Unfurling the map,
Our foe is there, he points, for
Fear for homes and families
makes our resolve yet stronger
Unfurling the map,
Our foe is there, he points, for
Fear for homes and families
makes our resolve yet stronger
By lust for riches
and impolite behaviour
we became swine.
Jason through his piety
made Circe reverse her spell.
Cardeen crouched low on his steed’s broad neck. Flecks of foam escaped from her wide, flaring nostrils and hung in long, white streams from her sweat-soaked mane.
He knew that she could not continue at this furious pace for much longer. Her eyes wide and bloodshot, her hooves thundering on the hard baked earth of the forest path.
Cardeen smiled, behind them there was no sign of his pursuers but he could not afford to slacken her pace. They would be safe only after crossing the bridge which he knew could not be far ahead.
The sun had set and evening was jut beginning to close in as dusk came down and as they rounded a bend, ahead of him between the trees he spotted the bridge ahead. The border between Devon and Cornwall, the river Tamar which raged below.
Taking one hand off of the reins but keeping the pressure on so that she would not slacken her pace he adusted the leather bag slung from his shoulder.
With only fifty yards between he and the bridge he caught a movement in the corner of his eye. His heart sank as from between the trees emerged the red tunics and white waistcoats of a small group of soldiers. Two had muskets raised. He tried to coax one last effort from his already exhausted companion. A puff of smoke showed that one shot had been fired. The first one missed but hearing another report he instantly felt a blow on his chest.
He felt a damp stain below his throat and his grip on the reins loosened. The horse started to slow and came to a halt about ten yards from the bridge. Cardeen felt himself sliding off the saddle to one side.
As his feet landed on the ground he wrenched the leather bag from his neck and swinging it around his head managd to throw it with it’s precious cargo into the middle of the fast flowing stream.
A smile of satisfaction passed over his face as he realised that the documents in the bag would no longer be legible even if they were retrieved. The evidence of treason against his Lord, the Duke of Cornwall would not be found despite his having failed in his attempt to bring the letters back to the castle as his master required.
His eyes closed and sinking to lie on the damp soil Cardeen passed away knowing that he had done his duty.
The strangers with her on the rooftop paused in unison. They seemed confused, unsure what to do next. They had got her this far and so far no hint of what their intentions for her were.
Her mind raced. Looking about her wildly she couldn’t, in fact refused to believe that twenty minutes ago she had been walking through the cobbled streets of the finely preserved National Trust show village.
There had been no sign that there was some form of medieval pageant but she had found herself grabbed bu a pair of swarthy, dark-skinned men in what looked like authentic peasant’s smocks. If the dirt was anything to go by.
Despite her protests the two men had grabbed her and speaking in a strange accent, at least it sounded like an accent but the words weren’t even recognisable, had put a rope round her waist and started to lead her towards the public house she had just passed, “The vine.”
It had seemed empty before but now she found it to be full of the costumed townsfolk. Baleful eyes were cast in her direction as she was roughly dragged through the door.
Still unable to make her captors understand what she was saying and in total confusion, tears started to form; they pulled her through an archway at the side of the old wooden bar. Despite her situation she found herself marvelling at the authenticity of the bar. It really was like stepping back in time as she noted the two large oak barrels standing on the dark brown, knotted, roughly sawn plank that doubled as a bar counter. Behind which there were a range of earthenware pots with unknown contents. There wasn’t even a price list. Then they started to ascend a granite staircase between two rough whitewashed walls.
The people had formed a procession behind them, there were giggles and shrieks of laughter but it was more at her than with her and there was no humour in their loud clamour. From the dark staircase they burst out into the light and she saw that they were on a wooden balcony that overlooked the street at least two storeys below. A rough shaped beam was crudely attached to the handrail and looking up she saw the rope that hung from it over the edge. It was knotted at the bottom with a noose.
Only then did she start to scream.
Being an extract from the log of HMS Fox, brigantine, 9th. Sept. 1869
Awakened at the first bell of the morning watch by Captain of the deck second lieutenant Ffoulkes. Weather fair, sea calm, no fog.
Lookout had reported sighting land on the larboard bow but charts suggest he was mistaken and would face punishment if found to be asleep and dreaming whilst on watch.
Called for my telescope and astonished to see what appeared to be a major town in the distance with houses, rivers and a large abode set high upon a hill.
With First officer, proceeded to check charts and called for a line to be passed down to confirm depth below the keel.
Soundings confirmed depth greater than fifty fathoms. Drew in lead.
Ordered change of course to proceed towards anomaly but before half a league covered lookout reported no land in sight.
Believing it to be apparition or mirage I ordered the ship back to original course to maintain blockade off the coast of Alaska.
Editor’s note. Upon examination of Admiralty records in Greenwich maritime museum, I discovered numerous reports of sightings of ethereal lands and cities off Alaskan coast and Alaskan Indians include such sightings in their mythology. Another mystery of the sea.
