Here There Be Monsters

This is Part 9 of an on-going serial I’m writing called, “Lyr the Enchanter”. To read the story from the beginning, you can find the story index, here.


I walked along the shore of the Isle of In-Between, cautious not to get too close to the water’s edge. Even on the foreshore I wasn’t safe from the monsters that dwelt beneath the indigo waves.

Gazing out over the water, I saw the skeletal remains of the island’s guardians turning to quicksilver as the sun set. They shimmered, and glimmered, and transformed; nothing was ever static here. It waxed and waned according to an ancient magic I could not see nor hope to understand.

The only spellcraft I understood was enchanting. And now my wife wanted me to use it to take another’s life.

My dark thoughts were disturbed as something broke the surface of the water, rearing up high above me.

‘Lyr the Enchanter,’ it hissed, snake-like, turning its dead face towards me. ‘I have a proposition for you. What would you bargain in exchange to leave this island?’


Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #9 – And this week, I’m only 1 word over the 150 word limit – woohoo!

Bound but not Blinded

This is Part 8 of an on-going serial I’m writing called, “Lyr the Enchanter”. To read the story from the beginning, you can find the story index, here.


I had fallen in love with Arastia from the moment I laid eyes upon her. It had been my downfall. Everything that came after could trace its roots back to that beginning. Even now I still loved her, though my love was more cautious than before; I was no longer blinded by it. However, I was bound to it. To her.

‘It’s too early to reveal all to you, Lyr, but I need you. I always need you.’

I sighed at the lies. ‘I don’t deal in death, Arastia.’

‘Perhaps not before, but you will this time, my love.’ She smiled softly.

‘Will I? Why?’

‘Because I ask it of you,’ she whispered. We were speaking of murder, yet she was the perfect picture of serenity.

‘Until then, I cannot permit you to leave me.’ She flicked her wrist and cast a spell. That was all it took to make this hateful island my new prison and my wife, my gaoler.


Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #8 – I’m starting the year still exceeding the word limit, but at least with this instalment it’s only by 11 words

Unearthing Secrets

I had never built a brick wall before so was unsure how far down the foundations needed to go.  Was it as deep as the wall was to be tall?  Or was I confusing that with a tree and its roots?

I paused, momentarily muddled, before resuming digging.  Better to have more foundations than not enough.

When the trench was two foot deep, the spade struck something with a sickening sound.  White bone gleamed from out of the soil.  That’s when I realised I would have been happy with a fence.


Written for Weekend Writing Prompt # 88 – Foundations  |  Word count: 91

Beauty Hides The Beast

This is Part 7 of an on-going serial I’m writing called, “Lyr the Enchanter”. To read the story from the beginning, you can find the story index, here.


She was beautiful. Like a goddess or a water spirit. Radiant. Graceful. And she was waiting for us on the shore.

The Boatman guided the boat through safe waters and beached the craft on the shingle. He didn’t get out.

‘Until our next meeting,’ he whispered as was his want. ‘I wonder what will have become of your soul by then…’ His hushed words were laced with amusement. He knew I didn’t want to be here. Moreover, he knew what would happen now that I was.

I clambered out. ‘Lady,’ I said, with a slight bow of the head.

‘Must you really be so formal, Lyr? I’m your wife. Or have you forgotten?’ She spoke with a sneer that she reserved just for me.

The glamour of her beauty shattered with her caustic tone. I sighed. ‘What is it you want, Arastia? There is a prison cell in the castle that I’d like to get back to.’

‘Why must I want something?’

‘Because I know you. You always want something.’

A blinding light flashed behind my eyes. Between the brightness and the pain, she told me what she wanted.

Death.

But whose?


Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #7 – Again, I’m well over the word count, by about 40 words – eek!  As the story develops, I’m really struggling to keep these chapters tight and to the word limit…

Soul-Searching

This is part 4 of an ongoing serial I am writing, called “Lyr the Enchanter”. To read the previous parts, follow these links:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

‘You don’t need to look into my face to know my soul, Boatman,’ I whisper, my voice surprisingly level. ‘You’ve looked into it before.’

‘Yes, I have, Lyr,’ the hooded figure agrees. He says no more for the time being, keeping his thoughts on the state of my soul to himself.

I blink and miss him moving back to his seat in the front of the boat. I breathe a sigh of relief. Close proximity to The Boatman should make all sane people uncomfortable.

We continued on downstream. The current was getting stronger, and we were moving faster. This meant we were almost at The Isle of In-Between.

We passed through a diaphanous haze, and the world momentarily sparkled. Suddenly the shapes of buildings loomed above us, their shadowy forms towering up into the night. Their vastness, even in the darkness, was oppressive.

‘Are you ready to pay what’s owed, enchanter?’


Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #4

The Boatman

This is the third part of a currently untitled serial I’m writing.  Follow these links to read the previous parts: Part 1, Part 2


I closed my eyes in disbelief. I had met The Boatman before. Ten years ago, actually. I have often wondered how much of that night was responsible for what came after, but I didn’t like to dwell on it for too long. I would hate to become bitter.

The moon was cloud-wrapped. Everything around us was shadow. There was no sound bar that of the river as it gently slapped against the side of the boat. The Boatman didn’t feel the need to talk, nor offer any sort of explanation, and I had the good sense not to ask.

I knew where we were going any way. The Isle of In-Between; Kya-Shar, in the old language. If you can avoid it, do.

When I opened my eyes again, The Boatman was there, right in front of me, staring. The clouds parted, and I could see the deep furrows etched across his bark-like skin. He was smiling.


Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #3 – I’ve gone a few words over the 150 word limit this week. :-/

The Night Boat

This is the second part of a currently untitled serial I am writing.  To read the first part, The Three Ways To The World, click here.


