Chapter 3:

A Kiss to Save the World

Lovely kNight

 “Hello, ladies. We’ve finally arrived. Thank you for all of your patience.”

The moment I’d entered the room, I was taken aback. While I had expected to meet with two or three women at the most, I’d instead found five before me. All of them were beautiful, no doubt about that. So beautiful that even I, someone who was only ever rarely taken by beauty, couldn’t stay my eyes from them.

“If you’re ready, we can begin with introductions.” Plutia’s voice snapped me back from my uncouth staring.

“Oh... Right! Please do go ahead.”

“Everyone, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Khiron. He is the knight whom had championed the tournament. Please feel free to introduce yourselves.”

The first of the 5 women energetically strode her way before me. Hers was a plucky vigor with a full, bright smile stuck to her face. She stood an entire head shorter than myself. Chin length earthen brown hair with eyes to match suit, she was quite a cute one.

She wore black capri style pants, her top revealed her slim stomach and its long sleeves were rolled up to the mid of her arm while its neck settled low on her torso. Given her choice in clothing, she fit the appearance of someone who enjoyed much activity.

“Hello, hello, hero! It’s so nice to finally meet you! My name is Mercy. Looks like we’ll be working together from here on out. Really, I can’t say I’d ever expected anything like this to happen in my life, but here we are! I enjoy training and competition and maybe it’s even because of this that I’m here right now.” She fired off her introduction at a rapid speed. “I’ve been told that you could probably help me to improve for my next competition.”

“You’ve been told that? I am a knight and I do plenty of training. I wouldn’t particularly mind lending a hand.”

“Then it looks like things will work out just fine… Kind of.” A blush jumped out onto Mercy’s face and her originally confident character slowly faded away.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mercy. I take it we’ll be getting to know each other well from here on out, so I look forward to knowing you.”

“Yeah… Knowing.”

She returned to her place among the room a little less energetically than she was to start. The next of the five took her place before me.

Two approached. Each of their steps synced perfectly. Their appearances were nearly identical. The hair upon their heads fell to their upper backs yet their bangs swept in opposite directions. While the woman on the left had hair colored a rich shade of lavender, the second’s was a bright candy apple.

Both wore colorful short skirts and either had striped knee socks. On their opposing wrists were charm bracelets. Their white shirts were stylishly canted and exposed a single shoulder with a belt fastened and draped across their hip.

Their gazes were quite piercing. While the woman with lavender hair gave me a joyful smile, her redheaded company’s expression was much closer to a scowl.

“Mr. Hero! My name is Venna and this is my twin sister, Marcia. We’re pleased to make your acquaintance!” Venna was bubbly and lighthearted in her tone as she introduced herself and her sister.

“We may be twins, but she doesn’t speak for both of us.” Marcia said to me with a slight scoff. “I’m just wondering how someone like you ended up being the Celestial Knight.”

“My apologies. I do promise that I’ve trained with all I have to become the Celestial Knight. I have nothing else in mind but to give my duties all I have to give. I’m pleased to meet both of you.”

“Y-Yes! I look forward to knowing you!” Venna’s cheeks flushed as she coyly looked towards the floor and shifted her feet about.

“This guy had better live up to what he says.” Marcia grabbed Venna’s hand and yanked her along as they returned to the others.

Carrying off of the heels of those duo came a timid woman whose steps were uncertain and shaky. Their rhythm and tempo were undefined as she would take a step only to hesitate for the next.

Navy blue hair fell to her waist, its bangs framing her face with outwards sweeping waves. She was clad in a one piece dress of black and blue with a light cardigan on, its shoulders were slack and fell to her arms, revealing her pale skin. A cute red ribbon was fastened in the collar of her dress. She seemed to shrink into herself as my eyes met her own sunny golden ones.

“Uhm… A-Ah…” Her tongue tripped as she continued her slow, uncertain approach.

“There’s no need to be shy. I promise the only bite I have is for the Dark Seeds. You’ll be safe from them, I assure you.”

