Fantasy Fiction posted March 9, 2019

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I made a promise...

Medallion of Possibilities

by Y. M. Roger

"Dearest, would this be of interest to you?"
The old woman’s gnarled hands trembled as she held out the tarnished medallion and chain. She was clad in what looked to be some sort of faded eighteenth century costume.  My guess was that she worked at the small one-room museum I’d visited yesterday.
Around us, the sheltered patio dining area was deserted as the rain fell in continuous streams, off the surrounding roof tops, and off the patio cover – just as it had for the entirety of this stupid vacation.  You know the one for which that outlandish brochure had showed up outside my door one morning?

Hunt for treasures where no others have trod! Meet REAL ghosts from the past!
So, here I was – not hunting and not meeting – in this Podunk Central American village. And, yes, I think I would even hesitate to call it a village. The hotel – and I use that term loosely – in which I was staying had six rooms, and it was the only lodging possibility within a hundred or so miles. Of course, it wasn’t the villagers’ fault it had rained the whole entire time. In fact, they were as nice as they could be, and I had gotten to know quite of few of them relatively well. But, thank goodness, hotel transportation to the ‘big city’ was leaving in an hour, and I would be home by nightfall.
I looked at the worn jewelry the elderly woman held out. Might as well, the pity party for one that I was hosting wasn’t doing anybody any good. The medallion was actually quite interesting as I fingered the jewels and the inscriptions thereon.
I forced myself to smile. Once again, it was not this poor woman’s fault my vacation had been all but ruined. Although I was pretty darn sure word was out on the streets – such as they were – that the blonde American in the hotel was a sucker for any trinket or figurine that was proffered with a good ghost story to accompany it. Yep, I had even bought a few very old, hand-carved statuettes that were meant to ward off sicknesses of the brain and of the lungs. My thinking being that I had to have something to bring back to show everyone with the lies I would tell about my treasure-hunting adventures.
“Do you know where it came from?” I lifted the medallion from her shaking hands, its chain’s larger links quite intriguing. It was obvious the metallurgy pre-dated modern manufacturing processes.
Her deep-set gray eyes took on a wonderful sparkle as she lifted her eyes to mine.
“Nobody here really knows.” Her hair was nearly the same silver as her eyes, and the wrinkles that adorned every inch of visible skin were exaggerated from the long days of direct sun this close to the equator. “Mother told me it was from the soldiers a long, long time ago.” She raised a crooked finger to her lips in thought and seemed to lose mental focus for a moment.
I felt my brow wanting to furrow, but I didn’t want to be rude. I made to hand it back to her.
“Oh, then I wouldn’t want to take it from your fam–”
“No!” Her exclamation surprised us both, but she physically closed my fingers over the pendant and pushed my hand away from her. Then she patted my closed hand with one of her leathery ones and smiled again. “No, they want– … errr, you should have it to-o-o, ehhh, ward off bad spirits.”
She seemed to collect herself with those words and glanced to either side of me.  Her eyes finally finding mine again. The shine there had gone from wonder to very intense.
“Yes, you need to keep it with you, Dearest. It makes a beautiful treasure for you to have,” she paused and looked to either side of me again, “and it keeps you safe. Always.”
So, that was a new ‘reason’ I needed to buy this trinket – this one would not only ward off the bad spirits, but it would keep me safe. I looked at the antique jewelry in my hand and back again into those bright silver gems. Oh, yeah, the blonde American in the hotel was definitely a sucker. I sighed.
“How much will you take for it?” I placed it on the table and reached for my purse. I took a quick moment to look to either side just to verify we were still alone on the patio since it was almost as if she kept looking at someone.
Her entire body relaxed and a full smile of crooked and missing teeth showed on her aged face. I just could not contain the smile I returned to her. Sure, I was probably throwing away more money, but she reminded me of a Disney character somewhere way back when with her excitement-etched countenance.
“For you, beauty one, I take but twenty ‘Merican.”
I hesitated – that was steep for one last trinket – but the look of anticipation on her face made the final decision for me. Oh, who was I kidding? I’d made the decision the moment she appeared beside my table.
I took my last twenty out of my purse and placed it gently in the same gnarled hand that had offered me the jewelry to begin with. I wouldn’t need cash once I made it to the airport anyway.
“Thank you so much.” I smiled and turned to put the locket and chain in my purse.
One of those wrinkled hands grabbed my forearm with a steel grip that both surprised and somewhat smarted.
