The kingdom was vast and beautiful, teeming with ivory fountains of
shimmering water and enchanted fish,
of golden spires painted with intricate designs that became
illuminated in the night,
of magic threaded through the very air.
The royal family of this kingdom lived in a richly appointed palace,
Filled with many treasures.
Chief among these treasures was a bird in the shape of man
Kept in a golden cage
Adorned with fine silks, jewels, and a crown fit for a king.
As they swept through the palace, the invaders took everything of worth
But they weren’t quite sure what to do with the creature in the cage.
A soldier approached him, a girl. She looked into his eyes, which
were human and not,
And decided to set him free.
She opened the door of the cage, and the harpy prince stepped out, his
He gazed at the girl, but he neither spoke nor moved.
The girl did not know much of harpies, except that their territory was
far from here,
Deep, deep into the northern woods.
Her people cautioned her, told her to leave the harpy prince alone.
He only appears human, they said, but he has the talons of a beast,
The intelligence of a predator,
The teeth for rending flesh.
But to the girl, the harpy prince was like a lost child.
He had no guile, and he trailed along behind her like a baby duck
Following its mother.
She needed to help him, and so she turned to the woods.
The journey was long and dangerous. They traveled through dense, dark forests,
Filled with biting insects, howling wolves, and hissing snakes.
The girl’s homeland had few trees, and all the animals she knew were pets.
She was frightened, and not always sure of her steps, but
For some reason
The forest mostly left them alone.
Occasionally, the harpy prince would wander away for a few hours’ time,
And the girl would panic.
When he returned, he would gaze at her in confusion, as though unable to process
Her concerns. She would fuss over him, over the tears on his beautiful clothes,
The jewels falling from his neck, and the blood spatters
Soaking the fabric over his chest.
She told him that he must not leave her. She had a gun, and could protect them.
He was defenseless.
For the sake of propriety, she did not remove his clothing.
She never saw that he had no wounds.
Eventually, they reached the harpies’ territory. The girl knew it by
the many enormous,
Intricate nests built into the trees, and by the skulls and bones of
That the harpies had captured and eaten.
The prince suddenly took hold of the girl’s wrist, pulling her back.
He shook his head.
She tried to ask him what he meant, what he wanted, but he could not
Instead, he pulled.
Frustrated, she shook him off. They were so close.
As soon as they entered the camp, excited screeches filled the air.
The harpy prince trilled back, opening his mouth for the first time.
The girl took a step back.
In moments, the harpy women descended upon their visitors.
They crowded around the prince, talking to him in their
Language, pulling off the adornments that the humans had thrust upon him.
The girl did not know what to do. She supposed it was time to go home.
But, before she could leave, the harpies turned to her. They crowded her, too.
Males in their species were rare, and the harpies were grateful for his return
but they were also hungry.
The harpy prince was glad to be home, and also grateful to the girl
In his way.
After all, he had tried to warn her.