Moulder: Well, do you have time for that story I promised?
Vanessa: Certainly, Father.
Moulder: It was over ten years ago, when the prince was just a child. There was a ceremony at the castle, with a trick archer of sorts.
Vanessa: A trick archer?
Moulder: Yes. He was a very famous and undeniably skilled archer from abroad. He was to shoot a tiny target that had been placed in the distance. However, in the middle of the show, someone stopped him from shooting.
Vanessa: Oh, no... It wasn't--
Moulder: Yes, it was young Prince Innes. He said, "That's not far enough! Move the target back farther!" Then, he insisted on trying himself.
Vanessa: That's so like him!
Moulder: Isn't it? King Hayden tried to stop him, but... Well, you know how he is. He doesn't listen to anyone. And so, it became a contest between our prince and this foreign archer.
Vanessa: So, what happened?
Moulder: First, they established the ground rules. Each person was to shoot at the target. If both arrows hit, they increased the range. They simply continued to move the target back until one person missed the mark.
Vanessa: Sounds simple enough.
Moulder: Ah, but the two were evenly matched. Every shot was a perfect bull's-eye. The crowd cheered, and the target moved ever farther back... But then it came to the turning point. The foreign archer said, "This is no test. Let's move the target back more." It seemed like bravado, but the archer actually had a clever tactic in mind.
Vanessa: Clever? How so?
Moulder: They had been shooting for some time, and the archer's arms had grown weary. Precision archery is far more taxing than the battlefield, you see. So even though he was a skilled archer, he was at the limits of his endurance. He was still hitting the mark accurately, but his arm was quivering more and more. Everyone knew that the prince was on the verge of victory.
Vanessa: I don't understand. They were shooting at the same target, shot for shot, right? Why would moving the target make any difference?
Moulder: Yes, they were still shooting at the same target. However, the archer suggested that they move the target much farther away... Much farther than any child Innes's age could hope to loose an arrow to.
Vanessa: Oh, that IS clever!
Moulder: Even the archer, with his trained arms, was firing at his maximum range. In fact, he almost missed the target! Then, it was the prince's turn.
Moulder: It was clearly too far away for the young prince to hit the target. But His Highness was undeterred. He drew his string and fired up into the sky. The arrow did not merely hit the target. No, it was a perfect bull's-eye! You see, the prince arced his shot to extend his range beyond its limits. To hit a target this way requires incredible skill, but the prince did it. And then he turned to the archer and said, "Shall we move the target back farther?" The archer looked so crestfallen. He admitted defeat, and it was settled.
Vanessa: That's amazing...
Moulder: That it is.
Vanessa: Thank you very much, Father Moulder! That's incredible! I'm even more--
Vanessa: Oh... No, nothing.
Moulder: I'm glad you liked the story. Keep up the good work, Vanessa.
Moulder: I'm glad to see you well, Vanessa. You do your fellow pegasus knights proud. We are blessed to have you fighting at our side.
Vanessa: You credit us warriors too much, Father. Without healers, we would all be lost. Nothing I say can tell you how much I value your presence here.
Moulder: We are all doing our part in this war. No need to thank me.
Vanessa: I'm serious! Without your help, we would never survive these skirmishes!
Moulder: I'm gratified by that. Thank you.
Vanessa: Father... Thank you again for the other day.
Moulder: Hmm? Oh, you mean that story?
Moulder: Ah... You know, you remind me of myself, twenty years back.
Moulder: Oh, never mind... ... Good luck to you, Vanessa. I don't know where this will lead, but I'm sure the prince knows your feelings.
Vanessa: Father Moulder, I only aspire to be worthy of his greatness. I expect nothing in return.
Moulder: Are you sure?
Moulder: Well, do what you think is best for you. We all carry many burdens... To country, family, duty, honor... However, we are all ultimately free to embrace or reject those burdens. If you find yourself in need of spiritual guidance, speak to me.
Vanessa: Father Moulder, you're so kind. Thank you. I'm so grateful to have you on the field with me.
Moulder: Vanessa, we fight for the greater good. We fight for our country, for our friends, and...for ourselves.
Syrene: Vanessa! How are you? I was worried about you!
