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 written...to date.
Prelude: Boy at the Edge of the World
To read the previous excerpts, click on the titles:
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.
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)