There’s a chill in the air as you meet your sisters in the clearing at Hollow Creek. You exchange the traditional mulled cider, light the sacred spice candles, and form a circle to speak the ancient words. Tonight, you all have business to attend to.
As you meet each other in the circle you have a feeling that you’ve come to a common conclusion. The words speak directly to you, the words are ancient, the words speak of truthfulness. We’re on the path to understanding, and the truth is within us all.
After the circle has been formed you begin to walk together over the mountains to get to the river where the ancient stone circles still lie, hidden beneath the thickets of the forest. The river is still there; it is still there, and there should be a path to follow.
“Walking the path to the river, you will learn of a new thing that will help you along the way,” says an old woman who appears to be in her fifties. She is wearing white-and-blue clothing, her black hair is loose and wild, and a pair of red-and-gold shoes stand out. She is holding a red-and-gold cauldron from which strange dark liquid flows.
It is cold.
“Some of the stones are very hard,” you say. “It is not safe for any person to walk around here in the dark like this.”
“It has nothing to do with the stones,” says the old woman as you walk along. “They were created to help people heal. If you are truly good, they will be a source of power, healing for your family and your friends. But this is the wrong way to go. We should be healing the stone circles themselves, not the water from the circle.”
When the ancient stone circles are gone, the old woman will offer you the cauldron.
You drink the liquid from the cauldron, and the stone circles begin to melt.
Your eyes adjust.
“You have to be brave, young man. If you stay silent, no one will listen.”
Your eyes adjust.
“You must be brave, young man. You do what you must do. No one will listen to you. No one.”
When the old woman’s eyes have adjusted to the dark, you realize that she has been speaking to you for hours. She has been holding back from speaking because you have been keeping quiet, but now that you understand it, it would be better if you did speak now, so they can hear what you really mean.
“You do something wrong.”
The old woman’s eyes are still fixed on the stone circles, but now that you have the understanding that it is your own fault, you begin to smile.
“There is no wrongdoing. If you do what you must do, you will see the right way. There is no wrongdoing. If the circles are good to you now, the stones will be good to you in the future. The stones will be good to you, because they were created to help people heal. The stone circles are good to the people of the land now, because they were created to help people heal. The stone circles are good, because they were made to honor those who helped people heal, and for the people who helped heal the stone circles were good, it is good that they are good, because it is good that they heal.”
The stone circles disappear, and they have disappeared into nothingness.
It is dark out, and a strange sense of calm surrounds you.
You look into her eyes. In that moment, as her eyes investigated yours, the truth of your situation becomes undeniable. You cannot tell from her expression, but you are sure that your own mind is in complete control of your decision to speak. You will make your decision as your own mind allows it. Your emotions will not get in the way of your decision, your will. You shall walk the path to the water and heal the stone circles yourself before the old woman sees that you are on your own path.
The old woman walks away from you in fear and silence.
You feel a sudden urge to cry; you feel as if you might cry at any time. This woman in your life did not want you to speak; she did not want you to walk along the path that had opened between them and you.
Your heart is pounding, and you are beginning to regret what you have done. It is a very small mistake that your heart could have made if it were the right choice. You are angry that you let this old woman into your life and are angry that she does not want to speak to you at the table you have made. You begin to shake as you speak again, anger and sadness mixed into each word you whisper.