Connected by the Moon-Wild Woman illustration

Wild Woman, Wild Woman

  Let me chase you under the Moon,

  Under the light of star-chandeliers!

  Your breath, like ghosts in flight,

  Fading into depths of night…

Wild Woman, Wild Woman

     Beast of beauty,

     Rolling laughter of the thundering spirit,

     Keep running

     As my shadow follows you with hungry heart!

Wild Woman, Wild Woman

     The hills and forests have frozen

     In the silence of your absence,

     Emptiness filled with sorrow

     My Secret Garden,

     While the gates have rusted

     In crimson pain.

Wild Woman, La Loba

    Come back and run with me!

    Let’s stir the wind that sleeps in the grass,

   Let’s splash the pool of shining stars,

   Let’s catch the Phoenix, bold and bright

   Before it takes flight into the light!

Wild Woman, Wild Woman

  Kin of my soul,

  Echo of my untamed inner beast,

  Wake up! Wake up!

  Dark waters of oblivion are surrounding you…

  Remember me, Wild Woman

  Never let me go…..”

Opening poem for my story, Wild Woman.

The drawing depicts the main characters: Kay and Sage. This is the first illustration I drew for the story. The Moon connecting them in a love that stretches through the corridors of Time is seen at the bottom of the drawing.

As usual, the illustration is made in color pencils and paper.

Moon Story-Myths of a new world ( Ch. 2)

They all laughed while above them the silver sails of the Moon were catching the wind of hours and the newly dressed companion of the planet was following its path in full glow, dimming the light of stars. The Two-Faced Goddess was leading her vessel while the black velvet eye and the silver one were scrutinizing horizons hidden in the mist of times to come….

When the Moon disappeared beyond the horizon, leaving the Sun to glaze the skies in flames of pink and orange, Selurys descended among her peers and received all the praises for her work with a graceful bow.

-Impressive work, sister!-said Arauss and gave her a friendly push. I have to go now; it’s my turn to shine!

-You left us speechless, Selurys!-said Adanes, shaking hands with the young goddess. The Moon has become a beautiful addition to the planet.

-And it has driven my mermaids wild! –added Eneys with a playful twinkling in her eyes. They have spent all night catching the silver seeds to make jewelries for themselves.

– I hope I haven’t caused havoc in your kingdom…-sais Selurys with a soft voice.

Eneys laughed pleasantly.

-No, no! They had fun and I enjoyed very much watching them. Come, you must be tired and hungry. Adanes and me, we thought that you might love to have some treat at the end of your glorious journey.

-I’m sorry to interrupt you, ladies but I have to leave the two of you!- cut in Adanes’ powerful voice. Faunes and Floriesse are waiting for me. We have a few barren spots to fix! Eneys, my love, I’ll be back in a day or two!

He kissed her lovingly, smiled encouragingly to Selurys and left. The two young women looked at each other. Suddenly, Selurys felt a pang of nervousness; the excitement of the night was gradually dissipating and the fatigue was setting in. There was a surge of panic inside her.

-Eneys, you don’t have to…-she stuttered. But Eneys stopped her gently and affectionately took her arm.

-I have my dolphin carriage waiting for us. I’ll hide you in my Secret garden and you can rest there and sleep while I watch over you. The treats are already packed up!

-You have to drive carefully, Eneys-chuckled Selurys. I am so tired that I might fall off your carriage…

Eneys shook her head.

-That won’t happen. I will hold you tight!

Selurys laughed softly; she was much taller than the green-eyed goddess. But Eneys was speaking with such a passion that everything she said seemed possible.

-Let’s go then! –agreed Selurys. Tonight I’ll take you to the Moon!

But they had to postpone the visit; an unexpected fight broke out between two hot headed Wind Gods and they chased each-other around the planet, breaking havoc on land and ocean. Eneys left in a hurry, afraid that the turbulent waters might damage Adanes’ kingdom.

The following days weren’t better so after a while Selurys just smiled a bit sad and said:-It looks like the odds are against us, Eneys….

The Ocean Goddess was upset to but at least she was spending good hours with her friend inside the Secret Garden. She had changed the spell, allowing Selurys to come and go at will,without being noticed or disturbed in this personal area. And the time spent together in that place helped the young Tellurian Goddess to slowly open before Eneys, to unveil the core of her vulnerable soul.

The two young women shared hours and days of laughter and whispers and shared memories of the lands they’ve visited before. Selurys talked about the dark ravines of the Cosmos where hot clouds of dust were forging new stars, Eneys talked about young planets coming alive under her loving touch.

And while stories and memories were unfolding, Selurys was opening more and more before her friend. There were moments when Eneys, watching her sleeping, was thinking of having catched a glimpse of the real face of the Moon Goddess under the two-faced mask. The role the Tellurian princess was playing in public, the mask she was wearing like it was her true skin, all these elements were slowly fading in the comfort of the Secret Garden. What the Ocean Goddess came to realize was the immense need of trust and love filling the heart of Selurys. Strong willed and skillful, charming and courteous, the Moon Goddess was the beholder of a blazing core, fueled by an unquenched thirst for love.

-She was left by her mother at such a young age…-murmured Eneys, watching her peacefully sleeping friend. How hard was for her to understand that…

Eneys’ mind wandered back to her sunny and carefree childhood on planet Aqua where she was born. Her parents had loved and shielded her, along with her brothers and sisters. She had grown up free and confident, praised for her talent and for her warm, acquiring heart. The Ocean Goddess smiled at the happy memories and turned again to the sleeping Selurys. She bent over her and touched her face gently. For a fraction of the moment, the black and white of the skin vanished, being replaced by a natural color. The face she was looking at it was of a very young woman with ambiguous traits, mixing boyish and feminine features as well.

-So fragile….-murmured Eneys and her eyes filled with tears.

Selurys sighed in sleep and Eneys retracted her hand quickly. The magic connection broke and the black and silver mask returned to the Moon Goddess’ face.

From the height of the day’s blue skies, Arauss was watching the unfolding of this friendship with mixed feelings. The bad memories prevented him from fully trusting his awkward half-sister. Or was it simply a brotherly envy for all the attention Selurys was getting from his best friends? Huh…Arauss shook his head. He couldn’t complain and nothing seemed to sustain his hidden worries. Eneys was the usual shining, loving self, showering everyone with her radiating warmth. Understandably, even Selurys was blossoming beside her. Arauss dismissed the bad feelings…at least for the moment. He turned his attention back to his daily chores. After all, he was the one responsible for the blooming of life on the planet.

Selurys, on the other hand, was troubled by her recent discovery: she was falling in love. With Eneys. The Moon Goddess came to realize that each night she was sailing her silver vessel, scrutinizing the Ocean bellow to catch a glimpse of her green-eyed love. Deep inside, Selurys was crushed.

-Of all the women in this whole Universe why did I fall in love with the one whose heart is already taken?!-she cried out. This…This is cruelty, you hear me?!!

She turned her face(s) to the sky, wishing she could grab and shake the Fate that has tricked her so badly. But there was no one to blame and there was no hope in the future for her love. The Moon Goddess bit her lips to muffle the cry of rage and despair..

The Night Wind, sensing her turmoil, drew a curtain of clouds in front of the Moon, hiding it from the watchful eyes of the other gods.

-Thank you, my friend….-whispered Selurys.

With a deep sigh, she resumed her lead of the silver sail and moved forward on the starry waters of the night.

Down on the planet, Eneys was oblivious of her friend’s torment…until the desperate Moon Goddess decided to skip their usual meeting on the Secret Shore. Selurys retreated for her needed rest to the dark side of the Moon, inside the heart-shaped shell of her starship that was hidden in the middle of the field of black lilies.

So at first, Eneys was slightly surprised, then she became a bit worried as the days went on without even a sign from Selurys. But as the number of those days grew, the Ocean Goddess finally realized how much she actually missed Selurys and how deep the imprint of the Moon Goddess was in her soul. Confronted with her own unexpected surge of emotions, Eneys panicked. This was not a simple friendship anymore….Unwillingly, Eneys and Selurys had built up an inner connection that was both strong and intimate.

It was something difficult to define; was it….love?! She couldn’t tell. She didn’t want to define it. Her love for Adanes was deep and unchanged, her commitment to him unhinged. Yet, the feelings she was harboring for Selurys were very close to that…It was like Fate suddenly unveiled another possible love, planting that painfully beautiful emotion into her heart. How could anyone survive to such a challenging situation?

How could a fragile, vulnerable heart, even one of a goddess hold two blazing flames at the same time, without falling to pieces? What was the reason of this torment, of this guilt and hopeless yearning?! How could anyone carry them without losing its mind?!

