The Goddess of the Moon has long been the most elusive member of the pantheon.
Most of the other Gods make regular appearances, have standard interactions with their priests and people, make their necessary displays of power and presence to yield more believers to their side.
But not the moon.
She is silent, when she interferes. Like the pull of the tide, steady and gradual and gone again as soon as you are acclimated to the change.
He sees her the first time when his bird falls ill.
He prays to the Sun God first. Prays for guidance, pleads and promises and tries to show how badly he wants Blackbird to recover, because that is what the Sun God responds to. Desires. He burns brightly, decked in gold that shines as brightly as his eyes, and is never quiet in his plans. When he appears to Dirthamen, he offers a new bird, instead. He offers entire flocks of them, offers to let him live in solitude in his lands with no responsibilities but those that he chooses. So long as he becomes a priest of his, and observes all of the rituals ascribed to that position.
But Dirthamen is not interested in more birds.
He just wants his bird.
The Sun God tsks, and sighs and says that is much too boring a wish for him to bother with.
“Perhaps my more restrained associate would be better for you to ask,” He advises. “Try asking the Moon.”
So Dirthamen does.
He does his research, asks the few people he can find that are familiar with her rituals what sort of things he needs, and gathers the necessary ingredients.
The first time he burns the candle in the bowl of water and prays, nothing happens.
Blackbird gets sicker, and Dirthamen gets more desperate.
When he tries it a second time the next night, only to find the same results, he seeks help in other places.
It is in a very old tome, packed into the back of his adoptive parents library, that he finds his answer.
The Goddess of the Moon is at her strongest only when the moon is full.
That will be three more nights, Dirthamen laments.
It is Blackbirds best hope.
He retrieves more medicine to keep her alive, soothes the appropriate lotions into her wings, and tries to make her as comfortable as possible while they wait.
On the night of the full moon, Dirthamen burns the candle in the basin of water, and prays again. He prays for Blackbirds health, for the Goddess’s assistance, for her mercy.
He falls asleep before the wick finishes burning.
When he wakes, the moon is still out, the stars still heavy in the sky.
And there is a woman in his bedroom, singing to Blackbird.
She is very tall, long legs draped in sheer white cloth beneath golden embroidered stars. Her hair is as pale as the moonlight, eyes bright as the green of the earth shining in the starlight. She sings about the sky. About the stars, and the moon, and about love.
Dirthamens breath catches in his throat when she turns to him.
“She should be fine,” she assures him, placing Blackbird carefully back into her cage. “You have taken very good care of her.”
“Thank you,” he manages. Should he bow? He is unsure how to proceed. None of the readings or people he spoke to have ever mentioned her showing up in person. Only the final results of her assistance, or her associates appearing in her stead for the grander favors. Perhaps he did the ritual incorrectly? Perhaps there is an additional price to pay for her assistance, now.
She smiles at him, clearly reading his unease. “Blackbird has already paid her price,” she informs him.
His brows crease slightly, wondering what she could have taken that would be adequate, before she holds up one of Blackbirds feathers in the light.
“You are a very fine caretaker,” she praises. “Kind, and patient. And I notice you are not currently affiliated with any of my companions.” She takes a step closer to him. “Would you be interested in being one of my priests?”
Dirthamen swallows, and rises from where he had been seated on the floor. “What would you require of me?”
“Nothing you could not spare,” She assures him. “You would spread knowledge, and kindness, and healing. Lots of study time, and writing mostly. I really only have the one night per cycle I can interfere directly. The rest of the time, I would let you know where to help. Where to leave things, where you are needed most.”
It does not sound like a cumbersome job, he thinks. He could handle that.
“And what would I gain in return?”
Her eyes soften as she steps towards him again, closing the space between them as her hands gently cup his face. Warm, so much warmer than his own, her touch causes a shiver to ripple through him. Her face leans towards his, eyes asking silently for permission to continue as she lingers a breath away.
Who is he to deny a goddess?
He nods, as much as he can, and feels a rush of power when her lips press against his.
His eyes slide closed as her hands drift down to his shoulders, Blackbirds feather still in her hand while she fills his mind with knowledge. Of her home, far, so very far away. Her rituals, responsibilities, ancient magics and secrets, things long thought lost.
He presses back against her in eager acceptance, a silent plea for more.
Her hands fall to his shoulder blades, pressing the feather against him and sprouting two large black wings from his body. Black as night, as the comforting cloak it drapes over the world while it rests, where the Moon hangs as it watches over the world.
He gasps at the rush of power coursing through him, and she catches him when he nearly topples forward.
