I was discussing the party game, Drawful, with some coworkers today, and one of them commented that the name “Drawful” sounded like it should belong to a Dragon in a fairy tale setting. Taking that glimpse of inspiration, I drafted the following story. Enjoy.
DRAWFUL THE AWFUL DRAGON
Part 1 – The Classifieds
While history, mythology, folklore and even heavy metal music make space within their respective pantheons for tales of legendary dragons, there is one dragon who many have never heard of. He goes by the name of Drawful. This is because, by the means and measures by which dragons are judged and evaluated, Drawful was an Awful Dragon.
He certainly did not like this. His childhood friends he’d known from hatchling were occupying the annals of history with their fearsome stories. He had quietly withdrawn from interacting with his childhood friend Smaug after his movie trilogy made him positively insufferable to be around.
“Did you see Benedict’s casting video to play me?” he would ask, incessantly.
Drawful had seen the video no fewer than seven times. Smaug made a point of keeping the video bookmarked so he could bring it up at bars to show groups of adoring creatures.
It was on such an occasion while Smaug showed the video on his phone, that Drawful brought out his own phone to stealthily remove Smaug’s updates from appearing in his Newsfeed.
Drawful finally decided that enough was enough. Surely, he could do just as well at being a dragon as Smaug. He started, as most mornings do, with reading the paper. He was smart to do so, as in the paper he found- beneath the fold- a headline musing that a Princess of neighboring kingdom had, once more, refused a suitor and it was speculated that the King was at his wit’s end.
It was further speculated by the author, that Princes these days were made of too soft stuff for the Princess of a King who had forged his first crown of bones rend from hordes of Goblins he had hewn through to secure his lands.
Perhaps, the writer postulated, the Princess wanted a Prince who could at least stand beside her own father’s legacy- or at least not cower before it with stammering excuses of how the Prince had opted instead to go for a graduate degree in alchemical studies with their local kook of wizard.
This, it seemed to Drawful, was a mutually beneficial circumstance. He sent missive ahead by Raven and set out to the Kingdom. In the missive, he proposed to the King that their problems could be solved in tandem, and it would take only the King’s permission: Drawful offered to kidnap the Princess from the King so that a Prince might prove himself by coming to her rescue.
The Princess would have a means of evaluating a suitor, and, win or lose, Drawful would find himself the part of a legend to be told for ages to come.
He hoped the artists who would paint his portrait, and the weavers at the looms of the tapestries would be kind to his figure. Less a lithe and fearsome figure to be cast in iron to convey his steely form, Drawful knew well plush and soft cotton stuffing was the mostly likely medium and material anyone would immediately consider to represent him.
Regardless, he arrived at the palace and announced himself to the guards at the gate.
“I am Drawful. I seek an audience with your King.”
The guards did not move. Clad in their armor with their pikes, one answered officiously, “an audience will not be necessary.”
Drawful flushed with excitement. Would he have to fight his way into the kingdom to steal the Princess? How glorious such a siege would look once rendered in CGI. He wondered if the guards might let him back up to take a running start to fly at the gate to ram it, but the guard interrupted him with a sharp whistle.
Drawful was taken aback, especially when the small access door to one of the low towers on the exterior side of the moat opened and a young woman emerged in a riding dress. Despite the lack of finery, he knew her to be the Princess.
Drawful’s sharp toothed mouth flapped in astonishment at the blasé nature of the Princess who was standing as if she had called a carriage by Uber. The whistling guard filled the silence by informing Drawful: “The King has asked that if you are not besought by a Prince or wandering warrior within the fortnight, to send word of your location that he may encourage them by putting up a bounty.”
Drawful looked at the Princess once more who only shrugged ever so slightly. Drawful considered arguing that perhaps they might put up a bit more of a fight, if only to sell the story to hopeful princes and warriors that the princess was indeed in dire straits.
The guard however offered him a hefty purse of coin. “Per diem for expenses and other incidentals.”
Given the courtesy and thoughtfulness, Drawful assured himself that the drama could be embellished in the retelling. He was sure the King had fellows assigned to the crying and public relations of this thing, and they could very well handle the spin without him needing to risk a strained hamstring.
Drawful and the Princess set off and Drawful thought it best to introduce himself. “My name is Drawful,” he said to check off that first item on his still evolving to-do list.
“I’m Brooke,” the Princess replied.
“Did your father tell you about me?”
The Princess rolled her eyes. “Only that he’d worked out a way to solve my betrothal dilemma.”
The Princess said the last word with the kind of intonation that bespoke a lack of concordance on her part with her father’s classification of the matter. She also spoke it with the tired distaste and resignation Drawful was sure he had seen among many women fed up with arguing with self-important men.