What triggered this? Where did it come from? Was it that mixes of boyish charm, of vulnerability, the suppressed femininity, the hungry heart or the lost child beneath the two-faced mask? It was hard to find a simple explanation. But one thing was clear: part of Eneys’ heart was falling in love with Selurys. The sensitive, giving Goddess of the Ocean was devastated. Her face buried in the sands of the Secret Shore, she cried bitterly until the skies of her inner Ocean turned ashen.

But none of these personal torments were visible to the outer world. Everyone around was busy with the handful of problems the maintaining of the planet was holding for them. More of it, the gods were preparing to create a new life form. One that would rule the planet. Each dusk brought new, hot debates about how the new creature might look and how much power should be given to it. Even its birthplace was under controversy so nobody took notice about the absence of Selurys. Not that anyone missed her. For most of the gods, she was still an oddity, not a member of the team. For a while, Eneys kept her mind occupied with the new project, hoping that the passing of time will ease her sense of loss. But it was an illusion.

Every night she while was rolling her waves to the shores around the planet, she kept her attention on the slow motion of the Moon above, the sighting of her seemingly estranged secret love becoming increasingly painful.

-Oh, I’m such a fool!-she murmured. I don’t even know why she’s keeping the distance! I keep imagining things, without knowing the truth. Get to your senses, Eneys! You’re making a fool of yourself!

Then one night she decided to make her move. Riding a powerful wave towards the far horizon, she came right under the floating vessel of the Moon and she stopped there. She then gathered the silent waters into a sky-high, liquid mountain. Atop of it, the graceful silhouette of Eneys was standing motionlessly, facing the Two-faced Goddess above.

-How long are you going to avoid me, Selurys?-she asked in a clear voice.

The Moon Goddess halted the sailing of her vessel and looked to Eneys. Their eyes met. With a small sign, Selurys sent a silver ladder to her. Eneys stepped on it, climbing to the skies. As she came closer to the Moon, the silver glow enveloped her and for a moment, she lost sight of the steps…Selurys’ arms lifted her up to the safety of the Moon.

-Oh!….

The mesmerizing beauty of that place rendered Eneys speechless. Landed in the middle of that iridescent field, surrounded by the swirl of silver-lace butterflies, she felt her entire being dissolving in light. The magic of the entire place was seeping inside her and she felt light, like a feather. A faint breeze lifted her in the air and she reached instinctively for Selurys’s hands. They were both floating in the overwhelming light…Right here, right now it was only the two of them. Space and Time were becoming obsolete. In this ephemeral cocoon of magic, an emerald heart and a black and silver one were becoming one…With a gesture, Selurys lead her love to her own Secret Shore…of the Ocean of Black Lilies while the vessel of the Moon kept moving forward on its usual path.

Leaning against each other, sitting atop of the highest lunar mountain, they were watching the Universe unfolding its magic at their feet.

Glowing, sparkling mighty rivers of stars were boldly opening new ways in the dark flesh of Space, crisscrossing the vast, empty plains, cascading into mind-blowing abysses. Huge incandescent clouds of stardust were pulsing in the skies, cradling newborn stars inside their fiery bosom. Some of these newborns were just tiny sparks, living for a moment, then fading away only to make place to other hopeful new stars. Far, faraway monstrous black vortexes were bringing thousands of stars in a crazy dance around them, while spewing blinding geysers of light into the distances.

Somewhere in the proximity, two galaxies were merging into a deadly embrace, their filaments of stars drifting slowly away in a dance of love and death.

-How beautiful yet how cruel and painful their connection is!-sighed the Ocean Goddess with a tremor in her voice.

-Love can be both at the same time, Eneys….-whispered Selurys. Just like this hopeless love that is tearing up your heart and mine….

The Moon Goddess swallowed hard. She was about to take the most difficult decision of her life….and time was not on their side. The night was quickly coming to an end and the Gates of Dawn were about to open.

-I have to return to the planet; it’s almost dawn-said Eneys with a pleading voice. But I’ll come to meet you again in the night!

Selurys took her to the silver ladder and helped her to descend.

-Go, my beloved Eneys! I’ll wait for you.

The huge emerald wave rose high to welcome the green-eyes goddess and take her home. The silver sail of the Moon came to a halt, while Goddess Aurora opened the rosy gates of a new day. Selurys took her two faced mask and put it back. Only under the loving touch of Eneys did that mask come off. Now, that she had to face again the world she’d never trusted, Selurys was again hiding away her vulnerable self.

She was about to leave the skies when she bumped into her brother. From the look on his face, she could tell that he was angry. He crossed her way, grabbed her shoulders and shook her violently.

-Have you told her that you’re gonna leave? That you have left a trail of broken hearts throughout the Universe behind you? What was in your mind when you took hold of her heart?

Selurys pushed him away with a pained expression on her face.

-I didn’t mean it! We were supposed to be friends, nothing more…She was the friend I never had before!!!

-I don’t believe you! You were a liar and a cheater ever since I know you, Sis’! If she was supposed to be just a friend, then why is she crying herself to sleep each night? I’m sure it’s not because of Adanes.

Selurys was shocked.

-How…how do you know?-she muttered.

-I feel her tears in the water as I rise each morning. I can sense her sadness even if she’s always smiling at me. We know each other long before the two of you met so I can read her more easily.

-Does Adanes know to?-asked Selurys, her voice grave and restrained.

-No. Eneys loves him and he makes her so happy that when she’s with him, nothing can spoil that. Not even the shadow of your presence.

Selurys sighed.

-You say that I am a cheater and a fraud but that’s not true. I’ve been roaming the Universe, hoping that one day I’d find a heart that would match mine. So many times I had hoped to have found my final shore and the one to love and to be loved….But it was an illusion, over and over again, so I kept searching until I’ve found it. Unfortunately for me, it was already taken. You’re right, Arauss: Eneys’ heart belongs to Adanes. This much I have understood soon enough and accepted it. But the time we’ve spent together has forged a deep connection between us and we have reached an inner harmony that eludes our comprehension. What we share is neither love, not friendship; it’s a compound, something new and unexpected by us both, making us incredibly happy and deeply miserable at the same time.

So I’ve decided to leave this place and disappear in order to give back Eneys’ peace of mind. And I will leave right now because I don’t want to put her through a painful goodbye. I’m not sure that I can survive that either. Goodbye, brother! Don’t judge me too hard….

Before Arauss could reply, Selurys disappeared inside her heart-shaped starship. When the first rays of the Sun reached the planet, the graceful silver vessel took its flight towards the magic filled paths of the Universe. Down bellow, the mighty wave was slowly receding towards the sandy shores, carrying the silent and thoughtful Ocean Goddess. As the frothing waters reached firm land, she stepped off and hurried to the house she and Adanes were sharing. She needed his strong, loving and reliable presence, he always brought smile on her face and joy to her heart. He was her stronghold and his calming presence always chased away the shadows. Eneys shut down the throbbing corner of her mind and rushed into the arms of her true love. Up in the skies, Arauss sighed.

“I hope nothing will disturb their happiness from now on….”-he thought as he drove his flaming carriage in the endless azure. He still dreaded the following night. How will Eneys react to the disappearance of Selurys? It was difficult to tell but Arauss was hoping that she will be able to balance everything in her usual wise way….

As the light of the day dimmed into shades of ink-blue and purple, Eneys walked to the edge of her kingdom. Something has changed around her, she could feel it. Star after star were lighting up the chandeliers of the night but the Moon was nowhere to see. The darkness embraced the land and the velvety black of the skies deepened, revealing a faint crescent of light, right in the center of the airy dome. It was the Moon….or at least what has remained of its usual light.

-What happened? –this question reverberated around the planet, in the voice and mind of every god and goddess.

-What’s wrong with your friend, Eneys? –asked Adanes worriedly. Has she lost her grip on the Moon? I’ve never seen such a strange feature before!

Eneys’ heart sank.

-I don’t know, Adanes but I’m going to find out.

She hurriedly summoned the rover of the Oceans and the wave diligently rolled out, carrying the little goddess to the swirling silver pool of light under the thin Moon. The companion of the planet was hanging in the skies, silent and dark. All its light has turned into a faint glow outlining one of the cheeks of the Moon. From that remnant of brightness, a thread of silver silk was descending into the swirl of the waters. The Ocean Goddess halted her carrier and the liquid mass flattened under her feet, allowing her to stop at the rim of that eerie pool. Hidden under the surface, something hung on that magic thread, creating the swirl.

Eneys bent and lifted the thread, revealing the item; it was a pendant, a black and silver one. She took it and placed it in the cradle of her palm. The silver filigree pendant represented the two faces of the Moon…entwined with the two faces of its Goddess. Tears build up in the eyes of the Ocean Goddess. She Covered the pendant with her other hand….and the pendant opened, revealing its interior. Eneys opened her palms and looked into the pendant; deeply carved into the sooth black surface, the tiny silver letter were speaking to her.

