“Once in a while a prompt comes from elsewhere and becomes a joy to write for. The wonderful picture of the castle folly above was taken by Dee Min of createdbyDEEsign ‘click over to her website for some wonderful photography and blogs.’ Anyway commenting on her post led to her offering the picture to me as a prompt and here’s my story.
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie – Wordle — Forget, Apparatus, Crystal, Dishonourable, Someone, Cramped, Chains, Awareness, Lofty, Platitudes, Search, Sidewalk.
Fandango’s One Word Challenge — Nefarious
Guardian of Treasures
‘Search for a lofty, wooded lake. The chains of the dishonourable and nefarious will point the way.’
“Well, this is called Shady Lake. Shady could mean dishonourable or nefarious. Could this be it?” Crystal said as she dropped to a knee to retie her trainer’s lace.
“It’s also surrounded by oak woods and way above sea level; so, it fits.” Aaron put out a hand and helped her stand with a fond smile. “Let’s have a look around and see if anything else fits the clue.”
“Yes let’s,” Crystal smiled, “I still can’t believe you agreed to come on this treasure hunt with me.”
“Hey, so long as I’m with you it’s a good day.” Aaron set off following the leafy shore. The lake was part of the nature reserve and so had a few sandstone sidewalks to follow. “Besides if this is a clue to a real treasure; we might be about to get rich.”
“So, are you here for me or the treasure?” Crystal gave him a sideways look and giggled as they left the path and continues around the lake. She knew the clues were way older than the reserve and so the whole lake required searching. The nervous hum in her chest came from hoping the naturalists hadn’t destroyed the next clue whilst protecting this place.
“Well, you of course. I wouldn’t have come at all without you.” Aaron smoothed his hand over her freckled cheek and kissed her.
“Mmm, thank you, sweet —” Crystal’s eyes caught a reflection. “Huh, someone put a chain around the tree. You think that’s what we’re looking for?”
Aaron followed the gaze. The chain was old and rusty. It ran from the trunk of the linden tree; through the leaf litter and disappeared into the grey-green waters of the lake. “Let’s find out,” he said with an excited look on his face.
The two took began to haul the chain from the water. It reeled in easily, to begin with, then became heavy.
“Somethings on the end!” Crystal remarked as she pulled off her hoodie and tied it the arms around her waist. Beneath she had on a cute crop top revealing strong shoulder and her shapely midriff.
“Yeah, come on!” Aaron flexed his strong muscles against the weight of the chain. For two more minutes, he heaved until a small wooden dingy lay on the earthen bank. “It’ll be a little cramped rowing around in that.”
“No kidding! Why would someone chain a boat to a tree and then sink it?” Crystal looked inside, shrieked and jumped back. “Wow! We caught a fish too!”
“Haha!” Aaron pounced on the stickleback and carefully returned it to the lake. “Maybe it sunk in a storm or — Oh, there!” he pointed to a metal plate screwed to the hull under the thole for the right oar.
Crystal rubbed silt and mud from the plaque, “Keep your awareness sharp as you ascend to the folly many forget.”
“Okay, that definitely clue two. What do you think it means?” Aaron said as he took pictures of the dingy, plaque and Crystal.
A little bashful, she hid her belly with a grin. “Hey, I’m dirty. Don’t take pictures of me.”
“Sorry, you’re beautiful and I couldn’t resist,” Aaron added loving platitudes as he glanced about him.
“You’re, sweet.” Crystal furrowed her forehead thoughtfully. “A folly is a building designed to look like an ancient monument, castle or building. Although it’s just a façade. Rich people build them in gardens to look opulent. I remember reading about them in history class.”
“Nice! We know ascend means climb. So, let’s follow the path up there and have a look for such a structure,” Aaron took her hand as he pointed up into the trees.
The two followed the sandstone paths higher into the national park. The woodland of oak, linden and lime trees was alive with squirrels and birds all going about their daily business. Each stopping to admire the happy couple as they laughed and giggled away along the path.
“All, I see is a few drystone walls, up here,” Aaron remarked while watching a woodpecker searching for beetle larvae high in a tree.
Crystal nimbly jumped onto one for walls and gazed about her. “I don’t, I see a cute little castle over there.”
“Oh! That’s gotta be it!” Aaron set off running. Jumping over a fallen tree trunk and helping crystal over as excitement carried him up the hill.