Vanessa: I'm fine, ma'am. Thank you for your concern. Glad to see you doing well too.
Syrene: Vanessa, you know you don't need to talk like that when we're alone.
Vanessa: But we ARE on duty.
Syrene: Let me put it this way, then. This is an order from your captain! When we're alone, you are to speak to me as if we are at home.
Vanessa: Yes, ma'am!
Syrene: Vanessa. Sigh. Did you listen to a word I said?
Syrene: Ha ha ha! Yes, that's it! Oh, by the way, I have something for you.
Vanessa: What is it?
Syrene: Here you go. Father wanted me to give it to you.
Vanessa: But this is... The war god Fale's amulet!
Syrene: Yes, this is a battle amulet. I received one before I left home, too. You were summoned so suddenly that Father didn't get a chance to give it to you. And Mother wanted to tell you, "Never be apart from this amulet."
Syrene: She also wanted you to relax and do your best. And to get a good night's sleep always.
Vanessa: Well, I do try.
Syrene: Maybe others don't notice, but I know you too well, Vanessa. I know you don't get enough rest when you feel overwhelmed with responsibility. But, to be at your best, you need to take care of yourself, OK?
Vanessa: Yes, ma'am—I mean, Sis.
Syrene: I'll be right by your side tonight, so just relax. You need a good night's sleep.
Vanessa: Thanks, Sis. I sleep better when you're around.
Syrene: You look better, Vanessa. Did you sleep well?
Vanessa: Yes. First time in a long time. Thank you, Sis.
Syrene: I've been meaning to ask you...
Syrene: You don't seem to have much appetite lately.
Vanessa: Well, I've just been--
Syrene: I told you, Vanessa, I know you too well. So, who's the lucky guy?
Vanessa: What?! That's just crazy! I don't know what you're talking about!
Syrene: You know I can tell when you're lying. Plus, you not eating is a dead giveaway. I mean, when's the last time you said no to a cookie? It's not a criticism. One of your most charming qualities is how you can outeat anyone. It's because of someone special, isn't it?
Vanessa: Well, um...
Syrene: But, Vanessa, first and foremost, you have to take care of yourself. I'll support you no matter what, but no one is worth losing your health over.
Vanessa: Thank you, I guess. I'll do my best... Sometimes I think that if I were more like you—you know, a great knight, an attractive woman, and just all-around perfect—I'd have a better chance with him. ... Hmmm. That didn't sound as pathetic in my head as it did out loud.
Syrene: Don't be silly, Vanessa. You may not know it, but I'm sure that person likes you for who you are.
Vanessa: Do you really think so? I've always wanted to be like you. You've always been my role model. But, I feel like whenever I finally catch up to you, you're already gone. You've already moved on. I'll never catch up with you, no matter how hard I try.
Syrene: I'm very proud of you, Vanessa. And as your older sister, I recognize your talent more than anyone else. You should be more confident.
Vanessa: I feel better after opening up to you. It's hard not to compare myself with you, but I have to get past that.
Syrene: That's the spirit. And remember, you have to take care of yourself.
Vanessa: Hi, Syrene. Thanks for talking the other day.
Syrene: Are you feeling better now?
Vanessa: Well... It's not that easy, but I quit comparing myself with you.
Syrene: You might not know this, but there's something about you I've always envied.
Vanessa: About me? What do you mean?
Syrene: You have an inner fortitude that I will never be able to match.
Syrene: Do you remember when Father collapsed? Mother and I were so panicked that we didn't know what to do. You were the youngest of us all, but you gathered nuts in your small hands and went to the village to sell them. Then you came home with medicine for him.
Vanessa: Well, I don't know what to say.
Syrene: When you face a difficult circumstance, your true self emerges. You were very young, but had the presence of mind and ingenuity to help Father. You comforted me and Mother, and you rescued Father. I've always respected your strength, and wished for some of it myself.
Vanessa: But...you were the one who joined the Knights at such an early age, and it was you who supported our family.
Syrene: I emulated your strength. I wanted to support my family like you did. It's always been my goal. And I respect you more than anyone else. I wish you could be as confident in yourself as I am of you. No matter what, you'll always be all right.
