What Pegman Saw – Most Precious

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Pico Duarte, Dominican Republic.

WPS - Most Precious 180120 02

Genre: Historical Fiction, c.1505 A.D.

Word count: 150

What Pegman Saw – Most Precious

I went by night to our chieftain. Like the Spaniards, his house was stone. It smelt odd.

“Sir, must you send Agueybana to work in the goldmine?”

I gave him my sweetest caresses, an evening of delights.

“I will speak to Don Ortiz. Agueybana will be fine. He’ll be back in a few weeks.”

Months passed. The King of Spain commanded that the best miners, Agueybana among them, were to work in the royal mine.

“Agueybana will be rewarded when his service is complete,” promised our chieftain.

I could bear our separation no longer. I set off by night, through trees. Creatures barked and howled and slithered in the darkness. I walked for seven days and nights, eating only fruit and drinking water from streams.

At last, scrambling over shattered rocks, I saw my beloved gazing out over the valley.

“Anacaona?” he gasped, and held me tightly in his arms.

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Waking up in June

Although most of what I post on Autumn Leaves is my own, original work, just occasionally I read something exceptional and want to share it. This poem is by Karen Rawson, and in my opinion it’s outstanding. It will be one of my ‘go to’ poems if I need cheering up, because it’s just bursting with joy!

k. Rawson

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Waking up in June

Hey Koolaid, get your summer on
Morning dew, I don’t back down.
School’s out, summer!
Playground, dayground, butterfly garden
I can swing so high the chain goes slack
Squealing on the breath-catch dizzy-down.

Ready or not, here I come!
Barefoot and coppertoned, hear my rally:
I’ve got a pool pass, wanna see it?
Olly olly oxen free
Jarfull of night and firefly
I don’t see no streetlights;
I can stay out late ya know

Twenty-five cents buys a fresh box of crayons
Didja wanna know a secret?
Look inside:

I’ve got a million colors.

98 words

This has been an edition of Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the talented Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo courtesy J. Hardy Carroll. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

A tidbit for you….I am actually in this picture…

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Friday Fictioneers – Parental Guidance – Don’t!

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Parental Guidance - Don't 180117

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Parental Guidance – Don’t!

My legs swing free and a warm pine-scented breeze caresses me all over, even my toes, as I feel the first juddering of the ride, whose lurid seats resemble a beetle’s carapace, curved, metallic green, dangling from metal poles whose rust I notice as the music pounds and the movement quickens, and my feet swing out, my sandals skimming inches from the safety rail, the lights above me flashing red and amber and blue, and a disco strobe accompanies the heavy rock that endlessly pummels my ears and – we’re slowing.

Thank goodness that’s over.

“Did you enjoy it, kids?”

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 7

Here is Part 7 of my fantasy serial, “The Bridefarer’s Choice”.

If you are new to this story, you can find the earlier parts here

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 1

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 2

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 3

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 4

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 5

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 6

I will publish successive episodes every Monday.

The Bridefarer's Choice - Part 7 180115

I very much hope you enjoy it!

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 7

Freya and I had barely reached the plain before we were apprehended by a troop of Lord Conor’s men. They bound my wrists behind my back, and made me ride all day without reins. My legs burned with the fatigue of controlling Mavra like that.

I hadn’t realised that Lord Conor would maintain a guard on such a little-used pass through the mountains. I glanced across at Freya. She rode serenely, ignoring our escort. At least they were treating her with courtesy.

“Here we are – the High Hall of Conor. Down you get!” I nearly fell as I dismounted.

The soldiers manhandled me beneath the portcullis, across the pebbled yard and through the strong stone entrance to the Hall. The mighty oak door thumped shut behind me, trapping me in a place of shadows.  Even in my exhaustion I realised that the building had been newly strengthened and fortified.

Onward they urged me, past flaring torches, until we stood in the Great Hall, in the presence of Lord Conor.

“Here’s the man, my Lord, and this is the shield he was carrying,” grunted one of my captors.

Lord Conor eyed it.

“A Danish weapon.”

“As was the blade he was carrying, my Lord.”

“This man is not a Dane.”

