Welcome back. I have rewritten this fiction with new names for some
characters and places, hoping to make it more "mine" than it was before.
Even if you've read it before, you might want to read through it again to
make sure about the new names and changes. Any and all criticism and/or
affirmation that are, in some way, constructive will be appreciated and
most likely used.
Remember, all characters and places belong to me. If you want to use them,
please ask me before doing so and tell me how you want to use them.
A note to my friends: any peace mentioned in this story is the antique
kind. Don't ask.
The Color of Moonlight, Chapter One: A False Alarm
The sun was beginning to slip towards the horizon, spilling ever-darkening
rays over the tips of the west mountains. In the valley between the two
ranges, the silver snow-fed river curled like a snake, its far-off hiss on
sharp stones carrying even up the slopes of the mountains on either side. A
path, little-used and overgrown from years of neglect, wound up the side of
the eastern range from a small town at the foot to a low pass, crowned by a
pair of trees.
The trees were anxious. Shimoyo could tell by the way they whispered
to one another in anticipation. Their leaves rustled in an invisible
breeze, the gold veins in the fresh green leaves catching flashes and
glimmers of the dying rays. To a human, or those not used to their voices,
the trees would sound like nothing but branches in the wind. But to
Shimoyo, the slender white branches bending and shivering in the light wind
spoke of apprehensiveness. She tightened her grip on the branch next to
her, feeling the steady, ancient confidence of the giant tree pulse like a
heartbeat through her hold. All the same, Shimoyo pulled her six
magnificent wings closer around her and peered cautiously through the green
and gold leaves to the path beyond.
For a long moment, nothing stirred but the grass and trees in the
wind. Shimoyo strained her ears and was about to give up when cheerful
voices floated up the pathway to her. The seraph relaxed only slightly. No
army-no invasion, not today. As the humans rounded the last bend in the
path, Shimoyo could finally see them clearly in the light of the setting
sun. One was a tall boy; a youth by human standards, with yellowish hair
and a tall, thin build. The other was shorter, with hair the shade of wet
earth, with a slightly more round appearance. It seemed the first was
encouraging the latter to finish the last steep section of the path to the
"Come on! We're almost there! I think I can see a bit of white!"
Out of breath, the shorter boy puffed up behind. "Are you sure? It's
getting late, we should go back."
"No! There it is! I can see it!" The blond boy grabbed his
companion's arm and dragged him the last few yards to stand in front of the
twin trees. The trees rustled uncomfortably. They disliked humans from a
distance, and it had been many years since the last time humans had stood
before them. They mistrusted these humans, young as they were.
Shimoyo's eyes, deep blue in the golden sunlight, narrowed as she
glared down through the branches at the two boys beyond. She was well
hidden in the gold- and green-cloaked branches, but she didn't necessarily
want to stay hidden. These humans, naïve as they were, would not be allowed
to live to touch one of the trees or to pass between them. Shimoyo shifted
her position in the tree, freeing both her hands and keeping her balance
with her six wings. The feathers were almost transparent and glittered with
soft iridescence in the dying sunlight. As soon as the sun slipped beneath
the jagged line of the western mountains and the moon rose, the feathers
would change from translucence to solidity, silvery-white and opaque in the
The seraph watched anxiously as the two boys stepped slowly forward,
both reverence and fear shining in their eyes. Shimoyo tensed, but held
herself back from lunging at the two boys. It was one of the most basic
laws of the Seraphim-never kill unless there is no other option. Shimoyo's
pointed ears, modeled after those who created her, easily picked up the
"This is amazing! Look how beautiful they are!"
The trees shivered irritably. They did not wish to be complimented by
The blond boy turned to his dark-haired comrade and spoke in a
hushed, secretive whisper, easily overheard by the ever-watchful seraph. "I
dare you to touch the one on the right."
The shorter boy's eyes grew round with shock and excitement. Shimoyo
didn't move, but her own twilight-blue eyes, streaked with silver,
reflected in their depths a combination of horror and hatred. It was an
abomination. This lower, traitorous race would never dirty the trees by
laying their hands on them. Shimoyo whispered a single word under her
breath, if it could be called a word. It glided through the evening air,
half song and half word, a sound of liquid calm and cool darkness. The air
under Shimoyo's right hand glittered and flashed with frosty light, then
seemed to freeze into a longbow, made from the whitish-grey bark of the
trees of her home and decorated with lines and shapes of a flowing, whitish
"Wh-what about the guardians? My dad says they have eight heads and
ten dragon wings and they eat anyone who tries to even get near the trees!"
Despite herself, Shimoyo rolled her eyes and smiled slightly. The
humans had obviously twisted the stories of the Seraphim far beyond truth.
All the better for keeping them out.
The yellow-haired boy nodded solemnly and looked around the clearing. "I've
heard worse but...I don't see any around here. I think you're safe."
The brown-haired boy nodded, swallowed and stepped forward, shaking
visibly. Shimoyo held on to her longbow with both hands, summoning an arrow
with another liquid word. The seraph watched as the boy headed toward the
opening between the two trees on Shimoyo's left. The southern tree, the one
on the boys' right, shuddered violently as the human drew closer, although
the wind was only a slight breeze. The child sent a look of round-eyed fear
over his shoulder to his friend, who only nodded in encouragement. He
shuffled closer and closer to the southern tree, and Shimoyo in the
northern tree notched an arrow in her bowstring and took careful aim
through the leaves. The round little boy took another step closer to the
tree, and reached out his hand. Shimoyo pulled back the arrow just a bit
farther. There was one law in Círa that overruled all the rest-above all,
protect and preserve the realm of Círa until the rightful rulers returned
to claim it. That was the task the Seraphim had been created for. If that
meant killing a few humans who were foolish enough to attempt to touch or
enter Círa, so be it. Shimoyo made a small adjustment to her aim began to
loosen her hold on the string.
Suddenly, the sound of clear bells came bouncing up the sides of the
mountain ranges from the town by the river below. Both boys froze, their
eyes wide. Shimoyo tightened her grip on the string in surprise, noting in
the back of her mind that the sun had slid almost halfway below the
horizon. The brown-haired boy looked even more terrified then he had
moments ago, if that was possible. "The gate bell! If I'm not home, Mother
will kill me!"
The chime rang again, strangely cheerful in the tense silence. The
two boys seemed to reach an unspoken agreement, and simultaneously dashed
off down the mountain.
Shimoyo let herself breathe again, realizing for the first time that
she had been holding her breath. Her strength seemed to drain out of her,
and she slumped against the strong white trunk of the ancient tree she sat
in. Sighing, she pulled herself to her feet after a moment and, folding her
wings close against her, dropped lightly to the ground, then walked across
the pass to the other tree. She gently touched the soft silvery bark of the
southern tree, which was still quivering slightly, and whispered several
words of comfort to it. Gradually, the indignant anger of the majestic tree
faded, leaving the trademark calm confidence native to all Círäin trees.
Shimoyo turned from the tree to face the sun just as the last bit of liquid
gold slid below the jagged black line of mountains in the west. She
breathed a sigh of relief. All the Seraphim were more comfortable in the
cool calm of night than under the heat of the sun. Shimoyo shook her head
and leapt up into the branches of the southern tree. The soothing sound of
the leaves in the wind slowly lulled her into a peaceful but watchful