Tourmaline Visions (14)



Everything was green. 

His eyes slitted open, afraid of the sting of smoke and ash…

but all was quiet.

The thief tried to sit up but a tendril like hand,

surprising in its strength, held him down.

‘Don’t try and get up yet, the leaves are still working.’ said a piping voice.

Tilting his head slightly he looked into the face of the urchin, all greeny gold and brown


A face certainly…

but not human. 

‘Whaa…whaa…’ was all his fire rasped voice could manage.

‘I am a child of the wood. 

We are Guardians of the forest, we were the first.

We are the voice and the will.  

We stand watch against she beyond the stones. 

You have roused her and that has not happened in many years. 

Rest here until the leaves crumble and do not look in her direction.

 Then leave this place, never come back, never.’

Suddenly remembering his terror and flight from the cottage he turned his head to look.

The cottage was still standing, no longer flower strewn and cozy

but decrepit and broken, its thatched roof shredded. No sign of flames or smoke. 

Standing motionless in front of it was a tall formidable black figure, helmeted 



Deep set yellow eyes stared straight at him

 and in that gaze there was nothing soft,

no mercy, no pity. 

Only an inexorable will

 and fury.

He cried out in panic and scrambled backwards,

the blanket of leaves which had thickly covered him scattering.

‘I said not to look in her direction…’ sighed the urchin.



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Tourmaline Visions (13)

Chunks of debris were flying everywhere, 

while hot smoke and flames

disoriented and choked him. 

The ground itself was writhing like a headless snake. 

The thief tried desperately to right himself and, failing that, to drag 

himself as far from the conflagration as possible.

‘Hurry!’ he heard a flute-like voice call. ‘She can’t pass the stones!

Blinded and battered, he rolled toward the sound

 his strength at its very end. 

A ring of hedges stopped him.

Falling on to his back he saw the columns of light and color surging up,

heard inhuman voices,

saw yellow eyes, red eyes,

a tall black figure of cruel steel,

hand raised like a claw,

and then…




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Tourmaline Visions (12)


The tea sat before him on the table steaming gently,

fragrantly, and he watched her, 

moving about the room cutting cake and filling a milk jug.

All normal, all pleasant.

He had no intention of touching the tea.

‘Have you come far?’ she asked

The thief answered in his usual grandiose fashion, ‘Far away and over hills and rough seas, all worth it to behold the perfection of your Great Ladyship.’

She laughed and the bird in the metal cage flapped and screeched as if in terror. 

She looked at it sharply and it fell silent.

But when she turned back to him there was only a calm and hospitable woman.

‘I fear you will not find what you are seeking here handsome one. I am a solitary woman who has some small skill with herbs and oils, that is all. Were you needing an enchantment or potion? Those things are much beyond me.’

The thief smiled,

much against the will of his mouth and 

with every part of his being wanting to be away


from here.

He took a deep breath and answered, ‘I am looking, Noble One, for information. Be it myth or fact. I seek knowledge of a living stone, one of color and song. I have heard  snippets of these but only in stories and in winesoaked bragging around a fire. It is well known,’ he said with a slight bow, ‘that you have deep understanding of things that others cannot – or will not – remember. Do you know of this? Can you help me? Will you help me?’

Her mellow gaze had flashed once while he was speaking and she turned away restlessly straightening the figurines on a shelf. The bird was still silent, huddled unblinking in the corner of its cage. The room was no longer bright with sunshine and seemed to waver in and out of focus. The thief casually slipped his hand into one of his pockets as he leaned against the table.

‘There are no living stones left, none remained. They all perished in the sea. I would have felt them…’ she muttered. ‘Is it possible, after all this time?  None would have dared…’

The witch turned to him, her face no longer gentle and nondescript. Her hair, no longer softly curling auburn, lay against her head fitting close like a helmet. Her eyes glowed topaz golden as she gazed at him intently. 

‘Where did you see it? You did see it, it has left its mark on you, slight but I can tell. I can always tell. Tell me.’

The words fell unbidden from his lips before he realized he was answering. ‘I only caught a glimpse, a warrior woman on the Long Road was traveling, she has it on her sword, I don’t know where she was going…’ at the last words he choked and bent over as the pain overtook him.

‘You may not know but you have an idea. So many ideas in that head of yours. Time to let them all out..’

With a desperate motion he threw a handful of powder on the floor in between them. A wall of flame and smoke blazed up. The cottage rocked and lightning flashed again and again from her hand, scorching walls, hitting the birdcage, dishes, furniture and smashing windows.

