Honour #writephoto

Honour

knight

 

The small crypt was still in darkness  as we approached, on that frozen morning of January.  Every year, on the same day, we gather here, on this desolate hill.

As usual, we were silent, as all of us know the place, the rite, the reasons. Besides, had we anything to say we would have done it, without words.

This year, we noticed the trace. Footsteps, in the fresh snow. Our horses noticed also the scent. The scent of a woman. We are rarely surprised by anything. But we were… intrigued.

We dismounted and followed the small path. A crow, perhaps too young to know, or remember, took fright and disappeared in the deep forest.

Our leader gave the sign. In our minds the words of the litany formed:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer…”

Our leader pushed the door open. In ranked order we entered the crypt.

“Fear is the little death…”

As we knelt on the ancient slabs, around our lord and liege, we saw the rose, and the message.

“And when it has gone past me, I will turn to see fear’s path…”

She was here, not that long before us.

The witch, she remembered. Her scent…

“Where the fear has gone there will be nothing…”

Our leader stood up, then we followed him, and drew our swords.

We let our blades rest on the stone, a faint ray of light illuminated the rose.

Our leader bowed. We left the crypt, one by one, leaving him alone with his brother.

Outside, we, wraith knights, waited.

The snow fell.

We prayed.

Every year, on the same day, we gather here, on this desolate hill, since our lord passed away, and we brought his body here, all the way back from the Holy Land.

“Only I will remain.” 

 

 

Beneath #writephoto

Beneath

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The ancient oak ponders unfathomable tales; near the bank, the shallow water reflects the evening sky. A little further the small stones shine, enticing: come to us, stranger, we are worth more than gold… Soon the sun will sink, behind the hills. You observe, immobile, waiting. Your steed, warped in your Lord’s colours, is as still as you. Silent dwarves guard your precious luggage. This is your land, and the lake is where lived  the mage, he who knew how to read your future.

A novice #fivewords

Weekly Writing Challenge #167

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Their clear voices rose above the valley, as the bell called the novices to practice. They were there to serve, to prepare for the day when they might be accepted, but none of them had any clue as to what they would have to endure.

Picture: South Portal of Chartres Cathedral, Martyrs, By Medieval sculptor – photo TTaylor, 2005, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=888289

Arch #writephoto

Arch

arch

 

For centuries the great abbaye had stood, in its majesty and glory, in the peaceful landscape. It was then a centre of faith and science, where wise men worked, and kept the flame of civilisation burning. They were frugal, up in the frosty mornings before dawn, ploughing the fields and teaching the children; their chants filled the vales and forests, rising to the sky.

Then the heretics had come, plundering, burning, torturing the faithful. A dark veil had fallen on the earth, the Dark Lord’s reign had begun.

But today, in the faint light of dawn, I can hear the monks’s voices, the soft footsteps of their sandals. I sense their presence, their curiosity, even, about this strange creature, this human being who survived the fall. Their anthem is but a light breeze through the icy air.

The arch stands, witness to a millennium of folly. And there, on the cold stones, I kneel, praying to the true God, in submission and piety, the last, shivering survivor of the war, that ended the evil empire.

Dedicated to the builders of the great abbayes of Yorkshire, and their defenders.

Portal #writephoto

Portal

portal

 

It was so easy: he just had to follow the narrow corridor, and, as the dwarf had said, it was there, the portal of ancient stones, and beyond, the warm glow of the vast chimney.

He stopped and looked down at the medieval floor, polished over millennia by the feet of so many pilgrims. Behind him he would be leaving his own time, the overflowing world, the menacing floods. In front of him, he knew was the vast kitchen, the monks in black robes, the penitents. He too would be on his way to the holy city, and they would recognise him for who he was, another brave and tired worshipper from the west, from the cold.

He would sit in front of the burning fire. He would pray. He would have their blessing. He would be invited at the big table, and, after grace, would enjoy the communal hot soup. He would later fall asleep, under a warm blanket, and before dawn, after mass in the small chapel, bare feet, would resume his journey, with thousands of others.

Bleak #writephoto

Bleak

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We walk, hand in hand, to the shore,

up to the small promontory, and we see our island:

it is cold today, but we don’t feel it.

Our bare feet slide over the rock,

Your empty eyes turn toward me, my love,

asking me, in silence,

if I am ready to start our voyage.

I smile, my frozen heart reaching yours,

for I know we belong there,

you and me, for ever, under the heavy stone,

below the chapel,

where once, long ago,

they burned us at the stake.

Pillage #DailyPrompt #WritersWednesday

So much to see, so little time…

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History walks along the quiet streets, ghosts hide in the corridors of museums: our steps resonate in the night, so much to explore… The story ripens, enriched by the findings, tombs of soldiers, standing knights in corners of baroque churches, damsels hidden in wooden scarves and dark mantels. Renaissance painters, medieval crosses, Japanese swords, enough material for many books.

Will there be time to pillage so much wealth?

Photo: Alte Museum, Berlin – © 2016 Honoré Dupuis

Devious #VisDare 128

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It’s a long story, a kind of one hundred years war, that cannot be won, and yet we keep on fighting… You were already there, in the old class room, in the heart of winter, as our teacher was telling us about the Middle Ages, and, about you, the ever present, maleficent fallen angel. You were then a mere dark shadow, near the old coal fire.

One day I was clearing the sports ground of leaves. It was cold, there was no-one else around. As I wiped the sweat off my forehead, I heard a slight stir in the pile of leaves. It wasn’t the wind: there was a small repugnant creature, bigger than a rat, looking at me through a hideous pair of red eyes.

Since then, in so many places, from my back garden to the streets of cities, the seductive face, the ugly gnarl of a thug.

VisDare 128: Devious