Music and magic filled the stone amphitheater as commoners and royalty alike shuffled around the castle grounds. Tables were spread throughout the hall with plates brimming with exotic meats that still sizzled and drinks of all colors that flowed freely. The air was tinged with the smokey flavors that crept off of the dishes that were continuously heated by ever rumbling flames. White, wispy balls of light encircled the guests and lit the open sky venue. Some of the vhysps followed the guests around like mischievous imps. A few would tug on a guest’s sleeve or buzz around their heads, but no one paid them any attention, they were part of the occasion too. Everyone was adorned in their finest garments as there was not a single color missing from the rainbow of cloths that filled the room. The only way to distinguish nobility from commoner was if one was wearing their finest silks or their finest cottons. Only the richest of the rich wore jewelry however, but that was also normal. Everyone was an honored guest on this day. People danced as the court mages moved the elements in tune to the music.
In the empire of Sorae, this was an event that took place once every three years. The Star Lighting festival was the only time when class and occupations were forgotten and everyone could celebrate the prosperity of the Empire. This included the royal family themselves.
While all of the festivities were going on in the open-air venue, a lone figure stood behind the stage in darkness. Adorned in loose fitting black and gold silks and magnificent jewelry, he was a sight to behold. His long, jet black hair was tied half up, letting some lose pieces cover his shoulders in a shimmering veil. The boy’s pale skin and deep blue eyes were hidden behind a gold mask inlayed with a sparkling array of gems that glimmered in the same enchanting hue as his eyes. Just as he started to smirk, the music stopped, and he took a step forward in to the light of the stage.
A rumbling applause erupted from the crowed as the boy took the stage. His smile shone brighter than any of the vhysps that floated around the room. He waved to the crowed as a handful of vhysps swarmed him, playful dancing around him. The people returned his enthusiasm in the form of cheers and whistles. An announcer took the stage with him and bowed deeply to the boy, and the boy returned the gesture.
“Ladies and gentlemen of Sorae. It’s now time for the feature event of the Star Lighting Festival. I present to you, second prince to the throne of Sorae, Yu í Xenon vàr Saphir!” The announcer the led applause and quickly exited the stage.
As soon as the applause died down, Yu bowed his head to the audience and the music started playing. It was low and sullen, a tone that would break the hearts of anyone who listened. Taking a deep breath, he quickly calmed his nerves.
‘I can do this’, he thought to himself as another smile started to form under the mask.
The moment he lifted his head, the music exploded to life, and so did Yu. He jumped into action, flipping into the air and releasing a colorful array of lights and magic. He danced to the music, cartwheeling and spinning through the air, completely in tune with the vhysps that followed him and the music that moved along with him. It was as though he was flying around the stage; a fae prince conducting his younger kin along with him. People clapped and stared in awe at his performance. It was to be expected of the Empire’s second prince. If the people of Sorae knew anything about Yu í Xenon vàr Saphir, it was that he was the Empire’s youngest, most powerful mage in history. He had a natural affinity for the celestial powers that all of the Empire’s people were in tune with. But everyone knew he was even more special than that.
The music was reaching its climax. Yu’s feet hardly ever touched the ground. They would brush the floor briefly only to launch himself back into the sky. vhysps flew in every direction, making intricate patterns in the sky and air around him. The sky was becoming so bright, that it could almost be mistaken for daylight. But that light was nothing compared to the smile Yu held on his face that was hidden behind his mask. It was a look of pure bliss and freedom. On the final jump into the air, Yu took a deep breath, exhaling as slowly as he could. The vhysps gathered around him as he slowed his ascent and gracefully traveled into the sky He was around ten feet in the air when he stared back into the audience, vhysps gathering around him like a pair of wings. The musicians played their last notes as he waved to the audience with one hand, he went to remove his mask with another.
Suddenly, a loud shattering of what seemed to be his entire reality crumbling around him erupted in his ears. The stars against the inky night sky was the only thing Yu could make out. Everything from the muted images of people moving around him and pulling on his ceremonial garbs to the frightful cries of the people in the audience. Nothing was distinguishable except the bright orbs staring back down at him from the sky. He felt a force lifting his hand as if something compelled to him to reach out to the celestial beings at be.
“—Hear me? Can you hear me, Yu? Yu!”
