[Featured thread] Stargazing

Ambrosia relaxes with her sisters after a rough night at the Rear

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Considered one of the most mysterious cities in Mizahar, Alvadas is called The City of Illusions. It is the home of Ionu and the notorious Inverted. This city sits on one of the main crossroads through The Region of Kalea.

Stargazing

Postby Ambrosia Alar on August 7th, 2017, 3:36 pm

Stargazing

70th of Summer, 517 AV

Thud. Thud. Thud.

At every pound of Cordon’s fist against the door to her home, Ambrosia winced. The reverberation of sound was enough to aggravate the throbbing pain in her left temple. She had to admit that everyone’s whispered tones on their way home had been much appreciated.

Winnie’s voice, low and smooth, barely cut through the stillness of the night. “I’m pretty sure Ambrosia has her key. Shouldn’t we just let her in and get her tucked in for the night?”

Ambrosia could feel the rumble of Cordon’s voice through his shoulder as he responded. “No. She lives with her sister, and I’d hate to barge in on her. Bethany should answer the door pretty soon.”

Briefly, Ambrosia wondered how he knew that Bethany and Ambrosia lived together but chalked it up to having arisen in one of their conversations at the Rear. She had less faith in Bethany than Cordon did. Having lived with her sister, Ambrosia knew that Bethany was an early riser and didn’t function well at night. Furthermore, Bethany was a heavy sleeper. Ambrosia was about to tell Cordon to try knocking again when she heard the door open.

“Cordon?” Bethany’s voice sounded far too chipper for this time of night. “What are you doing he-? Ambrosia?”

In a moment, Ambrosia could feel her sister’s hand on her chin and then her other hand on Ambrosia’s that was holding the drying cloth to her face. The hands against hers were warm. Ambrosia didn’t understand it, but Bethany was always warm. It didn’t matter if it was freezing outside or not; she always managed to be warm. Those warm hands that always seemed to be a comfort pulled Ambrosia’s hand away from her eye.

“By the Goddesses, what happened?” Bethany didn’t often get violent, but she considered any slight or threat or injury to her sisters to be a reasonable enough inciting factor to get that way.

Ambrosia tried to move Bethany’s focus elsewhere. “What are you still doing awake?”

“Don’t change the subject,” Bethany snapped. “What in the Hai happened?”

Sighing, Ambrosia let her hands drop to her side. “I got on the wrong side of a fist.”

Everything Ambrosia was saying was only making Bethany more and more furious. “Why would anyone punch you? No, never mind. I don’t wanna know.” Bethany’s warm hands curled into fists. Ambrosia couldn’t imagine those fists hurting anyone. “What I wanna know is who did this. I’ll kill them.”

With the severe swelling in her eye, Ambrosia had to strain to open her eyes to focus on Bethany. All her life, Ambrosia had never considered her big sister capable of hurting anyone or anything, but she didn’t like the look that was in Bethany’s eyes. Reaching out, Ambrosia caught her big sister by the shoulders and embraced her. The familiar warmth seeped into Ambrosia as Bethany wrapped her arms protectively around her. “I don’t need you to kill anyone, Bethany. I just need you to look after me tonight. Besides, it wasn’t really his fault. It was a brawl. He was throwing a blow as he spun, and I just happened to be the one who was there. He paid for it already anyhow. He got a beating.”

Bethany’s arms tightened. “I’ll always look after you.” When the oldest Alar sister released the middle sister, she thanked the three tavern patrons who had walked her home. “Thank you for looking after my sister and making sure she got home safely.” She paused. “I don’t think I’ve met you two yet.”

“Bethany, this is Winnie and Paul. Winnie, Paul, this is Bethany, my big sister.” Ambrosia rushed through introductions. “You can get to know them at the tavern sometime, but I’m sure they want to call it a night.”

“We do,” Winnie admitted. “I’ve had far too much for one night. It was nice to meet you, Bethany. Look after our Ambrosia.” She put a hand on Ambrosia’s cheek and took one last look at the wound and her slowly darkening eye. “You rest and make sure you look after that well.”

Cordon left with them after leaving brief, whispered instructions with Bethany. “Keep your eye on her tonight. Make sure she’s all there in the head.”

“I heard that,” Ambrosia grumbled.

