Drawful the Awful Part IX: Nothing Good Happens After 2 AM

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.

The Princess was impressed at how comfortable a home it was. Everything was, naturally, to scale for the dragon that stood over ten feet tall, but it was still very manageable for Brooke. She especially loved the armchair Drawful had by the bookshelves and hearth that she could practically curl up on as a bed.

Despite the late hour of the night, the two split the cake and opened more elderberry wine. The way they both saw it, neither had to be up at any particular hour, so they might as well enjoy the arrangement as much as possible.

It wasn’t long after their arrival that a knock sounded on the door. Drawful was busy opening another bottle of wine for them as they were finishing off the last of the cake, so the Princess went to answer the door. She glanced out the side window by the front door before opening it and spun away from it in terror.

“Princess?” Drawful asked curiously at her fright.

The Princess was paralyzed but she snarled in a hizzing whisper. “It’s that idiot Prince Alistair!”

Drawful was lost, but did recall the Princess mentioning another Prince earlier. “Should I take care of it?”

The Princess shook her head. “No, we’ve got the blade thing as a cover, right?”

Drawful nodded mildly and gestured for her to proceed while he finished uncorking the wine over the sink. The Princess considered telling Drawful to stay on hand just in case. Keeping up in drinking with a dragon was something of a challenge, and she tried not to consider too deeply the irony of drinking so heavily the same night of recommending an oracle go to rehab.

The Princess opened the door and pretended to be looking over her shoulder into the house distractedly and then gave a mild, over-acted, jump of surprise to see the Prince Alistair. Her theatrics, unfortunately, were wasted, as the Prince’s attention was fixed on the small tablet he was holding in one palm and poking at with the fingers of his free hand.

The prince, for his part, dressed well, but unlike Chauncey, looked more like he happened to be out for a casual evening stroll than some sort of quest. He had no armor, weapons, nor even a horse. A fact that perplexed Brooke since his Kingdom was far to the Northeast of Alabaster.

“Alistair, how did you?”

Alistair looked up finally when he lifted the tablet and wagged it at the Princess indicatively. “Called a carriage. I can call one to pick us up whenever we’re done here.”

“Well, Alistair, I don’t know if it’ll be that easy,” the Princess drawled soppily. “You don’t have,”

“The magic sword? Yeah, I checked the news,” Alistair confirmed, returning his gaze once more to his magic tablet. “Figure there’s always another way to work stuff out, right? I mean dragons are like, an endangered species. I don’t want to kill one.”

Drawful pouted appreciatively at the Prince’s respect for his species, but weighing that reverence against the Prince’s overall demeanor still found this one wanting as well. “So like, I thought we could like, have a dialogue and sort this out.”

Drawful looked at the Princess to offer aid, and the Princess shot him a quick look which he read as hang back, but be ready in case she called for his support. “Alistair, this isn’t the right time.”

“Aw, come on. Figure if I try during the day we’ll be dealing with a bunch of corny knights and goons trying to fight it out.”

“Alistair, I get it, but now’s not a good time. Besides, my dad is really insistent on the whole fighting thing. I don’t think you’d have to kill Drawful-”

“Is that his name?” Alistair looked up from the tablet once more. “Drawful?” The Princess confirmed the fact and Alistair nodded appreciatively. “Dragon culture is a deep and beautiful one.” He leaned slightly into the doorway and called to Drawful who was in the sitting room by the hearth with the wine: “I really love your name dude! I wish my family had given me a cool name like yours sir!” Alistair caught himself and looked at the Princess, lowering his voice furtively. “Is sir the right term? Do dragons have genders?”

Brooke rolled her eyes and crossed her arms impatiently. “This one does anyway. Anyway, focus. This isn’t something you can negotiate.”

“Fine, we can discuss it in the morning. Wouldn’t you rather spend the night in my castle with me?”

