Please note: I am not eligible to win but I did have a lot of fun with this picture.
I covered the last few steps to the old foundation and looked at the stones with an archeologist’s eye. Worked stone, old, Medieval construction or before, no metal reinforcements. It had the outline of a smallish house, maybe used in its later life as a dwelling for sheep or other livestock. I bit my bottom lip in thought.
Built on an ancient barrow or burial mound.
My property, inherited from an unknown benefactor, proved not to be the wasteland of rusted machinery that I imaged it would be. Instead, I found a fairy tale cottage and a land heavy with ancient history. And this weird bit of stone and moss, waiting for me like a living thing on my land, unperturbed. Confidant in its age.
I walked along the edge of the foundation, absently noticing the twitter of birds and distant lowing of a cow. Concentrating on the stones, I stepped carefully around several blue stones that had fallen away from the base.
The cow went silent but I didn’t think anything of it.
Slabs of blue stone barred my way. One had shifted, slanting to expose a stone well.
The morning sun disappeared behind a cloud and I shivered. The contrasts between light and shadow became one of gray. Birdsong vanished like the sun and the wind died. Everything was still as if I had stepped through a curtain into a silent world.
As if, the world paused in its spin and now waited, breath held.
I hesitated my skin prickling. But something odd caught my eye and I forgot the chill that brushed my neck and arms.
On the other side of the canted stone, a dark hole opened into the rock wall. I peeked inside the well of stone and saw an object at the bottom of the meter deep hole.
I knelt for a closer look, squinting in the low light. It was darker than ever, like the twilight before a cloudburst.
A storm must be rolling in, I thought.
But the weather was the least of my concerns now and I ignored it.
It was difficult to see it clearly but something brown and slender lay at the bottom. A violent gust of wind caught my dark hair and blew it into wild tangles around my face. Bits of grass and grit whirled in a sudden maelstrom around the stones.
I reached in and shuddered with the thought of bugs and varmints that might await my fingers. But it was dry and cool in the stones. I touched a leather-covered object, long and thin, pulled it out of its hiding place and into the darkened afternoon.
The material was burnt-orange brown and soft as if lightly oiled leather. Impossible of course. Unless someone had deposited it recently. But the green moss seemed undisturbed.
A soft hum came to me, a low vibrating noise like that of a tuning fork.
The wind, I thought, whistling through one of the openings in the foundation. The beginning of the promised summer storm.
I set it on the ground, untied strips of thin sinew and unwound the supple leather. The leather released suddenly and the artifact tumbled from my hands, landing soundlessly in the grass.
My breath left my lungs in a huff. A rapier glimmered dully in the sunless day, the blade of deep black, shot with a tracing of gold. The foil was an intricate design of black and gold wires, an ancient artifact of inestimable value and quality.
The gold emitted a dim glow as if covered with dingy film. But the blade appeared as if my hand could pass straight through if I touched it, as if it had depth, a three-dimensional effect. Vibration filled the air about me humming louder.
I reached for the hilt and lifted it. The sun chose that moment to break into brilliance. A great flash exploded soundlessly and the gold rose up to meet the radiance of the sun. It glowed as if the light was in it and behind it. And faraway, I heard hollow, basso thunder.
The thrumming, deep-earth hum filled my body, chattering my teeth and scattering my wits. Gold covered me, filled and encapsulated me like a halo of pure energy.
And then I fainted.
Far away, on another continent, a fierce blow struck the Dragon in his chest. His legs buckled and he fell. A deep roar vibrated his body and mind, coming from under his body from the ground beneath him. The sensation of iron clutched at him and pulled him to the east like the point of a compass, incontrovertible and inescapable.
Chaos filled his mind as he recognized The Call. One thought only came to him:
The Rapier has found a new Master.