WATER STORY

The planet was rolling on its elongated orbit around the warm, bright yellow star. It was a world split between a gently rocking ocean, a large expanse of land and a galaxy of scattered islands. There was life on the planet, intelligent life…with all its splendors and peculiarities.

The mermaids and mermen inhabited the rolling, moving, rocking waters of the planetary ocean. Their human brothers and sisters ruled the continent while the islands were some kind of a meeting ground for both. Despite their entirely human restlessness and contradictory nature, the two nations were living in a state of magic innocence. They were cooperating in many areas but they were not mixing. There were certain boundaries that had never been crossed.

But the laws set by humans are not eternal; they are not the Laws of Nature so they become obsolete after a while and they are challenged by the bold and untamed ones, born under mysterious stars to break down the walls and push forward the boundaries. Not that anyone ever knew about when and how those stars appeared in the skies…They were elusive travelers of the high waters of the Universe, coming and going after a secret rhythm. They just suddenly blossomed in petals of diamond sparks in the meadows of the night, subtly altering the course of a new life and then disappeared without a trace from the highs. Though old wisdom says that such stars move into the heart of the chosen one and keep shining in his/her inner sky…Oh, but that’s just a saying…

The King and Queen of the Ocean were anxiously waiting for the moment their next child would be born. They already had a little girl and now they were hoping for a son. Days followed in hopeful expectation but it seemed that this child was already having a mind of his own. No full Moon, no Ocean tide, no incantation could hurry the delivery. It was a stormy night, with deep restlessness in the moss-green cradle of waters that the Queen was finally able to give birth to the greatly expected one. When the baby cried out, gasping for his first breath, a star fell from the skies, perching the liquid layers, diving to the glowing bottoms, and nested in a secret corner of the small, beating heart. The child was beautiful, with translucent green eyes and silky, black hair. The mermaids and mermen joined their beloved King and Queen in their joy. Once the child was born, the storm quieted above and the Moon glazed with silver light the face of the planet.

Up in the mountains, in a small cottage, the youngest daughter of a family of highlanders was sleeping in the wooden cradle. She has joined her two sister just days before and her dreams were peacefully flowing under the guidance of a twinkling little star. The moonlight was showering above the silent little house. The Lord of the Night was watching over the dreams of each and every creature with the same gentle care…

The river wildly rushes through the narrow and steep gorges, jumps over rugged rocks and huge boulders, splashing in bubbling spreads of cooling rainbow, then calms down and deepens, turning into a major flow of crystal clear waters. Spotted, jumping trout lives in these waters and strange shaped, emerald and magenta dragonflies crisscross above the majestic river. Thick, tall forests follow the path, from the deep-green fir and pine forests to the strong oak patches and to the light colored, trembling aspen woods. The youngest daughter of the highlanders is a young girl by now, with dreaming eyes and wildly free heart. She spends most of her free time atop one high rock, watching the hurried river and listening to its songs about the places he’s been. Her copper brown hair is cut short and her dark-lilac eyes have a bold, piercing look. She’s brisk and helpful but independent, giving her gentle mother headaches. Her two sisters married and left the house; it was her turn to be courted but she kept pushing away any attempt.

-But my dear, your sisters have settled and it’s about time for you to find a good man and marry him! Don’t you want a family of your own?

-Mom, please… I am not interested in the boys around here. I want to travel and I want to see the Ocean!

But the mother was not giving up so easily. She called for her husband’s help.

-Peter, are you listening to this silly girl of yours?

But the father knew better than being caught between the two women, so he grinned and hurriedly left the house.

-Don’t worry, Anna. Some goblin or elf will sooner or later marry her…-he said as he reached the door. Rose, don’t annoy your mother or she will burn the stew. Go, get some herbs and bark; people asked for them in the village.

Rose left a quick peck on her mother’s cheek and fled the house. She took her back pack and headed to the forest; she had something in her head and she needed to collect a few things from Nature’s generous offer.

 

In the Kingdom of the Ocean, Ryuu, the prince of Mermaids grew into a handsome young man. He was not an average merman; his beauty was elusive and somehow confusing. Even for his loving parents it was hard to point out what exactly they were seeing, looking at their son. His face was too beautiful for a man but the fire burning in the hypnotic, green eyes and the passionate, almost defiant personality were definitely manly. He was charming and untamed, with his long, black hair flowing like a cape of silk. Ruling the kingdom was not a goal for him; he was more of a dreamer and a traveler. So he roamed the seemingly endless blue waters, swimming from one island to another, from one shore to another, searching, learning and filling his eyes and heart with the beauties encountered.

He loved to follow the large vessels of the earth-people, riding the waves of the Ocean, carrying goods back and forth between the different corners of the land or the colorful islands. The more he could see about the world of these inlanders, the more curious he became about them. In nights with full Moon he used to drive his Sea-foam horse over the tip of the waves, eyes sparkling with excitement, hair flowing in the warm breeze until he reached some wild, hidden shores and sat on the cliffs, watching the flickering light of the stars and the passing ships. He became well known for the travelers, many of them being mesmerized by the magic flowing around him.

-My son, you’re always wandering –complained Queen Asami. Your father is very upset that you’re neglecting your duties as Royal Heir.

-Mom-Ryuu kissed his mother affectionately, I find politics boring. I am driven by the beauties of this world; I cannot take my eyes off from these wonders! I want to travel and see everything before I settle!

-Oh, my child….Look around you! We live in the largest and the most beautiful kingdom. All your friends have found their soul-mate and your sister’s wedding is near. What else do you want? We have never disturbed the inlanders. That is an entirely different world. You know that we never mix; how could we? They cannot live under water and the ancient law forbids close relationships with them. Please, come to your senses!

Ryuu teasingly tilted his head, smiling to Asami.

-Mom, don’t worry…If you want me to find a soul-mate, you have to let me search for her. Tell father that I’ll join him later at the Council, will you?

He swam out before the Queen could protest and headed to one of his favorite spots. It was a small bank of sands, near the place where a mighty river met the Ocean. The sand carried by the river piled up in time, hiding interesting things carried from a large distance. Ryuu loved to search and collect them and always tried to imagine the place they were coming from. The item sitting on the sand was a roll with something written on it. Ryuu carefully unfolded it, reading the letters.

“As the rivers rushes towards you, embracing Ocean, my heart runs with the waters, dreaming about you.”

Reading these words, he felt something stirring inside him. The yearning of someone from afar for the world lost in the misty horizon echoed closely in his heart. He was consumed by the same yearning for the worlds untouched. He read the words again and again, inhaling the scent of forests unknown and reaching towards the one beyond the message. The following days he kept coming back in this place, hoping for another message…

“Oh, I’m such a fool-he murmured inwardly-how do I know that I will ever get another such sign? Even if they were sent, they might get lost on their way to the Ocean…I must be crazy to even hope.”

But the river was a faithful carrier and soon, the second roll was resting atop the sand bank. Impatiently, he almost broke the water-soaked roll so he took breath, quieted down and gently unfolded the message.

“Stranded in the distance, my heart can only dream and cry out…Oh, why can’t I fly like the birds or swim like the children of your eternal waters?”

Inside the heart of the young merman the magic star of his fate began to glow; it has captured the signal sent out by its distant pair. The two stars connected through the invisible grid of light, love and cosmic energies and the heartbeat of the two youth synchronized in inner harmony. For now, they were oblivious of each other’s existence but their hearts already knew that they were one….

Rose sat on the cliff above the waterfall and her mind was drifting….Her parents were already sleeping when she slipped out the house. It was a bright night, the full Moon reigning in the skies above. In such nights, Nature opened its soul, filling the world with magic, so her mind could more easily read the hidden signs of the world. Even the whisper of the river was becoming clearer and louder and she would listen to every little word spoken. Her close friend, the boisterous flow of waters was bringing her news. Her messages have reached the shores of the ocean unharmed and somebody caught and read them.

Rose’s heart filled with sudden excitement; her inner voice has reached the places she was dreaming about. She tried to imagine another person reading her lines and…she blushed. Those lines were so foolish and intimate…Yet, the thought that her feelings reached a human shore gave her the comfort she sought. The river was whispering something about a spirit like hers but for now, that was all she could decipher from the bubbling of the waters. She took a sip of the cool, refreshing air of the night and her mind wandered…On the sand-bank, Ryuu’s mind was also wandering…Her thoughts were slowly descending the river while his dreams were swimming upstream….

And, while the youth kept dreaming, parents were busy setting their paths in life.

-Peter Long, if you’re just sitting here and say nothing to this stubborn girl of ours, you’re of no help!

Anna was quite angry; all her attempts to convince her daughter to accept the invitation made by the son of their neighbor failed. Rose refused her sharply; no, she was not going to the village gathering and no, she was not interested in this boy or any boy. Yet Anna thought that these were just outbursts of a spoiled girl and nothing more. Their neighbors were fine people and the young man could become a good husband.

-She is so stubborn!- exclaimed her. I wonder from whom she got that….

-Don’t look at me!-replied the father. I had my share of it! Eh, don’t get so angry, my dear. Talk to the match makers, if you have run out of solutions. I’m sure they’ll find something.

Peter left the kitchen and knocked on his daughter’s door. Rose was drawing something on a piece of softened aspen bark. She smiled to her father.

-Hey, Rosie. Your Mom is a bit upset about you. Be gentle to her; you know she loves you. I have to go now. Take care, girlie.

She stood up and kissed him.

-Thanks, Papa. I’ll be good, promise. But I am not going out with Jack.

-Ok, ok….just keep it low, will you? Your Mom would chew my head off if she knew I endorse you…

He closed the door and headed to the woods. There was a lot of work to do and his friends were waiting for him. Rose set back to the table and finished her drawing: it was a depiction of the mountain where she lived, with the mist crawling through the valleys and the river jumping over the rocky steps. She drew herself on the top of her favorite cliff. The ink made of forest plants quickly dried so she rolled up the thin sheet of bark, tied it with a braided piece of colored leather and put it in her pocket. She slipped out of the house inconspicuously…by jumping out the window. She ran to the river and entrusted her flowing friend with the new message for the faraway recipient. The little roll slowly disappeared in the bubbling waters…Rose exhaled happily and turned around smiling. She shook her head, letting the wind play with her hair…The light inside her was growing in intensity and the world seemed brighter than ever…

In the Great Palace of Crystal, King Hiroaki was fighting almost the same battle with his reluctant son.

-Ryuu, you are my heir and I expect you to act according to that. What is all that non-sense about travelling inland? You have nothing to do there and all you can achieve is to upset your Mother. She is very worried about you!

The young merman sighed unhappily.

-I don’t mean to upset any of you, Father. But I have this irresistible call and I cannot find my place; at least, not yet…

The king kept silent for a moment; the memory of his own restlessness was not so far…

-You might be surprised but I understand your feelings. I offer you a bit of time to come to terms with your own emotions. Follow your call but be careful; not all the inlanders like us, mermen. Take care and be back to your sister’s wedding. I expect you to make your choice then and live up to the expectations of our people.

-Thank you, Father.

The King embraced his son and released him. Queen Asami joined her husband.

-I’m still worried about him-she said, putting a hand on Hiroaki’s shoulder.

-I know, my dear, but he needs to find his own way. Otherwise, he would keep dreaming the dream he never lived. He’s strong willed and passionate; we have to deal with him, not try to break him in.

Ryuu was cutting the waves in high speed; his heart was telling him that there was a message waiting on the sand-grid. He saw it immediately and grabbed it. As the white sheet unfolded, the image of the world he was dreaming about displayed under his astonished eyes. As he focused on the drawing, the image enlarged suddenly and came to life. He saw the crenellated, grey-blue top of a mountain soaring into the azure of the sky, the deep-green blanket of the thick forests spreading over the steep slopes, the bubbling, frothing river rushing down the valley…Atop of a cliff above the steps of the waterfall, he saw a human shape. He watched closer…it was a girl, with messy auburn hair and melancholic eyes. Yet there was certain determination in her posture as she was peering into the depth. Suddenly, she raised her eyes, capturing his gaze. Ryuu felt a bolt of energy running through his entire body and he retreated instinctively. The magic broke and the image disappeared. He was sitting on the sand-bank, holding the delicate drawing in his hands. But by now he knew what he wanted:  to find that girl.

He decided to leave at night, avoiding any unexpected encounter with the inlanders. He left a letter for his parents and delved into the cool waters of the river. It was murky and the push of the huge mass of flow was powerful, testing his swimming abilities. The sweet water had a different touch and it was harder to cut through it. But Ryuu took the challenge and turned the encountered obstacles into a source of inner energies. The inhabitants of the river stood aside, opening a less difficult channel inside the river, easing his passing through. It was like they acknowledged his leading, royal traits and bowed before him. The young prince of waters slept during the day, hidden under the bowing arms of vegetation of the riversides or he took a rest inside small caves carved out by the flow in the rocky walls on its sides. The quiet times of dawn and dusk offered him the proper time to see the world he sought and fill his eyes with new beauties. He followed with great curiosity the world of humans. They were noisy, energetic and looked a bit clumsy moving on two feet. Yet, on the whole, they were just like his people: sometimes lovable, sometimes annoying. He smiled inwardly and his mind returned to the girl in the mountains…

Rose was deeply unhappy; her Mom kept her busy day by day and she couldn’t spend time by the river anymore. And to make things even worse, each evening the neighbors were visiting them and she had to stay at home, listening politely to the talking. While young Jack kept trying to capture her attention, frustration was building up inside the girl. She could hardly refrain from making him pay for the whole annoyance. It wasn’t his fault after all; it was all because of her Mom. Anna decided to turn her rebellious daughter into a proper young lady and prove her that as a parents, she had the upper hand. What strange ideas this girl of her had! Who ever heard of girls travelling into the unknown like a vagrant boy? Why would any of them want to go to the Ocean? As much as she knew, that was a dangerous place, inhabited by strange, half human, half fish people. Anna found the idea disagreeable and quickly dismissed it.

Rose on the other hand could not forget the strange dream she had one night after her drawing was sent out by the river. In her dream, she was sitting on her favorite spot, lost in thoughts when she felt that someone was watching her. As she raised her head, she caught the intent gaze of two sparkling, green eyes. For a split of a moment, their light flooded her with such an intense emotion that it got her gasping for air. As the magic broke, the loss of the momentary connection left her pained. She couldn’t see the person behind those mesmerizing eyes, but she was almost certain that it was the one receiving her messages. Now her mind was working on how to escape under surveillance and find the one in her dream. Though she didn’t want to upset her parents, she had no intention to marry Jack. She carefully worked out a plan and waited for the proper moment to act. Then, one day her parents had to travel to visit some relatives and left Rose at home on her own.

-You could stay with your sisters while we are out, Rose-suggested Anna. It’s not good to be on your own in this remote place.

Rose shook her head and smiled.

-Come on, Mom. I’m old enough to take care of myself. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. No elves or goblins around to kidnap me. Enjoy your trip! You need a break and so does Father.

Anna wasn’t convinced so she grumbled a bit but finally left. The first evening, Jack showed up at the door but Rose sent him away.

-Thank you, Jack but I’m fine. No need to visit me; it’s not appropriate, anyway. Good bye!

She shut the door in the face of the astonished young man. She felt sorry for him but sincerely hoped that it would cure him of his attachment. Rose waited until the night deepened enough to leave the house. There were enough stars in the skies to light her way until the Moon would rise. She ran down the slope, crossed the meadow and headed to the waterfall. The sound of the falling water was like music for her soul. Her only ally and closest friend, the river was waiting with news to deliver. She stopped and looked down to the valley where the river was tumultuously spreading…The Moon took a step above the rugged horizon of the mountains and then, something glittered in the waters bellow. Something was swimming upstream, something big…She could see a large tail cutting through the water but that was not a fish. She knew every living creature in this area and there was no fish of this size living in this river. Her heart was beating wildly as she ran down to the bottom of the waterfall, near the large, swirling pool. She jumped from one boulder to another in an attempt to get closer to the bubbling flow. Her eyes were franticly searching for that glittering shape fighting the stream. Her mind shut out the first moment, leaving her inner feelings to guide her search.  Bright as she was, her heart has always been her unfailing compass.

Rose stopped on a large, flat boulder and kneeled, peering inside the dark mass of liquid. And she saw….a silver shape piercing the water, coming straight in her direction. She held back a little as he rose above the water, splashing and shaking his long, dark strands of hair. He stood there, looking in her eyes with vivid curiosity. It was a young merman. She knew it without any doubt. He had those translucent, light filled green eyes she saw in her dream. And he was beautiful. His face was almost feminine in gracefulness but he had a powerful masculinity in the aura surrounding him. He was moving with ease as he came closer, smiled and hopped on the boulder next to her. Rose laughed.

-I’m sorry-she said. I must look like a fool standing here without a word. I’m Rose.

Ryuu breathed out and laughed to.

-I worried for a moment-he replied with a grin. I am Ryuu and you are the girl who sent the messages to the Ocean.

Amazing how easily conversation flows when kin spirits meet. The Moon was smiling in the skies, watching the two youth. He has never been so happily ignored….The wild Rose of the mountains and the young Dragon of the seas were talking for hours. The Lord of the skies bowed gracefully and slipped beyond the horizon, leaving the Sun to open the gates of a new day. The conversation stopped abruptly as Rose came to realize that the light was growing around them, endangering the merman.

-Oh, it’s so late! You cannot stay here in broad daylight! It’s not safe!

Ryuu shook his head and smiled.

-Don’t worry, I can find a hiding place. I saw some caves downstream.

Rose’s face lighted up.

-Caves? You don’t have to go that far. If that would suit you, I can show you one right here. Follow me!

She stood up and headed to the waterfall, jumping from one boulder to another until she came close to the huge, thundering veil. She pointed inside the flow of water and Ryuu, following her instructions, delved inside the swirling pool. Rose slipped behind the dense, pending greenery and met the merman inside the big cave hid by the river. Ryuu found a comfortable spot and sat there, leaning against the wall. Rose sat next to him. In the quickly growing light, they could see each other better. She found him incredibly attractive and not only because those ocean-deep green eyes. There was a flow of magic surrounding him, something that resonated deeply inside her heart. It was like a music that her heart understood before even learning the notes. Whatever magic he spread, it was perfectly echoed inside her soul. She blushed under his gaze and he found her lovely and really catchy with her innocent look, rebellious hair and that soft look in her eyes.

-I’m fine here, Rose. Please don’t worry. Go home and rest. I will wait for you at night.

She kneeled before him.

-Be careful, Prince. I’m not sure how the villagers would react seeing you; some of them aren’t exactly bright.

He leaned forward, caught her by the shoulders and looked deep in her eyes.

-I am not leaving this place without you, Rose. Go now, before you get in trouble because of me.

For a moment, the air between them sizzled. The stars of the inner skies were sparkling inside the field of invisible flow. Rose sighed, jumped to her feet and fled home.

Climbing the steep hill, her mind was in frenzy. A merman. A prince of those enigmatic, beautiful people she knew only from tell-tales. The Ocean answered her messages in the most beautiful and unexpected way…And now, what? They could not keep hiding endlessly; her parents would return and her Mom would start again with her attempts to marry her to Jack. No way! The moment this young man emerged from the depths before her, she knew that she would follow him to the end of the world. Rose stopped at the door, thinking; time was running short. She entered and looked for the kettle to boil some water. She needed a tea to clear her head.

There was a knock in the door and she went to open it.

-Good morning, Rosie!-chirped her sister, Mary, hugging her. Mary was a cheerful blonde, mother of two little devils. I came to see you, sis! I’ve heard you slammed the door in your groom’s face last night!-she giggled.

Rose raised an eyebrow questioningly.

-I did what?-she asked.

-Hey, don’t deny it! The boys at the pub were teasing Jack that you shut the door in his face. They even made a bet that he won’t have the courage to return here till the marriage.

-What marriage, Mary?-asked Rose in a low voice.

Her sister made a funny face at this question.

