The Hosting of Thrwa

Written by Dice

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The lone elf watches. Is he waiting for war? Image // Deviantart user Fadly Romdhani

The Hosting of Thrwa
The host marches on Sliabhnarea,
Coming-to-the-lands of the young and fair,
The eyes of Thrwa a burning flare,
Elves running away, runaway,
Away, runaway.

Mortal men fear, their hope is gone,
From over the wall, comes the marching drum,
Men let out a cry, as they burn and bleed,
Where are the Maysa, in our time of need?

The host marches on Sliabhnarea,
Coming-to-the-lands of the young and fair,
The eyes of Thrwa a burning flare,
Elves running away, runaway,
Away, runaway.

He reaches our wall, the end will start,
When out of the gloom, flies an eagle so grand,
She comes between him and the bane of his heart,
She comes between him and the deed of his hand.

The host marches on Sliabhnarea,
Coming-to-the-lands of the young and fair,
The eyes of Thrwa a burning flare,
Madb calling ‘fray, to the fray,’
‘Fray, to the fray.’

Dice’s lyrical ensemble was written on behalf of his work-in-progress fantasy novel, telling the wonderful tale of how the Maysa came to be. While you won’t be familiar with the Maysa, you may know of the song this was inspired by: The Waterboys’s “Hosting of Shee” adapted from the Yeats poem The Hosting of the Sidhe, of which you catch the original song at the link, here. We thought this was a great way to conclude this month’s performance theme, so if you enjoyed reading (or, perhaps, singing) then feel free to leave a like or a comment. You can also check out Dice’s other work such as his Alexander shorts, “Summer 1943“‘ and “A Wonderful Thing“.  

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Shot Blast

Written by Rob

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It may not be to Emily’s taste, but it’s still a neat victory. Image // ABC Studios

Folk speak of watershed, a turning point, epoch, or pivotal moments. Of course, I understand that all of these could apply, but I think they are descriptions to “grab the headlines”. Viewed from my side, the events and trends that came before, made the moment inevitable, and everything that came after “business as usual”.

People like to moan. And there is little people like to moan about more than “the boss”. Derek Peterson’s staff had more excuse for moaning than most. He was moody, ill-tempered, badly organised, erratic, unsympathetic, aggressive and, not surprisingly, a piss-poor manager. But moaning, much as we like to do it, is wasted effort. If you want change, you need to make change. Moaning doesn’t make change.

Decide what you want, find your allies and understand them; recognise your enemies and understand them too; recognise what you can and can’t influence; take a conservative view of your effectiveness; make a plan and stick to it. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; it’s not where you start but where you finish that matters; a drip of water will reduce a mountain to sand eventually.

The good news was that Derek’s peers didn’t like him much either. Asking around, probing and prompting, I found thinly veiled resentment amongst the management team of Derek’s access to the M.D., Jeremy Argyle. Just why Jeremy thought so highly of Derek was not only unclear to me but also to his peers in the management team. So potentially, all the managers were my allies. Derek’s relationship with Jeremy was both his strength and his weak spot: break that and he would be lost.

Derek had long been a champion of shot blasting. As business development manager, he liked to boast in all company literature that every piece of steel that left our factory had been thoroughly shot blasted before painting. He was right: it was a quality feature, and our finished cranes always looked better than our competitors’. But it also added to our costs, which made the sales manager’s task more difficult in winning work at a reasonable profit margin, and the production manager’s life more fraught, as shot blasting is very time-consuming. The quality manager didn’t like all the extra paperwork generated by every piece of steel needing a certificate. The plant manager didn’t like trying to keep our shot blast machine operational 24 x 7 x 52. Naturally, the finance manager didn’t like the cost. Maybe, I thought, just maybe, this is the issue that could be used to scupper Derek. But how to get Jeremy to both share the opinion of his managers and blame Derek for its adoption?

So I set about a system of sabotage. Continue reading →

The Root of Insanity

Written by Ashcloud

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Logs burning, searching for a soul. Image // stockarch

Eyes that can shatter with a fleeting glance,
The pallor of wispy ashes, their steel-like trance.
The flame that never flickers, engulfs the fire of a soul,
Burning, burning, fading fast. Never to grow old.
A drop of raw emotion, a single splash of blue.
It’s clear you always see me but I never can see you.

Rough hands that craft, today they come
Squeeze solace from the soul.
Impatient tapping, deadbeat drum
Forever haunts the foal.
A pinch of raw emotion, one hand held in two,
It’s clear you always see me but I never can see you.

