Magic, Mystery, a little Whisky, and a Cat

A Cold Spring–Episode 17: Quarried Stone

Before we get to Episode 17:

Zoraida Grey is up for a RONE Award!! Voting for the Long Paranormal category in Week 2  begins on April 24, but you need to register to vote. Go to and Click the Subscribe button at the top of the page. You can opt in or out of additional emails and the whole thing is FREE. You will get an email to confirm your subscription. Be sure to do that to be eligible to vote.

If you have not read Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones–now is a great time. Grab a copy HERE and if you enjoy it, please vote for her in Week 2.

Voting for week 1 is under way. To vote, go to and from the menu bar select InD’Scribe/Rones >2017 Rone Awards > 2017 Rone Awards Week 1. You will be prompted to register if you have not already done so. It’s free and easy.

You have plenty of time to read these short works and decide who to vote for. I recommend these three books in the Novella category now under consideration in Week 1:


  •             Barbara Bettis: The Lady of the Forest
  •             Becky Lower: A Regency Yuletide
  •             Sharon Buchbinder: The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle

The Rone is a prestigious award and Reader voting is only the first step in the process. A limited number of books will progress to the next level. YOUR vote might make a huge difference. Please take a few minutes to support writers who publish independently and with small publishers.


“A Cold Spring”

Need to catch up with the story?

Download Episodes 1-13 HERE or read in the file below.

Episode 14: Now I Wait

Episode 15: Old Crows and Offerings

Episode 16: Pilgrimage

[pdf-embedder url=”” title=”A Cold Spring 1_13″]

Episode 17: Quarried Stone

Three soggy days later, Mayebelle and I rest in the shadow of the monolith marking the entrance to Highmoor province, the ancestral home of the Darkmore and La Croix families. Faint carvings of spirals and runes and fantastic monsters adorn the forbidding black stone.


Mayebelle traces the designs with a gnarled, scarred finger. “My grandfather quarried these stones himself, tore them from the mountains in a distant land and transported them by the light of a Samhain moon. One to the north, one to the east, one to the south, and this one on the western boundary. They were supposed to protect us, these stones.”


“We can’t rely on them and we can’t get lost in what-if’s.” The ground is damp, and my legs scream for rest, but the simple act of sitting down is no longer so simple. I brace my back against a handy sapling and slide to the ground.


“They still have magic in them.” Mayebelle presses her face against the cold, silent stones. “I know they do.”


“Well, now would be a nice time for them to lend a hand.” I retrieve a morsel of oatmeal scone from my pack and munch it with little enthusiasm.


Mayebelle made certain we would have provisions for the journey, but her sense of variety is sadly lacking. If I never taste an oatmeal scone again, I will die happy. Even little Zinnia or Lulubelle or Alyssum grows weary of the bland diet. She punches out her displeasure in rhythmic taps.


“Time isn’t ours to command. Even our span of life, long though it may be in the eyes of others, is no more than a grain of sand to the Universe.”


“I’m not in the mood for philosophy, Mayebelle. The only time I’m interested in is the time it will take to reach Highmoor valley. Another day’s journey at least.” I flop like a beached whale, trying to regain my feet. Mayebelle grunts with effort as she helps me rise.


“Are you feeling well? Your face is red.”


“Your face would be red too if you had a little demon kicking you in the stomach from dawn till dusk.” A sharp pain catches my breath. I shake off Mayebelle’s concern. “I’m fine. Come on. I want to look down in the valley by sunset if we can.”


Mayebelle retrieves my walking stick from the ground for I have long since stopped bending in the middle.


An hour later we pause at the cleft of a rocky hill. I mop sweat from my neck and rub the knotted bundle inside my belly. Janie or Nancy or Paula stretches her full length, distorting my shape into a lopsided mass. A stiff, raw wind carries the scent of wet dirt and leaf mold from the forest and an owl hoots far away.


In the distance, the Western Monolith etches a dark hole against the evening sky. Is it fancy or a trick of the light? The spiral carvings on the stone undulate and pulse with green magic.


The witch stone vibrates in answer. Mayebelle is right. Magic lingers in the cold hearts of the ancient stones.

Stay Tuned for Episode 18: Return to Highmoor Valley

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