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Creation of Life: Stardust
The first life came from the sky, encased in stone, covered in stardust. It started with a star's wish, in a cave. This cave was on a hill, though nothing could tell that yet. It wasn’t even really a cave until its mouth opened, and it did not open on its own.
Within the cave were dark stones, shaped like what would become animals. Every single one was shrouded in shadows, unable to see if they could have seen, for they were stone. They had stood there since they had fallen from the sky, many periods of countless time before, onto the flat, endless plain of earth. Since it arrived, the shaken dust from stars settled on each stone head. As the stone walls let more and more dust fall and settle, it weakened the stone. On the front of each rock there was a weak spot now. The different grains mixed in like rashes on the rock clung to the dust, allowing it to carve into the stone. And the dust kept settling. Once it breached the surface of the whole rock, it filled up the space, falling ever farther into the stone. To each rock, the dust settled in the same way. Two tunnels wound around inside the stone until there was so much dust within it that suddenly the tunnels broke away into two large cavities, connected by a small passage.
Air slipped in from outside into the cavities, slipping between the stardust. By now, while the dust inside the stone kept piling up, the dust outside had carved away a head, legs, gently curving tail, and body. With the air came a breath. The air broke in, and retreated out, filling the cavities. With the first breath, came the first beat, so strong, it shook the stone body and stardust began to fall. Stone Fox gasped. Its crumbling jaws parted, and the beat came again, stronger. Again, and again, steadily, a stone heart warmed. Stone Fox unfolded his cold legs and stood. His back and tail arched as his silver lined eyes opened wide with the sudden fear and feeling and vigor of life. A moment later, Gem Fox split from her stone case; she was gold, not grey, with deep sapphire eyes and pearl teeth. Her new voice sounded like a bird's cry in a silent expanse of field. If you listen you can hear her, for she gave several notes of her voice to the silent, small Dove that shook itself from its stone nest a moment later. She gave all but the highest notes of her voice to her stone partner. That is why gems are silent, while rock shifts and groans and cracks, and foxes can only yip and bark occasionally with high voices.
With new life in their bodies, the foxes and bird smelled the other animals in the stones around them. They blew dust off the backs and faces of the others, and then into their stone lungs, offering the breath of life so that others could enjoy it. Bright lion shook his great mane and glowing fur with help from the White Dove's gentle wings. He soon sought out Bright Lioness, who's rippling coat and intelligent eyes shone alongside her partner's in the dark cave, almost blinding the others. Stone Fox found Jay, and Gem Fox found Blue Snake, who was slow to rise in the cold, as his scales were till softening, but very alive. When it is cold enough, snakes’ scales turn to stone again, and that is why they are slow to rise until it is warmer. The lion pair sought the pair of Painted Horses, the mare steady and energetically swift, the stallion strongly built yet gentle. And Jay found Red Dragonfly, all four wings reflecting the golden light of the lions as it flew from back to back.
Now the cave was flat on the inside, with no rising stones to block the viewers that stood in awe around the lions, wondering at the light.
"Why?" Asked Jay. The Lions and others thought.
"Because," said the bold Lioness. "We have the gift of light to give."
"It is true. Why else would we be so brightly colored, if not to shed light on our new life here?" Added Lion. "But to give our gift, we must escape the dark." The animals turned toward
the walls, and began sniffing and feeling for an exit. Stone Fox and Gem Fox, extending their senses to the minerals in the cave walls around them, concluded that there was no way through the stone, but the ground beneath their paws was dirt, covered in grey dust as it was. They knew what they could do.
They had the others clear away the thick silver flakes, and had the Lions stand nearby for light and to warm the cold earth. And they began to dig. Foxes dig dens underground in honor the first fox pair who were the first to start digging to free all the animals. They dug downward, side by side, and then forward and out, periodically having Dragonfly test the air with her sensitive wings for any disturbance in the still air from above.
"Wait!" Cried Blue Snake. "What if we are searching in vain? What if there is no way out and we are stuck here?"
"Have faith, Snake." Called Gem Fox. "I can feel it. We are close to the outside."
But Blue Snake would not listen. He persisted, arguing that there was no way out and against there being anything outside of their cave. "You are digging in vain!" He cried. "There is nothing but despair! The Lions need to eat, and if they cannot than they will eat us or their lights will go out and we will be left with nothing to see by! Blind, cold, and forgotten we shall sit 'til we ourselves perish!"
