Saturday, August 25, 2018

Set of five very short tales in different lands

Been a while since I have posted anything new. As some of you may now I post stories each week on Google +, part of an ongoing event every Saturday with other writers there. Any genre is possible. And if you are on G+ they are posted in a Collection called something like SaturdayScenes 2018.  

This week I decided to post stories that take place in other lands. Each one is a flash tale, or a bit longer, based on a picture. Lately I have been doing a lot of those and hopefully this year I will publish an anthology of around 22 of these stories. But with these stories I considered stories that take place on spaceships or another planet, but I wanted other lands here, not in space.

The first takes place in Africa and was written many, many months ago. The last takes place in Japan and was written not that long ago. The others are in-between. I revised them all today so they will be a bit longer and, easier-hopefully-to read. In case you have read them before. They are 3,069 words long totally. They are historical, general fiction and science fiction. Two take place in Africa, one around Norway but more North, one in the Middle east three or four centuries ago and is part of my Dark Castle series-which are posted on G+, and the last one in Japan. One takes place during the War of Roses or one of them.

So without further adieu here is story one:

The Tower
The boy and girl, tall and lanky, even though in their early teens, walked toward the end of the hills. For now they were called Esiankiki and Loiyan, but that would change as they grew.
Both felt not right for the mountains they were leaving were strange to them. Not at all like the Savanna. They feet ached from the hard rough surfaces they had walked on.
They stood the beginning of one side of the part of the Savanna where they came from. The trees they knew still grew here and some of the animals they killed or competed with came here too. The air felt warm as it should. The scents of grass, the droppings of lions, and desert air all grew as they walked closer to the natural border. Loiyan thought he heard the cough of a lion far in the distance, but little of any other sounds.
It would be good to get back to the foods they knew, bread made from the grains they had grown with.
Before going home though both had wanted to see the Tower. It looked manmade shape under many and many years of grime, but very few stories passed down to the next generation told of it. No one knew when it had been built or why. To worship the Red god or the Black one maybe. Loiyan thought it was something the evil Red god would like. Esiankiki wasn’t sure. It had different levels, each one with what looked like walls that swooped up to a sharp point. The oi-boni had never restricted the Masai from going there but he had given warnings, as far as they knew no one had climbed to the top-fear maybe or that it was just different?
Both had some honey to eat so they did not worry about food. Water might be a problem later. It took them two hours or more to get to the tower. Up close it looked both man made and natural. Neither knew how that could be but each agreed on that.
Loiyan placed the palm of his hand on it: rough like the huge rocks they had just climbed over but warm. Esiankiki placed her ear to it. She thought she heard something but so faint she couldn’t be sure: she said that she didn’t like the roughness against her ear’s skin. She pulled Loiyan back when he wanted to taste it with his tongue. Too rough for that she said.
Around the other side they saw a way in, or up. What could be very old steps, worn smooth by feet and weather. With very careful steps they went up. The first level had a place to walk but they couldn’t see over the edge of the wall even as tall as they were. The same with the second level. As far as they could find there was no way in, and no places to sacrifice offerings mixed with grass. Maybe that was on the top. But once they reached as far as they could go still nothing. The inside of the walls looked and felt smooth. The bottom had smelled of age and something neither one liked. But up here only air. They saw lions and tall grass further on, for the walls had grown shorter on the way up.
No blacken areas with very old ash so no sacrifices up here either. So what was this used for? To watch the lions, to see if any enemies were coming? The People did sometimes fight.
They examed the walls carefully for long minutes. Loiyan found lines in the inner wall like a doorway, The People used curtains over doorways, but they knew others had wood and metal doors, some with metal and what was called glass. They both had been to cities, ridden in cars and a train. They had seen a helicopter land. That had been noisy, worse than a very large pride of lions Loiyan had been trapped in when very small. All of the beasts roaring at once had deafen him. The helicopter’s noise had been louder than a big rain storm with lightning and thunder. But if this was a door he nor Esiankiki had seen any way to open it. He tried to slide his fingernails into the cracks but something stopped them. Esiankiki noticed the indentations near waist level on one level, but they didn’t seem to do anything. Loiyan who had the hearing of a warrior thought he heard clicks from inside when he pressed then indentations, but nothing happened. Both felt tiny vibrations in the door but they did nothing. Esiankiki thought she tasted in the air something like what flavors the air when lightning strikes. The space in-between the lines grew warmer but only a little. That made no sense.
After a while they gave up and walked down. Back at the bottom they saw more lines in the tower but they were shaped wrong for a doorway for any person. And they all went into the ground. So they knew the Tower went deeper like a huge rock. These doors looked like something that slid out maybe. Esiankiki stated that she wasn’t sure why she thought of that. Loiyan thought it would be something larger than a hut if so. With a final shrug-that the People had picked up from the shorter white visitors-they left and finally headed home. The People or someone else had lived in the Tower many many ages ago, they were now sure of but who? And how did they get the doors to open? They would never know. Maybe The People had climbed those steps and but they came away with more questions that could not be answered so they either forgot them or decided not to bother others with unanswerable questions. Maybe when Loiyan became a warrior he would ask and come back with others who knew more than he did. For now though they would just go home, it had been too long since they had seen family.


