Two Open to Change - Prelude Story

November 5, 2023

"So they say they would like to meet in Niez? Interesting..."

His eyes still on the letter in his hands, Dohalim leaned against the back of his chair.

"There's not much time till the day we're to meet."

"True, and we'll need to depart immediately if we would like to go."

Kisara nodded from the other side of the desk. The two were in a room in a building in Pelegion, the capital city of Ganath Haros. Documents were stacked in an orderly manner on the table and the surrounding walls were lined with bookshelves. It was a room specifically designed for office work.

Kisara's armor couldn't be more out of place, and yet it didn't seem to bother her in the slightest. Though her upright posture was in marked contrast with Dohalim's, they were equally relaxed and looked at each other with the same gentle gaze.

Kisara, one of the main characters in Tales of Arise Beyond the Dawn, talking to Dohalim."But I heard another new group of Renans recently arrived. Can you afford to be away right now?"

Dohalim had become something of a representative for the Renans in Pelegion. He wasn't in a position to have much freedom. But he didn't show any distinct signs that it bothered him.

"I can't very well decline after you came all this way to tell me."

"That's not fair, Dohalim."

In actuality, however, the contents of the letter weren't something they could ignore. It spoke of circumstances that couldn't be handled by anyone but them.

The letter was from Alphen and Shionne. They'd sent it to Kisara in Viscint and asked her to inform Dohalim. And there was more. Law was to contact Rinwell.

Rinwell lived in Viscint just like Kisara. It was irrational to ask Law to come all the way from another city to talk to Rinwell instead of having Kisara do it.

She didn't know whether it had been Alphen or Shionne's idea, but she had an inkling of the intention. The letter had brought Kisara to Pelegion, where she was now face to face with Dohalim. Irrational as their request might be, this was the result.

It was the same for Law—whether he'd put the pieces together or not.

Dohalim, one of the main characters in Tales of Arise Beyond the Dawn, having a conversation."What about you? The troops will struggle with their captain away for an extended period."

"I don't plan to be gone long, and I left a list of drills for them to go over in the meantime. When I get back, I'll test them to see if they followed through properly."

"Quite responsible of you."

If it were truly an inconvenience, Kisara wouldn't be in the room right now. They were both well aware of that.

Drilling the soldiers who protect Viscint... That was Kisara's job now. She was supremely distinguished in combat and military matters and had also come to be seen as a role model—a perfect fit for a city where Dahnans and Renans lived together.

Kisara was stern and unbending in her instruction. Dohalim felt a little sorry for her soldiers.

Though he would never say that out loud, of course.

"When I said I'm going to Pelegion, everyone wanted to know when you're coming back."

"I'm sure everything is running smoothly without me."

"It's not so much that they need your help but that they love you. They miss you."

"Everyone, you say?"

Dohalim turned to Kisara with a questioning look in his eyes. But Kisara evaded his query, saying nothing.

Turning down the corners of his mouth in an almost sulky manner, Dohalim rose as if having given up.

"Well, you've set a good example for me. Let me arrange the instructions and transferal of power for while I'm gone."

Kisara was already standing before he could finish. As if it were simply the natural thing to do.

"I'll assist you."

For a brief instant Dohalim appeared to break into a smile, but he quickly raised a hand to collect himself.

"I can handle it on my own. You won't have to wait long. How about going for a stroll?"

***

Exiting the building, bright rays of sunlight momentarily blinded Kisara. She cast her gaze around, eyes narrowed, and saw the towering fortress up ahead. Del Fharis Castle. It had once been home to the lord who ruled this area.

The castle held deep meaning for both Dahnans and Renans alike. Being a lord himself, it was unthinkable that Dohalim would use it. But it was too big to tear down, and they didn't have the labor to spare anyway. Thus, the castle kept its gates closed and no one was allowed inside.

How long would it take for this abhorrent relic to finally disappear? And which was better: to continue to remember or to forget altogether? Harsh memories can stir up pain, but they can also serve as a warning or lesson.

Kisara pulled out the old bracelet she carried with her. It was a keepsake of her brother that she always kept close. She gazed at it for a moment, then gave it a squeeze as if to confirm it was real before stowing it away again.

There were only a scattering of people walking the streets, most of them Dahnans or people who had come from other countries. Pelegion was divided into three levels, with the original Dahnan residents and the Renans living on separate levels. Kisara was currently on the highest level.

She recalled her conversation with Dohalim from just moments ago. She certainly trusted him, but her fears were not baseless.

Kisara turned her head upward. She could see it, floating higher in the blue sky than even the clouds, like rocks or rubble in the middle of a flowing river.

Lenegis. The remnants of what had once been the Renans' headquarters.

Lenegis had been destroyed when the worlds merged a year earlier. The Renans managed to escape on their starships, but they were forced to rely on the Dahnans who they had enslaved up until that point. Suddenly the Renans found themselves without the slaves and machines upon which they had always depended. Many lacked almost any of the skills needed to create things on their own.