-Yours, of course. Who else? Mother and Father are at the city fare to buy you a wedding dress and all the necessaries. Didn’t you know that? Oh, I’m sorry; I thought you knew…

Though she was boiling inside, Rose took a deep breath to calm down.

-Hmmm…It seems they forgot to talk to me about this.

She poured tea in two mugs, adding some sugar and milk. She handed a cup to Mary.

-Don’t be upset, Rosie. Jack is a good boy and he’s been crazy about you ever since you were children.

-I know-murmured the girl. He even fell off the tree, trying to follow me. I have nothing against him. But I don’t love him.

Mary kicked her lovingly.

-Oh, come on. Love will come in time. Romance is for fairy tales, girl. Jack is not such a bad choice; believe me, I’ve seen worst. Now, please, give me some herbs for tea; my two babies are coughing and I ran out of my supply.

Rose filled a pouch with fragrant mix of flowers, bark and herbs and handed out to Mary. They kissed and the elder sister left for home. Rose shook her head.

-So, I have a groom. Ok.  We’ll see…

She finished her work around the house and gathered a small pack of dried fruits, cinnamon cookies and a small bottle of raspberry juice. While the light was dimming, the shadows were stretching over the land. Rose leafed through her personal belongings; she knew by now that she has to leave her home. Even if she could avoid this marriage, her parents and the community will keep pressuring her to settle and join the ranks. Her mind wandered for a moment; what was the young Prince doing?

 

Ryuu was thinking of her; what was the wild-rose doing? Will she come tonight or she changed her mind during the day? His mind was raising doubts but his heart kept diminishing every piece of such reasoning. Though they’ve just met, he knew that they were sharing a deep and magic connection that went from soul to soul. He would never leave her, unless she would clearly ask him. He wanted to take her to the Ocean and show her all the beauties of his azure-blue kingdom. The fact that she was not a mermaid was not an obstacle in the way of their….love? Is it possible that this was love? But what else could reach so deeply, stirring the waters of the soul? What else could bring such warmth in every thought and every word? What else could dwarf the difficulties, wipe out the differences and fill the very air they breathe with sparks of light?

The young merman sighed; he has met beauties before. The people of the Ocean were beautiful and some of the most wonderful mermaids were competing for his attention at home. Yet, something was always missing in every such encounter…Something he couldn’t point out exactly.  This girl, with her rebellious appearance and velvety eyes held an inner glow that radiated around her, echoing somewhere deep in his soul, like a soft voice that was there from the beginning. He has never heard that voice before, yet he could recognize it instantly. So, the beauty she held was enriched by the magic inside and that was what he was seeking for such a long time. This was love at first sight, a chance that he couldn’t miss.

 

The evening was descending over the mountain and in the house Rose was counting the hours until she could safely leave the house. There was another knock in the door and she froze.

-Rose! Rose, open the door! We have to talk!

It was Jack. She listened carefully and she heard the muffled laughter of other boys outside. Oh, Jack came with his friends to prove them he’s a man. Rose was annoyed. She opened the window.

-What do you want, Jack?

Kept outside, the young man reddened.

-Rose, open that damn door. I need to talk to you.

-Jack, please. I’ve told you before; go home. You’re very nice but I am not interested in your courtship. We are just friends, nothing more. Please…

-We are going to marry soon, Rose. You cannot keep me out like this!

Rose leaned slightly forward and looked into his eyes.

-I have made no such promises to you.

-Your parents agreed on this! Your Mother is making the preparations!

-Then you will have to marry her, Jack. Good night!

Before her wannabe groom could utter a sound she closed the window. Angered, the young man kicked the door but in vain. He left with his friends in silence. None of them were laughing.

The stars were twinkling on the high canopy of the skies and Rose left the house with a bit of anxiety. She was fully aware that Jack left their place humiliated in front of his friends. She felt sorry for him but she had no other option; he wouldn’t listen. Ah! Rose was angry on her mother; her mingling caused this mess in both of their life….Now, she was worried that Jack might try something foolish. She waited until late in the night but the moon was about to rise and it was almost full Moon. Such a big light would make her vulnerable to be sighted. She slipped silently close to the house and delved into the nearby shrubbery.

She reached the entrance of the waterfall weary and breathless. The cave was empty. She leaned against the wall and burst into tears.

-I’m here, Rose. Please don’t cry…

Ryuu emerged from the water and hopped next to her. Rose smiled and wiped off her tears. She breathed out her anxiety.

-I’m sorry…I had an annoying day.

-Tell me what’s wrong.

Rose sighed.

-My parents decided to marry me with one of the villagers but they forgot to ask my opinion. They also kept secret this arrangement. I found out from my sister, Mary and from that unfortunate guy who is my would-be groom. And my parents could be back any day from now on….

The merman tilted his head questioningly.

-And what do YOU want?

-I want to see the Ocean and I don’t want to marry any of the guys from here.

Ryuu smiled playfully.

-Let me see if I can help. I could take you to the Ocean. Would you come with me?

-Yes, I would. But how? You are at home in the water but I am…human. I have no tail to swim like you…

-Don’t worry. Tomorrow night it’ll be full Moon and my magic powers will be at full height. You will see…Now, smile, wild Rose of the mountains. Your smile fills the world with light.

 

Hiding in the shrubbery that covered the vantage point, an angry and frustrated young man was spying on the young couple sitting in the Moon light. The girl was laying in the arms of a strange creature, half man, half fish. So this was the reason of the rejection he met…she had a secret lover. But that…that wasn’t even a human being! It was…an abomination, some kind of witch or bewitching animal! How could she?! Jack’s blood boiled in fury. He left the place; he had seen enough. All he had to do now was to take revenge.

Rose got home earlier and tried to sleep. She had this nagging feeling of lurking danger and she was almost certain that her clash with Jack in the previous evening would bring misfortune. She forced herself to sleep, shutting out the thoughts; whatever was coming, she would fight back. Ryuu was sleeping to; his magic powers were building up inside as the Moon slowly rounded to the full circle. The treat Rose brought added to his bodily and heartfelt comfort. Whatever her hands touched, it filled up with the light of love. The following night would decide their fate and Ryuu looked forward the challenge with hope and determination.

The knock on the door pulled her out of the sleep. She stood up, walked to the window and peered out through the shades. Siobhan, her eldest sister was at the door. Rose rushed to let her in. Something serious must have happened if she has decided to leave her home and come to visit. Quiet Siobhan married very young and left the family house and seldom returned. She married her childhood sweetheart but her choice wasn’t exactly her parents’ favorite. So she built a life of her own, far from their influence. Rose secretly admired her and whenever she could, she visited her sister and her good husband. The family had a little girl they loved dearly. Rose embraced Siobhan.

-What happened?-she asked finally. She quickly put a kettle on the stove to make a tea.

The older sister sighed; Rose was a bright girl.

-Some nasty things are preparing down the village and Jack is in lead of the whole business. Knowing him and the others involved, I am worried about your safety, Rosie. What is going on between the two of you? And what monster do they want to chase down?

Rose felt a knot in her throat; that bastard had spied on them the previous night! Siobhan saw her sister getting pale and shaking. She caught her and forced her to sit down.

-Rose, listen to me! I won’t insist on telling me; I trust your mind and heart. I know from Mother that you want to travel to the Ocean. I know she hates the idea, I know she doesn’t understand. But let me tell you something: I knew our great-grand Mother. She was very old but she was a wonderful story teller. She told me that one of our ancestors came from the Ocean side. Maybe his blood is still yearning for his homeland. If you feel that call, go! Follow your dream! But take care; I don’t know what is in these guys’ mind. And don’t forget that I love you, Rosie. We all do…

After Siobhan left, Rose sprang in action. She collected her belongings, dressed up in pants and jacket, hiding her hair under a cap. She checked on herself in the mirror; well, in the darkness of the night, she would pass for a young boy. Good. She dimmed the light in the kitchen, made a rag doll and dressed it in her clothes and sat her at the table. She let the curtains slightly open, just enough to deceive people peeking in. She filled her small back-pack with provisions, took the money Siobhan gave her for the travel and sat in a dark corner, listening to the noises coming from outside. There were still a few hours left till the Moon rise.

She slipped out the house through a hind window as she heard them coming. There was a small gathering of young men lead by Jack, holding torches to light the way. Most of them were coming for the first time in this high area. They lived their lives in the valley and knew almost nothing of the dark forest or the wild rush of the river. They were sensing some discomfort in walking here, in the darkness of the night. They sneaked close to the house, leaving Jack to peek in.

-Ssshhht, she’s still here…-he whispered. Let’s go, let’s go!

Rose grinned in the shadow and took a short-cut to the waterfall. It was a more difficult path and she seldom used it but she had no other option. The Moon was about to rise soon; the light was growing above the crests. She almost panicked when she encountered unexpected obstacles on the way down but quickly calmed down.  There was no time for that. She kept descending, gripping old tree-roots the help her way down, slipping on rock-flows and trying to make the least noise possible. She reached the vicinity of the waterfall before Jack and his companions. But there was still a limb of open ground she had to cross and the light was increasing with every second. Well, come what may come! She ran towards the waterfall. The choir of angry voices followed her almost instantly.

-Look! Somebody is running there! Hey! Stop! Hey, Jack! Look! It’s your bride! Stop her!

Rose lost her cap on the run and her hair auburn hair was shining in the light of the Full Moon emerging above the rugged horizon. She realized that reaching the waterfall was impossible so she headed to the boulders of the river bank. The closer she would get to the river, the higher the chances to reach her Prince. Jack caught her on the boulder she used to sit with Ryuu. She freed her hand with a jerk and faced him.

-Don’t touch me! What do you want, Jack?!

The young man was furious.

-You are coming home with me, Rose! I won’t let some monster take you away from me! Obviously, you are under some spell and you  don’t think clearly. Come, let me take you home!

He reached for her but she stepped back, avoiding his touch.

-I am not coming with you, Jack and I have not lost my mind. I am leaving and I hope you won’t try to stop me.

He leaned forward and grabbed her by the shoulders.

-You’re crazy! You are my bride and I will take you home!

She pushed him angrily.

-Leave me alone!

-You’ve heard what the lady said: leave her alone.

From the foaming waters, Ryuu rose high above both of them. In the bright light of the Moon, he looked taller and impressive, standing on his powerful, glistening tail, an inner fire glowing through his green eyes. He moved closer and stopped next to Rose and smiled a bit.

-Nice outfit-he chuckled. She blushed.

Jack was visibly displeased by the show of intimacy, while on the grassy side of the river bank, the rest of the gang of young men were watching the scene with eyes wide in astonishment. Jack broke the moment of silence.

-She belongs to me! You have no right upon her! You’re not even…human! Go back to your monsters!

A sudden wave of emotions washed through the merman. Mixed feelings were building inside him and anger was one of them. But Rose’s presence, her closeness and the soft touch of her inner flow eased the inner turmoil and he cooled down. She placed a hand on his shoulder, the lilac eyes gazing deep into his eyes. Ryuu breathed out the steam and splashed the waters with his tail. Jack took a step back and so did the others on the shore.

-Who are you to say if I am human or not?! What do you know about me? You are quick to judge but in fact you know nothing! Rose- he said-do you still want to come with me? This young man seems to have a claim upon you…

She shook her head.

-He has no right upon me. I have promised him nothing. I am sorry, Jack but I’ve told you before: find someone else, a girl who would love you. I have found my love. Let’s go, my Prince.

Ryuu took her in his arms and hit the water with all his might. The crystal wave soared into the sizzling light and folded into the shape of the Water Dragon. The creature bent and offered Rose his neck to ride; she took it boldly. The silver light clearly outlined every scale and the ruby-red eyes were menacingly burning. The merman gracefully bowed to the gathering of villagers. Realizing that he’s lost the battle, Jack made a last gesture of revenge. He swiftly took out his knife and threw it towards the merman. Rose cried out when she saw Ryuu falling back into the river, with the knife thrust in his chest. The Dragon roared furiously and raised a wall of water that washed off the villagers. He then delved in the river and pulled out the merman, took him on his back and rushed down the river. A sheet of clouds covered the face of the Moon.

Rose stopped the dragon in a remote area, where the river bank was low and grassy. Ryuu was regaining consciousness. Rose was in tears while she pulled out the knife and tended the wound. She took some fresh plantain leaves from the grass and stopped the bleeding. The young merman breathed out heavily and relaxed.

-Thank you-he whispered. That was vicious. Somehow I did see it coming, yet it was so…pointless. What was he thinking?

-Oh, it was just his hurt, stupid pride…How do you feel now?

Ryuu smiled faintly.

-I’ll be fine, don’t worry. But we have to hurry; the dragon cannot carry us in daylight. We have to find a place to stay till the following night.

The Water Dragon took them on his back and jumped ahead, cutting the waters. From above the Moon followed them closely.

 

Luckily, the wound healed fast so, after a while, Ryuu was able to swim again, leading the way towards the Ocean. They were in a hurry; the marriage of Masuko, Ryuu’s sister was approaching and he didn’t want to miss that. He took the best off the chance of travelling with Rose along the river to learn more about the inlanders and their life. Humans were struggling everywhere to find happiness, yet it wasn’t something granted, despite the best of efforts. It became even clearer that once you meet that magic chance, it should be kept at all costs. The gods that created the Universe, the planetary system, the life that was thriving on it have given the freedom of choice as the biggest gift to the sentient beings. Were those gods still around, it didn’t matter anymore. Inlanders, Ocean-people, they were all in charge with their own happiness. The gods kept silent…or just departed for other horizons. They had sewn the magic seed of love and life and left their beautiful children to blossom. This was the only right thing to do and gods as they were, they knew it well. When they left, they went away with a smile of hope and trust. Ryuu was determined to contribute in his own way to this hope; he has crossed the boundaries between their people in the name of love.

With Rose by his side, they’ve already fought a battle; another one was coming soon. The river was widening and becoming heavier as it approached the Ocean. It was the last night of Full Moon when the travelers reached the meeting line between the two huge masses of water. The thick, sand-filled sweet waters reached inside the opening arms of the Ocean and diluted softly in her blue-green clearness. The river whispered his last messages, splashed its last drops of friendly kisses to Rose and Ryuu and delved in the depths. The Water Dragon turned towards the spread of islands to reach the one that was to become the home of the new Princess of the Ocean. It was a little jewel of greenery and wild flowers, of gentle animals and lively birds. The pointed peak of the mountain was adorned by a cap of iridescent clouds and a clear, fresh source bubbled up at its foot, inside a beautiful clearing. The Water Dragon stopped by the sandy shore and Rose jumped off his back. She embraced the majestic anima, whispered something in his ears, gave a kiss on his cheek and released him. The dragon made a high jump in the Moonlight and swam off, raising silver laced waves around its shining body. Ryuu followed Rose and they sat a few moments in silence, enjoying the display of joy performed by the dragon. The merman held close his wild flower with heart full of joy. Inside their inner skies, the kin stars were spreading sparkles of love.

-This is my gift to you, my wild Rose. This island is all yours; enjoy it. I have to return to the Palace, deep down. I want to share the news with my family. Sleep now and keep me in your dreams. I will return!

He kissed her and plunged in the waves. Rose followed him until the sparkle of his tail melted into the shimmering light of the Moon over the Ocean. She looked around and she almost couldn’t believe that it was real. The night was warm, the air scented and the sound of the waves soft and calming. She sat under a gracefully swaying tree and fell asleep…

 

King Hiroaki was nervously swimming up and down the Royal bedroom when one of the guards knocked on the door. Queen Asami rushed to the door.

-Did you see him?!-she asked hurriedly.

-Yes, my Queen. Your son, Prince Ryuu has returned safely. He is on his way to the palace. The dolphins announced us that he has stopped first on Pearl Island before coming this way.

The queen sighed.

-Come, my dear-said the king. Let’s greet him. Your worries are over.

Oh, if he could only know what was lying ahead….But for now, the people of Ocean breathed more easily, knowing that the adventurous heir of the kingdom has returned from his journey in the world of the inlanders. Now, everybody was preparing for the wedding of Princess Masuko with her chosen one, the young merman Yoshino. The King and the Queen descended to the Great Hall of the Throne where Ryuu was already waiting for them. Asami rushed to embrace her son, checking him like any worried mother would.

-Oh, thank the Gods, you’re back, Ryuu! How was your travel?! Aren’t you tired?! Don’t you want to eat something?!

-My dear, let him breathe, you’re smothering him…-the King chuckled, watching his wife hanging by her son’s neck. Give him time to answer your questions.

Ryuu kissed his mother and bowed his head to the King.

-I am well and I hope I didn’t give you too many reasons to worry about me. My travel was fine and I came back enriched with experience and knowledge.

Asami couldn’t stop asking.

-Is that land more beautiful than our kingdom?

-No, Mother, it isn’t. It’s beautiful in a different way; it is rich in life, colors, scents, lights, in living creatures and human inhabitants. Our kingdom it’s a Garden of wonders in the arms of the Ocean. What I saw there is an equally beautiful garden spread across the whole great land. I will happily tell you everything I have seen and encountered but it takes time. Until then, think about these two gardens the way you think about Masuko and me: we are brother and sister, we are very much alike, yet we are not the same; we are different.

King Hiroaki listened with interest to his son’s words.

-Thisis an insightful vision upon these lands, my son. I am impressed by your description. Our knowledge about each other’s kingdoms is scarce; your experience might improve that. I hope that this will add to your skills as future ruler of our people. Now, it’s time to celebrate your sister’s marriage and to choose a bride for you. You are of age to take over the responsibility of the Kingdom.

Queen Amira was excited.

-Oh, Ryuu, I have found some wonderful girls that would match you. I can hardly wait to present them. I have summoned all to the Court to teach them what a future queen should know. You might meet them after your rest!

Ryuu bowed his head thoughtfully. This was the moment to come clear.

-Mother, Father. I have to tell you something; I didn’t come home alone. I came with the girl I love.

The King and the Queen were deeply surprised; they never knew about Ryuu’s secret love.

-So, why didn’t you come with her? Where is she?

-I left her in a safe place. I didn’t come with her because she’s not who you think she is. We came together from far away; she is an inlander.

The royal couple was in shock. The King was the first to regain his voice.

-Are you out of your mind, son? You brought an Inlander here and you intend to marry her? That’s impossible!

-Why would it be impossible?

-Because our nations don’t mix! It’s against our traditions! And…you have just met her; how can you say you’re in love?!

Ryuu sighed.

-If you think that I am old and wise enough to rule, I think you can trust that I know how I feel. I love Rose and yes, I want to marry her and not another girl.

It was the Queen’s turn to plead with her son.

-This is crazy, Ryuu…We cannot accept this and you cannot do it! The two of you don’t match!

The young merman couldn’t believe his ears. He faced his Mother with passionate revolt.

-Why would you say that, Mother? She’s a human being just like you and me. We share the same heart, the same dreams and hopes and she has left behind a family and a world to follow me. What else do you expect from my future companion? You don’t even know her; how can you tell that she would not be a proper Queen for our people?

-Because she’s …different! –exclaimed Amira. She’s not…a mermaid! She’s an Inlander; our people would never accept her as their Queen. They expect you to choose one of our people, of our own race! There are so many beautiful girls around you, my son! Why would you choose a crippled person, one that could never live in the Crystal Palace?

The Queen was desperate and so was the King. This was something that they couldn’t foresee. It was almost unbelievable; such misalliance never happened in their history. On the other side, Ryuu felt deeply hurt for his parents’ lack of acceptance and understanding. He kept silent for a moment then spoke in a calm voice.

-I understand your reluctance and worries to a certain extent. I am aware that my choice will displease all the families that held hope to marry their daughters with me. But as rulers, I think we are the ones who should open new horizons. Unusual as it may seem, this might be a chance to bring closer the two nations and open the planet for everyone. But most of all, this is about my commitment to the woman I love. I would never betray her love, the love that we both share and the trust she has put in me. I can step aside from ruling and follow my fate. Masuko will be soon married to one of ours and she can step up to the throne beside her husband. I don’t intend to sacrifice my love in the name of obsolete traditions.