Castle was an exaggeration, it’s grey-and-yellow stonework resembled one corner of a tiny fort’s curtain wall. The neat little round tower was no more than twenty feet high with a barred and padlocked gate at the bottom and arrow slits around it. The other end of the wall held a tiny staircase leading up to the battlements.
“This looks quite new. You think it could be the place?” Crystal mused as she squeezed up the steps to explore.
“I don’t know. Let’s just look around and see,” Aaron followed her up. The short tower gave a wonderful vista of the lake far below. “This views magnificent up here!”
“Look! this is Castle Overlook – To overlook is to forget! This is where we need to be!” Crystal said bouncing on the balls of her feet with excitement.
“Perfect!” Aaron replied.
“Not quite! I don’t see any treasure,” Crystal stole a kiss and then dashed downstairs again. Walking along the wall to the tower, she was amazed by the gate. “Hey, the barred gate was locked, right?”
“Yup, why?” I replied as he joined her.
“It’s open, now!” Crystal stepped inside. It was more like a round vestibule; the room was so small.
“What do you see?” Aaron asked with no space to get inside with her.
“Another door.” An iron-studded door led into the curtain wall. It stood ajar revealing darkness within. Crystal caused it to creak as she pushed it aside. Using her phone to illuminate the way she stepped through. “Wow! There’s a lot of medieval weaponry in here.”
“You think it’s for re-enactments?” Aaron said coming in behind her.
“Probably.” Crystal played her light over the war apparatus including polearms, swords and shields. “It’s pretty cool.”
“What’s cool, is somebody finally followed my clues,” said a male voice from the darkness.
Aaron spun to face the person. His light found a man with long silvery hair. He stood proud in chainmail armour. His blue raiment was adorned with a golden lion. “Who are you?”
“They call me Sir Gawain. Young lady, I sense it was you who followed my clues. Tell me, is your surname Valent?”
Crystal gasped, “It is, How, did you know?”
“Then this is a blessed day. I’m your great-grandfather from the twelfth century.” Gawain broke into a watery smile.
“Ha! Nonsense. That makes you eight hundred years old!” Aaron scoffed.
Crystal dug him in the ribs. “Shush, I don’t think he’s joking.”
“Not too smart, is he?” Gawain nodded to the boy. “Tell me, did you intend to find a treasure?”
“Of course, why else would you follow clues such as the ones you left us?” Aaron replied.
Gawain took a short sword with a cross motif in the pommel from a rack. “Well, congratulations. You found the greatest treasure of them all. More importantly, you just became his guardian.” Gawain flicked the sword across the room.
With no choice, Aaron grabbed for and caught the weapon’s crossguard. It was heavy. This was no re-enactment sword. It was real.
“What? Wait! We don’t understand. What are you saying?” Crystal said with a knot of fear rising through her body.
“Your family are the protectors of this,” Gawain approached the table covered in a purple velvet cloth. Pulling it aside he caused a golden glow to take over the room.
Crystal watched a simple wooden object rise out of a sea of gold coins and ingots. Her attention became fused to the table with growing shock. This ordinary wooden goblet could only be one thing. “The holy grail’s real?”
“Bloody hell!” Aaron managed, looking stupefied.
“It certainly caused plenty of that in the past.” Gawain raised his eyebrows. “Since we kept the heavenly object so well hidden the wars have stopped. I’ve waited five hundred years for the next descendants to come and take over the guardianship of the grail. Now, finally, here you are.”
“How is that possible? I mean this castle is not that old.” Aaron pointed out.
“Indeed, it’s not. This room does not exist in the building you saw outside. It’s merely connected by ancient magic. One day you shall learn to harness the magic as it becomes your job to ensure the grail is passed on to your descendants in the future.
Crystal approached the treasure table and gingerly touched the grail. She could feel the energy like electricity effervescing from the wood. “I’m ready,” she said.
“Fantastic!” Gawain clapped his hands. “Lady Crystal Valent. You and Sir Aaron over there are now keepers of the grail. Good luck!”
“I’m looking forward to learning …” Crystal saw a flash of light. She glanced around the room. The old knight was gone leaving her and Aaron quite alone in the strange room. “Now what?”
Aaron shrugged. “I guess we better look around for an instruction book.”
Thanks for reading my friends.