Origin of the Constellation Centaurus

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a myth I wrote for my English class, detailing the origin of the constellation Centaurus.

Submitted: September 25, 2015

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Submitted: September 25, 2015

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When we look to the skies at night, we see creatures and champions painted in the stars on the canvas that is the sky. A favorite to many is the constellation Centaurus, a half-man, half-horse wielding a spear and — depending on the source — sometimes a shield. Yet, despite there being a story behind its origin, most of us simply assume that the stars naturally aligned to form a warrior in the heavens. The story itself is much more human, and much more tragic.

It was, as all these kinds of stories have been, a ridiculously long time ago, when the humans were just starting to get the hang of things around here. Magical creatures, not being overly fond of these new and intrusive beings, were going into hiding, so as not to provoke them; for it was clear that they were quick to assume and quicker to attack. Many fled the earth itself and took refuge among the stars. Others only avoided the humans, hiding in mountains as yet unreachable by primitive tools and modes of transport.

The bravest of magical beings, who called themselves the Bolds, disguised themselves as people and learned to live as they did. They learned the languages, the habits, the body languages; they nearly forgot themselves in the process, but the Bolds managed to become mankind’s best-kept secret.

Those that had fled looked down with scorn upon the Bolds, and, seeing that some of them were actually falling in love with the humans, forbade any further transformations and ordered the existing ones to withdraw from society. This new ordinance became known as The Draw, and disobedience was punishable by death.

“It’s just too dangerous,” Old Phoenix would say. “We cannot trust the humans, for they would surely ruin us all if we became known to them.”

Pegasus agreed, though reluctantly. “My wings ache to fly,” he would complain, “but I do not wish to lose them. And who is to say that the humans would not take them as they have taken everything else?”

The Bolds that remained below thought otherwise. The young Centaurus, the most outspoken and the most experienced with humans, was defensive of the ones he’d spent four years with.

“We have so much to learn from them,” he told anyone who listened (usually only the merfolk and fairies would). “Their way of living grows more organized by the day, and here we are running from spears and swords we haven’t even seen yet.”

The merfolk in the lakes and rivers soon grew tired of hearing Centaurus’ prattling, the fairies soon flew away upon seeing him, and he was soon alone. He wandered forests right on the edges of civilization, crafting spears and writing poems in his mind to kill the time. Still, every hour seemed to crawl along as if The Draw itself was trying to restrict their passage.

Some time after the others had abandoned him, around late summer, Centaurus found himself in a forest stained a deep green by the leaves overhead. While he rested under a tall maple tree, the sunlight that bled through the canopy dappled his sleek black stallion’s hide with splashes of gold. He was examining a strange substance that appeared to be bear’s dung on his hoof when he heard it: the crunch of dead oak leaves under foot, and the occasional grunt as that foot slipped on the poor traction.

One of his spears lay at his side, but he felt no sense of impending danger. So he left it, instead standing to his full hoof-to-head height of seven and a half feet and turning to face the direction of the noise.

It was a human. He was young, pale, and rather scrawny; his clothes — breeches, a tunic, and leather slippers — were plain but well-made; and in his grasp were three large volumes, bound in leather, with names that Centaurus could not read. It took a long moment for this stranger to take notice of the creature before him, and when he finally did, he froze.

Assuming that he understood the language Commonry, Centaurus spoke first. “You have not encountered a thing like me before,” he said. The human was clearly reluctant to move, but still he shook his head. “I have seen many like you.” He took in the young man’s curly brown hair and pale skin that contrasted his own russet tone. “Do you have a name?”

“F-f…” The man swallowed. “Filius,” he mumbled, setting the books down and wiping sweaty hands on his breeches. “My name is Filius. D-Do you… have… name? Uh, um, do you h-have a name?”

Centaurus laughed gently at Filius’ apprehension. “My name is Centaurus. Are you a scholar?”

Glancing down at the books, Filius seemed to collect himself a bit. “Well, yes… At least, I want to be. If I can find a place to work.” He grimaced.

“Does your home not suffice?”

“Not with seven younger sisters, it doesn’t.” Filius kept catching himself stare at the really rather ridiculously muscular half-man before him. “What about you?”

