The Lady of the Moon
One Year Later“Come on boys! Keep it moving! I see you walking, Kenny!” I screamed at my men. Patrolling the borderlands was dangerous business. We needed to make sure none of the mundane worlders came to our realm. And why was this dangerous? Some of them brought weapons. Deadly weapons.
“Stopppp! Take a break men. Eat, rest, discuss those pretty little girls who are waiting for you back home. You get half an hour.” I bellowed. At the mention of women, some of the younger boys chuckled.
I quietly looked around trying to see who had made the noise. My eyes landed on the silhouette of a girl roughly around my age so still she could be a statue.
I look at her, unsure if the long day was making me imagine things, “Hello? I can see you.”
She twitched her hand to her waist, reaching for something, seemed to think better of it, and simply said, in an accent I didn’t recognize, “Hello. I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m just crossing over.”
Her voice implied she was hiding something. If I wasn’t already suspicious of a young girl lurking in the woods near the borderlands at night, now I was.
“You know civilians aren’t allowed to cross over. What are you doing here?”
I could sense the smirk she wore on her face when I said that. She already had a response planned, “Well, there’s an easy answer for that. I’m not a civilian. Not to mention this isn’t the first time I’ve been to the mundane realm. Between you and me, being here is what I shouldn’t be doing. So, unless you want to make me continue to break your beloved queen’s rules, let me return to my banishment.”
“Banishment?” I gulped, “We only banish dangerous people. What are you doing here? Wait, if you aren’t a civilian, what are you?”
The smirk returned, “You know that she doesn’t banish people who are dangerous to the public; she banishes people who are a danger to her. I, frankly, am the letter. She hates me, and my principles.”
“Answer my other question. I have laser touch, and I’m not afraid to use it.” I said, straining not to crack my voice.
The mysterious woman clucked her tongue on the roof of her mouth, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” This time her voice had no trace of a smile in it.
“Try me,” I chocked, “I’ve heard a lot of impossible things that were, in fact, possible.”
“You know the second queen that just disappeared off the face of the realm a year ago? Well, she went to the mundane realm. Um… actually no. Not her, ne. My sister banished me because she wanted the whole thrown for herself, and she disagreed with how I handled things. She resorts to torture…. I don’t. Do you believe me?” She said, hope barely audible though her hard tone. I can tell she was fighting back tears.
My head was spinning. I believed her all right. I remember the day Queen E told us of her tragic disappearance without so much as a single tear.
“Cariania.” I whispered.
“So she has told people that I disappeared.” She said, her voice unreadable, “Though I suppose you didn’t hear the whole truth. Why would she? Then she’d have a rebellion on her hands. Uh, just slightly off topic here, how long ago did she start having you patrol the border lands?”
I had to think about it. I had been assigned as a General for this project since it started which was…. “A year ago. Three days after the Queen told us you disappeared.”
“Huh,” Cariania said absentmindedly, reminding me of back when I would stand in the giant crowd and listen to her speeches. Back then she was strong and unguarded. Somehow that one interjection reminded me of back then. She was so young and innocent, “I guess that’s probably three days after she banished me since she needed to make sure I couldn’t come back.”
“Yeah, about that. Why are you here if you’re supposed to never come back?”
She took a step towards me, “To remind myself why I can’t come back.”
All I could do was blink like an idiot. Why couldn’t she come back? What could her sister do to her? They’re both equally powerful, and Cariania has more people willing to help her.
“Why?” I finally asked.
She looked at me, confused, “Why, what?”
“Why,” I sighed, “Can’t you come back?”
Something in what I just said had broken whatever thin armor she put on her emotions. I heard the quiet, sharp inhale of a person who has finally succumbed to their tears. “She’ll torture him, kill everyone he cares about in front of him, and torture him more until the day he dies.”
My throat grew dry, and it seemed like an eternity had passed until I finally asked her, “Who is he?”
Wiping away her tears, she sniffled and weakly said, “Arthur.”
“What’s his last name?” I demanded, fear taking control of my mind and body.
“Carter.” She said, and with the name came more of her painfully, beautiful and graceful tears.
No. That wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be right. I realized I said it out loud because she asked, miserably, “And why would you assume now of all times I wasn’t telling the truth?”
“Because I’m Po. Arthur Carter is my brother.” I blurted out. So this was the fair maiden my brother told me about? His forbidden love that ripped out his heart when she stopped meeting him in secret in the middle of the night? Did he not know she was forced to leave, or did he tell me that because he could think of no better explanation for his broken heart? While I was pondering this, Cariania started to run. I didn’t know why she did, all I knew was that I had to follow her, and catch her. For Arthur.
She was fast, but I was faster. I caught her just as she was about to climb up a tree. She thrashed in my arms and spoke gibberish. Slowly I realized it wasn’t gibberish that graced her tongue, but a sentence being repeated many times: No, she’ll hurt Arthur, no!”
“Stop, struggling,” I managed to say while tying her hands behind her back and attempting to tie her to the very tree was going to climb to escape. When I finished I asked her a question.
“Why did you run?”
She looked helplessly into her eyes. Her eyes were a light grey that reminded me of a foggy day; filled with mystery and surprise. “He told me about his brother. He said ‘Po would do anything to make me happy, but all I do is disappoint him.’ It was hard to imagine Arthur disappointing anyone, but wanting to make him happy took up my every thought. It didn’t surprise me someone else was the same way.
“You asked why I ran. I ran because if what Arthur said was true, you will make sure he sees me… and finds me. I cannot let that happen. And I will not put him in anymore danger than I already have.”
I looked at her, bewildered, “I can’t let you go, your highness.”
“I don’t need you to untie me. I need you to leave. The rest I can handle. Please, just don’t utter a word of this to anyone.” She pleaded, her grim expression softening.
Anger swelled up inside of me, “No! You are NOT leaving these woods until I bring Arthur! The past year has been horrid, watching him beat himself up because of you. Knowing you’re alive will be like bringing back the sun for him.”
“There’s your problem right there, Po. I’m the moon, not the sun. Although it is true people think of me as the bearer of light, that is not my destiny. The only reason they think that is because Eskedeilia is so evil, and I’m not. I’m the veil that’s supposed to separate good and evil, light and dark, but Miri, my other triplet, was supposed to be the light until her untimely death. You can try to go get Arthur, but by the time you get back, I’ll be gone.”
My anger faded to depression. All I had to do was run back to camp and grab Arthur. He was a part of my military force. But… if we weren’t fast enough, she’d be gone before we got here, “Where will you go? Where have you been?”
“The mundane world,” she said, stressed, “It’s where I’ve been and where I’ll go. I have a life there. It’s sad, lonely, and pitiful, but it’s something. Po, I know no matter what that you will tell Arthur, but when you do, tell him I’m begging him not to come. It’s not safe, and my only consolation when I wake up every morning is that he is safe.”
I didn’t say anything more to Cariania, but I did add many more constraints to buy me more time. My plan was to rush back to camp, compose a group of five men, and go search for her in the mundane world. Easy as pie.
When I got back to camp I immediately told everyone that a guy called Gary was in charge, and that I needed Arthur, Miles, Ricks, Brandon, and Ethan to assemble. We were going on a mission.
As soon as we were out of earshot from the group, I debriefed everyone on what had happened. They all stared at Arthur in awe. Arthur was smiling like a little kid, even when I told him she didn’t want him to come. At that he just said, “She knows I’ll come no matter what, she just said that to make me think about it and delay us, so let’s go!”
And with that we ran into the mundane realm.