Ryuu left the room in a hurry; he almost knocked off Masuko who was coming to great him. The young man held her lovingly for a moment and then released the puzzled girl.

-I’m sorry, sis. I love you. Go inside, Mother and Father need you!

He fled before she could ask what was this all about. He reached his room and locked the door; he needed a moment of reflection in privacy. How could he tell Rose that his own people are not better than those she has left behind? While he was trying to assess the facts, the news of the rift inside the Royal family spread quickly, people taking sides. The perspective of a break and falling out between the parents and their independent son created a great unrest in the Palace and the people of the Ocean. Help came from the most unexpected direction. Queen Amala, the elderly mother of King Hiroaki was a highly respected person but she never got involved in the politics of the kingdom. But now, she knew that her son needed her so she swam directly to the Chamber of the Throne.

She found the King slumped in his chair, head held in the hands, while Princess Masuko was comforting her distraught mother, Queen Asami.

-Mother?-the King looked up in surprise. What are you doing here?

-I think we have to talk, Hiroaki. What do you intend to do with your son?

The King sighed and shook his head.

-I don’t know, Mother….This…this is so…unexpected. What can I do? Our people would not accept his choice. The inlanders also might come against us; after all he took one of their children. And above all, that girl cannot live in the Ocean; Ryuu and her will always be separated. What kind of marriage would be that? They won’t have children either…What would our family become?

As she was listening to her husband’s words, Queen Amira burst into tears. The Queen Mother put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

-Don’t cry, my dear. Maybe things are not as dark as they seem. Listen to me-she said, turning to the King. You are both wonderful and caring parents. Ryuu knows that and I know that he doesn’t want you to be upset. But what are you expecting him to do? Give up on the one he loves, the woman who followed him, leaving everything behind? What man would he be, doing that, tell me?  Try to look at it this way: he is the brave and right man you taught him to be! Now, are you going to support your child or not?

The King was still undecided.

-If only it would be that easy, Mother. How can I stand in front of my people and ask them to cross a rule set at the beginning of times?

-You are the King and ruler this nation trusts. They expect you to lead them, to guide them and help them evolve. This might not be an easy choice but clearly, I don’t see another option. Ryuu made a choice in the name of the most beautiful and important thing in life: LOVE. You cannot deny that. Before you step in front of your people to ask them to follow your decision, give a thought to what Ryuu told you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a grandson to meet. I die to hear the recount of his journey.

 

The tickling of the warm sunrays woke up the sleeping girl. Rose opened her eyes and for a moment she couldn’t believe her eyes. So, this wasn’t just a dream! She was sitting on the shore of the beautiful Ocean…Oh, her heart opened before the gently rocking green-blue field of scintillating waters…she breathed in the spicy-salty air…embracing the playful breeze that was ruffling her hair. A splashing wave came up the sand and embraced her bare feet, leaving bubbling laces of froth behind as he retracted inside the ocean. Other waves followed, teasingly calling her to join them….one or two of them leaving behind gifts of delicate petals of sea-shells.

Rose laughed, undressed and stepped forward. The water lovingly surrounded her as she swam into its translucent body. Schools of colorful fish followed her and flower-like jelly-fish danced gracefully at some distance. Swimming in the Ocean was easier and by far more pleasant than in the rushing, cool mountain river so she tremendously enjoyed it. A family of dolphins emerged from the depths, following her closely, jumping around her and swirling in the air. Rose was immediately captured by their acrobatic skills and their friendliness. A younger dolphin swam close enough to her and Rose gently caressed the smooth, glistening grey-blue skin. The dolphin happily whistled under her touch.

-I see that you have already made some friends-she heard Ryuu’s voice behind her. The young merman embraced and kissed her. They swam together back to the shore, splashing sometimes and laughing. By the time they reached the shore, invisible hands have set a breakfast of colorful, juicy fruits and other treats the island offered. They were set on large green leaves and bowls of seashells. Ryuu and Rose sat in the sand and shared the gifts of the place. Ryuu opened a pink-red fruit, peeled of the thin skin, revealing a mass of magenta-red, translucent, fleshy seeds. He took out a few and offered them to Rose.

-This is the Fruit-of-Love, my Wild-Rose. I share with you its seeds as a token of my love and as my wow to be yours forever. In my land’s tradition, accepting these seeds from my hands means that you will be my Queen forever.

Rose blushed and she felt her heart beating in the throat under the surge of the deepest emotions washing over her. She took the seeds from the held-out palm of the young merman and eat them one by one; the pleasant, sweet –sour taste filled her mouth. She swallowed and smiled. She took a handful of seeds and offered them to him, performing the same ritual. When the last seed disappeared, they embraced and kissed under the sun. At some distance, hiding behind the constant rolling of the waves, an elderly mermaid was watching the ritual of love unfolding. She smiled for herself and delved in the Ocean, leaving the young couple to enjoy the privacy of their magic island.

And while things were tangling and untangling in the world of the Ocean, up in the mountains people were trying to figure out what really happened. The moment the wall of water almost washed them away, the brave gang of young villagers came to their senses. One by one, they crawled out of the mud or from between the boulders where the surge of waters threw them and started to check themselves if they are in one piece…then they broke in angry shouts against their friend, Jack.

-Are you crazy, man?! What were you thinking?! You almost got us all killed!

Pretty shaken himself, Jack was slowly realizing the facts: the merman was probably dead and Rose was gone on the back of a very angry dragon. Rose’s parents were on their way home; what would he tell them? He turned to his friends but judging from the expression on their faces, the chances for further support was slim. Jack slumped on a boulder.

-What am I going to do? What am I going to do?

Touched by his sudden despair, the boys gathered around him.

-Hey, don’t be so lost, Jack. We are together in this. Let’s go home, dry and rest. Things will look better in the morning. This was more than we expected and definitely, more than we could handle together.

-But what if she’s in danger?!-cried out the unhappy young man.

-I don’t think so, Jack. That dragon would’ve eaten us alive but it was protecting her and his master. So I think she’s fine and far, far away by now. Let’s hope that the merman is well enough to; I hate to think what would happen if the dragon would decide to come back and take revenge….Trying to kill his master was quite stupid, my friend.

The one who spoke was Jack’s closest friend; the others agreed with him. Jack sighed.

-You’re probably right. I ‘m sorry for what happened…She kept telling me to leave her alone; why wasn’t I listening?

-Eh, too much pride, my friend, too much pride….But if that’s a consolation for you, it could’ve happened to any of us. Come, Jack, guys….let’s go home.

It wasn’t exactly easy to explain the situation to the distraught parents who came home just to learn that their rebellious daughter vanished on the back of a dragon. Anna couldn’t believe her ears as Jack mumbled through the short version of the story. The young man excused himself shortly and fled before any of the two baffled parents could hold him accounted for what happened.

-I’ve told you to take her with us when we left! I had a feeling that something might happen…

In pain, Anna turned against her husband.

-And I said: no. I wanted to give her time to think about what she wanted, without you constantly nagging her. I’m glad she made her choice-said Peter in a low voice.

Anna was stunned.

-You did this on purpose? But…why? I thought we both want the same for her…

He sighed and embraced her gently.

-You’re a wonderful mother, my dear and I know you want the best for our daughter. But you overlooked what she wanted for herself, dismissed her dreams and tried to force her into your dreams about her. You were so mesmerized by your plans that I was unable to make you change your mind. So, I took the chance of this travel to give her the freedom of choice.

-And you’re not worried about that…that monster she left with?

-Oh, come on, Anna. Rose has always been an independent and bright child. I trust her. Haven’t I told you that she would marry an elf or a dwarf? Well, she found a merman…

Anna was still unhappy and annoyed.

-I don’t understand; how can you joke about this?! Others would go and search for their lost child !

-I have no intention to do this and I forbid you to. She’s not a child anymore and if we ever want to see her again, we have to let her fulfill her dreams without interfering with it. This is her life, not ours. We cannot live it for her. Now: I am going to the village to gather more information about what really happened. Look, Mary and Siobhan are coming to see you; stay here and talk with them.

Anna burst into tears; Peter held her tight and kissed her until she finally relaxed.

-I know, my dear, I know. But you have to trust me; she’ll be fine. Now, the girls are almost here; be brave!

 

On the shore of the magic island, Ryuu was daydreaming, holding Rose in his arms. He was immensely happy with her but the confrontation with his parents at the Palace left him with a sore heart. His grandmother’s support eased some of the pain but he wasn’t able to tell Rose the truth. But even before he gathered enough determination to do that, she turned her face to him and asked softly:

-Your parents are not happy about me, my love, isn’t it?

-How do you know?-he asked, surprised by the question. Are you reading my mind?

She smiled and ran her fingers over his face.

-Your face is tense and tough you’re trying to conceal your worries, I can sense your anxiety. Is it that bad?

Ryuu breathed out heavily and held her closer. His eyes were sparkling while he was speaking.

-I always thought that love was our highest value but what I saw today was nothing more than politics and petty interests. I have made it clear that losing you is not an option. I’m not interested in ruling the kingdom at that price. I love my parents but I cannot comply with their request. But don’t worry, this is our island and here we will be King and Queen forever! Come, let’s swim and I’ll show you around out tiny kingdom.

The merman prince whistled and a dolphin came close to the shore, waiting for Rose. Ryuu took his Queen by the hand and they jumped into the frothing waves.  With Rose on the back of the dolphin, they swam around the island, visiting every silk sanded shore, every acquiring bay of azure waters, every spiky corner of glistening rocks and the white crescent of the coral reef. A colorful and curious procession of fish and other sea animals followed them, eager to see with their own eyes the strange girl who has turned their kingdom upside down. Though there was no sign of mermaids or mermen around, Ryuu knew they were hiding inside the translucent layers of green waters, watching them, judging or admiring the two of them. He dismissed the annoying thoughts and turned his whole mind and soul to Rose. Her eyes were following him with that heartwarming soft look and her gaze was bringing light in the troubled ocean of his soul. Their connection was beyond words and beyond others’ comprehension. It has been instant magic, light answering light, call echoing call, heart matching heart. The twin stars entwined, becoming one and that unique and bright star was blazing the inner sky of both Rose and Ryuu’s heart.

 

-What are we going to do, my dear husband?

Queen Asami was anxiously following King Hiroaki as he was pacing up and down the bedroom. She was a bit pale and her eyes were red and swollen from crying. The King was feeling lost and unhappy.

-I don’t know, my love, I really don’t know. The more I think about Ryuu’s words, I come to realize that he’s right and that deep in my heart I am on his side. I would not trade my love for you either. But the step required by the choice he made is frighteningly large. I am afraid that many of our people won’t understand it…

There was a faint knock on the door and Princess Masuko asked for permission to visit. She was a delicate and graceful mermaid, with long, golden hair and the same lively green eyes as her brother Ryuu. She was very close to him and had always admired her bright and energetic little brother. The current situation was threatening everybody’s happiness and she was determined to change that. She sat next to her Mother and claiming a moment of attention, spoke to them.

-Mother, Father. I have to tell you something: I don’t intend to become the Queen of the Ocean and I don’t want Ryuu to become an outcast. That would be unfair to him and it would be definitely wrong. Father, I know that you are worried that our people might revolt, take sides and split. But as much as I know them, despite the extensive period of time since Ocean People and Inlanders have lived separated because of a tradition, mermaids and mermen are far more acquiring and they deeply respect love. I think Ryuu will be a great King; I will always support him. Not to speak about Grandma…You should talk with her, both of you; she already saw Rose.

Masuko stood up, affectionately kissed her parents and left with a smile on her face. She was hopeful…The door closed, the King looked to his Queen and spoke softly:

-My dear, I think that when children become bold and wiser than their parents, it’s time for some true changes. After all, we brought up two brave youth and it seems that they are ready to take the challenges of life. Maybe time has come for us to step back….

The night was opening its silent wings above Land and Ocean, unfurling the black velvet canvas of the diamond specked skies. The slowly swaying cradle of waters was whispering on the sands in small ripples of waves while the depths lighted up in the dance of glowing processions of gold, electric blue or sizzling lavender umbrellas of jelly-fish. The warm air was heavy with scents of flowers and fruits, interrupted only by a fresh gush of salty sea-breeze. The Moon emerged on the thin line of the horizon and greeted the world with a bow. On a corner of the emerald island, a young merman with starry eyes and his beloved wild-flower were sitting embraced, watching the night show of lights. Suddenly, the liquid surface opened before them and a majestic silhouette rose, closely followed by a more graceful one. King Hiroaki and Queen Asami came to visit their son and to properly greet the girl that has captured his heart. The Moon smiled inwardly, watching them…Things were settling in the Kingdom of the Ocean and the magic of love was once again prevailing.

That night, the Royal couple went to sleep with peaceful heart; despite all their fears and mistrust, Rose conquered their heart. Her radiant, warm and graceful personality had an undeniable charm that broke down all the walls between them. Though the King and the Queen still regretted the fact that she couldn’t live in their wonderful Chrystal Palace, they could not think of another girl in their kingdom that would surpass her. She wasn’t the exotic beauty the mermaids were, but she was bringing a fresh breath of air, a touch of mystery echoing the dew-filled mornings of the high mountains Ryuu was speaking about. Above all, the harmony of the young couple was unmistakable. Love was constantly flowing between them, raising a glowing aura that was encompassing in magic both Rose and Ryuu.

-We did the right thing-said King Hiroaki, kissing his Queen. Oh, I feel lighter now…Good night, my love!

-Good night, my love-she whispered. Yes, my heart is at ease now….Sleep well, we have a wedding tomorrow and another one will soon follow!

 

The wedding of Princess Masuko set in motion the entire Ocean and by night, when the Moon was at his peak in the skies, the silver light pierced the green waters till it reached the Crystal Castle, spreading a magic glow around it. On the outside of the translucent walls, the colorful schools of various fish were swimming in a well orchestrated dance, glittering in rainbow sparks under the touch of the light. The mermaids and mermen of the Court were filling the large Chamber of the Throne where the King and the Queen were waiting for the Princess and her loved one. During this time, on the surface of the Ocean the Moon opened a magic window that allowed direct vision over the ceremony below. Sitting on the back of the Water Dragon, Rose was watching the ceremony with Ryuu by her side. The Prince has already kissed and congratulated the young couple and rose to the surface to accompany his Queen of the heart. The People of the Ocean were gathering in great numbers around the Castle and this time, many of them swam up to the surface to great the Prince and Rose.

Though they were looking at her with unhidden curiosity, she met all of them with a smile and without fear or any kind of restraint. She found them beautiful and friendly, she felt no rejection or enmity on their side. As the ceremony unfolded, she was more and more caught by the magic of this unique world. It was her home by now. She turned to her beloved, watching him; in these solemn moments his inner glow radiated majesty. He smiled and took her by the hand. Love rushed through the chambers of their hearts, setting in blaze the bridge of their inner connection.  Their united aura shone through the depths and for the first time, the people below saw them in a new light: the future King and Queen of the Ocean, watching over them with love.

By the time King Hiroaki announced his intention the step down and leave the Throne to his son, the mermaids and mermen were already at ease with their new King and his Queen. Those who were still reserved about Rose for being a stranger and an Inlander, were slowly dwindling in number, as the most of the people and living creatures around them found her charming and lovable. Many of the younger ones were hoping that this union would open for them to the world of the Inlanders and the gates of communication with those who were already roaming the surface of the Ocean. Before the ceremony of the Royal Wedding took place, invitations were sent out to the communities of the ocean shores. The messages were then carried inland and by the time of a new Full Moon, Richly decorated sails filled the place, with people on deck waiting in excitement to start of a ceremony they have never seen before.

Anna and Peter were sleeping when somebody knocked on their door. They soon heard the voice of Mary calling them.

-Mother, Father, wake up! Open the door; it’s us, Mary and Siobhan!

Peter jumped from the bed, took some clothes and rushed down, opening the door. He saw his two daughters and their husband and was puzzled.

-What happened? What brought you so far this time of the night?

-Nothing wrong, Father but you and Mother should dress up and prepare for travelling. We have to catch the sail that is waiting for us. The Governor has summoned our families; we are taking part to a ceremony on the sea at Full Moon.

Peter went upstairs to tell Anna about the travel. She thought for a moment and then asked in a small voice.

-Do you think we could find out something about Rose when we will be there?

Peter sighed.

-Let’s hope, my dear, let’s hope. Now, hurry up; there’s a long way ahead us and we cannot keep the Governor to wait for us. At least we will see the place Rose was dreaming about…

So, in the night of the ceremony, on the deck of one of the sails, a mother and a father and two sisters were watching with astonishment the place that, until then, existed for them only in the fairy tales of their childhood. The Moon built a dome of light above the large circle and the waters inside started to bubble up, while a sizzling blue circle of light closed to the surface. Dolphins were jumping high, whistling and rainbow flying fish were launching above the decks, splashing playfully back into the Ocean. The music of crystal clear voice filled the air and the waters opened to make place to a large platform that was glowing in the light. Mermaids and mermen were sitting on the platform and on the two Thrones, King Hiroaki and Queen Asami were waiting. Next to them, the slender Prince of the Ocean was standing in all his beauty. The King raised a hand and the music changed in to a hailing symphony. From a distant island, a huge Water Dragon emerged and was swimming at high speed towards the circle of light. In a few moments, he reached the sizzling boundaries and slowed down. He was carrying a young woman on his back. She was wearing a long, white dress of pearls and a bright star caught in her glistening, copper hair. She stepped off the back of the Dragon, gave him a gentle peck and turned with a smile to the people gathered around. She bowed gracefully towards the King and the Queen and hurried to her Prince. From that moment, she had no eyes but for him. When King Hiroaki placed the crown on Ryuu’s head and Queen Asami put her crown on Rose’s head, lights and cheers erupted from everywhere. Hand in hand the radiating young Royal Couple saluted everyone, People of the Ocean and Inlanders with warmth. A ladder was extended from one of the sails and Rose and Ryuu mounted the deck to embrace the tearful parents of the new Queen and her overjoyed sisters.

The Moon was pleased and so were the Land, The River and the Ocean. Eternal guardians and protectors of the humans, they knew that though these fragile creatures might come in various shapes and infinity of complex personalities, they all would aspire to happiness and the language of love is what they would always speak the best, even without words. The planet breathed out in joy, the galaxies flared up in celebration. The Magic of love spread around, sparkling on every tip of the waves in the Ocean, on every snow cap of the high Mountains, on every spraying Waterfall….Nine month later, a newborn baby was crying out to the stars, a child bearing the traits of two nations, at home both  in water and land. They named him Akihiko (bright prince). He was followed by a little girl named Sayuri (lily). Both children had a magic star inside. Their light opened the way for a new nation that would in time cement the bridge of love and light inside the humans of this little planet.

But the stories born out of their journey is for another time to tell…

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THE LOST SHORE

Motto:

Softly raining flowers of Moon-light
Enchanted waters of the dreaming skies
Lands of the heart
Soul rising high…..

 

He woke up to the tickling scent of salt and algae and he was puzzled; his house was nested in the arms of a grassy field, near a small path of forest, so where was that familiar scent coming from?

He slowly got up from the bed and went to the window; though it was summer ( or at least this was what he remembered), all he could see was the crawling mass of thick, white vapor, like if a huge cloud had suddenly decided to descend upon his house. Intrigued by the unexpected scenery, he opened the door and stepped out…in the sand! The grassy field was gone. He was standing somewhere on a shore, not far from the sea. He could hear her breathing slowly, with each wave hitting the land, slowly and majestic…peaceful and soothing, like the heartbeat of an invisible mother…

This was very odd, but on the whole, he couldn’t complain. After all, it didn’t matter where he was right now…The strangeness of the situation was just adding to the long row of unexpected stumbling and miss-happenings of his life. He was bright, talented and passionate…but the threads of his fate were tangled somewhere and his pathway seemed to run into dead-ends over and over again. Annoyed and disappointed, he decided to take a vacation and move to a remote spot. The rent of the house came at a comfortable price and the place was full of mystery and local legends.

