appeared to offer aid.

Sir Gilbert’s betrayal had surprised them all.

The attackers had streamed into the castle before dawn, bypassing their defences through treachery and deceit. She’d hidden, as Father commanded, huddling in the cubbyhole while the clamour of battle filled the air. But she couldn’t hide forever. Leering grins sent her fleeing – she knew her fate if captured.

Finally reaching the top of the tower, Isabella burst out into bright sunlight. Her heart sank. Strangers’ faces stared, wide-eyed.

“-and it’s said that sometimes you can see Lady Isabella’s ghost, repeating her final frantic flight.”

Isabella backed away, her heart racing as a hand rose to point.

“Is that her?”

Her back pressed against the battlement’s stone. She would not be taken! With no other options available, she turned.

And jumped.

Word Count: 174spiral staircase


This week’s photo prompt was perfectly timed for me (thank you, Sonya) as yesterday I was visiting Warwick Castle and clambering up and down towers very similar to the one in the picture – as my calf muscles keep reminding me today! This story was inspired by the trip and by the many stories of sieges and ghosts which you find linked to most of the castles in Britain. The second picture above is one taken yesterday. Hopefully I’ll be sharing a gallery of others over the weekend – if my internet decides to stay on!

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One-Four Challenge: July Week Four

It’s time for the final week of Robyn’s One-Four Challenge for July.

This week’s image was not an easy one to produce – I had absolutely no idea what to do with it! At one point I had several different versions on the go, none of which I was happy with. In the end I decided I wanted to make it very different to the monochromes of the last two weeks and settled on a bright and cheerful painterly effect.

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Week Four Edit

To create this I opened the week one image in Camera Raw, where I reduced blacks, shadows, highlights and whites. This left it looking bright without the whites being overpowering. I also increased the clarity. After playing around with lots of different artistic filters and texture layers in Photoshop I decided I couldn’t quite create enough of a painterly effect there and I abandoned it for FotoSketcher. There I ran it through the watercolour filter and added a canvas texture layer. I had also tried it out with several of the previous Photoshop edits still in place but I liked it best from just the Camera Raw base. To finish off I returned the image to Photoshop where I touched up a few areas where a little too much detail had been lost – in particular the edge of the boat which had become indistinguishable from the water!

As it’s week four it time to include a poll. Please let me know which edit you liked best.

 
Here are all the images together for comparison:

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FFfAW: The Lost Kingdom

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

Photo Prompt: © TJ Paris

Photo Prompt: © TJ Paris

The Lost Kingdom

“I can’t leave,” she’d told him.

Arliss gazed at the expanse of ocean, age-gnarled hands clenching into fists on the weathered battlements, salt spray dampening her cheeks. Waves snarled against the rocks below – a pack of rabid hounds leaping at the once mighty fortress, longing to devour.

“It’s my home,” she’d said.

She remembered when the sturdy walls had been untouched by such elements. With closed eyes she could still see the patchwork of fields and villages sprawling across the rugged landscape, the coast a distant line. It had been a beautiful sight.

“Where would we go?”

They’d received no warning; offered no chance of escape. The massive wave had swept across the countryside, consuming everything in its path. In less than a day the land was drowned. Only the castle and its handful of inhabitants was spared.

“Then I stay too,” he’d told her.

Ten years had passed since the others left. She and Kinnard alone remained: Lord and Lady of a watery realm.

But maybe now she was ready to leave…

Word Count: 175


Considering I knew what story I wanted to tell for this picture pretty much as soon as I saw it, I’ve found this one really difficult to write. Trying to tell the whole thing in 175 words was not easy! I really do hope it made sense as I had to leap back and forth chronologically in order to fit it all in.

As I’m sure you know by now, my names generally have meaning. This week: Arliss is both an Irish girl’s name meaning ‘from the high fort’ and a Hebrew name meaning ‘pledge’; Kinnard is a Scottish boy’s name meaning ‘from the high place’.
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One-Four Challenge: July Week Three

It’s time for week three of Robyn’s One-Four Challenge for July.

Week Three Edit

Week Three Edit

For this week’s edit I began with last week’s black and white image and using Photoshop Elements 13 added a pen and ink filter. I shifted the levels slightly to bring out more detail in the boat but then found I was left with a very flat and bright area of sky. To counter this I added a slight sepia filter and then opened the image in FotoSketcher where I added texture and old paper defects using the vintage photo settings. I had to be quite careful here in the positioning of the sliders so as not to change anything else in the picture! I then opened the image in Camera Raw where I increased the clarity. To finish off I reopened it in Photoshop where I used the clone tool on a very low opacity in order to lighten the area of the vignette in the top left hand corner which had become incredibly dark through all of the previous changes.

Hopefully I’ve created a picture that looks like an old pen and ink sketch.

Here’s the original image and week one edit for comparison:

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One-Four Challenge: July Week Two

It’s time for week two of Robyn’s One-Four Challenge for July.

Week Two Edit

Week Two Edit

For this second edit I decided to go black and white. I began by opening the week one edit in Photoshop where I removed the filter from the sky and the adjustment levels, keeping the crop and clean up. I then added a black and white gradient map. I then opened in Camera Raw where I reduced the contrast, increased the clarity and tweaked the shadows and highlights. I finished off by opening the image in PicMonkey where I added a vignette.

Here’s the original image and week one edit for comparison:

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