“A Young Anna” chalk drawing by Parisa Samet. The painting was completed between 2001 to 2004.
The Child Prodigy
Akrelles was born in the port city of Aioniki. It was a popular destination amongst travelers who often stayed for long periods of time, as it offered pristine beaches, mountainous views, and extraordinary grapes for wine that would grow in their year-round warm climate. The city was largely populated on the cove where small homes were nestled closely together as they overlooked the teal shore. Port Aioniki was especially welcoming to aristocrats who indulged in its expensive pleasures. They would often host artists and performers from all around The Lands for their entertainment. Akrelles would listen from the hilltops and gently fall asleep to the harps, claps, and laughs while pondering deeply into the night stars. He dreamt of one day belonging to an upperclass society instead of his impoverished one.
Akrelles fled his home as a young child when his father became an abusive drunk after his mother drowned on a boating trip. The child had an eidetic memory and started to use this skill to make money. He would set up a canvas on the street and paint portraits of people walking by. As they often returned from their walks, they would come to see perfect reflections of themselves in the finished canvases. Word spread quickly of Akrelles as the child prodigy painter, bringing crowds to gather in the streets to watch him paint.
One calm morning, the king of Aioniki went on his morning stroll and discovered this large crowd. The king was greeted by the citizens but not as usual, as they were fixated at the young Akrelles, who focused intently on his painting. Impressed with what he saw, the king commissioned Akrelles to paint his own portrait. Although the boy always noticed flaws and was unsatisfied with his work, it was deemed a masterpiece. The king then had Akrelles paint portraits for the queen and his cousins.
The young boy struck a close relationship with the royal family and often slept in the king and queen’s own tower. They began to bring him to events where Akrelles would meet with foreign monarchs and aristocrats from everywhere. Collectors and connoisseurs alike would marvel over his paintings and would stay months longer just to wait for Akrelles to paint them a portrait to bring home. Akrelles became one of the most sought out artists in all of The Lands.
As time passed, Akrelles’s voice had deepened, his body had lengthened, and his muscles had defined. He had turned from a boy into a young man. He had eyes like water and hair like the sun. He was also charming to people, with a gracious etiquette he had learned from being inadvertently raised by the royal family. The young man grew an insatiable appetite for exploring the beauty of women, and he engulfed himself in an endless pursuit of passionate love affairs. However, each were short lived as his obsession for new found attraction grew.
One afternoon, the king and queen invited Akrelles for fruit and tea. The three of them sat in the elegant castle gardens and were served grapes and other fine foods. The king and queen explained how they were not able to bare children of their own but had always looked at Akrelles as their own son. They asked to formally adopt him, which would then make Akrelles the prince of Aioniki. Akrelles gratefully accepted and kissed the king and queen. They explained to Akrelles that with the new title came a great responsibility of claiming the throne and marrying in a future queen. Akrelles explained that he had yet to find the perfect woman, and he felt overwhelmed. The king and queen reassured him that they would help find him a good woman to marry.
A few months later, Prince Akrelles and his fiancé, Elexia, were sitting in the castle gardens, sipping wine. His glass remained full. The king and queen had arranged their marriage just weeks after their talk. Elexia was the wealthy daughter of Lord Romantis, who owned all of the vineyards in Aioniki. She was slender like lavender and fair like porcelain. Their first few months together drew in an immense amount of lust and romance; however, the attraction quickly faded for prince Akrelles.
As she spoke about their upcoming wedding, she sensed that he was troubled and asked what was bothering him. He lied and said that he had not slept well from hurting his back. As she empathized and massaged his healthy back, Prince Akrelles bowed his head down with closed eyes and dwelled on the same hindering thought: his inability to admire her back.
Later that day, the prince went for an evening hike to his favorite spot to watch the moon replace the sun on his impending kingdom. As he reached the top, a young woman close to his age was sitting on a boulder overlooking the view. She had lustrous black hair, hazelnut eyes, tanned skin, ripened crimson lips, and a gaze like a lioness, staring deeply into the horizon. She wore a thin, semi-transparent dress that fluttered in the gentle breeze, along with her long and wavy hair. Her nipples were hardened, occasionally revealing themselves through her dress. Prince Akrelles stared into the mysterious woman who had discovered his secret spot until she finally noticed him and became startled.
“Do not fret, my lady, as I come with the breeze,” the prince calmly reassured her. “My name is—”
“I know your name, Prince,” the woman replied, cutting him off. She noticed her loose dress and covered herself quickly as she turned to look at the ground, forming a subtle grin.
Prince Akrelles smiled. “May I ask for yours?” he inquired while gazing into her.
The woman turned her head from the ground and stared back equally as deeply into the eyes of the betrothed young prince.
Her lips slowly peeled open while still erecting a grin, and she softly replied, “Anna.”