The Vision Stones Part Four:
The cobbled street extended for mile in both directions. Sometimes carts rattled past on it, but mostly people walked or rode bicycles. They walked along the dark street in the direction of a row of houses where families of cats lived. Nothing but cats, and the occasional goblin.
They stopped in front of the cramped row of gingerbready houses, and the girl let out a low whistle. Something moved inside the house. A shadow. Then a girl ran across the lawn and hopped over the fence.
She bounded towards them, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants, her short, black hair tucked behind her ears.
She put her hand in the air as she approached. “Hey-oh, Elidia. Is that your boyfriend?” she let out a short laugh and stood up straighter, standing at least two inches two feet taller than Ristle and Elidia.
Elidia chuckled, “No, his parents are-”
But the newcomer finished her sentence, “ ‘dead.’” She sketched air quotes around the word.
“Um… excuse me, but what the hell is going on?” Ristle asked.
“Well…” said Elidia. “It’s a long story. Rokudo will be waiting for us at the library. Don’t worry about it. He’ll fill you in.”
“Let’s get going, slowpokes!” yelled the new girl, placing her hands in her pockets and running ahead of them. They ran, too.
Elidia stopped in front of a huge building that seemed to be built of rocks and round riverbank stones, all cemented together. Huge, mahogany doors faced them. The new girl pulled one open with a huge heave, and they stepped inside.
Rows and rows of shelves faced them, low-hanging candle lamps swinging softly over round mahogany tables. It was dark, but the light coming from the candles was dark yellow, casting long shadows on the dark brown walls.
“What is this place?” Ristle asked, turning slowly in a circle to admire it all.
“It’s a library. Haven’t you seen one before?” the new girl punched his arm, playfully.
“Come on, we can’t just stand here forever!” shouted Elidia, grabbing our hands.
“Yeah, whatever.” the new girl pulled her hoodie over her face, and we ran down the central aisle of the library.
They hurried to a table at the very back of the library. It had four intricately carved chairs around it, one occupied by a boy with a floppy teal mohawk and a rather wrinkled, chubby and yet mean face. There were maps and books and charts scattered across the table, and a large Rhode Island Red rooster strutting cautiously across the smooth mahogany surface that was nearly obscured by mildewing paper.
The rooster lifted its head at their approach. “Hello, girls. And you must be Ristle, aren’t you?”
Talking roosters were rare but not unheard of where Ristle lived.
“Hallo, sir,” Ristle responded automatically, his stomach still painful. “I believe you have something important to tell me.”
“I do.” answered the rooster. “Your parents are alive.”
“I know that!” Ristle said loudly, but not quite a shout. “Um… sir.”
“My name is Rokudo.” the rooster said calmly. “This is Tiger.”
The boy in the chair grimaced and raised a hand lazily. He was rather handsome through his sneer.
“Hey, Ristle. Heard your parent also ‘died’?” he asked.
“Yeah. Yeah, they did. But what really happened?” he pounded the table. “Where are they?”
“Quiet,” said the rooster. “I’ll tell you. It’s a long story. It starts with… well, it all starts a very long time ago, in a huge canyon not very far from here. That was were a variety of earth beasts, most probably dwarfs or humans or goblins, built a mine. They were mining for gold and terroraline, but they found something else.
“Pockets of shiny, glassy, glittering stone. Beautiful stone. It reflected them like a mirror, and was nearly- nearly as strong as diamonds. It was beautiful. So they mined it. They called it ‘mirror glass’ because of its effects. And they made jewelry and weapons from it. But they soon found that the stone had other properties.
“All the weapons they built from it began to collect the information that they saw. And they began to store it, somehow. We would not know this, none of it, if it weren’t for a young goblin boy named Rettirico. Rettirico kept detailed diaries, and he soon noticed that, if he told his mirror glass spear certain things, the vibrations from his voice made the stone respond.
“First, he laughed at it. A nearby mouse turned into chicken. I know it sounds like a stupid old fairy tale, but its true. The mouse was just -poof!- like that, a chicken.
“Then he cried while in its presence. It shattered. So, he went to get more of this stuff, at the mine, and take it to the local shaman. And- that was the last entry in his diary. It ended there.”
“So- then what? What happened to him?” asked Ristle, annoyed.
“Well, that shaman also had records.”
“Don’t tell me he kept a diary, too?” scoffed Ristle.
“Not a diary, Ristle.” Rokudo’s beady eyes looked up at him. “Visions.”
