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Long ago, when the world was whole, the sky was empty except for the sun and the moons. On nights when the moons hid, it grew so dark that you could not see the shadow of your hand against the sky. In that time, animals could talk like people, so they held a Council to decide what to do.Author's Notes
Bear said, "I will reach up to the black blanket of the sky and claw holes in it. Then we will have more light at night."
Marsh-Owl said, "No! If you do that, I will not be able to hunt, and Mouse's kin will overrun the world."
Tundra Fox said, "Perhaps not," and licked her chops. Mouse scooted back to the very edge of the Council circle. "Nevertheless, we should do something less dramatic. I will sneak into the dens of the Tall Walkers to steal some of their fire. We can put just a bit of it into the night sky."
Ice-Wren said, "No! If you do that, you might burn up the whole sky, and then my home would melt away."
Snowshoe Boar said, "That is all too much work. I will dig up some firebell roots. Ice-Wren can plant them in the sky, where they will grow by themselves and give us a little light when the moons are dark."
Marsh-Owl said, "No! Firebell grows too fast, and with nothing to eat it, soon it would choke the whole sky."
Mouse listened to this debate going on and on, and realized that something had to be done. He snuck out of the Council and nobody noticed him leaving. He was brown all over, like the forest floor, and hard to see. Mouse had a better idea for solving the problem, yes he did.
Now in those days, Glider was the wizard of the Weasel Clan. She kept a box of magic hidden in her nest in a hollow tree. Mouse had seen it once while foraging for seeds. When Glider opened the box, the magic came out as little sparks. She would call the sparks by their names -- "Love!" "Danger!" "Wisdom!" "Success!" -- and they would do as she bid them. That box was so full of magic, surely Glider would not miss just two or three sparks.
Mouse ran to Glider's tree. Her nest was waaayyy up there. He could just barely see the crack of it. Mouse licked his whiskers and rubbed his paws nervously. Then he began to climb the tree. He climbed and climbed. The ground got farther and farther away. At last he reached the crack and slipped into Glider's nest.
Glider snored in her bed of birch leaves, her gliding membranes wrapped around her like a furry blanket. This was a good thing, for if she discovered Mouse invading her home, she would surely eat him!
Hastily Mouse searched the nest. He found the box of magic and tried to open it. The latch would not give way to his little paws. Perhaps Glider had magicked the lock. The whole box, of course, was much too heavy for him to carry.
Well, Mouse thought to himself, there was more than one way to get into a box. Mouse began to gnaw one corner of the box. He gnawed and gnawed. His sharp little teeth quickly cut through the soft wood. Just as he thought he saw a gleam --
Glider woke up. "What are you doing with my box of magic?" she screamed.
"Nothing!" Mouse lied. But a wink of light from the gnawed corner betrayed him.
"You little vandal! I will eat you up!" Glider said. She pounced on Mouse. He dodged. They scrambled around and around in the small space of the nest. Suddenly Glider's butt hit the box and knocked it into the crack. Mouse jumped onto the box, hoping to snatch a few sparks and get away. His weight was just enough to send the box plummeting through the air!
"Squeeeeeeak!" Mouse screamed all the way down.
The box smashed open on the forest floor. All the magic burst out of the box, burning Mouse's belly and paws so badly that the fur would grow back white forevermore. The sparks flew up into the sky and stuck there. Mouse dragged himself into a hollow log and hid there.
Outside, Glider floated through the sky, crying, "Calm! Trouble! Sorrow! Harmony! Surprise! Come baaaaaaack!" But they never did, and that was the end of magic for Glider and all the other wizards.
Mouse peeked out a knothole and so he learned the names of all the sparks. He paid careful attention to where they landed. The sparks had become stars, and the stars formed constellations, and something told him that might be useful.
At the very top of the sky, where north is the northest, three sparks stuck close together. As Mouse watched them over time, he realized that the middle one never moved, and all the other stars spun around it. Between Fear and Courage, the brightest star in the sky was Hope. No matter how dark the night gets when the winter is deep and the moons hide their faces, Hope shines as a guide.
This story came from the February 9, 2010 Torn World Muse Fusion. It was inspired by a prompt from Comtessa. I love star myths from around the world, and once wrote a class about them. This one is completely original yet has a traditional flavor. As far as I know, mice are not customarily associated with stars; this may be unique to Torn World.
This is a story told by Karavai, a furshirt from Itrelir.
This was sponsored by group effort with the April 2014 Muse Fusion!