I remember that perfect moment like it was yesterday. It was a picturesque summer afternoon like none that I have experienced since. The wind felt gentle and warm. Not a cloud in the sky. Even the birds chirping sounded happier somehow. A majestic, violet-hued butterfly danced carelessly on the gentle breeze. I was standing butt naked on a very high balcony with not a care in the world, except for the beautiful elven woman sleeping in bed behind me. She was the love my life and reason for living.
Our love had been kept secret as she was a high born elven princess and I was a lowly nobody who could barely weave the simplest of spells. Classic fairy tale, right?
That evening her parents informed her that an arranged marriage had been agreed without her consent to an elven prince from a nearby elven kingdom. This bond would ensure harmony between our two kingdoms for generations.
She cried. She protested profusely. She locked herself away, even from me. At the end, she gave in and agreed to the proposal.
I was lost, without purpose. I had to find a way to focus my grief and my focus arrived in the form of an elven prince. Even I had to say he was beautiful. In that moment I hatched a plan for justice.
I still remember watching from afar as the prince’s carriage driver and horses left without him thanks to some very clever sabotage.
Or when I loosened the wheel just enough to fall off half way threw his trip. Oh I took the spare too. I laughed to no end at his tricycle; I mean carriage, pulling back up hours later. That ride could not have been comfortable.
Or the time I snuck into his bedroom and burned all his outfits in his own fireplace, except for one which I stained with his best wine and folded a rotten fish inside.
He doubled the guards. More fun ensued. He tripled the guards, but that just made it even more fun. Got to give the bastard credit, he never gave up.
Finally it was time to land the final blow to Mr. Prince Charming. I snuck past the quadrupled guards to my true love. I put all the cards on the table and explained my acts of justice. I asked her to come with me and run away; leave all these stupid traditions and arrangements behind.
She took me by the hand, looked into my eyes. I remember seeing an expression that was trying to hold back tears, but her grip firmed and she screamed, “GUARDS!!!” I utterly froze. Complete disbelief. How could she choose a complete stranger over me? I easily escaped from her grasp. As I ran towards the balcony, I grabbed a nearby bedsheet with my left hand and the fire stoker with my right. I used those items in combination with some luck to slow my fall just enough that I was able run away with bumps and bruises instead of broken bones.
I was on the run, living as a beggar. Dodging elven scouts. Eating bugs and plants were not beneath me. There is nothing more humbling than eating a worm. It was a lonely night that I was staring at a most depressing fire that I saw that same violet-hued butterfly seemingly in the fire. How was it not burning? Despite the heat of the fire, I reached to save the butterfly. Not sure why a butterfly that seemed impervious to heat needed saving from the fire, but I wasn’t thinking clearly at the time.
In my mind I heard her voice as soft as a whisper, “There is nothing left for you from where you came but others don’t know it but they need your form of justice. In particular a human king not far from here. You will have more questions, but you will have some answers… GET UP!”
I snapped back to reality and stood up. The butterfly was gone and so too was my fire. Curious as to whether a god took that moment to talk to me, or maybe I ate the wrong kind of plant or bug or maybe days of malnourishment finally caught up to me. Either way, I needed purpose and now I had one. Find this damn King, deliver some justice, and get some answers. Answers to what, I wasn’t sure. Or maybe I just thought how could things possibly get any worse? Or maybe I just needed something to do that sounded even remotely fun to take me mind off that damn princess.