Valley of Blood

splash

© Sue Vincent

Taylor watched the light from the campfire flicker reflected in his opponent’s all too confident eyes, as he picked himself up from off the ground again and raised his bokken. She was already in position, barely winded, while he was almost totally out of breath. He knew his brother and sisters were watching, but he couldn’t afford to take his eyes of his adversary. They practiced with wooden bokken because they were non-lethal, and for the most part, produced only bruises and welts, but it was still a hard fight, harder than he thought it would be.

Dani was six years older than Taylor, was bigger, stronger, and had a longer reach. Eventually, he’d grow taller, but that would take years, and right now, she had every advantage over him, including that of experience.

“You’re getting better, Taylor,” she taunted him. “I think you’ll make a fine swordsman someday.”

“What do you mean someday?” Suddenly, he raised his bokken over his head and charged.

She just laughed and dodged his clumsy attack, but that was really his trap. Taylor wanted Dani to think there was no way to beat her, but if he couldn’t defeat her with strength and skill, he’d settle for tricking her. Quickly, he swung his stick in an arc low over the ground, and hit her hard in both shins. Dani nearly lost her balance, which gave him a chance to score a blow. Even then, she managed to elude his bokken, but not by much.

The sound of two pieces of wood repeatedly striking each other filled the air, and every time Dani stopped to brag about how he’d never be able to stop her, he’d pull out another surprise.

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The Bunny in the Bow Tie

bow tie bunny

Found at Etsy

Ana kept chasing after the small dragon and then realized she was no longer in her room. In fact, she wasn’t sure she was even on Earth. It was early morning wherever she was, and the nine-year-old girl was freezing.

She looked around and she seemed to be in the mountains. There were trees, bushes, and other plant life. There was a trail beneath her feet, but it didn’t seem to lead back or lead to home or even any buildings. She was totally in the wilderness and the dragon she’d been running after was nowhere in sight.

Ana was still in her pajamas and barefoot which didn’t help matters any. Then, when she heard the voice behind her, she nearly jumped ten feet in the air.

“Hey, Dollface. You lost?”

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The Uneasy Pact

shelter

© Sue Vincent

Dani was with the Davidson children, all of them dressed regally if somewhat uncomfortably, sitting under a grand silken tent, served drink and treats by elven servants, while the Queen of Direhaven, Janellize, sat in front of them next to the golden dragon Shay, the two of them marvelously displayed against the backdrop of a magnificent waterfall.

It was mid-afternoon, and Janellize had just begun her tale of the shared history of her people and the dragons, one fraught with conflict and distrust. But who was at fault and why now was the enmity set aside?

“For time out of mind, we whom you call Elves and the race of dragons have visited your world, but neither are what you imagine us to be from your legends.

“Only in certain lands on your world were we called Elves. In other languages, we have been referred to as fairies, gnomes, and dwarves. In centuries past, an ancient Christian prayer book used the term elf as synonymous with Satan, though other nations of that time, considered some of our people light while others dark in nature. We have also been considered rbhus, hobgoblins, nymphs, demons, and angels.

“Our people have been all of these and none of them, for in truth, we were never truly realized by humans. In fact, just as your world contains differing cultures and individuals with varying characters, so too do we, and thereby hangs our tale.

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The New Apprentice

falcon

A peregrine falcon flies near the Throgs Neck Bridge. Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin.

Landon stood majestically on top of the wind-swept plateau dressed in archaic and stereotypical magician’s apparel. The robe draped over his slight nine-year-old frame from neck to ankle was colored a deep violet with bright yellow crescent moons and five-pointed stars dappled generously across the fabric. His head was adorned with a tall, conical hat made of the same material, displaying identical hue and decoration.

In his right hand, he held a long, slender wand made of a dark wood with no name, and on his left hand and wrist, he bore a thick, heavy glove of leather. High above in the deep azure sky, he saw a mere speck of darkness contrast against the pink and yellow clouds, spread thin as paper by the light of the setting sun to his back.

The wind rushed past his ears, but he could still hear the distinct cry of the falcon circling over his head. The bird of prey was too high for him to hear the boy, but he projected his thoughts into the heavens and the avian would be compelled to respond.

“You must choose now, Perry. Is she to join us or not?”

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What Secrets We Keep

mist at sunrise

© Sue Vincent

“You can’t escape us. This is only a temporary victory. Do you think we’ll really let you get to safety alive?”

Dani was standing on a cliff overlooking a dense wood with the mist covered valley beyond it. It was dawn and the pale blue sky was streaked with clouds, painted in long, ragged strokes.

She was dressed in blue and green, the ceremonial armor of Janellize’s people and silvery chain mail. Dani’s dark blond hair was bound in the back but she wore no helmet. Her sword was sheathed at her side.

Her adversary was also her counterpart, a twin of a sort, but a negative one. Her colors were red and black, which gave her chain mail a scarlet tinge in the morning, mimicking the sunrise. Her hair was also pulled back and tied, but was much darker, a deep brown approaching black.

Both of their eyes were sapphire blue.

“I’ve already escaped you. You are frozen in stone awaiting your final destination at the bottom of some water-filled abyss. I defeated you. I’m free.”

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Trial at Sakhr

carved

© Sue Vincent

Janellize’s gaze was fixed upon the dragonrider standing before her as were the other four elves, if elves they really were. Mandy kept looking in disbelief back and forth between the Mistress of Direhaven and her new found friend. What secret did the teenage girl possess that was a threat to Direhaven, to the dragons, and to her family?

