The Cerulean (Untitled Duology, #1)(4)

Sera was curious to see what a male looked like. Cerulean did not need males to procreate; they contained that power within their own bodies. Her purple mother had explained it to Sera when she was twelve, how she carried an egg inside her womb that had split when it was ready and formed Sera. But in Kaolin and Pelago it took one male and one female to make a child, and of course, any information about the planet had unleashed another round of questions, and her green mother did not know nearly enough about the two countries to satisfy Sera’s curiosity.

“Other green mothers in times past knew more,” she had said. “Especially in the days of old, when we used to visit the planets themselves. But we do not go down onto them anymore.”

“Why not?” Sera had asked. It appealed to her greatly, the idea of visiting Kaolin and Pelago. What did the people look like? What sort of clothes might they wear? Were their dwellings made of sunglass like the Cerulean homes? Did they live in the light and love of Mother Sun, too?

“Long ago,” her green mother had begun, in the low, smooth voice she used to tell all the best stories, “the Cerulean would travel to a tethered planet to get to know its people and have a better understanding of the wide ways of the universe, in which we are all interconnected.”

“How would they get to the planet?” Sera asked eagerly. That sounded like fun, a real adventure, something she would surely like to do.

“I do not know. It is not remembered.”

Sera huffed. It was always the most interesting parts of the stories that seemed to be lost in antiquity.

“How would they know its people? Does the whole universe speak the Cerulean language?”

Her green mother had laughed at that. “No, my dear. There are many languages spoken in the universe. But part of the Cerulean magic is that we can understand them all, and learn to speak them in turn. Some were easier to learn than others—I remember my own green mother telling me a wonderful tale of a planet populated by giant birds with colorful plumage and crests of jade and gold. It took quite some time for the Cerulean back then to communicate with these birds, but once they did, they were allowed to fly upon their backs and see the planet as the birds saw it.”

Sera could not think of anything more wonderful than flying around a strange new planet on the back of a giant bird.

“I do not know if it is true,” her green mother said, as if reading Sera’s mind. “It may only have been a story my green mother made up to entertain me.”

“But the Cerulean did used to go down to the planets,” Sera insisted.


“What if a planet had monsters on it? Or a poisonous atmosphere?”

“The magic in our blood can withstand any atmosphere,” her green mother reminded her. “We can breathe in places where colorful birds or monsters cannot.”

“But if we haven’t gone down onto this planet since we arrived here, how do you know anything about Kaolin and Pelago at all?” she asked.

“The High Priestess has ways of discerning a planet’s life, its populations and resources, and occasionally its customs. But those ways are secret, and not to be confided to a lowly green mother. They require a magic more powerful than you or I possess.”

Sera felt that if the High Priestess knew how to do this, she should share it with everyone. Wasn’t sharing a significant part of Cerulean life?

“She has told us what little she knows of this planet, and that is enough,” her green mother said, sensing Sera’s irritation. “All she does is to protect us. You spoke of monsters before, but you hit nearer to the mark than you might think. Not all monsters have horns or sharp teeth and claws. On the last planet, the humans who lived there were cruel and selfish. They did not trust the Cerulean who came to visit, and they wished to harness our magic for their own purposes.”

Sera gasped. “Can they do that?”

Her green mother held up a glowing finger. “Our magic lives in our blood, but it can be removed, yes. Or consumed, as in the case of the sleeping sickness.”

The sleeping sickness was the only disease that could kill a Cerulean—it fed on their magic, and Cerulean could not survive without the magic in their blood. But there hadn’t been a case of the sleeping sickness in the City since before Sera was born. She stared at her hands, fascinated. What did her magic look like outside her body, outside her blood?

“So if we were to go down onto the planet, the humans would try to steal our blood?” Sera asked.

“They might. We do not know for certain. But is it not best to be safe, rather than suffer another tragedy like the Great Sadness?”

Sera wasn’t sure about that. Of course, she did not want any Cerulean to die, but she also felt there was so much they did not know, and how could they be sure the humans on this planet were like the humans on the previous one? She found herself spending lots of time in the Day Gardens, perched in the old willow that bent over the end of the Estuary where it spilled out into space, watching the planet below and wondering what lives were being lived on it and how they might differ from her own.

No one else seemed to care as much about the planet, so Sera had buried those thoughts deep in the place where she kept all her secrets and questions and longings she could never share.

But now, finally, at long last, one of those questions was to be answered. A choosing ceremony! What would it be like? And then a journey through space to a new planet. Maybe, after so many years of safety, the Cerulean would be allowed to visit it as they once had. Maybe Sera would find her purpose with a new planet.

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