The kingdom is a lovely place, if you are there for its lush landscape. The large city and castle had been built a valley, surrounded by protective mountains and tall forests. There was one singular crack in the mountains, where the trade and new starry-eyed travelers (and citizens) flowed in. The valley was shaped much like an oval, with a single slit where the previously mentioned crack was. The blessed place was large. Very large. Miles upon miles in length, really.
One's valley was like a measure. The closer you were to the entrance, the poorer you were. Farmers, ranchers, and slaves were the first sight. But the distance, pushed up against the opposite end of the protective range, was a castle. It was originally built into the ground, but as time went on, it expanded outwards onto the mountains surface like vines in its architecture. No matter where you were in the lush ravine, you were always able to see the castle.
To be nearby the castle meant you were in good means with The King or his advisor. His simple look upon a noble, then a grimace, could decide whether the person in question were fit to live a lavish lifestyle. A frown from the king was like a large stab wound to reputation. Reputation, to a noble, meant everything. It could be the difference between keeping your nose high, or being thrust down towards the common folk.
The King himself was a well tempered man, but he was not exactly a king that one would call kind. Yes, he was calm, collected, his actions were valorous and well received by the public when it came to domestic policy.. He had one, horrible flaw. He lusted for material wealth. He lusted for grand palaces, for gold, for everything he did not already have. He was self controlled in a sense that he would not send out armies to go plunder things, however.
This was only because every single year, there was a new war. There was no need to send soldiers out to plunder when they were doing enough stealing during war as is. The wars were always the same. The neighboring kingdoms desired one thing, and one thing only. A majestic creature that The King had discovered, hidden in the valley long before any house or farm was built there.
The name itself brought upon why it was so treasured. Star Dream, named after The Stars themselves, was a creature of amazing intellect and magic. It could answer any question put before it with extreme accuracy. It could heal any wound, cure any disease, and create anything one so asked it to create. The holiness of the creature was one reason it was so desired by neighbors, but the rest of the attributes made such neighbors turn to desperate measure to attain it.
This is why The King always had guard at every post, all hours of the day. Not even his own citizens, in his eyes, were unlikely to try to take his so saught-after creature from his hardened grasp. Star Dream itself had only the most prestigious soldiers guarding its quarters, and some less prestigious patrolling around it. The King was paranoid to lose the white bodied prophet for good reason.
Mullistus was one of the most prestigious of the prestige. He lived through more battles than any one soldier should, and he could live through many more. He was the perfect soldier, the most loyal of loyal. He refused to become captain despite this, and any promotion past his current was too high of a command than one simple man such as he deserved.
Despite his ranking, he were treated as if he were akin to The King's personal guard. Not a single person in the kingdom did not know his name from his conquests. He did enjoy what being a public servant entailed, he lived for the happy smiles of citizens, young and old alike. It did, however, take him a bit to get used to the smiles of those who held.. Less desirable attributes.
It was not as if these people were ugly in any regard. No, no they were not ugly. He wasn't even the same species as them, he had no right to go calling any Batamon ugly when he was just but a Waddle Dee (a specific sub species of Waddle Dee, even). But he had spent enough time around the normal Batamon to know that the ones with wings and horns were inferior to those who didn't.
It was odd to think that way, as those with horns could cast magic and those with wings could fly. They were useful, in some sense. They were useful in battle, in working. However, they were not welcomed much anywhere else. Mullistus didn't want to form any opinions on what the ethnic politics were all about. He tried to see all sides as equal, but that was hard to do when there were so many books published on why those with 'demonic features' were lesser. There was even new science about it.
It was really a onesided fight, as most with the features were illiterate and couldn't write. That ability was held by those who could afford schooling, which was held by the upper and some of the more wealthy middle class. Mullistus had managed to go to school after gaining The King's rare favor, and was allowed to go for free. It was the reason he could speak Batamon, while other Waddle Dees could only communicate in squeaks or nonverbal nods. He was a very odd sort, as noblemen approached him about parties or get togethers, despite his lower social and monetary status. The King liked him, thus, everyone else valued him as well.
Waddle Dees weren't exactly treated too different from Batamon. They were seen as a lower class by default due to species. Some Waddle Dees worked on farms, others in shops, some as janitors. However, none, absolutely none were in the military. None were guards. Except for Mullistus, of course. Waddle Dees weren't seen as fit for combat, as they were fragile and couldn't handle a single punch.
He, however, was born with a body of steel. He was apart of a rare and new sub-species, one which had no name until he appeared. Tough Waddle Dee. Tough as armor's metal, Mullistus could take a beating and not even fall over. This made him fit for duty. This made him the most well known soldier in the kingdom. This is what earned The King's rare smile and generosity.
