Tag Archives: battle

Nightlings – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

The battle was not yet won and nor would it be without help.

The opposing army stood silent but for a drum beating in time with Nomin’s heart. Sweat and fear from his warriors and their horses reeked and the taste of blood set his teeth on edge.

Numbers did not favour him, and the exhaustion evident in the hoarse breaths behind him made him wonder how much longer he could stall the inevitable.

Though they were almost a mile apart, separated by a stretch of verdant mossy green and a crystal clear stream, he knew the Captain’s eyes were trained upon him, and he squirmed with discomfort. Within moments the virid velvet carpet would become mire and the stream would run with ruby swirls.

Nomin straightened his back and relaxed his shoulders heavy beneath his leather armour, and stared back. The drumbeat, echoing across the glen, quickened and Nomin’s heart matched it. His breathing rose and fell with the strain of courage building and determination gilding his lungs. It was now or never, and time was not on their side.

Nomin closed his eyes, and uttered her name beneath his breath, a single syllable, yet everything, “Bren…” Her name fluttered away on the breeze, but he hoped she’d heard it. Their lives depended on it.

The horses shuffled, nerves tingling beneath their hide and anticipation flooding their veins. The drumming stopped and a shimmering wave glinted on the far side of the valley as shields rose, and in the sudden hush Nomin raised his arm. He could not retract his response and commitment was sealed in his shaking hand.

Tension increased as armoured gloves clenched reins and boots gripped flanks. The battle roar opposite had the desired effect, and Nomin swallowed hard then dropped his hand. Heels kicked and horses sprang and Nomin urged his steed forward.

Thunder flooded the glen, and lightning flashes of swords and shields glittered beneath the gloomy sky, and they raced towards death and glory.

Nomin closed his eyes as his breath tore through his throat and his knuckles grazed against his horse’s armour. How long had they before the clash, before the clang of steel took the lives of those around him, how long before death graced the green, green grass?

A new sound echoed, wailing and tearing through his brain and his eyes flew open. He almost dropped his reins as he pulled up his mount and watched his army divide and veer. “Bren!” his voice cracked with effort and passion.

Bren sat astride a steed of the night, clothed in witchery and ebony. She howled like a wolf, and from the forests came a host of Nightlings, baying like demons and screaming with banshee calls. Black, and white, and grey chargers, midnight’s ghosts, streamed from the trees with wild manes and tails, and the magic of the night.

Nomin watched with wonder sparkling in his tired eyes and love pumping through his veins. He screamed and roared encouragement, and he and his army watched as Bren stormed the soldiers that would have annihilated his. Tears welled and merged with the sweat on his grimy face.

Nightlings, the myths of the night, stampeded across the glen without leaving a hoof print or a trampled piece of grass, and barrelled into the army with a force they would never survive. Screams of men mingled with the rage of the revenant, and death did indeed come to the glen that afternoon.

When it ended, Nomin galloped forward, searching the Nightlings for their queen. The ghosts departed and finally Nomin gazed into the dark eyes of his love. Bren smiled with eyes that could not weep, and blue lips that matched the pale skin that barely covered her hollow face. Wild black hair, whipped in strands as the wind kissed her in a way that Nomin now – never could.

Their steeds stood side by side, ghost by flesh, and Nomin tore off his glove and reached to cup Bren’s face in his warm, calloused hand. Bren’s frozen fingers closed around Nomin’s in a clasp that would have to last for all his time he had left. She backed slowly away, until he nodded and whispered in a breath that only she could hear, “Til then…” and Bren’s mount was gone, and she with it.

Death and the Nightlings came and the battle was won.

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Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge is back again after a summer break and this photo truly inspired me, and I listened to Audiomachine as I wrote…epic battle music!

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

 

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The Battle to Beat Depression

We all fight battles – some more than others, but all of us fight and struggle through.

The Battle to Beat Depression | The Last Krystallos - black dog, depression, ways to beat depression, antidepressants, thelastkrystallos,

Fending off the black dog… © Lisa Shambrook

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (a quote thought to have come from Ian Maclaren but now widely misattributed to Plato – don’t you love Pinterest and its mass of misattributes?!) This quote speaks volumes.

Lara Croft, weapons, axe, arrows, bow, quiver, thelastkrystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Not one of us escapes these skirmishes, so we need to be well equipped.

Two things lead me to write this article: firstly I’m making weapons for Cosplay; just last week I made a quiver and arrows to go with my bow and this week I made an axe, so I have weapons on my mind. Secondly I read a post by a friend, who suffers depression, and she listed her ‘antidepressants’ over on her blog A Slice of Reality and it makes sense to know what yours and mine are too!

