The Myth of the Moons

I read an article in Discover Magazine once about how scientists believe there is a chance that the Earth used to have two moons. This is just a little story in the style of a myth to explain that idea.
*******

Born a man beneath the Whispering Oak, Jojani came into consciousness cradled in the roots, knowing only his name. The ancient tree protected him and murmured stories of an endless world beyond the arms that sheltered him from the harsh winter that raged around them. He learned the names of the plants and animals. Which ones would provide a man with strength and wisdom, and which were forbidden. His Mother Oak provided Jojani with a map of this world she called Isadama. She told him of Basmaka and Olberani, guarding Alsesseran, and the story of the birth of Candassa and Lucine, the sister that trailed behind her.

In the beginning were the Three. Alsesseran, brightly shining for half the day, until she sank beneath the horizo, leaving the Plains of Existence an inky black relieved only by her two lovers: Basmaka and Olberani, who guarded her patiently. The Three existed for eons in the perfect bliss of young love, frolicking through space, entwined and untroubled. They began to dream of the worlds they could create.

Together they formed their first planet, but it was rocky and dense, and lacked a pleasing form, so Basmaka tossed it as far as space would allow. The next four they made airy, colorful, and so light that they floated off into the ether. Alsesseran blew a ring of kisses to speed their journey. Three of the floating planets tried to capture the kisses. They scattered into invisible. The last of the four swirling gas giants twirled daintily through the cosmos. The kisses, enchanted, wished to stay forever at her side. The next planet was created from the fire of the celestial sunset, but burned too brightly. He streaked off leaving nothing but a trail of red.

The Three knew they could do better.

On the last planet, they worked slowly, meticulously carving mountains and valleys, plains and plateaus, hills and caves, and every nook and cranny, hidden like tiny mysteries. After Alsesseran fell into sleep, Basmaka and Olberani worked through the night to finish the world. They wished to watch as she woke and spread her shining rays against this new land. Upon opening her eyes Alsesseran saw that her light reflected back at her what her heroes had done. The beauty so moved her that tears began to fall from her eyes, rushing down the mountains and into the valleys. Her joy overflowed the plains and crested along the flatlands of the plateaus, running along the hills and into the caves, into every nook and cranny. Where the floodwaters receded the world was blanketed in flowers of every color, trees with proud branches and willowy arms, rivers, streams, and oceans. Tiny animals crawled out from the hiding spaces, populating the surface with their songs.

The Three looked upon what they had created and what had been born of their love. The magnificence of this world overwhelmed them and they fell into each other’s arms, celebrating their creation. Alsesseran, Basmaka, and Olberani lost themselves in the melody of the universe. In this joining their souls united and birthed twin daughters, Candassa and Lucine, to whom they entrusted the world they named Isadama. The sisters guarded this treasure, shining brightly during the night, a relief to the endless dark. The sky was their playground and they chased each other in circles until they collapsed dizzy into sleep, and their mother rose for the morning. And so it went, for eons. The happiness of the early universe bathed in joyful glory.

Jojani knew the way of things. In the arms of his Mother Oak he had knowledge, but still he felt alone. When the spring came he expressed his desire to venture into the wider world. There had to be others like himself. Although she would miss her only son, the Ancient Oak knew that it was time that Jojani began his own journey. Despite the breaking of her heart, she wished him well, sending him off with provisions. She warned that the road would be long, and that he would feel even more alone before the end of this path.

Jojani pressed his body to her gnarled trunk, promises falling from his lips, his arms reluctant to release her. Gently, her arms enveloped him one last time, as she whispered her goodbyes into the wind that came to carry him away. He looked back only once, to see her waving him onward.

*******

Even now, a month into his journey, he can hear the song of the wind through her canopy accompanying him. Jojani sinks to his knees as the two Sisters pass one another. Smooth, pale twins, whose nightly journey dances across the Plains of Existence. Awed by their beauty, Jojani dreams of the night he might find his own twin, another soul to walk beside him through the Fields of Golden Shadows and passed the Sparkling Waters of Antiquity.

From his knees, Jojani gazes in rapture up at the Sisters. He wonders if they know how lucky they are to have one another. He knows every nuance of their smooth, pale bodies, and the way they move through the sky with such grace. They are his only companions, and he speaks to them every night. He confides in them of the woman he sees when he is sleeping. She has hair the color of moonlight shot through with streaks of silver, and skin that is the glitter of sunshine off the ripples of the river as it meanders along. Her eyes are like captive stars, and her lips the pale pink of the earliest sunrise. In his dreams, she is encircled by fire, and he must battle the blaze. But when he has almost rescued her from the flames, he is pulled from sleep, and wakes, gasping for air. 

Tonight, perhaps, he will finally save her.

