The Creature-Illustration for a story

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Drawing on paper in color pencils, acrylic and ink gel pen. She’s the character of my story ” The Creature” https://katemantis.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/the-creature/

and also of the story “Just a Winter tale” https://katemantis.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/just-a-winter-tale/

 

Enjoy!

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The Lost Butterfly -revised. (1)

Prologue: A confession.

 

“ We were here for almost a cycle studying you from a safe distance when I had a dream. Somebody touched me, trying to wake me up. I opened my eyes and saw him. He was beautiful but looked sad.

-Release me-he whispered. Please! I’m choking…

-Who are you?-I asked in amazement.

-I’m inside you…Let me go…I need to fly…Please!

As I watched his luminous eyes I felt something moving inside me. I woke up suddenly; he was the first Child who asked to be born. It never happened before; that’s why we decided to give him this special assignment: to be born human.”

 

CHAPTER 1.

It was a mid-October morning with long streaks of chilling fog crawling over the glossy layer of dead leaves piling up under the trees. The sun was just a sick, pale spot in the twirling grey atmosphere.

The alleys of the Central Park were almost deserted; only a few courageous ones were taking on their daily routine of jogging. There were also some sleepy dog owners on a short stroll with their pets and some early workers shortening their way through the crooked shapes of the trees in the park.

Despite the desolate air of the early hour, Yoshiasu Tanaka, a 28 years old computer analyst who lived in a flat nearby, enjoyed to take a short walk before starting work. It was a moment of silent reflection spent in the middle of this priceless natural spot trapped in the core of the huge city.

Yoshiasu left the alley and walked slowly through the dense cluster of trees and bushes. He liked the soft rustle of leaves under his feet, the way the smooth brown carpet gave in under his weight, the yellow leaves swirling graciously in the autumn wind and the bitter-sweet taste of the mist in the air…He emptied his mind and let his inner self float adrift into blissful nothingness. Only his peripheral vision saved him from tripping over the dark-brown mass of dead leaves right in front of him. His foot touched something compact inside the heap of leaves and that feeling made him stop and take a closer look. It wasn’t a tree-root ‘cause it felt softer. Yoshiasu bent and cautiously scattered the leaves from the surface and …he almost fell backwards. A human hand appeared. It was a slim hand with long, delicate fingers and it looked lively. Yoshiasu swallowed hard then touched the hand. It was cold but soft; he checked further and felt the wrist hidden into the leaves. There was a faint movement under the cold skin; the heart of someone hidden in was still beating. Yoshiasu frantically pushed away the leaves, trying to dig out the buried person.

After some frenzied moments he found a badly bruised young man lying unconscious on the ground. He was alive but it looked like his life was hanging on a thread. Yoshiasu took off his coat and covered the injured young man and quickly dialed 911. He then turned back to him and tried to warm up his hands and get him back to consciousness. The young man moaned and stirred under his touch. Yoshiasu bent closer and asked him:

-Hey! Can you hear me?

He repeated his question a few times before getting any answer. Finally, the young man opened his eyes and looked into Yoshiasu’s eyes, much to the latter’s surprise. Though those eyes were clouded by pain, they had the most unusual color: a deep, velvety violet just like the petals of the forest violet in early spring. Thick black eyelashes were underlying those intent, troubled eyes. A wide purple scratch was covering almost all of his left cheek and his black hair was matted and filled with leaf scraps. There was freshly dried blood on his bruised lower lip. His clothes were torn and ripped apart, uncovering older or more recent bruises all over his body.

Yoshiasu was shocked by the extent of the injuries and of the fact that this human being was deliberately buried and left to die. He took out his handkerchief and gingerly wiped away the blood from the young’s lips and the dirt from his face. He felt him shivering under the touch.

-The ambulance will be here in any minute, hang on; you’ll be fine- he said in a reassuring voice. He then took again the young man’s hands and rubbed them to warm him up. He felt the other one gripping his hands. He looked back into his face.

-Don’t be afraid-he said and smiled. I won’t leave you.

The injured man sighed and closed his eyes. Right then the paramedics arrived and took him into their care. In a few moments the police arrived to and questioned Yoshiasu about his finding. They took pictures of the place and of the victim and agreed with Yoshiasu about a further meeting at the police station. The ambulance departed in a hurry, the sirens ripping off the seemingly peaceful atmosphere of the park. Yoshiasu slowly turned back home, his mind trying to asses the recent events.

Fortunately for him, he was very busy at work so he had to adjust to something more peaceful and tangible throughout the day. He left his office, declined some invitations for a drink and headed home. He felt exhausted and he was still shaken. He undressed and took a shower and sat on the bed with a Coke in his hand. His mind wandered back to the morning’s events…He took out his cell phone and dialed the number of the Central Hospital. He asked about the injured young man brought in during the morning. He was slowly recovering-they said-but he wasn’t speaking yet so they weren’t able to contact any relatives. No, he had no papers to indicate his identity but the police was working on the case. Yes, he could visit him if he wanted; they hoped that a familiar face could bring a breakthrough in this case. Yoshiasu thanked for the information and hung up. He lay down in his bed, fixing the ceiling while his mind wandered.

After a while he sat up again and dialed the police station number and asked to talk with the officer in charge with the young man’s case. He asked for permission to visit the victim the next day. The detective agreed, expressing the same hopes that Yoshiasu’s sighting might bring up some positive development in the victim’s behavior. The young analyst slept badly all night. Those painful, violet-blue eyes were haunting him even in his dreams. He woke up troubled and restless; only after a shower and a full mug of steaming coffee was he finally ready to begin another day. He finalized his work earlier and asked for the next day off.  He then left for the hospital. He bought a few oranges at a store and hurried up the stairs. The receptionist was aware of his coming so she helped him quickly to the “John Doe’s” reserve.

Yoshiasu saw that the young man was sleeping so he did his best not to disturb him. He put the oranges on the table next to the bed and sat on a chair and looked close at him for the first time. The young man was in his early twenties, no more than 25.  Despite the scratches and the bruises on his face, he looked handsome. It was an almost feminine beauty; an oval face with large eyes, a straight, thin nose and nicely curved pink lips. His shoulder long black hair was thick and silky and his skin, wherever was not bruised into bluish tones, looked smooth. The hands resting on the blanket were long, with delicate, mobile fingers- the hands of an artist, a musician or a painter perhaps. Resting on the hospital bed among tubes and beeping instruments he looked fragile. Yoshiasu felt a pang in his heart. He stood up and turned when he heard the young man stir in the bed. Yoshiasu turned and found itself peering into the same mesmerizing violet-blue eyes.

-Hey. You’re awake. I came to see how you are – he said. Can you speak now?-asked Yoshiasu.

The answer was a muffled, pained mumbling but it was at last a small result. Yoshiasu patted the young man’s hands and followed:

-I’m Yoshiasu. Yoshiasu Tanaka. Do you have a name? We couldn’t find any paper indicating your identity…

The young man closed his eyes for a moment and it looked like he was searching his memory for an answer; he finally opened up his eyes and whispered:

-Fuyuki…

-Hm. It’s a beautiful name and it suits you-said Yoshiasu with a smile. Is that all you can remember about yourself?

The answer was a small nod. Fuyuki closed his eyes and he fell asleep in an instant. He was still very weak and the effort of remembering his identity exhausted him easily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eneys laughed pleasantly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eneys shook her head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Oh!….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selurys was shocked.

-How…how do you know?-she muttered.

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

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

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

Selurys sighed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eneys’ heart sank.

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

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

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

“ My dear Eneys!

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

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

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

Selurys. “

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOTTO:

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

Land-god: Adanes

Ocean-goddess: Eneys

Moon-goddess: Selurys

River god: Joren

River goddess: Janysse

Forest goddess: Shantania

Mountain-god: Gormell

Sun-god: Arauss

Wind-gods: Walcor

Animal kingdom: Faunes

Plants: Floriesse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Cheers!!!

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

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

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

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

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

-Don’t. You. Dare.

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

-Oh, I see….It’s you…-he muttered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eneys shook her head and smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

-What is there?-she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-It’s beautiful, isn’t it?! The Moon.

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

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

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

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

Arauss sighed.

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

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

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

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

THE PATHWAY

The pathway took off and boldly emerged from the morning mist. We were both a bit nervous as we have left the group and we were heading to an entirely different direction. I could feel the disapproving glances in my back and the murmur of reprobation was carried by the wind to my ears.

