Weird… the wrong part went up with this. I’m sorry, still suffering eye strain. I got a pair of blue light goggles to go over my regular glasses and they are helping. I just need a new glasses prescription and will get that in a couple of weeks.
We are back to my Fae and I am making this one public for everyone’s entertainment or my embarrassment…. 😀 There are many upcoming shenanigans. I’m supposed to be practicing rhythm. – Tiff
Kaiden grumbled, running a finger beneath the mask his uncle had given him. The morning humidity didn’t do much for his comfort as he stood on the flight balcony, hidden in the shadows from the overhanging branches. His uncle Alexis stood next to him, out in the light where the sun hit his colorful wings.
They were high in the tree, on the summer floors in the massive black cherry tree his uncle called home. Down below there was a patch of open land surrounded by high rocks that formed a levee when the waters would eventually rise like they always did in the spring. The smells of spring, water, and new life filled the air as birds sang and ducks quacked in the water below.
From his vantage point, Kaiden could see the swimming platforms below leading off from openings in the rocks. There were Naiads out hunting and a few other Fae were enjoying an early morning dip. His lip curled with forced disgust that they had the time to play while others worked for them. Or it might have been the pinch of jealousy that he didn’t have that kind of freedom.
Again, his hand went to the mask, adjusting it and running a claw tipped nail over an itchy spot just below the edge. Concealing his face was not something he typically had to do in his kingdom, but everyone attending the Spring Masquerade in the Wetlands wore an ornate mask. His uncle Alexis had provided them and he was the only one who knew who was beneath each carefully chosen mask.
“I came, like ye asked. Now what?” Kaiden threw his arms out dramatically, showing off the clothing that his uncle had also provided for him to wear while he attended. At Alexis’ demand, Kaiden’s leather armor hung in his room and he wore a cape which covered his wings. Keeping his wings out of view while attending the masquerade was important to Kaiden and Alexis didn’t have to be asked to provide the special covering.
“Just wait, I want ye to see someone.” Alexis chucked, motioning to the sky to the north. “I’m sure they’ll be arriving soon.”
“See someone?” Kaiden grunted, turning his gaze in the direction Alexis indicated. “Why do I want to see anyone? I said I would come for one day, then go home and…” he trailed off, the early morning sun glowing over the wings of approaching Fae.
There were a dozen of them, Papillon from the neighboring kingdom. Kaiden squinted, assuming this was what his uncle wanted him to see. What of them? They were annoying Fae who spent most of their time in frivolous pursuits, holding massive parties and festivals to celebrate their bounty.
Meanwhile, he kept his kingdom under a tight rein to make sure they had enough food to make it through the winter. Even if he had wanted to grow food, there were not enough workers to handle it and it would destroy land that he preferred remain wild. They harvested what nature brought forth and it was enough.
Partying and wasting food and resources was a ridiculous…who is that?
Kaiden’s heart raced, threatening to break free of his chest as he gasped, his eyes locked on one of the incoming Papillon. She was young, maybe seventeen or eighteen and she flew ahead of the others. Her frilled golden-orange wings swept out gracefully as she twirled carelessly, folding them around her slim body, then flaring them to gain air.
Autumn had always been Kaiden’s favorite season, but now he decided, it was also his favorite color, because this girl was Autumn personified. Her skin was tan like the majority of her people, sun kissed and warm. And her hair, it flowed behind her in a river of gold, bound by a copper ribbon just behind her shoulders to keep it out of her face. Never once in Kaiden’s life had he desired to run his hands through anyone’s hair. He curled his fingers into his palm, aching to touch and feel the dark blond strands twining around his hand.
The girl’s face held a cheerful, bright smile, a dash of glitter covering her cheeks and light makeup shimmering over her eyelids.
Oh, what eyes.
She was close enough now he could see them clearly, stormy blue. Or were they green? They seemed to change color depending on the way the light hit them. Hazel? Kaiden wanted to fly to her and see, but his uncle’s hand landed on his arm. He jumped, broken out of his fixation on the young woman.
“That’s Princess Anne Marie,” whispered Alexis, a tone of amusement in his voice. “I wanted ye to meet her this weekend. Maybe even dance. Possibly talk to her?”
“She’s a Papillon,” hissed Kaiden, pulling away and glowering at his uncle. What kind of insanity was this? The neighboring Fae?
“The Princess is also the only available Princess for miles, Kaiden.” Alexis shook his head, walking after his nephew. “You should at least try.”
“Why? So she can laugh in my face when the mask comes off?” Kaiden scowled, touching his mask with his clawed fingertips and rising onto his toes. It was more natural to walk that way, but for the weekend, he had to consciously remain flat footed to mingle with the other Fae.
He was the only Dragonfae in attendance.
There were Naiads, but they would keep to themselves during the festivities.
Otherwise, there were only Soliel and those who could pass for them.
Kaiden frowned at his shorter uncle, who unlike him, had pale skin and large, colorful wings. They weren’t as big as the average Soliel’s wings, but nobody noticed, because they were full of color.
