The Shattered Stone

The Shattered Stone

by Robert Newman

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497685949
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 12/30/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 237
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Born in New York City, Robert Newman (1909–1988) was among the pioneers of early radio and was chief writer for the Inner Sanctum Mysteries and Murder at Midnight—forerunners of The Twilight Zone that remain cult favorites to this day. In 1944 Newman was put in charge of the radio campaign to reelect Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was also one of the founding members of the Radio Writers Guild, which became the Writers Guild of America.

In 1973 Newman began writing books for children, most notably the Andrew Tillet, Sara Wiggins & Inspector Wyatt mysteries. The series takes place in Victorian London and follows the adventures of two teenage amateur detectives who begin as Baker Street Irregulars. Newman has also written books of fantasy, among them Merlin's Mistake and The Testing of Tertius. His books based on myths and folklore include Grettirthe Strong, and he has published two adult novels.

Newman was married to the writer Dorothy Crayder. Their daughter, Hila Feil, has also published novels for children and young adults. Newman lived his last days in Stonington, Connecticut.
Born in New York City, Robert Newman (1909–1988) was among the pioneers of early radio and was chief writer for the Inner Sanctum Mysteries and Murder at Midnight—forerunners of The Twilight Zone that remain cult favorites to this day. In 1944 Newman was put in charge of the radio campaign to reelect Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was also one of the founding members of the Radio Writers Guild, which became the Writers Guild of America.

In 1973 Newman began writing books for children, most notably the Andrew Tillet, Sara Wiggins & Inspector Wyatt mysteries. The series takes place in Victorian London and follows the adventures of two teenage amateur detectives who begin as Baker Street Irregulars. Newman has also written books of fantasy, among them Merlin's Mistake and The Testing of Tertius. His books based on myths and folklore include Grettirthe Strong, and he has published two adult novels.
Newman was married to the writer Dorothy Crayder. Their daughter, Hila Feil, has also published novels for children and young adults. Newman lived his last days in Stonington, Connecticut.

Read an Excerpt

The Shattered Stone


By Robert Newman

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1975 Robert Newman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-8594-9


CHAPTER 1

Later in the day it would be quite warm; as warm as it ever got there in the green shade of the forest. But at the moment the air was fresh and cool and the dew hung gleaming on the grass, wetting their feet as they walked up the path from the hut to the cave.

A spider—one of the large ones whose threads Mistress Silvia used in her weaving—had spun a web across the path, and they paused in front of it. It would probably be broken before long by one of the animals who went this way to the pond, but neither Neva nor Ivo wanted to do so. Neva bent down, slipping under it, and Ivo followed her, trailing his staff.

They were going around the pond when Ronno, the fox, appeared out of the underbrush. It was fairly clear that he had been outside, probably raiding one of the farms that lay a few miles from the forest, for he looked full and quite pleased with himself, and besides there was a chicken feather on his smooth red coat.

"Greetings," he said. "On your way to Mistress Silvia's?"

"Yes," said Neva.

"Too bad. It's a nice morning—too nice to spend sitting in one place."

"We don't mind," said Ivo. "Where have you been?"

"Nowhere in particular."

"Nowhere?" said Neva picking the chicken feather off his back and holding it up.

"I can't imagine how that got there," said Ronno, grinning. "What will you be learning today?"

"We never know," said Ivo. "It depends on our questions."

"I hope it's not monsters again," said Neva.

"Why?" asked Ivo. "So far we've always been able to handle them."

"I'm just getting a little tired of them. Besides I've never been really sure ..."

There was a rumbling roar and a particularly horrible one appeared some distance up the path. It had three heads and a greenish body covered with scales. And though its huge, batlike wings were outstretched, it was not flying but running towards them, eyes blazing and jaws open.

They immediately took their defensive stance, turning sideways and raising their left fists, their right hands back with the forefinger pointing down.

With a baffled scream, the monster rose into the air over their heads and disappeared. Ivo picked up his staff and looked around for Ronno, but he had slipped away into the bushes.

"Strange," he said.

"What is?"

"That one of them should have appeared just when we were talking about them. What were you saying?"

"That I was getting tired of them?"

"No. Something else."

"Oh. Lately I've been wondering if they were real."

