Two days had passed since King Leander had appointed his son to the Dragon Hunt. News had indeed spread like wildfire, and within hours it seemed as if the entire Kingdom knew. Prince Aeron’s mark had stopped bleeding the day after the ritual, which did not leave him with a lot of time on his hands. There were a lot of preparations to be made, such as the gathering of troops, resources, weapons and also the planning of the Hunting Ceremony. Tradition dictated that on the day before the hunting party’s departure, there was to be a grand celebration during which the Dragonhunter was honored by the people of his kingdom.
Since the Ryzen Kingdom dwarfed the surrounding ones, Kalliope had heard that it's capital, after which it was named, would be packed with people. She could only have imagined how the city of Ryze would accommodate visitors from the other five major cities of its kingdom.
If only Ryze were as big as the capital of the Iron Kingdom. Queen Leonora had taken her there on a royal visit once. While the grown-ups discussed political matters, Kalliope and her younger siblings were left to explore the the entirely underground city. Its huge halls and never ending tunnel complexes amazed her. Only after Aeron showed her a map did Kalliope grasp how truly enormous the city was. It must have been at least three times the size of the city of Ryze…
She snapped out of her daydreams as she nearly bumped into a girl in red with long black hair. Before Kalliope could even turn around to apologize, the girl had disappeared in the stream of people that were bustling on the Main Street. All she caught a glimpse of was the artfully woven golden bracelet she wore on her arm. It made no sense to look for her to apologize since nearly everyone here looked the same, Kalliope would never find her. Most people of the kingdom had straight black hair and pale alabaster skin, which explained the salience of Kalliope’s dark golden locks and caramel complexion. She could feel the people’s eyes on her nearly all the time as she danced through the streets.
Since there was a lot of work to be done, and she wanted to help, Kalliope made herself concentrate. While Aeron was recruiting men for the mission, their sister Cecilia would go from store to store to remind people to support their heroes with all goods that could be spared. The queen and her other children were to welcome and entertain the guests from the visiting cities, and the King was to manage important business as usual. Like always, Kalliope had been given nothing to do. Although she enjoyed having her free time it bored her quickly. With the market district coming to an end, the stream of people slowly decreased until the princess’s destination came into sight: the gardens. With hardly anyone ever having time to spend under a tree for hours on end, this particular point of the city tended to be quiet and empty. Left without a task to compete, Kalliope determined to find some way to help her brother on his mission anyway. She didn’t know what her father had meant when he said that Aeron should rather die in battle than return as a failure, so she would to her best to ensure her brother came back the hero she knew him to be.
Although there was much to be taken care of, the young princess could not think of any way she could help. After sitting in the shade of an old willow, Kalliope breathed a sigh of exasperation and strolled to a nearby fountain to refresh herself. It had been unusually hot this year and the sun was especially strong during high noon. Her caramel skin was well adapted to the sun, while the pale complexion the people of Ryze shared afforded them no protection. Kalliope could spend hours in the blazing sun, while the others’ skin roughed in no time. The one time she had been burned was due to a nap in the flower garden that lasted from early noon to dinner time. By the time Kalliope awoke, her skin was peeling off in white flakes and was too painful to touch, causing her sleepless nights as laying down became unbearable. She didn’t wish that feeling to anyone.
That’s it! Kalliope jumped up and ran towards the palace. The hunting party will be riding in the sun for days! Of course they will get burned in the sun, she thought to herself. The princess burst through the doors of the healer’s laboratory causing him to jump at his desk. Some scrolls that he must have been studying rolled off the table and landed in a puddle of orange substance that caused them to make a quiet sizzling sound.
“Sir. Healer. Is-- is there some kind of ointment to protect the skin from being burned?”
The old man slightly tilted his head and adjusted his glasses.
“Young princess. Unfortunately, I know of no balm to protect one from a dragon’s fiery breath,” said the old man.
Kalliope blinked at him. Oh, that would have been a great idea as well.
“But what about the fiery breath of the sun?” she insisted.
The healer knit his eyebrows. After a second of consideration he answered:
“There is, although it is not commonly used. The ingredients are not worth the expense to most people, but as you are a princess…”
Kalliope beamed at the healer as he rummaged through the countless books and scrolls he kept in his shelves. After finding what he seemed to have been looking for, he copied the ingredients on parchment and handed it to Kalliope. After thanking him appropriately, she sped out of the door to gather all ingredients to the ointment. Kalliope couldn’t help but smile at the thought of helping her brother and his men. Even while knowing her way around town, the princess took several hours to gather the necessary items .