1. Moon - Fanciful Tales
It is one of those rare occasions on your travels where the sky is clear. No clouds to block out the patterns of stars, to hide the two moons - Ah’Sael and Loh’Te - from your tired gaze.
Your companions are all in various states of relaxation. Yevelda, Luth and Callie are curled up on their bedrolls, tucked soundly under the covers, breaths slow and steady. Sariel is sat by the fire, stoking the last few dying embers and trying desperately to stifle her yawns. Varis sits off to your left, a repetitive shink sounding every time he drags the whetstone across the edge of his axe.
Darak is the only one not sat close by. You spot him a ways off, relaxing by the river.
Sleep eludes you and your curiosity knows no bounds, so you clamber to your feet a little groggily and walk over to where Darak is sitting.
“Hey,” you say softly.
“Hey.” He taps a spot of grass next to him. “Take a seat, [sparrow].”
You drop with a rather ungraceful thud and almost immediately pull your knees up to your chest, wrapping your arms around them. When did the nights start to drop so cold?
“Still sticking with that nickname, huh?” you ask, corners of your lips turned upwards.
Darak doesn't answer, save for shooting you a lopsided grin.
“What’re you doing all the way over here?”
“Ahh, you know,” he says, tilting his head back to look up at the night sky. “Thinking of an old story my parents used to tell me ‘n Wynne. About how the moons came to be.”
You perk up at that. “Oh…”
“Wanna hear it?”
A nod, followed by the shifting of bodies. Darak hustles closer, filled with a sense of excitement - the kind of childlike energy that comes from sharing a secret.
“Long ago there was a woman, whose beauty was unmatched throughout the kingdom. Many sought to garner her attention. Many failed.
Among them, there were two men - brothers born mere minutes apart. The first brother was tall and thin, handsomely charming, but awfully loud. The second brother was smaller, quieter, but his strength was second to none.
When they first encountered the woman they were smitten. Both were determined to win her affections, but knew they would make for difficult competition. So they came up with a cunning plan. They would duel in front of the woman, showing her their skills and prowess, and the winner would approach her and ask for her hand.
So they dueled, but the woman seemed unimpressed. So the second brother, after hours of fighting, won the duel and approached the woman, shyly making conversation. But the woman, still, was not interested in either brother.
Angry, the brothers once again turned to each other to scheme. For how dare this woman brush them off as if they were nothing but dust on the heels of her boots?
They decided that, if neither of them could have the woman, then no one would steal her affections. In the dead of night they snuck into her house and stabbed her with a knife. The blade struck true and quick, piercing her heart.
The brothers waited. And waited. But no blood poured from the wound.
Instead, the woman opened her eyes - pits of endless black, seeping with fury beyond anything the brothers had ever seen before. She rose from the bed and grabbed the brothers, crushing them in each hand until they were but small spheres of red and silver. Then she wandered out into the night and threw the orbs up, up, up, to sit amongst the stars. Forever…”
There is a brief lull after his story has finished. Silence falls over the two of you, blissful. Then, “but who was the woman?”
“Wynne always used to ask that,” he replies, looking back up at the sky. “Our parents never said - that was the point, apparently. Any woman could be the woman from the story. I think they just liked to be mysterious for no reason.”
You chuckle, eyes sparkling mischievously as you choose your next words with unwavering precision. “Now I know where you get it from.”
*Wondering why 'sparrow' is in square brackets? It's a nickname given to the MC by Darak in the Wayfarer CYOA that I'm creating, but can change depending on his first impressions. The alternative is 'hawk'