We live on a planet of pathways and roads. Each of us has a personally tailored one, a pathway both alive and active, just like the person generating it. The colorful landscapes are crisscrossed by the traces of recent or rediscovered roads; you can find anything from the narrow footpath to the large boulevards, depending on the number and the personality of the pathway-carriers that walked the surface of this special planet. I’ve spent most of my life leading my pathway side by side with others of the thousands of inhabitants of the megapolis,walking day by day between its soaring , fantastic buildings. We didn’t have too many options and we were not making much difference in the turmoil of the city. Still, living here was both safe and comfortable. Oh well, maybe a bit too comfortable for the well disguised rebels we were, me and my pathway. Few of the city dwellers had ever tried to venture outside the perimeter of the buildings. The ones that tried, usually reached the grassland and inevitably turned back in the arms of steel, concrete and glass of our town.

The grassland outside the city was stretching for miles, delving into the blurred horizon where the dark silhouette of a forest was trembling in the light. None of my friends or acquaintances had ever ventured that far. Telltales of dangerous dark depths and monstrous creatures were passed for generations from one another but I was skeptical about the truth of their content.

As I said, my Pathway was just as bored and boisterous as myself. This lukewarm anonymity was becoming tiresome for both of us, so we decided to run away without saying a word. The chosen morning proved to be a cooling early autumn one, with strands of mist crawling lazily in the streets. There were only a few people passing by, still some of them turned curiously after us. The street we had chosen was leading….nowhere, as much as they knew. But for us, it ended abruptly facing a nacreous wall of fog. We both stepped forward, brushing the high stemmed grass and shaking the dewdrops pending on their tips. The Pathway trembled in excitement under my feet and sprang ahead. We were outside the city and inside the unknown.

Moments later, the rising sun hopped higher in the sky, sipping the last scintillating drops of dew. The scenery cleared and filled with sizzling colors. Under the warm touch of the sunlight the silver-green of the grass blades was gradually turning into golden yellow, the grass-ears releasing their tiny grains to the ground while grasshoppers were caught in a frenzy of somersaults. Birds were singing in the skies and under the seemingly endless blue dome, we were running like two crazed spring-bucks. For awhile I wasn’t sure even that my feet were touching the ground as I was riding the speedy ribbon of my Pathway as he was heading towards the towering wall of the forest.

As the day was descending into afternoon, the heat of the sun tempered and the shadows of the trees were leaning more and more towards the field. It wasn’t just a shadow but a constant flow of cold breath emanating from the deep-green, almost black vegetal thick. The forest was growing taller and taller as we approached it, until its silhouette engulfed the last corner of blue sky. The spidery fingers of the trees were pushing the autumn azure away from our reach.

The Pathway stopped abruptly on the rim of the wood. It seemed impenetrable. I was baffled by the fact that I couldn’t find even a faint weed-covered trace of an old pathway passing by. Nothing. All I could see was a dense wall of huge trunks connected by the darkness between them. The canopy was sky high. Baffled and slightly uneasy, we both stopped, pondering if we should follow our way or try another way round. But the wall of vegetation seemed to stretch from left to right indefinitely; the only possible way was through the woods. And it was already getting too late to go back to the city; so we decided to trying our luck walking through the gap opened between two trees. The Pathway moved boldly forward , carrying me as we punctured the barrier of darkness.

Surprisingly there was a faint bluish light inside the forest and for a moment I felt I was under the water. What light could pass through the dense fabric of the canopy was falling in slow motion, dispersing and undulating around us. You would’ve expected a school of fish to emerge behind a tree or to catch a glimpse of a whale swimming gracefully above us.

Looking around, I realised that the forest was not shutting out only the light but it was muffling also the sounds of the outside world. Still, it wasn’t entirely silent. There was an almost imperceptible whisper, surging, receding, surging, receding like the breath of an enigmatic living creature. The more I listened to it, the more eerie it became, sending shivers down my spine. Even my Pathway was feeling nervous, its delicate senses connected to me. I took a deep breath, sending him some reassuring thoughts. Anyway, my curiosity was stronger than my fear.

We jumped over the fallen branches on the forest floor, over the moss covered trunks and the puddles of water soaked fallen leaves. I took a sip of air: it tasted bitter -sweet, like almonds. After awhile,the ground was sloping towards a shallow valley inside the woods. Here, the distance between the trees was becoming wider, lifting some of our anxiety caused by the confined space. We breathed out in relief. Confident, the Pathway sped up and soon, we made our exit into a clearing.

It was a perfect circle on the ground continued by a clear-cut hole made by invisible hands in the dome of sticks and leaves of the canopy. You could see the darkening sky filling with stars. Night was near so we decided to stop here and sleep till the next morning. The Pathway retreated and relaxed at my feet. Curled up on a heap of grass I fell asleep easily. The murmur of the forest was dimming into a lullaby and the air of the night was warm enough to rest comfortably. We were not concerned about wild beasts roaming the place; the forest was visibly devoid of any kind of animal life and you wouldn’t have expected trees to un-root themselves and move away while we sleep. I closed my eyes and drifted away with the waters of the dream….

I jumped from the ground, awakened by a sharp cry that soon turned into an ear-piercing veiling. Uncoiled from its rest, the Pathway was trembling at my feet. Above us, the Moon was turning gradually red; it was the night of the Eclipse and the installing of the Blood Moon was bringing the forest alive. In the thick, honey-like light the shadows of the trees were undulating, pushed from inside by an ancient, long forgotten rhythm, shaking their spidery fingers towards the orange glow above. Caught in the frenzy of tremor, the leaves were cascading on us menacingly. Carried by a sudden wind raised by the twist and turn of the entire forest, the torrents of leaves were pushing us aside, swirling, jumping in the air then falling again towards the forest floor in high speed, like furious vegetal dragons. As the eclipse was reaching its peak, the veiling turned into howling and the whole forest was crying out its pain and fury to the night skies, to the bloody eye of the Universe. So, my friends, if you were wondering where those mythical beasts did disappear from the forest, I tell you: they didn’t. In fact, the Beast was right here all the time, sleeping its thousand years dream. It was this particular night that brought him back to life, shaking off his moss-covered dreams, letting him once again weep over his solitude. The sorrow of the stranded alien, the Forest washed over me and I stumbled, stepping on the roots of a tree. It was slippery and I grabbed the trunk to stop my falling. The touch of bark felt like a lizard’s skin and in a split of à moment, the vegetal giant turned to me….

The Pathway saw it coming and took off , jumping ahead through trees and bushes like a bullet. I crouched and let him carry me, hoping to escape from our pursuer. We smashed into twigs, leaves, branches, thorns and shreds of moss but we kept speeding ahead. We’ve lost the count of minutes and we didn’t even realize that the night was over. The eclipse was long gone and the forest had fallen back under the thousand years enchantment. The shrubbery was thinning before us and light was reigning again beyond the rim of the woods. My faithful companion slowed down its run and we both checked each-other, trying to asses the damages. Surprisingly, we got off this harrowing adventure with only of few scratches and a slightly shaken confidence. But then, we were seeking adventures, weren’t we?

Stopping at the edge of the forest, we watched for a moment the wall of bright light outside. It was almost painful to look at it after so much time spent in the shadow. I’ve sent an encouraging smile to my Pathway and once again, he flew us ahead, puncturing the brightness. We landed on a grassy slope and rolled down chuckling. The veil of warm air was undulating in the valley below but the shimmering contours on the horizon were holding promises of new adventures. We both laughed and stretched our limbs in expectation.

The Pathway jumped forward, carrying me into the light.

WANDERINGS

                   The long rows of lavender fields stretched up to the rim of the high hill, where a lone tree was watching over the scented valley. The summer was at full height, the warmth of the sun diluting the spicy aroma of lavender blue into waves of wandering breeze. The sky was flooded by light, its azure dimming under the power of glow. Nothing warned about the tempest concocting inside the atmosphere. Before I could even realize what was happening around me, the ocean of air thickened in silk-grey and then turned into violent, dark grey streaked with steel blue sizzles and phosphorescent turbulence.

  The clouds gathered into tidal waves, the wind erupted from the tip of the storm and the world was shaken from its “dolce-far-niente” of a summer afternoon. Taken by surprise, all I could do was to run uphill and hide under the arms of the tree. I couldn’t care about the lightning…What was unfolding above was scarier than any threat. This tempest was not an ordinary one. Under the rush of the horses of winds the scent of the lavender fields was intoxicating. Suddenly, the skies cracked with a thunderous noise…that continued above my head, in the branches of the tree. I heard a sharp cry and something heavy was coming down, hitting and breaking sticks and leaves. I stepped back instinctively and that something landed with a thud on the heap of grass under. Whatever it was, it wasn’t happy of this speedy landing. But what was it and where did it come from?

 

The young woman bent over the dark shape that has landed so unexpectedly beside her and spoke softly, trying not to scare the new comer and hiding her own nervousness about the strange happening. While this cautious ballet was unfolding under the tree, the storm quieted in the skies and the sun returned to its vantage point on the top of it.

-Hey….Are you ok?-the girl asked timidly.

