Shore – Photo by Sue Vincent
I looked at the faces around the dinner table. There wasn’t a spark amongst them, they all looked tired and about ready to fall down on the spot. It had been rough going and the future didn’t look any easier.
That was it. Something had to be done to keep everyone upright. After dinner I sat and thought about it.
It was obvious that we as a family were unstable and likely to collapse, and that we as individuals were almost as bad. I knew that I was pretty close to that point where the gravity of the situation might take over. I needed something to hold myself together, to prop me up. I knew that if I was stable, it would be the first step in keeping us all upright. One solid beam could do it.
But how do you fix the foundations of a person and a family? Continue reading
Tortor was a warrior and understood how the world worked. He shook his head as he looked around the earthworks and the stones. He approached the man who was obviously in charge.
“Hey you, what’s your name?”
The man slowly turned and studied Tortor as if he were an insect.
“They call me Tim, Tim the Enchanter. What do you want, Tortor the Stonehead?”
Tortor’s mouth dropped. It wasn’t just the insult, but he had no idea how the man knew his name. Regaining control, he tried to drill holes into Tim the Enchanter with his eyes. Failing that he said, “Look here, Tim, I know a thing or two about defense. The ditch needs to be on the outside of the earthwork, not the inside. What good is this going to do when the defenders can’t reach the wall and the attackers will just climb right over it as if they are out for a Sunny-day picnic?” Continue reading
Photo by Sue Vincent
“See here,” wise Beandor said to his young pupil, Therry, “This arch, though appearing so weak, is very strong. Although the walls may crumble, unless the keystone is disturbed, the arch will stand and bear weight.”
Beandor used his staff to tap the keystone of the arch.
“This arch has allowed people into this temple for over a thousand years, protecting our town of Kernsh from every attack. Look at this ancient place, overlooking the mighty ocean, it appears weak, and yet it is so strong, like our people. Our fair country, Aladia, seems fragile, and yet it is just these points that keep it whole.”
Therry studied the arch.
“That is a point of power,” Beandor said. “Knowing where the keystone lies. Often the seemingly weak is really the strong, and yet there may be one point, the keystone, that holds it all together. With the weight of the building pushing this stone down, making it stronger, do you know how to remove it? Once you do, power over this building is yours. When confronting an enemy, always try to figure out his keystone. It may not be the leader or the bravest warrior, just as the keystone of Kernsh is not the castle or mighty Verith, our protector.” Continue reading
Photo by Sue Vincent
People have often called me a “49er”, though I didn’t make the journey across the country until ’52. I was young and foolish back then, but I guess we all were. I had “gold fever” as bad as the worst of them. Stars in my eyes and a spring in my step, yes sir, I was going to stake a claim and strike it rich. Ha! Even if I did make that first wave in ’49, it would have been pert-near impossible to get rich. By the time I got there, well, there were opportunities, but not in prospecting.
Of course, by the time I arrived, I was a different man with a different goal.
Early on I had joined a party of farmers who were moving west to set up some sort of religious commune. I’m not sure what they were about, because they only did their thing in privacy, but during the day they acted like everyone else. It wasn’t safe to travel alone or unarmed, so we struck a deal. I’d stay with them for safety in numbers and they would get my gun. Not that I was any type of fighter, but they were peaceful Christian folk that saw no use of weapons. I grew up on a small farm in a backwoods section of Kentuck and ate what I shot or didn’t have any meat but the occasional chicken. Continue reading
I awoke at dawn, as always, even though his alarm obviously didn’t go off. I wasn’t hungry, so I did my morning walk through the wisps of the dying fog on getting up. Breakfast could wait.
The fields, ever my friends, called my name and welcomed me as I forged a path through the dew-damp weeds. The wet cold of my shoes kept me cleanly in the present, forcing me to take in the splendors of the new day. The distant trees, still a mirage only glimpsed as the sun burned away the mist, for some reason reminded me of him. My heart beat faster, as my brain told me lies.
“He is out there, just over the next little hill, behind that little splash of woods. He’s there. Hurry, you can catch up,” my brain seemed to say, against all logic. Continue reading
Lisa and I had been hiking for three days when found ourselves at our destination. Our “destination” was a 150 meter drop straight down into the blackness. The locals called it “the mouth of the dragon” and I could see why. It was the type of cave that inspired local myths and legends. But we had to do it, one more item to check off of our bucket list.
We camped overnight and studied the guides one last time. The little guide pamphlets seemed to have been translated into English by a madman and it was hard to make heads or tails of some sections, but we were able to understand all of the technical parts. Some things don’t change from country to country. The night passed quick, with just a few of the typical “day before the adventure” nerves. In the morning we quickly got everything ready.
Lisa and I descended into the cave. I consider myself an experienced spelunker and thought I had seen just about everything, so I wasn’t too concerned about the “old-world hazards” that the guidebook mentioned. I mean, what could there be I haven’t seen in the Americas? Continue reading
Photo ©Sue Vincent
Samuel wasn’t at his chores again. I always figured I knew where he was, but never tried to track him down. It was a nice afternoon, so I decided that I could use some air and discover if I was correct. Sure enough, I found him far from home watching out over the ocean. This was so much further away than the Sound side of the island, but I could tell it was special to the boy.
I came up beside him. “The sea is beautiful today, isn’t it?”
He nodded. “Yes, it is, Mom.”
“Are you watching for anything in particular?”
“I’m waiting for a bug to crawl over the horizon.”
“A bug?” I asked with a laugh. Continue reading
Photo ©Sue Vincent
“The guide book says this has been a sacred spot for millennia. There are shrines and crap dating to the Neolithic around these springs. Stupid primitives, praying to water. Come on! The others went this way.”
Margaux was pointing towards a path that appeared to wind around the fields. I could hear Brad’s laughter from someplace behind her and felt a twinge.
“Hey, you go ahead with them,” I said. “I need a little ‘Introvert Time’. I’ll catch up later.”
“’Introvert Time’? This entire vacation out in the middle of nowhere is all ‘Introvert Time’! The quiet is creeping me out.” Continue reading
Photo ©Sue Vincent
The two scouts came flying down the hidden steps to the makeshift fortress under the ancient bridge. I let Cai and Bedwyr question them while I hid in the shadows.
“There must be 3000 of those blond giants,” the first said. “There’s more chainmail in the honor guard than in our entire band.”
“We’ll not be scared off by a handful of the devils,” Cai said. “And 3000? What have been drinking? Are there even 3000 of the monsters in all of Britannia? If there are, so be it. I’ll take on five hundred myself, and that’s with my shield arm tied behind my back.”
“Really, at least 3000. I’ve never seen anything like it,” the other scout said. “They mean to break the last of the resistance and rule the entire island.” Continue reading
Photo ©Sue Vincent
I glanced around the glowing embers at the three dower faces. The boys were shivering in the cold, each lost to their own thoughts.
“Hey,” I said, “let’s tell some stories, ok?”
“What? Are you crazy?” Derek, the oldest at 14, always had a cynical side, but the cold had sharpened it considerably.
“No,” I said. “it’s better than just sitting here, isn’t it? When I was a kid I used to spend quite a few nights sitting around a campfire telling stories. You should have heard some of the tales we used to tell. Oh, the mystery, the wonder, the… never mind, I think there are even more stories I’m glad you never heard. But it was great fun at the time. What about it, any stories?” Continue reading