I dropped my eyes before Lord Conor’s stare.

“Bearing arms in my territory without my approval is forbidden. Bearing arms carrying a foreign device compounds your crime. The penalty is death. Do you have anything to say?”

I raised my eyes to his.

“My Lord, I crave pardon for a crime committed unwittingly. May I say too, that both shield and sword were packed on my beast, with the device concealed? I have no wish to offend, my Lord; I am a liegeman of Lord Robert, your ally.”

“Is he telling truth, Roderick?”

“Aye, my Lord. The shield was packed as he said.”

Lord Conor’s gaze seemed to pierce me.

“How did you come by the shield?”

“My Lord, I was journeying from Fasthaven through the mountains with my bride. The folk of Fasthaven provided me with the weapons lest we meet with Danes on the road.”

“And did you meet any?”

“Yes, my Lord.” I hesitated. How much to tell? Lord Conor’s expression became grim. “My Lord. We met two Danes, warriors. I killed them.”

Lord Conor’s eyes opened very wide. He climbed down from his high seat and walked around me, looking intently at me. The top of his head just reached my shoulder.

“You’re no warrior, lad. You killed two Danes? I think not.”

The men around us sniggered.

“Do you think you could best me, lad?”

“My Lord, you are the ally of my liege lord. I would not raise blade against you.”

“Cut his bonds. Set him free.”

Roderick cut the thongs binding my wrists. My hands felt dead.

“Give him the blade and the shield.”

Roderick fetched both. I fumbled them with my numb hands. The soldiers loosened their blades.

“No!” Lord Conor’s voice was harsh and full of authority. “If he bests me in fair fight, release him and let him go where he will with his bride.”

I looked him in the face. He had a faint smile.

“My Lord. I will not lift blade against you.”

“Then you will die.”

He raised his sword high.

The blade was long and dark in the shadows. The steel looked very sharp. I looked at his eyes and read death there. I forced myself to keep looking. I saw him tense, saw the minute flicker of the muscles that presages a blow. That would have been the instant to raise my shield to parry. Instead, I remained perfectly still.

The heavy blade sang as it passed my ear, ripped the elbow of my jerkin, nicked the skin of my ankle.

“Ha! You’re no Dane. You’re loyal. Stupid, but loyal. Roderick – we’ll take care of him and set him on his way.”

“Very good, my Lord.”

I was shaking, but pulled myself to my full height.

“Thank you for your gentle courtesy, my Lord. Insofar as I may under my own liege lord, I pledge my sword and my life to your service.”

The warriors around me smirked, but Lord Conor looked grave.

“Insofar as I may without breaching my alliance with the Lord Robert, I accept your sword and your life. You are a brave man, Diarmid MacDiarmid, and I have need of such.”

I started. How did Lord Conor know my name?

“Lord Robert, that matter we were discussing earlier; I think we have the man for the job?”

A tall, pale-faced man, whose demeanour would have fitted more a scholar or a monk, emerged from the shadows. I had only seen him once before, but I recognised him immediately. I bowed my head, sank to one knee and proffered the hilts of my sword.

“My Lord!”

He accepted the weapon.

I remained kneeling. He touched me with the flat of the blade, first on my right shoulder, then on my left, then on my right again.

“Arise, Thane Diarmid.”

I stood, and he smiled at me, without warmth or humour.

“You will need this honour if you are to accomplish what we need.”

“Come,” said Lord Conor. “We will eat and plan. Thane Diarmid, you will join us at table.”

 

What Pegman Saw – Proposal

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Fiji. My story features Adrian and Sue who were introduced in my Friday Fictioneers story “Close to the Wind”

WPS - Proposal 180113

Paradise Tavenuni Resort © Kathy Barrett, Google Maps

Proposal

Adrian swaggered up to Sue.

“Do you fancy crewing for me?” he asked.

“In your dreams!”

“It’s in Fiji. Flights and accommodation paid; work trip.”

Sue goggled at him. “That’s work?”

He grinned. “How about it?”

Adrian bagged the window seat on the plane.

Sue smiled at the man in the aisle seat.

