Monday, April 30, 2012

The Tower 58

“I think it’s time someone starts explaining,” Rutheus says firmly.
“We’ve been cursed, Papa,” Sareanne replies slowly, “by Antheus.”
“Antheus? He dared to come into this city after he was forbidden to return?” Rutheus said incredulously.
I stop in my tracks. “Antheus used to live here?”
Sareanne’s eyes dropped to the ground uncomfortably. I looked to Rutheus for an answer. He shuffled his feet, thinking about what to say next. I waited. Finally he began to speak.
“Antheus came here about ten years ago…”
“Actually Papa it has been thirty years. We’ve been under Antheus’ spell for twenty of those years,” Sareanne said softly.
Rutheus’ expression was pained, like someone had just punched him in the stomach and knocked the breath out of him.
“He came here ten years before you were cursed,” I prodded gently.
“He sought Sareanne’s hand in marriage, but she refused him. She didn’t care for him and she was pretty determined to remain true to her feelings. He was angry when he left,” Rutheus said.
“I didn’t mean to anger him, but I didn’t love him. I couldn’t possibly pursue a relationship like that, it would break my heart,” Sareanne wailed.
“I wonder if he knew about the grapes even back then,” I surmised. “Why else would he be so angry about your rejection?”
“But the changes didn’t start until several years later, after I wrote the words in the book,” Sareanne argued.
I shake my head. “You noticed the changes or effects. They became so prominent that you couldn’t not notice them. I think Antheus knew about the grapes long before you did, that’s why he sought your hand. He must have thought he could gain control of the vineyards through you. I suspect it was only later that he discovered the value of your book and the promise of what he could do anywhere in the land with that book. If he had it then he wouldn’t need any of you.”
Sareanne’s eyes widened and understanding crossed her face. “It all makes sense.”
“We just have to figure out how to uncurse the land without exhausting you or your supply of grape seed powder. The people who have been freed need to know that they need to drink or eat grapes or grape products that were harvested from the vineyard before it burned,” I said determinedly.
           Rutheus nodded and turned to the nearest villagers who had drawn closer to listen to their conversation.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Teaching Our Children To Understand

So I read this really awesome conference talk from the last LDS conference (April 2012) and though I don't have any children of my own, I thought it was very powerful, so I am posting the link here. Read it, it is powerful. Teaching Our Children To Understand by Cheryl A. Esplin.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Tower 57

“What does he want to do with them?” Sareanne wailed.
“I don’t know,” I reply frustrated.
I pull her along down the stairs and toward the entrance to the castle. We entered the silent throne room and I stopped. Once again Sareanne crashed into me.
“What is it?” she asked a little irritably.
“Can you do the spell of protection around the thrones? Just the thrones, keep it small.”
She nodded and concentrated. The words came tumbling out like a whole different language. I watched the small circle of stones appear one by one around the two thrones. As the circle completed the air shimmered slightly and then an aging gentleman appeared on the throne. He slowly opened his eyes and yawned.
Sareanne looked up at the noise and a wordless gasp left her lips. “Papa?” she cried.
She then threw herself across the barrier and into his arms. The man barely had enough time to open them before she was embracing him.
“Sareanne,” he said simply.
I could feel the moisture on my cheeks before I realized I was crying. I shook myself out of the beautiful reverie and approached the throne.
“Sareanne he must sprinkle some of this all over,” I instructed.
“Who is this?” Rutheus asked suspiciously.
“We don’t have much time, Sareanne I need you.” I poured a small amount into Rutheus hand and we made our way outside.
I looked up at the grapes hanging from the lattice work in the courtyard. I reached up to try and pluck one. If the grape seed powder worked so well then a grape would be even better. Just as I was about to pop the grape into my mouth Sareanne swatted my hand and the grape fell to the ground. She immediately stomped on it.
“What are you doing?” I ask surprised.
“Look at the roots of the vines,” she said pointing to the walls.
The vines were growing out of the castle walls. At first I didn’t understand and then it dawned on me.
“These vines are cursed. They are attached to the castle,” I say nodding my head.
“If any of us eats them we will be cursed again,” Sareanne replies.
We hurry past the treacherous vines and I now understood why I had felt uneasy and tempted by the grapes. When we reached the empty courtyard in front of the castle I heard Rutheus gasp behind us.
“Where is the village?” he exclaimed angrily.
“It’s still here, you just can’t see it because it has been enchanted or cursed,” I say carefully. “Sareanne, where did we see the most people from the room above?”
She pointed to an area off to the right. I started toward the area and then stopped.
“Is there a well around here?”
“Yes, it’s supposed to be over there.” She pointed to another corner of the courtyard.
“Make the circle around the well,” I instruct.
She concentrates and speaks and a few minutes later the well appears. I run over to the well and draw up a large bucket of water. I take the bottle of powder and dump a generous handful inside. It sizzles and bubbles for a moment and I reach into stir it. When it looks mixed enough I take the bucket toward the first area Sareanne had pointed out and I start scooping it out and splashing it all over.
Rutheus and Sareanne make strangled noises behind me, but I continue my work until the bucket is almost empty. Then I take it and toss it toward the middle.
“Hey,” an angry voice calls. “Why’d you do that?”
I look at the speaker and see a small pocket of the village appearing under the protection of the grape seed powder water. Just having the water sprinkled on an object appears to lift the curse completely. I run back to Sareanne.
“It will take a long time to uncurse the whole village and I don’t think there is enough of the powder, but it’s a start,” I say excitedly.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Tower 56

