Cast ashore, perhaps only briefly before being fetched back for another million years of polishing and re-shaping, the stones lay so serene beneath her naked feet. She would have liked to collect each of them for an infinitely complex display, a rockery for which she was personally responsible but which was so vast that she could never walk from one end of it to the other. In a sense, the Tarrel shore was already such a rockery, except that she'd had no hand in preparing it, and she wished keenly to play some part in the design.
She picked up a pebble now, a smooth bell with a silky hole
right through it. Its colours were stripes of orange, silver
and grey. Another stone at her feet was spherical, pure black.
She dropped the bell-shaped one and picked up the black globe
instead. Even as she was lifting it, a bright pink and white
crystal egg caught her eye. The challenge was exquisitely hopeless.