LUNAR: THE SILVER STAR
THE SNAKE RING
Original Work: Takeshi Hino
Illustrations: Toshiyuki Kubooka, Shunji Suzuki
Before Arhes Sets off on His Grand Adventure, Another, Smaller Tale...
One day, Arhes receives a gift from his friend Ramus - a Snake Ring. But as Arhes and Luhna practice their song at the forest spring, the magic power of the ring lashes out... Presenting an original untold story from Lunar's scenario writer!!
[Note: This story was originally published in the August 1992 issue of Megadrive Fan.]
"Say, Arhes - which version of the song do you think is better? I'll run through them once more, and then I'd like to hear what you think!"
With those words, Luhna stood and left my side. She took a deep breath and then quietly started singing. Her voice was beautiful, as always.
I put my harp aside and tried to focus on Luhna's voice. Nall was sitting quietly on my knee - round like a cat, with his wings folded.
It was just the three of us here, at the spring on the village outskirts. I stared absent-mindedly at Luhna's face as she sang.
These days, looking at Luhna took my breath away. Ahh, I thought - Luhna really is a girl.
Her innocent smile, her long lashes, her shockingly small & delicate hands - when I looked at them, no other thought could come to mind.
And whenever I notice she's a girl, for some reason, I get all awkward when I look at her face or try to talk to her - it's awful. There's no reason for it - Luhna's always such a ray of sunshine. And yet...
Luhna was glaring at me.
"Come on, Arhes!! Are you even listening to me?! What are you doing?!"
I was at a loss for words. Nall flew up and gave me a mocking stare.
"Heh heh heh! Too busy mooning over Luhna, aren'cha? You can't fool me! Come on, Arhes, you're always--"
"Shut up! What're you talking about, Nall!!"
I scrambled to get a hold of Nall and clamped down on his mouth, at the same time pinching his tail. Nall retaliated by chomping down on my hand. Ow.
"Oh, Arhes, you're so weird. It'll be dark soon; let's head back home."
Luhna was right. The Spirits of the Night, it seemed, were beginning to weave the evening sky.
...I had a dream - a dream of leaving Burg, our village, to travel the world. While I was asleep, it was as real as could be, but when I woke up, the dream was just that - a dream.
Well, it was clear that my dream would never become reality if I just lazed around in bed. I wasn't liable to get back to sleep now, at any rate.
So I got out of bed. Nall was nowhere to be seen, at least in my room. Probably holed up in Luhna's bed again, the hopeless scoundrel.
I got dressed, grabbed my wooden sword, and went outside. Dawn was breaking, but the Spirits of the Night still reigned supreme.
Spring was warmer than usual this year, but it was pretty chilly out this time of day. My hands were numb with cold. I warmed them with white breath and ran toward Dain's grave.
My body had warmed up by the time I reached Dain's grave. After a bow in its direction, I grasped my sword tightly and headed into the woods, like I always did.
In the darkness, I readied my sword. My father had made it for me when I was little - I must have been using it for 10 years now. I always carried it with me everywhere.
My eyes had finally adjusted to the dark. I steadied my breath, faced a tree, and swung my sword downward with a cry.
I swung my sword again and again. Occasionally, I would turn around; sometimes, I would jump - but I never stopped swinging.
And whenever I practiced my swordsmanship, the same voice would run through my head:
(Strike stronger, Arhes! Move faster, Arhes! Higher - jump higher, and farther, Arhes!)
(Master Dain would be stronger. Master Dain would be faster - way faster. Master Dain would... Master Dain would...)
I completely lost myself in training. Before I knew it, it was light out. I was exhausted, of course. Out of breath, I threw myself down on the ground.
The sky was blue - it looked like another nice day ahead. The Blue Star was in its usual place in the sky, shining like always.
(When Master Dain was fifteen, was he practicing his sword too, just like me? I just know he was. What was he thinking when he left Burg on his adventures? Was he looking up at the Blue Star, too? What was going through his head?...)
Suddenly, a face appeared before my eyes. I couldn't make out who it was with the blindingly bright light behind it, but based on its big, round shape, there was only one person it could be.
"Hey, Ramus. Odd to see you up this early in the morning."
"Come on, Arhes! I get up early once in a while. Practicing your sword again today? You never let up, do you, Arhes?"
Ramus was the son of Burg's mayor and was two years older than me. Ramus was round and fat, and he always had a smile on his face.
The people of the village had a lot to say about Ramus, but I really liked him. He gets so excited about everything; talking with him always left me with a smile on my face.
"If I had your skill with the sword, Arhes, I'd be off on an adventure already! You know, I hear there's some sort of awesome treasure in the dragon's cave - I don't know what it is yet, but still. If you go off on an adventure, you've gotta have some sort of goal in your sights, right? Like treasure, or chicks!"
"Y, you think so!? That's not really why I want to go off on an adventure, but..."
"ARE YOU SERIOUS?! What kind of man are you!? You don't wanna find some treasure, or rescue some kidnapped princess and make out with her? That's every man's dream! C'mon, Arhes - you know that princess has just gotta be a knockout!!"