“ My dear Eneys!

I had to leave this place. My presence was jeopardizing your true happiness and the peace of your heart. Anyway, my ship was rusting of too much staying in one place and the Universe is still holding secrets waiting to be unraveled…I leave this planet with the hope that if there’s a fate for the gods to, then our tangled threads of life will bring us together maybe in another Time and Space, to fulfill the love that was denied now to you and me.

My beloved! I leave you my flowers, my butterflies, my lights and my shadows…I’ve built this world inspired by your love and trust and I leave now everything in your gentle hands.

Goodbye, my sweet Eneys! You have opened the cage of my soul, setting me free. I step on the path of stars with the memory of your loving, soft touch…

Selurys. “

The graceful Goddess of the Ocean swallowed her pain and buried her feelings deep inside her heart. She took the precious pendant to her Secret Shore and hung it up in the skies.

During that night, under the protection of the shadow, the black lilies invaded the field of light dandelions, creating on the surface of the Moon the contours of a sad face. That face is still there, looking down at the planet every night, searching for its lost love.

Eons have passed since then and the gods and goddesses faded into myths and magic tales. From the embrace of the Ocean and the Land, a new creature emerged and conquered the planet. Its children had passed from generation to generation the story of love between Selurys and Eneys.

. The planet is calmly rolling around its blazing Sun while the blue-eyed Ocean lies in the strong arms of the Land. She joyfully rolls her white-tipped waves from shore to shore, from island to island, carrying ships and sails. But like clockwork, she also follows the pull of the Moon, running wildly towards the horizon, mesmerized by the invisible power calling her. Torn between her two loves, she laughs and cries; she cries and laughs with tears of pearls….

Spreading into the infinity, the Universe is spinning relentlessly around its axis and Time is weaving new horizons for the loves and stories to come.

Moon Story-Myths of a new world (ch.1)

MOTTO:

I am the Ocean, wild and restless….Passionate and tumultuous….running from shore to shore, embracing coasts and sands….lighted up by my bold lighthouses….Goddess…Cradle….Lost in love between the Land and the Moon

Land-god: Adanes

Ocean-goddess: Eneys

Moon-goddess: Selurys

River god: Joren

River goddess: Janysse

Forest goddess: Shantania

Mountain-god: Gormell

Sun-god: Arauss

Wind-gods: Walcor

Animal kingdom: Faunes

Plants: Floriesse

There was a time when the planet was just a barren bulge of rock rolling around the sun, followed closely by its equally dull companion, the Moon. The surface of the Earth was dull-brown, cracked and dusty and the grey moon in its skies was much closer than nowadays.

In the eerie silence of the hollow space surrounding this odd pair, Time was monotonously flowing and there was no sign that things would change anytime close. Oh, but that was just an illusion! As soon as the news of an untouched and hopeful planet spread through the Universe, fleets of young and bold gods took their course towards the planetary system. They were coming from different corners of the stellar vastness, their knowledge gained and polished throughout many other such challenges. There were land-gods and water-gods, air-gods and moon-gods, ice-gods and fire-gods, wind-gods, forest and plain gods, star-gods, thunder gods, rain gods and everything imagination could bring to life. They came in various shapes and size, greeting each other as old friends. Soon, the Earth was undergoing huge changes and some of these creative young spirits were ready to call this new planet: home.

The excitement and the hardship of the challenges of reshaping of the planet brought some of the gods and goddesses close and love took flight in blaze under the new skies. The mighty Adanes, leader of the land-shaping gods had no eyes but for Eneys, the skillful goddess of the planetary ocean. They quickly teamed-up and while the young man was putting all his strength into rising rows of towering mountains, the graceful young woman was bringing the blue waters up to the rim of the land, washing the shores, smoothing the lines, filling them with soft, silken sands and colorful pebbles.

On the land, Joren, the River-god and his sweet-heart, Janysse, the River-goddess were running free, sometimes alone, sometimes together, cutting deep in the flesh of the rock, creating steep or large valleys, jumping on boulders, falling in sprinkling, splashing, roaring cascades….Their children, crystal clear springs, glittering streams, boisterous rivulets were crisscrossing the land in an huge life-giving web.

To keep close to his loved one, Adanes raised islands inside the swaying expanse of blue-green oceanic waters while Floriesse, goddess of the Vegetal Kingdom adorned them with lush greenery and exotic flowers. Then came Faunes, god of the Animal Kingdom and filled the branches with colorful, noisy birds and under his artful touch, some of the flowers took flight, becoming butterflies. Enchanted by the beauty of these unexpected gifts, Eneys’ heart was flooded by her love for Adanes and she rolled the frothing waves around the islands, building magic underwater gardens below their shores.

As the final touch of creation was done upon the planet, the gods and goddesses gathered on the top of the highest mountain to celebrate and to enjoy the fruits of the land.

-What a beautiful work we did, my friends!-exclaimed Shantania, the forest goddess. I’ve never felt so inspired like I felt here! I’ve loved to dress up in greenery your bold heights, Gormell-she continued with a charming smile towards the giant god of the mountains. I raise this cup of wine to all of you!

-Cheers!!!

Lying lazily on his comfortable chair, the Sun-god was shaking his head in slight disapproval. He made a grimace as he took a sip from his glass ….

-Yeah, you’re right Shantania. This place looks great now! But that dull piece of rock following this magnificent planet is annoying. It spoils the harmony of the entire neighborhood; it’s lifeless, colorless and hopeless…I wish it didn’t exist!

-Don’t be so cruel, Arauss!-exclaimed Eneys, distraught by the harsh judgment upon the poor little moon. It’s too small to contain life but I think it’s still a lovely companion for the planet.

The other gods laughed and that just spilled oil on the fire; the Sun-god got angry. He was a temperamental guy, usually joyful and nice but on a short fuse. He jumped to his feet and trashed his glass.

-I could send that useless pebble to the outskirts of the system!!!

-Don’t. You. Dare.

The voice saying this was something between a hiss and a growl, instantly sending shivers on the spine of the audience. They all turned towards the newcomer and so did Arauss. The Sun-god was about to deliver a shattering reply but as he faced the stranger, he reddened and swallowed his fury.

-Oh, I see….It’s you…-he muttered.

The shortness of his response left everyone stunned. They weren’t used to see the flamboyant young man stepping back from a confrontation. Who was this stranger anyway? The gods watched it with unhidden curiosity.

The young woman standing before them was tall and slender, an androgynous appearance. She was wearing a dark blue velvet tunic and slim pants and her black hair was braided in a complicated coiffure. But the most astonishing, even disturbing feature was her face: it was half black, half silver-white and the almond shaped eyes were matching the opposite colors. From the black half, the eye of liquid silver was watching them coldly, piercingly while the night black eye of the silver side had a warm but melancholic look. The woman bowed politely towards the audience.

-I salute you-she said and this time her voice was deep and soft. Let me introduce myself: I’m Selurys and Arauss is my step-brother. I came here to change the fate of the modest companion of this planet.

In a spur of a moment everyone surrounded her, talking excitedly, offering her treats and wine and a place at the table of gods. Though he stood morose at first, Arauss reconciled after a while with the presence of his step sister and the feast went on joyfully.

-I’m glad that she came to give a chance to the little moon!-said Eneys, her wide turquoise eyes twinkling happily. She seems to be a nice person.

She cuddled in the arms of her husband and Adanes laughed, squeezing her lovingly.

-You have a wonderful heart, my darling. By the way: I’ve tried to get some information about Selurys from her brother but I think that Arauss is already drunk because he mumbled something about her being a trickster or some kind of a magician.

-She looks strange but I remember my grandmother telling us stories about some elusive gods of light, called “tellurians”. It came to my mind the moment I saw her. I don’t care if she’s going to perform tricks or magic as long as she can keep the moon safe from her brother’s rage! Arauss can be so annoying sometimes…

-I’m sure she will-chuckled Adanes, kissing Eneys. Don’t worry! Let’s go dance!

Late that night, Eneys was peacefully sleeping in the arms of her love, under the dome of sparkling stars. The planetary ocean was gently rocking from shore to shore, the night breeze playfully ruffling its glossy surface. All the gods were resting except for one.

From her vantage point, Selurys was watching the world. She held up a hand, her long, graceful fingers moving in a slow, mysterious dance until a bluish white light sparked on her fingertips. Selurys caught that luminescence, rolled it carefully in both palms and then, with a swift gesture she spread it over the world bellow. Minutes later the light reached the surface of the ocean, making it translucent for the fraction of a moment. Selurys was watching intensely, searching for something hidden in the liquid abyss. When she finally spotted it, she nodded and left the place with a small sigh.

