Updated: Jul 7, 2019
This is the fifth and final part in a short story, written as a series of journal entries. You can find the previous entries at the links below. In a few decades or so, once the entire canon of the Circle series is complete, you'll be able to find this short story published along with the other novellas and short stories that go in between the main novels in a hardcopy anthology. Until then, you can read it online. Enjoy!
Friday, 28 September 2023
This will probably be the last entry I have time for, at least for a while, so I’m going to be as thorough as I possibly can. We’ll be going to London soon, and then it’s straight to the faerie stones after we come back north. These past few days I’ve been too distracted in the lab to write at all, and then suddenly Sarah returned, and it’s been a whirlwind since of planning and prepping and…I’m doing it again. Getting ahead of myself. Everything we’ll need is packed up and ready to go, though, so I finally have some time to myself while we wait for morning. The others are resting up. Big day tomorrow, and all. There’s so much to get down before then!
Right. So Gren and Mari have both been helping me in the lab, and I think I must concede that there is something magical in Gren’s voice that is intrinsically tied to the construction of the faerie stones. I tried testing all of the samples with myself, Mari, and Ruv each singing (as well as playing a selection of recordings by random singers, and I even tried recordings of each of us singing as a control), all to no avail. No reaction. But when Gren sings, the particles—the bits of stone, the lichen, even the mushroom spores—vibrate in time to the frequency of his voice, practically humming right along with him. It doesn’t work with recordings of Gren singing, either—only when he gives a live performance. However, it doesn’t seem to matter what particular song Gren sings; the materials still react. He tells me that when he steps foot in a circle, he can hear all the different possible songs swirling inside his head, but that the one he needs to sing to get where he needs to go always sounds louder than the others. Isn’t that fascinating? A bit foolish, perhaps, but who knew I’d be using geology to examine the magic of music!?
So while the mystery of the travelling circles isn’t exactly solved, I’ve definitely got a solid start. Of course more trials are needed to prove my hypothesis, and I’d love to take samples from the other travelling circles on Earth and test them as well, but that will just have to wait. Mari and Gren tell me the only other Earthly circle they’ve been to is in Virginia. Can you believe it? The United States, home to a magic circle! Scotland at least makes sense. We’ve certainly an abundance of faerie tales here to accompany such a thing. I never would have suspected America, though, of all places. Ruv believes the third travelling circle might be somewhere near the Russian border, but he can’t be certain as he was there quite a long time ago, it was apparently dark out, and he didn’t exactly know what travelling circles were at the time (let alone intend to fall asleep in one, and then wake up in Aorea, rather confused as to how he got there). When I have more time, I should go into more detail about his unique story. I think you’d quite like him, uncle…once you got past the permanent smirk, that is.
Yesterday evening, once my friends grew tired of acting as my lab assistants—I’m quite proud of myself for paying attention to their reduced enthusiasm since that’s not normally something I’d even notice—we chatted in the lounge. I’d turned the box on so we’d have some background noise, but no one was really watching it. We were too busy sharing stories, swapping theories, and eating shortbread (Cattie was always the better baker, but I did my best to follow her recipe) to give any mind to the reruns on the telly. Well, they were reruns to me. I suppose they would have been brand new programming to the other three. Anyway, the topic of our conversation varied a great deal over the course of the hours; we discussed everything from the mechanics of travelling circles and shapeshifting (or, as Ruv prefers to call it, the “art of Sanguina”) to their interactions with—and I can’t believe I’m sincerely writing this—unicorns and dragons and sassy ginger forest nymphs.
But it gets even stranger, uncle. There was a natural lull in the conversation at some point, so I got up to make another pot of tea. With four avid tea-drinkers under one roof, the kettle is constantly in use. Nevertheless, when I returned with a fresh pot, I noticed that Gren had left the room. Before I could so much as ask where he scampered off to, Mari explained, “Gren just stepped out to take a call.” Normal enough, right?
Except for the part where none of them own phones.
“On whose mobile?” I inquired with a quirked brow, knowing full well that mine was in the back pocket of my pants, and it’d been years since there’d been an active house line.
“Ok, so remember about that first journey to Aorea, how Gren and I went with two other friends?” Mari began, and I nodded. I’d be lying if I said I retained everything they’d told me, but I was at least reaching a point where I could mostly follow along and keep all the names straight in a roughly chronological order. “Even though Laria and Hal are in the sanctuary, we can still talk to them. Telepathically.”
“Right,” I said, evidently with no shortage of doubt in both tone and face. I thought I was getting so good at believing in things lately, learning to let loose a little. I found myself wondering then if I’d become too gullible and that my new friends were, in fact, a bit wrong in the head. Unicorns and dragons I can rationalize, to an extent—unicorns are just extra intelligent horses with bony growths on their foreheads, and dragons could be just gargantuan, winged reptiles, not so different from dinosaurs, really—but telepathy? Come, now. Everyone knows that’s a crock.
