The Princess and the Dragon
As days stretched on to weeks the dragon felt a odd sort of disappointment within him as things continued on as usual. The princesses danced and entertained him at his request, he ate well and Occasionally a knight or other hero would show up to challenge him. Sadly, they almost always turned out the exact same way: the hero or knight would challenge him, the dragon would fly out to attack and a single breath of fire and it was all over other than peeling the melted armor off the well cooked bits.
And collecting any surviving magical weapons, of course. It was a matter of pride that the dragon had a whole collection of magical arms, most never having been used because he'd killed the users before they had a chance to. Swords, bows, shields, axes and many, many more, all still shining like the day they were made.
Indulging his pride a bit the dragon would take a princess or two aside and tell them a few tales of the heroes who bore the weapons, leaving out their nasty end of course. He was also careful to keep an wary eye on Brandywine, but she seemed uninterested as she focused on serving the dragon's meals or otherwise serving his needs.
"Hurry up," Brandywine ordered as the princesses rushed out of the kitchen, "we've got to keep the food and wine flowing."
The meal was rougher than Brandywine was used to making, but then again the blonde haired young woman supposed a dragon didn't care if the thirty or more chickens he was eating were well seasoned or not. Not to mention the whole cows, sheep and other beasties. The trolls carried all the heavier dishes but for actual cooking they were pretty bad, so much so that the princesses had partially taken over.
Orione carried a jug of wine in each hand as she hurried by, her dark brown hair tied back in a top knot. The younger woman frowned, "We're already starting to run low. Should we be breaking out the beer?"
"Not till the wine is done," Sharon noted as the tall redhead turned a pig on a spit, "I don't like to mix my drinks and I doubt the dragon does either."
"I do," Rhia smirked, the black haired woman lazily stirring a pot.
"You don't count," Sharon shot back quickly with a grin.
Brandywine hid a smile as she worked, making sure the pigs were tender enough. One of the things that had been hardest to do over the past few weeks was trying to break the others from their hopelessness. But day by day she had worked to show them that there were indeed chances for them to escape, all they had to do was seize them.
"Ho, Brandywine," the dragon called, sounding very mellow from all the wine he drank and food he devoured.
"Ho, lizard," Brandywine answered, her simple robes flowing around her. As she had been taken in her nigh things she had been forced to create her own garb, but thankfully her sewing skills were up to the task.
The dragon frowned a bit boozily as he said, "Show some respect, wench."
Brandywine served up more wine in the large basin that the dragon slurped out of. "Of course, lord," she replied mildly.
As they fed him treats the dragon moved less and less, watching them from his nest of gold and valuables. The trolls also appeared to be slowing down, probably from the heat in the large chamber. Rock trolls normally only seemed to frequently cold regions like the north, so it was possible being out of their home lands weakened them.
The dragon stirred as he peered at them bustling back and forth. "I want to be entertained," he grumbled, "dance for me."
Ar'hain swirled out in a set of gauzy robes, the darker skinned black haired beauty reaching out to Brandywine as they moved across the mostly level piles of gold in front of the dragon. Together they danced back and forth in each other's arms, carefully moving towards the far edges of the chamber where the rarer treasures were stored, including the powerful magical devices. Once there Brandywine was gracefully released, scrambling for cover even as Jenny took her place in similar clothes, the sandy blonde haired girl relaxing in her arms.
'Not that we're that alike,' Brandywine mused as Ar'hain and Jenny swept back in front of the dragon, 'but he's so drunk he may not notice.'
Quickly Brandywine made sure the few remaining trolls were focused on the dragon, then hurried forward to the rack of weapons. She dug through them quickly, finding a smaller knife she concealed beneath her robes and carefully shuffled back to work. Carefully she waited til the last of the trolls were gone for their nightly patrols and the dragon was falling into slumber before she made her move.
The dragon stirred slightly as Brandywine walked to him as casually as possible, having reasoned that sneaking would probably wake him instantly. Smoothly she pulled the knife, feeling how light it was, then ran the last few steps as she struck. The first cut dug deep in the startled dragon's chest, sending hot blood pouring over he, then she dove deeper through the chest cavity, searching for the heart.
"Princess..." the dragon managed to gurgle.
Brandywine found the heart even as blood gushed on her, blinding her for a moment. "I'm sorry," she hissed out as she struck with her blade deep into the muscle of the heart, "I wanted to make this quick."