But what was to do with the current situation? He stood there, facing the convoluting cloud…

“ So-he thought, I’m at the sea side now…Well, let’s have a closer look. After all, what can go wrong besides having this hallucination?”

He took a deep breath and made a few steps, heading towards the sound of the sea. As he entered deeper and deeper in the mist, the cloud slowly split before him, unraveling a narrow pathway in the sand. After a few minutes of walk between the soft, cotton-like walls of vapor, he felt his mind relaxing, lulled by the ongoing sound of rolling waves. As his sense of orientation dissolved in this eerie surrounding, he felt light like a feather. Suddenly, the curtain of mist lifted before his eyes and there he was, on the white sands of a blue-green body of gently rocking waters. The whole scenery cleared behind him, leaving just a far horizon blurred by a dull glow.

The shore stretched far to left and right with a few spots of strange trees scattered from time to time. Daylight danced on the tips of the waves and the air was warm and spicy.

“Oh, well-he murmured –at least it’s summer…What else?”

He took a turn to right, and walked towards the closest bunch of trees, playfully kicking the sand. The waves followed him, splashing his feet, leaving patches of white froth to bubble in his footprints….As he reached the shadow of the trees, something unexpected caught his attention: there was a row of footprints leading to the same place. The imprints looked almost fresh in the wet sand; somebody smaller, a woman probably has been there before him. The line of marks was coming from an inconspicuous area, just like his ones.

Who could that be and where did she come from? What was she doing there? What was he doing there? What was this place anyway? The light reflected by the waves gave him a sudden headache…He shut his eyes in pain…and woke up in bed.

Her dream has been so vivid…Sitting on the top of her bed, she could still feel the taste of the sea-breeze and the caressing of the waves on her feet. Something was calling her and her heart resonated inside the dream. Somewhere in this wide and complicated world there was a ray of light waiting for an echo and all of a sudden, her soul caught that faint vibration…The River of dreams changed course, rushing into the sea, leaving her on the blazing shore, under a strange Sun…She sat under the trees, eyes closed, breathing in the raw scents and tuning into rhythm of the sea…The walls of her soul opened, acquiring the wandering light…The sparkling bits of that unknown soul were seeping inside her, settling comfortably in the  protective corners. Something was telling her that this would not be her last visit to this shore…

 

 

“ So….back to reality” -he thought. He didn’t need to go to the window to realize that he was in his house in the middle of the sea of grass. The sun was reclining towards the hilltops and shadows were stretching over the land. He decided to socialize this evening; there was a cozy pub in the village with friendly and talkative people, eager to tell fantastic stories to the unsuspecting towns-people. The young man dressed up quickly and took a ride with his motorcycle. The pub was almost full, with youth and elders lively chatting and laughing. He passed unnoticed for a while and he sipped his beer in a corner, adjusting to the general atmosphere…His moment of peace ended as one old guy, with a mischievous smile sat next to him. He looked like an old, sun battered goblin and his voice was raspy.

-Hello, young man…Eh, I see you have decided to descend in the middle of the crowd…So, how do you like your place?

He watched the young man with a strange glitter in his eyes. The young man grinned.

-I’m adjusting to it but I’m fine thank you.

-And you haven’t encountered anything strange yet?

A shrewd smile accompanied the question. The question caught the young man’s attention. He decided to take the challenge.

-Well-he sighed and took another sip of beer-there’s a strange smell of algae and sea in the air sometimes. I wonder where it comes from….There’s no sea in the proximity of this place, as much as I know….

-Heheh…You’re right and you’re wrong at the same time…There was a  sea once on that spot, a strange one,  a “stranded” sea….It slowly faded out, became a moor and then it dried out, the grass taking over the land. When I was a child, elders were talking about sea breeze blowing from time to time and eerie lights glowing in misty nights. They even said that the house you’ve rented was built on the ruins of a lighthouse, but who knows…Hey, cheers!

The young man smiled and raised his beer.

-Cheers! Thank you for this piece of local history…

-Oh, Joshua Pierce, you old goat! Trying to scare people with your ghost stories…

The voice was of the pub owner’s wife, a sturdy lady with a healthy sense of humor. She shook her head to the old man and then turned to the guest.

-It’s been a while since somebody stood in that house. People usually prefer to live in the village where it’s livelier. But if you need to relax and have peace of mind, you’ve chosen the proper place. I hope you will enjoy staying here. You’re welcome and as you see, Joshua is a tireless supplier of mysteries.

The young man relaxed. The happy noise of the place, the colorful faces, the warm glow of the yellow lights, the spicy taste of the home-made beer, the flickering in the piercing-blue eyes of the old man, they all tangled, swirled, entwined and dimmed the restlessness building up inside him, ever since he….returned from that dream. When he left the pub, the night was already stretching its wings of glittering lights and whispering winds. A bright Crescent Moon was glazing the country road that was crisscrossing through the large meadow. He stood there for a moment and took a deep breath. The air of the night smelled of daisies and poppies, of heated grass, with a tint of…sea.

“This beer was too strong-he decided. I’m already hallucinating.” He nervously shook his head and started the engine, heading for home.

 

She was sitting on the window sill, watching the Crescent Moon. She closed her eyes and listened to the sounds of the night. Shhhh….Shhhh…Shhhh…The sound of waves were faintly audible in the symphony of crickets and nightingales. The moonlight was drawing strange, moving shapes on her eyelids. Deep inside her soul’s chambers the hidden echo was coming to life, sending out waves of calling to the wandering ray of light…Shhh….Shhhh….Shhhh…The Sea of 100 years was gently rocking in a place out of Time. Barefoot, the girl ran along the shore, picking up colorful sea shells. She gathered them in pile under the trees and cleared a spot in the sand. She picked a shell and then another, pressing them lightly into the sand, drawing a growing spiral shape until the last nacreous piece of sea-jewel was set in place. She tilted her head, watching the result. She was pleased by the outcome. She closed her eyes again…and then opened them. She jumped from the sash and hopped into the bed. The first signal was sent out…

The night went on uneventfully and he woke up fresh and in good mood. It was a good start of the day…that lasted until he stepped on a shell on the floor. Surprised, he stepped back and almost fell; he quickly regained his balanced and bent his knees to watch closely the pattern of shells on the floor. It was an open spiral of tiny, colorful sea-shells on the sand that was covering a round spot of the floor. He stood there for moments, eyes glued to the floor, heart pounding wildly in his chest; he held out a hand and touched a small, pink shell…It felt soft and silky; he picked it up, holding it in his palm. It was delicate and rounded like a peach-blossom petal…He looked again to the spiral but while he was studying the little shell, the spiral vanished, leaving no trace on the floor. All he was left was the shell in his hand…He jumped to his feet and turned around, searching for an invisible prankster.

“Hey-he said-this is not funny! What do you want from me? Damn’you!”

He nervously exhaled and left the pink shell on his desk. He forced himself into the daily routine and after a short breakfast, he went out for a walk. It was a cooler day, with a fresh wind running above the grass-tops, pushing the sea of balancing vegetation into a smooth waving. Walking through the undulating green expanse felt like walking into the oncoming waves of the sea…On the shore of that sea there was a spiral of seashells and one piece of it was missing, breaking the harmonious coiling of the pattern…He felt something in his clenched fist; it was the missing shell. He opened his hand and replaced the little shell on her swirl and…somebody was coming. A girl. She was heading right towards him but she seemed oblivious of his presence. She stopped at the spiral and added a few more shells. As she ran her fingers over them, she touched the pink one…She stopped and looked around.

-You’re here somewhere-she said and her voice was warm and soft. I cannot see you but I can feel your presence. I don’t know who you are…I don’t know if you can see me, or hear me at all but I know something: we are both part of…this.

She pointed to the spiral with a small, shy smile on her face then she stood up and ran away, vanishing into light that was blurring the outlines of the shore. A butterfly came into his face and he raised a hand to drive it away…the grass was gracefully rippling in the summer breeze. He returned to the house and the first thing he did was to check for the pink shell on his desk. Just as he expected, it was missing. He bowed his head, then took a soft drink from the cooler and sat to the desk. While his mind was wandering, he kept doodling spiral after spiral on his notepad…

The spiral was turning…turning…opening and expanding….like a swirling galaxy…He touched the faintly glowing center and suddenly, his reality fell into the vortex of light. The travel ended in a room that smelled of childhood memories…with the curtains and shades shunning out the light and his heart, his frightened little heart beating wildly, like a sparrow caught in a fist….The world surrounding him was like a labyrinth of shifting mirrors and trap doors and he was running, running with all his might, just to end up over and over again before the same huge mirror in which his face was floating, stretching, changing and he couldn’t find himself anymore. He screamed in terror but he could not utter a sound; the silent scream was the worst feeling ever….The silence of hopelessness, the silence of defenselessness, the silence of cold indifference, all these silences were surrounding him like huge walls of ice and concrete and he was buried alive, with no one to help him, no one to love him, no one to care…He couldn’t remember when his tears started to fall, drop by drop until they grew into a flow that threatened to flood the whole world…A warm, soft breath tingled his neck and that warmth enveloped him like a blanket of love.

“Ssshhht….don’t cry….I’m here….I’ll never leave you alone…”

He woke up shuddering, with tears smeared all over his face, his palm covering the spiral on the white sheet of paper…In the moment of Times Once Passed, the little boy slept peacefully for the first time after many days and nights of harrowing nightmares. There was no one in the room but he could feel the warm, loving protection of the arms of someone who was whispering in his ears with a soft voice about a star that would always watch over him, a star that was his only…She kept rocking him, until the ghosts of uncertainty vanished, the mirrors and traps disappeared and he could finally face himself in the mirror.

On the white sheet of paper, the spiral has grown and opened like an acquiring galaxy that was gracefully swirling…while new stars danced into her outstretched arms of light. He watched the unfolding of the tiny dots until he realized that from a certain moment, the arms of that feature doubled with another row of star-dots, closely following the curvature of the primary galaxy. The two lines were rushing in pair towards the infinity of Space. By now, if this was meant to be his lifeline, he’s got a companion, one that seemed to be willing to follow him in his journey… That wasn’t quite surprising on the whole; so many strange happenings added up in the latter days…He decided to pick up the challenge, set himself into action and write. After all, writing was his best asset.

-Right-he said loudly. You want to fix my life and so do I. But since it is MY life we are talking about, I will write the script from now on. Watch me!

He grinned and opened the computer. The first words emerged on the screen:

“ As the mist thinned under the rising sun, new features emerged on the shore. Between the high piles of glistening, black rocks there was an intimate little lagoon, with white sands and a few palm trees scattered on the sides. It was a quiet place, with a romantic feeling and the sea was washing this shore with a touch of gentleness. “

 

The morning was opening its gates, releasing the Sun into the world. The first rays quickly spread and the mist covering the land turned pink, then thinned, rising in the warming air. The sea was still calm and quiet, like a lake, only its margins splashing discreetly white froth over the shores of silk. During this timeless night, the scenery changed. Two dark masses of rugged, black rocks were holding a small lagoon inside their arms. It was an oasis of intimacy…Here, the sea rushed in playfully, only to retreat in a hurry, like a child caught red handed, leaving iridescent  sea shells and occasionally, a few stranded starfish. From the top of the high rocky wall a narrow row of stairs leads down to the sands. The top of the cliff is actually a large plateau, covered by long stemmed, yellow-green grass and there is a small, dark forest somewhere in the distance…In the middle of the little lagoon, on the crescent of sands there is a spiral of seashells…

He shut the computer and left the house. On the large plateau opening before him, the long-stemmed, yellow-green grass was swaying in the salty breeze…She was standing on the rim of the plateau, looking down to the small lagoon and smiling. It was such a lovely place, like a warm and dreaming heart hidden deep inside a delicate creature. Her sea-shell spiral was dimly glowing and radiating life, while the wide Ocean was breathing in and out with quiet waves. She descended the steep row of stairs carved in the black rock and ran to the spiral. She sat next to it and closed her eyes; the one connected to her soul was close, very close…As he came and sat on the other side of the spiral, the inner flow of energies connected. The invisible effluvium coming from both sides reached out with delicate fingers, touching, retracting then touching again, until they embraced each other, entwining in a rising fountain of soul-threads, opening into a protective dome above the two of them….

-You made this place so beautiful-she whispered. It’s like you’ve opened your heart and let me in…

-My heart guided my mind when I’ve dreamt this place-he said in a soft voice. I wanted to see you again…How did you find me?

-Your light found me….It reverberated through the stars, touching my inner world…It was like a coming home, like it has never left me…just wandered a bit. So I came here, guided by its echo, hoping to meet you…

-What about the spiral you drew?

She kept thinking for a moment. The spiral was born almost by itself; she had just gathered the shells. It was like an invisible hand guiding her hands in placing the silky petals of the sea in a magic shape.

-It looks like a portal between worlds, or at least it’s how I feel it. It has magic powers over Time and Space…But this one here it’s not my spiral; it is our spiral because it was you who move it here.

He laughed.

-You’re right. It intrigued me from the beginning and I have decided to place it here to see what might come out of it. I also changed the place to get a bit more intimacy. That infinite shore was almost frightening. Hey, I wanted to ask you something.

-Ask –she said with a smile.

-Can you see me?

She shook her head.

-No. But I can feel you and that is all I need. Sometimes the eyes are blind, even if they watch, they cannot really see…I have always seen better with my heart. My feelings never failed me…By the way, can you see me?

-Yes-he said. I have been able to see you from the first moment. I just don’t know why…

-I think it’s because this is a dream that you are dreaming-she said. I came into your dream. Maybe we need more time to see each other as we truly are.

-Perhaps you’re right- he murmured. I’m sure this place is holding its own secrets. Oh, well, we’ll see. Now, would you like to walk with me to the shore?

-Why not?

She stood up and smiled again, turning in his direction.

-Don’t worry, I can feel your presence quite clearly and I won’t get lost as long as we keep talking. I wonder how much the shore has changed….

They walked towards the exit of the little lagoon, leaving two rows of closing footprints in the wet sand. Behind them the spiral was pulsing in the rhythm of two hearts connected….

 

As usual, she was the first to leave, running up the stairs with a faint smile on her face…The following days and weeks they kept meeting, walking and talking on the shore. They even made some additional changes on the features of the world around them. They laughed a lot, swam in the warm waters of the Ocean of memories, built sand castles and watched them vanishing under the touch of the rolling waves…The inner connection that brought them together was strengthening with each moment spent together. They’ve opened secret doors and personal pathways of their worlds as light travelled in and out their vibrant souls…In this timeless place, it was the only thing that counted and made sense.

-My dear, why I are you staying all day long locked in your room?

Her aunt was intrigued and somehow worried by her reluctance to socialize with the other youth in the village. Luckily, she accepted her explanation that she was studying and never checked on her. So, she could step into the River of dreams and run down to the shore, to meet the one who was filling her soul with love and light. Who was him, how he looked, where did he come from each day….it wasn’t important for her. The magic of the emotional connection, the intimacy of the echoes inside were priceless and she was living this dream with the trust that whatever brought them in this place, was watching over them with wings of benevolence wide open…

But tonight she had to go with her aunt to the local pub. Midsummer night was coming and people of the village were organizing the annual celebration; her aunt was an active member of the organizing committee. She couldn’t refuse her; luckily, she told him previously that she won’t be able to meet him this time. Oh, she wasn’t happy at all; she dreaded the usual attempts of the local people to connect het with one or other young man from the village. They were nice people and the youth was funny and friendly but her mind was elsewhere and her heart was already given.

In the depth of the night the spiral is glowing on the sand….The Galaxy of Love is swirling, it’s sizzling arms sending sparks throughout the fabric of Space and Time….In the blazing core of the spiral there’s a sudden move….the flames rise high, like a lotus flower, opening petal after petal in a graceful ballet. The newly born Phoenix is flapping his wings, his long, bright feathers catching the wind. He takes a deep breath and launches itself towards the starry dome arching above him, while the magic of love showers over a sleeping, unsuspecting world….

The pub is full with people and joyful chatter. Midsummer night is an ancient and magic filled celebration. In the treadmill of everyday chores, magic moments are sought by each and every member of the community. Local villagers and tourists seek this place for a three days fun. There will be a local fare with goods and traditional cooking, games and dance, music and a final bonfire. For old pranksters like Joshua Pierce this was the best time to tell his stories over and over again in exchange for a good treat or to simply watch the strangers getting hooked by his tales. And tonight, there is a fresh customer; the young niece of Martha Johnston, a good looking girl, coming from the city. She’s nice and friendly, so Joshua keeps an eye on her, hoping to find a moment to fish some secrets out of her and fill her with some creepy tell-tales.

-Hey, little lady-he croons, trying to get her attention. How come that you came down finally? Your aunt says that you are stuck in the house and not willing to join the youth….

She blushes and laughs.

-Good evening, Mr. Pierce. You need some company?  Has anything weird happened recently in our sleepy little village?

The old man grins.

-If you can get me a beer from the lady of the house, I’ll share some fresh stories with you..

-All right, all right…Wait a little. I’ll be back in a moment.

She takes a beer from the counter and returns to the old man, carefully avoiding some of the local boys trying to catch her. She gracefully sails through the crowd and sits next to the old man. At least, he’s harmless. By now, she’s fed up with all the advances and encouragements she’s got from her aunt and neighbors.

-So, here’s your treat, Mr. Pierce. How are things going with the ghosts around?

The old man takes a sip from the beer and smirks.

-My dear, strange things are happening every day but not everyone can see them. Young people but even the older ones tend to overlook certain signs. But since I have nothing else to do, I keep listening to the whispers of the world….Ehem…

She smiles at him encouragingly.

-And you have witnessed something unusual? I know from the tales that Midsummer Night opens the door for magic…

-Heheh… You’re right. And this year seems to me that we will witness unexpected things…There’s a salty breeze blowing over the plain and strange sounds of the sea in the night. Ey, and there’s this young fellow, a writer who rented the house there…a bit of a recluse, like you, my dear. Just sitting in that old house, writing and walking in the grass….though he came here once or twice and listened to my stories. I am not raving, little lady…He said he could smell the scent of the sea in some evenings….Pity he didn’t come down tonight. I think you would’ve liked him. My guess is that the two of you have something in common…Heheh…

Martha Johnston stopped next to them and gave a small push to the old man.

-Joshua, Joshua….she’s too young to believe your ramblings and you keep her here with you while all the boys around are waiting to take her for a dance. Come on, girl. Leave this old goat to drink his beer. We have finished the organizing; now it’s time for fun. Dance is about to start!

The girl sighs.

-Thank you, Mr.Pierce and good night.

She turns to Martha.

-I’m sorry, auntie but I have a headache. I’ll go home now. No, please. I am not staying but you should stay and enjoy the evening. Maybe some other time I’ll stay to.

And before Martha could utter a sound, the girl smiles gracefully and leaves in a hurry. She cannot see much of the young man she bumps into, as she leaves the pub. She takes her bicycle and heads home without turning her head. But the young man follows her departure in astonishment; the girl of the shore has just run into his arms…

-Hey, my friend!

The raspy voice of the old man brought him back to reality. He turned to Joshua and greeted him.

-It’s a pity you couldn’t come a few minutes earlier. You missed a fine little lady. She’s just your type, heheheh….

The young man gave him an inquisitive look.

-How do you know she’s my type?

-Eh, I was not born this old, my lad. I have an eye for love, huh. Believe me, there’s something the two of you share….

“If only you would know”-sighed the young man inwardly.

-Tell me: who is she?

The old man raised his empty carafe with a smug face.

-I have a sore throat….

The writer laughed and brought him another beer. He took a smaller one and sat next to the story-teller.

-So?

