|Prince Alphaeus and the Dagger of Bane
Author: ladyariande PM
Every Deth Ardan grows up hearing the story: Prince Alphaeus, he who slew a thousand dragons and died singing. But everyone knows Deth Ardans have a slight tendency to exaggerate. So what really happened to poor Alphaeus and his Dagger? A short story.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Fantasy - Words: 2,848 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 2 - Published: 08-04-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2224673
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Listen well, young ones, to a legend of one far greater than any now living today. A prince whose destiny lay parallel to th legendary Dagge of Bane whose origins are as yet shrouded in mystery.
The dagger's origins, to be clear, not the prince's whose birth record was very carefully copied by several faithful scribes.
He saved the world
Well some of it, the important parts, according to the Deth Ardans
from a dreadfully hideous peril of unimaginable proportions
Dreadful, yes; hideous, maybe; unimaginable, not really. But that's Deth Arda for you. They love poetry and as everyone knows, poetry is the gift of exaggerating beautifully. But please continue.
Ahem, it was on his sixteenth birthday that the esteemed and wise King Jasperus
He wasn't that wise, actually, but he was very nice and had clever advisors to do his wisdom for him. That's the benefit of royalty, I suppose.
This is MY story, you nameless interrupting….THING.
You're just making a mess of it and taking far too long. Allow me. Besides, I'll tell it the way it really happened whereas YOU, oh nameless italic speaking THING, will keep using long, hard to follow phrases. Our readers are getting bored already anyway and our author is wondering why she's typing us into this in the first place.
Shush, italic voice. Listen, not so young ones. This is the legend of Prince Alpheaus, he who made a lot of dumb mistakes but did them so valiantly that everyone remembered him anyway.
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Alphaeus stared at it with a potent mixture of awe and reverence. Did he dare touch it? Did he dare look upon it? Here it was: his birthright, the sign and seal of his kingship. All he would ever need to command the loyalty of his people lay cushioned in a bed of midnight silk. It was the Dagger of Bane.
"This…" he began rather breathlessly, "This is the real one, isn't it? It isn't one of the replicas kept in the Royal Museum of History and Art of Deth Arda, is it?"
"This is the true blade, my son," pronounced King Jasperus. "You are sixteen years of age now. It is time for you to inherit Deth Arda's most sacred of treasures, most prized of antiquities, most beloved of relics." He cleared his throat somberly and recited: "The Dagger of Bane shall forthwith be under the care and guardianship of Prince Alphaeus Jasperus Cardian, Royal Heir to the Deth Ardan throne. Protect it with your life and it will in turn protect you."
Alphaeus bowed low in turn and looked upon it. Summoning his deepest reserves of fortitude, he gently lifted it from its elegant resting place and examined it. It was as long as his arm with a straight, tapering blade so sharp the edge was barely discernible from the side. Perhaps, however, that was from the tears of overwhelming joy which lingered in his eyes, blurring his vision, as he regarded the perfectly shaped runes inserted on either side of the sunsteel blade. The matching golden handgrip was so well crafted it felt soft and molded to his slightly sweaty palms.
"It's magic, isn't it?" he queried when his voice returned to him.
"Indeed," replied the king after the briefest of hesitations. "Although we do not know what it does, precisely."
"Oh," How disappointing, he thought. "So what do I do with it?" he ventured. After all, he had countless daggers of his own which rivaled this one in all but its aura of mystical grandeur.
"Do?" King Jasperus was aghast. "You do not do anything with it. You guard it as all our forefathers have done before us. Good heavens, son, did you think to actually use it? Oh no, dear me, no." The king left, shaking his head in exasperration.
The crown prince sighed and returned to his quarters. The Bane seemed to lose a bit of its gleam. His younger brother Dorian was equally unimpressed with the Bane's uses, or lack thereof. Hours of speculation had left the brothers with little doubt of the Dagger's potential. Visions of power had danced before their bedazzled eyes on many a dark night, inspiring greater and grander quests for glory, the Bane held aloft in a pillar of light.
Unfortunately, these could not be realized with a magical weapons whose magical uses were none. The Bane was left in its blackwood box beside Alphaeus's bed more often than not. He even used it once (horrors!) to cut a thick wedge of cheese when his own usual knife had gone missing.
Nearly three years later, the Bane came into its own at last. It was during that year at the end of spring that there came Dragons, Plague of the North. In truth, the dragons had migrated from a famine plagued island in the southwest, but since most dragons had originated in the north before then and traditional names are notoriously hard to change, the remained so dubbed. The poetically inclined Deth Ardan historians also preferred such dreadful headings which involved "plagues" and "curses" and "pestilences" over the more mundane and paltry descriptions of dry spells on inconsequential islands.