"Why do you despair without first believing? Have you lost faith in us already, that you would accuse the Lions of such a thing, and then give in to despair? I do not know for certain if there is a life for us outside, but I must try to escape first." Said Stone Fox. His calm handling of the agitated reptile soothed the others, even the angered Lions and prancing Painted Horses.
As the Fox Pair kept digging, the Painted Horses nickered quietly among themselves.
"What if Blue Snake is right?" Asked Black and White Stallion, worried. "What if the Lions do turn on all of us? What do you think of that?"
"I think that Snake is too quick to despair, and that you are too gentle to be fearless. We must believe before we despair." Said Chestnut and Bay Mare, soothingly. "I feel strongly about the light the Lions give us, and if they have a gift to give, such that we may all see without them, they must escape this place."
"What if you are too quick to believe and too bold to have fear? What if it is true?" Asked Stallion again.
"What if? Than we shall perish, by fang or hunger. But I cannot worry about death when life is so new to me." Said Mare, unswaying. Stallion was strengthened by her words, and allowed her conviction to steady him.
The Foxes kept digging, the Bright Lions having to move a little closer to the hole to provide light for them and Dragonfly.
"Wait!" Cried Gem Fox suddenly. "I feel stone beneath my paws!"
This caused an uproar among the animals. Jay and Dove jumped and hovered in the air, panicked at the sudden stomping of the Painted Horses who had started at the roar of the Lions. Blue Snake took his chance.
"I knew it! There is no way out! The Lions will eat us all!"
Bright Lion roared and leapt despite his partner's attempt to restrain him, outraged. "How dare you accuse us of such a thing! It has not been long since we have all been here
together, and you are already accusing us, the larger animals with pointed teeth, of planning to eat you! We were brought about the same way you were, how can you accuse me so early on that I would eat you?" He roared.
Snake was straight as a line, paralyzed underneath his massive paw. "Exactly! If I have hardly known you, how do I know that you are not going to eat me!" He yelled, baring his fangs in fear.
Lion froze, and so did everyone, including Stone Fox, who stood at the entrance to the tunnel, watching. Lioness led Lion off Snake gently but stiffly underneath the gaze of the others. Then she stepped forward.
"We can never make you feel safe around us. The lesson is to trust. Would you rather spend your time in here scared stiff of us, or trust us not to injure you? The choice is yours." She returned to her post by the tunnel somberly; she could never assure the others of the closeness she felt to them. They were her brothers and sisters, born of the same dust and air. This closeness is what drives lionesses to hunt in prides in close formation.
Stone Fox had retreated into the tunnel to help his partner, satisfied with Lioness's handling of the situation. "Snake!" He called. "Come, please."
Blue Snake reluctantly slithered downward, sensing the Foxes' bodies ahead with heat sensing pits beneath his nose. Lion stuck his golden tail, like a torch, down into the tunnel so they could better see what Gem Fox was standing behind. A stone, another animal.
"Fear no more, Snake," said Gem Fox. "The stone I felt was him." The little rock was still covered in dust that had filtered through the ground, its lungs not yet cleared and breathing. "Would you like to give him breath?" She asked.
Blue Snake did not answer, but gently blew into the stone's face. The dust fell with a rush, and piled around Snake's body. The lungs had been cleared, and the small nose switched and the ears shot upright. Deep brown eyes opened, and Grey Rabbit stood. Gem Fox had moved in front of him so he would not be startled, and as his eyes adjusted, he seemed surprised. Grey Rabbit was found underground, and that is rabbits make their dens underground and und bushes or plants.
"There are more," he said.
"Indeed," said Stone Fox.
"Welcome," added Gem Fox. By now the others could smell the newcomer.
"Thank you," said Rabbit. "In return, let us explore the air above together." And then he pawed the earth above, once, twice, and beam of light shone through, turned his mottled grey fur silver for moment as he leapt above into the outside air. The Foxes were hot on his tail, followed by a stunned Dragonfly and enraptured Snake. Lioness pawed the earth so that she and the other animals could fit through, while Lion traced a crack in the stone wall and pushed with all his strength so the Painted Horses could be freed. Stallion joined him, quickly followed by Mare. With their combined power, they pushed out into the night.
