Song of the DayNight Sky

Rebecca Jones

There was a God and a Goddess; the God of the Sun and the Goddess of the
Moon. And there was one place, deep in the heart of the most perilous ocean, where wise women and spirit men were raised, some to the God, some to the Goddess. But times begin to change, and a new ruler takes over the land across the sea- a Christian ruler, who places a high value in taking down the tower of DayNight. And there are only three who have the power to stop him, but they are young, their training still unfinished, their will weak. They have no understanding of their fate, and are too inexperienced
to know the strength of control. Still, all rests of them, and on the choices they make. They are the only hope for salvation amongst the people
of the Isle.

Prologue

It had been A Long Summer, and the wise woman of the Moon Tribe had grown
weary; at her age the light was no longer just another part of the day-
indeed it had become her sole enemy. She knew she had to choose a successor, and she also knew quite well exactly who this would be. She was young yet, only six or seven, but she was the only of the pupils who still held the full sacred blood of the people, the only remaining magic child. The winter before the spirit man of the Sun had been forced into making a similar decision, as he knew his time was waning as well. He had chosen a girl, the first time since the beginning of the tribes of the Sky that the leader of the sun would be a girl, but she was one of the few left to their
race with any magic in her at all., and she was a strong, capable girl. Coincidentally enough, she was currently, and had been, lodged in the same
room as the last magic moon child since they came just as they had been
weaned form their mothers' breast. The non-magic council of elders who
would be in charge of raising the two girls to be the leaders of their people also had their eyes on a young girl who was the first ever of her race: half sun, half moon. It would be an interesting tale; the future was changing day by day, and there was no doubt in the wise woman's mind that these children would have quite a different experience growing up than she had. But they were able, and gifted, and chosen, and they would do well.
They had to, the entire race of the Isle depended on them.

Chapter One

"Maebh!" Maebh turned around, her gray eyes blinking through heavy lids, trying to shake away the image of the dark tower that had been her home most of her life away, trying to focus on reality. She did not recognise the man, but she recognised his golden hair and matching eyes, and his skin darkened by the sun. She knew he was a Spirit Man, son of the Sun God, and she wondered how he knew who she was. "My Lady Maebh-" He halted in front of her; apparently running was not his strength, "up at the tower, there's been talk. My sister, Sashlia, she was chosen last winter, chosen to be the first Wise Woman of the Sun. Just yesterday the Wise Woman of the Moon elected her successor- your daughter, Ailyis, the last full blooded Magic among them."

Maebh nodded. "Thank you." He turned and left, and she turned back around, squinting her eyes into the distance, wishing she still had the magic within her. She was but twenty years of age; she had been young when her fate had called her to lie with the last full Magic man among the Moon People, and he had left her soon afterwards, leaving her to bear the child on her own. And as soon as Ailyis was old enough to eat on her own she was taken by the people of the tower. Most children were. Maebh herself had been, but they had cast her out early, for her magic was fading.

Perhaps they had not realised that she was the last female Magic, that at the time she was the only candidate for next Wise Woman. But the Wise Woman had decided to live a generation longer, waiting for the child she really wanted, not the skinny brat who used her magic to taunt others and whose hair had turned silver thirty years early. Maebh sighed; she would live long enough to see her daughter again, to know how beneficial the place was for the girl who had no father and had a failure of a mother.

A chill went up her spine, and darkness crept into her thoughts. She knew, despite everything, that her daughter's rule would be a different one than ever before. Already, times had changed. Here in the village Moon People like herself were able to walk in the daylight; they had to, for darkness was receding. There was no longer a need for the stars to be hung in the sky, for the moon rose just as the light left, and the light never left enough for the moon to need help lighting the night sky. Fear was gripping the people; magic had faded from their race long ago, now only three Moon People held Magic, and only a handful of the Sun People held it, and none of them held it fully. They knew something was trying to cause an end to their people, but they couldn't imagine what. They had been peaceful for hundreds of years, a remote island in the middle of the Perilous Sea, where few people ventured out into, and certainly none as far as the Isle of DayNight. No, the Moon and Sun People were safe from the humans. So what was trying to destroy them? What force was against them?

