This tale is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday #writephoto prompt.
For long years it had been a round tower, a holy place pointing to the heavens, where the ritual of prayer followed the mounting stairs, where chieftains of the lake conferred with their god. For years the chief wound his way in the path of his holy men, hoping to bind the strength of their god with his own. And for years, the god was with him. He held his place, his sons grew strong and healthy, his flocks and herds increased, and he followed the relics and the chanted spells round the tower to gaze down in satisfaction on his tribal lands.
Then, one black day, the invaders came in their narrow ships. The cowardly warriors clad from top to toe in iron, who used the long bow, the coward’s weapon rather than risk their skins in true combat. They brought their own god with them, a god that echoed vaguely the chief’s god, the god who rode into battle between his father and his mother, and held the chief in his embrace like a brother. But the god of the iron men was a dead god who rode in no chariot, and ruled alone. He hung from a tree in his blood, and he had no more need of a father, a mother, or a brother than any other dead man. Perhaps the monks feared this bloodless god. Perhaps that was why they fled when the iron men encircled the tower where the chief prepared to meet them with his spear and his sons at his side.
The chief cried out his war cry and his sons drew their swords, but the iron men never came near. Instead they sent flaming arrows to burn down the door of the tower, and the fire caught at the ladders and the goods stored in the tower and sent up a great cloud of smoke that suffocated the chief and his sons.
The iron men settled on the old chief’s lands and married his daughters and took his cattle, and they built their own, graceless square tower on the site of the beautiful round tower that they had destroyed. They had their priests bless the new tower and baptised their sons in the new chapel. But one black night, the old chief’s daughters and their daughters slit the throats of the iron men invaders and their soft-skinned priests. Blood flowed in the square keep, down the stone stairs and out onto the green field.
In the moonlight, the monks returned and called back the old god and his mother and his father who rode together in the same chariot, and the old round tower reappeared in the heart of the new square keep. The moonlight became silver stone, and in the morning, the tower shone in the new sun, and the keep remained, cold and dead as iron and any man hanging in a tree.
If you like this story, remember, there are two collections of my stories available: Tales from the Northlands and The Spring Dance.