Note: This is my first collab! I collabed with Jasey (Jasey Lovegood✨). I’ll put her profile link and the link to her POV in my comment!
For Jasey Lovegood✨, who introduced me to Reedsy and dedicated her POV to me without me knowing. Thank you so much for being the great person you are.
Once upon a time, a prince lived in a palace, and his life was supposed to be perfect, but it wasn’t.
I gazed at the kingdom from the rooftop of the palace. The walls, the buildings, and the sidewalks all gleamed with a metallic sheen like it had been polished yesterday.
All of the silver in the kingdom reminded me of my father’s obsession with it.
Fathers never seem to be one hundred percent. There’s always something wrong with them. And that something would drive anyone crazy for days on end.
For me, it was my father’s expectations of me. He had always expected me to be this confident and muscle-bound athletic guy who could get himself a bride.
But that wasn’t me. That wasn’t who I was. Why couldn’t my father accept that? He could deal with financial problems, rumors, the media, and technology. He could even handle rabid squirrels that were dunked in liquid silver (don’t ask).
But he couldn’t accept that his son wasn’t what he wanted. I wasn’t charismatic enough. I wasn’t brave enough. I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t leaderlike enough. I wasn’t royal enough.
I wasn’t enough.
What could I do to win his approval? I’ve tried for years. But I never could satisfy him. I was an outsider to royalty, and I wanted to do everything I could to fix that.
“Prince Fitzroy. A report on the gates.”
A butler’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts. I shook my head and straightened.
“State your report,” I said, trying to sound formal.
The butler pulled out his tablet and read the screen. “A girl had been spotted near the Magentum Gate. She appeared to be resisting, so she was arrested. Your father wants you to deal with this.”
I sighed. “Because dealing with trespassers is going to help so much when I’m going to rule the entire kingdom one day. I’ll see what’s going on.”
I raked my fingers through my emerald green hair and hurried to the entrance to see a pretty girl with golden-blonde hair and amber eyes. She looked like someone who could easily cheer anyone up or shoot anyone down.
The guard muttered something, so the girl bowed. I could see her rolling her eyes.
“Why aren’t you charming?” she remarked, looking me up and down as if looking for imperfections. She could probably spot a lot of them.
“How dare you speak to the prince that way!” A guard yelled. I held up my hand, silencing him.
“Calm down. This girl doesn’t appear to be a threat,” I announced to them. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t a threat, I thought. Something about her told me that she could be dangerous.
I shooed away the guards and turned to the girl.
“So,” I stared her down. “Are you going to tell me what you're doing in Argenterra?”
The girl answered, “Argenterra is the name of this silver dump?”
I fumed. Who gave this girl the right to insult my kingdom?
“Look at you then, crawling to my silver dump, for what? Comfort? Money? You don't have anything,” I shot back.
“I have a lot of things, actually. You don't know me!”
Then maybe I will get to know you soon, I thought. But it had to be away from my father. Something told me that he shouldn’t know about this girl. I decided to go with my gut.
“Guards!” I shouted. “Take her to the cells.”
I dismissed her with a wave of my hand and walked away.
“Hey! I haven't done anything wrong!” She called after me. But I ignored her. Getting her into a cell was the only way to talk to her.
I tossed and turned in bed, unable to fall asleep. I kept thinking about the girl. I had so many questions about her that it was maddening. Why did she want to visit Argenterra? What was it with her attitude? Was it possible that her type was green-haired princes?
I pushed that last thought aside. There was no way she would like a guy like me. I was an imperfect prince who didn’t fit in with the other princes and royalty in the neighboring kingdoms.
I sat up, unable to fall asleep. My eyes wouldn’t stay closed. I pulled on some clothes and walked toward the cells in the palace. I wanted to talk to the girl. I wanted answers.
I walked down the hall of cells, searching for the girl. When I found her, I watched in shock as a chunk of a strange golden metal appeared in her hand. Was that gold? How was that possible? Gold didn’t exist. At least, I thought it didn’t.
The girl molded the gold into the shape of a key and inserted it into her handcuffs. They fell off her wrists with a clunk.
As quickly as I could, I opened the door to her cell.
