Suggested Pandora Station: Lindsey Stirling
The Princess and the Water Dragon
By: Abby Adams MCMB
The small cry rang throughout her room waking her from her sleep. She slipped out of her large satin covered bed and followed the tiny shrieks sounding below her bedroom. Slipping on her robe and slippers she opened the door to her room very slowly on its creaking hinges before sliding through a slender space into the cold hallway. Straight ahead of her she heard the trickling of the water that ran below the castle through its long unused dungeon.
The heavy warped wooden door hung open, the sound of the river that swirled beneath the staircase drew her down the stone steps until her slippers soaked with the cold water. She slipped them off and placed them on the step behind her. The piercing sound echoed off the stone walls again as she shrugged her robe off and folded it on top of her shoes. In her trance she waded out into the water until she stood in the middle of the dark dungeon.
Sliding through the water swiftly, flashing his spines above the water briefly, a water dragon made lazy circles around her. She laughed as he leapt up like a dolphin from the dark water. He finally floated up in front of her and she scooped him up with both hands. He stretched his scaled nose up towards her, his mouth almost smiling as they stared at each other, the only sound ringing through the dark dungeon was the trickle of the water from his tail flipped over her arm.
“What a beautiful creature you are,” she whispered.
She brought him up to her lips and kissed his cold nose. A flash of light made her gasp and drop the dragon back into the water. He swam away glowing through the water into the far reaches of the dungeon following the swollen river out of the castle. She waded out of the dungeon and back up the steps to her room. She watched out the window as she changed her night gown. The river winding through her small island kingdom to the ocean on the horizon stretched out before her. Just beyond the castle the river glowed brightly in the woods.
She leaned out the window straining to see what caused the light. Hoping the water dragon had made his way safely out of the river. A shriek startled her away from the window and she stared stunned as a massive blue black dragon burst up from the woods into the moonlit sky. She stumbled over to her bed and threw the covers about her watching as the creature flew off towards the sea, tumbling and shrieking. She burrowed into her blankets and soon trembled herself into a deep sleep.
The bell clanged early in the morning waking the princess suddenly with a gasp. Activity bustled outside her door as the castle staff awoke and went about their business murmuring rumors of the tragedy that had befell a nearby village the night before. She drew on her robe again and left her room before her ladies came to dress her. She skipped down the stairs in a hurry to get to the kitchen where the news would be abuzz and out loud. She could sneak in a door and listen unseen for a time before the servants would discover her.
“A dragon…” one maid whispered as the princess passed. The two maids curtsied with rags in hand and went back to polishing the giant mirrors of the ballroom as she strode past them. Their whispers renewed as she slipped out of sight and down a secret hallway to the great kitchen, filled with noise and loud voices.
Instead of testing her luck and the creaky door at the end of the dark hallway she crouched before it and listened intently. She was rewarded with the loud voice of the cook on the other side.
“The whole village gone,” the cook exclaimed. “No one left to tell the tale of how it happened. But there’s some who say it was a dragon. One fellow says he saw it taking off towards the ocean last night in the wee hours. Sapphire blue it is. Water dragon for sure.”
The rest of the cook staff murmured replies. The princess sat heavily against the door and put her head in her hands. She thought of the little dark blue dragon in the castle’s dungeon and then of the flash of light that had followed her kiss.
“Oh my, what have I done?” she whispered.
She got to her feet and hurried back out of the secret hall and up the stairway. She glanced at the door to the dungeon as she made her way to her room. It was closed tight and latched this morning. She wondered if her vision had actually been a dream caused by the shrieks of the water dragon that had terrorized the land last night. But as she burst into the room she saw her maids holding her water stained slippers and still damp nightgown.
After they helped her dress in her riding dress and piled her hair up on top of her head she dismissed them and picked up her cloak. She looked out of her window for a long moment towards the area where the dragon had appeared in the sky the night before. She turned and left the room her long skirt flying out behind her as she swept through the front hall and out into the courtyard. The stable hand had her horse waiting on her.
