Chapter 29:

Before It's Too Late

Lovely kNight


In all of my time serving as a knight there have only been a handful of days I can recall being separated from Juna while going about my duties. Perhaps just enough to count on one hand's digits.

One such a time was due to a sudden sickness she’d unfortunately contracted. I'd only managed to endure a few meager hours until I'd eventually buckled under the weight of my worries and ran to her side. I couldn’t handle not being there to nurture her through infirmity even if she’d adamantly urged me to do so.

After I'd helped her back to health it was her turn to take care of me. Her cold had founds its place in my body. Even if I’d asked the same of her; that she would work without me, she’d so stubbornly treated me and stayed by my side just as I had for her.

Thanks to Juna’s testing, today is another rare day where I’m on my own. Nobody to idly chat with and not even the sounds of her footsteps clicking in duet with mine. There is a small echo of loneliness in the sound of my footfalls sounding by themselves.

The last of the morning chills dispel beneath the bright sun. Not a cloud in sight, everyone going on their merry way while caught up with their own business. Peace stands among the people, gifting them the freedom to enjoy their lives without a single fear dragging their heels. The sight charms my heart.

When I reach a relaxed residential area, a ball skitters across the ground towards me. I stop it short with my foot and look up to notice a rabble of kids playing. Those who had broken into a jog after the ball halt themselves as they see me.

They’re still as stone with wide eyes like fish yanked out of a stream. I send them a nod and roll the ball to bounce on top of my foot. With light taps, it leaps and skips until I send it higher and kick it towards them. One kid catches it and quickly takes himself back to the game after a wave. The second leaves with them and yet the last of the three continues standing still.

His stunned eyes are fixed on me. So openly staring, he’s forgotten about the game with his friends entirely. I beam brightly to him and send a wave which brings him back to his senses. He tentatively waves in return.

Soon his friends return to drag him back to playing. As he runs away with them, I hear his excited voice exclaiming proudly.

“That was the Celestial Knight! That was him!”

His energetic voice lights up a memory that has stayed with me for all of my life.

Sitting at the front of my house while waiting for my father to finish his business, I’d watched the people passing by. In that crowd came a knight with golden hair on his head which he’d held high with pride and confidence. He’d kept a vigilant eye over every single person surrounding him. Those sharp eyes searched until they came to a sudden stop on my own.

The moment he’d seen me a smile as bright as the sun itself stretched across his face. He’d greeted me so warmly and yet with my shy heart raising my nerves all I could do was run back into my house. I was so deeply confused. He was the Celestial Knight so why did he even bother with me?

That moment is an irreplaceable, precious memory. It was the day I’d met Solus. Just from that one encounter I’d become deeply interested and curious in him.

More than a decade later and my own time has come where my dream has been brought to life. I stand where Solus once stood and walk the streets that he’d protected with his own dear life wagered in the balance.

Taking on the honored life that my protector, my hero, had lived.

I vow to him and to all of the kingdom and the world once more that I’ll protect Celestia with all of my might, heart and soul as he had. And those children will be able to play and grow without a worry in the world. I’ll see to it that that’s the world that I leave to them.

✩ ✩ ✩

“Had a run in a few years ago. Some chump came by without thinking. Too busy fiddling with one of those communicator things to pay attention. Didn’t die or anything, just ended up spending plenty of time sippin’ on a straw in a hospital bed. Y’hear? The way those builders put this place up may be one of the worst jobs I’ve ever seen. People with such a sore sense of carpentry shouldn’t even be allowed to glue two sticks together!”

The project manager finishes his rather lengthy rant about the building that he and his crew are managing. Seeing the group at work, I’d given into my curiosity and began speaking with this man as I’d spotted the workers moving in and out of the building.

Given its sudden, faltering condition, it could be any day or any moment that catastrophe would drop kick it into the dust. So the plan is to empty the building and soon enough safely demolish it.

“Really bites for the family, don’t it? Resting peacefully and then a board or two suddenly falls. Ain’t good at all.”

“I’m grateful that nobody has been harmed. I’m not sure which construction company was responsible for this building, but carpentry can be quite arduous.”

“Aye. The sheer state this piece is in shows that someone had to be slacking off like no other. Place has only been here for 5 years, give or take. If this becomes the norm, I swear. That company better be ready to be sued off the map!”

I continue listening to his ramble until he excuses himself to join his workers within. With even his entry alone I can hear the wood creak and moan. Undoubtedly cause for alarm just as we’d long talk about on end.

For a very long time...

…An onslaught of words…

“I really shouldn’t be leaving this scene until everything is done.” I think aloud while I look to the people coming and going.

A few have parked their feet to watch the ongoing display. They idly chat together while given to their own curiosity. I step forward and keep an eye on the setting to make sure that that curiosity doesn’t lead anyone to step too close to the 2 story ticking time bomb.

Though I’ve stood watch for citizens before, I’d never once been faced with the possibility of an entire building falling apart at the seams and nails. Thinking of the chaos that could come and how the men are inside has my nerves standing tall. Should anything happen, I resolve within my heart, I’ll get every single worker out as best as I can.

“I don’t know, boss. This chest seems like it could be a danger left where it is.”

“It may belong to the previous owner, but we shouldn’t mess with anything too risky.”

“Still, I think I can just…”

I glance to the second story to see a worker attempting to negotiate with a small balcony that has on it a chest of belongings which were left behind. As he takes a step forward, a loud crack erupts from its wood.

“Oh heck.” He says to himself while I can visibly see a cold sweat break out over his skin.

