When the Thorn That Does Not Kill went into Liril’s neck, she found a small round stone in her mouth. She spat it out and into the monster’s hand. The monster tossed it aside, and from that time to this, Liril has been still and quiet.
It is not so very long ago that Micah, in the schoolyard, found that stone, and picked it up, and named it Liril. He chose that stone not by coincidence or by design, but by necessity. The world works as it does; and there is no other stone that would have been appropriate. So he drew legs on it, and a head, and two hands, and rolled it off into the woods.
Neither Liril or Micah saw where it stopped; but it stopped, of course. It came to a peaceful place, in the shadow of the trees, and waited, still and quiet and without volition, like any other stone.
The shadows grow long, and the wind rustles in the trees, and on its great long legs the namecatcher wasp stalks in. It’s as big as a human hand, which makes it much bigger than the rock.
“Pretty thing,” it says. “Has a name, does it?”
It pokes the rock with a leg. The rock stirs.
“Yes,” the rock admits. “Liril.”
The wasp smiles. Or perhaps it’s more of a leer.
“I’ll take that name,” it says. “Won’t I?”
It scuttles forward a little. Its stinger comes forward, gently, to tap against the stone.
“It’s undecided,” the rock says.
The wasp cocks its head to one side. “Stones tell many things,” it says, “but what a strange thing for a rock to say.”
“Listen,” the rock says, and the namecatcher wasp listens. There’s a soft and faraway drumbeat in the woods.
“They’re coming,” the rock says. “For Liril. And if you take the name, then I won’t be anything at all; but you’ll have her name, and they’ll find you.”
The wasp hesitates. Its antennae twitch. It touches the stone with a leg and rocks it back and forth.
“Then I do not know what to do,” it says.
The rock is still. The wasp is cunning.
“If you can tell me my name,” the wasp says, “then I will let you go.”
“Because I am a namecatcher wasp, and that is the law of my nature.”
“You are Safety,” says the rock.
“I am not.”
“You are Peace,” the rock says.
“I am not.”
The wasp’s wings beat, agitated. Its stinger comes forward, then hesitates. It is wrestling with itself.
“You are Surrender,” the rock says.
“Ah,” says the wasp, as a burden lifts from it. It ascends into the air in a storm, and its wings give rise to a wind that cuts across the winds of the world. As the wasp rises, it blows the rock from its place, and it rolls once, twice, thrice.
There is a drumbeat in the woods, and the rock fears it. So it does not stop. It is even now rolling. It is driven by the changing of the wind.