“What the hell was that?!” I demanded.
“Hello there, Princeling. Did you miss me?” the girl responded, snarky as ever.
“How did you get that gold?”
“I don't have to tell you anything!”
“You're being held captive in a kingdom made of silver, and you have brought a different kind of metal into this land. That's illegal, you know.”
"I didn't. Thanks for the information.” She closed her eyes, and the gold sunk back into the floor of her cell.
I restrained my jaw from dropping to the floor.
“There. Are you happy now? I got rid of it,” she asked.
“So you can summon the gold out of sheer willpower?” I said, shocked. If she could do that, she would be the most dangerous girl I would ever meet. And the most valuable.
“That's . . .” My voice trailed off.
I wanted to say, ‘Incredibly dangerous. Get out of the kingdom now.’ My father had always had an interest in precious metals. He loved it so much that he had built a city made out of the most valuable metal there was.
But legend says that gold was even more valuable than silver. I didn’t want to imagine what would happen to this girl if my father found out about her.
“Incredible,” I said, only half telling the truth.
“Uh, thanks. I didn’t expect you, of all people, to think it's cool. You‘re kind of silver obsessed,” she noted.
I chuckled. “It’s not me; it’s my father. He’s always loved silver.”
I stopped, wondering if I’d said too much.
“I should go,” I said suddenly. “You better keep that talent of yours hidden before my father finds out.”
“Don't you want my gold too?” she asked.
“I—” The answer came to me immediately. Yes. I wanted to please my father. I nodded. “Gold is a legend here in Argenterra.”
I closed the door of her cell and walked back to my room.
As soon as I woke up, I headed down to the girl’s cell. I found her staring at a silver cup filled with water as if she was afraid it might be poison.
“It’s not poison,” I said, having grabbed the microphone attached to the speaker in her cell.
The girl flinched, looking around the cell for the source of the voice.
“I'm outside; you can't see me from in there,” I told her.
I heard a whisper in the cell. “That’s reassuring.”
“I heard that.” I opened the door and strolled in, sitting down on the floor.
“Do you have separation anxiety? Is that why you keep coming back here?” she scowled, sipping the water in her cup.
“I don't have issues, thank you very much. Am I not allowed to be curious? A pretty outsider enters this kingdom with the ability to produce gold out of thin air. Of course I'm going to keep an eye on you,” I rolled my eyes.
The girl blinked, and I mentally cursed myself for mentioning that I thought she was pretty. I coughed, trying to come up with a cover.
“Honestly, the girls in Argenterra are much more beautiful than you. I was just saying that to make you feel better.”
“Sure . . . Also, fact check. The gold doesn’t appear anywhere. It comes from the ground.”
I blushed. “Right, I knew that. I have some questions for you, don't go thinking you're special.”
The girl shrugged in response.
“When did you first discover your power?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
Oh, she was going to play this game?
“Okay then . . . How far can your ability go?”
“I don't know.”
I stood up, exasperated. Captives were always like this. They never answered my questions well.
“Please, work with me here—” I stopped, realizing that I didn’t even know this girl’s name.
“Look, Prince Fitzroy. I just wanted to stop by to rest; if that wasn't okay with your kingdom, then fine. I would've left and gone somewhere else. I’m no harm. So if you could let me go, that would be great.”
I raised an eyebrow, not convinced. “Are you sure about that? You can summon a metal more valuable than anything else in the kingdom. And you’re saying that you’re no harm?”
The girl didn’t respond.
“What can I do to prove you otherwise?” she said at last. “Because I would prefer to not live in a cell my entire life.”
I considered that for a moment. “Could you give me some gold?”
“No, I can’t do that,” she said immediately.
She picked at her dress. “It’s complicated. You can’t have any.”
I sighed. “If you’re going to avoid every question I ask you—”
“I’m not avoiding every question you’re asking me!”
“Then when was the last time you properly answered something I asked you?”
“Um . . . The last two questions you’ve asked me, I’ve answered.”
What was it with this girl? She was infuriating!
“I— Shut up. That’s not what I meant,” I snapped. “I’m done. Fine, don’t give me the gold, but that’s your only chance of freedom.”
