|As a Dragon
Author: Linguistic PM
When a clever dragon in search of infamy decides to kidnap her, Princess Myra's world falls apart. A look at what happens to princesses kidnapped by comically villainous -and shape-shifting- dragons.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Romance - Chapters: 17 - Words: 28,129 - Reviews: 32 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 16 - Updated: 03-20-13 - Published: 08-22-10 - id: 2840970
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 13- The Witch of Westerly
The day had come. The party of knights, nine in all, had arrived beneath the mountain at dawn. The rays of the sun, just rising in the East, slid across the craggy lips of its black peak.
"That be it?" Little asked. There was a surprising lack of awe in his voice, but that was characteristic of him: for all the he looked a child, the boy had seen more of the world in his few short years than most adults did in their lifetime.
"That's an awful steep slope, sir." Thomas remarked, looking straight up. "I don't think I've ever seen anything like it." Fredrick agreed. Even the tallest of the Bandos, the long chain of mountains that divided Estmark from Suth, could not compare to this monster. It was an ancient thing. He had read somewhere that mountains shrunk as they aged, and that the tallest of mountains were really the very youngest, but he was certain that wasn't the case with this one. It had seen too much. If this was the size of it now, he dared not imagine how high it must have been in its heyday.
"It is indeed, Tomas. But the princess is counting on our bravery. It would be terribly unchivalrous to disappoint her." He said. "The climb it a test of our devotion! To weed out the hero from the sycophant! Let us press on!"
"Indeed." Sir Arthur said. "Which one are you, I wonder?"
They began the climb at midday. The goal was to reach the dragon's cave just before dusk. The knights did not know if dragons hunted best in night or day, and so, they figured it best to strike at the threshold between the two. It was a rough trip. It was possible that the dragon might see them in the sunlight, but it was calculated risk.
The pair, Big and Little, were at home in the cold, but Sir Arthur wasn't built for it. He had been whining since he had awoken that day. Fredrick had, politely, told him to shut up. It hadn't worked: the man could not take hints.
They stood now, on the very edge of the mountain. The precipice that separated earth from sky. The mouth of the dragon's cave was ahead of them, and it was dark.
Fredrick, not willing to lead his party into danger, put a finger to his lips, and crept forward. He peeked into the cave. His eyes took a moment to adjust to the light.
It was glorious. The room was like a scene from a book: filled with bright gold treasure, works of art, and everything valuable a man could imagine. There was enough wealth to buy a kingdom! Maybe twice! But strangely, there was no dragon. Fredrick stood there for a moment, confusedly looking about, before he realized that, bored with waiting, the rest of the party had snuck up behind him. They too were astonished.
"Where's the lizard?" Sir Arthur demanded. "Do you mean to tell me that it took the girl, and left all this treasure here undefended?"
"I don't know." Tomas said. "Let's uh- can we go in?"
"Let's." Fredrick replied. "But, it might be trick. Keep your swords drawn."
The knights agreed. It was far too suspicious to take any risks. With their swords unsheathed, they entered the cave. They carefully looked around, half expecting to see the dark, grinning face of the beast watching them from the corner, but there was nothing. It was ironic that of all the things the might have found, an empty hoard was the scariest of them.
"Split into groups of two and search." Fredrick said. "The princess is our priority. If we can get her out without getting into a fight, all the better, I say."
"The fight's the best part, man." Sir Arthur said. "The glory of the kill. I don't want to be cheated of my fair share of fame." He said. He was obviously very reluctant to leave the safety of the large group.
"If you find the girl, Sir Arthur, you will forever be remembered as the knight who saved the realm." Fredrick said. This convinced him.
Soon, pairing up with Tomas, he was off. The exploration lasted about ten minutes time. It would have lasted longer, but, for the most part, the knights had stopped pretending to look for the dragon, and instead started pocketing whatever trinkets they could get their hands on. The most obvious of these was Sir Arthur, who had taken a wooden chest off a pile, and had filled it with enough treasure to buy a small town. He was now playing with an ornate wooden staff, decorated with symbols of trees and skulls.
When Little saw this, he ran over to Sir Arthur. "D-do not be touching that sir!" He said, "That is um, Nuth voodoo, see?" He tried to gently take it from Sir Arthur, but the knight held it out of his reach.
"Voodoo? That's northern superstition." He said. "This looks like it'd make a good cane for when I'm an old man. Don't be telling me what I can and can't take."
