Eventually, she called Gustave, trying to get his opinion. With the studies he had done on old fairy-tales and fables, Evelyn hoped that perhaps he had managed to come across similar events in the past.
“I’m telling you Gustave, it just wasn’t normal! She was literally just sitting there, staring at the moon. What possible reasons could a toddler have for staring at the moon?” Evelyn asked worriedly. A brief silence followed her question before Gustave answered her.
“Are you sure she was staring at the moon?” Gustave replied. Evelyn sighed wearily.
“That’s what it seemed like,” Evelyn answered and turned around, looking at Chantia. “She wasn’t looking around or smiling or anything like that. She just sat there; staring at the moon like it was the most fascinating thing in the world.”
Gustave hummed in reply. “I’ve never heard of anything like that,” he confessed. “I’ve heard a couple of tales talking about the Full Moon, but never anything that could explain this.”
Evelyn’s eyebrows lifted slightly with curiosity. “Tell me,” she requested. Gustave laughed over the phone, his rich voice calming Evelyn’s fears slightly.
“They’re hardly the kind of stories one can tell over the phone,” he replied, his voice coloured with amusement. “It takes away the magic.” Evelyn pouted slightly. Almost as if Gustave could see her, he immediately continued. “But I’ll tell them to you when I come to visit,” he promised.
Evelyn smiled slightly, giving in. “I’ll hold you to that,” she promised. “I’ll be waiting.”
True to her word, Evelyn waited patiently for Gustave’s visit. Winter soon fell over Sunset Valley completely, covering the town in a beautiful layer of snow. Evelyn spent her days teaching Chantia different words,
and taking care of Mia whenever the baby needed her. To be perfectly honest, she didn’t love the baby quite as much as she loved her own child, but she did love the child enough to be happy whenever she took care of the little girl.
Before long, Gustave finally visited Evelyn and the children. When he saw how big Chantia had gotten, he couldn’t stop staring. Chantia stared right back, unsure what to do with the strange man that looked at her.
A couple of seconds of staring passed before Gustave appeared to realise what he was doing. He shook himself out of his stupor and leaned forward to fawn over his child.
“She’s grown so much!” Gustave exclaimed with awe in his voice before taking Chantia from her mother. The girl was a bit hesitant, but immediately became her normal laughing self when her father played with her, throwing her into the air.
Due to the large amount of snow and the bitterly cold temperatures outside, Gustave spent most of his visit staying at home with Evelyn, or with Chantia whenever Evelyn had to work. He made the most of his visit, playing with his daughter and telling her fairy-tales about nobles, dragons and fairies.
In the evenings after Chantia and Mia had been taken care of and put to bed, the couple spent time with each other, merely enjoying the other’s presence.
One night, Evelyn remembered Gustave’s promise to her. In the chaos and contentment surrounding his visit, she had completely forgotten about the phone call she had made previously.
“You promised me tales,” she reminded him playfully. Gustave laughed at the reminder before smiling gently at her.
“That I did,” he agreed and pressed a gentle kiss onto her lips before sitting on the couch, gesturing at her to join him. She did, cuddling into his side and making herself comfortable.
A comfortable silence settled on them as Gustave thought of the best way to start. Finally, after a couple of minutes, his voice filled the air.
“The tale I’m about to tell you isn’t a very happy one,” he warned her. “It’s actually a rather morbid one, but it is the one I remember the best,” he explained. Evelyn nodded and snuggled deeper into his side.
“Okay,” she agreed. Gustave smiled at her and settled into a more comfortable position before starting his tale.
‘When night falls and the foreboding Full Moon rises, bolt the doors, secure the shutters and no matter what, do not step outside. When the Full Moon rises, the night belongs to the Wilds.’ This is the warning that eons of generations have passed on, from mother to child, from master to apprentice.
On the night of the Full Moon, the borders between our world and the next are linked. On this one special night, the wild magic of our world’s sister crosses onto our own and saturates the very air itself. Only denizens of that world can survive the magic.
In the early hours of the moonrise, the night belongs to the Wilds. The Wilds – denizens of a world so close to our own, yet always foreign – prey on the living, leaving behind mere husks of ash when they’re done feeding.
Those caught without shelter when the Full Moon rises are forever damned; never seen, never heard, they drift alone, belonging neither to this world nor the next. The Damned envy the living and resent them.
For eons the cycle has continued, until at last the Damned totalled more than the living. They mimicked the Wilds and preyed on the living, even when the Full Moon has long since passed beyond the horizon. The Keeper of Souls and Balance witnessed the senseless hunts and felt sorrow, for he lacked the magic to free the Damned from their curse; except on the nights when the Full Moon rises. And thus, just like the early hours of the moonrise belong to the Wilds, the later hours belong to the Keeper.
When the Full Moon reaches its zenith, the Wilds and the Damned start running. The Wilds return to their own world, but the Damned has nowhere to return to, and thus they run until finally the Keeper is upon them. When the Keeper is hunting, he spares none: Wild, Living or Damned, all fall before his blade. There is no escape. So, when the foreboding Full Moon reaches its zenith, bolt the doors, secure the shutters and no matter what, do not step outside. When the Full Moon reaches its zenith, the Keeper begins his hunt.
But when the Full Moon passes beyond the horizon and the magic fades from the air, the Keeper’s Hunt comes to an end. The Hunted Damned are finally relieved of their curse and with gratitude in their colourless eyes, they thank the Keeper and move on to a world of their own, never to be seen by the Living again.
Silence. The snow drifted down to the white-clad soil in a cold, silent dance, but inside the house Evelyn was warm and comfortable. Gustave’s chest rose gently with each breath; his presence and the warmth he radiated was enough to envelop her in a sensation of safety.
It was a beautiful tale. Solemn and definitely slightly morbid, but even so, it was beautiful. She could almost see the scenes in her mind: the Wilds, the Damned and the Keeper. It brought an ache to her heart.
“That’s beautiful,” she murmured softly, still enchanted by the spell of the tale. She turned her head, looking up at Gustave. “Do you think any of that is real?”
Gustave laughed, his head thrown back. His rich laughter sounded through the room, filling Evelyn with warmth. She really did love spending time with him. She so desperately wished he could stay with her, but she knew it wasn’t possible. Not at the current stage of their lives.
“Of course not!” Gustave stated with laughter in his eyes, pulling Evelyn out of her thoughts and back into the conversation. “It’s just a tale I heard many years ago. The woman who told it to me wove it in such a magical way that I simply couldn’t forget it,” he confessed. “You must agree, there is a certain type of magic in the story.”
Evelyn smiled and leaned in, planting a soft kiss on his lips. “There is,” she agreed softly, her lips moving against his.
Her hands moved automatically to his face in a gentle caress and she smiled when she felt his hand slip around her waist, pulling her slightly closer to him. The moment was absolutely magic, with the snow continuing to fall in a slow, unending dance in rhythm to the soft music playing from the stereo and the way Gustave’s lips moved lovingly with hers. To Evelyn, the moment was absolutely perfect. She never wanted it to stop.
I really enjoyed writing this chapter. Getting the shots for the story was somewhat of a challenge, but overall I'm quite happy about it. Oh, and in the last two scenes the icicles are missing, because I had to go back to shoot those scenes and my game decided that I wasn't allowed to have icicles in my shots -_-. Still, it was a rather fun chapter to write.