The Gauntlet

“There are things in this world we will never understand. Objects of great power. Places of great mystery. Legends that refuse to go away. We must keep questioning, keep digging and one day we will discover the truth.”

I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
Mindlovemisery menagerie – Wordle — Exchange, Overgrown, Fading Petals, Chicory, Pin Pricks, Thousand, Wizened, Notch, Mother-of-pearl, Contour, Dwindle, Afternoon
AuthorWorld — Picture – The Gauntlet
Ragtag Daily Prompt – Deluge

The Gauntlet

A small deluge of rubble caught archaeologist Laura’s attention. Rising from the trench she was excavating, she wiped earth from her khaki shorts and peered over the ruined castle walls jutting a couple of feet out of the overgrown grasses. “Jase, you okay?”

“I — er. Sure, come take a look at this!”

Laura grinned, she knew that excitement in his voice. He’d found something amazing. “Coming!” she replied in equal tones.

Running along the contour of the wall, she nipped through a gap. Climbing over was forbidden to stop the ancient structure from crumbling further. As it was most of it was gone. The remains would dwindle to nothing if not preserved soon.

“Look what I found!” Jase was covered in the reddish earth. He’d been chasing a wall down to its foundations, having discovered an ancient frieze upon it. In the afternoon light, it was possible to see the fading petals of flowers painted there almost two thousand years ago. There was a new hole too.

“Jase, did you break the wall? The university will kill us!” Laura came around behind him. From there she could tell the hole was too uniform to have been made by accident

“No, that section was filled with plaster, alabaster maybe. It fell out as I dug beneath it. Look inside!” Jase beckoned.

Laura met his gaze and smiled. His handsome chiselled featured were reddened with the heat. Even that and the beads of sweat on his forehead couldn’t dampen the excitement blazing in his hazelnut eyes.

“Well, go on then!” Jase handed her his torch breaking the exchange.

Laura dropped into his excavation and knelt to shine the torch into the space. “Oh, my … Is that a treasure box?”

“I think so!” Jase dropped down beside her. “I’ll need to break a little more of the wall to extract it though.”

The torch illuminated an ancient box the colour of chicory. The corners appeared to be banded in silver and gold. The central panels adorned with mother-of-pearl inlays depicting violent battles.  

“Do it! Laura backed away. “We have to open it.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.” Jase went to work with his trowel. The castle ruins echoed the chinking of metal on plaster as he widened the gap. Then he was sliding the box into the sunlight for the first time in millennia.

Laura took it from him and scrambled out of the excavation. She took it to their ‘finds’ tent and placed it on a bench inside. The rows of coins, brooches, chainmail links, the sword hilt. Even the stacks of pottery shards seemed to fade out of existence beside the stunning box.

“Well, that’s a big wow!” Jase remarked having followed her into the tent. He took a bottle of water from a cooler and began to drink thirstily.

“No kidding! Look at it. The detailing in the mother-of-pearl battle scenes. The materials. It doesn’t fit the period of occupation for this castle.”

“I agree. This was a frontier castle for protecting borders nothing more. Something this exquisite should never have been here. I doubt they could have made this in those times either.”

Laura pulled on some latex gloves and turned the box. She saw no keyhole, no obvious indication as to which side was the front. Her fingers told of a notch on one side. The slightest press released the lid.

“Well, that was easy. I was thinking we’d need to chisel our way inside,” Jase placed an arm about her and watched eagerly.

She grinned at him, “Always the sledgehammers and grenades approach with you boys!”

“Of course, we do like to do everything delicately.”

Laura chuckled she lifted the lid clear and placed it on the table. A single object lay in the box.

“Holy, King Arthur! That’s the coolest medieval gauntlet I’ve ever seen! Looks like something Iron Man would wear!” Jase gasped.

The light fell upon the shiny, beautifully inlaid bronze surface of the battle glove. It seemed to glow with a magical aura. The first knuckle of each digit was adorned with a large gemstone. emerald, amethyst, sapphire, ruby, citrine.