Up in the skies, not so far from the planet, the silent moon was waiting for her.

Standing in the middle of the dull-grey plain, the young goddess was spinning round and round, her long, silver streaked black hair flowing in the air like a magic veil. Black and white, black and white…the two-faced goddess was turning with arms raised to the skies…Black and white, black and white….

Mesmerized by her spinning, stars were leaving their places one by one, gathering in an enchanted flow, spreading, crashing to the ground with the sound of a million crystal bells…Swoosh! Selurys was turning and the velvet canopy trembled and stars were falling like the rain…Swoosh! The Goddess turned and the glow draped her in a silver cocoon…Swoosh! She kept turning as millions of shards and star-splinters were sinking deep in the soft dust…

Black and white, black and white…Selurys was dancing, swirling, while under her feet, graceful dandelions erupted, turning the plain into a swaying ocean of silver globes. When the last dusty grey spot was covered in silver white, the goddess stopped to catch her breath. The surface of the moon was gleaming and glittering in the milky light.

With a faint smile on her face, Selurys left the bright side of the moon and turned her attention towards the one hidden in the shadow. This side was eternally facing the star-specked darkness of the Universe and light could not survive on its surface. Nonetheless, the moon deserved beauty on both its sides so Selurys traced a few magic signs in the dust and slowly blew air over them.

A shiver ran across the dark land and the rocky crust seemed to waver…then cracked. Tall, dark stems were rising one by one from the cracks, bearing clusters of glossy, black flower bells. The thin, cold air was filling with sweet scents and tiny, silver-spotted black butterflies were flying up and down the dark plain. The work was done; the Moon, faithful friend and follower of the Earth was shining in full glory. Exhausted but happy, Selurys lay down and fell asleep. The Gates of Dawn were soon opening and Arauss was ready to give the start of a new day.

Eneys was wondering if Selurys has managed to do anything for the little moon. It was impossible to get a glimpse of it in broad daylight; Arauss was the undaunted master of the skies for now and all she could do was to wait patiently till the end of the day. Eneys sighed and turned her attention to the rolling waves of emerald and blue. A family of dolphins was splashing playfully, cutting the waves and the goddess of the Ocean joined them with a smile. She summoned a foam horse and led him towards the glowing horizon. The early wind sprayed the salty water into her face and covered her into a shimmering cloak of mist. The galloping of the Sea Horse ended as he reached the soft sands of the shore of a small but spectacular island.

It was one of Eneys’s favorites, with two high pointed peaks and lush forests. She jumped quickly off her horse’s back and run happily along the shore, splashing the water under her feet…..

A large and dark butterfly crossed her path and gracefully sat on her left shoulder. Eneys halted her run and held out her arm, inviting the butterfly to walk into her palm. It was a beautiful creature, with glossy black wings spotted with silver specks….like the night skies. The goddess was amazed; she has never seen such a butterfly before. Yet somehow this fragile creature looked familiar and Eneys was wondering where that feeling was coming from….

-You like my butterfly, Ocean Goddess?-asked a velvety voice behind her.

Eneys turned swiftly and faced the tellurian goddess. Selurys was looking at her with head slightly tilted.

-Your butterfly is beautiful-said Eneys. Now I know why it felt so familiar; it resembles you in both colors and grace. How is the moon doing?

-You’ll see it tonight-said Selurys with an enigmatic smile. You’re invited to visit. The butterfly was meant to be my messenger but then I decided to join you. Would you show me around the island? It’s been a while since I’ve talked with someone….We, the tellurians we are regarded as some oddities by the other gods-she added with a grin.

Eneys shook her head and smiled.

-I would be delighted to show you everything you’d like to see. Come, let’s take this path through the forest; there’s a beautiful waterfall at the end of it and a passageway to the Ocean that only I know.

Selurys bowed courteously and followed the turquoise eyed goddess. Soon, the curtain of greenery closed behind the two young women as they delved deep inside the sanctuary of the tropical forest.

As one footstep followed another, connection blossomed with every word the two young goddesses were exchanging. Like leaves opening one after another on the growing vines thirsty of sunlight, the ongoing conversation was constantly growing and entwining, opening new doors and paths inside the soul of each of them. By the time they reached the remote waterfall, they were both feeling like they knew each other since the beginning of times. The sudden bond was rooted somewhere so deep that they were oblivious where it lied. So when Eneys reached for Selurys and took her by the hand to show her the entrance to the underwater cave, the slim fingers closed in a familiar hold.

-Look down, Selurys!-whispered Eneys, excitement filling her sweet voice. Do you see that light in the depth?

Selurys scrutinized the shadow-filled hollow at their feet and she spotted the bluish patch of light.

-What is there?-she asked.

Eneys playfully shook her head, her long blue-green strands floating in the air and she gave a short laughter.

-There’s a row of stairs leading there. That, my dear tellurian, is my Secret Garden. It’s the place where my foolish heart is hiding to dream and I don’t know why, but I feel like showing it to you. Something tells me that you won’t laugh of me. Come!

The row of stairs was narrow and slippery, the air was damp and cold while the light was scarce in the high cave. But that dimness was not a problem for the eyes of the tellurian goddess; she was a child of Shadow and Light and she was more comfortable here than under the blazing of his brother’s sun. As they stepped off the stairs, the scenery opened before their eyes. It was a shore, a sky and an Ocean inside the planetary Ocean. An unexpected sighting. A personal area. The glow was seemingly coming from an invisible source or maybe the light was encompassed in each grain of sand, in each drop of water and each breath of air. It wasn’t the light of a sun but an inner radiance.

The sand was smooth and silky, the waves gentle and the breeze was soft and scented. Eneys and Selurys sat on the shore, quietly talking. With a few swift moves of a hand, the Ocean Goddess was building ephemeral cities of water while Selurys was sending clusters of silver spotted butterflies to fly around the translucent towers and bridges. Another gesture and the cities were crumbling just to make place to floating islands or fantastic water creatures. The velvet butterflies were gathering and splitting in complicated ballets and the two young dreamers were laughing joyfully.

-It’s getting late and I have to go-said Eneys with an apologizing smile. Adanes will soon return from the continent.

-It’s time for me as well-chuckled Selurys-or I’ll miss my appointment with the Moon. Take your loved one and watch the sky tonight!

They rushed back to the cave, taking the stairs in a hurry. Behind them, the radiance of the Secret Shore was fading. Only the soft, ivory sand was still holding the memory of the two rows of footprints…

The night embraced the world, softening the sounds and effacing contours. On the high dome of the skies the twinkling chandeliers of stars were lighting up one by one. No one was sleeping on the planet. As Eneys spread the word, gods and goddesses, nymphs and naiads and other magical creatures were gathering in excitement, watching the sky.

The wheel of stars was slowly turning when a new light glazed the rim of the horizon. The silver glow gradually spread, conquering more and more of the dark waters of the heights. A thin slice of a white disk emerged beyond the horizon and the stars retracted from its way. All murmurs died on Earth as everyone was holding breath.

One smooth push and the Moon sailed into the ocean of dark above, showering the planet in silver light, casting an eternal spell upon every corner of it, upon every living creature, upon every dreaming soul. Standing in the middle of her dandelion field, Selurys enjoyed the flow of awe mounting towards her. She searched the faces for the one she felt close and there she was! Eneys was riding her carriage of dolphins and she was leading the waves of the ocean towards the light that was falling from above. The waves were rising higher and higher, their fingers of foam reaching to the Moon and the people of mermaids and mermen were riding the rolling waters, saluting the new jewel of the night sky. Eneys stopped and bowed with a smile before Selurys, her green eyes shining like emerald, reflecting the moonlight. Selurys returned the smile and with a spin, released the seeds of the silver dandelions to fly. Millions of tiny sparks filled the air, landing in a slow and graceful swirl on the planet bellow. By the time Eneys reached the island where Adanes was waiting for her, a delicate veil of silver dandelion seedlings was covering her long, blue-green hair.

-You look like a bride, my dear with this flower veil-said Adanes teasingly and kissed her. You’re the Moon bride, I might say….

-It’s beautiful, isn’t it?! The Moon.

Eneys was truly excited by the splendor of the planet’s companion.

-I must admit that Selurys has performed nothing less of a miracle with that seemingly hopeless boulder- boomed the voice of Arauss from his chair hidden in the shadows.

-I have invited our friend to join us tonight-said Adanes to the Ocean Goddess. He wasn’t in the mood for the crowd.

-Good evening, Arauss!-said Eneys, embracing their guest. You seem to be impressed by your sister’s work. May I ask then why do I feel that there’s some bitterness between the two of you?

