This is a Three Things Challenge as set by the haunted wordsmith, see link below:
Here are the three words for 03 June 2018: Pluto, frog, labyrinth
Here is my attempt:
Well, they say you should never double cross a Gypsy or they’ll put a curse on you. I wish now I had heeded that piece of advice.
It was a few years ago that I first had the recurring dream. I was trapped within a labyrinth and couldn’t find my way to the centre, where there was a huge pile of treasure, nor could I find my way out. Every turn I took brought me back to the place I started. I used to dream this dream at least twice a week and I would always wake sweating. I told my brother about it but he just laughed at me. I was the youngest brother and they all thought I was a bit simple minded. He was the crown prince and very full of himself. My father and mother were too busy ruling the kingdom to bother them about it. The constant dream, the desire for some treasure of my own then the fear of being trapped, was becoming emotionally draining. I suppose the dream came from being the youngest, and even though I was a Prince, most of my clothes were hand me downs. I only had a small allowance and as the youngest of seven, it was unlikely I would ever be given any real power or wealth of my own. I was also trapped. I had to carry out royal duties when I longed to be free. My only friends were some of the serving lads. They sometimes helped smuggle me out of the castle and we’d go out drinking and carousing. Eventually the guards would find me and carry me back to the castle, but at least I’d had a couple of hours of freedom.
Eventually I told one of my friends, Barnaby, who was the head cook’s son and one of my best drinking buddies, all about my strange recurring dreams. To my surprise he didn’t laugh in my face. Instead he told me about a Gypsy woman who had come to live in the village.
“You can tell her about your dream. She’ll know if it’s a true dream or not. If it’s true, then don’t forget your friends” He’d said to me.
Two nights after that I had the dream again only this time it was even more vivid. They say that we dream in black and white, but I would swear that this dream was full of bright colours. In particular, in the distance, forever out of reach, the huge pile of gold glowed brightly.
The next day I managed to escape from my duties and I wandered down to the village in order to seek out this Gypsy woman.
I found her on the outskirts sitting outside her brightly coloured caravan in the middle of a meadow. She had long dark wavy hair and was wearing a red shawl over green robes. Lots of brass medallions covered her garments and glinted in the morning sun. She was bending over a cooking pot and the most delicious smells were emanating from it as she stirred it with a long handled spoon.
As I walked up to her, she unbent to look me in the eye. She was amazingly tall for a woman, not far off six feet tall. Her brown eyes were shrewd and she did not show any deference to me as a Prince.
She spoke in a rough voice, deep and commanding.
“Aah, I see you have come to Old Pegg for answers. I can give you answers, but not for nothing. Can you cross my palm with silver?”
I jingled a small leather purse at her, what was left of my weekly allowance.
She nodded and climbed up the steps into the back of her caravan and beckoned me to follow her.
As I entered the dark caravan, I remember the red silk hangings and the smell of pipe smoke and incense.
She sat down on the far side of a table covered with charts and bade me sit in front of her.
I told her of my dream and asked her if it was a true dream or not.
She then told me she had to draw up a full astrological chart in order to tell me. She asked me when I was born, the exact time of day and wrote down this information on her chart in a surprisingly neat and precise hand.
“Yes, I can see now, it is a true dream and you are the one who can finally find this treasure. You must wait for a fortnight, then Pluto will be in your fourth quadrant, that is the time to begin an adventure. You must head North until you come to the coast, there you will find a cliff. At the base of this cliff will be a cave and at the back of the cave will be the entrance to the Labyrinth. At the centre of this Labyrinth with be your treasure.”
“But how will I find the centre of the Labyrinth? In my dreams I am always lost and can never find my way in our out.”
The gypsy cackled and reached into her pocket and brought out a small compass.
“Here take this. It is not an ordinary compass. It does not point North, see? It will point towards where ever you wish to go. If you wish to reach the treasure, it will guide you there. If you wish to leave the labyrinth it will guide you out again. You must promise me one thing though.”
“You want a share of the treasure, I take it?” I said to her. She laughed at me again.
“No, you can keep your treasure. You will find with the treasure a sealed bottle. You must return to me and give me back my compass and bring me this bottle. That is all I ask.”
Well, this seemed like a fair bargain to me. With this treasure I will no longer be reliant on keeping my eldest brothers good will, I will be wealthy in my own right.
I did as she told me. I waited a full fortnight and how the wait tormented me. It seemed my odious brother, the Crown Prince, lauded it over me even more than usual, even sending me on errands like one of the servants! I bit my tongue and bided my time until the fortnight was up. Then I sneaked out of the Castle and rode North.
After travelling for several days, just as the Gypsy had told me, I found the coast and the high cliffs. Cut into the cliff was a precipitous set of steps heading down to the rocks below. It took me nearly an hour to make my way down these steep and treacherous steps. Then I saw the cave. From my knapsack I pulled out a torch and lit it with my tinderbox. At the back of the cave was a small opening which I climbed down and there, just like my dream, was a Labyrinth of stairs and tunnels carved into the rock. In the distance I could see the gleam of gold. I took out the magic compass and I followed where ever it pointed. Backwards and forwards it guided me, up steps and around corners until I was quite dizzy. Then I found the treasure, a large pile of gold and gems. I saw green emeralds, red rubies, blue sapphires and crystal clear diamonds. I filled my knapsack with the treasure until nothing more would fit in it. I also saw the glass bottle that the Gypsy had asked me to bring her. I tied it on to the Knapsack and hurled it over my shoulder. The weight of it nearly knocked me to my knees.
Using the compass I made my way back through the Labyrinth but at a much slower speed that I had entered, being weighed down with gold and gems.
Eventually I made my way back out of the cave and I dropped the torch before starting my climb up the steps.
Unfortunately when I was nearly at the top of the steps I lost my balance and almost fell.
The Knapsack dropped to the ground and I quickly grabbed it before it went over the edge, but the compass in my hand fell to the rocks below and smashed. The bottle, tied loosely to my knapsack also came away and I saw it tumble and smash on the rocks too. Well at least I still have my treasure, I thought, but when I got back to the Castle the Gypsy was waiting for me.
“So, you have your treasure, please return my Compass and give me that Bottle” she demanded, her hands on her hips and her head and shoulders covered with a bright red shawl.
When I told her what had happened she erupted into a tremendous rage and cast upon me a terrible curse.
Well, life as a frog isn’t all bad you know. I don’t have to do any royal duties anymore, and it’s quite nice in this swamp. You never know, one day a nice Princess might come along and break the spell, until then, I’m quite happy.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 03/June/2018