Author's Note: Apologies for spamming a dusty and cobwebbed category. However, "Space is Dark" by Bill Roper fits bizarrely well as a theme for Rose and/or Zieg, so I'm inspired to write in this fandom.

Title from Matthew 4:6: "And [the devil] saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."


In her bed at Deningrad, Shana curled in on herself and shivered.

She had never known anything as terrible as... whatever had been in that room. Her shuddering grew worse at the memory. It was... It was...

She had not lost any of her senses, and yet she felt blind and deaf and dumb. She didn't understand.

And her nightmares, the ones she told no one about, had been worse than ever. Being murdered, over and over and over again. She was a hundred different people, from infants in the cradle to those older than she was now, and again and again the screaming agony and darkness took her. When she was young, she'd thought maybe they had come from the tales Dart would tell, his eyes haunted and his mind somewhere far, far away, scarcely aware of what he was saying; in recent months, she had come to fear something she could not name, yet she somehow knew to be infinitely worse.

She told herself that it was only the strain of battles against wicked Dragoons, and the shock of losing her own Spirit, that last night had made the monstrous silhouette of her faceless murderer horrifically familiar.

But even being murdered had not felt so terrible. That had destroyed her body, but... that thing...

It had done something to her very soul. And the feeling would not go away.

She cracked open an eye and extended her hand, flexing it before her face. For far from the first time in recent days... since that time in Furni, when she'd seen the Moon, and... for far from the first time, it did not seem to be hers.

It seemed an infinitely inadequate, pitiful, mocking object, something that was nothing but a prison, a pathetic, flimsy thing, something that existed only to mock her with how it was not her body-

She buried her head in the pillow and moaned. And that, too, was proof of what had been taken from her.

She could not remember a time when people had not seemed instinctively to know her anguish and run to her aid. Dart had always been there, suddenly right at her side, when she had skinned her knee, sprained her ankle, or taken any other injury as a child, and her parents had exhibited a preternatural gift for knowing when she might be coming down with the merest sniffle. The other villagers, too, always seemed to know what she wanted without her asking, and gave it to her if it was in their power. She had always been grateful, and loved them all for it, but... it had always been that way. She had known abstractly that other people did not live in such a way, but never understood it. They all said it was because of her natural sweetness, and she had accepted their explanation and their gifts with it. Why would they act so, if it wasn't true?

The first time anyone had refused her was when Dart had left without a word, and she had cried into her pillow for a solid week. She had not understood how he could leave her - leave the entire village - when she wanted him there so badly. She had not understood how he could.

Of course her parents and the villagers had consoled her, and commiserated about what a hard-hearted and rash young man Dart was, but... she had known that couldn't be Dart. He must have had some reason. And he would come back to Seles someday. To her.

And he had. When she had really needed someone, as she never had before... He had come for her. And the world made sense again.

It haunted her that he, and the others, had not put up more of a fight when she told them to leave her behind. She had wanted them to leave her - she knew it was necessary, and she.. she was helpless. But they should not have been so willing to leave her. No one ever had before.

And now she lay here, sick to the bottom of her heart, and no one came in, unprompted, to comfort her. She knew they were close at hand, and all she would have to do with these kind ladies would be to crawl out of bed and ask for comfort. But that she would have to ask for comfort...

For the first time in her life, she was devoid of the circle of protectors that had gathered around her for as long as she had been alive, and it horrified her.

And, a little sickening voice from deep within her whispered, if they had come to her not for her own charms, but because of something which that horrible room had nullified... had she ever had any friends? Had anyone ever loved her for herself?

Did Dart love her?

She told herself that was nonsense... she had faith in them, she did... she... really...

The feeling of the White-Silver Dragon Spirit departing from her, tossing her aside like a dead dog, repeated in her mind again and again, and she curled in on herself and shuddered uncontrollably.

If she wasn't the kind, sweet girl, the healer, the gentle, the merciful, the one everyone loved, then... then...

What manner of creature was she?

Somewhere in the storm of sobbing that followed, the door opened, and someone turned her over and gathered her up. "Shh, shh," a sad voice said. "Poor child."

Even a few days ago, Shana would have objected that she was a young woman of eighteen, not a child. Now, she could only sob mindlessly into the bosom of the warm, caring arms that held her, as heedless of the silks and velvets her tears stained and ruined as the smallest infant. With feeble hands, she grasped at whoever, whatever blessed soul might have proved to her that she was a human being, and not just some thing that nobody wanted, that nobody, without the power that had been taken from her, could ever want.

When her tears had exhausted themselves, and she could only let out dry, hiccoughing sobs, she came back to herself enough to acknowledge her surroundings. "Ah! Queen Theresa! I-I'm so sorry - I -"

The queen wordlessly offered her an embroided handkerchief, and she took it and rapidly wiped her face. "I am so sorry for whatever happened to you," Queen Theresa said, and patted her on the back as she sniffled. "Had I known the effect the chamber could have had, I would have placed it under guard."

"You couldn't have known, your Highness - I didn't know - I -" Shana scrubbed her face again, unable to resist another shuddering, dry sob, and looked up to see the queen suddenly averting her eyes. "Your... your Highness?" she said hesitantly, her stomach plummeting so fast that she thought she might be ill. "Did I say..."

"Oh. No - no, it's not that. You poor girl." The queen shook her head, still not looking at Shana - and then, for a instant, her face crumpled.

"She would have been your age."

The words were so choked, and in such a quiet voice, that Shana could not even be sure of what she heard; a moment later, the mask of royal dignity was restored, and the queen rose and offered Shana a hand up. "Come," she said, and then, in a concerned voice as Shana struggled to keep on her feet, "Can you walk?"

"Yes, yes-" - these pathetic, feeble feet, this body that was not hers, this miserable, pitiable shell - "I'm fine. I'm fine." As she steadied herself and regained her balance, she offered the best smile she could manage to the queen. "I was just a little unsteady after being on bedrest for so long, that's all."

"That's good. Come now," the queen said, letting Shana lean on her, "I find that walking and gazing at the tranquil beauty of the palace always makes me feel better. It takes your mind off of your troubles. It was how -" - a moment of hesitation - "- I - endured some - very, very difficult times. But I did survive them in the end." Her gaze softened again as it rested on Shana. "You will survive them too, dear child."

They left the room, and Shana found the queen's words to be true. It... it may have made no difference to the cause of her troubles, and what of her was no longer preoccupied with her own distress turned instead to mortal fear for the others... for Dart. But it did help. Only a little, but it did help, nonetheless.

(A pity that the dragon speeding towards the palace would worsen matters so much more.)


Author's Note: Ah, Shana. The sweet village girl, liked by all around her, and...

"The newly born Moon Child has a magic power [that] changes everyone around into an evangelist for the god, a servant to help prepare for the descending of the god."

Wait, what? And - wait, the moment Shana is drawn to a room with a Signet Sphere, whose sole function is to "[restrain] the magic power that flows from [the Moon That Never Sets]", she suddenly and permanently loses both her Dragoon Spirit and her party member status? Oh. Um. That's awkward.

Others have pointed out the disturbing implications for everyone's fondness for Shana, but my question is... what about the disturbing implications for Shana herself? She may have the soul of the God of Destruction, but she has a human personality, and seems completely unaware of her native power and its effects. If she's truly spent her life surrounded by servants, her every social interaction has been a lie. No one has ever loved her for herself; no one has ever praised her on her own merits. It's not such a bad life, perhaps, if nothing ever shatters the lie.

Like, say, a Signet Sphere.