Old Bard of Tales & the Windswept Castle High On a Hill

Author’s note- This is an epic fantasy and as such is rather long.

I also use the word Faggot whose real original meaning  is “A bundle of sticks and branches bound together”

 

Photo- Poppy Silver

 

Old Bard of Tales & the Windswept Castle High On a Hill

 

 

Come gather round the bardic tree, it’s time to weave a tale

throw the faggots on the fire, pass ‘round the mead & ale…

the sun has set by yonder hill, the moon is bright as pearl

the lord & lady gone to bed, lads come grab your girl

the time has come the common folk gather by the bardic tree

– for this is their time for fun, their time for feeling free…

 

The guards atop their helmets sit; they are men among the men

as eager as the stable boy for the story to begin…

… the fire danced, the shadows grew, throwing spectres on the path

a blackened pot of 3-day stew warmed upon the hearth

the stars that lit the sky that night, hung low to hear the tale

when finally the old bard took up his seat, near the keg of ale…

he cleared his throat, downed his mead, a hush fell about the crowd

the only sound- the snoring of the old bards old hunting hound;

*

I tell a tale of loss and love, blood and dust and war

so gather close, for I’ll not shout, I ne’er’ told this tale before—

 

Windswept Castle High On a Hill

 

 

In a windswept castle high on a hill

with rocky crags broken and steep

there stood a rugged mountainous man

who looked out from his fortified keep

and with sword in hand he surveyed his land

from the valley to the alpine peaks

a hound stood by the young man’s’ side

as the moon rose in the evening sky

both listening to the distant sound

of a lone wolf’s echoing cry

 

campfires shone on the far-off horizon

like eyes with a simmering glow

that seemed to wink at him menacingly

through the falling snow

below the castle’s ramparts tall

his men gathered in the darkening night

with spirited steeds and clashing claymores

they were ready for the coming fight

 

the young lord turned away with purpose

as the hound followed his master inside

to the safety of the inner chambers

to farewell his tearful young bride

and as the midnight moon rose high in the sky

young lord and men moved as one

while the women wept with the knowledge

that not all would see another sun

for battles are long and bloody

when the men fight for the right of their land

and many will not be returning

this truth they understand

 

in a snowbound valley ‘tween two distant hills

rang the clash of blade on blade

in a night of bloody combat

that saw many sent to their grave

but the young lord and his men fought wisely

they had the power of honor in their hands

as they fought for their wives and children

fought for the right of their land

and it was many who returned to home and hearth

with lord and hound in the lead

the hound jumping through powdery snow

while his master rode a spirited steed;

 

 

In a windswept castle high on a hill

with rocky crags rugged and steep

the good lord and his people

slept an untroubled sleep

for the fields were lush with crops

and the larder full of goods

it was a time of plenty

with deer abounding in the woods;

 

now in this time of plenty

a son and heir was born

bright and early and howling

one beautiful warm spring morn

and the villagers praised their noble sire

praised his new born son

and gave thanks for the time plenty

and the good things to come;

 

the people rejoiced the peace times

though ever diligent was their eye

as villages grew and expanded

and families multiplied

at night they celebrated their good fortune

and willingly worked through each day

under their lord’s benevolence,  and his watchful gaze;

 

 

in a windswept castle high on a hill

with rocky crags rugged and steep

a hound with chipped and broken fangs

sleeps at his masters feet

surrounded by faded memories

and the echoes of yesteryear

neither hound nor master heard

the old gray wolf creep near

 

the old hound twitched, as his master did

their slumber disturbed by dreams

of heroic deeds and restless steeds

in a land of harsh extremes

 

as the old gray wolf stood over the hound

his coat was flecked with snow

he watched the hound with yellowed eyes

in the warmth of the fires glow

beside the chair where the old man slept

stood an ethereal ghostly form-

a friend who died in battle one distant winters morn,

 

the old gray wolf looked up at the ghost

both knew the time had arrived

for while the hound still had breath

the master, he had died,

and as the masters ghostly shape took form

the hound awoke to see

the apparition of two old friends

reunited by destiny

 

echoes rose to the ramparts

as the old hound howled his pain

echoes rang out across the land

as the gray wolf did the same,

the hound laid his head in his master lap

but the old man did not stir

nor did his masters withered hand

ruffle the old hounds fur

the wolf turned away from the old man

who sat crumpled in his chair

turned away from the ghostly spirits

as they floated into the wintry air

 

and with sadness, the old hound followed

the gray wolf’s silent tread

away from the windswept castle

and the echoes of the dead;

 

Now fill me pot, the old bard said, by gods I could eat the moon

… which reminds me of another tale – mayhap I’ll tell it soon.

