Chapter 2:

Chapter 2. The Lunar Shield

I hate loneliness but it loves me dearly


The sun firmly touched her eyes. She frowned and turned her face away. As usual, her mother will soon go up the stairs and knock the door to wake Alice up. She didn't want to — it was summer vacation after all. And most importantly, she had this really weird dream about that mysterious Hatter and the guy from her picture — she was afraid she'll immediately forget it as soon as she gets out of her bed. So she stayed, hoping her mother will have mercy and won't wake up her on the first day of the vacation.And, to Alice's surprise, she didn't. She started to keep her ears open in an attempt to catch the sound of her footsteps just to realize it was strangely quiet. Way too quiet, in fact. There were no sounds of cars driving down the road and, most importantly — there were no human voices either, as if it was late night. Alice couldn't take this silence any longer and finally opened her eyes.It wasn't her room. A king-sized bed with silk sheets next to the large window, a giant mirror on the opposite side of the room, beautiful mosaics and pictures on every wall — all of these belonged in some kind of fantasy movie and not in the reality she lived in. Alice quickly rubbed her eyes and pinched herself once more but the magic trick failed once again — she wasn't sleeping after all. But how did she ended up here? Alice slowly looked around the room and noticed a vase filled with pretty moon flowers and finally remembered how she ended up losing consciousness in the stranger's arms. She blushed furiously. Someone quietly knocked the door and opened it without waiting for response. Some pretty lady in maid clothes casually walked in, carrying the watering can. It took her several seconds to finally realize that Alice was awake.— Oh, please, forgive my rude intrusion! — she exclaimed in panic while bowing her head. — I-I didn't mean to-!— T-That's okay, — Alice tried to calm her down but it doesn't seem to work. — That's okay, really... Please, don't cry.— B-but I-— Please, tell me where are we, — Alice changed the topic. Despite her constant fear of communicating with strangers she felt strangely at ease for now.— You're at the Dragonfly castle, Your Grace, — the maid slowly retreated back to the door. — Should I inform His Highness that You're awake..?— ...His Highness...? "Your Grace"...? — the things became even more confusing so Alice decided to roll with it for now. — Yes, please, do.The maid swiftly bowed once again and disappeared. — Am I still dreaming..? — she said to herself while gazing in the window. The unnatural purple sky immediately caught her attention alongside with some flying creature (was it a unicorn..?). — No, it doesn't seem so...She looked down on her right palm. The strange crescent mark was still there. She remembered Hatter's words and cautiously touched the wall behind her bed. The sign glowed faintly as her hand fell through the wall, almost dragging her whole body inside it. She vaguely remembered that such phenomena was called "portal" in fantasy books and movies. — Are you feeling better? — the familiar voice her called as Alice moved her hand back. — You suddenly passed out and looked so pale... You made me really worried.— Y-yes, I'm fine, I t-think, — she mumbled shyly, desperately trying to cover her blushing cheeks. She had the urge to get up and run away but was too weak to actually do it.The refined young man finally approached her bed and sat on the chair right beside it. The bright colorful cape, the feathered sigil on his chest, the long blonde hair and blue eyes — he looked exactly like she painted him and it was driving her crazy.— My dear Lunar Princess, can you please tell me your name? — he smiled gently as he put his hand on the blanket. — It's kind of embarrassing to refer to Your Grace like that all the time.— I'm sorry, but you must've mistaken me for someone, — she finally mustered all of her courage and spoke quietly. — I'm no princess and I have nothing to do with the moon...— Of course you are! — he denied and took her palm in his hands. Alice freaked out even more struggling really hard to not break free. It seems the prince failed to notice her panic and continued: — Look, there's even the lunar mark on your palm! You're definitely the one I've been searching for! You must be tired and that's totally understandable. Let me introduce myself first then!He stood up and bowed graciously:— My name if Felix Alexander Bosacius, the first son of Arthur Hugo Bosacius, the king of The Leodyne kingdom. It's a pleasure to meet you.— Hey, Felix, are you there?! — someone suddenly called and interrupted his introduction. Some rich kid casually broke in and ran to Alice's bed ignoring any proper etiquette. — You promised to fence with me this morning! It's almost noon, you liar! Liar-liar, pants on fire! — Not now, Seth. Can't you see I'm busy? And don't break into the girl's room without permission! You're a noble and have to behave like one.— Break in? — he tilted his head in confusion. — But aren't you doing the same? The Lunar Lady is about to cry. — What? No, she doesn't-He took a better look at Alice and stopped his speech midway. Unable to hold it any longer, Alice finally burst in tears as she was covering her face with both hands.