“I wish for the power to protect my kingdom and shower it with boundless fortunes.”
The demon raised an animated eyebrow. “Are you willing to pay the price, if you make that wish?”
“If it helps me to save my kingdom from war, then yes.”
A smirk crawled onto the demon’s disfigured face, and he gave her a wishbone. “You can wish for anything you’d like. But beware that your wishing days will come to an end.”
“My dear Solene, you have an incredible power. One that can bring boundless fortunes to your kingdom. But it can bring destruction and chaos to it as well.”
“How do I control it?”
“Use it with great care. Until you reach the age of twenty-one, you will be able to control your power. But once you turn said age, you will never be the same princess as you were before.”
It had been seven years of showering Acordia in heavenly fortunes, and since the war she had won. However, those seven years of wishing had taken its toll on the young Princess Solene.
She must choose between staying with her family and risking their lives in peril, or isolate herself and win a battle inside herself.
The frost-crusted and snow-plowed gravel crunched softly beneath the sole of Solene’s lace-up boots. Her hands, freezing cold and ghostly pale from lack of sunlight were tucked inside the scarlet coat she had draped on. She hadn’t bothered to put on a pair of gloves; her body was able to withstand the weather far longer than the average of a normal human’s.
Despite the sharp, raw weather, soldiers were wandering across the frosted streets – their occasional barks of orders cutting through the hushed air. Acordia, even though powdered by mounds of snow and crusted by frost, obtained its own beauty even in the iciest conditions that would have aroused aversions in other countries. Winter captured Acordia in an ink black-and-white way, yet with light hints of winter-ish blues and mild floods of soft tawny emitting from streetlights.
Cast by pools of ghostly light and wintry atmosphere wrapping around Solene’s quivering figure, a feather of cooling warm air left her breathing lips and her hair – loose, curled, and inferno red – collected a lace of snowflakes. With both hands pulling the edge of her coat together, her mundane thoughts couldn’t help but wander to the recent flashes of fire, smoke, collapsing shards of glass and ceramic and wood, and so much crimson stained everywhere.
She had lost control of her power. And she knew it wasn’t safe anymore for her kingdom if she were to remain here.
One of her hands peeked out of the sleeves and trailed its fingers across a bush of silver roses – one of the wishes she had used her wishbone for. They looked mesmerizing under the feathers of snow and patterned frost. She held onto a rose, staring at it longingly – if only she had a second. Before she could even scrutinize the shape of its flawless, yet dangerous beauty, a spark of fire blossomed from the mere touch of her fingertip and instantly ravaged the entire bud of rose, reducing it into nothing but ashes.
Solene watched – a horrified and pained expression etched on her pale face – the ashes scatter from her fingers and soar in the wind.
It was time for her to go.
Fog crept into the kingdom. Threads of translucent grey and white rippled across the gentle waves of Acordia. An opaque bank of clouds formed above the vacant sea, rolling closer toward the land of silver roses. The mist grew and rose higher as it crawled under an old bridge, blossoming and swallowing it whole.
The dark mist obscured lit torches and bonfires, leaving feeble spots of red-orange floating amid the grey clouds.
Parents ushered their children into their straw-made cottages they called home. Arriving sea fishermen scampered from their once colorful boats, each carrying a bag of krill they could only provide for their families’ hunger.
The palace garden was blanketed with silver roses that shone brightly regardless of the thick fog that became a nuisance to many eyes. Stable keepers guided frightened horses to their stables. Soldiers exited the courtyard as the fog swept everything under their bone-chilling wisps of thick grey.
Beyond the castle walls, the King and Queen of Acordia were pacing around in the throne room. The three-month pregnant Princess Faye watched her parents tread in haste and anxiety, as she nestled in her vibrant violet throne, concern swimming in her emerald eyes. Her husband, Prince Wesfall, caressed her shoulder, giving her a touch of needed comfort.
