The Princess and the Dragon

"Oooh," Brandywine groaned, the blonde haired woman pushing herself up from where she was crumpled on the floor. She was still wearing her night robes, the thin cloth not providing much protection from the chill of the stone floor. She looked around her in confusion before muttering, "Where...?"

The hall she was laying in reminded Brandywine of a palace, but one built for giants not men. The hall had to be over a thousand feet tall, the massive columns and arcs holding up a gilded ceiling that glittered in the light of many torches set along the walls. Paintings of heroic scenes lined the walls, but oddly each depicted the hero losing the battle with various monsters.

Brandywine stood up on unsteady legs, wondering if this might just be someone's strange idea of a joke. A tall, strong princess from a backwards kingdom she was often described as 'handsome' rather than cute, and had a name that was difficult to bear. Brandywine was the strongest drink in her homeland and her father's favorite, but why did she have to be stuck with it? And shortening it didn't help either, as 'Brandy' simply made one think of a girl who danced on bar tables for a living...

"So," the voice boomed from farther up the hall, "you're awake."

Brandywine winced at the volume and yelped, "Quiet down."

There was a startled moment of silence then the voice continued, "Come here, Princess."

Brandywine shook her head in confusion, looking around her with a cross expression as she addressed the unseen man, "Why should I? The last think I remember was looking out at the city from my porch..."

"Don't you want to know how you got here?" the mysterious voiced teased.

Reluctantly Brandywine set off, drawing her robe around her as she trod barefoot up the hall. The torches seemed to flare to life as she passed, then after a while going out and leaving where she had been in darkness. After a while she was a massive door, light spilling out where it was open large enough for a man, and a curious warmth seeped into the hallway. Edging past the opening she was blinded a moment by the light... then gasped softly in shock.

"About time," the dragon rumbled from where it rested on a bed of gold and jewels. The great lizard was massive, as tall as several horses with a triangular head. His snout puffed bursts of smoke as he spoke, and his eyes glowed eerily red from beneath heavy green scaled brows. Great wings were folded against his size, the shape similar yet different from those of a bat.

Brandywine swayed for a moment, shocked by the sight before her but steadied herself by grasping hold of the wall. "I thought," she managed to keep her pure terror out of her voice, "the dragons had died out."

The dragon shifted, as a soft hiss of scale sliding on gems was heard, the great beast shifting to peer at her thoughtfully. "Obviously not," the dragon rumbled calmly. "You're not frightened like the other princesses," he noted.

Brandywine barely kept her feet as she met those eyes, "Oh, I'm frightened." She smiled, "But my pride as a princess is at stake."

The dragon rumbled him amusement at that. "Maybe you can teach the other princesses that," he noted, "their screaming and fainting is getting annoying." He curled up on the mound of coins as he said sleepily, "Go, now. My servant will lead you to the others."

"Wait, I wanted to ask..." Brandywine started.

The dragon opened a eye again as he firmly repeated, "Go. NOW."

Unwillingly Brandywine took a step backward, then reluctantly left the immense treasure room. 'What a fearsome aura,' she mused as she shut the door, then turned to see a truly fearson face. "Eeek," she yelped, jumping.

The rock troll frowned slightly, looking slightly more fearsome than usual as the eight foot tall beast asked, "Princess Brandywine?"

"Yes?" Brandywine managed, wishing that she had a weapon handy. A club, sword, axe... anything would have come in handy right about then. Rock trolls were notoriously dangerous, with inhuman strength and resistance to damage, truly only something as powerful as a dragon could compel them into service.

"I'm to escort you to the princesses," the rock troll said politely.

"Ah...," Brandywine blinked, "right."

A few minutes later Brandywine found herself in what could be best described as a harem room, a cushion and lace lined circular chamber housing seven other princesses of all shapes and sizes. There was a dusky skinned princess of the far south, a pale, muscular princess from the icy north, a waifish princess of a rich land, one from the far east and another golden skinned girl from the west. It seemed the dragon was accumulating quite a collection...