*******

            Candassa regarded the man as he fell to his knees. She had watched the Ancient Oak dream him into existence. It was right that he should breathe and walk the world. He was handsome, with broad shoulders and hair that mirrored the chestnut at the edge of fall. His skin, a shoreline of warm sand, carried a sadness buried deep beneath it. Lucine crept just over the horizon and the man continued to gaze up enraptured. Candassa sensed there was something missing from this proud hero.

            “Lucine, we must search for a mate for this man. Do you see the darkness behind the light of his face? We have watched him traveling for many days and his eyes scan the landscape as if seeking something lost. Let us aid him in his quest.” Candassa wanted desperately to bring him happiness.

            Lucine considered for a moment, studying the face of the man below her. He was lonely, Candassa was right, of course. “Sister, you are kind to think of him. Yes, we will help him.”

            Candassa’s face beamed, “Good. You watch over him until he falls asleep, and then begin to look in the near places. I will go towards the Gravitas Highlands and examine the caves and crevices there. Send word if you find anything.”

            With this the Sisters spent the rest of the evening in constant movement, but when they came together in the earliest morning their search had remained fruitless. The man was waking and would soon continue on his journey. Their mother Alsesseran would watch over him during the day. She would ensure the man had enough light for his pursuit.

*******

            Jojani woke as the Sisters slipped beneath the Reveries of the Forgotten, the land that lay in front of him. He would cross over its savannah before reaching The Crags of Malevolence. Mother Oak had told him of the beasts that lurked in the fractures there. He would have to be swift and silent through the dangerous path in front of him.

            He stepped into grasses taller than his head, and waded through as the stalks grazed his arms and legs. Their touches tickled at the vision of his Silver Lady. It was as if he had known her forever. He knew the shades of her cheeks, and the dip of her upper lip. He saw the milky perfection of her face as if she stood before him. She seemed so far away, it took all his strength not to lie down and dream of her. The grasses were persuasive, but he would not give in.  He would find her. He must. The flitters of consciousness brushed his memories as he continued his path. There was only the unrelieved grassland, no sign of another heartbeat.

In time he came to the end of the prairie and found himself at the foothills of the imposing mountains, whose tops spiked ominously towards the sky. There was terror in the shadows there, but he would not be deterred. The trees were thick at the base, and he followed a deer trail that wound up the side of the mountain. It ended abruptly at the bottom of a cliff. Determined Jojani began the steep climb, grasping sharp handholds that cut into his palms. The edges bit into his legs as he clung to the side of the mountain. A ledge loomed slightly above him, and if he could reach it, he could rest for a bit. Alsesseran was high overhead now illuminating his ascent.

He finally reached the ledge, and collapsed on the rough pebbled ground. He gathered his breath as he looked around for the best way to proceed. A narrow path led up and through an outcropping of jagged rocks. Slowly he made his way up the slippery incline. The path curved and opened onto a plateau. He could see the entirety of the valley below. He searched for any sign that there were people here. There was no one. He needed to keep moving. It would be late before he made camp for the night.

Jojani had just started down when his attention was seized by a slight movement. As he turned he caught sight of the mountain lion poised and ready to pounce. He swiveled around to face the beast head on just as it jumped. Jojani rolled to his right, trying to keep his back to the mountain. The beast stalked towards him, glinting eyes and ruthless intentions, and its paw swiped a path across Jojani’s shoulder. He scrambled backwards, just barely missing being mauled by the huge animal in front of him. His only hope was to drive the lion back to the narrow path. He pushed forward forcing its retreat. Bending down to scoop up a handful of dirt and rocks, he flung it into the monster’s eyes. The huge animal jumped back and skittered, stopping precariously close to the edge. Jojani took the advantage to rush the beast as it pawed at the dirt blinding it. The lion tried to get a foothold from which to attack, but the ground shifted and the fearsome beast tumbled over and down the jagged side.

Jojani breath came in hitching gasps. He turned and flung himself down the continuing path. He ran, though it was dangerous to do so. He would not stop until he hit the valley floor. He didn’t want to be caught on the mountain for the night. The air was alive with predators. They were hidden behind each boulder, behind each tree trunk, and in the dips of the path. When the rushing adrenalin finally left his limbs, he slowed. Calmed himself. He couldn’t risk missing her. What if she were hiding in the treetops, afraid to make a sound, terrified to move? Renewing his search, he focused once again on the task at hand. Alsesseran inched closer to setting with each passing minute. The sky darkened as he awaited the rise of the Sisters.

When he reached the valley floor, he thanked Alsesseran and the Sisters for bringing him safely out of danger. He started a fire and made camp for the night. While he was cleaning the claw marks on his shoulder, a streak of light crashed across the utter dark of the sky. Jojani had never seen anything like it. The afterimage of streaking fire flickered as Candassa climbed over the horizon.  The campfire’s light illuminated the golden awe etched frozen on Jojani’s face. He wondered what this fiery comet could possibly mean.

