I looked at the fuzzy box she had laid in my hands. It was the color of dried blood, old and grimy. I imagined that it must carry some disease.
“Open it,” She croaked.
Cringing, I pried the two halves apart. Nestled in more blood-red fabric lay something I had never seen. It was smooth and shiny black. Gold bands of various sizes, some decorated, some plain, circled the blackness.
“What is it?”
She snatched it from the box. With both hands, she gave it several twists before pulling the two ends apart. One end was a hollowed-out tube. It concealed an elaborately carved gold point which was attached to the end of other half of the black stick.
I pulled back, frightened by the deadly looking thing. I watched as she caressed it, fitting the hollowed-out tube on top of the end opposite from the gold point. She began to roll it in one gnarled hand as if she had done this all her life.
“What does it do?”
She sat silently. I had seen her like this before. There was no point in saying anything else until the memory that held her mind, released her.
“Do you remember? Syngraféas.”
I couldn’t tell if she was talking to me or her memory.
“You made me read all his stuff,” I answered anyway.
“This belonged to him. And to a long line of Mór Guardians before him. You have read them too, the others who owned this. All of them, the best of their age.” As she spoke she raised her hand to her eyes, staring at it.
“You are talented. The best I have seen in over a hundred years. He told me I would know. You asked me for my secret. How I create the stories millions read. Syngraféas was my mentor. He gave this to me when I was very young. Not long before he died.”
She paused, lowered her hand to her lap and turned her gaze to me. For some reason, I was very afraid.
“It was forbidden you know. Long ago, when people were only allowed to read what was sanctioned. And so, they forgot. Only the bravest kept the craft alive. Slowly, we became revered, the Guardians. You remember the tale of the Fountain?”
I swallowed hard. I knew it well.
“Yes, the Fountain is the source of all great stories.”
“And…” she prompted.
“And only one who is deemed worthy is permitted access to the Fountain,” I repeated the line all novices were required to learned.
“Are you worthy?” she asked as her eyes looked into my very soul.
“Me?” I whispered.
Her laughter crackled like dry leaves in the wind. With both hands, she raised the black and gold object high above her head.
“Behold the Pen of the Fountain.”
Once again, her eyes found mine.
“Prepare yourself. Tomorrow it will determine if you are worthy.”
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer