So this little story was a part of a challenge for my server. The first week of our May event (Mayhem May), was to do a story of cliches. I chose the cliche plot of the Prince goes to rescue the Princess from a dragon. I put my own little twist on it with the below. Happy Reading!
Philip wheezed as he crested the last hill. He had never had to walk so far in armor before, because as a Prince he had the privilege of riding. He was not however willing to risk his horse in the maze of thorns, so from that point on he was on foot. The sun beat down on his armor and he longed for water, but he was almost there and there was no guarantee that the stream he saw wasn’t poisoned.
He was on a quest because apparently it was time for him to settle down, get married, and have some heirs. There were only three princesses on this continent, and this was his last shot. His family was at war with Geldar, the princess of Rowan was six, and he hated Ella Telan, princess of their nearest neighbour with a passion. Okay, she wasn’t actually that bad, but it was easier to explain to his father than the fact that he was more interested in Ella’s younger brother Sebastian than he was her. Alas there were no heirs to be had there, and Philip had hoped that this would be the end of it. It was not.
Philip was wrong, there were actually our princesses on this continent. The last being the younger sister of King Terrance the Brave and Undefeated. He hadn’t seen her in many years, and had completely forgotten about her until his father brought her up as the last great hope for his marriage. Christina had been stolen away from her kingdom by a rogue dragon and was being held in a tower for ransom. The king of course had refused to pay, after all she was his second child, and a daughter at that. Instead he put out a reward offering the lady’s hand in marriage should they save her. In the six years she had been there five men had set out, from three continents, and none had returned.
When her brother had taken the throne after their father fell into poor health, he also refused to pay the ransom. It had caused some to speculate that the once wealthy kingdom was not any longer. While her dowry may be a pittance, Philip’s family had money, and what they needed was someone worthy of their son. Someone with Royal blood. Besides, his father had told him jovial, it will show all of Geldar your might.
Philip suspected the entire ordeal had less to do with showing his might, or even marriage, and more to do with the fact his younger brother was both better looking and more well liked than him. A noble quest with a high chance of death was a pretty convenient way to dispose of a less than stellar heir. He however was not going to die. He was going to rescue the stupid princess, go home, have babies and be utterly miserable the rest of his life. As per tradition.
He reached the tower and spent a good twenty minutes in the shade cooling down. At some point there was going to be a dragon to fight, and he wanted to be ready for it. When no Dragon appeared he started the long walk up the winding steps. Why was the tower so tall? By the gods he hated stairs, especially in armor. He stopped at the top and waited until he could breathe without gasping before he opened the door. First impressions were the most important after all and this was it. He slammed the door open boldly stepping in sword raised. “Princess Christina, I have come to rescue you?” He finished on a question as the princess was laying in a hammock reading a book. She seemed completely uninterested.
“Princess?” He asked again.
She finally looked up from her book giving him a once over. “You made it after all? I thought you were going to die after that staircase, the sounds you made were absolutely ghastly.”
He flushed red, glad she couldn’t see him through his helm. He hadn’t realized she would be able to hear him.“I am here to rescue you?” He was so confused.
“Do I look like I need rescuing?” She really didn’t. “Wait, you defeated the dragon, you who can’t walk up the stairs, you don’t have a scratch on you?” She sounded incredulous.
“Uh, there wasn’t actually any dragon.” He started, and she went to the window, flinging it open and leaning out.
“Not any bloody dragon, what the hell am I paying him for then.” She ranted.
This was not going according to plan.“What are you paying him for?”
“I am paying him to eat morons like you who think they can win a wife like a piece of property.” She huffed
“Your father said,” he faltered,
“Oh, the win the princess thing was all my idea. I convinced him that the best way to get the best match was to have the man have to face impressive tasks. After all, we wanted the best stock added to the family line. He bought it hook, line, and sinker. It was marvelous, even convinced him to let me pay the dragon to guard this place. Six years not a single one of your lot has made it past that door.” She boasted.
“Haven’t you been lonely?” He asked, it sounded lonely.
“Ph, lonely. It’s been brilliant. I can read and write to my heart’s content. I don’t have to go to these ridiculous coming out balls every week, trying to ‘nab myself the perfect man’, its really quite lovely.” She spoke as if she were trying to convince herself it was true. “You wouldn’t know anything about that though, so desperate for a wife that you would come all this way. What’s wrong with you anyways? Couldn’t get attract a princess back home?”
Philip slumped, and Christina looked taken aback. “I am short. No I know, not super short, but shorter than my brother. My blond haired, blue eyed, muscular brother, who is an excellent swordsman, with magnificent social skills, and woes women left and right. And then there is me, who has like one option for a princess, if I don’t go for a six-year-old that is, and sadly it was offered. I don’t like her. I know the one option and we don’t really get on. I thought if I could play that up then maybe we could just somehow let it go, and I wouldn’t have to get married. But then my father suggests this quest. This quest that has killed everyone else who has ever undertaken it. And it was horrible, knowing that my Father rather me dead, than be me. So I am here, because if I don’t do this, I don’t have anywhere else to go.” He sat hard on the dining chair, armour clanking.
“Oh, I, um, I’m sure your father wasn’t thinking that.” He stopped her.
“He only had the servants pack me enough rations for a one-way trip. He obviously didn’t expect me to come back at all, let alone successful.”
“You could stay here.” She said finally in a small voice.
“What?” His armor jangled as he started.
“I mean, I am not looking to get married, or be a wife, but, it would be nice to have some company.”
“They will think I am dead.”
“Exactly, you can do better than trying to please people who couldn’t care less about you. Stay here, not forever, but there is enough room for the both of us. You could take some time, figure out what you want.”
“Then I can’t ever go back.”
“Go back to what?” She asked and he realized she was right. He didn’t have anything out there, well, except.
“Do you know a way through the briars?”
“I, uh, if I am going to do this, I am going to need my horse.” And she raised an eyebrow, and then smiled a wide grin.
“So you’ll do it, you’ll stay?” She asked.
“Ya, until, until I figure out what I want.” What a strange concept indeed.
Prince Philip was mourned in the kingdom. There were some who believed he was murdered to make way for his brother, Others said he was too scared to face his quest and was killed as a coward. But there were a few, the ones people called crazy who swore that he still lived. That there was a man who ran a bookshop with his best friend, the pair of which were the spitting image of the missing prince and the princess he left to rescue. Living happily ever after as common people in a kingdom far far away.