Microfiction #writephoto: Balor’s Eye

A story break. I didn’t have time to do Sue Vincent’s photo prompt last week or was it the week before? But it’s a good picture, so I’ve had a go now.

sighting-stone

Most people peered through the round hole and saw the fields at the other side of the rock, the grass rippling and the far trees swaying in the breeze. But some people saw something else. Some people are gifted with the sight, or perhaps cursed is the better word. A few recognize this gift from an early age and stay away from the places that show them the otherworld. Most only realize when it it is too late.

He had no idea that he was anything but a very ordinary man, living a very ordinary life. True, he loved walking and running and would often sleep out beneath the stars with only a sleeping bag and his dog for company. He was never happier than when he was up in the hills with only the sound of the larks and the wind in the trees. Often, his running took him up to Balor’s Eye, and he would climb to the top of the rock and look down on three counties at once.

If he had a foreboding, he ignored it. If he was drawn to Balor’s Eye at the summer solstice, he did nothing to fight it. As the sun sank to the rim of the hills on that longest day, as its long rays fell through the round hole that was called Balor’s eye, he peered through, as hundreds, perhaps thousands had done before him, and he saw a bloody battlefield.

There were no slanting golden rays, but an ocean of red blood and fire. There were no larks singing, but men screaming. He tried to back away, but a face in the anonymous heaving, bleeding crowd turned and a voice called his name. His name?

Lugh!

The voice called from two thousand years away, yet he heard it clear, and he knew it for his own. His knuckles clutched the rim of the eye, but something stronger than the familiarity and ordinariness of the peaceful fields gripped him. The otherworld was calling its own; and he had a part to play.

Lugh! Come quick!

He was an ordinary man with the heavy muscles of an athlete, and the walking stick in his hand was a long spear. With a gasp, that was both regret and excitement, he leapt through the round hole, the eye of the giant Balor that looked out onto the otherworld, and the red battle enveloped him in flames and blood.

Before the eye could find him, he span about and cast the spear, the long spear no other man could wield, and it passed through Balor’s eye. The rock, the giant, the mass of man and mountain roared one last curse, belched one last gout of flame, and fell dead. Lugh, the extraordinary man was carried, a hero from the red field. He cast a last, puzzled glance back at the tumble of smoking rock, but already the memory of the peaceful, lark-singing field was fading.

 

Microfiction #writephoto: Stone teeth

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt. This story follows on from Stone Laughter

stepping-stones-ilkley

The last sound Balor heard was the tinkling of laughter from the little men, a pale imitation of his own thunderous roar. As his life flowed away, his knees buckled and he toppled, scattering the warriors with their needles of spears in a shower of bright darts. He fell, his ruined eye forever turned to the sky he would see no more, where birds flew he would no more hear. His dead weight carved a deep valley in the hills, and Eriú, taking pity on one who had once been a courageous and fearless leader, covered his bones with cool, soft earth.

On the hills where they had fallen, the warriors picked themselves up and pointed at the face, almost sunk beneath the earth, at the pit of an eye and the great gash of Balor’s mouth with its stone teeth. In jubilation they started their victory chant so their wives and children gathered in the valley below would hear.

Eriú frowned in her deep earth cave and called upon the warriors to show more respect. Not one listened, not one cared. Not until from between Balor’s dead stone teeth, the goddess poured a raging river in spate, that rushed down the valley, carrying away everything that lay in its path. In a little while, the victory chant turned to the keening of a lament.

Microfiction #writephoto: Stone laughter

This short story is inspired by Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.

lookout

And after thirty thousand years of enchanted sleep, when the giants had finished their battles and their feuds, Balor opened his one eye and his lips parted. Daylight shone between his jagged stone teeth waking the warriors who had lain sleeping, forgotten, on the smooth, broad expanse of his tongue. His jaw ground slowly open in a roar of triumphant laughter.

After so many years, so much had changed. But Balor did not regret the old times stolen from him by the enchanter, captivated as he was by the sight of the herds of fat cattle in the valleys and the sheep on the hillsides. His brain, still dulled by his long sleep did not remember why it had been cast upon him, nor the magician who had made the magic. Forgotten too were the warriors fallen asleep with him, the little men he had fought and conquered before the drowsiness fell upon him.

He frowned as a vague, uncomfortable memory surfaced. The dullness hung tenaciously beneath his heavy brows, longer than in the quick minds of the warriors, and before his smile had time to fade and his jaw snap shut, the little men with their sharp swords and long spears had swarmed over the rocky teeth and scaled his craggy cheeks.

In the last instants before the sharp swords put out the light in his one remaining eye, and the long spears found and snuffed out the light in his brain, the giant remembered the words of his geis.

“Stern-faced is Balor the invincible. In laughter lies his death.”

The world belonged to the little men after all.