A Conversation In Starlight
Ishandra realizes that the second sun is slipping below the horizon. “I think it is a little too late to be riding back to either my palace or to Alfea College,” she tells the Faeries. “Why don’t we sleep under the stars tonight?”
“I could probably produce a guiding light to take us back,” replies Stella, “but I like the idea of sleeping out.”
“I’ll erect a barrier to shield us from any prowling animals and from any cold night breezes,” says Tecna, “but first we need to bring back the horses to within the confines of this clearing.”
Five of the Faeries go to lead the horses back to within the clearing and retrieve the bedrolls which are secured behind the saddles and lay them out on the ground. Meanwhile, Bloom is helping Ishandra gather up twigs and such to stuff between the logs Ishandra has set up and then sets it to burning with a short blast of Dragon’s Fire. Ishandra erects a cold shield about the remaining food to preserve it.
“Is everyone within the clearing and accounted for?” asks Tecna.
We are all here and accounted for,” Aïsha replies to Tecna.
Tecna raises her arms and with a magical movement of her fingers incants, “Night roof!” and a clear dome manifests itself protecting the entire enclosure. “There,” she announces, “that should be proof against everything including wild animals.”
“It won’t harm or kill them?” asks Flora, concerned.
“No,” Tecna assures Flora, “the worst is whatever touches the barrier will get knocked out and awake with a splitting headache after a few hours.”
Before retiring, each of the Faeries and Ishandra bid their horses a good night and offer each of them an apple. Soon afterwards all are in their bedrolls and all but Bloom and Ishandra who are bedded down beside each other are asleep.
The three golden moons of the Alfean sky, which are also known as The Three Sisters, are shining down upon the group and about them blaze a myriad of stars.
“They sure are beautiful,” whispers Bloom to Ishandra.
“They most certainly are,” agrees Ishandra.
“The strange thing is that, despite their beauty, I do not think of them as my stars,” says Bloom. “I don’t even know what stars shone above Sparx when it was still a life supporting planet or what the names are of the constellations in the Sparxian sky or if they had names at all. I regard the one silver moon of Terra and her stars to be mine. I miss looking up into the sky and seeing the Big and Little Dipper, Polaris, Ursus Major, Orion, Cassiopeia and the other constellations.”
“I know how you feel,” replies Ishandra to Bloom. “I too miss the moon and stars of Terra. I mentioned that my father was an English seaman, did I not? He taught me the names of all the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere and how to navigate by them, tell time and the changing of the seasons. I remember a time, though, when I thought that he was going to skin me alive.”
“Oh?” asks Bloom. “What did you do?”
“My father had an astrolabe that belonged to his great, great grandfather that was regarded as a family heirloom. One night, after explaining some of the basics to me, he handed it to me to try using it as he had demonstrated. However, he let go of it before I was ready and, although I managed to grab hold of it, it was unexpectedly heavy and fell to the ground and broke.
“Oh, no!” exclaims Bloom. “What did he do then?”
“Realizing what I had done,” says Ishandra, “I burst into tears. My father, however, did not punish me as I had expected and admitted that he had to share the blame because he had let go too soon. He inspected the astrolabe and told me not to cry and that the damage done to it was not beyond repair. A few weeks afterwards, he presented me with my own astrolabe which was scaled down and made of lighter wood and metal than his. When he was at home, we would spend nights together out under the stars using our astrolabes, studying star charts and just chatting. Often times we would be out so long that we were witnesses to the break of day and the rising sun. I miss those times with my father and my home.”
Ishandra props herself on her elbow and looks down at Bloom. “You are truly beautiful under the moonlights, ma biche,” she tells her.
“Ishandra!” exclaims Bloom, giggling and blushing. “Thank you and to tell the truth, I have always thought of you as being beautiful as well. You had your moments even when we were not friends where you would relax and not be frowning, snarling or giving us your evil Witch smile when I would find you truly striking. You even had moments while you were training me where I could see your true beauty. Although, I could never understand your amusement when you would tell me, ‘Oh, stop your wailing, you bàn-sidhe!’ every time I complained about how hard your training was. I took it to mean ‘cry baby’ in Witchspeak.”
“Well, that is one interpretation, I guess,” says Ishandra, grinning slyly.
“But I think that you were at your most beautiful today when you were crying,” Bloom tells Ishandra.
“What?” says Ishandra, pursing her lips and wrinkling her delicate nose. “You think I am most beautiful when my eyes are red from crying and my nose is running?”
“No, no, no!” exclaims Bloom, sitting up and raising her arms in defence. “What I am trying to say is that you were beautiful because for once you were truly vulnerable trusting us not to see your crying and sorrow as a sign of weakness and trusting us to know of something that is so close to your heart. I hope to see more of that Ishandra.”
“Maybe you will, ma biche,” replies Ishandra softly while kissing Bloom’s forehead. “Maybe you will.”