Rendered Rock

Family crest ion Hoer

Photo credit: Klariti Template Shop

Isqaelo stepped gingerly over waves of dried mud, holding his nose.  The recognizable bodies had been removed, the weapons and even the melted metal scavenged for the next battle.  What remained was a field planted in bones – white, charred black, occasionally fertilized with rotting flesh, humans oddly indistinguishable from magruks.  The ruined ground seemed to suck them under, for decency, or for food.

Through a gap in the outer wall, Isqaelo gasped at the castle’s corpse. The parts still intact only emphasized the destruction. Rubble replaced entire buildings, once-beautiful towers.  Walls of bright bluestone now crumbled grey, aged a thousand years in a single day.

“Evil magic,” his father had said.

“How can you tell it’s evil?” Isqaelo asked.

“Which side wields it.”

Isqaelo caressed the emblem near the entrance.  Faded by false weathering, he barely recognized it.  He had arrived too late to help his cousins.  Or too late to share their fate, more likely.  But he had come.  That should mean something.

Pressing his bloodied palm to the carving, he vowed.  “I will avenge you, my taen. I will gather what’s left.  Esqanzea will rise again.”

His dagger easily cut the now-porous stone over his family’s crest.  “Forever.”

Word count: 200.  Written for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge.  Thanks to Al Forbes for hosting and for providing the original inspirational photo, below.  Click here to read the other stories.

For new readers, “taen” is a royal title from the Pyanni empire, similar to king/queen.

My apologies for not posting more often recently.  In addition to some nasty deadlines at work, I’m also nursing a broken arm.  (It’s not a very exciting story; my knee gave out while running to catch a light, and I took a bad fall.) It’s a very minor fracture, and not that painful as long as I keep it still.  But it means I have to type one-handed, which is really slowing me down!


Photo © Al Forbes @ A Mixed Bag


19 thoughts on “Rendered Rock

  1. I love the idea that the item is neutral and it’s the intent of the wielder that determines if the item is good or evil. That symbolism can be extended to people I think, and how most of us are neutral but it’s our choices that decide if we’re good or evil. Great writing as always, Joy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jade, glad you enjoyed it! I imagine this relativism is common in many cases — that what the enemy does against us, we consider evil, whereas what we do to protect ourselves from the enemy is, if maybe not “good”, at least justified, or at worst, an honest mistake. But definitely never “evil.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story joy. Your description of the battle field very grotesque and probably very realistic of a battlefield. I suppose the dark magic makes it worse though. Like how Isqualo’s father wants to avenge his cousins deaths, to rebuild. Hopefully, it’s not too much about vengeance as that never goes well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Amanda, glad you enjoyed it! I’d say the magic makes the battles worse in some ways. Maybe I should have been more clear that this scene is quite soon after the battle (the flesh is only now rotting). So all those bones lying around (and the melted metal that’s also mentioned) were the result of spells that instantly reduce a person to a bare or even charred skeleton. Ew… Luckily for people in this world, such spells are very risky and costly to their casters, and almost never used..

      Liked by 2 people

      • That’s a relief. I didn’t notice it was soon after the battle and that things seemed rather gross, for just having happened. I liked the story nonetheless.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry to hear about your arm! I can imagine how frustrating it must be having only one hand to type with. But you’ve made an excellent job with this story. Wonderfully detailed, with great descriptions of medieval-style warfare.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Millie. The arm is definitely improving, but unfortunately the angle of typing is the worst for this particular injury, so I’m still slowed down at the keyboard. Glad you enjoyed the story!


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