Drawful the Awful Part VIII: Thus, His Watch is Ended

Drawful the Awful is the ongoing series/novel in progress following the pursuits of the dragon, Drawful, who is awful at being a dragon, and his “kidnapee” the Princess Brooke. The full series can be found here.

Haverly sat hunched over a table on the terrace from the palace Library. He often spent evenings there whether as a break from a late night at work in the palace, or just in the hopes of running into Princess Brooke there as she was an avid reader as well. Tonight he occupied himself, as he often did when in dim spirits, with his playing cards. The Wizards Council had a sect of artists who designed, painted and sold collectible cards for a game that was popular in the Alabaster Kingdom. You might guess the game is called: Magic. You might be correct.

Not many of the palace workers were players, and Haverly only ever brought the cards out as a comfort when feeling down since leaving the Wizards’ academy. He was thus surprised when a deep but warm toned voice greeted him and added, “a Red Winged Wyvern card? I’ve been looking for one of those for ages.”

King Nick took a seat across the table from Haverly. Haverly was perplexed at the King’s presence (the King was also an avid reader, but typically had his staff retrieve books from the library for him rather than visiting it personally). More so, Haverly was astonished when the King pulled a deck of the ornate cards from his coat’s inside pocket. They were held in a fitted leather pouch the color of rich chocolate that Haverly was sure the king had made specially for the cards. King Nick unsnapped a button and the top flap opened so that he could slide a crisp deck of the cards out.

King Nick surveyed some of the cards Haverly had lain out on the table in a lazy attempt at putting together a new playing deck of his own from his collection. The King spoke while he began laying his own cards down carefully into various piles. Haverly noted some rare cards in the pile, but also took note of the fact that he could see a logic to the deck as an actual game deck.

The King sensed Haverly’s deductions and spoke somewhat ruefully as he continued organizing his cards into four piles before him. “Yes, Haverly. I also play Magic. Brooke and I have always enjoyed it as a pastime together. I know part of the reason I never see you outside the meetings is because you don’t think we share any interests, but I should take some of the blame for that. Partly because I don’t like advertising this particular hobby, and also for the same reason I stated in our meeting today.”

“The meeting?” Haverly blurted fearfully, his melancholy intensified hotly under his wizard robes and he looked shamefully at the cards before him.

“As I said, Haverly. I am aware of your feelings for my daughter. The last thing I’d want to do is impede your chances by helping you.”

“You keep saying that-”

“And someday perhaps you’ll be a father to a strong willed and intelligent girl and understand.” Haverly shut right up and the King chuckled at the young wizard. “Should you be so lucky.”

The King winked at Haverly. “Truthfully, I knew this would be too easy and obvious a route for me to connect you with the Princess, but since the nature of the game has changed, I think it’s fine for me to finally try to get a deal going for that wyvern of yours.” The King reviewed the cards in the second of the four piles he had made, and added another to them.

“The game has changed? Sir, the bill-”

“Was moot the moment Drawful showed up.”

“But you’re the King-”

“And I passed the bill with the support of the council.”

“And you went with the dragon instead?” Haverly pleaded in confusion. “A bumbling goof of a dragon at that.”

The King exhaled ruefully and nodded. “I’ll admit, I should have done a bit more research on this Drawful, but Haverly, had the bill’s passage done you any favors?”

Haverly felt that heat once more, this time more intensely as aching despair than just numb melancholy. “So why ask about the bill if the game has changed? Especially when any enterprising gentleman with a sword, spear, lance, or particular effective wand can go out and prove himself to the Princess?”

“Sir, the council-” Haverly refuted half-heartedly, clearly catching the King’s implicit encouragement.

“What a story that would make! A Wizard abdicating his King’s council to rescue a Princess!” The King winked and placed the last of his cards down. “If there were such a wizard of course. I couldn’t say.”

Haverly stood and fought to take in a deep breath. It was madness, and suddenly his limbs felt electric. He’d need a horse. He’d also need a sword. He wasn’t much for direct combat, but he felt it would be foolish not to have some sort of weapon. There was that blade the Prince had mentioned, the wizard thought to himself.

Haverly was taken back from his thoughts by the King tutting. “I admire the fire, Haverly. It is a special bravery to set off in pursuit of a dragon, even a ‘goofy’ one as you say, in the dead of night. However, as your King I command you in the name of prudence and justice, to sit.”

Haverly was immediately obedient to the King’s deep voiced command. The King’s face was stone set and Haverly did his best not to wilt under the icy glare from his lord and ruler. The King leaned forward with a gleeful little grin on his face suddenly. “Now, that Red Wyvern. I think I can offer you this neat little package of wolves, slimes and some choice enchantments if you’re looking for better depth in your deck, or if you’re looking for a one to one trade-”

The King and Haverly worked through the trade, and then a couple more as both Haverly and the King spotted more cards in each others’ decks they wanted. They capped the night off, close to midnight with a quick game to test their newly constructed decks. When Haverly rose to leave, the King asked him, “still setting off right away?”

Haverly didn’t feel at all tired so he confirmed it was still his intent. The King nodded and replaced his cards to leather carrier. “Here,” and tossed the deck at the wizard. Haverly caught it with a fumbling luck against the chest of his robes.

The King rose and walked out past Haverly, explaining over his shoulder. “Deliver that to Brooke for me. She’s been looking for a Red Wyvern for ages.”

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