The Stone Keeper – Chapter Six

It took all that Steinar could do to not RUN to the nearby Community. He so longed to be around people. He so longed to eat. He so longed to bathe….he so NEEDED to bathe.  

Well now, that made him stop quickly. Bathe. How could he go present himself in the Community smelling like he did? They might mistake him for one of The Forest Folk. He had been careful to apply oils to his body, daily, as his father had taught him, but they were only to keep his skin clean, not free from scent. (And besides that, his father had worked long and hard to find a combination of herbs that wouldn’t leave he and his sons smelling like girls.)

Well Stone, now you have to help me gain the favor of the people in the Community here. I do not want to frighten them nor do I want them to turn me away. Okay, here goes.”

With some fear, Steinar walked up to the Community gate. He expected people to respond to him in fear or anger. Instead, he had people racing up to him, “Are you the one? Are you the one that escaped from the Community that the Forest Folk attacked? We have heard about your people.” The questions came fast and furious! He couldn’t begin to answer all of them.

People were reaching out to him on all sides, thinking it was kindness, but after the days of silence and lack of human interaction, it just made him want to fight them off and scream! He thought for a moment he understood how Christus must have felt with all the lepers and sick people grabbing at Him. He wanted to help these people. He wanted to give them answers, but first he needed a few himself.

Yes, I am okay. But, when The Forest Folk came, I was made The Stone Keeper….” even as the words left his mouth, the people drew back. Their silence became tangible. “You? A Stone Keeper?” a boy finally asked. “Yes, I know it’s strange, but our Stone Keeper, Aldous, appointed me before he was taken. He said that the lack of formality would have to do, since the safety of the Stone was our primary concern. May I speak to your Stone Keeper?”

It was as if they had been waiting for his cue – as soon as Steinar asked, the people parted and there, behind the crowd was an old man. Steinar thought for a moment he must be older than the dirt he was standing on. Yet, despite his age, his eyes were brilliant – there was no lack of youth and energy behind them!

Unsure of himself, Steinar did the first thing that came to his mind: He bowed. The people gawked as though he had just passed wind in the midst of a Stone Celebration! While he felt it a bit silly, the man before him was obviously a sage. How could he not defer to his great wisdom?

The man to whom he had just bowed was not only old, but he was small and bent over – as though the weight of life was simply more than his shoulders could bear any longer. He was dressed in the same voluminous muddy brown wool cloak that Aldous had worn. (Was this part of being a Stone Keeper? Was it only a part of being an old Stone Keeper – it showed you really were as old as dirt? Was he going to have to wear a cloak like that? Oh he hoped not. He thought perhaps his eyes would mourn if that was the color he had to be covered in. They would miss the deep rich wine red that his mother had dyed his cloak. He loved that alkanet root!) Steinar thought for a moment he saw a smirk slip across the old man’s face, but dismissed it immediately. How could he possibly know what he was thinking?

The venerable Stone Keeper stared at Steinar and said, “I know you, Steinar Spicer. Your coming has been adumbrated. I did not see it coming so soon, however. I know where you are coming from and I know where you are going. You will be given food, water…and the bath you so long for now. Later, I will talk to you and tomorrow, you will go. You have an assignment. It is your destiny. You must not miss it.” With that, he turned to walk away.

He got three steps from the stunned Steinar before he turned and came back. He walked directly up to him, standing directly in Steinar’s face, he took hold of his cheeks and looked deep in his eyes. Suddenly Steinar was no longer aware of his age nor stooped form, all he was aware of was the strength and power he saw in his eyes. “I am called Hayrick. Do not be afraid, this is not a bad thing. Gott Himself holds you in His hand,” his hand loosened its hold a bit and what began as an attention-grabbing grasp, became a tender caress. “You are so loved by so many. Where you are called to go, the road is hard, but you will succeed. Do not grow weary or give up.”

Steinar never again, after looking deeply into Hayrick’s eyes, thought of him as an old man. Instead, all he ever after thought of was his father’s favorite draft horse, Maud. She was as big as a mountain – and when Steinar had been small, he believed she could move one, too. The size of the job didn’t matter. She was always a stalwart worker, never to be dissuaded. But, off the field, she was the most gentle and loving horse Steinar had ever known. He couldn’t get within a few feet of her without her nuzzling him looking for the apple he always snuck out to her. Hayrick was just like that. He was powerful, but very gentle.

Several hours later, the sun having recently set, Steinar was taken to a small home at the edge of the Community. There, the smoke from a sweet smelling fire burning greeted him – he could smell the mulberry wood from the walkway. He had eaten, bathed, dressed in clean clothing and talked to many people. Now, he was about to enter the home of Hayrick. He wasn’t afraid exactly, but the word awkward certainly wouldn’t be amiss. There were moments earlier when he first met Hayrick that it seemed like he was reading his mind – or his future.

The man with him, Dobrogost, knocked loudly, then called out, “Hayrick, it’s me, Dobro – may we come in? I have a much cleaner and fed young man to deliver to you.” “Come, come, come….I have just taken the kettle off – Dobro, would you care for tea?” “No, Hayrick, I can’t stay, I have the remainder of my evening chores to complete, but I wanted the honor of bringing Steinar to you.”

Dobrogost reached out a hand and laid it on Steinar’s shoulder. “I do not know what your time will be like tomorrow, but it’s been an honor to meet you. When Hayrick’s time has come, I will be The Stone Keeper for our Community – and I too have dreamt of you, Steinar Spicer. I have seen you in my night vision smashing The Great Stone. I feared that dream for quite a while, but always in the dream, there was singing – it was as if the Stone itself was singing.”