She could barely contain herself as she was helped into her saddle and arranged her light blue velvet long skirt across the back of her horse. She guided the white stallion, prancing on his impatient feet through the castle gate. He danced a little more as she reigned him, feigning the decorum of an educated princess as the stunning pair made their way into the forest for the princess’s daily ride in the forest land around her father’s castle.
Peace had reigned for as long as she could remember. She could leave the safety of the castle walls without a guard, and her father had not seen her before the news of the dragon attack had reached him, so today was no different. The stallion would protect his rider to the death having been raised by her loving hands, but he was a high spirited horse and the two long time friends loved to run wild and free through the forest.
She slid her leg from around the pommel on the saddle and grasped the quivering horse with her thighs, clad in the leggings she had slipped on under her dress after her maids had left her dressing room. The pressure made the stallion stop in his tracks just as they disappeared in the tree line. She felt his muscles bunch in his shoulders as he readied for the command that always came next. She sunk low over his neck and buried her hands in his silken mane.
“Go!” she whispered in his ear. The energy quivering in his muscles burst through the both of them and the forest began to whip past her.
With her cloak spread wide behind her and her upper body crouched over the neck of the glimmering stallion she looked like strange blue wings coming out of the horse’s strong back. His feet pounded and as they burst through the woods into the meadow she leaned back and tossed her head flinging her arms wide, trusting the horse beneath her who ran in wild zig zags and loops around the meadow. He threw back his own head tossing his mane letting out neighs of joy at the daily exercise, his muscles stretching taking the distance in seconds and doubling back across the open field.
After crossing and looping the flower covered meadow several times she took up the reigns again and pulled the flighty horse back into control. He obeyed although his muscles still twitched and quivered with adrenaline. She turned him towards the woods again, where the river ran across the length of the island. She knew every inch of the lands belonging to her father around the castle.
As they entered the woods again and she heard the bubbling river, a groan came from the direction she was heading, a small very quiet groan, followed by a splash. She slipped from her horse, tying his reigns to a nearby tree and unclipping her long skirt from her waist. Without the volumes of material she was free to climb through the brush in her short skirt, thick leggings and leather boots that she had tucked her dagger into before leaving her room.
She no longer looked like a frilly pretty princess, and when the man lying on the river bank saw her, he thought he was seeing a warrior princess come to kill him with her dagger drawn. He gasped and tried to escape tripping and falling into the river further. His head submerged and he came up gasping and choking on the muddy water. She let out a loud laugh and put her dagger away as the naked man continued to try to trudge through the sludgy water beneath his feet.
“Stop,” she said as he stumbled and fell again, thankful he was waist deep in the cool water. “I am a friend.”
He stared at her for a moment, silent. Then he moved towards the shore, making her turn quickly as he exited the water.
“Wait right here,” she said keeping her back turned to the silent man behind her. “I will get you something to cover with.”
She went back through the bushes to her horse who waited, dancing and huffing at her impatiently. She pulled the long skirt off his back and patted his neck as she took off back through the bushes keeping her eyes on the ground. When she returned the man had gotten back into the water and was busy washing himself, once again waist deep.
“Here you are,” she said startling him. He turned and stared at her. “Who are you?”
He shrugged and returned to washing, a grimace crossed his face as he gently washed a wound across his chest. She frowned and sat to watch him finish bathing. As he moved back to the shore again she turned her head and when he cleared his throat she looked back to find him wrapped in her long skirt. She smiled and got to her feet. He smiled but still stood silent.
“Can you speak?” she asked. He shook his head opening his mouth. A small gasp of breath came out and nothing more. “Oh dear, okay. Well my horse is on the other side of the bush and he can carry us both. Would you like to come with me? Get clothed and that wound tended?”
