Week 16 - Novel - Dreams Part X - September 16-22
“Stoneworking is an interesting art—not all stones work for all people, and not all in the same way. For many of the races of Eukaon, stoneworking is inherent, but limited. It is part of our nature, and we have evolved over time to know how to use certain stones innately, or even grow certain stones as part of our bodies over time. I belong to one of these ancient lineages—so ancient now that I am the sole remaining member, all my brethren having been lost to long ago to the sands of time and change.
“My race is a particularly interesting one. We, as one collective whole, shared our grasp over stones. As our numbers diminished, my individual power grew. Now, as the last remaining survivor of my kind, I have near unparalleled command over the stones of this world, both as a function of hard-sought knowledge carefully accreted over many centuries, and the consolidation of the collective power of my people.
“Still, however, my power is not without its limits, and these limits are difficult, if not impossible to transcend, the source of my stoneworking power being innate, and not externally derived as it is for humans. Humans, in contrast to every other race on this planet, have no innate connection to stones. However, their ingenuity over time has allowed them to harness stones regardless of this fact, through use of external technology they have developed for this express purpose.
“Thus, while their progress was pathetically slow in its nascent moments, it has accelerated at an alarming and unprecedented rate, far outpacing the natural evolutionary development of other species in acquiring stoneworking proficiency. The collective harnessing capacities of humans are nothing short of astounding, and they have come to dominate this land by use of such technology.
“This, too, has not been without its limits. Such external manipulation of the stones of this world is at its core unnatural, and many stones resist such artificial manipulation. Generally speaking, the more powerful a stone is, the more difficult it has proven for the humans to harness. This, for instance, is why humans have yet to even begin to fathom the possibility of harnessing seeing stones, and why they have just so recently begun to touch on the possibilities of portal stones.
“Some stones, I suspect, will forever be out of their grasp for this reason, though they have proven me wrong before on this point, and have already progressed further than I believed possible. One stone, in particular, is so central to the spirit of Eukaon itself, that I believe it will be forever beyond their grasp.
“This stone is the Heartstone. The Heartstone was discovered by one of my brethren three thousand years back, now, and entrusted to my care when time finally came for him. In all that time, many have tried, but none have ever managed to harness its power. Its potential is near limitless—this much we are able to glean from our innate understanding of the stones, but still the stone has resisted all our attempts to harness it.
“When Aeon first came under my wing, I crafted a harnessing glove for him, thinking him like all the other humans of Eukaon. And at first, he was, albeit far more talented at the art of harnessing than any other human I have ever witnessed. He grasped the art like a fish grasps water.
“Soon, however, we discovered that his gift over stoneworking extended beyond merely his preternatural grasp of the craft. Indeed, we discovered that the glove was unnecessary for him to harness stones, a shocking fact made clear when he began to harness things far beyond what any human on Eukaon had ever harnessed before, let alone with a mere glove.
“Quickly, it became clear that his potential was near limitless, if not quite literally limitless. He mastered, with an innate ease that often made even me seem like a mere bumbling novice, every stone in my collection I threw at him, until there was only one stone left.
“Now, a moment must be taken to speak more on who Aeon was in this time where I knew him as my pupil. He was relentless in his hunger and ambition for more, yes, but he was also pure. He came to care deeply for Eukaon, and to see it as more of a home to him than Earth had ever been. He could see the potential that lay within him to make our world a better one, and this is what drove him to devour as much knowledge as he could, and accumulate as much skill with stoneworking as he did.
“Towards the end of our time together, however, something changed in him. I saw it happening, but I had come to see him as something of a son to me, and I am ashamed to say that I failed to take the actions that I knew in my heart to be right. It began, as many of these things do, with a love that soured.
“Some months back, he had fallen in love with the very princess herself, and she was quite taken with him as well. I have been, for quite some time now, a frequent guest of honor at the royal palace, and I had taken to bringing Aeon with me on my more recent visits. The moment I introduced him to Princess Riah, I knew that I had perhaps made an error, but one that there was no going back from.
“He fell further from my grasp, then, and began to become delinquent in our lessons. He would spend his days at the palace, and Riah, not stoneworking, and not Eukaon, became the sole object of Aeon’s attention and desire.
“It wasn’t long, however, before the empress began to become concerned about the illicit dalliance between her daughter and Aeon, and moved to preclude their trysts. She decided it was high time to arrange a coupling for her daughter, and promptly gave Riah’s hand away to the son of General Soon, unified commander of all Tachen forces.