“Thank you for choosing such a perfect color, L’ota!” she told the skeeaed as its sinuous body circled the Goddess, whispering “Beautiful moon color” in its liquid voice.
When a dryad began to weave ivy through her long, dark hair, Nyx exclaimed in pleasure, “Oh! That is a lovely touch! Mother Earth will so appreciate it.”
Only the skeeaeds had the ability to speak, but the little dryad turned deep lavender and trilled in pleasure at the Goddess’s praise.
Then the Goddess turned her head this way and that, examining her reflection in her onyx-framed mirror.
“But the ivy is hidden in the darkness of my hair. I want Mother Earth to see it—to know that I have adorned myself in respect for her!” With a wave of her hand, Nyx changed her visage, taking on blond hair so silver that the green of the ivy seemed luminous.
“Perfect!” Nyx smiled in delight.
Another Fey, a coblyn who mined jewels from the Otherworld caves, appeared. Bowing respectfully, he held forth a necklace fashioned from a waterfall of glittering quartz crystals.
“Your gift touches my heart,” Nyx said, holding up the thick length of her hair so that the Fey could place the necklace on her. “I hope it touches Mother Earth’s heart as well.” Nyx caressed the crystals, thinking how desperately she wished for companionship. She adored the Fey, but they were more spirit and element than flesh. Nyx did long for true companionship … the touch of another immortal.
Nyx felt the sadness that radiated from the Fey in response to her lonely thoughts and was instantly sorry she’d given in to melancholy. She was the last of the immortals and she knew the Fey doted on her from more than just the affection shared between them. Like Mother Earth, they feared she would follow the others—would forsake her vow and leave this realm.
“Never.” Nyx’s voice was soft, but she spoke with finality, caressing a concerned skeeaed much as she stroked the wildcat, who now followed her everywhere. “You have nothing to fear,” she reassured L’ota and the gathering Fey. “I will never break that vow or any vow I ever make—not throughout all of eternity. Now, please help settle in place the headdress of moonlight and stars that was my gift from Mother Earth, and worry no more!”
The Fey danced around her, coloring the air with happiness as they rejoiced in their Goddess’s fidelity.
In the corner of the Goddess’s chamber, within the deepest of the shadows, something dark quivered. As if it cringed away from the contagious happiness of the Fey, it slid, unseen, from the room.
* * *
Mother Earth was waiting for Nyx. She had already taken form and was standing before the grove, breathing deeply of the fragrant evening primrose from which she had fashioned her hair. She stroked the smooth, curvaceous skin she had fashioned for her body from the purest of clays. She called Air to her, directing it to lift the diaphanous gown adoring silkworms had created for her. She knew she looked especially alluring. The sun had beamed down on her grove from dawn to dusk, and now, enrapt, the moon watched.
Mother Earth was pleased.
The Goddess manifested when the moon, full and attentive, was high in the clear night’s sky.
“Nyx! You delight me! You’ve chosen my ivy for your hair. It complements the headdress as flowers complement a meadow.”
The Goddess had chosen to wear the visage of a young girl with silver-blond hair and fair skin, and the familiar delicate tattoos decorating her smooth shoulders. Mother Earth smiled as Nyx flushed in pleasure.
“Thank you! The Fey helped adorn me. They are clever and considerate, though they rarely speak.” Nyx touched the crystal necklace. “A coblyn made this for me.”
“Why, that is as lovely as your headdress! They must be very special creatures. I am intrigued to learn about them, as I have created nothing like them. Nyx, would you give them leave to visit me? I would welcome the presence of the Fey.”
“Of course! I’m sure they would be delighted. Would you mind if they allowed themselves to be seen by your children? I think it would make them less lonely, though I must warn you, some of the Fey can be rather mischievous.”
“Oh, do not let that concern you. My human children could use a little divine mischief. Sometimes I think mankind has become far too serious. They forget the special magick that can be found in fun-loving mischief and laughter.” Mother Earth’s own laughter caused the sleeping bluebells in the meadow before the grove to wake and burst into full bloom.
