The Saviour of The City of Light
The Prince x OC
"So, where to now?" the Prince asked Sarina as they mounted their horses after stowing their replenished supplies in their saddle bags and satchels.
"I don't know. Is there any place that you would like to visit?" she asked.
"Hmm..." he hummed in thought, "How about Zephyr?" he suggested.
"Zephyr?" she asked, taken aback by his idea, "If you're going to try to hold me for ransom to my father, I'll leave you here right now." she defended with her arms crossed and a frown on her lips, unwilling to go back to her city.
He laughed at her pouting, "I hadn't thought of that. It's a good idea." he said, her expression becoming one of disbelief as she looked away from him for a moment, a smile forming across her lips, "Alright, there's a city called Al-Nazir. It's quite a nice place and they have a beautiful area for baths. It will certainly take a while to get there, though." he tried again.
"Alright," she agreed, "Do we have enough to survive this trip?"
"There's another city on the way there, we can restock upon reaching it."
"Sounds like a plan. Lead the way." she offered, gesturing for him to go on first.
They travelled for many days and nights, repeating the same routine of random conversation over dinner before bed and waking up, as usual, before sunrise.
"Did I ever tell you that I saved the world from total destruction?" he asked her as they laid by the bonfire for warmth after their dinner.
"Really?" she asked, her tone peaking up; an indication that she didn't believe him in the slightest.
"I really did!" he said, trying to convince her.
"Well, do tell me how you saved the world from total destruction." she smiled, still not believing him.
"It was in the City of the Ahura," he began.
"That city is dead and has been for many generations." she informed him.
"You know of it? I didn't even know it existed when the Princess fell on me."
Sarina's eyebrow perked up, unsure if she'd heard that correctly, "What?"
"Princess Elika," he elaborated, "I didn't know she was a Princess at the time, but when I'd fallen into a ditch in a sandstorm and stood up, I turned around and boom, right on top of me."
"I see." she stated, smiling in disbelief, "go on."
"When she stood up and she pressed me against the wall and—"
"Okay." Sarina interrupted him, "Now I really don't believe you."
"Hey, now!" he started, "It wasn't like that."
"To your dismay," she laughed.
"She covered my mouth and looked up, so I looked up too and saw guards. When they didn't see her and walked back, she turned away and I asked her what her name was, but she never answered. So, I followed."
"Well if that doesn't sound familiar." Sarina commented, smiling.
"I like to know the names of beautiful women who fall on me." he said, smiling in return. He could see a slight blush appearing on her face, probably recounting when she dropped on him in the markets as well.
She laughed, "Or know the names of women who enjoy pomegranates."
"You're never going to let that go, are you?" he asked.
"Never," she confirmed with a smile, "Anyway..." she said, urging him to continue his story with her hand.
"Eventually, she ran into guards and I intervened. Of course they ran away fearing for their lives."
"Of course." she agreed, although she could see his uncertainty of whether her words were genuine or just mockery.
"When I finally got the chance to talk to her, she told me that my girlfriend and I should get out of there."
"Your girlfriend?" the Princess asked.
"I...had lost my donkey in the sandstorm before I fell down the cliff...and had a rock drop on my head."
"Oh, that's horrible!" she commented in a playful tone, a smile on her face, "What was your donkey's name?"
The Prince looked away for a moment before looking back at her, "Farah."
"You named your donkey and your horse 'Farah'?"
"Hey, it's a nice name, alright?"
"It is a wonderful name. I never disagreed on that."
"I didn't listen to her and turn back," he continued, "I followed her on and eventually, when I began to run over a bridge she did, she spoke out when I was already on, but not to me. I looked up and guards were pushing boulders onto the bridge. It broke and collapsed and I was running for my life. Trying to jump ahead didn't help either and I fell. I was falling to my death and, I don't know, she saved me."
"How was she able to save you?" Sarina asked.
"With magic." he stated simply, the Princess bursting out in laughter, "Hey, it's true!" he defended, despite his story sounding more like a dream.
"I'm sorry," she apologized once she recovered from her laughter, "It just doesn't sound realistic in any way." she explained.