The shape at her feet was humanlike so she hoped that they could communicate somehow. A painful grumbling came from the curled up body and the creature turned towards her. A pair of light-green eyes was gazing at her and the answer came in a strange, alien language. And the face…well, it was definitely human.

 

Hearing the row of unintelligible words left me speechless for a moment but after all, what was I expecting from someone who crash-landed from the skies? So I swallowed to calm down, smiled a bit and slowly held out a hand to help…it up. From the messy hair, full of sticks and shreds of leaves, the pained and puzzled expression of the youthful face, the unisex  silver-grey overall and black boots, it looked like a man. But there was something behind that first impression, a touch of soft sadness, a thin streak of fragility, elusive shadows that faintly shone through the appearance of the whole.

-Come…let me help you-I said, hoping that my gesture was at least universal among sentient beings. You have brought down half of the treetop in your hair-I added with a chuckle.

There was a short flash of light inside those luminous eyes and a strong hand grabbed mine. The stranger stood up and shook his head with a grin. He coughed, spitting out some dirt that got in his mouth and we both laughed. It was a sign of normality inside an awkward situation. I helped him brush off all the dirt and we could finally face each other and assess the situation. It was only then, that I realized that the storm has vanished just as sudden as it started. The landscape around was untouched and even the treetop seemed whole. Here we were, in the middle of an ocean of blooming lavender, two strangers brought together by some sort of currents of Space, Time or Fate. And what would’ve you done with an alien that has landed at your feet? Hmmm…I wonder. Oh, well….I know what I did: I took him home.

 

The cheerful row of colorful, tidy houses was crisscrossing along the large, violet-blue field of scented flowers. There was a cherry-red house at the end of the lane with a delicate flower garden in the front yard and one of fresh vegetables behind the house. It wasn’t easy to get closer unnoticed through the mostly open terrain but the two young people managed somehow to escape from one bush to another, one tree to another, hiding, waiting until there was no one to sight them stealing in. They took the way to the hind door and soon as the girl unlocked it, she grabbed her companion by the hand and pushed him inside hurriedly. He was safe for now.

 

I have moved to this cozy little village almost a year ago. As a free-lancer writer, I needed both a job that would provide me with an income and a place out of time where my wildest dream could come alive through my writings. I have searched for the craziest opportunities, dismissed most of them until I’ve stumbled upon a photo and a story, some kind of an add connected to the place in the picture. It talked about an abandoned lighthouse that waited for a bold and dedicated person to open it for the public. It was supposed to house a small post office for the equally small villages scattered in the area around. A few hours a day would’ve provided me to a decent income and I could’ve lived in a house rented by the company. It took me one second to decide; for me, it was dream come true. My family and friends were not surprised at all; by now, they were used to my peculiarities and my stubbornness. So, I left everything behind and moved in the little red house. The villagers were fine and friendly people, willing to help me and becoming my steady customers. My little Buggy loved the country roads and served me well as I commuted day by day between the edge of the lavender fields and the sandy shores of the blue-eyed sea.

Of course very soon I had elderly ladies and gentlemen worrying for me, trying to get me into relationship with the youth around, hoping to make me marry one of them and settle for good in their neighborhood. I mixed easily with people so I didn’t mind; I knew they were just…loving and caring. My sense of humor helped me through awkward moments and nobody got hurt during that. But now….I was inside the house, breathless from running, hiding under the line of visibility, dragging a stranger from above behind me. And I was hungry. So, I expected the same was…him. But what do you give to an alien to eat? I let…him look around my place and opened the fridge: hmmm, milk, eggs, butter, cheese. Some leftovers from lunch. Lucklily, there were some strawberries in a casserole and some early summer apples in the fruit-box below. Oh, and a salad for the evening. Ok….I turned abruptly and found myself face to face with my guest.

He was right behind me, peeking inside my refrigerator with questioning eyes. I gazed inside those unusually clear eyes; the translucent green waters were shifting and escaping to any attempt to catch them, even for the fraction of a moment. The soft, black pupils were shying away for a moment, just to return my gaze with innocent curiosity moments later. A familiar yet strange scent of mixed sea breeze and…star-dust was coming from him. He blinked, I chuckled and took him by the hand.

-Come-I said, hoping that he would guess my intentions. Let’s eat something before we both collapse of hunger.

I sat him down to the table and he smiled. It seems that tables are a familiar piece of furniture all over the Universe. I placed all the available food in the middle, took out some sliced, homemade bread, two plates, forks and fruit knives. And so it began the first interstellar dinner in the history of mankind. And since sharing food had always provided a good communication ground, the stranger and me, we went through the traditional “You Tarzan, me Jane”, just this time he learned that I was Iris, while what I could comprehend of his name was something close to “ Stellar”.

Ok, before any of you is freaking out about my mindless courage to share my private space with a total stranger, let me tell you that while he was bravely going through the challenge of Earth-food, Pixie, my red cat descended from the attic, gave us a short look and hopped in….his lap, purring noisily. A wide smile, almost childlike appeared on the face of my companion, then he gently ran his fingers along the silky back of the animal, saying something in his melodious language. So, after being certified as ” friend” by my trustworthy cat, I had no problem in getting him to sleep in the small bedroom upstairs. There was an additional bathroom next to it, so my guest was safe up there from any incidental visitor from the village. I’ve chosen to sleep downstairs on the sofa, with Pixie curled up under the blanket at my feet. It was a piece of furniture comfortable enough.

After the load of excitement of the day, I fell asleep almost instantly and the night felt short for my needs. I woke up with the first rays of the rising sun. I set up and for a moment, I was wondering if yesterday’s events really happened. But the sighting of the two tea cups on the table was a tangible proof; I never had tea with my imaginary friends….So I hooped down of the sofa and got into the daily routine. I put a kettle on the stove for a tea and made scrambled eggs for two. I packed a small sandwich for work and dressed up. A new, shiny summer day was emerging outside, scattering fluffy clouds all over the sleepy azure of the morning sky. Refreshed and ready to go, I sprinted upstairs and knocked at the bedroom door. No answer. I carefully cracked the door and saw that my guest was still sleeping. I approached and touched him lightly.

-Hmmmm….-the mumbling was, oh, so familiar and human.

He was sleeping on his belly, sprawled on the bed. His silver-grey overall was laid on the back of the chair while his black boots were tossed under.  I sat down on the edge of the bed, taking a look at him. The black, spiky hair was cut short above the ears but left longer, down the neck. It was thick and strong, slightly curled, with changing, silver streaks, depending on the play of lights. The skin of the youthful face was soft and tanned, with an amber tint. Long, curled black eyelashes were bordering the now sleeping elusive eyes. On the whole, the face was just as hard to capture as the play of lights inside the green pool of the strangely captivating eyes. It all depended on what you wanted to see. It was equally the face of a young man with boisterous expression or the face of a young woman, a tomboy with soft, pink lips and a delicate smile that was still lingering over them even in the deepest sleep. The strength of the man was in the bone structure and the firm grip but the fingers were long and expressive and the skin had a velvety touch. As I was watching him, Stellar moved in his sleep and I saw a small tattoo on the back of his neck. Five small stars in an unfamiliar pattern were printed deep in the skin. I touched them…instinctively and he sighed and then opened his eyes. I retracted my hand before he could realize that I touched him and I blushed. What the hell was I doing?

-Come-I said with a reassuring smile. Let’s eat; I have to go to work.

I don’t know how much sense my words made to him but in less than 10 minutes he was descending to breakfast. He looked refreshed and relaxed. He was wearing something like a T-shirt and stretch-pants, both deep blue and….he was barefoot. I think he just had enough of his boots. He caught my gaze at his feet and chuckled. I laughed and brought him a pair of slippers. We sat at the table and suddenly, I felt like we had done this a hundred times before.

I drove to work with a worried, small heart; I had to lock Stellar in and I didn’t like the feeling at all. It’s hard to leave behind a puppy, locked and lonely, but he was not a puppy. He was an intelligent being, fallen from his world into one alien to him. Were I in his place, how would I react? Losing family, friends, familiar faces, familiar places….ending up in a place you know nothing about, uncertain that you’d be ever able to return home. My heart sank with the flood of thoughts running wild in my head. I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.

“ Put yourself together, girl. Focus. You cannot help him if you panic.”

I reached the lighthouse, parked the car and opened the office. It was mail collecting day and that kept me busy in the next few hours. Some of my friends from the villages around came in, bringing mail collected from the elderly neighbors or their own sends. Some of them came by sea and completed my provisions with fresh fish. We shared a laugh, a joke and a few friendly words and they left. Soon, the Post Van arrived and the mail was loaded beside other sacks, Freddie Barnes, the chauffeur filled me with the latest gossips collected on the road, then off he went. I left the office a few minutes and sat on the steps. The day was clear, the air translucent and warm, the breeze bringing soft noises and spicy, salty scents. It was such a peaceful place, loaded with romance and mystery…The lighthouse offered  enough space upstairs for at least two additional rooms and the top of it was unused, though the diamond-shaped light bulb was still functional and so was the whole flashing system. But by now, there were no ships needing its blazing services. Oh, well…Perhaps one day the lighthouse will come to life. The sharp sound of my cell phone brought me back abruptly into reality. It was my landlady calling with an alarmed voice:

-Iris dear! Mrs. Pickett called me a few minutes ago and she said that there is somebody in your house! We thought about calling the constable….what if it’s a dangerous burglar inside?!