“I have you,” she whispers “I will always have you. And you will have me, in return.”
“I accept,” He answers without hesitation.
She kisses him again, and his world becomes a swirl of moonbeams and starlight. Prayers and praise shared between their limbs and lips and laughter.
Until the sun begins to rise, and she pulls away.
“I have to go,” she sighs against his neck.
“Take me with you,” he returns.
“You know I can’t.”
“Selene,” he murmurs into her hair. A new name, a forgotten name, only for him to know.
She pulls back, brushes her lips against his. “You know how to reach me, if you need to.”
“Will you come back at the next full moon?”
Selene smiles, already fading in the light of the day “If you call for me.”
He places one last kiss to the back of her hand as she disappears, hand grasping at the empty air left behind in her wake.
Blackbird caws from within her cage, healthy and awoken by the sunlight as surely as Selene had been taken by it.
His wings have vanished, and he knows now that they will appear only when she returns.
He can wait.
He will have lots to learn, in the meantime.
This would not be such an issue, Des thinks, if only it was just that Dirthamen wanted to be with Selene.
Certainly the man has some very intriguing – and oddly straight-forward – desires. And intense ones, too, for all that he generally seems content not to explore them. But he is, at the end of the day, a mere mortal. Des can deal with mere mortals. Even pretty, desire-prone ones. He often does.
The problem is that Selene wants him back.
And that is where this want has become a driving, distracting impulse. Because they are connected, of course. Moon and Sun. Dirthamen wanting Selene is one thing. Selene wanting Dirthamen?
It is a terrible distraction, really.
Dirthamen sighs, where he is feeding his silly pet bird at one of the shrine fountains.
Des’ priests have done a good job with him, these past few months. Their little Moon Priest. They have never had one before, of course, but Des just told them to show him the basics and let him sort out the particulars himself. Selene’s monthly visits are good for that. The shrine’s dress codes and work-out regimes have been good for… other things. Like Dirthamen’s biceps. And propensity for wearing skirts.
Damn, but Des really wishes the man had taken him up on his offer. Not only would he be able to avoid Selene’s woeful longing, he would probably actually be able to get Dirthamen into his bed. And wouldn’t that be nice.
But no. As ever, all things pertaining to Selene have to be so much more complicated than just doing what everyone clearly wants to do. If she would just abandon her obligations as the moon goddess, she could cavort with as many mortals as she pleases. But instead she has to be up there doing things like ‘controlling the tides’ and ‘stabilizing the world’s orbit’ and ‘making sure the sun doesn’t set up permanent residence in the sky’ (Des is really not seeing the problem there – something about all life dying or somesuch, he stopped paying attention partway through the conversation).
So now it is up to him, he thinks, to do something about this.
He narrows his eyes as Dirthamen lets out another sigh, and the moon feels like it is reaching forlornly towards the earth.
Maybe a ladder.
A big one.
The Moon was not always a helpful entity.
The Moon God had been a proud creature, thankful for his privacy and distance from the people. More than happy to stay up in the sky, far away from everything and everyone else. He kept his knowledge, his secrets to health to himself, where they could not be misused by those who were unworthy of it.
Until one day, he looked upon the earth and saw a flower of the sun.
She was so tall, petals a stunning shade of golden yellow, stretching towards the skies. Bright and open and warm throughout the day, laughing and reaching towards the sunlight.
But when he looked upon her at night, she shied away, closing up as she drooped until the Sun God returned to the skies in the mornings.
Still, he found himself distracted with thoughts of the flower throughout his days. Stealing glances towards the earth more often than he should be, moon lingering in the skies after the sun had risen.
After too long of this, the Sun God approached the Moon God.
“Why do you linger so long in our skies?” he asked “You used to savor your time alone, hoarding as much of my stolen light as you could for yourself. Why now do you bask in it?”
“I have become taken with one of your flowers,” The Moon God admitted with a heavy sigh. “But she shies away from me. I know not what I can do. I do not wish to impose myself upon her.”
“So give her what she needs,” The Sun God offers “Do not coerce her. Show her that you can provide for her, show her how you feel, so that she may determine if she feels the same.”
“You control the tides. The pull of water. My summers are harsh, and flowers often wilt beneath my heat. Provide her with additional water. Nourish her soil, ensure her roots do not rot and that she may flourish. Show her we are not such total opposites,” The Sun grins.
And so the moon does. Night after night, he cares for her as best he can from a distance. Nudges away predators who would feast on her leaves, shelters her from storms that would otherwise wash her away. Until the summer must come to an end, and he appears before her on the final night.
