Two moons over, p.11
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       Two Moons Over, p.11

           Levi Shipley
 
solid. Crystal has been known of and used for a very long time. Long before Orion and Artemis, but never was there a black crystal. At least there was nothing noticeably different about it if it had been discovered. It is most commonly blue, green, or red but also has various other spectrums. Naturally it is clear, but minerals often shade it. Just never black.

  The two, being of great and honest intent, wanted to use this unique crystal to reform the world. Because crystal did not crumble with other materials and since this vein seemed very abundant, they mined until they obtained a grand stock. Orion had an ingot refined and began studying it. He observed that when he came in direct contact with it, his magical auras were siphoned. At the same time Artemis refined his own ingot and derived from his observation that direct contact sapped all of one’s strength. And both, being terribly remorseful for what they had done, thought of nothing but a panacea for their broken world. Moreover, the two desired to punish themselves for their ill deeds and spent increasingly longer sessions in the presence of the crystal. Until finally one day they went too far. Both had let the crystal fully take their souls from their bodies. The bodies, having no operator, were torn asunder by the cleaving of spirit and were consumed by blue ghost fires. In a sense they died without really dying. However, the crystals did not remain at rest. No, in fact they rumbled violently and resonated unsightly lights. You see their souls were using these ingots as conduits, but now their powers were honed and amplified into a single point of shear power and will: to restore the world.”

  “Are you going to get—” Arthur started but stopped when Marianna flicked his ear. Cecil thought that odd but admitted to himself that he knew very little about their relationship. Arthur drew an almost remorseful expression on his face.

  Frander furrowed his brow and continued, “The point? My fine fellow do-gooder, I have not even started in on current events.” He sighed and poured more tea into his cup from a second pot he had stowed under the table. Actually none of the werewolves were sure that it was tea. It must have been cold at the very least, but it gave off the same rank odor. “The few remaining followers of these men gathered around the crystals which were once their masters and attempted to break the hold on Orion’s and Artemis’s souls. When that failed, the stoutest and most arcane of them stepped out and tried to communicate with the lost spirits. This proved more successful and rendered to them a concept, of course being that of restoration. So the followers proceeded to cast the most potent of white magicks they knew upon the crystal ingots. It was at this point that the crystals further drew upon the surrounding energies and began to grow, rapidly. The slower remnants were thereby crushed, but the greater of haste picked up enough distance to escape and watch the black ingots levitate into the air.

  Still they enlarged ever faster but ascended likewise with due speed, leaving those on the ground safe and amazed. Before long the two were suspended in the night sky. Now the crystals changed color and shape, Orion’s a green moon and Artemis’s one of orange. What happened after was incredible. Trees grew up once more, the animals regained their health, and the world held tight and ceased to crumble. Men and woman ran with overflowing joy into the night or I suppose day on the other side of the world, thanking the two men for making amends, as the first thing to be restored was the hope in people’s hearts. Life returned.

  And it was by these two moons’ radiant beams that the world returned to itself once again. I cannot say for sure if this is a true story or not, as this is a tale older than Siegfried or even Trothos for that matter. Scientists these days will say that Orion is a chunk of debris that came from the planet Wyst and that Artemis is a comet that was caught in orbit. Personally I believe the legend, since it matches up better with the first records of black crystal and its uses. But no one can say for sure.”

  “How exactly does this help us?” Salina had been clawing at the table and left a sizable rut. Seeing this she began to tap her fingers and save some of the wood. She had more tolerance than Arthur but not when she lost sight of the point, if there was one to begin with.

  “I would hope in all the rambling that you noticed things that were not typical from your world.” Frander’s eyebrow rose all the way to his hairline, and his empty eyes widened.

  “The magic?” Nelrene mumbled. She was thinking, but her mouth decided to run alongside her thoughts. “It sounded like some kid story, so I assumed that the magic was fictional.” Her voice rose with her first intentional utterance, “Are you saying that magic here is a real thing?”

