Chapter 9:

The Crystal Temple

Full Moon! Through the Rings of Love

We had to keep an eye out for any more fairy funny business. Those little scamps were all around, giggling and consorting against us. Zumi pulled out her iron sword, giving them a reason to keep their distance.

“I’m sensing a distortion nearby.” Charlie sniffed around the air like a puppy. “Something about it seems oddly familiar to Luna though.”

“I would say so.” Luna nodded. “The magic I use, and the link between our worlds are very similar.”

Since magic apparently originated from the moon, places like this must have been connected to her on a very spiritual level.

Charlie did a decent job trying to pinpoint exactly where the distortion was. He got us within a half kilometer of it.

“Thank you, Charlie,” Zumi said. “It shouldn’t be too hard to find the distortion now.”

“How do we locate it?” I asked.

“We’ll need to find somewhere where magic is most concentrated.”

We were on a hill, looking over the forest. Each of us was scanning a different cardinal direction for a hint of the distortion site. I think I was facing west?

Luna was looking north for sure, because she was looking away from the planet's rings. West is to the left of north. So yes, I was facing west.

It was quiet, but the silence was broken every few seconds when someone would adjust their footing.

“Oh!” Luna called out. “Look there!”

She pointed north east to something shimmering in the trees.

Whatever that was, it didn’t look natural. It looked a lot like a spire.

We managed to work our way around some really dense bushes and vines. A temple of pure crystal sat amongst the trees.

Fairies and other little fae flew and danced around it happily. There was an incredible amount of magic energy in that crystal temple, so it had to be the source of the distortion.

“Is that it?” I asked Charlie.

“Yes it is.” He gave a nod. “I’d try and use my eggressor magic out here, but the distortion seems to be most concentrated on the inside of the temple.”

We had to get inside then. First things first was clearing out the fae around it.

“This temple…” Zumi awed, “what is that even made of?”

Luna spoke up with a response. “The crystal of that temple is formed from solid lunar energy. I did not know we would be seeing a temple here though.”

She made a point to mention that it won’t be dangerous. As long as we didn't damage the crystal, the structure is stable. That made it sound super brittle, like one crack and the whole thing could come crashing down.

“We’ll need to tread carefully.” Charlie said.

“Yeah.” Zumi nodded. “What happens if the structure breaks?”

“There are only so many links between our worlds. If this one is destroyed, a large amount of magic will cease to flow here. Much of this land will die as a result, since the fae rely on magic to live.”

Fae, and many other magical creatures needed magic. Otherwise they wouldn’t have anything to keep their physical forms together. They’d turn into Nihils, or spirits. This temple must have been sacred ground for them.

We approached the temple, waving around Zumi’s sword to clear out the fae. They got out of there quickly.

We let Luna take the lead, since this was more her domain. I figured she’d be able to get us inside without trouble.

*Knock Knock Knock*

“I am princess Luna Darthal of the moon. I request you to open this door at once.”

“Is someone in there?” Zumi asked.

Luna just shrugged. Go figure.

“Luna, as a princess with such high authority, wouldn’t you be able to go where you please?” Charlie argued.

“I’m unsure if that is a wise idea. The connections between our worlds may be guarded with high authority by my father's honour guard.”

If her father put a defense measure like that in place, maybe he didn't want us getting in at all.

We really wouldn’t know if we didn’t look inside. So I took point and pushed open one of the heavy double doors. Charlie pushed the second door of the two.

This room was completely empty and also made of crystal. The floors had a tile pattern on them, and there were huge pylons running across the walls, but that was about as far as the decorations went.

“I can feel the distortion is at its strongest now,” Charlie said, looking serious. “I’ll be able to open a portal here.”

“That’s good,” I said. “How long will it take?”

Charlie estimated that a portal here would take about half an hour to open. He could have done it faster if he’d done one in a place like this before, but he needed to cast the spell just right.

“The consequences of failing a portal spell are catastrophic. You could easily be teleported to a dimension of disorder and chaos if you don’t get it right. Lucky for all of you, I’m a masterful egresser mage.”

“Just don’t let that ego mess the spell up,” I said. He didn’t really appreciate the comment.


We had a little bit to wait on Charlie’s spell to finish. So Zumi, Luna and I took some time to discuss what we’d do once we got into the ring realm.

“Do you know anything about the realms?” Zumi asked Luna.

“I know that it will be Walden and I who must get us across them,” she said. “Our love is the only true path to victory.”

“What does that look like?” I asked. “How will our love lead us anywhere, tangibly speaking?”

Luna wasn’t completely sure, but she did know that somehow each of the five rings would test an attribute of our bond with each other.

“I’m sorry. I know that is not much to go on.”

“It’s more than you think,” Zumi smiled. “If my brothers bond with you is key to overcoming those rings, we’ll need to make sure you both have a healthy relationship.”

I’m still a bit iffy on how I feel about this whole love thing. If I had to spend the rest of my life with Luna, I wouldn’t mind that at all. She isn't hard to get a long with. But even I know that this is so sudden, that we have to really get to know each other. A week didn’t seem like enough time to cultivate that.

“Yes!” Luna balled up her fist and put it in her lap. “That’s what I’ve been hoping for. With all of your support, this marriage will be splendid. I have faith.”

“But, one thing, Luna…” Zumi continued, “Maybe we can take it easy on the marriage aspect for now? You’ve only just met my brother, after all. Not that I mind the two of you together.”

Luna shook her head. “Oh, heavens no. If I do not get married to him, then my father will never recognize that humans are worthy creatures.”

“Why is marriage the only way?” I asked. “Isn't courting enough for now?”

“Marriage is the ultimate action of one's love for another. It is a binding moment to express the depths of trust shared between two individuals. If I’ve chosen you, a human, as my forever mate, my father will trust my judgment that humans can be special.”

She hardly knew me at all. We were really just going off of this shared bond we had.

“If your father is expecting me to be anything special, he’s in for a pretty big surprise.”

“Yes!” Luna cheered. “He doesn't think I can do it. So he’ll definitely be surprised to see you.”

“That’s not what I meant…”


A series of noises tore through the air!

Charlie had managed to activate the portal. This one was much bigger than any I’d seen him make. It also had a red glow, rather than the usual blue.

“Is that thing stable?!” I shouted over the howl of the portal.

“Do you really doubt my mastery over this magic?!”

Doubt didn’t mean much at this point. Our limited options meant we had to go through this, regardless of whether it was a good idea or not.

“Walden!” Luna shouted, grabbing my hand. “We must be the first to go in together!”

Her sense of adventure was nothing short of enthusiastic and terrifying.

“Shouldn’t we have Charlie go in first?” I asked.

Luna shook her head. “It must be us. Whatever awaits us in the next realm must know that you and I are the ones who will be tested.”

Was there an entity coordinating this whole ring sheared? All that made me wonder if she knew more than she was leading on about.

“Alright!” I nodded to her. “Let’s go in together!”

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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