The Heresy of Before: Spirit Keeper, Part 2

D: Sorry, ma’am, authorized personnel only.

A: Authorized—D, let me in!

D: Please ma’am, I have to ask you to step away.

A: Step away? What is this? D, it’s me.

D: Who is this ‘me’ you speak of?

A: . . .

D: Tapping your foot at me – no matter how menacingly – is not going to get you anywhere. . . A.

A: Ha! I knew it. What is going on here, Druid? What’s with all the ‘ma’am’ and the bloody –

D: Ma’am, if you could just move your feet—

A: Don’t push it, D.

D: (Sigh) there’s been a robbery, or haven’t you heard?

A: A robbery?

D: A series of them. It’s right there in the last, you know, substantial post on this blog.

A: Oh boy, here we go.

D: Of course, if you had spent any amount of time here on the blog . . .

A: Marie was right, you are such a girl.

D: (Spluttering, speechless)

A: I thought that might shut him up. And I suppose the Druid is right. There has been a burglary – at least, there has been a burglary in the tiny village of Protection. Protection is perhaps the only free village the bleak future The Heresy of Before has to offer. Treading on those freedoms is not something taken lightly.

D: So without further ado (a girl, indeed), here is Part 2 of the Spirit Keeper.

A: Thank you all so much for reading!

Previously . . .

. . . .My name is Ellie, and I am what amounts to the law in our village. . . Outside Big City, we were free to remember Before, but not many did. These precious keepsakes, passed down from one generation to the next, are all that we have left. . . . For all our supposed godlessness, our Elders do sometimes speak of the spirit of all, which lingers in each heart.  These keepsakes are reminders – repositories even – for the sacred memory of the spirit of all, and someone has been stealing them.

Mathias' Sextant

Mathias’ Sextant

There was the photograph of wildflowers, scratched and battered, that had belonged to the herb-woman, Ruth. Rumor was her great-grandmother had taken it just weeks before man had blackened the sky. Then there was the box of gears and glass. Mathias, son of a sky-watcher, said it was a sextant, a curious-looking thing to help sailors find their way using the sky. It had gathered dust since his father had passed, but it was still precious.

These were just the ones that people were willing to talk about. Nearly twenty people had raised their hands or nodded in commiseration at the last Debate – a silent acknowledgement that their tokens of the old world too were missing.

Trading that silence for words was a delicate dance, and for the first time, I wished I had one of Papa Henry’s maps, defunct though they were. It was a blasphemy of sorts, to ask people about their possessions. Privacy – especially for those born in Big City – was a hard-won and cherished thing.

We work with each other, and strive so that the community may survive, but we are still human, still fiercely independent and deeply private. Peering into the crevices, even to find the missing pieces of our souls, was not something to which I was accustomed. Keeping the peace during Debate and the days the followed, should the day-long nattering prove fruitless, was relatively simple compared to peeling back the layers of prickly freemen.

“Ellie.” Papa Henry’s voice reminded me of the giant rocks on the ridge that guards our village, ancient but powerful. They are all grown over with lichen, but they perch there at the edge of the ridge, to remind us that though they may not have moved since the Greys descended from the sky, they could. They could still destroy our fragile world without a moment’s thought, or notice.

He was standing in the open doorway to my cottage, his long white beard waving in the breeze. He is a bear of a man, and the leather smock he wore only made him seem larger, more imposing, yet his pale green eyes, deep with secrets, were kind.

Papa Henry hefted the spyglass I kept on the windowsill – a ‘shingle’ of my trade, as Samuel would say – as he waited for me to acknowledge him and welcome him into my home.

What if those hands – those hands that were almost never empty – had slipped bits and bobs into his pocket, maybe without even realizing it?

Even before I realized it, I was shaking my head at the quiet, insidious ponderings of my mind. That was impossible. Papa Henry was our most venerable elder.

But what if he was getting old – too old to know what he was doing? That wicked voice in my head – the one responsible for keeping an eye on likely troublemakers, and ornery sods from Big City – had a point. What if he was—?

I shut down the voice with a smile at Papa Henry. Even if he was getting on in years, he would not keep the items he’d pilfered. He would find a way to get them back to their owners, either by owning up to it, or by smuggling the items back before they were ever missed.

“Trying to work your head around the thefts, I see.”

I grinned. He was old, but Papa Henry was as sharp as ever. If our elder was responsible for the thefts, the issue would never have made it as far as Debate. It doesn’t happen often – only once since I came of age – but the tricky machinations of men bent on getting their own way does happen. I did not think this was one of those times.

My smile turned rueful as I looked at the old man. “I’ve never had to do anything like this before. I don’t even know how to ask people.”

“Has anyone been ‘round to tell you about the missing things?”

