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The Myester Series Part One: The Stone Heart
She hid behind the old tree stump. Surely he would never know she had survived with her siblings all these years. Perhaps he had forgotten about her and gone about his business, but he was too powerful to forget, especially after what she had done to him.
Relinia held the stone in her hand. Afraid to let it go, she kept it well-hidden within the folds of her dress. She crouched. Hopefully he couldn’t see her. The stone had proved useful rather than revealed her hiding place. It had been years since Relinia and her brothers and sisters had even the slightest hint of Mirth’s presence. Now Relinia could almost reach out to touch him and nearly feel his cold hands around her like he had years ago.
She could almost hear him. The voice of a monster calling out in the night clung to her like a childhood memory. Relinia was so afraid she could almost sense his cruel heart thumping from miles away. When he had attempted to lure the stone from her, the stone’s jewels shone brightly. He became blinded by them and fell into a dark pit. Relinia had narrowly escaped, yet she could still hear his screams in her nightmares.
The stone had been in her family for generations, representing the union of her to her siblings, parents and grandparents. It had once belonged to Queen Paseana from Jeruane, possessing a rare gemstone encased within. Granny Daiane had risked her life to protect it, calling the stone “my stone heart,” because it was heart-shaped. Relinia had never seen it herself, but she knew what was inside through legends Granny Daiane had foretold her. Relinia could not let it slip into the wrong hands, especially his. Mirth.
Mirth had always wanted the stone, and had killed her father, mother and brother for it. All Relinia had to do was “hand it over” and Mirth would leave her and the rest of her seven brothers and sisters alone. Jadia, Ranner, Breslin, Braylin, Austra, Pak and Lula had almost forced her to give it up, but she convinced them to let her keep it safe from Mirth’s grasp or she and the rest of her family would perish.
Ever since her parents Genfald and Rolivia and brother Morgise died, she felt one-third of her body wither away and only a tiny part of her remained. She had been close to giving up the stone, but since Jadia and Pak talked her out of it, she felt a new sense of determination to keep it safe under her protection.
“Move on.” Relinia could almost hear her mother’s voice urge her to find perseverance. She suddenly felt a new feeling of fear inching up her spine, icy fingers running like water down to her toes. The jewels on the stone gave a sparkle, almost like her mother’s old smile. Relinia’s brown hair blew with the wind, her red eyes observed her surroundings. It was safe, for now.
Relinia closed her eyes, trying to picture in her mind the map she had seen earlier. Her thoughts were overwhelming. The bitter cold nipped at her cheeks and crawled through her clothes to play with her skin. Her fingers tightened around her cloak, drawing it closer. Rising to her feet, she placed the warm stone in her tunic pocket. She felt colder than before, perhaps with fear.
She had lost the map only map to guide her back when she crossed the border between her country and new territory. Fortunately, Relinia had it memorized and made her way without it.
She scurried like a mouse would to where a nearby rock formed a small cave. She remembered this picture from the map. She sprinted inside the cave, only to discover that someone had been there first.
A woman with blond hair and gray eyes curled in a small ball stared at her, holding a grotesque expression. Relinia felt the stone in her pocket and wrapped her fingers around it. “Who are you?” asked the woman, raising an eyebrow.
“Relinia Dagestan, but I am called Linia,” Relinia recited. “Who are you?”
The woman whirled like an angry ocean tide, her gray eyes fixing on Relinia. “Nemerie,” she replied.
“What happened?” Relinia said, noticing the scars on the woman’s forehead.
“I was attacked by Mirth Gomry.”
Of course, Relinia sniffed. She traveled over to the woman, and placed a warm hand on her shoulder. “Do you know where he is now?”
Relinia’s heart sank, but the stone heart in her pocket made her conscious that it was still under her care. The stone’s gems were warm from the pressure of her hand. She couldn’t help but picture Granny Daiane’s smiling face, telling her to grasp confidence. She could almost see her oldest sister Jadia standing right in front of her, her previous words echoing in her mind: “The most treasured of all treasures is the one you hold in your hand.”
She stood firm, knowing the quest was to protect herself and the rest of her family from evil. Aunt Ambiana and Granny Daiane would meet her in Jeruane, where the stone had been created. If all ended well, the stone would nestle into its crystal light and become incapable of removal.
“I knew your mother. She told me the way to Jeruane.”
Relinia blinked, “My mother?”
“She wanted me to become acquainted with Jeruane so I could pass the information to you. I hid in this cave before Mirth discovered me.”
“She never mentioned you.”
Jeruane was a very important destination for Relinia. Destroy the stone and all power will succumb to the destruction of the stone heart. Aunt Ambiana’s words tossed and turned in Relinia’s mind. How wise her aunt was! Ambiana had whispered her plan to her, and Relinia was determined to fulfill it. Besides Jadia, Ambiana and Daiane were the only close family she had left.
The woman’s eyes dropped, following to her small purse. She motioned for Relinia to sit next to her.
Nemerie reached inside the purse and pulled out a golden sword. Relinia’s eyes widened as Nemerie gave her a sly grin. “It was your mother’s. We called it ‘Myestra.’”
Nemerie gave her another sly smile. “Myester is the stone you have in your pocket. Myestra is the sword we named after it.”
Relinia’s eyes widened more.
“Your mother told me everything,” Nemerie said, holding out the sword for Relinia. “Here. Your mother would have wanted you to possess it.”
Smiling, Relinia took the sword and swung it around. “Did you ever learn the story of your parents’ death?” Nemerie questioned, sitting on a rock. Curious, Relinia wanted to know the actual story instead of the bedtime lullaby Jadia sang when she was younger.
“Your beautiful mother Rolivia and father Genfald were summoned on a quest, and chose to bring their eldest son Morgise, who was seventeen at the time. As it turned out, Rolivia’s stone, Myester, with all its beautiful jewels, was the source of ultimate light and dark.” She paused, her eyes questioning Relinia if she should continue. Their eyes met, Relinia’s sending the message that she wanted her to.
“When the evil dragon Mirth heard of Rolivia’s stone heart he wanted it for himself. He searched everywhere until the Mirthians found her, her husband and son. Mirth had ordered his men to kill them, and Rolivia’s stone couldn’t save her and her family, since she was too afraid. The Mirthians instantly killed Morgise and Genfald but injured Rolivia, who ran far away as she could. She discovered there were more followers of Mirth and learned she could not trust anyone, but warned me. She hoped to tell her children so they could go into hiding but she never made it.”
Relinia tried to hold back the tears but they ran down her face anyway. “I have a feeling something worse will happen. Please take the sword,” Nemerie said glancing around the cave. “I will journey as far as Delmara then the rest of the strength comes from you.”