For a girl who had been a flower only a short time ago, flying to the moon was still an impressive feat of the impossible.
The Curious Leaf sailed smoothly through the night, rocking gently with the air currents as it made its way up through the sky. The moon shone like a silver face that watched the world pass beneath it with a benign sort of interest.
Some believe the moon to be a person—usually a maiden, but not always—while others think it is a round object composed entirely of either rock or cheese. Of course, the moon isn’t precisely Scientific.
It is all of these things, yet none of them.
They were yet a ways out, having only just entered into the moon bay, but even from here, Kya could see the silvery white beams of wood that rose out of the waters like twin sentinels. This was the moon’s front door where the dapper walnut hull would gently knock by way of greeting and politely requesting permission to dock. The place was less a single thing like the moon, and more of a complexity of worlds woven seamlessly together, much like the ship’s compass-orrery.
Kya didn’t care about any of this—for plants rarely ever give thought to the Scientific or to the Fantastic. The moon might have been a jeweled onion, and it still would have been the most magnificent sight she’d ever seen in her three short seasons. As she drank in the moon, she had to admit that it had been well worth the trouble of going back to seed and convincing said seed to please let her out again.
The moon’s country glowed dimly into the fading night by the time The Curious Leaf washed upon its shores.
The world itself was white, if by white you meant a wide array of colors like pearl and bone and tooth and milk and diamond and a legion of colors mortals couldn’t even begin to comprehend. Colors like a dusting of sugar that flowed liquidly in what looked very much like a riverbank. Or a color that sparkled with sharp little teeth and tasted like winter and looked like bark.
Here and there buildings of sorts rose up to change the shape of the horizon. Imagine, if you will, collecting various structures that had a propensity toward roundness and a distinct distaste of sharp corners, regardless of the century they originated in, and dropped them down on star spattered fields in a place that had given up all its color—its purples and greens, yellows and reds, its blues and browns and oranges—and gained something far more beautiful in return.
And then there were the denizens of the moon itself. Kya’s mouth dropped open as she watched a short procession of one float gently down the path leading away from the lady’s house and onto a boulevard made of something that looked like spun sugar. Here and there, other people of the moon moved about, some wandering with great aplomb, while others hurried their steps, intent on purposes known only to themselves.
“Don’t forget to lower the anchor,” Hearthorne said, her eyes wide against her indigo petals as she looked around. “You never know when the winds of imagination will blow, and it would be a pity to be stranded before we’ve even begun to explore.”
Mindful of the soft waves of moonsand lapping up against the hull of the ship, Kya lowered the anchor, her eyes never straying from the bone white trees lining the harbor. Each one shone with a variety of fruits—silver orbs and a kind of melon that emitted a milky light.
“We’re really here,” she whispered, her heart fluttering just as quickly as the dragonfly-like wings on her back.
For a moment she felt lost. All this time, she’d stared up at the sky, yearning to touch it, to say hello to the sun and good night to the moon. And now that she was here, she wasn’t quite sure whether she ought to be curtseying to the moon itself or running through what looked like a meadow full of fluffy clouds nestled together as they got ready to sleep through the day.
Then her curiosity pushed her anxiety back where it belonged and allowed her to see the moon with eyes unencumbered by worry and nervous fear.
“We’re really here!”
Hearthorne stretched up as far as her stem would allow. “My people speak of the moon in half whispers and looks of awe, and our queen is named for the moon herself, and yet we never come here. I wonder why.”
“It’s all in the treaty,” a voice like the whisper of spokes in a wheel and a lock that has rusted shut squeaked. Kya started at the moon mouse perched on the bow of the ship, his eyes like two bright bits of night and his fur the color of ice crystals. He wore a bone-white silken robe that was tied about his rather ample middle with a twist of silver. He cleared his voice importantly and went on, “The Folk and the Moon Folk are kin separated by the sky. For one to travel Hither or Yon, one must come bearing the proper offering, else those seeking to go Hither must return to Yon, and vice versa.”
“Offering?” Hearthorne asked at the same time Kya curtseyed and said, “Hello. Or is it good night?” Too late did she realize she knew absolutely nothing of moon etiquette.
The moon mouse shivered his whiskers at them and bowed. “Fair met is well met.” He straightened and clasped his paws in front of him. “Now, about the offering . . .”
Return next Monday to find out what happens. 🙂