The day Liran was born was the happiest day of his father's life. From the moment he came into the world, wailing and thrashing, Sidonai's heart swelled with pride. This little creature was his own, and he and Terrance were all this small boy had. Sidonai would always remember the immediate bond that sparked between him and his child the moment he was first placed into his arms. Sidonai adored his son. Liran was everything he had ever wished for. He looked into the child's shimmering golden eyes and knew exactly what he was.

Liran. My joy, my song.

The day Liran was born would forever be known as a dark day in his country's history. Citizens and noblemen stood outside the palace walls, flooding the streets of Achava, each waiting to be the first to catch a glimpse of the new prince. Gossip began to flow through the crowd, infecting each ear as it traveled. The word was the old palace steward had claimed that the child wasn't an incubus. That instead, he boasted the golden eyes of a wrath demon. The die-hard nationalists began to panic. Was this the end of their kingdom? How was a wrath demon going to rule the Kingdom of Lust? Was this a setup? An infiltration? In the city square, riots arose that night, unbeknownst to the royal family, who sat in their room, blissfully unaware. From the first few moments of being alive, Liran knew exactly what he was.

A Brakhavan cur. Unwanted. A monster.

Even now at fifteen years of age, Liran felt the effects of the night of his birth. He knew he wasn't like the other Akri'qarian children. It was plain to see. His golden eyes were what set him apart. Anyone could look at him and know everything, where his family was from, his vices. He was an open book for anyone to look at and judge. He was a lonely child, never having any friends, always being teased. Even after starting at a prestigious finishing school in Achava, no one would get close to him. They saw his eyes and they fled. Liran hated his eyes, he hated who he was. He was a monster. A freak. Someone who didn't belong.

Classes had ended for the day, most young incubi and succubi would head back to their dormitories, but Liran returned home. He was the prince, and there was no way his father would let him out of his sight. Liran always loathed going home. He preferred to blend in with the crowd, sneak outside the academy walls undetected. But that was never the case. He always had an escort, a personal guard, and extra guards on standby. There was no way he could blend in at this point. Gathering his bag of books, the young prince quickly scurried across campus, hoping to avoid any and all contact with the others. So far, so good. He was nearing the gate, he could see the carriage waiting for him. Just a little further.

"Oi, there's the princey!" a voice called from behind him.

Fuck…

Liran froze in place, not knowing what to do. If he ran, he'd look like a coward. Who would take him seriously if he was branded a coward? But what the hell was going to happen if he stayed? Before he could take another step forward, he was surrounded by a group of older boys.

"Am I supposed to know who you are?" Liran spat, narrowing his sharp, golden glare at the boy, who appeared to be the little gang's leader.

"No, but I'll make sure you remember me next time," the boy smirked, chuckling to his cronies. "My name is Japhet. My friends and I were wondering why you weren't reporting to your dormitory."

"I don't live here," the prince explained, starting to shift uncomfortably. "I live at home, with my parents."

"Ah, your home. The palace. And…why's that?"

"…. What do you mean?"

"What? Just because you're the prince you're too good for this?" Japhet's tone soon changed, from playfully sly to condescending and intimidating. "So, half-breeds like you get to do whatever they please, but we can't enjoy the same luxury?"

Liran could feel the circle closing in on him. Suddenly there was no way he could escape them. He was trapped. "I-I don't understand…I-I'm not doing anything."

Japhet's face fell into a nasty scowl, reaching out to grab the smaller boy's lapel. "Don't act like an idiot. Your kind has done nothing but destroy this place. It's because of you people that a war broke out, it's because of you people that my father was killed in battle! Now you waltz in here and get special treatment because you're some sort of little prince?! I bet you're no worse than them. Little mutant shit…The fuck kind of king is your father? If I were him, I would've drowned you in the bathtub before you even had the chance to—"

But Japhet never got to finish. All that was heard instead was the sound of a fist pounding on flesh and a body toppling over. The assailant came as a surprise to everyone there. Liran had punched Japhet in the jaw. "Shut up! Shut the fuck up! I didn't ask to be this way! I didn't kill your father! Leave me the fuck alone!" Despite Japhet being on the ground, Liran practically jumped on top of him, repeatedly punching him in the face, only stopping when he felt a pair of hands grab him. "Get off me!" He thrashed and squirmed, gaining some semblance of strength in his rage.

But before he knew it, he was pulled off the boy completely. Was it one of Japhet's thugs? Were they going to beat him too? The boy continued to struggle, until he heard a familiar voice. "They send you to school for what, three days, and you're already beating people? That's new for you."

Liran's eyes darted upwards, feeling a small rush of relief over him. It was Holika, one of his father's soldiers, part of their family. She had been the one assigned to take him home from the academy each day. But his relief was short-lived once he realized she had seen the entire encounter. Sighing he stood up, pulling himself from her. "I didn't need your help."

"And I didn't need you shitting all over the marchioness' son, but here we are. Let's go." She didn't even wait for a response. She grabbed the boy's hand and dragged him out of the courtyard.

As they were leaving, Liran saw a bloodied Japhet sit up from the ground, snarling.

"You really are a Brakhavan mongrel."

Holika didn't pause a single moment, she continued walking until they were in the carriage. The ride was mostly silent, Holika sitting on one end and the prince, leaning against the window. After a few moments, the warrior decided enough was enough, and finally spoke.

"So….are you going to tell me what that was about?"

Liran shifted slightly, bringing his knees up to his chest. "It was nothing."

"You were on top of him and beating him to a pulp. I don't think that was nothing."

"Khala, just leave it." He fell silent once more, watching the tiny villages of the Achavan outskirts pass by. He wondered how much would be different if he could live like them. "….He was talking shit about baba. I just got angry."

"So, you punched him."

"What the hell was I supposed to do? I couldn't just let him talk about me like that. He told me that baba should've killed me. What the hell would you do in that situation, khala?"

Holika sighed, her face falling into a more solemn expression. So that's how it still was. Just the same as always. "I would've done the same. But…you know I still have to tell your fathers."

"Just do it. I don't care anymore…" The prince curled up against the window, watching the city of Achava roll past them. Every single one of them out there was the same, they were like Japhet. And perhaps they were right.

Perhaps he was a mongrel after all.