Once upon a time, there was a crown prince named Philius. Philius stood at thirty-eight inches tall, with feet the size of his oval head and arms that stopped short of his waist. He was a splitting image of his father the king—an actuality his mother often declared in pride.
As the firstborn of the royal bloodline, Philius was to inherit all of Aeter—every flowering crop, fertile soil, bountiful harvest, and living creature. But when his father left for the underworld, Philius learned that he would only receive half of what was promised to him.
It was on a rainy day when Philius and his envoy of lions set out for Shec. Shec was a prosperous city in Aeter—a place where many amphibians and reptiles gathered for their extravagant celebrations. However, on that un-fine day, all the inhabitants of Aeter assembled for one reason and one reason only: Philius’ coronation.
Despite the gloom, the ceremony was nothing less than festive. The multifarious crowd cheered, glorious steamed beetles were served, expensive gifts in the shapes of square and rectangle were stacked two-storeys high, and Philius was pleased. He was in a boisterous mood, until an unexpected guest arrived.
Thorad, an official in the former king’s court, invited himself to the party—the one who had once engendered a rebellion and fled when his crimes were uncovered. With a plain golden chest in his hands, Thorad said, “I have come to congratulate you, Your Majesty. Here is a gift I have brought from my travels in the land of Yellow and Blue.”
“Thank you. It has been a while,” Philius replied, contemplating if he should summon his baboons to escort the traitor out.
“Is has been a while indeed, Your Majesty. You have grown.”
Philius nodded in reply—he had grown nearly five centimetres since Thorad’s insurgence.
“Your Majesty, if I may add,” Thorad continued.
“You seek a favour?” Philius asked.
“Yes, Your Majesty. Your father has put a yoke on me and my birds. Now that you are king, I wish for you to lift this burden from us. With your kindness, we will surely serve you wholeheartedly,” Thorad said, with a seemingly forceful smile.
“My father has indeed put a heavy yoke on you,” Philius replied. “But as my father’s favourite child, it is only right if I make your yoke heavier.”
“I beg your pardon?” Thorad asked, with disbelief glazing his hawkish mien.
“My father sequestered you for your betrayal, but I shall banish you instead,” Philius said.
“Your Majesty, are we not your citizens? Don’t we have a share of this land? To banish us is cruel,” Thorad challenged.
“If I am cruel, your shoulder would be missing a head and your birds their wings,” Philius threatened.
Thorad lowered his head. “Very well, Your Majesty. Your wish is my command,” Thorad resigned. And with that, Thorad and his birds departed.
One would think that King Philius could rest well that night. Alas, Philius was afraid that Thorad might rebel again—the avian king had an army of wilful aves that would attack on his command. So to keep a watchful eye on the betrayer, Philius sent a three-eyed deer after Thorad. Unfortunately, before the deer could be of any use to the king, it became the rebel’s dinner. And with that one meal came a series of events that led to the destruction of half the land—the end of half of Aeter.
Instigated by the actions of the king, Thorad ordered his birds to incite the citizens against the ruling family. And in response to the threat, Philius sent his army of eighty thousand baboons to Thorad’s camp. Philius hoped to capture Thorad, and reclaim the land Thorad had attained through mutiny. But on the night before the battle, the Star bestowed Philius a message.
The Star instructed Philius to abandon the war and send another three-eyed deer instead. The Star could foretell the future, so Philius did as he was told. When the birds saw Philius’ deer, they directed the creature with their flattering wings and deafening squawks toward their leader. And when Thorad caught the mammal, he butchered it for dinner. However, unlike his previous carnivorous meal, Thorad shared the cuts of venison with his allies—a pinch of meat each to unify their forces. And, a pinch was all it took.
When the sun rose at the break of dawn, those who had consumed the three-eyed deer didn’t wake from their slumber. Half of Aeter—who had sided with whom they hoped would be their new king—had died. And with that, Philius won the fight against the anarchist. Alas, he also lost half of what was promised to him—destroying his own inheritance, with a deer that would’ve been his own dinner the same night before.
12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)