The Flavour of Ages | The Ink Well Fiction Prompt #163

in #hive-17079821 days ago

“You wouldn’t dare harm a woman!” said Elise, gripping one end of the book with both hands.

“If you let go of my book, then you won’t have to find out,” said Marcel, holding on tightly to the other end.

Each tugged at the large leather bound tome, refusing to let the other have it.

“You’re going to rip it, if you don’t let go,” Marcel told her.

“What do you care? It is not yours!”

“What do you mean? I paid for it. It is mine!”

He managed to yank it from her hands but stumbled backwards over the ivy leaves that covered the ground. The book flew from his hands and hit the ancient wall that was carved with the mysterious ring symbols.


Elise ran towards the book but also stumbled on the vines.

Marcel grabbed her legs and threw his weight on top of her.

In a tangle of arms, legs, and flowers, the pair wrestled on the ivy bed.

She gripped him tightly with her thighs, then arching and contracting her body, she bit his shoulder.

“Ah!” He cursed and jumped to the side away from her.

In all the commotion, they had failed to notice that the book was now unlocked and lay wide open against the ancient wall.

Marcel and Elise looked wide eyed at its contents.

Or lack thereof.

“It’s empty,” said Marcel reaching for the book and flipping through the pages. “See? It was all for nothing.”

He laughed.

There was a fine mist blowing through the ruins. It was an old place with a history that stretched back centuries. It had been the home of several clans who had left a mark in the soul of this land.

Elise stood up and ran her fingers through her hair.

Why did she want to steal this book from him? Marcel had purchased it at an auction. He had been admiring it at a diner when the waitress saw him with it. When she heard that Marcel was looking for the ruins, she had been quick to offer herself as a guide. She had even stopped working and driven with him to this place in the highlands.

“Be that as it may, this book belongs to my people,” she said. “You haven’t any right to take it to a foreign land.”

The book was purported to be a recipe book that had not been opened for a long time on account of the key having been lost. A tall tale, clearly. However, it was going to provide much fodder for the historical cookbook Marcel was writing. With its rustic leather bindings and embossed runic symbols, the tome had a mysterious and romantic air. After inquiring about it, he was told the symbols were really old and some could still be found in some ruins outside of town. Out of curiosity, and for the sake of thoroughness, he decided to check it out. He was on his way to said ruins when he came across Elise- the thieving waitress.

Marcel touched the smooth cover.

“I told you it was empty,” he said absentmindedly, “It’s of no use-“

He stopped and focused on the symbols embossed on the cover.

“These rings on the book,” he said. “Look! They’re similar to the ones carved on that wall. What do you know? The stories were true, after all.”

He turned to the first page, which in neat handwriting spelled out the title, A Compendium of Common and Uncommon Ingredients with Illustrated Samples.

“But the rest of the pages are blank,” muttered Marcel, flipping through the pages rapidly. “There is like a faint watermark in them.” He held up a page to the light. "It's too faint, but there appears to be-"

He heard a clicking sound and felt the tip of cold metal on the base of his skull.

“Drop the book, put your hands up, and move against the wall,” Elise said.

“What? You have a gun? It’s just an empty book!”

She pushed him forward.

“Drop it!” she commanded him again.

He did drop it and put his hands up against the wall.

“Fine! Fine!” he said. “Take the damn book. Now, do you mind telling me what this is really about?”

Earlier, he had been exploring the ruins on his own when he lost sight of Elise. After returning to the vehicle, he caught her in the act of pilfering the book, and the struggle had ensued. What was so important to go to all this trouble?

“I don’t owe you an explanation,” said Elise, kneeling and picking up the book with her free hand, “but given that you’ve been so obliging, I will entertain you.”

Marcel heard her shuffling behind him.

“This book belongs to the clans of the Riverside Matriarchs. My ancestors. Each of the four rings was the symbol of the four clans who dwelt in this place and shaped its history. Women held the reigns of power. How did they do it? How did women obtain such power? Very simple- food and drink. That was their power. Their meals were of such art and craft that they swayed entire kingdoms.”

