A story from Ghillian Potts‘ YA fantasy world, The Naming of Brook Storyteller. With illustrations from the book covers by Gordy Wright, and of the actual story by Flora Fisher.
This tale is told by Brook Storyteller in Brat, but we had to cut the actual story to keep the book at a length that would make it affordable. So here it is, as a warm up for the next in the series, Spellbinder
This is the tale of the Luckstone, and of the luck it brought to a certain lady.
The lady who was afterwards called Carnelian was the Lady of Forlorn Hold. This had once been Fairlawn Hold, when it was prosperous, but for many years the Hold and the lands around had grown poorer and poorer until both the Hold and the village which lay in its shadow were called Forlorn.
Then, quite suddenly, things got better. A spring that had dried up began to flow again and the water-mill could once more be used.
The orchards bore more fruit, the fields seemed more fertile and the Lady Forlorn smiled once more. She could even afford to rebuild several of the more tumbledown houses in the village. She also bought a carnelian necklace and earrings, which she wore daily.
It was this that persuaded a certain scholar called Wordhoarder to visit her. He had for a long time been certain that the Luckstone really existed and he had found a description of it in an ancient record. It was said to be ‘about the size of a man’s little finger nail and in colour most like a carnelian but somewhat redder’. How better to hide such a stone than amongst a string of carnelians?
For the Luckstone can only be used when it is worn by its owner. It will not bring you luck if you lock it away in a strongbox or bury it in the cellar. It can be hidden in one’s pocket or worn under a tunic but for a Lady who must often wear jewellery, the safest place was clearly around her neck.
Wordhoarder determined to go to the Lady’s Hold, now once more called Fairlawn, to try to steal the Luckstone. From long brooding upon it, he had almost persuaded himself that it ought to belong to him.
He knew that the Luckstone may not be bought (though who would be so foolish as to sell it?) or it loses its power. Yet it may be stolen or given or inherited or simply found by chance and still bring its new owner good luck. So he set out.
But Lady Carnelian was cleverer than he had expected. She had caused the Luckstone to be set exactly as all the carnelians in her necklace were set and likewise those in her earrings. Every setting could be unhooked from the next so as to re-arrange the necklace or exchange the stones of the earrings for some of those of the necklace. You could never be sure where in the necklace or the earrings the Luckstone might be.
The only certain way to get the Luckstone would be to steal the necklace and the earrings together. But since the Lady wore both every day and kept them in her room at night, it seemed impossible to steal them without being caught.
So Wordhoarder presented himself to Lady Carnelian as one who was anxious to study the records of her Hold and got permission to work in the Records Room. He hoped that he would be able to tell the Luckstone from the carnelians if he saw the necklace closely and often and he knew that the lady was interested in the history of her family. She might well spend time with him in the Records Room.
And so indeed it befell. Lady Carnelian spent more and more time in the Records Room, telling Wordhoarder the stories of her family and hearing of his discoveries, for he was indeed a scholar and one who, despite himself, became immersed in the study of the Fairlawn records.
Yet, strange to say, he no longer stared at her necklace and tried to guess which stone might be the Luckstone. Instead, he gazed at the face of Carnelian herself and listened to her voice. Instead of making plans to rob her of the Luckstone, he found himself dreaming of her smile and her kindness.
In the end he forgot all his plots and only wished for her love. And as she loved him in return, they were wed and lived long together in joy until she died.
Then at last Wordhoarder inherited the Luckstone. But the only luck he now wished for was that of following his lady. He took the Luckstone and flung it into the mill-stream for the next finder, should it ever be washed ashore.
And then died.
copyright: Ghillian Potts, Gordy Wright and Flora Fisher
You can buy both Brat and Spellbinder from our online shop – perfect Christmas presents for anyone age 9 to 16, and not bad for us adults either!
Find out more about Gordy and Flora on our Cover Artists Page.