“Come with me,” he offers her. “The cold will come soon, and you will be taken away. I will keep you healthy, I will keep you safe, I will keep you happy.”
The Flower, having known the softer side of the moon for the whole of the season already, agrees.
When he touches her, her petals turn pale, roots stretch to limbs until she is knelt before him. The Moon God carried his flower back to his kingdom, where they lived happily for centuries.
And then the flower bore his child.
A young girl, hair pale as the moonlight and eyes as green as the earth that bore her mother, came into being.
She was smart, and bright, and kind. And as she grew, her father taught her all he knew. How to heal the sick and save the dying, how to pull at the tides and the necessity of their existence.
But she gained her mothers kindness and love of the earth, as well.
“Why do we not share our knowledge?” She asked her father.
“It is too freely abused,” he explained “Their lives are too short, and words too easily misinterpreted. People are not to be trusted with it.”
“But their lives could be longer if they knew what we did. Better. The people could flourish, even.”
“Their lives are not our concern. The People are not our domain. We are responsible for greater things.”
Selene was not convinced.
As she grew, so did her curiosity. Her desire to explore the earth, to learn about the people, to help them, the way her father had helped her mother. And so, the Sun God approached her.
“Little moonbeam,” he cooed “I see what you desire. Locked away up here as you are, so far away, so restricted by your fathers fears. I could help you, if you would only do the same in return.”
“I have nothing to give. I am not a god, yet. Only an apprentice.”
“But one day you will be. You will inherit your fathers abilities, and then we will be partners. One day, I will ask of you a favor. You will grant it to me, without restrictions and to the best of your abilities.”
“And in return,” He continues “I will take you to Earth with me. Summer is starting, and my festival will begin. A grand celebration, that I invite you to share in.”
“My father would never agree to that.”
“I have known your father far longer than you have. I will handle him. You only need hold up your end of the bargain.”
Summer begins, and Selene travels down with the Sun God in his chariot to visit the people.
The Earth is so bright and full of variety and color and life, it takes her breath away.
She falls in love with it instantly, getting swept up in the celebrations. She dances for a week, and drinks while perched in the lap of the laughing Sun God, joining in with the people and learning as many of their ways as she can.
It is warm here, so much warmer than her frozen, lonely home.
She meets several other gods at the event. Goddess of the Earth, who shows her how plants grow in the soil and sprout beneath her feet. The necessity of a life cycle, of rebirth and reuse and the connection of all things that come from the Earth. She meets the God of Invention, who shows her science and math and innovations. The way the people manipulate and alter their environment to make their lives better, to make better use of all that time robs the mortals of. Of the necessity of moving forward. Goddess of Stone, who can not even use magic but is not hindered in any way by it. Who shows her secret, sacred places, where magic can be grown, where it flows like water beneath the earths crust in stunning shades of blue and white.
And for the first time, Selene gets to see a blue sky.
She does not remember taking flight, but she remembers flying. Her wings sprout from her back, and she is off. Soaking in the rays of the sun as she glides over the ocean, over the water she has manipulated for so long from so far away, and she sees that even it contains life, here. She befriends the birds as they fly alongside her, and tell her stories of all the places they have traveled. Watches the fish travel in packs, marvels at the whales as they breathe the air and return to water
She returns to Des’s side breathless.
“Enjoying your time?” he laughs.
“It’s incredible! You get to do this all the time?”
“I think I will too.”
Des blinks “You will, what?”
“When I am a Goddess, I will visit the people each night. My father may value his privacy, but I do not. I like it here, I love these people, and I do not wish to live in solitude any longer.”
“You know,” Des grins “I think we’re going to be marvelous partners.”
The Festival lasts an entire month, as it turns out. An entire cycle away from home, and though she expects to miss it, she finds it actually….freeing, to be on Earth.
She does not want to leave, when the festival ends.
Even Des seems reluctant to give her back to her fathers care.
But she has responsibilities to maintain, balances to keep and spells to learn. She adds what she has learned to her repertoire. She sings her spells, dances through rituals, creates within craters and learns to breed plants that will survive in their soil. She visits the earth each night with her mother, using her skills to help those she can.
Her father is not happy with the changes.
“We must be steady,” He warns her. “Do not deviate from our traditions.”
“How do you know?” She challenges “How do you know that we must do things the way we do? That we could never have anything more, never have anything better than this?”
“Because this is the way it has always been.”
“But we can change it. The Earth is constantly changing, constantly growing. Why not us? Why must we stay so far away?”
“It is the way of things. It is to maintain the necessary balance of things. We do not change.”
