I’d come to learn that the name given to this bizarre world by the people of Stelaris was The Zodiac Prison. A subterranean world filled with innumerable dangers and morbid creatures. Composed of 13 separate chambers spreading out in a manner much like a clock, its heart and very center was where Stelaris had been established. My home with my new family and friends, my fellow survivors and refugees who had been freed from the prison cells. The 13th chamber.
The town of Stelaris itself was unlike anything I could have ever imagined it would be. It was a large, open cavern which extended high into the sky. Or what all of the people considered to be the sky in this world. Its walls were glass and at the top of its atrium were glittering lights beaded from within the clear surface. Like the stars of the world I came from captured inside of glass. They glittered brightly with a color of hope. Unlike the stars of Celestia, they shone at every moment of the day. The largest luminary sealed within the skies served as the moon to our world and it shone always.
The magnificent sky which was like a treasury of gems made for beautiful heavens that gave ease to all of Stelaris. In spite of the fact that we were all prisoners to this fanciful world, we could glean comfort and a freedom of spirit if only we would just look up into the heavens.
It was in great thanks to the resourcefulness of the people that our city was well established despite how limited and suffocating The Prison could be. Homes and businesses had been built to shelter us and keep us occupied during our stay. And by some absurd, mysterious chance, another chamber of Stelaris’ caverns was a large, open land with fertile soil. All had sustenance and work with farming the life giving land beneath that chamber’s own stars.
Despite how dark and dreary the world could be, the light and comfort of Stelaris and all of its shimmering heavens made for a true home. Everyone, even if there were at times disagreements and arguing, banned together and became a family that would love and care for each other for every day until the day of our freedom.
A day that I’d promised I would fight for with all for every breath until I had no more left to give.
✩ ✩ ✩
I’d continued to be surprised with just how welcomed I was into Stelaris from the very moment I’d arrived. Though to begin I had remained alone with Libera, as I’d finally made the decision to join the rest of the community, they would treat me as if I was their brother, their son, their nephew. Everyone who lived beneath the shimmering the glass stars accepted me as their own. No matter the hundreds that lived in the town, everyone worked together in harmony.
Thinking over how I’d become a part of their world without question, even if I was different from the rest of them, it’s true that the simplest moment can drastically change someone’s life. From my entry into the Zodiac Prison and then my entrance into Stelaris, it was a new beginning through and through.
Yet there was one more precious moment that changed the course of my entire life.
I can still vividly remember the day. I’d walked alone and away from the rest of the town as I’d been so taken by the ever shining moon high above my head. I’d followed after it. My childish mind still so full of wonderment and discovery drove me to chase after the moon all the while hoping I could capture it in my hands. The glass encasing it caused its shining to become ethereal streams of hauntingly beautiful light. The rays of which danced freely through the world as benign spirits.
While I’d navigated through their ballroom, I’d eventually found myself in a chamber I had yet to know. Up the hills, climbing the small cliffs to raise myself to the moon, I was filled with anticipation to touch the moon. Yet I’d ended up disappointed when I’d discovered their ending was still shy of the light I’d coveted. But that disappointment was short lived as it washed out from my heart with a single skipping beat.
On the soft hill at the tip of the plateau sat a girl. Even if the way to the heights was a climb through dust and rough edges, she wore a simple but lovely white dress which had a long skirt reaching to her ankles. Though it was common that anyone living in the Zodiac Prison would have a pale complexion, hers softly glowed with a captivating blossom. Her lengthy white hair was gathered together at two points and fastened with white ribbons, making for two long, falling locks which gently crashed upon her shoulders.
When she’d heard the sound of my involuntary gasping at her fantastic beauty, she turned to face me and revealed her azure eyes that were as calmer than the galaxies revealed by night. She was so unlike anyone I’d ever met that I’d wondered to myself for an instance whether or not she was another illusion from the moon’s falling streams.