-She’s the niece of that lady there, Martha Johnston. She’s a city girl but she’s friendly and nice. Come to the Midsummer Celebrations! She will be there; she’s helping her aunt. You cannot miss her; don’t miss this chance, young man. There’s a load of lads here lurking around her! Hehehe…

The night is soaring….The black velvet cape covers each gentle curve and sharp crest, each breathing wave, each undulating meadow….There’s a cricket-concerto in the grass and a nightingale leads the music with her soprano. The Moon climbs the stairs of glittering stars until he becomes the High Lord of everything. On his shores of silver, the young Phoenix is resting by now. The invisible world of Lost Shores of Time is preparing the next stage of a love story unfolding…

She got home with the feeling that she just missed something important. But she got fed up with the pub and she didn’t want to dance with any of those pushy youth. Now all she had to do was to “survive” the three days of Midsummer Celebration…She opened the window and sat on the sill. She missed the sea and the shore and yes, she missed him badly….Oh, this was such a bright night! The Moon was bigger than ever, his pull on the world almost tangible. He was the undeniable power that was making the Ocean to run high, in an attempt to touch the one that was troubling her translucent heart. Sitting there, watching the celestial lover spreading magic over his unseen darling, her eyes filled with tears…She felt the sudden yearning crying out from the depths of her soul and, at that moment she wished she could fly. She closed her eyes, shutting out the flood of light, searching for a sign, for an echo, for his soul-print. She found him…incredibly close. Where was he?

The morning opened in a symphony of light, bird songs and wild-flowers fragrance. People gathered in the large, green pasture in the center of the village. The colorful stands were quickly raised and filled with all the goods given by the earth as a gift to the diligent villagers for their hard work. By noon, rows of cars and busses were arriving one after the other and the noisy chatter of excited tourists filled the air, muffling the sounds of Nature. Martha Johnston and her niece were busy arranging the boxes of small, home-made cookies. On a larger plateau, placed in the middle of the counter, the girl created a Sun-wheel made of bright-yellow lemon cookies and flower petals. It was a symbolic feature, celebrating the power of Summer Sun and its life-giving light. Martha placed a large jar with lemon juice and she smiled with content. She threw a short, furtive look to her niece; she was good looking with her shoulder long, copper-brown hair tied in a lose pony tail, her gently tanned skin and her melancholic, dark eyes. Her openness and nice, catchy smile contrasted with the hidden shadows of her eyes. Martha chuckled as their tent was attracting people like a magnet. The fare was a real hit this year…

He stood there, watching the girl, hidden by the constant flow of people thru and fro between the tents, stands and music corners.  Caught in the constant come and go of the customers, she was oblivious of his presence and he was pondering if he should buy something from their stand. He could tell that despite her cheerfulness, her mind was somewhere else. Amazing how she could radiate upon each customer, while the depths of her eyes were drifting towards an entirely different place. He knew where that place was….the loneliness of the un-walked shore was echoing inside him to. Breaking the row of days walking in magic seemed so pointless and cruel. Reality required the body and mind to work together and respond to the ticking of the wind-up clock but the heart was feeling and living on a rhythm of its own, free from any restriction…The words of the old man at the pub were ringing in his mind; yet, he didn’t want to startle her…Suddenly, he wasn’t even sure if she can actually see him. So, he watched her until the flux of customers thinned and she took a break, leaving her aunt at the counter. She left the stand, walking towards a shaded place, a large, solitary linden tree, on the outskirts of the fare. As he followed her at safe distance, neither her, nor others noticed. She sat on the grass, leaning against the tree with eyes shut. He stood next to her, watching quietly…She sighed.

-Where are you?-she whispered. I can feel your presence so close…

-I am here-he said almost inaudibly.

She turned abruptly in his direction, saw him and her pupils dilated in surprise. She just watched him as emotions were washing over her. She was unable to speak. She was trembling inside like a leaf shaken by the tempest….The dams of feelings broke down, leaving the flood to run wildly inside her heart while she was struggling to keep her inner boundaries from falling apart. His heart captured the turmoil of emotions and he bent and lifted her, not taking away, even for a second, his gaze from her eyes.

-You can see me now-he smiled softly. Am I so scary?-he asked playfully. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.

She shook her head and laughed between tears…then, with a deep sigh, regained most of her balance.

-How did you know that I am here?-she asked.

-You almost knocked me off yesterday when you left the pub-he chuckled. That was my moment of being shocked. Then I stood at the table of our friend, Joshua Pierce and he highly recommended you… Oh, if he only knew!

They both laughed and the world filled with light. The old man was sitting atop a pile of empty boxes, with a beer in his hands, watching the unfolding of the scene under the high tree. He smiled inwardly.

“ Good…”.

He hopped down and headed to the stand where Martha Johnston was opening new boxes of fragrant cookies. She has poured coffee for her and her niece in two mugs. Joshua stopped and watched her with a glitter in his eyes.

-Good work, Martha. But I think that you need to fill yet another cup with coffee. Your niece is not coming back alone.

Martha looked at him frowning.

-Go away, Joshua. I’m not falling for your pranks. Shush, you old goat!

-Heheh!-the old man was deeply amused. Can I have some of your delicious cakes, if I’m right?

-You wish but that would not happen, I know! Don’t anger me, Joshua. You know how I keep trying to get this girl out of her shell…But she always finds an excuse to stay at home, while there are so many lovely people of her age around. I am truly concerned for her, so don’t upset me, will you? It’s not funny.

-I am not trying to upset you. See for yourself. She’s coming right now.

Martha watched in disbelief the young couple approaching. Her niece was radiating as she was talking with the young man from the meadow house. They were having eyes only for the two of them…They stopped only when they realized that Martha and Joshua were watching them.

-You knew each other?-asked the aunt, still finding hard to believe her eyes.

-Good day, Mrs. Johnston. Good day, Mr. Pierce.-the young man greeted them. Yes, we knew each other, but we didn’t know that we were in the same place. Let’s say that we had an unusual connection, keeping us close-he added, winking at Joshua. I wanted to ask if I can steal your niece for a while; I’d be happy if she could guide me through the fare.

-Oh, please. Go. Both of you. Go, girl…go, go. I can manage here. Joshua is here to help me. I’m fine!

As the youth left, heading towards the colorful crowd, Joshua turned to Martha.

-Now, can I have my cakes, please?

The day at the fare had been wonderfully crazy and joyful. They tried everything from the carousel to the giant swing, from the Midsummer Tea, with its spicy taste and amber color to the small, hot sausages and fancy looking salads, from strawberry-yoghurt ice cream to the sun-colored lemon cookies. They even visited the tent of the Fortune Teller, one of Martha’s neighbors playing the role of the gypsy-woman. It was the only odd moment of the day, because Susan couldn’t read her crystal ball this time. She kept saying that she cannot see them through it and she became nervous after a while. So they thanked her and left. But there was enough fun left outside, so the incident was quickly forgotten. The next two days became just a well deserved following to this first happy day.

On the night of the second day, he decided to return to his writing. He flipped open the lap-top and thought for a moment, then he started to type.

“ A tall, large lighthouse was rising in the middle of the plateau, with red and white striped walls and a large, diamond-shaped light source on its top.  On the left, at a distance, a few rivulets were crisscrossing the land, rushing towards the rim of the large expanse of land. As they reached the margins, they fell into the space opening bellow in a row of spraying waterfalls. Under the thin veil of shimmering water, the greenery flourished, pending plants creating an alternate curtain above the steep wall of black rocks. Two large caves were hiding their openings behind this refreshing attire. On the soft sanded shore there was a graceful bamboo house, with an open terrace and a few, scattered chairs. Rainbow-colored braided hammocks were swinging, tied to the strange, tall trees that were growing next to the house….”

In the Timeless night of the Lost Shores the lighthouse was sending its sizzling signals to the stars and the Universe. The Ocean was calmly breathing, in and out, in and out….like a huge, magic beast. Candles lit the pathway to the house on the shore….The house was waiting patiently.

Martha could hardly wait to ask her niece about the young man. She could see that the girl was almost floating in the air, being in love. And the young man was nice and, Joshua was right, they looked so much alike….There was a strange aura surrounding them as they walked together, talking, smiling, arguing, laughing….The subtle emotional flow was moving ahead smoothly, like a river that has finally found its acquiring bed.

-So, my girl, what do you intend to do with this young man?

Martha took a serious face, watching her niece that was sitting in the window sill, dreaming in the moonlight.

-I’m going to travel with him…to the stars.

She smiled.

-And I thank you for watching over me with so much care and love. We intend to leave tomorrow night, after the Bonfire. Don’t worry, I’ll send you postcards from each place we stop and I’ll write lots of letters. You’re my adorable auntie and I love you!

-Oh, now that you say it….I wish I could keep you more here with me. But I know that you have to go; it’s your time and your turn for happiness. But promise me, you will write me everything about the two of you. If not, Joshua will chew my head off…

They giggled and hugged. Midsummer Magic has been set in motion. In the house cradled in the arms of the grassy field, the young man was packing up for the departure. He looked around, searching for important things left out but he could find none. The thin lap-top was already placed in the luggage so, whatever novelty he would’ve liked to add to the shore, it would have had to wait. He stretched his limbs, took a cup of that Gold-flower tea bought at the fare and left the house. He sat in the grass, sipping his tea, following the thin strips of clouds sailing the dark waters of the skies. He smiled to the almost full Moon, knowing that the smile will reach the girl sitting in the window of her room.

Nothing unusual happened at the fare on the last day of the celebration. People were excitedly waiting for the bonfire. During the day, girls and women were hurriedly working on colorful wreaths of flowers and moss to be placed around the huge pile of woods. Children were giving to visitors smaller wreaths of wild flowers and everybody was holding candles and bouquets of Vervain, Lavender and St John’s Worth to throw them into the fire. As the light was dimming and darkness was embracing the land, music became loud and sprightly, beer and wine put roses in the cheeks and laughter in the mood. Boys and girls, men and women, young and elderly, boisterous children were gathering around the heap of wood and branches. At midnight, when the invisible meridian passed above them, the Mayor lit the fire.

The orange and crimson blaze quickly rose, swinging, swirling and biting the wood with hungry mouth of high flames. People danced hand in hand, round and round in a frenzy of victorious liveliness. Only one pair of youth was watching the fire from a certain distance; they were both wearing lavender wraths and they were closely following the flames taking shape on the top of the bonfire. The flower of liquid gold opened its petals of flames, releasing the Phoenix. The magic bird turned to the girl and the young man, shook her feathery attire and took flight into the night, heading to the perfect silver circle of the full Moon. The young couple kissed Martha and Joshua and then took the motorcycle to the house of the young man. They left it in the small shed and each of them took a backpack.

-Ready?-asked the young man. His green-blue eyes were softly glowing, lighted up by the inner fire.

The girl smiled at him.

-Let’s go!-she whispered.

Hand in hand, they run down the slightly sloping field until they saw the lighthouse standing tall, its bright rays signaling to the dreaming souls, sailing on the waters of the eternal love and light. They reached the Lighthouse and then descended the steep stairs until they touched the shore. The small, scented candles were lit up and the tips of the warm-yellow flames were dancing in the salty breeze. They followed the pathway until they reached the house that was waiting for them…

-Always…she said.

-Forever…he replied.

On the magic Lost Shore of the Timeless space love was blossoming under the smile of the Moon and the flight of the Phoenix…The Ocean was rolling her waves, filling with laces of white froth the two pairs of footsteps imprinted in the silky sands of her eternal shores.

CHILDREN of PYGMALION-enlarged version

C H I L D R E N      O F    P Y G M A L I O N

 

“Every person that you meet is a potential healer of something that still hurts within your heart. You perfectly attract each person as if by magnet. Allow each relationship, even those that are brief, to help you to further understand your true feelings and bring you new realizations. In this way, you can learn from and then release old negative patterns. May all of your relationships be bathed in the sunlight of gentleness, mutual respect, and kindness.” (Anonymous)
 

The tiny, silver-spotted blue bead was spinning diligently around its yellow sun, lost in the star-spotted arm of the mighty galaxy. Time has flown and shaped the planet during hundreds and thousands of years, while life has constantly flourished on its welcoming or sometimes harsh shores. But the most brilliant of her children had left the premises as soon as they opened eyes on the marvels of distant spaces.

Like the seeds of a planetary dandelion-flower they fled the warmth of the nest and riding the powerful currents of Space, they spread along the pathways of light and dust. Only a few remnants of Humanity still inhabited the Earth. They were mainly maintenance technicians, watching over the vital systems of the few active cities and supervising the weather balance around the world.

There were also people so deeply connected to this fragile speck of star-dust that they had no heart to leave her behind and move to one of the external colonies. After long decades of being an overcrowded planet, the cradle of human race was now more like a museum. People were coming and going but this wasn’t considered a place to stay anymore.

And, of course, here there were those hopeless dreamers, artists, bohemians, cloud-walking daydreamers like us, two girls and a guy who had not decided yet what to do with their crazy lives.

The same inquisitive mind and unquenched curiosity brought us together and word by word, a new idea emerged in our restless minds: let’s find a planet for us only and shape it at will. Foolish and unrealizable as it might have sounded, this idea wasn’t totally hopeless. And we were just the perfect team to explore an unmapped planet: one artful yet practical girl with a mindset of fantasy,

Athena, one half spirit-half human creature, shy, elusive and secretive, me, Kiera and of course the one and only male that connected us, a daredevil, the passionate and creative Ulysses, poet and magician. An explosive concoction of characters, crazy enough to leave all worry behind and jump into unknown head first.

After we decided upon our quest, we spent a few months on looking for a medium sized star-ship that would allow us to go far enough and find a suitable place to plant and grow the seeds of imagination. We relied on Ulysses to pilot the ship while we supplied the crew. Two huge solar flares that rocked our home-planet sped up the preparations. We had no one to say good-bye, except maybe to the unique world that had given birth to our restless species. After depart the first space-jump proved to be the hardest; we went through it with tearful eyes, choking with the emotion of parting…forever.

And then….Space opened before us, displaying its treasures to our eyes and hungry souls, leaving us speechless and filled with amazement. We dealt with the ups and downs of the successive space-jumps according to our peculiar personalities. Days in a row Athena kept roaming the corridors like a sleep-walker, her mind feverishly working.  She was walking and waving fantastic dreams about the planet we might reach. It wasn’t a futile activity as you might think; her high-strung mind accorded to the subtle flow of cosmic energy was subtly curving our trajectory towards a place that would fit our collective dream. Slightly unbalanced by the loss of firm ground under my feet, I delved in my half- spirit entity and tuned into the force-fields of space, tracing the same destination from another perspective. At the end of each day, Athena and I, we were confronting our findings with the star-maps, getting sometimes on the nerves of our enlighten leader and commander. Ulysses listened to us, half amused, half exasperated, noted down our pieces of information and then sent us off smirking.

-Go, go now, ladies….Fix something to eat until I’ll decipher your stories, will you?

In his own moments of meditation, our adventurous poet was dreaming big and magical. He was constantly shaping the image of the planetary paradise he sought with undiminished passion. There were eventless days when he amazed us with his sensitive and catchy lines of poetry. These were the moments when we doted on him and he was our beloved source of warmth and inner light.

All this time our boisterous star-ship bounced over rocky depths of hollow darkness and scorching flows of solar-bursts, it spun around star geysers, electric-blue, hot star-twins…We joined gigantic boulders rolling through the shadows of deep space, we rode comets victoriously unfolding their sparkling tails, we twisted our imagination to rename the infinite variety of galactic masses and star-bearing nebulas.

Then one day, as the milky sheen of stardust cleaned before us, the young star that was to become our sun showered us with the first, welcoming rays. We stood there on the main deck, holding hands, eyes glued to the holographic image of a planet hidden under a protective layer of opalescent clouds. It was a soft ball of rock, gently rolling on its invisible trail around his life-giving star. Two tiny moons were chasing each-other around our home-to-be, making us wonder about how that night sky adorned with two celestial bodies might look.

We joined our spiritual energies into one coherent beam that fingered the surface below and read as much as it could about the features of the planet. The readings were encouragingly familiar: the planet had oceans and lands, mountains and valleys, rivers and fields and meadows. And there was something else, something that made this hidden planet special and precious. It had…hopes and expectations, a surprising feature that resonated in the smallest element or atom encompassed in its wholeness.

The planet knew we were coming and it also knew that we had plans and dreams about it. So the moment we closed on it, a window opened into the dense layer of clouds and we safely landed on a dry spot situated in the middle of the large continent. The air was fresh and breathable so we stepped out of the starship, scrutinizing the surroundings in awe and deep curiosity. As we already knew from the previous measurements, the planet had one major continent with an almost circular shape and there were several islands scattered in the immensity of the globe-round ocean.

Since the contours of the land were blurred by a constantly shifting curtain of mist we could rely only on the readings of the beam of inner light tapping out the shapes and surfaces. We decided to divide the continent into three equal sized territories and use them as personal creating grounds. The invisible lines of division merged into a center point that later became our meeting ground free of magic and where we were just three bold and dreaming humans in a common quest. Restless Ulysses took the Land of Dawn, the one situated on North and East. I received the Land of Sunset, from North to West and the largely opened of the South became the kingdom of Athena.

Before we immersed into the creative contest we had one last late-night talk over dinner under the stars. The two moons, Alpha and Omega were under the horizon so the sky above us was splashed with twinkling diamond sparks, coiling constellations, dark clouds of dust clearly cut out over the blaze of the heights.

Ulysses set the stage by handing us a dozen of his scented candles and we diligently placed them in a large circle around our dinner table. He lit them with a quick move of his hand, scattering a fistful of sizzling sparks over the protective circle surrounding us. The table was already set with some of the bold concoctions Athena and I made in our space-kitchen so our leading poet and commander filled the glasses from a bottle of golden wine brought from the home planet. The memory of translucent grapes ripening under the shower of warmth swirled inside the glass, smoothly curving around the delicate walls, then rose and joined the harmony of scents released by the shimmering candles. We sipped the amber like liquor in silence, recalling the light-bathed hills, the joy and laughter echoing in time of harvest, the blaze of the last days of the Indian summer…Melancholy spread her wings, hovering in circles above us…

-Let me show you something, ladies…

Ulysses’ soft, purring voice pulled us back to reality. He smiled and his deep, ocean-green eyes filled with playful lights. He took out a notebook and placed it on the table. He flipped it open and moved a hand over the pages; a dim glow gathered in a tiny cluster above. A quick rotation of the wrist lifted the bright maze, turning it into fiery letters floating in the air before our eyes. Lines of poetry written by Ulysses formed and they talked about the beauty of the garden, of the roses and the birds inhabiting it. Then, one by one the letters turned into leaves, sticks and branches, petals and rivering rows of flowers, while their scent enveloped us, shutting out the reality beyond.  Shiny hummingbirds like gems were flying in frenzy up and down this corner of Eden….We stood there mesmerized. Then, after a while the flowers faded into…words, hummingbirds returned to the letters of their own name, the lines of poetry dissipated in a graceful dance and the light died out between the covers of the notebook.

Ulysses chuckled at the sighting of our faces: Athena’s cheeks were burning red, her eyes shining with excitement, while I was so overwhelmed by emotions that I couldn’t stop tears streaming down my face. I shook my head in embarrassment ad took a deep breath to regain my balance.

-That was beautiful…the words slipped from my mouth instinctively.

We burst in laughter and relaxed. In the meantime, the larger moon, Alpha reached the top of the sky, blurring the stars. Its sharp silver light enhanced the glow of the silky mist swaying above the land. We were back to reality.

-So, ladies…On whose kingdom are we going to start the creative work tomorrow?

We looked at each other…and the decision came almost instantly.

-Well, Athena you’re the first to move in. After all you’re the one who wants something brand new and never seen before.

Happiness washed over the lively face and you could see she was beaming.

-You’ll see!-she exclaimed. I promise that you won’t be disappointed…

The moon plunged into the sea of mist so we resumed our dinner and went to sleep. While Athena stormed to her room, I touched Ulysses and he turned towards me questioningly.

-What’s wrong?-I asked. You seem tensed…

He was surprised.

-How did you know? I thought it’s unnoticeable…

-I can feel it, you know that.

-Oh, yes. I forgot. Your spirit side…

I smiled to put him at ease.

-Right; my inner connection. Now, won’t you tell me what is bothering you?