'I wonder what I am,' Brandywine mused, 'the surly but capable princess?'

"Ah, the newcomer," the taller redhead rushed over as Brandywine entered, "we heard the Dragon arrive with you a few hours ago." She took her hands, "My name is Sharon."

"Nice to meet you," Brandywine bowed a bit as introductions were quickly made.

Rhia of the decadent city of Shambala puffed her cigarette languidly as the black haired woman looked Brandywine over and said, "I hope you'll be more entertaining to me than the rest of these yokels."

Brandywine gave her a wry glance, "I doubt it."

Ignoring Rhia's annoyed snort the princess of Gammon smiled at Brandywine pleasantly. The brown haired Orione asked, "Have you heard anything about our kidnappings?"

"I've heard rumors recently," Brandywine conceded, "according to the bard who visited, several princesses had vanished."

Sharon clapped her hands, "Then rescue must be coming soon!"

A dusky toned young woman shook her head, her long black hair rippling smoothly as Ar'hain said grimly, "We're being guarded by a dragon and his troll army. It's not going to be that easy."

"She's right," Cathryn agreed, the slightly pudgy dark brown haired woman foraging off of a tray of snacks.

"I'm trying to keep my hopes up," the sandy blonde haired Jenny of Quill sighed, "please let me dream."

"Smoke some of what Rhia is," the elegant easterner Chisame said wryly, "you'll be dreaming plenty."

"No," Rhia frowned, "I only have a few of these left!"

Chisame shook her head with a sigh, "I was joking."

Brandywine frowned thoughtfully as she addressed the group, "What do you do?"

Sharon spoke up after a moment, "Other than being his captives?" She sighed, "He makes us entertain him by dancing and such, as well as telling long, boring stories about his treasure horde and how he acquired each piece."

Brandywine nodded thoughtfully, "And can we leave here?"

"As long as you don't mind being followed around by a clumsy rock troll," Rhia said to her dryly, "and let me tell you it is very unpleasant trying to use a bathroom with a rock troll hovering over you."

Jenny looked up at Brandywine as she asked, "What are you thinking of?"

Brandy looked around the room defiantly as she said, "We should try to escape."

"Are you mad?!" Cathryn sat up in surprise, "We'll be eaten for sure!"

"Not to mention the trolls," Sharon said quietly.

"I'm not suggesting we go now," Brandywine said quickly, "trying to escape without a plan would be foolish."

"But you are suggesting we try to escape," Chisame noted. "We will be rescued from here eventually so why not wait?"

"I'm sure knight and heroes are already on their way to free us," Ar'hain noted mildly.

"And how many will die in the attempt?" Brandywine had to ask. She looked over the group, "They are our people who will be dying. As princesses, don't we have some obligation to spare them that?"

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

The dragon felt a certain amount of amusement as he listened to the conversation via a simple mind reading magic. He couldn't actually invade their thoughts but he could use a weak willed human as a kind of simple receiver, like the drug addicted fool. It had been a long time since he had possessed such a spirited princess, and she would make the game of holding the princesses captive much more interesting.

"M'lord," the rock troll leader said meekly, "do you want a special guard over the new princess?"

The dragon looked at him in surprise, wondering why the troll would even dare to make such a request. "Why?" he demanded.

The troll actually looked uncomfortable as he said, "She didn't seem scared enough."

There was a moment of silence then the dragon nodded slightly. Yes, the princess Brandy-whatever should have been collapsing into jelly at the sight of a dragon, much less a troll. But to the dragon that wasn't something to fear, it just made things more interesting.

"No," the dragon answered him at last, "keep a normal guard on her. I'll do whatever else is needed."

"Yes, sir," the troll nodded before fleeing.

'Yes,' the dragon thought as he lay down to sleep, 'very interesting indeed.'

To be continued...