Photo credit: Anne Worner
Agga waved her cane. “Wouldn’t go farther if I were you, son.”
The warrior stopped at the field’s edge. “How can he defend his castle with daffodils?”
“They aren’t, that’s how.”
Step too close, and blue daffodils revert to purple thistles, reaching up, hungry.
So many had tried. Some escaped. Some died. Some went farther in, never to return. This one, she dissuaded. Smart boy.
Attacking always failed. Time to try her plan.
Sprinkling the precious potion, she advanced, one shaky step after another. On either side, daffodils transformed into hideous monsters, stretching, grabbing. Her path remained blue, tranquil.
The gate opened with a creak. She followed the music.
Carrenda was surrounded by courtiers, colorful banners, laughter. He looked as young as when she’d first seen him, storming the castle on that magnificent flying cart, a field of blue sprouting in his wake.
All paused to stare at Agga.
“Nice trick,” Carrenda said. “Can you turn any illusion into what it seems?”
She sighed. So handsome. “Not you, my lord. Here, all I can do is make things true.” Crushing the charm, she threw the dust upwards. The room’s illusions faded—the banners torn, the courtiers merely statues, Carrenda old and stooped. Silence pushed in on them.
“So, you came to challenge me?”
“Legend is that anyone who can enter earns the throne.”
Carrenda hobbled closer, reached forward. Agga realized too late to dodge, even from his slow hand.
She turned to stone, joining his court of statues.
Word count: 250. Written in response to this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge, although I apologize to Al that I couldn’t get it down to 200 words. (It started at over 400, whew!) Big thanks to Al Forbes for running the challenge, and providing the original photo prompt, below. Click here to see other stories written for this same challenge. Sorry I’m late, too — I was at my first writers conference this weekend, which was educational and great fun but very time- and energy-consuming.
I’ve been thinking for a while about a legend of a castle protected by a field of thistles, although I was originally thinking normal thistles, not blood-thirsty plant monsters posing as daffodils. If you’ve ever tried to navigate a patch of thistles, or pull one out of your backyard without steel-covered gloves, you can imagine what I mean.
If you’re curious about the blue daffodils, read this:When Daffodils Were Blue.
Photo © Alistair Forbes