Why couldn’t the girl just give me a little gold? Was she afraid of me because I was royalty? Did she hate me for throwing her into a cell? The questions I had about this girl grew as I worked on my duties.
Day after day, I visited the girl. We talked all the time. She told me her name was Aurelia: A beautiful name for a beautiful girl. I had told her exactly that, and I could've sworn that I saw her blush.
She learned about my relationship with my father. How he neglected me and rejected me for who I was. That was the first time she had hugged me.
She made my days happier. Brighter. Countless amounts of times, we parted from her cell with smiles on our faces. Aurelia’s cell became my happy place. She was the warm light in the cold, silver kingdom.
But that didn’t mean things between us was a fairytale. Like most things in life, we weren’t perfect. My visits weren’t always a great time.
There were days where I stormed out of her cell, red with anger. There were days where Aurelia slammed her cell door in my face and told me to get lost. There were days where we made each other cry and days where we couldn’t stand even looking at each other from heated arguments and fighting the day before. Most of them were about her gold powers.
But that was okay. Great things in life could have imperfections.
Aurelia was my only friend. Soon, she became so much more than that.
She was considerate and kind; she was dry-humored and sarcastic. Her smile, the way she laughed, how she rolled her eyes when I acted like an idiot.
How could I not love her?
On Aurelia’s birthday, I knocked on her door and grinned. I had the perfect present in mind.
“You remembered!” Aurelia brightened visibly. I could see the joy in her eyes. She then cleared her throat. “I mean, I’m kind of shocked. You once forgot how to speak Aerish, so Aeirnum almost broke the trade—”
I groaned. “I regret telling you that. Will you ever let it go?”
Aurelia laughed in response. I quickly changed the topic.
“So . . . don’t you want to find out what your birthday gift is?”
Aurelia raised an eyebrow. “I get a gift?”
“Of course you do!”
“If my gift is silver, I will . . .” she let her sentence hang in the air.
I laughed. “It’s not silver. I’m freeing you from your cell.”
Aurelia’s jaw dropped to the floor. She didn’t say a word. I took that as an opening to explain myself.
I started, “I know I’ve been telling you that you need to give me gold to be released. But you’ve been here for a long time. You deserve freedom. We’ll work out the gold problem eventually.”
“Thank you so much!” Aurelia exclaimed. She tackled me in a hug, and I smiled at her warm embrace.
“I do have some conditions, though,” I said when we let go. “You have to stay in the palace, but out of my father’s sight. I cannot let my father find out about you. It’s a miracle he hasn’t suspected anything yet.”
Aurelia nodded. “I don’t like it, but I get your reasoning. I guess I agree.” But she narrowed her eyes. “There’s more, isn’t there.”
“Yes, there is,” I confirmed. “You have to promise me that you’ll give me some gold someday.”
“Why not?” I pleaded. “Every single time I’ve asked you if I could have even the smallest nugget of gold, you refused. I don’t want it for bad reasons. I just want to please my father. He is a greedy man; he will look for more. But I will make sure you stay safe. I promise.”
Aurelia led into my black eyes, seeing the desperation in them. She put her head in her hands. “I— I can’t. It’s not because of your reasoning, nor is it because I can’t trust you. My gold doesn’t come without a price, Fitzroy. It’s more of a curse.”
Without thinking about it, I took her hand. She seemed surprised but didn’t let go.
“What is the curse?” I asked in a small voice.
“Only the one I love can touch the gold without getting cursed,” she whispered.
I jerked back my hand from hers, shocked. “That’s the problem? You—” I felt sadness weighing on my chest. “You don’t love me?”
Aurelia bit her lip. “I don’t know. It’s complicated.”
Rejection slammed into me; I felt hot tears in my eyes. Aurelia didn’t love me.
I choked out, “You’ll still be set free. It’s fine. I understand. I— I have to go.”
I hurried out of the cell, slamming the door behind me. I practically ran through the palace until I fell onto my bed. I felt the tears streaming down my cheeks.
Aurelia didn’t love me. Aurelia didn’t love me.
I still wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough for my father, I wasn’t enough for the kingdom of Argenterra, and now I realized that I wasn’t enough for Aurelia, either.
I would never be enough.