There be Dragons.

This is the third, and final, installment of my dragon short story. These are the links to the first and second parts.  This starts the next morning and ends, well, sometime.

There be Dragons

In the morning, dressed again in her Samite and silk, the princess bade Hamish goodbye. He strode off, and walked surprisingly quickly uphill towards the dragon’s cave. Just as he was cresting the first hill, which would conceal him from the farm house, he turned and waved back to her.
The princess sniffed. For a base-born farmer, and not an especially handsome one at that, Hamish was good company. She’d miss him, maybe not a lot, but some.
The day slowly dragged into night, she kept the fire going. While the pottage was still edible, its savor was gone without company. Eventually, she found she could cry over the dragon, the loneliness, and even that farmer. She filled the vial, and put it back in her pocket. That evening a small yellow orb popped into existence while she was arranging blankets by the fire. The Witch Elmira spoke from it.
“Are you getting the dragon’s tears?”
“Yes, mistress.”
“Good.” There was the start of a laugh and the orb winked out.
It wasn’t until late the next day that Hamish returned. He was carrying a small brazier of coals with a vial on top of that. Bright yellow light emanated from the vial and chased the darkening evening away. It filled his small farmhouse with a warm glow.
“Sorry, Princess, that this took so long, but the tears must be kept hot. Otherwise, they turn into amber.”
“Oh.” Now that her quest could be met, she felt strangely sad. Hamish smiled at her, then said, “Don’t worry. Did you fill your vial?”
“Yes. It’s just I don’t know how I can ever repay you for your kindness and somehow.”
“Do you want to be a dragoness?”
“Yes.”
He smiled, “Then don’t worry about the payment. The valley needs a dragoness. Give me your tears.”
She grabbed the vial from her cloak and gave it to him. He gingerly removed the dragon’s tears from the brazier and mixed them with the tears in a cup. Then he gave it to her. “Drink.”
“Me?”
“Yes, now. Before it cools off.”
She drank the mixture. A puff of steam came out of her nostrils, and she said, “I want to be a dragon.”
Hamish quickly grabbed her hand and said, “Not here.”
“Why not?”
“You’ll destroy my house.”
She smiled, and he continued, “While I hold you, you are bound to human form. Follow me.”
He pulled her outside, and away from his farm buildings. Then he stopped, “Princess, there’s one more thing you should do. Remove your clothes.”
“Why?”
“You don’t need to, but it sure as heck stings when you expand to full size and they snap. Besides, you might want them again.”
“I want to be a dragon. Not a woman. Why should I want clothes?”
“Humor me on this. I’ll shut my eyes if that helps.” Working together with their free hands, they pulled her gown up over her head, and off. As it fluttered to the ground, he released her hand and she transformed. With a deafening bellow, she was off into the night sky.
Hamish looked around, whistled a tuneless melody and picked up her gown. Carefully folding it, he walked back to the farmhouse. He said, to no one in particular, “Good thing lambing season is almost done.”