Hmmm. It looked like Ramus had different motivations than I did. Looking at him jabber on, it came to mind that Ramus was really...one of a kind.
"Well, whatever. Anyhow, take a look at this ring. I found it in a chest of drawers at my house."
With that, Ramus showed me his ring, which seemed to be carved with the face of some sort of animal. Looking at it kind of creeped me out.
"That animal carved on it - don't you think it looks like a dragon, Arhes? Maybe it could be the Dragon Ring Master Dain got from the White Dragon!"
"Dragon? It doesn't look anything like a dragon. If I had to say..."
"Hey! I thought you of all people would be thrilled, Arhes - that's why I brought it! You can have it. If you wanna thank me, come with me to the Dragon Cave - once I get more info on the treasure, I mean. Well, see ya, Arhes!"
With that, Ramus pressed the ring into my hand and left. Ramus never stopped being Ramus.
When I went to the spring on the outskirts of town, Luhna and Nall were already waiting for me.
"Sorry, Luhna, Nall! How long have I kept you waiting?"
"We just got here! C'mon, Arhes - let's practice our song for the festival! ...Oh, my - what's that ring?" Luhna asked, pointing to my hand. I had slipped on the ring Ramus had given me. Girls sure had a sharp eye for these things.
"Hmmm - isn't that a strange ring you have! You couldn't have gotten it from some girl, could you, Arhes?"
Luhna brought her face closer, giving me a sharp glare. Without thinking, I averted my eyes; I could never stand up to Luhna's disapproving looks.
Don't laugh at me - I'm not some pathetic loser! But I kind of have a tough time dealing with Luhna. Maybe it's due to some sort of experience from childhood.
Also, recently, whenever I get friendly with any other girls, Luhna gets in a snit and gets all upset. I don't really understand why.
When I ask Luhna about it, she just says, "I'm not upset!" - in a voice that's all upset...
Anyhow, this was another one of those times, so I hastily explained to Luhna: "N-no, it's not like that! I-I got this ring from Ramus! L, look! He was telling me that it might be a Dragon Ring!"
I'm NOT pathetic! I was just in a panic and had a hard time getting my words out. Luhna snatched the ring from my finger and fixed her eyes on it.
"Sure, you got it from Ramus... But don't you feel like it looks less like a 'Dragon' Ring and more like a 'Snake' Ring? From the carving, I mean."
To tell the truth, I had thought the same thing as Luhna when I had seen the ring - that it looked like a snake.
"But, you know, this ring isn't half bad. Ha ha ha! Well, Arhes - don't you think it suits me?"
Luhna slipped on the ring and held up her hand to show me, a teasing expression on her face.
The ring looked terrific on Luhna's slender finger. It really did suit her, to my eyes. Of course, I could never come out and say something so embarrassing.
"Yeah, it looks okay. Not bad, Luhna."
"Well, I think it looks just awesome on you, Luhna!"
"Thank you, Nall. Say, Arhes, is it all right if I keep it on? I'll give it back after practice is over. OK?"
I gave a little nod, and Luhna smiled happily. It's times like this that I think, Luhna really is a girl.
Just then, the snake ring flashed with a sinister glint. But none of us noticed.
It happened shortly after we started practicing our song.
I noticed that everything felt strange - different from usual. Something was wrong. Nall was the first one to put it into words.
"Hey, Arhes. Something's weird! I've got a bad feeling!"
Nall's words had barely left his mouth before a monster flew out at us from the forest.
The monster was going was after Luhna. I grabbed my wooden sword and moved into position to defend her.
"Luhna! I'm gonna draw his attention; get ready to run!"
"...No, Arhes! I can't run away and leave you behind!!"
There was no choice. If that was how Luhna felt, then we had to escape together. Once Luhna spoke her mind, she didn't change it easily.
Thankfully, I didn't have to worry about Nall - he could fly, after all, and could escape if things went bad. He was still hovering over our heads, flapping his wings."
"Look out, Arhes!! There're more coming!"
Now, I saw that several monsters had shown up out of nowhere. I couldn't believe it. I'd never heard of monsters appearing at the spring, even in the old stories.
"I'll fly back to the village and get help!!"
"NO, Nall!! If the monsters follow you, they'll attack Burg. We've got to take care of this ourselves."
"So, what do we do, Arhes? We're already surrounded!"
"I'll try to fight them. I don't have much confidence in this wooden sword, though. At least I've got a weapon."
With that, I readied my sword. Strangely, I didn't even feel afraid - it was almost as if I was enjoying myself. I was amazed at how I felt.
A monster lunged for me, and I stepped forward to meet his blow. I aimed a blow at his throat - or what looked like a throat, anyway. I felt it hit home.
I struck hard two or three times, then kicked with all my might. The monster was flung far away and stopped moving, though it didn't look quite dead.
I can fight - somehow!!
I was so happy. My sword training had paid off. My body was acting as my mind willed it.
I was able to defeat about half the monsters, one after another. Looks like I'm gonna be okay, I thought - when then it happened.
I felt the wooden sword shudder weirdly. It looked like a crack had opened in the sword when it hit the last monster. It would probably break with the next blow.