“This thing will be worth a fortune!” Laura said before forcing herself to take a deep, calming breath. Those five gemstones are enormous, they could fetch a hundred thousand easy.”

“Six – there are six gemstones,” Jase conjectured.

“Five. This large one adorning the dorsum isn’t a gemstone. I’ve never seen a stone that yellow before. I … “ Laura cut herself off and looked at him, “Jase, I don’t know what this is but I don’t think it could have been made in the dark ages of England.”

“I was thinking the same thing.” Jase picked up the gauntlet. “Wow, it’s really heavy!”

“Careful, we don’t want to damage it!” Laura felt growing concern. The two archaeologists had already broken a million rules in retrieving and opening the box without permission from the professors in charge of the dig. If they broke the gauntlet, they’d probably be struck off their courses.

“I know,” Jase slipped his hand inside.

“Jase! Please, put it —”

“Argh!” Jase stiffened in shock and wrenched at the gauntlet. The large stone on the dorsum began to fluoresce the colour of a sunflower caught in bright light

“What is it?” Laura grabbed hold of the gauntlet and try to take it off him.

“Ahh! Ow! It’s like a thousand pinpricks all over my —” his eyes rolled and he crumpled to the floor.

“Jase!” Laura felt her heart hammering against her rib cage. A tingle of panic flooded her body. “Jase! Wake up! Jase!”

The archaeologist remained motionless on the floor.

Laura wrenched at the gauntlet but it seemed glued to his hand. “Jase! Please!” She begged with tears flowing down her cheeks. “Jase!”

“Stupid, boy!”

Laura snapped around in time to see a man duck into the tent. He was wearing a grey suit. Although with the ancient, crevassed face and long wispy white hair of a wizened man who’d seen everything, Laura felt he should be wearing a cassock of some kind. “Who are you?”

“I’ve carried many names over the years. Names which don’t have a purpose here.” The old man yawned, “I was having a wonderful dream about flying a dragon around London just then. Alas, even after two thousand years, a wizard’s work is never done.”

“What?” Laura gasped, “Dragons, wizards. None of that stuff exists.”

The old man shook his white main. “I see people are still blind to everything beyond the end of their noses, then.”

“Okay, fine. Please, just help, Jase,” Laura begged. Desperate to see him awake again.

“Yes, as I said when I walked in — stupid boy.”

“No, he didn’t know. We didn’t know. We’ve never seen anything like that, before.” Laura smoothed the archaeologist’s hair. “Will he be okay?”

“Oh, yes. He’ll be just fine.” The old man dropped to a knee beside him causing his bones to crackle. “He’s just sleeping.”

Laura watched him placed a hand on Jase’s breastbone. He began to speak in a tongue she’d never heard before. The veins in his eyes turned to gold as his hand began to pulse with white light.”

“Release him!” The old man’s voice boomed loud as he finished his incantation. Taking the gauntlet, he removed it from the archaeologist unblemished hand with the gentlest effort. “There, that was fun.”

“Can you tell me what happened?” Laura asked as Jase rolled into the foetal position beside her.

“Simple. The boy was not worthy of the gauntlet he placed on his hand. He triggered a defensive charm preventing him from stealing the gauntlet. I removed the charm and now he will be fine in a few minutes.” The old man straightened and turned to leave with the gauntlet in his possession.

“Wait! Then, who can wear that thing?” Laura demanded to know.

“The one who is worthy of the battles they must wage whilst wearing it,” he replied with a cryptic wink. “Good afternoon.”

Laura opened her mouth to continue questioning him but he was already gone.

“W-what happened!” Jase said sitting up.

“I have no idea!” Laura glanced at the table. Even the box was gone as if the gauntlet had never existed.

The End



Thanks for reading my friends.

There’s more in the Poetry CornerPoetry Nook, and the Short Story Collection

Have a great day!

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