A thousand years ago a prince was born of mixed race. His father, Silanox, was a dragon and his mother, Toki, was both human and a mage. Silanox paraded him around with joy, for he was the product of the love he had for his wife, a love that he believed and hoped his son would find in his future. He stopped in front of a prophetess of the mages for a reading of that future, as he knew to be customary when a mage’s child was born.
“Shall my son have many blessings in his life or struggles to overcome?” he asked, not expecting any other answer. His ancestor’s lineage had always been one of easy living, Queens and Kings before his father would step down in peaceful retirement once they believed their children were ready to succeed. He smiled at her and she returned it with sincerity.
She was a young woman, even comparatively to the short life span of humans, and though not many, all of her previous readings had spoken of good health. She was much taller than the father as were all mages having descended from giants and had to stoop down slightly, “Hold out the little prince’s hand to me and I shall see what his story may come to be.”
The father unwrapped his sleeping child’s hand from the layers of blanket, carefully for his skin had yet to strengthen, the baby’s wings were folded neatly under his arms and twitched as the air touched them. From her pockets the prophetess pulled out a pin and a jar of water. With a small conjured flame she burned the pin and pricked one of his fingers, the baby’s tan face scrunched up before settling once she waved one of her own fingers and healed the small mark. She placed the pin inside the water and stared into it.
Her smile washed away and worry flashed through all those who watched on. Toki pushed through the crowd and stood next to her family, “What’s happened?”
“Your son shall have a wonderful, happy childhood and grow to be a strong man,” she responded though with unease.
The father sighed in relief, “Then what is with all the antics?”
“A human girl shall be born whether now or in the future, who she is or what she’ll be like is unknown, however the newborn prince must wed her lest the end of the dragons’ reign and the doom of the world shall come.”
A hundred and twenty years later Prince Silanox became king. As for his son, Roujfier, his attention had turned from his father’s coronation to a beautiful dragoness with captivating golden eyes and deep purple wings which wrapped around her arms and body like a gown. Her eyes peeked over at him, a pink hue spread across her cheeks as she noticed his stare.
The girl shifted her wings just enough to lift her hands to play with the hair lying across her shoulder. His eyes drifted down to her bare legs, she lifted one foot from her high-heeled shoe and moved it slowly up her other leg before placing it back. When he looked back up to her face she had a mischievous look in her smile.
Roujfier had heard of her, the daughter of an Earl, the adventurous type who climbed to the top of mountains instead of flying to them, who took cars and steamboats to different countries. No one could keep her in one place and Roujfier didn’t want to, no, much like his father before Rouj’s birth, he was a free spirit too. So when Roujfier started to take to traveling his father and mother hadn’t questioned it, even when they’d come to realize it had been the lovely Earl’s daughter who’d been his traveling companion. After all, Rouj had a destiny and it wasn’t with a dragon girl.
She took him to her favorite places in the world, showed him the beauty of different cultures-human cultures and elvish cultures. He hadn’t known there was so much to learn. Intelligent, beautiful, and fascinating, his heart never seemed to let up when she was near him. And the more he fell for her, the greater his worries became.
“Come here,” she said one night. They’d found themselves in a small village in the middle of who-knows-where in which she’d told him was her little home away from home. When he’d met the people, how they touched her and spoke to her with affection he saw it, but when he’d been accepted in a small family’s home and played games with the village’s children he understood it. She grabbed him by the wrist and led him on into the woods, “I want to show you something magical.”
“But I AM magical,” he’d said. She often commented on his ‘aggravating height’ so he knew she hadn’t forgotten about his mage’s blood but he’d been looking for that cute pout she had on just then.
“You’ll understand when I show you, little prince,” she smiled in the way she did when she was teasing him, but any way she smiled had the same effect on him. As they walked through the forest he started to see a clearing ahead where the moon shone through the trees. Once they made it to the clearing she let go of him and stepped to the side.
The moon seemed to be even larger than he’d ever seen it before, as if it took up the entire night sky. It reflected on a lake in which he could barely see the end of, even with the enhanced eyesight that dragons had. The water sparkled and was absolutely enchanting but it was, “Pink?”
“It’s the fish in the water,” she said walking toward the lake. “Out of all the places I’ve been this is the only place I’ve found these.” She stuck her hand into the water so quick the water barely rippled and pulled out a wriggling fish. It’s scales let out a glowing pink that reflected on her smiling face. “I told you it was magical.”