— Huh..? Did I said something wrong..? Did I upset you somehow..? Please, forgive me then! — he stuttered in disbelief, didn't know what to do. His little brother who was about to mock him seemed to be even more shocked.— N-no, it's just I... — she tried to stop crying but the tears never stopped. — What are you doing, Felix?! — someone yelled from the entrance. A pretty young woman stormed in and grabbed Felix by his shoulder, forcing him to the exit alongside his little brother. — Leave at once! I'm utterly disappointed by both of you! I'll report to the king about this incident!— Wait, what?! No, please don't! — both of them protested in sheer fear as the girl angrily closed the door right before their noses. Their voices became distant and illegible as soon as she did that.— Your Grace, are you hurt?! Did that dumbhead do something to you?! — she ran to Alice and thoroughly examined her. — N-no, I'm fine... — she sobbed wiping the tears from her cheeks. She hated herself for this — she always reacted like that as soon as someone gives her an increased attention. The girl said nothing and gently patted her head waiting for Alice to calm down. She felt better.— I'm sorry, but are you really supposed to talk to him like that..? —Alice finally asked, worrying that her kind savior will get into trouble for protecting her. — He's the prince, after all...— Oh, don't worry about me! — she laughed joyfully. — I know that dumbhead since childhood. His Majesty directly assigned me to keep an eye on this guy cause I'm the only one who can teach him a lesson! So, what was it, my little princess? Did he say something incredibly stupid to you? I know he could!— What? No, of course, not! — Alice shook her head in denial. The girl oddly reminded her of Susie which calmed her down. — It's just... I don't know how to explain it... I was... Overjoyed..?— You were..? — the girl didn't seem to actually believe that. — Damn, you moon people are sure strange!And here it was again — but Alice didn't have enough energy to argue about her origins.— Well, if Your Grace says so, — she seemed to accept her quirkiness. — By the way, name's Annette. Ask me anything! Do you need the help to change? I brought your clothes, here they are, — she put them on the bed. Her backpack was here as well. All washed up and shiny — even her mom was unable to achieve such results.— Please, do not refer to me like that, — Alice asked politely. — I'm no princess.— I'm sorry, Your Grace, but I can't, — she smiled softly. — We're in the king's castle and the proper etiquette should be used. Especially towards such precious guest like you.— But you didn't seem to bother with it while talking to your prince...— So, do you want me to help or should I leave the room? — Annette ignored her remark and backed to the door slowly. — I can also chase those guys away if you need to! I'm pretty sure they're listening by the door, — she casually kicked the door with her heel.— No, it's fine, — Alice nodded. — Just give me a minute... I want to apologize to them once I'll change.— Gotcha, — Annette left the room and yelled from the corridor. — Call me whenever you're ready!***The door creaked softly as it opened. Alice stood there guiltily hiding her hands behind her back. She had trouble to find the right words:— I-I wanted to apologize for... scaring you out of nowhere. That was awful of me, — she said as her voice cracked. She swiftly bowed her head down to hide her embarrassment.— No-no, do not apologize! It was a truly shameful behavior by me, — Felix protested forcing his brother to kneel alongside him. — I have no right to be called a noble after that.Annette smiled viciously as she tapped her friend's back.— Good boy, keep it going, — she briefly checked Alice's clothes with her eyes. It seemed she found them super strange which was totally understandable.The uncomfortable silence fell upon the hall. — I said: keep it going, — Annette hissed on her royal friend very quietly as she punched him in the back. — The Lunar Princess descended into our world, answering your call. Go and show her the castle or something, — she pushed him forward towards Alice. — As for me, aunt Millibelle is waiting at my witchcraft lesson so I have to go. Right, Seth?— Wha-a-at?! — the boy protested as he was dragged away by annoyed Annette. — I don't have any witchcraft lessons! And Felix promised to fence with me!— If you won't leave right now I'll use you during the lesson as my little guinea pig, — she smiled viciously. — No, Annie, let me go!Both of them finally disappeared behind the corner — only a faint scream of young Seth could be heard in the distance.— Well, shall we go? — Felix asked hesitantly as he offered Alice his hand. — If you don't want my company I'll understand.— N-no, that's not it! — she panicked as she grabbed his hand a little too violently. — It's just I, um-m-m... I was overwhelmed with joy so, um-m-m... It moved me to tears!— Oh, I s-see...The awkward silence continued. Not only Alice but Felix as well slowly succumbed to blushing without any idea how to continue the conversation. Both of them just stood there in the center of the hall awkwardly holding hands like kids.