The Lost Butterfly-a story of aliens, love and humans (1j)

Chapter 1j.

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.

Yoshiasu relaxed.

-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.

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.

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.

The Invisibles-Chapter 8.

When his duties as leader of the community allowed, Satoru spent the evenings, listening to the stories with the children. The little ones loved to crawl in his lap or to sit on the back of Gondwana and the young man mellowed offering them the love he had so much missed as a child. Cora’s warm voice, her deeply emotional or sometimes very funny twists of the stories were balm for his soul. She has grown to his heart in a way no one ever had, reaching the softest depths of his soul.

“Is this love?”-he wondered sometimes. He sighed inwardly. What were the chances that she would feel the same and that she would remain by his side? She had a homeland of hers and a duty to fulfill towards her own people….Satoru dismissed the thoughts and let his mind relax for the moments in the sound of the magic carrying voice.

  Cora loved the evenings when Satoru joined them. His presence was always comforting and reassuring and in was in these evenings when his warm and loving inner side was emerging without restraint, generating an emotional flow that enveloped her in magic.  

“ Is this love? “-she wondered sometimes. She has never known love before. The years of education as a would-be Queenie prevented her from having a close relationship with young men of her age. Was Satoru feeling the same about her? She couldn’t tell…He had so many responsibilities and he was always considerate towards others. “Oh…whatever.”-thought Cora. We’ll see. I’m glad he’s here and that Avik loves him so much. Maybe the child knows something we still wonder about”…

~~~~

 

    So while  love was slowly but steadily developing  between Cora and Satoru, up in the Citadel Asterius was sending out orders.

-Tomorrow I want to speak in the Central Square. Rolf, send the Guardians with the message around the city and gather as many people as possible. See that those who are our strong supporters to be in the first rows, next to the stairs. I will deliver my speech from the promontory of the Sanctuary.

  The young man looked at him questioningly.

-Are you reopening the Rebirth Celebrations?

-No, not at all! Those lustful parades are no longer part of our customs. But we need to strengthen our fight against the monsters lurking among us and my speech will serve as a reminder. See that everything would be in place! Dismissed!

  Rolf Asterianus left the room with a bow. Time was short and the Leader was short tempered. He hurried down the stairs, shouting orders to his men. Standing at the window, Asterianus was smirking at the thought of his plans. A strange green light was flickering in his eyes as he muttered:” Tomorrow….I’ll show you tomorrow!”

   When the sun of a new day reached its peak in the skies above the Citadel, the center of the city was teeming with people waiting for their leader to come. It’s been awhile since they’ve heard him speaking and they were full of expectation. Those fearing what might come were ducking in the hind rows, hoping that their lack of enthusiasm would go unnoticed. Finally, the place fell silent as Asterius made his appearance on the top of the stairs leading to the Sanctuary. He looked stern and preoccupied and he had visibly aged lately. Though he was still good looking, the expression wrinkles of his face had deepened, his hair had turned silver-white and his eyes were bearing a strange, disturbing light. He stood there motionlessly,his eyes scrutinizing the gathering like a bird of prey.

-My fellow Citadelians!-boomed his voice. I have asked you to come today because I need your support . For years I have tirelessly protected this city and you, my people from the monstrosities that were undermining our society. As I look around I can see that you are thriving and I feel joy and gratitude. But lately, the number of concerning happenings had increased and I have found out that some of our citizens had decided to give help to the enemy,  jeopardizing the lives of everyone. The health of our beloved Silver Tree is at stake and along with it, our as well.

-Who are those traitors, Asterius?!- shouted someone from the crowd. Bring them before us!!

-Yes! Yes! Bring them here! Let us see them!!!

  The number of angry voices from the crowd was slowly mounting.Asterius raised à hand.

-Very well, I will bring here the most recent example. Let’s see what she has to say in her defense!

He made a quick sign to the White Guards and soon, a woman was dragged in and presented to the people. It was Leanna, Avik’s mother. She looked frail after the time spent in jail but she has kept her dignified posture. She faced Asterius without fear. The man grabbed her arm and turned her to the crowd.

-Look at this woman! She was hiding a Changer and she even helped him escape through a hole in the wall. We caught her in the last minute thanks to the vigilance of the White Guards and the keen sense of our ferdogs. But the Changer escaped and became another threat lurking outside our walls!

-I was protecting my child and I am glad that he escaped!-shouted Leanna defiant.

-Then look at the consequences!!!-shouted Asterius, opening with a sudden move the gates of the Sanctuary.

    Living for so many years in the dim light seeping through the ceiling of the Sanctuary, the Silver Tree was shocked by the intensity of the full sunlight. To the fragile entity, this invasion of glow was like a dagger in its heart. The Tree shrieked in pain and its trunk split in half, part of it falling to the ground with thundering noise. The intense pain reverberated through space and it reached Cora, leaving her breathless. Overwhelmed by pain, she fainted and fell to the ground before anyone could catch her.

     Hell broke out inside the Citadel as the maddened crowd seized the woman they thought to have caused the incredible damage. Asterius stepped aside and left the square unnoticed. Up in the sky, the sun was hiding its face, unable to face the wickedness below. Somewhere, in the attic of a house, a deeply shaken man was sending a desperate message outside the walls. The small letter was carried by a  bird that knew exactly where to land. Later that night,the White Guardians shut  the gates of the Sanctuary, leaving the Silver Tree frightened and broken.

 

                                                                                ***

 

   She opened her eyes and saw Satoru sitting by her side,  head buried in his hands: the image of deep concern.

-What happened?-she asked in a husky voice. Her head was still throbbing with a dull pain.

-Hi!-Satoru was clearly relieved hearing her voice. You’ve scared us all when you fainted. How do you feel now?

-Uhm…a bit dizzy and I seem to have difficulties in remembering the events….Wait! Wait….It was a sharp pain….a scream in my mind…..the Tree….Oh! The Silver Tree! It was its pain! I remember  now! Something , someone hurt the Tree and it was crying for help!

-It makes sense…-whispered Satoru. Listen, Cora, something horrible happened in the Citadel. We’ve got message from a friend; Avik’s mother is dead. The masterplan imagined and set in motion by Asterius delivered a hard blow to the Changers, to their allies and  irreversibly damaged the Silver Tree.

-What?!! Oh….poor Avik….

   For the first time, Cora burst into tears and cried bitterly. She cried of shock, she cried of anger.When she finally regained her composure, all it was left inside her was a strong determination.

