Word Count 500+
Absence of Mustache
Folding his wings, Howard stepped backward. “H…hundreds come,” he blurted, breathless. “Landing in the m…meadow.”
“So we are well met.” Luna scrutinized her companions. “Together, we will prevail.”
“A messenger, a traveler, and a…whatever Howard is…?”
“We are each more than we appear,” said Luna. “When my clan vanished, I felt small. Alone. But you two found me. Together, our potential is boundless.”
Grudgingly, Guff approached Howard. “Guff,” he said. “She is Luna. What…are you…?”
Straightening to his full height, Howard barely reached Guff’s shoulder. “Nearly the last of my kind. Dragnos. Of the Plector clan. S…solitary cave dwellers.”
“Cave dweller?” Guff exclaimed. “The crystal caves?”
Howard shifted foot to foot. “You know the caves?”
“I saw them once. The crystals…amazing. Crackling power. I feared touching them.”
Howard extracted a leather pouch from the folds of his shirt; offered it to Guff. The pouch emitted a greenish glow.
“Oh, no.” Guff waved it away. “Give it to Luna.”
She accepted the luminous crystals Howard poured into her outstretched hands, the soughing of wind in the leaves the only sound, as though even the caterpillar in the grass held its breath. Transfixed, Luna gazed at the pale green gems. When she finally spoke, her voice seemed unearthly. “Your powers, Howard, are of illumination. Light. Catching and concealing. Catching and casting. Focusing like lightning. Diffusing like water.
“My powers are of darkness, where abide moons and stars. Places between life, death, rebirth. Powers of healing and hiding. Secrets of plants, planets, quiet presence.
“Guff encompasses all, magnifying, blending, bending.” Returning from her trance, Luna smiled. “Most propitious. My clan believes a male-child is at the cusp of power just before the mark of manhood darkens his upper lip.”
Rubbing his hand over his mouth, Guff muttered, “A mustache? Then I am too old.”
“Nonsense. That is not bristles but grime.” She held the crystals out. “Feel the burn of ice, frozen starlight. Join me.”
An owl hooo-hoo-hooted. Luna considered its message. “Absolutely.” One by one, she tossed three crystals about her as she turned. “These intruders can be conquered solely by kindness. We can only hope to negate their warring nature. We act when they reach our circle of repellence.”
“H…how do you know this?” Howard stammered.
“It is the will of the trees, the birds, all things. Join me,” Luna repeated.
Darkness deepened, her words throwing a cloak over the river, the cliffs, the meadow. Luna’s voice became a chant, sing-song-y, calling to the universe. Suddenly, moonlight broke through clouds, and, reflected by Howard’s wings, illuminated the beetle-like horde: arms akimbo, stealing into the trees, congregating at the rue and honeysuckle ring.
Guff grasped a handful of crystals, tossed them toward the intruders. As crystals cascaded down, the beings shouted delightedly. Then, seeming to fade into the glow, they vanished.
Howard’s luminous wings revealed large, glinting, black barbs, strewn around the circle. Like a drawing salve, Luna’s spell had purged them of the poisonous stingers of bitter aggression.
Without another word, Luna nodded, turned, and strode toward destiny.
“W…wait!” called Howard. “We’re coming, too.”