Without looking away from her face he said, “Yeah, it is.” She turned to drop the fish back into the lake and when she turned back to him he was next to her. Her lips were slightly opened in surprise as he slipped a hand on her cheek. She closed her eyes, a pink hue on her cheeks, and he kissed her so gently he almost thought he hadn’t done it until she kissed him back.
He woke up the next day and she was gone from the village. “Damn that prophecy,” he said into his hands as he cried silently.
Two hundred years later Roujfier’s mother was showing signs of aging. Her hair was graying, her skin was no longer smooth, and her movements began to slow. She was 500 years old, mages could live for a few hundred more but she had human blood in her veins too. Though she no longer had her youthful beauty his father never saw her as anything but.
Silanox had thousands of years ahead while Toki was running out. Roujfier wondered if his father thought about that often like he did because if he did it hadn’t shown. How many of those thousands of years would his father mourn for her before he’d even have to mourn for his own father or his grandfather or even his great great great grandfather?
How many years would Roujfier be alone and after how many years would he again be alone?
Her aging progressively worsened as the years went by until she had to be led by hand whenever she was to walk. Her hand so frail and tiny and pale within Roujfier’s. Sometimes he feared that he’d accidentally scratch her with his claws or somehow forget his strength compared to hers and squeeze too hard. He never did, but the worries lingered. When he caught his mother and father dancing in the great hall, how much taller she was than him yet how much smaller she was, and the love they still had in their eyes as they looked at each other, it terrified him. His father chose to be with a woman whose life was like a candle compared to his great blazing flame, Roujfier could never say that he wasn’t grateful for being born or born from her but he still wondered about his father’s choice.
“My mother is dying,” Roujfier whispered, he wasn’t sure if to himself or the other man in the room, but it was said nonetheless. He looked to Zen, his childhood friend, the one who was always by his side, and found no comfort.
Zen, as all of Roujfier’s closest servants, had had his wings sawed off upon Rouj’s coming of age. Magic was used to keep them from feeling the physical pain, but the loss was still felt. Despite the angled facial features and slanted pupils distinguishing him as a dragon, his winglessness made him so closely resemble a human, as was, Rouj assumed, the point. Roujfier’s blood had also been tattooed into his skin, further pointing him out as different. Only done per the instructions of the prophetess at his birth in order for them to seek out his predestined human bride which could come now or when too much time had passed for him to care. Zen was the only one to stay close enough to come visit him like this while the others were sent across the world with barely ever a word to send back.
Zen’s gait was still off when he walked, he still had trouble getting up and sitting down, still reached out to touch his wings like he always did when he didn’t know what to say to him. His hand snapped back to his side, clinging onto the fabric of his shirt, his facial expression not showing the turmoil he must feel every time he reached out to feel them. “Death is a part of life,” he said awkwardly and without looking directly at the prince.
“Yet for some it isn’t for a very long time.”
Rouj held Toki’s frail hand for a long time even after the warmth had left it. King Silanox had a floating castle made after her death, he didn’t say why, but Rouj believed it was to be further from the brisk lived humans.
A thousand years after his birth, Roujfier's bride had been found. He refused to meet her but had been told her name was Manny and he watched her from the shadows. The only thing he was grateful for was that his servants had finally been able to come home after being gone hundreds of years for such a pointless quest. Otherwise he wished she’d never been brought. Though her looks were not ideal and certainly didn’t live up to the expectations that Rouj had had, he wasn’t unsatisfied nor would she be completely repulsive to marry. Even if it’d be better elsewise.
Manny trailed behind Zen, her hands in her pants’ pocket, expression set straight and Rouj couldn’t tell whether she was angry or not. He’d followed them once they’d set foot on castle ground, waiting ever since Zen called him about the girl. She tripped upon air and Rouj had almost stepped out of the shadows to grab her but Zen had done so before she’d fallen. The quick grab left her with a long gash in her arm from his claws which he apologized profusely for. From his location he couldn’t see whether she had tears in her eyes, but she laughed it off as she licked the blood and blew on the cut. What fragility humans had, so delicate to be susceptible to cuts and bruises and broken bones.