With a dip of her head to avoid my eyes, she managed to drag herself the rest of the way before me.

“I’m… Uhm… What do I say? ...I’m Neptanie. I’m a maiden... somehow…” Her voice was so low that I could only barely hear her words.

“It’s my joy to meet you, Neptanie. Let’s give it all our best.”

She silently nodded her head as her eyes darted down to my boots. Without raising looking to me twice, she timidly shuffled on her way.

The final remaining woman began towards me and with a small huff, cemented her stance at my front. Rigid posture and arms crossed with an equally firm expression to match, she gave off a displeased aura about herself.

Her waist reaching, glittering lunar silver hair was secured into a long side tie falling by her right shoulder. Her eyes were a cerulean blue as the night sky chasing away the departing day. Unlike all the others, she seemed to be clad in a uniform. A uniform made up of a one piece white skirt falling to her knee with a black belt around her hips. Its buckle was a polished silver. A tie was secured in her collar which swept back and squarely lined the back of her shoulders.

“Celine. I’m a maiden. That is all.”

With that, she twisted on heel and prepared to walk away.

“Celine? Your name has a great ring to it. I’m hoping that we’ll get along well.”

She halted to my voice and twisted to glare at me from over her shoulder.

“I doubt that we will.”

So she continued on her way without missing a single beat.

“All of these women are Celestial Maidens. They are important, special maidens of the kingdom of Celestia.” Plutia picked up from where she’d left off.

“The Celestial Maidens… These maidens are all the people that I should be meeting?”

“You’ve met all but two remaining maidens that have yet to be revealed.”

“Where should we go to meet them? Although I’m not entirely certain why I’m meeting with so many maidens. What do they have to do with my place as the Celestial Knight?”

“If you want to meet the last remaining maidens, look no further than myself and your friend.”

“I suppose it does make sense that I’d need to meet you-” My mind skittered to a halt as her words had only just caught my mind. “Did you say that Juna is someone important to my work as the Celestial Knight.”

“You’ve heard correctly, my dear handsome knight. I am Plutia: a maiden that will help you with your destiny to save this kingdom. And you, Juna, are important to Khiron’s journey.”

“I-I am?” Juna, who had been silent, had finally spoken up. Her voice was rightfully filled with confusion.

“Yes, dear. You too are a maiden like myself and the others.”

“All of this talk about maidens and I haven’t the first clue why everyone here will be important to my duties. Is there something I need to help them with? I could understand if the Celestial Knight had his own share of quests to fulfill like any other knight, yet...”

“Oh, not at all. You won’t be the one who is assisting. I’m sure you’ve done plenty of that throughout your years of being a knight. Rather, all of us maidens are here to assist you.”

“My mistake. I’m not all so familiar with being the one receiving help as a knight. It already seems like there’s some adjusting to be done as the Celestial Knight.”

“And why am I suddenly being called a maiden?” Juna joined me in inquiry.

“You see, dear. These women in this room are very special people who have been selected due to the spirits in their hearts. Each and every one of us are imbued with magic that will be vital to the hero’s duties.”

“Imbued with magic?” Juna parroted her words and cocked her head.

“Perhaps that would explain why you’ve long been so adept with magic?”

“When the royal guard had been near you, dear Juna, they had sensed your this magnificent power emanating from within you. The very power the kingdom had been seeking for years. We’d learned that the two of you have long been nearly inseparable, so we’d wagered that Khiron would be bringing you along with him today. Gratefully he came through with our expectations.”

“That was a safe bet to make. It’s been a dream come true to her, finally having an opportunity to visit the castle.”

“Precisely so.” Plutia nodded her head and grew a confident smirk. “Returning to the matter you’d inquired of: the magic us maidens hold inside of ourselves will be given to you in time.”

“I believe I understand what you mean to say. These maidens will help to increase my strength so that I can combat Eclipse?” And despite my recognition, I’d felt a misting perplexing fog up my mind.

“It seems you catch on delightfully quick. Though perhaps not quickly enough.” Her smirk only magnified upon her features as it rose into a delighted smile.

