Hendra’s World • Book One • Part One
They had come as far as they could underground, and now Hendra stood in the open air, under the night sky, which was bright by comparison to the deep Dwarven halls and tunnels they had travelled through to arrive at this distant southern outpost.
The Silver Moon loomed huge behind the mountains, seeming to take up a third of the entire sky. The much smaller Copper Moon, a dull green orb ringed by dull green “fleck,” hung further away and higher in the heavens.
The Copper Moon was sometimes called The Old Moon, The First Moon, or The Melancholy Moon, though the Silver Moon was never called the New Moon or Second Moon, and certainly not the Happy or Joyful Moon.
The very idea made Hendra scoff quietly to herself.
Dwarves rarely used words such as “happy” or “joyful.” She was surprised those words and others like them even existed anywhere in their languages.
Surrounding the two moons was a glimmering blanket of variegated stars, strewn throughout the heavens as though a chest of jewels had been upended and spilled across a black marble floor, although even the most perfect gemstone imaginable would be nought but a lump of clay when held up next to the dimmest of night stars. And by that same token, the most grand and glorious natural cave formations and crystal caverns below ground seemed tiny and drab once Hendra had caught her first glimpse of the wondrous dancing webs, bright clusters, and glistening streams of endless lights that fill up the night.
Every point visible, every object, every twinkle, no matter how small, or seemingly insignificant had a name, and a lesson to teach, in the form of a tale or two. Most of the bodies in the sky had several names, and some had a great many stories.
Dwarves, Brownies, Faeries, Humans, Giants, Naiads, and even Goblins all called the stars differently, and each culture, as well as thousands of cults, religions, sects, and subcultures, had developed a litany of various meanings and attributes which they ascribed to each of the thousands of objects in the sky.
Only Trolls seemed not to notice or care about the heavens.
As a young Maid, Hendra had been a voracious learner, especially when the topic was that of the kosmos, or The Great Expanse as it was most often called by scholars. She had eagerly consumed knowledge of the sky during her decades in the halls and libraries of her D’waivenschool, combing through ancient scrolls and tomes, star charts and astroglobes, then continuing her studies abroad, under the most learned and seasoned elders all over greater D’waiv’lin and beyond.
She had poured through the celestial maps of Deadmaster Khilian in the immense Kosmodrome high atop Mount Din.
She had traversed the thirty mile bridge to the Isle of the Sky to gaze through the famous Telescopes of Hadrahaim.
She had even been to Gildrah’lin where she was mentored directly by Grand Maitron Gildrha XVI, who was, until her passing, the most knowledgeable stargazer in the known world.
Now that unofficial title belonged to Hendra, who looked up and focused on one feature in particular.
Directly over their heads in the Northsky, prominent among the thousands of galaxies that make up the dense and colorful Calralian Belt, burned the Great Eye of Hel.
An intensely bright red star, surrounded by a cluster of other, smaller red stars, The Great Eye constellation also featured two stars known as the Tears of Hel — Joy and Sorrow — which serve as eternal reminders to all Dwarfkind from Hel the Great Maiter herself, of what life is, and what it can be.
If Dwarves practiced anything approaching worship or religion, it was their deference to the Great Eye, and the fables and mythologies surrounding Hel.
In another part of the sky, the Lost Planet Star and The Lonely Island Star drift side by side, surrounded by emptiness, the only two beacons of light in the otherwise barren swath of sky known as the Great Void, or Black River, that splits the dazzling Calralian Belt like molten jett. There are many beloved Dwarven stories and songs written about these two famous stars, and how they came to be lost in The Void. The Lost Planet had grown dimmer over the centuries, and was expected to disappear altogether, for reasons that were still unknown.
Hendra’s mother had told her all the many tales of these two sad stars, and sung her the well-worn songs so often that Hendra still knew them by heart, though she had only occasionally recounted them to her own daughter.
Much of Senhendra’s education had been left to others while Hendra continued to travel and explore, and eventually — unfortunately — to fight the unending fight to keep their people from being lost altogether.