Once his heart burst the dragon almost seemed to deflate, much of it's imposing size maintained by tensed muscle. "Are you all right?" Cathryn hurried forward, the now slimmer woman offering some support as they climbed out from under the beast.
"I'll live," Brandywine grimaced as she tried to get the gore out of her face.
"You did it," Cathryn murmured softly, "even after all our planning I didn't think that you really could..."
"Thanks," Brandywine sighed as she stripped her bloody garb off and poured a basin of water over her, "and we're not done yet." With as much efficiency as possible she cleaned the blood off and dried before dressing in a simple tunic and pants.
"The rock trolls," Sharon said as she and the others hurried to where the dragon had stored the enchanted weapons.
As Chisame picked up a shining katana from her homelands to the east she asked, "How many of you know how to use these?"
"I know how to use a sword," Brandywine admitted, "my father insisted I know how to protect myself."
"Why am I not surprised," Rhia muttered, looking at the pile of weapons with distaste.
Orione picked out a sword and handed it to Rhia, "From what I remember of the dragon's stories this sword could fight by itself."
"Thank you," Rhia tool it awkwardly, almost as if she was handling a dead animal and not a weapon.
With a certain amount of effort the ladies sorted the weapons out, each one picking something that might suit their talents, as well as sharing out the pieces of enchanted armor that were there as well. Within a short time they were ready, or at least as ready as they were ever going to be.
Jenny frowned as they headed to the door of the dragon's chambers, "I still think we would be better off waiting for rescue."
"There's nothing to stop the trolls from killing us," Brandywine shrugged, "only the dragon controlled them. Besides, there's no where in the castle that we can defend against them til help arrives."
Ar'hain hefted a spear confidently as they opened the main doors, peering out into the halls beyond, "You still expect rescue?"
"I think they're going to try," Brandywine said honestly as they moved forward, the magical torches lighting up as they did so.
"The princesses!" a troll bellowed, charging out of the darkness where he had been standing guard, the massive stone like beast looming over them.
Without thinking Jenny drew the bow she carried, then with a soft twang released as the arrow unerringly sped to strike deep into the startled troll's throat. As it frantically grabbed at the arrow's shaft Rhia swept forward, her startled cry drowned out by the trolls bellow of pain as she stabbed swiftly through it's heart.
"Rhia, that was amazing," Jenny blurted, looking at the elegant woman in surprise.
"It wasn't me," Rhia was looking at her now filthy sword in astonishment, "it felt that the sword was commanding me, not I it!"
"I guess the enchantment works," Ar'hain said cooly, "thank goodness."
They moved through the hall then out into sections of the castle that had been forbidden them, descending down paths and stairs farther and farther towards the earth. Peering out windows they had known how high the keep was above the ground, but taking the stairs they really felt the distance. The magical weapons helped them make short work of two troll patrols, but the trip down was taking forever.
"I'm going to die," Cathryn groaned as they exited a stairwell into another long passageway.
There was a moment of dead silence before Chisame whispered, "They may help you."
Gathered at the end of the passageway was the largest band of trolls yet, nearly fifty strong and led by the hulking troll Brandywine remembered was the leader. "Princesses!" the great troll growled, "You have slain our master. For that, you will die."
With a gulp of fear Jenny drew her bow even as the others readied their weapons. Whatever else might happen, none of them were willingly going back to captivity. Brandywine hefted shield and sword as she took a step forward as she called to the trolls, "You really don't want to try this."
"Why not?" a laughing troll called from the back.
"We killed your master, the last of the great dragons," Brandywine smiled evilly as she bluffed, "imagine what we can do to you."
"She's bluffing!" the troll leader yelled.
"Now," Brandywine whispered to Jenny
With a thwang the arrow released, this time zipping into the eye of the troll, dropping him in a burst of blood. As the trolls drew back in shock the princess' roared and charged forward, waving weapons and whooping loudly. There was a tense moment when the trolls raised their weapons but they faltered then broke and ran, fleeing out the doors and revealing the sunlight and a courtyard beyond.
"We did it," Rhia breathed out, "WE DID IT!"
"Well, we still have to get home," Sharon noted.
"Spoilsport," Rhia said, but she was still grinning.
Notes: May or may not do a part three, dealing with Brandywine getting home possibly still with a princess or three in tow. We'll see how inspired I get.