Arauss sighed.

-It’s not easy to talk about. The Clan of the Tellurians is a strange and challenging one. Whoever lets them in its life can be sure to live through the heights of joy and the depths of misery. They can vanish without a trace and without explanations, leaving you empty and devastated. That’s what happened to my beloved father; one day he woke up to an empty bed and was left with a troubled little girl that never fitted in our Court life. Selurys has remained an oddity despite our father’s best efforts. Not that I was of any help. I was too cocky to accept her and to defend her in front of my friends. She left the Palace as soon as she became of age and since that, we never crossed path.

-She’s very creative and I think she likes me. Despite the appearances, we seem to have a lot in common as points of interest-said Eneys cheerfully.

-And I can understand if she has fallen under your spell-chuckled Adanes. Who wouldn’t? –he asked with a blink.

-Just keep in your mind that she’s a natural charmer, Eneys-warned Arauss. But who knows; maybe your charm will prove more powerful and you will tame her.

Moon Story-The Farewell (illustration)

This is a new illustration for one of my favorite  stories. It’s a drawing on paper with color pencils, wax crayons and ink gel pens. I keep returning at this story as I try to capture in drawing what came much easier in writing: a myth of a new world and a love that wasn’t meant to be.

The Invisibles-Final Chapter

The approaching winter sped up the preparations inside and outside the walls of the Citadel. Some of the ex-Invisibles moved back with their families, while people of the city took a bold step outside the walls, moved into the forest camp and started a new and exciting life in the open. This mutual exchange between the city and the forest smoothed the healing process and helped build a new spirit among the nation of the Silver Tree. After her return from the hilltop where she had planted the seed of the new Tree, Cora joined the process of rebuilding and she became a full time mother for Avik.

With the support of the Elders, the former Invisibles raised a monument inside the Sanctuary in the memory of all who lost their lives foughting against the injustice imposed upon them by Asterius. It was there, that the life and the name of both Leanna, Avik’s mother and Satoru, leader of the Invisibles was inscripted for remembrance for the future generations. As for Commander Rolf Asterius, he was appointed Chief Guardian of the Citadel and, to his own surprise, he became close friend with Ogren, leader of the Foresters. Liberated under the shadow of his uncle, the young commander discovered the value of trust and true friendship.

Winter descended upon the land. Buried deep inside the hill, the Silver Seed was sleeping peacefully, dreaming about the moment of sprouting. On the other side of the world, the Tree of Arberia was watching upon it, guarding the balance of life on both sides of the line separating the two lands. For eons, the Trees had kept protecting life, communicating between each-other, supporting each-other. Under their benevolent surveillance, the colorful nations of humans struggled and thrived, built complex and creative cultures, pushed forward and expanded their horizons. Winter was a season of deep thinking and moments of melancholy. It was the season of storytelling and a time when new myths were born to be told and retold, over and over again, in friendly gatherings and families, near the fireplace, while chilling winds were swirling around the chimneys.

Cora and Avik were living in Satoru’s house, near Petunia and Ogren,the two families spending most of their time together. Even if they were not saying, they were all missing Satoru.

-I can’t be thankful enough for having you here, Ogren-murmured Petunia, leaning against her husband.

-Cora is a brave girl-he replied, kissing the top of her head. She keeps a brave face and I’m happy that she has found solace in Avik. But I saw her lost in thoughts, with shadows crossing her face and I know she’s badly missing Satoru.Their love was just starting to blossom…

-They were made for each other-said Petunia. It was unmistakable. I’ve never seen Satoru so happy and radiant…

-True- murmured Ogren. I wish he was here with us. Now, soon as winter ends, she’s due to fly back to Arberia. I wonder if she’ll ever come back….

A small knock on the door brought them back to reality. Cora was standing there, holding Avik’s hand. She was smiling.

-I apologize for intruding but I made a load of my well known cookies and it’s no fun to eat them alone! Besides, we have a lot to talk before winter ends. And of course, Avik was nagging me to bring him to play with his friends.

The evening brightened up in laughter and cookie-eating and Cora shared her plans for the future with her close friends.

-I’m not sure how my home coming will end up. When I left a year ago, I wasn’t giving much thought to the perspective of becoming Queen. My mind was filled with dreams of exploring the world beyond the horizon. But now….My heart is buried here but I feel responsible for my people at home to. I’m sure that Mom had already exhausted my dear Dad with her worries and I miss my little sister, Amita too.

-Are you travelling with Avik, Cora? He could live with us until you sort out your life at home…

Cora shook her head.

-No, my dear Petunia. I already told him that we would travel together. Thank you both for your kindness but I want him to meet his other family too. Satoru and I, we made him a promise and the untimely death of my beloved left me in charge. I won’t fail any of them. And we’ll be back, both of us, as soon as possible.

-So be it! -said Ogren with a nod. Now, there’s only one cookie left on the plate. Can I have it, or we’ll fight for it?

They all laughed and the evening went on in good mood.Outside, the nightwind swirled, scattering icy star-flakes upon the world….

Spring Flight.

Cora and Avik departed as soon as the snow melted and the the first signs of Nature’s renewal were showing on land and skies. The grey of the winter dome changed into bright azure and fluffy white clouds were chasing each other in the skies, pushed by the playful breeze of Spring.

Cora was flying by the side of her child who was riding his father’s faithful Shadowcat ,so she needed more time to reach the Arberian Tree. On their way, they stopped at the site where the Silver Seed was planted. To Cora’s great surprise, the crust of the land had cracked, making way to the graceful young Tree emerging from below. They both embraced the Tree, connecting with him. For a fraction of a moment, the young woman felt the echoes of a familiar heartbeat coming from the tree….They took farewell from the Silver Tree and soon, they crossed the line and took up the path leading to the Arberians.

Perched on the windowsill of Cora’s room Amita was scrutinizing the horizon, waiting for her sister’s return. Ever since the Queenies started to come back one by one, she hoped that Cora will be among them. She was missing her sister and she knew that her return will put an end to their parents’ distress.

Having no signs of Cora’s whereabouts proved to be too much for them. Though Galaor was trying to keep his wife calm and optimistic, lately, that has become almost impossible. Bella had asked some of the returning Queenies about their daughter and when she heard that they have lost her sight after a terrible storm, she broke down in tears.

-She won’t come back, you’ll see!-she cried, while her husband was trying to comfort her.

-She will come back, my dear, believe me! I know her and I know that she’s the best Queenie of all!

But when they reached the final day and Cora was still nowhere to see, his own confidence disappeared. They joined the homecoming of the rest of the Queenies with heavy heart. Galaor and Bella watched the girls; they have changed a lot during the year that has passed. The complexity and even the hardship of their task has helped each of them to develop in a unique, personal way. Right now, it was hard to say which of them would be the chosen one as future Queen. They both sighed, thinking of how their daughter might have looked if she was there….

Emerging from her chambers, the Queen greeted her people, eyeing the line of Queenies waiting before her.

-Is everyone here today, my children?-she asked.

-No, My Lady- said the leader of the Queenies. We seem to have lost Cora, daughter of Galaor and Bella.

At that moment, there was a small commotion at the doors of the Ceremony Hall.

-Everyone is here, My Lady!- said the newcomer loud and clear.

All eyes turned and a tall, slender young woman, with fiery hair cut short above her neck, entered the room, walking confidently to the center of the Ceremony Hall. She was holding a brown bunny rabbit in her arms. Making her way through the people gathered in the room, her strong aura brushed over them. A yelp and a relieved sigh followed her and Cora smiled, knowing that her parents were finally at ease. She joined the ranks of the Queenies and the Queen acknowledged her arrival with contentment.

-My children, it’s wonderful to see all of you coming home!-she said, stepping forward to greet them. It’s been a long year for all of us and looking at you, I can see it was a fruitful one. A year ago, ten teenage girls left our Tree and now ten beautifully matured young ladies returned to it.

Slowly passing by each of them, the Queen embraced every Queenie, touching foreheads,while Madam First Lady was collecting the Recommendation letters. When she finally stopped before Cora, she asked her, pointing at the small bunny:

– Who is he?

-He is my son, My Lady but he’s got a bit overwhelmed by so many strangers. Come, Avik-she said softly to the bunny- you’re safe now. Remember that I’ve told you about our Queen? She wants to meet you.

There was a rumor of amazement when, with a small tremor, the rabbit changed back to his shape of a little boy with hazelnut eyes and curly, black hair. He looked up to the woman smiling him and said:

-Hi! My name is Avik. Are you the Queen?

-Yes, I am the Queen- she said gently.

-You have beautiful wings!- said the little boy. Just like my Mommy.

