Burnt Bridges

To commit to one adherence is to deny all others.

Wonderlane Hand and lute sculpture La Paz Baja California Sur Mexico.jpgPhoto credit: Wonderlane


With one last grunt, Miji pulled off the stone lid.

Garumin peered inside. The charred remains of an instrument, it seemed. Who would keep that in such a fancy sarcophagus, hidden in a cave?

Miji gasped. “It’s the Flaming Lute of Jhillos! From the legend! And we found it!”

“Breathe, boy.” Garumin laughed, then looked more closely. “Hm. I was sure that story was apocryphal.”


“Never mind. Well, we’ll see what the temple says.”

The Jhillosian temple said no. They already had a piece of the actual Flaming Lute embedded in their altar. This one was obviously fake.

Temples in three other towns agreed. Garumin stopped after that. Considering all the Jhillosian temples in the land, they must have enough pieces to make several lutes already.

“Sorry, Miji. This is nothing but charcoal.” Garumin tossed the burnt wood onto a rubbish pile, where it crumbled to ash.



Submitted for this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge, and inspired by the photo below.  Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting!  Click here to see other stories inspired by this challenge and to submit your own.

Note that the photo initially inspired the actual legend of the Flaming Lute of Jhillos, but I couldn’t get that in under 175 words, so hopefully we’ll see that in a separate post later.

UPDATE: I did write up the legend, so now you can read it here: The Flaming Lute of Jhillos.


Photo provided by Pixabay.



39 thoughts on “Burnt Bridges

  1. I do love your explorations of Eneana’s religions through flash fiction. “Considering all the Jhillosian temples in the land, they must have enough pieces to make several lutes already.” – that is such a great line. Brilliant stuff, as usual 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Poor Jihi. I agree with PJ I think they actually found the real deal and the Temples had fake pieces. Somewhat like the Catholic Church used to (may still) had fake relics, parts of Saints and pieces of the cross etc. Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Amanda! Yes, I was definitely inspired by the real-life practice of keeping holy relics, especially in the Catholic church. As to who had the real deal — or whether the real deal even exists — well, it seems like they don’t even know how to tell!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m always a bit skeptical of “expert opinions”. In many cases there can be no certainty, though the “expert” will say otherwise. I think the real question for me is… What was the significance of the Lute? Did it posses power or was it more symbolic? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great story. I must say, if I had been in Garumin’s shoes, I wouldn’t have been so quick to throw the lute away…just in case. If a mistake’s been made Garumin’s not going to be able to put it back together and Miji would have been right all along. Fascinating read 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • He might have acted a bit hastily. Or maybe he wasted his time asking around at all. Hm…. At the very least, he might have found a temple somewhere far away who believed he had the real deal.

      Thanks for commenting – glad you liked it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice story. It makes me wonder if they just destroyed the true artifact, but I guess that was the point. It reminds of reports that if you put together all the various supposed pieces of the Berlin Wall, you’d have enough to build at least 3 walls with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! And yes, that was the point. ((grin)) I’ve heard the same thing about the Berlin Wall. My piece is real, though (although I guess they all say that, right?). Well, my friend who lived there and helped tear down the wall and sent me the piece said it was real, so that’s probably better provenance than most.


  6. Oh dear, I think they just chucked the real one 🙂
    I liked your little dig at all the “authentic” relics temples and whatnot seem to have lying about the place. Reminds me of a Blackadder episode (the one where he becomes Archbishop of Canterbury).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ali! It’s true that in real life, the relic trade got pretty ridiculous. But I’m a very sentimental person and keep my own “relics” (mementos) of past experiences, so really I’m the last person to criticize anyone else for attaching emotional importance to useless little objects.

      I haven’t watched Blackadder in so long and I don’t remember that episode, but knowing (and loving) the show, from your description, it sounds hilarious.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, but your relics/mementoes are the real thing, and mean something special to you 🙂 I also have a few!

        The Blackadder reference is from series 1 “The Archbishop”. Lord Percy is proud of his relic – the knuckle bone of a saint or something and remarks that Baldrick looks awed. Baldrick says that he is – he thought they only came in boxes of 10 (and produces his box of “knuckle bones”, which he’s selling to believers) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Too funny! Okay, that’s it, I’m looking up…. YES, Hulu does have Blackadder. Obviously I have to go back and watch that show again. I just have to remember not to watch the last one, which bummed me out so much it turned me off the whole shebang.


  7. Now I’m wondering whether they’ve just thrown away the real Flaming Lute! Stories about relics always make me laugh. There are so namy fingers, thumbs and locks of hair from saints, those people must have had hands and hair sprouting from places all over their bodies. As you know, so many medieval stories mention relics in the churches and I can see that you’ve drawn on that idea for your book. You’ve certainly woven a complex world. I’d love to read your book when it’s eventually published. Keep at the editing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I was definitely drawing on the real-life tradition of relics – and how many fingers those saints must have had! The story was meant to make you wonder if that was the real lute, but in an earlier comment, I let out the secret that it wasn’t. If you get the chance to read the legend of the lute (next post after this) you can see another completely different idea on the lute. Which is true? Well, people in this world believe a lot of stories that aren’t true at all, it turns out…. 😉


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