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Stone Fox - A Ghost Story

Well, a little while ago I did two things I've never done before. 1. I wrote a piece of fanfic. 2. I entered my fanfic into a contest on Sounis. And now, I'm very earnestly wishing I hadn't. Because, for one thing, the picture that inspired the fanfic  is now separated from it.

So I figured I would post it here, as well, where it can be with the picture I drew for it (they're kind of divorced on Sounis), and people (at least one or two people) can enjoy it in a completely non-competitive way.

And I promise, after my brief foray into fiction, I'll get back to my essay about hints and foreshadowings in "The Thief."

The characters in this story are from Megan Whalen Turner's "Conspiracy of Kings." And although it is a ghost story, it isn't scary. At all!

PS Happy Halloween, everybody!

PPS For readers who know the Queen's Thief stories -- I think Gen and Helen do have a common ancestor, way back, who was an architect....
And for those of you who don't know the books, I wonder if the story makes sense? Let me know!

Stone Fox: A Ghost Story

It was a miracle: from something that looked like a crumpled bit of rag, long, delicate legs and vivid red and black wings were unfolding. But as Sophos leaned closer to get a better look, he felt the back of his neck prickling. Someone was watching -- was Ochto finally losing patience with him, and his need to study the tiny lives around their work site? He turned, and stared. No, not Ochto -- a stranger, an old man. From his weathered face, bright dark eyes met Sophos's with an interested glint. His rather dusty black clothes and sturdy boots were of a strange fashion, and a bit too warm for the early summer day.

"What can I do for you, grandfather?" Sophos asked.

"Grandfather. Yes, you might call me that. You might indeed. Though it wouldn't be strictly true -- but there's more than one way of gaining a relation, isn't there?"

Sophos was nonplussed. "I'm sorry, I don't understand you. And I have to get back to work soon."

"Ah, yes, your work. What has your tutor said about that lately?"

"My tutor? What do you mean?"

The old man smiled slowly, and his smile cast a shadow in Sophos's mind. His face suddenly seemed familiar, somehow -- but still, Sophos couldn't place him. He was quite sure he had never seen this fellow before -- he would have remembered him, wouldn't he?

"I just mean your tutor. I know her well, and she knows me even better. She knows much." Sophos stared. "Tell me," the old man continued, "what is this work that you are doing?"

"I'm building a wall."

"Ah, yes. So I see. A wall. And how do you fit the stones together? Just by chance?"

"Well … look here -- do you see these edges, how they're shaped? You put them where they want to be -- where they need to be, so the wall will be strong."

"So….an affinity, you think?"

"You could put it that way, yes."

"The stone speaks to you?"

"Not with words, no, but.."

"I can see that you have a gift for putting things together. But how did this gift come to you, and how will it grow? Merely by chance? And you can watch the butterfly, but you cannot know the exact moment she spreads her wings, can you, until she does it, and flies? And what guides her growth and her flight? Is it love, or chance?"

As he spoke, the old man took a stone, and turned it in his hands. And suddenly Sophos saw a glint of red, and the stone took the shape of a fox. He blinked, and the fox was sitting on the wall, red fur and warm, bright, eyes, looking up at the old man, who was smiling down at it. Then they both regarded Sophos, and the old man asked, very quietly, "How will you live your life, young lion? And what will you choose to rule you? Love, or chance?"

Sophos blinked and rubbed his eyes, and when he opened them again, the fox and the old man were gone. In the place where they had been sitting was a rock, a pebble, really, almost round, and almost plain. Such a boring little field stone. But, when Sophos picked it up and looked at it carefully, he saw a glint of red, as though some fabulous gem were hidden in its center. He thought, "Maybe it's not a ruby, maybe it's just a garnet." And then he thought, ruby or garnet, does it matter? It will still be so beautiful, she will wear it so well.

His fingers tightened around the stone and he put it in his pocket. "Not chance," he said to himself, "never that." And he turned his gaze southeast, towards the mountains, and his future.

Stone Fox


Tropical Storm!

User mary_j_59 referenced to your post from Tropical Storm! saying: [...] for a challenge on Sounis, and you can find it here: http://deirdrej.livejournal.com/5840.html [...]