To be a Hero
It started off as a good day. It really did. She woke up, went to the market, made small talk with the locals… The same routine she had grown to hold dear ever since she stepped foot on the town of Elle many years ago.
Everything was fine.
Don’t freak out. This must be a mistake.
Luna said to herself as she hid in her room, doors locked and windows too(it took her a while to get used to those). Clearly, she was calm.
Another knock on the door.
“I just want to talk for a minute. Could you open the door?”
That voice… This can’t be happening…
While unreasonable, she half-believed it all to be a nightmare. There’s no reason for him to be all the way out here, after all. Yes, a nightmare. That was a completely valid and not all biased summation of events.
Luna felt satisfied with herself.
“Luna, I’m not here to fight. So, could you please hear me out?” He said.
Luna took a deep breath. “Come on in, Hero.”
The Day Before: HER FATE:
The morning breeze of the town spilled over her room, rousing her awake. She yawned and noticed her window open.
“I can’t ever get used to closing these things.”
Her home was a humble abode made of bricks and wood, made entirely by herself… Or so she would like to say. After a few days of failures and shouting in frustration, some of the townspeople offered to help. It was one of the first times she had received help from someone, let alone a group of people. She was hesitant, but sleeping under the rain for another couple of days carried a surprising amount of persuasion to sway her around.
I can’t believe it’s been years since then…
She closed her window and set off to town. Elle was a small place, but she had grown accustomed to its tight-knit nature over the years. Most of the townspeople greeted her on the way to town, but she kept to herself. She didn’t enjoy being the center of attention.
“Morning, Luna, off to the marketplace?” Mr. Salem said.
“I miscalculated and ran out of food rather quickly again…”
“Well, if you eat at your home like you do in the festival I’m not surprised!”
“Oh…” Luna felt embarrassed. Images of her at the festival ran rampant in her mind. The eyes of every citizen staring as she wolfed down plate after plate of food. It wasn’t her fault. This town’s food better than anything she had before she got there. I should be a bit more careful.
“I’ll see you around, Mr. Salem.”
Luna waved him goodbye and headed to the marketplace. This was probably one of her favorite things to do in Elle. It was the liveliest area of Elle, and for good reason. People from all kinds of trade lined up the streets. Tools, weapons, fruit and vegetables… Along with the occasional exotic animal vendor. Although those usually called for more trouble than their worth. She sighed at the memory of the “Glacial Tiger” incident from around a month ago.
“Mommy, let’s go meet the Hero!” She heard a kid say.
“We’ll go in a second. Let me finish up here, okay?”
“Are you going to meet The Hero too, Miss?” The merchant in front of her said.
She forced a smile. “No, I don’t think so.”
After finishing up at the marketplace, she went straight to her home, ignoring anyone that directed any sort of conversation to her along the way. Her heartbeat pounding faster than a horde of wild horses in a valley. At some point, her walk turned into a mild sprint back, yearning for the safety of her home.
“It can’t be him. It can’t be.”
And then her heart stopped. A knock on her door instilled fear into her very core. Did he sense her presence? Her spell changed the perception of everyone in town. To them she looked human, but to him? It wouldn't surprise her if He could see through it. And even if she had the time to enhance its strength, she doubted it would work in time before he noticed.
“Luna, do you have a minute?”
She sighed a breath of relief. “Coming.”
“Were you busy, dear?”
“No, I was just putting away what I bought at the market. Come on in, Zavina.”
After all these years of traveling to cities and long expeditions, he couldn’t ever get used to the way people treated him after he defeated the Demon Lord. It was more than he could handle, if he was being honest. Kids flocking to him and parents thanking him for what he’s done for them… He would be lying to himself if he said it wasn’t fulfilling, but at this point it had been years since that fated battle. Nios wondered if she was still alive somewhere.
Nios snapped out of his trance. “Oh, I apologize. I had something on my mind.”
“Would you like to take a tour of the rooms?”
“No, I’ll be fine with something simple. Anything with a bed will suffice.”
He sank into the bed with a deep sigh. Another dead end, he thought. It was no surprise that the mayor of such a small town like this one had little to no idea about the whereabouts of a mystical beast. Months of searching for this damned thing led to nowhere. He was so far away from Denea that he dreaded the thought of going out even further. The mayor provided some sort of hope at least.
“There is one person who might know a thing or two. She used to be a traveler before settling here in Elle. Her name’s Luna. She’s just a few minutes away from the market. She likes to keep to herself, but I reckon she won’t mind lending you a hand. You’re the Hero after all.”
Nios sat up and glanced over to the open window on his left. “Luna… Wasn’t that her name too? A demon living in a small town in the countryside?”
He chuckled. “Imagine meeting the Demon Lord in a place like this.”
The next day he headed straight for Luna’s home, hoping to find some answers. The King’s request had him on wit’s end. He couldn’t come back empty-handed. It would be a dishonor to his title as the Hero of Denea. It wasn’t about the fame but about setting an example. With his duty of slaying the Demon Lord over and done with, his role turned into something more symbolic. He didn’t mind that.
“I think this is it?”
A lone house just on the edge of town, just like the mayor had said. Not too big and not too small, just enough for a single person to get by. It was the sign of someone who treasured living in humility. A stark contrast to his home, a large manor given to him by the Kingdom after his fight with the Demon Lord. Far too big for just himself.
“Hello there? I’m looking for someone named Luna?”
Not a single sound.
He sighed. “I’ll have to try again later, then.”
As Nios walked past the home, he heard a familiar tune coming from nearby.
Be it in tears or in smiles, I won’t allow anything dire To break your heart.
I’ll be your sword I’ll be your magic So, darling, don’t panic.
There’s nothing I won’t promise To mend your heart.
It was a song he hadn’t heard in ages, but some songs are impossible to forget. A lullaby, one that every child of Denea knew. Mothers all around the Kingdom would sway their children to sleep with it.
If you can’t breathe, If you can’t stand it My dear, I won’t allow it.
There’s nothing I won’t do… This will forever be true.
But he couldn’t take his eyes off her. Those red waves of hair were unmistakable. The silvery white irises on her eyes… The slight scars scattered on her body… Even now, drowned in the spell that had obscured her reality from the townspeople, Nios could see part of the truth. There was no other explanation. It had to be her.
Because I will always… I will always… I will always… Be a hero for you.
“Is that you, Luna?”