"Now we can give our gifts so we may all live outside our cave in comfort!" Called Stone Fox. "Gem Fox gave her voice to Dove when she found her, and I will give stone the will to stand strong against the elements and hold fast in the wake of destruction, as I have encouraged everyone here to do." Gem Fox nodded her approval.
The Lions stood, their bright pelts providing the only light on Earth. "We have chosen to give up the warmth of our pelts so that we all may have light, and yet make it so we can have a period of darkness to rest, like the calm sleep before the awakening." They carved out a scoop of earth with their giant paws, and then each placed one paw in it. The light began to drain from their coats, starting from their tails and then dripping down their sides to their paws and into the hole, creating a golden orb of light. The Lions' pelts were now dull, though still bright in the orb's light.
"I know my part in this!" Called Jay. "You cannot fly, but I will take the sun into the sky and drop it, and it will rise when it has grown big enough to shed light on all." Jay took the sun in his claws and flew upward, ever higher, so that soon he could not see the others. He flew so high he could barely breath from the effort and thin air falling away from his wings, and then he dropped the sun, and let himself fall.
"When the sun rises, the sky will be blue, respecting my help by reflecting the color of my feathers." Jay said when he returned.
"We can still see all of you with our eyes alone, and I wish for all of you to be able to see, at least in part, at night," Lioness had stepped forward after thanking Jay with the others. "I give the light of my eyes to the sky, so that you can find and follow paths reflected above." She looked upwards and closed her eyes, Lion beside her. Little flecks of light appeared above as the light faded from the cats' eyes.
"Stars," said Lioness. "Will guide you from any direction, and cast light when all is dark."
Dove flew timidly into the circle, and offered her gift. She lifted above the other animals on her silent wings, and sent four winds to the four corners of the Earth.
"Wind can be as gentle as a cool breath on a hot day, or strong enough to knock you over. Do not underestimate it, for it is stronger than you know." She spoke softly but with strength, like her gift.
"My gift," said Dragonfly, "Will be water. It will sustain you, and for me can serve as a safer place to reproduce than on land." She landed in the scoop the Lions had dug out, and water dripped off her wings into the pool, and a river sprung from it, flowing over the ground until the earth gave way and let it fall through and wind away. As the water rushed passed, grasses and plants sprung up from the brown earth.
"Water sustains all life, from the plants that feed some of us to our own bodies." Dragonfly announced.
"Our gift," announced Mare, "Will be for the land. With the dance of our hooves, we will leave mountains and rolling hills in our wake, and oceans of water will wrap around and separate all land. The oceans will harbor fish and other life beneath the waves that will wash upon a shore. The wind and oceans can be dangerous together, as both too much fearlessness or fear can be, but we will always recover afterward."
"The hills and mountains will serve as refuges and homes for land and sky animals alike. Grasses will change to trees in some areas, providing shelter and peaceful territories. The land will not be flat and lifeless." Stallion added.
And with that, the pair galloped off, following the new river, the earth already changing beneath their hooves, only to return when they had circled the planet.
"I have a gift as well," stated Grey Rabbit.
"You have given more than any of us could have, Rabbit! You freed us!" Cried all the animals.
"I may have, but that was not my true gift. Mine is much smaller than the freeing of you all, but I must give it." Stated Rabbit, unwavering. "I give you the moon. It will control the oceans the Painted Horses have given, and you will be able to tell if the waters are high or low by how much of the moon glows. When the moon is full or close to full, you will be able to see at night in all but the darkest places."
Rabbit nibbled at his soft white tail, and removed half of it. Jay once again dropped the moon into the sky, marking it with grey craters with his claws. As Jay flew, small tufts of fur spun off into the sky, creating clouds filled with rain, the last of the water that had dripped from Dragonfly’s wings when she had flown over Rabbit.
"Where is Blue Snake?" Asked Dragonfly. None of them had noticed Blue Snake slithering away right after the Painted Horses left.
"Blue Snake is not grateful," accused Lion. "But we have a gift for him, if he does not have one for us. Snakes will always be our enemies; we will destroy their nests, they will stalk our cubs, and we will fear one another, as Snake has made the mistake of doing and willing us to do."
"To compensate for nothing from Snake, we should create something more," said Stone Fox. "Something that will add to the land, but not necessarily help Snake or any one of us, again, as his fear did."
And so, the animals created Man and Woman, from clay fresh from the river, a hint of stardust, and a breath.