Yoshiasu was regaining his strength with each passing day. Fuyuki was busy around him and around the house; he didn’t want to disturb Old John’s whole life. He was more than grateful for everything the old man has done.
One day, while he was down at the rivulet cleaning and washing some small fish, he saw somebody approaching Old John’s hogan. It was a tall, good looking young Native, riding a beautiful spotted horse. He stopped for a moment, watching Fuyuki with unhidden curiosity, somehow surprised to see a stranger in that place. He raised a hand in greeting and continued his way towards the hogan. Old John heard him coming and came out to greet him. The young man descended and saluted the elder in great respect.
-I didn’t know, Grandfather that you had guests. I wanted to ask you about two young men, tourists. Their friends were worried about them and called the station.
-You can tell them that they are well and that they will get in touch soon-said the old man.
The young man looked at him questioningly.
-Grandfather…who’s that girl down at the river?
The old man chuckled.
-That girl is…one of the two young men you were asking about. You can go and tell him about that phone call. Be polite Little John, don’t stare too much at him. His friend has been bitten by a venomous spider and he needed help to cure him. His name is Fuyuki Tanaka. Go now!
Puzzled, Little John descended the light slope and found himself face to face with the stranger. He has just finished washing the fish and was returning with a bowl and a knife in his hands. He walked lightly, graciously like a cat; he was about Little John’s height and he was slender, with long limbs. He had soft, light skin and rebellious black hair cut short above his neck. But most remarkable was his face: delicate and beautiful, with amazing lavender-blue eyes, just like two gems. He had a friendly, pleasant smile and soft voice.
-Mr. Tanaka…started Little John.
-Fuyuki, please. It seems to me we’re almost the same age and besides, I’m not much of a “Mr.”
He held out his hand to Little John. The two of them shook hands, watching each other with undisclosed interest. Little John was handsome and he was well aware of this; he was slightly cocky but this time the other young man’s charm proved to be disarming. Fuyuki took an instant like on the tall, dark and handsome guy. He looked like a beloved and favored child of Nature.
-Are you a relative of our venerable host?-he asked.
-You could say that. I’m Little John. I came to tell you that we had a phone call at the station; your friends from the city were worried about you.
-Thank you! We were incredibly lucky that Mr. Whitefeather found us! I was totally at loss when my companion fainted because of the poisoning. I’m forever in debt for saving us-he added with sincere passion in his voice.
Little John’s dark-brown eyes rounded up a little at this sudden burst of emotion but he could understand that for a city guy to find himself lost in the wilderness, along with an injured companion could be a traumatic experience. So he smiled and soon they were back at the hogan.
Yoshiasu was already outside, chopping some woods for a fire. Little John watched him closely and he had to admit that the guy was good looking and strong despite his recent illness. Yoshiasu was slightly taller than both of them and he was the elder of the group of youth. He was athletic with a strong bone structure and an open, direct manner. They shook hands. Fuyuki’s face lit up as he saw his companion and Yoshiasu smiled back at him reassuringly. The short but intimate communication didn’t escape the young Native’s sharp eyes; he was surprised by the sudden flow of emotion between the two young men. To his surprise, he felt a little bit…envious.
As the youngest of them, he was full of pride and completely oblivious to love and commitment. He was still in that state of happiness and lightheadedness of the young men of his age. He probably needed another 2 or 3 years of maturing.
Fuyuki helped Old John with the cooking while Little John helped Yoshiasu with the woods. Finally, they ate together and the talking went on easily. During the following days, Little John came regularly to visit them. The three young men bonded easily; to Old John, it became clear that Fuyuki’s mild personality eased the communication and that somehow, he was a point of common interest for both of the other two men. There was some kind of discreet magic radiating around him, catching the bystanders.
As Yoshiasu got back his strength, he and Fuyuki were ready to go back to their cabin and from there to the city. They thanked Old John for his help and hospitality and promised to keep in touch. Yoshiasu asked Little John if he could come with them to their cabin; he wanted to send some items to Old John. Little John came with a horse and this way their luggage was carried back much easily.
