Chapter 9, Part B: Red Riding Hood, Red Riding Hood


There was a certain complexity to Elanore’s moods that was not easily understood by others. A rueful smile played across the girls’ face, one that indicated that the question posed to the girl held many different facets, and generated many different answers.

Elanore put her hand in one of the pockets hidden in her skirts and withdrew a pouch. Solemnly she continued. “I cannot tell you everything in one sitting, but the first thing I was commissioned to do was to return this gift to you.”

Mrs. Winchester leaned forward in her chair as her granddaughter shook out the contents of the pouch. An amber pendant with a gold setting and chain slipped out into Elanore’s hand. Upon recognizing the object, the old woman shook her head.

“She insisted,” Elanore moved her hand towards her grandmother. “Grandfather gave it to her for safekeeping when she moved south—”

Mrs. Winchester closed her eyes, recalling the unpleasant circumstances surrounding Evelyn’s departure. “I was there when he presented it to her, darling. It was his express desire that she have it—”

“Yes, she mentioned that it was a protective charm.” Elanore looked down at the stone somewhat fondly. “How often she would she would wear it around her neck while she took me about with her when I was small!”

“Did she?” The rocking chair continued to creak as the old woman wove her own picture of her daughter and young Elanore walking about in some distant woods. “And did she ever show you what it did?”

“Ah, only once.”  The girl’s thoughts went faraway for a moment, her voice growing quiet. “She did not mean for me to see what it could do, I believe. But we were lost and she had to use it when we had a rather odd encounter with some wild animal. She thought I was sleeping on her back and had no idea I had observed her. When I asked her about the stone later, she became upset and told me not to say anything.”

Mrs. Winchester gently reprimanded her granddaughter. “And if she knew you were telling me this now—”

“She doesn’t mean you.” Elanore shut her eyes for a moment, perhaps trying to break free of the memory of whatever she had seen. Quickly, she placed the stone back in the pouch. “I’m telling this to you with the hope that you will understand its usefulness and take it.”

Again, Elanore tried to place it in her grandmother’s hands. Gently she was rejected.

“No, but thank you.”

A look of worry and mild frustration marred Elanore’s pretty features. “But you live alone. Surely you understand what she means by giving this to you.”

Mrs. Winchester sighed loudly. “I have lived here amongst neighbors for sixty years without magic and will live the rest of my life here without it.”

“Then please take it as a memento of grandfather.”

Mrs. Winchester leaned back in her chair, her head thrust back as she laughed at Elanore’s persistence. In their stubbornness, all women in this family were very similar.

“Grandmother?” Elanore reached out with her free hand to steady the chair which was on the verge of tipping over. As the elder woman’s laughs turned to coughing, Elanore’s face turned even more troubled.

“Oh Elanore!” Adele Winchester coughed a few more times, still laughing. She waved away a cup of water that Elanore had fetched from the counter. “No matter how many reasons you give me, it does not change that I lack the talent or interest in using that thing! It would be but a useless trinket to me. I have plenty of memories of your grandfather to keep me happy in these cold winter days.”

Elanore cast an uneasy look back down at the pouch. At the moment, she was caught between two women who she loved equally and whose wishes ran counter to one another. But away the pouch went, back into the folds of her skirt. “As you have refused the stone, she will renew her requests for you to move south.”

Her grandmother folded her hands in her lap. “Yes, I know how Evelyn thinks.”

“Even if there is no one to replace you at your post,” Elanore warned. “She’s worried about something in particular with respect to this area. She received messages from her old friends warning that there are threads of change being woven within this region.”

Mrs. Winchester narrowed her eyes at the allusion regarding the messages and her daughter’s old friends. Evelyn had given up her hood a long time ago, but it did not mean that she still did not actively seek out or exchange information with others like her.

“What exactly are in those messages, Elanore?”

“I wish I knew,” Elanore bit her lip. “But she did not tell me. Or perhaps she did not know. She insisted that I should simply tell you what I have, if only to warn you.”

The older lady shook her head. “With such vague warnings, it is not enough. And given that the perceived danger is general — what of the others? How could I leave these families here?”

“I know it is impossible,” Elanore answered before falling silent.

They sat there for a while, contemplating that last point until the sound of steam came from the oven. Elanore ran lightly to the stove to check the stew that was simmering in the boiler. As she stirred the soup, she finally spoke. “Practically speaking, your health here must be improved if you insist staying here. Your reliance on neighbors can only go so far. We have no right to claim all of Edmund’s time.”

“No indeed.” The old woman watched her granddaughter as she continued her tour of the kitchen and dealt with the rest of the evening’s meal. She was amused by Elanore’s statement for many reasons. “Certainly, we don’t have any right to expect his attentions once the weather improves for hunts. The guildmaster takes them away often. And with those new guns they have, they intend to hunt far from here.”

Elanore’s verbal slip had not gone unnoticed. She had included herself alongside her grandmother when mentioning Edmund’s attentions. Her grandmother thought to ask the lady more of what she thought about the man, but Elanore pressed forward.

“Are there dangerous animals that require the use of guns?” Elanore asked softly, her expression revealing concern.

