Nina's Way

By Aerith's Angel

Isn’t this land a beautiful sight to behold? All green and verdant, flushed with life and the sensations of living. There are the woods to the back and the front of the wide city I live in, long fields and streams of water as cool and clear as glass running past the field and main road. The city itself is large, spread wide over solid foundations, the stone it is built of a grey marble. The people who live in it are kind and considerate, their hearts warm and friendly, even if after ages have passed, we have forgotten our wings. And for one, I regret we cannot fly anymore…


Nina blinked, turning her intense scrutiny from the lands that spread out below to the maid who stood at the door. In the maid’s hand, her apron was half wrung in desperate worry.

“What is it?” Nina asked, somewhat curtly, unable to keep a note of upset out of her voice at being interrupted. The maid ducked her head as the princess of Wyndia came in from the brisk winds that blew about the castle top, the pink drapes in her room flaring inwards. The maid, like the others, was unable to understand how Nina was a throwback to their old genetic makeup. Nina bore the white wings of Wyndians.

“It is your father, they say his sickness grows worse…”

“Father…” she murmured, and turned her eyes introspectively on her cuffs, where her slim pale hands peeked out at her. “Inform his Majesty that I shall be along shortly.”

The maid, Ellsie her name, bobbed a curtsey, wide eyed and frightened. But before she could go, Nina asked her one last thing. “Is Rei still in residence at the Palace?”

“Master Rei is with Blademaster Sorran, would you like him to be summoned to you Princess?”

“No, it’s alright. Go on now, inform the others I shall be along shortly.”

The door softly clicked shut behind the girl, sucked in by the winds outside. Nina stood, letting the wind wash over her as she thought deeply about what had passed over her recently, about the shadows of doubt she had encountered for the first time in her life.

Nina, the Princess of Wyndia, born with magic in her veins and the heiress to a legacy of their past. Also fated to be one of the few who faced a Goddess, and lived. But what had happened afterwards? She leant against one of the struts of her large four poster bed, looking at her neatly arranged room, at the deep pile carpet coloured in red. At the oaken dresser and wardrobe, the teddy bear toys from when she was a child. But she didn’t see that, not anymore. All she saw was the sands that stretched as far as the eye could see, as far as imagination went. Across those sands waited something that she was never to know. It had all seemed like such a strange dream…

…as the winds blew over her, their touch like stinging hot spots of rain. The desert was too hot at this time of mid morning, the sand superheated and when thrown in the face, burnt like hell. Rei was stood with his arms folded, Momo next to him, her face displaying annoyance. Ryu said nothing, as he turned his eyes to the north where only more sand remained.

“You can’t do this, it is madness!” Her temper was showing. Garr was dead, living the stone sleep in the remnants of Myria’s castle of what had been their future. Peco they had found no sign of. And now, Ryu was wanting to go his own way, to the north.

“There is something there…” was all he would murmur, his voice low and gentle.

“Doesn’t that just beat all…” Rei stretched, not seeming to mind the heat, as Momo jabbed him spitefully with her elbow. They had discussed this for too long now.

“Ryu, we’ll die here if we don’t decide something. Our water supplies are low, we are running out of food but all you can do is look northwards!” Nina had no space left in her for kindness, and picked up her backpack. “I’m the princess of Wyndia, I can’t die here!”

“Then don’t, go home.”

“For what…” she mumbled, settling her backpack.

“You have a responsibility. I am no longer a care of yours…” Ryu turned his face to her, his eyes their usual shining blue, his hair a deep azure. He was handsome, and with a fear that struck her heart, she knew she loved him, but also knew she would never have him. “We’ll meet again, somehow.”

“Will we?”

Rei tapped her shoulder with a couple of his fingers and she angrily turned her face to the sands, watching them shift. The thief spoke up, voice staying his usual calm, “Is that your choice?”

Ryu nodded. Nina didn’t have to look up to see it. She felt it. Her wings twitched on her back, her legacy, her foul destiny. She wanted to go with him so badly…

“Nina…” she couldn’t look up, but shifted her shoulders slightly so he knew she was listening. “I think we all learnt a lot in Caer Xahn. Be a great Queen… like I know you will be.” Ryu’s smiled warmed her blonde hair more than the rays of the unforgiving desert sun. She nodded, and looked up, eyes shining with tears… but he was already walking away, becoming a mirage of the desert heat.

