Victime de la Mode
My name is Maryann Morgenstern.
My daughter, "Nubby," will never be able to say my name. She shall forever call me "Mommy" without ever knowing who to call "Daddy." There will be one day when she's old enough to know the truth behind why we live the way we do, but for now, all I wish for her to know is the happiness of an untainted childhood. I have lied to her and ultimately skewed the reality of the world for her, and I can say that I do not regret doing so. To expose a child to the cruelties of what goes on outside of this grand home would be to ask her to give up all hope and belief in what makes a person good. I wish to at least give her a chance to live before she faces all of the monsters out there, but sometimes, our lifestyle makes that very difficult.
Nubby hasn't always called me "Mommy." There was a time in her earlier years when I was "Daddy." Of course, not any more. Schwarz did not always swallow the name "Marie" like it was some sort of poison. He used to take pride in "My Lord."
Spending hours powdering my face to perfection and making sure my lips allured the gentlemen wasn't always part of my daily lifestyle. In fact, I very much despise the foolishness today. There is no appeal in warping my body to fit into a corset. Or wearing layers upon layers of clothing just to make sure the lower half of my shape forms that of a bell. Giggling for no reason and hiding my eyes behind a fan is rubbish to me.
But. There is purpose behind it.
There is purpose in holding my head high and sniffing at the common people. There is purpose in breaking my ankles walking in tiny shoes. There is purpose in sweating and bleeding and suffocating to look the very best I can. But, I repeat, I was not always conscious of how I looked or dressed. I was not always a victim of fashion and beauty.
We are the dracomen. Half man. Half dragon.
We are the creations of our ancestors' assimilation to human society.
We value beauty. We value sentience. Physical aspects of our ancestral blood are unacceptable. Showing them to others within our society is a symbol of the bestial nature we wish to give up. They remind us that these wild appearances were what caused others to fear and enslave us in the first place. Thus, we seek to rid ourselves of it. Through clever tricks and gruesome surgical procedures, we have managed to banish our dragonic features, and through time, each generation's resemblance to the species we once called our lords and ladies becomes heavier.
We pride ourselves on a prim and proper society governed by military values. The women are expected to keep the home. The men are expected to protect it. When the men go to battle, we can either return alive with victory, or die in honour. The solider that lives to see the next day without his companions is a disgrace to our kind.
Schwarz is a disgrace to the dracomen.
Of all soldiers enrolled into the army, the royal guards carry the heaviest burden. To be selected into such a prestigious few is a great honour, but it is also a great sacrifice, for unlike the common folk men, the royal guard enroll knowing that they are to follow every order they are told with nothing but acceptance. Klaus Schwarz was one of the very few boys sold into the position as an infant because his family could not afford to raise him. With a family of another four daughters, the Schwarz family couldn't bear to feed another mouth and think of the dowry for for his future wife; thus, the king offered to take him off their hands. The deal was done, and Klaus was then set for a life where his his values would be moulded into the royal family's liking.
He was weaned over two years and trained full time until the he was six years old. At this age, he was assigned to me as one of my personal guard trainees in a group of four others, all of which were grown men. I was an infant then, but even as a newborn, my protection was high on the list of priorities. I was the third and last son of the Morgenstern family and last in line for the throne. If I had ever inherited it, I would have been surprised, and to my fortune, I never did. Instead, I was simply raised as a pampered, spoiled child who needed not lift a single finger to get what I want. Because Schwarz was closest in age to me, I felt like I had more power over him. When I was nine, and he, fifteen, I ordered him to jump out of my bedroom window just to see if he would. Naturally, he did, but it angered me when he was uninjured, and I punished him anyways for coming back to me without a scratch. My mother, my father, and my brothers didn't question my actions, but I received a good, long lecture on "mistreating my merchandise." After all, Schwarz was paid for, and even if we did have more money than we would ever need, it was ill-mannered of me to throw it around without a second thought.
To a child who had everything he could ever want, those words were garbage. I was of royal blood, and my life was set out like a delectable dinner before me. I was young. And naive. I did not think that anything could go wrong until the day Schwarz forced me into a skirt and a bloomer. And kidnapped me and my daughter in front of my entire kingdom, leaving what was left of the royal family and its possessions to burn.
To my race, he is of the dirtiest blood. Untouchable - wanted: for treason.
To me, he is a guardian angel. Many will tell you that guardian angels are pure, untouched beings of innocence, and that is a lie. They are the ugliest creatures one will ever see. Scarred by injury. Skin burned. Rough. Thick with dirt and sweat. Guardian angels will die in the streets, and everyone will walk over their bodies without a second thought. Without knowledge of what great things they have done for other people. Their torn clothes and dusty bodies will turn red, marinating in their own blood until over time until they slowly melt back into the earth. They will die cold. Forgotten. And alone. But they will die with honour.
Schwarz will die with honour. There will be a day when he, alone, cannot protect me any more, and I will offer him his freedom. A choice to run away with me and my daughter. And he will turn me down, and he will be no more. I know this. We grew up together after all.
Thus, I painstakingly spend hours putting up my hair into ridiculous structures to hide the horns upon my head. Smoothing down my claws and painting them light pink until they look just like a human's. Enduring the heat beneath petticoats and the bloomers I scrunch my scaled tail into. Every day. To look the part of human society. For as long as I take the part of a rich, married woman, we are safe. My daughter, as strict as I am with her, will be safe. I will be safe to protect her. And my guardian angel - he will be safe.
And one day - free.
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