— Ahem, — the prince tried to save the situation and coughed. — Y-you must still be tired cause of your difficult journey so... How about visiting the flower gallery? My mother loved flowers dearly so we still take care of them even now. There's many moon flowers as well! I'm pretty sure you'll feel better as you see them!— Is it the same flowers that were in the vase in my room? — Of course! Are there no moon flowers left at the Lunar kingdom? I thought it was lunar people who brought them down here... — I told you, I'm not...But as soon as she was about to finish her sentence, a powerful wind descended that almost blew her off the paved road. Felix managed to catch her at the last second and dragged her back behind a massive tree. Turned out, it wasn't just the wind — a giant whale casually flew in the sky disturbing the whole castle with the flap of his massive fins.— Oh my, how did he ended up here? — Felix complained as he straightened his clothes. It was the first time Alice actually looked around her properly. Her vision was still a bit hazy but even now she could see how different this world was comparing to hers. Giant trees with no tops grew everywhere; Some strange unknown bushes with blue and even read leaves grew all around, accompanied by countless violet fireflies which appeared to be fairies upon closer look. There's no doubt left: Alice ended up inside some crazy fairytale. — We're almost there, — Felix tried to hurry her up a bit as he leaded her to some massive door: as soon as he opened the door the gentle breeze brought a pleasant scent of thousand of flowers which rested there. It wasn't just some random gallery: that was a whole endless plain of moon flowers. Despite it being the early morning, the moon flower gallery were drowned into darkness: the only source of light was a giant magic orb in the center of the room which represented the Moon. It wasn't the same fiend they both met: there was no tree in its center.— It's... beautiful, — she couldn't say anything more and it's not like it was needed. They both stood silently at the entrance, quietly admiring the view.— You know, I've almost lost hope, — Felix suddenly sat on the ground, touching the flowers with his hands gently. — All these years all I did was praying. Praying to the Moon to send us a savior. But they never gave me a single sign to the point I started doubting myself: "Am I even worthy of my title? Perhaps it's Seth who's destined to be the Lunar Shield and not me". And yet, you've appeared at last. I'm truly thankful for answering my call. Do not worry: I will protect you with my life no matter what, — he claimed as he stood on his feet and took her hand.She couldn't bring herself to crush his hopes. Not now. She knew the feeling of being worthless a bit too well.So, Alice just silently nodded as she cast her gaze down in guilt. — You still didn't say your name, — Felix suddenly reminded her as he was smiling. — Or do you actually prefer being called "The Lunar Princess"?— Alice, — she said quietly. And added as she remembered his introduction: — Alice Bergliez.Felix was about to ask her something else as suddenly the royal guard broke into the gallery and reported in a hurry:— Your Highness! It's an emergency!— What happened? — he frowned and quickly changed his tone from soft to serious.— His Majesty summons you! The Thorny Witch of Sun had once again send her monsters to attack a distant village!— Understood. We're heading there immediately, — he rushed to the entrance but stopped midway to say his last words to Alice: — Worry not, my Lunar Princess! We're capable enough to deal with such an easy task. You should rest now — the guards will give you directions if needed.As soon as he said that he ran off with the royal guard. Alice was left completely alone in the giant field of flowers."What did he meant by resting for now? And what's about that witch?"Despite her being the creator of this strange world — at least it was what she thought for now — she didn't have the answers for those questions. She suddenly remembered the circumstances she got there alongside with the fact that she spent at least one night there. Her mother must be worried sick.— Well, it won't hurt to actually try, — she said to herself as she cautiously touched to grass beneath her feet. The strange portal opened without any problem.She held her breath and jumped right into it.***— ...Hear me?! — someone was talking to her but Alice couldn't understand a single word. It was some woman who gently held her by hand preventing the girl from falling on the ground. The haziness and headache returned once again: it seems teleporting wasn't good for her health after all.— Do you understand what I am saying? — the woman repeated her question again, this time way slower. Alice finally nodded, unable to speak properly. The thing she managed to notice immediately — it was almost evening in her world unlike in that fairytale but she wasn't in the condition to puzzle it together properly. Her passing out seemed to become repetitive at this point but she couldn't do anything about it which forced the woman to call for the ambulance.Bookmark here

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