We stopped in front of a port-hole. It was pit-black outside but we knew that the planet was there, cloaked in fog and shadows, waiting for a resurrection.

-I wonder…-said Ulysses pensively. We might encounter some unexpected difficulties. You saw my magic this evening; it doesn’t last. It lacks consistence…We might have to connect the planet if we want to reshape her and there is only one person who can do that…

Suddenly, I felt a lump in my throat; Ulysses’ voice was a distance whisper, echoing worry.

-Kiera, will you do it, if needed? I know what that implies for you…but…

For a brief moment the world spun around me and I shut my eyes, fighting back nausea. Oh, three hot-headed dreamers…we just jumped ahead, without even knowing what our limits were…whatever…it was too late for laments. This was by now our home and failure was not an option. I didn’t want to let Ulysses needlessly worry over me.

I opened my eyes, straightened my back and put up my bravest smile.

-I can handle it, don’t worry. We didn’t come this way long to give up. Sleep well, my poet. Good night.

He raised an eyebrow and watched me carefully, trying to see beyond my composure. It was a moment of fun and finally we both laughed. I quickly kissed him and fled to my cabin.

-Women…-he grumbled and turned to his headquarters.

Night took over the planet.

 

 

 

 

A new day dawned upon the pristine land. As the yellow sun soaked up the fog, vast expanse of flat land opened in front of us, stretching towards the bluish horizon. We took the small, emergency shuttle and flew over the Southern land.

Short, frosty-green grass covered the soil, rippling under the touch of the warm morning breeze. We landed in a place that was approximately in the center of that chosen area. Athena rushed out in boisterous excitement to feel and touch the place that would be the kingdom of her imagination. Ulysses and I, we followed her in silence, thoughts running through our minds, chasing doubts and the shadowing fears of unsuccessful attempt. I could read his concerns in the darkening of his eyes and the subtle twitch of the jaw. I touched his arm.

-Let’s try first. I am here…

He acknowledged my support with a faint smile and stepped forward, his tall and lean silhouette capturing the sunlight into an eerie halo around him. Ulysses pointed out a wide circle and stood there with stern, thoughtful face until we placed the candles one by one all around. He lit them with one quick move of his hand and raised the protective wall of spell to keep us undisturbed.

We took place in the three main points dividing the circle in equal parts and held hands to combine the resources of our souls. Eyes shut, we disconnected from the outside world and joined into gathering all the light and magic energies residing beyond conscientious grasp. Warm currents of spirit emerged, surging to the surface of our minds, seeping through the palms and fingertips to unite into a single orb of sizzling, blazing bundle of light.

-Athena…

Ulysses’ soft whisper rippled in the silence encompassing us.

-Try something simple at first…

As the echoes of the words died out, a bubbling source of crystal clear water erupted under our feet, right in the center of the magic circle. The source grew with every burst and spread over the grass, running ahead, conquering the plain beyond the wall of spells.  Emerald islands of tall, swaying grass emerged in the arms of the crisscrossing arteries of water, while the life-giving source followed its victorious run towards the ocean lost in the blur of the southern horizon.

The cooling freshness of the constantly surging source brushed over our skins, the promises of life overtaking our senses. It was a moment of bliss…that soon ended. The source vanished under our feet and the miracle outside the circle faded under the sun. Athena’s disappointment washed over me along with the deep concern coming from our protective leader in this quest.

-Just as I thought…-he murmured, avoiding my gaze.

But the anguish oozing from Athena has already broken down my reluctance. I turned and grabbed her firmly by the shoulders and told her:

-Don’t be afraid, I’ll fix it. Please, step aside, both of you.

Ulysses took away our airy friend and held her close in his comforting embrace. I lay face-down on the grass and closed my eyes, shutting everything out. My spirit-half took the lead and subtly reached out towards the planet below. As I dived deeper and deeper, the feeling of the surface under my body changed, softened until it felt warm and smooth like the skin of a living entity. From the sensitive body behind it, a tingling sensation seeped inside me, flowing through the pathways of my mind and soul. Light fingers of strange, alien energy tapped the layers of heartfelt memories of a planet that I was carrying hidden deep inside me. But with each reading, the images once encapsulated faded out and the planet connected intimately with my mind, filling the hollows, step by step.

It was a bitter-sweet victory. While this personal connection between me and the new planet ensured the success and the stability of our dream-creations, the loss of the memory of the earth was cutting deep inside me, my heart crying out with every withering image, every muffled sound or fading scent. Spirit as I was, from the three of us I was the least prepared to leave behind the Earth. Though I knew that our home was doomed, my foolishly romantic heart still ached for those realms. So I wept like a child for the loss of the cherished images of softly curved, grassy hills, soaring, snow-glazed mountains, mirroring lakes and spraying waterfalls. Familiar shapes of glittering constellations, the majestic ribbon of the Milky Way arching over the plains, the silver-showering companion of the Earth, the poetically elusive Moon…I’ve lost them all, giving space to a new beginning. When the last piece of memory got filled up and the connection completed, I felt awkwardly empty and fulfilled at the same time. My rivering pain that smashed through the pathways of my heart cleared the way and slowly calmed down, opening the gate for the conjunction with the cosmic entity that had acquired us.

New, wild, untamed energies surged from the planet, bold and wishful, waiting for a sign to get into action. Once again I reached consciousness and connected to reality. I didn’t realize that I was shaking until Ulysses helped me up. I staggered but he caught me and held me firmly until I regained my balance. Athena’s lilac eyes were watching me full of hope and expectations. I smiled reassuringly.

-Connection completed. Go, girl! It’s time to dream big!

 

 

Smoky-silver light showers from above as Alpha is slowly climbing the skies. The wondering face of the main moon looks down in astonishment to the new territory stretching below.

In the translucent ocean of vapor and thin air an intricate castle woven of silk thread and rays of light floats gracefully, as the three  bold dreamers watch in equal amazement the Southern kingdom unfolding.

A vast net of crystal clear waters, lacing the plain, small, gleaming arteries of streams running joyfully towards the sandy shores of the ocean, thousands of emerald-green islands nested between the life giving arms….tiny bridges arching over the crisscrossing channels, connecting the patches of land…long-stemmed flowers swaying under the breeze, while fern-like trees were twinkling in the all encompassing glow…Sweet, floral scents permeate the air…elegant, airy creatures like huge mantis-rays are swimming through the ocean of the atmosphere…Popping out from mushroom-like umbrellas, spores of iridescent bubbles float elegantly on the currents of air, moon-rays swirling across their delicate shell in shimmering rainbows…It’s a new world, a dream born inside the artful mind.

Athena points out every feature of her kingdom with enthusiastic awe to her two friends joining this magic ride on the hovering castle. The planet breathes peacefully, dreaming ahead about marvels yet unborn inside her mist covered remaining two-thirds…

 

 

Somewhere around midnight we left Athena and returned to the base, happy but exhausted. Our joined creative work has had its grand opening but there was still a lot to do. The grid of magic running around the planet ensured the success of our following creations so we were ready to go on with it first time in the morning. I knew that the dream-world of Ulysses was lying dormant between the covers of his poetry-book. Magic surprises were sleeping for now, carved out in blazing words. Of the three of us, he was the most enigmatic, spiritual being, insightful, connected intimately to the soft whispers of a hidden reality that was beyond our grasp. He was the vessel of an inner light that kept us floating and captured the hearts, an elusive light, alluring and irresistible…

I was about to say “good night” when he stopped me; he could sense my tribulations and he wanted to ease my inner turmoil.

-Kiera…don’t be afraid, it’ll be fine. I know it. Anyway, if you feel lost, I’m always around.

He gave me the sweetest smile and all of a sudden, everything brightened up and I went to sleep with a lighter heart.

 

 

The planet moved under the touch of dreams; it opened towards me and listened, following the light traveling through our inner connection. The land rose, turned and twisted, shaping new forms. Yellow-green triangles of trembling leaves danced on the tips of delicate branches and tiny sticks as the white silhouettes of birch groves took over the soft line of the hills. Tall, solemn-grey beech woods walked higher, mixing with majestic old oaks as the land grew into foothills then turned into soaring dragons of glistening rock.

Dark, steel-green columns of fir and pine trees built into organs of vegetation on the steep slopes, then dwarfed into crawling bushes of junipers and crimson mountain roses. Pointed peaks, like razor-sharp shark teeth bit into the chilling, high atmosphere, the sunrays gliding over facets of amethyst and smoky quartz.

Wild streams bubbled, jumping, splashing, grumbling over the obstacles of rocks and boulders, gathering in clear-blue pools only to restart their rush into the hollows of cracks, straights and ravines. Dense rivers of mist clouded, floated, waved above the mountains, rivering down the deep valleys. The rocky spine of the mountain leaned towards the Eastern kingdom, and the stern woods of conifers smoothed into light-woven forests, filtering the sun. The air of the morning was fresh and crisp, the low humming of insects entwining with the high-pitched chirping of the boisterous singing birds.

I stepped at the edge of the forest, gazing into the golden glow ahead. I had leaded my forests towards Ulysses to help him set the stage for the birth of his dream-land. I stood there, half hidden in the shadow, waiting and silently watching his tall, slender shape surrounded by light. Unlike Athena who is an artful creature, a chip of a Greek goddess, comfortable with herself, I am an odd mix of conflicting features. Joyful and energetic on the outside, haunted by romantic bursts of melancholy on the inside, I’m an untamed child of Nature born into the body of a woman. Sometimes I feel like I am too much for myself and I shy away from my own feelings…

Ulysses flipped open his book and whispered a spell over the intricate rows of words inhabiting the pages. Just like at that late-night dinner show, the words rose in the air, then, as they embodied their content, spread around, adorning the Eastern kingdom with magic features.

Streams born inside the cooling belly of the mountain were cascading in spraying waterfalls…The light, penetrating through the tiny droplets burst out in shining beads of rainbow…The ever-moving rows of sizzling water-gems washed down over the deep-green curtains of moss and grass clinging to the rocky stairs, spread in vaporous, delicate veils from the dizzying heights in a harmonious, soul soothing move and sound. The streams gathered into rivers and the rivers plunged into deep holes carefully hidden under the greenery.

Caves opened inside the land under the thin crust of solid ground and the rivers coiled around columns of bright turquoise, wine-red rubies, fire opals and clear-blue sapphires. As the boiling waters left the underworld, the land slowly slid towards the awaiting ocean, taming into wide shores. Foam-crested waves kissed the white sands, leaving behind gifts of nacreous shells. A row of beautiful islands faced the horizon where the miracle of a new day kept rising on and on, under the touch of the sun. Large fans of undulating palm-trees flipped in the salty ocean breeze, graceful white birds cried over the rolling waters, spicy scents erupted in the warmth of the night from the velvet core of the exotic flowers…

Cozy, comfortable lodgings were scattered around this land in places of calm and serenity. Whenever Ulysses was at home in any of them, the shimmering, scented candles indicated his presence. The Eastern kingdom was Paradise reborn under new stars.

The work has been done.

 

 

 

Kiera sighed as Ulysses closed his book of poetry with an inward smile.

-We did it-he said, turning to the girl waiting for him. And I was right about you, wasn’t I?

She acknowledged.

-The planet has kept my memories and helped me reinstate them. It was an unexpected gift…

-It was an act of fairness to wards you. Now let’s go back and celebrate. I think we deserve a special treat and some fireworks…

The planet stretched imperceptibly and then relaxed. It was pleased with the result. It rocked herself into sleep as the shadows of the night conquered the land and small Omega rolled into the star-spotted stage of the skies.

 

 

There is no surge in Nature without a recess, so after months of arduous work in refining the features, balancing our kingdoms and the excitement of roaming new, unexpected sightings, we came to realize that no matter how wonderful things might have looked, we were only three humans in this whole, huge magic land. We had fled the restless, noisy and boisterous company of our fellow humans just to start missing them by now…

This was the moment when we decided to populate our lands with inhabitants that would fit the whole scenery. The only problem was how to create such high complexity creatures. Whatever the planet could do, it has been already done. It has helped us setting the scenery but sentient beings were connected to a more subtle flow of cosmic energies.

Athena and I, we were relying on Ulysses to gain access to those levels of reality. It was an area where he moved swiftly and he was at home. So we, the girls kept ourselves busy with the general features of each group of future inhabitants. Athena wanted nymphs and semi-gods from the myths of her ancestors; the world of Ulysses belonged to mermaids and mermen and I was an arduous admirer of elves, fairies and dwarfs.

To complete his work, Ulysses needed a peaceful spot to meditate and roam the hidden layers of reality; so one day he grace fully bowed towards us and disappeared inside his kingdom without any additional explanation. We acknowledged and delved into the work that was at hand for us.

Our graceful companion reappeared all of a sudden after more than a week, with an enigmatic Mona Lisa smile and some playful sparks in his eyes.

-Ladies. Nice to see you. We have things to do.

He smiled and continued.

-Athena. I need you to fly over the entire continent and map the spots where the two moons shed the brightest light. Kiera and I, we have to go up the mountain and find a window of high energy.

Athena smirked, gazing at us playfully:

-Do I have to? It looks boring. Are you sure you’re not shutting me out while the two of you have all the fun?

I reddened while Ulysses burst into laughter.

-Don’t be silly, Athena. Tracing those spots is half of the work to be done. We need that map to be ready the moment we would be back. Nothing can be achieved without it so I rely on your swiftness.

He lifted her from the ground and swirled her until she was breathless. He put her down with a smile.

-You’re an artist, Athena and you have a keen eye. I’m sure this will be a piece of cake for you. Think about your semi-gods and speed up. It has to be done till the end of this week. Alpha and Omega will be in conjunction.

We split in good spirit and headed to sleep.

 

The sun was fighting the morning fog as we took the road towards the mountain. Ulysses and I, we left the small shuttle on a pasture near the edge of the forest and took a narrow pathway leading to the highs. Ulysses knew the way; we had been there several times before, watching sunsets and counting shooting stars… when we had been on Earth.

The high arch that opened on the vastness of the sky was a replica of a place we often visited at home. According to Ulysses, this one was a place that connected high–level energies, a place that he found out through his inner compass. I followed him whole heartedly, despite the fact that I had no idea what was about to happen up there. All I knew was that he needed my connection to the planet and since I trusted him, all I worried about were my own abilities.

It took us two days to reach the peak. We slept under the stars, drank water from icy cold sources, picked forest fruits and laughed a lot. But I knew that Ulysses’ mind was constantly working on the task ahead, shaping and reshaping the way to complete it. These were days when I could see him from a different perspective and I fully enjoyed the opportunity.

Ulysses has always been an eye catcher, but his good looks were only a thin layer of appearance over a personality of incredible depths and labyrinth-like complexity. Beyond the courteous smile and good manners there was a strong and independent character, a brilliant mind and a thirst for opening of new horizons. Like the stars in the skies that he so easily and naturally connected, his core was made of blazing light that could ignite a universe…

But for now, he was our friend, our protector, poet and master magician with whom we kept building a world that never existed before. It was shortly after nightfall that we reached the peak. In the warm evening there was a strange chill in the air that brazed our skin and I shuddered.

Ulysses set up the circle of protective spell, leaving me time to rest and gather strength.  As the night deepened, the shape of the two moons was becoming increasingly bright. The moment of conjunction was near. We stepped inside the circle of candles and their light softly trembled at our closeness.

Ulysses took my hands; his touch was warm, soft and soothing. Calmness settled inside me and I shut my eyes.

-It’s time-he whispered and I plunged inside my inner world, following the trail of Spirit and Earth connections that webbed inside me ever since I mapped and connected with the planet.

On his side, Ulysses reached out to the stars and for a moment, the Universe halted, listening to his call.

-Open your eyes. NOW!

The word of command echoed inside me, its powerful wave shaking me back to reality. I gasped and woke up looking straight at him. A warm, golden light waved inside the green pools of his eyes. I gazed into their translucent waters and suddenly, the light erupted from the depths, washing over me.

Torrents of blaze ran down my veins, spreading inside me in a warm, rapidly pulsing net, until they filled up even the tiniest capillaries. Stardust rolled and swirled inside that stream, celestial harmony turned into rhythms that overtook my heart, tuning its beating to the faraway thumping of star-birth.

The planet responded to the challenge of the Universe and her cooling energies surged through my body in streams of blue sizzling, coiling around the flaming rush inside me, raising an arch of bright azure over our entwining entities. The blue halo enveloped both me and Ulysses and inside this creating turmoil of energies, the physical limits separating us disappeared. For a magic moment, we were one. The tides of Time halted as our merging completed.

Heart melted into heart, arteries and veins connected, eyes opened towards the same miracle and the seeds of life took shape, one by one. In the limited infinity between us there was a point of burning light that cradled those brilliant specks, those promises of life. They kept emerging and clustering until we had enough to fill our acquiring home. The cluster of light solidified into a faintly glowing fruit, floating in between the two of us.

Land and sky separated as the rush of energies calmed down and the rivers of blaze faded into their originating nests. We slowly returned behind our personal boundaries, elated and exhausted. I stepped back, leaving Ulysses to take hold of the precious result of joined creation.

Alpha and Omega split in the skies; the short moment of conjunction has ended. The river of Time was flowing again over us. We looked at each-other silently; we needed no words. We had succeeded. The first step of populating the planet has been completed.

Ch6.

Two days later we reached the base; Athena was waiting for us, eager to start the work. We took a quick shower, changed clothes and gathered in the Commanding Room.

She unfolded the map, spreading it over the large desk. A web of blue and white dots covered the continent, always in pairs. It looked like the two moons had worked together despite the fact that, except for the conjunction, they seemed to rarely visit the skies at the same time. The energy spots were scattered along rivers, on islands, channels, ocean shores, high peaks or deep forests. Planting the seeds in all those places meant that we would have to work together at high speed.

Ulysses took out the protective box that nested the precious fruit. He lifted the lid and gently pushed the box towards Athena. The fruit-of-life was pulsing calmly as he moved his palm above it. I could feel the faint current of energy coming from the box, reaching towards each of us. The soft touch reverberated inside me; Athena closed her eyes and took a deep breath, captured by the new, unusual feeling.

During our moment of awe Ulysses assessed the data from the map and the readings about the two moon’s movements in the skies; he raised an eyebrow and tilted his head:

-Ladies, I hate to interrupt your daydreaming but we have no spare time. The window of opportunity we have to plant the seeds is less than two days. We have to hurry up.

So the data was loaded into the memory of the emergency shuttle and we left for Athena’s land. We worked day and night to plant the seeds. We slept in shifts and we, the girls were the gardeners most of the time. We needed Ulysses to fly the shuttle and to keep the fruit-of-life energized. He was the only one powerful enough to protect and keep alive that magical collection of seeds of light.

Athena and I, we dug up the soil and molded the small nests, placed the seeds inside and covered them carefully with the thin layer of soil. We held hands over the nest and summoned the magic of Earth and Skies through the portals of our souls, raising a protective spell over the cradle of the future children of dreams. When the last nest was finally secured under the slender palm-tree undulating on the ocean shore, we embraced each other, happy but exhausted. Ulysses lead us to one of his favorite lodgings and that night we all slept like new-born babies, deeply, comfortably and free from concerns.

 

 

Alpha and Omega rose from the frothy waves of the ocean, slowly approaching each other, their light showering over the land, faint blue and frosty silver entwining over the secret places that held the pulsing seeds. Like pulled by an unseen power, the two moons closed on each other in what looked like a strange dance in the skies.

Sizzling halo of light gathered above each spot, thin pencils of rays fingered the surface and the planet shuddered under the touch. The crust of soil cracked with a sift noise, the belly of the earth opened and widened. As the midnight meridian moved over the spots, a clear, high-pitched sound of an invisible bell announced that the magical birth has begun. Showered by moonlight, slender shapes emerged from the underworld, one by one. They filled the land, danced and laughed under the spray of light coming from above.