Vanessa: All right, then. I have to tell you! The person I love is--
Syrene: Wait, Vanessa! Wait until the war is over to tell me. When everything is over, bring him home. I'll go home a little ahead of you, and wait for you two with Father and Mother. We'll make your favorite meal... Is that enough to convince you?
Vanessa: Yes. I'll do my best... For this war and also for him.
Syrene: That's my girl. Don't worry. You'll be all right.
Vanessa: I'm Vanessa. I'm captain of Frelia's pegasus knights. And this here is Titania. We're both pleased to meet you, Lute.
Lute: Ah, the pegasus, the proud, winged horse. You know, they only attach to someone they accept as their master. And did you know that pegasi fly by kicking the air, not by flapping their wings. It's a common misconception, but wings are mainly used for gliding.
Vanessa: ...Yes, as captain, I learned all this long ago. Plus, if they flapped their wings constantly, no one would be able to ride them.
Lute: In some countries, the word pegasus means "fountain" or "ocean." Different cultures have different stories about the creation of the pegasus. In one legend, there was a monster who could turn anyone into stone. When the monster died, its blood seeped into the ground. There, a pegasus was born.
Vanessa: Interesting... You are very knowledgeable.
Lute: I know.
Vanessa: ...Well! Thank you for the lesson. I'm glad we're on the same team. It was nice meeting you.
Vanessa: I'm happy to know that I've made such a strong impression on you, Lute. ... So, what can I do for you?
Lute: It's common knowledge that pegasi have strong resistance to magic. I developed a new counterattack to that power, but it still needs refining. I guess what I'm saying is... Can I try it out on Titania?
Vanessa: What?! No! Of course not!
Lute: I was joking.
Vanessa: Sigh. You said it with such a straight face... You definitely had me fooled.
Lute: Thank you! That's so sweet of you to say.
Vanessa: It wasn't a compliment! Besides, you really don't seem like someone who has much of a sense of humor.
Lute: Is that right?
Vanessa: Yes... And it seems like your magic is the real thing. When you defeated the enemy the other day, I saw a sharp flash of magic from above.
Lute: Gee, I wonder why that happened...
Vanessa: Because...you're good?
Lute: Why, yes! You are 100 percent correct! For once.
Vanessa: My point is, we don't have enough mages in Frelia, so we're counting on you. When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a pegasus knight like my sister. I was also interested in magic, but I just didn't have the talent.
Lute: Well, you are a great pegasus knight, so it's worked out fine. Besides, I am also interested in becoming a pegasus knight.
Vanessa: Where are you in your training?
Lute: I'm at 98 levels out of 158 levels total.
Vanessa: That's very impressive... Anyway, let's just do our best out there, shall we?
Vanessa: Lute, did you know this? The wings of a thousand pegasi are an incredibly potent aphrodisiac.
Lute: I...I didn't know that... OK, now I really need Titania's help.
Vanessa: Wait! Wait! I was just kidding! Hush, Titania! Hush! I was joking.
Lute: I see... I was, um, kidding, as well. Heh heh?
Vanessa: Hee hee! Consider it payback. But, Lute, I never thought you would try to steal the wings right off her back! Guess the battlefield is a lonely place! Ha ha ha ha! You know, I'm often told that I need to loosen up and not be so serious. I'd always tried to be like my sister. She's very strong, as both a knight and a person. Maybe I've tried too hard. But it's so much easier to loosen up with people like you around. Thanks!
Lute: I see.
Vanessa: When I'm with you, I can relax and just be myself.
Lute: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that.
Vanessa: That was a compliment! Jeez. You're a tough one... When this war is over, would you like to come visit me in Frelia? You could ride a pegasus if you'd like.
Lute: That would be an illuminating experience. But I have to start reading up on pegasi behavior now, so I won't get thrown off. Do they like carrots?
Vanessa: Well, I don't know about that. I'll let you do your research. I must go now. See you later, Lute.
Forde: You must be one of Frelia's pegasus knights.
Vanessa: I'm Vanessa.
Forde: Yeah, that's right. Vanessa. I'm Forde. Nice to meet you. By the way, what do you mean by me being awake?
