This week’s tale weaving: a nonsensical word: egrlactical.

Can you find it hidden within this piece of nonsense? A tale involving another of my female heroes who dwell a mystical place just over the hill of my imagination.

Calaxia had dealt with monsters all her life. As a child in her dreams, as an adult when her services as a monster keeper were needed.

Greeting a delegation upon arrival, it’s members assumed she was daughter, wife, or sister sent to greet them whilst her male relative prepared to make an entrance.

She escorted them into her round house, banked with windows interspersed with torches inside and out. The walls were thick, creating deep window ledges where she placed jars of flowers, herbs and sweet grasses. Baskets of goods she sold on long market days – pots of balm, wreaths of woven straw, fruits of the orchard or forest sat about the place. Un-flickering light bright torches burning without smoke nor smell. Two curved fireplaces warmed her home; one used for cooking, the other for concocting. Bundles of herbs hung from the broad rafters. Around the walls were built-in cupboards of exotic wood, each one designed for a particular purpose.

Under the sunrise window, teetered a low battered stand. Upon this unremarkable furniture, she placed her most remarkable possession: an egrlactical – annals of monsters met. Started by some by-gone ancestor, she added images and text to the ever appearing blank pages.

“Business is best done over a repast,” she would say, producing ewers of mead, ale; platters of bread, cheese, roasted meats, fruits and berries. Mismatched goblets and cups – most dented, some with only a few semi-precious gems remaining.

The moderns (merchants; mayors; guild heads; councilmen) were an impatient delegation. Men of commerce and trade with no time for monsters. Delegates from villages, woods, and fields, more attuned with nature, old ways and standing stones, understood a consultation could not be rushed.

But none were pleased to discover that no brawny male monster keeper, clad in appropriate clothing and gear, would strut through the hut door. This tiny woman, barely five foot at her full height, a beauty with flaxen hair plaited with coloured ribbons, dried flowers and beads; a beauty save for two parallel scars upon her cheeks, from below her snapping amethyst eyes to her full, expressive red lips. Puckered slashes perhaps made by sharp talons. She oft wore the guise of a man: deep green jerkin; leggings; a vest or short jacket of spring green and high leather boots. Or, if as a woman, an indistinct greyish high-necked smock, thick stockings, and sabots upon her feet. Always a sash cinched about her waist, hiding her throwing knife.

None could imagine her in the armour she kept, along with a long sword, bow and arrows in one cupboard. All thought her a weak woman, apt to tremble at the mention of abducted maidens, absconded cargoes, streets with bloody prints, or lonely farmhouses torn apart. How could it be she was the monster keeper?

The delegates wanted proofs – she lined her walls with no trophy kills of head, tail or paw; wore no amulet of bones and talons about her neck. If one among the delegation could read, there were her testimonials and inscribed gifts. Nothing of monsters, save for images in a book, and scars upon her body. As she once told a friend  “Each is a tale of a battle; scars of victory and defeat. Besting the beast can be defeat – tis not always victory to kill your opponent when banishment would be more suitable.”

Thus demonstrations were cried for. Reluctantly donning her armour to hunt a “mythical beast”. Most likely a deer or boar, to it’s and her displeasure, as proof of her prowess.

Monster keeper, a person shunned. That is until a monster scarred the lives of those each delegation represented.

© Lorraine All rights reside with the author. Permission required.