“I know it sounds ridiculous,” Mari continued, accurately interpreting the incredulity from my face, “but it’s linked to our fatestones.” Her fingers instinctively reached to the pendant she always wore, a crescent moon carved from some green stone, likely jade or a type of agate. I’d always assumed it was just a normal necklace, but then I did recall noticing the frequency with which her fingers brushed across it, as if always reassuring herself that it was still in place. Of course, something I perhaps should have noticed earlier on in our acquaintanceship, was that the same green stone and crescent shape that perpetually adorned Mari’s throat also adorned her sundry weaponry. From her leather sword belt and sheath to the studded dagger, bits of green stone flashed everywhere.
The formulation of another hypothesis began to take root in my mind. “So Gren, I’m assuming, has one, too,” I intoned. I had observed a hint of silver chain peeking out of his collar upon occasion, but I couldn’t remember ever seeing the pendant attached to it. As my eyes strayed to the bow and quiver set that Gren had left propped in a corner of the lounge, noting the glint of deep blue gems embedded in the leather and metalwork, I added, “Is his a star, perchance?”
Mari seemed to catch onto where my brain was going, because she grinned and said, “Yes, a sapphire star. And they’re more than just miniature, gemstone cell phones, I’ll have you know. We actually hear our friends’ voices directly inside our heads.” However, as soon as she was done speaking, her eyes glazed over for a few seconds, her fingers still wrapped tight around her gemstone crescent. When her focus returned, she explained, “It looks like Laria and Hal have a few things they want to tell me as well. I’ll be right back.” With that, she stood and left the room.
As my mind spun with questions and assumptions and possible constraints for even more future experiments, I refilled mine and Ruv’s teacups. I was even contemplating expanding to other branches of science, straying from the geology to which I’d devoted the majority of my academic career, when Ruv interrupted my thoughts by clearing his throat. “They’re not crazy,” he assured me. “And everything we’ve told you is the truth.”
I nodded absently and sipped my tea. “Not even a slight exaggeration?”
“None,” Ruv asserted. “If anything, we’ve under-exaggerated. If you truly want to come to Aorea with us...”
My back straightened as I said with all the conviction I could muster, “I’m coming.”
“…then there are some things you need to understand,” Ruv finished. “Mari and Gren are more than they seem. They have a destiny. In Aorea, they are practically celebrities, known as much for the things they’ve already done, as for the things they will one day do.”
“Like what?” I pressed him, curious despite my reservations.
Ruv shrugged and sipped his tea. “It is not for me to say.”
I tried to get Ruv to elaborate, but he kept his mouth firmly closed on the destiny front after that. Instead, he contemplated further what my totem animal might be. He seems to be undecided whether I’m predator or prey. My own vote is for the former. I may be fine-boned and baby-faced, but I have never felt like prey. But I also know that I’m no wolf, and I’m certainly no panther. None of the other animals he listed as candidates felt right either: bear, lynx, deer, horse, antelope. He tried to talk me through how to find my totem, how to look inside myself and see this other form I supposedly possess, but to no avail. He even tried to guide me through a meditation for it—did I mention Gren and Mari were gone for quite a while? Their untouched cups had long gone cold by this point—but that didn’t work either. For whatever reason the process of clearing my mind just wouldn’t stick.
I couldn’t help but laugh when his frustration tipped the scales on his patience, and he blurted, “You’re overthinking it!”
That was far from the first time I’d heard those particular words lobbed in my direction, and I suspect it will not be the last.
Ruv gave up after that on trying to coach me on how to find my totem. Instead, he turned his intention toward walking me through, at least in theory, how to actually make the shift. Ruv seems pretty convinced that I have enough “totem blood,” as he calls it, that my first shift in Aorea will be fairly easy, once I figure out my inner animal. He said sometimes it’s possible for a sanguine to shift without knowing what form waits on the other side, but that it is rare, and potentially dangerous. Maybe the atmosphere in Aorea will be enough to trigger some latent inner knowledge on the subject. I suppose we will just have to wait and see.
Finally, after what must have been at least an hour, Mari and Gren both returned to the lounge. But of course, no sooner had they gotten comfortable on the settee than there came the lyrical sounds of the doorbell followed by a frantic pounding on the front door. The others exchanged glances, equally as confused as I was, wondering who could possibly be calling at such an hour. As much of a hermit as I’ve been the past six months, the manor hasn’t been receiving many visitors. So, more than a wee bit perturbed, I motioned for the others to stay put while I rose from the couch and went to the door, the rhythmic knocking continuing the entire time.
When at last I finished the trek from the lounge—the foyer felt so much longer than usual—I clicked on the porch light and peered through the windows that framed the front door. The pounding abruptly ceased, and, spying a familiar set of black leathers across the glass, I opened the door. Without so much as a greeting in preamble, Sarah barrelled into the entrance and snapped, “Where are the others? I need their help.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked, shutting the door and leading Sarah back to the lounge.
“They’ve got Sam,” she said.
And drat, I do believe that is the sound of the alarm going off. That’s all the time I have for writing now…more to follow, uncle.
Until then, sweet dreams.
That's it for the final entry of "Faerie Stones!" Hope you enjoyed reading Wendy's story as much as I did writing it!