Getsumei watched the humans with a gaze like ice, watched them capture another Kitsune, torches blazing high to his moonlit skies. His companion, Huli Jing, a white fox with nine red-tipped tails, whimpered at the sight. Another of her young was being tortured to death.
Dismissing the Earth window, Getsumei rose from his obsidian throne and stormed out of the hall, his pet following behind. The god fumed down the moon temple’s gilded halls, straight to a portal. Stepping over the sun shrine’s threshold, Getsumei was almost blinded by the sheer brightness of its walls. As his eyes adjusted, a gentle voice greeted him.
‘Moon, my friend, it has been a while since you have visited me.’
Getsumei glared up at the sun goddess. ‘They’ve crossed the line for the final time, Haru,’ he snarled.
On a golden throne sat a tall woman dressed in white, flowers crowning her head. She stared back at him, bewildered. A burning brazier crackled next to her; a flame-shrouded peacock materialised within, fire and feathers dancing. Haru pasted a pleasant smile on her face as she stroked the firebird. ‘What do you mean, Getsu? What has happened?’
Both goddess and companion flinched as Getsumei’s hand flared bright with magic. ‘Those humans happened.’ He spat a bitter laugh. ‘Oh, my mistake, your precious sun-lovers would never do anything wrong.
‘It was you. You happened. You who told me to offer something to the humans to endear them to the moon. You who were so certain that they would love my night, that you demanded that I give them Huli Jing’s children!’
Getsumei summoned the earth window again. ‘Look! Is this love?’
Haru’s tanned face turned pale, but Getsumei refused to let her have the chance to speak, stepping closer with every word.
‘They hunt them. They imprison them in cages. Then, when my moon is high, they torture them. My moonlight has been bathed in their blood for months. When Huli Jing’s first-born, Apiyo, was killed, it was only my love for you that held me from smiting the earth in retaliation, but now? Out of the litter of 22, only the youngest, Erma still lives.’
Haru rose shaking from her throne. Before she could attempt an excuse or an apology, Getsumei turned on his heel and stalked back to the entrance. He turned back to lock eyes with Haru a final time.
‘You may be the more loved, Sun, with your precious day. However, the night should be loved too. The humans will soon see.’
As Getsumei and Huli Jing left the sun shrine, Haru watched in horror as the moon itself faded from sight and all the stars blinked out, its inky sky returning once more to the dusty blue of her day. Her companion chirped, its gaze fixed on the still-present Earth window. Now the Kitsune hunters stood still, afraid of the sudden bright sky. Their torches, once raised in triumph, now lay on the ground, flames dying.
Haru looked to her companion. ‘Oh, my Phoenix, what have I done?’
In the moon temple, Getsumei looked to the sky and screamed. He unleashed waves of magic, surrounding pillars crumbling, stone tiles cracking. Once out of breath, he turned to Huli Jing. She stared into him, waiting for his next move. Getsumei knelt and held his hand.
‘Let’s bring Erma home.’
On Earth, the humans could already notice the effects that the planet’s loss of the moon and night was having on it. Without the moon, winter scarcely existed from the sun’s relentless heat, grown so extreme that crops perish as soon as they bloomed. As nocturnal predators could not hunt without the moonlight, they were soon overrun by pests. With Haru’s sun blazing constantly in the sky, lack of sleep quickly took its toll.
Thus began the desperate praying to Haru, begging her for answers, reasons behind the eternal day, where the moon and the night had gone.
To provide some relief, Haru created rainclouds to cover the Earth, but that did very little. Haru tried to use the moon portal to go see Getsumei and try to reason with him, but it refused to open. She sent her firebird to the moon realm, but Phoenix could only go so far as a creature of the sun. Each attempt Haru made to reason with Getsumei was left unanswered. The situation seemed hopeless.
The Moon was aware of Haru’s attempts to contact him, but he ignored them. He searched desperately for Erma, not wanting the Kitsune pup to end up like her siblings. But no matter where he looked, he couldn’t find her. Deep down, he knew he needed help.
Haru paced the throne room. She could hear all the prayers from the humans, see the destruction the lack of night caused. She knew that the effects on Earth would soon be irreparable if Huli Jing’s child wasn’t found soon. Haru decided to go to Earth herself and aid Moon in the search.
When she appeared next to the moon god, he stared at her in displeasure, but said nothing. They searched for what would have been months. Haru sent Phoenix to look from a bird’s eye view, her companion eventually returning. You need to see this.
Following the firebird, Haru came across an abandoned village. Lack of resources made places like this so common. As she looked around, she heard whispers from a nearby hut. Peering through the window, she found a child holding the Kitsune pup, patting and whispering to it. Before she could rush in, Phoenix landed on her shoulder.
Look, they’ve been caring for her.
An empty bowl and several jars of water lay aside a bed of hay. Haru’s gaze softened, seeing how Erma nuzzled into the human child. It was clear Huli Jing’s youngest trusted the human.
‘Phoenix, can you find Getsumei for me and bring him here? He’ll want to see this.’
As the firebird left, Haru quietly entered the hut. The child startled, almost dropping Erma. Haru to hold up her hands. ‘I mean no harm, I’m just happy to see her alive.’
A shadow appeared outside, followed by Getsumei and Huli Jing entering the hut. Seeing her daughter, the mother Kitsune barked in joy; Getsumei stared into the human child. Then he cast his cold gaze around the hut, before looking back at the child.
‘You didn’t kill her. Why not?’
Haru looked incredulously at Getsumei, but the child responded in a whisper.
‘Because she’s like me. She’s my friend.’
Getsumei glanced at Haru and smiled, brief and rare. Then he went outside, waving his hands to the sky. The oppressive heat subsided as night fell, the stars slowly started to twinkle, and the moon emerged once more.
Haru let out a joyful squeal. Her counterpart had at last shown signs of recognising what she saw in Earth. She quickly composed herself as Getsumei looked back, his gaze icy once again.
‘Child, for your kindness in taking care of Erma, I have returned the night. However, this doesn’t excuse the humans’ treatment to her late siblings, nor the grief you have caused Huli Jing. The night will remain, but I will take back the moon every month. This is not only to remind humanity of my power over the Earth but also of the destruction their actions caused.’
Author: Rebekah Pouw is a 3rd year creative writing student. She loves writing stories especially in the fantasy genre. She also loves dabbling in mythology writing stories based on them.
Artist: Zoe Hawker is a multi-disciplinary student artist working with sculpture, installation, and painting. Her self-reflexive practice aims to decode the absurdities of our current culture.
Editors: Brock Scholte and Rory Hawkins