And the next (and last) story installment in my recently started short story. I promised I’d have it to you guys today and here I am.
After frying myself with writing over 2,000 words this morning. That’s just how writers spend Valentines Day.
Okay. Well, let’s see what our giant knight, tiny fighter princess and invisible dragon do next.
Here’s the first part if you didn’t catch it: The Giant’s Quest
The ground rattled beneath them as the dragon noises thumped closer, accented by the clacking of huge talons in the courtyard’s stones.
“Quick. Out the door,” Pippa stuck her hairbrush in her belt along with a few other things that Deuteronomy couldn’t make out and made a dash for the exit.
Stumbling to keep up, Deuteronomy turned the corner after her and the two ran down the hall. Pippa shot along faster than one would guess after being cooped up for so long, but came to a sudden stop at a split between two halls. Deuteronomy skidded up behind her and waited.
Still, she didn’t move. She held up a finger and looked between the two hallways with a frown. Another crash sounded from down the hall that Deuteronomy guessed was the dragon coming up the stairs.
“What are you waiting for? Left or right?” he tried to keep his voice low and calm, but didn’t succeed all that well.
Pippa shrugged “I don’t know. I’ve been cooped up in the tower all this time. I’d think you would know.”
“Me? Why me? I just got here!”
“Well I’d expect you would explore at least a little . . .”
A roar shook the hall and Deuteronomy spun around to see a blast of fire coming towards them, singeing the tapestries on the walls on either side. The slight outline of a dragon was moving at alarming speed towards them through the flames.
“Left it is, then!” Deuteronomy scooped up Pippa and ran, hoping the flames wouldn’t catch up. The heat died away behind them and he relaxed a little, but a quick glance back over his shoulder banished any sense of security.
The dragon had dropped its invisibility and a pair of bright eyes shone through the hall, watching him. Flames from the burning tapestries reflected off of its opalescent white scales and cast changing colors over the walls. It sat still for a moment, then leaped after them, its mouth open to shoot more flame.
Deuteronomy swiveled around as he ducked into another, smaller side hall. A heavy wooden door hung partway open at the end of it. Maybe it was heavy enough to stand up for longer against dragon flames?
Taking as long of strides as he could, Deuteronomy dashed into the room. He hurriedly set Pippa upright by the table in the middle, dropped his helmet, then ran back and slammed the door shut, bolting it just as an angry roar echoed from down the hall.
“Good choice,” Pippa ran her hands over her skirt to smooth it, “This hall is too small for his sort.”
Deuteronomy leaned heavily against the door, gasping for breath and trying to think of their next move. This room couldn’t hold out forever. They’d have to face the dragon.
Correction. He thought, I’ll have to face the dragon. I can’t believe I dragged the princess into this. This has to be the worst outcome of a quest ever. The knight takes the princess out of her safe tower to be eaten by the dragon. Oh, I’m so chivalrous.
“I like your hair,” Pippa commented.
Deuteronomy turned and looked at her. She was twirling a spoon between her fingers and smiling up at him.
“You . . . what?” he asked.
“I like your hair,” she repeated, “It looks like honey.”
Excuse me, but do you realize we’re in high danger of death at the moment? My hair color should be rather low on the priority list.
“Um . . . thank you, M’lady.”
She tossed the spoon up in the air and caught it with her other hand, “You’re welcome. Is there a plan?”
“Maybe,” Deuteronomy ran a hand over his face and tipped his head back to look at the ceiling. “I’ve got a horse outside the castle, so we can get away on that. But there’s the dragon. And at the moment I’m not sure if killing him is all that possible.”
He looked doubtfully down at the sword by his side. It was a good sword, no doubt. But with the thick scales on that dragon and its tendency to disappear, too much was resting on luck.
“We could tempt him out one of the drawbridges, then escape by the other,” Pippa suggested. “Or you could punch him. You’re so big you just might knock him into the next kingdom.”
Deuteronomy tipped his head, “That might work. The first one, I mean. I could stand at the end of one while you run out the other . . . I could tell you where the horse is . . .”
“No!” Pippa put her hand on her hip, “We can fight him together!”
There was a crash and part of the floor beneath them collapsed, opening a wide hole into the courtyard below. The dragon’s long talons gripped the edge of the stones.
“We’re out of time to think of anything else, Princess. Just run for the drawbridge that goes all the way across. I’ll go for the other one.” Deuteronomy grabbed his helmet, unsheathed his sword and nodded towards the hole. “I’ll help you out, but then we have to split.”
Pippa frowned, but was quick to jump up on his back for a ride. The sudden weight was a bit of a surprise, with Deuteronomy’s expecting the princess to simply follow him instead of hopping on board. But he quickly righted himself and took the jump out past the dragon into the sunlight.
The dragon’s head snapped in their direction as soon as they hit the ground. His scaly lips curled back, revealing pointed, shining white teeth.
Deuteronomy gave Pippa a gentle shove in the direction of the complete drawbridge, “Go.” He didn’t spare a glance in her direction. One second of inattention could mean death. He held his sword at the ready, but as Pippa ran, the dragon’s eyes followed the fluttering skirts instead of staying focused on the shiny armor in front of him.
“Hey!” Deuteronomy waved his arms, but the dragon had started towards Pippa. It moved slowly, like a cat slinking towards his prey.
This was not how the plan was supposed to work. Deuteronomy gave another yell that didn’t get as much as a twitch in his direction from the dragon. He gave a panicked look over at the still upright half-drawbridge.