Mullistus was happy with where he was. Though, he had trudged deeper into adulthood every day. He had no family of his own to speak of. His mother and father had him when they were old, so they left him the house to himself when they eventually departed to join The Stars from age. But, as he thought of himself and his status, he couldn't help but feel.. Alone.
Watching citizens pass from his post outside the castle's walls only made him feel lonelier. Yes, he had flings when the time came around, and brothels were more than common on the poorer parts of the city, but it always left him feeling empty after the moments had passed. Mullistus simply just wanted someone. Not in a sense of lust, but just.. Someone.
Looking at nobles pass, they were in couples. That, or it was just men. The women who went outdoors were always, always accompanied by their husbands or suitors or whatevers. He had no interest in men (at least not for romantic purposes), and to see no women available made his heart sink. It was always like this. His shift outside the walls started with optimism, then ended with a sense of terrible heartache and longing.
Perhaps he would see Star Dream about his problems. No, he would not ask such selfish things of it. He would just pray to the creature's namestake instead. To The Stars himself. He closed his eyes, an arm reaching lightly to his temples as he prayed internally. He prayed, he prayed to be freed of his desolation and isolation. He prayed to find love.
As soon as he was finished his prayer, he opened his eyes. Just beyond him, he caught a glimpse of someone in the midst of the couples that adorned the streets. A Batamon of long, silver hair, who wore flowers of white as her crown. A body of pink, and shoes of red. Her eyes of spring leaves after the first rainfall. With just that, he was smitten, and she threatened to disappear from his line of sight and into another street. He ran from his post, into the road.
The Stars had answered his prayer. He dashed, madly, through nobles who could barely get out of his way. He weaved through the expensively dressed crowds, through men who wore their wealth to be displayed, and women who were dressed like trophies.
He wished to call out to her, to tell her to stop where she was. The words couldn't manage themselves. This did not manage to make itself much of a problem, as he finally caught the beauty by her hand. As soon as he had hold of her hand, he had lost all semblance of language. Time froze, and she turned her ethereal gaze towards him.
Her gaze was as comforting as the most expensive silk money could buy. She was surprised, yes, but that dissolved into a face of a delicate smile. She irradiated with something Mullistus couldn't describe, and the air around him grew comforting. It's like he had left the kingdom to join The Stars in eternal, promised blessed ease.
"I-I.." He shook, taking his hand away from hers, "My apologies, my lady.. Your beauty simply took me from my post, and your elegance had left me without words. You are simply so radiant, I had to go to you."
Her smile stayed simple, and comforted him more in his speech. He was flushed, he realized. Well, at least it showed how honest he was with his comments.
"You are quite the flatterer, sir Mullistus.. Your words are unexpected from someone of such high honor. Thank you."
She nodded. He thought, on his feet.
"My lady, would it be above me to ask for your name, lest you haunt my thoughts, nameless, for the rest of my unworthy life? And what might you be doing here that I have not been graced by you before?"
His eyes were simply sparkling right now. He was totally enraptured in her presence. She was like the very sun itself, beautiful and bright. Blinding him to everything else around him except for herself.
"Niteō, and I am but commonfolk, sir. I am not a lady of wealth or nobility, I am simply here to supply flowers for a duke's marriage late tomorrow morn. I am off back to the shop to get more."
She looked as if she expected this to have him taken aback in disgust. It was like she were guilty because of her working class stature, that she expected him to shun her because of it.
"Ah, a beautiful work for a beautiful woman. You will not mind if I accompany you, then?"
"Would it not besmirch your name to be seen with someone such as I?"
"If it is a crime to walk beside and adore a goddess, then I will willingly shout myself guilty."
Niteō, before Mullistus had met her, was bound to be wedded off to some lucky blacksmith who made his fortunes through crafting gold into trinkets and emblems for travelers. She had never met the blacksmith before, and when her parents (a horned Batamon and a normal Batamon) had heard of someone like Mullistus taking interest in her, they nearly had heart attacks. Cancelling and disregarding the previous suitor, her parents gave Mullistus their blessings and their daughter's hand. They asked for a marriage as soon as possible, and Mullistus denied them that immediate dream.
Marriage, for Batamon, was a purely political thing. Love came secondary for couples, this much he knew. He heard of it from his brothers in arms, how they complained about their wives and how they wished they had gotten someone they actually preferred. For Waddle Dees, there was no such thing as marriage in the first place. For Mullistus, he felt like the woman he adored deserved more than just a sudden marrying. He wanted to make sure she had loved him as much as he did. He was oddly sentimental about it, too.
So, for the past months, he visited her and took her out to places as if they were married. He took her to the higher places of society, where he greeted her to his friends of high status. He bought her things she never thought she would be able to afford, and eat like the wife of an emperor. He was just as wealthy as she, but to spend the money on her smile rather than his own made him feel more complete than anything in the past had.
