The Friend's Tale - The Crystal Revolution
James arrived at a different planet, which had many different levels of civilisations, all the way from interplanetary travel to stone age.
He heard of a particularly good market for certain things, and went to have a look.
He found the market disappointing, but there was something that strongly attracted his attention - an entire jewellery store devoted to a single gem of a very attractive pale blue to sea green, slightly opalescent, showing lovely patterns like feathers or angel wings. Each piece was entirely different, each stone was set in silver or gold to make pendants, bracelets, cuffs and torques, rings.
James stood before the display window and let the delightful fresh energy of these sea stones wash over and through him in waves, when the owner of the store appeared, an older, bigger, heavier man who wore a turban and a flowing gown of blue green, perfectly matching his wares.
The owner took James for a tourist, which was not wrong, and said, "Good sir, can I interest you in some special offers? Are you shopping for yourself, or a lady perhaps ..?"
James turned to him and smiled.
"These stones are beautiful," he said, "Can you tell me more about them?"
The trader cracked a big smile at this and rubbed his large hands together, which bore many rings, all of the sea stones.
"Certainly!" he cried, "Most certainly! I'd be delighted to! These stones are called The Friendship Stones, and they come from a special, secret place not far from here, and it is the only place in the entire galaxy where they can be found. They are very rare, and highly prized!" Here, he leaned in closer to James and whispered, "And they are most magical in nature, for those who understand."
James nodded and smiled back at the trader, then pointed to a particular piece that stood all by itself, a complex neck collar displayed on a bust, of exquisite workmanship, bearing large pieces of the light filled, shimmering stones as well as thousands of little pearls fashioned from the same material.
"What is it with this piece?" he asked of the trader, "It is so different to all the others, it is ... amazing."
The trader smiled even more brightly still and nodded his approval.
"Oh sir!" he cried, "You are indeed a one who understands! This piece is most ancient, and it came from a tomb of a great king who ruled many millennia ago in the past. I'm afraid it is not for sale, it has been in our family forever, and I must pass it on to my own daughter, I hope you understand."
"Oh of course," said James. The trader continued, "And it is also a tourist attraction. Many people from many worlds come to see it so it serves my business well."
James nodded. He turned fully to the trader and said, "I would like to purchase one of your beautiful pieces. Money is no object, and I would like a pendant for myself, please. Can you show me your special things?"
The trader nodded appreciatively, for indeed, he had very special pieces that were not on display, to be shown to very special users who came along but rarely. He knew now that James was one of them, and he felt a tingle of delight, for the special users were his favourites, and they gave him a special reason for being in his trade.
"Please, sir," he said quietly and seriously, giving a sweeping gesture to the entrance of the shop and stepping aside, "Please come inside."
The inside of the shop was brightly lit, with sunlight pouring through the display windows, but the trader led the way through a black velvet curtain to the back, and here, it was very dark indeed.
The trader turned on some starry lights that fell directly on a table which was covered in black velvet also, and he asked James to wait, while he would bring his most special pieces.
Soon he returned, and placed out under the starry lights three pendants, all made from the Friendship Stone but each one so different, it was remarkable.
The first was oval and very light in colour; shimmering most beautifully and of a size to cover the palm of a hand. It was held by a simple silver band that was perfectly shaped around it, on a smooth silver chain that was sturdy and strong.
The second was shaped like a heart and slightly larger; this stone had the most vibrant colours of blue and green and it was set in gold, with a golden chain.
The third was smaller and teardrop shaped, with very distinct patterns that seemed like flames or fountains, and to James it felt as though there was a power aching to burst forth from it, an uplifting force that would make one want to take wing and fly.
He smiled and said softly, "That's the one for me. I love to fly."
The trader gave an audible gasp, standing in the dark behind James, and said, "Oh my! That is ... it's the name of the piece, they all have names, you know, that is its spirit, it is called The Force, Uplifting, in the ancient language."
James waited and the trader eventually said, "Sakishaua. That is its name."
