A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
A DEAL TOO GOOD
They’d set out in sunlight, dawn bursting over the treetops like a tawdry, overripe rose. A glorious, almost luscious daybreak. It had made Carolus feel quite young again, as though riding out on some spirited, empty-headed enterprise. A hunt, a race, a skirmish. He’d thrown his leg over the bay colt offered him, quixotically pleased by the horse’s edgy, new-broken air.
After an hour of uncollected, antsy trotting from the colt, Carolus’ bony ass had been thoroughly reminded of its advanced age.
The oversized cruciform two-hander slung across his back wasn’t doing him any favors either. Hardly a realistic weapon for an old man, he carried the cumbersome thing with reluctance. It didn’t even look finished. The unpolished blade showed flakes of scale from the forge and the unwrapped hilt would quickly chafe any wielder’s hands raw. Plain as a fire poker. From the abbey’s rich store of enameled chalices, garnet-inlaid knives, and exquisite Byzantine swords, Carolus could not understand why the traveler would choose this sad specimen as his reward.
The mist had engulfed them shortly after leaving the tidy Roman highway for the confines of a dried-up streambed. Roots threaded through the steep clay walls, and shrubs overgrew the banks, weaving a whispering ceiling that cast them into shadow and trapped the sickly mist. It felt like riding down a tunnel.
Carolus eyed the traveler. “What did you say your name was, friend?”
“How much further?”
The longer he looked at Lucian in the half-light of the crevice, the more different he seemed from the man he’d started out with from Constanța that morning. Slender and smooth-cheeked, yes, but older somehow now than before. His skin shone waxy and sallow, eyes festered deeper in sleepless bruised sockets. His lips looked drained and white, with dark, chapped toothmarks where he’d been biting at them. He perched aloof and wary in the saddle, gliding along as though barely acknowledging the flesh-and-bone movement beneath him.
“Do you feel all right, lad?” Carolus asked.
His mouth twisted in a private sort of smile. “Not in a long time. But it’s none of your concern.”
“Is it any of my concern why you would ask for a hulking ugly blade like this in exchange for the whereabouts of one of the greatest relics in Christendom?”
Carolus nibbled pensively on his mustache. “Or why you would only show one? Only show me? Instead of allowing us to send a party befitting the recovery of this holy artifact?”
“Peace, old man. No more questions.”
Lucian closed his black hooded eyes. He sniffed hard at the stale air, sucked it in and then seemed to chew on it for several moments. One gloved hand drifted free from the reins, outstretched as though bobbing on the surface of an invisible body of water.
Carolus held his breath, a sudden gout of fear rising in this throat. This was not a godly man. He could see that now. What could he feel in the texture and landscape of nothingness that others could not?
Lucian did not point, but reached forward. Like pushing through a heavy tapestry.
“There,” he said. “It’s buried there.”