FIC: "Dark Prince"
AUTHOR: Mistress Marilyn
camelotslash-2 at qwest.net
DATE: Started in 1983 / Finished August 18, 2004
FANDOM: 'Wizards and Warriors'
PAIRING: Dirk Blackpool / Erik Greystone (Duncan Regehr & Jeff Conaway)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own 'em. They belong to Warner Bros., CBS-TV, Don Reo Productions, to the respective actors of the short-lived (8 episode) series, and to the ages. This is a work of a fan, done for no remuneration save the satisfaction of the work.
WARNINGS: Slash, sorta, but nothing graphic.
SUMMARY: Prince Dirk Blackpool reminisces and dreams.
DEDICATION: To my nephew, who'll never read this dedication, but used to be around when we had fic contests -- and sometimes played along.
AUTHOR NOTES: This story was started more than 20 years ago, and I finally decided it was time to finish it. A huge thank you to BrianQM for his interest in the fic and for his great input. He deserves a story credit.
[I'd like to credit the The Land of Aperans website for some of the graphics used in creating the banner (the background map is by Mo_TCO)].
"Dark prince, fallen angel --
Why do we fear and loathe thee?
Are you not equally Spirit,
Equally perfumed with the scent of God?
Let me part thy lips, dark one,
With a serpentine tongue
Until we blend into one Love."
-- Steve Dinan
"I was just envying Saris there for a minute . . . I was thinking that if I'd had a son like you I would've raised him differently than Saris did."
-- King Baaldorf to Prince Blackpool in 'Vulkar's Revenge'
Dirk Blackpool stared into the large mirror; his reflection was lit by the golden light of the lamps, framed by the gilt edge of this precious piece of furniture. The bare flesh of his chest appeared burnished in the light, his high cheekbones reflecting the same hue. But he was not pleased by the sight in the mirror. In fact, it disgusted him. All he saw was darkness, dark hair, dark eyes, dark hollows in his face. His pronounced bones and straight mouth, deep-set eyes and high hairline looked to him skull-like; he considered himself ugly.
The only part of his reflection that pleased him was the hard-won firmness and muscularity of his chest and arms. But that was as much a convenience and a tool as a vanity, he felt. Still, he indulged it; he set off his tall, well-built form with striking clothes and capes, much of it made of leather which was best suited to protecting against the cold and wild terrain of his native land. This seeming vanity was nothing that would surprise any royal; it was normal to dress with style, especially for a prince.
Dirk was the ruling prince of Karteia in the North -- the crown prince. But to him, he didn't seem to look like a prince. Erik Greystone, crown prince of the South -- he looked the part. Golden and animated, princely, he loved to wear red and gilded capes. Golden hair, golden skin, gray eyes -- there had never been a moment for him that he had doubted himself. No wonder, Blackpool thought. Cut out of a bolt of cloth handed down by the gods, Erik's beauty was as legendary as his deeds. Everyone knew he would one day rule Camarand and hold sway over most of the continent of Aperans, even Dirk Blackpool, when he would admit it to himself. Sometimes Dirk felt that he dressed and acted the way he did in direct opposition to the way Erik dressed and acted.
He could not be a golden prince, so he would be a dark one.
Prince Blackpool turned away from his reflection, one fist clenched. It did not do to sit and brood over vanity; it was too common. Greystone probably never gave a second thought to the way his golden blonde hair fluffed perfectly about his sculptured face. Beauty came as naturally as princeliness; it was inherited. It could be aided with wizardry, but never as more than an illusion. Illusion had no place in Dirk Blackpool's life, unless used as a weapon.
Dirk wrapped a long, black cloak around his shoulders, shielding his naked skin from the evening chill. He was so used to the cold and damp of the North that it did not bother him to sit in the nude, but he could still remember when he had loved the warmth and sunshine of the South and even wanted for a time to make his home there. He hadn't understood then that princes couldn't choose; they had to live and rule where they were privileged to be born -- 'noblesse oblige.' This has been a bitter blow to a very young Prince Blackpool, but by then it hadn't mattered much. His childhood friendship with Erik Greystone had already collapsed; he was glad to go home to the thin air and the cold -- to dress in black and live in the damp and allow the North to finally invade his soul and stamp out any childish dreams.
