I've known Zavala a long time, you know. He was one of the first people to greet me when I arrived at the Tower all those years ago—though I suppose "greet" may be too soft a word. It implies a sort of friendliness, a warmth. And Zavala… if you've never met him? He can be a bit stern. He's hardened further since the Red War, I'm sorry to see—though I suppose we all have, to some degree. In any case, that very first meeting left a sour taste in my mouth. I hate to admit that I avoided Zavala when I could after that—though sometimes he makes himself unavoidable. It wasn't long after this meeting that I celebrated my first Dawning at the Tower. Everyone's spirits were high, and it was so nice to see the people I had come to care about smiling and toasting each other. I remember Tess and I had just finished with a bit of decorating, and she had left to get something when Zavala began heading my way. "Oh no," I thought. "Oh no, not this man." Ah, but he came over anyway, so I smiled and wished him a Happy Dawning—because I DID wish good things for him. It is often the sternest among us who hold the saddest hearts. He wished me the same, and then—I almost couldn't believe it—he smiled! We exchanged some brief pleasantries, and… I don't remember what I said that brought this on, but suddenly he said, "Oh, that reminds me of a joke!" A joke! At first I thought I must have heard him wrong, because the Titan Vanguard had always struck me as the "no time for joking" sort. But he had barely begun telling this story before I noticed how much more relaxed his posture was. It seemed the spirit of the Dawning had reached even this stone man. I remember only pieces of the joke these days—I believe it had to do with a Guardian and a Fallen Captain?—but I clearly remember that he stumbled over the first few words and had to start again. I gave the warmest smile I could to encourage him, and he went on to tell one of the longest, most awkward jokes I have ever heard. And listen, I loved every minute of it. Truly, I couldn't have been happier. Oh, I clapped and laughed along with what I swear was real, true joy from Zavala. To have such a guarded soul open like that—few things are more beautiful. I admired him so in that moment, that he could push himself beyond the boundaries he'd held himself to. I remember hoping that I could someday be so brave in my own way. For the first time, I didn't just respect him as one of the City leaders. For the first time, I felt real, genuine affection for Zavala, the person. Zavala, my friend. He has been dear to my heart ever since. --- Gjallardoodles: Mix Ether Cane and Delicious Explosion, add Essence of Dawning, then bake.
Tradition Is Bigger Than You
When Tess told me that the frames had organized the Dawning in the new Tower while I was all the way out at the Farm, I thought, how could they do it without me? Then I said, Eva, these traditions are bigger than you. They live in the hearts and minds of the people who have passed them on, generation after generation! Now I am back in the Tower, helping to create the loveliest Dawning celebration yet. And I carry on a tradition I am sure to repeat every year: I ask Ikora to make the Dawning Crystal, and I ask until she does it. I make an appointment to discuss the decorations, but I know she's always very busy with urgent Vanguard business. That is why, when I approach her alcove and hear low voices, I don't barge right in; I just peek a little bit. Ikora is muttering—she sounds almost angry. "Dawning decorations! I've got no time for frivolous…" A male voice says, "It is not 'frivolous.' People need this. I understand that it's hard for you because it's the first Dawning without Cay—" "Stop talking, Ophiuchus. Right now." I do not see who Ikora is talking to or recognize this name, but Ikora's voice is sharp. "I have other concerns. What about the latest reports out of the Tangled Shore? I don't know what to make of them. And my Hidden have reported trouble brewing closer to home…" I notice her eyes drift across the main passageway, to a secluded nook with a partially closed gate. "Yes, Ikora. But—" "And there's never any word from Osiris. Not that I expect it, but…" She shakes her head. "With respect, why not just message him?" "Perhaps. I just don't have the time to…" She pauses. "Eva Levante!" I make sure to tread loudly and rustle my sheaf of Dawning Crystal designs as I enter (why have her think I was eavesdropping?). Ikora watches me, her arms crossed. Her Ghost hovers by her ear, whirring with alertness. "Happy Dawning, Ikora Rey!" I begin. She can tell by my big bright smile and the firm way I spread out the designs for her to pick from that it will go faster if she says yes. She respects our tradition, though; she says no twice, then she says fine, Eva, fine. She does not believe the crystal matters, though; she avoids my gaze, but her Ghost—I see his eye blink at me. The design she promises to make is exquisite. We agree to meet again when she finishes it. I join her in the Bazaar while running errands with my assistant Malia—so many last-minute tasks! When we march up, Ikora and her Ophiuchus are huddled together. She keeps shaking her head. But still she lifts her arms, and suddenly an enormous Dawning Crystal winks into being in the skies above the Tower, like a million diamonds suspended in air. Malia gasps. She has never been so high in the Tower, nor seen the Dawning Crystal up close; only from the City far below. She drops all the packages she was carrying. The Warlock Vanguard helps Malia pick them up, piling one parcel on top of another until she realizes Malia is still as stone, kneeling, watching her, watching her hands that had kindled light from air. The poor girl's scarred face is slick with tears, and she wipes them with her sleeve, but the tears will not stop. Malia's family escaped the City during the Red War, you see; though they survived and have a home again, there have never been many beautiful things in their lives. Malia touches Ikora's arm and mouths a thank-you. Her cheeks flush red as a pincushion. Then I kneel too (a bit slowly nowadays) to take the packages from Ikora—all but one, bound in golden ribbon and embossed with an open eye encircled by a sun. I nod and press it into her hands. Then I hear that Ghost of Ikora's whisper, "I told you so," and Ikora reply, "So you did." --- Traveler Donut Holes: Mix Cabal Oil and Flash of Inspiration, add Essence of Dawning, then bake.