“Why so? I’m still missing something important?”

“In order to gain this magic from us maidens, you must draw near us.”

“Come closer? So I should spent my time with them when I can? That way I’ll slowly gain this magic you’re talking about?”

“You are almost there. Let me fill you in on one last detail.”

The room at once had been overcome with a rather tense, awkward aura. Each of the maidens I’d been newly introduced to started to fidget about. Their faces blushed and their eyes seemed to flee from my own.

My pulse had begun to rise. Something was strange. I could feel the weight of the coming revelation before it was spoken. Much like the winds which blow before a storm settles in.

“I... I’m not sure what that may be. May I hear it?” I’d asked.

“You will draw near to the maidens you see before you. Learning of them and spending time together, you will gain this magic power you will need for your campaign. Though contact and familiarity with these maidens may grant you strength, there is one method which bests all others to secure this magic for yourself in its fullest measure at an unprecedented pace.”

“That sounds fair. Please continue.”

She stepped before the other maidens and joined with them. With a flourish of her hand and a bright beam on her face, she let the finale fly free.

“Khiron, Hero of Celestia. In order to gain the power you require to best Eclipse, you must lovingly kiss us Celestial Maidens.”

At once the tension in the room multiplied a hundred times over. My own face now grew hot as the settled storm caused my heart to thunder. Its divulge soaked my being. I could barely believe what I’d been told. I’d thought that I’d misheard all of it as I trembled in denial. But just as the earth beneath pouring rain, realization soon soaked into my mind.

“I didn’t mishear you... did I? I… I have to k-k-kiss these maidens...?”

“You’ve heard correctly, handsome hero. This is the means in which we’ll assist you on your quest.”

Plutia too blushed but had the courage to continue with her eyes set on me. I, on the other hand, had to face away.

Glancing over my shoulder, my gaze hooked to Juna’s. I’d stared into her fiery red eyes for a moment before both of us snapped away in incredible embarrassment.

“I-I-… I’ll have to… with… with Juna?”

“You understand well.”

Like an overloaded dam, I could no longer contain myself but let my incredulity and the chaos settling in my mind spill over.

“H-How had I never heard of this until now?! Shouldn’t this be known beforehand?! I… The heroes of Celestia... Solus...”

“We can’t just let this secret be open to anyone and everyone. The hero must be pure in his intentions and motivations. You had reigned as victor in the tournament through your indomitable spirit and desires for peace. That much we can all clearly see.”

“Y-You mean… B-But Juna! And these women…”

“T-This is an honor, isn’t it, Plutia? This is a way that I... we can help Khiron save Celestia?” Juna spoke up though her voice quivered.

“It is a high honor. Through your efforts the world will be made into a better place.”

“Juna… you…”

She snapped and met me without flinching. Though her face burned brightly, there was a resolve deep within those burning red of her eyes. In a moment already so fraught with awe, seeing her so resolute plunged me even deeper into astonishment.

“This is to save the world... To make your greatest dream come true! Until I become an Elite Mage Knight, this is what I can do to do my part for you. I’m… I’m okay with being a maiden! I understand what I… we must do!”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Juna, my greatest friend, was so readily accepting of this ludicrous requirement! I would… In time I would k-kiss her?! I couldn’t find myself agreeing to such a thing so quickly. But if it was the task for the hero, there would be no arguing against it.

The rest of the maidens continued wrestling with embarrassment along with myself and Juna. Celine glanced at me with sharp eyes to kill before shooting them away. Mercy’s smile faltered as the corner of her mouth and shook where it strained to remain high. Neptanie’s pale skin was instead a luminescent glow of red as she stared down to her shoes. Venna smiled towards me though her cheeks were flushed bright pink. Marcia, on the other hand, wore a scowl as she watched me, though her eyes couldn’t settle themselves.

“Fair hero, you must lovingly kiss us maidens to save the world.” Plutia chased away any remaining doubt I’d had that this was all an elaborate joke.