*

SharonleeGoodhand©9-Aug-14

 

 Written for Image Challenge

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Fantastical Realm Of Fantasme

Fantastical Realm Of Fantasme

 

Chronicler and Teller of Tales 

*

The Fantastical Realm of Fantasme lies far beyond the edges of the Human World;

beyond the echoes of the everyday, through the mists of time itself.

It is a wondrous land of ancient myths and living creatures

that most believe exist only within the realm of imagination….

 

But as Chronicler and Teller of Tales, both fantastical and true

I’m here to tell you

that no imagination compares to the sights I have seen;

 

Sibylline curtains of diaphanous mist shroud valleys lost to mankind…

although once… long long ago in a time not imagined, there did exist

a portal between the two world;

Sadly, I was the last to pass through the portal

before it was sealed forever by the Great Wizard Mentorian

sealed by protection spells and all manner of Guardian Gates.

 

 

I have walked the Human World for 200 long years and my longevity is itself a spell

placed on me by the beautiful Gossamer Grace, Queen of the Fay

for I was entrusted with the role of Storyteller

and the only hope that the two words may exist side by side once again

lies in my success in convincing the Human World that Fantasme is real…

… and while mankind continues to doubt its existence

the majikal realm will remain hidden and lost to all.

 

*

Let me begin by retelling how I first came to find The Fantastical Realm of Fantasme

some may think it was quite by accident… if one believes in such things as accidents…

but I learnt that all things happen for a reason… and are mere stepping stones

to ones destined destination;

And mine was Fantasme, oh yes indeed it was.

 

I spent idyllic childhood years living in a tumbledown cottage at the end of Cherryblossom Lane;

my grans cottage it was, nestled snug in the foothills of Titania Mountain…

ahhh… those heavenly ethereal slopes I know so well… vaporous mist drifted

in delicate streamers, clinging to the gentle swells of Titania Mountain;

changing seasons saw me scampering and climbing and investigating

that much loved mound… but in all those years I never made it to the top.

 

I grew up and moved away, as children do and my visits home never gave me time

to do more than hold grans aging hand and talk of old times;

Many were the times I tried to convince my gran to move to the city and live with me

but she would not budge from the mist shrouded foothills of Titania Mountain…

… and I could never blame her, for in truth, it was where I longed to be as well.

 

My last visit to the cottage was to lay my dear gran in the family plot

alongside both my grandpa and my ma.

 

That night as I sat alone with only the owls and echoes of the past for company

I looked up at the mountain I knew so well, when I was gripped by a strange fierce

compulsion to climb to the very top of  Titania Mountain …

a feat, I had been told, never before achieved

but something deep within me urged me to pack a rucksack and go up the mountain…

a journey to the mysterious cloud- cloaked pinnacle

would surely take several days …

 

*

How idyllic it was to retrace childhood steps…  to linger along well-known paths

and quench my thirst by crystal cascades I could never forget;

but by the fourth day I entered unfamiliar territory

that looked and felt like none I had ever seen before…

the narrow path I followed became rough; overgrown with unusual plants

and over-shadowed by age-old trees with secret names.

Dense luminescent moss hugged rotten log and scattered rock

dangling vines as thick as my arm hung like hangman’s rope

from trees I did not recognize.

 

Timid scurrying and scampering whispered in the verdant vegetation

but I never laid eyes on a single creature, ‘cept for an old grey owl who seemed

intent on following my upward progress;

The fourth day found me footsore and fatigued, resting by a high waterfall …

I fell fast asleep in the dappled shade, dreaming of flowers that turned into faerie folk

and a gnarled old tree that sang in my gran’s voice…

Listen… listen to the wisdom of Forest… you must head their words… listen… listen

… listen to the wise ones… the trees… you must listennn….

I woke with a start, shivering and cold, though beads of sweat glistened on my brow;

the shadows seemed thicker now… little sunlight shone through

and…. were the trees gathered closer ‘round me, then when I fell asleep?

 

My bewilderment deepened further when I noticed, or thought I noticed

one tree leaning in close to me… a tree that appeared to have eyes!

 

So….. You are the new Chronicler and Teller of Tales….

the tree appeared to ponder the thought, while scrutinizing me closely

Not what I was expecting… but Her Majesty is never wrong…

to have even made it this far is proof enough;

 

You speak, I whispered, as if fearful my human voice would break this spell

or truly arouse me from this dream… for surely I still slept

surely I still dreamed?