Dawning Before the Dawning
Amanda once told me that her mother, Nora, came from desert people, in a place far, far from here. Nora had been on the road since she was a girl, sometimes with nothing more than an old scribbled map and that shotgun of hers. She didn't need much, but she did need people. Nora met Amanda's father in some half-abandoned village, and when she told him about the Last Safe City, well, he followed her. They had no family but themselves. They picked up fellow refugees on the way. Lost others. Then they had their precious little girl. It must have been a slow, slow road—first with a little baby, then with a young child. But they believed. They had hope. They pushed on. Amanda told me about one particular Dawning they had shared out in the wilds. They had fallen in with another family that had a child, Lucia, a bit older than little Amanda. They were agreeable travel companions. They found themselves in the thick of the forest, with the wind wailing, a storm coming down, branches flying… and realized they had to stay put. So, they find the wreckage of a dropship, lean up a wing and crumpled siding, and squeeze all the grown-ups and the two little ones into the dry space under the rusted hull. Then Amanda's mother says, "We'll be here a while. Might as well do something to keep our spirits up." She sends the adults out foraging for something to eat, something to drink, and something to keep dry. Amanda's father comes back with long-leaved plants to weave into mats. Their companions return with full water flasks, some prickly fruit, and a dozen or so wild vegetables like cucumbers. With dried fish from their packs, it is quite the feast. As the adults are working, Lucia is curling the rinds from the fruit into little flowers, but little Amanda is kicking her legs, restless. "Make yourself useful; make some decorations," Amanda's mother urges her. She hands Amanda wires and nuts and bolts and a circuit board full of little lights. Lucia comes jumping, an old battery in her hand. Together the girls make miniature garlands of tiny bulbs. And Lucia shows Amanda how to touch the wires to the battery to make them light up. Bright little lights in the vast dark forest. Amanda told me about the fruit, with soft white flesh and a sour taste. She told me about how they sang made-up songs together with no words, just humming and tapping out a beat on the metal walls of their shelter. She doesn't know what the fruit was. Maybe it does not exist anymore. The other family? They got separated from Amanda's people. Later on, Amanda's parents… gone, like so many others on the road to the Last Safe City. But Amanda Holliday still makes the lights, you know. Uses spare odds and ends to decorate her workshop. She does it every Dawning. --- Chocolate Ship Cookies: Mix Cabal Oil and Null Taste, add Essence of Dawning, then bake.
