Welcome to another Hiatus bonus story of 10kd! This was requested by you guys long ago, but lost out in voting to the Adventures of Mister Sprinkles the Cat. I thought I'd bring it to life for you guys!
If you haven't heard, this Saturday is the 10kd Halloween Special so please come by and take a read or a listen to it :)! Its going to be FANTASTIC. -Jim -- Art this week by Raen Ngu
Oct 31st: 10,000 Dawns Halloween Special, art by Annie Zhu
Nov 5th: The Adventures of Mister Sprinkles the Cat Sequel
Nov 12th: Jame Morrel Story
Nov 19th: (return to normal schedule) 10,000 Dawns Chapter 16
Previous chapters are also available as an audio podcast from the Southgate Media Group.
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If you're new to 10kd, you can read the story from the start for free below:
Bonus Story #3: Knights and Dragons
The horse was exhausted, he’d ridden it too hard that day, but the urge to get where he was going had pushed away his sense. They were moving at a slot trot now, towards the fire in the distance.
“Easy girl, we’ll rest up soon.” He patted her gently on the neck, wishing it was without his gauntlets. Finally, they were close enough to the fire he could see a lone figure sitting by it, who rose, a hand on the hilt of a blade.
“Stop. State who you are.”
“Sir Archimides of the House Ahnerabe. I’d like to use your fire if you don’t mind, my horse and I can’t travel much farther.” The figure looked them up and down, and then nodded.
“You can tie your horse up by mine. There is a pond by the tree it can drink from if you leave the rope slack enough. You’re welcome to the stew as well. You try anything funny and I’ll gut you.” Fair enough. The figure’s voice was funny, higher than he expected. Still, no complaints from him. He tied Esmerelda up at the tree, grabbed a bowl and spoon from his saddlebag and clomped over to the fire. The figure was in fact a woman. She had red hair, cut short to fit under the helmet laying beside her, and the look of someone who had been in a lot of sword fights, with the nicks and scars of swordplay visible over her form. Arch ladled out some soup, sat down on a rock (she had already taken a convenient tree stump) and awkwardly began to spoon soup in through the visor gap in his helmet. She looked at him like he was an imbecile.
“You know, you can take your helmet off.” He swallowed the spoonful of stew and shook his head.
“No, I can’t. That’s why I’m going this way. I’m sure you know what’s at the end of this road.” She got up, stirred the stew, and ladled herself another serving.”
“You tell me.” As if on cue, another figure began to approach through the darkness. Both of them reached for their swords. The woman called out again, “Stop. Who goes there.” The approaching figure stopped for a moment, as if unsure, and then replied, “Just a bard passing through, looking for coin or a fire.” The woman glanced at Arch again.
“Come closer.” Then approached another woman, this one in garb most bizarre. She wore a long brown coat, on the breast of which there was an emblem of a sun and a moon that had crossed their forms together. Her blonde hair was shaved completely along the left side of her head all the way from the temple down, and the rest was combed over to drop down to the other side falling just below her jawline.
“What’s your name, Bard?” The woman kept approaching.
“I’m Kinan Jans. I hope you don’t mind my intrusion.” The red head gestured for her to take a seat, “What are your names?” She asked plainly.
“I’m Lady MacLeod, the Knight of the Songbird. This is sir Archimedes of the House Ahnerabe. My squire is around here… Somewhere.” She trailed off at the end into a grumble.
“I’m pleased to meet you both.” Said Kinan in the same monotone she said everything in.
“You’re welcome to the stew. Jack made too much, again.” Kinan’s face showed no tell, but her eyes to arch showed a flash of recognition.
“Jack would be your squire then?” Songbird nodded. “And you, Sir Archimedes, I see you’re still wearing your armor. Songbird here took it all off. Do you know something I don’t about her?”
Arch shook his head, “I can’t, er, actually take it off. That’s why I’m here.”
“You were saying that before she arrived.” Songbird said, gesturing at Kinan with her spoon. “So, why can’t you get out of your armor then?” Arch sighed.
“Well, you see I’ve been cursed by the queen of this land. I accidentally insulted her taste in wine, and she lay a spell on my that makes it so that I cannot leave my suit of armor till I complete a task she set for me.” Arch said.
“Then we’re on our way to the same place, I’d wager.” Alice replied, “You’re off to rescue the Queen’s daughter from the Dragon’s tower aren’t you?” He nodded in reply. “Then are we at cross purposes?”
