Light and Dark
Jaden walked over to the cliffs overlooking the sea, where he saw Astra alone on the shore. Following the path scaling down from the rocks, he made it down to the beach, where Astra stood waist-deep in the water. The full moon filled the night sky as it watched them from the heavens. Its shimmering glow was reflected in the waves like a road of light leading into the unknown. That was what Astra was peering into. She was gazing into the future, fearing the battle that was to come.
Jaden stopped a few feet away from Astra, waiting for her to say something. He already knew she could sense he was there. It was just a matter of her wanting to talk. Without turning around, she spoke, looking down at her own rippling reflection within the waves, her voice heavy with the weight of the world.
“I never thought I’d make it this far. All my life, I was told I had a purpose, that I was destined to protect the world. My father always pushed me to be the princess everyone needed, the one who would save them…who would die for them. But now, I don’t know if I can go through with it. It all just came so fast.”
Jaden walked closer to Astra until his feet finally touched the ocean waves. He didn’t care if his clothes got wet because he saw that Astra didn’t either.
“Astra, I’m sorry…for what I said back there…talking what we’d do after the war’s over,” Jaden said, finally getting Astra to turn to him. “It’s just that…I always try to make things better for everyone, but I never considered how you’d feel. I hope I didn’t upset you.”
“No, it’s fine.” She turned back around and continued to look away. “I’m not upset.”
Despite what she said, Jaden could tell she was hiding her sadness from him. As he moved over to her side, he was thinking of different ways to lift her spirits. With all the magic at his disposal, he had trouble conjuring up a way to make her feel better. So he just decided to let his heart speak for him.
“I know I shouldn’t say this. But please hear me out!”
Surprised by this solemn request, she lifted her head and looked at Jaden once again.
“I think maybe you shouldn’t go!”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I mean, you probably shouldn’t fight Kaiser. You can run away from all of this! You don’t have to be a part of this war. You could still live a normal life. I know that sounds selfish, but I want you to know you don’t have to fight. Well, Astra, what do you say?”
She stood there, quietly contemplating the choices she had. Astra had never considered a life outside of being a princess before. Most of her life had been about preparing to be a leader. She barely a chance to be a normal girl.
“There’s nothing I want more than to do all of that. But we both know I can’t. Besides, it’s too late for that now.”
“You don’t know that! There’s still a chance. You could run away from all of this. We could do it together!”
Jaden couldn’t believe he let that last line slip out. Astra was astonished by his sudden and wild offer, but she surprisingly kept the conversation going.
“But what about Revan and the others?” she asked. “What would they think?”
“They’re our friends, so I know they’d understand. They might even come with us. But Revan…he would still fight, but I know he only wants what’s best for you.”
“Even so, where could we go where Kaiser could never find us?”
The Ark Knight thought for a moment in an attempt to indulge this fantasy. But as Jaden ran through his options, he felt his Ark Keystone hanging from his neck, and the answer struck him.
“Oh, Arkrelm! We could go to Arkrelm! There are still demons there, but we could clear them out together. After that, we’d be safe there. We could rebuild the city, get a big house, and start a new life there.”
“What else would we do?” she asked, a smile slowly rising across her face.
“Well…in the morning, we’d all go hunting. We’d all go down the mountains and live off the land in peace. After that, we’d go home and spend the rest of the day having fun. We could go flying through the clouds for as long as we want.”
“And we could fly higher and higher until we couldn’t go any higher!” she said excitedly.
“And at night, we could have a big bonfire and party the night away.”
“That all sounds so amazing!”
“We could stay up all night…and watch the sunrise.” Jaden looked up into the sky, and the stars scattered across the darkness. “The sun would come up over the mountains. The sky would turn bright red, but from up there, the stars would still be out. And then, everything would brighten up and just glow beneath the sun.”
Jaden turned his head back towards Astra, who was still looking up at the night sky. He was then caught in a dazzling trance, his eyes locked onto her like magnets. As the Ark Knight continued to speak, everything except for the Princess seemed to blend into the darkness.
