“Is this the place?”
Gage rubbed his head, speaking mostly to himself, seeing as no one was around. After several times “hanging out” with Lè, he had finally decided to take her up on the offer to visit the Cherry Moon Collective.
Given his last disastrous results with Constance, Gage had decided to play it cool with Lè and keep things casual. He had come by the flower shop once or twice to pick up an ornamental orange tree for his aunt, to help out his cousin by getting flowers for Ruby while he finished getting ready for their last date, and to buy a potted plant for his desk. He carefully spaced out his visits… two days from their last encounter in the park, three days, and then five days, so Lè wouldn’t think he was stalking her.
It had been Lè who suggested an early morning fishing trip to the park for the following Saturday. He figured since he used to go with Pablo and Jennifer he wouldn’t embarrass himself at the pond. Lè had packed a delicious lunch for them to share – extra thick maple cured ham, homegrown tomatoes, crusty loaf of bread, a bundle of purple grapes, and an autumn squash salad. As he poured two glasses of freshly squeezed apple cider from a thermos, he complimented her cooking. She laughed delightfully and told him Heather, her friend from the Collective, was the chef, and Damon, another friend, had grown the vegetables and fruits.
They spent the morning fishing and swapping stories. She shared a tale from her people about a girl who fell in love with a salmon, but how he did not care for her in return. Lè told how the girl followed the fish on its journey from the ocean upstream through creeks and rivers to be reunited with his love. The girl irritated him to no end with her endless chatting, but he put up with her because they both needed to go in the same direction. She was returning to her tribe. During the journey, she twisted her ankle climbing on some rocks, and the fish was nearly eaten by a bear. In the end, the girl nearly drowned, and the fish prayed to the Maker and asked that her life be spared, and offered his instead. As they lay gasping on the shore, she asked him why he would do such a thing, and he said, “Because that’s what lovers do.” And then he died.
Gage recalled how good Lè’s lips felt when she kissed him after she was done speaking. His brain had felt hazy and he wondered if there had been a specific reason she told him the tale. It didn’t matter. Lè was beautiful and he had enjoyed the story. Then she had invited him to come to the Collective for dinner in a few days.
He had found it easy enough. The half-acre of land was surrounded by warm, flickering torches, but no fences, beckoning visitors, human and animal to enter. Lè had told him this was to please the spirits as their way of life was open to anyone who wished to partake. Gage thought the whole idea sounded a little fruity, but the concept of friends living together was nice. He enjoyed living with his aunt and cousins for the most part, but Lè sounded so much closer to her housemates than he did… like a family… that is, if there were any houses.
“Gage?” he heard her softly call as she ran across the dew-covered grass.
He turned and smiled as she approached and took his hands.
“Espiritu aaboday ami ye,” she uttered, the words flowing like honey from her lips.
Her face broke into a beautiful smile. “Good spirits be with you.”
“Ah…” he remarked. “Good… spirits?… be with you too.. This place looks amazing…”
“Thank you,” she blushed as if he directed a comment to her personally. “Come,” she took his hands again. “Come meet my friends.”
“This is Damon,” she introduced as they walked into the garden.
The man was bent over a plant, gently tugging on the dead leaves. He stood up, giving Gage a big smile, enough to show his canines. He wrapped his arms around Gage in welcome, and sniffed the side of his head. This is the werewolf, Gage noted, attempting to swallow any feelings of discomfort.
“Hey man, good to meet ya,” Damon said.
“Uh… yeah… good spirits… I mean… good to… meet you too,” Gage hated how his voice sounded high-pitched.
Damon chuckled. “That’s Solèy’s greeting of the Nativian. Me? I’m just the hugs guy.”
“Okay…” Gage rubbed the back of his head nervously. “What are you growing here?”
“We have pumpkins nearly ready for harvest,” Lè jumped into the conversation. “And we’re growing potatoes and peppers for winter. We have a few grape vines on the back of the property and there’s an apple tree here.”
“Is that life fruit?” Gage’s eyes grew wide as Damon picked a plump yellow fruit with telltale flaming red markings.
Lè shared a look with Damon and the man offered the piece in his hand.
“Please,” Lè encouraged. “Taste it.”