“You changed,” She argues “You changed for mother. Who is fromEarth. The people are not bad, they are not lesser, somehow, just because death visits them. The only thing keeping us locked away up here is you! You and your obsession with being alone!”
“That is Enough!” He bellows, and the skies above her flicker with electricity, ground shaking as lightning strikes at the frozen ground beneath her feet. “I am still your father, I am still your teacher, I am still your God, and you will Obey Me!” he yells, voice echoing. A bolt of lightning shoots towards her face, striking her down with enough force that it creates a new crater just outside the palace steps.
Selene runs, as soon as she can stand.
She runs all the way to the earth, hiding from her fathers sight within the temple of the Sun. Waits silently, containing herself until the sun rises and Des approaches her.
“What happened?” he whispers, fingers brushing over the fractal scars left by her fathers violence.
“I pushed him too far,” she mumbles. “It was my fault.”
“No,” Des asserts. “This was his mistake. There is no excuse for striking your child.”
Selene just wraps her arms around herself while Des leans back “Perhaps we have left him alone and unchecked for too long,” he muses. “I thought your mother would mellow him out, but it seems like she’s only enabled him in her complacency.”
“I…”Selene swallows “I don’t know what to do from here.”
“Wait for now,” he instructs. “I’ll bring the others together here, and we will discuss how to move forward as a Pantheon, as we always have.”
So Selene waits, while he gathers the others. The Earth Goddess appears first, then the Goddess of the Stone, The God of Invention, and the Goddess of Chaos, and finally Des returns himself.
“This is all you gathered?” Carina, Goddess of Stone questions.
“This is all we need,” Des insists. “Selene, tell us what happened.”
She shares her story, even as they stare at the scar on her face and listen to the storm bellow through the night outside, even now.
In the end, it is decided that it is time for Elrogathe to step down from his position as God of the Moon. Selene helps them travel to her home, with every intention of solving things peacefully.
But when she arrives, she does not find her father.
Only a monster in his stead, standing over her mothers corpse.
“Flowers were not meant to live forever,” it growls.
Selene moves first, while Des notches and shoots an arrow, blowing just past her to strike the creature in the chest as he lets out a bellowing roar.
The battle lasts the entirety of the night, and they are all exhausted by the end of it.
“Traitor,” Growls her father as he bleeds out beneath her, pinned down beneath Carina’s stone, pulsing with energy. “You spoiled, selfish child. You do not understand anything.”
“You killed mother,” She snaps back between heavy breaths as her own blood spills out of her “You don’t get to lecture me anymore.”
Elrogathe bellows again, straining against the rock above him as his fury echoes around them. Selene sighs, weary and exhausted as she stares at the remains of him. Not that she has ever known him to be warm or loving herself, but he was still her father. She has still spent centuries in his company, and there is still something in her that regrets what she has to do.
But still, she will do it.
Selene begins to sing.
The ground beneath her father curls away, carves itself into geometric patterns, plates shifting like a puzzle box, as he is pulled further and further below the surface.
He screams as she casts the ritual to lock him away, curses her and their land. Promises that nothing she has created will grow, that she will spend the rest of her days alone, dooms her to solitude and imprisonment that lasts as long as his own, and uses the last of his mana to turn his words to power, spreading out over both her and both moons.
Des looks at her with regret when she collapses against him, exhausted and spent.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers.
“It had to be done,” she mutters.
He shakes his head “You don’t understand. He’s tied you here.”
“I’ve always been tied to the moon,” She argues.
“No, you were only connected to it,” Ana, the Earth Goddess explains “You had the freedom to travel wherever you liked, for as long as you wanted. This was simply your domain. Now…”
Selenes eyes widen as realization hits her “…I can’t leave?”
“I’m so sorry, Selene,” She nods.
Shock courses through Selenes system while Des carefully lowers her to the ground.
“I can’t…I can’t ever leave?”
“Or bring anyone here,” Des sighs. “Your dad was a dick. I should have interfered sooner.”
Selene doesn’t move from that space as reality washes over her, and the other Gods return to Earth to rest and recover and take care of their own responsibilities.
She’s going to be alone, forever.
With her father trapped beneath her.
What has she done?
Des returns later that night, to remind Selene to raise the moons. She does, but only barely. A waning crescent at the wrong point in the cycle. It is all she can manage, in her current state.
“Congratulations on becoming a Goddess,” he jokes, in an attempt to lighten the mood.
Selene just looks at him blankly, still tired but too stressed to sleep.
“Look,” he sighs “I know this sucks. Patricide is a pretty awful way to ascend. But now you can make the changes you wanted.”