My brain froze for a second; a policeman to rush into the house and take Stellar by surprise was the last thing I needed. I had no idea how did Mrs. Pickett know someone was in my house but she was my closest neighbor with a propensity for …spying on people. She also loved my tea-rose bushes and frequently came to see them. I calmed down and answered   to the anxious lady waiting at the other end of the line:

-Mrs. Green, calm down please. You don’t have to call the constable, there’s no burglar in my house. My cousin arrived late last night and I left him sleeping. Probably Mrs. Pickett saw him while she was inspecting my roses.

I’ve heard a deep sigh and Mrs. Green chuckled.

-Iris dear! I’m so relieved. Oh, I’ve told Mary (-that was Mrs. Pickett’s name) not to peek inside people’s house ‘cause she might misunderstand what she would see. Well, dearie, thank God we didn’t do anything stupid. I’m sorry if I made you worry. Good bye, dearie!

-Good bye, Mrs. Green and thank you for calling.

I’ve put down my cell phone and shuddered; oh, my goodness…Then as I raised my eyes above, I smiled. I had an idea: moving with Stellar into the lighthouse.

 

The next days and weeks went on with bonding and bridging the interstellar relationship inside the house. Stellar was an avoid learner and soon, he was able to speak at least a few short sentences in English while I gathered some knowledge about his native tongue. It was a melodious language, a bit like singing but slowly my ears became accustomed to its modulations. The first thing I tried to find out was the cause of his crash landing on this planet or in this reality. Stellar made a very unhappy face and shook his head; he couldn’t remember. Even his home planet was only a faint memory and if he had left loved ones behind, he couldn’t tell. All he knew was the pain in his heart, the longing for something untouchable and a rush of panic sometimes, one that he tried to hide and keep under control. So for now, our best shot was to teach him about Earth and move out to the lighthouse, far from the curious eyes of the villagers.

Needless to say that Mrs. Pickett was at my door soon as I got home that first day. She was eager to see my….cousin.

-Oh, Iris-she said as she slipped inside the house-I was so worried, my dear girl. You are alone here, with this wilderness behind the house so I was so frightened to see a shadow moving behind the shadings. I heard that it was your cousin….I’m sorry for making all that fuss, but you do understand my concerns, don’t you?

I smirked and sat her down, poured her a tea and satisfied her curiosity.

-Mrs. Pickett, I appreciate your care and concern for me but please, next time you call me first.

She smiles sheepishly and asked between two sips of tea.

-And when did your cousin arrive? I haven’t seen a car the whole day passing by….

-He arrived late this night so I assume you were sleeping by then-I replied.

“ Nosy old biddy…”- added my mind.

-And he still needs to adjust to our time zone. He’s from abroad and he’s not speaking our language very well. You’ll excuse us?-I said with the sweetest smile, as I lead her to the door.

I could clearly see that she wanted to stay more, hoping to get a glimpse of my so called relative but she gave up finally and I closed the door firmly behind her. As I turned, Stellar was sitting on the sofa with a grin on his face and I laughed to. Humans are all the same, regardless of the planet they come from. Curious neighbors are everywhere, much to the annoyance and the amusement of those becoming the subject of their curiosity. But there was a silver lining to all of this; Mrs. Pickett spread the news about my visiting cousin around the village so I could purchase him a few new shirts and trousers without any more explanations or raised eyebrows.

 

Curiosity killed the cat and Mrs. Pickett couldn’t help but kept spying on my house to get a glimpse of my elusive cousin. Stellar was staying indoor while I was at work and even after my return, we used to stay in the garden behind the house only late at night. Stellar seemed to slowly regain his memory though it was far from whole. He was curious about the lighthouse and the prospective of moving there. But the day before moving, the meeting of third degree took place between Stellar and Mrs. Pickett. She was lurking around the house early in the morning, pretending to check on the rose bushes. Well, it looked like most of the roses were in trouble around the windows; strange, isn’t it?

The curious, mousy lady leaned close to the window and shaded her eyes with a cupped hand; she forced her vision to discern what was inside the living and….She jumped off with a sharp cry, stumbled, quickly turned and ran away. The young man looking at her from inside shrugged then returned to the sofa where he was leafing through a book. I don’t know what she was expecting to see inside but I can assure you that there was nothing frightening in Stellar’s appearance. Maybe his flickering, mesmerizing green eyes were otherworldly…Anyway, Mrs. Pickett has never in her life ran so fast home. She unlocked her door with trembling hands, locked it from inside and put the chain to, then collapsed in the armchair.

“ Aliens!-she mumbled. The aliens are invading us!”

That evening my Mom called.

-Hello, Iris. I just got a call from your neighbor, Mrs. Pickett. She sounded worried and frantic. She asked me about your cousin from abroad….

-Oh, Mom….you know that lonely, elderly ladies tend to be unhealthily curious about others. I have a friend here and I didn’t want the whole village to worry about my status…-I chuckled.

Mom laughed.

-I know and though you always had the strangest choices and ideas, I know for sure that you’re not a fool. So, I’ve told that the young man is my step-sister’s son and that he has been raised in a faraway country. She calmed down a bit but I think she still kept some doubts about him. Anyway, I just wanted to warn you…not everyone shares you open mind and heart. Take care, my dear and call me sometimes, ok?

-Yes, Mom and thank you. Don’t worry, he’s not a green-skinned alien and he won’t eat me. I’m quite hard to swallow.

-Interesting that you say this; she kept repeating that she was thinking he’s an alien from space, an invader…Greeting to your interstellar friend and keep me posted, will you?

-Good night, Mom. I love you to!

So after this conversation I called Stellar, we packed up quickly and left by the car. The night was arching above us, the Milky Way in full diamond blaze. Stellar was silent and lost in thoughts. Despite the scarcity of communication in words, we seemed to be already connected on a deeper level and we could anticipate what the other one intended. The country road crisscrossed like a dark serpent, hidden in the lavender field then opened a bit to end finally at the lighthouse. The sea was whispering not too far, gently washing the shore. We stepped out of the car and Stellar raised his eyes to the top of the tower. Even in the dim light I could read the amazement and awe on his face. This soaring, slender building seemed to resonate deep inside him. He took a deep breath and exhaled, trembling of the mix of emotions building up inside him. He whispered something in his language, repeating it over and over again.

“ Hikari…Hikari…”

I touched him gently on the shoulder.

-Come-I said, taking him by the hand. Let me show you something.

He followed me like in a trance. We climbed to stairs till we reached the exit on the top. I’ve opened wide the door and we stepped out on the circular balcony. The sea was rocking slowly bellow, the stars were sparkling above us. Diamond lights were glittering on the tips of the waves, the galaxy of stars above mirrored by the galaxy rolling in and out of the shore.

-Watch this-I said and I connected the lighthouse circuits. The light bulb came to life in full blaze and started to rotate in its own rhythm: Light-dark-light-light-dark, light-dark-light-light-dark, light-dark-light-light-dark…Magic filled the air and my companion was overwhelmed by its touch. He was gasping for air and tears were running down his face.

“Home…”-the words stumbled out of his mouth in pain. His home was in the light and he had fallen out of it through the darkness. We stood there for hours, tracing the trail of stars in the dark ocean of air…He was holding my hand, squeezing hard in those moments when the remembrance of his lost home washed over him. At the end of these hours, he finally regained his composure, the flow of the emotions returned to the riverbed and he was able to talk without falling apart.

“ My home is different from what you’d think….yet we are just like you, humans. Same dreams and hopes, same failures. We inhabit the light and our home is in and out of your reality. There are passageways leading to the tangible, material worlds and you can reach us as well….in time.”

Stellar’s voice was softening while he was speaking about his world. He seemed lost in an untouchable distance, drifting on the currents of the Space, through the depths and heights of the Universe. He shook his head and turned to me.

-I love this tower of light. I’d love to stay here; I’m sorry if I scared off that little lady. Am I so different? I don’t seem to realize…Tell me, please Iris. Is there anything wrong with me?

-You look pretty much human to me-I said with a reassuring smile. You also have beautiful eyes but it’s probably their flickering that freaked out Mrs. Pickett.

Stellar’s face turned serious and concerned.

-I did not realize that. My eyes are extremely sensitive and they see beyond what humans see, so they have a specific movement. Oh, poor old lady…She was running fast for her age….

