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Your World, Your Story

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“Hey, Arco?” Mûn prompted softly, breaking the silence of the night.

Arco turned towards her voice, head tilted questioningly.

“What is it, Mûn?”

Mûn smiled warmly at the boy, fondly remembering her own time adventuring when she was his age.

“Do you ever take the time to just stop and look at the stars?”

Arco brought his finger to his chin, frowning thoughtfully.

“Now that you mention it, I don't think I have. Why do you ask?”

Mûn grinned brightly, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes rivalling that of the stars.

“Stargazing! I just know you'll love it.”

“Okay,” Arco replied eagerly, his cheeks pinching with the force of his grin as his arms spread towards the sky. “I trust you, Mûn!”

Mûn took a moment to bask in the admission, her heart swelling with pride that she'd done everything right. Then she stuck out her thumb with a wink, filled with excitement.

“I'm glad to hear it! Come on, this way.”

She led him to the small campfire he had built not far from his house, no longer the large red tent it had been when they first met, before treading five even steps away from it. As she lowered herself to the ground, she patted the grass beside her, furthest from the fire. Arco sat dutifully at her side, watching her carefully as she flopped back against the grass, her head cushioned by her arms as a contented smile lit her face like the moonlight that often bathed the planet. He copied her happily, breathing a joyful giggle as the grass tickled his ear.

Mûn turned to him then, eyebrow raised in question, with a laugh at the edge of her own voice.

“What's so funny, Arco?”

“The grass tickles!” he cried, running his fingers through it. Just like everything else in Deiland, the grass thrummed with magic beneath his hands, a constant reminder that the planet was as much a part of him as he was of it.

Mûn chuckled at that, shifting her gaze back to the sky. Although they shared the same galaxy, the distant planets formed different constellations than what could be seen from Ankora. On some warmer nights, without a monster in sight, she had forgone her tent so that she could memorise their stories. Many of those nights were spent with Hute, her best friend and fellow knowledge seeker. It was Hute who had taught her their origins, the Ank quick to offer the wisdom of those who gave offerings to the Temple of Life, although her teachings differed from those of Umi and the North Folk.

The Interstellar Patrol had kept her away from the minor planet for so long recently that she had almost forgotten how peaceful it was. She would have to ask for a vacation to spend some time revelling in it again.

“Tell me, Arco, what do you see?”

“What do I see?” he repeated, staring hard at the sky. “Only the stars tonight. Why?”

“The stars look different here than on Ankora, even though they are the same distant planets. As its first inhabitant, I think you should be the one to make their first story.”

“What do you mean by that, Mûn?” he asked, face drawn tight with confusion.

She hummed lightly under her breath, her eyes flicking between the stars as she pondered how to explain it.

“Well, the Ank made patterns in the sky by tracing invisible lines between stars, then named those patterns and gave each a story. Many inhabited planets share this custom, each with their own set of patterns, called constellations. The same constellation can have a new name and story to different people, too!”

“Really?” Arco asked, his eyes alight with curiosity.

“Really. For example, Hute's people have this constellation called the radish. Her tribe are farmers, you see. They created this whole story about a harvest spirit that will bless their crops, because a nearby constellation looks like a person reaching for it. Umi's tribe look at those same stars, and they will tell you that it looks like a fisherman and his catch, which serves as a cautionary tale against over-fishing. Further south, near the Temple of Fire, those stars tell of a world where an Ank is appeasing the volcano from which their volcanic rock came.”

“Volcano? There are volcanoes on Ankora? But the world is iced over!”

“There's one volcano on Ankora, and it's found on the opposite side of the planet to where we met Umi, Hute and Nidawi. Between those regions is Hute's original home, a dense, vibrant forest edged with melting ice and rough sand.”

“Will you ever take me there, to Hute's homeland?”

“I might one day. You can meet her mother, Yana!”

“I'd like that.”

Arco curled his hands in his scarf, clasped over both his heart and his crystal pendant. His eyes closed with bliss as a small smile spread across his face. When he opened them again, a quiet confidence burned in his eyes, reflected in the warm glow changing from blue to yellow between his fingers.

A comfortable silence fell over them, blanketing the pair with peace. For a long moment, the only sounds on Deiland were the breaths of fish, bubbling and bursting on the surface of the lake. It was followed by the rustling of clothes as Arco lifted his arm, tracing patterns that he could see.

“Do you know what I see, Mûn?”

She shook her head, the grass whispering protests against her cowl.

