Liathara 2 – Hermit Hill

My 300 word story ‘Liathara of Woodley’ achieved an Honourable Mention in the last Flash! Friday 300 word story competition. I’m very honoured and pleased and I feel like developing that tiny bit of story. So here goes.

The Village of Woodley had been afflicted and some might say protected by the presence of a nearby dragon’s lair for many generations. Very few knew that once there had been no dragon.

A man walked up the hill known as hermit hill. This was before the hill became known as Dragon Mountain. There was no dragon. The people here knew nothing of drgons. Yet. The man was tall and well favoured with a look of authority. A leader. He knew nothing of dragons. As he walked the trees grew more densely and the land more wild and untamed and he walked with less confidence as if finding his way. After a time he came upon an large cave entrance, sheltered within the fold of the hillside.

He stood at the entrance for a time and looked around. There were items left at the entrance as gifts or maybe offerings. A bundle of firewood, neatly tied, a fine wooden chair, some cloth, flowers from the meadow. He looked inside.

“Hello. Are you there? I’m from the village and I need to talk to you.” He scratched nervously at his iron grey beard. “HELLO? Shall I come in? I know you never talk to anyone but Irene said you spoke to her once when she was a child so we think you can talk. We need your help.”

He wasn’t sure if it was his eyes adjusting to the dark but there was a figure he had not seen sitting in the entrance of the cave on one of the gifts, a nice folded blanket. The face had many years and a look that combined wisdom with wildness somehow.

“Ah. There you.. ahhh didn’t see you there. Well, you see here it is. There is an army coming and I was hoping you might help. The old wives told me that when they were young you used to do magic and illusions for them, apparitions and conjured fire. Is it true? You didn’t forget how after you left did you?”

He cleared his throat nervously and rubbed his jaw. “Some say you ran away after they started calling you the witch. They say you stopped speaking to anyone that had called you a w.. err the ‘w’ word. Sorry. I’m not calling you one but.. They also said you never talk to men… maybe I should have sent Irene but.. well.. that seemed cowardly. After all you don’t kill people do you?”

He rubbed his face some more and cast his eyes around as if searching for something and continued hesitantly. “Ahem.. well. So why did I come here. We. And I mean the whole village, not just me. We need you. Like I said, we hear the lord of the east want to rule all this land and he has brought an army of men. Savage angry men who will trample our village.”

“Do you think you could find a way to maybe scare off this army? If some scary monster was to appear to them at night and maybe some magical fire, maybe they will think twice? Not just for us but for yourself. Yes. You don’t want hundreds of noisy men tramping over your hill do you?”

He stood for a while trying to think. The shadowy figure simply sat looking though him like she had the whole time. He patted his pockets, bringing out a small package which he placed amongst the other gifts. “Oh. Irene said you might like this tea. Cherry I think it is.”

The woman’s face lit up, he could see now it was a woman.

He nodded his head, almost a bow but not quite and backed away. “Bye. I hope you can help us. Good bye.”

As he walked back down he was muttering to himself “I saw her. Nobody sees her. Not a ghost at all. An old woman. Just a woman. Hope she can do the magic.”