I couldn’t help but laugh, imagining her speeding up….then I felt sorry and also worried. Fear bears monsters and none of us needed complications right now. We resumed our talk and left the light on the top to send its messages towards the sails of the sea and to those of the blinking stars. The first night spent in the lighthouse was filled with strange dreams…What had caused the fall of the very special person Stellar was? Who or whose fault was this exile into the material world? My mind was turning, trying to figure out what might have happened…and then, I fell into the bottomless abyss of dreams.

“ My birth was foretold by many strange signs. Light creatures as may be, we have our share of bodily existence so we have our home planets and a life that is basically the same as in every human community. So, days before I came into this world, long, thick streaks of mist filled the valley where we lived, dimming the sunlight during the day and turning into strangely phosphorescent ones in the night. My parents grew anxious, fearing something bad that could happen to both mother and child. A local Wise Woman came to our house and drew some protective patterns, just like your colorful Mandalas. But Nature refused to comply and by late evening my mother was transported to the local House of Birth in Light. “

Stellar stopped for a moment and his voice trailed a bit…

“ I am not sure if I was born to be a blessing or a curse for them….” The sadness of the sentence cut inside me as I was sitting next to him on the top of the lighthouse, listening to the history of my interstellar kin.

-Oh, shhht, Stellar….No child is born for the misfortune of his parents. It’s what we turn it into for obscure, awful reasons. Children are pure light of love embodied, a gift that should be treasured and protected until it grows and opens in full beauty.

He sighed.

“If you say so…”

A shooting star crossed the canvas of the night sky, sizzling in electric blue before it faded into the shadows.

“ So, moments before midnight, as the line separating light and dark passed above us, the sky cleared and let the light shine….bringing me into it. They said that just like the awkward moment of my birth, I was caught between the realms of life and nothingness, stubbornly clinging to the thin thread of life. Days and weeks passed before people around became certain of my victory above oblivion. It was only then that they named me. I have been…nonexistent during my battle; a tiny entity with no name, no identity.”

There was another break in Stellar’s story and I suddenly felt strongly attached to his fate. The unveiling of his previous history exerted a strong pull upon the intimate strings of my heart. The feeling that this encounter was holding more substance than it appeared at first was becoming stronger with each memory shared. I looked at him and saw his jaw tightening. You could tell from his expression that he was becoming aware for the first time of the reality he was talking about. Gloom was setting upon us and I was decided to fight it. I grinned and placed a hand on his shoulder.

-You won the fight for life against all odds! Maybe you’re more resourceful than you know…Come, let’s cook something before hunger will kill us both. The past might have long shadows but we could easily succumb to the dangers of the present if we’re not fit to face them.

I never thought that I could have smooth tongue. First time in the morning, Constable Patrick Calahan was knocking on the door of the lighthouse.

 

The young red-headed Constable was both annoyed and slightly ashamed. He loved his job as guardian of the citizens of his small and sleepy village. He was born here and has grown climbing each and every tree and jumping the neighbors’ fences. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. He could remember a younger Mrs. Pickett, not so crazed by loneliness and way more understanding towards others. Alas, that was the past! Now, Mrs. Pickett kept nagging him, calling day by day to tell him that an Alien invasion was taking place right under his nose and that Iris Grey from the Lighthouse Post was in cahoots with them. He has tried to calm her down, to ignore her, to argue with her but nothing seemed to work this time. So when the elderly lady threatened to call his superiors in the city, he took his motorcycle and drove to the Lighthouse. Iris had recently moved there for the summer. Patrick liked her because she was funny, open minded and she was helping him with his love letters. The lady of his heart was teaching at the kindergarten and seemed to appreciate the Constable’s romantic writings…well adjusted by the skillful Iris. The young man was desperately trying to keep things under control and minimize the damages.

The sun was stretching its first rays above the faint mist of the early morning when Patrick knocked on the door, wondering what on Earth he could say to her….Luckily, Iris already guessed and chuckled:

-Early visitor, Patrick? Mrs. Pickett couldn’t sleep and sent you on wild goose chase?

The policeman reddened and coughed to hide his embarrassment.

-Eh, you know her well, Iris….She keeps nagging me so I came to talk.

-Get in and have a seat, Constable Calahan. I have a tea for you.

She poured tea for her and Patrick and sat on the couch, facing him.

-Well?

– I’d like to talk with your cousin, Iris. Hey, don’t laugh; I’m serious. I have to do this properly or Mrs. Pickett will keep up with her story about the Alien Invasion. Does your cousin have a passport or some ID ?

Iris raised her eyebrows questioningly.

-Seriously? You want my cousin to prove you he’s not an alien or what?

There was a clear tint of irony in her voice and Patrick almost choked on the sip of tea he was taking. He coughed and shook his head in denial. He felt stupid.

-Good morning! I hope I’m not intruding…

The voice was pleasant and calm, situated between a deep baritone and a velvety alto. The young Constable turned and faced the newcomer. It was a tall and well built young man, with spiky, black hair, tanned complexion and…sunglasses. Which was very odd, considering that they were inside the lighthouse.

-I’m Stellar, Iris’ cousin. I understood you wanted to see me-said the stranger and smiled.

To Patrick the young man looked harmless; he was just another slightly punkish city-dweller, probably an artist considering the haircut and the sunglasses. He stood up and they shook hands. The grip was firm and manly and nothing in the appearance of the cousin made him think of an alien…not that the Constable would admit such nonsense anyway. Iris poured a tea for her cousin and now they were enjoying it in a trio.

-So, how long do you intend to stay in our village, Stellar?

The question stumbled out of his mouth in a very “police” manner and for a moment Patrick cursed his lack of subtlety. But the other one didn’t seem troubled by that; he took a sip of the tea and took off his sunglasses, before answering the question.

-You have a lovely village and this lighthouse is a fascinating place to live-he said, looking at the Constable sidewise. But I am a kind of a wanderer, in search for new horizons so you can tell that nice old lady that I won’t disturb her premises for long.

Patrick grinned and put down his empty cup.

-Thank you, Iris. I’m sorry for disturbing you so early. Have a nice vacation, Stellar and no problem. I’ll calm down Mrs. Pickett somehow.

He left with a sense of relief. This guy was pretty normal and Iris didn’t get mad either for intruding. Patrick sighed; at least he can come back later with another draft of his love-letter…Oh, and he’d pay a visit to Mrs. Pickett and charm her until things settle peacefully.

The moment Patrick closed the door behind him, I slammed my cup to the table.

-Oh! Right now I wish I was an alien and eat Mrs. Picket piece by piece!

I’ve heard Stellar chuckling and turned to him.

-I hope you were joking about leaving this place so soon-I said.

He shook his head smiling a bit sadly.

-I still don’t know what brought me here and if I left my planet as an exiled or an escapee. So, you’ll have to “endure” my presence for a while….I said that only to calm down the Constable and take him off your back.

We both laughed and then I descended to the office. A new day was opening its wings.

 

The Universe is a strange place, full of breathtaking beauty and chilling dangers. Life is one of the mysteries yet to be unraveled; it’s so bold and creative, conquering the hardest spots of a planet. But life is also fragile and easily shattered, wiped out, erased, crushed and sent into oblivion. Then, when it comes about intelligent, sentient, self-aware creatures, things get even more complicated. Emerging from inside a reign that is ruled by the harsh and objective laws of nature, of the survival of the fittest, boldest and most creative in solving the quests of life, humans, just like any other ones similar to them are carrying this spirit, while building a society of their own, based on principles that on many aspects collide with these natural instincts.

Thirst for power, greed, ruthless actions deemed to gain advantage before anyone, at any costs….these attitudes, though come from the basic instinct and competitiveness of the species, are rejected and repudiated, conflicting with the moral principles that allowed humanity to continuously rise above itself. But principles are one thing, individuals are something else. And these insidious flaws rise sometimes where you expect the less.

The child that has fought so hard to gain his right to love and light grew oblivious of the long row of challenges waiting ahead. As any other child, he was a chalice of emotions and had beautiful eyes wide open towards the miracles of the world around him. And just like the moment of his birth, he was charming and joyful, yet hard to bend; he was a real personality, a miniature one, but undeniable. A handful. A twinkling little star. The Universe spread its wings of blazing galaxies and took him under its protective magic. This resulted in an even more powerful personal aura, spreading around the child, then teenager and young adult. And the more he was shining, the more attention and love he attracted, the more envy and animosity it generated in some of those meant to love and protect him. We are born into this world and we learn to face its challenges….unless they come from our loved ones. By the time the Child of One Star became a full grown adult, his pure, translucent core was a diamond that has been battered, crushed, shattered, cracked by the darkest forces lurking in the Universe….and it was still shining through all the scarred facets like a true star. Nothing and no one could ever take away his gift of love and light. Connected through an invisible thread to the fountain of light, he was rising above hurt and pain, reborn like the flaming Phoenix. So, one day his enemy…(or enemies? ) pushed him into a ravine of darkness opened into the flesh of Space, hoping to get rid of him. And he fell….in a tree in the middle of a lavender field.