“Lady Songbird, I just want this curse released. If you’re after the reward, you can have it.”
“I am.” She said.
“Lady Songbird!” Another voice yelled, “I found some berries for us!”
“Jack.” Kinan said.
“Yes.” Songbird replied. He approached with a bowl chock full of blackberries, which the four of them split between them. Songbird reintroduced everyone, and they settled back in.
“So then, bard, why don’t you sing us a song?” Kinan stared at Songbird. Songbird stared at Kinan. Jack and Arch glanced between them.
“Sure.” Kinan replied. “I must warn you though, I never said I was a good bard.”
“Okay, I get the part about ‘do a little dance, make a little love’ , but what exactly does ‘get down tonight’ mean?” Arch whispered.
“Heck if I know.” Songbird replied. They had been riding for some time now, Kinan walking beside their horses. She was wearing unusual white pants, but they didn't seem to be being stained by the mud. Sir Arch didn't know who their guest was, but he was fairly certain she wasn't actaully a bard. They'd have to keep an eye on her.
“There it is!” Songbird said, pointing over the hill the were cresting at the tower that was rising into view. “The Dragon's tower, if we can get in there and slay the dragon together, then get the princess out safely, we can get everything we need.”
“You say 'need', not want.” Kinan noted, and held her gaze up at Alice.
“I have people who need this money more than I do. I am responsible for them.” Songbird checked her sword. “They need me. And Arch needs to get out of his armor. So need.” Kinan nodded. “Why exactly are you here then?” Kinan narrowed her eyes as Alice reached down to reassure her horse.
“I'm here,” she began, “to find knights who are going to take on this Dragon. I'm looking for new stories, after all. Oh the songs they will sing, etcetera.” Alice scrunched her lips to the left. Sure, right.
“You do know no knights have returned alive from the tower, right?” Kinan nodded.
“All the better the song will be if you succeed then.”
They rode down the sloping hill to the tower, which loomed over them. It wasn't actually a very old tower, it looked like it had been constructed recently and fairly hastily (recently for a tower, so maybe a decade ago, maybe a decade and a half). The walls were no nonsense rough stone blocks which rose up to a equally simple parapit at the top. There was no ornamentation on the tower, and no door. Only a charred archway large enough for two people to walk abreast, abet cramped with their shoulders rubbing.
“So this is it.” Alice said, “I'm not sure what I expected.”
“It looks awful simple for a tower. There's hardly any ornamentation on the thing.” Arch said.
“If by hardly you mean 'none'.” Kinan finished. They knew she was right.
“Tell me bard, in songs of Dragons, don't the beasts usually prefer rich and ornamented places to make their foul nests?” Kinan nodded.
“That's fairly regular in most western mythology about dragons.”
“Western?” Arch asked.
“Forget it.” Kinan said.
“Right, so... I guess we need to head in.” They rode their horses to a tree, and tied them up, and put feed bags on them, then changed their minds and let the horses loose (“If we don't come out, no use letting them die.” Alice said) together they gathered outside the entrance and looked into the darkness beyond.
“So, do we want to draw straws or what?” Arch asked. Alice rolled her eyes, put her helmet on, and stepped into the unknown.
Her boots clanked on the stone floor. Even so, she moved carefully. Arch followed her, and Kinan took up the end of the line. Alice half expected traps as she walked, but the only change they found was when her foot crunched down instead of clanked. They Stopped, and she reached down, and felt the remains of a skull.
“What is it?” Arch whispered.
“The last group of unfortunates.”
“Ah.” They felt along the walls and creeped through the hall, till eventually they hit a set of stairs. They carefully advanced upwards, and found themselves in a circular room that took up the whole floor of the tower. Scorch marks like the walls, and a few slits in the walls let in air and fading sunlight. A blackened steel ladder descended from a cloased trap door in the ceiling. They stepped into the room, and examined it. Something struck Songbird as odd about the room, but she couldn't quite place it.
“Looks like the only way is up.” Arch said. He was right, of course. “I'll take first this time.” Arch climbed the ladder, and when he reached the trapdoor took a deep breath and turned a handle on it to undo the latch. He pushed up, and the other two follow him as he signaled it was safe. Arch climbed up into a girl's bedroom, the bedroom of a girl who had been there a long time. Old stuffed animals sat on a shelf, as well as tons of books that varied across the age spectrum wildly. A set of iron doors with a latch were set into one wall, and directly across from it was a large four poster bed complete with canopy where a teenage girl sat wearing a beautiful an ornate blue dress. Her hair was black: long and intricately braided. One one of her shoeless ankles was a thick shackle leading to a big chain. That was anchored into the wall. She didn't look as happy to see him as he'd expected. He climbed up and bowed, as Alice and Kinan scrambled up behind him.
