The Author Keith Channing produces a "Creative cue" each week for his blog. I try to submit a short story to his blog when I have time and a tale worth telling. He provides a picture prompt, and you must create a short tale that echoes the picture. The story must be short and to the point. I find it exceedingly difficult not to be too wordy and keep words to a minimum, but such is necessary in these circumstances.
Keith has been good enough to feature some of my short tales on his site.
check it out for yourself.
Keith was gracious enough, this week, to feature one of my tales "Peredur" despite the fact it was a little long for his format. Anyway, few will see this and so I thought to add it here. I hope that you like it.
I have not crossed this threshold in a thousand years, not since Peredur died, in the last defense of this place which looked so different then, not stone but a wood palisade stood here, the smell of oxen and dung hung heavy in the air, flies suicidally buzzing my eyes and ears as Cei, the traitor dragged me, protesting into the castle. Many men stood around the gates and Cei pushed me through to the centre and the graveyard that lay beyond the keep. Ar Tur’s body lay burned and headless on the ground among the bodies of his once proud, Knights and Peredur stood before them weeping.
Cei, once a knight of Ar Tur and of the table cast me to the ground amid the dead, the cats, rats, and carrion and said, “look upon proud Angharad and weep for she dies here with you”. I tried to rise but Cei placed his boot on my back and ground me to the mud and dirt. I saw Peredur fall to his knees and raise his hands in prayer. The Jackals grew closer, spears pointing towards him, mean men, traitors all, vain with victory, forgetting who they held at bay. Once he had killed powerful witches, nine they said, eight in truth. Peredur had gained many other names, in other languages, on his quest through Albion, Alba, Waleas, Frankia, Daneland and Eire. The Irish and Foimore called him Percival, The Picts; Galahad and the Saxon; Lancelot. Peredur had battled his way across this many sceptered isle and was not named by enemies and friends without reason.
My name seemed to rouse him from his stupor and slowly he stood, eyes still downcast but no longer filled with tears. I could barely see him pressed to the ground, but his eyes seemed no longer Ice blue but black as though the pupil had spread to cover everything.
Upon standing his assailants had hedged him in a ring of rough-cut wooden spears but they were scared, poking at the air around him rather than trying to kill. But they forget that he is the Lance lord. His arms stretch suddenly, and he pulls the spears from two warriors, smashing the younger one in the face with the butt of the spear. Killing the elder with a thrust to the stomach. Screams fill the graveyard as men die but there are too many even for such a skilled warrior and Peredur is wounded over and over till he sinks to his knees. Exhausted and badly hurt he stares only at the ground sucking in huge breaths which whistle out through wounds in his throat, neck, and chest.
Blood flows, my love is already dead, air heaved in and whistling out as Cei takes his foot from my back and walks towards Peredur. “You fool” he says as his remaining men move back, glad to be doing so. “Ar Tur was a lost cause, a silly dream, men like you and me do not need a cause, we need power. We were allies, we could have been friends, but you had to stay with the old fool till the end”. I saw Cei drop the head of Ar Tur before Peredur. The head rolled before my love and a howl left his slowly dying body. Cei smiled at this despairing sound before my Peredur drew himself to his feet, drawing his huge bastard sword from behind his head, knocking aside Cei’s futile attempt at a defensive position. My love struck his head from the body as he fell over the still spasming corpse; dead before he hit the ground.
Now I am back here before the stone walls, slower than those following the tour and ready to say goodbye to some demons of my own for I had to make a deal with a particularly vicious daemon to flee the slaughter when Peredur killed my sisters. I took the mind and soul of Angharad for revenge upon the murderer that slew my siblings but with time I found that I loved him.
My Penance and escape; I would seed the ground where a hero died with my loves blood to be free of my obligation and I wish to be free of it for Peredur showed me that purity and loyalty can be enough. I wish to be free from that chain and as good a person as my Peredur could be.
It is an easy thing to fall back from the group, find the graveyard, say goodbye again and drip his blood upon the stones after all I am fourteen hundred years old and have learned a few wiles.