Ivo looked at her thoughtfully, then went a few paces up the path and bent down. There was no sign of the monster's claws in the soft earth and none of the bushes on either side of the path had been broken.

"I never thought of that," he said. "And you may be right. I think I'll make that one of my questions. Do you have all yours?"

"Yes."

"You always have," he said with admiring resignation.

They went on up the path and through the oaks that surrounded the glade. On its far side was the rocky hill with the cave at its base. Mistress Silvia sat just inside the entrance working at her loom.

"Good morning, mistress," they said.

"Good morning, children. You're late today."

"I had to help Jartan chop wood," said Ivo. "Then we met Ronno and a monster."

Mistress Silvia nodded, and Ivo sensed that she already knew all that just as she knew everything that happened in the forest.

"Who begins today?" she asked.

"I think I do," said Ivo. "Was the monster we met real?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Because Neva said she wasn't sure it was. And though it was very big and should have been very heavy, I couldn't find any signs of it after it was gone."

"No," said Mistress Silvia. "It wasn't real."

"Then why did we have to protect ourselves against it?"

"Why do you think?"

"I'm not sure. Because one day we may meet one that is real, and we should be ready for it?"

"Exactly."

"Then there are monsters like that one or like some of the others we've seen?"

"Would there be any need to be prepared for them if there weren't?"

"No."

"You have one more question."

He hesitated. He often had trouble thinking of the three questions with which they always began.

"When we met Ronno, he had been outside," he said, "probably stealing chickens at one of the farms. We know that there can be no killing here in this part of the forest. But isn't it just as wrong for him to kill out there?"

"Can you answer that, Neva?" said Mistress Silvia.

"I think so," said Neva. "And I don't think it's wrong."

"Why not?"

"Because Ronno can't live on the things that we eat. And besides it's part of his nature to hunt and kill."

"And that is something that cannot be changed," said Mistress Silvia. "Nor should it be. All we can ask of him is that he observe our laws here. Your questions today were not very searching, Ivo."

"I'm sorry."

"So you say most mornings, but you don't do much about it. If you thought about your questions a bit more, it would not take quite so long for you to learn the things that you must learn."

"And what must we learn?"

"You can make that one of your questions tomorrow. Now what are yours, Neva?"

Before Neva could answer, Sim, the bear cub, came shambling into the glade. When he saw Neva and Ivo, he broke into a galloping run, leaped into Ivo's lap, then off again and into Neva's, nuzzling her face when she hugged him.

"News, Neva," he squealed. "Wonderful news! I'm to have some honey!"

"Oh?" she said, rubbing his round, furry stomach. "Who said so?"

"Why, my mother. Didn't you, mother?" he asked Dahga who had paused at the edge of the glade.

"Forgive us, my lady," said Dahga. "I didn't know that Neva and Ivo were here."

"You should have. They're here every day at this time," said Mistress Silvia. "What's this about honey?"

"Some of Jartan's bees have swarmed and moved to the dead willow on the far side of the pond. But when we came near it, they threatened us."

"They said they'd sting me," said Sim. "On the nose."

"And what do you want me to do about it?"

"I haven't had any honey since last fall. And Sim's never even tasted it. I thought, if you sent them a message ..."

"What do you say to that, Neva?" asked Mistress Silvia.

"The bees will have all summer to build up their store. I think that Dahga and Sim should be allowed to take some."

"Very well," said Mistress Silvia. "Tell them I said so. But you're to take only a little, not empty the hive."

"Yes, my lady. And thank you."

"Yes, thank you," said Sim, jumping off Neva's lap and running to her.

"You're welcome, Sim," said Mistress Silvia, stroking his head. Then as he and Dahga moved off, Sim bouncing with excitement, she turned to Neva again. "You were going to ask your questions."

"Yes," said Neva. "I don't know if this is one of the forbidden ones, but ... Could I remember another place besides this?"

"There are no forbidden questions. There are just some I will not answer. But why do you ask that?"

"Because of a dream I had last night. I was somewhere else—a large room, much larger than my room in the hut. There was a woman with me. I could not see her face, but I knew it was not you. And I wondered if it was a dream or a memory."

"What do you think, Ivo?"

"I've sometimes wondered about the same thing because I've dreamed about other places, too. But I think it was because of what Jartan has told us about what lies outside the forest."

