After Sophia, the story of the Flower Prince and Princess follows. Again, told as directly as I can manage.
Theirs was the world of the cities spread over the land, close enough to breed envy, far enough to make conquest difficult. Men who sought status as well as the thrill of the hunt became raiding soldiers.
The Flower Prince, magnificently arrayed in bright feathers and equipped with fine spear, sought to make the Flower Princess proud of his courage and skill. In some tellings, the two were devoted siblings, in others fresh-faced newlyweds, but in all the tales they shared each other’s confidences and desires, so it is as if they had but one heart. Though she could not go to war, her hopes went with him.
He presented himself to the master of war and being healthy and hale was readily welcomed. Little did he know of the undoing that awaited him, for sickness hid beneath the master of war’s skin. Their blood mingled in their common cause and the infection spread. The boils rose up blood red from the master of war’s flesh and he fled into the bush where neither farm nor city stood. He fled in the night unseen, leaving his confused charges to find their way home. They would soon guessed the master’s shame as they succumbed to the boiling plague. Not dead, but wretched, they followed their master’s lead.
All but the Flower Prince. Through the woods he moved, gathering sweet flowers and bitter roots. With river water he made sweet perfume and pungent salve. He bathed, scrubbing. As each boil burst he sealed it with salve and flower. Seemingly whole, he turned toward home singing.
There the dogs caught scent of him and knew the sickness lingered beneath his sweet perfume. They growled and snapped, held him at bay. Realizing the sickness still inside his skin, he sobbed, and fled into the woods.
But the Flower Princess had heard his songs from afar. She rushed to meet him, but was halted by the huntsman who heeded his dogs’ caution. The last she glimpsed of him was his flower daubed form fleeing between the trees. She sought him later in the secret of night, singing the songs well-known to them both. He dared not approach, remaining a shuffling shadow after which she wandered lonely further and further into the woods.