"I didn't think so at the time, either," he chuckled in agreement, "But, I figured that's why they were trying to kill us, to which she informed me that they were strictly just trying to kill me alone."
"You're just trouble wherever you go, aren't you?" she smiled, receiving one in return.
"Saving me had drained her and she collapsed, so I carried her further along until she felt better. She explained that she needed to get to a Temple, so I followed to make sure she was alright. On the way, a couple of guards cut us off, stating that I wouldn't stand between them and the Princess. Of course, I wasn't aware of what they were talking about and even had to confirm it with her." he took a sip from his waterskin before continuing on, "I easily defeated the guards," he began, Sarina giggling at how he was so confident even now that he was a great fighter, she herself never having seen him fight before, "and further on, another man tried to stop us. This time, he was dressed differently, but we ignored him and continued on to the Temple, hidden within an enormous tree."
"The Tree of Life: The Temple of the Ahura, which acts as the prison of Ahriman, the God of Darkness." Sarina stated, "Trapped by his brother, Ormazd, the God of Light."
"You're loving this story-killing, aren't you?" he asked her, a playful smirk on his lips, "How do you even know all of this?"
"Books that I've read," she answered.
"I wish I read that book," he replied, "I'd know what I was getting into. I would've found my donkey and walked away...I never found that damn donkey. She was carrying a King's worth of gold, you know?"
"Because you're a thief and I don't believe you would've walked away," she laughed, "You're too good of a man to just walk away from the world possibly being forever destroyed." she finished, taking a sip from her own waterskin.
"Are you so sure of that?"
"I would like to think so." she admitted.
"We arrived to the Temple and she thanked me, telling me to leave. Of course, I helped her get there and I wasn't going to just go,"
"Of course not," Sarina cut in, "Not without a proper 'thanks' from the Princess." she had a mischievous smile across her lips, getting one in return.
"That last man that tried to stop us had arrived as well, ready to fight. I was ready to defend, of course. Turns out he was the King," the Prince grimaced, "and we fought some, the battle favouring me. Instead of accepting that and turning away, he cut the tree that contained Ahriman, releasing him."
"That doesn't sound good at all," Sarina commented.
"It wasn't. Let me tell you—the quick change of scenery from being so healthy-looking to...dead—it was impressive and disturbing all at once. All from one slice of a blade. I urged her to go, but something dark came up from the ground, the only thing distinct about them being the weapon in their hand. I didn't know what to do. Then, Elika used that...magic of hers again. I was able to utilize it to defeat whatever that thing was and we continued on out of the Temple, dodging the ground crumbling down in front of us and this...black...slime all over. She called it Ahriman's 'corruption'."
"This is beginning to sound more like a nightmare," Sarina added in.
"It was. I wasn't sure we were going to make it out of there, but we did. The desert, everything around us, the tree...it had all changed—not like it was before we entered the Temple with the sun shining and the tree blooming with leaves. It was...dark, depressing..." he said.
The Princess watched the expressions on his face as he told his story, the look in his eyes. It was then that she realized that it must have been true. Even though his lips had a habit of lying to her every now and then on their journey together thus far, she'd observed over their time together that his eyes couldn't fail her in truth.
"She said that the Temple still had enough power to contain Ahriman long enough that we could give it more strength to keep him trapped there. So, we travelled from the Temple to The Citadel and here, we encountered one of the Corrupted Generals."
"Four loyal servants of Ahriman, given a false promise by an evil God in exchange for their souls. They were locked away along with Ahriman when Ormazd intervened." Sarina spoke.
"Exactly," he agreed, "The first was the Hunter." he said, waiting to see if she would tell him about each and every one as he had encountered them with the Ahura Princess.
Sarina sat, listening, unsure as to why he had stopped until realizing he was waiting for her, "Oh, the Hunter was a Prince who loved to hunt—hence his name—and was matchless in skill. Running out of prey, he sold his soul to Ahriman upon the God of Darkness luring him into a dark cave and offering him the chance fight and hunt against Mankind, the greatest, most fearsome creature that would ever walk the Earth."
