Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
Today marks week 47 of the 52 week writing challenge!
The prompt for Sunday 26th November is ‘Stars’:
This weeks attempt is back story for my NaNoWriMo project based on Arthurian legend with a reincarnated Arthur. It’s from Arthur’s point of view before his estranged father made him leave home to live with him.
The cliffs were tall and rocky, covered in moss and alive with the call of gulls. A hand clasped a rock at the top of the cliff face, and a head of blonde hair peered over the edge. Its owner pulled himself up and straightened to take in the view. Ahead of him, rolling fields stretched as far as the eye could see, not a city in sight to disrupt the perfect view. Behind him, waves crashed against the rock face. This was home, and Arthur loved it.
He dropped to sit at the edge of the cliff and pulled a slip of paper from his pocket. A foreign image assaulted his eyes. Towering skyscrapers. Cold metal walls. Not a field, or even a flower, in sight. His father’s home. Soon to be his. Arthur sighed and stared out over the water. Somewhere so cold could never truly be home.
He glanced at the sun and got to his feet. Time to go. He scrambled down the mountain and leapt the final few feet to land on sure feet on the soft ground below him. His horse was waiting, tied to a tree where he left her. Arthur untied her and pulled himself onto her back. Riding bareback, he picked up speed until he raced across the fields, homeward bound.
When he reached home, Arthur skidded to a halt in front of his mother and flung himself from his mount.
His mother smiled. ‘Ready to help bring in the harvest?’
‘Yeah…’ Arthur tied his horse to a fence post and snuck her a carrot from a basket. He glanced over the golden fields and back to his mother. ‘Mother, do I have to leave?’
‘Your father believes it’s for the best,’ she replied, but she bit her lip and looked away.
‘I’ve seen him a handful of times since I was eight years old, what does he know about what’s best for me?’
‘Your father is as stubborn as you are. He will not be persuaded otherwise.’
Arthur huffed and turned away. ‘I’ll miss you. This.’
‘I know, but you have a couple of months yet. Let’s make the most of it, yeah?’
The days work passed in a blur, and Arthur wished he could capture the moment forever. Smiling faces, friendly farmers, bright September sunlight. His fathers home looked nothing like it. No plant life, cold walls, and, Arthur guessed, even colder people. He didn’t want to leave.
When they were packed up for the day, his mother took him by the arm. ‘Home?’
Arthur shook his head. ‘I need to be alone, just for a while.’
‘Be careful,’ she replied.
Arthur caught her sigh as he walked away, towards the forest splattered with the setting sun. He grabbed his sword from beside the fence and strapped it to his back. The woods may be full of monsters, but he could take them. Fighting, farming, climbing. They came as easily to him as breathing.
He walked until the last hazy rays of sunshine illuminated a clearing. In it sat walls of large stones, and in one corner stood a ruined tower. Arthur clambered to the top and stood looking out over the forest and the ruins. It had once been a magnificent castle, of that he was sure. He’d traced the ruined foundations through the forest one summer afternoon. They covered a vast expanse of land, overgrown with trees and shrubbery. It was a miracle some of the weathered tower still stood at all.
Up here he could imagine he was a king, overlooking his kingdom and his people. He wondered if his father felt the same when he stood atop his large tower in the city. A glimpse of movement caught his attention to the right. Arthur unsheathed his old, chipped sword as a large wolf barrelled towards the tower. Behind it, two more charged. A pack.
Arthur braced himself and stood on guard. His eyes scanned the ground below the tower. The way up he’d taken was inaccessible to an animal. He’d climbed a vertical wall, using the old stones for hand and footholds. He spun around and spied a higher part of the ruined wall to the right. There was only one way up for an animal. It was a bit of a leap, but he knew a wolf could make it. He faced the gap and raised his sword.
The largest wolf prowled around to the top of the wall and growled. Arthur held his ground and beckoned it. ‘Come on.’
The wolf leapt. It collided with Arthur’s raised sword, and he shoved back as hard as he could. The animal was heavier than it looked, and Arthur felt his feet slip out from under him. He was pinned, and despite the fresh blood dripping from the wound on its chest, the wolf continued to snap at him, his only defence the sword he held between them to its neck.
Arthur sucked in a breath and pushed his sword hard. The wolf yelped as it sliced into its neck. Blood spurted from the open wound and covered Arthur’s face. He spluttered and pushed the thrashing animal off him. Wiped a hand across his eyes and turned to the remaining wolves.