He nodded slowly his dark grey eyes riveted to her face as she spoke. She took his hand and helped him through the bushes. He grunted and whimpered once as he stretched to avoid a thorny vine. She held his hand as they approached her startled horse. The stallion snorted and stomped around the wounded man, but when he got close enough to lay his hand on him the horse calmed suddenly and stood still as the two mounted. The horse grunted a little at the extra weight, but being the fastest and largest horse in the kingdom he was accustomed to his mistress and several of her friends clinging to him on mad dashes through the meadow they had just crossed. None of the princess’s friends’ horses could keep up with her stallion.
The stallion made his way out of the woods carefully with the taller rider seated politely behind the princess. He had piled the excess of the long skirt between his half naked body and her back and sat back with his arms crossed against his bare chest. She sat further up on the saddle, wrapping her leg around the pommel and arranging her short skirt around her upper legs, sitting side saddle. She looked the part of a warrior princess returning with her knight from war as she entered the castle walls.
The people came and stared as they made their way to the castle steps to meet the stable hand that anxiously waited for the princess to return. As the stallion trotted up his head flung high in the war horse pose he was born to, the man leapt down keeping the blue velvet wrapped around his body as the stable hand’s servant ran to fetch the king. The people gathered as their princess slid from her horse and mounted the stairs with the tall bronze naked man wrapped in her skirt. No one gasped about her attire, all knowing her carefree spirit and habit of wandering the woods in wool or cotton leggings instead of her proper long skirt.
The man was the cause of the murmuring through the crowd. He was sleek and shiny, his skin was tanned dark as if from many hours in the sun. His mop of blue black hair looked as though it was still wet as it glimmered in the morning sun. He was muscular and strong, his shoulders were lined with defined muscles. The princess and her silent guest were met by the castle staff and half the royal guard when they entered the hall. Her father was mounting the top of the stairway, her mother clutching his arm, her face bright white with panic.
They strolled down calmly for the sake of the staff but as soon as her foot reached the bottom step, the queen flew across the hall to her daughter and wrapped her arms around her. The king followed strolling quickly, a serious look on his face as he came to stand before the man beside his daughter. The two towered together over the smaller women. The king was no small man and had his share of war and trouble before he had brought peace to the island and his daughter was born. He glared at the silent man who defiantly stared back with his steely grey gaze. The princess put her hand on her father’s arm.
“He is not a bad man, father,” she said glancing up at the quiet stranger. “He cannot speak, but he understands us and he has been wounded. I had to help him. Maybe the dragon did this to him.”
At the mention of the dragon the man jerked around and looked down at the princess wide eyed. She caught his gaze and was suddenly reminded of her strange night in the dungeon, of the little water dragon’s small black eyes rimmed in steel grey. She almost gasped and stepped back but caught herself. Was this what her kiss had done to the creature? She unwrapped herself from her mother’s arms and eased closer to the now trembling man.
“It will be okay. You’re safe here,” she took his arm and her father motioned for the servants to help her show the man to a room to be clothed. The castle physician was called to tend to his wound.
The princess left him to the care of the castle servants and went to her own room to change her clothes and rearrange her hair. She dressed carefully in a grey and white silk dress that swirled around her in soft waterfalls of fabric. She carefully brushed her hair and had her maid pull it back out of her face, curling the tendrils with her hot iron. She put on a dark blue sapphire necklace and made her way out of the room and down to the dining room to have the noon meal with her parents and their guest.
He was already seated, looking dashing in a grey suit of clothes. His chest was bandaged underneath but he sat tall and straight in his chair as though no pain ran through his body. He was not smiling as he stared at the sun pouring on the floor from the high windows in the dining hall, but as she entered the room he looked up and his face lit up with a broad smile. Again she thought of the smiling dragon from the night before and grinned brightly back at him.
He quickly rose to his feet and pulled out her chair. Her father chuckled at the man’s politeness to his daughter and the warmth between the two young people. They both smiled at each other like a couple courting and as he took her hand to help her in her seat she covered his with her free hand and smiled up at him sweetly.
