Chapter 19:

The Youngest Princess

Full Moon! Through the Rings of Love

I’m starting to get the hang of how Luna deals with stress. When the heat is on her, she tends to burn out and hide. Which is fine, because it helps me know when something is seriously bothering her.

What’s not fine is that she burns out at all. So, it was time to have another chat.

This time I went at it alone. The others were quietly supporting me in the other room. They could probably hear what we were talking about, but keeping a distance was what we decided was best.

Luna was kneeling in the middle of a room with blankets and pillows everywhere, letting tears fall down her cheeks.

I gave a little knock on the door to signal I’d entered the room.

“You alright?” I asked.

She turned to me, spooked at my sudden entrance.

“No. But please don't trouble yourself over me.”

“You really think I'm not going to worry about you?” I sat down next to her. “Luna, what would you do if you walked into a room and saw me crying?”

“I’d cry too.”

She was a unique individual for giving that answer.

“Why would you cry too?” I asked.

“Because if we’re both crying, we can share each other's burden. Then we recover in half the time.”

If anyone ever hurts this woman, I’d have to destroy the whole world myself with my bare hands. She was too sweet for this universe.

“But, wouldn’t you want to know what’s wrong?” I asked, trying to continue my point.

“I would,” she sniffled. “Now that you have trapped me with that question, I suppose I have no choice but to tell you what’s wrong.”

We both got comfortable in this room of pillows. It had cooled down a little more, so it was starting to get barrable.

“The reason I first wanted to help your world wasn’t just to protect you all…” she said. “I wanted to help regardless, but there was more at stake for me, and for all of us...”

She explained that she was the youngest of ten daughters of the lunar emperor. Due to the nature of the Lunar Imperium being a patriarchy, only a male descendent could take the throne. So for example, she couldn't just become an empress alone. She’d have to get married.

The emperor never had a son. Apparently, he couldn’t even after many years of trying. He was supposed to be getting up there in age too.

“My father wishes to have an heir to the throne,” she said. "And in rare cases where the emperor does not have a son, his daughters must marry someone with a bond to us.”

“So, our spirit bond is part of that?”

"Yes. If I hadn't found you, my father would have believed that humanity cannot produce a worthy successor, thus they would be unworthy of magic."

“Does it have to be a human?” I asked.

“I’ll get to that in a moment…” she sighed. “Let me tell you why this is truly important to me."

She nudged herself away to get a little distance between us. Then she gave a sincere attempt to look me in the eyes.

"I must become the empress. I cannot trust anyone else with that power."

My first instinct wasn't to think she wanted that position to simply rule over people. She mentioned she was one of ten sisters. My guess was that they were all in on this too.

"I'm assuming your sisters want the throne too, and you don't like them."

"I love my sisters…but they are unworthy of that power. You might even say they’re horrible people…"

She was kind enough to love her family, even when they weren't good.

"If they take the throne, it is likely that our worlds would not keep peace for long."

According to her, many of them thought of themselves as superior to humans, so they'd very likely not treat us very well.

"They're also trying to find a human to marry?" I asked.

"The whole idea behind marrying a human is…complicated. But as my father explained, finding a humbling human would show that humanity is worth something more than magic could ever be."

So to Luna, this was a race to prove humanity was worth something. To her sisters, this was a race for the throne.

She also confirmed a thought of mine. There were others out there like me, who were connected to lunar magic. How many of them had the same troubles I did using magic at all?

But, does that mean any of them could have married her and things would turn out fine?

"Luna, did you pick me because of luck, or did you choose me?"

"My intuition led me to you. I followed my heart, and there you were."

A vague statement, but it checks out. Luna was definitely the type to have a good intuition.

"Are your sisters going to be an issue? Do you think they're connected to that bandit from earlier?"

Luna nodded. "I believe so. We'll need to be careful just in case."

“Why’d you keep this from us for so long?” I asked.

"I wasn't sure how to tell you. And my father did not want me to inform you too much, lest you become dependent on me." She turned to me with easy eyes. “But, I’ve always known you wouldn’t try to take advantage of me. You are kind in that way.”

Her lips were glistening for some reason, her cheeks were a perfect tone of rosy. Was she glowing too?

"These rings have been challenging us,” she continued. “More so you, since you must be the emperor one day. But I think I'm the one who has been the most burdensome challenge for you."

We'll get to the part about me being the emperor later…right now, seeing her so vulnerable…I had to tell her she wasn't a burden.

"You've never been a burden. Not when we were arguing, and certainly not now. I’ve honestly been a jerk, especially with the birds…"

"But…" tears ran down her cheeks again. "Each challenge, I've been so at odds with your way of thinking."

"Love to me was like mixing paint. At first it might look like the colours are completely different, but eventually they combine together to make a new colour."

That was a dumb analogy. But it got Luna giggling for a second.

"You really do have art on your mind."

She leaned in close, her lips pressed against my cheek with a quick peck.

Wow. Having a girl kiss my cheek was…wow…

It might not seem like much, but I felt a rush like nothing else. Nobody has ever done that before.

I took it as a sign of Luna’s trust. We were together, and no conflict would ever tear us apart.

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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