“Now that’s quite the yarn,” said Marcel with a chuckle. “So, you’re trying to get your hands on these recipes and perhaps gain a little power for yourself?”

“What can I say? I’m an ambitious woman.”

“Regardless, the book is empty. It’s of no value to you now. Why do you persist?”

There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Isn’t that how the old sentiment goes?”

He heard the rustling leaves; the car engine turn on.

“Hey!” Marcel shouted after the departing vehicle. “Don’t leave me here!”

She threw something out of the vehicle.

Taking a closer look, Marcel saw that it was the discarded skeleton of an umbrella. She didn’t have a gun. It was just the umbrella!

"Conniving wench!"

Marcel muttered, swore, and shook his head. The last thing he had expected when embarking on this culinary journey was to end up in some mad escapade with a crazed conspiracy theorist.

He sighed. At least, she was gone, and that was the last he would see of her.

The mist had finally burned off, and the sunlight shone bright upon the rolling hills. The road stretched on into the distance, where the sheep grazed on the grasslands.

It was a long hike back to town and having no other options, he began with the first step.


Thank you for reading my story and entry to the InkWell prompt #163: Ring

Images generated by @litguru using Stable Diffusion software

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Very nice!! Well structured, a few surprises at the end, and I love how you used the prompt.

A Compendium of Common and Uncommon Ingredients with Illustrated Samples

Cool title for a book!

Thank you so much @owasco. The structure was tricky for this one as the story had to jump back and forth in time.

A Compendium of Common and Uncommon Ingredients with Illustrated Samples
Cool title for a book!

Vague enough and catchy enough. :)

A story full of mystery and symbols, very good narrative and I love the image! Suspense and mystery stories are catching.😃

I'm glad you enjoyed it, @avdesing! I also like stories with some intrigue and mystery. 😄


I really enjoyed this story, @litguru! Some women are reckless, like the protagonist of your story. I'm looking forward to reading more. Regards

Thank you, @nancybriti1! Elise is very driven and clever 😄

Who says women can't gain power through the culinary arts? Interesting story with all the elements to grip us from beginning to end! Greetings, @litguru

Tu post ha sido votado por @celf.magazine, proyecto curatorial y revista digital sobre arte y cultura en Hive. Únete a nuestra comunidad y comparte tu talento con nosotros.
Your post has been voted by @celf.magazine, curatorial project and digital magazine about art and culture in Hive. Join our community and share your talent with us.

Who says women can't gain power through the culinary arts?

😄 True!

Thank you, @celf.magazine!

As always, your writing is lyrical and compelling, with wonderful details that make the story come to life, as if on screen! We would have loved to see a resolution that tied the pieces of the story together... the book, the ruins... what is the connection?

Thank you for sharing your story in The Ink Well, and for reading and commenting on the work of other community members.

Thank you for your support and excellent insights!

We would have loved to see a resolution that tied the pieces of the story together... the book, the ruins... what is the connection?

I only sprinkle the clues here and there... the runes on the book, the four runes on the wall, the four clans, the empty cookbook (written by the matriarchs?), and a descendant trying to get her hands on it... but you're right, I didn't explicitly tied it together, as the convoluted explanations only opened up more questions and so on. 😅

I loved the narrative, it really attracts, it is full of many elements that make it very attractive and engaging. In the end I wanted to know more about that matriarchal culture that had power in food and drink, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

Thanks for sharing your story.
Good day.

Thank you, @rinconpoetico7! I had fun writing about this Marcel character, who just wanted to write a cookbook but gets embroiled in the madness. I had more written about the matriarchal culture, but I had to take it out because it got too long. I appreciate your insightful comment! 🙂

I really liked reading your story, always a pleasure to read such good quality material. We keep reading, friend.

Happy weekend.