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one, two, three, four, five and

‘Hold my hand and lead me there
to this place I’m unaware
Endless days have left me drifting
I have lost my thoughts
I follow you in, it’s warm and cold
I’ve never been, I’d die to know
Will I be left vacant?’

The old man grasped the silver coin with his thin fingers, raising it up to the light and turning it this way and that. “Do you know what the Storyteller does, Missy?”

The last time that someone had called Fanny ‘Missy’, she had hit him squarely across the chin with a full bottle of rum and all but broke his jaw. She was not one for flippant familiarity, and in that particular case, the speaker had certainly deserved it. But this….this was just an old man, she thought, and surely old men had habits that could be forgiven, even if they were annoying. “I know that he tells stories,” she said calmly to the old man.

“And what are stories, but different ways with which we tell the truth?” there was something incredibly familiar about this old man who tossed the coin she had given him into the air and who caught it so effortlessly. “The Storyteller was commissioned by his lordship to write a story for him. I bet he’s busy writing it right now.”

“Do you know where the Storyteller is at this very moment?” Fanny asked warily.

“The safest place in this kingdom,” the old man answered with a grimacing smile, “Now, if you’ll be excusing me, I have things to do.”

“Don’t let us keep you,” Fanny said, politely. There was somethingabout this old man – something rather familiar, she thought, but she could not place exactly what it was. Still….

“Feel free to search the cottage, if you want, “the old man said with a dismissive tip of his hat, “I am sure that the Storyteller won’t mind. He brought all his valuables with him when he left.”

Fanny had to admit to herself that she was hoping to be able to find some clues once their watchful old host had left. She turned to look at the cottage’s back door, the Mickle a Muckle curled his fingers around her ankle as if she could protect him somehow from dangers yet unseen. Carved into the gnarled yet gleaming wood were words:

All about, but cannot be seen
Can be captured, cannot be held
No throat, but can be heard

Fanny cocked her head and pressed her fingertips to her lips and then to the doors carved letters. Was this some sort of clue? This..this child’s nursery rhyme? For all of the years she had been on the Fortunate Isle, she had been taught spells and riddles and this was just one of many that had been committed to memory. “The wind,” she murmured, “By the Lord of That Which is Hidden, it is the wind. But what has this riddle to do with the cottage or the Storyteller…or, ” she hesitated.

As soon as Fanny said the answer to the riddle aloud, the door of the cottage creaked open. Just inside the dimly lit room, there was modest yet comfortable furniture and dusty forgotten accouterments of a life of someone who had but modest interests and means. She looked down at the Mickle and gently wrested her foot free from his grip. Gingerly she stepped forward into the cottage. The scent was of wood and thatch and something else that was familiar but she could not quite place. It reminded her of the cottage of Morgienne on the Fortunate Isle, but absent were the feelings of anticipated malice that always accompanied of her past mentor.

Fanny Fae gazed around the room, taking for granted the old man’s words that the Storyteller had indeed taken all of his valuables with him.

“There certainly isn’t much to be gleaned from here,” Fanny said heaving a sigh.

She was just about to turn and leave the way she came when she espied a gleam coming from behind a wooden casket that sat upon a shelf. Fanny went toward the source of the light, thinking at first she had imagined it, when again the light flashed. It was coming from inside the old wooden box. Fanny stood up on tiptoe and pulled it down from it’s resting place. Placing it on a nearby trestle table she opened the heavy lid. Inside, wrapped in the thinest piece of gossamer silk was a sliver of amber in the shape of an oval that hung from a long silver chain. Wrapped around the stone itself was a dragonfly fashioned in silver so artfully that it looked as if it would take flight at any moment.

The Mickle had slithered cautiously inside of the cottage and cowered near where Fanny stood. Curiosity got the better of him when the stone flashed once again, and caused Fanny to jump back with a start.

“W-what’s that?” the Mickle asked.

Fanny studied it letting it spin lazily on the chain that she held, “I believe,” she said, “it’s a Memory Stone. But I confess, I have never seen one before. I’ve only heard them described.”

“What’s a memory stone?”

Fanny smiled and looked at the Mickle a Muckle, “A Memory Stone can help the owner recall those things which have been forgotten. I wonder if this stone remembers where the Storyteller might be. ”

She did not wait for Flochsnaerd the Mickle to respond, but rather went back out of the cottage and when her elfin friend had cleared the door, closed the door behind her. It was only polite, she thought.

The dragon, who was still waiting outside of the cottage looked up at Fanny and the Mickle, “Are you finished,” he asked.

Fanny nodded, “Yes, thank you.” As the Dragon knelt down and let her mount upon his back once more, she whispered against his neck, “What can you tell me about Memory Stones, my friend,” she asked, “and why would the storyteller leave one behind?”

As the dragon took off, she slipped the chain around her neck, ‘Perhaps it will tell me what this place is that Jareth has set me into. If one holds the plans to a trap or a map to a place where one is lost, it is far easier to navigate to one’s advantage.’

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