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The path to silver

by on January 9, 2011

Where water and moon meet,

Where the waves lap at your feet,

There, distilled from salt and brine,

The path to silver you will find.

Moonlight turns things into silver; everyone knows that. What everyone doesn’t know is that it runs deeper than appearance. I didn’t know it until I came to the young witch. Normally I would never have gone there, and I still feel somewhat foolish for following her instructions, if that’s what you would call the rhyme she gave me. But I’m desperate. I need pure silver and it is surprisingly hard to find here. Or perhaps it is not that surprising, given who owns the land.

And that is the root of the problem. The only way to deal with them is pure silver and things go very wrong if there is any impurity. I looked everywhere, examined countless antiques, coins and household goods, but none of them was right. So I went to the witch. That was another surprising thing: I knew she was young, but she must have been about twelve. That’s what made her really creepy, and that, oddly enough, is why I think this will work. It takes power and knowledge to be that creepy, even for a child.

So, I will collect the things that wash out of the sea when the next spring tide and full moon meet. Then I will boil them down under the moonlight over a covered flame until all I am left with is pure silver. Then I will act.

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9 Comments
  1. parfles permalink

    This is very cool – a really strange take on the [werewolf?] silver-fearing monster myth, the challenge of fighting things that cannot be killed except just this one way.

    What really worked for me here was the quirkiness of the myth – silver that washes from the sea, the creepy young witch, the rhyme, the land owned by [whatever they are]. This is great and new layering on the familiar myth, and worked beautifully.

    If I have any criticism, it’s that I wished the language would have been more part of that place – there is a lot of magic in the story and I wished that it had been shown more rather than explained by the storyteller, if that makes sense. What are the motifs in the story? I sense it’s about the truth of illusions, and about purity? Once you play around with the underlying concepts, (whatever you decide they are), you may find a way of telling the story in a new way.

    I am almost entirely sure this comment makes no sense. What I’m trying to advocate is to have an internal inner layer of meaning to your story which helps you tell the exterior story in a new way.

    All of this is more a suggestion for where you could go with this, but not really a crit – it does stand well by itself, and it has a beautiful strangeness that really works.

    Thank you!

    PS. Loved the poem 🙂

    • cbraz permalink

      Thanks for the comment. Glad you liked the poem – I had a fun making it 🙂

      I understand your criticism of the language, but it was a considered style choice. As you say, there are multiple ways to tell the story. I wanted the juxtaposition between the magic of the setting and events, and the everyday matter-of-fact tone of the narrator – the magic is more normal for her than for us.

      Since I really like this world I created, perhaps I will join the general movement soon and write another piece in the world, using a different style 🙂

  2. parfles permalink

    Cool – as a conscious choice it does work after all, and I was in a very specific frame of mind when making the comment. I get very little of it on re-reading 🙂

    Looking forward to more!

  3. nantalith permalink

    I loved the poem 😀 Suited the story so well, I thought. Sounds like an interesting world, I would also like to hear more.

  4. I love the calm matter-of-factness of this – the weirdness of the story is beautifully taken for granted, and the potentially over-romanticised elements of moonlight and sea and silver are neatly undercut. I also enjoy the way you don’t give us unnecessary detail, and we’re never quite sure what exactly the silver will be made into, and what it’s being used against. (I rather hope it isn’t actually werewolves, although the story would still work – the oddness of the events seems to demand something more). Loved the creepy child witch, too.

    I am unduly niggled by the way in which WordPress won’t allow you to make the poem into a proper format without the huge gaps between lines. You may want to do something with break codes in the HTML. I’d also italicise it. Basically, I have only superficial formatting criticisms ;>. Except that, a propos of Jo’s comment above, I think the poem is the one place in which you could fancy up the language a bit without losing your effect. Poetry really shouldn’t be matter-of-fact.

    • cbraz permalink

      Thanks for the comment, and the hint about formatting. I didn’t even think of going to the html but will definitely do it next time – the inability to remove the large gaps between poem lines really annoyed me.

  5. Really enjoyed the chatty, everyday modern tone on the piece and how it contrasted with the content of the story. Also enjoyed the traditional motives (silver to kill things, land owners of the area, witch) combined in very suggestive but unclear manner in your world.

    Enjoyed the rhyme and how it contrasted with the plain spoken language of the piece.

    Also some ace and original ideas: child witch, silver free hamlet, moonlight and silver

  6. In this story Our Hero wishes to obtain a certain amount of pure silver, since only pure silver can be used to “deal” with a certain group in the world. Pure silver is difficult to obtain, so Our Hero has gone off to a witch in order to do so. She offers some cryptic advice, but Our Hero seems to understand said advice.

    My favourite bit is the control of information, and the POV: Our Hero knows who controls the land, assumes that whoever they’re telling the story to knows as well, and so explaining it any further is moot. Nice.

    I have some small nitpics:

    > But I’m desperate.
    I’m not sure about the tense: Our Hero has already visited the witch, and has already followed her instructions. Shouldn’t this sentence be in the past tense?

    > none of them was right.
    “was” should be “were”.

    • cbraz permalink

      Thanks for the comments. I’m glad you enjoyed the style. I disagree about your nitpics, though, interestingly 🙂

      > But I’m desperate.
      The narrator is still desperate, which is why she visited the witch. But the desperate situation still stands. I also see her as not having followed the instructions yet.

      > none of them was right
      You really confused me with this one and had me thinking. For me it was obvious that I was saying “not one of them was right” which would definitely be singular, but the “were” fitted too. I looked it up in various places, and it seems to be one of those grammatical situations where both options are correct (although a couple of sources do say that if the subject is plural, the verb should be, but it wasn’t definitive)

      Anyway, interesting grammatical excursions – thanks 🙂

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