The Ritual of the Rising Moon

An Order of Odd-Fish Fanfiction

Dame Mildred was excited for the Moon Festival, to be held the next night atop Grand Peak Mountain. The festival honored Quafmaf, the Pigeon of the Moon, and was held every year on the longest night of the year. There was feasting and dancing and mingling of orders; it was truly fun and exhilarating, as many of the Eldritch City festivals were.

Dame Mildred had only recently become a knight of the Order of Odd-Fish, after selecting ridiculous headgear as her specialty. She was an authority on all sorts of helmets and hats and scarves, and had a rather extensive collection of them. The festival would provide a wonderful opportunity to show off her latest addition, a squat, spiky purple thing from the Snaalian Empire, which somewhat resembled a squashed blueberry-and-echidna pie.

Sir Hendrix, her best friend since they had started out as squires, was thrilled to be a part of the festival, since he would be playing the part of Quafmaf in the Ritual of the Rising Moon.

"Look upon me whenever you feel the urge, Dame Mildred," he had often said proudly the past few days. "For I am a very important man, a man who will soon become a god! Feel free to stand close beside me, so that you may bask in my glory!"

Dame Mildred had often rolled her eyes at her best friend in the past few days.

When the morning of the festival arrived, Dame Mildred donned her squat, spiky purple hat and gazed out her window: the entire city was all a-tremble with joy and excitement, for the Festival of the Moon was a favorite in Eldritch City.

There were carnivals and dances all day long: everyone who was not absolutely required was given the day off, and everyone celebrated. Dame Mildred and Sir Hendrix danced a few quick-paced jigs together, along with their other Odd-Fish friends. Then Sir Hendrix danced alone, showing off some of the moves he had mastered as the professor of absurd and whimsical dances for the Odd-Fish. All of his peers clapped and cheered for him, though the rest of the city merely looked on in confusion.

As night began to fall, much of the city's population began the long trek up Grand Peak Mountain. Sir Hendrix and the other participants in the Ritual of the Rising Moon had gone up in the late afternoon, to set the stage and change into their costumes, so Dame Mildred went up with Dames Kendra and Ingrid. The three young knights of Odd-Fish chatted as they hiked up the mountain.

The Ritual of the Rising Moon began as the moon rose far in the distance, over the Eastern Sea of Plithimagi. The city of Eldritch had gathered around the stage, gazing with building excitement at the crimson curtains draped across it. Suddenly, the curtains opened, and Sir Hendrix, dressed flamboyantly in a silver, red, and pink feathered costume, leaped onstage, flapping gargantuan wings of silver satin and huge, red feathers. "Hark!" he called, standing in the center of the stage and stretching his "wings" up the sky. "The moon rises above yonder sea, filling the night sky with her glow of silver beauty!" Sir Hendrix pirouetted once, wings now stretched out to the sides. "It is I, Quafmaf, Pigeon of the Moon, who gives the moon her unearthly beauty and grace! Now watch, as I, Quafmaf, Pigeon of the Moon, dance the sacred dance of the Rising Moon!"

The crowd below began to cheer as Quafmaf, the Pigeon of the Moon, began a slow and graceful dance, full of twists, turns, and beautiful, arcing movements. The dance went on for half an hour at least, until the moon had reached its summit. Sir Hendrix finally stopped the elegant dance, panting, ending it with his elaborate wings outstretched, as if to enfold the entire world in his embrace. The crowd went wild, cheers of "Quafmaf! Quafmaf!" ringing out alongside calls of "Hendrix! Hendrix!"

Dame Mildred watched as Sir Hendrix's face, flushed from the dance, filled with pride as the people called out his name. She laughed, and just as the other participants, dressed as various gods and goddesses of the night, appeared onstage—

—The entire mountain gave a colossal quake.

The people on and around the stage gave a great cry, staggering as they tried to keep their footing on the shaking ground. "What was that?" "What happened?" "Is everyone okay?"

Dame Mildred, in her squat, spiky purple hat, pushed her way through the crowd. She had no idea what was going on, but she knew that she had to get up to Sir Hendrix. She grabbed the edge of the wooden platform, hoisting herself up on the stage.

Another quake shook the mountain, and Dame Mildred nearly toppled off the stage. "Hendrix!" she shouted, and he gripped her elbow. "What's happening?"

"I've no idea!" he cried in response. "But I have a feeling that it has to do with the Ritual of the Rising Moon! It happened just after the dance ended!"

Another shake, and a great crack formed in the earth, like a vast maw stretching to swallow up everyone at the festival. The crowd parted before it, frantic and screaming. Some started dashing down the mountainside, and others ran toward the stage. Dame Mildred suddenly found herself falling backwards, tumbling through the air. She shrieked when she didn't hit the ground as soon as she'd thought she would, and when she did, she looked up to see the stage floating high above her.

"Hendrix!" she yelled, bolting upright despite her aching ribs. She stretched out toward him, her fingertips brushing only air. "Hendrix!" she called again, leaping up towards him. All around her, people were stretching, jumping, calling, weeping, desperately trying to hold on to each other as half the mountain floated up into the stars. "Hendrix! Hendrix!"

She saw him, far, far above her now, leaning precariously over the edge of the stage, desperately reaching for her as half the mountain drifted off into the sky. "Mildred! Help me!"

But there was nothing Dame Mildred could do. She watched in numb silence as her friend, her best friend, floated away into the stars. Dame Mildred, in her squat, spiky purple hat, watched in numb silence as half her city, half her mountain, and half her heart floated away into the stars.