The moon grew large in the night sky and shone down into the deep pool hidden from prying eyes by a copse of weeping willows. The illuminated the figure of a young, nude girl, with bony ankles that looked ready to snap just from the strain of supporting her crouched body. All was calm: the wind, the water, the animals roaming in the night, and of course, her. It was almost time; the moon was at its highest. In the tense minutes before the ritual was to commence she used a short, sharp dagger to shave off long locks of curly brown hair. With each slice the pile around her feet grew until the light reflected off her head like it did the water. She glanced up to see the moon in position, and without a second of hesitation she stood up, closed her eyes, and dove into the depths of the pool.

Underneath the water, in the deep dark, was a total hush. With even the soft noises of the night gone she was swallowed in nothingness. The only sensations she could still catalogue were the slow, steady beating of her heart, the pumping of her gills, and the whisper of water against the sensitive webs between her digits. After what seemed like hours to her, what may have actually been hours as time within that space did not always pass as it should, her eyelids fluttered open. The light from above pierced the depths of the pool, and she could see the moon above her, so big and so, so bright, expanding until it encompassed everything. By then her sensitive pupils should have contracted from the onslaught of light, but they were still blown and it hurt, it hurt, she was burning, but she couldn't look away. She was drawn upwards, and as she broke the surface the girl gasped in surprise at the sting of the cold air hitting her wet, grey flesh. When she reached her peak, the girl felt as if she could almost grasp the moon, she was so close, but without warning she was plunged back beneath.

The girl found herself at the bottom of the pool again, the moonlight vanished, but as she began to despair its absence a bright glow began to shine out of the corner of her eye. She reached for whatever it was with thin fingers, and found herself grasping a smooth gem as round and bright as the missing moon. She turned it around in her hands, examining the gem, and recognizing it as a gift from the moon herself, recognizing the girl's passage to womanhood. The gem pulsed, once, twice, and on its surface shone, for just a moment, a name, Mona. The name of the moon-the knowledge of which had only been granted to a few-had been gifted to her. Why, she did not know, but hoped that perhaps Mona's light would drive away the loneliness the sea often brought her.

It wasn't until she emerged from the pool for good that Mona reappeared, not quite as large or bright as before, but instead a steady, reassuring presence. The peak of her height had passed, and the girl was tired, so, so tired, although she was not entirely sure why. She pulled herself from the pool and immediately flopped over onto her side, and lay there curled, naked and dripping for almost an hour, just trying to regain enough strength to make the walk home.


The girl headed home barefoot and half naked, pants on, but shirt slung casually around her neck. Her pack chafed her wet skin a bit, but her elation over completing the ceremony masked any discomfort. It was still dark, but Mona lit the dirt road before her, the light making it seem as if a ribbon was stretched out over the grassy moor. The path turned to rock, and the rock formed a cliff, and the girl carefully climbed down it to reach the beach, and her home, below.

She landed awkwardly on the sand, and grimaced as she felt something unpleasant squelch between her fingers when she pushed herself up. Blue eyes looked down as she lifted her hand, and found that the unpleasant something was thick and blue like the blood that ran through her veins. As she stood up on trembling legs, the girl noticed that what she hoped was not blood lay spattered ahead of her as well, and with great horror, she glanced up to see the scorched and bloody bodies of her people. Corpses floated in the water, torn apart and missing limbs, pieces gouged out of those near the shore, while the beach itself was filled with scorched bodies, flames still burning.

On instinct the young girl rushed forward, unsure of what she could possibly accomplish, but hoping that she would find someone, anyone that was still alive. She dug through the bodies, summoned waves to try to put out the fire, and screamed for help. There was no one. As she frantically searched, the girl heard a thundering roar from behind her. She whirled around in alarm, but was met only with fire and pain and burning. She couldn't see what had attacked her, couldn't really see anything through the blindingly bright flames, and before long, she passed out under the stress of the heat and the pain.

For the second time that night the moon shifted form, this time the silver light arranging itself into the ghostly form of young woman. Tendrils of moonlight snaked down to the shore, a few pulling the girl into the water, the others pushing back the fire. There was too much to stop, however, and the woman could not venture far enough from the water to push through it and stop whatever had hurt her young charge. All she could do was retreat into the briny depths, and try to salvage the girl's body from the damage wrought by the flames.