Graceful nymphs and handsome semi-gods took over the land of the Southern kingdom, quickly settling on the tiny islands, weaving nests of silk, dew and light or houses of magic-grass that were hanging in colorful rows from the fern-like trees. Some of them captured handfuls of iridescent bubbles and flew, riding the warm currents of air, reaching the hovering castle. They roamed the corridors and the crisscrossing, artful hallways then sat in some of the numerous rooms of that fantastic building.

On the Eastern kingdom, mermaids and mermen splashed and swam in happy gatherings, teasing the dolphins and the schools of rainbow fish. Horses of bubbling foam ran wildly over the breaking waves and pearly birds followed their rush, circling above.

The hills, meadows and valleys of the Western kingdom opened its arms of greenery and clear waters to acquire the boisterous elves, airy and wise fairies and diligent dwarfs. A majestic dragon of mist floated peacefully above them, watching over the elegant yet energetic creatures.

As the night faded into the pink Aurora, the birth of the three nations completed. The bold dreamers of the far Earth woke up to a world of new responsibilities.

Ch7.

 

It might be true that the old gods of humanity took a nap or a well-deserved rest after completing their creation but that was definitely not our case. I might even say that in our case, it was the contrary…As the rays of the sun hit the tip of the waves rolling in the ocean, the children of our creation woke up and scattered noisily, trying to set foot on each vantage point.  The three of us, we split and took the reins of each kingdom and soon, we were more than busy and feeling very much at home. Behind pointed ears, fins and tails, wings and whatever made the external differences, the new born nations were adorably and annoyingly human. So, we put our humor and imagination at work, squeezed the last drop of patience we’ve got and slowly but steadily set the necessary rules inside the originating chaos.

Months later, as we finally reached harmony, we’ve met again to share the story of each up and down, along with a glass of wine and Ulysses’ poetic recollection about our collective journey. After a relaxing chat, Athena was the first to speak about her achievements. She looked satisfied and slightly amused, lights twinkling in her eyes.

-I am content, my friends, really content. These young gods and nymphs are highly creative and eager to help me in fulfilling my wildest dreams and projects. I envision even some plays or musicals like, let’s say, “The Phantom of the Opera”…

She looked straight towards Ulysses, waiting for a reaction. After all, she was speaking about his favorite musical…The young man returned the look and winked.

-I might send you some of my mermaids. I have a feeling that some of them are seeking a career as singers. Give it a try, Madam Director of Celestial Opera House.

-Don’t worry, Ulysses; just send them to me. In the meantime I’d like some helping hands from the elves to. I know that they are artful craftsmen. How do you manage, Kiera?

How was I doing? Oh, well…it depends how you look at it. My elves and my fairies had a strong Irish ancestry so they were boisterous and hotheaded…both sides. Moments of peace and harmony rapidly turned into heated arguments…just to dissolve, moments later in hugs and laughter. So…they were a handful…and I loved them.

-I’m fine, Athena. It’s a “give and get”, day by day and the more they learn from me, the more I learn from them. So, yes, I’ll send you some of them to help you with this art-project.

-Now, ladies. Since you set things in order, let’s have some fun tonight. Alpha is almost at its peak and my Sea Horses are restless by now. It would be my greatest pleasure to take you both on a wave riding. What’d’you say?

I looked at Athena; she grinned and gave me a playful kick.

-Come, girl, don’t be shy. What can go wrong? If we fall off the horse, we take a splash; that’s all!

We laughed and joined Ulysses. The night wasn’t over yet.

 

 

Alpha took its vantage position above us all and unfurled its wings of light, dimming the stars. The Ocean became restless under the touch of the moon and her waves rolled towards the shore in thicker rows of frothing waves. Mermaids and mermen, closely followed by dolphin-like creatures enjoyed the growing swell. There was a feeling of expectation in the air, easily capturing us as well. We walked down to the soft, dimly glowing sand and stood behind Ulysses, watching him summoning the Horses of the Sea.

Eyes closed in concentration, he held out both hands and gracefully signaled the waters to rise. The foamy tip of the approaching waves bubbled up and took shape; three horses of iridescent lace emerged and galloped to the shore. Airy and harmonious creatures, bathed in silver light, they were holding all the energetic and passionate temperament of their Earth-born siblings. In the increasing salty, night-breeze their long mane looked like a flaming halo. The horses gathered around Ulysses, gently poking him for a caress. He laughed softly, touching and petting them, one by one…then turned towards us.

-Ladies, come. Come closer…These are my magic companions in my midnight roaming: Athor, Aras and Aelin. Athor is my friend and I hope his brothers would become your close companions in the future.

Athena and I, we were mesmerized. There was a flow of energy radiating from those marvelous creatures, soothing, calming and connecting to us almost instantly. Somehow, they were taming us just by their natural beauty and harmony. Ulysses helped us on their back and then, he took his faithful Athor. Although at first we couldn’t discern any difference between the three horses, I saw that Athor was more robust and confident. He had a star-shaped spot on its forehead. Aras was the next in line, a steady stallion, fitting Athena’s firm and determined personality. The younger ones, me and Aelin, we were an instant bond. My new friend was more delicate and nervous on the outside, but teaming with passionate inner energies…just like me. Though I never rode a horse, I trusted him. I embraced his gracefully arching neck and, before anybody notice, I quickly kissed him.

-Don’t let me make a fool of myself-I whispered in his ear, hoping that the horse will understand me.

But there was no time for worries. Lead by Ulysses, we turned to the ocean and our wave-ride begun in splash! The other magic inhabitants of the depths excitedly followed us, diving and jumping, spreading sparkling droplets of water in the air. Galloping into the glowing horizon, the horses were barely touching the tip of the foaming rovers. Athena was laughing, Ulysses was smiling and I just closed my eyes, breathing in the light. Magic was flowing through us, finely tuning our cores to the heart-beat of the enchanted planet…

 

 

Days added up in weeks and weeks became months as we kept being busy with our kingdoms and young nations. The Celestial Theater and Opera House dreamed by Athena was taking shape with the help of enthusiasts of all sides. Summer was gradually fading into an early autumn, shades of yellow diluting the strong green of meadows and forests. My own boisterous kingdom was settling to; last time I have called a meeting on their ground, I’ve told them to work out a respectful way of life…without involving me. They were shocked. We gathered in a larger clearing and sat under the arching canopy of a row of architectural oak trees. Each group of my fantastic “children” had sent its boldest and most representative individuals. As I looked around to connect with them, my heart warmed up and a small lump was rising in my throat. I took a deep breath and swallowed. This was not the moment to fall apart and cry. I have foreseen this moment and I knew that it was unavoidable. But they still needed a bit to realize the same. For now, all they could do was to protest loudly.

-But Little Goddess, we can’t do that without your lead, your wisdom! You have created us! We want you to be our Queen!

-Please, please listen to me!

I had to raise my voice to make myself heard over the noise of shouts.

-I have watched over you ever since the night this planet gave birth to you. We worked side by side in order to make this kingdom a home for all. I am thankful for the efforts involved in reaching this complicated but hopeful goal. I am pleased with the results but now, time has come for me to step aside and let you work out your own future. I put my trust in you all, so there’s no need to be afraid.

There…I was able to say it without staggering. I closed my eyes, waiting to the message to sink in their mind. There was an awkward moment of silence but then, the miracle happened. My wise and diligent dwarfs, my graceful fairies and my playful elves…they all surrounded me and we hugged each other…and I left lightheartedly. They stood there and talked for hours. Their childhood came to an end and a new chapter was opening. Dwarfs, Elves and Fairies were now fully able to rule their land.

So I moved closer to Ulysses, in a quiet spot near the border of our kingdoms. Ever since that magic night of wave-riding, we’ve been too busy to meet. All I knew about him was that lately he became very interested in the Crystal Caves and that he was after something; but I had no idea what that could be.

The shrinking day-light, the chilling bite of some of the early mornings, the sudden-blue of the autumn skies, the melancholy in the song of the slim, swirling winds, all these piling signs of the new season were altering my personal harmony, rewiring me. My mood shifted towards a more dreaming state of mind, while sensitivity soared, sharpening my perception, adding new lights and shadows to the reality surrounding me. The planet was happily bouncing on its ellipse, fulfilled by its acquired sense of beauty. Universal peace seemed to become all encompassing…

It was a night of full Alpha when I finally took the decision to visit Ulysses. Somehow I couldn’t find the necessary courage to do that. I couldn’t explain why I was constantly finding something else to do…after I moved near him. Exasperated by my conflicting state of mind, I travelled mostly to Athena, helping her with arts and crafts. I tried to hide my turmoil behind my usual cheerfulness but my wise friend was seeing through me easily. She accepted my help, patiently listening to my ramblings until she decided it was enough.

-Girl-she said, looking at me with that “no-nonsense” expression on her face. Thank you for your help but go! Go and see what is he doing. It’s what you want. Now, don’t try to deny it. It’s written all over your face, silly girl.

She laughed and I laughed and then I left. When the wings of darkness spread above the land, I called my dragon and flew towards the cabin next to the caves. There was a warm, shimmering light in the windows so I hoped that Ulysses would be home.

 

 

The young man was sitting before the fireplace in deep thoughts. Lately, he has spent most of his days inside the magic world of the Crystal Caves. It was both a magic and scaring place to be.  The anomaly detected at the entrance was growing stronger as he travelled deeper and deeper inside the caves. The chain of high chambers decorated by slim pillars, daring arches and intricate laces of colorful crystals was opening into a final cave of epic proportion. An underground river was cascading from the ceiling-line hidden behind the mist generated by the spraying waters. The rushing body of bubbling liquid splashed in a seemingly bottomless pool, only to resurface and head on through the string of caves ahead.

A narrow and dangerously slippery path was leading to the unexpected curtain of water. But the closer you got to the relentlessly falling mass, the more aware you were becoming of its overpowering push on everything around. It was like a giant palm closing over you, shutting out the air you were trying to breathe in, compressing you lungs while your heart was running wild of anxiety. At the same time, the place was exerting an almost hypnotic attraction and Ulysses found hard to resist it every day. The place was deeply intriguing and it encompassed a menace he wasn’t able to point out yet. The young man decided to keep silent about his discovery. He didn’t want to worry his lady-companions unless it was necessary. For now, all he could do was to study the phenomenon and tune himself into the awkward energy-flows filling the caverns.

A log cracked in the fireplace, bringing him back to the immediate reality. Somebody was coming; his high-strung perception kept him alert most of the time. Luckily, this time it was a pleasant interruption. He stood up briskly and leapt to the door, opening it before Kiera could knock. Taken by surprise, she blushed; Ulysses smiled inwardly.

-Come, my lady. I’m glad you remembered this place….

 

If for the split of a moment I wish I could die and disappear, the moment Ulysses greeted me, I was already hoping this night would never end. Somehow, we both needed this encounter, we both needed to talk and talk and talk….I told him about my decision to leave the Land of Sunset in the hands of the people inhabiting it and he told me about the research he was conducting in the Crystal Caves. There was a hidden tension in his voice and in his composure while he went through the story of that special place of his kingdom. From what he shared with me, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong so I’ve decided to ask him directly. As much I knew him, Ulysses always protected Athena and me from the dangers ahead.

-Ulysses…

He turned to me.

-Tell me what’s wrong-I said. You know that I can sense your inner tension…

He chuckled.

-Damn, Kiera, a man cannot have a secret with you around…Ok, you’re right. Something is bothering me about this cave. There is a strong anomaly inside, one that indicates a presence from an outer space. I don’t know how that …something reached this particular planet but I have a feeling that it has to do with our landing here.

I took a deep breath and let the piece of information sink in. It was both disturbing and challenging news. Humanity had faced numerous encounters with intelligent creatures throughout its history. Not all of these ended up peacefully but on a long term, our Space-Age proved to be a success. Our colonies had spread around like dandelion-seeds carried by the Currents of Space. The immediate question was: what are the intentions of the one reaching out to us?

I must’ve looked lost and distressed ‘cause I’ve heard Ulysses saying:

-Hey…Kiera…Let’s ride some waves. We’ve worried enough for today.

He smiled encouragingly and we left the cabin. I summoned the dragon and he flew us to the shore. The night was still warm enough and Alpha was in full blaze. Athor and Aelin surfaced at once and the ride begun! We chased the moon-light dancing on the tips of the waves, outran the playful night-breeze and splashed each-other, laughing until Alpha set in the drizzle of the horizon and the sun tinted the fields of the ocean with lavender and pink. Touched by the early rays of the sun, the horses delved into the green depths, leaving us to rest on the sands, side by side, in meaningful silence. Our hands touched…and then entwined…and no words were needed to express the hope that, whatever the future was holding, it would not separate us.

 

 

The following week made it impossible for us to meet again. As Athena’s project was getting close to be finalized, she needed some extra help so I moved with her in the High Castle and made myself useful. During the preparations, Athena had put out some calls to some of her old friends who were living in the colonies. She invited them to the Grand Opening and they happily agreed, spreading the word around their own friends. So, it looked like this would be an opening for our planet itself. Between moments of frantic work, Athena asked about Ulysses and his doings. I’ve carefully censored the amount of information; after all, there was no foreseeable danger, so there was no need to worry her.

I could see her sighing with relief and sense her guilt for not being in touch with him. Athena was a great friend and support and though her dream was keeping her in constant excitement, her mind and her heart were at their proper place. Her enthusiasm was contagious and it kept me in line but the nights were becoming more and more difficult for me. Despite being deadly tired, I couldn’t sleep for hours. When the world quieted down and the rasp of the waves was a faint sound of the background, an eerie sensation enveloped me, stirring my inner waters, pushing me into the realms of elusive nightmares. I was worried; I’ve tried to talk with Ulysses several times but I seldom succeeded. Even when we talked, he sounded preoccupied and tired, though he kept reassuring me that all was fine there. He knew I won’t buy it, but he also knew I couldn’t leave Athena without raising unnecessary questions. I kept nagging him until he promised that he would come and supervise our finished work at the end of the week.

But he didn’t show up. That morning, the Sun rose crisp and red from the turquoise waters, its long path of light spread across the ocean like a trail of blood. I called Ulysses at the cabin but he didn’t take my call. My heart sank and I couldn’t stay anymore.

-I have to go, Athena-I said. I’m sorry…

She was visibly worried.

-Go, go! Call me when you get there. Don’t let me simmer in my own stew…

She hugged me and helped me on the dragon’s back. She stood there, watching me until we lost sight of each other.

 

 

 

The silence around of the cabin was crushing; even the usual wind blowing through the nearby forest was missing as I arrived. The entrance door was unlocked and the fireplace still had some half-dormant charred logs. I searched around a bit, just to get an idea where Ulysses has gone. That he was missing, that was all very clear for me. But the most disturbing fact was that I couldn’t …sense him. I stood there for long moments, reached down to the planet and searched for any sign of his presence. Nothing. To the best of my knowledge, Ulysses was not on this planet anymore.

“Think. Think. Breathe, don’t panic. Look around and see what is missing. Now move!”

I pushed myself into action; all it was missing was his backpack and some of his instruments. I found a map of the caves, a torch-lamp and I improvised a back pack for me to. With a bottle of fresh water and an apple picked from the table I hurried towards the Crystal Caves. Ulysses couldn’t be anywhere else. On my way I called Athena to let her know what was going on .She was quick to answer.

-Hi, Athena. He’s not here and I couldn’t find him yet. I’m on my way to the caves. He was doing some research there lately. I hope he’s fine…

Athena’s voice was calm; too calm to be true.

-Don’t do anything stupid, girl. Take care, ok?

-Uh, ok. Listen, Athena; if neither of us would show up, I left you some notes on the table in his cabin. The door is open. I’ll be careful but that’s the only thing I can promise you…

She sighed.

-I know. Watch your steps and bring back our dreaming knight. This place tastes foul without him. Keep going! I’m going back to my chores; the show must go!

The connection broke; becoming emotional was not an option. In less than an hour I reached the entrance and, to my biggest surprise there was light inside and I could follow the pathway with less difficulty. Weren’t I desperate to find out about Ulysses, I would’ve enjoyed the splendor of the place.  Guided by the rich fantasy of our poetic leader, the Planet had surpassed all imagination. This could’ve become a Paradise for crystal lovers and researchers. But for now, it was only the place of unseen dangers, so I sharpened my senses and followed the trail.

The closer I got to the waterfall described by Ulysses, the stronger the pull of that place became. Facing the glowing wall of waters was overwhelming. The amount of energy radiating from it was huge. Like the hungry arms of a giant squid, the invisible waves were surrounding me, pressing from all sides in an attempt to overcome my inner control.

It was a scaring sensation but the more they pressed, the more I resisted. Despite my mild temperament, I deeply disliked to be pushed around. And the fact that…something was keeping my mind occupied, preventing me from searching for any sign of Ulysses was infuriating. To get back my control over my mind, I started to hum a mantra….and it worked! The pressure on my skull eased and the tentacles of energy retracted behind the curtain of water. My vision cleared and I caught a glimpse of a piece of paper on the proximity of the waterfall. I hurried there and picked it up; I recognized Ulysses’ handwriting. A fragment of poetry…the words were dancing before my eyes…Space, Void, Pain, Light…I closed my fist upon it and tried to connect with Ulysses. No response…nothing. The water kept falling, radiating light, pulsing in the space around me. The pathway was disappearing inside it. He must have gone further…so I stepped forward.

As the scintillating droplets washed over me, their luminous content seeping inside every bit of my spirit-side, the light exploded inside me with the power of a supernova. My boundaries stretched instantly, reaching out to the Universe. My core was signaling and listening, frantically searching for the faintest echo that would help me find him. I delved to the limits of the reality, down into the threads of almost nothingness that create the fabric of Space and Time. I listened with every bit of my wide spread energies and then, something moved. It was a response at the limit of deadly silence but its delicate waves reached my inner shores. I have found him….not in the hollows of interstellar space, not in the deep ravines of star-cradles…No; he was much closer…so close that I almost screamed! Shadowed by my constant denial, he was where he has always been: in my heart. All I had to do was to search for him inside me, in the fire that was giving my inner light. He was there, memorized to the tiniest detail, cherished to the faintest smile…In a split of a moment I retracted inside my own Universe, pushing the gates open, rushing down the steps and the coiling pathways of my inner lands. The imprints of his touch upon my soul were faintly glowing, forever carved in the soft walls; the warmth of his voice and the softness of his laughter echoed in the feverish thud of my heart. I sped around, collecting the bits and pieces of every personal memory of him and carried them into the blazing light. The fabric of Space and Time trembled as the portal opened inside it. It was a deep, black vortex, a mesmerizing, convoluted tempest of dark matter. I closed my eyes, I held tight the image of light born in my heart and jumped into the unknown. There was nothing of worth in this world left behind if Ulysses wasn’t part of it.

 

Despite the strange familiarity of the place, I couldn’t point out where I was. I’ve just stumbled out of a waterfall roughly the size of that of the Crystal Caves and I was on open ground. I made a quick mental check and searched for the presence of the one I came for. Oh, I was in the right place; his presence was clear and he seemed to be somewhere around. Looking around, I tried to assess the features of the surroundings. It was an alien planet, a peculiar one.

It felt home, yet the design of the whole place was somehow…sketchy, like a blueprint, not a three dimensional reality. The rocky wall behind me, the almost barren plateau ahead, the scarce grass blades, the faint-blue sky…all of them reminded me of the drawing made by a child. There were some spiky bushes and a patch of skeletal trees on my right so I decided to take a few steps on their direction. If Ulysses was somewhere around, he should’ve been there.

 

 

There was a faint sizzle and the space around him wavered for a moment; somebody else was coming. Ulysses stood up and turned to the source of the sound. He was tense…then relaxed and chuckled. At least something good happened in this messy situation. He waited until the familiar silhouette emerged behind the tangled vegetation.

-Clever girl-he said loudly. I’m glad you found me…

For a short moment, she was unable to speak. Relief, aftershock and desperate attempt to regain composure, he could read all of them on her face. Finally, she smiled and replied:

-You have no idea how glad I am. I hate to think where I could’ve ended falling through this wormhole…

They both laughed and Ulysses could feel her tension subside as he held her close.