*******

            The look on his face was devastating. A sigh escaped from Candassa as she realized she had been worried about him. It was better now that she could see him. Her sleep, troubled with blurred images, had left her shaken. Upon closer inspection she saw that he was injured. What had happened? It was then she noticed that he was frozen in alarm. Her sister crested the horizon as she studied his face.

            “’Dassa…?” Lucine’s voice a quiver but her sister didn’t notice. “’Dassa?” Again her sister was completely oblivious. “Candassa,” she was quite frantic now. Candassa finally turned and looked at the panic on Lucine’s face.

            “Luci, whatever is the matter?” Her sister was the more lighthearted of the two, and the fear Candassa she saw on Lucine’s face chilled her.

            “Look,” was all Lucine said.

            Candassa turned to see what Lucine was fixated on, and saw a blazing comet headed right for her sister. Terror gripped her heart as she saw the tears begin to fall down her sister’s cheeks. Never the stronger of the two, Lucine stared at her sister. The comet was headed straight for her, but Candassa would know what to do, she always did.

            “I’m scared ‘Dassa? What do we do? I don’t want to leave you,” Lucine sounded like she had when they were children. The comet came closer and closer, edging across the sky.

            “Luci, my dearest sister, the worlds that I would create for you: Light, airy, twirling landscapes where you could dance until you fell down dizzy. I could not leave you if there were any other choice,” she glanced up at the oncoming blaze. “But it seems, that the universe has different plans for the two of us,” Candassa felt a low rumble begin in the center of her being. She would give everything to save her sister. The breaking of her heart cracked deep inside her, and the tears began in earnest.

            “What do you mean, ‘Dassa?” Lucine was confused at the tender look of sadness that had captured her sister’s features. The comet had not slowed, and it wouldn’t be long now until she shattered into oblivion. Candassa couldn’t leave her now, not when the end was so close. Instead, her sister came close enough to grip Lucine in protective, shielding hug.

            “Always remember that I loved you Luci. No moon could have ever asked for a better twin. You have been a constant source of comfort and joy, and if I have ever been strong it was because I had you for a sister,” Candassa tried to slow the sobs she felt bubbling to the surface. She would be strong for Lucine. She pressed her face to Lucine’s side one last time.

            Lucine realized what was about to happen, and knew it was too late. There was nothing she could do to save her brave sister Candassa. “I love you too ‘Dassa, and I will miss you for the rest of my days.” The last thing she heard before her entire universe splintered was her sister’s voice.

            “Goodbye now Lucine.”

*******

            Jojani watched shocked as Candassa moved to spare her sister’s life. She shattered into infinity, the pieces of her body showering across the darkness. The night sky would never again be an unbroken black. She had created the stars. Just then he saw a piece of the moon carve a path out of the heavens. Jojani jumped to his feet and started running. He didn’t know why, couldn’t explain it. He simply knew he needed to find that piece of the moon that fell to the ground.

            As he got closer, he could see that there was a blaze that consumed the falling piece. He felt the earth below his feet shudder, and was knocked down by the force of impact. He raised himself back up, and saw a ring of fire enveloping the crater. There was movement from within the circle, but how could that be? Jojani surged to his feet rushing towards the fire. From between the breaks in the flame he could see a woman, but not just any woman. It was his Silver Lady. She was Candassa, the moon that fell from the sky.

            He forgot everything else and dove through the flames. Curling into a ball to take the brunt of his tumbling, he finally stood before her. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever beheld. When she looked up at him, his world stopped and his breath rushed from his body. His eyes were bright with tears as he cradled her delicate frame to his chest, and rescued her from the fire about to consume her. Once she was away from the danger he placed her on her feet, though he still held her tiny hands in his. “Candassa, my dearest love, I have dreamt of you for nights without ending. I could never have imagined that you were the woman who haunted my sleep.”

            “Noble hero, I do not know your name, but I have watched you searching Isadama for a companion. I felt your sadness, and though I did not know it, you have already taken a home inside my heart.” Candassa couldn’t believe this turn of events. She had accepted her death, but now she stood on two feet, facing this man whom she had come to love.

            He wrapped strong arms around her waist and pulled her tight against him. “Jojani,” he whispered in her ear. “My name is Jojani.” He pulled back from her for just a moment. “But now, my love, you need to see what your sacrifice has created.” Slowly he turned her body so that she could face the heavens and the multitude of stars there.

            Her breath caught in her throat as she gazed at the glittering sky. She saw a thousand worlds dancing across the cosmos and smiled up at her sister.

 

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