  “That is one point, yes.” Frander began, “I wanted you to see that this is more than a legend. Though it is disputed today, it’s a history. Your world wouldn’t even consider magic as part of history.”

  “Will we be able to use magic?” Cecil asked with bright eyes.

  Frander shrugged. “I can’t say for sure. You aren’t from this world, but maybe you can. One way or the other, you’re sure to encounter it on your travels at some point.”

  Nelrene flipped her empty mug on its lid and slid it toward Frander. “We would very much like to hear more, especially of the current.” She looked over at the dwarf with a warm smile that Cecil would later describe as the way one might look at a grandparent when they are too sleepy to stay awake in their rocker. It was a compassionate look which reminded Cecil of his mother and of Cathrine, and he better understood what pain must be shared between Hodge and her from their separation. It seemed that she continued once Cecil had enough time to register this, “But you must be tired now. Surely you have nothing to gain from exhaustion. Take a nap, and we’ll finish this talk tonight.”

  At this Frander fell asleep in his seat as if he had an off-switch that had just been flipped. He began snoring with a dry air similar to wind passing through trees. His head drifted down to the table as drool started to coalesce around his lips. Frander the Great and Wise was taking a beauty nap.

  Six

  Cecil stood outside the great oak as the rest found time killers. Arthur and Marianna walked into the woods together. Cecil did not bother asking why. He had strong suspicions and, if they were right, were none of his business to begin with. Salina was about a hundred feet in the opposite direction of where Arthur and Marianna went, catching and releasing squirrels either with her hands or with simple snares she made of twigs and soft bark. It was Nelrene that was closest to Cecil now. While he stood leaning on the oak on one side of the gap, she did likewise on the other side. At length he became restless and desired to talk to her.

  “How did you know he was tired?” He asked.

  “Oh that?” Nelrene responded as if caught off guard that he was still there. “There were muscle relaxers in the tea, strong ones. The kind that make most people go completely limp. He must have some kind of dystrophy or other pain related ailment.”

  “And you detected it? I could hardly get past the bitter taste of the tea.”

  She smiled and came close to laughing but didn’t, “That bitter taste was the drug itself. One doesn’t live nine hundred years without knowing what spiked drinks taste like. Even in all their many forms and flavors.”

  Cecil raised his brows and was silent for a moment. He knew they were old, not THAT old. At further thought, he supposed it made sense. “I had no idea you and Hodge—“

  “That’s alright,” She began, “time means very little these days. And I know you can’t understand what it’s like to be separated from someone you see every day for nearly a millennia. But that’s not your fault. Even for the mortals you are young, not that that’s a bad thing. It’s just a fact.”

  “It hurts being apart. Like you’ve lost a piece of yourself.”

  She turned to him with another smile and shook her head. “You can know what it feels like. I didn’t mean you were ignorant. You just don’t understand, is all.”

  The subject reached its end, but Cecil desired more answers. He wanted to know
who it was that surrounded him that called themselves his allies. He knew very little of any of them. The bulk of his knowledge lie in Hodge’s and Nelrene’s two halves of one story. Which was fine for him. He just wanted to know who they were. Before they transcended humanity. So he moved on to the next pair. “What’s the story behind Arthur and Marianna? I don’t mean to pry, but I really would like to know my companions.”

  “Those two.” She stated the words as if that were her answer. Then she sighed and continued, “You’ll find out one way or another. Or maybe you wouldn’t.” Nelrene stopped a moment and checked to make sure Frander still lay unconscious. “About oh, two hundred or so years after Hodge and I became werewolves and while we were about traveling the world, the Black Death started to circulate. Well, I’m sure it had been a problem before that, but people were really dying at that point. Certainly changes your perspective of a quaint little village in some gorgeous and sunny valley when bodies are piled up in the street.

  You know as well as we all do that Arthur is British. And I assume you know what happened to England during the plague. We were passing through one of the nice little body bag villages. It was a beautiful day
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