“Tell me.”

Arco slowly shifted closer to her until their shoulders touched, curling against her side. She rested her arm supportively beneath his head as he moved his own arm to direct her gaze.

“I see the whole story of Deiland. Over there is the crystal that I was born from. It strikes my planet there,” he continued, waving his arm in a wide arc to follow the curve of a sphere in the stars. “Trees grow and rocks form, and I wake up from my long sleep. Then,” he swept his arm in a flat line, following a glittering horizon. “People come to help me.”

Mûn followed his gestures as he presented his story, imagining a line of visitors in the area he was currently circling.

“There are even two smaller stars there to be Mr. Brram's head spikes!”

Arco laughed freely at his own statement, Mûn biting back a loud snort and shaking with withheld laughter.

“I think they're antennae, or horns,” she offered helpfully. He nodded his thanks, breathing through the last of his giggles.

“I know it's a bit of a stretch,” he grinned sheepishly, ducking his head behind his arm. “But above them is your ship!”

She let her gaze rise above the group, scanning for the outline of her ship.

“Oh!” she exclaimed excitedly, her free arm flying up to point at it. “That's the radish! I didn't recognise it at first, because it looks tilted from here.”

Arco beamed brightly beside her, eyes squeezed shut with pure elation.

“So we and the Ank do share the same stars after all,” he breathed. With a speed that stunned Mûn, he sat upright, waving his hands excitedly. “Show me where the person is, please?”

“Sure. It's...” she drew out the sound while she gained her bearings. “There.”

He followed her finger to the large constellation below the radish, to the figure that curled into Deiland's starry horizon.

“Brram's antennae form the base of their staff, or whatever tool the Ankoran story asks for.”

“Wow,” Arco gaped, blinking in awe as he drew the pattern in his mind. “They're a part of that Deiland. So I guess that makes them the heart of the planet.”

“That sounds perfect,” Mûn agreed, finally sitting up as well. She stretched the tension from her shoulders and rubbed feeling into her back.

“Do you feel the energy in this planet?” Arco asked quietly, tugging his scarf more tightly around himself.

“I sense the magic here, yes. It's everywhere, in every rock, tree, and animal.”

She stared up at Ankora's star, an adoring smile gracing her features as her mind reached back to when she first arrived and left the planet of the Ank. Her first adventure.

“Did you know that the Ank gave me a name?”

“The Ank called you Mûn?”

“Not quite,” she chuckled, deeply amused. “A great warrior, Harvir, granted me the name Mûn Onawa as thanks for helping their people. To them, Onawa means 'Energy of the Stars'. I think it's because I came to them from another planet, but I still love the name.”

“That's a beautiful story. What did you do that helped them so much?”

“I'm afraid that's a tale for another time,” she grinned, before quickly stifling a yawn. “It's getting late. You should probably go to bed soon.”

“Okay, Mûn. The sun will be up in a few hours anyway.”

Arco stood up, reaching his hand out to help her up. She held onto it gently, shifting her legs beneath her and allowing him to pull her to her feet.

Once she was standing steadily, he slowly wrapped his arms around her, cheek pressed into her stomach. His embrace was cautiously loose, inexperienced but needy. Her hands fell to his back, rubbing soothing circles into it as she gently tightened the hug. It was clear that he had never been held before, and Mûn refused to let his first hug be anything other than wonderful.

She leaned down slightly, wrapping one arm snugly around his shoulders. The other cupped the back of his head, her fingers gently carding through his hair. He sighed softly with relief, his body relaxing and his eyelids drooping. A low, calming hum reverberated through her body, her eyes scanning him carefully to ensure that all was well.

His breath stuttered slightly, as though he were steeling himself, but his face began to relax as the tension left his body.

“I love you, Mûn,” he mumbled into her embrace. “You're a great friend.”

Mûn smiled fondly, surprised by the words but finally closing her own eyes.

“I love you too, Arco. Sleep well, okay? Maybe we can go on an adventure tomorrow.”

“I'd-” Arco started, a wide yawn cutting him off. “I'd like that...”

He gradually pulled away from the hug, small hands sleepily holding hers.

“Goodnight, Mûn. See you tomorrow.”

Finally, he let her go, trudging drowsily back to his house. He stood in his doorway to wave to her, smiling sweetly at her broad grin as she teleported back to her ship. Tonight's dreams would be filled with stars, warmth, and the love of a family that Arco never knew he needed.