Our Choices Define Us
Sometimes, when I face something frightening, I think of the strongest people I know and draw strength from them. Suraya Hawthorne is one of those people. I know her brusque attitude can be off-putting, and that's intentional on her part. But once you get past that, there is so much to learn. She was orphaned as a young girl, and Devrim and Marc took her in. Honestly, I think having these two as role models is part of why she's as strong as she is. They raised her to be sure of herself and to always do what she thought was right… even though that ultimately led to her having to leave the City. As Suraya tells it, she came home one day to find Marc and Devrim sitting at the kitchen table, as though expecting her. They had her sit down, then asked if there was anything she wanted to tell them. She shook her head. "Nope." Marc asked her to try again, but she was silent, so he told her that Executor Hideo had stopped by their home. She asked how he was. "You know how he is," Devrim said. "Tell us what happened." "His face got in the way." Marc took a deep breath and said Hideo claimed to have caught her stealing supplies that morning, and did she have anything to say about that? She did not. He reminded her that stealing supplies and breaking a faction leader's nose were both good ways to get kicked out of the City, and Suraya could keep quiet no longer. She almost shouted her explanation: The factions didn't care about the people who needed food and supplies—the people who could not pledge to a faction because they were too busy struggling to survive. She wanted to help them, so she would sometimes steal supplies from New Monarchy. Devrim asked, "What about Hideo?" Suraya rolled her eyes and groaned, explained that when Hideo had found her, he'd said all manner of nasty, evil things to her: She was worthless, she was nothing, things like that. Devrim agreed Hideo was… well, I won't repeat it, but suffice to say it means "an unpleasant person." He held a lot of influence, though, and he was insisting Suraya be punished. Harshly. For Suraya's part, this seemed to crystallize something. She tells me that's the first time she knew she wanted to leave the City—that perhaps this had been part of why she'd punched Hideo. She told her guardians and they couldn't believe it. They were quiet for a bit. Then Devrim broke the silence. "Well, let's get packed." "No," she said. "Absolutely not." She was not about to let her decisions hurt these men who had taken her in and cared for her. They'd done nothing wrong. Oh, they fought her. As she tells it, they argued a long time, until finally, she shrugged and said, "If you try to come with me, I'll run away." She suspected they knew there was no bluff to call, as they spoke now in tired, worried voices, making their case one last time. Suraya was adamant. "I won't let you suffer for my choices." What could they do? She asked when she had to leave. Marc said he could hold off Hideo for a day or two so they could all make a plan. His voice became stern again, and he said, "You're going somewhere close enough that we can come and check on you as often as we like. At least for a while. That is nonnegotiable." He had no negotiating power, of course. But Suraya had agreed. She stayed very near the City for over a year before saying proper goodbyes and heading out further into the world. Suraya Hawthorne is, in my mind, the definition of doing what you think is right regardless of the consequences. She knew it was right to help struggling families, she knew it was right to not put Devrim and Marc in harm's way, and she knew it was right to give them some peace of mind by staying close. That is the kind of true courage I have always admired. --- Eliksni Birdseed: Mix Ether Cane and Personal Touch, add Essence of Dawning, then bake.
The Dawning on the Stormy Seas
Every Dawning, I receive many greeting cards from customers. The ones I treasure the most contain stories about how people all across our solar system observe the holiday. One of my favorite letters came from someone who was a customer of mine but once: Lady Sloane, Stoneborn out on Titan, one of Saturn's moons. "Dear Eva, "Happy Dawning. "First, thanks for the delivery; all the requisitions arrived in perfect condition, and you did a great job packaging up the chicken (more on that later). We tried decorating the railings outside our Command Center with the garlands, but the Fallen have been using the lights for target practice. I guess we'll be getting some more next year and prettying up the break room instead. A couple of the Dawning lanterns got whipped away in the wind, too—we're not known for our clement weather out here on the methane seas. "Some Guardians who've been helping me out on Titan mentioned that you like to hear about Dawning traditions outside the City, so here's how we celebrate on this moon we call home. "This year, I let the crew off duty early, 1600 hours, and took a whole hour off myself so we could have ourselves a little Dawning soirée in our Command Center. "Siren's Watch has got quite a view of the waves and some floating platforms, so we pushed our break room tables together, end to end, and looked out at the horizon while we shared a communal feast. Seeing as the room is exposed to the elements (the glass view window broke long ago, but repairing it just hasn't been a priority), Del and Ari had to bundle up—and we had to weigh the tablecloth down with chunks of metal. I've had worse setups. "Eva, it was the best meal I've had in ages. That chicken? Delicious. Every one of us got to try a piece. We cut our protein rations into fun shapes, and once we got your taffy warmed up enough to chew, it was heaven. "We exchanged Dawning gifts as well. Somebody even cross-stitched me an 'inspirational quote' to hang in my quarters ('Where's my beacon?'; it's an in-joke). Decent tools, Heavy ammo, thick socks—those are the kinds of gifts that change hands out here. Maybe that doesn't impress people accustomed to the Dawning in the Tower, but those presents have worth to us. "When we joined hands afterward, whether for warmth or just conviviality, we got to talking in a way we never really had before. I don't think I've ever voluntarily shared stories about myself in my life! We talked about who we were before the Red War, where we came from, and even where we might want to go in the future. "It's not easy here on this storm-tossed moon—one jolt and you're tumbling off a platform into eternity. Between the Fallen and the Hive and the elements, we're always just struggling to stay alive. But as we sat there chatting, we FELT alive. "I guess I wrote all this just to say thank you, Eva, for reminding us to take a moment to appreciate and rejoice, no matter what. I find that inspiring. "Sincerely, "Sloane" I have never left Earth, and Titan sounds like a… very interesting place. But reading how this holiday has brought people together in such faraway places, I feel all my efforts have been worth it. I hope to see Sloane again someday. --- Alkane Dragée Cookies: Mix Chitin Powder and Bullet Spray, add Essence of Dawning, then bake.
