The waning moon seats itself proudly in the throne of the heavens. Clouds of royal grays and blues stream across the starlit skies and slowly increase in their numbers as they continue their march to conquer the night. The sweeping, cool winds are soothing and kind as they rush through my clothes and hair. All so restful, all so elegant as it welcomes me back home.
I rest at the back of the manor while recounting the day that had come and gone so quickly. Filled to the brim with events and faces, there’s much to think over. Even if I’ve had my fair share and feel sleep beckoning me to my bed, there’s a peculiar, mysterious sensation keeping me awake. A sense seated at the corner of my heart.
But before I can wander off too far into my own mind, I hear the door open.
A woman with deeper violet hair approaches me. As marvelous as the summer night herself, she easily pulls my attention away from the stars. The way her dark hair is made to glisten by the moonlight is an astonishing sight to behold.
“Hello, handsome. It’s wonderful to see you’re back where you belong. It must have been quite a day.”
“That would be one way to put it. It’s honestly pretty surprising it’s all over. Even if every day has had so much going on, I still find myself amazed at just how much I’ve been through since I’d become the Celestial Knight.” I sigh and feel the breeze. “What about you? It’s a bit late to still be wide awake, isn’t it?”
“I’m a busy woman. I’d been in my study for the last few hours reading. It just so happened that I’d heard your return so I’d thought I’d come and visit. That is after letting you have a little time to yourself.”
“Thanks. I could use the company.”
“It’s my pleasure.” She stands against the railing beside me with only an arm’s length between us. “I’d received word from your friend, Vestil. Tonight’s operation was a success. It looks like your hard work is already bearing a bounty. I’m looking forward to some wonderful news.”
“I am as well. I take it that you’ve done a bit of digging yourself while we were away.”
“You’d be correct. I was able to find a few reports dating back to the previous Celestial Knights’ ages. It seems that this drug called Retro has been around for the last 50 years. It was known by different names but it’s still the same substance. Though it would seem that this latest iteration has been more potent than the previous. It’s a shame this is still an issue after all of these years.”
“Let’s hope we can stop it permanently this time around. Everything I’ve heard about it has been bad news. I really don’t understand why of how someone would choose to throw away their health for something like that.”
“We all have our habits and sometimes we’re no better than others with the poisons we pick.” She says to me with a light bubble of laughter. “But I know that others are blessed to be in your care. It seems that whoever is responsible for this dilemma had a bad roll of luck in having woken up the Celestial Knight himself. But that’s the price to pay for harming his beloved.”
“I’d only heard traces of this situation in times before, but now that I’ve gotten involved it all feels so much more real and heavy on my shoulders. To begin with it felt like it was nothing but a rumor or maybe an illusion. I’d imagine it has to be similar for you.”
“I’ve only known superficial details myself for the sake of the kingdom. You’ve made a good assumption that I’m just now getting better acquainted thanks to your plight. It may feel daunting, but I’m more than assured it’ll all play out for the best. Just make sure all that weight on your shoulders doesn’t cause any harm to those hips of yours.” She snarks. “It seems that visiting this place is becoming a habit for you by now. A sweeter poison chosen rather than a harmful drug.”
“I’d been taken here often enough lately that it seems I’ve gotten a little bit addicted to its charm. It makes for a nice place to rest and think. Especially after a day full of questions. You’ve lived here for so long that I’m sure you’ve gotten more than used to it by now.”
“I still enjoy to visit this view often. It can be my own spot to have some peace to think. But don’t you worry; we can share it. I may be a little territorial to the things I like but I promise I won’t take this all to myself. I like you better anyways.”
“I should be thankful then.” She manages to earn a small smile from my lips. “I’d expect what I have to say next would be a bit blunt to speak, but I’ll say it anyways. When I’d first met you, I’d thought you were a mysterious person. That really hasn’t changed and I was more or less right about that, but I suppose I can understand just a little bit more about you now. I’d used to be a little intimidated. That’s less of an issue now. Especially after I’ve seen the kind of person you are.”
“How sweet of you. But you shouldn’t let your guard fall too low, dear. You never know what could come next when you’re just a little too unguarded.” Smirking, she teases me. “I know you’re the kind of man that would toss himself headlong into danger if it meant protecting another life. Even those who could very well be your enemies. It’s something I’d imagine everyone could fall in love with.”
