There once was a peaceful kingdom, full of joyous people who's main concern was their own entertainment. Every form of art was accepted; performances, music, paintings, sculptures, and even people themselves. A form of art was this young man in particular, looking as if he was perfectly molded to be a sitter for every expensive painting that lined the walls of a mansion. He was rumored to be a young Adonis among men, gracing their own existence with a face as pretty as his. The most famous poets compared him to every flower imaginable; delicate like a rose petal, royal like an azalea, elegant like the hanging branches of a laburnum.
Musicians dedicated each song to him, swearing their loyalty to him with each note they sung or produced. The most pleasant chimes and tunes were in the image of him.
Artists and sculptors alike dreamed of him sitting in front of them to model art itself. However, some would argue that no brush stroke could capture the perfect slope of his cupid's bow or the smoothness of his skin, nor the gentle gleam in his eyes that most assume was there. But artists that were wise enough to have a rebuttal-most were-would argue that they weren't trying to capture his beauty. They were trying to capture feeling instead; whether it be the feeling of the sitter or the feeling of the artist. A proclamation of envy, the ugly truth of jealousy, a confession of love. He knew all of these feelings, but only from others directed at himself.
But not everyone was as fond of him as others. He learned that with beauty, came enemies. Despite this, all of his enemies admired him still. Whether it be from ill-will or innocent admiration, the whispers behind secretive hands while he passed made him blossom. No matter the words spoken whether it be flattery or insult, he blossomed. There weren't many insults to go around though, considering he had tricked them without even meaning to. Any words mentioned of him had his ego flourishing.
They were always fond words, even if they weren't true. They made him out to be an angel walking amongst earthly beings. The gentlest gaze like the feathers to the wings he was without. A soft smile that complimented his delicate features, his eyes creasing joyously at the corners. That wasn't the case, though. There is only so much on the surface, and not to mention what people choose to show you. Humans know this well about each other, but he seemed to be an exception.
"Oh, he would never!" One man cried out, a hand over his heart as if just the mention of the young man had his heart almost leaping out of his chest.
"He's so kind," Shrieked another, a woman who has never met him.
They only saw him on the surface, and only on the surface was a pleasant face. They have never got a glimpse of what was underneath, which was anything but pleasant. This young man was vile, vain, and it was without a doubt a weakness. He only held himself in the highest respects, not a hint of compassion or romance within him if it didn't benefit himself and only himself. This young man was a modern Narcissus; perhaps more than he was an Adonis. A gentle shine was to his eyes only because he could see his reflection in the opposite person's eyes. His reflection smiled back at him, and he felt overjoyed. Obviously, the people of this kingdom misinterpreted his twisted nature and complimented him instead. Gossip began to swirl around, and it reached even the ears of royalty.
The Crown Prince heard of this commoner, a mysterious beauty as far as he knew and truly cared to know. Burning jealousy plagued his chest over the thought of his people fawning over someone more than the soon to be ruler of their beloved country. Taken by such an ugly emotion, he took himself to his study and sat down with quill and ink to forge a plan to soon reach this mysterious beauty.
It didn't take long with the Prince's wits on hand. He knew this young man's kind well despite never truly meeting him. From what he could gather and the gossip that reached him, it was painfully obvious the mindset of a man such as this. The Prince wouldn't even have to leave the comfort of his own study for his plan to work as he called over a servant and sent the letter away to be sent to the man whose beauty would soon be no more.
The letter didn't take long at all to arrive to the young man, seeing as it was sent by royalty itself. He knew right away it was royalty from the servant that approached him and the wax seal with the country's crest, specifically being the marking of the Prince's ring. He read the letter then and there, his heart fluttering in his chest with excitement. It was an invitation, and certainly a flattering one at that:
'Dear to whom this hopefully reaches,
I have heard about you from all over, and my curiosity seems to have gotten the best of me. After hearing so much of you, I figured I must see you. It seems only fit that a beauty such as yourself meets with a Prince. I would most certainly love to meet today; we can meet at the forest to the east far in the back where the silver river runs. I plan to meet you alone. Please do not keep me waiting, for I am not sure how much longer I can wait without meeting you.'
The young man's heart was practically bursting out of his chest at this point as he read over the letter multiple times. Studying his elegantly long letters and the way they curled at the ends, he was certain of his nobility. With the fact he was dealing with a noble in mind, nasty ideas took over his thoughts as he left at once, stuffing the letter into his inside coat pocket to ensure it's safety. While walking to the very forest the letter mentioned, he began to weave a plan that consisted of possibly killing the Prince and taking his place. Being a Prince must give you plenty of riches to gaze at on a daily, and that was the source of his motivations. He saw the Prince as a dim-witted man who would only want to marvel at his beauty much like everyone else. But little did he know, the Prince had his own plan weaved and it was already in motion.
Soon, the young man finally arrived at the silver river after traversing through the forest, stepping through trees and avoiding roots protruding from the ground. Approaching, the man looked around to see if there was any sign of a horse nearby where a Prince might stand. The coast seemed clear, which he didn't mind. He'd rather it be him being kept waiting instead of the Prince having to wait for him instead. But he was impatient, and nothing caught his attention until he got close enough to the river.
He glanced down to the still waters absent-mindedly only to pause in his movements. His eyes widened slightly at the sight of himself in the water. His reflection was clearer than any mirror he has ever come across in his lifetime. Without thinking, he dropped to his knees at the edge of the water and kneeled over the edge to peer down at himself. Eyes wide, lips slightly parted, loose strands of hair hanging from his bangs; he was enamored by his own reflection. Minutes, hours, days, months- Any amount of time could have passed seeing as time felt as it if stopped for him as he stared back at himself, completely taken and breathless. If the Prince even stopped by, he didn't notice. If anyone shouted his name towards him, he wasn't aware. If the sun already sunk from the sky, even the moon could illuminate his features so he could see himself just the same.
His peace was disturbed though as a ripple ran across the water, altering his image for a second. The water stilled, and his expression softened into a light smile as he looked to himself and his reflection returned his smile. He felt oddly warm, but that didn't last long as cold fright ran through his veins as if to freeze his blood.
The water was disturbed once again only to still. A second passed; a breath's second.
His reflection altered.
The young man wasn't even given time to react as he looked down to a still reflection moments ago only for it now to spring to life, raising from the water. Cold, ice hands clamped around his throat and pulled him towards the water as if to pull him below. Water surrounded him and the warmth he felt was nowhere to be found. The river was endless, a nonexistence bottom and he continued to sink, further and further. The fear from before was gone as well when he was on the surface. Instead of fear, sadness took it's place.
He wasn't scared of dying, of course not. Death seemed uncertain despite him sinking further and further away from the surface; he was saddened because his reflection was gone. He highly doubted mirrors were at the bottom of this river, if there even was a bottom. He would never look at himself ever again, and that was a fate worse than death. Perhaps he will forget what he looked like, and that felt like death itself. A cold, iron grip crushed at his chest. It was his breaking heart, or the water filling his lungs, reaching it's limit.
He lived in the river from now on, endlessly drifting. Everyone among the surface slowly forgot about him, his name fading from conversation. He was plagued with an eternity of sadness as he stayed in the cold waters, gone and forgotten. That day, the beloved young man died.