“I’m serious. Head wounds are nothing to take lightly. You listen to your sister.”

Ambrosia smiled as she slipped into their home, ignoring whatever else he had to say with a cheery “Good night.” Though the pain hardly made it worth it, she had to admit she enjoyed having everyone concerned about her, especially Winnie and Cordon. This thought (and her pain) distracted Ambrosia so much that she didn’t notice the other young woman in the house for several ticks. When she did, it was only due to the movement of the woman’s raven black hair against the backdrop of the fire in the hearth.

She recognized her little sister right away, even with only one good eye. “Tessa! You’re why Bethany’s still awake.”

Tessa turned around from where she had been watching the flames and beamed a smile at Ambrosia. It was difficult to recognize but if one really watched Tessa, they could see that every gesture she made was made to manipulate others. Her smile always seemed to be trying to make others feel important. When she was around her sisters though, any hint of that dropped. Tessa knew she didn’t need to manipulate her sisters to get what she wanted from them. Usually all she had to do was ask, and they’d give her whatever she wanted. The youngest Alar sister jumped up out of her seat and crossed the room to her sister’s side.

“Rosie! I wasn’t expecting you for another few bells. Beth and I have be-” Tessa gasped when she saw Ambrosia’s eye. “By the Goddesses, I can’t believe it. Someone actually figured out a way to make you look not pretty.”

“Thanks.”

Taking the nearly dry towel from Ambrosia’s hand, Tessa took it to the wash basin, dunked it in, and wringed it out. “I bet they did it, because they were mad that you’re prettier than them.”

Smirking hurt as it put pressure on her already swollen face, so Ambrosia stopped almost as quickly as she had started. “Yeah. That’s absolutely the reason.”

Coming back to her side, Tessa placed the now damp and cool towel to Ambrosia’s eye once more. “You know what? I bet you’re still prettier.”

Ambrosia smiled and held the smile through the pain. Compliments like that, from the people she loved, were the ones that mattered the most. “Thanks.” This time, she meant it.

Bethany had just finished talking with Cordon and was closing the door behind her. “Shall we get you to bed, Ambrosia?”

“No.”

“No?”

“I wanna look at the stars tonight. When I was out earlier, the skies were completely clear, and the night air’s warm. Now’s the perfect time.”

Bethany was about to object, but seeing the excitement in her sisters’ three good eyes, she gave in. “Fine. Help me with the table.”

The table in their simple home wasn’t large, but it was made of solid wood. As the three of them lifted it over to the door and tried to manipulate it through, Ambrosia could feel the muscles in her arms and legs and back straining against its weight. Even with the three of them working together, they had to set it down a few times along the way. Soon though, they had managed to tip it on its side and slide it out on to the street. Once it was back on its legs, Tessa brought a chair from inside and set it on top.

All three climbed on top of the table and proceeded to make their way to the roof. Ambrosia went first. With Tessa and Bethany holding the chair stable, she stepped first on to the seat and then up on to its back while her sisters held her legs steady. From here, she could grab the edge of their roof and pull herself up while her sisters pushed her up from below. Next, came Bethany with Ambrosia pulling her up while Tessa pushed from below. Being the lightest of the three, Tessa came last, her two sisters catching her wrists and pulling her up to the rooftop.

Once they were all up, they laid on their back, trying to catch their breath. As exhausted as Ambrosia was, she didn’t even think about her breathing. It would come on its own in its own time. Not to mention, the more she thought about breathing, the more she could feel the blood pounding in her temple from her exertion and the pain worsening around her eye. Instead, her attention went to the stars. Fortunately, the houses to either side of them weren’t tall, and she had an unobstructed view of the hundreds of stars that littered the sky with their unobtrusive light.

Scanning the heavens quickly, she searched for the brightest star first. Ambrosia always found it easiest to find a constellation she knew well and orient herself to find others from there. It didn’t take her long. Priskil’s Light, better known as the Watchstar, was brighter than even the second brightest star by a magnitude of three. It sat atop the Aquiras Gate, a constellation that was a likeness of the Watchtowers that dotted Mizahar, and like the Watchstones, the Watchstar burned brightly.

Ambrosia sighed contentedly. “I found it first.”
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Stargazing

Postby Ambrosia Alar on January 29th, 2018, 3:29 am

“Damn it.” Tessa’s soft curse cut through the night. “You always win.”