Queen Aeda remembered those 6205 days when her oldest daughter would come home every dawn with abnormal scars and bruises painting her face, arms, abdomen, and legs, or the occasional scorch marks on her back and chest. Most of those dawns, she would carry more than a thousand pounds of fresh meat for their subjects to feed on.
The Queen remembered how relentlessly she, her husband King Orion, or the royal doctors asked if she had gotten hurt, and her forced joyful answer would be the constant “I’m fine.” or “It’s nothing.”
She couldn’t help but wonder what her daughter had been hiding from them for such a long time.
It had been seventeen years since their oldest daughter, Princess Solene, disappeared.
It had been seventeen years since the guards began their endless perilous search throughout archipelagos and kingdoms from near and far.
It had been seventeen years since Acordia’s subjects suffered from starvation and desired decent meals. Something other than their daily krill and salted grain.
No one knew for sure where their dear Princess had gone. And they were beginning to lose hope.
A distant archipelago traveler arrived at the Acordia palace. He asked for the King and Queen’s attention. “I have brought both wonderful and devastating news!” he exclaimed as he knelt on one knee before the royal couple. “The Princess Solene is alive! She is imprisoned in a tower on a remote island on the far side of the globe, by a dragon!”
The King and Queen were delighted to hear that their daughter was alive, yet were beyond horrified of the dragon. So, to save Princess Solene’s life and bring her back home, they challenged the Prince Kais from a nearby kingdom to travel distant lengths to the island where the Princess had been held captive, alone. If he succeeds, he will be wedded to the Princess and stand as King of Acordia.
The thirty-five-year-old Prince Kais, who was eager to rule her beautiful kingdom, accepted the challenge and set off.
It took Kais five years to reach the island. By the time he set foot on land, the moonlight flooded his ailing features that he had obtained from five years of endless journey. His skin had folded into wrinkles. His once bright blue eyes had dulled into a drab shade of blue-grey. His once athletic, muscular figure had turned frail and limp.
He rubbed his exhausted, ailing eyes with the back of his hand. His blurred vision cleared and a lofty tower loomed in the middle of the island. Just the mere sight of it encouraged him to drag his feet toward it.
The white-bricked tower shadowed over him as he stood right in front of the heavy-looking door. He was disgusted and terrified to see dried stains of blood splattered across the walls and valley near. The skeletons of numerous animal corpses sat still as swarms of flies and insects decomposed what was left of its flesh and organs. Some of them were still fresh, as if they were hunted a while ago.
He cringed in fear. He knew slaying this dragon was definitely not an easy task.
His hand reluctantly pushed the colossal wooden door open. Its hinges creaked as it swung open, curdling his ears.
The inside of the tower was dim, only a few strands of moonlight fought their way in through the apertures of the dwelling. The spiraling staircase appeared fragile; the wood of the stairs were beginning to crack and fall off. Cobwebs blanketed every part and corner of the room, prompting him to crinkle his nose in disgust even more so.
Slowly and cautiously, he crept up the seemingly endless stairs. He made his way up to the highest and only room in the tower. He guessed that the place might have been where the Princess was imprisoned in.
A lashing sound came from behind him; like the sound of the wind or a blade cutting swiftly through the air. Another lash resonated through the room. Then, he felt heavy, warm, relentless breaths heaving a weight upon his shoulders and back. A tingle of scorching heat poked his neck and he jumped and shrieked.
He swiveled around in an instant and came face to face with a dragon.
However, this dragon was unlike any other dragon he had ever battled. The dragon was, surprisingly, appealing and elegant. Its scales were the color of scarlet, with hints of blood red. The horns protruding from its head entwined and curve into a unique shape resembling a crown. Its vivid green eyes lit up the entire room. They felt as if they were piercing into his soul, reading his thoughts and learning his past.
What caught his attention the most was the large necklace twined around its scaly neck. The necklace seemed to be made out of pure white gold, and a hand-sized rose-shaped ruby gemstone embedded into the center of the necklace glimmered in the dark. Elaborate swirling details were carved into the gold piece, replicating a rose’s stem. Dark pink diamonds dotted along the details, accenting it beautifully.
