I am Faeah, I am fiction
The road to my realized nonexistence started the day I awakened a dragon, who had been loudly shrieking in his sleep. There never were any dragons in my world, nor any concept of them, so finding one was an exciting and terrifying experience, and confusing. I knew when I saw it's sharp, jagged teeth and rough scales that I should scream. But, instead, I fell silent. Of shock, I suspect. It's not everyday you stumble upon the impossible.
I remember laying out in the turquoise gardens outside the castle, contemplating what never was and never could be. And yet, not once had a dragon come to mind. A different life, where I did not need to share my parents attention? Yes, I thought of that. One where my father was not always sequestered away, leading armies into battle and making the decisions only Kings make and where my mother was not so demanding of me and my brothers. Never did a dragon enter my mind, but a life where I could choose whom to marry, and love, and cherish? I did indeed see it in my mind's eye, cast onto the background of the clouds, and the dusty skies overhead.
It was at my fifteenth birthday celebration where I first met my husband-to-be. He wore thin burgundy trousers, a pale shirt and jacket, and dark black suspenders. His hair was also black, and was thin, and shined with grease. His mother had stood beside him, running a brush nervously through his hair. He was the son to one of my father's most loyal lords, a man named Augustus Sleeze. They named the son after the father. My husband-to-be was then a thirty-year-old man they called Auggy, for short.
For most of my childhood, I was ignored. I was free to adventure about the castle, or play in the garden, or steal cakes from the kitchen without much notice. All of that changed the moment the world realized I was not male. From the moment certain parts of me grew and other parts shrunk, I was thrown into a whole other life where I seldom had time to wonder, or think, or sit alone in silent resignation to the passing of time. I became a part of events, and apparently an important part as my family seemed to be ceaselessly searching for the man I would marry.
So, I imagined a strong soldier, or a master craftsman. Someone with nobility, or honor, or at least a semblance of a decent physique. And then, I found myself looking at Auggy Sleeze. He wasn't exactly the kind of husband I had in mind. My father did not disagree.
In fact, for a long time my father regarded Auggy as a bit of an idiot. An audacious and daring idiot, for pursuing the king's daughter. But, an idiot none-the-less. And, Auggy didn't do too well trying to change my father's opinion.
At first he tried flattery. My father was not accessible to him, so he tried wooing my mother and hoped that word of the gesture would get back to the king. For a while, each time he came upon my mother he would compliment her in some way. And, for a while, that seemed to work. She had a great liking for him. That was, until his final compliment.
He came upon her to introduce her to his parents. Keeping with his usual mode of operation, he complimented her for how lovely she looked for a woman of her age. Augustus the first then made a game of guessing her age, each bid being greater than twenty years older than she actually was. My mother is a sensitive type, so she began to cry after the first five guesses and the reality of her aging came to pass. Auggy, in trying to console her with an embrace, managed to knock the wig from her head. It landed with a mild plop into the duck pond, where a family of ducks stole it away to help build their nest.
Word had indeed gotten back to my father, and his impression of Auggy worsened.
That is when my husband-to-be decided he'd bolster the king's opinion by displaying great courage. He decided that he would volunteer himself as a member of my father's fighting forces. He trained hard and built himself a bit less scrawny than how he started. Impressed by his metamorphoses, my father had him placed in an honored and protected position, that of canon operator.
Anticipating victory, my father rode into battle with his troops atop a black horse. He wore his battle crown and a billowing robe. Behind him, unfortunately, was Auggy. To this day, no one knows how or why, but somehow my husband-to-be managed to misfire the canon. In the midst of basking in his victory, my father's robe acted as a net for the canon ball. Just managing to miss my father's body, the canon shot him off of his horse and into... that's right... another duck pond.
One of the jewels had been broken off the king's crown with the impact. Another family of ducks used it as the centerpiece of their housing. It really pulled the nest together, I gather.
