The Unhewn Stone by Wendy Laharnar is a medieval adventure in which a modern Swiss youth, Stefan Gessler, travels back to 1307AD by means of a magic orb. While there his mission is to prevent Wilhelm Tell from killing his ancestor, the tyrant governor Gessler, and to prevent the Tell legend from happening. At home in the present, there is a beautiful girl, Ursula, who has Stefan in a spin so he hardly notices Heidi his friend’s sister. In the medieval world Ursula is always with Stefan, tormenting him in the form of a shape-shifting sibyl.
In present day
Chapter Four Switzerland
Stefan shows the strange orb he found on the mountain to his grandfather, Ääni, and where Stefan first becomes aware of his attraction to Heidi, Uri’s sister.
In Stefan's attic bedroom, scientific magazines and the alchemist's Opus Magnum lay open on his desk. Ääni peered through a magnifying glass at the strange half sphere. His hands trembled while rotating it. "Wunderbar! Amazing! I can't believe it."
Stefan pulled up a chair for Heidi to sit beside his grandfather. He stood behind her and adjusted the traveller's red scarf to cover his scar. Like a snow mask, the scarf hid his discomfort from Heidi. Why, he wondered, should she suddenly concern him now? In a muffled voice, he asked, "What is it, Ääni? This ball has the same markings as the manuscript and the tin lid. Did they belong to the same person?"
"Yes," Ääni answered, his eyes trained on the ball. "I know what this is. It's—and yet, it can't be." The words caught in his throat. "There should be another half."
Uri sat with one thigh on the edge of the desk next to Ääni. From his jacket pocket, he removed the spongy gold with the rock jammed inside. With a cheeky grin, he swept the sphere back and forth under the old man's nose before he handed it over.
Ääni's cerulean eyes widened and sparkled. He cupped both spheres in his hands to test their weight. "I've studied diagrams of this in the manuscript, but never in a million years did I imagine I'd hold it. Where did you find it?"
Stefan hesitated. Ääni might think him gullible, even delirious. "It found me. I know it sounds absurd."
Almost in one breath Stefan told Ääni where they buried Spitz, of the appearance of the vagrant after the tremor brought down the Tower, of the spontaneous combustion and how difficult it was to find the second half of the ball.
"Do you think it's all connected?" Heidi asked.
Ääni smiled at her. "If you mean the burial and the tremor inside the rocks, no, I don't. But, the appearance of the man and the tremor, this is significant."
– from Chapter Twenty-Three Switzerland
|This tapestry found here|
Stefan is searching for his cousin Rolf who is imprisoned by the evil knight. He comes through the secret passage and has another close encounter with the shape shifting sibyl.
As Stefan slipped from behind the heavy tapestry, a figure in black flung open the shutters. Fading daylight flooded the room. An uncomfortable sense of familiarity prickled his skin. If this was the sibyl, she had him cornered.
He dived back behind the wall hanging and slammed his hand on the limestone surface, rubbing the wall in search of the hidden mechanism. He thumped the stones, but couldn't reopen the secret passage. The tapestry moved about him as if struck with a broom. Pulling in his stomach, he flattened himself against the wall. The movement stopped. He drew a breath and waited.
The edge of the tapestry rolled back. A hand reached for his cloak. The nail on the middle finger grew longer. It curved into a talon.
"I need you Dear One. Come to me," the woman purred.
Stefan gazed at a lovely young face, the face of his unrequited love. "Ursula!" He spoke her name, enthralled even though a part of him knew the girl wasn't real. Unable to abandon his toxic desire, he followed her into the light and believed he mattered to her.
Her cold touch soothed his face. He breathed the scent from the cinnamon sticks she'd poked through the wilted, wildflower-circlet on her head, but a sudden whiff of the bat faeces she sought to disguise brought him to his senses.
"Urgh!" he said, scanning the room for a means of escape. "Keep away from me."
They stood on a square dais. He should jump off and run for the door, but he'd never get it open before she grabbed him. She moved closer with arms flung wide. The smile on her grimy face melted into a smirk. He backed away, tripped, and fell against the arm of a big carved chair placed like a throne in front of the tapestry depicting a hunting scene. Trapped!