Back in 2013, The Guardian reported that ‘Nearly a fifth of adults in the UK experience anxiety or depression.’ That’s one in every five people you know. Simply put, we all know people who suffer with depression and/or anxiety and a whole host of other mental health problems. Thankfully, we are now becoming not only more aware, but more able to talk about mental health issues.

So go and read my friend’s post and see what her antidepressants are…see what mine are and then go and work on yours.

antidepressants, the battle to beat depression, tablets, water, thelastkrystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Medication is the first port of call when you go to your GP. In fact, in general, according to the British Medical Journal, antidepressants are being overprescribed. This is not to say they don’t have a place, but the most effective use of antidepressants is a short course that resets the chemical imbalance caused by depression until your body is ready to produce them again.
*Though everyone is different and Dr’s advice should be adhered to.

I’ve taken several courses of antidepressants during my life and each time they’ve helped me overcome the illness. If I need them these days I’ll take a six month course and work on lifting myself out at the same time. My family and I prefer me not to take them as I become a zombie – I want to feel alive not comatose. Antidepressants react differently with different people, but don’t expect to take them without the myriad side effects.

Lisa Shambrook, depression, pain, thelastkrystallos, the battle to beat depression,

© Lisa Shambrook

The most important intervention a GP can offer is therapy. I’ve taken courses of therapy, but only privately. The waiting lists were always too long for me. In my book ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ Meg’s mother refuses her GP’s help.  Her reaction is typical of someone suffering depression:

“I’m wasting money that could be spent on people who are really sick, and why? Because I’m sad!” She [mum] flung her arms in the air. “I’m sad, really sad, and not in the being upset terms either! Sad, weak and stupid. I’m stupid, therefore I do stupid things, therefore I should see a counsellor, but I can’t because I’m not stupid enough!”
Meg rolled her eyes.
“Maybe I should do something stupid…”
“Maybe we should get dinner, Mum. C’mon, let’s get dinner.” Meg moved towards the kitchen. “Mum? Did you put yourself on the list for counselling anyway?”
Mum shook her head. “What’s the point? I’ll be better after I take these [antidepressants]. I’ll be fine in less than a few years! The list is for people with serious problems, not bored housewives who feel sad.” She strode past her daughter. “C’mon, Meg, I’ll be fine in no time.”

If you think is that there’s always someone worse off, that it’s not so bad, that you don’t want to take up valuable NHS time, and you don’t put yourself on the list – that’s a vicious circle. You are worth it, and if you are ever offered therapy of any kind from your GP – take it!

dog paws, Roxy, GSD, german shepherd, thelastkrystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Exercise is, for me, the most effective antidepressant there is. Another friend once sent me an essay she’d written, for her thesis, about the effects of exercise on depression, it was an eye opener! Exercise is a natural way to increase serotonin, as is getting out in the sunshine, and it can help lift the depressive state. Almost seven years ago we got a dog, and daily walks have increased my capacity to avoid depression hugely. Then last year our family joined the local gym. A mixture of exercise and a much healthier diet have impacted greatly on our weight, which has significantly decreased, our general fitness and health, and my predisposition for depression and anxiety. I cannot recommend exercise more. If you can’t afford the gym, or a dog, then just get yourself outside, take a walk and appreciate the abundance of nature!

psalm 61 2, overwhelmed, higher rock, scripture,In her post, my friend talks about her faith and I share it. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are, or aren’t, or what spiritual beliefs you have, there are good things in life to be appreciated. Things that increase your faith, whether in humanity or deity, and these are good. Lean on your faith like I can rely on words of comfort from scripture…let it carry you.

Being creative is what keeps me going. When the chips are down, when I’m stuck in a black hole, I can escape through writing. If you’re lucky enough to have a creative talent, use it. If not, search one out, cultivate one, or find a hobby that makes you happy. I write when I need to release the pressure of anxiety, when panic threatens to overwhelm me, and when the pit of depression attempts to bind and suffocate me. Words are my world, and they save me.

Anxiety © BekahShambrook

Anxiety © BekahShambrook

Some of us are also lucky to have families who, though they can’t always stop you from slipping into that pit, they can throw down the rope to haul us out. They may not understand, I know my self-harm is way beyond my husband’s comprehension, but he will always be there. They will make sure they’re there to hug you, reassure you and work out how to tug your little boat back into their harbour.

I know that for me these antidepressants work, most of the time. You may be reading this whilst you’re cowering in the darkness and these ideas may seem as far away as the sun is, but give yourself time, depression is not always curable, but it is liveable and survivable. I live with chronic depression, of the rapid cycling variety, (You can read more about mine here) and I know I will always live fending off the black dog, but I can – I can growl and he’ll back off… Learn how to tame yours.

How do you survive? What helps you through the tough times and what tips can you offer to tame the black dog? 

Beneath_the_Old_Oak_front_cover_finalTo read more of Meg and her mum’s battles, ‘Beneath the Old Oak ‘ is available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and Etsy.