It had always been a competition since they were young children. Early on, Ambrosia had let Tessa win, but now that they had grown up, Ambrosia relished winning any time she could.

“Where is it?” Tessa asked. “Show me.”

“Put your head up next to mine,” Ambrosia instructed. She felt her little sister shift next to her, and soon, Tessa’s temple was pressed up against hers. Ambrosia was relieved Tessa had laid down on her good side. Lifting her head, she pointed her finger to the sky. “Follow my finger. It’s there. It’s the one shaped like a lowercase ‘h’ with the bright star on top.”

Tessa twisted her head toward Ambrosia, and Ambrosia could feel her disapproving glare. “I know what it looks like, Rosie. I was just asking where it was.”

“And I was just saying the Aquiras Gate holds the brightest star in the sky, so it oughta be easy to spot.”

“Not all of us spend every possible moment staring at the stars.”

“I prefer to call it stargazing. It sounds more whimsical that way.”

“Fine. Most of us don’t spend all our free time at night stargazing.”

“That’s a shame.” Ambrosia glanced over at her little sister. “I’m sure the stars spend every moment they can gazing at you.”

“Oh my Goddess,” Tessa groaned. “You are so cheesy.”

Ambrosia smiled. Tessa, for as much as she loved power and being in the spotlight, hated compliments. “I’m serious though. You’re beautiful.”

As Ambrosia’s eyes went back to the skies, Tessa reached over and squeezed her arm. “Thanks.”

In the dead dark of night with any light from nearby windows blocked by the edge of their roof, the night sky was alive with light. Each pin prick in the unending black seemed perfectly set. Her eyes wandered, stopping whenever they found a familiar constellation, and her mind would dance with the twinkling light as stories of their legends played in her head.

“Tell us the myth of the Aquiras Gate.” This was Tessa’s way. She never asked anything. She demanded it, but always in a way that made it seem it wasn’t exactly that.

“I’m not much good at stories.” The last time Ambrosia had told one had been when Tessa was still young.

“Yeah.” Tessa shrugged. “You’re not mom.”

Ambrosia laughed but quickly stopped. Doing so hadn’t felt great on her face. “Yeah. It’s not even fair to compare me to her.”

Tessa laughed up at the starry skies, and their sparkling light seemed to laugh back. “Yeah, but at least you’re not Beth.”

“Petch you,” Bethany muttered from Ambrosia’s other side.

Tessa’s voice took on a mock tone of shock. “Bethany Alar, language.”

Ambrosia elbowed her little sister in the ribs. “Don’t you even. Not even the sailors can keep up with you.”

Massaging her ribs, Tessa implored again. “Tell us the story.”

“Fine. Give me a tick to remember it.”

“Tick’s over,” Tessa replied sarcastically.

Ambrosia didn’t have to punch her as Bethany was already doing so from the other side. “Shut up.”

Ambrosia considered the story for a few moments, grasping at each little detail so she hopefully wouldn’t forget any of it. “Back in the days before the Valterrian, a creature existed that rivalled the Gods and Goddesses.”

Tessa and Bethany immediately went quiet as the story began. Both of them loved to hear the stories, and even if Ambrosia wasn’t that good at telling them, they enjoyed her storytelling style.

“Its power frightened the people, and the deities fought to eradicate it from the world. But born of Djed gone wrong, holy Djed gone wrong, it could move seamlessly between the Ukalas and the mortal realm, and it escaped the most cunning attempts to kill it. Those that strove to meet it head on were surprised by the raw strength and ferocity that the beast exhibited. This beast’s power matched their own, and many Gods and Goddesses waged war against it with their champions, just to keep it at bay and to keep their followers safe from its wrath.

“Even with all their effort though, the deities were hard-pressed to do even that. But some deities who usually didn’t concern themselves with the goings-on of the world finally formed a plan. It was the lovers, Aquiras and Priskil, who came up with a way to trap the creature. Aquiras was the God of Gates, of Doors, of Pathways, and he could make a way that the creature could not travel, create a path that had not end, a gate that had no opening. But it was not a work he could complete on his own. To create a gate that could hold such a creature, he needed the combined power of another God or Goddess to build his gate strong enough to resist the beast. To that end, they met with Zintila, Goddess of the Stars, who before Her fall had rivalled some of the greatest deities in Mizahar. To rid the world of the creature and keep Her own followers safe, Zintila agreed, and together the Goddess of the Stars and the God of Gates began to build a great doorway in the heavens that would lead to a realm the beast could not escape.

