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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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

TLT: The Flying Banana

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Photo Prompt – © Wolf Shram

Each weekend they’d piled into the backseat, little ones on older siblings laps, ready for an adventure. It had been part of their family: the Flying Banana, the greatest car in the world. Which was why, despite being told it was only good for the scrapheap, the rusting wreck continued to sit in their garage – some day the banana would fly again.


This post is for Sonya’s Three Line Tales.

For anyone who’s curious, the name ‘Flying Banana’ was the nickname my grandad gave his bright yellow car, back when my mum was young. When I was little we had a car we called Brown Cow, which all six of us kids would sit in the back of. It was a bit of a shock to us when the rear seat-belt law was introduced!

FFfAW: Susceptible

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Photo prompt – Joy Pixley

Susceptible

Willow spotted the pair long before they reached her. The man was perfect, open minded and curious. The woman was more… problematic. She exuded confidence, carrying a fixed world-view that prevented any tampering to her thoughts.

But the man was too good to ignore.

“Come,” she whispered into his mind. “This way.”

He stopped, his vacant gaze turning towards the doorway where Willow glowed enticingly. The woman continued on, unaware of her companion’s distraction.

“Follow me.”

The woman’s frantic voice drifted from below as Willow led him steadily higher, but it was distant, unable to infringe on the enthrallment entwining his thoughts. Soon they’d reach the portal. Soon she’d be able to return home.

“Come closer.” She ignored the approaching footfalls. “Quickly.”

“James!” The woman pounded into sight. Cursing, she dragged him away from the banister onto which he’d climbed. “What the hell are you doing?”

Willow’s hopes disintegrated along with her hold on the man’s mind.

“I… I don’t know,” he said.

The shaken pair retreated. The portal continued to drift in mid-air, demanding blood.

Word Count: 175

To read the other entries, 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 Joy Pixley. Thank you, Joy

FFfAW: Captivated

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Captivated

Raedan’s hands clenched around the gift box as he listened to the announcement. Lady Seleste had chosen her suitor.

And it wasn’t him.

Everyone else faded into insignificance as she glided across the hall. With each tilt of her head, each flash of a smile, she set his senses reeling. She’d captivated him from the first. Now he had one final chance…

“A gift, my lady.” He knelt as she passed.

He didn’t see her companion until a masculine hand intercepted the box and flipped it open. His protest died in his throat as he looked into a familiar face. He wanted to flee – knew he should flee – but his body refused to obey.

“So this is the man who thinks to own me?” Seleste’s disgust burned.

“Indeed.” The treacherous wizard at her side lifted the gem he’d enchanted for Raedan free. “This stone was intended to control you.” He pinned the delicate confection into her hair. “Instead it will control him. My wedding gift to you, my love.”

Unable to do otherwise, Raedan followed in their wake.

Word Count: 175

To read the other entries, click the little blue frog.wpImg


This post is for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. This week’s photo prompt was provided by Jade M. Wong. Thank you Jade!

TLT: Boxed

A photo by Steven Wei. unsplash.com/photos/g-AklIvI1aI

Photo Prompt – © Steven Wei

She’d always said that she wouldn’t be put in a box and forced into conformity, that she wouldn’t follow their indifferent society’s path, only to be left feeling stifled and unfulfilled. So how had she come to this? She turned away from the window, from the view of coffin like apartments, and began to pack her bags – it was time to start again.


This post is for Sonya’s Three Line Tales. As I was writing this I had the words of a song by Newton Faulkner going around in my head, so I thought I’d share it with you.

FFfAW: Wisps of Gold

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Photo prompt – © Phylor

Wisps of Gold

Emily stood beside the piled leaves, peering around the garden for any that might have escaped her notice. It had taken far longer than she’d expected to scrape the mound together, each breeze threatening to undo her work, but she’d been determined to gather every golden scrap she could find.

“Well?” she called. “How’s that?”

A pale face peered from the darkness of the barn. An arm stretched out, finger pointing. “You missed some.”

Mummy would have been cross if she’d heard Emily’s words as she turned and saw the scatter of leaves newly tossed over the grass. “Damn wind – leave my leaves alone!” she shouted at the sky. As if in defiance, a fresh gust sent Emily running again.

She returned the final armful to the pile, and, grinning excitedly, ran back to her new friend. “Come on. Quick!”

With a whoop the pair dashed over the lawn, leaping into the crunchy heap in a shower of laughter, setting golden wisps to flight. Bathed in sunlight, Emily’s companion smiled.

And faded from sight.

Word Count: 175

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

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This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge, run by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt was provide by Phylor. Thank you Phylor!

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