-Thank you, Avik! That’s very nice of you to say- replied the Queen. Glad to meet you! Cora, I look forward to hear your story!

-Thank you, My Lady!-said Cora with a bow.

The Queen returned to her throne, followed by the First Lady.

-My dear people! I want you to greet and celebrate our Queenies while I will spend my time reading the Recommendation letters. We’ll meet here again when I’ve reached my conclusions!

She left the room while Bella and Galaor rushed to embrace their daughter. Cora picked up Avik and made her way through the swarm of jolly people. When they finally saw each other, she literally flew in their arms.

-Mom! Dad!

-I’ve told you she’s the best and that she won’t get lost!-said Galaor to his wife, swallowing the lump in his throat.

-Oh, shut up, Galaor. You’re an awful liar. Do you think I am blind? I have seen your face these latter days…-she teased him between tears. Oh, Cora, this was such a hard year!

Bella embraced her daughter while Galaor, waiting for his turn, tried to make friends with Avik. It proved easier than anyone would’ve expected but for Cora it didn’t came as a surprise. She knew her father was a gentle giant with a natural gift for tending children. But the most excited about Avik proved to be Amita. After covering her sister’s face with the sweetest kisses of all, she took the little boy by the hand and they quickly disappeared in her room. Hours later, when Cora and her parents peeked through the door, the two children were playing together happily.

-You have to tell us all that happened-pleaded Bella. We were so upset, hearing that you got lost in that heavy storm. Only the strong trust of your father kept us afloat these days.

-I’m sorry, Mom and Dad but I had to follow my guts. I know that I have promised not to get in trouble…-she said with a wink. But the dream I had the night before the flight and the words of encouragement from the Queen pushed me forward…and I did it! My quest was worth all the efforts…but I’ve missed your cooking, Mom!

They all laughed and Cora took a mouthful of her favorite dish.

-So, what’s beyond our boundaries, my dear?-asked Galaor. I assume you have reached that place. Avik doesn’t look like an Arberian child…

-You’re right, Dad. He’s not an Arberian. His land is that of the Silver Tree and the White Citadel. Let me finish this wonderful meal and tuck the children in bed and I will tell you the story of my journey.

That night, after rocking Amita and Avik to sleep with a funny story and lots of kisses, Cora sat with Bella and Galaor, opening the book of memories, telling the story of the love and fight for a new dawn in the land of the Silver Tree.

Coronation

The Queen was in her chambers, reading the letters brought back by the Queenies. They were extensive recounts of the deeds and decisions taken by each girl in the community they had joined during a year of time. Each story had its own value and flavor and on the whole, the Queen couldn’t be more satisfied. But of all stories, Cora’s journey stood out by far. The letter had been written by both the Council of Elders and the Leaders of the Foresters and they were speaking of her selflessness and bravery. The tragic story of Leanna and Avik was part of the recount and the Queen was deeply saddened, reading it. What Cora had achieved was very impressive. Still, the Queen needed a private talk with each outstanding Queenie, before making her choice.

She sent for them, one by one, listened to them, talked with them and carefully assessed her impressions. Most of them were determined to step up the throne and take the lead of Arberia. Cora was her final guest. She came on her own; Avik was in her parents care and he was enjoying Amita’s company. The two kids were getting along so well that you would’ve thought they were siblings. Life in Arberia was joyful and the Tree was an excellent playground for the inquisitive little ones.

When she entered the Queen’s chamber, Cora looked preoccupied. She had spent a lot on thinking what to do. She didn’t want to get stuck here and lose her personal freedom. She couldn’t bear the thought of being far from the Silver Tree. Her heart was there and she would’ve died missing her connection with it. She said nothing about this to Galor and Bella but she felt she owe the Queen the truth. So when the Queen asked her about the decision she made, she poured out her heart.

-My Lady, just like my little Avik, I belong to both lands. I cannot make a choice that would leave out any of these two nations and Trees. I don’t want to disappoint you or anyone of my fellow Arberians but I want to keep my freedom , I want to travel from one land to the other, to keep alive my connection with each Tree. If that means that I cannot be Queen of Arberia, I beg to step aside and I apologize for letting you down!

-You don’t have to apologize for anything, my child-said the Queen. I’m happy to see that you have used wisely my piece of advice and you have followed your fire. Go, join your family and say hello to your son from me. Soon, I will make public my choice!

Cora bowed respectfully and left the chamber. The Queen walked slowly to the window and leaned against the wall.

-I’m ready for a long vacation, my friend….-she whispered and the Tree understood.

~~~~~

Three more days passed and the excitement of the Arberians was on the rise. The day the Soul Bell rang, summoning them at the Ceremony Hall found them buzzing like a bee hive. Queenies, families, friends, Court people, adults and children, old and young, they all joined to witness the coronation of a new Queen.

The hind wall opened and the Queen stepped in. She looked radiant and this time she was wearing the crown of blue leaves and golden sticks that she would give to her successor. She sat on the throne, looked around, benevolently smiling and she spoke to her audience:

-My dear people! As all of you know, my time as Queen is over and today. A new Queen will step up the throne of Arberia.These days I have examined carefully each candidate and I must say that all of them could become a good Queen. This was not an easy choice. I have spent the last year thinking a lot about our world and the future it might hold for us. My choice reflects the conclusions I’ve reached during this lonely year.

Times are changing and we need a Queen that would be both thoughtful and bold, opened to new challenges, ready to face them and to make the most difficult choices. This year, the boundaries of our world have been extended and we’ve learned that we are not alone. There is more to come in the future, so from our wonderful winged daughters I have chosen the one that has already proven that she’s able to deal with such challenges.

Come forward, Cora and take this crown! It belongs to you, as new Queen of Arberia!.

In the deep silence that followed her words, the Queen stepped down the throne, took off her crown and held it out to the young woman.

-Mommy?! This means you are the Queen now?-asked Avik.

The clear voice of the child reverberated around the room and broke the tension. People burst into happy laughter, in cheering and applauses.

-See? -said one of the Queenies, kicking her neighbor with the elbow. I’ve told you that she could become the Queen. She was flying higher than any of us!

Cora bowed before the Queen and let her place the crown on her head. The old Queen took the new one by the hand and guided her to the throne, then she stepped aside, sitting in a chair placed next to it. For a moment, Cora was overwhelmed by emotions but then she spoke in a loud and clear voice:

-My dear Arberians! One year ago, we left our home as a group of girls caught between childhood and adult life. Little we knew about the world and our horizon was stretching to the limits of land encompassed by the roots of our Tree. From all the girls in the squadron, I was the one lucky enough to be pushed beyond that line. For me, it was a life changing experience. I have discovered another land, inhabited by beautiful people like us, caught in a sad,sad situation. It was their tragedy that opened my eyes upon the fragility of our peaceful, joyous life. It was their struggle that has shown me the power of goodness, courage and selflessness . I have returned home determined to protect the things we all value in our life. I have returned determined to connect our worlds and to restore the balance of the lands living under the benevolent protection of the Trees.

I’ve buried my heart at the feet of the new Silver Tree, so I belong to the people there. But my heart was born here so I came home to put myself in the service of my people as well. I am a person of my words and I will live my life to fulfil the promises I made in both lands. Your love, your kindness and support will help me become the Queen you all expect me to be!

The room filled with cheers as the echoes of Cora’s words faded. People rushed to greet her, while the new Queen walked through the hall and stepped out in the large balcony, to salute the Arberians who gathered outside. Bella and Galaor found themselves showered with attention, while Amita and Avik ran after Cora and joined her in the balcony.

So here comes to an end a chapter of history and a new one begins. Its story is still to be written. Right now, everyone is celebrating. Grab your cup of wine, my friends and cheers!

Epilogue

The new Queen was leaning against the trunk of the Silver Tree. Still a young tree , it was already soaring high and holding a magnificent crown of branches and leaves. Its bark was smooth and felt like skin under her touch. Cora embraced the Tree and closed her eyes, her thoughts drifting away. The light touch of two hands, lovingly holding hers, reached from the other side of the Tree and brought the young woman back from the reverie.

“I’m here…..-whispered the well-known voice. And I am here to stay….”

In the history of the Tree people, Cora remained under the name of Travelling Queen. She spent her entire life reviving the long forgotten connections of the Trees of outer lands and bringing together their nations. Under her loving protection, Avik and Amita grew into beautiful young people, becoming ambassadors of the Tree connections. They eventually became a couple, strengthening even more the connection of Arberians and Silverians.

When her time came and a new Queen took the reign of the lands, Cora said farewell to everyone and visited for the last time the Silver Tree. She stopped before it, placing her palms on the large, leathery trunk. The Silver Tree opened and Cora stepped into the arms of her beloved Satoru. The Tree closed behind her…..

If you’re passing by in a misty summer morning, turn your eyes to the hilltop. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Cora and Satoru, sitting in the grass, talking quietly about the times that had passed and those that are about to come…Or maybe it’s just the wind whispering in the meadow…..