They paced warily around the base of the tower but made no move to attack. Beside Arthur, the injured wolf whined. Arthur turned to it with a sympathetic look and drove a blade through its chest to end its suffering. There was a yelp behind him, and he turned to see the other wolves turn tail. Normally he’d skin and gut the animal, take his kill home and make use of it, but the wolves might return with the rest of the pack. He had to cover his tracks, wash the blood off, and put some distance between himself and the tower they once called Tintagel.
Arthur tugged his sword hard. It caught on a rib and broke in two. With a curse, he tossed it aside and leapt from the tower to the wall. He wouldn’t need a sword when he went to live with father anyway. He scrambled to the floor. The light was fading fast, but Arthur knew the way to the lake as well as he knew the rest of the land surrounding his home.
By the time he reached the lake the sun had set. The water rippled in the light of the full moon and stars sparkled above. A small island, reflected in the shimmering water and shrouded in darkness, sat in the centre. Arthur shuddered. This place made him uneasy where wild animals did not.
A fallen tree hung over the lake. It reeked of death, and the rustle of leaves, the lapping of the water against the bank, sung songs of sadness the like of which Arthur had never heard. The lake was haunted with ghosts of the past, and it was even more eerie at night.
Arthur crouched by the lake and splashed water on his face. He washed his hands and leaned back for a moment to take it in. The stars twinkled, a sparkling canvas on the darkened sky, and his chest ached. ‘I don’t want to leave.’
A gust of wind scattered leaves from the trees, and he swore he heard a voice whisper, ‘You will always be a part of this place.’
Arthur stood and glanced around. ‘Who’s there?’
The wind remained silent, and Arthur watched as the leaves danced on the surface of the water around the reflection of the stars. Below the surface, something sparkled. In a trance, Arthur took a step closer. Water lapped at his ankles, but he paid the cool chill no mind. There was something at the bottom of the lake.
Soon Arthur was waist deep in water. Ahead of him he could make out a blade, illuminated by moonlight and stuck in a rock. The hilt glimmered, golden, and before he thought about what he was doing, Arthur took a deep breath and dived.
The water chilled his bones, and his clothes dragged him down further into the depths. Arthur opened his eyes. The water was murkier than it looked, but the shimmers around the sword only grew brighter. He swam closer and closed his fingers around the hilt. One tug didn’t free it, nor two or three. It wouldn’t budge.
Arthur brought his feet round to rest on the rock either side of the sword, bracing himself for one last tug before he ran out of air. He shoved hard. The sword shifted a little, but remained stuck. Air bubbles escaped his mouth, and Arthur released the hilt to thrash frantically for the surface.
He gasped for air and tread water. The stars above twinkled and urged him to try again. The moonlight illuminated the sword in the water below him. He had to have it. Shuddering against the cold, Arthur took another deep breath and dove for the sword. This time when he braced himself and pulled, it slid free.
On the river bank, drenched and shivering, Arthur held the sword up to the moon. The blade glistened and caught the rays beautifully. It was a marvel. It appeared new, with no signs of rust despite being submerged in the lake. Arthur moved his gaze to the hilt. The grip wrapped in tight leather felt natural in his hand. It was light. Durable. Arthur swung it a few times, and gasped as a glimmer on the pommel caught his attention. There, etched into the gold, was a tiny dragon. Arthur grinned. It suited him perfectly.
Sword slung over his shoulder, too large for his sheath, Arthur took one last look at the lake. He wouldn’t return here before he left. There was too much to do, too many people to say goodbye to. With a sigh, he turned and moved back through the forest. Whether his father liked it or not, he’d take the sword with him when he left here. A reminder of home.
Thanks for reading!
These events happen about two years before the start of my NaNoWriMo story. Arthur grew up with his mother, barely knew his father, and learned to fight to defend their farm.
I’m on track to win NaNoWriMo, but I’m no where near done with a draft. It seems even with a plan I write a lot. I was kinda hoping a plan would streamline things!
Next Sunday’s prompt:
The prompt for 3rd December is ‘Technology.’
If you try next weeks prompt yourself, let me know how it goes. Post your attempt on your blog on the 3rd December and leave a link in the comments below so I can read it 🙂
If you can attempt the prompt in less than 140 characters, you can also #sunscribbles on Twitter. I am super interested to see what you all come up with 🙂