Chapter 1:

The Lunar Princess Proposal

Full Moon! Through the Rings of Love


The tide climbed out from the sea, smoothing out the sand while washing ashore.

It was a cold, quiet night. I was far away from the village. Peaceful moments like this made me think the world could be a good place when we just watched it live out.

Maybe it was the moonlight sparkling off the water, or the dreamlike rings of light that circled our planet, but the sky just always felt so colourful and bright. It made the view all the more wonderful.

Sometimes I wish I were a painter. Not the type to simply wave a magic wand over a canvas and come up with something, but the type to take a real brush to a white sheet, capturing images like this as I saw them.

All this gazing at the night sky almost made me forget why I came out here in the first place.

“Brother!” A familiar girl's voice called out from the brush at the end of the beach. “Are you ready to grind some experience?”

The peppy girl in the school mage uniform there was my sister Zummia. I called her Zumi, because she always has a lot of energy to spare.

We were actually cousins, raised by our aunt. Both our parents disappeared when we were little. To this day we don’t know what happened to them, but we’ve long given up any hope of seeing them again.

“Yeah, I’m ready to train.” I stood up and brushed the sand off my jacket and pants.

“That’s great.” She skipped over, holding a wooden wand. “Try not to break this one, okay? They’re expensive.”

I gave her a bit of a stink eye and snatched up the wand.

“I won’t break it." This was a good quality wand. She didn't cheap out on it at all. Where'd she get the money for this?

"Alright. Then come on. Let's grind out some levels!”

There were some monsters at the other end of the beach. Mostly slimes that floated in with the tide, and a few fish like monsters too called Flarks.

“I’ll take care of these guys!” Zumi raised her wand, spinning in place and charging her magic.

Her wand lit up with colours, shining brightly with rays of light. The rays of light raced to the tip of the smoothed wooden stick and shot out at high speeds.

*VOOWM!*

A burst of energy hit one of the slimes! It exploded and turned to dust. The collateral did a number on the others too, setting a nice stage for the battle.

The other monsters came rushing in, but Zumi dispatched most of them quickly.

“Alright, brother, your turn!”

She was expecting a lot out of me, but here goes nothing.

I waved my wand out a few times, trying to mimic Zumi’s hand movements with less expression. It wasn’t glowing nearly as bright as hers.

The tighter I focused on my wand, the more it only seemed like my vision was blurring.

A violent surge of energy sparked around the wand. I had to cut off the power or it would explode in my hand like the last one.

Come on! I should be better then this! I’m three years older than Zumi, and she already had a leg up on me in magic.

It was clear that my spell wasn’t going to actually happen in time, so Zumi used a spell to defeat the last few monsters.

“Hmm…” She looked both disappointed and curious all at once. “It’s a full moon, so your magic should have been pretty decent. But we'll get it next time.”

She pulled the "pretty decent" card. That meant I was just a step up from useless.

“Easy to say for a level 45.”

Zumi was a level 45 caster mage. All of her attacks were elemental and usually ranged, able to be used on demand. As far as the average goes, normally people her age, which was 13, were around level 20.

I was just a simple level 3 pre-mage. I’m bottom of the barrel and I’m three years older than her. For my own pride, I’ll keep the average for my age a secret.

The reason she brought up the full moon was because I can only use magic when the moon is out. Depending on the phase the moon was in, my magic would be stronger or weaker.

“Don’t worry, brother.” She gained back her peppy attitude. “We’ll get you past level 10 in no time. Then you’ll be able to graduate preschool.”

I wish she wouldn’t make me sound like a toddler. But she was right.

If I wanted to get past mage preschool, I needed to get to at least level 10. That’s when someone is allowed to take a prestige class and actually go out and fight monsters and level by themselves.

Another hard part about this was that EXP was always slim for me.

Say someone normally got 100 EXP for defeating a monster. I’d only get about 5 or 10 EXP. And that was only when the moon was out. If the skies were clear, the EXP was a fraction of that.

It was like life placed a really harsh handicap on me for no reason. Am I part werewolf or something? That would explain why my abilities are so tied to the moon.

Zumi always was a big help, but I felt like her grinding out EXP in a party with me was more work then she deserved. She already had such a hard time studying for her exams, keeping up a social life, and just generally being a kid. I felt like a liability in her life, yet she treated me like an asset.

"Zumi, it's late, and you've gotta get some sleep." I couldn't let her keep staying up this late just for me.

