The Sentinel

The sorcerer had no difficulty gaining access to the long-abandoned Keep. He climbed the long stone stairway, made his way inside, found a dusty table in the Lord High Constable's room, and laid out his books. No one had been brave enough to accompany him.

An eerie voice sounded behind him. "You wish to read to me, warlock?"

The sorcerer turned, regarded the spectral figure of a knight in plate armor leaning on a greatsword as if it were a cane. "If you like."

"I'd wager you have stories to rival my own. Perhaps you even fought some of the same battles?"

The sorcerer chuckled, "I'm not that old, Carisbrooke."

"You know me?" The ghost cocked his head to one side.

"The whole of the valley knows you." The sorcerer said respectfully. "They warned me of the danger."

"To them I am the ghost in the castle. You name me."

"I've done my research. I wasn't sure until I saw your crest, there on the hilt of your sword. I thought you might be Baron Fellenmaine or even Old Shmorid the Wilting."

"Fellenmaine fled before the battle. I don't know what became of him. Hopefully great ill. Shmorid died outside in the bailey, honorably. Presumably he went to his rest."

"Yet you did not."

"My oath to the King binds me even after death, or so it would seem. I have no cause for complaint."

"So here you are. John of Carisbrooke, John the Red, right hand of the last of the Old Macklish Kings, Ælbrad—"


"My apologies. You fell defending the Keep and your King from the invading Vedek army. At some point later you reappeared as an apparition, and the Vedek fled. Since then you have driven any and all invaders from the Keep."

"I can do little things. Knock over a flagon here, blow out a candle there. And of course the ghostly visage you see before you now. It's usually enough."

"…For seven hundred years."

"Has it been? And on what invader's behalf do you propose to end my hauntings?"

"There are no invaders, Sir John. Only me."

The ghost shimmered with laughter. "Very well, recite your incantations. Expel me, evict me, exorcise me. Do your worst. Others have tried, but perhaps they were not as powerful as you. I'm fascinated to see if it finally works."

"The books aren't spellcraft, Sir John, they're history books. They're for you."

"What need have I for—"

"To read. The history of the valley, seven hundred years' worth, starting with Ælbard's death. The wars are over, Sir John. The valley is well-ruled from a capitol far down the coast, two hundred seventy years now. Read. I'll turn pages for you if it's too much effort."

The specter seemed incredulous. "You would teach me history?"

"The towns of the valley want to repair the Keep, use it as a museum. It would be good for tourism, put gold in their pockets. You're all that stands in the way. Read."

SF Drabble #408 "Where Eagles Dare"

Haruto let the reins go slack, and the bikubado lowered its immense head and dove. Far below, the invaders began to scatter: they had never been this far North before, never been this close to the mountains, never been attacked from above.

His mount picked its target and, with wings pressed hard against its own body, plummeted ever faster in the heavy gravity as if to drive itself into the ground. Some Ningen couldn't take it: they'd panic, pull back on the reins, and the bird would flare its enormous wings and abort.

Not Haruto. This is the fun part.