“Princess, my name is Sir Achimedes of the House Ahnerabe. This is Lady Songbird and the Bard Kinan. We've come to rescue you.” The girl smiled politely.
“Okay, well, thanks for coming. But actually you should all leave. No rescuing needed, sorry!” Alice looked down at her ankle.
“It doesn't look like you aren't in need of rescuing, to be blunt.” She said.
“Really? I like it here. Its a very nice tower. Look, there is even a bookshelf. No need to worry.” She awkwardly made a gesture with her arms spread wide as if to say “this is all I need!”
“Princess, please, you've been here a long time. There's a whole big world out there for you to explore.”
“Nope, I'm fine. Seen that world. Not my thing. Personally this room is the best.” Kinan began walking through the room, examining the walls.
“There is literally a dragon keeping you here.” Arch said, “It eats people.”
“Yes!” The Princess said angrily, “It does, so get out of here before it returns. Do you know how many heroes have come here to rescue me? I've lost count. I really have. They've all died because they're stubborn like you and won't leave.” The princess ran to the iron doors and swung one open, revealing a balcony and the sunset.
“The dragon will be here when its night. You need to leave. The dragon will kill you.” Arch shook his head.
“So that's why you're pretending you like it here. You're tired of people dying for you.” The princess looked even angrier, and on the edge of panic.
“Please, please you have to leave right now.” She ran up to them and unsuccessfully began to try to force Arch and Alice towards the trapdoor.
“Go, go now before it eats you.” Alice grabbed her by the wrists, and Arch began to look for how to disconnect her shackle.
“No, no! Stop! Please, you can't unshackle me! You can't do this! Let me go!” The princess cried. Kinan's eyes went wide, and she looked over at the trio. Arch pulled out a connecting pin, and the chain came off of the shackle.
“NO!” The princess cried. Kinan walked towards the thee of them forcefully.
“Princess, how big is the dragon.”
“Its big! Its huge!”
“Then how did it get into the lower level when there is only a human sized doorway?” The princess stopped fighting back, and the sun lowered on the horizon.
“Run.” She said.
The princess began to wretch, and as she did her mouth began to elongate. Her skin began changing color, becoming a dark grey. Her pupils turned to vertical slits, and she started hunching over, her shoulders beginning to rise up under her dress and break the fabric. Arch and Alice stood stunned, so Kinnan ran forward, jumped, and kicked the princess in the side so she fell through the trapdoor, hitting the edge as she fell. They heard her body make a cracking thud on the ground, a horrible sound, and then the sound of the dress ripping apart and the howling screech of a dragon. Kinan slid down infront of the trapdoor with her landing, and closed the door, latching it as they heard the howling screech turn into a crackling inferno. The trap door grew hot enough it changed color slightly, with a small column of flame rising up from a hole just big enough for a chain to be notched into.
“So.” Kinan said. “I'd say we found the dragon.”
They spent the night in the room, listening to the dragon thrash around in the room below. An animal trapped in a cage. They managed to get a few hours of rest in between the noise, only to be awoken each time by the dragon screeching and slamming itself into the sturday walls.
“So.” Alice began, “I don't think you're really a bard.” Kinan looked over at her.
“So who are you and what are you doing here.”
“I'm a traveler. I protect places, and I'm here on an investigation.”
“You had suspicions the princess was really a dragon?” Arch asked.
“No, but I've been looking at... People similar to the princess. I'm trying to understand them. Princess Scythes is certainly the first person I've ever met who shapeshifts into a dragon, for the record. But I think its still useful information.”
“So this whole thing has been a trap for heroes, get them to go and save the princess, and lead them into a trap.” Alice mused. “But why? What does the queen get out of this?”
“Let me take a wild guess,” Kinan monotoned, “you're secretly funding an underground resistance to the queen.” Alice's jaw dropped.
“Who told you that?”
“You. Well, more like I'm good at putting two and two together. I figured out she was the dragon before she killed us, remember?” That was certainly true. The dragon thrashed beneath them, underscoring the point. “So the question is, what are we going to do with the princess?”
