The Princess and the dragon

That’s my mum for you. She’s the most powerful witch of the East and admired by everyone, but she sometimes forgets my name. That being said, though, sometimes I do too.

We live together in a tower on the edge of a forest. I’ve never actually been out of the tower but I’m told by my mum that the forest is incredibly dull so I don’t really want to. Though, sometimes, I lean out of one of the large stone windows and feel the wind in my hair and it changes things. Surely there’s more to life than this.

The newspaper is delivered by a carrier pigeon each morning. My mother looks up from her bubbling cauldron of Potion 69 (“It’ll go down a treat!”) that she sells to local townsfolk for aid with matters of the heart. “The paper’s here already?” She muses. “Sometimes I just forget the passing of time, you know?”

“Yes.” I reply. I don’t.

She takes the paper from the pigeon and skims through it. “Wars, taxes, some maniac thinks that gays created earthquakes – the usual. But… wait?”

“What?” I ask, interest slightly piqued. It’s rare that my mother pauses in her criticism of the news media to comment on something interesting.

“Have you ever thought about going on a quest?”

I sigh and eye her warily. “What do you want me to do?”

“The princess has been kidnapped by a dragon. Her family wants me to save her. See, it says ‘PLEASE GOOD WITCH OF THE EAST SAVE MY DAUGHTER FROM THE EVIL DRAGON’ at the bottom of that paragraph there.” She points at the page in question.

She’s right. It does. In all caps. It’s an abrupt jump away from true journalistic form but I’m not complaining. “Okay. Where do I have to go?”

She seems surprised that I’ve agreed so easily, and truth be told, so am I. People might chalk my eagerness up to true heroic spirit or something, but in reality, I just want to leave the tower.

Mum sends me on my way with a sword, armour, several days of rations and a knitted sweater. “Don’t die.” She waves from the front door of the tower. “And do make sure you wear your sweater if it gets cold, honey.”

I roll my eyes and head towards the forest. “Yes mum.”

Outside is nice. It’s like inside but bigger and with less stone. I recommend it. As I walk I notice the sounds of the birds and . . . definitely the roaring of a dragon. I’ve wandered into a clearing with a whole bunch of charred skeletons lying around, and for the first time in this adventure I feel truly scared. Seeing a whole bunch of charred skeletons lying around does that to you.

The dragon lands in front of me. It’s huge, with shimmering purple scales and beautiful plumage on the top of its head.

“Hi…?” I say, waving nervously. I’m not keen on joining the skeletons. “I love your scales, by the way. Stunning. Dragons are super cool, please don’t kill me.”

I tend to ramble a lot when I’m scared.

The dragon tilts its head and looks at me with something akin to confusion. It snorts, grips me with one of its claws and abruptly drags me away and into the air. Needless to say, it’s a bit of a shock.

My wonder at the world from above is quickly overtaken by the nausea rising in my stomach. I really hope I don’t throw up. That’d just be embarrassing.

I’m dropped unceremoniously on to the grass in another clearing and the dragon settles next to me. As I look up I notice a brunette woman reading A Short History of Irony: Volume One of Twelve, and studiously ignoring my gaze. She’s probably the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen, but then again I don’t have much frame of reference considering the whole “tower thing”.

She raises her eyes from her book and glares at me for a moment. Then, eyeing the dragon, she says, “She’s not dead. Why is she not dead?”

“Well, she complimented me, Clarissa, and nobody does that anymore.” The dragon rumbles, and I drop my sword in shock.

“You can… talk?!”

“We live in a world where there are dragons and you’re surprised that they can talk?” Clarissa asks. Despite her tone there’s a faint quirk on her lips that suggests she’s not as mean as she seems.

I nod. “Point. Not being dead is my main goal in life, you know?”

“Yes.” She places her book aside and stands up. “So. You’re not here to save me are you?

“You’re not one of those white knights with a sword up their as-”

“Nope!” I yelp, shutting that train of thought off as fast as I can. “Just me. Eloise. Witch’s daughter. Your parents are very worried about you.”

Clarissa helps me to my feet with a sigh. “Hardly. It’s always ‘Jonathan this’ and ‘Jonathan that’ and ‘Clarissa, why don’t you get a job as a Priestess because your brother Jonathan is a big, strong Knight and girls can’t do that.’”

“I can see why that’d be annoying.” I finally let go of her hand, realising I’m on the verge of a social faux pas. “Have you talked to them about this?”

“I tried, but Mother is always off with the children, and Father is always building walls. . .” She sighs and rolls her eyes. “Can you see why I don’t want to go back?”

“They sound . . . distant. I get it.” I reply. “But they are worried. Give them another chance?”

“No.” Clarissa purses her lips, “I’ve had 20 years of this. Now I can just hang out with my dragon and my books and not have to put up with it all.”

“Fair enough.” I quickly come to a conclusion. “I’ll leave you to it. I won’t tell anyone where you are or anything. Bye.” She’s pretty, but I’m here for a reason. If she wants to live out her life with her pet dragon, then that’s fine with me. I start heading towards a break in the trees near the edge of the clearing.

“Wait.” She runs up behind me. “You should come back some time. We can . . . talk. Hang out. Do . . . other things.” She winks.

And if she’s implying what I think she’s implying, I’m not complaining.

The kingdom might have lost its princess that day, but I’ve gained a friend. After all, life isn’t a fairy-tale, and good things take time.