Mrs. Winchester shook her head. Guns were a new commodity in the Northlands. Previously, they had only been seen amongst the pirates who skirted the ports of the region. However, the eastern adventurers had brought them with them as they came to hunt and often left them behind.

“I do not really know, Elanore. The womenfolk say that they go deeper into the woods and feel ill-equipped without them. I suppose even wolves and bears would be easier to manage with such weapons. Perhaps Edmund might know. Perhaps he would tell you.”

The girl’s face fell slightly. “I don’t think so. We argued today, grandmother. I don’t think we’ve ever argued before. He tried to smooth things over, as did I, but I’m afraid that there’s something wrong with things now. We’re strangers now.”

Her grandmother laughed, the sound ringing like silver cathedral bells, long and loud, until Elanore’s face turned as scarlet as the dress she wore. “Oh!” Mrs. Winchester observed her poor dear’s embarrassment. “I do not mean to make fun of you, but your situation makes me feel like a young woman again. And I must tell you,” she began to compose herself. “I know you both well enough to tell you that you and he have not changed much at all!”

The troubled look did not leave Elanore’s face. “Then why is it so horribly awkward?”

Adele wiped her eyes, finding her granddaughter’s innocence rather refreshing. “He’s at an age where he’s beginning to think about the future and finding a pretty lass may be part of it. Edmund’s family is after him to settle down. Your name has come up several times.”

As Elanore considered the words and reflected on her behavior throughout the day towards Edmund, she was deeply mortified. “Do you mean to say that he and I—” her voice trailed off.  Her face paled as she recalled how familiar she had been with him. “But they have not seen me in years! And have you not told them that a healer does not stay in one place?”

“Oh many times,” the older woman sighed. “And he knows that as well. But I do wish you’d not think about that. Edmund isn’t as homebound as people think. And you know I am very fond of him.  He’s a good young man. And he is handsome. And kind. And–”

“Grandmother!” Elanore saw very well what her grandmother’s designs were. “You wish for me to stay here, I believe. But mama wishes for me to fatten you up and take you back to her so we may settle together back home.”

The woman’s eyes twinkled. “Everyone must want for something. And you, Elanore. What do you want?”

The girl straightened up, her face suddenly unreadable lost in the myriad of possibilities open to her. She gave a small shake of her head and smiled. “It’s too soon to know. The answers will come in time.” Elanore stood up. “For now, I will try to live as fully as I can until those answers point themselves out to me.”

Cheerfully, the young lady returned to finishing the evening meal. But her grandmother rocked her chair, watching the girl through half-shut eyes and thinking.

Elanore’s words and way of speaking confirmed to the old woman that the girl did not have her mother’s straightforward view of the world or her temperament. In spite of how much they looked and sounded alike, there was a strength and assuredness to Elanore that her mother never had.

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Chapter 9, Part B: Red Riding Hood, Red Riding Hood — 33 Comments


    That question will now torture me indefinitely.


    • I love the sound of sarcasm in the evening ^^

      Im starting to miss the Count already. Is that weird? 🙂

    • Not indefinitely :). It will be a few chapters yet, but you’ll see one answer from someone else.

      However, there are two broad hints out there already about stones and their properties — one is in a previous chapter and this one (Evelyn used it), and the second you can see in one of the drawings.

    • Yup. Taking note of your interests and such. The stone is key, the hood… maybe less so at the moment, but more will come out 🙂

    • This is probably the biggest hint today, but the red hood comes with a particular lifestyle that Elanore’s mother could not choose.

  2. Finally caught up! The story so far is excellent, I love retellings of fairy tales. This one is interesting because it combines several and has a very unique view on them. (Whaddya mean the wolf isn’t a wolf!)

    Too many mysteries though. Which is good (because it makes me want to read more) and bad (because it makes me want to know now). (I like to complain about stuff I like. Don’t take it the wrong way.) So… I’m guessing “hood” is a reference to… witchcraft? Somehow that’s the feeling I got.

    I’m looking forward to reading more! I’m going to check out the other… wenches… do you enjoy using that word to describe yourselves?

    • Welcome to the madness! Glad you are enjoying so far. If you recall, how long did it take you to catch up? I’m trying to understand the experience for readers that are generally new, so I have some idea as to how to handle meta-summaries (likely to come in after Chapter 10).

      Not all mysteries will linger. The personal ones will be resolved as the opportunities present themselves (or as I force the opportunities on the characters hehe), but the political ones will take much longer to sort themselves out. I’ll try to find an appropriate balance on what to hold and what to let go of as I really don’t want to keep too many of these on deck. (I have a little book I have to keep now to track some of these questions, and believe me, it is difficult to keep adding to this list without taking stuff off 🙂 ).

      As for the wenches title – it was something the creator of Suzy’s Box came up with. She’s pretty funny… and the name provoked such an interesting response that I guess we’re keeping it xD

      • Sorry, I didn’t really keep track of how long it took me to read… I think it took a couples of weeks overall, but I didn’t read every single night either…

        That doesn’t help much, does it?

