Monday, 6 February 2012

F3 - Cycle 66 - @The Begetting of Wisdom

It's been quite a while since I submitted anything to the varied themes suggested by the team at F3 (Flash Fiction Friday)

However, this week's meme was too good to pass up!

Using the words Forest, Fortress, Flying, Forever, and Brimstone the object of the exercise was to create a tale in 1,500 words, or less, along a theme of Swords, Sorcerers, Dungeons and Dragons.

The image (above) from a Moody Blues album came instantly to mind and sparked off a train of thought that morphed into the tale below; I hope you enjoy it, please feel free to leave comments!

....and now I'm off to hunt out said album and relive some fabulous prog-rock!


The flame shuddered in the unseen draught, casting dancing shadows across the dark curtains and tapestries. Mirandella caught the movement from the corners of her eyes but fought to keep her focus on the matter in hand. The glittering, molten metal hissed and bubbled as she took the ladle from Master Galbinus.

“Easy! Gently, my lady!” His ancient voiced rattled, echoing off the hard granite of the fortress tower, his breath a fog that danced upwards through the cold gloom.

His sigh of relief as Mirandella deftly cast the lead into the mould made her smile at her teacher and mentor.

“You have taught your apprentice well, sir,” she chided him. “See – it is done!”

Returning the ladle to the crucible she resisted the urge to rub at the reddened skin where the heat from the blistering metal had spattered and left its mark. Her calloused hands bore testament to the teaching and training she had acquired thus far; she counted each scar as proof of the skills she had attained.

It did not do well, though, to show them in public. Her father, the Lord Kiramir, would not countenance his beloved daughter being subjected to anything so unladylike; therefore she wisely kept her cuffs long and drawn down and her hands gloved whenever possible in his presence. Besides, it was not a great difficulty, for the ladies of the inner court were accustomed to such attire.

Now, Mirandella’s attention was caught by the long robes of Galbinus as he reached across and lifted the mould, dropping it into the dish of water, whose surface instantly stirred into something that roiled and bubbled, hissing like a thousand snakes and an odour that tainted the air with an acrid smell of brimstone.

Galbinus was something of a mystic, an enchanter, a sorcerer; his origin was uncertain and for that alone he was, to Mirandella, something of an enigma that must be pursued. As she sat back in her chair her eyes surveyed the shelves to one side, laden with jars and bottles and strange, other-worldly items that she could not begin to fathom.

Her teacher had mooted the need to restrain her curiosity but he had, on occasion, begun to tell her of strange lands and peoples and customs that lay far beyond the boundaries of Lord Kiramir’s domain; across seas and oceans and something that Galbinus had referred to as the Bridge of Time.

For hours Mirandella would have sat in fascination as her mysterious mentor regaled her with tales of heroes and battles, of huge cities with buildings so tall they scraped the very sky; where people talked across long distances as if they were but in the same room, of curious boxes that conjured up all manner of images and sounds.

Though there was much to wonder at, he had made her laugh with the notion of these strange people having to build machines that enabled them to fly though the air; she had mastered that art in early infancy, levitating slowly from her crib and flying to the rafters of her nursery and causing her nurse endless grief.

Now, though, Mirandella’s thoughts were interrupted as Galbinus approached the steaming bowl set before them. Carefully, the ancient one lifted the tongs and clasped the mould, wresting it from its bubbling repository and laid it carefully onto the table. He knocked away the two halves and a small object rolled free.

Mirandella watched in fascination as Galbinus lifted the artefact into the light for her closer inspection and she marvelled at its simple form.

“What is it?” she asked, turning it over and over in her hand. It bore no relation to anything she had seen before. Galbinus gently took the curious four-armed symbol from her, and held it aloft by its longest part.

“That, my lady, is something that men, through misunderstanding, ignorance and greed, have fought and died over for many, many years. In the lands I have told you about so many times, beyond these borders, beyond time itself, this symbol has great power. Riches cannot buy it, indeed it cannot be possessed; rather, I have heard it said, it possesses men.”

Mirandella looked at the curious object; like two rods, one long and one shorter, laid one atop the other at right-angles. She could not imagine why it had such power over men and her brow knotted in thought.

Galbinus glanced at her face in the flickering candle flame. Her innocence and purity, both present and inherited, had no concept of salvation or the need of it. Indeed, this land of Terrestria-Edensis, was blessed with such peace and plenty he wondered how it could ever change.

And yet, there was already a dark shadow at the edges of the realm. Beyond the endless forest a sense of malevolent evil, worse than the dragons of yore that had been vanquished long ago, crouched at the gates. Tales were already filtering through the streets, rumours and fearful wonderings were already beginning to blight the sleep of many.

Galbinus placed the cruciform metal into his young apprentice’s hand. He had heard that the sacrifice it symbolised, made once and for all and forever, also had the power to span the bridge of time and space; even into this garden of hitherto peace and serenity.

Mirandella fingered the strange talisman, her mind occupied with a million questions and Galbinus sat uneasily in his chair.

So, it had begun.


  1. You have SUCH a brilliant imagination, Sue! And like the mysterious talisman, how well you crafted these words. A lovely, fantasy of a tale and thank you, I enjoyed it awfully much!

    (By the way, I used to LOVE the Moody Blues... Nights in White Satin and Tuesday Afternoon and necking with the boyfriend while the Moodies provided inspiration.)

    1. Thank you, Cathy - fantasy is not really my genre but I found myself exploring this story as it sort of wrote itself!

      As for the 'Moodies' - I love the ethereal impressions a lot of their music inspires!

  2. very, very clever - you can consider yourself well and truly back in the chair :)

    1. Ta, sir! Like I said to Cathy (above) I found myself pulled along into this story and the writing of it was fairly swift - I wanted to know how it would conclude!

  3. I can see Mirandella holding that crucifix in front of her, warding off the evil forces pushing in from the edges of the realm. Your story is not only imaginative, but beautifully written, Sue.

    1. Thank you, Madam Z! It made a change from thrillers/crime/noir - a real challenge for my imagination! :-)

  4. How beautiful this is. Full of incredible images and so much emotion. A story of trust and wonder and faith. Superb!

    1. Thank you, Joyce!

      I did think it was a bit 'light' on the ethereal elements, myself, but I couldn't work any dragons in this time around! ;-p

  5. I love your idea of the cross as an object that can transcend time. It had the feel of the beginning of a quest into another world. One that the master was not really prepared for, but felt was inevitable. And one that the lady couldn't possibly fathom.

    There was a beautiful atmosphere to this story, Sue, so rich and textured. For someone who is out of her element, you sure seemed right at home.

    Thank you, Sue!

    1. Flannery - high praise, indeed!

      I suppose the joy of fantasy is that you don't only create the situation, you also get to create the physical 'laws and rules'.... ;-)

  6. Now this could be a novel it was so good. I very much liked how you brought our earthly realm into the story. By chance have you seen the new show broadcast here in the States called "Once upon a time"?

    1. HI, Beach!

      Don't recall that show - maybe we haven't had it across this side of the 'pond' (or maybe on cable, which I don't have!) - will keep my eyes open for it!

      Never really seen myself writing novel-length fantasy - perhaps I might give it a go....! :-)

  7. Wonderful story, Sue. I'd say, your best yet. I definitely think you should give this genre a try. Maybe a novella of some sort.

    By the way, I used to think that Nights in White Satin was Knights in White Satin. Used to conjuure up all sorts of odd images. :)