~~~~~

PS. I dedicate this story to everyone who dares to dream and who has not lost the hope that goodness, courage, love, acquiescence, thoughtfulness prevail in Humanity.

I dedicate this story to those who dare to be themselves, to be different, to embrace their own beauty and uniqueness when odds are against them.

I dedicate this story to my wonderful LGBTQI+ friends around the world, the ones who constantly refuse to become Invisibles.

The Invisibles-Chapter 10.

The moonless night opened its velvet wings over the land, muffling sounds and filling every corner with shapeless, crawling shadows. In the dim light of the stars, the groups were gathering in the specially chosen points outside the Citadel. The earth was trembling imperceptibly under their feet as the Moon-thorn bushes were pushing towards the surface.

   When the night reached its apex, the powerful vegetal hands dislodged chunks of the white walls, opening the way for the outcasts. They quickly spread on the streets, trying to go unnoticed as far as they could . The aim of the group lead by Satoru, which comprised Cora too, was to reach the Sanctuary and  save the Silver Tree. They managed to get far enough when they bumped into the White Guards. After the first moments of shock, both sides engaged in bitter fight and chase in the streets of the City.

     People woke up to the noise of the battle and running. At first, they weren’t keen to intervene; but soon, some of them decided to help one side or the other and step into the fight. Above them all, the angry growl of clashing Shadowcats and ferdogs filled the air with chilling sounds…

      Up in his residence, Asterius woke up to the sound of a heavy fist knocking on his door. He jumped out of his bed and listened intently: there was a strong rumor coming from the streets.

-Commander!-shouted Rolf Asterianus, knocking nervously at the door of the main entrance. We’re attacked by the outcasts! They are everywhere in the streets!

  Asterius opened the door with an angry move and grabbed the young man.

-How could that happen?! Were you all sleeping in your posts?!!! Incompetent fools! You practically invited them in! What is your excuse, you…you idiot!!!?

But the young commander was not keen to take the bash and he dismissed the angry shouts of his uncle.

-We were not sleeping! They broke into the city by the breaches in the wall opened by the thorn bushes that grew overnight! There was no sign of them yesterday evening! You know very well that we had burn them to the ground. How could I know that they can grow at such speed and damage the walls?!

   Listening to him, Asterius calmed down instantly. He already knew where his true enemy was lying: in the Sanctuary.

-The Tree…..-he growled. The Silver Tree…

But Rolf misunderstood his words and he quickly reassured his uncle.

-No, no, don’t worry! The Silver Tree is safe. I’ve placed my best squadron there to protect it.

-The bastard….-Asterius spew the word, without further explanation. He opened the drawer of his desk and took out a vial. He slipped it in his pocket with a smirk; the Silver Tree was as good as dead. He then turned to the young commander and barked a few  orders, then dismissed him. Rolf Asterianus left in a hurry.  

-So you are here, my rebellious son!-murmured Asterius , looking outside.

 Soon it would be dawn and  he had to go and reach the Sanctuary. He has ordered Rolf to move away the squadron of White Guards and send them to protect the Council of Elders. He needed to get to the Silver Tree undetected, if he wanted to finish his work. He took his hooded cape and left the house.

   At the same time, Gondwana was ferociously opening way for Satoru’s team. The young leader knew that his father was not sleeping peacefully in his bed. Oh, no! He was sneaking somewhere in the streets, trying to do as much harm as he could. Cora was focusing on both the dangers of the battle and the faint call of the Silver Tree. Ogren was backing them up, pushing back any attempt of hurt against his friends. In the heat of the action, he sometimes changed into a big brown bear, sending the attackers to the ground with one hit of his large paws. They’ve got at the Sanctuary at the same time with Asterius.

    

The Confrontation

    Satoru and Cora confronted Asterius atop of the circular row of stairs. They have cornered the self-appointed ruler of the Citadel and he was  enraged. Where was that stupid nephew of his when he was needed?! The White Guardians were fighting the Invisibles in the streets and the members of the Council were hiding, waiting for the outcome of the battle. Satoru and Asterius were facing each other for the first time after many years. Despite the strong, slender features of his son, the cold hearted father could see only a crippled youth challenging his authority. The veins of his neck were bulging of fury as he spat his words towards Satoru:

-You!!…You’re nothing but a petty criminal in cahoots with the enemies of your own people! These freaks of Nature have poisoned and almost destroyed the Silver Tree that is safe-guarding our lives!

-That’s a lie!-shouted Cora.

-How do you know?-sneered Asterius, turning to her. You’re a foreigner in this land! What do you know about us?!

-I know because I am an Arberian and my people has its own Tree Guardian. There are many such trees in the lands around us and they are all connected through their roots. I am a chosen ambassador of my people and I was taught to connect to the Tree so yes, I know that you are lying! The Silver Tree has finally shown me the face of its longtime tormentor and that face belongs to you, Asterius! You are the one causing the demise of your Tree!!!

    Cora pointed her finger to the Chief Guardian and suddenly, everyone in the City Square froze in action,turning their attention to him. Asterius reddened in anger and with an inhuman cry, he jumped forward to slay the girl defying him. But Satoru lunged swiftly in his way and took the blow without blinking. He fell to the ground, heavily bleeding while in her rage, Gondwana, the Shadowcat mauled Asterius to death. As Cora was kneeling, holding Satoru in her arms, the fight around them ended  and citizens, Changers and White Guardians gathered in silence, forming a large circle around them. Ogden was shattered by pain while Cora was choking on her streaming tears.

-Don’t leave me, my love…-she whispered. Please…I need you by my side. How can I go on without you?  

-I’m…not…leaving you….- Satoru articulated the words in pain. You’ll see….I’ll be with you…always…just call me…when you need me….

   She caught his last breath was caught in a kiss. Releasing her beloved, Cora stood up silent, numbed by the pain. How was she supposed to move forward? How can anyone live with such a hole in the heart, such throbbing void of loss? All of a sudden she felt the need to run wild and   never stop…Run, run till she would drown in her tears ! She choked on the  pressure of the tears left uncried….OH!!!!

   She felt the warmth of a tiny hand trying to cuddle inside her closed fist; it was Avik. Left with Petunia in the safety of the forest camp,he could feel her pain. Cora sighed and sent him a reassuring smile. The moment of personal anguish was over. The Invisibles were waiting for her to lead them and she wasn’t going to let them down. So she bent over Satoru and kissed him once more, then cut a strand of his hair, hiding it next to her heart.

    The Invisibles  took Satoru to the Sanctuary while Cora and Ogden followed them in silence. Moments later, Elders of the City arrived in the square and Rolf Asterianus joined them. They entered in the Sanctuary to talk with the leaders of the Insurgents, while outside the people were slowly assessing the damages, some of them emerging from the houses, looking for their long lost relatives among the Invisibles. Despite the tragic end of the clash, the moment Asterius met his demise under the paw of the Shadowcat, the spell making the Changers invisible broke, and those unjustly torn away from their loved ones could be seen and see each other. Sounds of joy, sighs, cries and tears filled the air as people embraced and kissed.

     Inside the Sanctuary, the Elders, Cora and Ogden, the Changers and Rolf Asterianus were facing each other. The young Captain of the White Guards was torn between his duty towards his uncle and the feeling that the ugly facts delivered by the girl before him were true. Nonetheless, he challenged her:

-Why would we trust your words, young lady? Your claims about our respected leader Asterius have no proof!

 Cora took a deep breath before answering him; this young man was both the aid of a man she loathed and the close relative of the man she loved.

-Revered Elders and Commander Asterianus! I have been in contact with the Silver Tree ever since I was in my own country. She has sent out a call for help and I have followed it until I got here. You can believe me or not. But I know that the custom of this land is that before dying, the Tree leaves behind a seed and only her Trusted One can find it. I will step back and leave it to you to find that seed. If you fail, it will be my turn to do the search.

   She bowed and joined the ranks of the Changers, next to Ogden. On the other side of the chamber,the Elders and Rolf were having an animated.talk.

-The girl is right, Commander-said Matriarch Arantha, one of the Elders. Only the Chosen One can find the seed of the dying Tree.

-But how do we know our Tree is dead? I see it standing!-protested Rolf.

-You have a point, Commander-replied Elder Comino, head of the Council. As the closest person to Asterius, we appoint you to do the search. If you fail, we will allow the foreign girl to try her luck. May Truth and Justice be with you!