“Are you sure?” Gage hesitantly took the fruit, knowing how rare the plant was.
“Absolutely,” Damon assured.
Gage took a bite of the fruit, and its golden yellow flesh squirted a sweet juice into his mouth. He was delighted, and wiped his mouth, taking another bite. Life fruit was every bit as delicious as he heard.
“Do you like it?” Lè asked, her red eyes sparkling in the dark.
“Mmm…hmmm…” he bobbed his head up and down excitedly.
“Good man,” Damon laughed heartily, and slapped Gage on the back.
Gage coughed awkwardly, and was grateful when Lè stepped forward to move the tour along to the next location. Damon returned to his gardening.
“You okay there, tiger?” Lè inquired once they were out of earshot.
“Tiger?” he frowned.
“Well he’s a werewolf and you were acting like a cat caught in a cage… or a squirrel.”
“I think I prefer tiger. I’ve never met a wolf before.”
“I am told all wolves greet by hugging and sniffing. You’re lucky you aren’t pack because he probably would’ve kissed you.”
“Excuse me?” Gage whirled to face her, stumbling backward in shock.
“Relax…” Lè soothed. “In the wild, wolves greet each other by hugging, but since they can’t use their paws, they wrap their heads around one another and sniff. It’s a sign of acceptance. Wolves in the same pack will often lick each other’s faces or teeth as a sign of affection. I’m told it has something to do with bonding.”
“Has Damon… ever…?” Gage squeaked.
“With us?” Lè shook her head. “No. There are no other weres here. But his little sister visited once and they kissed on the mouth.”
“Oh,” Gage shifted uncomfortably and shoved his hands in his pockets.
“It was brief. Like the Championnes. Teeth licking is for mates, I believe,” she smirked.
Gage laughed awkwardly and looked over his shoulder. “So why isn’t he with his pack?”
“Damon is Verbannte. Exile,” Lè explained. “Unfortunately, in Damon’s case, it was because he and the Alpha male loved the same woman. Sometimes it happens when the dominant breeding male doesn’t want competition… in this case, his older brother. When two weres of around the same age are capable of mating, it creates conflict in the pack, especially because it’s in their nature to be dominant.”
“I see,” Gage was grateful his voice was returning to normal. “That’s sad.”
“Damon is also a vegetarian and this is rare for a were,” Lè continued. “In his case, sauschlecht, very bad. To be in a pack and to refuse to partake in spoils of the hunt is offensive.”
“I wouldn’t know,” he shrugged, and then immediately frowned. “So they eat… flesh?”
“Well, they don’t eat Sims if you’re worried,” she replied with a teasing smile. “The packs form hunting parties and chase stray deer and horses much like you would imagine a human-wolf hybrid would.”
“Oh okay,” his shoulders relaxed. “So how does he hunt without a pack?”
“Damon has adopted the Nativian ways. We all support one another regardless of our natures so once a month, during full moon, our Collective goes with him for his hunt. In the Nativian culture, we hunt and release for sport instead of kill. We only take from Simterra what we need, nothing more, and we bring offerings to Nokoina,” she explained.
“Our caretaker of all the land. It is a tradition that has carried the Nativians from our ancestors on Venusia and on Terra,” Lè lifted her arms to the night sky above as if praising an invisible being.
“Huh?” Gage remarked. “I’d always heard the myths about the Nativians on Simterra originating on Venus, but how did they get from Old World Earth to Venus to here?”
A bell clanged interrupting their conversation. Lè smiled and took his hands.
“Come let us eat our meal and I shall tell you. Stories are best when the hands are active.”
It was a cool Simtember night, but not too chilly to eat outdoors. Lè led him to a covered deck where Damon and the girl, Heather joined them for the delicious meal of grilled freshwater salmon, mashed potatoes with homegrown herbs and zucchini. Gage enjoyed the story of how the Nativians came to be over the hot meal with friends and the flicker of the vanilla-scented candles. Lè was a brilliant story teller, knowing when to add dramatic pause and how to utilize the best language to keep the story interesting.
