Highbridge House loomed above me, and all my doubts about returning flooded me with fear.
I stood among the soldiers, defiant. I would not go through this again. I cried out:
“Do you find it charming? Romantic? Magical? I assure you, it is not.
“Bloody battles took place here in this fortress, this garrison against intruders who would cross the raging river below and enter the land of the Elven Tribes.
“I lost my brothers here, and friends and companions I can no longer count. We never stood a chance, and yet we persisted, trying to cross, compelled by an insatiable greed for riches we’d never seen. Rumors drove us; stories; ideas; nothing more.
“Isn’t that always the way with war, being driven by ideological flames, the sources for which one is never certain of? Bodies dropped by the hundreds off that bridge, and for what? I heard it was gold; I heard it was silver; I heard there were beautiful women held captive by Elven warriors who would repay their rescuers with undying love.
“I alone managed to cross that day, and into the Elven lands I rode a weary stead who soon dropped dead beneath me.
“There was no treasure. There were no women.
“Worse still, there were no Elves.
“Before me was nothing but desolation, destruction and despair. Birds did not sing. No blade of grass grew.
“I made my way down river and found a crossing place, after miles of nothing. And when I got back, you were waiting.
“Now you bring me here again, and I’m telling you: don’t attempt it. The battle ahead cannot be won. The warriors who guard this place are already among the dead.”
I watched wearily as new companions tried to take Highbridge House. They wouldn’t listen. You cannot defeat ghosts.
Author’s Note: This story was inspired by a Prompt from Writers Unite! and I was delighted to find that I could tell it in the “No more than 300 words” format.
Still, some prompts trigger more than one story, and so I wrote another, unrelated tale that broke the word count rules. It will be shared in the next post.