“Visions? Like visions of spirit? How could he keep them?”
“Through the vision stones. Through the things that he constructed.”
“What are the vision stones?”
“Weapons. Beautiful, terrible things.”
“No,” Elidia said, rubbing the side of her head. “Not always. They weren’t always weapons, P, you know that.”
Rokudo looked at her sadly. “I know, Elidia. Ristle, would you like some rest? The quester’s headquarters are upstairs. We have rooms prepared for you there.”
“I- I want know…” but Ristle could hear his voice trail off. “All right. I am tired.”
But his expression said otherwise.
It was very cold, biting, stabbing cold when Elidia led Ristle up a rickety spiral staircase and into a big, long room. Doors led off in all directions.
“Where are my parents?” Ristle asked demandingly when Elidia paused at a small door, also mahogany.
“Inside the vision stones. We’re on a quest to find them and destroy them-” she rubbed the side of her head again, “-all. Sorry that he stopped telling you the story, Rokudo gets distracted in his rooster state.”
“What do you mean, rooster state?”
“Well, he used to not be a rooster. He was trapped, cursed by the vision stones.”
“What are the vision stones?”
“Mirror glass. Round, mirror glass stones that can only be destroyed when all of them are put together. Mostly, they just record all that happens around them for about… forty years, then they shut off, but people can still…” she rubbed her head again, “still access the visions. But that isn’t all they do. If you scream loudly and desperately in their presence, you’ll become trapped in limbo between all of them. If you laugh and say someone’s name, along with true feelings of revenge, they will become cursed with a curse of your choice. Or-” she paused, “or could destroy them all.” But Ristle knew that that wasn’t what she had meant to say.
“Okay. Good night!”
As the door closed, a million more questions surfaced in Ristle’s head. He turned around slowly and faced the room. A single candle stuttered on the table. The floor was covered in soft, mossy green carpet, but when Ristle stepped on it, he realized it was actual moss. The table with the candle on it was actually a tree stump. And one wall was open to the cold night air.
He took off his shoes in the mahogany floored entry way, and stepped into the room. As he approached the open wall, he realized that it was actually a screen door that led to a small balcony decorated with potted vines. The bed was large and had green sheets and a purple quilt. There were two dark reddish wooden doors in the blue walls.
Ristle pushed open the first door to reveal a walk-in closet with a marble floor. He stared around it for a second, then backed out and opened the other door. The sight that met his eyes made his mouth fall open.
The whole bathroom was done in clean, minty green tile. There was a sink to the left side of the door, and a another door, no doubt to a toilet room, on the other side. But in the middle- Wow!
Ristle was standing on a catwalk that faced down into a beautiful canyon. It had mossy sides that had large, white rocks sticking out of them every few feet. At the bottom, there was a dark pool surrounded with smooth boulders. The water in the pool came from a spraying, foamy white waterfall that tumbled down sleek, mildewy slides built into rock that nearly reached the clear ceiling, through which he could see the day-breaking sky above him.
He decided to enjoy this lovely apartment, as it seemed, or so he thought, that there was little joy in the world for Deniage Ristle. So he used the toilet, undressed, and climbed down the rickety stairs to the waterfall filled canyon.
The moss was soft and bristly underneath Ristle’s bare feet, and a small birch tree rustled slightly, though there was no breeze, when he went past. Then he reached the smooth, rounded boulders surrounding the dark pool.
Birch leaves sat, as though lonely, on top of the cool water, and Ristle wondered how deep it was. He sat down on a boulder, carefully caught his breath, and extended a foot to towards the pool.
It was freezing.
Ristle wanted to go back up and wrap himself in as many of the lilac colored towels that lay next to the sink as possible, and then fall asleep without a bath, but he willed himself to get into the pool. So he gripped the bank and slowly lowered himself into the freezing H2O.
It was like lowering himself into the Arctic Sea, but he put up with it, and felt his feet touch a silty, slimy, dark and murky pond bottom, so he straightened up, goose bumps erupting on his arms.
What if I get pneumonia in here, and die? he thought. What if I drown in a stupid, freezing pond?
So he got out, wrapped himself in as many towels as possible, put on his underwear, crawled into the warm bed, and fell asleep. His brain was super overworked, and his body completely limp and exhausted.
