This is part two of my short dragon story. You can find part one here.The Princess is on a quest, to become a dragon herself, and needs the Dragon Master’s help.
The Dragon Master.
Hamish Macrae, a rather stocky, not particularly handsome, sheep farmer, was returning to his house from a lambing when he saw the princess. She was drenched from the rain, shivering with the cold and standing under the eaves of his farmhouse by the door. He shook off his oilskins, opened the door and invited her into his humble abode.
“It’s not much your highness, but it’s warm and dry.”
“Thank you.” She entered his house, then paused and asked, “How do you know I’m a princess?”
“Silk, Samite gowns, a golden necklace and a purple leather cloak. You’re either a witch or a princess, and with respect, your majesty, you’re much too pretty to be a witch.”
She inspected him while he went to stir up the fire. He was stocky, pleasant enough looking, with short red, almost orange hair. No one would ever call him handsome, but he wasn’t exactly ugly. He just looked sort of average, boring.
“Where’s your wife?”
“Not married, your highness. None of them town damsels could stomach living out here with,” he paused, “the likes of me. I’m not considered a great catch, you see.”
He looked at her in the flickering firelight, then lit a tallow candle and put it on the table beside her. “You’re blue, shivering. How long were you in the rain?”
“Most of today. I came from the Witch Elmira, on a mission.”
“How else? You can’t find a dragon master from an orb.”
The man shook his head, then said, “I’ll ask more later, but first you need dry things.” He clumped off and could be heard rummaging in the other room. She heard him open a chest and say, “There it is,” followed by “No, that’s not it.” Eventually, he returned carrying a coarse woolen robe. “Take this, it was my mothers. It’s not elegant, but it will keep you warm.”
She started to take off her cloak and then paused. Her wet gown revealed more of her figure than she would willingly show a common farmer. He said, “Oh, sorry your majesty. I’ll go into the other room.” He started for the door again. “Tell me when you’re changed.”
She said, “Thank you, but you can just call me ‘Princess’. That’s what everyone does.”
He paused and looked back at her. “Princess what?”
“That would be telling. One of my first lessons under the Great Wizard Bloom was never to reveal my real name.”
“That old buzzard,” he spat, “Sorry, it’s just he’s a power grabbing crotchety old man.”
“You know him?”
“Get changed and we’ll talk over supper.”
A few minutes later her gown was steaming on a chair in front of the hearth. She was sitting by the fire with a hot cup of broth in her hands and was enjoying the fragrant smell from a pottage slowly simmering away by the fire. She asked “Farmer, what’s your name and how do you know Wizard Bloom?”
“I’m Hamish, Hamish Macrae, Princess. Why are you here, so far from a palace?”
“You didn’t tell me how you know the wizard.”
“And I won’t Ma’am. Where are you bound?”
“I was told to come out here and look for the Dragon Master. I need some dragon tears for a transformation potion. One that will let me become a dragon.”
Hamish thought for a moment, then he stared hard at her and said, “Did you bring something with you?”
She sniffed, “A vial of maiden’s tears. Elmira said I’d need maiden’s tears and dragon’s tears for the potion. Why do you ask?”
“Are they your tears?”
“No, I haven’t been a maiden for years. I was trained to bind the dragon to human form with my feminine wiles. Didn’t work because he couldn’t shape-shift into a man. So I thought I’d learn how and show him.”
“You think all dragons can shape-shift?”
“Of course they can. That’s fundamental dragon magic. You might as well say they can’t shoot flames.”
Hamish was silent, then stirred the pottage. “Here Princess, grab the plate, it’s done.” She found a big wooden plate on the table, “This one?”
“That’s my trencher. All I use. Unless, Princess, you’re too dainty to share. I hope you don’t mind being trencher-mates with a farmer. You get your own spoon.”
“I’m hungry, pile it on, whatever that vile looking concoction is.”
“Pottage. In lambing time, I can’t always plan for a proper meal. The ewes don’t run on clockwork. Pottage just stews away and is good for whatever ails you. Sticks to your ribs, it does.” It certainly stuck to the ladle. He had to give it a shake and with a plop it landed on the plate. He poured a little water in, stirred it around and put the pottage back next to the fire.
She took the cleaner of the two spoons from the table and started at one end of the plate. He used the other and until they met in the middle they ate in silence. She because she was hungry and the pottage, vile looking as it was, tasted, well. She couldn’t find the right word, but it tasted much better than it looked. He ate in silence because he was shy and the words to converse with a princess did not rise to his mind. Or if they did, the confidence to speak them didn’t.
Eventually, their spoons collided over the last mouthful. He got it onto his spoon and offered it to her. Much to his surprise, she let him feed her and smiled at him. Then she said, “Nobility, sir farmer, seems to be found in unusual places.”
“Humph. Those tears, they need to be yours if the spell is to work right for you.”
“I told you I’m not a maid.”
“That’s not the problem. They have to be your tears, from longing after someone.”
“Hamish, But,” she paused, “I don’t understand.”
“It’s the maiden’s heart that matters, not the state of her.” He paused, not having the decent words to describe it. “If they’re your tears, I’ll ask the dragon for his.”
“You know him?”
“He buys my mutton.”
“Buys mutton? Wizard Bloom said he stole animals.”
“And Dragons don’t?”
“They may omit parts of the truth to mislead the unwary, but they don’t lie.” He waited, then added, “Not honorable to lie.”
She looked at the fire, then back at him and said, “What do you want me to do?”
“Give me the tears.”
She rose and pulled a small vial from a pocket in her cloak.
Then she handed it to him. He opened it, sniffed it. He said, “This smells of that witch.” A look of disgust crossed his face and he tossed the tears into the fire. There was a flash of green in the flames. He took the vial and washed it. Then he handed it to her. “It needs to be your tears, princess. Otherwise, it will go wrong.”
She looked at him from her seat, and said, “What are you going to do?”
He rose, stretched and replied, “Tonight, I’m going to sleep. The dragon will still be there in the morning. Then I’ll get some tears from him. Might take a couple of days to get them.”
“What about me?”
“It’s up to you, but I’d try to think of someone you love. Some unrequited real love to cry about. You can stay here while I’m gone. It will be safe. Oh, and pray none of the ewes gets in trouble.”