The princess flew up to the cave. It was cold and vacant. The dragon hadn’t been there for some time. She crawled in and started to cry. “I hope that wizard hasn’t called his prince.” Then she looked over the edge of the cliff outside and the same rusted armor she had seen there on her first visit remained. If the prince had attacked the dragon, he’d been unusually neat and tidy about it. Then she noticed, scratched above the door, “Wait.”
“I suppose I shall. There will be plenty of sheep tomorrow when I get hungry.” She lay down on the jewels that the dragon had accumulated, and drifted off into a sound sleep. Shape-shifting is a tiring business, especially the first time you do it.
Sun streaming into the cave mouth, combined with the twittering of Robins, awoke her. She started to say, “What time is it?” but only roared smoke and flames out the mouth of the cave. Crawling to the mouth of the cave, she saw that the cold early spring had changed to the warmer days of early summer. More importantly, she saw, there in the distance, a man following the trail to the cave. Her eyes focused in on him, and she saw the details far better than she could as a human. It was Hamish, and he was carrying a bundle with him.
She shouted “Hamish!” Much to her surprise he stopped and waved. He’d know what to do to get her out of this mess. There was no point in staying a dragon, if there wasn’t another one for company. Especially if there wasn’t that handsome one, she’d tried to charm.
It took Hamish an hour’s hard climb, but he entered the cave. The princess was there. He stopped and said, “Princess, you left your gown behind. I thought you might need it.”
She looked at him and asked, “What do you think of me?”
“I’d say you make a remarkably beautiful dragoness.” She did. Jet-black scales ran down her back. These were complemented by red stripes and emerald eyes. Her teeth were straight and sharp. Her ebony claws were indescribably sharp and lovely. She smiled, at least did what passes for a smile among dragons, and said, “You seem to know the right things to say.”
He entered the cave and set his bundle down to the side, away from the jewels. Then he approached her and stroked her forehead.
She said, “You aren’t scared of me?”
“No. I’m not worried about dragons, not at all.”
She tilted her head in curiosity and continued, “Then you’re a very strange farmer.”
“I am.” He sat in front of her and said, “Put your head on my lap, and we’ll talk.”
She did, and he reached behind her ear-holes and scratched. Then he reached around below the back of her jaw and scratched that too. She purred, “That feels so good. How do you know where to scratch so well?”
“I have my sources. So how does it feel to be a dragon?”
“Lonely.”
“Lonely?”
“I’d hoped that the dragon who lived here would still be here. He was a handsome beast. He’s who I cried for, mostly. I cried a little for you too.”
Hamish laughed, “I’m pleased to hear it, and I know dragons, even female dragons, don’t lie.”
“Don’t make fun of me. I don’t know what I should do.”
Hamish said, “One of the difficulties in dragon courtship, for the male, is knowing when the lady will accept his company and when she’ll try to fight. It sounds like you want male company.”
“I do.”
He gently pushed her head from his legs, “Sorry they were beginning to go to sleep.” Then he knelt next to her and stroked her face and neck until she drifted off into an uneasy sleep. After she was breathing with the calm, regular breath of deep sleep, he arose.
The princess awoke to see Hamish, standing naked at the edge of the cliff. He smiled at her and then started to do a backward swan dive from the ledge. She shouted, “Hamish!” and hurried to the opening. Maybe if she were in time, then maybe, just maybe she could catch him.
She didn’t need to. There, flying in front of her nose was the other dragon. A handsome dragon, with deep red scales and yellow eyes. It was the one she was waiting for. He said, “Neat trick what?”
She sent a ball of flames his way, which he dodged, and flew out to join him.
“You nearly scared me to death with that trick.”
“I never said I couldn’t shape-shift, just that I wouldn’t – not for a princess who was a man-trap.”
“You would for a dragoness?”
“With great enjoyment.”
“What were you doing as a farmer?”
“It was lambing season. The sheep don’t need me now.”
The princess gave as much of a blush as a dragon can, which amounted to little more than a genteel puff of steam. Then she said, “Next spring, am I welcome to help?”
“Why do you think I saved your gown? Could have gotten a hundred marks for that Samite at the market.”
She swatted at him with her tail, playfully. He replied in kind, and they rolled down the side of the mountain together, flattening a small forest in the process.
Later that night, tightly wrapped in each other’s coils, he said to his mate, “There’s one other advantage to being a dragon you know.”
She nuzzled his neck purred and said, “What?”
“Eggs. Dragon’s eggs are much easier to birth than babies.”

The Dragon Master.

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.”
“On foot?”
“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.”
“Wizards lie.”
“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.”

To Court A Dragon

A short humorous story, put out under one of my many pen-names. This is the first chapter, with more to follow.

The Dragon.
The princess called on the dragon. He was a most civilized dragon and, therefore, he invited her into his cave and served her dinner rather than served her as dinner. As she entered the cave, she removed her cloak revealing a buxom body in a jeweled bikini. It left little of her figure or ability to put it to good use it to the imagination. The dragon ignored it and produced dinner instead. Roast mutton always tasted better with company, even if it had the sulfurous overtone from dragon fire.

After they had eaten, she complimented her host on his shiny red scales, deep yellow eyes, and fearsome teeth. He smiled at her. “Do you know how to charm a dragon?”

