Sunday January 13th, 2013

The exercise:

Give me what you've got for: the horn.

Visiting plans did not fall through today, but that's because plans were never actually formed (someone was supposed to call to arrange a time to come over and didn't). On the plus side, we got quite a few things done around the house instead.

We're taking Max to see our family doctor for the first time tomorrow. Just a general checkup and a chance for her to meet him, plus we'll have our usual array of questions to ask. 

Also: I'm curious to see how much he weighs now.


They were to be blown the moment an enemy was spotted by one of the tower guards - one short blast for any force too small to be considered a threat, and three short blasts followed by a long note for anything larger. There was no written rule about the length of that final call to battle but each guard understood that their horn was not to be set aside until the entire castle had been brought to the walls.

Six towers stood watch over the citadel and a guard was present and watching within each at all hours of every day. The six guards on duty wore their tower's horn on their left hips nearly always, with the lone, brief exception coming during the changing of the watch when the horns were passed on to the next man. At no other moment were the horns to be found elsewhere.

The penalties for allowing a horn to slip beyond your reach while you were on watch were brutal and carried out in the main courtyard before all of the residents of the castle - all those who were left vulnerable by your negligence. This had only occurred once, three generations ago, but it was still an event spoken of only in nervous whispers.

Invaders had attempted to slip past the castle defenses in countless ways but none had managed to successfully avoid the piercing cry of the horns, that shrill shout of a younger brother alerting the household to an older sibling's attempt to sneak out after curfew.

But they continued to try, for the treasures held beyond those walls were legendary. Enough gold to purchase a fleet of dragons, unparalleled weaponry, unbreakable armor. Dusty, dark tomes of wicked magic that history was in the process of forgetting.

Powerful motivation for men consumed with greed, fixated on power. But no man outside those walls has ever forced their way inside. Every attempt has been doomed to failure.

But my attempt shall be different. Mine shall end in triumph and glory. For I have an advantage over those desperate fools.

I was born inside these walls.


Greg said...

Well, although it wasn't perhaps the weekend you had planned, it sounds like it was productive at least. That's always good! I made mince pies, using up the last of the mincemeat. They're not really lasting as long as I'd expected....
That's quite a story inspired from just the idea of a horn! I quite felt like I knew about the citadel by the time I was finished reading. And the last line was a neat summary of the citadel's real weakness :)

The horn
"Miss Bonfontaine?" The questioner was a young man with a monk's tonsure. He was wearing a rough-looking brown robe, which colour didn't do enough to hide its stains, and rope sandals. Isabella sniffed tentatively, and smelled only soap.
"Yes," she said. "I am she. Can I help you?" The stroke that had paralysed most of the right-side of her face had mercifully left her mouth and voice unaffected and her voice rang like a tiny bell in the dusty confines of her office-cum-shop.
"I've been told that you can find lost artefacts," said the monk. He produced a thin book from his robes; pasteboard holding together a few smelly leaves of vellum. "I'd like – that is, we would like to commission you to retrieve this."
"It's here," said Isabella. "It's a book."
"Ah no," said the monk, not smiling. He opened the book. "We want the cornucopia." The yellowed page showed an image of a large horn overflowing with fruit.
"Which one?" said Isabella, barely glancing at the page. "And in how much of a working order?"
The monk closed the book up and regarded her through half-lidded eyes. He reminded her suddenly of a cobra, which she most often encountered slowly suffocating (or already dead) in chests, cabinets, and other places where people thought that booby-traps didn't need food or air.
"All of them?" he said.

Cathryn Leigh said...

Hello, been a few days (Thank you for the welcome back Greg). Trying to get something up before I go home, so I’ll have to skip commenting on everyone else’s piece today. Apparently I’m in a poetry mood again. :}

The Horn

Blowing in the wind,
Tied to a tree
Is a little horn,
Only I can see.

I wonder who it belongs to
And if they wouldn’t mind...
I’ve got this urge to blow it
To see what I might find.

And now I can see a story about how a little boy blowing the horn might find himself in the fairy world, with a quest – of course knowing me, would turn into an epic tale of sorts because my head doesn’t like to write short stories, lol :}

Marc said...

Greg - perhaps the mince pies would last longer if you didn't eat all of them directly after making them?

Excellent descriptions bring the scene to life, as usual. Loved the detail about the cobras in booby traps :D

Cathryn - yes, that is very definitely a story opening. You've caught my imagination with this one - I do hope you continue it!