Blade #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt



He remembered an old science fiction story, set in the Middle Ages of a world in a far-away galaxy. The hero’s weapon is a sword, its blade honed from a single crystal. This was different. The jade colour of the blade, its transparency, made the material uncertain, implausible even. Yet it was there, the celtic hilt, the cross. The elaborate work of the pommel hinted at a late period, perhaps at the Renaissance. But he knew it was much older. He knew when it had been forged, and the name of the sword smith.

But he could not remember where the furnace was.

Tower #writephoto

Today’s photo prompt by Sue Vincent



She crouched behind a short spiky bush, and waited for a sound. There was none, not even the usual discrete footfall of small creatures in the dark. A hawk could be seen, circling silently around the dark silhouette of the tower.

“So,”she thought,”This is where you died, so long ago even the stones have forgotten your name, the colour of your hair, the strength of your arms…” She relaxed her grip on the sword: there was no-one there, perhaps not even the spirit of the hero, who, in eons past, had died defending her ancestors, in this forsaken and deserted place, alone against multitudes of demons.

But she had to find out. Cautiously she started moving toward the ruin, one step at a time, a fluid and silent motion that only supernatural eyes could have observed.

Yet she sensed some presence, somewhere, closer to the tower, cloaked in darkness. Now she heard the voice of an owl hunting.

First published on May 5, 2016 #writephoto

#Haibun: Bushido knows no gender

This piece is inspired by the driving rain of the past week, and an article I read about gender and Bushido.

 Their ragtag troop walks through the deep ravine, sharp rocks cutting through their feet, the rain drowning rivulets of blood down their legs and cloaks. They are starving. Only faith in their beloved leader keeps them walking.

At once they see him: a powerful Samurai knight standing immobile as a statue on his horse, his sword drawn, in front of them, barring the way. “Who’s your leader?” the knight asks, “bring him to me, now”. They hesitate.

“I won’t let you pass without seeing him, there, in front of me.”

In small steps, as in slow motion, their leader walks to the knight.

“Is it me you are calling for, my Lord?”

“O, really, this is too amusing”, says he, looking down at the slender woman and her grey cloak.

“My Lord, I am leading these poor people to the other valley.”

“No you won’t”, says he laughing, dismounting swiftly and approaching her, sword in hand.

“My Lord, I am asking for safe passage for this troop, they are hungry and exhausted”, says she, as he lifts his sword. She stands, immobile, rain running down her face, in front of the knight, towering above her.

“Would you stand against me, woman?” says he, still as ice.

“I won’t, my Lord, this will” says she, as she draws her short Wakizashi from under her cloak, and in a fluid gesture, so fast he does not react, disarms him.

The knight looks at his sword on the ground, smiles: “Your knife is too short to worry me, but you are brave, and the Way of the Sword has no quarrel with bravery”.

And the knight mounts his horse and leads them to the valley.

swords glitter in the rain –

believers hold their breath in hope

knights walk the sky

#AtoZChallenge: April 25 – V is for Vagabonde

As a small child, she had lost her parents early, in the poor village where she was born, when the famine struck. Since then she had survived, a little tramp, living from begging, from village to village, eating what she found in the forest, or what poor peasants gave her when they took pity on her. Her small body was often cold. She hid at night, from predators and bands of thugs that were ravaging the country, raping and murdering the poor. Now it was war. Vast armies were fighting across the land. People were suffering and dying.

That morning, half starved, she was walking through the woods, when she heard the sound of battle. Slowly, cautiously, she came nearer, perhaps prompted by her deep hunger. She had so little to lose now. A knight was fighting, one against ten, surrounded, holding a sword in each hand. His assailants were huge, ugly people from the hills, armed with axes and long spears. She’d never seen a knight like him, his armour was black, of a thin mail texture she did not recognise, his swords curved and wonderfully decorated, reflecting the morning sun. As she crouched in the low bushes, shivering, he killed four of them, slicing their heads off as if they were of straw. Soon the others were hesitating, circling around him cautiously. She noticed his horse a short distance away, a horse of a sort she’d never seen. The knight decapitated two more bandits, and the others attempted to flee. He was now standing, holding a short thick bow: he killed the rest within seconds, with arrows that appeared made of silver, at a speed she could not comprehend.

He now turned towards her: she was so frightened, had he seen her? Yes he had, and he was walking slowly towards her, she was petrified. The knight was moving silently under the canopy, bare-headed, light reflecting in his dark hair like glass. She had eyes only for him: the shimmer of air around his weapons, an overwhelming sense of power. He now stood above her, her, terrorised, her belly all contracted, her heart beating so fast. Slowly he picked her up, shivering, small tears running down her dirty little face, her thin body shivering. With one hand he pushed her hair back from her face and, holding her in his arms, whistled for his horse. His eyes were of a deep blue, like the water of icy streams.

She had a glimpse of him: the two swords held behind his back, the short bow, a shorter sword on his side: in one swift move he mounted his horse, holding her carefully in front of him in the saddle, his horse waiting for his signal. She felt safe in his arms, suddenly. He gave her a drink from a small bottle: soon she was asleep, a soft doll in rags, ignoring the horse’s gallop through the forest.

She woke up, lying down, near a bright wood fire. A warm blanket around her, a soft pillow behind her head, she saw him: without his armour, he was sitting in front of her, on the other side of the fire, smiling. She saw the big scars on his naked chest, the powerful arms, the beautiful archangel face, the icy eyes. His long black hair was tightened behind his nape. The two swords were next to him, reflecting the flames. He did not say a word, but she heard him. He was telling her his story: the story of a soldier, visiting her world and fighting for justice. He was very old, unfathomably old, and she understood he felt lonely, he could do with a companion. But he wanted to know: would she have him as her guardian, knowing he was merely a soldier of God, in the name of Whom he was fighting, for ever. She cried, and he stood up, came to her, holding a little bowl full of water, to wash her face with infinite tenderness. And then she knew who He was, and she thanked the Lord.