 

You might wonder how come that Stellar and me, we got to speak so easily; after all, he didn’t speak my language at first. Well, he was a fast learner, that’s for sure. From what I could see and understand, once connected to me, his mind was reading and adjusting to my mind as words and thoughts were forming and emerging. The complexity of the mind surpasses the complexity of the visible Universe. It has patterns and leaps that are yet to be discovered and understood. For now, it works on the thin border between science and magic….’cause each mystery encompasses magic. The perfect shape of a translucent rain drop falling from the ethereal skies is magic, though science can trace its birth and describe its logic. Magic and beauty are children of the same fountain of dreams of light.

So, the beautiful mind of Stellar kept reading and echoing my lines of light until we came to understand each other beyond words and also learned to speak the same language. After Patrick’s visit, days of peacefulness came and we both breathed more easily. I kept working downstairs, making my little office useful in connecting people, while upstairs Stellar was reading, learning and gradually recovering pieces of his memory. He shared these fragile moments of the puzzle as we walked along the shore, in the soft summer nights. What I have learned firsthand was that despite moments of deep despair or burning pain, his willingness of giving and caring remained unbroken. And that resonated deeply inside me and made him so precious to my heart.

-When I said that the Lighthouse is an amazing place, I meant it-he said one night, as we walked barefoot through the bubbling waves washing the shore. We have something similar to them at home, though at another scale. Something tells me that this particular one is placed in a meeting point of light that will reveal itself at the necessary moment.

-If that is true then maybe Mrs. Pickett’s concerns were more real than she knew-I said with a grin.

-Huh…I never thought about it that way…- replied Stellar and turned serious. I wouldn’t want my people to mess up your planet.

-Let’s hope they won’t and that I might scare them as well to go back at high speed. I could become pretty nasty if it’s needed, you know!

He looked at me for a moment then laughed.

-I’m not sure I would like to see that…but let’s say that I believe you.

We followed our walk in good mood. What was lurking in the depths of Space, we weren’t aware. Not yet.

 

In my dream I was walking in a forest, through a strange, narrow tunnel bordered by tall, strong trees, with branches entwined above like the fingers of wooden hands. Under my feet, the thick, old roots were also holding each other in an awkward pattern that resembled closely that of the canopy. After a while, the feeling that I was stepping on warm, living fingers became stronger and the fact that the tunnel was slowly closing on me just added to my anxiety. My only hope was in the light I was following, a bluish twinkling that kept calling me from the depth of the corridor. The rhythm of the sap rising and descending the row of tree columns sounded like a magic drum…or was it just my heartbeat? I couldn’t discern and separate them, my heart was beating wildly in my chest…but it was beating inside each tree as well. I closed my eyes for a moment and…the pounding became clearer and I heard Stellar calling me.

-Iris! Iris! Wake up!

Suddenly I was awake and back to reality. I jumped from the bed and ran to the door. It became clear that the sounds from my dream were in fact the knocks on my door. I quickly opened the door and faced Stellar. He was deeply troubled by something. He took me by the hand and we ran upstairs, until we reached the top of the lighthouse. It was past midnight, the Moon was nowhere to see and even the star light was dimmed by the sheen of vapor all over the sky. It was warm and the air felt sticky; I found difficult to breathe…Something was terribly wrong. But what?!

Stellar was scrutinizing the skies, murmuring.

-It’s here somewhere, it’s here, I can sense it…Oh! Why can’t I remember?!!!

The moment he cried out, the sky cracked with a deafening thunder and Space opened for a moment before us. I froze for a moment and I was unable to make some sense of the swirl of light and darkness inside that crack. But for Stellar that was a familiar appearance and not a pleasant one it seemed.

-Oh, no, you won’t!-he shouted and leaped forward. He turned for a moment-“I’ll be back!”-and then disappeared, while the crack closed without trace. I leaned against the wall, trembling. Tears were streaming from my eyes but I didn’t dare even to blink. I was afraid that I might lose Stellar’s image and that I would wake up from this unbelievable dream to a reality where he doesn’t even exist….

 

So you think that this was a dream and that living in a Lighthouse, far from the rush and rumble of social life makes me imagine things? Huh, no, my friends! And this wasn’t the result of an extra glass of wine, one too much….Not. The moment I descended the top and walked pass the second bedroom I painfully realized that whatever happened during all these days and weeks, it has been real. The moment of loss became even clearer and the pain sharp and persistent. Why? You ask me why? That I knew almost nothing about him and why the pain?

Oh, but the logic of the heart is widely different of the logic that makes our mind tick. I think I was hooked, if not when he fell through the tree, then when he stood up, confused, covered in leaves and sticks, yet holding all that charm that was coming from a depth only the heart can reach and read. Then, there was something else. You haven’t seen the dramatic change in his composure and whole appearance the moment he faced the display of light and darkness inside that opening. That Stellar was holding a duality it has became visible in many scattered moments spent together. This time, the change was poignant: the face of a Goddess in rage was facing the other world and shouting her rightful protest! Stellar-Stella, a unity of harmonious two-spirits, looking back at me with the unsure promise of returning….I wiped off my tears and blinked only when I became sure that the image captured on my retina was  truthfully engraved in the memory of my mind and soul. I went into Stella(r)’s room and sat on the bed; there was an open book there with white, empty pages. Why would anyone have an unwritten book, I wondered, and where did it come from? It was hard-covered and the cover was empty as well. But the moment I touched it, it came to life…and then, I understood: it was a personal diary, one that held the history of the slow recovering of Stella(r)’s memory. So I started to read it carefully…

 

The world of the Creatures of Light was an old and powerful one, with a rich history that resembled in many ways to the one of Humanity.  It had planets and a life-giving star; it had this intelligent species that adapted, evolved then reshaped its environment according to its more and more refined taste and needs. And with the success came the feeling that they were some unique and perfect creatures, way above anything around them, compared only to the purity of the light they came to worship and join. And when they decided that the world they imagined was surpassing any other reality in perfection, they created a system to support, sustain and enforce this particular reality on the imperfection that still lingered around….in the real world.

The law of purity and perfection applied to each of them as members of the People of Light; any variation within it became unthinkable. But reality doesn’t give a damn’ of what any cocky population of intelligent but delusional creatures thinks. So, Reality gives birth to the uncommon, to the rebellious, to the misfit, to the anarchist, to the necessary diversity inside unity. Unity in diversity is the norm of life, no matter where it sprouts or emerges or springs into the world. This peculiar world of perfectionists faced its challenges on a regular basis; but the Guardians of Purity fought back, using anything at hand to battle any…abomination. That’s what they called it: abomination. At first, they kept them hidden, but that became too dangerous. So the High Council decided to strip these unfortunate members of the society from their usual body shape and transferred the essence of their light into the trees that were planted on a neighboring planet. In time, the forest conquered more and more of the surface of that planet, its roots and branches entwining like strong fingers of hundreds of hands. By the time Stella(r) was born, exiling the different ones was already a custom.

The child that was born that strange night was oblivious of the dark shadows and the ugliness of the world around. They eyes of children are set to see the magic and beauty; Stella(r) was a gifted and sensitive child, joyful and energetic like a butterfly emerged from the cocoon. That he was not fitting in his world became evident as he was growing. His step-father was a highly regarded member of their society, powerful and influent. But he was also a fervent supporter of the Law of Exile. When it became clear that his boisterous step-son was a candidate for exile, he was furious. The confrontation turned ugly and the young man fled the house before his father could call the guards to take him into custody.

But hiding from the People of Light was something near impossible; they were easily detecting the light-signature of each person and changing to their shining form of rays, travelled fast on the tracks. In Stella(r)’s case, Reality stepped in and opened a crack in the fabric of Time-Space; the young fugitive escaped….falling from the skies. Whatever they has seen inside that window opened by the lightning the previous night, it was serious enough for Stella(r) to risk their safety and their life. I shut the journal with the hope that they would be safe. My innermost feeling was that my goodwill and protective thoughts would travel along that invisible thread connecting us and shield Stella(r) from harm. Outside the sky was turning pink; the sun was ready to hop above the thin line of the horizon and start anew day. I set my cell phone to wake me up in time and I curled up in bed to catch a bit of sleep. “What is happening there?”-was my last thought before the dark waters of sleep engulfed me.