The dragons came as a swarm, numbering, according to the Deth Ardan historians, a thousand and one. More realistic (uninspired, as Deth Ardans would claim with pity) numbered them at one hundred and twenty or so. They ravaged Ckishthorele and made their way through Metti. The Deth Ardans prepared their strategy with great care. It involved two steps. The first was to post as many lookouts as possible along the eastern shore of the channel dividing Deth Arda from Metti. As soon as the dragons were sighted heading toward them, the second step would be enacted. The Deth Ardans would cleverly hide themselves in the hundreds of caves lining the southern cliffs of their island and wait for the dragons to go away. It was foolproof, they were sure.
Two months later, the entire populace of Deth Arda had had enough of sitting underground in the dank caves. Apparently the dragons had been pleased with the similarity between their old island and Deth Arda and had resolved to settle there permanently. The Deth Ardans were not pleased. As any unfortunate and dependent populace will do, they looked to their sovereign.
King Jasperus, suffering from an acute case of indecision and a terrible head cold, looked in turn to his noble eldest son, a perfect vision of problem-solving strength and wisdom. Alphaeus, however, was as disinclined as his father to face a thousand and one (or even a hundred and twenty or so) bloodthirsty dragons.
"I knew you'd be too scared," Prince Dorian commented with condescension meant to grate an elder brother's soul.
Alphaeus emerged from the caves armed with the ceremonial Sword of Five Nations, thus named for having been given as a symbolic peace gift five times between different countries, the last being Deth Arda. He carried upon his shoulder Great Orius's Axe of the Souls, thus named because Master Craftsman Orius had been somewhat vain. Hanging from Alphaeus's back was the Illustrious Longbow of Unspeakable Fame, thus named because everyone had forgotten where it came from and the ring of sapphires and diamonds made it and its matching quiver look quite illustrious indeed.
And, naturally, on his hip was strapped the Dagger of Bane, thus named for reasons Alphaeus had yet to determine. He ventured forth on his black charger, Valiant, who termbled and grew progressively more drenched in sweat as they neared their first dragon.
Historians claim Alphaeus did not deem a mount necessary for the battle, so great was his own valor. Perhaps Alphaeus did not think it important to recount the part where his horse threw him and ran away – or the part where Alphaeus tried to follow before his path was cut off by the dragon's thirty foot, black tail.
"Thou art a trespasser and shalt forthwith meet they doom upon my noble blade's mighty edge!" Alphaeus roared. Or so the historians claim. In all honesty, he squeaked nervously about a truce, fumbled for great Orius's Axe of the Souls, and swiftly discovered how heavy the dragon's tail truly was. It lay uncomfortably across his stomach making breathing something of a chore.
Alphaeus wheezed miserably and watched the dragon eye the abandoned Axe of the Souls with disdain before swallowing it whole. Since some legends claimed that the Axe actually harbored Orius's vengeful soul, Alphaeus felt a degree of hope renewed – until the beast belched gently, yawned, and turned a basilisk eye upon Alphaeus, tongue flickering thoughtfully.
Alphaeus saw his death, grim and depressingly unheroic, approaching quickly. He determined to leave the world as any worthy royal ought – with a battle song. It made sense in Deth Arda, I assure you. As soon as the dragon's jaws opened and fangs appeared in bloody array, Alphaeus burst forth with a painfully off-key rendition of Deth Arda's National War Anthem (not to be confused with the National Peace Anthem or the National Midway Anthem, used, obviously, for those times when war or peace were in the act of being declared). As the words poured forth like so many porcelain dishes falling off a shelf, Alphaeus felt a peculiar buzzing warmth at his side. He could not see past the tail across his belly, but the heat was, in his opinion, distinctly dagger-shaped. Bane-shaped.
A moment later, he was standing on a blood-soaked meadow gazing at a very much not alive body of a dragon, its eyes still widened in draconic astonishment. Alphaeus sat on the moist ground and stared. The bloody Dagger of Bane was still pulsing faintly in his hand. He stared at it. The dragon twitched latently in death. he stared at that. Valiant reappeared on the horizon fleeing for his life, followed by the rumbling sound of many roars. Alphaeus merely stared.
It took him an impressively short twenty minutes of staring at his horse being consumed and twelve dragons arguing over which would keep the shiny saddle before he realized the truth. The magic of the Dagger of Bane was woken by singing. With this priceless knowledge, Alphaeus proceeded to dispatch of all the dragons on the island one at a time. A few managed to cower in one of the larger cliff caves, far from where the triumphant Deth Ardans emerged to praise their noble prince. Alphaeus thought it wise not to tell them which of the sacred weapons had aided him, although the missing Axe of the Souls was obviously not the one. The Dagger was to be protected after all and he feared his father's wrath if he confessed to (stars forbid!) using the Dagger of Bane.