“You mean the dragon that has slain countless knights? Do you really think we can let a monster like that live?” Alice said.
“Do I?” Kinan raised both eyebrows very slightly, which struck them both as the most expressive thing they'd seen her do. “Consider the opposite, this is a young woman who has been chained up her whole life begging people to leave her alone so she won't kill them when she becomes and uncontrolable monster. Is this her fault?” Alice bowed her head a little.
“Well when you put it that way...”
“So we don't kill her.” Kinan concluded.
“Hold up here, you're just making that decision?” Arch said. She looked at him. Arch tried to make out her feelings on him, and it sort of angered him he couln't read her one bit.
“Yes. Unless you have a counterpoint for why murdering children is okay.”
“She is a danger to everyone around her....”
“Only because the Queen tells everyone to go kill her. Tells knights she doesn't want around to go kill her. Her enemies in court. People who stand up too much for the common folk. I'm just guessing, so tell me I'm wrong.”
Arch and Alice exchanged glances.
“You're not wrong.” they said in unison.
“I thought so.” Kinan looked out the window, “So we just wait till sunrise.”
Princess Graelyn Scythes awoke naked in the transformation room, the charred threads of what was left of her dress in a few heaps. On the floor. She felt on her ankle, and found the chain had been undone. She moaned, and curled up in a ball, covering her face with her hands. She'd eaten those people. Just like always. The last thing she remembered was telling them to run, and then she was the dragon and... Wait. She stuck her hand in her mouth and felt around. Her mouth didn't taste like blood and flesh... there were no bits left in there... She sat up, and looked around the room. No bones. No corpses. She stood up and crossed her arms, trying to keep her heat in. The morining was chilly, and having no clothes didn't help. Cautiously, she walked towards the ladder and called up it. “Don't open it if you are, but are you alive up there?” There was a pause, and she thought she assumed she'd been too optimistic when she heard someone call down.
“Princess? Is that you?”
“It is. Could you please throw something down from my closet? Please don't look down.” There was a scrambling from up above, and a simple dress came down the trap door along with some underclothes. Graelyn put them on, and climbed up the ladder. At the top were the three people from last night, the two knights and the strangely dressed bard.
“I'm very glad you all survived.” Graelyn said, “I'm princess Graelyn Scythes... No one has ever survived a night here before.”
“So we noticed.” Songbird said.
“I suppose its best if you get it over with....” Graelyn said, pulling her hair to one side of her neck, and getting on her knees. She closed her eyes.
“Please make it quick.” The three looked at each other, and Arch reached down, taking her hand. She opened her eyes, and looked up confused.
“Did you miss me turning into the dragon? I'm the dragon, if that wasn't clear. I eat people. So you're supposed to kill me.” She tried to think of how to make it clearer. “I am evil. There is a dragon inside me. You need to kill me.”
“If you were really evil, would you have asked for us to leave, tried to persuade us?” Kinan said. “You're not evil. Sadly, you're not that important.”
“What Kinan means,” Alice said, “is you didn't choose to be put in this tower did you? Or for knights to come here to fight you. You were put in a situation where you couldn't help but do bad things. You didn't have a choice.” Graelyn looked to the side, her head down, her eyes inspecting the houndstooth pattern on the rug. Kinan knelt down.
“It was your mother, the Queen, you put you here, correct?”
“To protect people from what's wrong with me!”
“She is the one sending people here for you to kill.” Graelyn looked up shocked.
“What? You're lying.”
“She sent Lady Songbird and myself here to rescue you.” Arch said.
“All those knights? I... I thought they just...” Graelyn was holding back tears. “I still killed them though. I'm an animal when I'm a dragon. I just want to feed.”
“Do you keep your memories from when you change?” Kinan asked, and Graelyn nodded. Kinan looked at Arch and Alice. Arch whose face was trapped under that helmet, Alice who had fought in so many battles. Kinan had seen them before, and would see them again. The faces repeated. She knew them, maybe better than they knew themselves. The aesthetics changed, sometimes the motivations changed, but there was always something deep down that was the same. It often wasn't what people expected. She'd run into one person who she'd found their most consistent characteristic across their infinite lives was a love of peppermint, and then another whose was a fierce loyalty to their friends. But there was always something the same.
“Lets stay here one more night.” Kinan said.
“Are you crazy?” Said Sir Arch. “She turns into a dragon.”
