Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge, 24th December, 2014


December 24, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a vision. You can write your own personal vision and “fictionalize” it in the sense that you write it as if it already has come to pass or is unfolding right now. Or you can write the vision of a character. Dream big. dream bold.

The 9th Century Blueprint of St Gall Monastery Commissioned by the Emperor Charlemagne

The 9th Century Blueprint of St Gall Monastery Commissioned by the Emperor Charlemagne

Oh, how excited was I to read the details of this week’s flash in the prompt!? My vision is HUGE! The Merlin’s Gambit trilogy is just the jumping off point for the real BIG DREAM, a stepping stone to the realisation of something much bigger, the first step, and as integral a part of the process as magic is to the character who creates it all. This flash isn’t written by him, though. It illustrates the final vision through the eyes of the feisty, brilliant and beautiful young archaeologist he chose to find and rebuild the physical structure necessary for the playing out of his spiritual gambit. Her name is Vanda – short for Vivienne Andromeda Nestor.

My vision is to use the Merlin’s Gambit trilogy to raise the money to build that which has never actually been built and to create my idea of heaven on earth: the Monastery of St Gall as the centrepiece of my empire. When I was at college studying Medieval Archaeology I learned of a very special artefact pertaining to what would also have been a very special plan concerning the monastic reforms the Emperor Charlemagne intended for his new Holy Roman Empire of the Europe of the 9th century. I could go on for hours about the Plan of St Gall, which he commissioned to kickstart these reforms by standardising both the spiritual discipline and the physical amenities, as well as giving each monastery built using this plan the ability to sustain itself and the life of the wider community it existed within, but you’d probably glaze over quicker than a fruit flan covered in gelatine, so here’s a website that will tell you all you need to know about it should you wish to explore further, while I get on with the matter of the BIG DREAM in hand:

So, what will we do with it once it’s built? The many buildings have various purposes covering spiritual, research, educational, leisure and hospitality functions:

  1. It’s a monastery, so the spiritual function is to create a spiritual community – my personal spiritual vision is a non-denominational environment in which people live in the safety and freedom to explore whatever their own vision of spirituality might be. They may stay as long within the community as they need.
  2. In the six buildings to the right of the entrance road there will be many experimental archaeological workshops, offering the space to conduct cutting edge experimental research – my vision has at least one of these workshops given over to the metalworking techniques that produced the exquisite jewellery of the early medieval period, the results of which will of course be available in the gift shop! The same with clothing and cloth production. Oh, and the same with food and its production, too; and books, manuscript illumination and production.
  3. It will be a centre of learning for all ages on matters of spirituality, archaeology and history, creating a link between the research undertaken, the learning acquired, and the students who arrive to learn, be it for a one day course or a three-year degree course.
  4. It will be an absolutely mind-blowing visitor attraction, providing entertainment and amazing value to the interested public, whom I am sure will turn up in droves when they hear about this wonderful place, and they’ll come back again and again to take part in the many activities they can get involved in – making fun stuff, dressing up in great costumes, experiencing the production of all sorts of medieval stuff, not to mention eating medieval fare.
  5. And, lastly, it will make an ideal academic conference centre and event venue, capable of catering comfortably for fairly large parties. This is my vision, the short version anyway. It all already exists in my head, soon it will exist on paper as part of the Merlin’s Gambit trilogy. Is it that far from there to actually existing in bricks and mortar? Certainly not to me!

This post is actually turning out to be the definitive prototype research document for Scene 15, The Legacy in all it’s Byzantine Detail, in which Vanda has to prove that she’s the best person to receive a legacy of astonishingly large proportions that will give her the wherewithal not only to start but also to complete building, but I’m trying to keep word count down here so as not to have you eating too much of the gelatine on that fruit flan. The manifest scene will expose every detail needed to carry the plot, and you can read it here as part of the BLOGGING MY BOOK process in a couple of weeks. I can’t quite believe how beautifully the flash prompts have dovetailed with the writing of Part One of Earth Magic, book one of the Merlin’s Gambit trilogy, so far … big WOW moments for BIG DREAM matters!

Artist's Impression of the Monastery Buildings

Artist’s Impression of the Monastery Buildings

And after all that, here’s the flash itself:

The Monastery of St Gall, in Glastonbury?

The towers either side of the church rose high in Vanda’s path, blossom on half-grown trees planted last year already beginning to fall from young green boughs in pretty pink clouds. As she did her rounds of the buildings, from the infirmary to the many and various experimental archaeology workshops, via brewery, winery and cheese shop, hospitality and education suites, livestock barns, funny little round hen houses, kitchens and refectory, she smiled. They’d really done it, rebuilt the monastery that should never have been built – with a little help from an excellent plan. Whatever would they do next?

Oh, how much have I enjoyed writing both this flash and its post! What a brilliant way to get us all thinking about how to greet the New Year. Thanks, Charli, you’re wonderful!

Brightest New Year Blessings to ALL,

Tally 🙂

PS: I hope you like the artist’s impression of the monastery to guide you through Vanda’s route as she does her rounds of the completed monastery as much as I do – hope you read French, too!

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  • Charli Mills says:

    Wow, Tally! This is the unveiling of a life’s purpose! We aren’t given imagination to tinker with tiny dreams. Dream big and this is tapping into full potential. What a place and I can see it! It really is an answer to the modern dilemmas of disconnection and waste. Sustaining communities that connect past and present and welcome visitation is awesome! I’m so delighted that the prompts have been in good timing. What a grand vision! Blessing so that it may come to pass!

    • Tally Pendragon says:

      Thank you, Charli! Your comments are as lights to illuminate my way – it’s sooooo amazing to be able to share this sort of stuff in a community such as this. Yours was a bright shining vision full of wisdom in creating it 🙂 … Happy New Year!

  • Irene Waters says:

    Double wow Tally. That is a vision to beat all visions and when I read your flash on Charli’s compilation I was in awe but now I am dumbstruck. Let me tell you as soon as I finish writing this comment I am off to prepare a paper to present in the Academic Conference Centre. Amazing what 99 words can produce in the way of vision and loved getting the big picture.

    • Tally Pendragon says:

      Thank you soooo much, Irene! You’ve no idea how much it means to read comments like yours and Charli’s. It’s brilliant to have my vision upheld so. I wish you good luck with your paper and am sending you some of the more academic among my angels to give you all the help you may need. Happy New Year!!

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