That’s my mum for you. She’s the most powerful witch of the East and admired by everyone, but she sometimes forgets my name. That being said, though, sometimes I do too.

We live together in a tower on the edge of a forest. I’ve never actually been out of the tower but I’m told by my mum that the forest is incredibly dull so I don’t really want to. Though, sometimes, I lean out of one of the large stone windows and feel the wind in my hair and it changes things. Surely there’s more to life than this.

The newspaper is delivered by a carrier pigeon each morning. My mother looks up from her bubbling cauldron of Potion 69 (“It’ll go down a treat!”) that she sells to local townsfolk for aid with matters of the heart. “The paper’s here already?” She muses. “Sometimes I just forget the passing of time, you know?”

“Yes.” I reply. I don’t.

She takes the paper from the pigeon and skims through it. “Wars, taxes, some maniac thinks that gays created earthquakes – the usual. But… wait?”

“What?” I ask, interest slightly piqued. It’s rare that my mother pauses in her criticism of the news media to comment on something interesting.

“Have you ever thought about going on a quest?”

I sigh and eye her warily. “What do you want me to do?”

“The princess has been kidnapped by a dragon. Her family wants me to save her. See, it says ‘PLEASE GOOD WITCH OF THE EAST SAVE MY DAUGHTER FROM THE EVIL DRAGON’ at the bottom of that paragraph there.” She points at the page in question.

She’s right. It does. In all caps. It’s an abrupt jump away from true journalistic form but I’m not complaining. “Okay. Where do I have to go?”

She seems surprised that I’ve agreed so easily, and truth be told, so am I. People might chalk my eagerness up to true heroic spirit or something, but in reality, I just want to leave the tower.

Mum sends me on my way with a sword, armour, several days of rations and a knitted sweater. “Don’t die.” She waves from the front door of the tower. “And do make sure you wear your sweater if it gets cold, honey.”

I roll my eyes and head towards the forest. “Yes mum.”

Outside is nice. It’s like inside but bigger and with less stone. I recommend it. As I walk I notice the sounds of the birds and . . . definitely the roaring of a dragon. I’ve wandered into a clearing with a whole bunch of charred skeletons lying around, and for the first time in this adventure I feel truly scared. Seeing a whole bunch of charred skeletons lying around does that to you.

The dragon lands in front of me. It’s huge, with shimmering purple scales and beautiful plumage on the top of its head.

“Hi…?” I say, waving nervously. I’m not keen on joining the skeletons. “I love your scales, by the way. Stunning. Dragons are super cool, please don’t kill me.”

I tend to ramble a lot when I’m scared.

The dragon tilts its head and looks at me with something akin to confusion. It snorts, grips me with one of its claws and abruptly drags me away and into the air. Needless to say, it’s a bit of a shock.

My wonder at the world from above is quickly overtaken by the nausea rising in my stomach. I really hope I don’t throw up. That’d just be embarrassing.

I’m dropped unceremoniously on to the grass in another clearing and the dragon settles next to me. As I look up I notice a brunette woman reading A Short History of Irony: Volume One of Twelve, and studiously ignoring my gaze. She’s probably the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen, but then again I don’t have much frame of reference considering the whole “tower thing”.

She raises her eyes from her book and glares at me for a moment. Then, eyeing the dragon, she says, “She’s not dead. Why is she not dead?”

“Well, she complimented me, Clarissa, and nobody does that anymore.” The dragon rumbles, and I drop my sword in shock.

“You can… talk?!”

“We live in a world where there are dragons and you’re surprised that they can talk?” Clarissa asks. Despite her tone there’s a faint quirk on her lips that suggests she’s not as mean as she seems.

I nod. “Point. Not being dead is my main goal in life, you know?”

“Yes.” She places her book aside and stands up. “So. You’re not here to save me are you?

“You’re not one of those white knights with a sword up their as-”

“Nope!” I yelp, shutting that train of thought off as fast as I can. “Just me. Eloise. Witch’s daughter. Your parents are very worried about you.”

Clarissa helps me to my feet with a sigh. “Hardly. It’s always ‘Jonathan this’ and ‘Jonathan that’ and ‘Clarissa, why don’t you get a job as a Priestess because your brother Jonathan is a big, strong Knight and girls can’t do that.’”

“I can see why that’d be annoying.” I finally let go of her hand, realising I’m on the verge of a social faux pas. “Have you talked to them about this?”

“I tried, but Mother is always off with the children, and Father is always building walls. . .” She sighs and rolls her eyes. “Can you see why I don’t want to go back?”

“They sound . . . distant. I get it.” I reply. “But they are worried. Give them another chance?”

“No.” Clarissa purses her lips, “I’ve had 20 years of this. Now I can just hang out with my dragon and my books and not have to put up with it all.”

“Fair enough.” I quickly come to a conclusion. “I’ll leave you to it. I won’t tell anyone where you are or anything. Bye.” She’s pretty, but I’m here for a reason. If she wants to live out her life with her pet dragon, then that’s fine with me. I start heading towards a break in the trees near the edge of the clearing.

“Wait.” She runs up behind me. “You should come back some time. We can . . . talk. Hang out. Do . . . other things.” She winks.

And if she’s implying what I think she’s implying, I’m not complaining.

The kingdom might have lost its princess that day, but I’ve gained a friend. After all, life isn’t a fairy-tale, and good things take time.

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