“Long ago on the Old World Earth, there was a fierce tribe of warrior women called the Amazónes. They were renowned for their mighty battle skills and their matriarchal society. They were said to possess the knowledge of the elements and they had been building a vast structure beneath the ground to one day fly to the stars. One day they were driven from their land and were captured by an invading army of Greeks. Yet instead of surrendering to their enemy, the Amazónes disappeared mysteriously from the planet leaving the Greeks to wonder what had become of their defeated foe.”
“To the stars they sailed, thousands of years before man touched the sky, and they settled on a planet known to the Old World as Venusia.The planet had vast and amazing seas filled with every kind of fish you could imagine, and had miles upon miles of lush and fertile rainforests. On the planet, there was another advanced ancient people called the Timaeuns, though I think Earthers remember them as Atlanteans.”
“Whoa!” Gage couldn’t contain his excitement. “Atlanteans?”
“The Timaeuns and the Amazónes lived together on Venusia for centuries with another ancient race known as the Drakronons. All three had once lived on the Old World. They shared Venusia peacefully until one day, a queen of the Amazónes and Timaeuns decided to hunt the Drakronons in their full dragon form because their numbers were too many. They nearly succeeded hunting the Drakronons to extinction when the remaining Drakronons destroyed the planet with their breath of fire. Venusia’s expansive oceans turned to sulfuric swamps and the green forests were vaporized into greenhouse gases. Both people groups barely managed to escape the world before their magnificent planet was destroyed and their world became an inhospitable rock.”
“What happened to the races?” Gage leaned forward and asked eagerly.
“Well, the people known as the Amazónes floated in space for decades before finding Simterra. We renounced our technological ways so as to never again war against each other or the planet. We are called Nativian, which means ‘people reborn.’ The Timaeuns settled somewhere in this sector of space, though no one knows where. As for the Drakronons, they are believed to be nothing more than a myth now. No one has seen or heard from a Drakronons in over a thousand years. They are believed to be extinct.”
“Fascinating,” Gage remarked, clapping with the others.
“That story never gets old,” Damon said, resting his hands on his neck.
“It’s more than just a story,” Lè corrected. “It’s part of my people’s his-story.”
“Lovely as always, thank you for sharing,” the woman named Heather murmured, giving Lè an affirmative pat on the shoulder. “Now should we clear dishes.”
“Of course,” Damon hopped to his feet. “You two go enjoy a game of Gnubb.”
“Nonsense,” Lè waved her hands in protest. “Everyone should help clean.”
“But you have a guest, love,” Damon winked at her and took her arm guiding her away from the table. “Come on Gage, I bet this woman can beat you at Gnubb.”
“Oh all right,” Lè conceded. “Coming Gage?”
“Sure,” he shrugged, following the beautiful and talented storyteller from the porch.
Author Note: This chapter is loaded with Simterran history. I am fascinated with ancient mythical cultures like Atlantis and the Amazon women (who are believed to have actually existed). I wanted to give some credibility to why the aliens of the sector appear humanoid, and figured having them originate on Earth and be part of advanced cultures that mysteriously disappeared would work.
The Timaeuns are named for Timaeus, a dialogue written by Plato that introduces Atlantis. Before Atlantis was destroyed, some of the Timaeuns set sail into outer space and colonized Venus with the assistance of the Drakronons.
The Drakronons were an ancient earth race who genetically spliced dragon DNA with human DNA to preserve the dragons of old. They were nearly destroyed by the Amazónes and Timaeuns. After they made Venusia uninhabitable, the Drakronons disappeared into space, and are considered to be extinct.
The Amazónes are named for the Amazons, a legendary people who are thought to have lived in ancient Turkey, were related to the Scythians, and were mythologized by the Greeks.
Nokoina is the caretaker of the earth for the Nativian peoples. She is based on the Algonquian legend of the Earth-Mother or “Grandmother” known as Nokomis. She is the primary deity for the Nativian tribes and their religion, Anima. You can read more about Anima here.
You can read more about the Drakronon (dragon-human hybrids), Amazónes (Amazons), and Timaeuns (Atlanteans) here.
I also gave you a bit expanded knowledge about werewolves. The tidbits about “wolf culture” are actual facts I discovered in my research of the grey wolf. The language I used was German as the mythology of werewolves is steeped in Old English and Old High German languages. Werewolves are considered the oldest of the supernaturals as the first settlers on Simterra were Germanic. You can read more about werewolves here.
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