“Would you mind swapping seats?” The passenger obligingly moved next to Adrian.

But Sue couldn’t escape Adrian’s invitation to dinner on the evening after their arrival. In truth she enjoyed the meal, their table under sparkling stars and overlooking rippling water that reflected the gentle moon.

Adrian looked nervous.

“Actually, I really want to do the Oyster World Rally.”

Sue gasped “That’s round the world! Two years!” Then she said firmly, “Only if I skipper.”

“Every other day?” suggested Adrian

There was a long pause.

“OK. Deal.”

Adrian kissed her.

“Bastard,” she murmured – and kissed back passionately.

Friday Fictioneers – “Hullo, Mr Spider”

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Hullo Mr Spider 180110

PHOTO PROMPT © Victor and Sarah Potter

“Hullo Mr Spider”

I bash the alarm clock.

Wow! That’s a big ol’ spider on the window!

“Hullo, Mr Spider.”

Any bread in the kitchen? I shift the heap of dirty plates. Nah, course not.

Telly’s on in the lounge. Mum’s wrapped up in her duvet on the floor, snorin’. Been drinkin’ vodka, I ‘spect. I open the curtains, but she don’t stir. I nick some of her takeaway. Not bad, but too spicy.

I wish she’d wash me shirt. I hate goin’ to school smelly, and gettin’ laughed at.

It’s quarter past eight – I gotta get the bus to school.

“Bye-bye, Spidey!”

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 6

Here is Part 6 of my fantasy serial, “The Bridefarer’s Choice”.

If you are new to this story, you can find the earlier parts here

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 1

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 2

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 3

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 4

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 5

I will publish successive episodes every Monday.

I very much hope you enjoy it!

The bridefarer's choice - part 3 

The Bridefarer’s Choice – Part 6

Malcolm looked at my sword with dismay.

“You might as well carry a bodkin. You couldn’t kill a cat wi’ that thing.”

He took out a dirk, held it gently, easily, in his right hand

“Kill me wi’ your sword,” he invited.

“Kill you?”

“Aye.” He grinned. It was not an attractive grin.

I took a deep breath, and took a swing at his left upper arm. It wouldn’t kill – I hoped.

There was a rattle. The dirk was now in his left hand, my blade caught by its hilt.

“My wee lad could do better than that. You might at least aim for somewhere vital.”

He released my weapon. I chopped vertically down at his head.

My blade hit the ground. Very shortly afterwards I followed it. Duncan had stepped aside from my blow, leaned forward and unbalanced me, helping me on my way.

“The only way you’ll kill a Dane, laddie, is if one of them dies laughing.”

I picked myself up, snarling.

“Again?”

“As you wish.” He balanced on the balls of his feet. This time he was at least paying me the compliment of taking me seriously.

I thrust as fast and hard as I could at his heart. My blade turned against the hilt of his dirk, and he disarmed me, and stood on my sword.

“My dirk will take any number of blows from your bit of tin – and look at the state of it now.” He showed me the two weapons. His dirk, unmarked. My sword, bent and blunted.

“But I couldn’t do that if you were wielding a Dane’s sword. It’s three times the weight, and much stronger. What I would need then is a Dane’s shield, like this.”

And so the day passed. By its end, I was bruised, bloody and aching in every limb.

“Well, laddie, you’re learning, but you’re no warrior. The best advice I can give you is to stay away from any Danes. The second best is to use your shield before your sword. Good luck.”

Staying away from Danes it would have to be.

I’d reached Fasthaven by the high road, but there was another route through the mountains.

“Freya will guide you,” Oldest Caitrin told me. “She knows the way. You will travel to the mountains by night, and start your crossing at first light. The way is narrow and stony. How will Mavra fare on such a path?”

“She is sure-footed enough.”

“Hm. She’s a strong beast and you’ll need such. We’ll just have to risk it.” She turned to Freya, and smiled at her.

“Are you happy, dear heart? I shall miss you, my daughter.”

“I shall miss you too, Mother. Perhaps when times are easier I shall see you again? Or you may come and visit.”

Oldest Caitrin shook her head.

“I fear this is forever, beloved child.”