A gruesome grin or wicked word, countless deepening gashes.
Swaying, swaying, back and forth, in turmoil of endless lashes.
Rare the calm before the storm,
When tender breeze my heart doth warm.
A breath of raw emotion, a whispered promise few,
It’s clear you always see me but I never can see you.

Your eyes could burn,
Your hands could hit,
You never cared one single bit.
Mind games and violence made me insane,
Daddy, you’re the only one to blame.

Ashcloud’s poem cuts us to the core. It’s deep and it’s powerful, but most of all it feels raw. Though it’s written in verse and has a tight structure, it somehow feels loose with emotion as the poet’s voice struggles to keep control. We were swept away by reading this, so we commend Ashcloud’s written work. If you liked her poem, feel free to leave a like, comment or even check out her other work such as, ‘Knight‘ and ‘One Day at a Time‘. 

Hunter And Prey

Written by OrdDiff

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In the vast world of Skyrim, only the Dragonborn can slay dragons. Image // Bethesda

The hunter breathed in.

Kale crept through the undergrowth as quietly as he could. He knew his prey was near, and the slightest disturbance would alert it to his presence. The midday heat was stifling, making every action ten times harder than it should be. Flying insects harassed the woodsman sneaking by their homes. Kale did his best to ignore them.

Passing a spectacular oak tree, the large hunter spotted the gleaming scales of his quarry. It was seated over a waterfall, looking over the lands it thought of as its own. “Such arrogance,” thought Kale. He strung the massive bow he’d been carrying on his back, the bowstring resembling more of a rope than the twine of traditional limbs. He nocked the great arrow, almost as thick as his arm, and braced the weapon in the ground. The beast had still not noticed. Kale drew the string back…

“Stupid hornets”, thought Kale. “What a place to build a nest.”

The determined hunter ascended the rocky face of Heaven’s Key mountain. Frost coated the light beard he had grown in his travels, and he could barely feel his fingers. The hornet’s sting had cost him one of them, impairing his abilities and causing pain with every handhold. The thick coat he had bartered from the villagers down below did little to protect him against the bitter mountain winds, and he worried that the chattering of his teeth alone would alert the beast. Wiping his goggles clear of white snow once again, he crested the ridge and gained footing on solid ground.

Over a chasm, Kale spotted crimson scales. He could barely make out the beast’s details through the blizzard, but he couldn’t waste this shot. Fumbling with numb appendages, he strung his bow and nocked an arrow. Just a single shot…

“Damn winds,” thought Kale.

The weary hunter trudged across the plains, longing for home. When he had taken it upon himself to down the monster, he had underestimated the sheer scale of his task. The dragon could cross immeasurable distances in a day, leaving a hunter with weeks of travel. Kale’s supplies were running low, and he had been forced to ration harshly. As long grass brushed against his thick leather boots, he drank the last of his water. His beard scratched his neck as he forced himself to continue, knowing that stopping now meant certain death.

The hunter’s ears twitched. “No,” thought Kale, “it couldn’t be.”

Now alert, he strung his massive bow. The great limbs groaned in protest at the lack of maintenance, but submitted to the will of the hunter. Kale’s ears twitched again; he’d heard the flapping of giant wings. He dropped his pack, the travelling pots clanging and sounding throughout the valley. It didn’t matter if the beast heard him now.

From behind a peak, Kale spotted the dragon. There was fire building in its maw, and it was circling the hunter. With resolve, Kale drew his bow for the last time. The dragon dived at the man, and then hunter and prey locked eyes.

The hunter breathed out.

“Sir!” The squire burst into the warlord’s tent. All eyes fell on the young boy, just twelve years of age.

“Well?” The grizzled old general demanded. “Spit it out!”

“He grounded the dragon!”

OrdDiff’s Half Hour Challenge was submitted as part of last month’s theme, Chase. He’s done a remarkable job in building the tension in such a short piece, and we love it. Given the 12-year-old boy’s impressive performance – hunting a dragon, of all things – it was a sure shoe-in for this month’s content. If you enjoyed OrdDiff’s piece, you can check out his first published work for Inkblots, “Bronze Regrets“, at the link. 

The Bells of Campden

Written by Miss Smiley

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Living, breathing bells? That’s horror, for sure. Image // Vladimer Shioshvili

Campden was a small province. It was peaceful. It was a sweet place – a place you’d want to raise your children. It was practically crime-free. A place you’d want to retire to and live out your life in. It was alive. It felt alive. There was none of this dead metal people tend to surround themselves in. The land breathed and danced. And then there were the bells.

