BY MARY CUDNEY
Copyright is held by the author.
IT HAD taken him years to learn his craft. Not like some who were born to it. He liked the feel of the stone. He chipped away at the Black-mist mountain rock day after day. Pulling out stone shapes. Some huge as life size statues and some small as tiny pearls. His father would have lifted his hands and pulled through the air, the exact size of stone he needed out of the mountain rock. Drawn it out and placed it on the ground like a sacrificial offering. Then he would carve. Joshua had to work for it, chisel and pick in hand. But he loved the feel and the shudder as he tapped into the rock. Making his hands tremble as the stone slid away from its resting spot into his arms.
When Joshua was born they saw his hands were too big for his body. His father was not happy with the shape of Joshua’s hands. Some might say that was why he was not allowed to shape his life in any way. He was crushed in a land slide three weeks after Joshua was born.
Joshua thought it strange that his dad was killed by a collection of rocks crushing him as his father could control the stone with his hands. But as Joshua worked the mountain formations he discovered there were pockets where the magic didn’t work, tainted by some previous experience. Uncontrollable by anyone.
Joshua didn’t miss his father until his coming of age examination. He knew his father had been born with the gift of sculpting. If his father had been alive he would have vouched for his son. Told the tribe of his accomplishments and made him his apprentice. But his father had been dead for sixteen years.
“I’m ready,” he said. He had laboured all his life for this moment.
He chiselled a small piece of rock from the mountain. The colour of a white cloud in the sky with a little blue running through it.
The Seven Masters looked on. They had each earned the right to judge. They carried their Stone Amulets around their necks attached to a blue silk cord. At examinations, they wore their ceremonial robes of grey cloth softened from granite.
Joshua’s hands cupped the small rock and lovingly shaped it into the form of a butterfly, delicate and sweet. He placed it on the ground. He had trained long and hard to reach into the earths magic and create life from stone. The pouch at his side held the dust he had prepared. He blew some softly from his palm onto the stone butterfly. A few seconds passed. The Masters looked on. A few minutes stretched into what seemed like hours and the Masters turned to go.
“Wait,” Joshua cried. “Look! It moves!”
The exquisite, white butterfly with blue striped wings took to the air and floated away.
“Joshua, we now name Stone Master,” said the Masters in unison. “And so, it shall be.”