"No no no, you are not understanding." Little said. "The staff is cursed! Be letting go!" He insisted. But Sir Arthur, annoyed that he was being lectured by a young boy, refused, and Little jumped up to grab the staff. In the ensuing tug of war, which lasted almost a minute, the pair fought viciously. Little put forth a valiant effort, but he was obviously outmatched by the older, stronger Sir Arthur. Just when it appeared victory was inevitable, Thirzaen decided to intervene of behalf of his young friend. He came at Sir Arthur from behind, and pushed him in the back. Sir Arthur stumbled at the stick slipped out of his grasp, bouncing against the floor and flying towards the wall. It made a loud wooden crack. There was a short silence. Then, a huge explosion of white and red ripped through the cavern, hissing and crackling. It let out a roar that could be hear miles off.
When the smoke finally cleared, all the knights had disappeared. In their place stood nine white rats.
Far away, past the dragon's black mountain, through the green forests that surrounded it, by the sparse towns strewn across the wild north, over the great blue river that separated civilization from nature, along the grey paved road that led to the city of Dunlin, and down the ravaged city streets that led to the white palace, a single woman stood on a high balcony. The beauty that surrounded her was intense, captivating, and gaudy. It made men desire her, and consequently, it made her very powerful. This was the way her family had always ruled: through manipulation, not through force.
The little people loved her. It had been her father who, after the dragon's vicious attacks, had sent relief in the form of gifts of food, supplies, and money for those who had lost their homes and livelihoods. They called her, 'Lyre's Lady', and 'The Foreign Princess'. She was the wife of the Duke of Lyre, the daughter of the King of Westerly, Imria.
In all the city, Imria was probably one of the very few who did not hate the dragon. The reason for this was simple: the dragon's success had been her success. It had been she who, through cunning and manipulation, had acquired the 'Lock of Arryn', and had conspired to have it slipped into the dragon's hoard. Then, using her own magic in conjunction with the great powers of the artifact, she had infected the dragon's mind with a single desire- to destroy the city of Dunlin, and take the princess for his own.
It had all gone according to plan. In just a few weeks, her husband had gone from simple Duke to heir apparent. The princess had been the only thing that stood in the way of his path to kingship. Now, Imria needed only to remove the final piece- the King himself- and her husband's place, and therefore her own place, in history would be assured. The only threat that remained came from any would-be heroes that would try to save the princess. Though she considered their chances of success very slim, this was still a threat, and it had been taken very seriously by Imria. It had been she who had first sent assassins to hunt the party of the man Fredrick, and when they had failed to slay him, it had been she who had sent a more subtle spy. The loyal knight of Westerly, Sir Arthur. That had been her second great success.
"It seems our agent as succeeded in his mission, Limlee." She said to her son, her stood a few paces behind her. "Send a raven to your grandfather. Tell him to make sure Sir Arthur's family is generously compensated for his service."
The pair emerged, finally, from the darkness of the cavern behind them. They were sweating and panting. They had run all the way from the guard outpost to the ledge without taking a break. It had been a very long run. In fact, in all her sheltered life, Myra could not remember ever undertaking any physical activity as utterly draining.
"Finally out!" Kirian shouted, leaping through the doorway. Myra followed daintily after him.
"Who's the King of the Mountain now, Jazan? You slimy green bugger!" He shouted after him. He yelled so loud Myra had to cover her ears. "It's ME! Kirian the Tyrant." He laughed and punched the air triumphantly "The princess is mine again, and I MAKE THE RULES! Victory, you fool!" He took hold of the massive boulder beside the hole, which had been cut over the wall by the goblins, and slowly began the arduous task of pushing it back in. He pushed so hard that it heaved and crunched, before it slowly cracked the bare edge of the rock. The hole tumbled down in on itself, leaving no indication that there had once been an entrance there.
She gave him a nervous smile. This victory left her exhilarated, but things were now back to the way they had been a day before- very bad. The dragon was running through his cave, examining his treasure with a look that seemed to say it was all entirely new to him.
"Uh, congratulations... King of the Mountain." She said. "But, uh, we a deal, right?"
"Hmm?" Kirian said, looking back from the treasure to her. "Oh that. Well, uh, I was making it all up. There's no deal. I don't make deals with humans."
"What do you mean?" Myra asked, "I thought you were going to take me home!"
"Take you home? No way! I didn't ever say that." Kirian replied. "All I said is that I would be nicer to you, and I don't intend to live up to that anyway."
This was too tragically predictable. The girl's spirit of victory quickly vanished, like a balloon popped with a pin. It really was just out of the frying pan and into the fire. The smile that she had allowed to pass her lips melted away. The dragon was far too busy to notice.