“Ryu…” she whispered, as Momo trailed after Ryu. No one told the scientist to do otherwise, it was her choice, just like Nina knew in her heart she must return to Wyndia and rule… and Rei must live his life helping her. “I guess we return to Wyndia then…”

“As heroes… come on, it’s a long walk.” Rei’s hand was a comforting weight behind her. She was more than sure he knew her feelings for the Dragon Prince, but he said nothing. He didn’t need to. Together they made footprints in the sand until even they were washed over with hot, hot sand…

Nina looked up at the clock, rousing herself from her daydream and pushed off the strut. Two hours until she was officially required to visit her father, so she opened the door. She was garbed, as usual, in her red dress with the long sleeves, high boots, her short hair caught up in a small red ribbon. It was functional, anyway. The guard just beyond her door saluted her, he was old and liked to think he was an important part of the royal family’s guard. He was, Nina had grown up with this grizzled veteran as her bodyguard. Now, they were both older, he respected her and let her roam as freely as anyone could be, being royal, and she often brought him hot water bottles for his aches and pains. She winked. He nodded.

So it was with the royal Guard and Nina. They got along pretty well, she mused as she traced her steps down into the practice yard, past the official throne room, passing by the kitchens to grab some bread, a Wyndian speciality. Then, rounding the grey corner, a drape in blue rustling as she passed, she found Rei and Sarron talking shop about knives. Rei hadn’t changed much the past year or so, his hair was still long and a soft yellow, his face still unlined, always ready with a smile. Nina suspected though, that he lay awake many nights, thinking about Ryu, Teepo and his own strange heritage. That was a legacy no one would ever know. Sarron caught sight of her past the thief’s shoulder, and waved merrily. Rei turned and presented her with a typically cheeky grin. Rei would always remain Rei.

“Princess, what a pleasure it is to see you…” Sarron, the blademaster of Wyndia Castle stood and pulled a chair out for her, but she shook her head, preferring to stand. Rei smiled at her and cocked his head.

“How do, Princess?”

“I’m quite well, thank you. No, it’s quite alright, BladeMaster, I am most comfortable standing.” Se fended the elderly man off and bade him sit down. It seemed to her, everyone was elderly these days.

“What brings you here, Nina?”

“I was just thinking, and thought I would see how you were.”

Rei cocked a glance at Sarron, and picked up his mug of water, his blade hanging loose at his hip. Nina smartly sidestepped the swishing of his tail. “Well, we heard the King is failing in health.”

Rei, she mused, never one to shy away from what he really thinks or indeed, what he really wants to know. She picked invisible lint off her dress cuffs, looking down as she tended to do, a childhood habit she had never broken. Her father, dying. It seemed so incalculable. “Yes, he is worse… today. I was summoned… I just wanted to ask Rei something…”

Sarron turned his eyes to Rei, a small, confused frown reflected on the tiger mans face. Nina wrangled her hands about one cuff, twisting it out of shape. “Of course, Nina… Princess, anything.”

“Did… Did Ryu ever love me?”

Rei coughed on his taken mouthful of water. Sarron banged him on the back, his touch not light, as a few passing servants and courtiers looked over in curiousity, and peered past drapes and stacks of papers. Nina blushed hastily and turned to examine some nearby blades. There, she had finally asked Rei, after a year.

“I… what a question,” Rei croaked, wiping his eyes, as Sarron made an excuse for himself and wandered off to send the staring people back to work. Nina felt his eyes on her back, curious. “I know he liked you, more than a friend. Why do you ask?”

“Would… will I make a good queen?”

“I don’t know… how does anyone know?” Rei shrugged. “You are what you make of yourself, until you are happy. I guess that’s the best answer I can give you.”

Nina looked down, half imagining being in a tent, under stars sat next to her friends, without a care in the world. But the painful reality was, she was a princess, and royal duty always comes first. “When I am Queen, things will change. It will be different…”

Rei stayed silent, thinking. Nina supposed she had asked too many awkward questions, mumbled something and strode off, wings shifting behind her. She didn’t hear Rei’s exclamation of surprise, nor did she want to. She had her ill father to see, and a destiny to carve for herself out of an insubstantial past.


“Princess Nina is here to see you…” an aide whispered in the sickly dark of the king’s chambers. The monarch nodded weakly, to indicate she should be allowed in.

Nina looked on from the door as her father was propped up with pillows, his head cushioned gently against the hard wall that should be behind it. He looked ill, frail. Not the robust man she remembered from her youth, and she found herself looking down again, as she quietly stepped into the twilight that covered the room. The aides all bustled out, one placing a mug of steaming hot medicine on the bedstand next to the monarch. He waved her over, and obediently she came to his side.

“Nina…” he breathed.

She winced, hating herself for wincing. The infection rested in his lungs, festered there like some parasite, drawing all life away from him and filling those about him with sorrow. Dying was a process that affected more than the afflicted. She reached down and covered his thin, oh it was thin, hand in her own, willing his cold flesh to take on her warmth. “Father… I am here.”