-What is this place?-she asked, as they walked towards the shaded place where he had set his tent. It feels familiar but I’m sure that I’ve never been here before…

-This, my lady it’s the twin-sister of our planet, Pygmalion. They keep connected through the wormhole; the two waterfalls are just clever disguises.

Kiera was puzzled.

-What do you mean by “twin-sister”?

-Come-said Ulysses, taking her by the hand. Let me show you something.

They walked to the cluster of trees and stopped near one of them. It was a medium high tree, with dull-grey, rugged bark and dust-colored leaves. Inconspicuous small, round fruits hung from the branches and on the whole, the poor tree looked disappointing. Ulysses placed the palm of his left hand on the tree-trunk, while with his right hand he made a few magic signs. In a few moments, the color of the bark under his palm started to change into warm brown, spreading quickly, up and down to the last stick. After that, the magic touched the leaves, turning them into vivid-green while the color of the fruits changed into pink with yellow spikes. Ulysses picked some and offered them to his companion. Kiera looked at him questioningly.

-They are edible-chuckled the young man. It’s my alternative for litchi. You should try them. Our food supplies are scarce.

The fruit was soft on the inside, with a sour-sweet aroma…like an ice-cream. It was both nourishing and refreshing. They picked some more for later and returned to the tent.

-Now you see?-asked Ulysses.

-Yes, I see…This planet has the same living core as Pygmalion. She’s able to cooperate in creating with us. But I see some features that are implying a connection with people like us. Yet, all seems so sketchy, so clumsily done….It looks like a bad copy of Pygmalion.

-Exactly! You’ve nailed it.

Ulysses smiled.

-I’m proud of you, Little Goddess. As much as I could detect and learn about Amalthea (I gave this planet a name), she has closely followed the changes we made on Pygmalion and she tried to make the replicas. What you see is what she succeeded, which is satisfactory for now.

Kiera was impressed. To find a planet like Pygmalion was magic; but to find two of a kind was close to a miracle. Yet there was the question of those strange energy flows inside the waterfall of the Crystal Caves. There were so many layers in that message coming from this new planet. Kiera decided to ask more.

-So-she asked, gently touching the young man. While we engaged our creative energies to mould Pygmalion’s appearance, Amalthea was watching and learning. Then, why is her calling so full of pain?

A shadow crossed Ulysses’ face.

-I don’t really know-he said in a low voice. I was hoping to find out here.

-Kiera-he said, looking straight in her eyes. I’m glad that you’re here with me; I only dread the fact that we might face some unexpected dangers here. I’ll share with you my readings of the anomaly detected and maybe we could decrypt them more easily together.

The two youth worked themselves through the large amount of data previously collected. After long hours of comparison, one pattern was clearly emerging: a deep fear echoed inside all the messages. It was a disturbing discovery; fear was a familiar emotion to both of them. But what could possibly frighten a planet?

A stern night, with strange stars scattered all over the black canopy, the eerie silence of an almost barren planet and a nagging question about a faceless fear were the coordinates of the moment when Ulysses and Kiera slept in the tent, holding each other. The planet itself was resting, comforted by the presence of those who were seemingly able to read her mind.

 

Somewhere far, inside the dark belly of the Universe a menacing shadow was taking flight from the scorched surface of a former vivid planet. A bird of prey with eyes of blood and fire and sharp teeth of hungry predator, a bird made by a ruthless, intelligent species in full expansion in this section of the ocean of stars. They were sending armies of indestructible robots ahead, to detect and to sow the seeds of life into the proper planets. These were extremely rare and thus, of high importance to the species. In order to grow their numbers, they needed the vital energy of such a planet. Despite their advanced technology, Nature refused to comply after countless generations had altered the basics of this species. Their all possessed an inborn energetic temperament and an urge to reach their goals on the shortest term possible. They were efficient and disciplined, meticulous and merciless. The planets they used were considered just tools and nothing more. Now, they have just set in motion, heading towards a planet that could read their intentions and who was living in constant fear…

 

 

Ulysses and Kiera woke up almost simultaneously, gasping for air and shivering. The waters of dream had carried them both towards murky depths inhabited by monsters. Horrible creatures had been chasing them, ready to suck their blood and vital energies. The named of those dreadful creatures was still ringing in their ears: The Harvesters.

-Oh, my goodness…What was this?!

Ulysses’ jaws tightened.

-This is what scares a Planet to death…

 

 

So now, fear had a name. The thought of draining a soul until it dies was sickening. We were members of a species that has proven so many times foolish, sometimes we followed horrible leaders and tainted our history with shameful moments; yet on the whole, Humanity was represented mostly by decent individuals and, by the time we have reached the stars, our evolution towards becoming respectful and respected citizens of the Universe was undeniable. Empathy is a trait shared by all the civilizations we are currently collaborating and our colonies are active members of a widespread net of thriving communities. These Harvesters put a threat on the lives of millions.

Ulysses was troubled by the discovery we made. He was feeling responsible for both the planet and our world left behind. His mind was feverishly working in search of a solution. I was tip-toeing around him, making myself useful discreetly. Making some additional adjustment to the neighboring trees diversified our meal and supplied the necessary amount of energy. I’ve turned my attention towards the connection with the planet. This way, I’ve learned that the worm-hole of the waterfalls was the result of a happy accident, allowing two very similar entities to connect and preserve communication. Unseen at first, the corridor became accessible the moment our presence proved to be benevolent and creative. Amalthea was dreaming of beauty and I was able to sense her short moments of joy with each colorful addition we made on her surface. But she was defenseless in face of the approaching danger and I wasn’t able to suggest her anything reassuring.

The nervous pacing of Ulysses up and down the place, the twitch of the muscles of his face, the bluish shadow underlining his eyes and the shadows troubling their green waters were distressing. I wished I could lift the pain that was engulfing us all and send those Harvesters back into the dark pit of the Space from where they emerged. Alas! It wasn’t that easy. But after several days of torment and sleepless nights, Ulysses came up with a solution.

-Little Goddess- he said, with an apologetic smile. I’m afraid that the next task will sit heavily on your shoulders.

-It’s fine with me-I said. Just tell me what I should do.

-Hmmm, let’s take a walk and I’ll explain you.

We left the tent and walked slowly to the rim of the plateau. The sun was setting on the distance and, in the dim light the contours were dissolving in the reddish afterglow. We stopped and Ulysses took my hands.

-We are dreamers and creators, Kiera. Our only hope resides in the power of creation we carry inside us. Do you remember the Seeds of Life?

-Yes…

-We have to help Amalthea to build up a protective wall around this Space; but for that, we have to start changing her the way we did with Pygmalion.

It was an ambitious plan but we were running out of time. I’ve expressed my worries to Ulysses.

-Do you think we can achieve that in such a short time? It’s only the two of us….

-Don’t worry; this time, we need only one seed. Luckily, we still have one left unused.

-We do? Where is it?

He cupped my face with both hands and gazed into my eyes.

-It’s…inside you.

 

 

The big night found us standing on the plateau, in the center of a magic circle drew by Ulysses. A constellation of five blazing stars was hanging above us, like a celestial chandelier. We set our connections to the planet and to the Universe. Hands in hands and eyes to eyes, we delved inside the subtle currents of light, gathering as much as we could in order to spark the life on Amalthea. Our connection set in rapidly and the flow of light went smoothly from one another. Hearts melted into one, beating at the rhythm of Universe, my mind following closely the intricate pattern of Ulysses’ thoughts. With no physical boundaries between us, we opened an Ocean of Light, with waves running freely between the shores we became. Ulysses reached out to me and the Seed of Life resonated to his touch. Hidden behind a corner of me heart, now our heart, it moved, rolling slowly into the acquiring ocean. As it reached the center, the waters of energy surrounded it, creating a huge vortex pointing into the opened core of the planet. With a deep breath, we released the epic flow inside Amalthea and she embraced the gift with all her might.

While we were regaining our individuality, Life was erupting under our feet. The surface of the planet exploded in a harmony of shapes and colors, the changing running from pole to pole at the speed of light. As beauty encompassed her, the planet found her hidden source of courage: she finally had something precious to protect and fight for. Four powerful dragons were reigning over the land, as guardians of the four principles: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. The worm-hole connecting the two planets strengthened and by now, we could travel back and fro safely.

We stood on the rim of the plateau, exhausted but fulfilled. The sun was rising above a world teaming with life. The sense of elation was in the air; the planet was content and grateful.

-Let’s go home, Little Goddess-said Ulysses. There’s still plenty of work to be done.

-Yeah, you’re right. If we survive to Athena’s anger. After all, we left her with a whole planet to lead, along with the opening of the Opera…

-She’ll chew off our heads, I’m sure…but after that, hopefully she’ll forgive us.

We laughed, gathered our belongings and headed towards the waterfall. Its rainbow flow was scintillating in the morning.

 

 

Athena was sitting on the porch of the cabin with a coffee mug in her hands. She jumped to her feet as she saw us, shaking her head and visibly fighting her emotions.

-Bastards!-she grumbled while we were squeezing in a collective hug.

We ended up laughing and crying, while Ulysses was holding the two of us murmuring:

-Come on, ladies. It wasn’t the end of the world…After all, we are still here, alive and kicking…

Finally, Athena regained her composure and declared:

-I’m not sure you’ll escape in one piece if you don’t tell me what happened! Come, there’s coffee for you and something to eat. After that, no more excuses! I die to hear what crazy things you have done…

Sharing the unfolding of the events on both sides of the wormhole revealed some happy developments. We gave life to a new planet, while Athena opened the gates of Pygmalion to our amazed human fellows. We became famous around many of the colonies after the grandiose opening of the Celestial Theater and Opera. Ulysses and me, we joyfully congratulated Athena; after all, this was her “dream come true” and she had put her whole heart in it.

But the pending danger didn’t leave us too much time for wonder. We were totally unprepared for a vicious attack from an unfriendly civilization. This new situation put everything in a different perspective.

-We could ask for support from the colonies-said Athena. Now that they discovered us, they might want to take us under their protection.

Ulysses shook his head incredulously.

-My graceful lady, I seriously doubt that. I still remember how bureaucracy works in our society. I’m glad they liked our creation but they were here as guests. The moment we become a source of problems, they might consider us…out of reach.

Athena sighed.

-Yes, I’m afraid you’re right. Even if I could find a few good people, there’s no hope for a protective star-fleet.

-And we know almost nothing of the menace-I added.  Imagine yourself explaining to our fellow humans that we had a chat with a planet…They need time to accept what they have seen here.

Ulysses seemed to reach a conclusion. I saw a twinkling in his eyes…

-We are no military; we are artists and we create life, not destroy it. Our only chance is to put to work our assets and outsmart the Harvesters. Athena! Would you organize our people into a local resistance?

Athena smirked.

-Give them to me and I’ll show those monsters who we are!

We laughed and the tension subsided.

-Kiera, you should use your connection with the planets to gather some information about these guys. I think I will go back to the Crystal Caverns to work out some large-scale magic.

We shared a glass of wine and then split. Ulysses led us to the door; I turned to him and he winked.

-Don’t worry, Little Goddess, we will succeed.

I rose on my toes, gave him a quick kiss and fled to my dragon.

 

 

 

-Here they come-said Ulysses, pointing to the triangle of shimmering dots on the screen. They are confident, aren’t they? Hmmm…let’s shake them a little.

Space wavered outside and the planet disappeared from the screen of the Mothership…or at least, that was what the Commander and his officers saw. A small havoc erupted on the bridge of the Harvesters, while the other crew members watched in bewilderment the strange behavior of their superiors.

From the data gathered about this species, their social structure largely resembled to those of ants or other social insects and the respect for hierarchy was the basic trait connecting all members. So trust in the rulers was essential and there was a certain amount of competition between leaders. For the first time in their roaming through the stars, a celestial body vanished before their eyes.

-It’s not there! The instruments are reading it but…there’s nothing there. Where is it?!

The Commander felt a sharp pain in his skull and for a moment, green sparks were dancing before his golden eyes. His officers were going through similar pain…their faces contorted and some of them were vigorously shaking their head. The pain subsided and the planet reappeared before their eyes. In the next few hours, the vanishing planet added other disturbing elements to its behavior; it danced or doubled or even tripled before the puzzled leaders, while for the majority of the crew, the image on the crew has not changed a bit. The robots that were monitoring the exterior of the huge ship could not detect anything. After all, they were only machines set for limited tasks; interpretation, adjustment and decision belonged to their creators.

-I can detect a seed of mistrust in the collective mind-said Athena with a smirk. She turned and winked to a tall, handsome man sitting at some distance from her. –Raif, you’re a gem.

Raif Sig joined us shortly after Athena put out a call for help to some of her friends from the colonies. An engineer in communications, he was an old-time friend of her and a secret admirer. He was more than happy to join this battle; he had a healthy sense of humor and some Viking ancestry. The gadgets he brought, allowed us to use magic far beyond the vicinity of the two planets. It also enhanced our ability to read the reactions aboard the Mothership of the Harvesters. We had an ace in this game; we knew about them while they were oblivious that we existed. We were conducting the whole operation through the wormhole and the Children of Pygmalion were all connected in a planet-wide net of magic and illusion. Ulysses has turned the pillars of crystal inside the caves into powerful lasers, while Athena “wrote” the scenario of deception for the invaders.

Aboard the Harvesters’ ship, the tension was slowly rising. Finding the planet they sought was an emergency; deep in the belly of the huge machinery, hundreds of tiny translucent capsules were waiting to be connected to the vital energies that would allow them to develop and hatch. The new generation needed a cradle and the species needed its youth. We have decided to let them descend on planet; simply leading them away would have meant to transfer the danger to unsuspecting others. That was not an option; we all agreed on this, Pygmalion and Amalthea included.

So, after some tribulation over the fact that what they were reading on their instruments was a real planet or not, the Harvesters embarked on their smaller ships, loaded the precious capsules aboard and left the Mothership in the hands of the commanding team. The planet bellow was covered by a thick layer of clouds and the instruments were reading with difficulty the features of the land. The Dragon of Air had gathered clouds, mist and dust to build that protective blanket all around. As the cluster of ships closed to the surface of the ocean of vapors, small, round windows opened inside it, showing scattered   pieces of the surface, proper for landing. Running out of options, the Harvesters scattered…and landed. There were areas previously chosen, with a minimum of vegetation. The ships opened and we could see the invaders for the first time.

Strange creatures, born out of the marriage between living things and machines, they still held some sort of gracefulness in their long, thin limbs and the oval of their face. For the untrained eyes, all of them looked almost the same. They were dressed in overalls, the color of their equipment and the sequences of the actions separating leaders from crew members. For their delicate appearance, they were able to carry some pretty heavy crates; but we already knew that they were increasing their natural abilities by artificial replacements done throughout their lives. Their voices were light, a bit high pitched and the language was sequential and modulated by inflexions of the voice. Their closeness to human shape was deeply disturbing; I felt a knot in my stomach and I had to take a deep breath before I could speak.

-Oh my goodness…They are so much like us…

I looked around and read the same on the faces of my friends. Our enemy has just won a point without knowing it. We all stood in silence, thoughts running wild in the mind of each of us, while the Harvesters were still unloading their precious luggage…Ulysses was the first to get back his balance and control over the unfolding of the events.

-It’s time for Phase Two. Sylvain!-he said, addressing to the leader of the Elves. Please, greet our visitors.

He set the Lasers in action and suddenly, the world around the Harvesters became lively and…scary. Caught up in the unloading of the capsules, they didn’t notice the subtle shift in the mist surrounding them. Tall, strong creatures with stern faces and pointed ears were approaching them, like a moving, green wall. After the first moment of shock, the aliens started to line up, protecting their dormant offspring and opened fire towards to menacing features. But the green-dressed shapes faded away from their shots, just to regroup and face them over and over again. Strange sounds filled the air, shrieks and thundering…

-We are under attack!

Coming simultaneously from all the landing sites, the message of alert flooded the Commanding Deck of the Mothership. The leaders above were frantically searching for the source of the alleged attacks but their instruments were not reading any presence. They shouted back, trying to encourage those on the planet. But after several attempts to convince their superiors that they were in danger, the Harvesters on the ground lost their patience. Something was wrong with this place and something was also wrong with their leaders. After all, just recently they have acted  very, very strange…While they were pondering on how to handle the situation, the Dragon of Water joined the game and helped by his airy brother, unleashed some powerful rains over the disoriented gathering. The whirlwinds raised choking walls of water mixed with dust and washed over the aliens. The soil became slippery in an instant and Amalthea decided to spice the events by shaking her surface. Though she kept her powers strictly harnessed, what the invaders were witnessing it was a raging planet opening under their feet. They pushed aside their leaders and rushed towards the ships, leaving everything behind. The smoky skies filled with hurrying shuttles; behind them, an enraged Dragon of Fire was spitting blazing balls of flames…

By the time they’ve reached the Mothership, the seeds of revolt had been planted. The loss of an entire generation was a heavy blow for the species. Though what they were facing could hardly be called “pain” in its human acceptance, the Harvesters were no fools. Fighting an invisible enemy proved to be a futile attempt and they acknowledged it by now. In the light of the events, the changing of the leadership was foreseeable and it happened quickly. But what the harvesters didn’t realize was that by the time they’ve returned to their ship, they had already changed. The newly elected leaders of the ship were determined to make some deeper changes in the future, as much as they still had.

We watched them leaving the proximity of the planet, setting course back to the world where they were once born. The skies cleared above Amalthea and we all breathed freely…

-Well done, everyone!-said Ulysses, happily stretching his limbs.

Relaxed and content, he turned to us.

-I’ve told you to give them to me!-chuckled Athena.

She gave him a friendly push, winked at me and turned to Raif, embracing him affectionately. Elves, fairies, dwarfs, nymphs, semi-gods and the whole nation of Ocean People were celebrating!

I felt immensely relieved and yet, I couldn’t help not to be a bit saddened by the fate of the Harvesters. After all, they were intelligent creatures just like us and they have lost a battle, without truly understanding what caused their defeat. A soft tingling in my mind brought me back to reality; Amalthea was calling. I turned my attention to her and…oh, heavens!

-Ulysses…

I saw him talking on-line with Sirtis, the beautiful and determined Queen of the Mermaids and Mermen. They had been most helpful by covering, along with the dolphins the vast expanse of the Planetary Ocean, and thus sustaining the grid of spiritual energies necessary to set in motion the whole defense. I didn’t want to intrude in their conversation so I briefly greeted her and stood aside, watching on a surveillance camera the surface of Amalthea. Peace returned to the land and the light was pouring undisturbed over the colorful mosaic of life. In the landing spots, the abandoned crates were heating up in the sun; there was no one around to protect them…I couldn’t watch this! I almost jumped from my seat when Ulysses bent over me and asked in a soft voice:

-Hey…what’s wrong, Little Goddess?

-Oh, Ulysses! What are we going to do with the children?!

I desperately pointed to the image on the screen. He quickly understood my torment and his face shadowed.

-You’re perfectly right, Kiera. We forgot about them. Come!

He turned on the communication and asked for attention.

-People! We have won a battle today and we can be proud of it. But our victory left us with a responsibility. It’s hard to teach new tricks to an old dog; so we couldn’t expect to convince the Harvesters to change. But these babies have a chance for a new beginning. Amalthea, would you accept them on your land?

The response flashed on the screen: YES! Deep inside my mind, I could swear that I’ve heard the planet giggling with excitement. Before we set anything in motion, the Air Dragon pushed the sheen of clouds above every pile of abandoned crates, the cooling shadow rebalancing their temperature. Some of the elves and fairies moved to these spots to keep an eye on the hatching. With the help of both planets and our special knowledge, we worked out a new way of feeding and growing the little creatures, without draining their acquiring Mother, Amalthea. The Space was teaming with energies accessible to us; Ulysses turned the Crystal Pillars into enhancers of these energies and created a nourishing dome above each hatching spot. The birth of a redeemed species was unfolding step by step, under the love and protection of the Children of Pygmalion.