Quazhdo’s Round Stone Thing
On a wide, boulder-strewn, sandy flat plain, an old man-shaped thing sat on a large stone. The old man-shaped thing’s leather-like skin was of a brownish-red color. Metallic-green stripes of thick skin markings ran down its face past its neck. The skin stripes were still green, but now faded and worn by age. It had short, thin, gray hair, but no facial hair. It had exceptionally large ears. It wore a heavy ragged coat. And as it sat, it slowly turned a stone in its hands. The stone was very round, and only slightly larger than the size of both its hands cupped together. Occasionally, it would stop turning the stone to trace with its old fingers the strange lettering etched in its surface. This went on all morning while the world’s sun-star climbed the sky.
As the day wore on, the sun-star rose higher in the sky until it was straight up, and still the old man-shaped thing sat turning and analyzing the round stone.
The plain here was littered with countless boulders of varying sizes – great hills of them nearly surrounded the plain. The boulders were all rounded, with no sharp edges, indicating that they had been around a very long time, and were extremely weathered smooth from the ages. They all had the same whitish grey color and studded with countless small flecks of crystal.
Hours later, when the sun-star had slid down the sky and was about to disappear from the world, a very large creature-thing stirred from its hiding place among the boulders nearby. Its shaggy hair was an orange color, and the creature was quite tall – perhaps five times as tall as the man-shaped thing. The very large creature had been watching the old man-shaped thing all day, wondering what it was, and what its attraction to the round stone was.
But rather than approach the man-thing and ask, the very large creature chose to wait and watch a little longer from behind the boulders. It remained there until the sun-star fell beyond the edge of the world, and then the world became quite dark, and there would be no moons in the sky for most of this night. Still, there was the distant Green Star in the night sky. It was already up and framed against a black sky-sea, studded with hundreds of smaller stars. The Green Star’s light cast a pale jade colored glow over the night world. The boulders, in turn, sparkled with a million tiny flashes of jade-colored light.
And besides being dark, the night also became cold. But the old man-thing didn’t make a fire. The large creature wanted to make a fire, but thought it best to wait in the cold so the man-thing wouldn’t notice. Besides, it was confident that the man-thing wouldn’t wander off in the darkness, so when the large creature grew drowsy it nestled itself between a small fallen tree and a large boulder — and went to sleep.
It was in the deepest part of the night that a cackling voice awakened the large creature. “I know what I must do with it! I know! I know!” The words were followed by a few cackling laughs. The large creature rose from its sleeping place and stared, blinking, into the darkness, but nothing could be seen in the dim green light of the star. It yawned and scratched its hairy back, figuring it must have been that old man-shaped thing. It waited a while to see if there would be any more sounds, but the quiet of the dark, cold, night returned, so the large creature settled down again between the small tree and the boulder.
Time passed, and the large creature’s eyes grew heavy and soon they closed, as it fell into a deep sleep. For the rest of the night, the only sounds heard from the night world were the gentle whispering sighs of a light breeze stirring the grasses and the brush.
The sun-star faithfully returned again to light and warm the world. The large creature rose and left its sleeping place, brushing the sand and dead grass from its hairy body, sending a few stray red hairs floating on the morning breeze. When it peeked over a boulder, it was surprised to see that the old man-shaped thing was no longer where it had been the day before. The large creature immediately jumped over the boulders heavily thumping and lumbering to where the man-thing had been, dragging its pet tree with him. It carefully scanned the sand and stony ground for signs, while it continued to brush at its shaggy orange hair. As more freed red hair fell to the ground, the large creature bent low and sniffed the spot where the man-thing had been. There was a faint smell like that of an old man, not a foul smell, but a musty smell of something that had once been fresh, but now stale.
It rose again and continued studying the ground until it spotted a few long and wide foot impressions in the sandy ground. The large creature then spoke softly to itself. Its words were slow, and its voice was deep. “So I did not dream of it. It was here.”
The footprints led across a wide expanse of sandy flatland, broken here and there by boulders. A few of the boulders were enormous, and could probably be called hills or even mountains, but most were the size of small trees. Dragging his tree behind, the large creature followed the footprints wherever they could be seen, and they steadily led toward a canyon off in the distance. Each of the large creature’s strides covered at least a dozen of the man-thing’s steps.
The canyon was deep, like a great jagged gash in the skin of the world. At the edge of the canyon the footprints stopped, and there were no others to be seen. It kicked some dirt over the edge of the canyon wall. “The old man-thing must have gone down here, but I do not want to do what it did.” It leaned over and sent a mass of spittle down into the canyon, and a boyish smile grew on its huge face. Then the large creature scratched the back of its orange hairy neck and tried to decide whether to slide down the canyon’s steep side or find a safer path to the river far below. It couldn’t make up its mind, so there it stood, looking over the edge of the canyon wall, thinking… and spitting.
Later that evening at the bottom of the canyon the old man-