Say It with a Dawning Gift
It's not only my customers who keep me running about. People are always coming to me for advice. Sometimes it's "This shader or that?" and "Does this mark look OK on me?" Sometimes it's "Should I hold a Dawning party?" or "Why should I go to their Dawning party?" But sometimes the questions are even more complicated. I was stealing a moment of quiet one afternoon to organize all the jumbled rolls of wrapping paper, when I heard a resonant voice calling to me. How I jumped! It was… a certain well-known Titan—not Zavala, but I will not tell you who. Eva Levante does not tattle about sensitive matters. He was carrying a formidable piece of weaponry, a complicated curve of many metal parts with a thick string connecting the ends. "It's a compound bow," he explained, following my stare. "For shooting arrows." I raised my eyebrows in puzzlement. On that weapon, he had placed a large pouf of red velvet ribbon. A bow on a bow. I could tell from the tilt of his helmet and his taut grip on the weapon that something was amiss. I sighed. I saw this a few times every Dawning. I suspected he was smitten, and this would not be a short conversation. "Warmest Dawning greetings to you, Torito!" (That is not his actual name, naturally; it is a made-up name.) "Eva Levante. They say you should give a Dawning gift when you… have a special friend," he boomed, trying to whisper. "Who is 'they'?" I laughed. He ignored me. "I bought my friend this bow. Is it a good gift?" "It all depends on your friend. What do they like? What ARE they like? Can you describe them?" "She… likes to fight. She is regal. She is very…" The Titan paused. "Is a recurve bow more romantic than a compound bow?" (He managed to whisper this time.) "Ahhh," I nodded knowingly. I wouldn't know the difference between those weapons, but I understood his problem. "But maybe a book would be better?" he asked. "Again, it depends which book you choose." "I have read Ikora's 'On Circles: Revised Edition,' and it was very good." "That is a terrible Dawning gift. Might I suggest literature?" Torito tapped the horn on his helmet to reflect. "I did destroy a book of hers once. Should I replace it?" "Maybe you should not remind her of a bad thing happening…" He didn't reply to this, so I went on, "Perhaps this bow is already the right Dawning gift for your friend. Do you think she would use it?" "Definitely." "Well, then," I smiled, "you have your answer. Happy Dawning to you and your friend both!" "And to you, Eva. I hope your Dawning is one to remember." Then the Titan thanked me, hefted the bow, and strode off. --- Vanilla Blades: Mix Cabal Oil and Sharp Flavor, add Essence of Dawning, then bake.
You Get Used to Him
There is a strange fellow who… well, perhaps you've seen him. He doesn't really come and go as you or I might traditionally think. It's more that you turn around, and he is either there or he is not. His appearances are steady and predictable, at least. He's called Xûr. I'm not sure why one draws the tiny arrow over his name, but it's important to try and respect the wishes of those we don't understand. The first time I ever saw Xûr, I was by myself at my stall in the Tower. The Old Tower, I suppose you'd call it now. I hadn't been there long at all. I looked up, and this man had appeared, seemingly out of nowhere! His back was to me, but even from behind, something seemed off about him. Something in his posture. As he started to turn, I noticed his whole face appeared to be covered in hair. It even seemed to be moving, gently flowing on its own—but there was no wind. When the light hit his face, I screamed and ducked down behind part of my cabinets. I was sure this abomination had come to invade us, that more of them were just out of sight, that we were done for. Eventually, I realized no one else was screaming. I heard no sounds of distress. I peeked out and saw that everyone was going about their business. No one was panicking but me! Many people saw him—several were interacting with him. Slowly, I stood back up and tried to go about my business—though I rarely looked away. Tess came over before too long, and I asked her about the strange figure. "Oh, that's Xûr!" she said, unconcerned. "He comes through every so often and sells particular, hard-to-find things." She considered him for a moment, then added, "Could do with a bit of a wardrobe update, if you ask me, but he's otherwise harmless." "What is he?" I asked. "I've never seen a creature like that before." "Xûr is… I believe he's called a Jovian. They're from out beyond even the Reef. I'm afraid I don't know much else about them." "But they're… friendly?" "Well, they don't attack us, if that's what you mean. I don't know that I'd call Xûr friendly, but he's not hostile." I felt more at ease after our conversation, though I still could not shake my fear. For many months, I jumped every time I saw him and had to fight back the instinct to hide. Eventually, I grew used to his presence. I even began to appreciate his predictability—it became a symbol that everything was functioning as it should. The fear evaporated with time. I have often found that my first reaction to new things is fear. Perhaps it is this way for everyone. However, I have also found that if I accept and acknowledge my fear, it is easier to push through until I am no longer afraid. The new thing has almost never been as frightening as I first feared. --- Strange Cookies: Mix Taken Butter and Electric Flavor, add Essence of Dawning, then bake.