Chapter 11:

A Sense of Duty

Full Moon! Through the Rings of Love

Luna was sulking away her stress in front of that big pond. A few birds and ducks seemed to have gathered curiously around her. It reminded me of something one might see in a fairy tale princess story.

The whole situation reminded me of that, actually.

I felt bad for offending her, but why would she want to be with someone if she wasn’t attracted to them? Just the thought confused me to no end. There had to be a reason, and I wanted to think it wasn’t anything selfish, since Luna was such a kind person.

We all followed her to the pond, careful not to spook her as we approached. She was in a really delicate state.

“Luna, are you okay?” I carefully asked.

“No,” she replied. “I’m very sad.”

She really knew how to state the obvious. At least she didn’t dance around the subject.

“I’m sorry for putting your decision into question, Luna, but I don’t really get why you’d be with me if you aren’t attracted.”

“Are looks all that are important in a marriage?” She questioned. “In your world, the variety of looks are far too diverse.” Luna shook her head. “How could I sift through hundreds of potential male suitors all to find one? The burden is too great!”

Welcome to the club. Finding a date is truly the greatest challenge any of us can take on. The more beautiful you were, the easier it was.

“Pre-mage…” Charlie scoffed. “You’re missing her point. Like I said before, she lives in a different world than you. You can’t just expect her to want the same sort of courting culture.”

“But, isn’t it worse to be forced into a relationship?”

“From your peasant perspective, yes. But that’s because it's all you’ve ever known. It's just the same for her. Choosing your mate seems like a burden as well.”

Maybe some people can get by much easier having someone chosen for you. But to me that felt like they were just being forced to do something they didn’t want.

Charlie was making the claim that because it was her culture to be married off, she was happy enough to do it. Now that I was putting that into question, I was offending and overwhelming her.

In the reverse, if someone were to marry Zumi off, she’d have a fit because she’s so used to having the freedom to choose who you want to marry. (Not thay she should be married anytime soon)

If you ask me, having freedom to choose a partner sounded infinitely better. But like Charlie said, I’ve only ever known that option. To be fair, Luna was forced on me from the start of this journey. If she wasn’t spiritually connected to me, and very pretty, would I have been so quick to side with her? I’d like to think yes, but who knows?

“Luna, what does your heart tell you to do?” I asked.

I think, no pun intended, asking that was the true heart of the matter. If her soul was telling her things were right as they were, it wouldn't be fair for me to tell her she was wrong.

“I have a duty.” She replied. “I must marry you and prevent my father from taking magic from your world.”

Then that settles it. If that’s what Luna’s heart is telling her, I won’t question it anymore. This was her choice.

“If your sense of duty is what brings us together, that’s fine. I don’t mind. But you have to make the choice if you really want to be with me or not.”

“I don’t care if I’m physically attracted to you or not,” she said. “My duty is what brought me to you, but your heart will keep me close. I’m more than happy to be your wife, even if my eyes don’t know what they want.”

I couldn't understand how she was able to ignore her own tastes simply to be with me. If it were anyone else, I'd think they had a scheme going. But Luna was someone too innocent to have any bad intentions.

“Luna, you know that makes it sound like you're forcing this, right?” Zumi asked.

She nodded. “A man like him is rare." She turned to me. "Your heart is good, Walden. You didn't hesitate to help me on my journey. And our fates are connected. To say I was meant for anyone else would be to pretend like someone better exists.”

Her loyalty was to be admired, but how far would that loyalty alone take her? I had to be a little pessimistic, since this whole situation seemed so outlandish.

We did just meet, after all. And the circumstances of our encounter are a bit dire. There isn’t enough time to really sift through our feelings for too long.

“Walden, I don’t care whether I find you attractive or not. I’ve made the choice to be with you all my life, and I will stand by that. With these two as my witness, I will put myself in prison if these words prove to be untrue.”

This vow she just made, it held her to very high expectations. I couldn't bear to think she'd break her word.

The statue at the top of the hill started to glow brightly. Beams of light shot out all around. One flew up into the sky and curved down to where we were, opening up a big red portal.

Charlie immediately started analyzing it with his Egresser magic.

“I think this is the next portal.” Charlie uttered. “It’ll take us to the next ring!”

But, Luna didn’t ever find me attractive. How did we complete the test? I probably shouldn’t be questioning it.

"Luna, are you ready?" I let down my hand to help her stand.

She gave a stern nod, taking up my hand and rising. "I'm ready for whatever these rings have in store for us."

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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