Today’s writing prompt is a take off of the classic tale of the princess and the dragon. In most of these tales, the princess is saved from a dragon by a dashing knight. My princess isn’t really the saving type though…
Writing Prompt: The Princess and the Dragon
“Where is he?” The intensely worded question was paired with a long dagger pointed at Greevy’s nose.
Greevy swallowed hard, his eyes traveling the length of a blade to the hooded figure beyond. “Wha? Where is who?”
With focused fury, the figure gripped Greevy by the collar and slammed him up against the alley wall. The wall he had just finished taking a piss on. Grimacing in disgust, he peered at the face within the shadowed hood now close enough to be visible.
“Oha… hey! I know you! You’a tha princess!”
The blade pressed against his throat. “This kingdom is rife with princesses fool.”
“Ya. But you’a the one tha thinks she’s a-“ A quick slice across one cheek shut him up. Except for the whimper of pain he couldn’t contain.
“Say another word and I’ll gut you.” The threat was even more menacing said in a low, harsh whisper.
The knife returned to his throat. “I’m not going to ask you again.”
Greevy squirmed in her grasp. “But… but, you just told me not to say another-“ The knife whipped out again, slicing his other cheek. Crying out, he began to spill everything he knew.
Princess Harper Danaher slammed the door to her depressing little room at the inn she was staying. Removing her sword she set it carefully in the wall hanger, and then removed the three daggers she had hidden in various places on her person.
Stripping off her dusty clothes and throwing them on the floor, she flopped back onto the bed sighing in frustration. She stared at the peeling paint on the ceiling for a couple minutes then flipped over to punch her pillow a few times. Realizing she had forgotten something important she groaned and got up wearily to retrieve one of her knives from the small table she had set them on. Placing it under the flattened pillow, she flopped back down and went back to staring at the ceiling.
She had to figure out where to go next. Greevy had been very forthcoming after the second nick of her blade, but he still hadn’t known enough. The slimy little weasel was a well-known sneak. He was also the man everyone went to when you needed information on the sly.
It was a shame he had recognized her. She was already on the outs with her father. If he found out she was slumming after hours in an unsavory part of the city there would be hell to pay. She couldn’t help the angry frown she felt twist her face.
“Let him be angry.” She mumbled out loud, and rolled to her side. She was angry. She’d been angry her whole life. There was a reason their kingdom was known as the Kingdom of a Thousand Roses. The many daughters of King Eldon were often referred to as beautiful roses.
It wasn’t that she had so many other sisters, she loved every one, even if she didn’t know all of them. It was that once he had a child, and consequently found out that child wasn’t a boy, her father completely ignored his daughters. Oh, they were taken care of and given every benefit deserving of royalty… but love and attention were hard to divide amongst a thousand daughters.
Her and a few of her other sisters acted out in different ways to try to please him or gain his attention. She, for instance, had tried to be the son he’d never had. She’d trained to fight, to ride, and to hunt. All to no avail. Years of her life had been dedicated to what was considered manly pursuits, but all it had served was to make her father angry because she refused to act like a lady.
Rolling to her other side, she snorted in a very unladylike manner. Acting like a lady hadn’t gained love for the hundreds of other sisters who behaved properly. At least this way she, and a handful of other sisters who also followed unorthodox pursuits, occasionally got to see him. Even if it was only to get a blistering lecture. And her father was usually so busy chasing women to dally with, that all he ever did was lecture and leave. With no real consequences, and the chance to continuously annoy her father, she saw no reason to stop what she was doing.
Besides… she actually liked swinging a sword, throwing daggers, riding, and hunting. She especially liked the look of surprise when she knocked some cocky knight on his ass.
So, no. Father wouldn’t like that she wasn’t currently safe and snug in her own bed in the castle. That, instead, she was traipsing about the city, skulking in alleyways, listening in on drunken whispers, paying barkeeps for rumors. Until finally, Greevy’s name popped up.
That lowly sneak hadn’t had as much information as she had hoped though. Sleep slowly claimed her and her last thought was of caves. How cliché.