The thief scrambled for the broken window muttering imprecations and prayers combined.

He hit the grass and fought his way blindly through the acrid smoke. He could hear her cursing and howling.

He ran wildly towards the forest and ducked just in time as the door to the cottage disintegrated. The pleasant woman plying him with tea and cakes was no longer.

He was with the Elder Witch now…



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Tourmaline Visions (11)


The urchin saw the wonder on the thief’s face when he first saw the witch,
caught the barest flash of topaz from her eyes,
mellow into welcoming,
like Freya’s tears.
He watched as the door closed behind them both,
and settled in to wait,
well beyond the stones of power that ringed the cottage,
that kept her in,
and the Guardians out.
He pondered on the illusion she had wrapped herself in today,
a more
appearance than the usual ones of
crone or beautiful maiden.
Almost aggressively ordinary.
He thought, ‘In these long and long years we have never known why
she came, why here?
Or more importantly
why she stayed.
Living in obscurity, in accordance with the treaty,
seemingly seeking no fame or honor…’
‘Rapaz never did anything without a reason,’ he mused,
‘and not even the Gods will be able to help us if we cannot discover it this time.’
The forest winds blew softly and he shuddered at the scent of overripe plums.
It was always strongest here,
but under that,
a brimstone smell,
a hint of blood and sharp obsidian hate,
and vitriol.
Unappeased and unrelenting,
after all this time…



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Tourmaline Visions (10)


Having no mirror readily to hand,

not even a clear pool to gaze into,

the warrior woman never knew exactly when it was 

that her eyes changed color.

Gazing at the mirror in the small room above the Inn

she discovered it with little surprise,

there had been so many revelations lately that this 

hardly moved her.

‘I suppose this is your doing?’ she asked the stone 

Its color brightened as it always did when she addressed it,

the whispering

song it sang rising as if in appreciation for the attention.

The fact that she no longer found that remarkable was evidence that she had gone mad she thought

to herself in amusement.

She stretched out on the bed, trying to call the rhythm of sleep to her,

knowing she had a long, difficult journey ahead. 

How she knew she no longer questioned. 

There were mighty things moving in the world right then,

this world and others perhaps,

and she was caught up in them.

Right before sleep and the ever present song took her,

she remembered that it was once considered a curse to live in interesting times…




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Tourmaline Visions (9)


It was long ago,

so very long.

Longer than the word ‘years’ encompasses.

Longer than memory.

Longer than the weaving of times braided strands.

The land was still new and strange and learning how to be,

and the infant stars chased each other across the sky,

playing hide and seek with the moon,

and the forest children laughed and tossed bright flowers for them.

All that moved in the world,

moved in harmony and in light.

The storm came without warning,

the first of its kind,

and then she appeared, riding on its back.

The black and glassy sound of tearing filled the world.

The terrified stars clung desperately to the torn edge,

but some fell into the lashing sea and were lost to the sky forever.


much later,

the urchin children scoured the shores,

calling for them in vain.

The stars above watched desolate

while the moon wept.

A few fragments of tourmaline were found and gathered,

but the rest remained with the sea,

out of reach,

out of knowledge

and out of history…



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Tourmaline Visions (8)


The thief bowed low, his cape trailing,

and the melodious voice washing over him

was the last thing he had expected.

Straightening he met topaz eyes and rearranged his face to be certain of hiding his confusion.

No crone, no evil warty witch of Faerie here

a small and gentle smile

long auburn hair tied simply back and delicate white hands

one extended to help him rise.

‘A visitor,’ she said, ‘What a pleasant surprise. Come in.

His confusion grew while the sound of her voice sent his senses swimming.

But rallying he thanked her,

and ignoring a tiny part of his brain that was screaming,’Run you fool, RUN!

he followed her inside.

sunfilled room with shelves with dishes in oil paint colors,

a spinning wheel, comfortable chairs,

and half finished embroidery.

A bright eyed bird in a cage made of intricate whorls of metal hopped and trilled

with excitement.

‘Great lady,’ he started, ‘You are not what I imagined.

She laughed easily, low and musically.

‘Beware the witch in the fens! She’ll gobble you up! Do they still tell such things to children?

Unsure how to answer and still struggling to look confident he just grinned.

Turning away to stir up the embers in a sweet smelling fire she asked,

‘Why have you come handsome one? What can I possibly have to interest you?




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