Steinar’s face must have betrayed some of his thoughts – Dobrogost tilted his head and said with awe, “You have seen it too? Have you too heard the song of the Stone?” Steinar threw a furtive look Hayrick’s way to see what his response should be. He was seemingly busy pouring the tea. “I uh, well…yes, I have heard a song. But it’s just the Stone I carry that I have heard, it’s not like The…Great Stone.”

Even as the words were coming from his mouth, he could hear his own brain screaming, “Why have I been made a Stone Keeper? I don’t know anything about this Great Stone. I don’t know anything about this Stone that I carry. Why, Gott? Why have I been given this task? I am not worthy, I’m too ignorant.” His mental rant was stayed when Hayrick touched his arm.

Do not question Gott’s plan. He is the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Do you think that the little details of our lives would slow Him down? Oh PISH!
“’When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?  And the son of man, that Thou vistest him?’ Does that sound like our Vader would be put off by a few minor details in YOUR life?  May it never be so!  Now, kind Dobro, now that you know that the boy has heard The Son, I will leave you to your eventide chores.  Heer bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.”

Dobrogost grasped Steinar in a grand hug, “Be blessed, reisende. May you find and complete your noodlot.” Steinar thought how much his hugs felt like those of his brothers. Strong arms for men who do great work. Steinar wondered if his arms would ever feel like that or if they would remain slender, like his father’s. With a quick kiss to his wrinkled cheek, Dobrogost honored Hayrick and then slipped out the door.

So, you have heard The Song of The Stone, eh?” gesturing to a large chair by the fire, nestled by a small table holding Steinar’s tea. “Yes…is that wrong?” Hayrick took a long sip of his tea before answering. “Wrong? No. But, it is interesting. We can talk more of the Stone at breakfast. Tonight, we will sip our tea in silence, as I suspect you are missing it, after all the people surrounding you this evening. In the morning, we will talk, at length.”

Steinar had been lying in the bed assigned to him by Hayrick for a short time when he heard him call his name. Steinar got up and went to the hall – “Hayrick, did you call me?” There was no answer. It was too dark to attempt to climb down the ladder, so Steinar climbed back into his bed, tugging the warm stones back around his feet. Thinking of his Stone, he reached his hand under his pillow and began to stroke it. Again, he heard Hayrick call him.

Trying not to sigh, he threw the blankets back and wandered back to the darkened ladder area. “Hayrick, have you called me?” Still no answer. He must have been hearing things. Though it was too early for snow, the wind did swirl and dance around the upstairs loft that he was sleeping in. He was just about to climb back into bed when he heard Hayrick call him again. Certain that he must be in great need to call him so many times, he raced to the ladder, climbing down as best he could.

He was almost at the bottom when he fell and made a loud crash as he did so, hitting the small shelf in the hall. Before he could pick himself up, let alone the contents of the shelf, Hayrick was there. “Steinar, are you all right? Is there a problem that brought you back down the stairs?”

No Master Hayrick, I’m fine, as I hope your things that I have spilled are as well, but I heard you calling and wanted to make certain you were all right.” “Ah…well, Samuel, I believe that you have an appointment already tonight. I will pick up, you go back to bed and listen carefully in the night.” Holding his hand above his head, “You get up and I will light the way for you to go back up, but next time, bring your Stone with you.” “Master Hayrick, I am ignorant, I fear. Why should I bring the Stone with me? Do you fear for its safety here in your own house?” “No, Son, you may use the Stone for a light, of course.” “A light, Master?”

Hayrick sat down on the floor beside Steinar. He held his Stone in his hand. Suddenly a dull glow began to emanate from it. It got brighter, then lighter, and brighter yet again. “How did you do that?” Steinar’s question was breathless. “By asking it to be my light. It is a light to my path.” “That’s all, you just ask it? You uh…you talk to the Stone?” “Yes, sometimes aloud, sometimes in my head. I just ask it for light. If I need more light, I ask for more. If I need less, I ask for less. There are great responsibilities to being a Stone Keeper. But, there are also many blessings. Having ready light is one of them. At breakfast, we will discuss some more, but for tonight, you must get in bed. Please, leave the mess for me.”

Steinar was halfway up the ladder that Hayrick generously called ‘stairs’ before he realized that Hayrick had called him “Samuel.” That’s odd. Perhaps he was tired enough he had confused him with someone else.

Steinar quickly got into bed, pulled the down blankets up around his chin, tucked the now not nearly as warm rocks around his now much colder feet and snuggled in for a good night’s rest. As soon as his head hit the pillow, he realized how very, very, very tired he was. He held the Stone and asked for a small light and he prayed for his family by name – father, mother, Wyatt, Reynard, Katarin….he never got past Katarin.

The light dimmed and Steinar slept. But he didn’t dream. He was much too tired for that. However, throughout the entire night, The Song of The Stone spun and twirled in his head, keeping him company as he slept deeply, safely tucked into the Community.

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Comments
One Response to “The Stone Keeper – Chapter Six”
  1. javadawn says:

    Sorry guys, I can’t get the font to remain consistent in this posting. I played with it repeatedly for the past hour and it keeps showing up dorky. :/

    My resident html geek is busy with some work of her own. When she’s done, I’ll have her take a look at it. IF you get here before she does, I’m so very sorry. 😦

    OKAY – I think it’s fixed now. Sorry if you were one of the readers whose eyes went buggy looking at different sized font. (AND just for the record, I fixed it myself. Wooot!!! I’m so proud of myself. 😆 Hey, I’m learning.)

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