* ~ * ~ * ~ *
They sat side by side with their backs to the boulder and watched the sun set. As sunsets went it wasn’t spectacular, just the glowing orb of the sun sinking slowly below the horizon. Nakeisha shivered and Chaney put his arm around her shoulders.
“Are you cold?” he asked, pulling her closer.
“No, it’s just that this is such a desolate world,” she said. “I would not like to have to make my home here.”
“My people call worlds like this giesthenis, a dead world.”
Nakeisha looked around them, at the grey landscape in the dying light. There was no plant life, no birds or animals, not even any reptiles or insects. If it were not for the sighing of the wind there would be no sound either. She suppressed another shiver.
“There may not be any wood for a fire,” she said with determined cheerfulness, “But at least we will not go hungry.”
“How do you figure that?”
“I have dried rations with me.”
He grinned as she reached for her bag.
“Not that I’m complaining, but how did you know to bring rations with you?”
“When I work with the wind I am used to expending a lot of personal energy, which needs to be replaced as quickly as possible.”
“And now that you’ve learned control, you’re using the wind’s energy and not your own,” Chaney said, taking the ration bar she offered him.
He took a bite and chewed thoughtfully. “That’s why you fainted on the bridge, you used up too much energy pushing the Deraidne ship away.”
She didn’t answer but the animation left her face.
“Stop that,” he told her.
“Stop what?” she asked, not looking at him.
He put a hand under her chin and gently turned her face until she was looking at him. “It was not your fault. You had no way of knowing they were about to fire.”
“In my mind I know this, but in my heart?” she sighed and leaned against him. “It is a terrible thing to know you are responsible for the loss of so many lives.”
He put his arms around her and just held her, giving what comfort he could. Though he firmly believed her guilt was misplaced it was something she’d have to deal with on her own. After a few minutes she pulled away.
“I do not fancy sleeping on this hard packed earth tonight,” she said. “I think we would be more comfortable on the bed of sand on the boulder.”
“I think you’re right,” Chaney agreed, helping her up.
It was almost too dark to see by the time they settled themselves on the sand-filled hollow. Nakeisha lay with her head pillowed on Chaney’s shoulder. Together they watched the stars appear, then the moons of Anchyre started their journey across the night sky.
“Do you know the story of the moons?” Chaney asked.
“They have a story?”
“The large one is called Kandor and the small one is Shinandu. Early in its history, Anchyre was ruled by a powerful warlord in the North and an equally powerful queen in the South.”
“Their names wouldn’t happen to be Kandor and Shinandu would they?”
“Yes. Now don’t interrupt. The two were desperately in love, but a curse kept them apart.”
“It was believed that should Kandor and Shinandu ever come together, a disaster of epic proportions would befall Anchyre.”
“They may have been rulers, but they were only human after all, and eventually Kandor could stand it no longer and went to his beloved in the dark of night. She tried to resist, but was unable to withstand his charm. Their joining caused a cataclysmic explosion that blew them into the sky and caused Anchyre to become giesthenis.”
“You made that up,” Nakeisha accused, raising her head slightly to look at him.
“See for yourself,” Chaney said. “Every night since, Kandor has chased Shinandu across the sky. It’s said if he ever catches her, Anchyre will be restored to its former glory.”
“It’s a lovely story,” she said, laying her head back down. “I hope some day Kandor catches Shinandu.” She yawned and made herself more comfortable.
“Look,” Chaney pointed. “A shooting star. My people believe them to be good omens.”
“Hmm?” she murmured sleepily. “Mine make wishes on them.”
“What did you wish for, Nakeisha?” he asked softly.
There was no answer. He turned his head to look at her and her eyes were closed. The day had finally caught up to her and she was asleep. With a contented sigh, Chaney, too, closed his eyes and went to sleep.
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