What did you wish for? you murmured, pulling the blanket up to our chins.

Can't tell. I sighed sleepily and closed my eyes, huddling closer. October air was seeping through the cracks.

Fair enough. Would you like to know what I wished for? You pulled me closer, loving the fact that my body always seemed to radiate enough heat to keep the both of us warm.

Shh. Don't tell me. Leaves rustling against the tent as they fell, whispering secrets they didn't mean to tell.

Why not? Kissing my forehead lightly, reverently.

The stars are listening. Cuddling up closer.

My eyes were still closed, but I could feel your grin. Tell me... You grinned a little wider. Do you think they're watching, too?

Once upon a time, the Saint of Dim Stars came wandering down from the heavens and took form as a young girl who ground the herbs and pressed the flowers and sang sweet songs as she turned the pestle and mortar to make dye as blue as the sky fading towards midnight. Pale and fair and mute before most, her eyes were black as her night and empty as the porcelain dolls that imitated her family. In the village of Horizons In Golden Fallows, south of Singing Cranes in Jasper Emperor's Victory, she was known, though she was perhaps only a handful of days old, or centuries always there, unremarked upon but for her song and "sweet, obedient girl". And it was here that the merchants of the Far Lands came with their strange clothes and their coarse words, and they swept her up as they would any girl destined for the market.

It was only when they put out to the silver-rimed sea with their strange, silent prize and her crow black eyes that they beheld their mistake, and only until they could not turn back from the outer, swaying tides and oddness of the ocean that she sang once more. Chains would not hold her, though they held the others, pitiless, in their coarse ropes: weapons and fists would not strike her, and beneath the night, she wandered the ship, coming to alight on the full-breasted form of the figurehead, stretched prone on salted wood and crying out her descant to the stars. In time, they ceased their attempts to cast nets upon her: when her voice resonated like the howling of storm winds or the crying of songbirds, fish flung themselves on the decks in gasping adoration.

They put into Amberton Deep, and here she was felled, for the inquisitors of the temples of Frogswallow would hold no truck with miracles, and the coin of the unnerved Captain, whose hand could not fall (covetous) on the Saint's flesh, bought them swiftly for revenge. They whipped the flesh from her, pressed brands to her breasts, and corrupted what might have otherwise been incorruptible in the Homelands where the silk of Captain Lazarus was carried in chests of leather and bronze. When they cast her down to be forgotten in an oubliette, she vanished into the shadows like a rat, as forgotten as she was remembered in the village of Horizons in Golden Fallows.

On the seventh month of the seventh year of the seventh decade since the Saint descended into the foreign lands, a brown rat came creeping into the dungeons of the Temple of the Fallen Scepter. It nibbled the bread left for the newest prisoner, a dark-haired girl whose face was marked as if with wine. The vellum scrolls in the magistry speak of a conviction for witchcraft for her mother, and the marks upon the maiden: nonetheless, she shrieked at the sign of the rodent and made the sign of her strange, cloven deities until it shivered apart into the gasping form of a fair lad.

"What are you?" the witchwoman's daughter cried, holding a hand out in warding before her.

The lad smiled at her, nightblack eyes drowsy and sweet, and he hummed sweet lullabies, and in time, she relaxed her guard, and he came to lie beside her for three days and three months.

In the fullness of time, the witchwoman's daughter swelled and grew large, and the guards remarked how she often hummed to herself. The rats watched from windows often now as they passed: the hand of one of the men swelled after a bite, and he fell sick. Soon, the whispers of witchcraft grew and grew.

When the witchwoman's daughter spilled over with child, she fell ill with sepsis and passed, and the rodents fell upon her and the shrieking midwives, devouring the flesh. The child, remaining, was as white as snow, as dark-eyed as the night, and strangely silent, gazing upon her wardens with sweet eyes. Roses and honey spilled from her breath, becalming the inquisitors, and she was adopted twice, then thrice, passing as unremarked as her Saintly blood allowed, passing like night into day and like coin between hands.

In a score of years and a handful more, the Saint of Dim Stars came to Amberton Deep in indigo silk. Her feet were bare and unmarked, her legs were rimed with salt, but smooth still as if still a babe. Her face was like porcelain, her voice smelled of roses and honey. When she came to the docks, her voice lifted and lilted, singing the birds down upon the city.

They say that for seven days, the birds plagued each window and door, each ship and soul abroad. On the eighth day, she walked barefoot and sweet-scented through the streets, the harbor fell empty, the citizens fled, and the temples of the strange gods of the Far Lands lay empty.

On the ninth day, the city stood empty.

On the tenth, a new star bloomed in the western sky.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.