If she fell out of even a second floor window she could die, it was that easy. Roujfier squeezed his eyes shut trying not to imagine such a thing. What even was it about this girl that made her the one? If even the prophecy wasn’t boloney.
Zen presented the girl to the king, he knelt before him but she hadn’t bothered to do so. As she laid eyes on Rouj’s father her straight expression still held but there had come an increasing redness to her cheeks only surpassed by the redness of her lipstick. When his father then proceeded to hug her, her face finally took to some emotion, eyes wide and bottom lip between her teeth.
Would she react the same way towards him?
Silanox’s eyes caught his and he grinned wide before beckoning him with a hand. Manny turned her whole body in his direction and Rouj quickly slipped away, heart pounding in his chest.
“If I may say so, wasn’t that kind of rude?” Zen asked later that day as he helped him bathe.
The boiling water felt good and he sank deep into it until his mouth was under the water. If he could stay soaking into this water forever, never having to deal with any prophecies or noisy servants, it would be perfect. He looked up at Zen with an unappreciative gaze which he was sure was the reason his friend decided to shampoo his head unnecessarily roughly.
“She didn’t say anything about it but she was clearly aggravated by having been avoided, by her own fiancé, whom she’s kinda being forced to marry.” He poured water over the prince’s head pushing it down further into the water and washing the soap into his eyes. “Or did you forget she also didn’t have a choice in this?”
Rouj shot up gasping for breath, his hands on either side of the tub, eyes stinging. “Damn it, Zen,” he said, rinsing his eyes out. “You know how I feel about all this.” He crossed his arms and pouted, who cared if he looked like a child.
Zen knelt down and leaned his arms against the tub, “And when this great evil comes and,”
“There won’t be one!” He stood up splashing water every which way and stepped out of the tub, soaking up the bath mat. “When that girl has to waste her entire life waiting for something to happen and nothing does before she’s stuffed in the ground, then everyone will see.”
A hand wrapped around his wrist and he was pulled back. “Come on, Prince Roujfier, let’s at least rinse out that soap from your hair,” Zen said. He stepped back, unplugged the tub, and turned the shower on. Without an argument Rouj stepped under the water. “Well, at least you have something in common with Manny. But you should at least consider her feelings.”
At their engagement party he watched Manny dance, dress swaying around her and a smile lighting up her face. She looked in her element among all the dancers. From man, woman, and child, she danced with as many people as would dance with her. She led or followed or carried a small child in her arms as she spun in circles. She was the center of everyone’s attention, including his own. Like this, enjoying herself, she was beautiful.
Rouj stepped away from beside his father and moved towards her. He held out his hand to her, “May I have this dance?”
She didn’t respond in words, instead received his hand with a serious look of disgust. Guilt at his unprincely behavior towards her the last few days sent a pang through his heart. They moved around the great hall, all the guests' eyes were on them. He was used to it but she was a simple girl of modest living and so he didn’t know whether the tenseness in her movements was from the attention or from him.
“Are you angry with me?” he asked.
She didn’t look him in the eyes and instead focused her eyeline beyond his shoulder, “I’m fine.”
“Which means?” His hand slipped down to her lower back and she promptly moved it back up. He felt a tinge of embarrassment.
“Not angry, but not happy. A little...I don’t know.”
“I see,” he didn’t but he was trying. She looked like she was about to cry and he didn’t know what to say to make her feel better. They continued to sway across the floor in silence, awkwardness eating him up inside.
This girl shouldn’t be here, shouldn’t have to be here. She should be with her family spending what little time she had with them. Without thinking, words spilled from his mouth, “Are you afraid of death?”
Her eyebrows furrowed and her mouth opened in surprise. She pulled back, sliding her hands down his arms and into his hands. “Sorry, don’t…” he began to say as he spun her.
“No,” she said, it sounded more like a question, not because she was unsure of her answer but because she was unsure of why he'd asked. “What a weird question,” she mumbled under her breath.
He brought her back in close to him, “You don’t, but why?”
“Don’t understand why I would be.”
Warmth spread across his face, he was much more confused or embarrassed or both than he felt he ought to be. “Then what about dying without being with the person you love?”
She looked up at him like he had two heads, “As if I have someone like that or want something like that.” She stared at him confused for a few seconds before bursting into laughter, “You’re a weird guy.”
Maybe, Rouj thought as he watched her shake her head, there was something to this prophecy after all.