To say that they rang would be an understatement. These bells didn’t just ring – they lived, they sang, each note a clear, precise, and weirdly organic sound. Their range spanned further than a normal church bell’s, their notes singing out whole provinces, calling them into church and court in the morning, ringing out long after they’d been struck.

If you believed the myths, the bells were alive. In back streets and behind closed doors, they whispered about them.

If a man was tried in court, he was tried before the bells. Mostly it was formality, they said. But every now and then, a bell would ring by itself during a trial. And that man was guilty – guilty as sin. The lawyers knew better than to speak for their client then. Once, a lawyer had protested and no one liked to talk about his story. That wasn’t the kind of thing you wanted your children to accidentally overhear, and who knew when they were listening?

It was worse to whisper about what happened to the guilty man, though. It was a story that each child heard, just once, when they were old enough. No one ever wanted to be told twice. No one ever needed to be told twice.

You see, the bells were alive. And everything that lives needs to eat.

Miss Smiley’s short story was submitted as part of a past HHC entry, with a Horror theme. It’s possibly more suited to October’s upcoming theme “fear”, but we liked it too much to consider leaving for too long. Besides the performance from the bells is particularly enthralling. If you liked Miss Smiley’s piece, and are utterly terrified of those bells, make sure you check out some of her other tales of sneaky horror, such as “Fetish” and “Rosebed“. 

I Am The Night

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Does it know us, living and breathing as creatures, as humans? Image // Dave Jackson

Written by Juwan Cross

I stare into the night

It stares back

We speak without words

A sense of understanding

A welcoming feeling

A sky I’ve never seen

Presents a familiar feeling

It asks, “Who are you?”

But who am I?

A reflection

I am the night.

 

New contributor Juwan’s poem really spoke to us. It’s so sparse, yet strangely so close to home, and that’s why we loved it. Maybe you’ve had this very interaction with the night or the moon itself, the stars twinkling, and you wonder just who you are in this incredible universe. We’ve all been there, and we’re all just as scared as each other. Juwan says his inspiration for his piece was via a friend saying he was the opposite of what she expected, a little darker and mysterious. If you liked Juwan’s poem, let us know by leaving a like or a comment in the section below. 

Race

Written by Terrestris Veritas

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The race is on! Image // Paolo Camera

“Here we are today at the Pulchetown Races, live on Red FM, 92 – 96. It’s a beautiful day here with the sun splitting the stones. There is hardly a cloud in the sky, and the fashion statements today are formidable.”

“Indeed, Jim, there has been a fascinating turnout today in terms of the extremities of hats but, no doubt, each and every one cost a pretty penny. Though, all in all, they do look fabulous.”

“Right you are there, Henry. And now here come the jockeys with their horses. The race will begin in five minutes, so to introduce the racehorses we hand you over to your commentator; James Roche.”

“Thank you, Jim, and yes the day is glorious. Here come the eight competitors for today and their striking steeds. First on the line-up we have Thundersprint. Indeed, Thundersprint has had a hard season but today many patrons are betting hugely on him. Secondly, we have General Speed, thirdly Huge-Hoof, Roaring Beauty, and then Prancing Dafy. The final three on the right are Headspin, Sparkling-Winner, and Golden-Mane. Some excellent and extravagant names by their owners, for sure.

“And they’re off! Roaring Beauty takes the lead in a strong sprint, lunging ahead of the pack with Sparkling-Winner coming some way behind, Thundersprint third, Huge-Hoof, then GeneralSpeed, Golden-Mane, Headspin and Prancing Dafy bringing up the rear. The horses are snorting vigorously from the whips of the jockeys and – oh my – Prancing Dafy seems to have tripped over his own hooves, slamming into the ground and sending his rider flying into the air. Either way, Prancing Dafy is out of the race now with the line-up of the others horses unchanged.

“But it does seem that Roaring Beauty is struggling to keep the lead as Sparkling-Winner gradually pulls ahead, inch by inch, getting closer with each gallop. And after getting the inside position of the bend he does so, with Roaring Beauty taking second place on the first lap, Thundersprint just behind. Yet out of nowhere, it seems Thundersprint has found a new lease on life – beginning to live up to his name – as he sprints with such determination to claim victory and earn many patrons new-found wealth.  Continue reading →