“And as we proved, we're totally safe in this upper room. You two can stay up here, and I'll stay with the dragon.”
“That's insane!” Alice cut in, “It will literally eat you.”
“She's right.” Graelyn whimpered. Kinan knelt down in front of Graelyn, and with her thumb and forefinger turned her face up to look at her.
“I've seen a lot of things. More things than you can imagine. Do you know what I've learned in all that time?” Graelyn shook her head, moving Kinan's hand back and forth.
“I've learned that you can't change what's been done to you, but you can do what you can to manage it, and if you can find the right steps, you can manage it. The only solution isn't the first option you found. Its not just between hurting other people and holing yourself up in this tower till you grow old and die.” Kinan rolled her sleeve up, and pointed out some circular scars on her inner arm. “When I was a young girl, some people thought they could make me their toy. And part of that came from making me afraid of myself, and making sure I didn't have the power I was truly capable of. Why do you think you're not dead? There's something inside you they are terrified of. Something they don't want you to know.” She held out her hand to Graelyn. It was a strong hand, calloused and tightly muscled. “Give me the chance to show you you're strong.” Graelyn looked up at the three of them, the other two seemed a bit amazed Kinan had just said all of that. She looked back down at the hand, and slid her own into it.
“I'll give you that chance.”
They wasted the day playing cards, Alice and Arch got the horses back and fed them again, and they took turns telling stories (Kinan was a bit hard to listen to because she barely ever broke her monotone, but it was still a goo story. Alice's was probably the best as she interspersed it with song and had the best singing voice Arch or Graelyn had ever heard. Arch's story was descent, and Graelyn's was clearly from one of her books). When night began to approach, Graelyn went downstairs with Kinan, and stripped down while Kinan turned her back, and then wrapped herself in a blanket for modesty.
“You can turn around now.” Kinan did, and coul tell Graelyn still felt awkward wrapped only in a blanket in front of another person.
“Its okay.” Kinan said rather ineffectually. She didn't really know what else to say, then gave up and decided she may as well get to work. “Here, eat this.” Kinan said, pulling something out of a pouch at her hip.
“What is it?” Graelyn asked, peering at it. “It looks like... bluish Crystal dust.”
“It is crystal dust. Now eat it.” Graelyn began to eat it, it was pretty difficult to get it down, so Kinan offered her some water, which helped.
“Okay, now what?”
“Think of what I just gave you as medicine. It should help you control what's happening to you.”
“What if you're wrong?” Graelyn asked.
“You'll eat me.” Kinan deadpanned. It wasn't very reassuring. The sun began to drop below the horizon. Graelyn began to gag. Kinan stepped towards her, placing her hands on the girl's shoulders. She could feel them changing under her grip, the bones shifting and pulsing.
“Now Graelyn, I need you to focus. Focus on you. Remember who you are. Who are you?”
“G-G-Graeelyn.” She gasped out.
“Good. You don't want to hurt anyone do you?” She shook her head, and as she did so lurched downwards, the blanket falling away, the tips of wings pushing out from her back.
“You're Graelyn Scythes. Say it.”
“I-” she screeched, “Grae.” She forced it out.
“And you don't want to hurt anyone.” Her skin was turning to scales, her fingernails were elongating into thick claws, her body was expanding rapidly, her neck elongating with her features, totally breaking the laws of the conservation of mass (well, technically Kinan knew she was converting a massive amount of energy into mass, and then expelling it but for most realities this would be breaking fundamental laws). The dragon in front of her let out a howling screech, and Kinan got close to it, moving to the side of its head to look into her big eye.
“Your name is Graelyn Scythes, and you don't want to hurt anyone. Say it.” The dragon screeched, and bit at her. Kinan moved fast, and jumped around it's muzzle, forcing its mouth shut with her arms and thighs.
“You are in control Graelyn. You are Graelyn, and you don't want to hurt anyone.” The dragon thrashed its head, trying to throw the burdensome rider off, but Kinan just held on tighter.
“Think about your room. What was the story you told us about? You told a story.” The dragon tried to slam her into a wall, but she moved like a spider down its head onto its neck. The dragon rolled, and thrashed, but Kinan didn't let go even as she scurried across its body with a preternatural ease.
