~In the Regin of the Human King, Year 501. sumra

He awoke much the same as he had these past nine years, to the gasping jolt of sudden awareness, leaving his dreams as they careened ahead at an unrelenting pace. He could still feel the burn of the wind as it ripped passed his face, his fingers going numb from the cold, and the constant sense of breathlessness that came from soaring so high above the clouds. Jaehaerys was far away, his presence a mere warm glow at the corner of his mind, but Somnus made no effort to reestablish their bond, content to lay upon the earth as he chased those fleeing sensations of primal joy and strength. The wyvern had always been more than willing to share his wanderings in the intimacy of the night, when slumber let his walls come crumbling down. It had been three weeks since they had last flown together, since the dragon had vanished into the embers of the horizon, and faded from sight. There were times when the man would have been more than happy to go with him, the need burgeoning to life more often with each passing day. But the King had been careful in monitoring his family, always aware of where they were, who they spoke with, and what activities drew their intrigue. His father was more than aware that should he gain he opportunity, Somnus would likely fall through his grasp, and never be seen again. 

Instead, it was the second born who found himself accompanying the King to court, standing before his throne as the people of Kastali City came to plead their cases; ownership of land long lost to the Fae King, seeking boons for damages made to property, scuffles amongst families by so and so slighted by such and suchs nephew, damaging their daughters prospects of marriage. He had been surprised, in the beginning, to see that the King open his court to the people once per fortnight, but soon came to see its ploy in painting the picture of a benevolent ruler; a true upgrade from the one who even now, few would mutter their name as if the Runecrest were some forbidden taboo. Perhaps they were. For their name was now that of a martyr, a rallying cry to the fae who now found themselves dredged low for the crimes of their race. Humans seemed to forget what it felt like to be lesser, to hold the crushing weight of another above their heads, making all the decisions for their fate with no freedom or courage to reach for more. The roles reversed, yet it seemed, no one could understand what this meant. 

If one usurping had succeeded; what was another?

Somnus couldn't find it in himself to truly pity the fae. They had been the enemy but six months prior. For hundreds of years they had ruled, and for hundreds of years, there had been little in the means of equality. Yes, man had 'alliances' with the fairfolk, yet, it was always a matter of following rather than mutual respect. Change had been necessary. He remembered their faces, fae who had come before the King, stripped of everything they owned by humans. Once proud nobles, fallen to little more than urchins. Back and forth the debate had gone, the gallery quiet in stifling intrigue. It had drawn more than a few whispers, when the Human King had chosen to return the fae their home, their station, and not a fortnight later, that very fae who had seemed a wraith of past glories, stood amongst the congregation. It was all a political ploy, Somnus was well aware. Drekhjarta was a land of human and fae; they could not afford to isolate a third of the populace.

Leaning up onto his elbow, the prince cast his eyes out amongst the sea of glazed green and gold, shining in swaying ripples with each pass of the lethargic wind. He hadn't been seen the endless sea of grass since two ventri past, when he had sailed across its vastness upon dragon back. It had seemed smaller from above, crossing in hours with Jaehaerys taking them far above, to the violent currents above the clouds. Somnus had been transversing its immensity for two days now, when he had left behind the borders of Kastalis' farmlands for the plains of Vestri. When he had announced his reasoning, more than a few of the merchants in the city had clamored at the task of pairing a royal to one of their steeds, though one lady had been brazen enough to ask why a Dragonlord would need such a thing. 

'Surely your dragon could carry you wherever you wish to go. What could a horse possibly possess that can stand against the superior prowess of a dragon?' Her voice was soft and airy, with blushing cheeks and red lips, her hair coiled and masterfully tamed into a halo of golden curls. She, like many of the women of the court, had found him simply novel, giggling together as they took in the stock of the 'feral prince.' It hadn't been the first time she had approached him, yet, he so wished she was meek enough to watch from afar. 

Looking to her, a single face amongst the audience who were always present when he sought a word with the king, Somnus allowed a slow, edged smile to touch his lips. “My dragon comes and goes as he pleases. He is not some animal to throw into the barn and saddle up whenever the fancy strikes me.” And wasn't that a terrible thought, a reminder of the intellect that existed behind those predatorial eyes.

His grin came easier out here beyond the stifling shadow of Drekmerki, chasing that fretful embarrassment that had painted her pretty face not a moment after. Or the uneasy tension that thrummed like an overly tight string upon a harp. He had left soon after, carried upon the back of a dappled grey mare from the stables. If anything else, seeking his own horse would make the process longer, give him freedom beyond the gates that had become seemingly smaller and smaller the longer he remained. But as he stood amongst the fields, he realized that while he knew how to tame dragons, knew the motions to avoid their serpentine actions; he wasn't so learned in the practices of taming horses. He doubted they were capable of blood bonds or scathing bites of dominance. 

With his borrowed horse at his back, he had been dowsing in the sun as the herd to his left slowly moved about the slopes, their rich hues painted in rising and vanishing petals floating a water's surface. The warmth of the sun had made them settle in the shade of the small thickett along the river's edge. Perhaps while the sun was still high... They'd be tired, slower. Drawing himself up fuller, sitting in the tall grass, his fingers wound a blade of green into a tight spiral. Thinking. Watching.