“What about me?”

“Why aren’t you at home?”

Centaurus frowned. “A fine question. I suppose I don’t have one, unless these woods and the ones beyond them count.”

Filius thought for a moment, then began to laugh bordering on hysterically. Confused, Centaurus’ hooves pawed the ground, and the man silenced at once.

“Have I done something amusing?” Centaurus inquired. “I am confused.”

“Oh, my, no… It’s just… Well, it is silly. But I feel as if I should be taking record of what you say in one of my books.”

“Well, why not? I have learned from your kind. You could learn from mine.”

Filius once again stiffened. “There’s more?”

There’s always more, thought Centaurus. You should know that, young scholar.

“Well, not of myself, I’m afraid. But non-humans, yes... there are plenty of those.”

Soon Filius had seated himself upon the forest floor, and Centaurus was telling him all about the Bolds and the ones that fled. It pleased him to finally tell of the creatures that had hidden for many years, but those in the stars were angered by this revelation.

Old Phoenix was the angriest. His wings flamed and flapped as he shouted, “This must be stopped! The humans cannot know of us!”

Pegasus was, as per usual, less agitated. “I agree that Centaurus made a mistake, but he is young,” said the old winged horse. “Instead of punishing him, we should correct him. Show him the error of his ways and offer him the opportunity to mend the damage done.”

Absolutely not. He is too eager to divulge our secrets. Something must be done to make him realize his stupidity!”

And thus, it was decided: Centaurus was to be drawn into the heavens, along with the rest of the magical beings down below. The amount of power needed to complete the task needed to be collected, however, and would take several months. Phoenix didn’t care how long it took, as long as Centaurus was pulled away before he got himself and the others killed.

So then the months passed. Centaurus, oblivious of the coming Draw, met again and again with Filius. Each meeting become closer and more personal, more intimate than the last. Within five months, they loved each other dearly, but could tell something was coming near. They knew that what they had could not last, due either to the centaur’s incredibly long lifespan or to the rift between humans and magical beings. Yet still they met, almost daily now, trying to live a lifetime together as quickly as possible.

On one winter night at the beginning of the new year, with snow falling delicately around the pair, Filius and Centaurus sat below an ancient oak, watching the stars. Still it had not occurred to Centaurus that they might be behind his growing sense of doom.

Filius was finishing his first spear. Centaurus had taught him how to make them, and this one was almost as fine as the centaur’s. He was quite proud of it, and could tell that Centaurus was as well.

In the skies, Phoenix and Pegasus were putting the final touches on The Draw. Pegasus, seeing the love that had grown between Filius and Centaurus,  tried many times to convince Phoenix to take a gentler approach, but the firebird would have none of it.

“You uproot the weed before it chokes out the garden,” he spat every time Pegasus mentioned it. “And I will not have the rest of the creatures choked out by the weed that is mankind. They will be safe here.”

Before the night was gone, The Draw was activated. It was excruciatingly slow at first, but Centaurus still picked up on it. He stood suddenly, snatching up the new spear to fend off invisible enemies.

Filius immediately understood. “Should we run?” he asked, just barely whispering the words.

Centaurus took a shaky breath. “There is no place to hide from the heavens,” he answered wearily. “I should have known this was coming.” He knelt on his long horse’s legs and beckoned Filius forward. “Whenever you should have need of me, Filius, look to the skies and see me there. I will always be there to guard you from harm.”

Filius threw his arms around Centaurus’ neck and kissed him. It took them both by surprise, but made the moment all the more bittersweet.

“I’ll tell your story,” he said. “If I have to call it fiction, I will. But you will be known, and you will be remembered. I promise you.”

The two shared a final embrace that lasted for several moments, even as The Draw grew stronger and stronger. Two hot tears fell onto the snow, and Centaurus stepped back. He held his spear as if to throw it, and finally allowed The Draw to take him to his place in the heavens.

And so became the constellation Centaurus, borne of love and tragedy alike. All the other creatures — the Bolds, the ones that fled, and all the rest — all became a part of the heavens, giving us the shapes in the skies that we see today.


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