Vanessa: Just the other day, I was flying by and saw you lying on the ground. I thought you were hurt, but when I got closer, I saw that you were just sleeping! I couldn't believe my eyes. I was so disgusted that I just left you there. But then I started to worry about enemies spotting you, so I went back. By the time I got back to where you were, you were already gone.
Forde: I catch them off guard that way and then attack. That's my strategy.
Vanessa: I seriously doubt that.
Forde: Ha ha ha! But anyway, thanks for your concern.
Vanessa: You really don't stress or plan much, do you? So different from our prince...
Forde: The prince of Frelia? Ah, you mean Prince Innes. I think he's almost 100 percent stress. But I'm sure he's quite the ladies' man. I bet you have a crush on him, too. You're blushing, so I must have hit a nerve!
Vanessa: I-I don't! I didn't say anything!
Forde: A romance between a prince and his knight? What scandal! What intrigue! It's all right, though. You can love anyone you like. You must have lots of competition, seeing how he is a prince. It's much easier to date someone you can be yourself around. Someone like, say, me would be ideal for you. What do you say?
Vanessa: Um... Let's go, Titania. We've wasted enough time here.
Forde: You don't have to run away like that! OK, see you! Watch out for those archers!
Vanessa: I guess so. You've been working for me from behind-the-scenes, haven't you.
Forde: Yes. But don't worry. I'm used to that sort of misunderstanding.
Vanessa: Well...thank you.
Forde: Heh heh heh. You're welcome, of course. So, how about all that other stuff?
Vanessa: What do you mean?
Forde: Am I too far a cry from a prince?
Forde: I felt an energy...
Vanessa: Energy? What are you talking about?
Forde: Everyone has a different type of energy. Some energies can heal hearts, others spread courage. When you first saw me sleeping, I was dreaming of running across a field. I felt this warm energy engulfing me, blowing across my face like a summer wind. It must have been your energy that made me feel that way.
Forde: Would you like to feel my energy, too?
Vanessa: Um... I'll certainly think about it.
Forde: Wonderful! I'll be waiting for your answer, Vanessa.
Vanessa: Prince Innes! Yes, I'm fine. I'm glad YOU are fine, sir.
Innes: Good, Vanessa. Your contributions to this war and also to Frelia as a whole have been very valuable.
Vanessa: Thank you for your kind words, sir. I was so worried when a messenger from Carcino told us you were in danger. I worried for your safety.
Innes: Nothing is going to happen to me. It's still very strange to me that you are grown up and worry about me now. When you first joined the knights, you were just a girl. You've really grown, Vanessa.
Vanessa: Well, um... I'm still learning.
Innes: You are a great knight now. I'm counting on you, Vanessa.
Vanessa: Yes. I'll protect you at any cost.
Innes: Ha ha ha! Vanessa, you don't need to protect me. It's the other way around. As the prince of Frelia, I have the duty to protect you.
Vanessa: I'm sorry, Prince Innes! Watching you shoot that arrow reminded me of something.
Innes: What's that?
Vanessa: The time you demonstrated your archery skills at the king's birthday ceremony. You shot three arrows simultaneously, and hit three different targets... I was so impressed. I still remember that moment like it was yesterday.
Innes: Well, even though there were three targets, they were only about an arm length apart. It wasn't like shooting three enemies in battle. It's only an exhibition trick.
Vanessa: Even so, you couldn't have done it without strong accuracy and concentration. It made a very strong impression on me... I've admired your skills ever since then.
Innes: Vanessa... Was it my skills you were admiring... or was it me?
Vanessa: What?! Um...
Innes: Just kidding... Kind of. But I'm impressed you remembered it. I had forgotten until just now.
Vanessa: I have...always been watching you... and always been admiring you... I hope that doesn't sound too creepy.
Innes: I don't know what to say... I've always known you as a knight. A great knight, in fact. But when this war is over, I would like to get to know the other side of you. The woman. ...Ahem. Yes. Let's go, Vanessa. Don't ever leave my side from now on!
Vanessa: Don't worry, Prince Innes! I would follow you anywhere!