by Laura Patricia Parra García
Relrion braced his arms on the ship's railing, with no more than a silky breeze stirring the caramel curls that grazed his forehead. He sighed.
The heir to Paradisus’ kingdom.
He was almost sixteen. Couldn’t even be around a girl without sweating his armpits nor strike properly in his quarrel lessons.
But that didn’t matter to his father.
No, the man was as stubborn as a rock. Besides, as the only heir to the crown, no one else could claim it. In a few years, he will own every court in this land. After getting a consort, of course. A ruler couldn’t ascend without assuring the bloodline.
And as soon as King Hermogen summoned him to his palace-size quarters earlier that week—one of the few times the man bothered in talking to his own son— the young prince knew what was about to come.
No greetings, formalities or chit-chat took place in those barely fifteen minutes where his father ordered him on a one-week sail through the Elite Sea, arriving into the Sorcerer’s Land—even if they were straight-up enemies of the kingdom, goods, spices and silk provided Paradisus higher courts. To learn what he could about trading and merchant behaviour—since a future ruler must know every aspect of his economy, his father claimed.
True, but Relrion knew it was merely to keep him away while His majesty festered upon his many lovers. It didn’t concern him at all. There was no trace of the man that once loved his mother and the kingdom. So he stepped into the “Fire-bringer”, one of the main castle’s fleets, not hesitating when the crew stopped to bow every single time he passed over the deck.
Perhaps surrendering was better than fighting, as his mother taught him. And maybe, just maybe, accepting a crown that would put a vast weight over his shoulders, will help him lead the once-bright and merry kingdom he grew up in.
All those thoughts faded away by the fifth day on board, while he looked at the distant coast they were going to, a strong but slender hand gripped his shoulder. He groaned knowing who it belonged to.
“Enjoying the view, Your mockesty?,” the boy, his elder by two, grinned at his annoyance.
Relrion batted the boy’s hand and returned to the calm view and the salty breeze’s whiff. But of course it wasn’t going to end there--
The boy leaned his back into the rail beside him. Relrion already could scent his broad smile. “Don’t you have a crew to attend to?” Relrion scowled.
This boy certainly had better things to do than spending his all-so-precious time with the odd, teen prince. But maybe being the crew captain’s second and soon-to-be captain, was more boring than intending to have a conversation with the prince. As he had for almost every day since they left the port.
“Oh, yeah,” he snorted, “but watching you play the mysterious royal that only reads and stupidly gazes at the sea is more entertaining.”
The prince looked at the young captain, assessing the teal-blue eyes—just as his— that caught his attention from the first day. He was also a few inches taller than him, so he had to tilt his head a little to remind himself that no royal should keep his head down to no one.
Is not that this captain—whose name he still didn’t learn— was unkind. He indeed was irksome. But the young prince wasn’t very fond of making friends. Not because of any past trauma that involved trust issues, but simply due to his lack of social interaction. And he liked it that way—having hours to himself. Not everyone could understand the issues going on in his head.
Relrion rolled his eyes and debated risking throwing the little captain over the rail, even if he was twice his weight.
“Leave me alone, please,” Relrion clenched his lids.
“Please? Those aren’t useful words in an argument, Relrion.”
He flinched at the mention of his name. It was the first time the young captain addressed him as such. And he couldn’t decide if that was a pleasant thing—yet.
The prince kept a forearm up the railing, while his other hand pressed at his temple.
“Are you afraid of him?” the captain asked.
Even if he wanted some time alone, he ordered himself to answer, since he knew who the question was about. He had been rude enough time to leave this boy to his own devices now.
“No, but I dread his scowl,” Relrion declared.
The young captain burst into laughter, clutching his stomach and almost stunning the prince's ears. But something seemed so natural, so beautiful and...right. So Relrion joined him with a small mirth.
“Oh, so His mockery can laugh,” the captain raised his brows. “Well then, I ́m Tinnan,” he offered his hand.
Relrion gripped it, finding strong, calloused fingers that clasped his own soft ones.
And as if a veil just dropped between them, the next days their conversations were broader—more often. In the morning, they crossed each other at the prince’s daily walks. By the evenings they had lunch in the common dining room, since Relrion refused to eat alone in his considerable cabin. And sometimes, in the nights, the hammocks on the stern turned interesting for both of them.
There was laughter often, stories told, the prince opening himself a little about his concerns and Tinnan responding with his own. Almost as if all they needed was a little nudge and stop bickering at each other to just...connect.
Relrion felt it. Not just the fact that he actually opened up to someone, but something that he already had been questioning himself for some time now. Even though he never admitted it. In his heart, he always knew it. And he was utterly afraid. For all it would change—and not.
He constantly made fists when he couldn’t comprehend some things. And it burned. To not be able to process every single thing he felt. To not have control.
And as they both swayed side to side on the hammocks by the moonlight, upon a day of arriving, he found himself biting at his lip. Unaware that Tinnan was already staring at him from the corner of his eye when he found his gaze.
“What?” the prince muttered.
Tinnan blinked away his stare and dropped his eyes into his hands. And it was weird for Relrion to see the guy that always padded at his back when the stairs down to the coal burners were too heavy for him. The guy that used to throw little smiles at him when some old, drunk sailor strode over the deck, calling for the long-lost gods that used to protect Paradisus.
“Nothing,” the young captain turned and stood up to the rail.
Relrion followed him and stood just behind him, debating if touching him would be appropriate. Clenching his fist.