***

Ailyis stood up and opened her gray eyes, drinking in the beauty of the darkness in her chamber. These last few months the darkness hadn't come on fully, which had left her restless, needing the nourishing fullness of her Goddess. She opened the door that led to the Great Stairway and looked back once at the sleeping form of Sashlia, the Sun Daughter who shared her room. Ailyis had to smile a bit, thinking of how her entire life had been spent here, in this tower, most of it spent in this room with this girl, and yet she hardly knew her. That was understandable of course; Moon People lived at night, Sun People at day. That was how they had lived for so many years on the same Isle and never had a quarrel; they never spent time with each other. Except the few times a month when the Sun and Moon would be together in the Sky, and all dwellers of the Tower would step out into the fields and pray in unity.
Walking down the stairs Ailyis ran into a girl named Leata, a girl who had one gray eye and one golden one, and whose hair would forever be caught between shades of black and gold. She was the first and only of her kind, a sort of half breed, her father a Moon Spirit and her mother a Sun Daughter. It was not that breeding between was impossible or frowned upon- they were the same kind of people, and no harm could come from it- but it just simply didn't happen because while the Sun People woke, the Moon People slept, and the same when the Moon People slept.
But tales had spun about lately, tales of the darkness receding from the village. Here in the sacred Tower, it had lessened a bit, come later, left earlier, but there was still enough time to keep the Moon People at a norm. Down in the village, the Moon people had begun wandering about in the day. And Leata, two years younger than Ailyis, was the product of a golden lady and a dark man encountering each other on a normal basis for the first time in history.
Leata was neither Sun Daughter nor Moon Woman, and thus was allowed to wander both the day and night, whichever she chose. She used to spend her time with the Sun People, as the girl who shared her room was one such, but now, at eight, Leata was ready to make her own decisions, and knew, with the times changing, that she would hear more and learn more from the Moon People.
The Moon Children of the tower filed eagerly into the Great Room at the base of the tower, sensing something was different, sensing they would finally learn about the Magic receding, the darkness fading; they would learn about their enemy.

The Wise Woman watched the children enter, sighing. It would still be ten years before Ailyis's hair would change from soft gold to midnight black, ten years before she was ready to lead the people, ten years before her Magic was fully trained. The Wise Woman knew she could not hold on for ten more years; these last four had been hard enough. She knew it was dangerous, especially now, to leave the next leader in the care of the Non- Magic Council, but she knew she had little choice. Already the Spirit Man of the Sun had left his successor to the mercy of the people who would never understand her, and she was still doing as well as she had when he had been there, supervising her training. And if what she had decided about the strength of her own chosen, Ailyis, proved itself then there was little doubt she would fair quite the same. Still, it made her uneasy, and what she was about to tell them about their new enemy didn't make her decision any easier.
"There is a long story I could tell you, one that you doubtlessly know, the story of how we began. I had not planned to tell it to you, but seeing as it ties itself in with what I tell of the future, there is little doubt I should.
"As you all know this corner of the world was wrapped in darkness; the sun had refused to shine here, in this corner of the earth, because here the Moon Goddess had placed her daughters, and some of her favorite male spirits. They began a tribe, and worshipped her without cease; she stayed with them all the time, since they did not have to close their eyes to the sun. She protected her children for seven hundred years, never needing anyone or anything to die, because no human dared enter the realm of darkness.
"Then a strange time came, a time when people believed in one god, in a superior existence, though the wiser of us knew this was impossible. But the strange belief spread and grew, and they began killing those who opposed it. So our counter tribe, who worshipped the Sun God, came to us, seeking refuge against the evil beliefs. That was the first time the sun shown on the Isle of Night. But it could no longer be called that, as now two tribes lived, one awake and alive in the golden warpath of the sun, the other, the older, more Magic People opening their eyes to the wisdom and power of the night. So the name changed to that of DayNight, and the God and Goddess upset the waters around us, keeping us safe from the humans.
"For five hundred years it had been thus; us kept away from the world of men, as our Magic fades. Ailyis is the only full blooded Magic left, and when her time comes to pick a successor, she will have a harder time. But it is time for another test to the tribe people. A young man- indeed still a boy of sixteen- has taken ruler-ship in the land across the Sea, the only land that still knows of our existence. He is one of those who believes in one god, one who calls himself a Christian. He has set his eye on this Isle, as it is the only land around his own that is not following of his beliefs. It will be some time, possibly even after your time, before he successfully makes it through the Perilous Sea, but there is no doubt that one day he will. And we cannot let him take our beliefs away; we cannot let him wipe out the Magic of the Sun and Moon People. Ailyis and Sashlia will be the ones who face the challenge of saving the People, but they cannot do it alone. From now on our soul purpose will be regrowing the Magic, putting together a defense against the humans; the People of the Sun have already been spoken to on these matters. Training begins this night, and it does not stop until the ordeal is over." The children got up, their mouths shut, following the Wise Woman out the door, into the mountains their home was nestled in. They were well trained, all just about bursting to turn to the person next to them and speak, but none daring to.
Still following the Wise Woman, they ended up traveling farther from the tower than any of them had been since they first entered the place as infants. She led them to the top of the tallest mountain, Mount Servil, and bid them stand just behind her, as she stood on a ledge. "We have little time to do this; indeed, we need to be getting back soon, or the Sun will beat us. But just look around you, see your Kingdom, see the Isle of DayNight, see what it is you must save."
Ailyis looked out, across the long expanse of mountains and forest, to where the village lay, on the other corner of the Isle. All her people were there, missing their children, plagued by the sun. She turned around, looking back at the tower. It was large, round, and black, wider at the base and growing steadily smaller. The first two levels of the place were the kitchens, the dining hall, the Great Hall, and several smaller studies and rooms for the Non-Magic council and the two Wise Ones. Then, for ten levels after that each level held three rooms, one for the boys and two for the girls, then the next thirty levels, one of which was Ailyis's own, held two rooms each, one for boys, one for girls. The last five levels, at the very top, held only one room each, all for girls. Each room held two children, one of the Sun race, and one of the Moon. And the spiraling Great Staircase led you from one end of the place to the other. It was a strange home for one hundred and ninety children, who would be there from their first bit of real food until they were deemed learned, usually at twenty or so, or the few who were kicked out before then. But Ailyis loved it, and she knew the others did as well.
The Wise Woman began leading them back down the mountain, and Ailyis felt a cold chill down her spine, and she turned to the east, squinting her eyes, knowing she'd never be able to see the land of the humans, at least, not until the humans came to them, but she knew where the chill had come from. She decided that the next time the Sun and the Moon sat together in the sky she had a few words to share with Sashlia.