 

The planet of exile was almost entirely covered by this strange, living forest. Tree connected to tree and one captive soul entwined with the other captive one, like fingers of many hands and like crossroads of a highly complex, neuronal network. The strong roots dived into the depths of the planet, extracting the dissolved essence of life, turning forest and planet into a powerful entity, with a mindset of its own. And I can tell you, it wasn’t a happy one. Though the age of constituents was diverse, on the whole, the mind of the planetary forest was one of a young adult, barely out of its teenage turbulence. With all the heated passion and rebellion of a youth, the pain of the rejected and abandoned child and lacking the equilibrium of a reality check, the new entity sought revenge upon those who turned their children, those considered ”imperfect” into exiles locked up in the motionless vegetal bodies. And it started by developing a powerful aura, learning to use it and to point it towards the home planet, disrupting the comfortable lives of the “perfect” ones. The Entity interfered with the light-communications, altering messages or even shutting them down. Its effects on the life of its kin became annoying to the point that sanctions were demanded by many of the citizens. Yes, there were voices against the retaliation because, after all, the Entity was encompassing the unfortunate children of many families. Still, these voices were faint and unconvincing ( …or unconvinced ?), so after a series of heated debates, the High Council decided to blast off the planet of the Entity. They worked in total secrecy, shadowing their thoughts and plans from the reach of the enemy. They were about to launch an undetectable army of robotic ships to detonate high powered bombs that would make the planet implode when the Space split, connecting Stella(r) to the gathering of the High Council.

How did he read the intention of those people eludes my comprehension. Maybe there is some Universal Justice or it was his passionate core that resonated through the distance and made him sense the danger. Inside the young man I knew a Goddess of flaming Power of Justice was living and she was ready to face her fellows and stop them. Were we there, we would’ve seen only the unleashing of high columns of blazing, blinding lights. The confrontation of the People of Light resembled in many aspects to the dynamic of the Sun

-Oh no, you won’t!

The shout of the young Goddess cut sharply through the humming of the discussions at the table of the High Council. Counselor Enegar raised his eyes to see the intruder. Facing the familiar features, he turned white and swallowed; he was hoping to never see him/her again. The counselor stood up slowly, confronting the intruder while all the eyes turned to them.

-What are you doing here?-he growled. Why did you come back?!

The Goddess stopped at the table, slamming her fist on the smooth surface. Her eyes were sparkling with anger.

-I came to stop you from murdering your children for the second time! What is wrong with you, People of Light?! Have you turned into a nation of coldhearted criminals?! Is that what you really want to do?! Wipe out an entire planet and kill all your unfortunate, rejected children? Why?! Wasn’t enough that you denied us, chased us down, stripped us from our identity and exiled us?! Who gave you this right?!

Enegar leaned forward, spewing out his hatred.

-You are abominations! Your existence is an offense to the Purity of the Light!

Stella(r) shook her head.

-Is it ?!-she cried out bitterly. How do you know that? Has the Light spoken to you personally, pointing out me or the others as failures, or it’s just your fear and your greed talking in Its name? You!…You have  trashed  me and crushed me hoping to break my will, my heart, my soul! I was a child! You were supposed to protect me! All of you! You have betrayed your own children! They were trusting you! What light is that you’re claiming to hold, if it comes so easy for you to dispose of your own flesh and blood?!!!

Having to listen to Stella (r)’s speech, the counselors were shifting uneasily in their seats. Some of them protested or rallied to Enegar’s accusations.

-What are you talking about, Stellar? You’re a Shifter, an Impure! How can you understand our high standars? Go away! Those like you have brought shame to our families! And they are still causing disruption to this decent world! Look what they’ve done!

-Foolish youth!-sneered Enegar. You’ll end up with them! I’m glad you came back so I can finish with you for good!

-I don’t think so!-said Stella(r). I am not a child anymore. You cannot bully me and I won’t let you hurt anyone anymore!

Enegar’s fury rose high and he turned into a column of fire, launching towards Stella(r). She jumped aside and changed shape almost instantly, her sizzling-blue fire clashing with the flames of rage that were his/her step-father. People in the room fled the scene, hiding from the heat of the battle. The columns of flames turned into fire birds and the Red and the Blue Phoenix were chasing each other at high speed, clashing in fountains of fiery sparks, pushing each other back and forth, swirling, biting and screeching. The Crimson bird was strong, cunning and aggressive, while the Electric-Blue one was bold, determined and mobile. The balance of powers and skills was almost even so it was hard to determine who would win the fight.

-Bastard!-growled Enegar, slashing the blue wing that has just hit him in the face.

The Blue Phoenix dived instantly, retreating only to change direction and emerge behind his sworn enemy.

-Murderer!-she hissed. Monster! Your greed is insatiable!

 

And while inside the chambers of the High Council the fight continued, shaking the whole building, in the cold embrace of the Space the Entity woke up in alert. The sense of danger was tangible, yet it was impossible to detect the source. The Entity spread its sensors throughout the space surrounding the planet but it seemed that there was nothing to detect. Have you ever had the feeling that something or someone is hiding behind you and you know it’s there but you cannot see it because it is positioned in your blind spot? Well, it was exactly how the Entity felt at that moment. Aside of being annoying, it was a frightening sensation and fear is not easy to handle. It’s one of the most destructive feelings, one that could easily bring anyone close to paranoia. And right in that moment, an intelligent but immature planetary entity was getting bit by bit paranoid. That was a recipe for disaster, for sure. But the threat wasn’t coming from where everybody expected. Randomness is a law of the Universe and things just happen. A Cosmic tidal wave of scorching energies was heading towards this particular place, threatening to wipe out any form of life, even the People of Light living in that special niche of their own. The emotionally highly strung Entity was the first to sense it, but Its mindset was directed towards the home-planet, so It kept scrutinizing that area, getting gradually nervous, then angry and finally, mad. Hell broke loose when powerful beam of energy hit the home-planet while its rulers were ducking from the responsibility of having caused that indirectly. It was a dangerous moment and Stella(r)’s double-set mind captured it at the limit. She gathered all her strength, charged from behind and slammed the Crimson Phoenix to the ground with a power that left Enegar unconscious. She then returned to her usual shape and stormed out the door, speed along the corridor and reaching the door of the Operation Room, banged the door to the wall, shouting:

-Don’t launch them!!!! Let me talk to It! Please….

The Commander of the Fleet looked questioningly to the eldest Counselor; the man raised a hand, stopping the operation then turned to Stella(r).

-Give it a try, young man. I hope you succeed. We have made enough mistakes.

-Thank you, Counselor Shiro.

She sat down on the floor, eyes closed and holding out both palms wide open, like touching an invisible wall. She dived inside her/his mind, both sides connecting and reaching out to the complex mind of the Entity.

Engulfed by Its fury, the Entity was sending flashes of energy towards the home that has been denied to It, determined to disrupt the society of cold, heartless Perfection and maybe even destroy those who deeming their “different” children as worthless, treated them as objects and dumped them. In the heat of the action it was hard to listen to the faint call addressed to the collective mind but after a while, Stella(r)’s voice reached the cognitive core.

-Stop! Stop doing that! Listen to me, please!

A small, very young voice replied in Stella(r)’s mind.

-Who are you?

-I am one of yours-came the answer in a calm tone. Please, listen to me. We have to talk.

-Are you on…Home?

-Yes. I was a fugitive but I came back to stop this madness. You don’t have to fear Home; they agreed not to reply to your attack.

-But I feel danger! It’s closing on me and I cannot see it! This must be them! It’s nobody else close to me except for them! I have to stop them! They hurt us! They hurt us all! I have to stop it!

-No! Listen to me! Let me connect closer and help you search for the source of danger. I seem to have a gift for that. I am a Shifter!

There was a short moment of silence.

-I will open the connection for you, Shifter. People like you are very rare and talented. How may I call you?

-I’m Stella(r). I have the connection; let me reach out in Space. Let’s see what’s wrong.

The High Tide was rolling through the cosmos at the speed of light, rising up the fiery star-dust, rippling through the fabric of Space and Time, breaking havoc in star-clusters and solar systems. There were no inhabited areas there, so the damage, though of cosmic proportion didn’t affect life. But it was heading towards Home and the Entity and time was running short. The discovering of the threat came as a shock to everyone. Suddenly, all their fights and confrontations became obsolete…Were these moments the last ones to live? Was their civilization going to disappear without a trace? Why did they waste the lives of so many youth in the name of some Chimaeras, instead of holding them close and loving them for who and how they were? Painful questions, ones that should be addressed by each intelligent, sentient being before it becomes too late. Humanity has this inherent tendency of forgetting the true values of love, care, empathy and mutual respect. There are so many things to reconsider in our current history…

But on the planet of the People of Light there was no time to philosophize over these problems. They were in urgent need of a solution. And that came from where they were not expecting. The Entity. It called Stella(r).

-Hey, my friend. I thought of something.

 

The members of the High Council gathered in the Operation Room and Stella(r) was invited to represent the Entity. At Its suggestion, they developed a multi-layered protective field with a radius that encompassed the Entity to.