Ignoring Renans who resented this fall from grace would have inevitably led to further conflict with the Dahnans. So to prevent this, Renans were to be gathered together in one place, and Pelegion was selected as the host city.

Dohalim was essentially the cornerstone to this policy. As the last lord, he could keep their opposition in check, while also acting as a buffer with the Dahnans to protect the Renans from any excessive disadvantage. In addition, he could instill self-reliance and lead the Renans towards a future of peaceful co-existence. That was the mission he undertook and the vision of the future he held in mind.

Still, though some Renans were cooperative, most were not. Having issues of her own in her job, Kisara found it frustrating. It had actually been a while since she'd been able to visit Pelegion like this.

In any case, many things had changed since a year prior.

Kisara surveyed her surroundings once more. Though it still resembled the Dahna she was used to, it had become distinctly different. The most conspicuous change was in the sky above. It was something even more glaring than the ruins of Lenegis. It wasn't what was there; it was what had disappeared.

Rena. The other of the Twin Worlds that had taken up a large portion of Dahna's sky. Where it had been was now only vast blue sky, as if something had been left out.

Dahna and Rena had become one, but that didn't mean Rena ceased to exist. The spectacle reminded her that she was viewing the loss of Rena from her position on Dahna. It was like that even for her, who had been involved in many of the events leading to the current state of affairs. Then what must it be like for the majority of Dahnans and Renans?

Not knowing what she was searching for, Kisara gazed intently at the sky.

"See something?"

Kisara and Dohalim having a conversation.Looking back, she saw Dohalim approach from the building's doorway.

"Quite the contrary. I see nothing."

Her eyes returned to the sky as she spoke. Dohalim followed her example and did likewise.

"It's no different than the rest of the sky, but I can't help but feel there's a massive hole there... It's been a year, but it still feels confusing at times."

"I suppose that is to be expected. What we once took for granted is now gone."

"If Lenegis still existed, you wouldn't be here right now."

Dohalim would likely have been stationed on Lenegis if it were still up and running. And getting there would require a starship, making travel no easy feat for a Dahnan. The Starship Falneitz had been lost in the war a year ago. Standing alongside each other like this would likely be impossible if it weren't for what happened. Dohalim's being in Pelegion was a result of the unexpected destruction of Lenegis, after all.

Kisara pulled herself together and strengthened her inner resolve. She had to stay firm.

"Are all the preparations complete then?"

"They are. I found people to handle the pressing matters. There should be no issues with my temporary absence. Preparations for the trip are also complete."

He sounded somehow proud. Kisara felt a wry smile about to form, but she did not allow it to show on her face. He was forging ahead just as he had sworn he would a year ago. He seemed a bit sad as well, but joy and pride won out in the end. She would have to work just as hard as him.

And with that, her brow abruptly wrinkled.

"Kisara?"

It was clear from his voice that he'd noticed her change in mood. Disregarding his concern, she briskly walked over to him and pointed at his chest.

"My apologies. But your fastener is crooked."

"Ah, I must've been in too much of a hurry."

"Now that I look closer, this one's a little off too. Do you always walk around like this?"

"We're about to embark on a journey, Kisara. Perhaps this isn't where our attention should be focused?"

"A messy appearance reflects a messy mind. We need to get this right because it's the starting point of our journey."

"To be fair... I did think this was somewhat of an improvement."

Kisara made quick work of adjusting his clothes as they exchanged words.

No matter how much the world changed, this was one thing that hadn't changed at all. It was more a question of whether it would ever change.

"I do appreciate this."

His abrupt earnest comment caused her to raise her head, bringing them eye to eye.

"Appreciate what?"

"Having things exactly where they belong."

Kisara and Dohalim having a conversation.Kisara's hands stopped moving. It took a moment for his words to sink in. She closed her eyes.

The energy seemed to drain from her body.

She let out a small breath.

Slowly, her eyelids raised again. They now revealed a gentle gaze with a sense of companionship, but meant only for one person.

"Indeed."

The two allowed themselves to be immersed in all that was contained in that one little interaction.

Would the moment simply pass by and fade away? If so, how would that happen? This she didn't know.

Even so...

One freed from the past, focused solidly on what was to come. The other sworn to serve as a shield, offering protection and support. Both living for the future. A future that gave them a place to belong.

Forward. To the future. Not alone. Even if their bodies were not physically together. Yet starting now, if only for a while...

They shared a spontaneous smile and nodded.

One extended a hand, while the other accepted it.

"Let's get going, Do."

***

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TALES OF ARISE

Challenge the Fate That Binds You

On the planet Dahna, reverence has always been given to Rena, the planet in the sky, as a land of the righteous and divine. Stories handed down for generations became truth and masked reality for the people of Dahna. For 300 years, Rena has ruled over Dahna, pillaging the planet of its resources

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