“He was hungry, Your Majesty,” Kya said, doing her best not to stare. Being a flower up until very recently, she had never had the opportunity to see anything more exotic than the oak tree growing outside the window or the flower freckled meadow down the way, and she found herself wanting to drink in all the strange beauty of the moon as though preparing her roots for a long drought.
“Yes,” the queen said with a faraway look in her eye. “It is in his dragonish nature to be so. Were he to stop hungering, the apples he guards would wither away into empty skins with dry, wrinkled fruit.”
Kya licked her lips against the question trying to find its way out. She glanced at the queen and then back down at her feet. Why the dragon did what he did was certainly none of her business.
“You disagree?” the Moon Queen said, her tone light.
Kya shook her head. “It’s only that he seemed content enough to be hungry. He has so much moss growing about his scales that I mistook him for a mound at first.”
“Ah.” The queen’s smile grew a little brighter. “It is for the love of his tree, for the hope of the fruit it grows, that he slumbers. Were he to take flight and breathe fire as his brothers and sisters do, the tree would be uprooted and die—no matter how much care he took. So he sleeps and dreams of the wide open sky and the feel of the wind against his face.”
Kya frowned, remembering her own place back on the windowsill in a small clay pot. The hunger that nipped at her roots as she stared at the sky. How horrible that had been, and she had never once known the joy of flight.
The queen stepped closer, her footsteps echoing in the vast hall that only held the two of them—three if she counted Hearthorne.
“Something troubles you, child?”
“It’s only that it seems so . . .” She hesitated, unsure whether the truth of her thought was permissible. The Moon Queen gave her an encouraging nod. “. . . cruel,” she finished.
The Moon Queen looked thoughtful and turned back toward her ivory throne. Kya gasped, for when the queen turned away, instead of revealing her back, another woman faced Kya, every bit a queen as the first, but this one had long raven hair and a gown of deepest night.
“Perhaps it is cruel,” the new queen said, her voice deeper than the first, but still somehow the same. “But it is a cruelty the dragon himself has chosen. He can have the wide open sky,” she waved a midnight arm to embrace the hall, “or he can nourish the greatest desires of his heart.”
For the first time, Kya dared to look the queen in the eye, for her heart wouldn’t let her do otherwise. “Why can’t he have both?”
. . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .
© 2014 by Danyelle Leafty. All rights reserved. Originally published in Curiosities of the Moon.
I hope you’re enjoying the journey so far. Can you feel the call of another quest coming shortly? Join me next Monday to learn the Moon Queen’s answer. The Moon Queen was a lot of fun to write. I mean, it’s not often the characters traipsing around my head are one person or another–yet somehow the same person–depending on which way they’re facing. The Storyteller in me senses a story in that . . .
Come back tomorrow to journey with Gwyn as she fights her way through the Garden in The Faerie Thief.