"You really know your stuff. I'm impressed." the Prince complimented her on her knowledge.
"When you have nothing else to do, what better way to pass the time than to learn about worlds of the ancient?" she asked.
"Learn about worlds of the present?" the Prince asked in reply.
"Well, I am now." she smiled, receiving one in return.
"There were four fertile grounds, so Elika had called them, that would heal and demolish the corruption in that area and give the Temple more strength to keep Ahriman from breaking free entirely. When she healed the first one—after us having to battle the Hunter, mind you—she was completely drained of energy. She told me to lead her to a 'Light Seed', which I assumed then that it was the...glowing thing just sitting right there. So I helped her to it and it helped her gain strength. So, we went around getting as many as we could as we healed the fertile grounds, and once we had enough, she said that we needed to go back to the Temple. She took me back and there were these...pictures, glowing in the ground."
"Pictures glowing in the ground?" the Princess asked, the thief confirming what he had said.
"Each had represented some sort of Power of Ormazd that would help us reach other fertile grounds. Those plates were a lot of fun," he smiled, nostalgia taking over him for a few seconds.
"I guess Ormazd's power can be represented in different ways." Sarina commented.
The thief's eyebrow quirked in curiousity, "What do you mean?"
"Well, the City of the Ahura has plates and Elika had some power. My father's father was an Ahura and was able to hold power much like Elika's. My father's power is through his knowledge. My power is only within my weapons. Aside from them, I'm just a plain Princess." she explained, albeit she knew that she held another gift that made her far from any normal person: a gift from her mother.
"You have Ormazd's power?"
"No, my weapons have them. I don't travel with them, though. They are much too precious."
"Well, you're certainly not plain otherwise." he smiled, causing her to blush.
"Your story?" she asked, urging him to continue.
"Anyway, we got each power piece by piece and with every one, there was some sort of moment of—what I thought was things to come, involving her death. I reassured her that it didn't have to happen. But, as we continued gaining each power, it became clear that they weren't moments in the future, but in the past."
"She had died?!" Sarina asked, the tone in her voice being one of disbelief.
"Yeah, she was dead. She said one of the plates—the plates containing the Powers of Ormazd—had failed. Her father had brought her to Ahriman and made an agreement with him. Ahriman, in return, gave Elika life once again."
"That's...a lot to take in, considering all that you were already doing." Sarina admitted, taking another sip from her waterskin.
"Imagine how I felt!" the Prince related, "And I had to fight her father a couple of times on top of all of this—not to mention he was slowly becoming more and more corrupted. I should have listened more to my mother." he grimaced, remembering her wish for him to settle down, though he knew that wasn't in his nature.
"That's a lot for two people," Sarina acknowledged.
"It was, but I did what I had to. I should have listened more to my mother." he repeated, causing the Princess to giggle.
"I don't see you ever settling down with a woman and having children," she admitted, "You just don't seem like the type."
"I'm not." he gave a small chuckle, "After the lands were healed in The Citadel, having to fight the Hunter for each of them, we had to face him for a final time once the Black Gate—so she called it—had opened with her powers."
"That alone sounds tiresome."
"Oh, it was, believe me. But on the bright side, I totally kicked his sorry little ass." he said proudly, wide smile across his lips.
"Oh, really?" she grinned.
"Well, I'm alive, aren't I?" he came back.
"That, you are."
"Next was The Vale, and it was here that I met the Alchemist," he began once again, taking a sip from his waterskin, his hand gesturing for her to tell him what she knew of the Corrupted, enjoying how informed she was in the Gods and their stories.
"This one is much more complex," she admitted, "The Alchemist was once an Ahura. He was thirsty for knowledge and, eventually, became cold: let go of all compassion and ethics, letting nothing get in the way of his experiments. Unfortunately, his health had depleted and at first, he asked Ormazd for help, but his cruelty toward others had caused Ormazd to turn away from his cries for help. It was here that Ahriman began to whisper that there was a formula for eternal youth—the formula for immortality. Of course, the Alchemist wanted this and demanded that he be given this formula. Ahriman negotiated that he would have the formula if he gave the God of Darkness his soul in return—an exchange that the Alchemist didn't think twice about. However, the formula given by Ahriman was so complex, that the Alchemist spent his final moments trying to find some sort of breakthrough. His health was still diminishing and he finally collapsed, Ahriman taking his soul as he was dying. But in this, the Alchemist realized that he would live forever. As long as Ahriman lived, so too would the Alchemist." she finished, taking a sip from her waterskin after such a long explanation.