“Those flowers are so beautiful! The Fey especially love bright colors. Thank you, Mother Earth.” Nyx and Mother Earth smiled at each other and the isle glowed with reflected joy.
All the while the moon watched.
“Nyx, would you tell me more about the Fey? I have never met one.”
“Oh, yes! There are so many types of them.”
Mother Earth’s smile turned satisfied as she stroked a white boulder that had been saturated by moonlight and called moss to carpet it. “Come, sit beside me.” While Nyx gracefully settled herself, Mother Earth gently waved her hand through the grass that grew in tufts around the boulder. Instantly, several plants sprung to life, producing white, trumpet-shaped flowers. Thanking each plant, Mother Earth gently plucked the blossoms free and offered one to Nyx. “Sip slowly—the nectar is as delicious as it is potent.”
Sipping from the living chalice, Nyx began describing the different types of Fey to Mother Earth, who listened, attentive and smiling, until the moon reluctantly began to depart. Where the horizon met the gray-blue waters surrounding the island, the approaching sun caused the sky to blush.
“I had no idea it was so late. You must forgive me. It has been too long since I have had an opportunity to practice conversation.”
“Lovely Goddess, I have enjoyed myself more tonight than I have in eons. And I have a confession to make: you are not to blame for the length of our conversation. I kept you with me purposefully until now. I wish to reward your fidelity.”
Nyx looked startled. “But that is not necessary. Mother Earth, I will remain and watch over your children. I have given you my vow. I will not ask for a reward for keeping my word.”
“It is because you do not ask that I wish to reward you.” Looking inordinately pleased with herself, Mother Earth stood. Turning to the east, toward the rising sun, she lifted her face to the fading moon.
“But what—” Nyx began.
Mother Earth smiled fondly over her shoulder at the Goddess. “This gift is not to tether you to me. I trust your fidelity. What I create tonight is fashioned from friendship and appreciation. Tonight my only purpose is to end your loneliness by bringing you joy.” Then, with the young Goddess looking on in curiosity, Mother Earth raised her arms.
“Moon, harken to me before you depart my sky. Mother Earth doth call to thee!” She dropped her chin so that her gaze focused from the sky above to the coral tip of the dawning sun and said, “Sun, harken to me before you climb too high. Mother Earth doth call to thee!”
For a moment nothing happened, but Mother Earth did not despair. She tossed back her fragrant hair and called Air to her again. The element caressed her, revealing her lush beauty. She called Fire to her so that she glowed with living flame. She called Water, and suddenly the sea that surrounded the island stilled and became a liquid mirror, reflecting Mother Earth’s loveliness. She called Spirit and wisps of power washed over her, enhancing her already preternaturally luminous form.
Confidently, Mother Earth waited.
The moon responded first, forever changing Nyx’s destiny.
As if a pebble had disturbed the surface of a sleeping pond, the fading moon shivered and then brightened from gray to silver. Far above the grove, a deep voice echoed from the sky.
The moon doth harken to Mother Earth’s call. What is thy will? Mighty moon is eager to fulfill.
Just then the sun lifted above the watery horizon, shining the yellow and pink of dawn on the grassy ground before the grove. From over the stilled waves, a voice, equally as deep and powerful, echoed.
The sun doth harken to Mother Earth’s call. What is it thee requires? The power of sun shall fulfill your desires.
Mother Earth’s smile was as promising and fertile as a meadow in spring.
“Mighty moon and powerful sun, twin guardians of my sky, I ask a favor from each of you.”
And what do I gain in return? Both voices spoke at the same time.
Mother Earth’s smile did not dim. She lifted her face to the moon. “To you, mighty moon, I give dominion over my oceans. After this day, the tides will follow your will.”
I accept your gift. The moon’s voice rumbled, deepening with pleasure.
Mother Earth gazed fully on the rising sun. “To you, powerful sun, I give dominion over my northernmost lands. For all of summer, you shall reign there supreme, and never set.”
I accept your gift, the sun agreed eagerly.
“You have each spoken vow to me—thus you are bound—so mote it be!” proclaimed Mother Earth. “Know first that what I ask is not for myself, but for Nyx, the ever-faithful Goddess who kept her vow and remained, the last of the children of the Divine.”