“Take care of them,” she whispered – her eyes more intense than ever.
My eyes traveled from her face to my arm and back again, and I raised an eyebrow in question. But she did not relent her hold.
“Promise me.”
I started to draw the jewelry back out of my purse, but she only shook her head in the negative.
“No,” she said, some remorse, perhaps, in her voice, “they are yours, Dearest. Just promise.”
What else could I say to such an emotional plea?
“I promise.”
She released her hold and patted my arm one last time before turning and walking out into the steady showers. I looked away for a moment to zip my purse, and, when I looked back up, she was already gone.
I had just enough time to finish my coffee before the hotel Jeep pulled up – the hand-painted hotel name on the passenger door worth a final smile. I lightly snorted a laugh to myself as I shook my head – I was actually going to miss this little place.
I tossed my suitcase on my bed and opened it to grab my toiletries kit. I dug through the dirty clothes and retrieved my assorted trinkets and statuettes, placing the latter in a small pile on the bed and tossing the clothes in the hamper.
Vacations were always fun, but getting back to my own big bathroom with heated tiles and over-sized shower? Now that, was the definition of heaven!
I took a long enough shower that the water started to cool. The whole time, I was thinking of the tall tales I would tell of treasure hunting in unmapped hills and ghosts that appeared here and there throughout the supposedly haunted little village. I had some really good ones made up by the time the hot water was trailing off.
Shutting off the water, I thought I heard some talking outside the bathroom, but it was only a passing thought. Of course, I had forgotten to turn on the music as there had been none in that little hotel all week. I guessed I just wasn’t accustomed to the sounds of the city outside.
I walked out of the bathroom clad in my favorite silk pajamas and came up short.
I was pretty sure I had not taken the time to arrange all of my little souvenirs, especially not in such a neat and orderly fashion. I looked around the room to see if anything else was different. Nope – it all looked pretty much as it did including my suitcase and the sock and the pair of shorts that had missed the hamper. I shook my head, mumbling to myself that I must be more tired than I thought.  
I scooped up the items, examining each one carefully and making a mental decision where to place each one throughout the house. I then slid on my big fuzzy slippers and proceeded to do just that: give them each a little place of honor on the shelves and countertops throughout the house.
The single carving of four dogs in a circle I bought from the cleaning lady was placed on one of the small shelves in the entrance foyer. She had told me they would protect my house and never let me be lonely. Who could resist such a sales pitch? Not me, of course – it was the first of many.
I laughed to myself as I grabbed a nail and hammer from the junk drawer and hung on the wall that strand of big, colorful beads from the sweet little girl passing through with her father. Each of the beads had a unique symbol of which I was unfamiliar but all the symbols were curly and beautiful. Both the little girl and her dad had assured me that, with these near the door to my house, I would never know sickness. Once again, who could pass that up? Not me.
Next, my three clay statuettes of what appeared to be minstrels of some type – got those from the bartender at the patio in the evenings. He had handed them across the bar surreptitious-like and told me that with music spirits watching my heart, I would always have music there. Well, now, for someone that couldn’t carry a tune if it had a handle that sounded like a great deal, right? I had thought so. I giggled as I put them atop one of my big speakers in the living room.
Oh, and those fun bangles I bought from the hotel-owner’s wife? You know, the ones she said I could hang anywhere I wished to invite the spirits of healing and well-being to stay with me? Yeah, I bought something like ten or twelve of them. The gullible blonde American walked throughout my house and hung one on each inside doorknob until I ran out of them. I’d probably get tired of them, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.
I actually forgot about my final purchase I had stuffed in my purse. It, along with the entire purse, remained on my bedside table.
After a quick microwave meal, I suddenly felt exhausted and decided to call it an early night. I’m pretty sure I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
Sometime later, I was dragged out of the fog of deep sleep – the dawning realization that I was not alone making me startle into a sitting position. The noise of what could best be described as the sounds of a tavern – complete with melodies and lively speaking – wafted through my usually quiet home. As I reached over to turn on the lamp, I could make out three large standing figures – wearing helmets, actually – one on either side of my bed and one at the foot.