"Wow." the Prince commented.
She looked at him, unsure of why he'd said that, "What?"
"Just...wow! Your story of the Alchemist. Elika didn't even go into that much detail when I asked."
"I found him very interesting in my studies of the Ahura."
"Did you ever wonder what the formula was?" the Prince asked.
"That formula will only bring chaos. It's best left unknown and let life run its natural course." she answered.
The Prince nodded in agreement, "There is a lot of truth to that."
"You want the formula, don't you?" she smiled, sure that his answer would be 'yes'.
"Not enough to sell my soul to an angry God of Darkness." he admitted, getting a laugh in return along with an agreement.
"What was it like, fighting the Alchemist?" she asked.
"I think he was one of the easier ones, if I were to be honest. Definitely much harder than the Hunter, with all that self-healing and stringy, pulling crap."
Sarina giggled at the way he described fighting the Corrupted. It was clear that he despised fighting them, but then again, who would want to? The Prince definitely carried more courage than she ever could.
"I gave his ass a thorough, and very deserving, beating." the Prince stated proudly.
"Well he's evil," she began, "Of course he deserved to be put back where he belongs."
"I meant I deserved to put him back where he belongs after everything he put me through during confrontations." the Prince corrected her.
"Oh, well, that too." she chuckled.
"After healing The Vale, we moved on to Royal Palace."
"Did you, by chance, try to find the royal room of Princess Elika?" Sarina teased.
The Prince scoffed, "Hey, I'm more of a gentleman than that," he stated in defense, "I would never enter such a place without being invited." he finalized with a smirk upon his lips.
"Indeed, a gentleman," she stated playfully and sarcastically.
"This is where I was introduced to the Concubine," he grimaced.
"Oh, even better." the Princess mocked playfully.
"God, no." he frowned, "I wanted to turn away the moment I met her. I can't believe Ahriman was trapped with her for a thousand years!"
"Hmm...let's see," Sarina started, "The Concubine was once a very beautiful and intelligent woman, capable of even controlling politics within the courts. However, she knew that her true power rested within manipulating men and saw this as her only route to success, riches and court influences. When she became involved with a very powerful man, she had managed to attract the attention of another woman within the court that had great power as well. The other woman had hired someone to maim the Concubine so that she may be left without a way to acquire any more power within the court with her influence of beauty. In turn, the Concubine sought and plead with Ahriman that she may have the ability to cast illusions, which would allow her to become anyone she desired. Ahriman gave this to her in return that she give her soul to the God of Darkness. However, her power never lasted very long, and would be forced to leave her lover every night, starting the process of seduction over again every time. The more men she seduced, the further she strayed from herself until finally, she'd forgotten completely who she was, being left only with the feelings of loss, lust and rejection."
"I don't feel sorry for her at all," the Prince scowled.
Sarina was surprised at his statement, "Well, why not? Yes, she was manipulative, but she was still a woman that could feel love and pain."
"The illusions, the mind twisting...she was never beautiful to me. She never will be."
"Mind twisting?" the Princess enquired.
"The things she said," the Prince began to explain, "Giving false promises of fulfilling our dreams and desires, trying to drive a wedge between Elika and I," he shook his head, "and while I would never intentionally harm a woman, she deserved it and needed to leave us the hell alone." he finished.
"I see." Sarina listened.
"Well, I think I've talked myself into exhaustion," the Prince spoke, "Perhaps I'll tell you the rest tomorrow."
"Perhaps?" the Princess asked, "You have to tell me the rest of the story! You can't just leave it like that."
"You like it that much?" he asked.
"I do," she smiled, "And I want to hear about how you defeated the God of Darkness."