Chapter 10:

Ring of Attraction

Full Moon! Through the Rings of Love

The portal that Charlie opened up was just ahead of us, like a disk of swirling red energy. Luna and I were very hesitant to jump in.

It wasn't a lack of trust in Charlie's skills, but more a fear of what could be on the other side. At this point, I had to assume those realms we'd be traveling into were safe for us to be in.

I looked at Luna, giving her a nod of courage. She did the same.

We both stepped in, feeling a tingle through our entire bodies as we were teleported to a new world.

Everything was bright red for a moment, but as the blinding light faded, we saw the realm before us.

The sky looked like space, full of stars, but pink and dotted with giant shards of ice.

The land was a lush green, mixed with yellows and purple, perhaps flowering plants of some kind. Mountains were off in the distance, capped with snow.

"So, this is another realm," I mulled over.

“I’m not sure what to expect here.” Luna shook her head.

"Don't worry. You're not alone.”

Anything could happen here. We’d have to keep our guard up.

The other two finally made their way through the portal and had similar thoughts as us. We were all at a loss for words, hardly able to process this alien landscape we were gazing upon.

"Alright. It seems like I'll be able to create a portal back home when we're done." Charlie said.

As long as we had a way back, I put my anxiety aside. Regardless, I’m sure the moon had more methods of getting back to our world if need be.

So, how do we get to the moon from here?

“Look!” Luna pointed to a stone path with big flowers bordering it. “We should follow that.”

There definitely have been people here if there was a stone path. It wasn’t very well kept, since some kind of purple moss was growing on it, but it looked well enough to walk on.

Not long into the walk, I thought I saw two people in the distance. But turns out it was just a statue down the way.

Those statues looked like some kind of stone knight, holding the hands of a woman who also had some sort of armour on. They appeared to be gazing at each other.

Charlie vocally pointed out the statues, as if it wasn’t obviously there.

“We could have missed this if we weren’t careful…lucky, my eyes are like that of a hawk.”

It would have been impossible to miss a giant statue in the middle of this stone walkway surrounded by flowers. I have no idea what he was talking about. He just was the first one to say something.

“Wow, Cougar Killer. I don’t think anyone else noticed that big thing sitting out in the open.” I mocked.

“Why you…” He growled.

“Both of you be quiet!” Zumi announced as we approached the statue. She ran ahead of us. Zumi took a second to check out a plaque dedicated to the knightly figures. “There’s an inscription here.”

It was written in the ancient tongue of the Forefathers. That was a group of men said to have made first contact with the lunar imperium long ago. Maybe they were the people who originally came through here.

“To pass the test…you must look upon your lover with wanting eyes.” Zumi read out.

So, that meant the challenge of this ring was to be attracted to each other. Right?

Easy. She was gorgeous. What was there not to love here?

“I don’t think we have much of an issue here.” I proudly smiled. “Unless you think I’m ugly.”

“Of course not!” She gasped. I don’t think she picked up on my teasing. “You are very handsome. And by the way you stare at me, I can tell you must think the same.”

Was it that obvious? Maybe girls notice little things like that.

With both of us thinking the other was attractive

That meant we could start this test whenever. At least, when we figured out exactly how to do it.

The words on the plague shifted.

“As you have read, show the proof of your love.” Zumi read.

"Are you attracted to me, Luna?"

"Er…" she blushed, "yes! Of course! How do you feel about me?"

"You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. No doubt I'm attracted to you."

Well, that was an easy test, just like I figured it would be.

“You have not passed. The test is not over.”

“How can the test not be over? We both just said we’re attracted to each other.” I argued with the plaque.

“One of you does not speak from the heart.”

…was it me? Was finding her gorgeous coming from simple lust, and not a healthy type of attraction?

I’m not one to really go crazy about beautiful ladies or anything like that, but I’m still a guy. The thing is, when I look at Luna, I don’t really feel like I want her for any kind of funny business.

I want to protect her, and I want to cherish her beauty as if it were a reflection of her inner self. And even if she lost that outer beauty, she’d still have her wonderful soul.

Was I really the one who wasn’t feeling from my heart? Could she possibly have been at fault?

“Luna, do you actually find me attractive?” I asked.

Her mouth went to speak, but she didn’t say a word.

Her hands started to shuffle around themselves. Her body swayed back and forth a bit. She wasn’t making eye contact with me.

“But…I…I think you’re handsome. I truly do…” she was having a lot of trouble forming the right words.

This whole thing wasn’t whether we thought of someone as attractive. For instance I think Charlie is a handsome man. I won't lie. But I’m not attracted to him. Zumi’s cute, but she’s family.

Luna was absolutely stunning, and I had nothing against embracing that. I’m very attracted to her. Anyone would be more than lucky to just look at her once, let alone see her as closely as I have.

But as much as she keeps calling me attractive, I don’t really think she’s attracted to me.

A lot of women have come and gone in my life. I’ve never had a real relationship, but I’ve always tried to ask girls to dance at events, or talk with ones I liked. None of them stayed around when they saw how low leveled I was.

My point isn’t to pity myself though, it’s to say that I’ve seen enough different faces to know what and what does not attract me. And Luna easily fits the attractive bill. Heck, she could be a lot worse off then she is and I wouldn’t mind her face much.

From my understanding of the Lunar Imperium, Luna doesn’t really get to see many different types of men. The Lunar people are all supposed to be stunning peaks of perfection, while in our world we have a nice variety. At some point, you lose sight of your tastes if you only get to eat one type of fancy food your whole life.

“Luna, it’s okay if you tell me you're not attracted to me. I won’t be offended.”

“No!” She grabbed my hands. “It’s…not like that.”

I kept quiet so she could speak.

“I’m not sure how I feel. When I first arrived here, I did think you were attractive. You're very handsome. But…now I don’t know why that isn’t enough.”

I think I was on the money.

“I bet everyone you’d see up on the moon was pretty beautiful,” I guessed, and she nodded. “But now that you’ve seen a lot of different faces here, you’re probably a little confused how you actually feel about me.”

“But, you’re handsome!”

“But is that attractive to you?”

“What’s the difference?”

I was right all along. She never distinguished the difference between attractive and being attracted.

“What type of person are you interested in? Dark skin? Blue eyes? Red hair? Everyone has some type of person they find attractive.”

“I’ve never had time to consider such things. I wouldn’t have been able to anyways, if I hadn’t come here. I would have been married to someone of another family. They’d be handsome, and that was all that was necessary.”

This conversation was strictly about looks, but I hope they’d marry people off on more than just whether they were good looking or not.

Her eyes welled with tears, then she ran down a hill of flowers toward a big pond.

I thought she was going to run off and get lost, but we could see her sulking in front of the water.

“Good work, pre-mage!” Charlie shouted. “You’ve offended the princess!”

“I didn’t offend her at all. She’s just upset that she wasn’t prepared to deal with this trial.”

Charlie shook his head and clicked his tongue.

“The world we, the elite, live in is nothing like yours,” he said. “Choices are made for us, we rarely have a say in the matter, but we live on. You could never imagine being married off to someone? Well, she could never imagine having a choice in marriage.”

Could that really offend someone? If what he said was true, I had so much to learn about the culture of love.

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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