Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Mages of Morrow—Interlude: The Stone

This is a (slightly) edited excerpt from my novel "The Mages of Morrow." This is liable to be the last excerpt I post for awhile as I really need to get back to writing on it again. This is where I left off at when I won NaNoWriMo. It takes the story into Part 2: The Hinterlands. The character introduced here and in the Prelude: Boy at the Edge of the World, will turn up in the last third of the book. He is to be the main character in the two sequels: "The Sages of Sorrow," and (tentative) "The Pages of Pendrick." Don't worry, Mercy will still be around.  

You should know that I cried (bawled is a better word) when I wrote this. I still cry a little when I read it. The last word was the hardest word I've ever date. 

The seeing-stone was finished. 

His uncle said it was the worse seeing-stone he'd ever seen and pronounced it totally unusable. But the boy said it was perfect and declared he would get it to work, if the "gift" ever settled itself upon his shoulders. 

"It's too small to see into, Pen." Uncle Ware said. "And why did ye shape it 'round them two bubbles?"

The boy turned to the side and pulled the cuff of his shorts up, showing the birthmark on his thigh. "To make it look like this," he answered. 

His uncle scratched his head and worried, as usual. "Well, why did ye run a hole inter it..there?" Uncle Ware pointed to the hole at one end of the oblong Sagestone. He'd watched the boy take the pick and work it with precision and skill...piercing the stone little by little...taking care not to rupture the interior bubble on that end of the stone. 

The boy walked over and opened one of the many cabinets in the workroom. From it's depths he retrieved a length of leather cord. He returned to the workbench and, picking up the stone, poked one end of the cord through and tied the ends together, fashioning himself a pendant from the seeing-stone. He pulled the Sagestone over his head and it rested lightly against his chest. His uncle gazed at it through sorrowful eyes. 

"Now, I can carry my Sagestone with me, everywhere I go!" the boy exclaimed excitedly. "I won't have to leave it behind if I need to go somewhere. Seeing-stones are too useful to be left on a stand in a book room."

His uncle furrowed his brow and frowned. "Boy, the physical weight of carrying a stone on you at all times is nothing compared to the mental and spiritual burden you will suffer. You must not wear it like a charm, for a charm it is not!"

The boy placed his young hand over his uncles wrinkled and calloused one. 

"Uncle..." he sighed. "Think of what happens when a sage is asleep in his bedroom and his stone is in his study. The stone may show visions of great magnitudes and not a soul would ever know. I have spent sleepless nights wondering how many lives have been lost simply because a prophesy went unseen. If...if..." the boy struggled for words..."If the gift of sight should be granted me, I want to SEE!" 

He patted his uncles hand and went about cleaning the workshop. When he was finished with the cleaning of tools and the sweeping of floors, he asked his uncle if he could retire. The uncle sent him to his room with a quick but affectionate hug. 

Long after the last rays of the sun that pierced the small window had crawled away up the workshop wall to hide in the deep corners of the night, Uncle Ware remained sitting on the bench. 

In the dark, by the thinnest slice of moonlight, a trail of tears glistened on his cheeks. 
The boy had been part of his life for thirteen years. He didn't need a seeing-stone to show him that soon—too soon, he knew—that most sorrowful and final of words would hang spoken between them.

To read the previous excerpts, click on the titles:
Prelude: Boy at the Edge of the World
Part 1: The Spinnerlands (An Epigraph)
An excerpt from Chapter 1: Mercy at the Gates
An excerpt from Chapter 3: Leaving Crope
An excerpt from Chapter 8: "You never knew you had it in you?"
Part 2: The Hinterlands (An Epigraph)


  1. Beautiful, tender yet heartwrenching all at the same time. I love the relationship between Uncle Ware and Pen.

  2. Great edition to the story, Maria. Look forward to catching up with the other excerpts!

  3. Maria, it's been wonderful to read the excerpts that you've posted so far - and I can understand that you're anxious to get back to writing the rest now. This is beautiful. Pen seems wise beyond his years, as if the roles are reversed here between him and Uncle Ware, and there is a quiet assurance, not cockiness, about him that I really admire.

  4. I enjoyed this tender exchange - and am very intrigued about these seeing stones, and the burden they place on their owner...

