All of the Sky King’s moons have been stolen. The Moon Polisher, who cares for them is too old to search for the moons and the King’s knights are far too busy to chase the thieves. Only Leora, the Moon Polisher’s apprentice is brave and determined enough to find the moons. But she’ll have to face the banished and mysterious Moth Queen first and brave the underworld just to find the smallest of the moons.
Targeted Age Group:: 7+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My daughter, Laura, asked me to write an adventure story for her, with a little girl as the hero. I wanted to write an adventure story for every little girl who wanted to be the hero in a quest story with monsters and pirates and castles.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Leora was easy to dream up. She’s not a princess (not that princesses can’t be heroes too!), I wanted her to be a regular girl with a regular life. She lives somewhere fantastical and gets to meet outlandish beasts and characters, but I wanted her to be as brave and bold and common sensical as every other kid out there. I wanted her to be someone that ANYONE could imagine being.
“I’ve come to ask the— the Moth Queen for help. The moon— actually three moons have been stolen. Nobody can find them, but the Moon Polisher said that your Queen will know where they are.”
“The Moon Polisher? Tulay allows you to call her that?” The stern voice came from behind Leora, she turned to see who was speaking. The Moth Queen was dressed in dark gray today, instead of white, and she was older, almost as old as the Moon Polisher. But Leora recognized her immediately. She made a clumsy curtsy.
“Everyone calls her the Moon Polisher, your Majesty. I don’t think anyone remembers her name. Maybe not even her.”
The Queen stared at her for a long minute with her strange gray eyes. “Why didn’t she come herself? If the moons have been stolen then she ought to have nothing to linger in the other kingdom for. It’s been so long since I’ve seen her.”
“The Moon Polisher is very old now, your majesty. Such a trip would be hard on her. I’ve come in her stead.”
“Hmmph,” said the Queen and walked quickly over to a nearby bench, as if she were angry. “And who are you to take her place? You look like little more than a kitchen maid to me.”
Leora blushed. Then she walked straight up to the Queen and looked straight into her strange, cool eyes. “I came in her place because I love her and I wanted to do her a kindness. What does it matter who I am if I wanted to help? I was a kitchen maid, yes. Now I’m the Moon Polisher’s apprentice.”
The lady in the green gown looked nervous, but the Moth Queen just smiled. “Her apprentice? Are you her daughter?”
“No. The Moon Polisher has no children.”
The Queen leaned forward, looking suddenly less stern. “What’s your name girl?”
“Leora, your majesty.”
“And you are here about the four lost moons?”
“Four?” Leora shook her head, “No, there are only three missing.”
“There were only three missing when you left. You’ve been gone a long time, almost a week. The hawthorn tree poisoned you. You’ve been asleep in the palace for days. The Moon Polisher has missed you. A few nights ago, the Sky King stopped sending the night guards with her. She cried herself to sleep over you and someone took the last moon.”
The thought of the Moon Polisher crying all alone and then waking in the dark was too much for Leora. She burst into tears. “Please let her know I’m okay,” she sobbed, “and that I’m coming home soon.” She could see more of the Queen’s ladies rushing into the little wood. The Queen looked startled.
“Tut. Tut. You don’t need to make such a fuss. I sent a bat days ago to tell her, and if that infernal cat didn’t eat it, she’ll already know you are safely here. I am pleased you are so attached to her, however. Tulay has been too long by herself. It’s good that she took an apprentice. I was just disappointed not to see her here herself is all. There, now, stop crying. Everything will turn out right in the end.” The Queen passed her a small silk handkerchief. Leora calmed herself down and wiped her eyes.
“Now,” said the Queen, “I’m sure Tulay didn’t send you all the way here without telling you that the Sky King and I don’t have the best history.”
“Begging your pardon, your majesty, but have you ever met this Sky King? The Moon Polisher said you tried to warn his great-grandfather of a betrayal long ago, and that you’ve never returned to the Sky King’s land since then.”
A few of the Queen’s ladies hid smiles behind their small hands. The Queen laughed. “Is this Sky King so different?”
“I think he is kind and patient. We have lost four moons now and he hasn’t scolded us even once.”
“Well, perhaps he is more patient than his forefathers, but I am still banned from the kingdom. We are not friends. I will help anyone that comes to me, Leora, but the Sky King’s people I will not help for free. Not even Tulay.”
Leora took the basket from her back. “I would not ask for you to help me for free. But, your Majesty, I hope someday you can be friends with the Moon Polisher again. She is very lonely. I saw the picture panel of you as girls. You must be very lonely too.” The ladies gasped but she ignored them, digging around in her basket for the nectar wine. She held the bottles out to the Queen who slowly took them from her.
“I haven’t seen a bottle of this in almost a century,” said the Queen, “made from dandelion nectar. The castle fields used to be a blanket of gold as far as you could see. But my moths and butterflies don’t visit those fields any longer. All the dandelions are gone now. Gone to the underworld.” She looked at Leora. “Which is where you must go, girl, if you want to find the crescent moon. That is what your nectar wine will buy you. The other three will require something more. But for the first, you must go to the deepest, darkest forest in the underworld. A pack of wolves hunts in the forest. The oldest and largest, the White Wolf, has your moon.”
Leora turned pale. “But he’ll eat me up!” she cried.
“I doubt it,” said the Moth Queen in a dry tone, “You’d barely make a mouthful for the White Wolf. You’ll have to be brave if you want the moons back. The crescent moon will be the easiest. If you can’t recover this one, you may as well go home and be a scullery maid again.”
Deirdre is a mom to three awesome kids, Laura and her twin brothers Ian and Aiden. Laura is the one who wanted this story, but she’s happy to share with anyone that will enjoy it.
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