But then Tinnan spoke.
“My family used to be wealthy, you know. The court of gold was a home to us, for some time. But when war came—” he didn’t bring himself to finish. His lips wobbled and restraint caught him from trembling.“We had no other choice but to move into the court of copper and you have no idea of the things that one goes through every day to even have a bloody roof over our heads.”
No, Relrion didn’t. The records from the current state of the surrounding courts always got altered. And the court of copper, being the lowest, wasn’t in the royal schedule to visit. He suddenly felt bad, banal, superficial. As if the non-existent crown on his head, already pierced.
But he did no such thing as demonstrating pity. He knew Tinnan better, to not lower himself to that. His new acquaintance wouldn’t appreciate that.
“So, when the opportunity came, I accepted this job. First as a satin sailor. The rest you can figure it out yourself,” he discarded with a hand.
Relrion nodded, but still couldn’t quite understand Tinnan’s unease.
“I’m getting transferred,” he dropped.
The prince swallowed. Hard. But didn’t dare to pry. He merely dug his nails into his palms, just the way he only knew to soothe his concern—or anger.
“To a new port. Right after we arrive inland. I got offered a higher rank in a prestigious ship from the Sorcerer’s Land, despite the fact that I ́m still seventeen, and despite the tension between our lands. And even though I grew accustomed to these people,” he gestured to the back of the ship where some sailors danced and drank and hailed, “you understand that I ́m in no position to decline the offer.”
The prince did. But still, something tickled at the back of his chest. Something that was just starting to wove, cut into the now newly tether.
He stared at him, right into the eyes that were a reflection of his. And remembered every single conversation and detail they exchanged his mind could retain. Relrion had a tender heart, and he knew it.
But he also knew that Tinna was trying to announce something more than his raise. And it somehow broke him.
“So I'm not seeing you again. It’s what you can’t get to say,” the prince completed before Tinnan could. His nails went deeper into his palms.
The young captain nodded, and the prince felt all his wishes and claims crumple. He certainly had the resources to travel wherever the hell he wanted, whenever he pleased. But striking into the Sorcerer’s Land--
It was an assured end. For him. Because though Tinnan belonged to Paradisus, he was a part of the court of copper, not a threat to anyone on the Sorcerer’s Land, not someone to fear, or hate.
Tinnan gave a step over him, but he retreated two.
“Please,” he pleaded.
Relrion snorted. “I thought those weren’t useful words in an argument.”
The young captain, or soon to be one, passed a hand through his soft, ebony hair locks. He stepped again towards the prince and this time, Relrion maintained there.
They both examined each other. And knew. Knew what all this was about. This wasn’t simple camaraderie. Their daily walks, early lunches and night talks weren’t just for the fun of it. Or because they enjoyed each other’s company—they did, but unconsciously.
And as Tinnan strode to him, leading the prince to rest his back against a wall, leaning to melt his breath with his, Relrion knew. He had always known.
So he kissed him. At first just soft strokes. Then he started to explore.
He laid a hand on the captain’s chest and another over his sculpted, sharp cheek, now warm with his touch. It was almost...relieving. The way Tinnan corresponded the kiss, how his lips moved along his, the soft brushes of his tongue against his own.
“Wait,” Tinnan retreaded a bit, his hand still landing on Relrion’s neck. “I’m sorry, are you sure? Are you—”
Relrion didn’t give him time to keep talking, his mouth shutting the words on his lips, then moved to his jaw, his neck, stroking the hard muscles of his chest with both hands.
Tinnan gasped, burying his hands on the prince’s soft hair, pulling just a little for him to feel a tickling down his spine. Then, Tinnan pressed their bodies together, making Relrion feel all the hardness of him against the still-in-progress muscles of him. The prince whimpered. He writhered his hips against his, seeking for something—
Tinnan gasped a soft laugh.
And for a few moments, they just did that. They kissed and hugged and cried at each other. It almost felt ethereal, to just look out for each other's breath, touch, heart...
They eventually needed air after a few hours of just kissing and staring at each other in the hammocks. And when Relrion wanted more, Tinnan wisely objected. Because having more, wouldn’t give them another night, another chance.
The prince understood. And held his hand for the rest of the night.
The next day, they arrived at the north port between the Sorcerer’s Lands and The Airless Swamp. The denizens of the nearby port city didn’t even try to hide their assessing stares into the Royal fleet.
Relrion still couldn’t let go of Tinnan’s hand. Even in the long hours of the night, he didn’t.
And now, he had to leave, to his new life.
The prince clenched his other fist, not quite comprehending anything about this situation. Why did he have to be a prince? Why did his father send him into this journey to learn some god damned information he couldn’t care less? Why did something else have to be taken from him? When he didn’t even have the power of deciding what he wanted for his life, nor being free. In a kingdom that demanded heirs, a bloodline, a queen.
He couldn’t look as Tinnan strode down the ship’s staircase. Couldn’t think of the moment he let go of his hand, or the last kiss he dared to press into his lips even if they had an audience. Damn them all.
The prince clenched his fists.
He didn’t promise anything either. He couldn’t. And how would he? When everything that he had left was his partial liberty and now, it was leaving.
Laura Patricia Parra García is a 16 year-old writer from Mexico that nearly a year ago started working on her writing, but the love for it has grown since elementary school.
She tells, stories that reflect her emotions, conflicts, and social and human debates that tangle in her mind.
She tells, stories that reflect her emotions, conflicts, and social and human debates that tangle in her mind.