  5. Another riveting read. Hope to read more at a later date. Extremely well done.

  6. Lovely. I can see why you get choked up over this. These two characters are delightful an interesting, and their relationship is tender and true.

    Hurry and write the rest, because I want the whole novel! :)

  7. Sam;
    Thanks! I'm glad you liked it and have been one of the supporters of this book. Thanks so much!

    Thanks for the comment! It means a lot that my little fantasy has a horror dude reading it!

    Thanks! I'm so glad you like it. And yes, very soon Pendrick will have the weight of the world on his small shoulders, and around his neck. Thanks for being one of the faithful readers of this story.

    Thanks for the comment! I'm glad it's sparked your interest. It has been a fun story to write so far.

  8. Trevor;
    Thanks again for the lovely comment and RT of this. I'm glad you like it!

    Thanks for being one of the great readers and supporters of this story. I'm happy you like it so well, and hope you can read all of it soon!

  9. Interesting. You're not afraid this will spoil some of the book, or just very curious to test how it reads? It goes quickly, for flash or for a chunk of a novel.

  10. John;
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yes, I'm trying to get a measure on how it's received. I'm glad you think it reads well. Thanks for letting me know that. I appreciate it. :)

  11. Oh this is beautiful. Such wisdom in the boy, and such sorrow in the uncle. Can't wait to read the book.

  12. Very good story part. I'd be interested enough to read the rest. And it's also good as a stand alone story. Well done.

  13. Maria, this is jam-packed with emotion, absolutely wonderful! I hope you don't plan on editing too much of this for it's far too valuable to lose. Thanks so much for sharing these excerpts with us!

    Side note - the last few posts I've read have been in incredibly small print, which could just be me, (I do have terrible eyesight), but thought you might like to know in case it's a setting you can adjust.

  14. Maria, that's lovely. I definitely want to read the rest of this!

  15. Goodbye is the hardest of words. Seems like just a wonderful book you have written here, Maria. Please don't make us wait too long to read some more.

  16. Icy;
    Thanks, dear. So glad you like it. I hope you get to read it all, someday. :)

    Thanks for the comment! I'm happy you enjoyed it!

  17. Deanna;

    Thanks for the comment. I've never liked the way Blogger does font sizes for me. Hard for me to manipulate when I copy and paste from my word processing software. Main reason I switched my main site to WordPress. I made some adjustments to the text size, so I hope it's easier to read. I have a hard time reading them, too. Just never thought someone else's eyesight might be as crappy as mine! LOL. Thanks for pointing that out. I'm so glad you liked it, too!

  18. Janet;
    I'm glad you're enjoying the story. Now you have to buy the book, right? ;)

  19. Jason;

    I'm glad you like it. I'm going to start writing on it again here pretty soon. I refuse to let this one become one of those novels that gets worked on and then sits on my hard drive like a bric-a-brac collecting dust! I have one of those already!

  20. Writing emotion well can be tricky - and you show how it's done. Excellent portrayal of the relationship between uncle and nephew.

    And Pen is so full of the cocky wisdom of youth, eager to be about the world and his place in it. But knowing the rightness of it doesn't ease his uncle's pain. Very real.

    By the way, I loved this: "...the last rays of the sun that pierced the small window had crawled away up the workshop wall to hide in the deep corners of the night..."

    Very well done.

  21. Good story! You've created an intriguing world here.

  22. Kevin;

    Thanks! I appreciate that. What a nice comment. Glad you like it so well. The last three paragraphs are the favorites of all the words I've ever written, and the hardest! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Thanks! I'm glad you like it!

  23. You've done a superb job of capturing two very different voices for the uncle and the boy.

  24. Aidan;

    Thanks! I'm glad you think that. It's not one of the easier tasks of writing, is it, developing voices for different characters? Thanks for the comment!

  25. Here I am finally making my comment. Sorry it took me so long Maria. This is a poignant read, but it's also so beautifully told. I love these two characters and their voices which are both so true. The last part...sigh, just sigh.

  26. Rachel;

    Thanks for the lovely comment. I'm glad you like it! :) There's no such thing as a late comment, only an unwritten one! I'm glad you stopped by and thanks for reading.

  27. There is a wonderful relationship established between the boy and his uncle, and the boy shows great depth of understanding.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  28. Adam;

    Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it! :)