James nodded and knew that to speak the name out aloud was not something that was often done. He reached out, picked up the tearshaped pendant, held it to his heart, closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. Oh yes, he thought, this will be a wonderful thing for me.
Out aloud he said, "I am most grateful to you, dear trader. This is a most wonderful ... gift, yes, a gift for me today. Much needed, long awaited, and ... well, I thank you.
"What is the price?"
The trader thought for a moment. The price of the piece was one million, and that was fair, for it reflected the rarity, preciousness but also the history of this stone.
The trader did not want for money; it was of the highest importance to find the right buyers for these priceless pieces, and this young man before him was the right buyer for Sakishaua, which had been waiting for more than a thousand years.
But there was more. The trader could sense that here was an opportunity of a different kind, to meet a one who clearly understood, and who had power.
Such ones are rare indeed, and immensely precious, and so it was that the trader said to James, "Before I name a price, I would ask your opinion on another piece I own. It has been in my family since the beginning of time, and I would show it to you."
James, who was still holding Sakishaua to his heart and simply loving the feel of it, the happiness of having found it, the romance of beginning a relationship that would be beneficial in so many ways, turned to the trader.
"Whatever I can do to help, I will be glad to do it," he said sincerely, and the trader bowed his great turbaned head, left swiftly, and returned with a smooth black box that he placed on the table under the starry lights, where Sakishaua had been, and raised the lid.
Red sparks burst forth from the box immediately, and inside it was a ruby red crystal cluster, of such colour and such intensity as James had never seen or experienced before.
He took a step back, breathed deeply and tightened his grip on the Friendship stone.
"What is this?" he asked of the trader.
The trader sighed and said, "It is my family's greatest treasure and also its greatest burden.
"Many thousands of years ago, this gem was given for the safe keeping to one of my ancestors, for it creates chaos and war, wherever it goes.
"Those who own it become obsessed with greed and power, and it makes them powerful in the eartly realms, but also mad, and dangerous.
"My ancestor took it upon himself to keep it safe for it cannot be destroyed, and found that keeping it surrounded with the Friendship stones keeps its destructive force at bay, but it is a precarious balance indeed.
"I, like all my family before me, am both cursed with this crystal, and blessed, because it allows me to be surrounded by the beauty of the Friendship Stones for all my life."
He was about to add something when James took a deep breath and stepped forward towards the crystal that flared like a fire in the dark room and ...
James moved forward and stepped through the portal that was the crystal into a world on fire - a city burning, filled with the thunderous crashing of falling masonary, roaring fire storms, faint screams and cries, and the stone streets running with blood.
So much pain and suffering ...
So much destruction ...
James clasped the pendant in his fist harder, squeezing it as if to activate its power to keep him steady in this insanity that was this time, this place and a gentle cool and calm fell around him like protective angel wings, and he could move forward through the burning chaos, to the epicentre of this volcano of destruction.
And right in the heart of the chaos he found the crystal, and it was screaming in pain, screaming for help, and James enfolded it in loving arms, loving wings, and held it to his heart, soothed it and sang to it, as if it was a child, and the crystal began to subside, to calm; it snuggled to him, and then it fell silent.
All around, the fires that had reached into the sky subsided too; grew lower and lower, until all was still, and quiet.
From the ground, small streams of white light appeard; like water rising, the white light rose now likewise to the sky until all was bright, all was light ...
James was back in the room, and in the box before him, the crystal cluster shone bright white, projecting streams of light that danced with living sparks of opalescent existences.
The trader reached out to touch James but did not quite complete the gesture. Tears were streaming from his eyes, and the big man was trembling from head to foot.
James felt calm and joyful at the same time.
To the speechless trader, he said, "Now you can trade in all the jewels of the galaxy."
The trader wrung his great hands but still could not speak.
James bowed to him, and, with Sakishaua still firmly held in his hand, he left the trader's store, to find a quiet place to learn and reflect, celebrate his newfound friendships, but knowing that one day, he would return.