Fantasy Art Friday

Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Friday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.


She hurried along the path, carrying nothing more than what could hang from her belt or fit in the satchel strapped to her back. She dreaded the long, lonely, and dangerous journey that was surely ahead of her, yet she had no choice. Sighing heavily, she dared to look back one last time at what she was leaving behind. The castle that had been her home looked so beautiful sitting there, perched on a throne of rock and greenery. Such a peaceful scene, with the spring flowers waving to her on a gentle breeze, and the blue of the distant mountains blending into the depths of the sky.

But the serenity of the castle’s surroundings belied the turmoil building within its walls–the ravings of a king slowly succumbing to madness, and the treacherous whisperings of power hungry nobles. There was something else too…a moving shadow that lurked in the bowels of the castle. She had caught glimpses of its movements from the corners of her eyes, and caught whiffs of its scent. Pain…death…malice. Perhaps it was the shadow that was causing the king’s madness, she did not know. She only knew that she had to get away from it–away from him. She hoped one day to return with the power to save him–to save them all. But the road ahead loomed more with uncertainty than promise. Would she survive the journey and find the cure she sought, or would all be lost?

Castle by Mateusz Michalski

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Inspiration Sunday!

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Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Fantasy Art Friday

Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Friday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.


He was finally there–the place described in the ancient book he’d found. There was no mistaking it for any other. Circular pillars of stone reaching skyward in the heart of a desolate valley, he mouthed silently, repeating the words he’d burned into memory. But while the pillars might appear cold and lifeless at first glance, he knew better. They had only been sleeping, waiting through the ages for this very moment when they would finally be restored. His limbs trembled as he raised the staff that he had carried and protected for so long, rarely letting it leave his hands, let alone his sight. Carved into its surface were markings he barely understood. One by one, the same markings appeared on the pillars–not as carved images, but as light. A vibrant, violet light that popped, sizzled, and flickered like a roaring fire. Everything was about to change; a new era ready to begin…

(Title and Artist Unknown)

 

Inspiration Sunday!

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. the Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

Psalm 33:1-9

Fantasy Art Friday

Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Friday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.


This place has seen better days. There is part of a tower or castle looming in the background, but everything around it seems to be falling apart, including this entrance with gaping holes in the roof. It isn’t abandoned though–there is a guard on watch. Is that a gallows behind him on the other side of the wall? It adds to the sense of foreboding in this picture, along with the fog, the dead trees, and the crumbling structures.

Who lives in that castle? Is it a tyrant living lavishly on the backs of his or her subjects, while dishing out cruel punishments for any minor infraction? Or is this city part of of a kingdom that has fallen on hard times and is barely surviving? Maybe there’s a completely different twist to this story that only you can tell…

Keeping Watch over ruin

Unknown Title and Artist

 

 

Medieval Monday: Fresh Meat and Fish

The availability and use of fresh meat, poultry and fish in the Middle Ages (By Melissa Snell)

Depending on their status in society and where they lived, medieval people had a variety of meats to enjoy. But thanks to Fridays, Lent, and various days deemed meatless by the Catholic Church, even the wealthiest and most powerful people did not eat meat or poultry every day. Fresh fish was fairly common, not only in coastal regions, but inland, where rivers and streams were still teeming with fish in the Middle Ages, and where most castles and manors included well-stocked fish ponds.

Those who could afford spices used them liberally to enhance the flavor of meat and fish. Those who could not afford spices used other flavorings like garlic, onion, vinegar and a variety of herbs grown throughout Europe. The use of spices and their importance has contributed to the misconception that it was common to use them to disguise the taste of rotten meat. However, this was an uncommon practice perpetrated by underhanded butchers and vendors who, if caught, would pay for their crime.

Meat in Castles and Manor Homes

 

A large portion of the foodstuffs served to the residents of castles and manor homes came from the land on which they lived. This included wild game from nearby forests and fields, meat and poultry from the livestock they raised in their pastureland and barnyards, and fish from stock ponds as well as from the rivers, streams and seas. Food was used swiftly — usually within a few days, and sometimes on the same day — and if there were leftovers, they were gathered up as alms for the poor and distributed daily.

Occasionally, meat procured ahead of time for large feasts for the nobility would have to last a week or so before being eaten. Such meat was usually large wild game like deer or boar. Domesticated animals could be kept on the hoof until the feast day drew near, and smaller animals could be trapped and kept alive, but big game had to be hunted and butchered as the opportunity arose, sometimes from lands several days’ travel away from the big event. There was often concern from those overseeing such victuals that the meat might go off before it came time to serve it, and so measures were usually taken to salt the meat to prevent rapid deterioration. Instructions for removing outer layers of meat that had gone bad and making wholesome use of the remainder have come down to us in extant cooking manuals.

Be it the most sumptuous of feasts or the more modest daily meal, it was the lord of the castle or manor, or the highest-ranking resident, his family, and his honored guests who would receive the most elaborate dishes and, consequently, the finest portions of meat. The lower the status of the other diners, the further away from the head of the table, and the less impressive their food. This could mean that those of low rank did not partake of the rarest type of meat, or the best cuts of meats, or the most fancily-prepared meats; but they ate meat nonetheless.

Meat for Peasants and Village-Dwellers

Peasants rarely had much fresh meat of any kind. It was illegal to hunt in the lord’s forest without permission, so, in most cases, if they had game it would have been poached, and they had every reason to cook it and dispose of the remains the very same day it was killed. Some domestic animals such as cows and sheep were too large for everyday fare and were reserved for the feasts of special occasions like weddings, baptisms, and harvest celebrations.

Chickens were ubiquitous, and most peasant families (and some city families) had them; but people would enjoy their meat only after their egg-laying days (or hen-chasing days) were over. Pigs were very popular, and could forage just about anywhere, and most peasant families had them. Still, they weren’t numerous enough to slaughter every week, so the most was made of their meat by turning it into long-lasting ham and bacon. Pork, which was popular in all levels of society, would be an unusual meal for peasants.

Fish could be had from the sea, rivers and streams, if there were any nearby, but, as with hunting the forests, the lord could claim the right to fish a body of water on his lands as part of his demesne. Fresh fish was not often on the menu for the average peasant.

A peasant family would usually subsist on pottage and porridge, made from grain, beans, root vegetables and pretty much anything else they could find that might taste good and provide sustenance, sometimes enhanced with a little bacon or ham.

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Use the Medieval Monday Index to discover other topics relating to daily life in the Middle Ages.

 

Inspiration Sunday–Happy Easter!

He is Risen!

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell the disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy and ran to tell his disciples.

Matthew 28:1-8