Monday, March 26, 2012

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words Blogfest

At Unicorn Bell, our critique group blog, we are hosting a Blogfest called A Picture Paints a Thousand Words.This is my contribution. 

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.


  1. Great photo and excellent short piece leaving me wondering what's next. :-)

  2. WOW!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!! Did I say WOW already? Brilliant - and I want MORE MORE MORE!

    1. It's an interesting part of something with a lot of drama. Maybe even a fraction too much if you're aiming for realistic. Oh, and I liked the attempts to put in historical touches, but since I do have a trained archaeological/historical eye, that started to pick small holes in them. I suspect most people won't notice.

  3. I like that!!!! Write more, write more.

  4. Great ending! I would definitely keep reading. This sounds like it could turn into an amazing fantasy novel.

  5. I'm sorry to say that you gave more interest to scenery than story. The ending was the only part where story and scenery was combined to make this entry interesting. The rest of the story was a slow tedious read. Sorry.

    I still think you have a good story. I love the premise. But your style doesn't draw me in.

  6. I was not expecting that ending, so that's a plus for you! Good job! :)

  7. LOL, hmm, wonder where this came from. Isn't it good to see people find it interesting? Definitely worth continued efforts on your part, don't you think?

    I've always enjoyed your writing style and this was no exception.

  8. I really enjoyed this. From one inheritance to another, of sorts, since the Rapier has chosen it's new master. I'd love to read more if you've considered expanding this.

  9. Enjoyed the build up. This could easily be an opening to a much longer epic fantasy! More!

  10. I'm guessing there's much more to this than what you've got here...

  11. I'm not quite sure I can believe someone would build any dwelling on top of an ancient barrow, much less a rapier being within (an old sword, perhaps).
    You had me at the dragon though.

    One little thing I couldn't help spying ... “Confidant in its age.” – I think you might mean confident here. ^_^

    1. *face palm*
      Crap. Good catch.

      Nope it's rapier. Magical of course.

      real dragon btw. In a man suit.

  12. so cool! have i read this from you before? it sounds so familiar! maybe its your awesome weave of writing and i'm thinking of adamant & picturing her find her unicorn jewel... or im just a nut!

    either way, awesome!

  13. Awesome! I loved this! I really want to know more!!!

  14. I can tell you had a lot of fun with this :)

    Very intriguing! ...will you continue the story?

  15. I enjoyed this, maybe too descriptive for some but as story worth expanding. As for the question above, most modern towns and cities even villages in the old world are build over ancient ones including barrows.

  16. A little perspective:
    This is a small excerpt from a 101K manuscript. The story is set in England close to Stonehenge. It is a rapier not a mere sword and has delusions of grandeur.
    There are many burial mounds/barrows in the world.
    My Protag is speculating.
    The stones are more an exposed foundation than a true building as depicted in the picture.

  17. OMG; the Sword in the Stone has been found, and it's discovery of a new master has awakened Merlin!

    Ok, you can send the rest of this story along for my reading pleasure. I know its a rapier not a sword, and dragon doesn't necessarily mean a wizard is present; but your concept is so appealing I' anxious to see where this adventure leads.

    I think this line: "The cow went silent but I didn’t think anything of it." was an excellent transition into the fantasy world. Every new sound and discovery built the mystery and story plot. I loved the way the weather could be used as a normal occurance, or signs of divine acceptance. Seriously, the movie was running in my head (and not the cartoon version).

    I love where you took this picture prompt Huntress. A fabulously unique take on the setting.


  18. I am intrigued! I always love the idea of objects gaining a master/owner. Idk. Somehow it makes them feel ALIVE that they should need a companion.


  19. I loved this. I kept trying to read faster because I wanted to know what was going to happen! :-) The world might be changing around us but curiosity always pulls us forward. I want to read the rest of the story!

  20. Excellent photo and intriguing, well-written excerpt! Good job. :) Of course, I love dragons so the "ending" was especially cool.

  21. really good stuff there. I liked the voice. I liked it all, actually.


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