“I give my all for the people I love and desire to protect.” I struggle to keep myself from blushing.
“Oh my! Was that a declaration of love for me?”
Though she jests, she catches a weak point of mine so simply. I gaze out to the rolling green while my heart runs and chases after a response.
“That’s not entirely what I’d meant to say. I… love the people of this kingdom. They’re all precious to me… so I want to protect them and everyone here.”
“You really are such a sweet man. And it’s a special treat that you just so happen to be adorable when you’re in a panic. It fills me with all sorts of temptations. But you’re safe… for now. You and I have both had our days and it wouldn’t be so fair to pursue you now when you deserve some good sleep. Although maybe you could join me in my bed. Juna gets her time, so why can’t I have mine?”
“A-Ah… Thanks… I guess. B-But I’ll have to give that a pass for tonight.” I butcher my rhythm. “You’re… a lot more gentle of a person than I’d thought too. I’m truly grateful you’d chosen to help Juna. It means a lot to me, especially since you’re so very busy with your duties. And yet you’ve decided to make the time for her. Really, I can’t thank you enough.”
She’s silent. So silent that I’m almost convinced she’d left the scene while I was too busy gazing out to the waving trees. When I turn to check, I see her standing proudly while she takes in the beauty of the stars. Something on her face seems even more joyful than I’ve ever witnessed before.
“Just knowing what it means to you, how much you care for others is more than enough of a thanks. It’s been a long time since I’ve met anyone as thoughtful as you. It makes it even more of a challenge to keep you out of my mind.” She removes her hand from the banister and begins on her way. “I think it’d be best if both of us turned in for the night. It’ll start pouring any moment now, I can tell by those clouds.”
“Plutia…” I’m left shy from her words spoken so confidently without a second thought.
“Come now, I’m sure that you can use the rest.”
So I follow after her and back into the manor where we’re both quickly intercepted by Jupa who approaches me on sight.
“Welcome back, master. I’ve been meaning to speak with you..” She greets me with a curtsy.
“Jupa, I’m glad to see you again. Is something the matter?”
“I’d wondered whether or not you’d want to be informed of this, but Juna had left the manor shortly before your arrival.”
“She’d left the manor? Do you know why?”
“Yes. When I’d asked her where she was going, she had explained that she would be exercising herself. It had been enough time and she’d believed it would be necessary to perfect her form.”
The sound of drumming rain begins to fill the manor in a breath’s time. Its heavy, droning and rhythmic patterns washes over us. An important memory I’d shared with Juna leaps out and assails me as I hear that noise.
And with it comes a deep and grim feeling of unease.
“…Do you remember if she’d taken her sword with her when she’d left?”
“I remember clearly, master. She wasn’t carrying her sword on her person.”
My heart sinks into the mud of the earth. It sinks so low that it scrapes down the rusted metal of the gates of the underworld. The feeling violates my body with a serrated pain of defiled metal.
“I… I need to check Juna’s room. I’d be grateful if you’d both stay put where you are and wait for me to return.”
“Khiron? What seems to be the matter?” Plutia asks me as my steps are quick.
“It’s something I can’t explain quickly. I’m sorry, just…”
My nerves stand too high for me to even complete my thought before I’m jogging up the stairs. When I find Juna’s room, the door is left open a simple peek. With a pounding heart growing even more barbaric as it bashes my rib cage, I push her door and find her room is empty. She’s nowhere to be found.
Upon her peculiarly messy bed lays her KNITE. Its screen is still illuminated with a single contact visible.
The flashes of lightning break into the room and force light upon a single tome left open on her desk. I step closer with fear echoing in my footfalls. One more clap of thunder and glow of light enlightens me as to what is written.
Charging and Storing of Magic
Before the next burst of lightning can glow through the room, I’ve already departed in a rush. My footfalls are heavy yet their sounds are dull when compared to the thumping of my own pulse in my ears.
I nearly throw myself into the room where Jupa and Plutia wait for me. They look to me alarmed and saturated with concern.
“Plutia! Call the training facility! Tell them to look for Juna this moment! Immediately! Don’t let them waste a single second!”
“Master! Are you-?”
Jupa’s question falls on deaf ears as I’ve already cast myself into the pouring rain.