I entered through the small door, my heart beating furiously and my tread, cautious. There was nothing but darkness to greet me. No torches or lanterns lit the way. Instead it was my hands, feeling along a damp stretch of wall, that guided me.

I almost ended up in the river. Then I spotted it.

At the far end of the boat, with their back to me, sat a cloaked and hooded figure. My blood ran cold. As I was about to begin my retreat back to the prison – I no longer wished to escape for I was safer in there than I was out here – they spoke.

‘Get into the boat, Lyr. I won’t tell you again.’

I heard the sound of the doorway closing. Returning wasn’t an option now, so I stepped into the boat, and in silence, we drifted downstream and into the night.


Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #2

The Three Ways To The World

I stood looking at the three entrances, scratching my head. A normal sized door, a really big door, and a double-gated archway. Why were there three? And which one was I suppose to use?

I’d never seen anyone enter the castle – or leave it – through these doors, but it was here I’d been directed to. I recalled the message: Go to The Three Ways To The World at midnight. Make your escape. Good luck.

Here I was, before The Three Ways, at midnight, as instructed, but suddenly I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave any more. I had been inside the castle for ten years. Perhaps it was better I stayed there?

A creaking sound, loud enough to wake the whole citadel, echoed through the night. I started to panic.  One of the doorways was opening, but which one, and to where did it lead?

‘Come, enchanter. Freedom awaits…’


Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #1

The Wrong Way Home

Inspired by Samhain / Halloween, and the fact that I’m reading the spooky The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, I thought I would try my hand at a spooky tale of my own for this weekend’s writing prompt…


The Wrong Way Home

Night was falling fast in the forest.  Soon it would be dark.  I shuddered, gazing up at the waymarker.

There was something strange about the arrow on the signpost.  I was sure I had seen it before, only it was pointing the other way.

I was tired, I told myself.  That’s all.  I wasn’t going round in circles, and there certainly wasn’t someone hiding behind the trees, changing the signs.

I took the left fork which said, “Town – 3 Miles”, and went on my way.  A little while later, by the light of the full moon, I read the next sign, pointing to the right.  “Town – 3 Miles.”

The forest was unnaturally silent.  Suddenly I felt scared.

The bushes rustled.  I heard a rasping sigh.

‘Home is this way,’ a voice said from out of the darkness.


Written for Weekend Writing Prompt #78 – Arrow

The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Everleigh, Gentleman-Explorer

This is the final piece of writing for the Outcast anthology. Fingers crossed, the anthology should have the last few loose ends tied up this week.  It really has been an adventure.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy today’s story.  It’s inspired by the prompt “Secret Doorways”, but it is quite a bit over the challenge word limit of 250 words…

Written in response to WWP # 22 – Secret Doorways


The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Everleigh, Gentleman-Explorer

This is a random historical photo…

Arthur Everleigh pushed his tiny round spectacles back up his nose. He was feeling smug. They said he would be no good as a gentleman-explorer, or an archaeologist, but look at him now. He was exploring. He was discovering.

Who were “they”? Everyone. His classmates at Cambridge. The professors too. Not to mention, his father, Sir Lancelot Everleigh.

‘Ha!’ he cheered, fist raised in the air in triumph against his naysayers. A huge sneeze broke off his gloating celebration, a consequence of the vast amount of dust.

Casting his eye about the dimly lit room – the only light coming from the small lamp he was holding – he guessed it had been centuries, no millennia, since anyone had been in there. Statues, chests and strange looking furniture filled the space. All was covered with many lifetimes worth of grime.

Raising the lamp, he turned slowly to allow the light to reach into the furthest corners of the room, chasing away the ancient shadows. On the far wall, he noted a large inscription, which he translated in his head.

HERE LIES THE GREATEST KING THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN
ARTHUR PENDRAGON, CHIEF OF THE BRITONS

‘I knew it!’ he exclaimed, his free arm swinging before him for emphasis. ‘What will they say about me now?’ he asked in a self-satisfied tone.

He continued to study the room, his mind wandering slightly from what he could to see to whether it was likely the British Museum would name something important after him.

‘“The Arthur Everleigh Collection”, perhaps?’ he mused, chin nestled between thumb and forefinger in deliberation. ‘It does sound rather good.’

And that was when he spotted it, half-hidden in the gloom. A door.

His brow furrowed. He was sure the building hadn’t looked big enough from the outside to accommodate another room. But then, he had been wrong before. In fact, he had always been wrong about everything before.

Pushing his concerns to the back of his mind, he went over to explore some more. Rolling an impossibly large shield out of the way, and then wiggling a chest just enough to make access to the doorway easier – Arthur wasn’t a particularly strong young man; he preferred cricket to wrestling – he surveyed the entrance. Scratched into the wood of the door were the words, THE ISLE OF APPLES.

‘Avalon…’ he whispered. ‘Could it be…could it really be…I wonder…’

Come along now, Arthur,’ he heard the pater’s voice in his head. ‘Don’t do anything silly. Or reckless. If the papers get to hear about it, well, imagine the embarrassment for the rest of us.’

Arthur weighed up his father’s words. They sounded sensible. He should return to civilisation and put a team together so they could start cataloguing the treasure he had found. Then, maybe with an old soldier, or one of those derring-do sorts of chaps, he could find out what was beyond the ancient barrier. That did sound safer.

He stared at the doorway for what felt like a lifetime, trying to make up his mind. Finally, he came to a decision. Why would he want to involve other people in his greatest victory? Sharing the glory after he had done all the hard work…no. That didn’t seem fair.

‘Sorry, Father,’ he said to the dusty room. ‘I like doing silly things. I like being reckless. And I’m quite enjoying being a gentleman-explorer.’

With that, he pushed open the doorway and stepped through…