If not for my mother's begging, I think Auggy probably would be buried somewhere and his head would be in a separate lot. The third and final attempt at winning my father over was done by taking over the kitchens for an evening and promising roast duck. My father's favorite meal is roast duck. Quite what the duck species had against Auggy Sleeze I am not certain, but once again they foiled his attempts.
Somehow, against all odds, Augustus the II had shot the one duck in all of the world with any plausibility of swallowing a jewel, and had delivered its roasted stomach to the only person disgusting enough to eat it. Despite previously nearly blowing my father to bits, this accidental attack against the king was the most dangerous. It took all eight of my brothers pounding on his back to dislodge the jewel from his throat. The meal was perfectly cooked otherwise, perhaps a bit dry. But, my father did not seem to notice.
On the other hand, he was glad to be able to have the jewel reattached to his crown.
You may be wondering at this point how Auggy ever managed to continue being by husband-to-be and how he ever won over the king. Which brings me to an event a bit more implausible than the others already mentioned, where Lord Sleeze's son proved surprisingly useful. The night when the chimera attacked the castle.
It had flown down from a cloud passing over the sky, it's broad silver wings almost blocking out the moon. It was this event in particular that reawakened my first doubts as to the reality of the world I was living in. Not so much because of the attacking lion/snake/eagle hybrid, but because Auggy turned out to be useful for something.
While my father gathered my mother, my brothers and I together for protection, and the guards hid in preparation for attack, Auggy failed to hesitate. Three uproarious bangs of the lion's head into the castle doors had wakened him, he ran out in his undergarments with a sword held over his head. The guards yelled at him to go back inside. My father rolled his eyes and sighed deeply at the sight of the nearly middle-aged man standing in the moonlight with a sword he could barely keep hold of.
When the chimera pounced, Auggy flailed the sword and the blade cut the lion's face. The creature backed away some distance and Auggy followed up, running at it while spinning the blade of the sword overhead. The beast took flight in heed of his threat and even to this day we have not seen it return. If this creature was truly scared of the twig-like, pale man running at him, my guess is that its species was wiped out long ago by far more formidable beasts.
Still, despite my cynicism, the king was vastly impressed and did what he solemnly swore to me he would never think of. He gave me, like one might lend a book to a friend, to Augustus Sleeze the II. We were then set to marry.
Almost a month to the day, I was awakened by a terrifying shriek in the night. The sound did not seem to disturb Auggy, who was now my bed partner. Then again, it's unlikely he would hear Armageddon over the sound of his snoring and the soprano-level singing he did in his sleep. I tried waking him, thinking the chimera had returned. Not so much out of fear as hope that he might find the beast in a far worse mood, or that it would be far hungrier than it seemed to be last time.
No matter how I pushed at and slapped at him, he did not wake but it was clear from his sleeping garrulousness that he was still alive. Carefully, I toed out of bed and pranced across the room to the balcony. The moon was bright that night, and the sky was thick with dust. It seemed to be coming from a disturbance on a distant hill, behind where the shipbuilders build their ships.
I reached my hands above me and pulled down a rope. I nearly squeaked aloud when I realized it was still there, from my childhood; my years of mischief. I glanced back at the man in the bed who was not, and never would be my husband, not in my heart, and I abseiled down the side of the castle unafraid of the fall below me. At that point, it felt as if anything would be better than being married to Augustus Sleeze, and being a princess locked up in a castle. If I missed a step and death came to visit, I truly felt I would have been better off than the life I was already living. The mischief reawakened within me when I realized I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
It did not take long before my bare feet met with the grounds of the castle. Part of me was surprised not to find any guards, but another part knew that I would not be interrupted. They did not know I was leaving. In a way, I don't think they knew I could leave, that I had the mind or the ability.
As I approached the drawbridge, I again had a conflict of thought. I knew that I should find it raised and guarded heavily, but I also knew that I wouldn't. The guards were motionless on the grounds. I was at once both concerned for them and concerned that I would be caught if I checked on their health. The second concern won easily, and I quickly tip-toed across the moat, over the drawbridge.
And I was met by yet another piercing shriek.