9: The First Wish

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"Back when the universe was young and things were new, stars could talk. In a blanket of endless night they played without a care or worry. Some would twirl through space, their twinkling giving comfort to those afraid of the dark. Others found planets to whom they gave life and warmth. But there were two rules amongst the stars that no star could break. Never leave the sky and never make a promise you couldn't keep.

Yet one star, the tiniest and most curious of all the stars, became bored. He wanted to experience life and play with the creatures of the universe, and so in secret he fell from the sky. But a star is but a simple rock without the love of his brothers and sisters to make it shine, so the young star sat in a crater crying out for someone to help him. And one day someone heard the star's call.

A man wandering in the woods while hunting for his next meal heard a bizarre cry echo from the trees. Thinking it was an injured animal, he followed the strange sound until he came upon a large crater with a glowing rock in its center.

'Hello,' cried the weary star. 'Can you help me? I grew too curious and broke the rules. I fell and now I can not reach the sky. Will you help me get there?'

But the man was wicked and full of cruel intentions. He had heard that the stars held great power and if one could capture a star, one could claim all the riches of the universe.

'Sure, little star, I'll take you to the sky,' said the man; his eyes gleaming with greed. 'But what will you promise me for such a long and tiresome journey?'

The star feeling so overjoyed spoke without thinking.

'I promise to give you your heart's desire, just return me to the sky and to my family. I can even show you the way.'

And so the little star broke the second rule, never make promises you cannot keep.

The man picked up the star and placed it in a lantern. From the lantern the star led the man across dry deserts, and treacherous seas, and valleys of melted rock, and finally to the top of the tallest mountain closest to the sky. When the two arrived, the stars greeted their lost brother still trapped in the lantern.

'Oh brother,' cried the stars. 'You have found your way home. We thought we lost you forever.'

'I fell,' said the little star. 'But this man found me and brought me home.'

'Thank you,' said the stars. 'Now please release our brother so he may join us once again to twirl and dance in the sky.'

'No,' said the man, holding tight the lantern. 'Not until I get what was promised to me.'

'A promise!' cried a voice louder than the other stars. From the furthest depths of the universe the oldest star, wise and cunning, appeared before the man. 'A star does not promise.'

'This one did,' said the man shaking the lantern. 'He promised me all I could ever want if I brought him home. I crossed deserts and seas and valleys of fire to bring him here. i Now grant me this wish or else I will keep this star a prisoner.'

The oldest star circled the sky. 'The greatest reward for such kindness and hard work is not often measured in material things. Has not the journey made you a better man, a stronger man?'

'I demand what I am owed!' cried the man. 'You will not deny my heart's desire.'

The oldest star sighed. 'So be it, traveler. What is it you desire most?'

'I wish to live forever, be wealthy, famous, a ruler of the very stars. I want your power!'

'Power?' said the oldest star, shocked by the request. 'Power comes with a great price. Are you sure this is what you want?'

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