The National Peace Anthem rang from the streets and statues of Alphaeus were quickly raised in every marketplace and every aristocrat's private garden. Bards took up the standard with heroic ballads. Historians penned book after book of all of Alphaeus's deeds, most of which he had never done, but no one much cared.
Alphaeus was, in a word, smug. Dorian sulked. Several countries sent gifts of gratitude. After a time, when the praise began to fade, Alphaeus confessed to Dorian the origin of his success. They renewed their dreams for the Dagger's potential.
That is, until Alphaeus lost it. Had it been discovered, it would even have outranked every other recorded moment in history in which a hero had said "Oops." In Alphaeus's case, a tipped sailboat in the middle of the channel on the way to a Mettise party in his honor was all it took for the dreams to sink into the abyss. Alphaeus knew his life was over. He may as well seek out the still skulking dragons and sacrifice himself for a sensational, if not heroic, death. He once again told Dorian of his unforgivable trespass. The practical younger brother supplied the solution.
"Make a new one, you idiot. Just don't tell Father. He'll die of apoplexy in two missed heartbeats."
Master Craftsman Orius the Sixteenth was summoned in the utmost secrecy. The craftsman came from a long and famous line of craftsmen and mus therefore be the very best. Tactfully witholding the information of a certain swallowed Axe of the Souls, Alphaeus put forth his request. Orius the Sixteenth was, needless to say, thrilled. He eagerly requested a copy of the runes from the previous Bane and promised to make a weapon to bring tears to the eye of any beholder.
Shortly thereafter (three weeks to be precise) the dragons gathered enough courage to reemerge and terrorize a seaside village. Alphaeus was summoned with the utmost haste. Trusting villagers lifted their dewy eyes and tearstreaked faces to the crown prince and begged for his aid. He told them he would need to meditate on the wonder of the stars for a few more days. The dagger was not ready. He pressed Orius the Sixteenth to finish it and never mind the details.
Orius the Sixteenth had not yet started it. He had planned an elaborate weapon with even more gold than the first. It seemed only fitting. But when the prince suggested that Orius's head would make a fine table centerpiece, he quickly grabbed the first blade he could find, an ugly little thing with a dull, wavy blade and badly crafted roses in the hilt. All that was needed was runes, after all. Orius began the tedious process of reproducing magical runes.
Prince Alphaeus, however, could not wait. He stormed the craftsman's shop, demanding his dagger immediately. Orius slapped on the last few runes with a wince and handed it to Alphaeus. Fortuantely, the prince was too preoccupied with choosing which of the ballads in his honor to sing when facing the dragon to actually look at the replacement. He went forth. Of the four dragons which remained on the island, he vanquished three with the Bane. It worked as before, glowing and turning him into a powerful death wielding mage.
The last dragon finally emerged, ready to wreak havoc. It was, according to the Deth Ardan historians the thousand and first dragon. Alphaeus chose his favorite ballad entitled "Alphaeus, Warrior of the Ages, Vanquisher of Dragons, Magnificently Handsome, and Clever Too" and sang as he sallied forth in all boldness to meet the Last Dragon.
The new Bane did not glow. It did not even flicker. Alphaeus looked at it for the first time, at the dull markings, sloppily applied, and felt a just wrath forming for Master Craftsman Orius the Sixteenth. However, the dragon's jaws ended any fulminating on his part forever.
Many days later, after the last dragon, exasperrated with the island of Deth Arda in general, had returned to his old home, Dorian, now crown prince of Deth Arda, returned to the place and found the new Dagger of Bane. He had promised never to breathe a word of the loss of the first to anyone and he kept his promise. Astonishingly, his son Jasperus II, a serious, duty-loving boy, did not notice anything amiss when he took it into his possession. King Dorian conscientiously removed the last part of the bequeathing recitation, leaving it at "protect this dagger with your life" for, of course, the Dagger of Bane no longer seemed reliable in protecting its wielder.
Alphaeus's legend changed little. He became the Prince Who Slew A Thousand Dragons, for, of course, the thousand and first dragon had gotten the better of him. Dorian thoughtfully added "And Died Singing" to his title in honor of what had truly happened. He himself became known as King Dorian the Wise, which was indeed a good title, because he followed King Jasperus's single wise command to the letter and never ever used the Dagger of Bane.
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Now, wasn't that a wonderful story? If you've read Destiny Child, you understand. You comprehend. You know. If you haven't, you are wondering what the other readers understand, comprehend and know. Well, there is only one way to find out, isn't there? Read Destiny Child. Experience the Dagger of Bane from another unfortunate Deth Ardan prince's point of view. You're in on the secret. Feel special?
They would have liked my version better. I used "herewith" eighty four times and "therein" sixty three times.
A/N: At one in the morning, I reserve the right to write ridiculous short stories AND indulge in a severely split personality. Don't mock. Simply leave happy reviews telling me how much you love everything I write and I won't tell my imaginary friends to attack you.