Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Eighty Nine

This chapter was written 24 Feb 2007
"Good Morning!" boomed a voice from behind.

Sebastian and Pancho jumped.

"I wondered when you would show up. I found your things on the beach, hope you don't mind my bringing them here. I thought you might need them..."

The creature paused and looked anxiously from one to the other, then caught Sebastian as he swayed forward in a faint.

Pancho finally caught his breath and exploded, "Where did you come from? You scared us! What did you do to Sebastian! What is going on?"

He sat down abruptly on the ground, his head in his hands, sobbing with relief.

The creature set Sebastian gently on a rock and bent down to put a hand on Pancho's shoulder. The young man's tears tapered off and he looked up, his face striped from the tears running over his unwashed face. A gust of wind lifted his long dark hair briefly, revealing a new scar on his forehead.

The creature shook its head and sat on its haunches, the long fur flowing over its limbs so it resembled a small waterfall. Of orange water.

"I am sorry," the creature muttered, "I did not intend to cause you harm..."

Pancho looked up in surprise.

"No, no! You have not harmed us, friend, just... startled us. We have been through a lot in the last day." He put a hand on the creature's arm reassuringly, "Unless you caused the storm, or Sebastian's injury?"

The creature shook its head from side to side in imitation of the men, "I arrived after the storm had subsided, and looked for you on the beaches when I did not see you in your nests. I did not think you would come to any harm while we were away, but I see I was wrong.

"For this, I am sorry."

Sebastian stirred and sat up, looking woozily at Pancho, then at the creature.

Pancho quickly stood and walked over, watching his friend's pale face wince as he stretched a little. He sat next to Sebastian as he looked carefully at his eyes and checked the lump on his head. The creature watched them, then pulled a flask from somewhere in his furry coat and held it out.

"This flask will not help the lump, but it will make your thoughts more clear young friend. It is not tasty, but it is effective," He uncorked it and passed it to Pancho who wrinkled up his nose but helped Sebastian put it to his lips.

Sebastian shuddered as it went down, but almost immediately his color returned and his eyes focused on Pancho's face.

"So, what happened?" urged Pancho eagerly.

"I don't know -- I was picking up stones from the beach -- pretty ones I hadn't noticed before. And I was listening to the calls of the sea birds and the roar of the waves.

"I remember climbing up the top of a dune, and feeling it start to slide out from under, and the basket fell..." he paused and reached into his pants' pocket, pulling out a lovely blue stone, speckled with orange and gold.

"This was the prettiest one, but I don't know if any of the others are still in the basket? And I do not know how I arrived on the other side of the island."

The creature reached out with a long arm and drew the basket closer. Inside, safely padded by seagrasses, were dozens of lovely stones. Some were bright or shiny, others dull or dark, many with speckles, a few with stripes or bands. Most were somewhat ovoid, a few appeared perfectly spherical.

They were lovely.

The creature carefully set them out in rows and columns, leaving a space for the one that had been in Sebastian's pocket.

The matrix formed a sort of map of the island, and the pretty blue stone with the gold specks was exactly placed at the pool's location.

The creature smiled a broad, toothy grin as Pancho and Sebastian exchanged puzzled looks.

"How can they form a map?" wondered Pancho aloud as Sebastian touched the stones that marked each platform in the forest.

"Trickery!" chortled the creature, "Smoke and mirrors and suggestion!"

He reached in and pulled out the stones that marked the platforms, replacing them with others and suddenly there was just a mandala with a lovely blue center stone. No map at all. A bird chirped and the forest was filled with the busy sounds of life.

Turning serious, the creature continued, "I do not know how you wound up where Pancho found you, and that concerns me. There should have been none on this island but you, the birds and the wind before I arrived this morning. Still, since you are improving and I am here to stand guard, perhaps you would like to stow your possessions and bring these stones along to the Watcher? He will be most intrigued by this recent adventure!"

The men relaxed and Sebastian's stomach rumbled.

"And perhaps you would partake of nourishment..." The creature scratched its chin, "I would not deny I have been wanting to try some of the sweets I can smell in the platform above!" They laughed and started to move toward the eating platform. It was just mid-day.