The Tale Of The Misplaced Lantern

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


A short story inspired by the cover pic.

Submitted: September 25, 2017

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Submitted: September 25, 2017

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The Tale Of The Misplaced Lantern

The cart trundled in to the courtyard, the horses hooves clattering on the cobblestones, alerting those inside the of it’s arrival. The back of the cart was lowered and sturdy planks were put in place. Barrels too heavy to be lifted by hand were rolled to the ground.

Men emerged to help manoeuvre them into the cellar where a hooded and cloaked figure waited, instructing the men on where the barrels were to be placed. He checked around the outside of each, directing all but one to be placed on the left hand side of the cellar. The one remaining barrel was to be placed on its own on the right, presumably being the next to be used.

Strangely, the hooded figure seemed to have disappeared by the time the cart was ready to move away. Nobody questioned his absence though; there were plenty of other men out there to see the horses pull away.

It wasn’t until later in the day that the tavern began to get busy. The hooded man slipped quietly inside and sat at a shadowed table. He ordered a glass of mead then sat there, neither engaging in conversation with anyone or making eye contact. Not too long after his entrance two more hooded figures arrived and sat at the same table. They took no notice of anyone but themselves, just chatted together quietly. Not once did any of the three look up to give any kind of view of their faces.

The hours passed and the tavern got crowded. As more and more mead was consumed the place became rowdy, but the three figures remained seated, seemingly unaffected by the change in atmosphere. Whatever the topic of their conversation was, it seemed to have their entire interest.

A young lad, no more than ten years old, entered from the back room. He pulled the door shut behind him and stood scanning the dimly lit room. His eyes fixed on to the hooded figures and he made his way across the crowded space. He was small, skinny and agile; a bigger person would not have found navigating their way across the room so easy.

He sat at the table and one of the hooded figures spoke. “Is it done?”

"The lantern is in the cellar as you asked,” the boy answered, holding out his hand as though for payment.

A different man reached under his cloak, brought out a coin purse. “Did you leave it lit?” he asked as he pulled out several coins.

"Oh, yes! I left it burning on top of that separate barrel.....”

The hooded figures stood as one. “You fool,” one of them hissed, before heading directly towards the door. He hesitated, turned to the boy and said, “Clear the place, now, or you’ll be responsible for the consequences.”

The lad stood there, mouth agape. They’d gone without handing over one coin, let alone the three that had been agreed upon. Why did they want him to clear the place anyway? He’d at least finish the mead that was left on the table.

The clattering of hooves was not noticed amid all of the noise. The three hooded figures galloped away, all heading in different directions. By the time the explosion lit up the sky they had put enough of a distance between the tavern and themselves to remain unharmed.

One of the riders reined in his horse, turned back to look at the burning wreckage. “Fool of a boy! Why did you have to go and leave the lantern on that one barrel of gunpowder?”

For a moment he looked almost guilty, before wheeling back round and galloping away.


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