"No way!" She protested with a shake of her head. "We just started."

Tonight wasn’t getting anywhere fast, and I was just feeling pretty tired about things. Not much EXP to go around either, coupled by very few monsters around.

“Keep your eyes on the prize.” Zumi had a soft, encouraging smile, one she gave at least a few times a week to me. “We’ll get to level 10 soon, I promise.”

The EXP gap was probably never getting cleared for me. It was just a fate I was cursed with.

AHHH!

We heard a scream from the forest nearby!

“What was that?!” Zumi announced as we both raced into the brush to find out.

***

I was faster on my feet than Zumi, so I was ahead of her.

The shrubbery got really thick around here, so I braced myself and pressed on.

"Help me!" A woman shouted. "Anyone!"

She was just ahead.

I pushed through some bushes and came upon a rocky cliff. A woman in a dress was waving a glowing tree branch at surrounding monsters.

It looked like kobolds with spears and axes were attacking her.

"Back you fiendish things!" Waving that glowing branch seemed to scare the monsters, but they didn't give up. "Help!"

I leapt between her and the cobalts, instinctively raising my wand up.

It was glowing? It looked even brighter than Zumi's wand had been.

With a sudden flick of my wrist, my wand sent forth a glittery plume of white fire that overtook all the monsters at once. They turned to dust in seconds.

*FWOOSH!*

Wow, what did I just do? I'm not the stupid heroic type, but even I was impressed by that lucky move.

I'm supposed to be the weak pre-mage who can't even cast spells right, but my body practically moved on its own and summoned a spell more powerful than I've even seen Zumi use.

The area was lit up brightly by the white flames on the trees and grass. I turned around to get a better look at the woman.

She was gorgeous. Natural short gray hair, sparkly silver eyes, young and attractive face and she had one of the most glamorous red dresses I'd ever seen.

In my awestruck moment, I recovered with a sudden deep breath.

"Thank you for saving me, powerful mage." She said in a kind voice.

I carefully took the branch from her hands and dropped it down next to me.

"You're alright?"

She put her hand together and rested them on the long skirt of her dress.

"I am, thanks to you." Not only was she beautiful, but she had a very stern tone, something I'd expect from a leader. "That magic you used, where did you learn it?"

She was asking like she was familiar with it herself. But this was the first time I'd ever used anything like it.

"I…I don't know."

"Powerful mage, what is your name?"

My mind betrayed me, making me forget my own name for a moment. All for the chance to memorize her face. Luckily, my head came back to me.

"I'm Walden." I replied.

"Walden, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance." Her curtsy bow was formal, much like the way she spoke. She had to be some kind of noble woman. "I am princess Luna Darthal of the Lunar Imperium. And it is with humbleness that I thank you for your good deed.”

A princess?! Lunar Imperium!?

She was from the moon kingdom then! How did she get all the way down here?

With a sudden jolt of energy, I got down on one knee to show my respect to her royal presence. I took one of her hands and held my empty hand in a fist close to my heart.

We were taught at a young age to respect royalty. They funded the academy my sister and I studied at. Although Luna was from a different kingdom, nobody would dare disrespect anyone from the Lunar Imperium. That would be treasonous.

"Lady Luna, I have to ask. Why are you so far from your kingdom?"

"Oh dear, so chivalrous." She blushed. "Truly, I have come to save your people. You see, it is the will of my father to…"

"Gah!" Zumi finally caught up and gasped, seeing the fire around us. "What is this madness? The forest is on fire!"

She was using water spells to put out the white flames, but it wasn't doing any good.

"Pardon me." Luna calmly went over to the flames. Her hair and eyes started glowing.

All the white flames suddenly went out. It looked like nothing was actually burned up from the white fire. Whatever she just did was incredible.

In place of the flames, Luna's body was glowing, giving off light similar to the full moon above.

"Mage Walden, you have saved my life. But I must now ask you to aid me again, this time for your own people's good." She had a deathly serious look.

Zumi looked at me all puzzled. "You saved her? What's going on?"

"It's a long story." I nodded. "Luna, what is it you need from me?"

Based on everything she'd said so far, it seemed like her father, the Moon Emperor, was going to do something to my people. But what was it, and how could I help?

Luna's face blushed and the light of her body dimmed ever so slightly. She turned to face the ground with a very nervous expression.

"I…I formally request…" her voice lost all its sternness "...that you would take my hand in…in…in marriage."

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