"I hope they didn't take any of my things...!" He muttered to him, pacing around his cave, checking to see that every little treasure was in place. He gasped in annoyance when he say that one of his favorite staffs, a magical thing he had stolen from an old witch, was broken on the floor.
But when he glanced back at the princess, he did see something: she was sitting dejectedly against the wall. It wasn't a very happy sight, and for just the slightest fraction of a moment, the dragon felt pity for her. It made his good mood turn dreadfully sour.
"Oh cheer up." Kirian said. The urge to hit her was gone now. "It isn't like I've hurt you yet or anything."
"Yet is the key word." Myra replied in dismay. She wasn't crying at least. It seemed like she had spent all her tears in the Goblin Kingdom.
Now, Kirian regretted telling her that he had been lying. It would have been better to keep it a secret, and let her live in her little happy-wappy fantasy world for as long as he could.
"I'll tell you what," Kirian said. "If you promise to stop sulking, I'll take you flying with me."
The girl didn't even look up. This was probably just a new way to torment her. "The first time was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, Lord Kirian. I don't want to repeat it."
"I thought I said to stop calling me that." He said. "I admit, it wasn't the greatest flight I've ever flown, but I can do way better than that! Trust me. Come on."
"I don't care. No." Myra replied.
But Kirian's heart was now set on his fantastic new idea, and he wasn't willing to take no for an answer. "I'm the dragon here, princess. I'll say if I'm going to take you flying or now." He stormed forward threateningly, grabbed her arm, and dragged the protesting girl out to the front of the cave. He released her there, and stood for a moment. "Now, I'm going to transform- and then you, Princess, are going to climb on my back. Then we'll fly."
The reluctant girl slowly did as she was told. The dragon flapped his wings twice, kicked his feet against the hard stone floor, and then- they were off.
The last time she had flown, it had been away from her kingdom, and the life she knew there. Then dragon had taken her high up into the sky, and she had been almost entirely unable to breath. Now they stayed very low- Kirian slid over the clouds smoothly, taking his time. He dipped, occasionally, and Myra felt the wind run through her dress, like a bath of air, making her skin tingle and her eyes water. The trees were small and green, like in a board game. The sun was a bright disk, even as it was slowly sinking into the horizon. The mountain was huge, but behind them. The land was an explosion of colors. The flight before had been about speed. This one was about pleasure. She would probably never admit it, but it was fantastic.
When they got back, Myra was still slightly dazed. "Thanks." Myra said. It was perhaps the first time she had honestly meant it. He smiled triumphantly. "I knew you'd enjoy it." He said. "So don't sulk."
I went flying with the princess. I go flying sometimes. I shut her up. It isn't a big deal. I wasn't mad then, and I wasn't planning to get mad that night. I didn't want to ruin my glorious homecoming with a petty, unworthy emotion like anger. Gods don't get angry. Gods get revenge.
But then, something happened that made me very, very mad. I asked the princess (who, by the way, should have been on her knees worshiping me at this point), "So, I have much the greatest stuff you've ever seen, right?" I spoke of course, of my sea of gold- but also of my mountain, and its forests and rivers.
And do you know what she said? "Not really."
Seriously? I just took you on a majestic flight (and remember, you're probably the only human who has ever had that privilege) and that's how you thank me? Ungrateful little wench. Absolutely, I won't ever be nice to her again. I was so taken aback, all I could ask was- "What do you mean?" I stepped aside, so that she could look at my huge collection of wonderful things, and perhaps reconsider her foolish words.
"I mean, I was impressed at first- you're pretty rich... there's more gold here than I've ever seen in any one place... but my father, well, he owns a whole country. In comparison, your mountain of gold isn't really very much at all." NOT MUCH AT ALL? WHAT? My hoard was a LIFETIME of work by HISTORY'S GREATEST dragon. How could she say something so heartless?
It had never been put to me that way before. I had always assumed the power of dragons to be absolute, but I was wrong. If human kings held whole countries, then what did I have for them to envy? Treasure? They had the treasure of the land- fruits, meat, wine. Inferior treasure, absolutely. But still so much of it. It was a terrible thought!
"If you say another blasphemous word, I won't forgive you." I told her in my coldest voice. I'm pretty sure her father didn't have nothing like that.
I was tempted, right then and there, to throw her off the cliff. Or eat her. But then, it all came suddenly together. I realized it could be much better. I felt a slow, evil plan begin to form in my mind. I would still be the best. If I played my cards right, I could- and this was not hyperbole- take over the entire world. I'm amazing. That's the truth. Call me a genius baby, 'cause I've solved it.
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