‘Turn those dreams of escape into hope…’ Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her Mum’s erratic behaviour, she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape, she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. A storm descends, and Meg needs to survive devastating losses.

Five Sentence Fiction: Conflict

Conflict © Lisa Shambrook

Conflict © Lisa Shambrook

It’s the weight, heavy and constant, which tightens my determination.

Gunfire rattles across the barbed wire and I run, my legs aching and my shoulders on fire. Nerves tingle as the metal within my grip bites into my fingers welding the weapon to my hands. Cold sweat forms, dripping from my brow, and I shift my hefty backpack, but the weight sits firm.

Guilt and desire battle in equal measure and my heart resounds and ricochets like a cannon locked within my ribcage, as I lift my gun…and kill.

 

000. NewFSFBadge Bekahcat June 2012

This week’s prompt over at Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction is conflict…go and read the other tales!

Blues Buster: The Fog

This week’s prompt for The Tsuruoka Files Blues-Buster is Judas Priest’s The Ripper. I took inspiration from the London fog and came up with this…dead on the word limit!

Photo by Lisa Shambrook (please do not use without permission)
Nobody expected the fog. It rolled in overnight and as Kit stared out the window she smiled. Only faint halos from the white gas lights could be seen, like will-o-the-wisps lost in urban alleys. She backed away from stark oblivion, her skin taut and cold in the early morning air, and slid back into bed beside Tay. He grumbled in his sleep and Kit ran her finger down his exposed spine. He tensed, his whole body suddenly alert, and she giggled. 
“Don’t do that!” he admonished sharply as he relaxed and rolled over. 
She responded by curling her legs around his torso and placing her lips firmly on his. 
“Okay, you can do that…again…” he said as he pulled away then drew her close for a more intimate kiss. 
She gave herself for a few sweet moments, sharing passion as if they were sharing their last minutes together, before reluctantly pushing him away. He watched, sated, as she rolled out of bed and pulled on her underpants then drew her jeans over her long legs. 
“Come back, just for a few more minutes…” he urged. 
She shook her head and pulled her sweater down over her body and stood. “C’mon Tay, it’s perfect out there today, and there won’t be much time, it could change any moment!”
Tay grumbled again, but pushed the covers away and got out of bed. She grinned, and threw his shirt at him. “Get dressed!”
Kit shivered as they stepped out of the apartment and into the gloomy world. She reached for Tay’s gloved hand and gripped it tight. “Don’t let go,” he warned.
“I should be the one telling you that!” She rose on her toes and kissed his stubbled cheek. 
Whispers of frost coiled within the fog and she shivered again. Holding hands they moved along the wall and waited at the corner. 
Kit listened. Her hearing was perfect, and in this low visibility hearing was the greatest weapon they had. 
The city was quiet, almost silent. 
The birds never sang anymore, and the only birds they ever saw were ghostly corvids, and they sat lonely and lost atop the gas lamps, like black shadows in the mist. They never sang.
 Kit squeezed Tay’s hand and they moved, heading into the labyrinth of alleys. Glancing down, Kit could barely see her feet. She pulled her soft leather jacket tight amid the cold, white fog. They were prepared, and ready.
Their familiarity with the dank corridors kept them on track and they ran silently through the streets. 
“Almost there,” whispered Tay, as they came to an abrupt halt. 
Kit listened, and Tay’s nostrils flared. 
“I can smell the river,” he murmured. “I can smell…”
“Don’t!” Kit placed a finger over his lips and she strained to hear. “It’s quiet, but I can hear them…we’re not alone.”
They stood with their backs against the once imposing, now dilapidated, Savoy, disguised only by the blinding fog. Kit reached into her jacket removing her hunting knife from its leather sheath. She noted the narrow trident dagger strapped to her boot, and felt the comfort of her combat knife snug against her thigh. Tay stood beside her similarly armed, with his kukri held close.
They moved stealthily forward, until reaching the embankment. On the river’s edge, they stood, back to back…ready.
Tay squeezed Kit’s hand and then let go. 
Sweat sparkled in the fog and they waited for their scent to betray them.
The water was still, stagnant and foul, but Kit listened as its tiny lapping waves grew and the tendrils emerged. Like snakes tentatively searching, tendrils peered through the fog and curled before their faces. 
“Now!” Kit’s battle cry rang through the fog. “The Kraken wakes, but so do we!” 
The swish of knives swung through the air, sweeping through tentacled flesh and ripping jellied arms and limbs from the leviathans.
From the Thames came explosions of water as creatures from the deep surfaced and climbed out onto the promenade, but alongside Kit and Tay, all along the embankment, came shouts of battle and wrath, and from the fog emerged a force so large and enraged that bloody battle to the end was the only possibility…
   
(700 words)