“Welcome guest,” her father’s voice boomed over the din of the servants moving about preparing the meal for the royal family and their usual company of family and friends. The man smiled and nodded around the table and then returned his attention to the princess seated beside him.
The day went by quickly with dancing and entertainment that would keep the castle booming with life until the sun sank below the horizon. Though the princess and her stranger did not speak it was as if they had silent conversations with their eyes. They danced together and played games with the other guests of the castle. The man offered to help struggling servants from time to time as they served up the food in large quantities and also helped to feed the fires that raged in all the fireplaces.
He swept the princess into a waltz around the grand ballroom as the king called for the musicians to play again. The two turned and twisted as others joined their dance. She kept her eyes locked on his, their fingers locked together as the music swirled around them. She smiled softly and he smiled back. His hand on her back held her tightly against him. The crowd seemed to melt away as he looked down into her blue eyes. They felt like they were alone on the dance floor and it seemed like their minds spoke to one another, but her smile melted away from her face as she heard what he was saying in her head.
“I must leave from here,” he whispered in her mind.
“Why?” she thought her eyebrows gathering in concern as they gazed at each other.
“I am dangerous, my love. Very dangerous,” his rasping voice said inside her head. “I must leave from here.”
“No. Don’t leave me. I feel safe with you. You can’t be dangerous. You will never hurt me, I know it,” she thought shaking her head and breaking their gaze. The spell broke and he frowned as their connection was broken.
The crowd returned from the haze around them as she laid her head on his chest for the rest of the dance and closed her eyes to the pitter patter of his heart. He held her hand hard as the steps quickened and they spun into a fun country dance. He caught her attention again, spinning her around eliciting giggles and smiles. She laughed and whirled with him and the crowd clapped and laughed at the young couple enjoying themselves. The happiness of their meeting returned and she thought nothing more of the whispered warnings in her mind.
They stopped as the music ended and he led her out to the gardens surrounding the back of the castle, attached to the ballroom. She held his hand as they walked out into the fading sunlight. He looked toward the sunset and frowned. She looked up at him concerned at the change in his mood again. He turned to her and gathered her into his arms. She melted into him tossing her head back, not understanding this sudden bond they shared.
Brushing her hair from her face he gazed down at her again and caught her eyes. She closed them as he cupped his hand beneath her chin. This time the words poured into her head. Thousands of different languages, all professing love for her and telling her how beautiful she was, all whispering urging her to hear him and understand. She didn’t know the languages, yet she understood the words perfectly, she felt lost in his love. Her whole world glowed around her as he kissed her and her arms wrapped around his neck as though she were clinging to the edge of a cliff.
“Don’t love me,” he whispered suddenly in her head. She broke away and stared into his eyes again.
“I can’t help it,” she thought back.
“It’s not safe for you to love me,” he whispered. His arms tightened about her as she tried to step back.
“Love isn’t safe. It’s wild and free and dangerous,” she thought her eyes filling with tears.
“I am too wild and free and dangerous,” his voice rasped pleadingly.
“I am stronger than you think,” she whispered out loud. She rose up on her tiptoes and kissed him again. He clutched her to him and held her tightly as his body began to tremble. The sun had sunk below the horizon and darkness began to fall over the castle grounds.
He trembled in her arms and suddenly began to push her away. She fell back as he shoved her hard a low growl rumbling in his throat. His eyes flashed and he roared out in pain. She scrambled to her feet tearing her dress as she stood. He was shivering all over and it looked as though droplets of water glimmered around him. He looked at her with fear in his eyes.
“Please run!” his voice exploded in her head.
She shrieked and ran inside as a flash of light engulfed him and inhuman shrieks issued out of the light. The crowd inside had huddled together staring at the exit to the gardens, the men surrounding the group of ladies their hands on their weapons. When she stumbled in alone, they started forward until she threw her hand up and rushed forward.
“The dragon is coming!” she yelled as they all gathered around her.