“You're not used to this are you? You want to eat me don't you? Well, maybe that's the next step.” She dropped off the side of the dragon, and landed like a cat, rising to her feet and staring the dragon down impassively. It charged her, blowing fire. As the smoke cleared, the dragon expected her to be charred remains, a burning husk. But there she was, a curved line in front of her as though the fire had stopped right in front of Kinan. She stared. She didn't blink. The dragon charged again, mouth ready to devour her, and Kinan did nothing. As the jaw reached the moment where it was about to snap shut around her, she stomped her foot down, hard, and pushed her arm up. The dragon struggled, like someone had jammed a stick in its mouth. The dragon screeched, and blew more fire, and shook its head hard enough to break someone's neck, but Kinan just stood there, placid. Finally, it stopped moving.
“Are you listening to me? I lied that you'd be able to eat me, obviously. But those lies are necessary. You aren't dangerous. I need you to realize that. You are Graelyn Scythes, and you don't want to hurt me, but there is another thing: you can't kill me. You cannot.” It tried to bite down harder, to no avail.
“You can't. Which means everything you've presumed about your condition is a lie. A lie to make you think you're a monster, that you're worthless. That you could never live a life outside of this cage.” The dragon's jaw's went loose, an Kinan stepped out from it, placing her hand gently on its snout.
“Do you know who tells that to people?” Kinan put her lips to the dragon's ear and whispered. “Monsters. Abusers. Controllers. People who want power over you. Who want to pretend they are your god.” She gently stroked the dragon's snout. “But you are Graelyn Scythes. Do you understand that?” The dragon looked unsure. “Its okay, you don't have to understand it now. But you're in there. This dragon is a part of you. And you don't have to do what they want you to do.” The dragon rumbled, and shuddered, and Kinan felt something thick and wet hit her shoulder.
It was a tear.
She gently stroked the dragon's snout, and felt an anger rise inside her. Kinan knew she would be making someone pay. But she couldn't think about that now.
“Someone did this to you. You are Graelyn Scythes, and you don't want to hurt anyone.”
Arch an Alice opened the trapdoor after the noise stopped, and saw the dragon curled up with Kinan, the two of them asleep. Arch looked at Alice, “I can't believe it.” Alice couldn't either. She closed the trapdoor gently, and they slept soundly.
Graelyn woke up to find a blanket over her body, and Kinan standing over by the one of the thin slits in the wall, her back to her.
“You're awake.” Kinan said. Graelyn nodded, and then realized she couldn't see it.
“Yes. I.... I sort of remember last night?” Kinan nodded.
“You did well. You'll be able to control it more and more as you practice. You'll need more of the medicine I gave you.”
“What was that stuff anyways?”
“Its too long a story to really explain in detail. In short, that dust allows you to tap into a version of yourself that isn't a dragon somewhere else.”
“You mean my daytime self.”
“No- well, sure. We'll go with that.” Kinan turned around. “We need to pay your mother a visit.” Graelyn shook her head.
“I can't control myself yet.”
“Then we'll wait until we can.”
“We'll stay and help!” A voice from upstairs yelled. “We can hear you guys talking you know.”
Graelyn smiled, “You guys will really stay and help me?” The trapdoor opened, and a fresh set of clothes dropped down, followed by an upside down Alice head that hung there smiling.
“Of course we will. After all, empowering the people is sort of my main interest.” Arch groaned from somewhere behind her.
“That's all she talked about last night, by the way.” Graelyn laughed. Maybe things would be okay after all.
* * * *
Queen Scythes drank deeply from her cup, and watched the jester juggle some balls again. Things seemed like it would be a generally boring day in court, up until the guard ran into the room. Everyone naturally turned.
“My Queen!” Said the guard, “Three adventurers have returned with your lost daughter! She has been saved from the dragon.” She dropped her cup in shock.
“My Queen, I have seen it with my own eyes. This is a joyous day for the Kingdom indeed. They are being brought here to the main hall post haste!” The Queen tried to think of something to say. How was this possible? She tried to think on her feet, but nothing came to her, and she heard the approaching cheers. Finally, she decided to call a guard. As the three adventurers and her daughter came into the room, she screamed: “that is not my daughter!” there was a collective gasp.
“Mother its me!” Graelyn said, “I've been rescued.”
“I know my daughter. You're the dread dragon in disguise. Don't try to fool us with your sorcery.” The guard's lowered their pikes into a charging position.
“Mother, how can I prove that its me? I'm no dragon!” Her mother grinned a wicked grin.
“Why, why don't you stay in this room past sundown?” Graelyn shrugged.
