“Mother, tell me a story,” Lena asked me just before I reached for the light switch. This always happened at bedtime. She waited until the last second to ask for a story. Sighing and silently giving in, I turned back to the small bed in the corner of the room. Stopping by the small table near the door, I turned on the star lamp she loved so much and made the rest of the way over to the open spot on her bed.
Pushing her over and listening to her giggle as she moved over made things seem better than they have been in a while.
“What story do you want, Lena?” I asked her while she got comfortable under the covers again. She looked up at the stars dancing on her ceiling. I cannot thank Julian enough for the lamp he made for her. It has saved me a million minutes getting her to sleep at night.
“What about the one for the queen?” She asked me and I knew I would have to remind her. “Lena, there’s never been a queen, but I will tell you the story of the former king’s mate. The one that arguably started and nearly ended the war. We won’t get into details like that, let’s see where we can start, okay?” She nodded her head and watched the stars dance on the ceiling some more.
“The story starts a long time ago, a goddess that watched the Earth with curiosity. She wanted to be with the animals and beasts that ran the Earth. Whose feet pounded into the dirt so fiercely they seemed to create lands without the help of the gods.” I started from the very beginning, knowing she wouldn’t even get to the good parts before she passed out.
“She was most interested in humans when they started to appear. She was told that another god grew bored of only seeing the animals, they needed something to pray to them. Selene didn’t mind that she was not praised, she was content to watch the beings of the Earth run and live their extraordinary lives.” I closed my eyes along with Lena’s as I remembered the story as if I was told by the characters themselves.
“But nothing peaceful can last too long, the young goddess figured this out quickly. As she watched her favorite thing, she witnessed one of the first acts of violence. One of her creations, her wolves, killed an innocent human child. She cried for what felt like years, the death of the boy and his walk to the underworld, it was as if she could feel every second of it. Still, she continued to watch from her spot in the heavens. It wasn’t until a human sought revenge on the wolf that took its child, did she finally stop the violence.”
Remembering every single word that was told to me as a child, I relished in the memories I was fortunate to have. There was so much more history to teach Lena, but she needed to know the root of everything.
“She ran to the Earth, screaming and throwing anything she could to stop this human from killing her creation – no matter how just it was – but she couldn’t stop it. She was too late and not human enough to prevent the inevitable. The gods were angry for her for falling to the Earth, they gave her a choice. Leave the heavens permanently and live with the humans or sit back and watch from her seat of power.”
The soft sounds of Lene’s snoring were enough to make me stop, but I wanted her to dream of the stories – of the memories.
“She chose the heavens, she was not ready to give up her young title, but she had one request. This did not sit well with the higher gods. They saw her as an annoyance, but they granted her request. She wanted to meld the humans and the wolves, so they could work as one, so the violence would stop. The gods had a single issue, how would they stay contained, surely she didn’t want all of the humans turned over, they thought. Their middle ground was a percentage of the human population was sewn in with the souls of the wolves. When the next full moon covered the Earth they would take on the fur and howls of the wolves.”
I didn’t notice until it was too late, a single tear escaped and ran down my face. The story is old, older than any of us in this pack, but it’s told to the young to remind them of where we came from. Not only are we in the first pack, but our elders are some of the first ones the dead king spared. That wasn’t something she needed to know right now.
“Selene watched as the spirits and souls of the beings melded into one being. The skin of the humans showed first, keeping their primary beings from tearing apart. She stayed as long as possible before returning to the heavens to watch her new creations. Just as the next full moon spread across the Earth, she watched their human skins shread from their bones and the fur take its place. With a smile, she watched as they worked perfectly together. There was no violence for so long. Peace consumed them instead.”
Pulling her blanket up to the little chin I had wiped chocolate from earlier today, I continued.
“But progress cannot be held off too long. Soon her creations – werewolves she called them – they began to build around their lives. Buildings erected, monuments to some gods, even one to herself. This made her glow with pride. With progress came war, with each one the goddess wept until she could no longer feel their pain. One day she decided that being as the other gods are was better. Not caring about the people that praise them, but instead of turning it all off, she created an idea.” I spoke as if she was still awake and listening intently. I didn’t mind, I didn’t want to be in charge for a little bit.
“It had been many decades, even centuries since the werewolves had been created. The world had gone by without too much influence from the gods. Selene wanted to bring them peace one more time. She sent their souls a gift. The gods have always been confused with her, giving gifts for nothing in return, loving something that would never truly love her back; she was strange, they agreed.”
My eyes began to slip, I was becoming sleepier by the second. Clearing my throat, I tried to power through.
“She sent the wolves their perfect soulmates. The wolves shortened it after finding them, they lovingly called them mates, and it was bond not easily broken. But still, she was lonely with a pain in her chest she couldn’t explain. She went back to her mother, Theia, and asked her a question; she wanted to become human. Selene believed this would cure her aches and the violence of man. Her mother was furious, how dare her daughter want to be a meaningless human? Selene knew her mother would never understand, but she granted the request anyway. Told her that she had to make it work because there is no returning, Selene understood this.”
“So, the goddess fell, she fell for the humans and her wolves, the moon fell to the Earth. There isn’t much known about her first days as a human, but she soon found her mate – a king – of all things!” I was getting excited over my own story and I was grateful no one else was in here with us.
“She lived a lovely life with this king, but his hunger for power turned her stomach. She fell to be closer to what she loved and now they wanted to rip each other apart. She failed as a goddess and as a human. Her king and mate became violent toward her. Something she had never experienced before. Humiliated and demeaned, she ran away after breaking her bond. But she didn’t get far. Ending up at the very first pack, the one the king himself came from and hid until she could gain enough strength to travel back home. She gave the alpha of this pack a gift before leaving, entrusting them with a lot of power and instructions they couldn’t get wrong. They had a mission now, and the goddess ran away.”
Another tear hit the blanket in my hands.
“Her mother let her come back without open arms and a grudge she would never get rid of. Selene left a mess that her wolves had to clean up. Even with the gifts, she entrusted to a few families and their generations, it wasn’t enough. It wouldn’t be for nearly a generation and a half that she would be needed again. That she would have to fall and become human once more.”
Looking down at Lena, I place a gentle kiss on her temple. She slept peacefully as I contemplated the chaos surrounding us; surrounding her.
“This whole thing is for you, little girl, you’ll be ready soon. Until then, I will protect you, just as the goddess entrusted my mother to do so long ago. I will not fail her, not this time.” Gently getting up from the bed, as to not disturb her, I left the room with the stars still dancing on her ceiling. It wouldn’t be long now; everything has come down to this; the fate of our world rests on such small shoulders.