“And then, as we sit there watching it, we’d all just smile, because in the end, there’s nothing better. Up there, you’d feel like nothing in the world could ever hurt you…cause you’re on top of it.”
Jaden quickly looked back up at the stars, hoping Astra wouldn’t notice him staring at her.
“I would love to see it,” she said happily.
“You still can. Come on, Astra. Let’s do it!”
Having turned back to Astra, Jaden saw tears falling from her eyes and into the ocean. She cradled her arms as she shivered in sadness.
“I’m sorry…I can’t.”
No matter how much she wanted to do all those things, she still thought it was too late for the both of them. She just felt so trapped, like she was frozen in the water around her. The fearless warrior princess was scared for her life.
Jaden trudged through the water and got up close to her. He didn’t know what to say to ease her pain. His heart took control, and he wrapped his arms around her. He didn’t know why, but he thought maybe he was scared too. She was nearly taken aback by his sudden embrace, but she eventually put her arms around him. She cried herself away as Jaden held her delicately. He could almost feel her sorrows melting away into the waters below.
After he wiped the tears from Astra’s face, Jaden gazed into those pearls in her eyes, and he was captivated. He felt beckoned by their sapphirine shine in the moonlight. Astra stared into his eyes, and she felt drawn to them as well. They also shimmered with the same cerulean glow. They both saw something behind each other’s eyes. Something they couldn’t live without.
They slowly leaned their heads closer to each other until they pressed their lips together. Jaden softly ran his hands across her rosy cheeks, combing through her golden hair. His hands grazed down her slender back until he held her by her waist. Astra swathed her arms around his neck and pulled his body in closer. Her soft breasts pressed up against his chest, and he could feel her heat melding with his own. Their spirits were united with their tender embrace, and everything was right with the world.
* * *
After stepping out of the water, Jaden and Astra sat on the beach and watched the moonlit sea stretch over the horizon. They held hands in the cool, evening sand, her slender fingers gently sliding between his own. Their hearts were pounding so hard they could skip across the ocean in front of us. The most amazing was that even with the swarm of thoughts clouding his mind, the only thing Jaden focused on was Astra’s heart. As he sensed her sacred energy, he could feel her heart beating next to him. It was like a lighthouse sending its beacon out to him, shining like the moon, and he could feel the warmth of its glow.
So he just felt her.
And he could feel her doing the same.
He then knew that no matter how cold it was out there, their hearts had enough warmth for the two of us to last a lifetime.
About ten minutes had passed until Astra spoke again. But this time, it was with the air of confidence exuded by the Crown Princess that he knew and loved.
“I’ve decided to keep fighting. I have to. Because…even if we could run away together. I’d never forgive myself if I did.”
Jaden felt a sense of pride witnessing the depths of her determined spirit. She sat there with the expression of a lioness guarding her territory. Even so, he simply responded with only two words and a smile that he wore with his heart on his sleeve.
“I’m going to defeat Kaiser and end this war!” Her eyes were locked towards the infinite sea of stars, looking towards her future with the Dark Lord and the peaceful world beyond it.
“We’ll do it together!” Jaden added.
Her gaze quickly shifted back to me, with her face reflecting surprise.
“I’m your partner! Remember?”
Astra’s smile stretched across her cheeks until they lit up bright red.
“It’s getting late. We should get back to the others.”
“I know, but…can we just sit here for a little while longer?”
Jaden gladly accepted her request, taking hold of Astra’s hand once again. They continued staring out at the moon, whose silver eye enveloped the water with its shine. The couple was so entranced, they didn’t even sense the person standing behind them.
Hidden from their gaze, Revan watched them both from the foot of the slope cutting through the cliffs. His eyes were wide with surprise, having just seen his sister and the Ark Knight together. But his face soon retracted to one of solemn acceptance. And so, he reluctantly left them both alone with the ocean in front of them.