~~~~((~~~((@ THE ROSE GARDEN @))~~~))~~~~
From the memoirs of Chiba Mamoru, as re-told to Pandora Diane Waldron
"Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose." --Farid ud-din Attar, 12th Century Persian poet.
Chapter 2: Bitter Regrets
Now another face I see in my dream, a face well-remembered and yes, I realize, a face I loved. Another figure, tall, slender, regal in every graceful movement, steps out to confront Queen Beryl. Her face, her voice, too, I would know anywhere. She is well-named, Serenity.
You, a Queen in demeanour as well as in reality, you who were the first to accept me, when no one else would, as a suitor for your daughter. It didnt bother you that I was a Prince of the Earth, and not from the moon kingdom. You looked at me with those compassionate, wise eyes and saw all the qualifications you hoped to see in me. For you saw that I loved your daughter.
And from that day, you welcomed me, treated me as your own son. And then it didnt matter to me, all the hostile mutterings I would hear, just out of earshot, when I would walk by. That the moon princess ought to marry one of her own kind, not me, an Earthling. For I saw you smile at me when I came to call for your daughter, and I knew everything would work out all right. How naive I was. How naive we all were.
And again, I snap out of my reverie. She is holding her Moon Wand aloft now, pointing it at Queen Beryl. And I see terrible purpose in her eyes. The Silver Crystal is flashing, beaming, throbbing with blinding white light. And with each pulse of the Silver Crystal, my heart seems to beat, too. How can this be? I am dead. My heart shouldnt be beating at all.
And a heart-rending scream pierces the night. "No, Mother, NO!! Dont do this!! Dont do this!!" I look around, and Princess Serenity is floating too, her white dress shimmering in the celestial light of the Silver Crystal. She must have died too, but our souls are linked--and I can hear her heartfelt cry to her mother, Queen Serenity.
It is all too late. It is done. Queen Serenity is sinking back against a pillar, limp, dying. The moon kingdom is destroyed, but Queen Beryl and her allies are destroyed with it. I can smell it again, the awful smell of death and destruction. Where once there were rose gardens, filling the air with their heady scent, now there are ashes, nothing but ashes. And nothing remaining on this moon world to see. I shut my eyes for a moment, and try to imagine the roses again. But the smell of death is there, even when I close my eyes. Will I always remember that horrible smell? Will I never remember the smell of roses, of walking with Princess Serenity in the rose garden. Oh, please, take me back to THOSE memories. Dont make me re-live THIS one again.
She has done this for us, Princess Serenity, me, the other Princesses, Luna and Artemis, she has done this for all of us who loved each other and were loyal to the Moon Kingdom. No, Queen Serenity, no. You shouldnt have made this sacrifice. I dont deserve this. Your lovely daughter, Princess Serenity, named for you, SHE deserves this. The others, all her loyal friends, they deserve this. But Queen Serenity, LET ME DIE. I have failed her, she whom I love most in this universe. I have failed you too, you who had faith in me to love and protect your daughter. I have failed both of you. LET ME DIE.
Oh God, if you can hear me, if I can just have a second chance. Just one more chance. Then I promise, you, O my Princess, I will be there for you. I wont fail you again. I will be there for you, I will fly to your side, from wherever I am, whenever you need me. I will know if you are afraid. Take strength from my strength, my Serenity. Please, please believe in yourself, as Ive always believed in you.
My vision is dimming now. Is this the end at last? Is there no afterlife, then? Wont I be able even to watch over her, in the next world? Please God, O merciful God, allow me that privilege.
I want that. With all my heart and mind and soul, I want that. If I can never touch her again, as I yearn to, let me at least serve her in this way.
Queen Serenity looks up at me, one last look. She is smiling, and there are tears in her eyes. The Silver Crystal is a pulsing light, allowing me to see her, though I am almost blind, and helplessly, my heart beats, beats, beats with the pulse of the Crystal. The choice has been taken away from me. I am to live again. Because Queen Serenity has chosen this. And in the middle of the white pulsing light, a vision fills my eyes. A red, red rose. The most beautiful rose I have ever seen, its scent drowning out the acrid smells of death and destruction. Its petals scatter into whorls of circling celestial light, and I too am swirling, swirling, swirling like the petals. Into nothingness.
PLEASE GO TO CHAPTER 3: Why Am I Here?