The Last Viking

The Viking looked over the side of his ship. The mountains rose out of the ocean, higher than he would want to climb anymore. The day looked cloudy and cold even though he was viking and therefore used to cold. While not as deep as in some places the water here was still deep enough to hide monsters, or even an angry whale.
Askell glanced along his longship. The wood looked aged, it had nicks, claw marks, and blacken areas. That last fire they barely got out in time. He supposed he could get one of the new style of ships with multiple masts but he, and his crew, were too old to change that much.
He stroked his grey beard, looked down.
"To port now!” He shouted
Something scraped the hull as the longship turned too slowly.
So this ocean was not deep, those rocks were hard to see. Movement under the water, Oh oh, something huge lived down there.
It neared the surface and before he could cry out for them to raise oars, three of them hit it. It thrashed, caused water to splash into the longboat. Cold water that soaked their footwear. The oars didn’t break, thank Odin.
He snarled, spat bile out. Nothing would sink them in this cruise.
Once the water settled again he ordered them to head for the distant bit of land. It had what looked like a strip of land they could beach the longship. Further in lay the base of a tall cliff They might be able to build housing right next to the cliff and have fish, birds and seals and maybe even smaller whales to eating and to use for tools and clothes.
He looked around. No one would be chasing them this far, but if they did they would pay for that with their blood, for his crew still kept their weapons sharp.
Askell double checked the depth and for any other movements. He would have to be on his toes to make sure nothing else hindered them.



Jacob snarled, he wouldn’t let them smash him into the mud. He shoved against one man the same age as himself. That worthy went “ufff” as another two bodies jumped on top of the others. Some of them let out exclamations too. His lighter brown skin could easily be identified among their black skin. They all were from around here while he came from somewhere different.
He twisted his body one way then another, kept his legs moving so they couldn’t be grabbed. He sneezed: someone wore an awful cologne. Probably Kensu.
Someone used both hands to shove him harder, forced his face toward the mud patch on the parade ground. The whole area was plain dirt, not even grass. Mud holes were not rare even though most of it was dry dirt. Light metal bleachers filled one side. But they would be of no advantage to Jacob, nor would the various light and speaker poles around the area.
Jacob surged his back upward to flip off whoever was on his back. It didn’t work. He thought it was time to start punching and jabbing. A second thought, no one used fists, hands or feet as weapons. They all depended on brute strength, and their weight, to get his face into the mud.
Their grunts and heavy breathing filled his ears, but no name calling or obcentaites, which surprised him. He managed to get his feet and hands on the ground: one hand and knee splashed the mud around. He shoved upward and managed to stand as his attackers fell off. However his victory lasted one-second for someone tackled him and rolled with him toward the mud. Kerrich, he thought for. Sweat matted his hair, the clothes of those that touched him were clammy with it. He spat out the mud in his mouth-at least they used fresh water and mostly clean dirt.
Again he tried to get his hands under him so he could shove off the ground, but two more joined in the, what was still called, a dog pile. His face inched closer to the mud. No! These guys weighed a lot even though he had proven himself the better, stronger fighter.
With a snarl he surged upward, but only moved an inch, more poundage landed on him. He could smell the mud, at least it seemed to be just water and dirt. Before he could take a breath his face smashed down into the mud. It filled his mouth when he breathed in, splashed up his cheeks, got in his ears and hair. A roar of victory followed that and with a suddenness that surprised him all of the weight vanished.
He jumped up, turned to face them. Eight young men stood in badly formed semi-circle. Their formation instructor would not be happy with that a part of his mind said.
Half of them looked unsure, would he attack them?
The leader stepped forward but only so close.
He said, “Congratulations, you will be the first cadet to become Captain.”
Jacob blinked, they knew that?
“We honor you with our traditions.”
He nodded, for he knew of this one where they congratulated another cadet to raise in rank, but never expected to have it done to him. They had never really excepted him.
He spat though, to get the taste of the mud out of his mouth.
Jon-Wel said, “The commissary has a new batch of Mars Malt beer. You can wash out your mouth with a bottle. I will buy the first one.”
Jacob didn’t know if that was part of the tradition or because Jacob didn’t usually have much money unlike them. But…
He smiled, “I would be happy to wash the mud out that way,”
Some of the men looked relieved.
The leader nodded and motioned toward the store.
Jacob thought, He may never be one of them, but he had their respect and well wishes, that was good.