Two Years Later

Eyiia clutched the coat tight around her; it had been eight years since her mother's husband had raped her and sent her off with nothing but his coat and a reminder that she was a bastard and deserved not even that. Kierya, her twin, had been luckier, much more so; she had been born with the fair hair of her mother and her mother's husband, and he had taken a liking to her, giving her a tote bag full of dresses that fit her when she was six, and one that had been used from when she was ten till now. She resented Eyiia for having dark hair and giving away their mother's deed, and hadn't offered to clothe her. Kierya hadn't been raped. Kierya looked like a Queen, sitting in her burgundy dress trimmed in gold.
Eyiia wondered what she could possibly have done to deserve her glossy black hair that had gotten her raped at six, a sister who hated her, and a world that shunned her. Why were her sister and herself the ones to be punished, and not her mother, who had committed the evil deed? Why was Eyiia plagued with strange dreams of a future that could never be. She looked up, taken from her thoughts by the arrival of a group of men, all on horseback, all wild looking, but rich also; doubtlessly the King Zao and his party of trusted men. For a moment she was calm, thinking they would pass right by, but Kierya titled her head slightly, causing the sun to reflect the gold on the neck of her dress, and one of the men turned, and he stopped the whole party.
They dismounted, and Eyiia drew her coat tighter about her. There was no doubting the expressions on their faces as they took in the two girls. "A bit far from home, aren't you girls?"
Eyiia spat on the ground beside her. "Home? What does that mean? This is where we are supposed to be, the most obvious place for two outcasts."
"Outcasts? What crime did you commit?"
Eyiia looked at Kierya, then turned back to the men. "We are bastards."
Their leader, King Zao, nodded slowly. "I know many such children, what makes you different?"
"My mother's husband knew we were the moment I was born with black hair. We were cast out. We have been here for eight years."
"You are sisters?"
"Aye, twins."
"Then why are you robed as you are, and she dressed like a Queen?"
"It was my fault my mother was discovered, I am to be punished more than the child that could have passed as pure. My mother's husband did a great honor in giving me this one garment; he could have sent me out naked and let many men do as he had done to me."
"You mean rape? You couldn't have been more than eight years old!"
"I was six."
The King blinked. "You are only fourteen?"
"This surprises you?"
He shook his head slightly, then turned to Kierya. "You haven't said much."
She shrugged. "Eyiia knows the story best."
King Zao stood there, pondering for a moment, then he said, "My youngest brother, Shepti, is a bastard, and we treat him as we would any pure brother we had. You have been wronged greatly, both of you, robbed of everything you should have had. I have a proposal to make: come to the castle with me. One of you can be my wife, and the other a great lady of esteem. What do you say?"
Kierya's face lit up. "Your wife? A Queen?"
Zao nodded and turned to Eyiia. She shrugged. "Kierya will make a good Queen, and it would honor me to be anywhere but here."
Zao shrugged, deciding not to say that he had hoped it would be the other way around; instead, he took a long piece of rope and wrapped it around Eyiia's waist, then set her on a horse and jumped up behind her. He motioned for another man to do the same with Kierya, then he rode forward, tightening his grip on Eyiia's waist when she was jolted forward by the motion.
"You and your sister are quite different from each other," He said in her ear, speeding his horse up even further.
"Are we supposed to be the same?"
"Well, raising yourselves one next to the other, I'd expected at least a slight resemblance, but you are completely different."
"I have dark hair, she has golden hair. We have the same blue eyes. She was loved by our mother, our father, and our mother's husband. I was hated by all of them, for my dark hair. She hates me and blames me for her life of exile, and tries to live as a Queen. I love her and keep her safe, knowing its my fault and wishing nothing else to happen, living as well I should. Maybe we should be similar, but we aren't. I have bad blood."
He laughed softly, moving his head forward so that his cheek was resting against hers. She stiffened slightly, then further as he said, "I think it's the other way around."
"You do realise, I hope, that Kierya is the one who intends to marry you."
"I am I that vile to you?"