When Erik and Dirk were young and attended the Royal School, frolicking with small swords on skilled mounts in mock battles was the most serious duty in life. Standing up straight and leveling disdainful glances on inferiors was so inbred, it did not require practice. But the warfare, the arts of young princes, that was fun to learn. The two had been such a fascinating contrast -- one tall and dark, more serious, the other smaller, light and energetic. Even disapproving court attendants could not help but smile at the two. It didn't matter that it was an uneasy peace, that King Blackpool could not be trusted, that the Northern prince was primarily a barbarian. The two young royals added much to one another, and even King Richard Greystone was pleased with the stoic bearing that Erik was picking up from Dirk Blackpool.
Dirk could remember painfully his first feelings of awkwardness with Erik and the court at Castle Greystone. He had begun to shoot up in height; his legs seemed too long, and he had become clumsy. Erik, on the other hand, was as quick and agile as ever. While Dirk struggled with new feelings of approaching adolescence, Erik became a more skilled rider and swordsman. And while the two youths continued to learn together, their alliance was a mere cover-up for King Saris Blackpool's cunning new warfare.
Talk broke out in the South at all the courts about the princely young pawn, and Dirk was painfully aware of it. Indulgent smiles turned to suspicious glances. His every move seemed to be scrutinized; if he accidentally knocked over a goblet at a feast, he caught the raised eyebrows around him; if he hit Erik too hard in practice and knocked the wind out of the southern prince, he was roughly shoved aside while the physicians did their work; if his quickly-maturing young body betrayed a possible propensity to be closer to Erik than deemed appropriate, he was lectured at length by the instructors about the need for a proper young royal to be abstentious.
Finally, even Erik was affected. Northerners were barbarians, after all -- Dirk's earthy improprieties helped to prove that. With all the false haughtiness of an immature prince, Erik shunned Dirk.
And when King Blackpool was quite prepared, he called his son home on the eve of a devastating attack on a little-prepared Camarand. Naturally, it was assumed that the youth had known about the plan all along. Even Erik professed to believe this, which Dirk would never forget. It was the start of the strife that had grown more savage with each passing year, following both boys into manhood.
Life at Castle Blackpool was far different than the idyllic adventure in the South. Dirk found a home and father as forbidding and dark as the South had seemed inviting and warm. But, remembering how his sojourn in the South had ended, Dirk felt that warmth just a deception designed to take advantage of his innocence and make him weak, then strike him down when he was most vulnerable. The milk of human kindness was a sour drink from a witch's teat.
Dirk learned quickly to set less store by creature comforts and outward signs of geniality. He had little need to be coddled or protected, especially if in the end it would be more painful than strict discipline and cruel punishment.
When King Blackpool had the time, which was rare, he set about correcting any of the mistakes infecting Dirk since his time in the South. He and his minions watched for any weaknesses and immediately stamped them out. As small a thing as a happy laugh or a relaxed smile was considered a fatal flaw. Even Dirk's love for the young palamino he brought home with him was a sign of softness. The prince was soon mounted on a sturdy black war-horse and the palamino given to another boy. Erik Greystone, on the other hand, was allowed to grow up with his noble steed, Southwind.
This all seemed to happen very quickly after his return to the North.
Now Dirk Blackpool smiled grimly, thinking of his father. It seemed to him that his father had always used him, neglected him, and had been strangely pleased, yet unconcerned with the results. His sort of fathering was reminiscent of a conjurer designing a new poison. He would inject this bit of venom or that dash of toxin while taking out some masking agent, testing for strength and efficiency. But in the end, it was the deadliness of the blend that mattered, not the flavor or the color or the consistency.
Dirk imagined that his powerful father felt nothing would ever fell him, and so he believed he could trust and control the scheming wizard, Vector. How could the unswerving, stubborn Saris Blackpool ever understand what he was breeding when he assigned the cunning old wizard to tutor and protect his eldest son? Vector had watched Dirk become even more ruthless than his father, so that finally when King Blackpool began to age, to feel the chill in his joints, to tire of the war -- and perhaps to even regret the past or some of it -- it was too late to change anything. He had created a son who could never have stood for it, as Vector knew and approved.
Now King Blackpool lay in a coma from which he would never wake, Dirk knew. And he felt little regret. He both loved and hated his father. But he had no wish to kill him, and if the king never woke, he wouldn't have to. Let the old man lie, where he was no harm to himself and no good to anyone else.
Dirk turned down the lamps and moved to his large bed. The heavy, plush coverlet was pulled back. A heating pan glowed between the sheets. Dirk pulled it out and set it aside. Then he climbed under the covers, enjoying the luxury of a bed warm enough to hold his naked body, even in the chilly North. He and Erik had always slept bare when they were boys; of course, it had been warm enough then to do so. And innocent enough, then.