We doused Sareanne and then the two tarranges with the grape seed water and then carefully stepped over the circle of stones. Nothing happened and I was certain that my grape theory was correct. I kept the bottle of grape powder in my pocket just in case we needed it.
“Where are we going?” Sareanne asked nervously.
“Out to the village,” I replied confidently. “We are going to start breaking this curse and I want to start in the village.”
Sareanne stopped in her tracks. “I don’t have the energy to uncurse the entire village!” she exclaimed.
“I know. I have an idea about that.” We reached the stairs and I looked down the circular stairway. “Where is Antheus usually at during the day?”
“I’m not sure. I’m always in the prison during the day. I think sometimes he would take Tuug and Jiun out into the courtyard, probably to scare the invisible villagers and workers. From some of their talk I think he might have taken them out to the tower during the day. Even after twenty years he is still trying to find a way to get to my book.”
I skidded to a stop and Sareanne crashed into me. Several things came falling into place with her one statement.
“Why is he still after the book?” I ask incredulously.
“Because of its power,” she replied.
“But I thought he wanted the vineyards.”
“That was part of it, but I guess he has always just wanted the book.”
I grabbed her arms. “Sareanne when did your father discover what the grapes were doing to everyone?” I ask anxiously.
“I don’t know, a few years before all of this happened.”
“Did you have your book?”
“Yes,” she answered slowly.
“When did you get your book?”
“Well it started out as a kind of journal when I turned twelve and then it just kind of grew into what it is. Why?”
“This has to do with the book,” I say slapping the palm of my hand against my forehead. “It’s all about that book. Antheus wants that book and he was willing to do anything to get it.”
“He can’t read the book, only I can,” Sareanne replied sadly. “I tried to explain that to him when he called you from your world.”
“What is in that book, Sareanne?” I demanded.
“My thoughts and feelings when I work with the earth, some simple spells…”her voice trailed off and her eyes widened.
“What?” I ask painfully.
“That’s when it started. I was about fourteen when I started, feeling the earth. It was speaking to me. I didn’t realize that was what was happening, but I did write down the thoughts and feelings in my book. Those words must be very powerful. They come from the Gods of the Earth, they were speaking to me.”
She looked into my eyes with a slightly pained expression. “It was a few months later when my father cut himself terribly. The healer said he would lose his hand for sure, but the next morning it had started to heal. It only took two days and there was no scar. I didn’t connect it until now. The words I felt, that I wrote down in my book…I had no idea.”
“That’s what Antheus wants, Sareanne. He could care less about Perdeen or your grapes. He simply wants to be the master of those words in your book.”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Tower 55