Ristle awoke, and sat staring at the pinkish sky above his glass ceiling. Then he felt something warm. He realized that he’d wet the bed, something he hadn’t done in at least six months. He scolded himself silently for it, and slapped his cheek. Then there was a knock on the door.
“Um,” Ristle said, unsure if he wanted someone to see him like this. “Um…….”
“Can I come in, please, Ristle?” It was Elidia. She wouldn’t be impressed to see Ristle like this. What sorts of things did girl like? What would they find attractive? Surely not bedwetters. Ristle slapped himself again.
“Don’t beat yourself up,” Eldidia said through the door. “Come on, I made you breakfast.”
“Okay, sure, come in.” Ristle said through his teeth, mad at this girl for understanding who he was and what he was doing so easily.
The door opened, and the tiny form of Elidia entered, wearing a yellow shirt, green shorts, and a blue cardigan. She was carrying a tray of breafminner bacon, sliced and fried pineapple, and a small bowl of maize mush. It also had a napkin, pitcher of water, and a teacup on it.
Elidia glanced at him. Was she blushing? Then there was a muffled crash, and something cold and wet hit Ristle’s legs. She’d knocked over the water jug exactly on the spot were the bed had been wet. He was relieved, but saw a gleam of purpose in her eyes.
“Oops,” she pulled the quilt of the bed. “Sorry. I’ll have that washed.” Ristle was sure his face was glowing with gratitude. “Here,” she set the tray on the tree stump. “eat something, please.”
Ristle picked up a slice of fried pineapple and shoved it in his mouth, successfully forcing it down. He stomach grumbled in appreciation, but his gag reflex screamed in protest.
“I’m sorry, Ristle, if we didn’t explain things enough last night. But who are you? Who is Deniage Ristle?”
“Well,” Ristle said, readying his ‘meeting someone speech’ in his head. But it didn’t come. “I’m just…. just a boy who… well… I like to help people. I like that warm, fuzzy feeling it gives me… Please, can you tell me what really happened to my parents? How… how did they get into the vision stones?”
“Well, the vision stones have been scattered across the earth for a very long time. There were 72 of them, and the quest began a decade ago. I’ve been on it for my whole, well my-” she rubbed the side of her head, “-my whole life, I guess. We have 68 of them, all stored in the room near the end of the headquarters hall. You’re parents, we heard that they’d gone into one of the Seabreeze caves, the only one completely intact. There was a vision stone in there. Some of our agents were going to get it out tomorrow. We know, well, I know, that they found the stone. They were reported to scream as the cave imploded, so I know that they activated the ancient magic inside the stone, because, well, all stones still can be used, even after-” she rubbed the side of her head absently, “-they dis-activate.”
Ristle nodded. “Why do you keep rubbing your head?” he asked.
She sighed, “Just… helps me think.”
“No, really.” Ristle took a bite of bacon.
“I’ll tell you some other time.” There was an edge of sharpness to her voice, no matter how subtle.
“Okay, don’t bite my head off…” Ristle muttered, but Elidia just looked away.
Then Elidia looked back at him. “You know why I joined this quest? Well, I didn’t have much choice, but I would have joined it anyway. Because… well, so many people are tied to the vision stones, either trapped, like you and Tiger’s parents, or cursed, like Rokudo, or, or…. well, no one is quite tied in a knot like mine…”
“Right. You know what? We are so much alike.”
“What do you mean, Ristle?”
“Well, we both care about other people. We both want to help. We both…” but then Ristle saw Elidia’s face.
“Ristle,” she said. “You’ve got it all wrong. I don’t care about warm and fuzzy! I just…. want to help them!” She stood up and left, just like that. Ristle sat there and pondered what she’d said for a very long time.
When Tiger came to get Ristle to come down to the meeting, he was definitively blushing.
“Hey,” he said. “Stupid rooster guy wants us to come down to a meeting or something.”
“Okay. Don’t watch me dress.” Ristle crossed to the walk-in closet and found that someone must have left him clothes during the night. Two light blue tunics and some dark blue leggings, along with birchbark shoes. Ristle dressed quietly, hoping Tiger really was hiding his eyes.
Yes, super long, but meh.
And now- the other stuff! I’ve changed the blog’s language back to English, since some of my readers were having trouble (shout-out to GB). And I have the photos for more sock monkey and Sylvanian stories…. and I have a clue:
Canguita has a secret garden. The gate is open, but hidden well. When you stumble upon the garden, the gate will latch, and a new one will appear.
Bye & happy hunting if you want to figure out the clue,