-I’m sorry…-she said. I’m fine now and I’m ready for whatever you decide. You can count me in.

-You are part of the team, you know it, Cora. I’ve sent already a call around the forest; the others will soon be here and we can work out a plan. This madman has to be stopped!

 

                                                                               ***

 

 The Silver Tree was shivering in the darkness of the Sanctuary. It was broken and fragile while the future of the Citadel looked grim under Asterius. The Tree was sensing its strength slowly diminishing, fading in the darkness of the loneliness and confinement. There was only one hope: to grow a seed that would preserve the living spirit of the people entwined with that of the Tree. It was a delicate process that needed time and care. The Silver Tree knew that Asterius would do anything to lay his hand on the seed. The only hope was in that girl with flaming hair coming from another land; she has brought with her the connection with another Tree, a mighty, powerful one and the Silver Tree was  gathering the necessary strength from it, in order to give birth to the Seed.  

   With this comforting thought,the Silver Tree reached below, inside the intricate web of roots and started to build another layer of silver shell  around the tiny cocoon nested inside….There was no time for delay.

 

Sakura poem

Ringing the bells of the last melting icicles, winter ended his opus and left the premises. A new cycle of life was about to unfold. The air was full of expectation.

She stood on the riverbank, motionlessly, waiting for the tingling sensation of rebirth. The soil was gradually warming up under her feet while she was leaning over the water to hear the fine cracking of the icy crust.

Crick…crick-crack…crick-crack-crack-crack….glob-glob-glob….With a final effort, the water sprang up victoriously, washing away the winter armor! Freed from his restraint,the river jumped and sprinkled, spraying tiny droplets into the sunlight, splashing the sands of the bank, tickling the tips of the new grass…

She smiled inwardly, sensing his joy and then turned her attention to the ground. The seals of winter broken, the hidden fountains of magic sap were gurgling again, pumping up, higher and higher the liquid of life. She stretched in the sunlight, her fingers trembling in the warm breeze and she closed her eyes, waiting….

Streams of energy ran through her body, opening the doors of each cell, setting in motion her revival. Down in the riverbed, he was watching her. She was so beautiful….He playfully splashed her fingertips with his cooling waters.

And then , under his gentle touch, she opened in thousands of delicate pink flowers! He sent a wave, caressing her feet, she swayed in the wind, raining petals upon his shimmering cheeks….

The Cherry-tree and the River were writing again a poem of eternal love.

CHILDREN of PYGMALION-enlarged version

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Let me show you something, ladies…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was surprised.

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

-I can feel it, you know that.

-Oh, yes. I forgot. Your spirit side…

I smiled to put him at ease.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Night took over the planet.

 

 

 

 

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

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

-Let’s try first. I am here…

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

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

-Athena…

Ulysses’ soft whisper rippled in the silence encompassing us.

-Try something simple at first…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The work has been done.

 

 

 

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

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

She acknowledged.

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

He smiled and continued.

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

Athena smirked, gazing at us playfully:

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

I reddened while Ulysses burst into laughter.

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

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

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

We split in good spirit and headed to sleep.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Open your eyes. NOW!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ch6.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ch7.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

-Please, please listen to me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

-Ulysses…

He turned to me.

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

He chuckled.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

She was visibly worried.

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She sighed.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kiera was puzzled.

-What do you mean by “twin-sister”?

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

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

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

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

-Now you see?-asked Ulysses.

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

-Exactly! You’ve nailed it.

Ulysses smiled.

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

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

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

A shadow crossed Ulysses’ face.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

-Oh, my goodness…What was this?!

Ulysses’ jaws tightened.

-This is what scares a Planet to death…

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Yes…

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

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

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

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

-We do? Where is it?

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

-It’s…inside you.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Finally, Athena regained her composure and declared:

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

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

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

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

Ulysses shook his head incredulously.

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

Athena sighed.

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

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

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

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

Athena smirked.

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

We laughed and the tension subsided.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-We are under attack!

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

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

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

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

Relaxed and content, he turned to us.

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

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

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

-Ulysses…

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

-Hey…what’s wrong, Little Goddess?

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

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

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

He turned on the communication and asked for attention.

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

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