        • No, it’s helpful to know how someone tends to experience the story. There tends to be a lot of curiousity about readers of serial fiction and their preferred reading habits. Some really like to read everything at once (and for those authors who are publishing a complete work serially, it’s for these audiences they will gamble on putting an ebook out at the same time for purchase). However, there are some people (undefined number) that seem to be okay with the pacing (because it’s hard to digest a lot of stuff at once or they don’t have the time). My asking is really to see what happens when new folks walk in. The folks who have been here since the beginning are pretty much forced to just put up with me week to week (at one point I was even considering biweekly), but others coming in now have a choice.

          Anyways, that’s a bunch of rambling totally not related to the writing, but the platform. Thanks for answering the question! I’m sure others (besides myself)will find this response interesting 🙂

  3. D: I want to know what the stooooooone doooooooooooooes *feels five again*
    No but seriously, exellent chapter 😀 It must have been hard raising Evlyn as a child, kinda like Elanore
    Oh and one more thing… TYPO D:
    “Even with no one here to replace you at yourr post….” Yeah sorry *grammar nerd*

    • No problem. Thanks for catching that typo!

      As for the stone, yup, someone else remembers something important about another stone. Another good observation 😉

    • He’s just stomping around, not doing anything interesting. That said, I’ll probably doodle something for him to keep the fangirls happy xD

  4. Ahh it seems that another stone very much like the Count used to ward off the Unthings has reached the surface, and in the hands of young Elanor. Still nothing to quench the thirst of my ravenous curiosity about the Guild Master. I am eager to know more about just what the hood is about but it seems rather trivial, except for the fact that they have mentioned several times that her mother used to wear it, and that the Count had once tried to court her mother. (I believe they had left a small bit of bread crumbs to lead us to that conclusion.) That would explain his need and want to chase her and why he took such interest into her. Curiouser, and curiouser….

    • Close, but should mention the Count has -not- encountered any other Winchester denizen. He has avoided the townspeople at all costs.

  5. So we have a stone of Light Bringing, and a stone of Direction Finding?? Would that be the best way to describe them so far?? Or should I go far more simplistical and call them stones of protection and leave it go at that??

    • Hmm. No. It’s not that mechanistic. There are specific and unique properties to the types of stones they hold, but I can’t comment fully on the stone that Wolfram holds yet. The explanation is forthcoming, but on hold because I’ve pushed the continuation of the past timeline story with Wolfram off until after the next two chapters conclude.

      Elanore’s stone is /has not been used fully or according to its design and is not the same in property as Wolfram’s stone. More insight will come to light (no pun intended) slowly through the eyes of other characters and as Elanore begins to learn things about it.

  6. New reader, loving the stories!! I finished them in two days, but then, I’m a rather fast reader. 🙂 I can’t wait for more!!!

  7. Sorry that I’ve been absent for a while. Let me say that your new chapter is refreshingly homey. You write a scene between a grandmother and her granddaughter well. Anyone who’s spent time with their grandma as an adult knows the polite clash of wills that occurred here. Well done.
    I would like to have a bit more of the family ties explained. I understand how everyone is related, but I think there is a valid point in taking time to explore how Eleanor feels and relates towards her mother and father. She obviously interacts well with her grandmother, despite the interval between visits. Just me putting my oar in. Ignore as you will.
    Thank you for the update! It is, per usual, quite an enjoyable read.

    • Mmmm. I think that’s an interesting sort of comment. I’ll have to think about how it may be appropriate to bring those kinds of reflections in. There aren’t any general issues to expand on as o, yet, although some more information on Evelyn is forthcoming next week and then somewhere again in the next chapter. (It’s roughly almost done, but the length is pretty crazy and so with editing, it may be another few weeks before another thing sort of unfolds itself and makes you guys all nuts xD ).

      If there is something to say though about adult “battles” — most of them often are more like the ones you see in this chapter. As you have noted, people generally have strong opinions about other people and what they should do, be, act, think, etc. In that sense, I think I”m more Jane Austen right now than traditional fantasy xD. Anyways, glad you’re back…. no worries about commenting week to week though. As long as I know you guys are lurking, I keep dutifully typing at my machine xD.

  8. This is probably the most comments I’ve ever seen on a page. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my reaction of wanting to flail around while waiting for more answers.

    • Yeah – ignoring mine, this is the most from readers after the testosterone battle a few weeks ago 🙂 As for flailing, FLAILLLLLLLLLL 😀

  9. A lucky thing for me to be a new reader and to find your story just before an update.
    I find it to be quite well done so far. It is quite refreshing to see an author who’s learning the characters as they arrive in type. Makes the learning curve for a new reader not seem quite so steep when spending a few hours clicking through the updates.

    • Hello there and thanks for the comment! Based on what you mentioned, are you currently reading other stories or viewing webcomics? Also did you read this in one or more sittings?

      • Reading other comics/stories? Oh gods yes, probably too many of them at once to keep track of what’s going on. I read a few, catch up on the archives, find another.. a vicious cycle, truly.
        It took just one setting, I found your story around 6am today and posted my comment just after finishing.

        • LOL. With so many things to read, indeed – see why you’d be up to 6am. Very interesting though. I’d be interested to know what you are reading and viewing. Recommendations are always appreciated.