The young man soon discovered that parting with his newly acquired friends won’t be so easy; there were so many things to talk about… Fuyuki promised him to talk as much as possible. They packed up the things for Old John and the rest of the stuff in the car. They locked the cabin and shook hands with Little John. Fuyuki’s heart sank a bit watching the regrets clouding Little John’s handsome face.
-Something tells me that we’ll be back sooner than expected-he said softly.
A short flicker crossed the deep-brown eyes as they looked intently in those lavender-blue. Fuyuki’s cheeks turned pink under the gaze; he smiled and got into the car. Little John watched as they went away, wondering why was Fuyuki’s slightly embarrassed smile standing so vividly in his memory…
Under the loving care of Janice and Yoshiasu, Fuyuki recovered much easily. Though he was still scarred physically and emotionally, he kept on focusing on the love he finally got. For the first time in his life, there was somebody in this world for whom he, Fuyuki was the MOST IMPORTANT PERSON and that somebody was Yoshiasu. During the whole ordeal he’d been put through again, Fuyuki had closed his eyes and mind and he held on his love. Now Janice, with her kindness and love brought back the happy memories of the short childhood and helped Fuyuki bond after twenty years with his lost relatives. Janice was at peace with herself; she’s finally got back her baby-brother and justice has been done. Even Paul and Michael softened after à while and the family reunited. As Fuyuki was getting better in hospital, new concerns aroused in Yoshiasu’s mind; he decided to ask him about before taking any action.
-Fuyuki, are you ready to come home? I mean, how you feel about coming back to the same place…you know…I can arrange so that we move to another location…
The young man stretched and looked at him, head slightly tilted.
-You’re wonderful but that’s the place where I had spent the happiest days of my life. I won’t run and let the past ruin what I cherish most.
-I bet you miss my cooking-he said with a grin.
They both laughed. Two days later they left the hospital; Fuyuki put up a brave face and shook away any concern. But Yoshiasu wasn’t easily fooled; he could sense the tension building up inside his love the moment they closed the door. After unpacking, Yoshiasu turned to the kitchen to fix something to eat and left Fuyuki to adjust. The young artist sat on the bed looking around, while scraps of memory flashed through his mind. Half an hour later Yoshiasu found him sitting on the same spot, gazing into nothingness.
-You don’t have to pretend you’re OK when obviously you’re not-he said in a calm voice. We are together in this. The first night after you’ve disappeared, I had a panic attack. I even moved on your side of the bed and slept there until you were found…
Fuyuki shuddered, then he looked up and smiled to Yoshiasu:
-I’m so lucky to have you. I’ll be fine, I know; it’s just that I need some time to get over so many things…Now-he said, taking a deep breath- may I help you with the cooking?
-Sure-said Yoshiasu. It’s almost done. Let’s eat; I’m starving.
Later that day, Angela and George called and then came to visit. They were relieved to see Fuyuki back on track and Yoshiasu happy again. They looked great to; Angela was expecting her first child and the couple was filled with the excitement. They left for home late in the evening, after chatting happily all together. Yoshiasu took a shower and sat on top of the bed reading something, waiting for Fuyuki.
He became suddenly aware of the muffled sounds coming from the shower. He knocked at the door and called:
-Fuyuki!…Fuyuki, are you OK?
As the noises became more intense, he decided to take action. He dropped his bathrobe and entered the shower. Fuyuki was crouching on the floor, crying bitterly. Yoshiasu picked him up and cupped his face with both hands trying to understand what was torturing him. Fuyuki averted his gaze, hands gripping on Yoshiasu’s hands.
-I…I missed you so much but…I…I feel tainted and I…can’t…I’m so sorry…that I couldn’t-the rest of the words ended in sobs.
