Looks like Drawful is turning into a bit of a series. If nothing else, it’s a welcome excursion to continue writing while recording Five Talents continues to be my primary focus. Part II of the story continues with the Princess and Drawful considering the Bards, and meeting their first champion. The first installment of Drawful the Awful can be read here.
Part II – Our Fathers’ Heroes
The princess narrowed her eyes at Drawful. To some, it might look as if she were trying to figure something out, and those some of you would be wrong. What she was actually doing- what most astute women are doing when they wear this expression- was considering how to express something she had figured out.
The Princess opted to be blunt because she didn’t take much stock in sparing the feelings of silly men, and didn’t think there was much good to be had in sparing the feelings of a dragon. Far less those of a dragon who was supposed to be her kidnapper.
“You’re not very good at this dragoning business, are you?”
“First of all, Princess,” Drawful began, before he nibbled half of the waffle cone down, “it is not dragoning, the proper term for it is Dragonry.” With a flick of his talons, the remainder of the waffle cone flipped into Drawful’s mouth and he chomped it gleefully with his fangs and grinned a little as he settled back against the bench.
The Princess was aghast at the Dragon’s sleepy posture only momentarily but pressed on. “Grammatical conjugations aside, my point remains. Thus far we’ve enjoyed a walk through the park and an ice cream. Is this really your idea of proper Dragonry?”
“What’s wrong with it? You say yourself that you’ve enjoyed it.”
“I don’t think that’s supposed to be the point.” The Princess looked away from Drawful at the ice cream cone which had begun to dribble a trail of its melted confection down her thumb. Her expression puzzled at why she was arguing so adamantly for her own mistreatment.
“The point is just supposed to be my taking you. I have done that. Antecedent of other dragons taking their princesses to mountaintops, or caves, or gorges or whatever else- do we really need to constrain ourselves to the cliché? Princess, my aim in this is to be remembered in song and legend. Surely, my aim is best served by taking the path less trod.”
The Princess mulled it over with an ambivalent expression which eventually softened to concordance and a nod. “I suppose you’re right.” She licked at the melted ice cream and then did a tidying of the melting scoop with her tongue. “Plus, the bards will likely be grateful for this.”
“How so, Princess?” Drawful inquired. He had slouched slightly, closed his eyes and clasped his hands over his belly for a light nap in the afternoon sun.
“There are plenty more rhyming words with park than mountain.”
Drawful’s eyes opened, but he did not sit up. He merely looked inquiringly at the sky for it to send down its inspiration to him by way of poetic vocabulary. “Fountain, countin’, hauntin’-” Drawful rattled.
“That last one is a bit of a stretch.”
“And I think by that we both see how hard the bards would have had it,” Drawful concluded, closing his eyes once more. “You’re right, plenty more for them to milk from our adventure here in this park.”
The Princess grinned. “Princess Brooke, out for a lark, with Drawful the Awful in the sun drenched park.”
Drawful’s eyes opened once more and his brow lifted in admiration. “You have quite a lovely voice.”
The Princess beamed and she continued, with her voice lilting more melodiously to try to find the song in the meter. “The difference betwixt, could be no more stark, they waited for a champion until the fields went dark.”
Drawful chuckled in a Dragonish way, which would sound to the untrained ear like a dog’s abrupt grumbling growl. The Princess, further encouraged continued, bobbing her head along to her melody. “For even the most terrible hound’s bark, does not stay Drawful’s Dragonry arts.”
The Princess stopped herself and put a finger to her chin. “Well, I can’t let myself get away with that one if I called you on the hauntin’ and mountain rhyme, now can I?”
“You could have played it as a transition to a new couplet.”
“It’s out of sync with the meter though, and are you sure the word is dragonry? That simply feels strange a word.”
“I am, Dragonry akin to villainy.”
“Why not Dragony, then? Where’s the R coming from?”
“I do not know, but it looks as if there is a champion come to spare us waiting til dark per your rhyme, so further revisions may be needed later.” Drawful nodded his horned head down the path to the eastern entrance to the park.
Clad in light traveling armor, astride a white stallion, there was no mistaking: it was a Prince. The Princess read his proud posture, the smirk in her direction, the feathery texture of the golden hair- all indicative of a pampered castle nancy-boy.
Hair care products for this kind of coif are not readily available to the masses of most kingdoms, and one need only ask to see a person’s hair to confirm their noble or royal heritage. Traveling on roads, many princes often simply removed their helmets to signal to passersby that royalty was approaching so they’d best make way for their retinue.
Drawful regarded the Princess plaintively. “Your highness, if you would pardon me a moment.”
“By all means,” the Princess allowed politely.
Drawful rose and stood domineeringly in the path. He did his best to look intimidating, and to fill the path between the Prince and Princess as threateningly as he could. What he managed to do was look rather like he was waiting on a delivery and was unsure if the postman had his parcel that day.
The Prince dismounted some ten feet away, which Drawful found foolishly close for the only lightly armored royal. He realized at this moment he had not prepared whatever challenge or threat he’d shout at the Prince, or if he should issue the same challenge to them all or add a more personal touch to each that came. Decisions, decisions, the dragon mused. Before he could settle on a script, the Prince spoke. “Are you Drawful?”
“I am,” the dragon answered plainly, surprised not at the inquiry itself, but with nonchalance of it by the Prince. The Prince nodded, mulling the confirmation over, then leaned sideways to look around Drawful. To do so, the Prince had to lean so far over that he’d needed to hold his steed’s reins to keep himself from tipping over.
To the Prince’s obvious surprise and dismay, the steed read the tug as a guidance and stepped toward the Prince, which sent him toppling over and onto his face into the dirt. The Prince sputtered and Drawful looked at the Princess in confusion. Drawful’s only answer from the Princess, which was more telling than anything else, was an unsurprised but pained grimace behind her hand she had placed over her brow.
Drawful turned back to the Prince who had staggered to his feet and was dusting himself off between muttering disparagement of his horse for following its training. The prince wiped the dust from his face and pointed past Drawful. “And that is Princess Brooke?”
Drawful nodded, unsure how to maintain his composure at this buffoon of a Prince. The Prince gave an unsubtle pout of his lower lip, surveying the Princess from afar and a nod of approval Drawful found uncouth. Immediately the notion of burning the Prince to a crisp seemed an enticing one, and if the Princess Brooke approved of it- which he hoped and was surmising she would- then all the better.
“Damn it.” The Prince blurted. The Prince turned away and looked despairingly at the same sky Drawful had sought rhyming words unsuccessfully from moments earlier. The Prince turned back emphatically, seemingly let down by the azure sky as well.
“I took this path thinking you’d be anywhere but in a park.” The Prince kicked sullenly at the dirt, lifting a tuft of dust about his feet. “What sort of Dragon takes a kidnapped Princess to her own kingdom’s park?”
Drawful blinked in astonishment, then looked at the Princess. She was now hunched forward with her chin in her hand and elbow on the end of her thigh. Princess Brooke wore an expression which wordlessly communicated the following to Drawful: “Well, you wanted to get to some Dragonry and face a Prince. Here’s your Prince. Enjoy.”
Drawful straightened up and tried to reset the tone with a deep growl in his voice to the Prince. “Wherever we have met, matters not, for this is both the beginning and end of your quest, foolish Prince.”
“Foolish Prince?” The Prince repeated with a snort and a sullen shake of his head. “You sound like my father.” The Prince slumped against his horse, who once more read the Prince’s pressure as a guidance, and stepped away from him, causing him to lose his balance again and topple into the dirt.