First Page: The Five Cities (Fantasy)
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The woman Kala owned a tavern in the City of the Bright Moon. On some days, when the sun had sunk below the horizon and she had served her last beer, she would dance for her patrons, hips swaying with the natural grace of someone who had been born within the two months when the Lady of Waters held sway over fate. The light from the fire fell upon her skin, dyeing it golden, sparks reflecting in her brown eyes. She laughed, and the sound was like water running over rocks, like the water in the sacred springs which brought relief from illness.
That was how she caught the eye of Duanna. Serious, contemplative Duanna, always immersed in scroll or book, she was a true child of the Dark Moon God, Eldest of Deities, whose spheres are memory and scholarship. Duanna had been blessed by him with a memory to rival the god’s own—one in which even the most minute detail was stored away for perusal at a later date. The image of Kala, laughing and dancing, had burned itself into her memory.
So began their courtship, which lasted three years, and after that, their marriage, solemnized before an ensi of the Order of the Dark Moon—who record all such rites—and one from the Order of the Waters, to represent the Lady who was closest to Kala’s heart. When they made the decision to bring a child into this world, it was to the Bright Moon God that they turned, he who is Lover of Kala’s Lady and Duanna’s Lord both. Soon after, when the Bright Moon was riding high in the sky, they stole into the temple, leaving behind the straw doll smeared with their blood and sexual fluids all know as a dollsire.
That was how I came to be.
My mothers—amaene in our tongue—named me Ashae, for the sea. I had Kala’s skin, the colour of unbaked clay, and Duanna’s verdant eyes. The ensi, when they had a chance to examine me the next morning, pronounced me hale and strong; that was enough for my mothers. They were content that the Powers had deigned to gift them with a child. Parents with greater means were sometimes not so fortunate.
As a young child, I spent my days in the Temple of the Dark Moon, where I and my peers impressed the stories of the deities onto clay tablets. It was said that the Dark Moon God was the First to emerge from the Deep Void. After him came the Bright Moon God, our city’s Patron, as well as Patron of artists and Protector of children. The two gods were drawn to each other, and their ecstatic coupling struck sparks in the Deep Void. From these sparks Sovereign Sun was given form, a being who was neither male nor female, but femali, the third sex. Hir arrival drove the Bright Moon God and Dark Moon God apart, which is why the Bright Moon and Dark Moon have their separate courses in the sky. Hir sphere is that of leadership, and hir City is the grandest of all. After Sovereign Sun came the Lady of Waters, whose sphere is healing and all bodies of water, but especially blood. Sun and Water mingled their essences, and the Lady of the Earth was the result. Her spheres are agriculture as well as commerce. Alone, the Lady of the Earth brought forth the Sovereign of the Wild, the femali deity who rules the untamed wilderness and cares for all animal life. Sie, of all the Powers, has no human-made temples, and Hir ensi tend to be wanderers and hunters (provided they do not engage in wanton slaughter).