The understanding sank on Yoshiasu; Fuyuki was blaming himself for the ordeal he had been through, for not being able to fight back and he felt like he had betrayed the love the two of them was sharing. Yoshisu sighed; there were still so many wounds to heal and so many loose ends to tie up until the fragile equilibrium of Fuyuki would mend. But Yoshiasu was more determined than ever to love and protect him and help him to heal. So he held Fuyuki close and let the shower wash them both.
-You can cry out everything now-he whispered in Fuyuki’s ear. This water will wash away all the misery. You are the purest human being I’ve ever seen and I won’t give up on you.
He held Fuyuki until the younger man cried out all the bitterness and hurt piled up inside. He moved his hand down his back and under his touch Fuyuki’s body felt more fragile as he’d lost some weight during captivity. Yoshiasu stopped the water and handed a towel to Fuyuki; they walked together to the bedroom and Fuyuki folded in his arms.
-Have you seen Father?- he asked in a small voice.
-Yes. He is a bully and a madman. I’m glad he’s locked up. You don’t need to worry about him.
Fuyuki shifted a little.
-I was so afraid that you might not want me anymore-his voice trailed.
Yoshiasu turned Fuyuki towards him and kissed him gently. As his lover moved closer, he slowly undressed him and kissed him again deeply. Fuyuki moaned and melted in his arms. Driven by the emotional turmoil, they made love like never before reaching unexpected peaks. They finally relaxed, panting from exhaustion and they fell asleep holding each other closely.
But before their life could get back to normal, they had to pass another major challenge: the trial of Jack Roger. As police and prosecutors finished their work, the trial was due to begin. The trial caught up a big interest; not only that it was a shocking case but it involved one of the young emerging artists of the country.
Though he could’ve avoided it because of his emotional scars, Fuyuki bravely decided to attend the trial. Yoshiasu was deeply concerned about how he would cope with it, but he had to admit that Fuyuki needed to face his fears in order to get over them and to start a new life. Yet, Yoshiasu dreaded the first encounter with Jack Roger, whom he had not seen since the day Fuyuki was found. Tens of curious eyes turned to them when Roger was brought in. He had a confident smirk all over his face; when he spotted Fuyuki, he launched towards him with a sneer:
-You little bastard! Wait until I get my hands on you!
The guards held him back and Fuyuki’s eyes clouded with pain. He faced him and asked in a restraint voice:
-Why? Why do you hate me?
This painful question made the headlines of every journal. It was the question that troubled every decent person: why would anybody turn into such a monster? The first session of the trial presented the case as the police had unraveled piece by piece, then the pile of evidence was brought to the Court’s attention.
Listening to Janice’s testimony (while her father growled “Stupid bitch…just like your mother…”) proved to be the hardest of all. The long buried memories of the horrors endured by a small child shocked the audience. At that moment Fuyuki got sick and while Yoshiasu was helping him out, he fainted. Yoshiasu picked him up and left the Courtroom hurriedly; he took him out to a bench and laid him down, massaging his temples and his hands until Fuyuki got back to his senses. He then called a cab and took him home. Reliving that particular moment was like opening a dam. All the memories locked up inside came back accurately. The process was painful but unstoppable. Each and every night of the trial Fuyuki cried himself into sleep, held tightly in Yoshiasu’s arms. But with family and friends around him, he got over the pain step by step.
The evaluation made by the police psychiatrist gave sense to the image of Jack Roger. Jack Roger was an animal of prey. He watched the little boy growing up and noticed its unusual beauty. He soon realized that this child could become a good source of income and that he was totally defenseless. With a weak and frightened aunt as a surrogate mother, the little boy had no chance against Jack Roger’s will. What the perpetrator never suspected, was that the night of horror had a witness: the ten years old Janice. That night she took a narrow escape and remained unharmed, only to carry this traumatic memory till the final confrontation. Jack Roger took pride in his business so he kept detailed records /even videotapes. For years he trained and used the child as a prostitute; when he got into trouble, he simply sold him but kept his track just in case.
