King Ogun watched over his kingdom with concern. He commanded lands as far east as the Trident Sea and as far west as the Velcorn Mountains. His lands were known for their splendor and beauty. But he was growing old and worried his son cared more for adventuring than ruling.
“I will host a festival and invite all the neighboring kingdoms to find you a wife who can help you rule when I’m gone,” King Ogun said to his son, Ioan.
The most splendid and valuable part of Ogun’s kingdom were the lakes surrounding his castle, which were warmed by the ground underneath and sought for their rejuvenating powers. Lords and ladies traveled far to sample the unique waters, bringing wealth and prosperity to the kingdom.
But within his borders dwelled the Voador, gigantic beasts with skin that sparkled like the surface of the crystal sea. Their whiskers grew as long as galleons and their beards hung low enough to plow the fields. On their backs were two mast-like wings that spread wide as the moon eclipsing the sun.
The Voador also enjoyed the lakes. They loved the heat, for their bodies lacked feather or fur. Their magic would leave them shivering and pale when they cast even the simplest spell. When the Voador bathed, which was often, the water could be used for nothing else.
The festival was to be the grandest event, with feasts and jousts and baths to refresh the body and spirit. Invitations were sent to every kingdom, carried by experienced messengers riding the fastest horses. Yet with the festival days away, Ogun had not heard a single reply.
“Father, maybe it’s for the best,” Ioan said. “I do not wish to marry, as there is still much adventuring to be done.”
“The time for adventuring is past,” Ogun said. “It is time you learned to rule.”
The day of the festival arrived, and while thousands of nobles and their retinues were expected, fewer than a hundred were in attendance, and none brought maidens eligible to marry a prince.
In his council chambers, Ogun complained to the general of his army. “These Voador have ruined our festival. They feed on our livestock, destroy our forests, and scare away traders. My son remains unmarried for no maiden will cross our borders for fear of these terrible beasts.”
Ioan rose from his seat beside his father. “Let me fight them, and I will win glory for our kingdom.”
The general stepped forward and bowed. “I fear there is no army here or beyond the mountains that can defeat creatures such as these. Their might is too strong.”
“That would mean more glory for he who triumphs,” Ioan said, grasping the hilt of his sword.
The general bowed deeper. “My king, you are wise and gracious. Surely you can negotiate a peaceful arrangement with these beasts, such that war can be avoided.”
Ogun stroked his long, white beard. He believed his general spoke the truth.
The next day, the king rode to the largest lake, followed by a fleet of bannermen carrying flags, gifts, and other symbols of peace.
There rested the most majestic of the Voador, one with scales as reflective and colorful as the crisp water she bathed in. Her eyes flickered as the king approached.
“Your Grace,” King Ogun called from the bank.
“Your Majesty.” Evethe the Voador bowed her ox-sized head, dipping her whiskers into the water. Her voice sounded like a chorus of flutes. “It has been a long time since last you visited.”
“Are you enjoying the comfort of my waters?” Ogun extended his hand, a speck before the creature.
“No better way to spend an afternoon.” Evethe stretched her body side to side, splashing gallons of valuable liquid onto the grass. The king cringed.
“You honor us with your visits,” he said, “though I worry what the people must think.”
“The people? Do they not love us?” Evethe gazed toward the village, raising her neck high above the trees surrounding them.
“That they do, your grace.” Ogun fumbled his lips, hoping his words didn’t anger her. “You are so grand and deserve so much, but the people spend their time admiring you instead of focusing on their work.”
“Your Majesty, I had no idea our presence caused such vexation.” Evethe scratched her chin with talons of diamond-shaped boulders. “Your waters are so warm and pleasing. Your people have been so welcoming, sharing their livestock with us. Such good people. You will see a change tomorrow, so I swear it.”
King Ogun bowed to the leader of the Voador and returned to his castle, proud at how easily he’d found agreement.