“I don’t know what you mean, and how do you know my name is Danijel?” She was worried. Janellize was no one to trifle with nor did she seem the sort to make a mistake, at least one of great magnitude. She searched her mind, her memories, her feelings, and all she found was who she was and always had been since she was a child of three.

The dark-haired noble known as Wynjeon stood. “I think you’ll find that there is very little we do not know about those who have entered our city.” His eyes were a deep blue, like a frozen lake, his expression impassive like those of his Queen and the other nobles, and Dani knew that he was her chief accuser.

“What must I do to prove you wrong?”

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Show Me The Way To Go Home

pennywise clown

Pennywise from the 2017 film “It.”

Down, down, down Landon fell into the seemingly bottomless pit. The light from above got smaller and further way until he was totally in the dark and still falling, screaming at the top of his lungs. And then he hit something but it wasn’t the ground.

The lights suddenly came up and he was bouncing up and down on a…really big net. The nine-year-old boy looked around as his bouncing started to settle down and he saw he was inside a big circus tent. He’d never actually been to a circus before, but he’d seen them in TV shows and movies. He was in a net used by trapeze artists so if they fell during their act, they wouldn’t get hurt.

Finally the bouncing stopped. It felt like he was on the world’s biggest trampoline, and he used the one his cousins had whenever he went over to their house.

Sitting up, he looked around more. Inside the “big top,” it was completely empty of people. Lots and lots of seats, cages for the lion taming act, another ring for the clowns, but no one was around.

Straight up, there was a big, big hole in the top of the tent which was where he’d come from. How was he going to get out of this?

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Sojourn in Direhaven

entrance

© Sue Vincent

Shay, the spectacular golden dragon, alighted in a wooded valley an hour after dawn. The dragonrider Dani along with the five Davidson children, were clinging to her back still shivering from their hasty flight in the frigid heights above the clouds. After their escape from the Hall of the Mountain Kings, pursued by the deadly spectres of the past, the dragon arrived just in time as the Great Gray God, mortal foe of the Kings, attacked. Vast destructive forces both of nature and magic were released and as the High Citadel crumbled into tons of rubble at the God’s feet, Shay soared far above the carnage in a desperate effort to save her children.

At last they were on the ground again at the promised place of safety, but where were they?

“I know this is difficult my children, but you can rest soon. Dani, help them onto the ground.”

The teenage girl slipped off the dragon’s neck with practiced ease, ignoring the chill in her bones and her profound fatigue, and reached up for Zooey. The kindergartner slid into the older girl’s arms and let herself be lowered to the ground. Mandy, the oldest of the Davidson’s, managed to get down on her own and Zooey ran over and clutched onto one of her legs, resting her head on her side.

Nine-year-old Taylor was next and while Dani was helping his twin sister Paris down, the boy grabbed his seven-year-old brother Jake and helped him off of the dragon.

“Where are we, Shay?” The Davidsons clustered around Dani.

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Riddle Me This!

worm

Screenshot from video game “Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy.”

Landon could hear a strange sound from behind and a huge shadow loomed over him. He suddenly whirled to see a hideous apparition instead of his friend the dragon. It was an enormous worm with a mouth like a lamprey eel, full of thousands of razor-sharp teeth and it was getting ready to strike. It’s hot breath stank of rotting meat and the grave and the nine-year-old knew he was only seconds from death. Try as he might, he couldn’t summon even the simplest of spells. After all of the dangers and adventures he had faced, was this how his life would end?

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The Momentary Sojourner

wilderness path

© Mike Vore

The long neglected boards of the path moaned like a ghost in torment under his boots. This was no longer the real world or at least the one he lived in. Ahead, perched on a rock outcropping was the owl, but not quite an owl.

“Who? Who? Who are you?” Its cry was only slightly human.

“You called me? You said I could see them.”

The old man got closer to the rocks and his host.

“Here, here.”

He climbed up next to the eldritch creature and looked beyond into the pool. It was water and then it wasn’t.

“My grandchildren?”

Noah Davidson couldn’t rescue his grandchildren, but he was allowed to briefly watch them crossing the frozen tundra in the company of a guide not much older than his granddaughter Mandy.

“When will they return home?”

The owl shook its head in a very human manner.

Noah looked back into the vision. “Your Mom and Dad are waiting for you. Come back soon.”

Last night, Noah’s son and daughter-in-law were in a car accident and both were badly hurt. The children were in the car with them but when first responders arrived, all five of the kids had vanished.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of February 25th 2018. The idea is to use the image above to inspire writing a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I’m actually trying to write a novel involving the adventures of the Davidson children, first with Gerliliam and then with Shay and Dani. I’ve posted bits as pieces of it, including “after tales” on this blog.

In today’s tale, I’ve created a situation where the five Davidson children’s Grandpa has made some sort of “deal” to be able to see, but not communicate with the kids. I’ve also hinted at part of what happened to them that resulted in their being whisked to a strange and mythical land and what they have to return to after their long adventures end.

The story most related to this one is Mr. Covingham’s Secret, however you can find other “clues” to this universe in stories such as Where Did Our Home Go?, The Whisperer Expanded, and Adventure’s Bitter Memories. To find out about some of the other children mentioned in this story, read She Treats Us Like Her Children.

If you’re curious about Gerliliam, here’s a sketch I made of him some months ago.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.