It has been so cold today. I didn’t anticipate that the weather would just skip Autumn and go straight to Winter, and today of all days. It is my birthday and all the locals have been rallied up to enjoy in the festivities. The lawn around the castle has been lit with the warm glow of thousands of lights, and various games and activities have set up shop, but with the wind howling it is taking all of the servants’ attention just to keep everything from blowing away. Even the dragons are hunkered down from the gusts.

Even so the sky is bright and pleasant, shedding an even light across the cliffs. I sit patiently awaiting the food to be placed upon the party tables right next to all of my friends. We probably all look like we haven’t eaten anything in days, but we had a light lunch only an hour or two ago. Geoff is sprawled out all arms and legs on one of the benches. Montgomery has his feet on Geoff’s shins and is sitting on the table above him with his head in his hands. Menelaus is picking at the grass, crosslegged, and Hugo sits quietly eyeing the people walking past as if they were potential prey. Then Montgomery sits up with a glint in his eye.

“Let’s have an exhibition, Jess. Flying!” he surmises.

They all get up and surround me.

“Come on Jess! We’ll ride the dragons so that we can watch you!” they insist.

I get up from the grass and stretch my legs.

“Well alright. But only if you can maintain my speed will I fly,” I argue.

They don’t hesitate in running over to the dragons. Hugo even trips over Menelaus as he tries to weave in and out of the crowds. I follow them through the masses over to the open field to the side of the dragon ride, where Hugo, after reigning in a dragon, leaps onto the nearest table and shouts at the top of his lungs. Everyone looks over quizzically.

“Attention everyone! The man of honor, our beloved Prince Jess,” he slaps me on the shoulder, “is excited to present his powers of flight by racing against these dragons to the point of the cliffs twenty knots South and back!”

A strong gust of wind blasts across the masses and hits me so that I have to brace myself against the table. When I look back up, everyone’s eyes are on me, wondering if I dare fly in this weather. I cause another mantle to materialize on my shoulders, one with a fur lining and then take off for the skies. The air pushes me on every side, but I do not move one inch in my appointed path. I have learned that the magic I possess to fly is universal. Rain, snow or wind my trajectory is stable and unwavering. 

I turn around as I fly off the edge of the chalk-white cliffs to see if my friends are in pursuit. I see them already far behind me, five dragons practically diving just to stay under the strong currents. I laugh to myself and fly closer towards the sharp walls of the cliffs. The cliffs are the same white of the sea foam tossed up in the waves. Altogether the green of the grass atop, the white of the cliffs and the blue of the sea paint a pleasant picture for the eyes. If ever there was a master of color, it was the Universe Herself. 

I duck around the corner of the cliff into the cove and then pop out over the edge back onto the grassy fields. Looking back it seems I have left my friends far behind, but I am sure they will try to hedge my way on the way back. Maybe even coax the dragons to breathe fire. I turn back drastically at the point of the cliffs, a landmass that sticks out prominently both into the sea and towards the sky. 

When I reach Hugo on the first dragon, he summons a net to appear in front of me which I easily dodge. To defend myself I call a metallic container to surround me and fly along with me. I feel the heat of the flames licking the container, but I am not damaged. Then I hear a giant thud on the top of the container, indicating every dragon has passed. As I round the last hills back to the promenade, all of a sudden each gust has a flavor: one of beer, another of lamb and then another of caramel. It is then that I realize that this is all for me.

I land to a round of applause back at the head of the dragon’s tent and bow. Hugo lands his dragon first and runs over to tackle me, which I parry. He falls down next to a table being set with drinking cauldrons. 

“Why do you have to be so good at flying?” he asks exasperatedly.

Everyone laughs jovially. Then all the others get back and slap me on the back. I help myself to the beer in the first cauldron, the creamy and sweet gusto of the brew fills my senses. I remember that intoxicating would not be the correct term because the beer is nonalcoholic. So is the ale and the cider and the chocolate. Alcohol was done away with centuries ago, but the drinks remained to be enjoyed. The beer comes from a sarsaparilla root and the ale from a ginger root, and the cider comes from apples while the chocolate comes from cocoa beans. All of them are fire-brewed with close attention to the quality of the fruit. The ale is bubbly and has a dry aftertaste which is oddly thirst-quenching. On the other hand the chocolate has a silky texture and an earthy body which blends well with its golden taste, a true crowdpleaser. 

The Steward invites me to stand next to him before the giant cake made as the great seal of the Kingdom of North America, a white star. It is such a lovely symbol, I think. By now the wind has settled enough that when he clears his throat it captures everyone’s attention. He then begins to announce the presents the kingdom has procured for my birthday.

“Subjects and friends! It is such a lovely day to be celebrating my son’s fifteenth birthday, especially since our fine food alchemists had foreseen that the weather would be cold so they provided many warm drinks. You know, as his father, I just have to mention how small he used to be. I remember when he was just a wee lad. This tall,” he indicates an exaggeratedly short height with his hand to everyone’s chagrin, “Now to your presents, Jess! I pray you have not been too anxious for this moment. In fact, his first present has already been in his employ for some months, the preservation and entrapment of the soul of the old royal butler, Geoffries, into ectoplasmic form! And now the old goat performs with more vigor than he has for more than sixty years!”

Even I crack a smile at that, reminding me of how he wakes up early every morning to play the lyre as an alarm. My father continues even as some burst out laughing.

“A parcel of land has been annexed under Prince Jess’s rule, a mere formality since he will rule all of North America in two days’ time. Even so the parcel encompasses Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey stretching from the port of Baltimore along the sea shore and all the islands along the coast up to Newark out to the Western border of the regions. All are now officially under the Prince’s jurisdiction and his patronage,” he declares.

He turns to me and whispers in my ear.

“Good luck with that. I give it to you now so that you may make it a first priority,” he says and then turns back towards the peasants, “An abode has also been constructed on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean near the Prince’s new parcel of land in the town of Manhattan. It is situated in one of the oldest settlements of our Kingdom, in the middle of the garden that has been preserved there for many years called Central.” 

He takes in a deep breath, but then reads out my last gift almost under his breath.

“And lastly I am proud to announce the previous agreement with the Duke of Maine, namely that of the betrothal of his daughter, Princess Amanda of Portland, to Prince Jess!”

I get all red in the face and watch helplessly as my father dips behind the cake and then a swarm of acolytes come to congratulate me.