"Do you know how Asada really feels?"
The words came out forcefully, surprising myself with the heat of it. What was I saying? It was the exact reverse to my original intent, which was to keep Princess Sakura for myself.
Everything had gone exactly as planned. The information that had fallen into my lap, and then my discreet investigations about certain events, which allowed me to set the situation up in my favour. I was a soldier; war and deceit were familiar bedfellows. I was raised in a culture steeped in lies and intrigue; the truth was a knife applied with surgical precision, if at all.
It wasn't until after I had crash-landed on this incomprehensible planet and met this even more incomprehensible princess, that I found someone whose words and thoughts matched perfectly. There was no deceit in this girl, and that simple fact shook me to the core. I, with my bloody hands and bloodier deeds, never sought nor expected care and forgiveness, and it came from the most unexpected quarter. It changed how I thought of the world, and where I stood in it. And, like a child newborn into the world, I had wept, the peculiar healing power of Alpha sweeping through me, cleansing me of sins I never knew were there.
"There is another." I could have kept it from her. Sakura had never need know that she had a chance with that boy she was obviously devoted to. Anyone with eyes could see it, and I didn't even have to touch her to confirm that fact, open and honest as her face was.
"He does not yet know how you feel." I felt my reality crumbling around me, the bitter slash of truth stripping the last of my sins away. The princess may never understand how much she has changed me, nor anyone else indeed. The cold wash of truth was a refreshing spring, and the words leapt off my tongue, as if eager for escape.
"Are you truly alright with this?" With every word I damned myself just a bit more, even as the truth set me free. My beacon, my reason for living - she blinked up at me, the play of her tortured emotions an open book on her face. With an inward sigh, I gave her the push she needed.
"Will you not go to him then?"
She stood then, hesitantly, and for a moment I could not read her face. Then she looked me straight in the eye, one of the few times she has done so since she was but a child. Sakura was hesitant, but she found her voice finally.
"Thank you, Lord Kiri. I, I will go now."
"Yes. Go now."
And my smile to her was faint, distant and indulgent. The princess was the light of my life; I could not sentence her to doubt and pain, not without a chance to choose for herself, without knowing the truth. As she brushed past me with hurried steps to the boy she loved, my smile took on a hint of self-mockery. Truth laid bare the ugliness of my soul, and I looked at myself with a mixture of distaste and the sharp clarity of self-awareness.
Kill to obtain what you desire, fight to protect what you love. Not until my arrival on Alpha had I ever considered a different path. That there could be a different way.
Perhaps even someone like me could change. Even if it may be but a fragment, perhaps I too was in possession of a heart.
"Lieutenant? Is something wrong?"
"Klarus." My loyal subordinate. I have worried her too much. Shaking my head, I reassured her, and turned to address the Queen.
"My Queen, allow me to make a speech."
If there must be truth, let there be truth all round. I am Kiri du von Lucianos, and I am done hiding. Let there be truth, let them know who I really am, a foolish killer who has only ever known war and death. How could someone like me ever be worthy to stand by the Princess's side? I am but a sword, to cut down all those who would wish harm to Alpha and the people on it. I know the price of peace, and I will die to defend it, if it ever comes to that.
I will hide no longer in darkness. I will stand in the light, and let them judge me as they may. Then, perhaps, I can truly start to live.
Sakura, I wish you joy; for even if I cannot stand by your side, I will protect the world you love.