The dragon’s pupils were slit, aggression burning in its intense eyes. It opened its jaws. Electric blue light mixed with vivid red at the mouth of its throat. Acetylene and oxygen-shaped plasma began to form into a ball as it assessed for the right time to strike its ball of fire.
Prince Kais’s eyes bled tears, crouching down with both his arms shielding his head, as if it would protect him from the searing plasma. “Please, I beg you. Don’t kill me!” he cried, yet he was smirking in malice under the cover of his arms.
Recognition flashed across the scarlet dragon’s eyes for a brief moment. Its once slit pupils widened as the aggression in its orbs melted into wonder and curiosity. The dragon closed its gaping jaws, swallowing the fire within it. The creature tilted its head to the side, both of its eyes appearing rather cat-like.
Prince Kais noticed the dragon ceasing its assault and took this moment as an opportunity to unsheathe his sword, pointing the tip of his blade dangerously close to the creature.
The dragon’s former cat-like eyes transformed back into their aggressive and slit state. Its clamped jaws curled into a deadly snarl, baring its razor-edged teeth and keen fangs.
Kais penetrated his sword into the dragon’s right front leg, creating a noticeable gash. Silver blood poured out of the wound like a river. The dragon whimpered as it stared at the slash painfully. It whipped its slender head at the one responsible for its wound and growled stridently. The sound could compete with the booming rumbling of thunder. Its jaws enlarged. And with a strong, quick lash of its tail, Kais’s sword was knocked out of his grasp.
Prince Kais collapsed to the cemented floor defenselessly – his sword clattering and skidding across the room. The winged creature strode closer to the Prince, cornering him onto a balcony. It gave out a penetrating roar, making his limbs go limp.
Its teeth lengthened further. The Prince quivered. Before he could process what it was about to do, the dragon swooped down its head and chopped his head off with one clean bite.
Prince Kais’s head rolled across the ground, the petrified look still etched on his still face. The fresh meat and blood spilled from the chopped-off neck; the mere sight of it building a river of rich red provoking the dragon to lick its fangs, thirsty for the presence and taste of blood everywhere in its throat and tongue and lips.
The colossal, yet slender figure of the scarlet-scaled dragon was replaced with a lovely young woman. Her inferno red hair cascaded down her back, a few stray strands dancing over her moonlit features. Fire rose in her keen green eyes under the soft pools of light the stars and moon created, and they scorched a path through the air. Her pale skin mirrored the moon’s delicate color. A white-gold crown on her head wavered in white flames like millions of scattered searing stardust that had been pieced back together through the flames of inferno and the seas of blood she had created. Oddly, the crown didn’t burn through her head like it should have done; it eradicated into actual white fire.
Even after twenty years living in the middle of nowhere, she didn’t gain a single wrinkle or strand of silver in her hair, or any other changes an average human would have gained throughout their adult years. The beauty she possessed at the age of twenty-one stayed true to her features.
Grinning maliciously, she watched the dead Prince’s skin pale. Then a pair of fangs bore from her mouth. She knelt down and pierced her fangs into his neck. Blood surged through her throat, the thick and salty taste of it sending satisfying tingles through her taste buds. Her pupils grew into slits as hunger took the best of her. She continued to devour every ounce of blood streaming through the corpse’s veins.
Her blazing crown and red hair gathered the crimson liquid from his beheaded self.
Satisfied and full, she removed her fangs from the impaled spot. More blood from the wound streamed as one with the blood that was flowing from where the Prince’s head had been. The blood made its way across the balcony and rained down the ledge, forming a waterfall that would terrorize every person or thing witnessing the sight.
The sight of Princess Solene who turned into a blood-thirsty beast, and the blood that rained from the tower.
Fairuza Hanun, 24/09/2016