The next morning Harper found herself scouring through one empty cave after another. The caves used to be rampant with dragons, but up and coming heroes had all but wiped them out. Now only a handful remained. An occasional sheep or cow would go missing, and the kingdom would get all in an uproar, but the drakes had gotten very good at hiding and it had been years since one had actually been caught.
But a sighting had taken place a week ago. A sheep had gone missing, and everyone seeking to make a name for themselves had been combing through the caves ever since. She had laughed at their folly.
That was… until, she had lost contact with her best friend, Carith. She had met him when they were both little and had instantly fallen in love. As they’d grown together, he had become her best friend. She’d shared all her worry, all her hurt, all her anger with her father. In turn he’d comfort her, play with her, make her laugh. They loved each other, and she hoped someday soon they’d run away together. Another year or so at the most.
But he hadn’t shown up at their secret meeting place a week ago, nor any night since then. She’d become worried… and, well, she wasn’t one to sit around wringing her hands.
She’d begun to wonder if he was in trouble. Rumors in the bars seemed to confirm her suspicions. And then Greevy. All he had heard was that Carith might be in the caves. But he knew not to go there. Otherwise, she would have looked there first!
Unfortunately there were many caves. By late evening she was hot and sweaty. Not to mention annoyed and very worried.
Breathing hard, she sat outside the most recent cave she had just explored and shrugged off her pack. She was going to have to camp for the evening. She’d been gone from the castle for two days now, and she wondered how much longer before someone noticed she was gone. Presumably a few more days at least. She had a few of her sisters covering for her.
She was just pulling out some dried meat when a breeze brought faint sounds to her ears. She froze, listening hard.
There it was again! A roar! Standing swiftly she shouldered her pack and took off into the night.
Rising a crest, she peered all around her, squinting into the evening gloom. She heard another roar, but the sound bounced off the hills and it was hard to pinpoint the direction it came from.
A flicker of light caught her eye, and this time the sounds of men shouting reached her. She raced towards the light as fast as she safely could without breaking a leg. As she got closer, she realized there were two men standing outside a cave with torches and drawn swords. They turned at her approaching footsteps.
She pulled back her hood, for once wanting to be recognized.
“A rose! I… I mean princess! What are you doing here?” The man on the right lifted his torch a little higher.
Ignoring his question, she asked her own between deep breaths. “What’s going on here? Is there a dragon in there?” A roar issued from the cave following her question, and she felt her blood run cold.
The men turned back toward the cave with matching looks of fear. “Ayah.” Said the man who had questioned her. “And a man went in to kill it.” He glanced sheepishly at her over one shoulder. “We would have followed, but we’re farmers, not fighters.”
Drawing her sword, she stepped past them. “That’s alright. I am.” One of the men made to stop her, but one lethal look at his extended hand, and he quickly dropped it.
Entering the cave, Harper quickly followed a rock strewn path towards another source of light that was moving rapidly back and forth. As she moved closer she saw it was because a man held a torch in one hand as we swiped a sword at a hissing drake with the other.
The man seemed to be just as afraid as the dragon, both lunging at each other in turn, as if afraid to get too close. The dragon was on the small side with beautiful shimmering black scales. She could see multiple cuts on him where the man must have struck him. Gripping her sword tighter, she pulled out her dagger with her free hand and moved closer.
The dragon snapped at the man, hissing as it tried to move further against the wall at its back. A shift of rock suddenly rained down on the creature, unexpectedly distracting it. In that second the man made to make a killing strike at the dragon’s exposed underbelly.
“Carith!” Screaming his name, Harper let her dagger fly.
It sank deep into the man’s shoulder and he screamed, dropping his sword, and falling to the cave floor. Rushing forward, she kicked the man in the side of the head, knocking him unconscious. She yanked the dagger from his shoulder, not sorry for the man at all.
Turning to the still hissing dragon, she set down her weapons and held her hands out to show she was unarmed. “Carith. It’s me. Harper.”
She slowly walked forward, grimacing at the blood streaking his scales. He lowered his head, but the hissing continued. “It’s okay,” she murmured, “It’s okay.”
Reaching out she gently stroked his head, mindful of a cut on the edge of his nose. He breathed her scent in deeply and finally lowered fully onto his belly so that she could hug him tightly around his long neck.
