It took a million years after the creation of Albion and the incarceration of Brutá and Hasafá for the great almighty goddess Asifá to realize she had made a mistake. The two lovers at the center of the planet had been having squabbles and disagreements for millennia, as all who are deeply in love do. But when a million years had passed and the couple at the center of the world realized they were never going to be free . . . That there was an entire world surrounding them, with no way out, they began a spat. A spat that turned into an argument that turned into a fight that turned into a long, drawn-out battle, that turned into a war that lasted for many years. At the time a violence between the two attained a level that had not been seen before throughout the entire short-lived existence of the planet Albion. Fortunately, only a million years into its very long life, the planet had yet to spawn any life. The surface of the world was in fact still very much in upheaval with earthquakes criss-crossing the globe; volcanoes arising and then sinking back down all over like a distant planet to observers that constantly hides behind its star, then reveals itself, then hides once more.
It was on no day in particular that the two gods became especially violent. Brutá threw Hasafá against one side of the core with such a level of violence that a piece of the mantle of Albion was broken asunder and flew off into space. Not wanting to be outdone in any way, Hasafá returned the favor, and in so doing, broke off another piece of the planet and also sent it hurtling into space.
Asifá observed these two momentous events on the edge of her kenning and immediately returned to the system where Albion orbited its mighty star. The great goddess worked fast, taking elements and materials from surrounding planets and then applying some of her own secret ingredients to form an impenetrable, protective barrier that she encased Albion with. It was invisible to the naked eye and still allowed the many geological events that were occurring and would continue to occur in Albion’s long future carry out as time would allow, but it prevented Brutá and Hasafá from ever causing any external damage to the planet again.
And with those two final, ever so violent acts against each other, Brutá and Hasafá entered into a period of love and respect for each other, which they promptly consummated and continued to do so for centuries to come. But Albion was already in a state of extreme upheaval, so the at times intense earthquakes and shakings of the planet due to what was occurring at its core went unnoticed.
Meanwhile the two different sized chunks of former Albion that had been hurtled into space began to settle into a stable orbit with Albion. They were on different orbital planes and perhaps, one day, in the oh so very distant future, would collide and rain down a hailstorm of meteorites that would wipe out any life on the planet within a number of years . . . But that story lies in the far off future. For now the two rocks were comfortably orbiting Albion and having little effect upon the planet. But the many revolutions helped to round and soften the edges of these rocks so they eventually became small round planetoids. At times they would be bombarded by meteors and asteroids. Both lacked any sort of atmosphere and so became cratered and pock-marked by these attacks from space. There was one time when a larger meteor made contacted with the smaller of the two rocks and threatened to dislodge it from its orbit and send it hurtling towards the mighty sun. The great goddess Asifá had become quite fond of these two orbiting rocks that she now called the twin moons of Albion. She had in fact named them: the larger was Gammá, the smaller Etá. So when she observed the event that would send Etá into the sun and oblivion, she reached in and took away the errant meteor and hurtled it into another far off galaxy.
Gammá and Etá continued to orbit Albion as a twin-moon system.
A couple of billions years passed and eventually Albion became a planet teeming with diverse life. Plants and trees of every kind on seven great islands spanning the planet. In between were mighty oceans, and some not so mighty. There were mountains, there were hills. There were rivers, there were streams. There were many different peoples from all over. Most people almost never met other people from other islands, however there was plenty of sea travel. Not all those who traveled by sea always made it to their destination, for there were strange creatures and other unknown things beneath the waters. A good number of people rarely got to know or even meet the people on the other side of their large island. But there were of course, a number that did travel greatly, and did interact much with many different people.
The Circé were part of this nomadic group.
As for the twin moons of Gammá and Etá, they exacted a most perplexing toll upon Albion and its people, although not all that perplexing to the Circé. On certain days and times of the year there were high tides and low tides with the waters around each of the seven islands. And at two specific points of the year – always occurring on the same day – there would be an extreme high tide that would have some extreme flooding and cause those who lived near the water’s edge to temporarily move to higher ground; but in a relatively short time it would be over and things would return to normal. On the “opposite” time of that special event of the year, there would be an extreme low tide, where the waters appeared to be withdrawing into their respective oceans, just as one takes in a deep breath. The shipping of goods and ferrying of people would be halted for a number of days, and then the waters would return and life would continue on as it ever had before, until the next extreme high tide or low tide event.
To an outsider it might be considered a harsh world that exacted a harsh toll on its inhabitants. But to those Albions who had lived on their respective islands for generations upon generations, it was simply the way the planet lived, and the way balance was achieved.
It was the way Albion was, and not a single one of its many different peoples would have it any other way.
[Slightly different voice]
I push my chair back from the table I have been recording my oral stories for over the last twelve hours. The man named Steve has been very kind, bringing me water and sustenance when I have needed it. I have not at any point asked, he has simply done it, and I have thanked him graciously and taking the drink and vittles. They have sustained me through this long first day of my storytelling.
I stand and walk around the room, then go downstairs and outside to breath fresh air. The night sky is above, dotted with a firmament of stars. The moon has risen, a bright white orb, and is almost full. I feel a pang in my heart that I see only one orb, not the bluish twin orbs I have become so used to on Albion. It seems a trivial thing to miss, but it makes this world feel so alien to me.
It is very clearly not my world.
But I can feel a change happening within me now. An awakening. There is a stirring of powers, of abilities I have not sensed nor felt in a very long time. It feels . . . Wonderful.
A smile alights itself on my face. Then I realize I am not alone. I turn and see Steve in the doorway behind me. He has a smirk upon his face.
STEVE: It’s working, isn’t it?
I cannot help smiling wider now. I choose not to say any words, not wishing to break the moment. I give a slight nod, the smile still wide and beaming much as it did when I first looked upon Mæve so many, many years ago.
Steve can see my growing euphoria and cannot help but be a part of it. He bursts out laughing, his joy growing with mine.
And then I cannot contain it no longer. I too begin laughing.
We laugh together under the strange night sky, on the strange rock of the Gibraltar.
Whether Jake or Monica will ever return, we know not. We are possibly the last two people of the Ostium Network.
But we do not let those potential facts affect our happiness at this moment in time.
We continue to laugh, our vocal sounds reaching up into the night and passing off into the reaches of space.
Perhaps somewhere, at some time, those sounds may reach a certain planet with two small moons orbiting a bright star. A planet called Albion.
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