A Letter from the Past

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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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FFfAW: Lessons Learned

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Photo prompt © Artycaptures

Lessons Learned

Hunger gnawed, growing increasingly harsh and insistent as hours dragged by. The dish of food remained frustratingly out of reach.

Finn scowled, trying again to rise. This was ridiculous. He didn’t know what she’d done to him, but the old woman was clearly deranged. “If you wish to eat,” she’d said, “use the power of your mind to draw it closer.”

He’d protested such nonsense, but she’d dismissed his objections, claiming he had to have ‘abilities’ to have found her. She’d then rambled about teachers and students before leaving him alone – to starve, it now seemed.

Abilities? He had no abilities! He was just an ordinary bloke unfortunate enough to meet her, and stupid enough to accept her hospitality.

At first he’d tried to leave, but his body had refused his commands. Fear had then overtaken him, gruesome scenarios running through his mind. Finally, defeated, his options depleted, he gave in and humoured her madness. He directed his fear and anger outwards, willing the bowl to move. Emotion overflowed…

The dish smashed to the floor.

Word count: 175

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

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This post is for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. This week’s photo prompt was provided by Artycaptures. Thank you, Artycaptures!

 

The Burden of Truth

Yesterday I posted a piece of flash fiction for last week’s FFfAW challenge. As I mentioned there, I’d previously written another version that had to be abandoned as it was far too long for the 175 word limit. Well, I’ve decided to share it with you anyway. Technically, it’s still a piece of flash fiction, at 769 words long, so it shouldn’t take too long to read.

Yesterday’s story was from the viewpoint of the knight, Sir Jonin. It might be best if you read that one first. Today’s story is from the viewpoint of his friend Mikael, and hopefully will answer a few of the questions raised by the shorter piece…

Knights

The Burden of Truth

“And so we bade farewell to the grateful villagers, and mounted the fey beast, finally setting ourselves towards home.” Sir Jonin’s voice rose and fell dramatically as he neared the end of his tale, his gestures broad and extravagant. The younger knights watched, transfixed. “That it carried two made no difference to the creature. It was so swift, so smooth, we could have been riding the wind itself.”

Mikael gritted his teeth and tuned out his friend’s voice. He’d heard the story – and its multitude of variations – many times before. Each telling set him on edge. Unlike everyone else present, he actually knew the truth in the the tale.

More so than even Jonin.

There were a few undeniable facts, and these were common knowledge: the pair had been missing for several months after the battle of Ebden Moor – presumed dead – only to suddenly reappear, riding together on a mysterious steed that afterwards vanished. Anything beyond these few points was subject to Jonin’s wild imagination, and liable to change with each retelling.

It was the truth that set anxiety clawing at Mikael’s chest.

For the truth was that, whilst Jonin had definitely been present during their adventure all those years earlier, he hadn’t exactly been aware of what was happening. Mikael shuddered. The memory of blood staining his hands as his best friend bled out against the stones would remain with him forever. Jonin had remained blissfully unaware throughout it all.

His friend hadn’t seen how his blood caused the standing stones to glow, opening a gateway into the Shadowlands. He hadn’t seen the way the world shifted, twisting in kaleidoscopic fragments, until the landscape held a faintly alien appearance, and the air shimmered with magic. He hadn’t been witness to Mikael’s desperate pleas for help as he held his dying friend.

Nor had he been witness to the bargain Mikael had struck with the Faerie Lord who’d come to their aid. The other man had only regained awareness as they rode their benefactor’s obviously fey steed back into the mortal realms, the wound in his side healed as if it had never existed.

To them, their magical encounter had spanned mere minutes. For the rest of the world, however, they’d been absent for months. Never one to miss such an opportunity, Jonin had proceeded to fill the missing time with a myriad of imagined adventures – each wilder than the one before.

Mikael leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes as the hubbub of the feast washed over him. Men and women talked and laughed, their antics growing increasingly rowdy as brimming tankards were downed. Faint strains of music barely carried over the chatter. The air was filled with the mingled odours of rich food, wood smoke, and too many unwashed bodies. Jollity held sway.

It had been some time since Mikael had felt like joining in with such revelry. But tonight wasn’t a night when he was free to drown his sorrows – not when he and his young wife were the guests of honour. It was meant to be such a happy occasion. He forced a smile, a laugh, struggling to hold a cheerful mask in place, even as his mind drifted back to that fateful day.

At the time he’d thought the deal to be worth it. He and Jonin were more than just friends, they were brothers in arms. Brothers in everything except blood. He would have given anything to save him. When the Fae had named his price, Mikael hadn’t hesitated before agreeing.

But now…

Mikael gazed across the room at his beloved’s glowingly gravid form. She smiled tenderly, rubbing a hand across her stomach.

Now, he wasn’t so sure.

He rose to his feet and hurriedly left the hall, needing to be alone. He couldn’t stand the thought of sitting there a moment longer, faking happiness. Not when he knew that his world would soon shatter. A moment later he heard the sound of heavy footsteps following him.

“What’s wrong?”

