It was like he was age ten again,
Tired from an outdoor adventure, having fallen asleep,
And, after a brief jostle in which Father
Picked him up to put to bed,
He was drowning
In warmth and happiness.
He felt that sensation now, yet he knew
It was something even bigger
Beyond his knowledge
Under the glass ceilings
Of his glass castle.
She didn’t kill during her waltz.
Quickly speeding towards where he stood
Atop the three massive one-hundred feet stone steps.
Her contenders were already
Crushed, never to use some essential
Part of their body ever again.
A familiar scenery, his birthright,
The Contending of Kings, his first,
Real memory of them
Solidifying at the age of three.
Slipping out of Mother’s
Cold hands and running to where Father
Stood at the very edge,
He was not certain
What he looked at first, Father’s face or the ballroom below.
Red rain glimmering like diamonds on the glass field was what forged
The strongest part of this memory.
A sharp scrape of metal upon metal
Of where he was standing.
On what was happening
At the front of the bottom step.
She was the closest anyone had ever gotten,
But there was a reason why his family
Never lost the throne
To the yearly contestants.
The two sections of the Glass Guards,
Soldiers made of
Steel and stone that had survived and fought through generations of contenders,
And the Light,
Of the finest flesh and bone borne to defend the castle’s three steps.
Stood at the front of the line,
Killed whoever came close,
While the Light
Watched at the rear.
The Glass converged on the girl.
He turned away
Before he could witness her death.
His foot froze.
Icy dread and anticipation
Flooded his veins.
The deafening shrieks of raptors
Out of his stupor.
He whirled around,
Eyes wide and mouth slack at the sight of
Diving towards the Glass, plucking soldiers
One by one
To die a death
In the air.
A mass of brown rose from the shadows
Against the remaining Glass.
His eyes and ears,
And they shrieked
At the millions of mice and rats that washed over his soldiers.
The girl shouted at the ceilings.
A dark shape
From among the brown sea
Leaped upon the back of an eagle.
With two, piercing, mocking cries,
The eagles suddenly twisted
Two oblique forms
Shooting through air,
Until he no longer had to peer down to see them.
At his eye level, both unfurled their wings,
Stopping their ascent towards the sapphire sky
With its many midnight moons
Seen clearly through the castle’s ceilings’ glass.
Wind missiles swept every object
Off the top step
As both eagles flapped to stay in air.
What were they waiting for?
He followed the beasts’ gazes
The last of mice and rat were receding back, and now,
The girl was fighting to kill.
She gutted through the Light.
She danced among them,
Slicing the back of their knees,
Beheading them while they fell.
“Stand down,” she commanded the remaining Light, the captain.
“You will curse
Staying past midnight,
Little girl,” he responded.
And then he laughed, for he wondered
How they must look like from above,
A little girl pointing a pin of a sword
A warrior bigger than most men.
Alas, he was slain,
But not before he drove a dagger
Into her chest,
Twisting deep and hard.
Angry raptor screams rebounded from above.
Your heart,” the captain gurgled.
He locked gazes with her,
And died looking at
The smile on her lips.
“I don’t have a heart,” she whispered,
As she clutched his bloody hand with both of hers.
She laid him back
Among his dead companions,
He watched stoically.
One of the eagles swooped down
It glided parallel to the floor,
And the girl leaped onto its back.
They landed near enough for him to feel the heat of its slick body.
It was bigger than he had expected.
Its height was that of a fine stallion’s.
The other eagle pulled in from behind,
And the dark shape looming from its back jumped to the floor,
A human-like rat.
The girl slid to her feet a moment after,
Her chest sloppily wrapped,
A bloody mess.
She locked eyes with him.
He looked back,
His black eyes dull as the death
Lingering on the glass floor below.
She raised her sword.
“Prince Alarming,” she spoke in a voice oddly deep,
“I’ve come to take your throne.”
“If that is what you believe,
I shall demand the name of my killer.”
“Your killer will meet none of your demands
Until after you have reached
Your last of breaths.”
Staring thoughtfully for a moment,
He shrugged out of his suffocating robes
And drew his own sword.
“I show no mercy for women and children,” he warned,
The last of mercy
He would ever give her.
The beasts chortled,
And she flushed.
She growled and stood straight and tall,
Levelling him with a cold look.
“I have changed my mind,
I will tell you my name.”
To have such a fickle mind, she must be younger than he had thought!
“Never forget my name,
Even after death. My name is Cin,
Son of Luci,
Companion of Fal and Draco—the Twin Eagles—
And Wedon Kno Shi, the King of Rats.
Prince Alarming of the Glass—”
Ice shot a straight line across his spine
As Cin stared at him.
“—Know I show no mercy
For any of humankind.”