“And when she sees my wings?” Kaiden flared his wings for emphasis, sending the fake, dark green winglike covering rolling in folds to the center of his back where a strap kept them close to his body, giving the impression they were his actual wings.
In reality, his wings were translucent, rich pink that approached red with the ends covered in gold speckling that shifted to crimson as they moved. Their shape was similar to that of a dragonfly’s but the edges were edged like a wild cherry leaf, little points angling away from his body to the tips. Even among his own kind–he was off.
The timing of the masquerade was the worst. For an entire month in the spring, Kaiden’s wings were shockingly pink after the spring molt. He spent a week wingless, then in came the pink. And he was horrified each year. In another week, the pink in his wings would have faded to green.
Thankfully, the autumn molt resulted in orange wings that matched the surrounding foliage, or he would have two months of the year where he was mortified to be seen by anyone.
Kaiden sighed, sinking back into the shadows, studying his hands and his skin–unnaturally pale brown with dark red mottled patches. Why had he bothered coming here again? Oh. Right. Because his uncle asked him to and he loved his uncle. Alexis had been like an older brother when Kaiden was a child, telling him stories of their great people, and their kingdom before the Fall.
“I’m going to greet them and I want you to get your gloves and shoes on.” Alexis cleared his throat, running a hand through his short auburn hair. He erased his slight accent, carefully pronouncing his words. “I expect you to join me so I can introduce you, Kaiden.”
Kaiden slumped, scowling. He said nothing, clenching his fists and turning to his uncle’s room to finish preparing. Why was he doing this?
Alexis stepped off the balcony behind him, opening his wings with barely a sound to take the more direct path down to greet his guests.
Black leather gloves lay on Alexis’ bed next to a pair of new, stiff black leather boots that would confine Kaiden to walking flat-footed. Putting them on would finish the lie, and that’s what he would be, a walking lie.
He could leave if he wanted to. It wasn’t like Alexis could hold him there. But then ,he would disappoint his uncle and would likely never hear the end of it. Alexis enjoyed wheedling him over this and that, pushing him to be better.
Kaiden sat and stared at his feet. This would be a painful day. Then with a sigh, he picked up a boot and began working it on. Walking flat. Unable to move naturally. It would hurt after a few hours, possibly even minutes. He could walk like the Soliel could; it just wasn’t comfortable.
What was worth the pain?
What? It was an entire minute you actually saw her. What kind of stupidity is this? She’s a Papillon an they’re the worst. Kaiden began reminding himself of what he thought of the neighboring fairies. They had laughed at his people when they first arrived and avoided them.
They laughed…at his mother.
The Papillon thought they were comical in how different they were, at least, that was the story. They had never seen Dragonfae before and the bedraggled group that landed in their lands were sent to the nearby forest. Yes, the Papillon had been kind enough to give them food and medicine, but they mocked his people.
Kaiden’s lip pulled back as he fastened the straps on one shoe, then the next. It was his father who decided they would retreat into the woods and not tell the Papillon what they were. Being laughed at was better than being feared.
Only, a few weeks turned into months and months into years. They made the forest their home and avoided the Papillon. Which was what he should be doing right now–avoiding the Papillon, but no, he wanted to get a close look at Anne Marie.
Insanity had taken control, urging him to meet her. Something about her called to him, teasing out long forgotten emotions. And there wasn’t any fight in him, because they brought on a strange euphoria. He had to follow his instincts, had to smell her, hear her voice–his eyes traveled to his hands.
He wanted to touch her.
Then he picked up the leather gloves and slid his hands inside, concealing the carefully filed points. He was a lie, but what did it matter if it brought him close to her? There was no harm in it. He would see this Papillon princess up close, satisfy his curiosity and be done with her. That was all he had to do to get rid of these strange stirrings. They were curiosity, that was all.
Kaiden fastened the straps at the base of his gloves, then slid his sleeves over them. He looked into the mirror hanging on a nearby wall, a mirror which was a full body mirror, but cut off at his shoulders. That was fine. He didn’t want to see his masked face anyway.
He turned to the left, examining how he looked. The cape moved almost naturally with his body, like a set of real wings. Thankfully, nobody would pay attention to his cape, because he wouldn’t be the only one who wore wing concealment. Any one who had unique wings would keep them hidden and during the dances, there would be no flying–not that he intended to dance.
While he was here, he might as well entertain himself instead of hiding in his personal rooms down below. Last time he had done that, his uncle had literally broken down the door and dragged him out to join a midnight cards session. Alexis ended the night regretting the move, because Kaiden beat them all at cards and took all their gold, then left with an expensive bottle of wine.
Kaiden smiled, licking his lips at the memory of that wonderful wine that had left him drunk enough in the morning he had accidently walked off his flight balcony and ended up in the lake.
He shook his head, chuckling to himself before heading to the door that would take him down to the entry rooms. Flying was an option, but then, everyone would see his wings, his very bright, shining pink wings that would light up in the morning sunlight. That could not happen.