“That’s why I’m here.”
“Really?”
The princess stroked the dragon under his chin. He purred.
“Can you turn it down? I’m going to go deaf.”
He stopped, “What’s wrong Princess?”
“Can’t you shape-shift?”
“What’s so important about shape shifting? Every damn princess I’ve met for the last century has asked about it. Here’s a penny for your thoughts.” He flicked a small ruby from his hoard to her.
“I thought all dragons can shape-shift.”
“I can’t, won’t, at least not for you.”
“That’s a shame.”
“Why?”
“Well, you know.” She pouted. “Things. It’s been a while.”
“What do you mean?”

She rubbed his brow and pressed her soft body in his face, “I’m hot.”
“You’re not wearing much. Not that I’m complaining, it becomes you, but how can you be hot?” He snorted, and the flames singed her hair.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“I know.”
“But aren’t you able to change shapes, become a prince?”
“Why should I want to become such a tiny weak thing as a human prince?”

She continued to stroke his chin, then she said, “Don’t you wish to love me?”
“I’d love you better roasted.”
She stopped, “No, I mean as a female.”
“You’re puny.”
“I am not.”

“Yes, you may be a buxom brunette human female. You might be well-endowed for a woman, but you’re puny for a dragon. Besides.” The dragon came as close to blushing as a dragon could, “I’m better endowed as a dragon than a man. I have two of them.”
“Two?”
“Two hemipenes. Each is as big as your arms, at least. At least that’s what I think. I’m always too busy when they’re out to measure them.”
He rolled over and showed her his underside. “Down there, on the sides of my cloaca.”
“I don’t see anything.”
“They’re inside. Are you a dragoness?”
“No.”
“That’s why they’re inside. Unless you’d like to put your hand in and feel.”
The princess blushed and said, “No thank you.”
“Oh well, you don’t know what you’re missing. In the season, we have quite a ball.”
“When was the last season?”
“A long while ago, there aren’t that many dragonesses left.”
“There are a lot of princesses, even some with-” She pouted and then produced her best seductive moue. The one she’d been practicing for years. Her teacher said it was the best he’d ever seen.
He ignored it. “I know. They taste good when they’ve been roasted. Although, I have to admit, I prefer sheep. Tenderer and less gamy than princesses.”
“So you won’t shift, will you?”
“No.”
“Then I’m going.”
“Suit yourself.”

The princess stood and walked out the front of the cave. The dragon reminded her, “It was warm, almost summer weather when you came in this morning. It’s winter weather now, up here in the mountains, and you’re not dressed for it.”
She turned and faced him. Then she said. “That’s my problem.”
“Just don’t forget your cloak. You’ll catch cold and then where will you be?”
When she walked out of the mouth of the cave, she called, “Wizard Bloom I’m out.”

A few moments later a blue ball of light appeared. She stepped in and a minute later stepped out into a room full of wizard stuff, and things. It was a veritable trash dump of magical arcana. An old man with a long grimy white beard accosted her.
“What went wrong?”
“He doesn’t want to switch.”
“Dragons are liars. Why didn’t you push the issue?”
“I did. As hard as I dared.”

While they chatted, a blast of flames came out of the mountain on the distant horizon. It was followed by a flying dragon. He shouted, so loudly that all the windows in the village rattled, “Where’s that princess? I’m hungry” She was nowhere to be found, so he scanned the farms, and looked for sheep. A fat ewe would do for dinner in her absence.
The Wizard looked at the princess and said, “See what happens when you fail?”
“I failed?”
“The idea was for you to trap him with your womanly charms, that magic. Bind him to human form so we can eliminate him.” The wizard paused, “as a threat I mean.”
“He’s not interested in humans. We’re too puny, and I don’t blame him. Imagine two of them and as big as my arm.”
“That small. Poor fellow.”
“He’s extremely nice. For a dragon, that is.”
The Wizard paused, “Well since you’ve been trained in your female magic, how about a go?”
“Get lost creep.”
Outside, in the distance the sirens of the Valley fire department could be heard. The dragon, had, in his hurry, set a barn alight.
“This is what is going to happen every night until you bind him with your enchantment, your delicious enchantment.” He reached for a squeeze. She slapped him silly. “How many times do I have to tell you, it’s not for you creep. I’m not an apprentice any longer and don’t have to put up with your lechery.”