Clicking the lamp, I closed my eyes and rubbed them with the other hand, fully expecting the figures and the sounds to be gone when I opened them. I had to still be dreaming, right?
Nope. Not that lucky. The tall soldiers were there and the music and conversation were more discernable now. But the oddest thing? I didn’t feel in the least bit threatened.
I wiped my eyes once more and took a closer look at the soldiers. They were not of this century, and I daresay they were from the either of the last two. I placed those uniforms and swords at least three centuries back. And my turning on the light hadn’t seemed to have affected them. What was going on?
I cleared my throat. “Uhhmm…?”
All three turned to face me at once, the tallest one at the foot looked straight at me.
“Yes, my lady?”
Oh good lord! How did one respond to that?
“Uhmm…” Yeah, that was a brilliant response.
He angled his head just a bit, to signify, I’m sure, that he was waiting on me to say something coherent.
But just before I made another attempt at speech, I noticed the insignia on their breastplates was the same shape and colors as the medallion on the necklace I had bought from the old woman.  Her words echoed in my head again.
Take care of them.
I looked from one soldier to the next and finally back to the tall one that had spoken to me.
“What is all the noise?”
I decided we’d go with something light to start with – no need to address the elephant or, in this case, the soldiers in the room, right?
He grinned the most handsome, lop-sided grin I had ever seen.
“It is the witching hour, my lady.” He bowed his head just in the slightest in what seemed to be an acknowledgement of respect. “It has been far too long since they have had a new home.”
I managed to squeak out before my feet hit the cold floor. I yanked them back out of surprise and made to look for them, when the soldier on that side of the bed grunted. I paused and looked up at him. This burly, threatening soldier held out my fuzzy slippers to me. I had to laugh as I thanked him, the incongruity of blue fuzz and chain mail too funny to resist.
As I walked down the hallway, I was greeted by numerous shapes and sizes of spirits – their bodies not quite corporeal but formed enough to laugh and smile. Each one hung close by one of the doors – specifically, they seemed to emanate from the doorknobs.
“Hello, my lady!”   “Good evening, my lady!” “Buenos dias, senorita!”  “Greetings, bella dama!”
I was just about to find enough wits to answer at least one of them when I was assailed by four rambunctious puppies all vying for some petting. As I happily bent to deliver just that, my attention was drawn to my small but comfortable living area which was now filled with Central American natives painted in colorful body paints and adorned in beautiful multi-colored fabrics. Each of the fabrics bore one of the symbols from that strand of beads. And all were dancing or swaying or singing to the music the three large musicians were playing. And the musicians were standing atop my dining room table!
The activities paused and the room quieted. Everyone turned to me and waited. Obviously, that was my cue to do something, but to do what? Even the puppies all sat looking up at me, their little tails brushing the ground.
The soldiers stepped up to flank me – the sounds of their mail and the clinking of their swords magnified in the silence.  The tallest one stood to my right, his commanding yet gentle gaze looking down at me. He raised an eyebrow and suppressed a grin, and his words came rushing back to me.
It has been far too long since they have had a new home.
I looked at all of them again, held out my arms, and opened them wide.
“Uhmmm….Mi casa es su casa?”
With that acknowledgement, the revelry began again.
In earnest.
I spent time with them that first night, got to know them. That is until they slowly vanished with the passing of the witching hour.
But, you know, I’ve gotten used to sleeping through their celebrations each night, joining them only on weekend nights. Unless they need something – doors opened, furniture moved, the television operated. Yes, some of them have found some shows they like to watch – a few of them are avid fans. All of those duties are those of their ‘Lady’ as they have no corporeal form in order to perform such tasks.
Oh, and, wherever I go, I wear my medallion. Unlike the rest that only appear at night, I can see my soldiers at my side no matter the time of day or night. And, although I cannot explain the how or the why, they have truly defended me on more than one occasion.
And that travel brochure? I have not been able to locate it anywhere – believe me, I’ve tried. In fact, I cannot find the name of that Podunk village on any map of Central America, old or new. Seems this crazy blonde American was simply meant to be the next ‘Lady’ to this wonderful ensemble of gentle spirits.
I did, after all, promise to take care of them.


Where is She Coming From? writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a story that starts with the sentence: "Dearest, would this be of interest to you?"

Image of 'Best Vintage and Ancient Jewelry' from Google Images via Pinterest []
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