“You don’t want to go there.”
The vagrant stood at the crossroads, leaning heavily on his staff and turning, slowly, from traveler to traveler.
“You don’t want to go into the mountains.”
“And why not, old man?” He looked weak, and frail; he could not stop them if he wanted to. And yet the travelers waited for his answer. “That is the way to Guldenton, isn’t it?”
“Oh, it’s the way to Guldenton, but you’ll not make it going that way, no.”
“And why not, sir?” One among those travelling had remembered their manners.
“That’s where the triplets live, you see.” The man sat down, spry as a child, cross-legged at the center of the crossroads. “That’s where the three live that caused all the trouble.”
To a body, the travelers sat, forming a ragged half-circle around the old man. None but the child noticed that they stayed, every one of them, on the side of the crossroads away from Guldenton; none but the child noticed that they hadn’t meant to sit down.
“The triplets?” It was not the child that asked. “The triplets, sir?”
“Ah, you have not heard the story yet, I see.” The old man leaned forward, grinning his toothless grin. “The story of the three born to Guldenton gold, the three born on the moonless night, the three born of the storm and the rain and the morning dew.”
They were born, (he continued, and only the child noticed that it had begun to grow cloudy) in the last days of spring on the night of a black moon. Three of them, the first born to the strike of midnight, the second born to the lightning’s blast, and the third to the first rays of sun.
And they were born identical in every feature, their skin dewy and their eyes wide, lovely the way children always are, lovely more than children ought to be.
And yet (and here his voice dropped down low, and only the child noticed that they all ducked, every one of them), yet they were different, so very different in their natures.
“Not done yet!”
Correct, it is not! If you want more – and there is more to be had, I’m certain of it – drop some pennies in the jar.
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