Sareanne gasped behind me and I felt her hand on my arm, but she drew it back. I turned around and looked at the surprise on her face and then down at the circle of stones still intact.
“How did you do that?” she demanded.
I held out my arm for her to examine.
“It’s the grapes, Sareanne. The grapes are what protected your people all along.” I looked at her carefully. “You said when Antheus cursed the city that everything disappeared. Just how quickly did they disappear?”
“It took a while, a week maybe, some even longer. My father was the last one to disappear, One moment he was sitting on his throne looking sadly at my cursed form and the next he was gone.”
“Long enough for the protection of the grapes to leave their bodies or wear off,” I murmured.
“So if I douse myself with that powder…” she began.
“Or eat some grapes,” I add.
“I’ll be protected too,” she finished.
I nod my head emphatically. “I’m certain of it. Look at the protection. It hasn’t disappeared or disintegrated even though I stepped over because I’m still protected. Whatever is in the Anderosean soil that creates this phenomenon is also in the grapes. The Gods of the Earth must know this, that is why they give you the protection, but it is in you already.”
“But how was Antheus able to curse me in the first place?” Sareanne said suddenly.
I stopped short. I hadn’t considered that. How had Antheus been able to place that first curse on her? If she had been recently working in the vineyards or eaten or drunk anything that had the grapes she would have been protected. I thought back to her version of the tale.
“What happened when Mehean returned from the north country? You said he seemed different?” I ask.
“Yes, there was something in his eyes, like he wasn’t completely there anymore.”
“How long had he been away from Perdeen?”
“Months. It takes almost four weeks just to reach Elderich.”
“I wonder if Antheus got to him in Elderich,” I murmur. Theories ran through my head like a race, but not all of them seemed to fit. “I can only guess that the soil in Elderich and the mountains didn’t have the same protection that it does down here in Perdeen. If that is truly the case, then Mehean would have gradually lost his protection. If he was under Antheus’ power then he might have tampered with your food and drink to make you susceptible.”
“But I ate from the vineyard every day,” Sareanne argued.
“Not after you left with your army,” I reply carefully.
Realization dawned on her face and a look of anguish crept into her eyes.
“Poor Mehean, he didn’t deserve this fate,” she cried.
I put my arm around her shoulders. “Antheus must have used him as a pawn in his plot. He must have been planning this for some time.”
Sareanne nodded. “I wonder how long he had known about the grapes.”
“Long enough to let it kanker and tear at his soul,” I reply sadly. I direct her to the bath. “Let’s get you protected. I have another idea.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Tower 54

After a few minutes of staring at nothing I turn back to the room. It hadn’t changed since I had last been in it. I glanced over at the inviting tub and screen.
“Go ahead. The water will relax you,” Sareanne said behind me. “I’ll look for something to eat.”
I eagerly went over to the tub and turned on the hot water. I had been mulling something over in my mind for a while and I finally voiced my wonder.
“Is there any of these bath salts that have grape extracts in it?” I ask.
“Several. The tall blue bottle is powdered grape seed,” she replied distractedly.
I grabbed the bottle and shook it in the tub letting the powder mix with the hot water. When it was full I adjusted the screen and then undressed and slid into the water. The heat felt marvelous on my aching muscles. I let my arm drop into the water to test the theory in my head. The place where Jiun had bit me now started to bubble like I had poured hydrogen peroxide on it.
After a few moments of bubbling I started to feel some pain in the wound. I jerked my arm out of the water and examined the bite. The skin looked pink and new and the tooth marks had shrunk to half their size. I gritted my teeth and put the arm back under the water. The bubbling and pain commenced immediately.
It took several more minutes, some of it like daggers being sunk into my skin, before the pain started to subside and the bubbling decreased. A sort of numbness spread through my arm and down to my fingers. I pulled the arm out again and examined it. There was no sign of the bite at all.
I moved my fingers and tapped them against the cold tiles. I still had feeling in my hand. The numbing sensation spread through my body and then dissipated. When I felt completely relaxed I quickly rinsed my hair and washed it sprinkling a little of the grape seed powder and then rinsing it again then I grabbed the fluffy towel Sareanne had left for me and got out of the bath.
I felt so good at that moment, like a protective shield had been placed all over my body. I went to the wardrobe closet and found another simple dress. This one had a pretty grape vine pattern embroidered on the edges of the sleeves, collar and hem. When I finished dressing I glanced at the door and then down at my arm.
Another idea popped into my head and I moved slowly to the door.
“Where are you going?” Sareanne asked stopping me in my tracks.
“I want to see something,” I reply.
I opened the door. I could see the edge of the circle of white stone just over the threshold.
“What is it?” Sareanne asked behind me.
I closed my eyes and stepped over the stones.

Monday, April 23, 2012

10 Inches

Have you ever really considered just how long 10 inches is? I hadn't really thought about it until I decided I wanted to donate my hair to Locks of Love. I have been growing it out for the past four years, but never with any real point except that I like having long hair. Well I had thought about cutting and donating it, but cutting my hair has always been a difficult thing for me. I like long hair, I like playing with long hair, I like styling or ponytailing, or curling my long hair.

Several months ago I mentioned my desire to cut and donate my hair to my wonderful 12-year-old niece who also had really pretty, long hair. She asked why and I told her it would be something neat to do and because grandma (my mom) had benefited from other people donating their hair. I also had other nieces who had cut and donated their hair before and I had never really had enough hair on my head to do so.