“I can’t change anything. I can’t even reach the people, let alone aide or share anything with them.”
“I talked with The Earth Goddess, actually. We might be able to help with that.”
“You can let me travel freely to Earth?”
“Well, no. But on the Full Moon, with a combination of being fully visible to her, and since you’ll already be reflecting the maximum amount of power and light from me, we think we might be able to…project you there. You’ll be able to interact with people and things. Talk, share knowledge, teach them what you can.”
Selene swallows, turning to stare at the Earth, watching the clouds swirl over the blue and green sphere, so far away.
But this is a better offer than she dared hope for, anyways.
Des shrugs “Helping you helps me too. It means you’ll be better off to help me, when I ask you for that favor.”
“I’ll do whatever I can,” She nods in agreement.
“Rest, tomorrow,” He suggests. “You’ll find Godhood is not so easy as I make it look.”
Selene stands, finally, gazing out over the wreckage of her parents palace.
“I will do my best,” she vows.
When she returns from the moon, Elanna is exhausted.
Her heart hurts a little for Selene, being tied to the moon, all alone in that palace. She looks up and sees a crescent beginning it’s ascent in the sky, and she sighs. She is not too tired, she decides.
There is a clearing in the glen. The soil there is ideal, and the water flowing from the mountain is sweet and fresh.
Taking a breath, and pulls at her magic as leaves whirl around the palm of her hand. Flowers bloom in the sunlight, but they shy away from the dark. She scatters her seeds, in time for the moon to fully rise and her new flowers bloom, covering the field in white.
Moonflowers, she calls them. As bright as moonlight, and as soft as the Moon herself.
By the morning, they will close, and during a full moon, they will glow.
Elanna loves the People.
She is the Goddess of the Earth who brings them gifts of fruit, raises their crops, keeps them sheltered, and brings them medicine to heal. She can teach them many things, show them beauty.
Ana loves the People, and the People love her in turn, but there are some who wish to take her power. Her blood. Some believe her blood is special, and hunt her for it.
Upon realizing this, the Earth Goddess erected a great enchanted forest. For her protection, so she may continue giving the People her gifts. It doesn’t stop those who hunt her for her blood, however. The People say that her forest is cursed, but they still come, entering her forest with weapons to kill, only to lose their way.
Perhaps she should be more cautious, she thinks, when she finds a young elf unconscious and hurt deep within her forest. Ana is tentative as she lays her hand on the mans chest and is relieved to feel his heart beating. His breaths are shallow, and he is running a high fever. Ana feels her heart clench.
She doesn’t hesitate then, pulling at her magic, she gently lifts him into the air to hover close to her as she brings him to her cottage. He makes a pained sound as she lowers him into her bed.
“You’ll be okay, I’ve got you,” she whispers, pushing his hair away from his forehead. She casts a soothing spell first, and then gets to work, stripping off his clothes, to find several gashes along his upper body, and some along his leg. She feels several broken bones, as well.
This was not done by any animal. Not magic, so not her Sylvan’s doing, either. It is more likely he fell a ways from the nearby cliff, the tall trees of her forest broke his fall.
She keeps the spell up, as she gets to work cleaning his wounds, and then slathering them with the appropriate salves to prevent any severe infections from settling in. She uses magic, hoping to soothe the pain until his breaths even out.
Ana brings her hand up to his forehead again, checking his temperature before setting a cloth soaked in cold water over it.
“I’ve got you,” she whispers again.
The elf in her bed wakes the next day, a little delirious, and still feverish. She helps him take some water and medicines, then cleans his wounds again, reapplying salves and changing bandages, giving him words to focus on as she sets about reconnecting bones.
“Who are you?” he asks, through ragged breaths as Ana sets a cloth on his forehead.
“Someone who wants to help,” she replies, pressing at his chest gently to get him to lay back.
“I meant your name,” he clarifies.
“Elanna,” she says. “Or just Ana.”
“Ana…” he echoes. “Are you fond of bananas?”
“I am,” she tells him, and revels a little in the amused sound that escapes him. “Hush now, no more talking. You need to rest,” she instructs, and he lets out a disappointed huff, but closes his eyes as told. Ana dims the lantern and stands to leave his bedside, but she’s stopped in her tracks as he takes hold of her fingers.
“Don’t go,” he requests. His voice a little husky, and he is still delirious, she thinks.
Something in her chest feels warm, and suddenly she can’t bring herself to leave him. She reclaims her seat and stays with him as his soft snores fill the room. Her eyes begin to feel heavy not long after.