Azzle had first become aware of his destiny when he was 6.
While some children would be overwhelmed by the idea that they were going to be King, ruler of an entire nation, King Azzle had treated it like he did anything else. He'd stored it away in the back of his mind, and when he had time, gone into the garden to think.
His father, King Paztoria, gave his child a lot of freedom. Whenever he left the palace he was followed by the royal guard, however, while in the grounds he was free to roam as he pleased, unaccompanied.
And so as soon as Prince Azzle had a chance, he ran to the corner of the garden where his mother had planted a cage tree on the day that he was born. The tree had grown at the same rate as he had, and Azzle carefully parted the branches and sat in the centre. Here in the dark, surrounded by nature, Azzle would sit for hours on end, puzzling his way through whatever problems or issues he came across in life.
Where did baby Fairies came from? Why couldn't Gnomes fly? Why was everyone always so angry at his deceased grandmother?
Azzle was a solemn, quiet lad. With the green skin typical of those who were raised in Byntol, he had wide, brown eyes, and dark black hair. An unusual mix of colours, it somehow sat naturally on him and contrasted nicely with his father's dark red skin tone. Where some children would scream and throw a fit, he merely waited. Being a young prince, he would eventually almost always get what he was waiting for.
And so when he was presented with the responsibility that lay with someday ruling the country, Azzle was quite happy to puzzle it out by himself rather than go running to his father or tutors for an easy answer. Two hours later, he emerged, having thought about it at length, content within himself with the knowledge that some day, he would rule the country.
Azzle's childhood was uneventful. He didn't see his father much, as he was busy trying to get the country back into some semblance of order. His mother, however, adored him, and it was she who filled him in on what Paztoria was up to.
Though she never went into detail about what life had been like before Paztoria's reign began, Azzle was sharp enough to piece most of it together himself.
Azzle's mother was responsible for teaching him basic English, magic, the intricacies of politics, and even (when she was sure no one else was around), a little bit of math.
By the time Azzle was 18, he felt that he was ready and able to rule the country he called home.
Azzle's coming-of-age came and went, and still he was not the ruler. King Paztoria had given birth to Azzle young, and - at least compared to the previous monarch - was a much-adored ruler, so assassination attempts were few and far between. It looked like Azzle wouldn't be ruling the country for some time yet, but with the patience he had shown since he was a boy, Azzle was prepared to wait his turn.
At one point, an attempt to kidnap Azzle himself and hold him to ransom was intercepted before it could begin, and after that, Azzle's mother held him closer. Perhaps it was his teenage rebellion, ten years too late, perhaps it was a realisation that there should be more ladies in his life than his mother, or perhaps it was simply loneliness, but Prince Azzle started having an affair with one of the palace maids.
Her name was Gintel.
Prince Azzle didn't have much trouble seducing her: his black hair, brown eyes, green skin, and removed air would have made him one of the more attractive men around, but as the Prince, he was the single most eligible bachelor in the country, and probably would have been even had he looked like Degan*.
*the infamous Peedling who thought he might be more attractive after shaving himself. Many years later, even after the practice of a Peedling shaving himself to perform advanced fire magic became common, the term "Degan" is still used as an insult.
Gintel and Azzle sneaked off every time they had the chance. One day, as they were cuddling in the closet, Azzle's mother burst in. Furious, she sent for King Paztoria himself.
To Azzle's great fury, The King organised for Gintel to be sent far, far away. The scandal, they tried to explain, would be outrageous. The Fairy monarchy was only just beginning to regain its integrity. If the daily scrolls found out about this, there would be outrage, and it was best for all of Thebaz Isle if Gintel was simply never heard of again.
That night, Azzle didn't go to the cage tree as he normally did when he had a problem. He didn't display his usual patience and understanding, he didn't think things through and decide what was the simplest solution.
Instead, he killed his father.
In the morning, the guard was shocked. No one, they swore had come in or out of the palace all night. None of the magic detection charms had gone off, and if someone had snuck in, they had been quieter than a ninja, and invisible without the use of magic. The guard was baffled - they couldn't even find any trace of the weapon used.
They had no reason, of course, to look inside Prince Azzle's cage tree.
Azzle's mother was suspicious, but with no proof, she didn't want to risk another Thander by publicly accusing her son of murder. Instead she kept her mouth shut, and even when Azzle arranged to have her immediately move overseas to Earlgate, as the new Fairy Ambassador, she didn't say a word against him.
The public was shocked at the king's death, and for a few days, the scrolloids threw out theory after theory. A few suggested that Azzle was responsible, of course, but just as many theorized an elaborate murder-suicide. One said that Azzle had conclusive proof that it was his mother and had sent her away to cover it up.
Only one made any kind of connection to the servant sent away in disgrace that day to the murder, but no one paid attention to their suggestion that she'd doubled back, killed both Paztoria and Azzle, and was now disguised as the new King.
Speculation continued casually for a month before a bigger story came along: two days after being crowned, King Azzle announced that he was pregnant.
His father had been a fair man, and Azzle's good looks and calm disposition had given him a head-start as ruler; there was a brief flare of scandalous reports, but none of them wanted to risk their readership by pointing unsupported fingers at the new king.
Azzle ruled the country fairly but without passion. When he was young, he had dreamed of policies he would implement when he became ruler. Within a year of being in power, he banned all unliving creatures, removed the last of the vampire clans which had flourished under his grandmother's rule, and organised several Fairy teams dedicated to eradicating slavery.
He even grew a beard, to get rid of his casual, attractive look, in an attempt to appear more regal.
However once the wheels were in motion, he spent more time thinking of the maid that had been sent away than the country he was in charge of. He kept the country running and put the effort into raising his daughter safely, but his heart wasn't in it.
He considered trying to search for Gintel, but obligation is a ruler's ruler, and his position in life was to stay in Byntol and rule the country. His inquiries of the palace's loyal servants indicated that she had been taken away by the mermaids, and when he interviewed the mermaids, they refused to talk, insulted that they had been included in the ban against the unliving. Losing his temper for the second time in his life, he had ordered all mermaids in the country to be killed, in keeping with his new laws.
To the public, King Azzle was a dependable if predictable ruler, loved by most, and his daughter Azma was the golden child of her generation.
But at night, when he had finished ruling the country, he would tuck his daughter in and give her a kiss, leave her in the dependable hands of the bodyguard he had hand-picked, and Gintel's mother, whom he employed as a Nanny (much to her surprise).
He would go out to the garden, and he would enter the cage tree which had continued to grow at the same rate as him. He would sit in the middle, and caress the knife with which he had killed his father.
Every night, he made the same vow. When his daughter was old enough to rule, when he was confident the country could safely be left in her hands, he would take the knife which had killed his father and broken up his family.
And he would use it to join his beloved Gintel.
Fantasy city by David Revoy, licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.