The Wizard charmed up an ice pack for his face, then said, “He’s the only dragon left, you know. The rest have all been charmed or killed.”
“There aren’t any dragonesses?”
“No. In a way, it’s a pity. But if you’re not going to charm him, then I’ll have to talk to the prince. He’s been itching for a fight with a dragon.”

She was stunned; this was an aspect of her charge that she hadn’t considered. “You mean – if I don’t charm him, then he’ll be hunted down and killed.”
The Wizard nodded his head, then winced. The princess packed one heck of a punch.
“He seems to be afraid of shape-shifting. Said he can’t, then said he won’t.”
“What a wimp.”
“He’s a very nice dragon. Polite and elegant.”
“Still, a dragon that won’t shape-shift. What a loser.”
“I think he just needs to be shown that it’s safe. Can you teach me the way?”
“Maybe.”
“What’s the price?”

The wizard reached out to take a squeeze and once more was slapped. He charmed up a fresh ice pack for the other side of his face. The princess packed a punch with both hands. She said, “Sorry, I’ll find someone else. Maybe the Witch Elmira.”
“She’ll want payment too.”
“Greedy lot, you wizards. Don’t call the Prince yet, I haven’t given up on my dragon.”

Early the next morning the wizard was woken by someone banging on his door. When he finally stomped downstairs and opened it, grumbling all the time about his lazy good for nothing servants, one of the local farmers was standing outside. He barked at the farmer, “My visiting hours are this evening. What are you doing raising me from my slumbers at this unheard of hour?”

“Mr. Wizard, Sir,” the farmer respectfully saluted, “My barn’s been burned down. That dragon last night.”
“What do you want me to do about it?”
The man sheepishly showed the wizard a ruby. “He left this for payment. Can you spell the barn back, or-”
“Or What?”
“At least make some change for me? The builders can’t break it, and it’s worth 454 marks, three shillings, and a pfennig. That’s too much for the builders, and I need some of it for the replacement livestock.”

The ruby awakened the wizard’s interest. He was suddenly friendly, “Come in young man, come in. Let me see what I can do.”
A feminine voice called from upstairs, “Bloom, what’s going on?”
“Nothing princess.”
“Nothing my shapely derrière.” She came downstairs to see what was happening. She had changed from her dragon hunting clothes to a nightdress. It was silk and carefully embroidered with silver and gold thread, but still just something to sleep in. Its elegance took the farmer’s breath away when he saw her. He bowed and saluted, “Your Highness.”
“You trying to think how you can stiff that farmer out of his ruby?”
“No Princess, but it would be interesting to know how he came by such a valuable stone.”
“Sir,” the farmer bowed again, “honestly. The dragon left it after he burnt down my barn. Said it was an accident. He’s good about that you know. Always pays for his mutton.”
The princess asked, “Is this the dragon that lives in that cave in the Grey Mountains?”
“The one up the cliff with all the broken armor at the base?”
“Yes, is it that one?”
“Of course, there aren’t any others ’round here, are there?”
The princess glanced at the wizard, and said, “That settles it Bloom. I’m searching for a dragon master. This dragon is too nice to turn into burger meat.”

Wizard Bloom eyed the princess. This one, like all the rest, had finally gotten too uppity for his tastes. Elmira could deal with her; she had a taste for pretty young things like the princess. He called a yellow orb into being and said, “Princess, the Witch Elmira is a specialist in shape-shifting. Go!”

The princess stepped into the orb and was gone.
The wizard turned back to the farmer and said, “What cretin told you this stone was worth that much? Maybe a hundred marks tops.”
“Get bent old man.” The farmer said, “If you’re not going to help me, then I’ll-”
“No, no, I didn’t mean that at all. Now let me see, a spell to rebuild a barn. I think I can find one. It will cost you though.”