"It's unlikely that it was a memory, Neva," said Mistress Silvia. "Thinking back, what is the first thing you remember?"

"Being bathed in front of the fire in the hut," said Neva. "You were bathing me, but Jartan was there, too. And I think Ivo was there also."

"That's quite possible. And you, Ivo, what is the first thing you remember?"

"I think standing at the edge of the forest, looking at the heath and trying to get out on to it and finding I couldn't."

"That's possible, too. You were a wanderer from the time you could first walk. What's your next question, Neva?"

"It's one I've asked before and you wouldn't answer. Will we ever leave here?"

"It's what I thought you'd ask. Do you want to leave here?"

"Yes. Not for good, of course. Just for a while."

"Why?"

"Because Ivo has often said he'd like to go. And if he does, I want to go with him."

"Then you want to leave here, Ivo?"

"Yes, my lady. As Neva said, not for good. We would come back to you and Jartan."

"It might not be easy to come back. Why do you want to go?"

"I'd like to see some of the places Jartan has told us about-cities, mountains, other people."

"I think that one day you will go."

"When?" asked Neva.

"That is your third question?"

"Yes."

"How old are you, Neva?"

Neva and Ivo looked at one another. If anyone knew, Mistress Silvia did. They knew themselves because each year, on Midsummer Eve, Jartan stood them against one of the doorposts of the hut and made a mark to see how much they had grown. But since Mistress Silvia did few things without a reason, she must have had a reason for asking.

"This will be my seventeenth summer," said Neva.

Nodding, Mistress Silvia turned and wrote with her finger on the smooth stone at the side of the cave. She wrote not in the characters she had first taught them, but using the ancient Tree alphabet. The letters glowed faintly, and they read:

"You will go when you wish to go for the right reason."

She passed her hand over the stone, and the writing disappeared.

"And what is the right reason?" asked Ivo.

"You will have to discover that for yourselves. Now I have something for you." Reaching behind her, she brought out a basket of mushrooms. "Would you like these for your supper?"

Neva looked at them. There were three or four different kinds of mushrooms in the basket, none like any she had ever seen before.

"No, thank you, my lady."

"Why not?"

"Because they're poisonous."

"How do you know?"

"I just do."

"What say you, Ivo?"

Neva had always been quicker at this than he. He had to take the mushrooms out one by one, look at them closely and smell them. But finally he said, "I think they're poisonous, too."

"Very good. What about these?" And she brought out another basket filled with morels, the most delicious of all wild mushrooms.

"We would like those," he said.

"Then take them. You can go now. Neva will stay here with me for a while."

"Yes, my lady," he said. "Thank you."

Picking up the basket of morels, he started across the glade. When he reached the oaks on the far side, he glanced back. Mistress Silvia and Neva were sitting close to one another, looking alike and yet unalike; both wearing tunics of shimmering grey spider silk, both with their hair long and hanging loose around their shoulders. But while Mistress Silvia's hair was dark, Neva's was tawny, gleaming with red and coppery lights. And though Mistress Silvia's lovely, ageless face was calm and grave, Neva's was intent as if she were listening to something.

Mistress Silvia began working at her loom again, and Ivo went on along the path. He wondered, as he had before, what they did when he was not there. He had asked Neva, and all she would say was that Mistress Silvia was teaching her things she felt were important. That seemed only right when he thought about it, for after all Jartan had taught him many things that he had not taught Neva.

Ivo paused for a moment at the edge of the pond. A kingfisher was hovering over the deep part near the bank. Suddenly it dived, disappearing completely. But when it bobbed to the surface, its long bill was empty, and with an angry cry of "Damned trout!" it flashed off. Ivo smiled. It was quite warm now, and he was tempted to go for a swim. But, as with most things, it was more fun to do that with Neva than alone so he moved on.

As he came into the clearing, he heard the sound of Jartan's axe and knew that he must still be chopping wood. Putting the basket of morels inside the hut, he walked around to the side of it with his staff over his shoulder.

"I'm back, Jartan," he said.

Jartan, tall and grey-bearded, was standing over a log and just raising his axe. As Ivo approached, he turned suddenly and struck at him. Sliding his hands apart, Ivo fended off the blow with his staff, slanting it so that the axe did not bite. Again Jartan struck at him, and again Ivo parried, then struck in turn, checking the blow at the last moment so that the staff merely touched Jartan's neck.