He halted, closing his eyes. Of course Jonin had followed. Mikael sighed, leaning against a tapestry covered wall as bone deep weariness swamped him. He’d sworn himself to silence, had determined the other man didn’t need to know the price he’d paid. For years he’d kept his vow, whilst the payment remained in some indistinct future. Only now was his certainty wavering.

They’d always had each other’s backs. He wasn’t sure he could face the trials ahead on his own.

But how could he tell his best friend that the price of his recovery had been the life of his first born child?

Word count – 769 words

FFfAW: Greeting the Four

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Photo prompt © Yarnspinner

Greeting the Four

The seats had been placed with utmost precision: north, south, east and west, each one carefully aligned. Veraen nodded in satisfaction.

“Anything else, Sir?” his assistant – Jaeden? Jened? – said, and he gestured in dismissal, shooing the man out of the sacred space. He’d spent too long in preparation to let the bumbling fool ruin things for him.

He alone would greet the Four.

Veraen recited the invocation with practiced ease, excitement growing as power gathered. Figures began to coalesce, unbounded energy taking humanoid form. He fell to his knees as four sets of eyes turned upon him. Four voices spoke in unison.

“How dare you?”

What? No! That wasn’t right! He tried to speak, but no words emerged. He tried to move, but his limbs were weighted, immovable.

“Greetings, Great Ones,” his assistant – Joren, he now recalled – said. “May I approach?”

As Joren strode past he dropped a page before Veraen’s frozen form. Instructions to avoid insulting the Four filled the sheet. The torn edge and Joren’s smirk told him exactly why he’d never seen the page before…

Word count: 175

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

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This post is for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. This week’s prompt was provided by Yarnspinner. Thank you, Yarnspinner!

It seems like forever since I last wrote a piece of flash fiction – though its actually only a little over a month. That month, however, has been insanely busy. I’m now living in a house in Lincoln (UK) with my sister and my teenage nephew, rather than in the village with my parents. Luckily, for a countryside loving girl like me, we’re right on the edge of a green stretch, with fields and woods only a few minutes walk away, so it doesn’t really feel like I’m in the middle if a city. I’ll try to share some pictures soon!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the story. Hopefully it doesn’t feel too rushed – it was originally over 300 words long, so a lot had to be cut out of it! I’d love to know what you think.

TLT: Visions of Unicorns

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Photo prompt © Fleur Treuniet via Unsplash

She loved to watch the unicorns as they took their ease amidst the meadow flowers. They shimmered with an allure that drew her eyes time and again. And if no one else could see them – well, that was their problem, really, not hers.


This post is for Sonya’s Three Line Tales. This week’s prompt is by Fleur Treuniet, via Unsplash.

 

FFfAW: Testing Times

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Photo prompt MajesticGoldenRose

Testing Times

Gretnya gripped her husband’s hand, writhing anxiety choking her as the final calf was led into the testing area.

Please, she prayed to any deity listening.

“It’ll be fine,” Brindel said. “This time it’ll have worked, you’ll see.” The tremble in his voice contradicted the confidence of his words. She squeezed his hand tighter.

The strange sickness had swept through the herds with rampant disregard for the livelihoods depending on them. In the space of a month the carcasses had piled high. Two winters later and smoke from the pyres continued to hang, a heavy death cloak, over the plains.

Faced with ruin, many tribesfolk had left, seeking work in the distant towns. The few who remained continued to try every spell known to the mages, desperate to protect the remnants of their herds. Hope lay with the young. Surely something, eventually, would stop the disease from taking hold.

Please, let it be this time, Gretnya prayed.

Finally, the mage emerged from the testing pen. His expression told them more than words ever could.

Word Count: 174

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

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This post is for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. This week’s prompt was provided by MajesticGoldenRose. Thank you!

I actually have one word free in my story this week, and I was tempted to put an extra one in the final sentence, before the word ‘expression’. I couldn’t decide which one to use, however – ‘joyous’or ‘stricken’. They leave you with very different endings! In the end I decided to use neither. You can all decide for yourselves whether the results of the test are good or bad.

I hope you liked it.

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FFfAW: The End?

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Photo prompt © Shivangi Singh

The End?

“It’s finally over.” Jonin’s voice held a mixture of relief and sorrow as he gazed at the courtyard below.

Helleni hummed her agreement. Leaning into his embrace, she watched in satisfaction as the final cobble was laid. Only they and the workmen were aware of the crypt hidden beneath the stones – and no word of it would be spoken. She’d make sure of that.

The past five years had been filled with turmoil, as Fenrin sought to claim his brother’s throne. He’d used every scrap of dark energy at his disposal to remove Jonin from power. Not even death had halted his quest.

“He won’t escape now,” Helleni reassured. “The crystal will hold him for hundreds of years. We’re safe.”

“Because of you, my love.”

She smiled as Jonin’s lips met hers in a tender caress. With every kiss, further tendrils of control tangled his heart.

Once, Fenrin had promised her power. He’d promised her influence. Eventually, she’d grown weary of waiting.

Now she knew – if she wanted power, she had to take it for herself.

Word Count: 175 words

To read other stories, click the little blue frog.

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This post is for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. This week’s prompt was provide by Shivangi Singh. Thank you Shivangi!

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