   So they returned to the Changers with the offer and Cora and Ogren agreed, opening the way for Rolf Asterianus to do his search. The young man approached the battered Tree with deep emotion. There was so much at stake…and even his own peace of mind stood in the outcome of this task. He stopped before the huge trunk and touched it gingerly. In a fraction of a moment, the Silver Tree disintegrated, turning into a dense mist spreading under the dome of the Sanctuary. When it finally condensed, it became a silver cloud, levitating  far beyond reach. In the place where the Tree once stood nothing was left, except for the barren soil. A murmur of surprise erupted from the audience and Rolf staggered, emotionally shaken.Resonating to his inner turmoil, Cora touched his shoulder.

-It’s not your fault, Commander. The Tree has gone through much lately and it has put its trust in me. It’s nothing personal in its reaction.

   She stepped forward, eyes closed and the palms of her hands open. She focused on the search for the small voice of the Spirit in the Seed. The cloud of silver dust descended upon her, shrouding  Cora in a glowing cocoon.

“ I’m here…”-said the little voice and the seed materialized in the palms of the girl. It was warm and silky, with the rhythm of life throbbing inside it, like a heart.

“ You’re safe with me.”-murmured Cora and she opened her eyes, then turned to the others around. She showed the heart shaped seed, then walked out the sanctuary and stood on the top of the stairs:

-Citizens of the Silver Tree Citadel! I stand here before you, holding the seed of your future Tree, as it was handed out to me by the one that has guarded your life for such a long time. This seed is the promise of a new era, one where there’s no place for division and suffering! You have been cheated and lied and driven to hate your own kin. The Silver Tree died of broken heart and before that, I made a promise that I would protect its child and its beloved people from repeating such a sad history!

No one should be invisible ever again! No one should be denied the beauty of itself! No one should become an outcast for being different! Hate breeds only more hate and that endless spiral of hatred would eventually bring down and destroy us all! We cannot build our happiness on the misery inflicted to others! Such an edifice will only fall to pieces eventually.

  You have built such a magnificent city, you have poured the beauty of your souls into the magic of your creation. But once you have allowed fear to live inside its walls, you’ve stripped of the beauty, emptied  your lives and deprived the Silver Tree from the wonderful emotions that kept it alive and healthy. The Changers were your beautiful, unique children, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors and you allowed a hateful, maddened individual to trash them, to wrongly accuse them, to demonize them! But not all of you….

   Luckily there were those who saw that this is terribly wrong. They have put their lives in jeopardy  to save the innocents and ultimately to save you all from becoming the real monsters. I bow before them and I bow before you all. Please accept my humble offer of help in healing your wounds and in rebuilding your lives!

   Finishing her speech, she looked around, trying to read the faces of people listening to her. She saw hope and support, she saw acceptance and deep relief. Some of the bystanders started to cheer and soon, the whole city square was booming of the joyful voices. That evening, the former Invisibles took Satoru’s body to their camp in the forest and incinerated their beloved leader under the moonlight. Cora stood there, holding Avik’s hand, supported by her friends, Petunia and Ogren, Savian and all the others. Satoru’s Shadowcat was sitting at Avik’s feet, guarding him closely. Cora took Satoru’s ashes and the next morning, she travelled to the highest point of the region to plant the Silver Seed.

    She took out her knife and dug a hole in the ground. When it was deep enough, she took out the small box from her pocket and opened it. The Silver Seed was softly shimmering in the morning light. Cora carefully removed it from the box and gently placed it at the bottom of the hole, like she was laying a child to sleep. She then wiped clean the crystal knife and made a small cut on her palm. Three drops of blood sealed the connection between the young Queenie and the future Tree. But there was yet something else to do. She took out another little box and removed the strand of black hair from inside. She closed her eyes and kissed it, breathing in the painfully familiar scent, then placed the final gift next to the magical seed. With a quick move of her wrist, she cut her long , braided tail and placed the fiery-gold strands next to Satoru’s. She sprinkled the ashes of her beloved in the hole, then fill it up with soil.

“ Farewell, my love…”-she whispered as she pressed the ground firmly. She stood up, drew a protective circle around the place and walked away slowly. She has buried her heart along with seed of the new Tree that would grow and  protect from now on the Land of the Invisibles.

 

The Invisibles-Chapter 9.

-We have to use this summer to train for the assault against Asterius. His guards are powerful and loyal to him and they have also ferdogs that can inflict lethal wounds during the fight-stated Satoru at the meeting of the community.

-I could train more Shadowcats till then!-offered Galen, a tall and lean Changer, with feline features. They are not afraid of the ferdogs.

-I will pick a team of helpers and we will teach the fight techniques to anyone willing to join-added a bulky man. My friend Ogren has already volunteered!

Satoru nodded approvingly.

-Great! I agree with these action plans but we must keep in mind that things might end up nasty t and the ones left here in the forest camp must be protected. For now, the training will be the first stage of the preparations. But we need to find a way to get inside the Citadel unnoticed. I need every person to come forward with its idea, no matter how improbable-sounding one and share it. There has to be a weak point in the protection of the city even after the measures ordered by Asterius!

~~~~~

Up in the Citadel, the High Commander of the White Guards was overjoyed by the success of his play put in action. It reached a shocking, bloody end, delivering a hard blow to both his enemies: those who were helping the Invisibles and the Silver Tree. It muffled even the discontent inside the Council of Elders where Asterius knew that he had some opponents. But no one knew that he was slowly damaging the Silver Tree to determine it to grow a seed, one that he would then plant and manipulate for his purposes. His loyal followers, the Guards under his command and his nephew, Rolf Asterianus, they all looked up at him as to the savior of the Citadel.

He smirked at the thought of his future power and poured himself a glass of heavy red wine.

-Cheers…to me!-he said to his reflection in the window glass. Beware, you crippling and you, monsters! Your days are soon to be cut short….

But while Asterius was celebrating his victory, Satoru and the outcasts were busy in creating the plan of the attack. Savian’s thorough knowledge of the Citadel was of great help and they were searching every inch of the white walls to find the weak points. The data gathered through the air mail brought by the pigeons was used to create the map of the White Guardians’ shifts. The pressure of time was almost tangible; the great damage suffered by the Silver Tree was raising the question of how much it will resist and how its demise might affect the land and every living thing. There was nothing similar described in their known history and people were fearing the worst. Cora was keeping in touch with the Silver Tree in her dreams, the only time when the Tree, being alone, was confident enough to communicate with her.

And even then, the dark shadow threatening its life was present somehow.

“It’s killing my Tree…”-cried the little, fluffy Spirit. It came today and poured some horrible thing in the water! He said: -You have no escape! This is killing you bit by bit but not before you finish your work! Then the seed will be mine!”

“But who is he?!” -exclaimed Cora.

“Oh, he’s a horrible, horrible person….My Tree is so afraid…You must hurry! I don’t know how much it can resist!”

“Tell the Tree we are almost ready but we need to find the way to get in!”

“ Hurry up…….Pleeease…..-veiled the Spirit, fading inside the red mist.

Cora woke up exhausted and thoughtful. So much to do, so little time for it!

~~~~

The Silver Tree took the message and decided to help with its last remaining strength. All it needed was to finish the silver shell for the Seed and then, dig deep into the ground, find the buried roots of the Moon-thorn bushes and revive them. After Avik’s escape, Asterius ordered people to set the bushes on fire and clear the space next to the walls. But these ancient vegetal monsters had roots far deeper than anyone expected and the Tree sent his last drops of life-giving energy to them. Waking up from their sleep, they responded to the appeal and began to dig their way upward. They grew and grew, extending their strong roots under the walls, until they formed a vegetal network under the Citadel’s protection. All they needed was a moonless night and the signal of the Silver Tree. This was the final message, Cora received in her dream and this was the breakthrough they were waiting for. Soon, it would be the long awaited night and the army of Invisibles and their allies was ready to face the enemy.

The night before the attack, Cora and Satoru found themselves teeming with things unsaid, emotions unshared and confessions delayed for too long. The air was dense around them as they sat on the steps outside the house, hands clutched on the cup of linden flowers tea. Finally, Satoru broke the silence.

-I don’t know how things will work out tomorrow….so I wanted to say something-he said, his voice stranded by emotion.

He stopped for a moment turning to Cora and gently ran his fingers through her hair.

-You are the most beautiful and amazing girl that I have ever seen. I look at you and I can’t believe I am not dreaming. I think I’m in love with you….So, if we manage to safely return tomorrow, would you stay with me…forever?

Overwhelmed, Cora swallowed hard before answering. She set aside the cup and put her arms around the young man’s neck.

-I cannot see myself otherwise but by your side….-she whispered.

He held her close, lovingly…. Up in the skies, night unfolded its wings of stars, shimmering in the magical rhythm of love.