"Well done," said Jartan, his craggy features relaxing. "I was afraid I might break your staff."

"So was I," said Ivo.

They had begun this game—which he knew Jartan did not consider a game—when Ivo was about eight or nine. Jartan had cut a staff for him, taught him to use it and told him that he must carry it with him at all times because he—Jartan—was going to try to take him unawares, and he must be prepared to protect himself. It had been difficult for him at first, for Jartan would strike at him suddenly with a stick or broom or a long-handled spoon, and Ivo would not always be able to ward off the blow. But now he no longer had to think about it, and it had been several years since Jartan had been able to touch him.

"What did you learn today?" asked Jartan.

"Nothing very much," said Ivo. "Yes, one thing. Neva asked if we would ever leave here, and Mistress Silvia said we would."

Jartan was examining the edge of the axe, running his thumb over it to see if it needed sharpening, and he paused.

"Did she say when?"

"When we wish to go for the right reason. Do you know what the right reason is, Jartan?"

"It's she who answers your questions, not I."

"But I'm sure you know."

"All I know is that I would not let you go for some time yet."

"Why not?"

"Because I don't think you're ready." He drove the axe into the log. "Get the swords."

"But you've been chopping wood most of the morning. Aren't you tired?"

"Get them!"

"Yes, Jartan."

He went into the hut and brought out the bucklers and blunt swords they used in their practise, and they faced one another in the center of the clearing. Usually at such times Jartan would do little attacking, only occasionally testing Ivo's defense. But on this day he not only attacked but pressed Ivo so hard that he was glad when Neva came back and he could stop.

CHAPTER 2

Several days later Ivo woke much earlier than usual without knowing why. He lay on his low wooden bed for a moment, listening. The sun was not yet up, and the forest was quiet except for the rustling stir of the leaves. Then he heard the sound that must have awakened him: a faint and far-off barking. Getting up, he put on his tunic and sandals, picked up his staff, and tiptoed out of his room. Jartan was still asleep in the alcove near the fireplace—he could hear his breathing—but as he opened the door of the hut Neva came out of her room and joined him.

"You heard it, too?" he asked.

"Yes. It came from over there."

They crossed the clearing and began running towards the southern edge of the forest. There was no path here, but they knew the forest so well that in spite of that and the dim light they could move through it almost as quickly as one of the deer.

Reaching the edge of the forest, they paused and looked out over the heath. Some distance off, near the foot of a low hill, three large and shaggy dogs moved back and forth with their noses to the ground. Suddenly one of them picked up the scent that they had lost and, barking, came on again towards the forest with the other two following.

"They're tracking something," said Ivo. "I wonder what."

"Me," said a voice near them.

Turning, they saw Ronno sitting under a hawthorn. Two chickens lay on the ground near him.

"You've been raiding one of the farms again," said Neva.

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Lura will be having her cubs soon, and it's hard for her to hunt. So I have to do it for both of us."

"But you have the rest of the forest to hunt in," said Ivo.

"I know. And I did. But I've had bad luck for two days now."

The dogs were only a short distance away now, barking more and more excitedly. Though he knew there was no reason to be concerned, Ivo raised his staff. Then, when they were only a few feet from the edge of the forest, the dogs stopped, drawing back with the short hairs on the back of their necks bristling, not in anger, but in fear. They remained there for a moment, whining deep in their throats. There was a shrill, distant whistle, and looking up, Ivo and Neva saw a man standing on top of the hill. It was hard to see him clearly in that light and at that distance, but he seemed to be wearing a smock and carrying a spear. He came no nearer but whistled again and the dogs turned and ran back towards him, clearly happy to go.

Peering after them, Ivo moved forward until he was stopped by the invisible barrier that surrounded their part of the forest. But though it held him back, this time it seeemd to yield a little.

"You know," he said to Neva, "I think if I really tried, I could go out there."

"But you mustn't."

"Why not?"

"Because we're not supposed to." Then turning to Ronno, "You've got to be more careful. What would Lura do if you were caught?"

"There's not much chance of that," he said offhandedly.

"Well, you might be. If the hunting's been bad in the rest of the forest, isn't there any other place you could try?"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Shattered Stone by Robert Newman. Copyright © 1975 Robert Newman. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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