-Our Protective Field will be a composite one, since each member of the Entity has a different kind of Light and a personalized energy-signature. That would enable us to break down the Wave into smaller ripples and absorb most of its impact on our level-transmitted Stella(r).

-Then we take over what it’s left in the space between us and reflect-deflect it until it would lose its destructive power. If we work in harmony, we might escape with the minimum of damages. Let’s start building this up. Time is desperately short!

They stood up to leave when Enegar entered the room. He looked disheveled and angry. The moment he saw his step-son, he rushed towards him with the intention of hitting the young man.

-What is he doing here?!-shouted the Counselor. Guards! Guards! Take him!

-Calm down, my friend-said Counselor Shiro, grabbing the angry man by the shoulders and pushing him gently away from the young man. Your son is helping us; he’s our connection to the Entity.

-But…but…he’s a Shifter, an abomination…a…

-Things have drastically changed while you were passed out, Counselor. I suggest that you go home and get a good sleep. There’s no time for explanations. I have some tactics to work out with your son, so if you’ll excuse us…

The elder of the Council turned his back on the shocked man, took the young man and left the room. Counselor Enegar left also….he left history on the back door. The Cosmic Tide arrived and broke down on the series of power-field breaker set by the People of the Light and the Entity, united. Days after peace returned in the area, the High Council retracted the law discriminating the Different Ones, acknowledging the value of their uniqueness and wowing to find a technical solution to give back the bodily identity of those who decided to leave the entity and return home. They even offered a seat in the High Council to Stella(r), now that his step-father resigned.

-I am honored by your offer but I am not a politician. I feel more like a wanderer. And I still have a promise to fulfill. There is someone waiting for me…

A few weeks passed in the adjusting and repairing on both planets, in connecting the Entity to the communication system of Home, in telling people the whole truth, in fighting the arguments and winning them. Stella(r) was busy as a bee but always keeping alert, waiting for a special storm to come.

 

The days and weeks I’ve spent alone in the lighthouse melted into a slow flow, making me feel like I was stuck in the middle of a river of honey, unable to get out or at least to convince this Time-jelly to move a bit faster. Oh well, if you cannot change it, you put up a smiling face and keep yourself busy (while your inner eye is set on catching the faintest signal from above). Though my cheerful mood and happy face worked well for most of the people, Patrick wasn’t so easy to fool. He kept visiting me, bringing his latest letters and poetry for checking and he used to give me that incredulous look.

-Iris, you don’t fool me.

-What are you talking about?-I said, leafing through his writings.

-I say that you have put up this brave attitude for the public eye, but ever since your…cousin left, there is a shadow in your eyes.

I looked at him, grinned and shook my head.

-You don’t expect me to confess, do you?

He chuckled.

-No. I was just checking. But I have a long history of heartache, so I know when I see it in others.

-Well, I praise you sharp intuition but I would suggest you ask your sweetheart to marry you before you write a whole Saga, while somebody else might be more practical and marry her.

He reddened and then we both laughed.

-You’re right, Iris. I’ll do it soon. I hope your cousin will return soon. I liked that chap.

We parted in good mood. The day was warm, maybe a touch too warm for this time of the year. The office was empty so I left  and walked down to the shore. The sea was lazily rocking under the sun, the white sparks dancing on the rippling waves like little fire elves. Splashing and rolling around my bare feet, the warm, translucent fingers of the sea were leaving behind colorful sea-shells and small, smooth pebbles. I picked some and rolled them absentmindedly in my palms…Where was my wandering alien? Something in the air was telling me that he/she cannot be far from here. But was this true or it was just my wishful thinking? The air was becoming gradually heavy with overheated vapors and a storm was building up inside the far horizon. I returned to the Post Office with the feeling that something was brewing inside my Reality.

By evening the sky turned dark and restless, the convoluted patches of clouds moving hectically. The unrest spread also over the sea and her voice became louder and louder. As the wind rose from the distance, rushing in blows above the liquid fields, the waves surged to the skies with hungry fingers and then rolled on towards the shores in rows of heavy walls. As I lit up the lighthouse, the skies cracked and the lightning net spread across the whole dark canvas, followed by the loud voice of the thunder. The beam of the tower reached deep into the core of the storm and at that point, Space split, pushed from inside by a phosphorescent bullet of energy.

It was heading at high speed towards the shore, guiding itself by the signals of the lighthouse. It wasn’t just a speck of light. It zigzagged above the turmoil of the waters, avoiding most of the splashing waves and it jumped aside each time the lightning hit, like in a game of cat and mouse. I couldn’t take my eyes of it; my heart was beating wildly. As the dot of light got closer, its shape became clearer and I had no more doubts. Just this time, “cousin” Stella(r) wasn’t landing through a tree.  I ran down the stairs, banged the door open and rushed to shore just in time to witness the power-field capsule splashing into the water a few steps from the shore. Stella(r) emerged inside the outburst of light, wet and shaking his head but safe.

-I  have a feeling that you have developed a taste for dramatic entering-I said with a smile.

-Uhm-he mumbled with a grimace, then spit. Agh-he said, half laughing, the sand doesn’t taste better than the leaves! Well, I am back at least!

A large wave hit the shore and splashed us wet. We stood there, facing each other and laughed.

-Come-I said, let’s dry up with a tea. Welcome home, stranger.

 

The morning caught us sitting on the top of the lighthouse, wrapped in a blanket and talking, talking, talking…My cell phone rang; it was Patrick.

-Good morning, Iris. Has your cousin arrived?

Oh…I was stunned. How could he know that? I took a deep breath before answering.

-What makes you think that, Patrick?

He chuckled.

-There were some reports from a few fishermen caught in the storm. They’ve said that there was a strange ball of light crash-landing in the lighthouse area. Of course, Mrs. Pickett called to warn me again about the danger of alien invasion and your suspicious behavior. Anyway, I just called to invite both of you to my wedding next month. Have a nice day, Iris. Say hello from me to your cousin, will you?

-You bet-I said. Congratulations, Patrick! You can count us in.

He hung up and we stood there in comfortable silence, watching the first rays of the sun perching the soft mist floating above the sea. It was an intimate moment of unspoken sharing and cosmic equilibrium. No words were needed as we were already connected on a more subtle way, core deep. From inside the Lighthouse, Pixie emerged and purred himself in Stella(r)’s lap, placing a paw on my arm to. Heavenly peace and happiness. Who would want anything else?

Down in the village,  a perky old lady  was sitting on the porch with a cup of tea in her hands. She looked at the little red house in her neighborhood; it was silent and…lonely. Even the rose bushes seemed less enthusiastic in blossoming since the girl living in the house moved out to the shore. Mrs. Pickett sighed. She stood up and went inside. She took up the phone and dialed.

-Iris? Good morning, dear. I need a few stamps for a letter; do you think you could bring me some in the afternoon? And take that cousin of yours with you. I’ve made some chocolate-chip cookies….

So, this is it…for now. Who knows what would the future bring?

WATER STORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Ryuu teasingly tilted his head, smiling to Asami.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She stood up and kissed him.

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

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

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

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

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

The young merman sighed unhappily.

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

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

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

-Thank you, Father.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rose shook her head and smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryuu breathed out and laughed to.

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

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

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

Ryuu shook his head and smiled.

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

Rose’s face lighted up.

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

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

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

She kneeled before him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rose raised an eyebrow questioningly.

-I did what?-she asked.

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

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

Her sister made a funny face at this question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary kicked her lovingly.

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

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

-So, I have a groom. Ok.  We’ll see…

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

-What do you want, Jack?

Kept outside, the young man reddened.

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

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

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

Rose leaned slightly forward and looked into his eyes.

-I have made no such promises to you.

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

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

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

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

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

-I’m here, Rose. Please don’t cry…

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

-I’m sorry…I had an annoying day.

-Tell me what’s wrong.

Rose sighed.

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

The merman tilted his head questioningly.

-And what do YOU want?

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

Ryuu smiled playfully.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The older sister sighed; Rose was a bright girl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The young man was furious.

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

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

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

He leaned forward and grabbed her by the shoulders.

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

She pushed him angrily.

-Leave me alone!

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

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

-Nice outfit-he chuckled. She blushed.

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

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

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

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

She shook her head.

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

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

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

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

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

Ryuu smiled faintly.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The queen sighed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asami couldn’t stop asking.

-Is that land more beautiful than our kingdom?

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

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

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

Queen Amira was excited.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Why would it be impossible?

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

Ryuu sighed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The King sighed and shook his head.

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

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

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

The King was still undecided.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In pain, Anna turned against her husband.

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

Anna was stunned.

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

He sighed and embraced her gently.

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

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

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

Anna was still unhappy and annoyed.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

She smiled and ran her fingers over his face.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter sighed.

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

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

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

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