This is no dream little storyteller, the tree chuckled, his leaves quivering and rattling

this is your destiny… you have a role to fill.

Her Majesty awaits you.

 

 

Her Majesty? I queried, I don’t understand.

 

You will little storyteller, you will.

*

Ah… I weary now…the moon wans into first blush of dawn… I must rest, but mayhap

I will continue my tale another night.

*

Sharonlee©2013

My Name is Nilrem

My Name is Nilrem

 

My name is Nilrem;

And my story begins in a time when Unicorns blessed the world

a time of great majik and unity with the Elements…

before the old kings all fought each other to near extinction.

I come from a time of ancient magic and soul-deep unity with the forces of nature.

I was born in a cottage on the outskirts of Carmarthen, a girl twin

born alongside a twin brother.

My earliest recollections are ones of peace and innocence

scrambling through brambles & swimming in still waters….

… exploring the surrounding woods and hills together

gazing at the endless power of star-filled skies;

Life was safe, but venturesome in the early days; we were well looked after and even loved

by the woman claiming to be our mother, but we knew

 oh yes we knew and we had spoken of it he & I;

She was not our mother, as dear as she was.

Of our father & our true mother we had no knowledge

but one or both had powerful majiks.

That we discovered ourselves and kept to ourselves.

Well do I remember how close we were, my twin and I… inseparable

thinking and doing and breathing as one.

By the time we were 12 we knew our majiks were strong;

A rumor had spread around the village of Carmarthen

that the forest and mountain and the rocky green lowlands

had an unnaturally high population of animals.

A hunting expedition was planned by the village elders

in an attempt to decrease the population.

We hid,  he and I, for 3 days and nights in the root-cellar

refusing to come forth until the murdering was done.

Blood tainted the ground and tortured were the silent cries

as creature after creature died.

We lost a lot of friends that day, creature-friends who we had aided or nursed

at one time or another, through seasons flood and famine;

The week following was a grueling one, cleaning up the mess left…

… caring for orphaned babes and helping rebuild shelters.

I cried myself to sleep every night for two weeks.

One day while we were helping a family of rabbits relocate to a safer area

we heard a horrendous thrashing in the bushes;

A deep rumbling voice bade us know no fear and out lumbered a dragon.

The dragon (whose name must never be spoken) informed us that

the elder Priests & Priestess’s, and others who protect  the Old Ways

 were impressed with our heartfelt  connection to nature.

 The dragon also told us that higher powers knew of our pure and potent majik.

our destiny had been seen in a vision, one that would see us taking separate paths.

A time of leaving came for us, we said goodbye, and for the first time in our lives

went in opposite directions.

We never saw each other again;

but as the years stretched into decades I heard of him more and more

I heard tales of his life and achievements and his failures.

Though we lived apart from each other, we both grew powerful

with knowledge and wisdom, our majiks knew no match.

He became well-known and revered and even (by some) feared in every kingdom.

His story was known by all.

My name is Nilrem

and if you can tell me who I am

 perhaps I will tell you my story.

*

Sharonlee©31-Jul-13

Fantasy Tales By Sharonlee Goodhand – SIRIDEÁN SÚILEABHÁN – Dark Eyed Searcher

SIRIDEÁN SÚILEABHÁN – Dark Eyed Searcher

By Sharonlee Goodhand

*

Legend has it that she with the crystal ball

will come with all the answers…

she, sorceress of southern climes

the Dark Eyed Searcher

and so the seers  plot by season & stars

the time of her arrival…

the people wait and tend their roles

and whisper prayers… soon… please come soon

Sirideán Súileabhán sorceress of our salvation…

 It is said, that Sirideán reads signs like no other

that her travels in realms unreachable have harvested much wisdom…

Sirideán is the sorceress all sibyls go to for guidance

the sultry Dark Eyed Searcher that all wizards & magi

secretly lust after on moonlit nights …

the one Earthly woman all gods yearn to own…

But it is also said the dark-eyed Sirideán

walks heaven and earth & cosmos alone… a solitary candle in the darkest of nights;

her obsidian eyes can turn a man to liquid, be it smiling glance or death-stare

and it is told, ‘round tavern tables and family hearths

how she is Child with no Birth… but fashioned by Mother Nature’s hand

as Champion to both creature and land and all who live with honest heart….

