Moon's Children

Moon was very sad, because she had no children of her own. Earth had the dwarves, stocky, solid, all mirth and curiosity.  And Tree had elfkind, wispy and full of dream.  Sun had humanity, who were so real that sometimes it hurt to watch them.

"At least," Sun said to her once, "you do not share the fate of poor Oceana."  And then he shook his gleaming head.  Moon agreed.  Better to never have had children, then to face what had happened beneath the waves.

Or so she told herself, but she was lonely.  She would visit her siblings by day, and laugh and tell wonderful tales about things she had seen in their childrens' dreams while she watched them sleep.  Sun marveled at his humans' ingenuity and creativity.  Earth rumbled with joy at the creations his dwarves had yet to build.  Tree just smiled and nodded, because she knew well the dreams of her children, but she liked hearing Moon tell of them, because Moon told the best stories.

Then, every night, she would rise, and watch over her nieces and nephews while they slept, peeking in their windows or peering through gaps in the treetops, or just feeling the rise and fall of their chests while they slept in dark barrows far beneath the sky.  She loved them, as a good aunt did.  They were fun, and charming, and so beautiful, each in their own special way.  Sometimes they would look up at her, and marvel at how pretty she was, at how she always wore a new face every night, at her soft glow, and her steady presence.  They missed her, she knew, on the one night each month that she took for her own purposes.  They always looked relieved to see her when she returned.

But still, she was sad.  And so she went to visit her other sister.

"Oceana," Moon curtsied, entering her eldest sister's chamber.  It smelled of a salt breeze, and seemed to go on forever when you looked around, always filled with shadow and mystery.  And uninvited guests, which was why Oceana's siblings did not often come to call.

Moon's sister did not turn, or acknowledge her, just sat on her coral throne and held her head stoically erect.  She had been there so long, Moon doubted that Oceana would ever be able to rise again: her throne had grown around her arms and legs, and it cut her whenever she moved, so that Moon could see little trickles of her sister's blood running in red streams off into the dark.  When she did not make an effort to drown it out, Moon could hear the lapping of strange tongues off in the darkness.

"Sister, I am so fortunate, to be spared your pain," she began, and regretted it when Oceana winced.  "I see them, you know, every night, your children.  I watch them struggle and my heart breaks, because I love them too."  Moon shook her head.  "I cannot imagine what it must be like for you, their mother, to know what they go through down in the deeps."

A tear trickled down Oceana's face, but her sister said nothing.  Moon faltered.

"I want to," she said, simply.

Oceana's head dipped then, for the first time that Moon could remember.  Another tear fell from her downcast face, and then more followed it.  Moon was startled.  Ever since... then... her sister had held her head high and refused to bow, no matter the pain.  Could it be that she was wrong, that it was too hurtful, that children of her own would destroy her?  She was carefree, always changing, quick with a laugh or a story, always there to lend a gentle hand to show the way in the dark.  Would children of her own hurt her so?

No.  She wanted this, and faced her sister, even knowing what had happened to Oceana's babies.

"Oh, Moon," whispered her sister.  It was strange, hearing that voice for the first time in so long.  It rippled, like a stone cast into the water, but even in a whisper it was deep and powerful.  "Oh, sister, you know not of what you speak."  Moon waited, and her sister did not raise her head.

Then: "But you could not."  Oceana was impossible to read, had always been so.  In times before, her moods could strike from nowhere or be absolute calm in the face of a world on fire.  Oceana rarely gave counsel even then, and these were more words than Moon had heard from her in eons.

"Wolf.  He misses you still.  I hear him sometimes, and his voice haunts even me, my sister."

Moon shuddered, remembering Wolf's touch.

"But do not stop with Wolf," instructed Oceana.  "My mistake was to dally only once.  You wear many faces, and can have many children.  Go to Wolf when he needs you most, in the fullness of your most radiant gown.  Touch him once, and his children will never stop honoring you."

"You must also visit other hunters of the night.  Bat, and Owl, and Panther.  Show each of them a different face, and they will love you, sister, and their children by you will love you as well.  Go to Boar as well, for of all animals he hates death most fiercely.  His children will not honor you, for he honors no one, but sister, no one will ever pull you down from the sky for fear of what Boar's children would do if they found you thus."

Oceana trembled convulsively then, and writhed in her chair, howling in fury.  The chamber shook, air reverberating with anger.  More blood poured away from the mistress of the waves, and Moon watched in impotent pain as her sister struggled.

Finally, after Oceana's wrath was spent, she raised her head, locking eyes with Moon.

"Because, sister, I will not last here forever.  Those who have sought to overpower me will someday do so.  And then they will come for you, and Earth, and Tree, and Sun.  They will come for all of our children."

"The others, and myself, we were not prepared.  Our children are not prepared.  Sister, your children must be fierce and terrible, the things of all dark dreams.  They must make Those who seek my downfall fear to emerge from the waves."

"No," started Moon, "that's not what I--"

"Do you see me?" screamed Oceana.  "Do you know what they have done to me?"  She raged on her throne again, thrashing and throwing herself against her bonds.  Moon backed away in fear as the room shook, unable to bear it, and took leave of her sister.

Oceana's last words followed her.  "Do you know what they have done to my children?  They will do it to yours."

And that, children, is why we must fear the things that go bump in the night.  Because they keep Those Below safely beneath the waves...