I didn't think much of the conversation until a few weeks later when I saw my niece and she had cut and donated her hair to Locks of Love. Her mother had also done the same thing for moral support. I was so proud of her actions and her willingness to give up her long hair to help others. This stuck with me for the next few months. I knew if I cut my hair it would be a great deal shorter than I liked, but I wanted to follow the awesome example of my niece and my other nieces.

So today I took the leap. I (well my wonderful stylist) cut 10 inches (11 in some places) of my hair and I am in the process of sending it to Locks of Love.
Now I have to admit that I am very proud of myself and I am finding that I love my short hair. I'm sure I will love my hair when it gets longer again, but this is something I have always wanted to do and now I have done it.

The hardest part about the whole thing is that I keep wanting to show my mom my new haircut and each time I want to pick up the phone I hope she's near me and knows I'm thinking of her and I hope she's proud of me even though I know she would secretly be horrified that I cut off all my hair. :)

Now onto the adventure of short hair!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


So I was having an interesting day at church and something happened to upset me a bit so I turned to the next conference talk from the October conference and of course the talk was on charity. I read it a bit begrudgingly at first and then I realized that I really needed to read what was there. I have found that I needed to have charity towards the people who upset me. It was a really good talk and I would suggest everyone read or reread it. It gives a lot of insight and help in managing my feelings toward others. Below is the link to the talk.

Charity Never Faileth

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Tower 53

As soon as my body hits the floor I can feel the exhaustion leave me, but I instantly become aware of a presence in the room. Sareanne enters and gasps. Then I hear Tuug growl and whine. I sense someone or something hovering over me and I hear the low words of Sareanne’s protection, but not before I feel the sharp bite of something on my arm.
I cry out in pain and pull my arm away from the biter. I feel the circle of protection spread around all of us and hear the cry of pain from the animal. I can only assume it is Tuug’s brother, maybe another tarrange being changed back into a tarrange. I don’t listen for long as I experience a severe burning sensation in my arm where the bite is.
I feel as though my arm is being singed off. I glance down and see the scaly marks that must have bubbled up when the animal bit me and then I notice the steam or smoke coming from the marks. I put my arm back on the ground and try to focus on something else.
Using what little energy I had gained from entering the room I pulled myself into a sitting position and slid over until I was leaning against something. I look over to where Sareanne is standing next to Tuug and then I see the animal that bit me. It looked like another tarrange, but different somehow. It was much larger than Tuug and its coloring was like a burnt orange.
It was yowling in pain as the protection finished its changing process. Tuug went over and gently licked the other animal’s shoulder and face, purring all the while. The other tarrange’s cries lessened slowly until it was a quiet whimper. The pain in my arm had also lessened and I looked down to assess the damage.
I could see the bite clearly now. The scaly marks had disappeared leaving seven while puncture wounds that were still bleeding. Sareanne sank exhausted to the floor as the protective circle completed.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
“I’m all right. It just wears me out when there is more involved than just the room,” she replies. She looks over and notices my arm. “You’re bleeding.”
She moves to get up but I stop her. “I’m okay. They aren’t deep.”
I get to my feet slowly and go searching for something to wrap around the bite wound. The second tarrange is laying quietly next to Tuug and they both are purring contentedly.
“Is that also a tarrange?” I ask. It was so much larger than Tuug.
“Yes, that’s Jiun. She and Tuug are mates,” Sareanne replies. “They are happy to be together again.”
“She is so large,” I comment.
“The females usually are.” She motions to the bathing area of the room. “There should be a jar with orange ointment in it by the bath. Bring it over and I’ll wrap your arm.”
I find a strip of cloth and the ointment and take it over to where Sareanne is sitting. She spreads a generous amount of the ointment on the wound and I instantly feel the pain lessen. She then wraps my arm with the cloth.
“What’s in the ointment?” I ask curiously.
“Orange seed, grape seed and a special herb we used to grow in the courtyard,” she replies.
“Do you think it will scar?” I ask wondering how I am going to explain the marks on my arm to my roommates.
“Probably. I’m sorry about the burning. It was the only way I could counteract Jiun’s venom.”
“It’s all right. I guess I have a small taste of what it was like for you when you stuck your hand in the circle,” I say carefully.
She nods thoughtfully.
“I guess we have some time to rest and search the room,” I add.
“Until tomorrow at dawn,” Sareanne says walking to the window.
I join her and look down at the empty courtyard and invisible village. I wonder just how we are possibly going to break this curse.