“As their work began though, its light attracted the creature, and it rose from the face of Mizahar to meet the burgeoning light in the sky. The two were too absorbed in their work to face the beast, and so it was left to Aquiras’ lover, Priskil, to defend the builders until their work was done. Clothing herself in righteous light, she met the creature’s wrath head on, and the two clashed for a full day and night. Seeing her valiant effort, Syna and Leth lent the lesser Goddess their light, and for the only time in all of recorded history, Priskil’s light shone brighter than both the Sun and the Moon.

“But even with their aid, Priskil’s strength and light began to fade against the unflagging rage of the creature. Despite its seeming dependence to rely on its raw power for victory, the beast was more cunning than it had let on. It conserved its strength, waiting for Priskil’s light to falter, and when it finally did, the beast struck out with a blow certain to kill even a Goddess. But Priskil had been laying her own trap, and when the creature struck out, she released her pent up light, blinding anyone who watched. Some say that there are Gods and Goddesses who still don’t see the same today. Mortals who watched never regained their sight. The beast was stunned, and his blow swept wide. All the time, they had fought, Priskil had drawn the beast closer to the gate and, when it lunged, pushed it through. Though his gate was incomplete, Aquiras slammed the door behind the creature, and it was left as it was when the creature went through.

“Since the gate was incomplete, the realm it opened to was a portion of the Ukalas that had no exit. Every time the beast tried to use the gate, it found that it had been returned to the realm where it was trapped. And so it waits, hoping for someone ignorant enough to open the door. It is said a true champion will one day enter the gate and defeat the beast but, in doing so, will trap themselves forever.”

Bethany interrupted, but Ambrosia didn’t mind too much. The story was practically finished anyhow. “You said themselves. Mom always said herself.”

Tessa groaned in exasperation from Ambrosia’s other side. “That’s because Mom thought the only man worth in anything in this world was Dad.”

Despite how much she loved her little sister, Bethany was skeptical of any point-of-view Tessa held on any matter. “And you think men are great?”

“Of course. Men are useful. You just have to know how to use them.”

“You’re terrible,” Ambrosia chided.

“No. I’m smart.”

“I still think it sounds better with herself,” Bethany muttered.

Ambrosia sighed. Sometimes, she didn’t know what to do with her siblings. “I’ll keep that in mind for the next time I tell it. You’re welcome for the story.”
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Stargazing

Postby Ambrosia Alar on February 12th, 2018, 3:19 am

Tessa gave Ambrosia the gratitude she was looking for. “Thanks, Ambrosia.”

Ambrosia could hear something in Tessa’s voice that said she was only thanking her for another purpose.

Tessa’s next words confirmed that. “Speaking of things to be thankful for, Beth got us gifts. I begged her to let me give you yours.”

Gifts didn’t happen often. While they weren’t barely scraping by, they weren’t immensely wealthy either, so gifts were a rarity. Ambrosia quickly chippered up and forgot Bethany’s criticism. “Bethany! You shouldn’t have. What is it?”

There was a smile in Bethany’s voice. She enjoyed spoiling her sisters. “See for yourself.”

“She can’t,” Tessa chimed in from Ambrosia’s other side. “Have you seen her eye?”

“Shut up,” Ambrosia growled.

Tessa’s laughter seemed to echo here on the roof with the walls and roofs of other buildings to bounce the sound. “Sorry. Let’s get to your gift. Close your eyes. I mean, eye.”

“Petch you.”

“So is it closed?”

Ambrosia sighed. Tessa was right. Ambrosia’s left eye was close to swollen shut. “It’s closed.”

“Alright. I’m gonna hold it up so you can see. Don’t open your eyes until I tell you.”

Next to her, Ambrosia could hear Tessa shifting about.

“Alright. Open your eyes.”

When Ambrosia opened them, there was something black and made of cloth above her. She squealed in delight. “I love it.” Then, she began to laugh. “I have to admit I have no idea what it is.”