The Way Stop Castle

Jounn turned in his saddle to face his friend Brock. He felt glad they had stopped. The horses hoofs had been stirring the sand dust. It made his mouth dry when he breathed it in, not to mention making him cough.
“There is the castle I told you about.”
After he spoke he looked back down from the small dune they both had stopped on. Night covered the desert which is what they wanted. It cooled quickly here after the sun went down. But the dark made it better not to be seen.
The castle, a ruled by a neutral Duke far from England, sat on a hill. The neutrality though will probably have to change to one or the other roses, he thought. The structure looked gray tall and narrow with a full moon behind it. A village in front of it. Guards walked the wall. The gate looked still open even this late.
Brock said, “That wall, most be a good ten feet hight and what? Three feet thick. It would hold an army for a while. If one came here at all.”
“I am not fearful of armies, but of sudden changes of neutral Dukes. Or of an assassin.”
“You think they would really send one after us?”
Jounn shrugged, “They have done it before. During the last bit of fighting, which I can barely recall, my cousin was challenged to a duel by someone who turned out to be en expert swordsman. After the duel the man disappeared but left a rose. I have heard of that all my life with warnings to be watchful.”
“But if you don’t trust the Duke, why stay here?”
“We are not staying here. We present ourselves and the Duke gives us a suite of rooms. He knows me so will not think it strange that I would come here. We say we need to mediate over the conflict so we need to stay in the rooms without being disturbed. Once settled we change to less conspicuous clothes, bathe and be rid of traveling odors then head down to the stables. In my last two visits I learned that there is a back gate through the wall. It is small but a horse can get through. We get our horses and leave that way. Even if a guard sees us and if he should report it the Duke would be still able to say that he gave us rooms and then we left without even a proper thank you or good bye. That he knows not when, or where we went. Or even if we left the castle. We could be hiding among the vassals and others that live here.”
“Do you think that will work?”
“I believe it will, but we still need to be on our toes and watch. We will be able to get supplies for a long trek through the desert, but we hide our trail and head South, which might further confuse anyone that is sent after us.”
“Well, that plan is better than no plan, or just running.”
“As I said we will watch and keep our hands close to our swords and daggers. If he portrays us we will sell our lives dearly. If he is still neutral than we go as I said and leave him with an excuse.”
His friend nodded and said, “Than we should make sure we have no roses on us then he can say he did not realize we had chosen sides.”
Jounn nodded, picked off a brooch off of his chest, while his friend ripped off a fastener on his cloak, and started his horse down the dune.


Way of the Samurai

“You are late.”
“I know, Father, I have no excuse,” even though I did-saying good bye and finding my round hat had not been easy. I had tied my waist long hair into one braid. My long dress would be help against the cold. I wore a lighter outfit under it, if it warmed. I suspect that my Father had on something under his armor. His helmet with the grimace face hid his face as it should. He wore his two favorite swords and I am sure a third. He stood between the posts of the gate as the sun sank. He looked magnificent.
He grunted and nodded once.
Our road led between two tall strands of bamboo over a rough surface. No one had come this way in years so they had not kept it up. The wind blew leaves around.
Father was a hard man, but a tough, experienced, brave and honorable warrior. He showed his love in training me well so I would be able to defend myself and in teaching me honor. I have only the one sword though. I am not a Samurai so can not wear the armor but I am not sure I would want to.
The air smelled strongly of bamboo and growing things. Maybe we should take some of the shoots to eat later, but Father is ready to leave now.
I sighted, I have already defended myself. That group of three thieves had shown surprise when their heads rolled to the ground. The last one had been a fair fighter-he lasted five swings. And months later, the first man I had killed for trying to dishonor me-he had been someone important. Later when questioned Father acted like he didn’t know who had killed him.
Now we go-to somewhere else. He has not told me where but I trust him. Maybe it was to protect me, or because he was tired of this place and just wanted to go to some place new, or he knew of something bad coming to this area soon. He would train me more in the way of the Samurai as we go. Maybe I would be able to make my own armor by the times we get there-if I decided to wear some.
I am glad I had brought two skins of water and two bags of nuts and cooked rice, they would last if we found nothing else to eat later and didn’t collect the shoots here. He would have something on under his armor too.
I kept my eyes on him and did not turn for one last look.