When Fuyuki ended up badly beaten and dumped, Roger thought that the young man died, so he was thrilled to see his photo later in a nationwide newspaper. Just like the spider, he carefully cornered his victim and took him away when he finished his underground bunker. Fuyuki’s cell was connected to the house and as soon as the he regained consciousness, Jack Roger was back in business. He put Fuyuki on the market the first day they got home and never left a day out. In a short time, his bank account was growing steadily so he couldn’t be more pleased.
Based on the huge amount of evidence, “Father” was quickly sentenced to life in prison. But the eternal bully took hard the end of his reigning over Fuyuki, so after two months in prison, he’s got an extensive stroke and died in the prison hospital. The story of the Monster and The Lost Butterfly came to an end. After 20 years Fuyuki was free at last.
Another year ended and the oncoming one was holding the promises of a new beginning. Yoshiasu and Fuyuki spent the Christmas with Janice and her family; on the second day, Peter and Michael joined them with their wives. Fuyuki’s beauty and kindness charmed everybody, especially Janice’s six year old twins, Robert and Molly. They also took a like on Yoshiasu and they were happy to find two young adults who never got tired of them and never complained about them being nagging and noisy.
The New Year brought another happy event: Angela gave birth to her first child, a little boy named Thomas.
-I feel a little bit lost with so many men around-smiled Angela counting her well-wishing party. The three of you were already a handful; now Thomas is joining the gang…I have to put up some strength to face you all!
-I wouldn’t be concerned-said Fuyuki. You’ve already rendered us speechless with such a beautiful baby!
-Sweet Fuyuki! You’re as charming as ever-laughed Angela, glancing lovingly at the sleeping baby.
The warmth of love encompassed them all, leaving the shadows of the past locked up in the passing year.
Wishing to give a boost to their life together, Yoshiasu secretly booked two tickets for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan. When time came, he took Fuyuki by the hand and it was only in the airport that the young artist learned about their destination. He was deeply touched and amazed. The festival was a dream come true. It was a particularly mild, warm spring so when they arrived, every tree was in full blossom.
The sight was simply magic. Every breeze carried on its warm wings endless flurries of white and pink petals. Yoshiasu and Fuyuki traveled from one place to another, from orchard to orchard, filling up with endless beauty. Finally, they stopped in an old orchard of a remote location. They asked for permission to visit and as they were granted, Yoshiasu took Fuyuki by the hand and walked down the narrow pathways that lead through the fresh light-green grass, under the heavily blooming branches. Yoshiasu spotted from the distance a large old cherry tree and took the amazed Fuyuki there. He let the young artist enjoy the enveloping shower of soft petals. Fuyuki’s amethyst eyes gleamed like gems in the mist of golden light pouring from above. He leaned against the tree, watching with withheld breath the magic of Nature. He turned to Yoshiasu with a look of rapture all over his face.
Yoshiasu approached and cupped his face with both hands, looked deeply into the shimmering violet-blue pools and asked in a slightly trembling voice:
-Fuyuki, would you marry me?
Fuyuki’s eyes widened in surprise, he blushed but whispered:
-Yes. I will…
Yoshiasu bent over him and kissed him until they ran out of breath. They married two weeks later in Canada. Fuyuki took Yoshiasu’s family name, Tanaka. Yoshiasu took a new job that enabled him to travel a lot along with Fuyuki, who was now a successful artist with exhibitions all over the world. They were both young and on the height of their creative powers. Life was beautiful.
-Oh! -exclaimed one of the creatures of light. I never thought such things can happen! We almost lost our Child to that madman. I feel so….uneasy about our choice.
-You’re right-mumbled the other one. We’ve learned so much about these creatures since we are here and yet, after this episode, I feel like we really know nothing. Maybe we should retrieve the Child from the planet.
-No, no, not now! Not yet. He seems to be happy with his companion and perhaps the two of them might join us later, don’t you think?
-Agree!-said the taller creature. But we’ll keep a close eye on them from now on.
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.
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.
-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…
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.
-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.