When I was little, the open sky was my roof and canvas tents my shelter. The earth was my floor. I would like to say that simple living brought peace, but I cannot; I was never suited to the life to which I was born, and for me, peace was a rarity.
The Darkmoon are a people of wanderers. For those who do not know them, the name invokes images of dark, exotic beauty, brazen deception, squalor and tawdry mysticism. As one who has belonged to them, I can truthfully say that only two things can be claimed almost universally of the Darkmoon's diverse tribe: they are hardworking, and deeply superstitious.
The Faire was only quiet in the early mornings just before dawn, and this was when I liked it. I saw only my own people then, bright costumes hanging over their shoulders as they finished preparing their stalls and games for another day and ate the morning meal standing up or sitting on mats, or on the tall stools behind their tables while they arranged their wares. Their mugs steamed with a drink the Darkmoon love, a pungent, syrupy brew made from roasted leaves. Mama said I tasted it once, when I was small. My eyes went wide "just so," she would say-- and here she would open her own beautiful dark eyes until they swallowed me whole -- "and then they stuck that way." I was a mirror of her in those days, a perfect miniature. Only my blue eyes were my own, yet I envied hers, the color of coffee swimming with flecks of gold.
Mama told fortunes. She wore her wealth on her body, gold loops circling her wrists and ankles, chiming softly halfway up to her dark elbows; coils of hammered gold with ruby eyes, like snakes, wrapped themselves around her thin upper arms. I made myself small and hid in our tent while she made herself a dusky oracle for strangers. Men and women, young and old sat spellbound before her, helpless as I was helpless to resist the pull of her spirit and those soulful eyes. I crouched in the corner and stared at my bare feet, dark with sun and dirt. I smelled the earth and incense and my mother's perfume, enthralled by the lulling and husky tones of her voice.
At night, long after I first slept, Mama would scatter her bowl of spent incense across the entrance to our tent to ward off demons and evil spirits. Then she would lower the heavy flap of canvas that served as a door and undress, peeling off the rustling red and orange silks, the peacock velvets and cinnamon satins, all woven through with threads of gold. She left them hanging like shed skins over the crates and chests that were our tables and chairs and held everything we owned. She came to bed in simple nightclothes, made for warmth, and there she would wake me, curling one of her bangled arms under my head in the dark. Sometimes she spoke to me, sometimes she sang the old lullabies the Grandmothers taught her, and sometimes she merely watched me until I fell asleep again, my eyelids heavy under the weight of night.
I loved her.