This is IT!!! The last post for the fabulous 2017 A to Z Blog Challenge and the LAST DAY TO VOTE FOR Zoraida Grey in the first round of the Rone Awards. 

She’s in the Long Paranormal category at  InDtale Magazine . You will need to register but it’s a free and easy process. Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones.

Thanks so much for sticking with me through the challenge. Here’s the last episode, but if you are just discovering the story or if you’ve been hanging on for this final pdf–just scroll past Episode 26–no peeking–to find the link to the pdf.

Episode 26: Zed

The day is nearly spent yet we’ve reached no agreement. The time crystals are safe in Maddock’s pocket and both Darkmores and La Croixs seem satisfied to let them remain there. Lucia sleeps, cocooned in a soft, blue hex, but her fate is the subject of much discussion.

 

“My wife and my grandchildren died at that woman’s hands. In the old days, we would have beheaded Lucia strait away.” Magnus La Croix rages at the combined council of Darkmore and La Croix elders. “I’ve waited a thousand years for this.”

 

Maddock shakes his head. “Until we can offer life as a reward, death as punishment is little more than revenge.”

 

“You dishonor those who died. You dishonor those who remained scarred by what Lucia did.” Magnus points toward Mayebelle who glares back with her good eye. “How can we allow Lucia to live? She shows no sign of remorse and would visit the same tragedy on us again if she could.”

 

Aurora La Croix, sitting between Maddock and Clarissa on a mound of cloaks and leaves near the bubbling stream, tips a goblet of clear white wine to her ruby-tinted lips. She’s had time to reapply the beauty glamour, I see. I pat my own unruly hair and pinch my cheeks to heighten the color. Appearance isn’t my primary concern, but I’d hoped my first event with my new in-laws would be more glamorous. I’m comforted in that the entire group of Darkmore and La Croix relatives bears traces of the long night and disturbing morning.

 

Aurora, her palate clean and her throat clear, levels a squelching gaze at her third cousin on her father’s side. “Sit down and be quiet, Magnus. We all lost family but what’s done is done. The old ways didn’t work. Aren’t the signs clear enough for you?”

Magnus eyes Aurora with a cold blue eye but clamps his teeth together, unwilling to challenge Aurora further.

 

Maddock pours Magnus another drink and hands the goblet to the still fuming man. “I understand your anger. We all share it. But I’m not willing to mar my daughter’s first day of life with murder. How can we teach our children mercy if we don’t practice it ourselves? Is her first lesson to be that murder begets murder? We must find an alternative.”

 

My child dozes in a sunbeam, her surprising thatch of reddish hair catching the shimmer of the first day of spring. Whatever effect the time crystals have had on the outside world, the past day rocketed my life from despair to hope and I am grateful. The memory of exile seems only the shadow of a dream—soon forgotten.

 

I hand the baby to Mayebelle and stand so everyone can hear me.

 

“I have an idea.”

 

****

 

Our new house rises on a prominence overlooking the lake which now fills Highmoor Valley.  On calm days, Maddock and I take our ginger-haired, indigo-eyed daughter boating, skimming on the crystal surface. At a certain point, midway across the lake, she loves to peek over the rails, peering into the blue depths. If the day is clear and calm and the sky a particular shade of blue, the murky outline of Old Castle Highmoor flickers into view far below.

 

It is a mirage, a strange side effect produced by a single time crystal spinning inside a black witch stone. Inside the mirage, Lucia wanders in the Time Before—a time of joy and hope for her––an eddy far from the rushing stream of Time, cut off and inaccessible.  She won’t be alone, as I was in my exile. Her memories of the Time Before populate her world.

 

Outside Highmoor Province, times have changed, but witches adapt. Our guests ventured forth, scattered again to the four winds, but a celebration for the  coming Vernal Equinox promises Darkmores and La Croixs will soon fill the valley with magical chatter and off-color jokes and reminiscences of old times.

 

Our families have no room for ancient fears and so Maddock and I name our indigo-eyed daughter Lucia. The Time Before is real only in the mirage at the bottom of the lake. The Time After and The Time to Come are stored in a clear quartz vial. In this Time That Is, Maddock and I are content to remain at home in Highmoor province.

 

A new life stirs inside me and soon little Lucia will have a brother––time enough later to introduce them to the outside world. Today, Lucia and I will play in the garden where thirteen cherry tomato plants stretch prickly, aromatic leaves to the sun.

 

Download the pdf or read the story in the file below.

A Cold Spring_4302017

 

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