He finally had reason to attend the parties he had been invited to. He'd bring her with him, of course. She never mentioned her status as a commoner, so no sideways glances were thrown. Her beauty was enough to deter anyone from thinking she did not belong amongst the richest of rich. She enjoyed the parties, talking with other women of respect was one of her consistent highlights, other than the fact she spent time with him.
The Batamon men would tell him what a fantastic catch he had managed, how she was such a pure piece of eyecandy that they would willingly trade in fortunes for her delicate gloved hand. He shook off such ideas with forced laughs and glances to the side. Whenever he'd admit to not have yet having her hand, they'd astonish and go ghastly, asking him what he thought he was doing, waiting so long.
It was so strange, to gain the smiles of nobles and the poor alike at his relationship. No one would dare to frown at someone The King had smiled upon, he supposed. Not even at such a controversial thing as his cross-species relationship was. Yes, some of the more rough of the poor would give him sideways glances, but never direct heckles or anything. The jealous glances of already married Batamon women and men alike was enough to fuel his pride and make him forget about the strange stares he would get every once in a while.
Now, after pondering for what was basically an eternity compared to everyone else, he planned to propose to her. Yes, propose. Not force her to marry, she could say no if she so desired. It had been a month since they met, and he felt like it was finally time to ask her about it. Marriage was the end goal here, and the two both knew it from the very start. She had even moved in with him after her parents gave him their blessings.
It was after his morning prayers and readings of holy manuscripts that he sat and truly, really thought about today being the day he asked her. Sitting on the wooden chair, he'd glance into the kitchen that the lounge could see directly into. She knew how to cook, as all women did, and she had been preparing breakfast. Though, something was strange about her. She didn't look as serene or undisturbed as she usually did.
"Something troubles you?"
He questioned, Niteō looking from her nearly prepared food to him. Her eyes were lined with an unnatural emotion that he hoped would never grace her. She was uncertain, maybe even slightly fearful. Not of him, no, but of something else. At least, that is what he hoped. She looked back down at the food, continuing her work solemnly.
"Please, will you tell me?"
Mullistus continued. To see her like this was indescribable, and not in a good way. She let a breathless sigh escape from her as she stopped her making of breakfast, then crossed to him into the lounge. She brushed a petal from her crown out of her face slightly, keeping her gaze on the floor as she sat across from him. She looked.. Guilty.
"I have concealed something from you. If you choose not to love me after I tell you, I will be more than understanding."
Oh, those words could mean a thousand things. He did not fear if she were not a virgin maiden, being of Waddle Dee, he didn't care much for concepts such as that— despite his avid following of The Stars and their laws. Mullistus let his expression be soft, as to show his inability to feel contempt towards her.
"Whatever it is, my lady, I am to assure you that my love will not falter. No matter what you may utter that you think will undermine it."
Niteō gained eyecontact with him, looking slightly more confident. She moved one of her silver hairs back into place before giving him an obviously forced smile. Her hair moved slightly, as if it were its own appendage.
"Then allow me to shake the foundations of it before you continue to love me."
With that, her hair split and stretched out widely. No, no, that was not hair. In fact, they were silver wings. Wings not of demon-like appearance, but of a bird's. At least, that's what he thought. The feathers were so precisely cut and torn to the point where it resembled long strings. He could not help himself but gasp at the sight.
The shoulders of Niteō's wings had been hidden cleanly underneath the crown she wore, disguised more by the flowers that adorned it. It even helped with her overall illusion. How she had managed to keep everyone, including him, thinking that she had silver locks this entire time was astonishing. He couldn't help but feel slightly sick at the sight. He still loved her, yes, and he would continue to love her despite this revelation. Winged Batamon were not treated nicely, much less ones with feathers. That is why they hid their wings from public view, or disguised them as Niteō did.
But really, at this point, was there anything that could possibly make the two's relationship any more strange or controversial?
"My lady.. It is an astonishing feature, yes, but it changes nothing."
Her wings folded to a more comfortable position, her smile gracing her once more. She nodded, about to leave back to the kitchen to finish breakfast. Now was the perfect time. Yes, now was perfect.
"It is of so little effect to me that, my lady, I propose you a question. Through this past month, I have hoped our feelings have become mutual on such a thing. Will you take my hand and become my wife?"
Niteō gasped, going wide-eyed before those same eyes went misty. Her smile became jagged, and she could not contain herself from leaping and tackling him with hollers of joy. She essentially knocked him out of the chair, and the two went crashing to the wooden floor below. What he wouldn't give to have a mouth so that way he could press lips onto hers.
Rather, she kissed all over his face, and he laughed huskily.
"There would be no higher pleasure, my love."
She finally spoke after deciding his face had been littered with enough of her pecking.