Four hours it had been since he left her alone in the throne room. Four hours since she had said she didn’t want to be like him. Four hours was enough it seems for their battle to lay waste to acres of land and this small village.
She looked across the wreckage. Her companions darted to and fro, singing various songs to put out the fires and heal the wounded. She analyzed the battlefield as she floated in the air, doing her best to recreate the fight. Scorched earth, blackened craters, shattered hillsides. Acres upon acres of farmland ruined.
“Still no sign of him?” she asked Paia who had just flown to her side.
“No,” the star replied. “Jeoff seems to have put a spell on them both. They can’t be seen from the heavens.”
“Like the one you used to hide from Ava?”
“I suppose so.”
“Well, at least it’s clear what direction they went,” she said, looking at the path of charred forest stretching out to the west. “I’m going to keep—”
Her words were cut off at the scream of a woman. She looked down and saw a figure crawl out from a toppled house, dragging a smaller, bloodied body behind her.
“Help. Please help me,” she cried.
Without hesitation, she flew down and landed beside the woman, who shook and sobbed as she held tightly to her son.
“Does he live?” she asked.
The mother looked up and gasped at the sight of her, but not a moment later she scrambled forward and clawed at her dress. “Your grace, the Moon. Please. My son is injured. Please save him.
She looked at the boy and grimaced at the grisly sight. His bone was sticking out of his leg and he was losing blood fast. “Paia!” she called out. “Sing with me.”
“At once,” the star replied, having just landed beside her.
The two harmonized together, hands pressed against the bleeding limb. A low crack could be hard, and the bone slowly started to move back to its original place. It reconnected at the breakage point, and fresh sinew grew around it. The shorn skin closed up and knit itself back together.
She moved her hand and placed it on the boy’s forehead, continuing her song. The child’s ragged breathing slowed and became more even, and color returned to his pale face.
The boy’s mother wept tears of joy as he groaned and his eyes fluttered open. “Michal,” she cried. She rushed forward and cradled him in her hands as she sputtered.
“Mother?” he said.
“Yes, Michal, I’m here.”
“My leg. It’s…” The boy stopped and sat up. He turned to the two women beside him and gasped. “You’re the Moon.”
She gave him a soft smile.
“Your Eminence,” the woman prostrated herself on the ground. “Thank you for your mercy.”
“What happened?” she asked.
“The Champion was here. He was warring with a man. It destroyed everything around them.”
“He saved me,” the boy breathed.
The mother sniffled and took him back in her arms. “That’s right, Michal. He saved us.”
She said nothing, so the mother continued.
“The man drew an inferno from the air, and it burned our whole village. The wizard’s magic toppled the beams of our house. The Champion rushed and held up the collapsing roof for us to escape. But he took a heavy blow in the process.”
“He was amazing,” the boy said. “I want to be a hero like him.”
“We can never thank you enough,” said the mother. “The both of you. What would I have done if I had lost my precious boy.” She gave her son a firm, affectionate squeeze.
“I am glad to spare you the pain,” she said. “Today life wins over death.”
The deafening wails.
The stars above alternated between crying and singing a mournful tune that shook the ground.
Dozens of people stood in the castle throne room. Friends, family, stars. All those important from the bellmaker’s short 34 years of life. His body lay in a glass coffin, hands folded across his chest.
Keo stroked her five-year-old brother’s hair with the other as he sobbed into her skirt. She herself could cry no more, having spent the past few hours sobbing and screaming alone in her room while the stars prepared the coffin.
Lacey hugged the two-year-old Aiasa close to her chest and wept into the toddler’s hair. Keo reached out her free hand to her mother and placed in on her shoulder.
How had this happened?
What good were the past eleven years of hard-won peace if they led to this? A world without her father.
She removed her hand from her mother’s shoulder and her brother’s head. She stepped toward the coffin. She placed her hand on it. She cried.
It seems there were fresh tears after all.