Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | March 2, 2009

Circle of Seven

Coconut Creek, Florida. February 27, 2008.

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Part 1: Glass For Seeing

Part 2: Where the Peaks Meet Sky

Part 3

Y’nessa, mother of stones, didn’t speak of the journey for two whole weeks. I figured it was all a mistake. Of course the mother of stones can’t make mistakes, but old people turn funny. Like my two-times-grandmother. Before she died, she kept calling me and my brother our mom’s name by mistake. This was extra weird because mom died when Rolph was born, and all I really knew about her was everyone said she looked just like me. Small and boring and mouse-colored, that meant.

I was playing near the waterfall–daring Rolph and a whole group of little kids to climb up the slippery rocks–when someone grabbed my shoulder.

“Fire and smoke and ashes burning!” I started to chant, holding up my fire stone. I thought it was just my stupid brother goofing around.

“Rune. What did I tell you about playing with your stones?”

“Oh. Sorry Trill. Um.”

“AWAY. All of you.” Trill swept one arm the length of the pool at the base of the falls. Little kids jumped up and out, disappearing like nimble goats into the boulders.

“Come on, we were just having fun,” I mumbled.

“Fun. Yes, I was enjoying the sight of youngsters frolicking.” Y’nessa’s crackly voice surprised me so bad I nearly slipped and dragged Trill and me into the pool. That’s when I noticed Rolph was still there.

“Didn’t Trill tell you to scram?” I whispered, jerking my head to the side, hoping he would get the point.

“He stays.” Y’nessa let herself drop to sit upon a stone covered with a cushion of soft moss. I realized that I hadn’t seen the mother of stones outside her home since last harvest-time. Her skin was almost see-through and wrinkled like the ripples in the pool.

“The others arrive,” Trill announced, and I caught my breath as three others picked their way around the ancient stones to join us.

Old man Kilton, the helper Enid, and… Wes. Trill’s brother’s skin was dark and shiny, like he’d been out working. Or maybe guarding. Rolph had told me he was a  guard, now. I imagined him running through the stones surrounding our city, speaking spells and blasting malevolent creatures to bits with his magic.

“Rune?  Rune?”

Oh great, Enid was greeting me and I hadn’t even noticed. From the looks on everyone’s faces, they knew who I’d been staring at. Wes looked away, pretending to be very interested in a flower near his left foot.

“Hi, Enid. Good morning, Kilton and… Wes.” I responded.

The greetings circled around, as we all clasped fingers and touched foreheads.

“You all know why you are here,” Y’nessa began, and I remembered the whole thing about the peaks and the sky.

“When are we to leave?” Enid asked. “I have three baskets of laundry a-waiting me today, and…”

“Then those three families will just have to wear dirty clothes, I suppose,” Kilton said. He winked at Enid and grinned, showing sharp, yellowish teeth. “We will all leave something behind. And we all stand to gain much. Or lose more. Correct, mother?”

“That’s one way of looking at it…” Trill put a protective arm over Y’nessa’s shoulders. Kilton wasn’t as old as he looked, but he’d been a Guardian longer than anyone could remember, except probably the mother of stones knew.

“All will be clear. All in time,” she said. “Only time may not be our friend.”

“Why us?” Wes asked suddenly. “I mean, I get why you picked Kilton. And maybe me, being a guard and all. But Rolph’s what, ten summers? And you really think these girls can trek all the way to the southern mountains?”

The remark stung, but I didn’t let it show. Trill gave her brother a good smack and Y’nessa smiled.

“The stones spoke, and I listened. You are the chosen, and seven we shall be. Come, gather close.”

I leaned my head forward and my forehead brushed against Trill’s and Rolph’s. We were in a circle now, all bowed like young trees in the wind. At the moment Y’nessa’s wrinkled forehead touched against Trill’s and Kilton’s, I felt the ground fall away. I could still see it: clumps of flowers and moss and speckled stone, but my feet didn’t touch. Inside my head came a light like morning, and I remembered the day I got my stones.

Y’nessa had touched my head and for a second I felt this same lightness. But now it went on for what seemed like hours, just rising up inside like the sun. And just when I expected the light to clear the horizon and speak to us in the voice of a summer day dream, something dark and horrible, all rough and sharp and spider-like, forced its way through the cracks between my fingers, crawled up and out from behind my ears, and I cried out.

Clawing at my head, I tore myself from the circle.

“Rune! What in the name of the great stones is the matter with you?” Trill scolded.

Y’nessa held up one hand. She set herself down until she could look into my eyes.

“You know what it is that hunts us, then. You Saw.”

It wasn’t a question so I said nothing.

“I have a headache,” Enid said. Kilton put a hand against her back.

“What? What did Rune see? Were we supposed to see something?” Wes sounded like a kid who forgot his lessons, and somehow that made me feel a little better.

“It matters not what she saw. It saw us, and we must go. Now.” Y’nessa reached for my bag of stones, and I realized they must have fallen when I tore myself away from that scrabbling, scratching, horrific thing inside our minds. “You’ll be needing these.”

I took my stones from the old woman’s hands and counted them. Green, Yellow, Brown, White, Black, and Clear.

I stood up and brushed myself off. “I’m ready.”

Part 4: Homefamily

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Responses

  1. […] Part 3: Circle of Seven […]

  2. Just read the three parts of this story that you’ve posted so far, and I love this one too 😀

    • Thanks. I’m hoping to continue this one further… although I have other projects that I should complete first!

  3. I love this series of stories!

  4. […] Part 3: Circle of Seven […]

  5. […] Part 3: Circle of Seven […]

  6. […] Part 3: Circle of Seven […]

  7. […] Part 3: Circle of Seven […]


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