“If that would prove it to you, that won't be any problem at all.” Graelyn sat down at a table, and smiled around the room. The room was tense as the day progressed, but as the sun set, Graelyn simply sat there picking at a sweet roll. The Queen was furious, but kept a polite smile on her face. The four of them, the whole plotting group just sat there politely chatting.
“Arch, you said she cursed you correct? How did she do that?” Arch gestured to the queen's necklace, a blue crystal. “Everyone knows that the queen has that magic amulet. She never takes it off.” Kinan raised an eyebrow.
“Excuse me, I need to go commit treason.” Kinan said, and got up from the table. Her companions halfheartedly tried to stop her, but in the end just let her go. She seemed to know what she was doing most of the time, anyways. The Queen watched her approach incredulously.
“So, you're the foreigner who has riled up--” Kinan cut her off by drawing a blade from under her coat and carefully slicing the chain of the necklace so that she cut not a nic of flesh, and the amulet dropped down into her hand. Casually, she walked back to Graelyn, as the Queen back to gag.
“I guess you inherited the whole dragon thing. Who knew. Anyways, this should solve your problems.” She tossed the amulet to Graelyn, who caught it and clasped it tightly.
“Uh, Kinan...” Alice said, watching the Queen's wing's burst out of her back as the people in the room began to scream and flee. “...She's turning into a dragon.” Kinan shrugged and finished her wine.
“Well you guys are heroes, lets go deal with the problem.” Arch and Alice drew their swords, and Graelyn , clutching the amulet, seemed to make a decision.
“We're all heroes.” She said, and closing her eyes and focusing, began to gag. Two dresses ripped apart, and two dragons screeched at each other. Their wings unfurling, they belched fire at each other, sending the tables in the main hall flying and burning into walls. Alice, Arch and Kinan began to run towards the dragon, two of them with swords drawn. As the dragons circled each other, they waited. Graelyn tried to go for her mother's neck with a bite, but the queen tried to scratch her eyes out so she pulled back.
“Now.” Alice said, and the three humans leapt into action. Arch and Alice stabbed downwards, putting their swords through the dragon's front feet, and then pulling to stab their swords between cracks in the stone floor where they stuck. Kinan leapt, and wrapped herself around the dragon's mouth, forcing it shut. Graelyn took the opportunity, and tackled her mother, holding her to the floor as she thrashed.
“Guards! Chains!” Alice yelled. The guards poked their heads in through a crack in the door.
“Don't just stand there gawking, chains!”
* * * *
Graelyn knelt as the Bishop lowered the crown on her head, and she rose up to face the crowd.
“Long live Queen Scythes!” The Bishop said, and the crowd repeated it with a fervor. Graelyn smiled over at her Lord Protector of the Crown, Archimedes, and Lord Protector of the People, Songbird. They grinned back at her. She'd used the amulet to dispel Arch's curse (after some trial and error) and it was nice to see his face. Kinan stood there next to them, also clapping, but not smiling. Then again, she hadn't seen her smile once so she didn't take it as an insult. There was more pomp and circumstance, but she finally got the chance to talk to her friends soon afterwards.
“I owe you all so much. I can't believe how much things have changed in such a short time. I hope you'll all stay here at my court, we can truly make this land a great one together.”
“You know I'll help, the people of this land need lots of things. Safety, education, basic healthcare...” Alice said.
“And I'll definitely stay to.” Arch said, “I owe you as much.”
Graelyn held her hands out, and they took them, and knelt, but she pulled them up and hugged them instead. Then she turned to Kinan.
“Won't you stay as well? I owe you the most of all.”
“You owe me nothing.” Kinan said. “You were the one who learned to master your powers. Not me. Anyways, I have other places to be. I'm a busy woman.”
“I'll check back in every so often to make sure you're keeping control of yourself, and leave some dust in case that amulet doesn't do the job by itself. But I really do need to be off. I came here to learn about you, Graelyn, and I certainly learned quite a bit. I just hope its useful.”
“Still, I'm grateful.” Kinan nodded.
“Be better than the people who hurt you.” Kinan said, and turned and began to walk away.
“We won't forget you. You'll always be welcome.” Kinan turned her head, and for a moment Graelyn thought she might smile, but she turned her head back, and walked out the door into the great beyond.
Join us this Saturday for the 10,000 Dawns Halloween Special! Its going to be GREAT so make sure you stop by!
Poet, Playwright, Game Designer, Writer, Freelancer for hire.