To Seria, it seemed as if The Boy had a purpose in what felt like aimless wandering. He was the one who went ahead, half-dragging her in his excitement to get to wherever he was going. She didn't mind; the exhilaration in trying to keep up with him was enough for her.
To question it was a ridiculous thought. He obviously knew his way in this forest of twists and turns. Despite having just met him, she trusted him.
Her mother closed the giant book of fairy tales quietly, letting the story sink in for her.
"I don't like the ending," Seria muttered, puffing out her cheeks. It had left her with a bitter aftertaste.
Her mother laughed lightly, reaching down to pull her child into her lap to ask, "Why don't you like the ending?"
It seemed obvious to Seria, but she answered anyway. "I thought the fairy was nice! Why did she trick them at the end? That's mean!"
"It's because you're not supposed to trust fairies."
She shook the memory from her head and continued picking her way around the trees because without The Boy, she'd be lost.
There was a weird gasping noise as they neared a clearing. The Boy stopped and looked around, raising an eyebrow.
"What is it?" Seria asked. He glanced back at her and pointed towards the clearing. A figure was sitting in the middle of it, its shoulders heaving in sobs. When they got closer, she saw that it was a grown man with a small crown on his head.
The sight was almost comical, but seeing a person crying made the two children feel uneasy.
"Uhh, Mister, are you okay?" she questioned tentatively.
Breaking out into even greater sobs, the man threw himself at The Boy. His voice came out in blubbering stammers.
"Sh-she! Dragon slayed for her! H-hic, she said..she said..."
"Calm down, sir, you're a prince, right?" The Boy smiled comfortingly at the other man. The prince nodded and stayed quiet. He wiped his tears from his face and started again.
"Alas...my tale is one of great misfortune-"
Seria raised her hand. "What does misfortune mean, mister?"
"...well, you see, it means...bad stuff happened many times. Well, um, as you can see, I am a prince. Prince Byron to be exact! My kingdom is a glorious one full of fair womenfolk and those of noble descent-"
"What does descent mean?"
"Seria, I don't think you should interrupt him. That's not how it goes for princes."
By now, Byron's face was red from embarrassment, but he continued anyway.
"I-I was kicked out. Had to find a princess. Sh-she...was perfect. Locked in a tower with a dragon guarding her, and you see, the only subject I paid attention to in school was dragon-slaying, so I slew it!"
"Schools teach dragon-slaying?" Seria asked, looking ecstatic. She had to start school soon anyway. This made her want to go even more.
"Of course they do, little one! Anyways, the princess, after witnessi- I mean, seeing my brave act, gave me this...horrible look, and told me that she couldn't marry someone who was so violent...and so ends my sad tale."
The miserable look on Byron's face made Seria pity him greatly. She tugged on The Boy's sleeve to get his attention.
The Boy turned to her expectantly.
"Let's go tell the princess his side of the story! It's not fair that he did so much to rescue her, but she was so mean to him!" Seria exclaimed, feeling abashed that she was sounding so demanding.
Grinning, The Boy nodded. After all, this had been what he had expected her to do.
Upon hearing this, Byron immediately jumped to his feet, and traced out a map for them in the dirt, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically.
And then he sent them on their way, glad to have gotten someone to do this daunting task for him. There had been something about those two children though, that struck him as strange.
The girl seemed very foreign, from the way her clothes looked, and The Boy looked familiar.
Byron shook his head and took his seat back in the middle of the clearing. A prince such as him was not one to dwell on things such as this.