**

The villagers of Dáiríne Dell toiled dawn to dusk

so their hamlet could live up to its fertile name

… but rains were poor and for the first time in known history

the Daris River had dried to a trickle of a tear…

all the villagers feared future days… but if truth be told

they feared the coming of the Dark Eyed Searcher more…

… and a runner had arrived, breathless and dusty and almost too weary for words

she comes… he panted… collapsing at the elders feet;

She comes… she comes… she comes

the whisper raced ‘round Dáiríne Dell faster than an Autumn wind

she comes…

people gathered in the village to speculate and share their prophecies

for doom & gloom or fruitful resolutions … those weary souls still toiling

in soil that blew with the breeze in clouds of  fine ground dust

 paused in their labours to look up, wipe  dirty brows and  breathe a sigh…

… she comes… she with the crystal ball and all the answers…

…alas 3 full moons passing did it take before the revered and often feared

Sirideán Súileabhán  arrived… silent and without fanfare… she simple appeared

at the High Elders elbow… the wizened old mage fair jumped out of his skin

which spread a grin to every initiate in the hall…

You called… her crystal whisper carried to every ear in the grange

what seems to be the problem, you called my name…

It’s a matter of water, the old mage explained

14 full moons and still no rain… the crops have died

our livestock too… children weep, the old can’t sleep-

– even the forest creatures grow weak…

Your mountain-fed river was designed to  never run dry

have you dammed it? Damaged it? Tell me why

the endless river has run dry? Sirideán was not impressed

the freedom of this river must be addressed!

All looked to the elders and paled beneath Sirideán’s stare

 nothing have we done, but toil in the sun

an honest day’s work for any good man

day in and out and into the night… we toil for nought

water is our blight… infants cry all through the night

aged soul pass before morning light…

help us revered Lady…. help our plight!

Sirideán’s cold stare made everyone aware just how much for mankind she little cared –

– the Earth’s well-being was her domain and she knew this mountain river

Sempiternal by name

should flow freely despite no rain;

She swept the congregation with keen penetrating eyes… sharp as diamond, clear as dew

leave the matter with me, she scolded, I shall be back when the moon is new!

The village of Dáiríne Dell to pondering silence fell

but thoughts turned dark that day and souls turned grey

as man accused man and sister charged sister with deeds that caused their downfall…

fingers pointed and words scathed … enemies were made that day;

The Dark Eyed Searcher returned when the moon was new

a sliver of silver in the darkest night… the villagers gathered in number

by lantern and candle light…. would there answer to their plight or would this be

the longest night any would see…

Sirideán’s dark eye flashed like onyx…  her pupils as sharp as shards

that bore into each man’s soul, and chilled each woman’s heart…

The river is blocked and dammed, Sirideán roared… Mother Earth’s Law you have ignored!

You deny precious water to the village yonder… why is this I wonder?

b .. but … but, Revered One , the elder sputtered …  we did not dam the River

the River is our sustenance…. our very life giver!

Nooo…not by You, Sirideán cried… by those in the village you have denied!

… they now divert and channel the water to their dam…. they said you would not share the earth- treasure of water given at birth …  and so took what they needed…

the villagers looked to each other…  excuse fell from their lips

legend has it the Sempiternal River is ours!

No river is yours! Sirideán exploded… this river belongs to Mother Earth

bequeathed to you to use from birth…  did your mother’s not teach you to have a care

did they not teach you how to share!!

… Heads hung low in the village that night… and hearts tolled a heavy bell

sleep did not sooth a single soul in the village of Dáiríne Dell…

Revered One, the elder finally whispered as dawn broke through the trees

we understand our error… help us please! Our children grow weak… the aged no longer speak

silence is our only song… please help us to make amends and right what we have wronged!

Sirideán gazed intently, into every face and mind… she saw remorse and fear in hearts clear

and a hunger in each child’s eye…  Sirideán sighed…

Very well, she said at long last… put the past in the past and make amends this day…

go all, to your neighbouring village… with them you will toil until the dam is gone

and from this day forward, forever and on, the river is of free spirit… and share it you must

never taking more than you need, in Mother Earth put your trust

this mountain-fed river  was designed to  never wither, but nourish all who come in need

for our Mother Earth, in all her wisdom, just can’t comprehend human greed.

SharonleeGoodhand©2014

NOTES

SIRIDEÁN: Irish Gaelic name, possibly derived from the word sirim (“to seak”), hence “searcher.”

SÚILEABHÁN: Old Irish Gaelic name composed of the elements súil “eye” and dubh “black, dark,” and a diminutive suffix, hence “little dark eyes.”

sibyls –  A woman who tells fortunes … prophets … vaticinators (ancient Rome) a woman who was regarded as an oracle or prophet.

DÁIRÍNE: Feminine form of Irish Dáire, meaning “fertile, fruitful.”