That caused the group to disperse. They ran to their places in the castle, the women to their rooms to hide and the men to find their weapons and armor to fight. The shrieks of the dragon burst through the castle sending the princess running back to the exit to the garden. The royal guards caught her as she tried to run out into the cooling night. She gasped as she saw the giant blue black dragon shrieking amongst the roses and flowering trees. It snorted and growled and when it caught sight of her being held, struggling against the guards, her hair streaming around her face and her dress torn, it roared in fury and stretched out a scaled claw knocking the men and the princess to the floor.
Stunned she laid on the floor staring at the dark sky. Blood poured from a scratch that extended from her shoulder across her arm and breast. His claw had brushed past her as he had knocked the guards away like flies. She sat up clutching her tattered dress to her. She stood silently still listening to the heavy breathing of the creature above her. Even in the presence of this giant scaled fearsome dragon she still felt warmth and love. She wanted to stretch her arm out and touch him, but as her arm came up he let out a whimper and swung his head away.
She let out a little sob turning her own head away. The dragon hanging his head in shame didn’t see the archer come to the castle wall, he didn’t see the trembling guard, who had never seen a dragon in his life notch his bow and arrow and aim it at the dragon and the princess below him. The princess was gazing up at the heavy breathing creature when the arrow struck her in the back. Her breath caught in her throat causing the black and grey eyes to swing back to her.
Rage and pain rocked the creature as he watched her crumple to the ground below him. A roar of madness shot out of his mouth and as he took to the sky a sudden barrage of arrows came flying at him. His blue black form shot across the darkening sky, shrieks of sadness and sorrow sounding throughout the castle and across the land. He came back down with a vengeance, fire pouring from his mouth and nose, his claws outstretched towards his assailants who poured from the castle to defend their king.
The queen screamed from her room high above the garden as she looked down at the grey mound of silk that was her daughter. Her maids held her back from the window as she tried to climb out to get down to her little girl. The dragon swooped over the castle grounds again swatting at the soldiers that wielded their swords and shot arrows into the air at him. The king, astride his daughter’s white stallion, shouted commands at the soldiers, unaware of what had happened to his daughter at the hands of his own archer. That same archer was struck from atop the castle wall with one swift blow of the dragon’s claws.
As the dragon landed amongst the soldiers and king’s guards his feet smashed knights in the full armor. Though the gash across his chest still gleamed with blood from the night before the arrows they shot at him bounced off his scales and their swords merely scratched him. He was ten times bigger than he had been the night before and tonight he was not confused and lost, he was outraged. His fury poured out of him as he fought the soldiers and then swung around face to face with the king himself.
Suddenly his outrage melted away as he faced the father of the princess he had loved. He stood still, his scaled chest heaving as he prepared to give himself to the king’s sword. A whispered moan came through into his mind and his head swung in the direction of the garden and the pile of silk that was slowly turning crimson as it soaked with the princess’s blood. She moved a little and he took off from the ground knocking the king from the horse and tumbling the stallion over on his side with a shrieking cry.
He landed just feet from the princess who was writhing on the ground now. Light was illuminating her shoulder where she had been scratched and she clutched it tightly. Her blue eyes searched wildly around and when she saw the dragon before her she calmed and though her whole body still shivered, she laid very still. The dragon stretched out his large clawed hand and very gently gathered her up. She sighed and closed her eyes as he held her to his chest and took off up into the sky.
The queen shrieked out the window after the disappearing dragon and her wounded daughter. The king mounted the stallion and rode out into the night. He searched for days but came back without even seeing the dragon, although he didn’t sleep through his whole journey.
The kingdom wept for their lost princess, but as time passed the grief calmed. The dragon did not terrorize the people of the island again, but those who braved the night in the following years told tales of a strange reptile looking woman resting on the cliffs at the edge of the sea, watching with her giant dragon lover sitting beside her. Keeping guard over the island and protecting the land the princess had loved.
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