(WP) The Violet Stone and the Mysterious Man

(WP) The Violet Stone and the Mysterious Man

               The cool night air brushed his cheeks as he strolled home, hood hiding his face and snow crunching under his boots, still lightheaded after indulging in his cups a little bit too much.

               His feet carried him toward home, but he was abruptly startled by a hand in his pocket. Was he being robbed? Pickpocketed? But much to his surprise, as quickly as he felt the touch, it was gone, replaced by a heavy weight in his pocket. Paranoid and jumpy from drink, the man slipped inside his house, closing the door behind him with a sound thud.

               His wife was sitting in a chair next to a merrily crackling fire, one of the children asleep on her chest, humming a dreamy tune. At her husband’s arrival, she looked up, eyes reproachful.

               “Please don’t wake the baby, Elijah,” She mouthed, shaking her head, then she went back to humming, stroking their son’s hair.

               Tiptoeing past his family, he went down the hall from the living room and peeked in on their daughter, who was fast asleep, a book lying open on her sheets. Elijah smiled, his heart warming; days at the tannery were hard and made him filthy, but coming home to this, to his wife Rhea, and his children, were what made it all worth it.

               Breaking his back was a small price to pay for supporting his family as best he could.

               Elijah was startled out of his thoughts by a sharp knock at the door; Rhea, who was putting Jael to bed, looked up, a question in her eyes. He waved her down the hallway and walked to the door, making sure to close the door to Megara’s room before he did so.

               As he approached the door, a quiet male voice sounded, seemingly from inside his own head, halting him in his tracks.

               Don’t open that door, or we are both dead, Elijah. Heed my words.

               There was a rush of warmth from his pocket, and his hand moved of its own accord. His fingers closed around the stone, and he pulled it out, looking at it for the first time. It was a large purple stone the size of his closed fist, with a dusting of pink quartz around the edges, and its heart glowed a dark magenta, throwing bright lights on the walls when he opened his fingers.

               He found himself wondering if the voice came, from all places, the stone. Maybe he’d had just a bit too much to drink. Everyone knew that stones couldn’t talk, even he, with what little schooling he’d received before adulthood. But he couldn’t ignore the urgency in the voice, whatever its source.

The knock came once more, louder and more insistent.

“Elijah? What is going on?” Rhea demanded in a whisper, her eyes darting between him and the door.

“What do you have there?” She stepped toward him, eyes narrowed and hands outstretched.

“I don’t know, Rhea,” He whispered in return, and he supposed she must have seen the sincerity of his words in his eyes, because she stopped short, looking at the door.

Elijah, trust me. Do not open that door. Or it will be the death of us all. You must take your family and run.

Elijah found that despite his speculation, he could not doubt the voice’s words. But he didn’t dare answer aloud; this was already pure madness, and he didn’t really need to be locked up in the village asylum on top of everything else.

“We have to leave,” He said quietly, in a voice softer than a whisper. “Get Jael and Meg and pack what you can. I just… I have a really bad feeling about this.”

“What about the person at the door?” She hissed back, alarmed, and he shook his head.

“We can’t answer it. Or we’ll die.”

**

Elijah, Rhea, Megara, and Jael slipped out of their little stone house, out the back door, all of them crowded on a strong, young warhorse, the stone safely stowed away in Elijah’s pocket, the mysterious voice sighing in relief in his head.

The last sound they heard before they departed the village was a high, keening scream of rage and frustration, and the trees in the forest swallowed them up.

**