“I heard, and offered my services in that regard.” Drawful gestured for them to turn down an avenue of the Kingdom. The Princess looked momentarily surprised that her captor would lead her to such a populous area.
Drawful considered offering the Princess a bit of fun, in case she was interested in a more exciting story to be retold. He certainly was. He could allow her to give him the slip in the more crowded streets of her kingdom’s downtown area. He would give chase, there would be a certain amount of mayhem, perhaps some charred and burned stalls of merchants as he breathed errant fireballs to corral her.
It would certainly set the scene effectively for any inquiring warriors to see the charred remains of his havoc. However before he could make the offer, the Princess spoke up. “Apparently being unmarried at twenty four is more than just dilemma, it’s approaching crisis. That’s why he had me packed and ready to go the moment he got your raven.”
“I’ve been waiting in that tower since dusk last night. He was certain you’d have come under cover of night.”
Drawful regarded the sky. “Much too nice a day today,” he remarked pleasantly. “And flying at night can be a hazard, I thought it best to come by day to help with navigating.”
The Princess blinked a couple times blankly as they cut through the crowds of the market and came out to the plaza that made the town epicenter with a fountain at the center.
“Well, regardless, he was only too glad you came out of the blue with a solution.” Brooke stopped by the fountain and looked around the circle at the eight avenues intersecting on the plaza around them.
“I can’t imagine why, twenty four is hardly measure of a crisis for betrothal.” Drawful gave it a bit more thought and added, “I don’t think being unwed is much of a crisis at any age. It might be if a Princess wishes to be wed.” Brooke did not disagree, continuing her survey of the plaza around them. Drawful took a leap and inferred aloud, “and it sounds to me that you’re not particularly bothered by the lack of nuptials.”
“I’m not, no.”
Drawful nodded. “It’s a shame. If only you were a dragon, you’d still be a hatchling by our scales.”
“Was that a pun?”
“I thought some levity wouldn’t go amiss,” Drawful admitted. The Princess laughed and Drawful raised his forepaw to his chin, where an obsidian talon tapped thoughtfully. “It seems to me, even, that your kind are living longer.”
“The average life expectancy in our kingdom is now well over seventy.”
“Your father has done well at healthcare.”
“Despite his history,” the Princess explained proudly, “he is not nearly so Spartan as other kings and sees to it his kingdom has ample doctors, and that they are paid for through the taxes the palace itself collects.”
“What an intelligent system,” Drawful admired.
“Isn’t it? Now imagine me being expected to pass along the custodianship of such a wonderful system to one of the airheads that has come by sniffing at the riches of our kingdom.” The Princess sat on the side of the fountain with a despondent look on her face.
Drawful felt it might help her mood if they resumed their walk. Sitting seemed to exacerbate sulking. It’s far more challenging, he thought, for a person to be racked by melancholy when in motion. Certainly not impossible, but absolutely more difficult- especially when in motion amid a sun drenched day as they currently were.
Drawful knew this Kingdom well enough, and picked an avenue he knew led to a small public park. He hoped that trees, flowers and the like might serve as a salve for the princess’ mood. If nothing else, he knew there were vendors at the park that sold treats to passersby of sweet, salty, and savory natures. What better way to spend the per diem he had been provided?
He was correct. When they entered the park the Princess’ step became lighter, and after they passed a playground he noticed she had actually lilted into an almost skipping gait.
They stopped on a bench and Drawful purchased them a pair of ice cream cones. Chocolate for the princess, vanilla for himself. When the Princess had finished her first scoop, she looked back up the path at the children on a lawn nearby and then back at Drawful beside her. “How far are we from your den?”
“Den? I have no den, Princess.”
“I’m afraid not.”
“You have a house?” The Princess asked in surprise.
“Beds are wonderful things, and a kitchen for cooking.”
The Princess considered it for a moment and then retorted: “Don’t you use your fire breath to cook your food?”
“Bit difficult to bake cake with fire breath,” Drawful explained and added, “not to mention proper sauteeing of fish.”
The Princess nodded admiringly and took a lick of her second scoop in the waffle cone. “So, your house then, how far are we?”
Drawful furrowed his brow. “I hadn’t intended on us going there.”
“Why not? Isn’t that part of the whole kidnapping setup?”
“It wouldn’t make much of a setting for a battle between your legendary warrior hopeful would it? Don’t those sort of things happen on mountaintops, or on open plains strewn with fallen soldiers?”
The Princess looked around. “This is a park.”
Drawful shrugged and ate the second scoop out of his cone in a single bite. “You say park, I say plain.”