Luna ran towards Arthur are full speed, ripping across the concrete like something shot out of a slingshot. To someone who knew the umbra body best, the best case was to impale or bludgeon him, and hope that the combination of first aid and the umbra healing factor would be enough. It was good enough to capture him for the police, but he was gaining ground too, in the opposite direction.

His mercurial form broke off into more tendrils and let him levitate above the floor, only occasionally strutting with this leg. He couldn’t go very far without running into an obstacle in any way, so he was going for a feint.

Cornered now, above a ledge in a park, he had moved quickly enough to isolate them. As the movement rubbed air into her face, stopping made her realize that he was really her brother. Arthur, who nature hated, because he developed his weak mercurial form too late, and never learned how to cope.

The streetlight was dim here. They might have attracted darklings. Luna found the brightest light was her mercurial form. It wasn’t supposed to do that, but she used it againt his.

As expected, the partial darkness of the park hid his mercurial form further. They stood apart. There was no real confrontation. At any point he could jump, land okay, blend himself into the blackness of the night, and walk out with only achy knees. She had lost before it had started.

Luna rushed with her tendrils now like stingers, but they were repelled like arrows against a shield. Arthur hit her, and Luna felt the weight of what she had done.

He croaked like an animal who thought he had won everything, “What do you get for living as a human? Tell me!”

“What,” she said numbly.

“You get strange looks from children, and they wonder which direction your eyes are pointing. They treat you like something dangerous.”

“But you have become dangerous. Imagine if you hadn’t run away. What about me then?”

“You’ve become a pet, Luna. It was never my intention to take you where you wouldn’t belong. You could have been a lion.”

“No, there’s no way. You can’t subscribe to this ideology. I remember you would never.”

“So, What! Where’s the wrong in taking things. I’m the promised retribution. They will pay.”

“No one has ever wronged you. Only our parents and they didn’t know better, and it’s not our fault we repel other people. I still repel people. Arthur, turn yourself in.”

He jumped and vanished without a sound. And then there was a sound of confusion, maybe because he landed somewhere unexpectedly wet.

Luna didn’t remember anything, except now she was in yet another hidden facility beneath the ground, luggage in arm. A line of shiny knights’ airships was freshly towed into this hangar. Instead of airbags, they flew using magic technology, like the equipment used by the higher-ranking knights of Susanoo, meant for cavalry in the floating Elodia’s old castle. While they weren’t very practical, they had been a goodwill present from the new Empire.

Of course, with few able people to activate them, Nick figured they were lying in waste and one could be a perfect ship for their promised vacation, with the stipulation that Luna would try to fly it instead of Ella.

One reason was that Ella was someone Nick could trust with (decidedly simple) internal affairs, but mostly it was punishment. Though Arthur had committed no crime, he was still a dangerous person and he felt, for the first time in his life, distrust, because Luna had let him go on personal ground, or so he thought.

Operating the airship wasn’t that tasking. The roof of the building opened up, and below the city was asleep, so the four of them escaped on a long scenic trip to Castle Susan. They were in no condition to be active knights, and in the early morning before the sun rose, Luna sat with the ‘engine’ and pushed her mercurial form into it like a pencil into a sharpener.

Tom and Sally sat on the deck. While it was windy and damp, the weather was still warm enough to be comfortable, that is, beneath some heavy jackets. It wasn’t so bad with a book in hand, and a chair to lean on.

Sally said, “There are no darklings down there,” though it was a question because the sun hadn’t risen and the ground beneath them insofar belonged to the outer city and suburbs.

“I don’t want to think about darklings slinking around.”

“Sorry, I wasn’t thinking. Anyway, I think the view is very pretty.”

“You don’t do much thinking,” Tom said harshly. There was no view outside of the lamps to protect pets and then livestock and she had just violated his trust. They were only outside because Nick wanted to talk to Luna, and they were only outside on the small chance that there would be a strong enough darkling to fly and reach them. His reading light flickered, and his sweaty palms made the book fall out of his hands.

Tom liked all the things she did for him, but now it was hard to even carry out banter, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you.”

“Apology Accepted,” she grinned, and then handed Tom a pair of night vision goggles that came with the ship.
Though looking down made him a bit sick, he found the outlines of farm and farmhouses, and carefree livestock that didn’t seem to fear the darklings. It was at least an hour when Nick beckoned them inside, and that they could sleep. Long before that, the sun peeked, and the ground was covered in splendid green grass several hundred feet below them.

The airship dropped and while Tom went inside to sleep, sleepy eyed Nick and Luna stepped out on the grass. Before they knew it, Sally had somehow already laid down a sheet to sit on and braved the slight cold and dew to feel the grass between her feet.

She said like a whisper without facing to turn them, “Why did we take a vacation now of all times? It doesn’t have to do much with us, right?”

“I need to see Kevin. My brother had no personal friends but at least Kevin was something close and I can know why he acted so weird,” Nick said.

“That was an understatement. Unlike Ella, I never liked him and actually I know a secret about him.” Luna said.
Nick was disappointed that she kept so many secrets especially with her. He could never be angry and forgave her for not telling about her brother, since some of her secrets were so heavy. One day, Luna was with him, and he didn’t know her past beyond what she told him.

“Let’s hear it.”

“Ella would feel a certain power from him, but always dismissed it as admiration for him or his knights,” she said.
Certainly, he commanded respect and was one reason why Nick founded his own squad. It was clear that some rare magic made him act the way he did. But maybe Kevin would no more. He was close to Nick, and on his merry visits he never treated Nick wrongly.

“Hmm,” Nick breathed, “There is something we can do for Tom. But we’ll keep it a secret. What do you think, Baronet, do you think he needs it?”

She nodded, Luna smiled and after she got her rest they rose into the air above the sea of grass and arrived in a day and a half in Discordia, even though, sometimes Luna feel asleep eyes open at the helm and missteered, mercurial form extended, then they could have been there sooner.


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