Pulling her sack off her shoulder, she rummaged for some ointment. “What were you doing out here? I thought we agreed you weren’t to ever come to the caves! It’s too dangerous!”
A guilty look, and reptilian sigh was her only answer. Carith couldn’t speak her language, but he understood her well enough. Spreading ointment over the worst of the cuts, she was glad to see that none were life threatening. He hissed at her a few times, but let her tend him.
Just as she had put everything away and retrieved her weapons, the man began to groan. At the same time, she heard shouting at the front of the cave asking if everything was okay. They were about to be outnumbered.
A loud clicking noise issued from Carith’s throat and he nudged her with a rough butt of his head. Understanding, she sheathed her weapons and clambered up his side, sitting just ahead of his wings.
Growling and hissing, Carith dashed up the small slope of the cave and barreled right past the two men waiting outside. They were so shocked at what they were seeing that they never even tried to use their swords.
Loping away from the caves, they headed towards a forest on the outer edges of the kingdom, where Carith had made his home. Unfortunately he was still too small to fly and carry her at the same time. She was hoping in another year he would finally be big enough that they could leave to explore the world. Maybe find dragon friendly territories.
After a good three hours they were finally nearing his nest. She was thankful, as her legs and arms were sore from trying to maintain her grip for so long. She also knew Carith had to be hurting from his wounds and having to carry her. She felt a little guilty. He could have flown the distance in a fourth the time if he didn’t have to carry her.
When they arrived at his lair, she shakily dismounted, and sat down abruptly as her legs gave out under her. Carith nudged her shoulder, almost sending her flat on her face. “Carith! Stop that. Give me a minute.”
A snort was his response, and he laid down beside her, licking the wounds she hadn’t covered in ointment. She drank some water from the pouch she carried in her pack, and laid against his side. He wasn’t a fire breather, but he still radiated a warmth that she was grateful for on this cool night.
She wondered what she was going to do. The men had recognized her. If she went back home, everyone would be demanding to know where the dragon was. She had been keeping his existence a secret for over ten years. She certainly wasn’t about to give him up now. However, she knew she would be closely watched. Her father would definitely put a few sneaks on her trail.
Carith bent his head around her, enveloping her in his warmth. She loved him so much. He was her best friend! She refused to betray him in any way. She stroked the large ridge above one eye and smiled at his satisfied rumble.
“Carith. I think you should leave the kingdom.” His rumble turned to a low growl, and he huffed sharply through his nostrils.
“I won’t be able to keep you safe. We’ll never be able to see each other again, I’ll be followed for sure.”
Carith raised his head and gazed at her with an intelligence that never ceased to amaze her. Groaning, he stood and walked behind the nest of rocks that he slept in. She shivered at the suddenly cool night, but was too tired to get up and follow him.
Returning with something large in his mouth, he dropped it next to her. She couldn’t see what it was in the darkness of night, so pulled it closer to squint at it. She laughed when she realized what it was. “A saddle? Where did you manage to steal this?”
Settling back down, surrounding her in heat once more, he gave her a smirk and huffed through his nostrils again. The saddle was made for a horse, but he was basically that size anyway. It would need some tweaking considering his girth and wings, but it could easily work. “Does this mean what I think it means?”
He rumbled low in his throat and closed his eyes. He couldn’t fly with her weight yet, but he had let her know he was willing to go if she was. It was a sacrifice for a creature with wings, for sure. But it was better than anything else she could think of. They’d have to be careful, stick to forested and rural areas, but… “Yes. Let’s see the world Carith.”
Laughing out loud, she hugged his head once more, glad he was okay. She was excited about tomorrow, but this day had exhausted her. She shut her eyes on a sudden thought. Oh, this will really piss father off.
She smiled into the darkness.
I hope you enjoyed this short story! Please feel free to leave comments below. I do welcome constructive criticism in the comments, but please give me more than, “I didn’t like it”. Don’t be afraid to tell me it sucked, but tell me why you think it sucked! And, of course, if you did like it, I would like to know that too.
And if you liked this writing prompt, and feel inspired to write a short story of your own, please feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to highlight your story in a post of it’s own!
Please don’t mind the mess.
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