At Willowside
by Carol

350 words

Oran kept walking, didn’t look back at the village. Claire was dead, buried yesterday, an accident. How could it have been an accident? The best archer in the village missing his target by yards? Even in the slight wind, Oran found it doubtful, but with no proof he couldn’t accuse the man, and even the elders had been afraid of Claire, of her visions, especially her last one.

Claire had told the council about invaders from the north. She saw them, swords at their sides, riding into the village on horses as dark as coal. She had naively told them, too, that in her vision the intruders had met with the council, which was, Oran believed, why she had been killed. He had no evidence nor did he  have Claire’s gift, but he had a foreboding feeling the elders knew the invasion was coming, were anticipating it. Oran knew them to be crafty men, eager for power, not the caretakers they should be. The northerners had only to make a few promises, he was sure, to gain the council’s cooperation.

Oran stopped by the creek, bent down and with his cupped hands took a drink of the clear, cold water. Refreshed, he sat, breathing in the fresh scent of the wood, listening to the sounds of the leaves in the wind and the creatures going about their day, not alarmed at his presence.  Alone in the forest, it felt like he had been traveling for days, not hours. Oran’s plan was to follow the water to where it would eventually spill into the river at Willowside, to his father’s house. His father was a powerful man in his own right, an advisor to the king and a landowner. But more than that, Oran trusted him. His father had always put the interests of the people over his own ambitions.

Two days later, Oran reached the manor. The walk had left him hungry and exhausted but he was glad to be coming home, until he saw the huge ebony horse in the stable. Oran straightened his shoulders and raised the knocker.


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. I seem to have used dreams and councils twice in a row now. I’ll try a different track next week.


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