Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone who’s never seen a dragon before is just seeing one for the first time. What do they see? Feel? Hear? What happens to them after (do they run, stay, escape, get eaten)?
An Unconventional Arrangement
by Carol R. Ward
Princess Noreen was putting away her clean laundry when she heard a thump from outside. She looked in surprise at the large creature perched on the stone rail of her balcony. “What manner of creature might you be?”
“Me?” returned the creature in astonishment. “Why I’m a dragon of course. A fearsome, fire breathing dragon.”
The princess looked him up and down. “Are you sure you’re a dragon?”
“What else would I be?”
“I don’t know, a featherless bird perhaps?” She shrugged. “Or maybe some kind of giant, hairless bat?”
“A bat? A bat?!” The creature nearly lost his perch. “You are a princess, are you not?”
She drew herself up huffily. “Of course I am! I am the youngest daughter of King Manfred the Third.”
“I don’t know,” the dragon said dubiously. “I would think a real princess would know a dragon when she saw one.”
“Why should a real princess know a dragon when she sees one? Dragons are only myths after all.” She said this in a matter-of-fact tone of voice as she finished putting her clean clothes away.
“Only myths?” The dragon bristled on the railing. “My dear child, what are they teaching you girls in princess school these days?”
“Oh.” Princess Noreen looked a little crestfallen. “I never went to princess school.”
“King Manfred has an abundance of daughters and a lack of gold. He couldn’t afford to send all of us to school.”
“How very unfortunate,” said the dragon sympathetically. “Well, you’ll just have to take my word for it I suppose. I am a dragon.” He turned his head to one side and belched out a big gout of flame.
Princess Noreen took a step closer to inspect her visitor. It had great, bat-like wings and beautiful golden scales. Its head was long and narrow with a ridged crest. The eyes glowed orange and were filled with intelligence. It smelled faintly of sulphur.
“All right,” she said finally. “Just suppose I do take your word for it that you’re a dragon. Why are you perched on my balcony railing?”
“I’m here to carry you off, of course.”
“Why do you say “of course,” like it should be obvious?” Noreen asked crossly. “And why would you want to carry me off?”
“Well I suppose if you didn’t know I was a dragon then you certainly couldn’t know that’s what dragons do – carry off princesses.”
“You’ll forgive me for saying so, but your wings, large as they are, look barely able to support your weight, let alone the weight of another person.”
“I’m stronger than I look,” the dragon said proudly.
“Well then,” Princess Noreen said. “Let’s get on with it, shall we?”
“I beg your pardon?” The dragon drew back slightly.
“You said you were here to carry me off, let’s get on with it. Shall I climb on your back? I’m sure that would be more comfortable for both of us than you trying to grasp me in your claws.”
“But … aren’t you going to scream or cry or otherwise carry on? Most princesses do, you know.”
“Most princesses aren’t to be wed to King Edward of Ballentyne a few days hence,” said Noreen grimly.
“I told you,” she continued, folding a spare dress around several books to make a neat packet. “My father is low on gold. He’s been marrying us off for the dowries we bring. King Edward is fat, old, and has a wart on his nose. I’d much rather be carried off by a dragon.”
“I expect you live in some sort of cave?”
Noreen nodded. “Well I’m sure I’ll be able to make do.”
“But that’s not how it works,” the dragon said a little desperately.
“Well how does it work then,” the princess asked with what she considered a great deal of patience.
“I’m supposed to carry you off and then your father pays me a ransom to get you back.”
“But my father doesn’t have any gold.”
“Exactly. So there’s really no point–”
“Oh no you don’t.” Faster than the dragon expected, Noreen darted forward and grabbed him around one leg.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m not letting you leave without me,” she said with determination. “I may not know much about being a princess, but I know a lot about running a castle. I’m sure I could make your life so much more comfortable – cooking, cleaning, organizing your hoard…”
The dragon thought about it for a minute. “Well my cave could use a little sprucing up,” he admitted.
“Sprucing things up is my specialty!”
“Well, I guess we could give it a try,” he said slowly.
“Excellent.” Noreen beamed at him. “I’ll make sure you never regret it.”
Which is how Princess Noreen, youngest daughter of King Manfred the Third, came to become a dragon’s housekeeper.
And she lived happily ever after.
Check back next Sunday for more free flash fiction! And check the writing prompt on Monday’s blog too, in case you might be interested in writing something to submit for this weekly post as well…