Laughing, Tessa stood up and held it up so it caught the light of a torch out on the street.

“A sash!” The craze had been sweeping the city for a good portion of the season. “I do love it.”

“Beth thought you’d wear it well as a headpiece. I think it fits you. You can’t see it in this light, but the pattern is of the night skies, the constellations. Beth got one for each of us. Mine has a sun. Hers has a moon.”

“For the three daughters of light.” It was one of their favorite stories from their childhood. “Thank you, Bethany.”

“Of course.” Bethany was beaming now. That much Ambrosia could hear in her voice. “Anything for my little sisters.”

“Now show us another one, Rosie. Another constellation,” Tessa demanded. Her head was pressed up against Ambrosia’s again.

Ambrosia stared up into the endless black and the stars that broke it. Her eyes wandered again to the Aquiras Gate, it being the easiest to find and the easiest to orient herself by. As her mind poured over the few constellations she knew, one popped into mind. “I’ll show you one, but I ain’t gonna guarantee it’s a real one. A drunk patron showed it to me one night when I walked him home.”

“I bet that’s not all he showed you.”

“Shut up, Tessa.” That came as a chorus from both her older sisters, and it only made Tessa laugh.

“Like I was saying, he was quite drunk, but it seems hard for people that drunk to make up stories on the fly. I guess it just depends on how good a bullshitter they are to begin with, how good they are when they aren’t sloshed. Anyways, if you make the base of the Aquiras Gate the ground and just follow it to the right, eventually it intersects an arc of nine stars.” Pointing up at the Aquiras Gate, Ambrosia traced the imaginary line across the starry skies until she came to the arc she had mentioned. “See them there?”

“Yeah.” As Ambrosia’s finger traced the arc, Tessa responded, and Ambrosia could feel her little sister’s head nod next to hers. “Well, he wasn’t wrong about the location of it, at least.”

“True.” Ambrosia let her hand drop back to her side. “But he said the line went straight through the exact center of the arc.”

Bethany and Tessa both laughed. “Not even close.”

Ambrosia couldn’t help but laugh at the judgment of drunks. “He also said the stars formed a perfect arc.”

The two laughed again. “Far from it. Did he tell you anything about the constellation?”

Nodding, Ambrosia closed her eyes. “He called it Semele’s Bow. Supposedly, when Semele was sculpting the face of Mizahar, she used the bow to fire the horizon all the way around the world until it returned to her. That’s what he said anyhow.”

Tessa laughed. “If she fired at that angle, the world would’ve ended up a lot smaller.”

That was true enough. The angle of the bow was pointed down into the imaginary line that came from the Aquiras Gate.
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Stargazing

Postby Ambrosia Alar on March 14th, 2018, 4:17 am

“Show us another one,” Tessa demanded in that way that was wholly her own, that way that asked without asking, that way that made her request feel like a favor to whoever she was asking.

“I really don’t know that many,” Ambrosia admitted. “I don’t get to do this as often as I’d like, and when I do, there ain’t anybody to teach me about the constellations I don’t know. Sorry, Tessa.”

Tessa’s voice lost none of its cheeriness. “That’s alright. You can just make one up. Ooh. Make one for me.”

Ambrosia sighed. Her head was much too hazy to come up with anything new, but Tessa wanted it. And if there was one thing Ambrosia knew, it was that Tessa always got what Tessa wanted. So she let her eyes scan the heavens for something that seemed like it ought to be a constellation. Finally, her eyes settled on a triangle, one made of three stars of varying brightness. She smirked to herself when she realized that nearly everything collection of three stars would form a triangle. That or a line or an arc. This one, though, seemed to be perfect or as close to perfect as stars could get. Ambrosia pointed it out to Tessa.

“See that triangle up there?”

Tessa laughed. “Which one?”

“The one I’m pointing to, smart ass.”

Tessa laughed again. “I’m only kidding. I see it. I see it. I’ve only got one question though. Why do think I’m a triangle.”

Ambrosia closed her bad eye. It was almost swollen completely shut anyhow. “It’s not just for you,” she explained. “It’s for all three of us, for the three Daughters of Light.”

“So which one am I?”