Not only that, but I saw out of the corner of my eye that the monsters I had defeated before were beginning to move again. This was bad. If only I had a proper short sword - I could finish them off...
(Am I done for? If only I could just save Luhna!...)
I saw that one of the monsters was again going after Luhna. I scrambled to fly between Luhna and the monster and struck at the monster's vitals.
At that moment, the sword snapped at its hilt - but I expected that. I stabbed the monster with the broken blade.
The monster gave a strange cry and escaped into the forest. However, my broken sword was now too short to parry, and I had taken the brunt of the enemy's blow.
"Arhes!! Hang in there!!"
Luhna dashed to my side and held out her hand. It was then that my attention was drawn to the snake ring on Luhna's hand. Yeah - that's right...
"That's it!" My words came out as a shout. I ripped the ring off Luhna's finger and threw it to Nall.
"Nall!! Take this ring somewhere far away and get rid of it!! The monsters - it's drawing them to us...
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I blacked out. The last thing I saw was Nall with the ring in his mouth, flying away, and the monsters following him.
When I came to, I saw Luhna's face before my eyes. My head was on her knees, and she was gently stroking my face.
"...Thank goodness. I'm so glad you're awake, Arhes. So glad..."
"What happened to the monsters?"
"It's all right. They're all gone now!"
I got up. I also felt a bit disappointed. My wounds had healed thanks to Luhna's song magic, I imagine. Luhna's singing had magic powers.
"Are you okay, Luhna?"
"Yes. I'm fine - thanks to your hard work, Arhes. But you're really too reckless, you know - charging at monsters with a wooden sword! I was scared to DEATH!"
Luhna looked absolutely miserable. I started to say something, but her expression changed before I could.
She may have seemed sad before, but now a slight smirk was on her lips. She gave a small giggle and conntinued talking.
"You really ARE reckless, Arhes! You tried your best, but you kind of fell apart at the end!"
"What?! I, I mean... Yeah, I suppose, but..."
Tuh! How could she say that?!?! I was the one who realized about the snake ring and saved us, after all. Give me a break, Luhna!
Luhna saw me sulking and giggled.
"...I'm just joking. I'm so happy with how you fought to protect me, Arhes. Really! It makes me see you in a new light! You're really kind of cool, Arhes."
I thought Luhna was teasing me again - but her face seemed serious.
"Thank you, Arhes. But no more stunts like this, all right? Please! You're always doing dangerous stuff, and I worry, Arhes."
Luhna looked a little sad again. I couldn't stand seeing Luhna sad like that - it felt like something was clamping down on my chest. I'd never felt that way before.
Without thinking, I reached out for Luhna's hair to stroke her cheek.
Look, I didn't have any ulterior motive. I just reached out for Luhna instinctively - it was like I was in a daze.
When I touched her, Luhna's eyes flew open in surprise. Her body tensed up for a bit, but then Luhna softly closed her eyes.
I saw that Luhna's shoulders were shaking - and that her little pale pink lips were trembling. Luhna's eyes were closed, and she leaned into my body.
If I had to put a word to it, I'd say I was paralyzed in that moment, honestly. When I was fighting the monsters, my body was mine to command - but now, I couldn't even move a muscle as I looked at Luhna.
At long last, I managed to get a word out - and, then, I was finally able to move.
I think my head was so muddled then that I just couldn't get my thoughts straight. All I remember thinking at that moment was that Luhna looked so adorable with her shoulders trembling like that.
I pulled Luhna a little closer to me, so my face was nearer to hers. I closed half the distance between us...then three-quarters. Then...
"HEY, AAAARHEEEES!! YOU OKAAAAAAAAAAAY!??!"
Luhna and I broke apart with a gasp, the spell broken. We both scrambled to get away from each other. Nall came flying through the trees right after.
"Thank goodness you're okay, Arhes!! But I had an awful time - I thought I was gonna DIE!! Those monsters were pretty persistent, you know!!"
Nall flew closer and landed on my shoulder, out of breath.
"I threw that ring away in the middle of the mountains - FAR away from here! That Ramus, pawning off that piece of junk off on us!! When I see him next, he can expect a piece of my mind!!"
After getting that out in one breath, Nall left my shoulder and flew over to Luhna.
"LUUUUHNAAAA! It was SO HARD! Didn't I do great?"
Nall flew straight at Luhna's chest, obviously expecting her to catch him up in a big hug like she always did.
But Luhna suddenly dodged to the side, leaving Nall high & dry.
"You really did great, Nall. Thank you. Are you hurt?"
"N, no, but..."
"Well, good. ...I have to go make lunch. I'm going to go help Mother, so I'll be getting back now!"
With that, Luhna dashed off and was gone in a flash, leaving Nall dumbfounded and me kind of relieved.
"Hey, Arhes - did I do something wrong? Was Luhna mad for some reason?"
All I could manage was an answer of "who knows?" I could barely hold back my laughter - I didn't have the heart to hurt Nall's feelings, with all he had done to save us...
It was three days later that Ramus came to us with that story about the dragon diamond.
Translated by R. Capowski, RACapowski@sceneryrecalled.com, 11/30/18. Lunar is the property of who knows at this point.