The Magical Marriage of Sun and Moon
“Ilker said that the Sun is the source of Civilization,” Zacharion said, “the power that drives growth in all things and compels it into ever-greater forms of complexity and refinement. The Sun does this by organizing individuals into groups and leading them so that they accomplish together that which they cannot do alone. The drive to do this compels a centralization of authority, and if left unchecked that very fire and light can scorch the land and blind the eyes of men, seizing the will and making hives of cities and drones of men in a horrific mockery of reason.”
Yearling, eager to show his quality, responded. “The Moon watches over the darkness of night, when men are removed from the prying eyes of their fellows and are truly themselves. The Moon does not care what your title is, who is above you or below you in the structures of Men, but only who you are and what you do in and of yourself. It is the leveling way, the hidden truth of the world, where none but merit makes you or breaks you. Yet, if left unchecked it men scatter into the wilds and become not men- but animals, bereft of reason and consumed by emotion.”
Now the Witch, pleased by these youths, spoke. “This is why Sun and Moon must renew their bonds. Ilker and I undertook this task in our day, and another couple must do so sometime soon- and the resurgent enemies of our peoples know this to be true. With Ilker’s death, mine is soon to follow, and our enemies will work hard to see that there is no renewal. All of us that knew Ilker realize this, in some form or another, and they will do what they can to see us fail.”
The Witch paused, gave Zacharion a good look, and smiled. “I see now why Ilker chose you, Zacharion, for you live up to your name. What you need now is a worthy Moon-wife. I think that I can help you find her. Winning her, however, is up to you.”
“You think, then, that Zebulon’s daughter is a bad choice?” Zacharion said, curiously.
The Witch shook her head. “Ilker had a wife, other than me, my boy. That he did not mention any of them to you does not surprise me, as you did not need to know. What you do need to know is that we were not married in ourselves, but in our capacities as representing the Sun and Moon. While we engaged in the ways of a married couple, we did so only in that capacity when the sacred world called for us to do so. Thus, as he took wives to further his mission as the Sun and the head of the Solar Nation, so did I have consorts from amongst the heroes of the Lunar Nations. You too shall do this in time, and in Zebulon’s daughter you’d have a fine priestess-queen for the Solar Nation, but they are not the Moon-wife you shall have.”
Yearling moved about the room, anticipating his mistress’s next move, preparing ritual tools and laying out reagents of varying kinds before her.
“Lay out the remaining icons of the other companions before me. Through them, you shall find your Moon-wife, Zacharion.”
She drew blood from him and had him spill it over the icons, and then she took some unknown liquid from a vial and spilled that over the icons. Speaking in a tongue he did not understand, in tones too low for anything but ritual work, she took a branch from the firepit and seared the smeared icons with its flame while covering it with smoke. Each icon in turn reacted, the energy of sympathy burning the catalysts and forming flaming symbols of varying colors and radiance. Yet one burned with a silver hue as bright as a full moon, an icon made of jade inlayed with silver and edged in gold with a device of a white tiger upon it.
“Your journeys are far from complete, my boy.” the Witch said, “I remember well this one. He was the Warlord of the Sons of Ken, a ravenous eater of things most foul. The White Tiger was not just a warrior, but a predator without peer, and thus first and best amongst the warband of the Sons that he led on Ilker’s behalf. When we went our own ways after we cast the last of the Dark Lords down, he was much older and often scarred, but yet mightier than ever. It would not be surprising to see that he went home, took many wives and sired scores of children.”
“Yet the Sons of Ken are as they are because it is only the men amongst them that become those fearsome feral stalkers of the unnatural and corrupt, are they not?” Zacharion said.
The Witch nodded, confirming his curiosity.
“Then this girl would be what then?” Yearling said, puzzled, “Would she be like you then, mistress?”
“I know beyond any doubt that the women amongst those changed men are no less strong or stout, because the very nature of the Sons cannot be tamed even at the very inception of its life, so it is necessary for their women to be similar in quality despite being far more like us than the men. Wisdom, not unlike what I possess, is a woman’s duty to pursue amongst the Sons. They direct the hunts, warn of threats, and possess powers of healing and cleansing that rival those of the Humble College of Medics- powers as able to kill and afflict as they are to heal and cleanse. They are not meek or weak women, or they would not live to become women, and they judge would-be husbands accordingly.”
“The Sons are far, far from here.” Yearling said, continuing, “If you visit this White Tiger last, you may yet be ready for manhood when you arrive.”
The Witch cackled. “Indeed! What awaits you, Zacharion, is not merely a tedious task of travel with some episodes along the way. It is the sacred quest of gathering new companions for the renewal of the bond of Sun and Moon. You already sense this, do you not? Have you not already taken one into your band?”