“He would have told her - he would have said, it matters not if you are here or there, for I see you before me every moment. I see you in the light of the water, in the swaying of the young trees in the spring wind. I see you in the shadows of the great oaks, I hear your voice in the cry of the owl at night. You are the blood in my veins, and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are - you are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath.”
“Perhaps this is what the stories meant when they called somebody heartsick. Your heart and your stomach and your whole insides felt hollow and empty and aching.”
“All that he had of her was his memory, where he held every moment, every single moment that she had been his. That was all he had, to keep out the loneliness.”
“You know not, yet, the sort of love that strikes like a lightning bolt; that clutches hold of you by the heart, as irrevocably as death; that becomes the lodestar by which you steer the rest of your life. I would not wish such a love on anyone, man or woman, for it can make your life a paradise, or it can destroy you utterly.”
“But there is one thing you must remember, if you forget all else. There is no good or evil, save in the way you see the world. There is no dark or light save in your own vision. All changes in the blink of an eyelid; yet all remains the same.”
“There is no truth on this island of yours. Rather, there are as many truths as there are stars in the sky; and every one of them different.”
“My world was changing, and I was not ready for it.”
“Our strength comes from that magic, from the earth and the sky, from the fire and the water. Fly high, swim deep, give back to the earth what she gives you...”
“You will find the way, daughter of the forest. Through grief and pain, through many trials, through betrayal and loss, your feet will walk a straight path.”
“I know it's hard for you to trust me. If I ever find the man who did this to you, who made you so frightened, I'll kill him with my bare hands. But you can trust me.”
“You risked much, to give your love to such a one.
I stared at him. Love?
Did you not know, until now, when you must say goodbye?”
“Perhaps he could still weave together the broken threads of his life. And yet, I wanted him here now. I needed him here. In the darkness, if I sat very still, I could almost feel his presence by me, quite near, but not too near. Didn't I promise to keep you safe, he would say softly. I have never broken a promise. Don't look so worried, Jenny. And yet, he would be careful. Careful not to move too close. Careful not to frighten me. Waiting still. I am your shelter. Don't be afraid.”
“My feet will tread soft as a deer in the forest.... My mind will be clear as water from the sacred well. My heart will be strong as a great oak. My spirit will spread an eagle's wings, and fly forth. This is the way of truth.”
“For indeed you have a choice. You can flee and hide, and wait to be found. You can live out your days in terror, without meaning. Or you can take the harder choice, and you can save them.”
“Wake the sleeper must, and confront his fears, or risk being lost in the dark places of the mind forever.”
“You may be your own best helper, if you choose the right path.”
“She had sacrificed her childhood to save her brothers; she loved her family above all else, and her spirits yearned to return home once more, to the wild forest and the land of mystic tales and ancient spirits whence he had taken her. That was the place of her heart, and if he loved her, he must let her go.”
“Real life is not quite as it is in stories. In the old tales, bad things happen, and when the tale has unfolded and come to its triumphant conclusion, it is as if the bad things had never been. Life is not as simple as that, not quite.”
“He was sitting not far away, watching me, and I surprised a smile on his face, the first real smile I had ever seen him give, a smile that curved and softened the tight mouth, and warmed the ice-cool eyes; a smile that brought the blood to my face and made my heart turn over.”
“I know how it feels, dear one. As if your heart were torn in two. I feel your pain.”
I took a deep breath. Another.
“I know how it feels. As if you will never be whole again.”
I reached inside my dress, where I wore two cords about my neck. One held my wedding ring; the other the amulet that had once been my mother’s. I left the one, and took off the other. “This is yours. Take it back. Take it back, it was to you she gave it.”
I slipped the cord over his head, and the little carven stone with its ash tree sign lay on his breast. He had grown painfully thin.
“Show me the other. The other talisman you wear.”
Slowly I took out the carven ring, and lifted it on my palm for my brother to see.
“He made this for you? Him with the golden hair, and the eyes that devour”?
“Not him. Another.” Images were strong in my mind; Red with his arm around me like a shield; Red cutting up and apple; Red kicking a sword from a man’s hand, and catching it in his own; Red barefoot on the sand with the sea around his ankles.
“You risked much, to give your love to such a one.”
I stared at him. “Love?”
“Did you not know, until now, when you must say goodbye?”
“More like some small, fierce bird of prey, something with a sharp bite. An owl perhaps, that speaks only when the rest of the world sleeps.
Jenny will do well enough.”
“I almost forgot,” said Red. His voice sounded very strange, as if from a long, long distance. He reached into his pocket. “I have something for you.”
He put it into my hand. A round, shiny, perfect apple, green as new grass with a faint blush of rosy pink. And now his eyes had changed so that I saw what lay there, hidden deep, so deep only the bravest or most foolhardy would seek to find it.
He has always understood me better, without words. So I laid my hand on my heart, held it there for a moment, and then moved it over and touched my palm against his breast. My heart. Your heart.”
“How can he do this? If you were mine, I would fight to keep you. I would die, before I let you go.”
“We draw our strength from the great oaks of the forest. As they take their nourishment from the soil, and from the rains that feed the soil, so we find our courage in the pattern of living things around us. They stand through storm and tempest. They grow and renew themselves. Like a grove of young oaks, we remain strong.”
“She was a creature of the deep, and there she must return, or perish. Toby understood that, but it hardly helped him. For all he had of her was his memory, where he held every moment, every single moment that she had been his. That was all he had, to keep out the loneliness.”
“After a while, footsteps sounded on the flagstones outside and there was a gentle tap at the door. Of course, one of them would come. So close were we, the seven of us, that no childhood injury went unnoticed, no slight, real or imagined, went unaddressed, no hurt was endured without comfort.”
“The girl is not yours, or mine, or anyone’s. But for now, she travels under my protection, and let him who lays a hand on her answer to me.”
“Only - only that, if you believe the tales, it's in the nature of our people to go to war and to kill, just as it is to sing and play and tell stories. Perhaps they are two halves of the same whole.”
“Why should I be polished and improved like goods for sale? I might not even want to marry! And besides, I have many skills. I can read and write and play the flute and harp. Why should I change to please some man? If he doesn’t like me the way I am, then he can get some other girl for his wife.”
“... you will know that you are part of the one great magic that binds us all together. Our strength comes from that magic, from the earth and the sky, from the fire and the water. Fly high, swim deep, give back to the earth what she gives you....”
“And then something truly bizarre happened. I could feel his touch through our eyes. I couldn't look away from him. The girl in front of him seemed to disappear, and all there was in the hallway was him and the sweet, beautiful smell of his blood.”
“Blood!...Blood!... That's a good thing! A ghost who bleeds is less dangerous!”
“If this were a simpler matter, I'd have eliminated everyone else by now.”
“Although we didn't invite Lucinda, she arrived anyway-with a gift.
"No need," Char and I chimed together.
"Remember when you were a squirrel," Mandy said.”
“Somewhere, far, far away, there's a shitty island. An island without a name. An island not worth giving a name. A shitty island with a shitty shape. On this shitty island grow palm trees that also have shitty shapes. And the palm trees produce coconuts that give off a shitty smell. Shitty monkeys live in the trees, and they love to eat these shitty-smelling coconuts, after which they shit the world's foulest shit. The shit falls on the ground and builds up shitty mounds, making the shitty palm trees that grown on them even shittier. It's an endless cycle.”
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