Yu jolted up with such force that his stomach churned causing him to gag. He had a pounding headache and the room spun around him. He went to move his hand to stable his head when he realized it was encased in someone else’s firm grip, “Yu, you’re awake, right?”
“Angiel…” Yu’s voice was uncertain as he stared into the crimson eyed gaze of an attractive young man. Long blonde hair fell from the man’s shoulders and across his own ceremonial garbs. The young man quickly embraced him in an overdramatized manner.
“Brother, I’m glad you are okay.” Angiel’s voice was tinged with sadness but Yu’s uncertain expression only turned more rigid.
“Yes, Brother,” With shaking hands, Yu returned the embrace, “I’m fine.”
“Yu!” A shrill voice cut across the room, “Is he alright? Is my boy alright?”
A small, beautiful dark haired woman followed by a war hardened man came cutting through the crowd. Rather, as they passed, people immediately stepped away and bowed their heads for no one would dare block the path of the emperor and empress. The woman, dressed in a long flowing white dress, whisked her way right to her son’s side and possessively took him out of Angiel’s grasp and hugged him close. She obsessively stroked her fingers through is hair as tears ran her face, “I was so worried. So worried.”
“I’m sorry mother, I don’t know—“
“What happened up there?” The bellowing voice of a natural born leader erupted on the stage as the emperor, Xenon í Saphir vàr Phillias, towered over his wife and youngest child. That was the cue for the guards to start ushering people out of the marble amphitheatre.
“Now, dear, this isn’t the time.”
“Don’t interrupt me, Euria.” His black eyes burned with fury which is wife couldn’t retort to, “What happened? How dare you embarrass me with all my subjects watching!”
“Father, I really don’t know. I was flying and then—“ Yu stopped, grasping for words that wouldn’t come, “Please forgive me, Father.”
Suddenly Yu felt his head whip around and the side of his face erupted in pain. The ceremonial mask that had covered his face had splintered and the metallic taste of blood filled his mouth as it ran down the side of his chin.
“I will give you three days to come back and beg me for forgiveness. Until then no one is to even utter your name in my presence.” Xenon made a dramatic sweep of the amphitheater with his eyes, looking into the very hearts and souls of everyone who had remained, “Do I make myself clear?”
The silence answered for itself, even the vhysps dimmed their lights. And with that, Xenon took his leave. Angiel lingered behind for a moment, but soon followed after his father. Yu wasn’t that far out of his wits to not notice the smile smirk on his kin’s face.
Soon, the only ones who remained in the open courtyard were Yu, his mother and their usual personal guard. Euria stroked her son’s hair and gently cradled him back and forth. Now that he was sure that they were the only two remaining, Yu cracked a gentle smile and looked at his mother. His hands, which still had the ceremonial wrappings over his palms removed what remained of the mask from his own face. With looks that both men and women would be jealous to possess, Yu’s face was a treasure in itself. His youthful sapphire eyes stared back at the woman whom gave them their light. Despite the shallow cuts from the shattered mask, he was still beautiful. Yu slowly undid himself from his mother’s possessive hold and laughed whole heartedly.
“Mother, I am fine. Really…” His face slowly become sullen as he tried to recollect his thoughts, “But I really wish I knew what went wrong. I did everything as I’d practiced, this hasn’t happened before.”
Euria smiled at him and stroked his cheek, wiping away the blood and pieces of the mask away from his face. She helped him back on his feet and allowed him to lean on her shoulder. Although she was a small woman herself, Yu wasn’t that much larger in comparison. In fact, with most of his hair now fallen down and the ornaments in his hair slipped, his long hair likened him much more to his mother than usual.
“There was nothing wrong with it. It was absolutely beautiful. You know, this is the first time I have ever seen someone use magic to fly like that!” She praised him as the two slowly made their way our of the marble venue and into the garden that would eventually lead them back into the main part of the palace grounds. “Your magic is really one of a kind, you know that?”
Yu laughed and shook his head,
“If I am really that special, then why do I always feel this tired after using it?” His grin grew wider as he teased his mother.
“The vhysps granted the people of our empire some of their power. It’s a miracle they did not steal your life away after draining that much of their light just for entertainment. You may be the ” She scolded him, but it was clearly light hearted and not meant to chide him. “You must see to it that you go to bed the moment you return to your quarters. Do you understand me?”
He smirked and gripped his mother’s hand tighter, never wanting to let her go.
“Yes, I understand.”