“A few – but not nearly all. People keep looking at me like they want to say something, but then they just shuffle off, like they’re embarrassed.”

“Then help them not be embarrassed. Let Jan know that you want to talk to people, that you’ll be in your office here for an afternoon if anyone wants to stop by. Bake some cookies.” He laughed as I rolled my eyes. “No wonder you ain’t married, Ellie – making faces at the mere mention of cookies. Didn’t your mam teach you sense?”

I tried to smile but I think it came out more like a grimace. My mam had taught me more than just sense, but I knew what Papa Henry meant. Marriage offered more than just a partner in all things, it was also a means of protection. We were a small village, and not completely unknown. My stubbornness and insistence I could take care of myself had earned me more than Papa Henry’s gentle scolding.

There was more to it, of course. There was the expectation tied to the taking of a mate, an expectation of life growing, and I had watched Samuel and his wife Caroline suffer when their babe was lost to the technocrats. I did not know if I could bring myself to see my soul lost in the eyes of another.

“It’s not the cookies themselves, Papa, it’s the heat,” I added. “Baking cookies in heat of the summer is a fool’s errand at best, but I’ll see what I can do.”

Maybe I could get Jan to bake the cookies. Hers was a small craft shop, open only after the sun had made mid-day and closing as dusk swallowed the light. If ever anyone wanted information, all they had to do was trade Jan some handiwork or a bit of jewelry for her sheep’s wool and cheese, and they’d have all the information they wanted.

Whether or not it was good information never seemed to matter. The woman had a way about her, a shine to her smile that nearly matched the shine in her golden hair.

And it brought me to wondering: What if she was the thief? What if the ear bobs hadn’t been as plentiful? What if her river of information had dried, and with it, her customers? Was that why I had seen her skulking about the well, blushing scarlet the moment I called her name?

There was only one way to find out. Papa Henry was already on his way out the door. I waved goodbye with one hand and dug in my desk with the other. There had to be something in there worth trading to Jan – for the cookies, and for a bit of information.

… To be continued.

Lost? Read Part 1 – or, continue on to Part 3

A Not-So-Shocking-Adventure: X marks the … Magneto?

adventureswithD-final (1)A: All right, Druid, where did you put him?

D: What? Put who, A?

A: You know who I’m talking about.

D: Alas, my ability to read your confounding mind is limited.

A: Well, since this week’s podcast, Episode X, is titled The Case of the Missing Magneto (go on, give it a listen. We can wait)…

D: What does that have to do with me?

Is Michael Fassbender the voice of D? Photo courtesy Google Images/USA Today

Is Michael Fassbender the voice of D? I’m certainly not going to argue. Photo courtesy Google Images/USA Today

A: I heard you, in the back of my head while I had my movie marathon. Every time Michael Fassbender showed up on screen, you whispered, “that one.”

D: And considering how many Fassbender movies you watched …

A: Hey now, that was research. After the first time I heard you, I had to make sure you were right.

D: And the verdict?

A: I think I might need to watch some more of his movies…

D: Sure you do, A. But let’s get back to this vicious accusation you’ve thrown at my head. Why would I steal Magneto – and who’s to say it would be Fassbender’s Magneto I would steal?

A: Actually, both would be splendid as you, but I suppose the accusation may have been wishful thinking?

D: Wishful thinking? You are a devious woman, A.

A: Thank you. You have to admit it might be preferable to trying to convince academy-recognized actors to narrate your story, while only taking a cut of the royalties on every audio book sold.

D: I admit nothing, A. My brilliance should be enough to capture their attention.

A: Uh huh. Right. Let me just work that into the proposal, yeah?

D: Make it so, A.

A: Um, wrong X-Man – and wrong series–

D: These are pointless details, A. In the meantime, everyone ought to run over to Green Embers Recommends for Episode 10 of the Not-So-Shocking News Dialogues.

A: Indeed – thanks for reading everyone!

Revealed: Legends of Windemere, The Compass Key

Debuting August 8th on Amazon Kindle!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Swords will clash and spells will fly in the newest adventure of young warrior Luke Callindor, Nyx the magic-flinging caster, and their friends.

With Sari captured by their enemies, the champions of Windemere are determined to get her back and destroy the Lich’s castle. Little do they realize, their battles in the Caster Swamp are only the beginning of this adventure. Trinity and her Chaos Elves have invaded the city of Gaia in search of a relic called the Compass Key. Rumored to be the key to rescuing Sari from a magical island, our heroes are in a race to find the mysterious relic.

Which side will claim the Compass Key? And, what will our heroes do when they’re faced with an enemy whose evil power overshadows anything they have ever faced?

About the Author:

Charles author photo B&WCharles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: Legends of Windemere
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz

Read the Previous Volumes of Legends of Windemere!!!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

Cover by Jason Pedersen

Cover by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)