Ambrosia pointed to the star that lay upwards from the imaginary horizon that lay beneath the Aquiras Gate. “You’re the bright one. You’ve always been the Sun of our story.” She could practically feel Tessa smile next to her. “Bethany’s the second brightest, because she’s the Moon. And that makes me the dimmest, because I’m the Stars.”

“You’re not the dimmest,” Tessa interjected, “just the farthest away. You’ve always been a wanderer. You’re curiosity gets the best of you, and sometimes, that takes your mind far from here.”

Ambrosia was sure it had been a while since her mind had wandered that much, but she didn’t object. The way Tessa said it made it sound so admirable, and Ambrosia certainly didn’t mind the admiration of her little sister.

“Tell us the story of the sisters.” Tessa pushed her head a little closer into Ambrosia’s shoulder.

“Tonight?” Ambrosia was starting to feel the wear from the day and her wound, and she was more than ready to call it a night.

“Please.”

That was a rare word in Tessa’s vocabulary. There were times Ambrosia was sure her little sister had forgotten it completely. But if Tessa was willing to use it, that meant she really wanted whatever it was she was asking for.

“Alright, alright.” Her mind tripped over the story, trying to remember all its details and scrambling desperately for the way her mother had told it. Alessa Alar had loved stories her whole life, and having three daughters to tell them to had only made her love them more. She had a way with her words, a way that made them dance, a way that Ambrosia did not. She’d never tell it as well as her mother did. “The world ain’t what it used to be.” It wasn’t the way her mother started this one, but it worked. “When it was young, the world had been swallowed up by darkness, and it had refused to fight this. Beauty existed, but no one knew, because no one could see. And so generation upon generation lived and passed with no knowledge of beauty, withering away into the next generation that did the same. But one soul finally saw this. She actually saw. Something in her allowed her to see the beauty in her children and pulling on the Djed in her soul, she became the first of the burgeoning lights.”

Ambrosia hoped she was doing the story justice. To her ears, her version sounded flat and lifeless while her mother’s was always eloquent. But she refused to stop now. “She became light itself, and by her light, people saw the faces of their own loved ones for the first time. Beauty has never since been understood like it was in that moment. But her soul alone was not enough to hold this light, and whenever she lost focus, darkness flooded back in, threatening to smother even the memory of beauty. That was where her three daughters came in. They were her anchor, her memory of beauty, and they knew it. They offered to carry the light with her. So she gave to each according to their gifts.”

On occasion, Ambrosia could recite a line exactly as her mother had said it. “To the first daughter, she gave the brightest of lights. This daughter understood power and could use it to help others. Because of this first daughter’s thirst for power and desire to help others, their mother saw her the most fit to continue spreading her light to the entire world. This daughter became the Sun, and she burned more brightly than her mother ever could. Sometimes too brightly. At the end of every day, her bright light dimmed, and darkness threatened again.

“To that end, the mother gave her second daughter a different light. It was a smaller light, a borrowed light from the first, but the second daughter loved it more. She desired above all to protect her sisters and, after that, everyone else. Her own existence and well-being came last. And she became the Moon. It was her light that held the night at bay, but her light was weak. It borrowed from her sister, and sometimes, her sister had little light left to give. And so, just like her sister, her light also went out.

“And so the third sister was given what little light their mother had left to spare. This light was small, not enough to see by but enough to be seen, especially in the darkness. This last daughter’s gift to the world was her wonder, and with her little light, she sought out all the many wonderful things the world had to offer. Everywhere she went, she left a little of her light, but her sense of wonder replenished the light she had, the same sense of wonder and discovery that had given her mother the light. These remnants of her light became the Stars, and even when her sister’s lights went out, hers did not.

“And so the first Lights came into existence, and the world was never left without light again.”

As the story came to its end, Ambrosia’s sisters remained silent, pondering the story their mother had made for them.

After a few brief ticks, Tessa breathed. “That was beautiful. Nowhere near as good as mom tells it. But it was still beautiful. I’m so proud you’re my sisters.”

Ambrosia placed a quick kiss on her sister’s cheek. “Thanks.”

“That goes for you too, Beth.”

“She’s asleep.” Halfway through the story, Ambrosia had heard Bethany’s breathing enter that rhythmic state that only sleepers could find.

Tessa laughed softly, to try to keep from waking her oldest sister. “For being the Moon, she sure isn’t active at night.”
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