"The Bloodstone" is a story about the orphaned daughter of a wizard trying to survive on a single enchantment someone put on her. It first appeared in The Shimmering Door, an anthology edited by Katharine Kerr, published by HarperPrism, August 1996, ISBN 0-06-105342-2. It was written specifically for the anthology.
The story is part of the Ethshar series, which consists so far of thirteen novels and eleven shorter works.
"The Bloodstone" is copyright 1996 by Lawrence Watt Evans.
by Lawrence Watt-Evans
arranacy wrinkled her nose in disgust at the smell from Mama Kilina's cookpot. "What is that?" she asked.
"Cabbage, mostly," Mama Kilina replied, poking at a whitish lump. "Cabbage someone pickier than me thought was too far gone to eat."
|The Shimmering Door: U.S. edition|
|Sorceries: British edition|
Kilina looked up at her. "Oh, and I suppose you'd eat it if it were fresh? Some of us don't have your advantages, my girl! We take what we can get!"
Darranacy smiled smugly. "And one of us doesn't have to."
Kilina glared at her for a moment, then went back to her stew. "Laugh while you can, girl," she said. "Someday the spell will break, and when it does you'll be in the same boat as the rest of us."
"Or maybe someday you'll wish it was broken," a voice said from behind, startling Darranacy so that she jumped. She turned and found a smiling young man dressed in tattered red velvet.
"Korun!" she said. "Don't sneak up on me like that!"
"Learn to listen, then," he said.
Darranacy frowned slightly. "I don't understand how you can hear so much in a place like this," she said, waving her hand to take in all of Wall Street and the Wall Street Field, the run-down houses, the city wall, and the dozens of ragged figures huddled around campfires or under blankets in between. "It's not as if we were out in the forest, where it's quiet."
"You haven't learned to listen," Korun said mildly.
"I do listen!" she protested.
"Do you? Then what was it I said that startled you so, just now?"
"You said I should learn to listen, of course!"
"No," Korun corrected her, "That was the second thing I said, after I had startled you and you had told me not to sneak up on you."
Darranacy opened her mouth to argue, then closed it again.
He was right, of course. It would hardly have made sense otherwise.
But then what had he said?
"Oh, I don't know!" she snapped. "I was too startled to listen to the words!"
"I said," Korun told her, "that someday you may wish that your magic spell was broken."
"Oh, that was it." She frowned. "But what a silly thing to say, Korun. Why would I ever wish that?" Before he could answer, she continued, "And if I did, the spell is very easy to break--the hard part is keeping it. If I let the enchanted bloodstone out of my possession, the spell will fade away, or if any food or water passes my lips, poof! The spell's gone. I could break it right now with a single bite of Mama Kilina's glop--if I wanted to, which I most certainly don't." She shuddered at the very idea. She missed the taste of food, sometimes, but that stuff didn't really qualify.
"I have heard," Korun said, "that it is unwise to maintain the spell for too long. Magic always has a cost, Darra. An old wizard once told me that the bloodstone spell can wear you down and damage your health."
"Damage my health, ha!" Darranacy replied. "If I wanted to damage my health, all I would have to do is eat some of the stuff you people live on. The Spell of Sustenance can't be any worse for me than that cabbage. I haven't eaten a bite nor drunk a drop in four months now, and I'm just as fit as ever."
When I first wrote The Misenchanted Sword, I casually threw in "the bloodstone spell," formally known as the Spell of Sustenance, to explain why Valder didn't need to worry about food or fresh water. I think I swiped the idea from Jack Vance.
Eventually it occurred to me, though, that a spell that made it unnecessary to eat could have some very interesting consequences for a lot of people. In relatively primitive societies, most of a person's efforts go toward simply staying fed; with the bloodstone spell you don't need to stay fed.
So when Kit Kerr asked to write a story for her anthology, then known as Sorcery, I wrote "The Bloodstone," which is at least a start on addressing the issues such a spell might raise.
"The Bloodstone" first appeared in The Shimmering Door, an anthology edited by Katharine Kerr, published by HarperPrism in trade paperback, August 1996, ISBN 0-06-105342-2.
The British edition was published in 1997 as Sorceries by Voyager Books, ISBN 0-006-48226-0
The story is reprinted in the back of the December 2000 Wildside Press edition of The Misenchanted Sword, ISBN 1-58715-282-7, with cover art by Dalmazio Frau . It was chosen to accompany that story because the bloodstone spell is mentioned in both stories.
And it's included in my collection, Tales of Ethshar.