We’d remained still and silent as our eyes locked together in fascination of each other. The way we’d connected together at that moment, how it felt to have her eyes staring back into mine was a sensation like starlight shining in my chest. Even though I was enraptured deeply by her beauty, my heart hadn’t raced. Instead I’d felt an overwhelming, joyful comfort. Like I’d returned to an old, precious friend.
Or perhaps it was as if I’d returned to a precious love that had long been waiting for me.
I didn’t speak a single word as I’d walked to her side and sat down with her. It came to me as the only natural and reasonable choice to join her as she stared up into the glass sky shimmering with gems of light. We’d watched the heavens and the moon smiling down on us while a comfort blessed our company.
“Love…” She had been the first to speak and her voice was even more elegant than I had imagined it would be. “I love the sky.”
I had nodded to her and made sure not to speak a single word. Right now, I knew, she simply wished to have someone to listen for a short moment as she’d shared her thoughts.
“The sky here is beautiful. I come here whenever I can. Even if my parents don’t want me to because it might dirty my dress. But I can’t help it. When I’m here, it feels like I’m free.”
“I understand. I’d… I was hoping that I could grab hold of the moon if I’d climbed high enough. But it’s even higher than I’d thought it would be. Even if I can’t have the moon, I’ve noticed that now I feel like it already belonged to me when I stare at it from here. It’s so much closer than when I was down below.”
“Mom and dad had told me that you’re different from us. You lived somewhere else before you’d ended up here. The only other person I’ve heard had come from where you did was Tori. She’d talked about how the sky was so different and there was all of this light from something called the sun. What was it like there?”
“It was a warm and happy place. I’d felt comfortable there and there was a pleasant, peaceful wind that flowed around everywhere you went. But the last thing I remember was that it became dangerous. When the world was on fire and everyone was afraid, I’d fallen asleep and woke up in a cell.”
“I hope that someday I’ll be able to see the sun too. Everyone talks about how much better everything is in that world. But I wonder if it will be anywhere near as beautiful as the sky here.”
I’d slipped my hand into hers and took a firm hold of her small, delicate fingers. She had looked over to me, not in surprise or discomfort, but as she knew I had something I’d wanted to say. A point that I’d emphasized by holding her just a little bit closer. I turned to face her and sat down on my knees while I’d brought her hand near to me. Even if I had always been shy, there was no reason to be shy with her. I didn’t flinch from her eyes as I’d spoken my heart.
“Then someday I’ll take you there so you can see the sun and the sky of the world I was born in. I’ll become the best knight I can and I’ll help Tori rescue everyone so we can be free. Someday we’ll watch the sun set and the stars come out together.”
She had been so contemplative, quiet and placid as we’d rested together, but now a shy, joyful smile began to grow on her. A dew of tears began to glisten as she’d nodded her head and brought her freed hand to join the other in holding mine tightly.
“Then it’s a promise. And I’ll help you every step of the way. We’ll see your world together. We’ll help everyone to see that world Tori told everyone about. Everyone wants to be there and we’ll make their dreams come true. Together.”
It was a strange meeting that defied explanations, but every bit of it felt like it was meant to be. When I’d held her hand in mine and swore my promise to her, I already knew that she would accept my wishes and I would accept hers. Even if we had only just met, we were already the best of friends and maybe even more than that.
I’d helped her descend from the heights and had made sure to prevent her dress from becoming anymore dirty for the sake of her parents’ pleas. At the end of our descent, she’d dusted herself off and stood in front of me with a full smile.
“I’m Amorette. My father helps Tori with her swords and weapons. He does a lot with metal things.”
I took her hand in mine and bowed to mimic the knight I had watched from the window of my house in my old world.
“My name is Fortino. I’m Tori’s student and she’s taken me under her wing as a new knight. I know that someday I’ll save everyone. It’s a foregone conclusion and I swear on it.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Fortino. We’ll save this world together.” She held the skirt of her dress and curtsied to me.
We’d departed from each other and spent the rest of our time that day as any dreaming, adventurous children would. For every day after our meeting where the moon was closest to us, we’d spent it together as close as we could draw to each other.
And those heights became our special place for us alone.