We finished eating, Iolite beckoned to some people nearby who came and cleared away our dishes and utensils, saying, “Normally we do this ourselves, no-one here is any less important than anyone else, we are all in service for and with each other.”
Malachite shifted, “There is something we wish to show you, come with us.” Lizard remained by the fire luxuriating in it’s warmth.
I walked between these two extraordinary people feeling very happy and relaxed, they exuded such warmth and friendliness. We headed to the east, at first I thought we were going to my hut, but no, we passed it by and continued on to the outer ring of the community. We crossed the invisible boundary, they both made the sign this time although I still didn’t catch it, continuing along under an arbour of overhanging trees and vines. We emerged into a clearing wherein stood the most magnificent stone pillars – very similar to ones I have seen in the countryside surrounding our village, but these were enormous, each pillar must have stood at least twenty foot high – the effect was overwhelming. I was led into the centre where, again, a fire had been lit and cushions arranged for us to sit on.
“What do you think?”, Iolite asked.
I stuttered, having difficulty finding the words to express what I was feeling. I was in awe of the size of them, but there was something else, they felt powerful, they felt alive!
They both smiled at me, Malachite saying, “We know, they are truly wondrous are they not?” All I could do was nod.
“Make yourself comfortable,” Malachite indicated the cushions, “I shall tell you a little about us. We are known in your language as the People of the Stone. We are caretakers of a sort.” He indicated the giant Stones surrounding us, “The Stone people are the history keepers. Stone tells us of our place in the world, speaks to us of the continuum of all life, that which is most fundamental to our being, that which is most sacred, that which holds the simplest of our truths and of our lives. They know everything of the of life on our planet since time began. We are their protectors, we guard the sacredness of their being. We help those who arrive here unaware that they seek answers, most not even knowing they have any questions.”
A sense of discomfort ran through me at this but I had no time to dwell on it as Iolite continued:
“The Stones also act as and provide gateways. From here you can travel to all other areas.”
I frowned not really understanding what she meant.
“… hmmm I am getting ahead of myself, there is much for you to learn here and you cannot possibly take it all in at once. You will stay with us for a while until you are ready to continue your journey.”
“I do have questions”, I uttered.
“All in good time,” Malachite responded, “It has been a long day, I think the time for rest has come.”
We returned to the settlement, they leaving me at the hut after having given me a wonderful goodnight hug.
I settled down to sleep, my mind racing, seeing the giant stones before my closed eyes, hearing Malachite’s voice in my head – it was going to be a long, long night.
Meanwhile Angaewen is speaking with Iolite and Malachite.
“I have come for Willow. All the travellers are being recalled to the Guild Hall, she must return in the morning. I am not sure how long she will be away, but be assured, I will bring her back here as soon as I possibly can. Now that she has begun, her journey shall continue, there is no choice in that.”
“Do you need her to leave immediately, it has been a long day for her?” Iolite asks.
“I shall let her sleep … but we will have to leave first thing in the morning.”
A quick journal entry – I am so cross. Angaewen appeared in my hut a little while ago to tell me that I have to leave – I have only just arrived!! She is to take me back to the Guild Hall – apparently all the travellers have to return. I am promised that I shall be bought back here shortly but I am still very disappointed. I have packed up all my stuff, except for the wet clothes – didn’t even have time to get them dried. Well, it seems I have no choice in the matter so I had better put on a good face and go meet with Angaewen and say my farewells to the others.
I see Willow coming towards us. I am standing, waiting for her with Lizard, Malachite and Iolite. I can see that she is trying to appear nonchalant and/or happy – it isn’t working. Her emotions show so clearly on her face. I can understand her disappointment and her frustration. Truth to tell though, Willow has absolutely no idea how long she has been gone. I know, to her, it seems as if it has been a matter of days whereas, in fact, it has been many months. This journey will be one of difficulty and awakening for her – but for now, the Guild Mistress awaits.
I can see them before me, all of them, waiting. I am trying to appear happy. I do not want to leave. Before I know what is happening, Iolite has me in one of her wonderful embraces and I feel all my anger fading away being replaced by a sense of calm and ease. How does she do that?
Angaewen is atop a trap, two horses harnessed ready for the off. Lizard sidles up to me, winking, “You’ll be back before you know it.”
Malachite hugs me and helps me onto the trap. Damn it – I can feel a couple of tears trickling down my cheeks!
We are off …. Back to the Guild Hall it is then.