Sunday, 18 September 2011


Yep, we're talking word challenges here, people.  Go to the home of their instigator at Raven's Nest.

I thought I've have a crack at a 10-word challenge this week.  The words to include are: crane, argument, implement, fallacy, triumph, graph, giggle, twig, spigot, worry

In the centre of an old courtyard there lies a large wide-lipped stone basin. It once contained a pool of sparkling clear water, in the middle of which stood a marvellously wrought statue of a crane. A fountain had gushed and splashed out of a spigot cunningly hidden in the bird’s stone beak.

In the old days, the lip of the basin had served as a seat and the courtyard itself as a bustling informal meeting place; its walls echoing with the white noise of splashing water and the lively conversation of student and master alike.

Now, crossing the courtyard at a snail’s pace in his dusty black robe, old Master Ortiz pauses to rest a while on the basin’s accommodatingly wide lip, just as he does every day. The sunshine stored in the ancient, honey-coloured stone warms his old bones and for that he is grateful. His old eyes, dim and milky now, can almost see the fountain playing and splashing in the sunlight, his ears can almost catch the snatches of argument, the shouts of triumph, the whispered confidences, the odd giggle… It is a fallacy though, a bout of wishful thinking. There is no one here now but himself – hasn’t been for years.

He runs a gnarled hand over his face. The decades have drawn a graph of worry and care there, not that there’s anyone around to see it, of course. He had warned them, the other masters, but they hadn’t listened. They hadn’t listened and the magic had run out, just as he’d said it would. One by one they had all left this place; if there was no magic, there was no point in having a school for it.

Now, the fountain stands silent, its basin home to dried twig and creeping weed, dead leaf and dessicated moss. The water no longer pours from the beak of the cunningly-fashioned stone crane. This is not because the magic failed. No, simple time has broken the mechanism and Ortiz does not know how to fix it, nor does he possess any suitable implement to do so even if he did.

Having rested, Grand Master Ortiz, one time Advisor to Kings and wielder of powers most puissant and arcane, struggles to his feet and shuffles on his way. With any luck, the scrawny chickens he keeps in the old refectory will favour him with an egg or two today.

And, of course, HAROLD!  Follow the Story So Far link top right to get all caught up.

“You have absolutely no right to keep us here! Let us go!” Prada’s pale face was flushed with anger.

“Please sit down, miss, and stay calm,” said Nugent, patiently. “I’m sure everything will be fine, but we have our orders. Someone will be along to speak to you soon.” He closed the door firmly behind him, leaving Prada, Othello and Mercury alone together for the first time since their capture.

Othello waited a few moments and then went over to the door. He eased it open a crack, glanced out and quickly closed it again.

“Two guards outside,” he said. “Armed.”

Mercury, meanwhile was checking the windows.

“These can’t be opened,” he sighed. “Looks like we’re here for the duration.”

“And since they have our phones, we can’t even let India know what’s happened.” Said Prada. The guards of units Three and Four had searched them quickly and professionally before ushering them into what looked like a perfectly ordinary conference room.

“She’ll know something’s up when we don’t make the check-in call.” Mercury looked at his watch, “in about ten minutes or so.”

“Were the guys that nabbed you wearing Predator-suits as well?” asked Prada.

“Predator suits?” Mercury inquired with raised eyebrow. “Oh! The fancy invisibility things? Yeah, they flat-footed us quite handily. What I wouldn’t give for a few of those things!”

“They’re some seriously advanced tech,” said Othello, “Military maybe. There’s a pile of money being spent here. I think we’re definitely on to something now.” He turned to Prada, “ So what happened to the demon? Did they capture it?”

Teatime crouched under a hedge, straining his tiny eyes and ears to the maximum to reassure himself that there were no perishing humans about. The car they had all arrived in earlier that evening sat, apparently undisturbed, just in the spot they had left it. During their earlier planning session at Mr Teeth’s, it had been decided that the car was the place to meet up if anything untoward happened. Well, untoward was certainly an understatement. A supposedly low-risk recce mission had turned into a complete shambles.

Teatime hoped Harold had a) got away safely and b) remembered this part of the plan. He was a good-hearted chap but, honestly, sometimes he could be such a complete duffer. Besides, it would be colossally inconvenient if the silly oaf had got himself captured. Not only would the investigation be severely hampered, but Teatime would have to explain things to Harold’s father. Not a pleasant prospect.

Harold had not forgotten the plan. It had taken a while, but he had eventually managed to find a service ladder and climb out of the culvert. As soon as he had emerged, he had tried calling Mercury’s phone to let him know what had happened. It had just rung and rung and then gone to voicemail. So had Othello’s. He even called Prada just in case, somehow, she had managed to escape herself, but the result was the same. This did not bode well. Maybe all the agents had been captured then. Well, all except one. India. His number one fan. With some trepidation, he dialled her number.

“All of them?” India cried, incredulous.

“It would seem so, I can’t raise any of them on their cells.”

“But you managed to escape. Just you.” Her voice had a hard, suspicious edge to it.

“Well, Teatime too, probably. We got split up in all the confusion.”
India rubbed her eyes. She needed to think. This was one scenario they had not rehearsed. She was effectively in charge now all of a sudden. This was only her first proper mission. She was the most junior member of the team, she couldn’t be expected to tackle this level of responsibility. It just wasn’t right. Get a grip, she told herself sternly. She took a big breath.

“OK, demon, try and find the monkey-thing and then both of you get back here, so we can figure out what to do next.“

“Will do.”

The line went dead. Well that went surprisingly well, Harold thought as he put the phone away. He had been expecting much more of a tongue-lashing than that. She must be softening.

Right then, back to the car and hopefully a reunion with Teatime.


  1. I feel so sad for Grand Master Ortiz and the dimming of magic.... Beautifully written.

    Can't wait for next week's Harold. Harold is probably the main reason I didn't just quit on Wordzzles. I must know the end of his story and I enjoy each episode.

  2. Love the first story - you're really good at these vignettes. And of course Harold is what I look most forward to as well.

  3. Raven - I'm glad you enjoyed the 10-worder. It was good to stretch the old brain for a change. Rest assured, I would finish Harold's tory even if you did quit Wordzzles.

    Bug - 'vignettes' is one of my favorite words! I'm glad Harold is still interesting. We're rapidly approaching the big finale - which I must actually get around to planning one of these days.

  4. liked the story about the wizard, and Harold is going well

    Novice agent left all alone? Just as well Harold isn't two days from retirement or you'd have the makings of a buddy movie!

    Seriously - liking harold a lot :)

  5. DFTP - haha, yeah, if they ever make a movie of it it would deffo be a buddy start-out-hating-each-other-end-up-as-bezzy-mates/lovers. But that's Hollywood and we'll have no truck with such cliches here, thank you very much.

    Or will we?

    Seriously, I have no idea.


Without your comments, I am but a wave without a shore...