They embraced, and Oldest Caitrin’s face was wet with tears.

“I am a king’s daughter, Mother. I must be about his business.”

“Take care of this precious jewel, Diarmid MacDiarmid.”

“I will protect her with every ounce of strength, every breath of courage, with my life and with my honour.”

“Then go with peace and honour.”

Malcolm helped Freya mount her palfrey, Alba. I climbed onto Mavra, somewhat impeded by the borrowed shield slung on my shoulder, and the long, heavy, borrowed sword.

The skylarks were a-bed. Mavra was scarcely visible in the dusk. I had removed the silver from her harness for concealment and silence. Alba gleamed like a wraith. The gates of the town opened silently and our journey was begun.

Freya rode on my left, and we trotted easily enough. The sound of our mounts’ hooves was muffled by the turf. Occasionally we would pass cattle, sometimes sheep. We said nothing.

There was no moon, only a great band of stars. I looked up in wonder. The night sky had never sparkled so sharply. My heart sang. I was riding with my bride-to-be, and she a king’s daughter – why, I’d heard her say so herself! She was beautiful, and she would bear my children.

Her hand reached out gently, and just touched my sleeve. She pointed, and placed her finger on her lips. It was just possible to see the outline of some dwellings. Awake now to the danger, I listened carefully. There was a lowing of cattle. A chain rattled; a dog, perhaps. We stole past.

The sky began to grey behind us, and grey shapes loomed up at us. Ahead, the path began to rise. My gaze followed it as it climbed into the peaks. I glanced at Freya. She sat very upright, staring intently up the slope. She pointed, and I saw a twinkling red-orange light, with a faint plume of smoke. Someone had a fire.

“Could it be a shepherd?” I whispered.

Freya shrugged.

“It’s more likely to be warriors. There’s no pasture up there.”

“Is there a way around them?”

“No. The track broadens for about twenty yards, then the real pass starts. They’ve camped there. There are some trees at this end of the broad way. That’s why it’s hard to see the fire.”

‘I will protect her with my life.’

I took a deep breath, dismounted, and tethered Mavra.

“Stay here, Freya. If I don’t return by the time the sun is fully risen, you must return to Fairhaven as quickly as you may.”

“I shall do the king’s business, not your bidding.” She raked me with grey eyes that picked up the faint trace of blue now visible in the dawn sky.

The way was steep, and I went as quietly as I could. Whatever hope I had would lie in surprise. At every moment I expected a yell and a rush of men. Or worse, a feathered arrow from a hundred yards, that would pierce me through and cut off my breath.

I reach the trees, and I’m still undiscovered. They keep a sloppy watch.

I pause, then advance under cover as silently as I can. There look to be two men. Danes. One is sitting by the fire, the other is standing with his back to me, about ten yards away. I must kill him, unawares if possible.

Unawares. Murdering him in cold blood. Not in the heat of battle. Murder.

‘I will protect her with my honour.’

I stride forward, drawing my loaned sword as I go. He half turns, but he’s too slow, I strike at his neck and the blade slices through skin, through flesh, blood spurts, fountains of it, he gurgles, tries to shout, blood gushes from his mouth, his legs buckle. I stand gasping, wanting to retch.

But the other man has heard. He’s risen, he’s seizing his sword but it’s behind him. I run forward as he stands up, sword half lifted. I beat down his defence, but now he’s grasped his shield.

Shield. Use your shield before your sword.

Growling, I raise my borrowed shield. The other makes a sharp intake of breath, gesturing at his own shield. My shield bears the same device as his. I rush him, shield raised, using my weight and height to press him back and back to the edge, and he falls backwards, but I stumble, my sword catches and he’s rising and…

Freya steals up behind him, jabs a dirk into his neck, drags it across his throat. He jerks a few times and then lies still. Freya is looking around.

“There’s only two packs.”

I nod, heaving. Freya looks at me.

“They were soldiers. They served their lord with honour, but you bested them.”

I nod again. Then I turn away and vomit until I am empty, until my stomach muscles cry out and hot tears stream down my cheeks.

“Come, husband! We need to move.”