“It’s been… so terribly lonely… I cannot see any daylight anymore. I feel… so ill… so weak…”

“Father, shall I open the curtains to let in light for you?”

He shook his head, Nina only just able to pick out the fact his hair was grey now, rather than thick brown, It wasn’t meant to end this way, didn’t she have more adventures left for her in the world? Her father was a powerful king, he should have remained in power, ruled until she was ready. She didn’t feel ready at all. “No, the light burns my eyes…”

Gently she squeezed his hand as he painfully drew breath to speak. “You are… my daughter… and will be… a Great Queen… look after Wyndia… and remember your heart… always…” the wheezing made her wince, made tears form on her eyes, so she shut them, shut out the pain of reality.

She wasn’t sure when her father drifted off to pain free sleep, or when she was taken back to her rooms or put in bed. But she did remember two days later, at three in the morning she stood vigil at her father’s bedside, holding his hand as his closest friend, the Minister of Wyndia and close family looked on. He died, at 3:16 am… and as they opened the curtains to show the night sky, all they could do was watch as Nina sobbed over the body of the King of Wyndia, over her father.


The coronation took place a week or so afterwards, to maintain stability in the Kingdom. She walked the aisle as if she were a ghost, her wings like an angel’s spread out behind her. Her dress as royal Blue and White, her hair carefully arranged in long wistful layers about her beautiful face. The crowds whispered about her beauty, but her brown eyes saw nothing, but the crimson floor, her throne, and sand. The crown lay heavy on her brow as she repeated words by rote, as she was inducted as Queen of Wyndia, ruler of the Winds. But her heart wasn’t here, anymore… and she couldn’t follow it…


“What do you think of stars?”

She turned her face to the little boy next to her. They were of an age, he the slightly older. She wasn’t scared of him, of his powers as a dragon who walked about in human form. He was just Ryu, her bestest friend.

“They’re pretty…” he whispered timidly. He was so shy, she remembered, and smoothed her red dress before fussily tucking her long golden hair from her face.

“I often wonder if when we pass on we go up there!” she pointed at them, stretching to do so. “I think that’s where Grandpa and Grandma went, long ago.”

“People go to the stars?”

“Sure, when everything’s over, that’s where everyone goes. So they can all play!” Princess Nina giggled, and looked up as the scientist Momo came over. She was a nice lady, if awfully absent minded, her flaming red hair caught up in long braids, her workclothes of purples and blues patched up so much it’s a wonder they were called clothes and not patches!

“Don’t stay up too late,” Momo warned as her small robot friend, Honey, stuttered along, carrying firewood, clicking and whirring happily to herself.

“We won’t, we were just looking at the stars…”

The woman looked up, placing her blue eyes on the sky from behind her glasses. “Ah yes, stars, balls of gas burning miles and miles away from this planet…”

Nina blinked and then whispered to Ryu, from behind a hand, “What does she know about stars… she forgot she left supper burning…”

Momo droned on and on for about fifteen minutes, not realising no one was listening to her, and then sniffed the air before rushing off, realising she was letting supper cremate. Nina giggled and linked arms with Ryu.

“We’ll go to the stars together, one day, just me and you… and play…”

“And play…” she murmured, looking down at her white skinned hands, before turning her face to the mirror. She looked pale, ill, sick. She wasn’t ready, was she?

The crown lay on it’s side on her bed, as she thought, slowly about words Rei had told her, yesterday, before he finally went away to McNeil and to sort out the problems there. “Sometimes,” Rei had said, “ It takes a huge accident, or event for us to realise it’s time for us to grow up, to do things. I might still be a little Kid on the inside, but I do know it’s now time for me to face my responsibilities and get that village on it’s feet.” She had argued back, saying she couldn’t do everything her father had done, that she wasn’t made to be a great ruler. The answer had made no sense to her then, but maybe it did now. “Then, Nina, rule this place your way.”

Her way? Kindness, rules, authority. She had been a good soldier when she was younger, working with the people… something her father had never been very good at, mixing with lower classes. But she knew how. Perhaps that was her way, and maybe it was the way forward.

She reached down for her cuff and stopped.

“Be a Great Queen…”

The words of the man she loved and her father, echoed in her, reverberated against her soul. Perhaps she was ready, but it had taken her a whole adventure to realise it, and that this responsibility, was her next great adventure. She placed the crown upon her head, and looked back at herself, at the girl who had grown up. My way…

Standing as smoothly as she could, she moved over to the great door to her new chambers and opened it, to walk out into the presence of her courtiers, Ministers and Chamberlain. She smiled, and it seemed to put them off balance. “Gentlemen, Ladies, people of Wyndia…” she began, and took a hold of one of her cuffs… then let it go again. “I think it’s time, we did things, My Way…”

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