Kellerman looked at the huge, carved head in awe. A whole gamut of questions flowed through his mind, the first and most important being who had carved the giant edifice and what did it represent? It could have been a dog, perhaps a stylised vision of it’s creators or even more intriguingly a true to life portrait. The only way to get any answers was to don his safety suit, and take a ride in the exploration module to have a much closer look. Despite some trepidation he knew that this is what they had sent him here to do, although finding evidence of other life forms had not been on the agenda.What alarmed him was the absence of any clearance from the control base. The last vicious lightning storm had closed down any possibility of microwave communication in the foreseeable future. Yet this was an opportunity that could not be missed, the thing had appeared undetected overnight and could easily disappear in the same short timespan. There was no point in waiting he thought, let’s get on with it. He walked through to the robing room and started to don his life support and survival suit, ready to embark on what could turn out to be the most momentous day in his and the whole of martiankind’s history.
where once pictures
gazed down and smiled
content in their task,
ransacked, the gospels
in the glass now gone
the sins of the world,
through the arch revealed
let in with the cold
Many people have admired the stone pillar at the side of the lane that leads to the medeival church of San Marco in Firsti but but it is only the locals who feel they know the true builders and the reason for it’s curious structure. I will tell you the story that I was told when I was just a boy.
Cardinal Cadenza smiled but it was a cold, humourless expression of his sadistic nature. Turning to the two black-robed, cringing priests he asked them to confirm that the nun Sister Dometia had really confessed to the heresy that appeared to afflict so many of the order known as the. “Poor Clares.” They showed him the scrap of parchment and pointed out the scrawl which was purported to be Sister Dometia’s mark. “That is all I need,” he thought. Pressing his fingers to his lips he thought for a moment and then the decision was made. He had been toying with a new punishment for heretics and this would be the ideal opportunity for him to show these heathen that the work of our Lord was just and transgressors could be shown mercy if they turned from their ways and repented their sins. He ordered the two priests to take the prisoner to the lower cell where the stonemason would be waiting for her. The priests left and descended to the lower dungeon where they found Sister Dometia kneeling in prayer in the corner of her cell. Clad only in a woollen blanket they led her down two flights of steps to the room where they saw the mason and his team waiting. They stood around a wooden coffin and stripping the nun naked they told her to lie down in the coffin. All were impressed that even though she knew her probable fate Sister Dometia maintained her vow of silence and stoically lay on her back, arms folded across her breast, in the coffin. The masons then started to trowel cement into the coffin until only her face was showing. When the coffin was filled with the cold, hard, liquid stone the men all left her in this nightmare situation. In the morning when they returned the cement had set and there only remained a corpse in the coffin. They smashed the wood and stood the pillar upright with the nun’s dead face set in a rictus smile looking out. The pllar was then placed at the entrance to the church as a warning to all.
Sit, stand, understand, grow, spend
I declined my host’s offer of a stool on which to squat, instead choosing to eat while reclining on one of the sofas as was the custom in my home country. My slave, as he had been trained, remained within a few paces of me. I informed Valerian that it was time that he and his people should start their insurrection against the tyranny of our hated Emperor. He found it hard to comprehend that such a favoured nobleman as I could cultivate such revolutionary thoughts. I realised he was unaware that when I was a young tribune I had chosen to pay to the assembled nobles vast amounts of my father’s wealth, a form of insurance if anything should ever happen to him. Very timely as within one year he was condemned to exile in Sardinia, leaving my mother, brother and sisters at the mercy of our political foes. Now it was time for revenge or a honourable death in the attempt.
It was the third moonrise since the elation of the first arrival. The seas had remained calm, the large shoals of fish had moved back out of the bay to continue their journeys along the Eastern coast. The return of the first three boats had brought joy but this was replaced by sadness at the realisation there may not be a fourth. There was now only sadness mixed with hope for the watchers on the shore. Women, their heads covered with woollen scarves, shawls wrapped over their shoulders, their once gaily decorated smocks replaced by the black clothes of mourning. Sadly they turned away from the falling tide, retiring to their tiny whitewashed cottages to sit in front of of the open fire in sadness and contemplation. Two with babies slung at their sides felt a worse pain for the children who would never know their fathers. Already the families had known hunger, the times when the shoals of pilchards had bypassed their small cove and other boats had been able to reap the harvest leaving little for the inhabitants of this one remote village, where crops in the field were scarce and prices in the markets high.
One young woman, childless, stayed on the beach in hope, her eyes, though salty with tears, scanning the blue, darkening horizon for any sign of the boats’ return. With no husband or parents to care for she could only wait for her fiancée, the crewman on the smack Louisa. They were betrothed but had decided that marriage could wait until he was able to be master of his own vessel. Then they could hope to move from his parents home into their own property without the expense of paying rent to the Lord of the Manor who owned all of the houses which doubled as the fish-processing works. Gathering all the driftwood and rapidly drying seaweed at the top of the beach she started to make up the fire in preparation for her lonely vigil.
Alex Markovich. 40 y.o. Russia. Artist. Author. MarkovichUniverse AT gmail DOT com Feel free to use my paintings and photos on your blogs and social networks as illustrations for your stories, poems, etc.
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