There was a ripple in the air as the moon transmitted surprise. They are all gone? All of the Gods and Goddesses?
“All but this one,” Mother Earth said.
The air around the grove heated with the sun’s shock. But it seems only yesterday that the Gods and Goddesses frolicked below and above.
“To me as well,” Mother Earth agreed. Then she turned, beckoning for the pale, silent Goddess to stand beside her. Taking Nyx’s hand, she continued. “But for Nyx, known by many names to my children, those days and nights have been long and empty.”
Were I not already bound by vow to aid, I would willingly reward this lone and lovely Goddess, said the moon.
Nyx’s smile was filled with shy delight. “Thank you, mighty moon. I have long relished your ever-changing face and your pure silver light.”
I, too, am pleased to aid one so fair and faithful, said the sun.
“And thank you, powerful sun. Your summer warmth has brought me countless days of pleasure,” Nyx said, bowing to the east.
“Wonderful! Then let us make this dream so!” cried Mother Earth.
“How? I am sorry, but I do not understand,” said Nyx.
“Tell me, sweet Goddess, if you could have a companion, brought to life by the might of the moon and the power of the sun, what would you have this companion be?”
With no hesitation, Nyx answered, “He would be warrior and lover, playmate and friend.”
“Very well then, that is what you shall have.” Mother Earth squeezed Nyx’s hand before releasing it and returning her attention to the listening moon and sun.
She raised her arms again, and this time began to turn her hands gently, gracefully, as if sifting through invisible threads around her.
“Once more, I use that which the Divine granted me. Power of Creation, I call thee forth from the sky! Couple with the might of the moon and the power of the sun, and bring forth immortal life as companion to my faithful Goddess!”
Mother Earth’s voice took on a rhythmic cadence as she spoke the spell:
I am She
Loved so well by
Creation is my gift
I am She
Cherished so well by
My call from Earth to Sky shall lift
I am she
Beloved so well by
Moon! Sun! Sky! Join true—join sure—join swift!
Create warrior and lover, playmate and friend.
Do not leave my Goddess companionless, lonely with no end!
The sky above the grove came alive with currents of glistening magick ancient as the Divine—unending Energy bound to obey the Earth’s command. It multiplied and divided, pulsing with the light of creation so brightly that even Mother Earth and the Goddess Nyx had to shield their eyes. Then the currents swept up, up, up to the fading moon, and up, up, up to the rising sun. The moon and the sun blazed, pulsing with the joining so beautifully that Mother Earth thought it seemed that the sky kissed first the moon, and then the sun.
There was an explosion of light above and around Mother Earth and Nyx, and then all was still.
The sun continued to rise, silently, distantly. The moon faded into the heavens.
Mother Earth had just begun to frown and was considering how she would penalize both moon and sun for not fulfilling their vows when she heard Nyx’s surprised gasp.
Mother Earth shifted her gaze. She had been staring up, expecting a being to float down from the sky. But her expectations had been incorrect. The beings were already there, kneeling before Nyx.
In shock, Mother Earth watched as two godlings fashioned from the joining of the sky and the moon, and the sun and the moon, lifted their faces and gazed with utter adoration at their Goddess.
“They have wings!” Nyx exclaimed.
“And there are two of them,” Mother Earth said, furrowing her brow in consternation. “Nyx, this did not go exactly as I had planned.”
“I think they are perfect!” said the Goddess.
SHE WOULD BE A MIGHTY ENEMY …
Newly created, Kalona opened his eyes. His first sight was that of Nyx. He didn’t know her name then. All he knew was that her beauty arrowed into him and lodged somewhere so deeply that it made him unable to speak.
She approached him first, though he was hardly aware of the other being kneeling beside him. She held out her hand to him and said the first words he ever heard: “I am the Goddess Nyx, and I welcome you with all of my heart.”
Her voice was sweet and musical and soothing. Kalona took her slender hand carefully within his own much larger one, noticing the unique beauty of their contrasting skins—his darker, burnished, rougher, while hers was soft and pale and utterly flawless.