How to get his attention . . .? Suddenly an idea popped into his head. He skipped the whole part about figuring out if it was a good one and sprinted to the stairs that led up to the wall. The pulley, wound in the chain, was fastened securely at the top of the bridge. A good length of spare chain hung from the end of the wooden drawbridge.
“Over here!” Deuteronomy gave a yell as he threw his helmet at the dragon. It spiraled through the air, catching the sunlight before landing squarely on the back of the dragon’s scaled head.
That got his attention. The dragon’s bright eyes were quickly fixed on him. Taking advantage of the attention, Deuteronomy took a few more swings with his sword, aiming it so the sunlight reflected into the dragon’s face. He kept a firm hold on the extra length of chain in his other hand.
“Yeah, big boy . . . right over here.”
The dragon snorted and thumped angrily towards him. Flames shot out of his nose with every step like a sputtering furnace.
“C’mon . . .” suddenly, Deuteronomy’s smile dropped. The dragon’s outline was fading into the air.
There was a crash against the wall and he staggered to keep his footing. A swoosh of air came past his face and jumped backwards. He felt the scratch of a claw across his cheek and the stinging warmth of blood. Wincing, Deuteronomy kept himself from putting a hand to it. Both his hands were occupied at the moment.
How am I ever going to find his head like this?
A sudden force rammed itself into his stomach, clattering his sword to the ground and expelling his breath from his lungs. He barely managed to stay upright, holding tightly to the invisible bulk pressed at his middle. There was something wet and his fingers felt sharp points next to them.
“There you are,” he whispered with a grin. Right before the dragon snapped at him again, he quickly looped the chain underneath the invisible jaw and swung on top of the snout. The dragon bucked and snorted out short bursts of flame as Deuteronomy pulled the spare length together at the top and jammed it together with his shortsword.
The dragon let out a muffled roar, muzzled as he was, and threw himself violently against the edge of the wall.
One more thing . . . Deuteronomy took a firm hold of the drawbridge chain and pulled towards himself, reeling the dragon towards the pulley. It fought him every inch of the way, but finally, they were close enough. Deuteronomy let loose the pulley.
The sawn-off, thick wood bridge plummeted downwards towards the deep moat, pulling the dragon and knight along with it. Deuteronomy was thrown backwards towards the dragon’s thrashing and rapidly reappearing tail. It smacked him hard, sending him spinning towards the shore on the other side.
The bridge dropped with a splash below the water, taking the captive dragon with it as Deuteronomy smashed against one of the stone pillars. Ignoring the pain screaming through his body, Deuteronomy staggered to his feet, looking down at the moat.
White, opalescent scales shone up through the water that was now swirled with blood. The only movement was the remaining waves of the splash.
He’d done it. The dragon was dead. The princess was . . .
Wait. The princess. Is Pippa okay? Deuteronomy took a few steps forward, but black spots closed in along the edges of his vision. He put a hand to his head and took another step.
I have to see if Pippa . . .
The black closed in completely and his next step landed him on his face in the grass.
A soft nicker reached Deuteronomy’s ears and he felt something snuffling around in his hair. Something kind of wet. Deuteronomy moaned and shifted slightly, bringing back the ache in his limbs.
“Ah, my rescuer awakes,” Pippa’s joking tone broke the quiet. Blinking hard, Deuteronomy opened his eyes and looked up. His tall, dappled brown horse was sitting happily next to a perfectly fine and quite recued looking Pippa. Relief flooded him.
“You’re alright.” His voice sounded strange.
“Completely. The dragon never even got a chance to touch me,” Pippa pulled her hairbrush out of her belt again, “I was ready for him, but you didn’t give me any time to fight.”
Deuteronomy pushed himself up into a sitting position, ignoring his lightheadedness. “Well, I think I got you back for having me take off my helmet, M’lady.”
“Hey, that was all you. I didn’t tell you to throw it at the dragon,” she stuck out her tongue. “And please. You don’t need to call me ‘M’lady’ all the time. Pippa makes me feel less like a stuck-up brat.”
“As you wish, M’lad . . . Pippa,” Deuteronomy smiled.
Pippa grinned back and pushed away the horse as he began to nibble on the ends of her curls. “Y’know . . .” she began, “That actually was pretty cool. The way you . . .” she made a few dramatic hand gestures, “y’know . . . got the dragon into the moat and stuff. It was pretty awesome to watch. I was up on the wall.” She shrugged as though giving up trying to articulate it, “My brothers rescued me quite a lot and it never got that intense. That was by far the best dragon battle I’ve seen.”
“I . . . I’m flattered. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Pippa jumped up to a standing position and smoothed her skirts, though it didn’t seem to ever do any good as far as making them look tidy.
Deuteronomy stood with her, catching himself on the horse as he started to pitch forwards again.
“Easy there,” Pippa cautioned, “You’re lucky you didn’t fall in the moat the first time. It was all I could do to roll you over.”
“I’ll try and remember that,” Deuteronomy blinked hard a few more times.
“Now. We ride off into the sunset, right?” Pippa squinted at the sun, which seemed to be about half an hour from setting.
Deuteronomy pulled himself carefully up into his saddle, “More or less.” He extended his hand to help Pippa up.
“Cool. My kingdom is in the west, so that’ll work out just great,” she took his hand and swung up in front of him in a swoosh of skirts. Tipping her head back to rest on his chest, Pippa grinned up at him, just like he’d imagined a princess would. “I can’t wait for you to meet my brothers.”
Yay, happy ending! 🙂
Hope you guys enjoyed! Please comment with what you thought! This is my first time writing something even vaguely romantic, so thoughts are appreciated.
Happy Valentines Day, everyone!