by Roland Allnach
A world conqueror besieges the castle of the lady of the Thousandfold Gossamer Veils. What place is there for mortal love in the supernaturals’ titanic struggle?
What is it that one could say, that one could even think, when confronted with such beauty, the beauty of an Esper, stilled for a moment by her will from destroying all about her in a rage of purity that borders and pales the boundaries of chastity?
Mark the sheer elegance of her frame, so graceful, so proud in the power of her master, She of the Thousandfold Gossamer Veils, emboldened by that patronage in the halo of translucent silvery and white veils that waver about her — indeed, what is it that one could say to such a being?
For there is no mortal woman like an Esper, none regaled with such finery as an Esper. Behold her presence! The intricate weavings of her linen and leather armor so light, so pliable, hypnotic in the embroidery of the Four Winds upon her breast to match the runes hammered into the slender length of her polished sword, brandished to rest on her shoulder, blending so with the pure silver length of her hair, trailing from the aquiline lines of the silver helm that frames the otherworldly beauty of her face.
Such is the sight of an Esper, and yet among them there is one above them, second only to her master: She of the Thousandfold Gossamer Veils. She is marked by the piercing intensity of her eyes, blue as the bluest sky man has beheld — she is Captain of the Espers, Lady Luna, silver moon sister of the star-laden night.
Kyto falls to his knee before her, disemboweled by her presence, awed and shamed by her beauty, the purity of her spirit burning within her blazing sapphire eyes, and struggles to find his voice.
The Lord is not so daunted though, and meets Luna eye for eye, and yields not a blink of space to her. He sweeps his hand to his side and dispels the otherworldly tides of air that set her veils in motion about her, leaving them stilled about her. And at that, Kyto is stilled as well.
“I have no words for you, my dear Luna,” the Lord states, abrupt and audacious as he addresses her without title. “Your lady knows why I have come, and why I cannot leave, and why I have no joy in this world, and this world no joy beneath me. Only she can end this, and only she will understand. I have no terms to offer, nor terms that I can accept.”
Mysterious Luna tips her chin, her wide graceful forehead settling over her almond-shaped eyes. “Such is not what my lady wishes I discuss with you,” she answers, and her voice is like the whisper of many breezes through the cherry trees Kyto remembers from his childhood, made more magical for the fact that her lips do not part as she speaks.
The Lord opens a hand to his side, gesturing from his hill to the camp of his war machine gathered before the walls of her bastion. “Ancient oaths have brought this. Your lady cannot deny this, my lovely Luna. Go, relay this, and this as well: she cannot hide from that which has bound us. She must come, or I shall never leave this place, and all shall perish that the world holds dear.”
Luna holds her stance, but it is not her place, for all her power, for all the wisdom of her unearthly spirit, to speak for her lady in matters of mortals and their world. “So be it,” she replies in her voiceless voice of cherry-blossom breezes.
She looks to Kyto, her eyes narrowing as he trembles on his knee before her, stealing furtive glances of her. “And what would you have?” she asks of Kyto.
His lips part. What is there to say? To hold one moment of such beauty in his heart, keep it there unblemished forever from the time-wearying waste of the world? That she has turned his hardened soldier’s heart into a lovesick ghost?
But to Luna there are no secrets in the hearts and minds of mortals, and in pity of what she sees in Kyto, she offers him a token to preserve face before his Lord. She lowers her hand, extending the glistening edge of her blade until its tip rests before him. Trembling, he offers up his hands, takes the tip in his palms, and presses his lips to the runes upon the blade.
And then she is gone from him, and all he knows is the sorrowful craving of a dream too beautiful to comprehend, too beautiful to hold, for he opens his eyes and looks up, only to see her fly like a comet of shifting veils through the night sky to her lady’s bastion. He gasps, forgetting that his Lord stands behind him.
Yet his Lord offers no rebuke as he too watches Luna go. “And that, my dear friend Kyto,” he begins in a low voice, “is how mortals are made to be fools in the face of greater things.” He lays a hand on Kyto’s shoulder but then walks off. “We must rally the camps,” he calls over his shoulder. “The siege will continue.”
But Kyto is left immobile, as if a man struck dead, dead with yearning for something he fears he will never know again. And as he weeps his falling tears crystallize in the air, only to hiss to steam upon meeting the ground.
* * *
What is it then, this notion that stills the hearts of men, that befuddles and entrances them when they behold that which mystifies them, which belittles their greater ambitions and leaves them as lost leaves in the storm, remembering the life they had known but knowing it no longer, for they have beheld something, something they cannot explain, yet something they now yearn for beyond any pale of reason or misplaced nobility?
They only know that they must have it, that it makes a mockery of all else they have while at once giving them belief in something new, something greater — what would it be for mortal man to stand beside that which transcends the meaning of his own existence?
For three days, such is the manner of Kyto’s thoughts. The siege continues without relent, and he remains as a man struck dumb, for he has been possessed by a listlessness that defies the exhortations of his captains. For though he is Kyto, sacker of a thousand cities, he who possesses the daughters of forty deposed kings as his wives, he whose countenance alone has given lesser kings reason alone to bow in servitude, he who is Second to his Lord who has conquered the Three Kingdoms of the world, he sits as one dejected, one whose soul has been dissected from him to leave him a mannequin of flesh among the world of mortal men.
He will not loose his sword, and he utters no order. He watches the ceaseless battering of her bastion not for its progress, but to await with trembling hands the emergence of her Espers, and their captain, mysterious Lady Luna, silver moon sister of the star-laden night. And until he sees her, until he can return to her presence, he knows that he cannot live, that he cannot die, that he cannot find comfort in food or victory, for he is a man lost, lost from the battle, lost from the world, lost from himself.
“He has been bewitched,” the Lord’s captains utter behind Kyto’s back, but they have no presence to challenge him directly, for to their surprise the Lord takes no action against Kyto, but leaves him be.
Until the fourth night since Kyto beheld the presence of Lady Luna. The Lord comes to him then, lays a hand on Kyto’s shoulder in a most paternal way, and speaks words he has spoken to no one in all his countless years upon the world. “You are not of her kind, my good friend,” the Lord advises. “So Lady Luna has done to you, so she in her bastion did to me in the Time Before Time, and the restlessness has not left in all the ages of my time. Take heart, for you are of this world, and so will return to it, and be freed from this suffering.”
Kyto says nothing, for he knows not what to say.
The Lord speaks, but his voice lowers, and a terrifying passion seethes through his words. “But I am not of the world as you are and can know no peace until she comes forth. And she will not come forth while her Espers delight in their fury upon us. Tomorrow, Kyto, you will be freed from their madness. Tomorrow I will destroy them, for they forget in their pride the depth of my wisdom.”
Kyto makes no reply, for he is far away, far away in the recesses of his memories. He is a boy again, running with arms spread between the flowering cherry trees beside his family’s village. And as he runs the sun and breeze are on his face, and he pretends he is flying, and the flurrying cherry blossoms about him are clouds, and he knows no sorrow, but only joy, for he realizes only now, that even then, it was her voice that called to him in the undulating whisper of the breeze, and that there is more to the world than mortals and their petty desires, and that such a notion is more than the innocent dream of a wanting child.
* * *
Copyright © 2012 by Roland Allnach