Now, innocence and warmth long dead in him, Dirk could still conjure up the memory of his childhood camaraderie with Erik Greystone, however unwelcome. Lately it happened more and more often, especially when he climbed naked into bed.
When had his childhood friendship and admiration for the golden prince of the South turned into a dark, unending obsession? When had the gentle affection of a royal boy turned into the compulsive hatred of a perverted prince? Had it been immediate, when Erik first professed to believe that his childhood playmate was unworthy, that it somehow defiled him to run and ride with his Northern chum? Or had it taken long, lonely winter days when not even the servants would acknowledge him and bitterly cold nights when there was no one to sleep anywhere near him, not even the castle dogs?
Now this tainted fascination for Erik Greystone polluted every aspect of his life, even his dreams. Often his sleep was filled with images of Greystone being raped and tortured in the most horrible ways imaginable. He would hold the golden prince for months in an unheated tower, naked except for his crown, and visit him every day to inflict some new torment. He would have him kidnapped out of his own warm bed in the South and carried into the woods, blindfolded and bound with rope and covered with the musk of a female bear to attract an appropriate mate. He would take him in battle and throw him to his men, instructing his warriors to have their way with him one by one, and then bring him whatever was left of the young prince after.
What would tonight's dream hold? Would he once again find new ways to torment and debase the pride of King Richard? Would he sleep through the night and awaken in the morning, feeling satisfied and alert -- or would the feverish images disturb his slumber and find him aroused and restless in the middle of the long Northern night?
Dirk moved his legs under the smooth, warm sheets, enjoying the sensation of the material against his bare flesh. He much preferred these nights he spent alone, without a wench or a witch in his bed, when he could plot his revenge on Greystone without interruption. If he had never spent that blissful boyhood time in the South and felt friendship for Erik Greystone as he had, he would probably have been content with his lot as a lonely, taciturn prince of the North.
But in order to be truly miserable, one must be completely aware. And reality only becomes unbearable when it is tinged with loss. A complacent man can pass as a happy man and usually does. If only Dirk had never known what he was missing!
The fire was burning quite low, and the room was semi-dark. Dirk could make out the heavy drapes bunched at the corners of his bed, but the walls had retreated into shadow. This was his favorite time of the day, the moment just before sleep. At this instant, anything was possible. He might be suddenly shaken awake to find himself back in the South, snuggled next to the young Prince Greystone admidst satin sheets and plush quilts. Or, he might stretch his arms against a rough blanket, finding himself a clockmaker or a hunter, his royalty nothing but a dream. Or, he might fall into slumber and never wake up, himself a victim of the villainy that ran rampant in his land.
He sighed as he drifted off.
And he forgot he was sleeping. He was now the Prince Consort of a united Aperans, combining the strength of both Camarand and Karteia, and he toiled over the border maps, planning the strategy of defense that kept the country safe. He was the general of the combined army, and since the most recent expulsion of invaders from the east, he had been able to relax at home in the huge castle that stood on the ancient boundaries between North and South.
He sighed and drank the warm, rich tea that had been placed before him. He saw no flaws in his planning, and he knew he could allow himself to relax before reporting to the King.
At that moment, the King entered the room and came toward him, a huge smile on his fair face. He called out a greeting and reached down for a long embrace and a passionate kiss. Dirk pulled the golden man into his arms, and the attendants in the room looked away, well used to the passion of these former princes.
The face of Erik Greystone was just inches from his. The strong, straight teeth were still bared in a smile. The thick, shining hair floated around the carved lines of the cheeks and chin. The eyes were alight with life and happiness, the happiness of having always been wanted, always been loved.
He saw his reflection in Erik's eyes and was surprised to see he was beautiful.
They held one another, balanced in the huge armchair, speaking of nothing, each breathing to the rhythm of the other. For a while, time stood still, and nothing that had transpired in their lives mattered at all. War, pain, sorrow and betrayal were all forgotten. Two halves of one whole, they completed one another.
It was a long and pleasant sleep for Prince Blackpool, one that he would have to work to banish from his stony, bitter mind.
It was cold in the room when he awoke, and gray light filtered in through the cracks in the shutters. He was back in the North. He was alone.
He was still the Dark Prince.
He sighed and rose, reaching for his heavy robe.