My name is Shereya, and in Gramble there is a tradition that dates back to the early populations of Prabel. It speaks of the tapestry-tellers who fashion clothes, the Word-Smiths who "invent" metal-works by the power of their tongue, the Earth-Tellers who can form delicately-decorated pottery that would be impossible for the ordinary craftsman; these are the Wordspinners. It is said that they can fashion the most amazing clothing anyone had ever seen, merely by the power of their words. They say a pot that has been Told by an Earth-Teller will give the meal more flavor; a knife fashioned by a Word-Smith never dulls; and any tear in the cloth from an Inkweaver is not mended with needle and thread, but by the words of the weaver, re-telling the story in a new way, to repair the breach.
Of course, all this is merely superstition. There haven't been any Wordspinners in Gramble for many years now. Some even think there isn't
one to be found in all of Prabel. The last Inkweaver disappeared when I
was a little girl.
Her name might have been something exotic and wonderful, like Terrianne
or Lavidia; I always call her Chianna when I imagined her. Everyone else
only called her The Witch. I could never really understand why.
She used to have a small shop right in the thick of town. People would
wander in because the clothes seemed meant for them, they seemed to cry
out to be worn with silent voices heard only by the person meant to wear
At least... That's what people used to say. I never knew that clothes
had voices; whenever someone mentioned these old days of the Inkweavers
as if they happened, I would follow the example of my elders and remind
these people what the word "inanimate" meant.
Yet many would insist that the clothes made by the Inkweaver were not
like ordinary clothes. They repeated the stories that made them, and
endowed the wearer with special magics and powers to make them more like
the characters in those stories. Everywhere you listened, there were
whispered tales of the Wordspinners; people were pointing over their
shoulders toward objects that had been Told. Things were different then;
life was pleasant for the Tellers.
No one knows for sure where they "went bad." Perhaps a malevolent
Wordspinner blessed the wrong person, or made a bad story out of a knife
or a tunic. Whatever it was, the people made it clear that the
Wordspinners were no longer welcome in society. The Tellers of the clay
and metal went first, then the Tellers of wood and field. The
Cloth-Tellers (or Inkweavers) were the last to leave, but gradually their numbers
dwindled to just the one who lived in Mirrorvale.
I still remember my first glimpse of her. My friend Larryn had tripped
and torn her skirt. At least, that is what I assumed—and yet I had not
seen her lose her balance, we were only walking, and the skirt ripped as
if torn by invisible hands. She seemed overly distraught for such a
small tear; I had wondered if she feared going to her mother.
"Mother couldn't mend this!" Larryn insisted. "It's a Told dress! And the Tale has been broken! We must go to the Inkweaver!"
She marched us both right to the Inkweaver's gate. I didn't want to go
any further, but I watched Larryn closely as she knocked at the door.
It opened, and there I saw her—the Inkweaver. It's funny, I can't recall
much of her looks, but the way she spoke, I could feel the power she
held in her tongue.
"Greetings Larryn," the Inkweaver said, "what troubles you?"
"It's my dress," Larryn explained, displaying the tear. "The Prince took
a wrong turn at the crossroads, and paused for directions at an inn,
whereupon a band of ruffians set upon him and now I fear he will be
The Inkweaver shook her head. "We must set the Prince back on his way!
Let me see—shall a magistrate confront the ruffians, or perhaps an
Larryn smiled, "I think the Prince turned aside because he was weary of
traveling alone. Let us provide him with a strong, broad companion to
aid his quest!"
The Inkweaver nodded, and seemed to ignore the tear entirely as she
grasped Larryn's hands. Slowly, carefully, she spoke words in a quiet,
still voice. I heard a branch crack behind me, but when I turned, I saw
no one. Perhaps it had been a bird. When I looked at Larryn and the
Inkweaver once more, her dress had changed, and it was no longer torn!
She looked much more relaxed, and she thanked the Inkweaver and
continued on her way.
Also from "Inkweaver":
-The Last Inkweaver
-What Are You Afraid Of?
-In The Inkweaver's Cottage
-The Unfinished Tapestry
-Tales of the Inkweaver: "The Three Daughters"
-In The House Of The Talesmith
-"The Invisible Gift" and "Forward Unto Danger"
-Escape From Blackrope
-The Rise and Fall of Morgianna Plontus-Byrmingham
-The Morning After
-Tales of The Inkweaver: "The Four Travellers"
-In the Court of Count Bergen
-"The Four Travellers" Part 2
-Do You See What I See?
-Welcome to Criansa
-A Nice Cup of (Honest) Tea
-Interpreting The Stone
-Tales of The Inkweaver: "Four Animals in Partnership"
-Tark Trades People
-"Plotting" and "Meet Tark's Crew"
-Storytime for Tark
-Tales of The Inkweaver: "The Stone in The Road"