Escaflowne episode 2 "Girl from the Moon of Illusion"
(the Ace of Serpents card)

Was it a dream? ...or an illusion?
I heard that, suddenly, the guy I like
would become an exchange student.
Then, in front of my eyes, this guy
and a huge dragon appeared.
Now, I'm here, on a mysterious world
where the Earth floats next to the Moon in the sky.

Surrounded by wolfmen, Van mutters, "So, it's you, Lumu," and smiles in recognition of the leader of the pack.

"You went to the Moon of Illusion!?!" sputters Lumu. He's giving Van and Hitomi a lift to Fanelia. "So the girl..."

"Yeah," says a reclining Van, "She's a native of the Moon of Illusion."

"You surprise me."

"The Moon of Illusion?" asks Hitomi.

"The blue one, there." Lumu answers, pointing.

As she gazes at the Earth, Hitomi has a horrible vision. "What's wrong?" asks Van.

"Nothing."

By sunrise, they can see Fanelia stretching out, below them. The crowds begin to gather before they even arrive. Out of the crowd, bursts a cat girl who greets Van enthusiastically. "I'm so relieved you returned safely," says Meruru. "I nearly worried myself to death, worrying about you!" Van is a bit embarrassed about her public displays of affection.

"There are wolfmen, why not catgirls," mutters Hitomi.

"Lord Van!" a serious voice hushes the crowd. Meruru backs humbly away when four warriors make their way out of the throng. "Lord Van!"

Van responds to the unasked question by raising the energist in one hand and announcing, triumphantly, "I, Van Fanel, having achieved success in the subjugation of a dragon, do now return, bearing this Drag Energist." The four samurai kneel down and formally accept his accomplishment. Hitomi is shocked to finally realize: Van is a Prince!

Within the castle grounds, everyone is getting ready for the coronation ( In Fanelia, a prince has to get a Drag Energist to become king). It has been a while since they've used their ‘melf' (mecha), and much of their military stockpile has become old with disuse. Everybody is busy except Hitomi. She changes into her school uniform and wonders what she should do. Her melancholy is interrupted by a surprise visit from Meruru. After a long, slow look, Meruru says, "Don't get too used to it."

"Huh?"

"Being so close to Lord Van," explains Meruru. "I don't want some girl, dressed in weird, foreign clothes, like you, getting too close to Lord Van." She trots over to Hitomi's open bag and rifles through it. Once she's made a wreck of things, Meruru notices Hitomi's pendant and snatches it away. "Pretty rock," says Meruru. "I'll keep it," she concludes and runs away, with Hitomi hot on her heels.

It's a close match until Hitomi stops to look into a room they've passed. Inside, Van and Vargas are practicing with swords. Vargas easily deflects Van's blow. "Your show of confidence is weak, Lord Van. To win in mortal combat, you must attack forcefully."

"I don't like life and death sword fighting." "Lord Van! Can the future King of Fanelia abide such weakness!?"

"I don't want to become King."

"Lord Van!" Vargas notices Hitomi. "We have a guest."

"Ah! I'm sorry," sputters Hitomi, "I didn't mean to eavesdrop."

"Oh, it's you," says Van with indifference.

"Ah well, looks like I've got to start treating you nice," mutters Meruru. After roughly returning the pendant, she bounds in to greet Van. Vargas comes over and promises Hitomi that, after the coronation, they'll concentrate their resources on finding a way to send Hitomi home.

On the road out of Fanelia, Lumu smells something suspicious in the air. Nearby, an ominous probe snakes its way out of the folds of a curtain-like mirage in the forest...

Later, Meruru is upset that she's not allowed close enough to see the coronation clearly. With the ceremonial presentation of the Sword of the King of Fanelia, a high priest makes Van King.

At the distant front gates of Fanelia, a mirage turns deadly as invisible enemies storm the perimeter. The alarm soon runs through the city; Fanelia is attacked! Women and children, flee! Men, to arms! Vargas dispatches the other three samurai to defend the city with their melf squads, while he councils Van. He instructs Van to take Hitomi to the temple and escape with Escaflowne.

Elsewhere, Meruru fails to reunite with Van and is swept away with the fleeing crowd.

The samurai are quickly overwhelmed. Not only are their enemies invisible, they have ‘krima claws', another new technology. Krima claws allow them to morph liquid metal into various weapons, at will. This provides them the addition advantage of distance, as well as stealth. Vargas unwraps a tremendous sword as he prepares to defend the temple and Van's escape.

Inside the temple, Van begins the ‘ceremony of blood' by standing on a central dais and cutting his thumb with the King's sword. His blood on the energist makes it glow. Holding the crystal aloft, Van calls out, "I, the new King of Fanelia, Van Fanel, call upon the ancient blood bond with Escaflowne. Sleeping dragon... awaken for me now!!" Parts of the dias spin in response, and the room is filled with a magical glow. The mighty stone above the dias crumbles and floats away. Within the stone, Escaflowne wakes and descends.

"That's the one I saw in my dream," stammers Hitomi.

Van puts the drag energist into the huge crystal mounted on Escaflowne's chest. The crystal and energist beat together, like a heart, and the cockpit opens.

"Wait," says Hitomi, "what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to use Escaflowne and fight."

All too soon, an invisible enemy is in their midst. Hitomi can see the telltale mirage it makes more easily than Van and calls out a warning. Van manages to parry and is surprised when his counter attack reveals his enemy to be a gaimelf (big mecha). Hitomi recognizes it from her dream, too. Van is doing well against his opponent, cutting off a krima claw. Suddenly, there is a second enemy behind him. Hitomi tries to warn him. Fortunately, Vargas arrives in the nick of time and whacks off a krima claw. He calls to Van to escape with Hitomi. "I won't run from an enemy!" snarls Van, returning to his first opponent. Vargas must save him again from the second. Van finishes off his first enemy, then carefully picks up Hitomi. He leaves the temple only to see his city in flames, his samurai dead. Hitomi suddenly senses the imminent death of Vargas and calls out. Too late; a third invisible gaimelf spits a javelin from it's krima claw. The mighty warrior falls at Escaflowne's feet.

"Lord Van, please escape with Escaflowne," pleads Vargas with his dying breath. "When you can, return and rebuild Fanelia."

Escaflowne is soon surrounded by gaimelf. In response to Hitomi's trauma, her pendant and Escaflowne's heart crystal glow. The beam of light comes and carries them away.

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