This is another entry for the 12 Shots of Summer challenge. The prompt was "frenemies."
The prompt seemed just too perfect for a bit of lore I made up for my current main project, Bloodcow (not yet posted anywhere, but the Dialogue: Eavesdropping exercise in chapter 4 of this collection is also the same universe.) I tried to write in kind of a simple fairy-tale-ish way, since in-universe this is a bit of oral history of questionable veracity that's passed down from parent to child.
Once upon a time, Pixie and Elf were friends. Back then, the Moon Goddess raised all her children at the peak of the mountain where the moonlight was strongest in the snow. But Elf was curious and wanted to explore. There was so much world, but so little of it back then had moonlight.
"Do you think the Moon Mother would let me go?" Elf asked her friend Pixie. "I'm nearly grown. All daughters must leave their mothers when they grow up, right? That is the way of humans and animals, so why not us?"
"Because we are children of the moon, and we thrive in the moonlight," said Pixie. "Do you really want to go out into the land below, where the sun will slowly burn you during the day, but the night time will be cold and as dark as the new moon every single night?"
"I know it sounds difficult," said Elf, "but I'm so curious! The forests and rivers below look so beautiful from up here - imagine how beautiful they would be up close. I want to see them more than anything."
Pixie didn't want Elf to go, and leave Pixie behind. But she didn't want to go with Elf, either. She wasn't brave enough to face the dangerous world below without the comfort of moonlight. So she told the Moon Goddess of Elf's plan, hoping that she would stop Elf from leaving.
But to Pixie's surprise, Moon Mother approved of Elf's ideas, and even offered to help them. "You both should go," said Moon Mother. "Elf is correct - every daughter must someday leave her mother and find her own place in the world. Go. But take some of my magic, so you can spread my moonlight and have me with you wherever you go. Share some with Elf."
Pixie took the magic. But she did not share it with Elf. She didn't even tell Elf she had it. She wanted to keep it all for herself.
Elf and Pixie traveled together for a long time. But Pixie's selfishness only made both of their lives harder. Because she had kept all the magic for herself, she couldn't use it to spread the moonlight throughout the world without Elf knowing about it. So their journey was dark and difficult. Then one day, Pixie got an idea. One day while Elf was sleeping, Pixie used the moonlight to give herself wings, then spread moonlight in a grove on the other side of the valley.
"Pixie, look!" said Elf, when she saw the moonlit grove from afar. "Moonlight! Oh, I want to go to it, but it's on the other side of a cold and rushing river. How can we cross it?"
"If there's moonlight," argued Pixie, "then it must be save to cross the river. Moon Mother must be beckoning us toward that area. She wouldn't do that if it wasn't safe."
"You're right," said Elf. So, carrying Pixie on her shoulder, she attempted to cross the river. But the current was strong, and the water was cold, and Elf grew weakened and lost control.
"I am so sorry," Elf cried as the current swept them away, thinking that both she and her smaller friend would surely drown. "It looks like this is the end of our journey. At least our souls will return to Moon Mother when we die."
But to Elf's surprise, Pixie merely laughed. "Don't worry. I know how to rescue myself. I'll rescue you, too, if you agree to serve me all your days."
Elf didn't believe that her small friend could really be capable of saving her, but of course, she would agree to anything if there was even a chance of saving her life. She had nothing to lose. So she cried out, "Oh, Pixie, if you really can save my life, then of course I would dedicate my life to you!"
So Pixie stretched out her wings and, with a great burst of strength - for she was still very small, and it was difficult to carry Elf even with magic - flew Elf to the other side of the river to the first Valley of Moonlight.
Elf worked very hard to serve Pixie, and Pixie pretended to be a kind and fair master. She knew she'd be able to trick Elf again if she was kind. The two remained friends and had many good times together, and though Pixie was very lazy, she justified her laziness by saying she was unable to do much with her small size.
However, Elf worked so hard that her body grew old before Pixie. Soon, she was dying. Now that she was old, and it had been so many years since she had been home, she was glad to die, because she knew she would return in death to the Moon Goddess. But Pixie grew frantic - if Elf died, Pixie would have to do her own chores. "You can't leave me! I need you, my dear friend!" cried Pixie.
Elf was sorry to leave her friend in distress, but she could hardly slow down time. "What choice do I have?" Elf asked.
Pixie, thinking of another trick, said, "Take my hand. The moonlight magic within me will grant you daughters, and a part of your soul will live on in each of them. The rest of your soul will return to the Moon Goddess."
Elf wanted her whole soul to return to the Moon Goddess, but Pixie was in such distress that she agreed to the deal. She did not realize that if a part of her soul lived on, her daughters were bound into service as well. So she took the deal, and all the daughters of Elf served the daughters of Pixie from then on.