A still silence remains for a solid second as even the willful audience hushes at the sound. Following the very moment after is the cracking racket of splintering wood. The balcony begins to cleave away from the rest of the building.

As if my heart being in my throat wasn’t distressing enough by itself, it nearly shoots out of my mouth and into the sky when I spot an unassuming woman stepping beneath the balcony now ready to fall. Without a single concern written on her face, she merrily walks to a shining object laying on the floor directly underneath the falling piece of the building. She picks it up and admires the glittering gleam of its shining surface.

Without a second to waste I’ve already reached her. Her eyes open wide as I quickly grab her and draw her into my arms. The sounds of crashing and fracturing wood fills the air in a blast of inelegant clamor. Its erupting noise is dulled ever so slightly by the surface which guards us from the falling balcony. Though by all means the two of us should have been crushed beneath it, the cover of a magic barrier I’d erected had taken the full impact in our stead.

I hold the woman close until I hear the last remaining clatters of lumber die off. And inside the protective cover of the barrier I gently release her as her safety is assured. Yet she’s meek and slow to notice I’d relinquished her from my arms.

Peering up to me from my chest I catch the first glimpse of her calm eyes which are the pale green of a fine wine. Even now they’re still wide open in surprise and disbelief. The cutely, innocent appearance of her face teeming with her shocked expression makes for a funny and charming sight to see. At last realizing our proximity, she quickly takes a step back for distance and I’m given a full view of her character.

Her hair is long and a sweet pink. The left bang framing her face is tied intricately with a ribbon, giving her an appearance like an adorable doll. Despite that every civilian on the street is dressed so casually, her own clothes are much more refined and dignified. A garb with a long, black dress accentuates her form. There is an apron snugly fastened around her body and she has a tie knotted around her neck.

Altogether, it makes for an unmistakable appearance.

“A maid?” I let my thought slip out of my mouth.

“I-I’m so sorry, sir! I-I…!” She dips into a proper bow fitting for an esteemed servant.

“You’d been a bit listless while you were walking. I’m just grateful I was able to reach you before the wood could. Thank heavens worse didn’t come.”

“You’d… protected me… hadn’t you?” She asks while yet blurred by confusion.

“You’d wandered into a dangerous place. That building has been overdue to fall apart. The balcony came down and whatever you’d gone after nearly lead you to being crushed beneath it.”

“O-Oh…” Her voice wavers as she at once comes to realize all that had transpired.

She looks to the bubble separating herself from the world. Its color is a faint red. A weakened force that I can feel with my own body. Anymore damage and it could potentially shatter apart.

Dipping her head, she outstretches her hands, palms open to show me the item she’d picked from the floor. A glint of light sparkles on its polished, silvery surface. Though I’d seen it without mistake the first time, that doesn’t prevent me from having a lightning fast double take.

A platinum. A coin worth even more than gold.

“So you’d wandered over here to pick that up?”

“I… I had. I’d gotten so caught up that I hadn’t even noticed where I was going. I’d thought that I was lucky to have found it, but I suppose… I’m lucky… to have… found something else…” Her voice lowers into a mumble as her face reddens. “I put you through so much trouble. Please take it as repayment for your rescue.”

“You want me to take this platinum? That was the entire reason you’d ended up in danger in the first place. I couldn’t take this. Please keep it.”

“B-But…!”

“I insist.”

I close her hands with my own and gently push them back into her bosom.

“I… understand.”

Holding the coin close to her heart, a light blossom of cherry begins to bloom on her skin. She grasps it tightly and fails to meet me eye to eye. Hers skip and leap around the street and to the faces of the onlookers.

When I feel that we’re well past danger, I release the shield and gently take her hand to lead her away from the scene. All around us lay the splinters and beams that had come tumbling down. She looks at each and every broken fragment as we step to safer ground. The very second we’re both out of harm’s way, she dips into one more uniform bow fit for a maid.

“Thank you. I shouldn’t have put you through such a situation, but I’m so heartfully grateful that you’d come to save me.”

“It’s no issue at all. That’s what we knights are for. So please be on your way and be sure to pay a little more attention to your environment so you don’t find yourself in another predicament that could jeopardize your health.” I say to her with a layer of jest.

“I-I promise that I’ll…”

Her mouth seals shut when she focuses on the band I wear on my arm. What was a pink hue on her face shoots up to a reddened glow.

“Y-You’re the C-Celestial…?!”

“I happen to be. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re still in one piece.”

“I’m s-so sorry, sir! I didn’t mean to burden you who already has this entire kingdom’s weight on his shoulders!”

“R-Really. I mean it when I say-”

“I promise that I’ll be more careful next time! Please take good care of yourself and all of Celestia!”

She gives me a series of sharp bows while burning up in embarrassment, eyes slammed shut, before she glides on her heel to twist away. At once speeding to depart with jog. So sudden and jarring, but no matter my desires to give chase, I can’t leave the site of the collapsing building with a good conscience. So I’m helpless but to watch her flee as her pink hair flutters behind her.

“As long as she’s well enough to run, she’ll be fine.” I sigh to myself.

However, my mind turns to another issue. During our encounter I’d taken notice that my shield had endured the falling debris with scant grace. A time before it could take much more of a bruising and yet I could feel that it had just barely held on. The color itself shifted to a madder red much too quickly.

“I suppose that this machine has been through plenty already. But let’s hope it’ll hang on well enough until I can fix it up.” 

EliteWarrior910
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