Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take.
At the Gate
Cian hated the gate.
Téodóir’s Gate had been standing here in the forest for as long as anyone could remember. And it was beautiful, even he could recognize that. The gate was massive, reaching toward the treetops, gold glinting through the vines twisting around it. The sun, which couldn’t penetrate the ancient wood, warmed the clearing and a pleasant breeze embraced him. The villagers believed the gate held a protective enchantment, keeping them safe from invaders and enemies. Cian understood. There had been peace in their land since the time of his ancestors and as generations passed on, the stories became legends and the people felt safe.
But Cian’s grandmother had remembered and believed. Others called her crazy, but Cian, when he was young, had spent hours listening to her stories. The ones that truly frightened him, the ones that even now he could not forget, revolved around that cursed gate. She had told of warriors dressed in cloaks as dark as the night sky pouring out of it, carrying weapons far more deadly than their own bows and swords. The entire village only escaped slaughter because of a girl, a girl who had called down a storm the likes of which was never seen again. The lightning, the wind, even the trees themselves seemed to fight the foreigners, striking and crushing as many of them as the town’s own men did. The survivors took flight, escaping back through the gate. The girl died a few days later, Maimeó recalled. She had used all her strength and will in the battle. The leaders had tried to destroy the gate then, but it hadn’t proven impossible.
When his grandmother died, that story died with her. To be honest, Cian hadn’t though about it for years, although he did avoid the gate on his treks through the woodlands. Today, though, he had felt drawn here, perhaps because of the last night’s dream. Who had built it? The storytellers told of Gods who had walked the earth before humans did. They had erected the gate and others like it, so they could visit the beautiful island again. In the stories, the Gods are usually benevolent, sometimes petty, but never truly evil. What if the storytellers were wrong? What if the gods had come once and were just waiting for the right moment to return? Who would save them?