Brooke was flummoxed and Drawful himself was stunned at the Prince’s clear presumption. Brooke was quicker on the response and Drawful restrained himself, allowing the Princess her say in the matter. “Your castle is ten miles away,” she countered, hoping that would settle the matter tactfully.

The Prince finally lowered his tablet and give a skin crawl inducing smirk. “I guarantee it’ll be worth the ride.” As if this were too subtle, he added a shiver inducing wink to punctuate the assurance.

The Princess’ decorum broke and she visibly cringed at the Prince’s advances and shook her head. “No, no. I’m not going to spend the night with you in your castle. It’s too late. It’s too far. We’d have to come all the way back here to negotiate in the morning with Drawful anyway.”

The Prince wagged the phone at the Princess and his impish smirk only broadened as his voice lowered. “Who says we have to come back? Besides, sharing a bed in a castle’ll be the new normal after I handle this dragon for you.”

“You’ll need some sort of physical evidence to convince my father.” The princess glanced at Drawful by the hearth and noticed a set of statuettes on the mantle. She added smartly: “A trophy of some kind proving you bested Drawful, if even in a contest of wits.”

Drawful glanced at his bookshelf in the nook by the armchair. He had a collection of various games on the bottom shelf. He was fairly certain he could best most dunderheaded princes in the majority of his games, except for Cards Against Humanity which had too much of a human factor involved as a variable. If the Princess were playing he was confident in understanding her humor well enough already to be fair competition at the very least.

The Prince looked from the Princess into the living room with Drawful standing patiently with a glass of wine for the princess and the rest of the bottle for himself. A dawning look of comprehension crested over his brows and eyes down the rest of his face. He put his hands up in annoyance. “Whatever, you know what? This is more trouble than I thought it was going to be. There’re way hotter Princesses looking for suitors out there.” He wagged his tablet once more in the air between them. “Like ten miles is so far, I’m sure the other Princess’ would ride forty for a night in my castle without complaining.”

Brooke crossed her arms and regarded the Prince Alistair with ire so electric that even Drawful feared his proximity to her. The Prince disregarded both the Princess and Drawful, and returned his attention to his little device. Drawful suddenly took note of the heavy purse of coin at the Prince’s hip. Drawful gave a quick hiss with his serpentine tongue at the Princess while the Prince stood indignantly focused on his phone. For whatever reason, not leaving despite the impasse he had declared in his pursuit of the Princess.

The Princess stepped back to give Drawful space and the Dragon stood beside her at the door. “You know, the Princess does raise a point, it is a shame that regardless of whether you’ll have company or not that you must journey ten miles home to find a comfortable bed.”

Alistair didn’t look up at Drawful, he continued tapping away at his device and shrugged. “Life of a Prince.”

“I wonder, there’s no function on your device for it to find and book you lodgings at nearby inns or guesthouses?”

The Prince finally looked up and regarded Drawful in consideration, then grimaced at the device suddenly as if it were piece of rubbish. “No, it doesn’t.”

“Well, this current,” Drawful sought a word and settled with, “unpleasantness aside. What if there were a function being developed for your device to be able to do so? Might be useful for preventing you enduring such inconveniences in the future, it seems.”

The Prince glanced at Brooke and then back at Drawful. He swallowed hard, clearly inferring Drawful’s meaning. “Is there a function for that?”

“Yes and no,” Drawful answered with a tragic lilt in his tone and cocked his head at the empty coin purse on the Princess’ belt which she handed him. “I was working on such a function, and development has halted until I find an investor. I’d not only finish, but it would be an investment opportunity for whoever provided the funds to make money from the device’s use and the cut of booking fees for inns that receive reservations.”

The Princess admired Drawful’s pitch, but was dumbfounded that Alistair was seriously considering the dragon’s proposal since he was the only person she knew of in any of the kingdoms with the magical tablet device he was so glued to.

“How much?” The Prince asked.

Drawful narrowed his dragon eyes and weighed the purse at the Prince’s hip with the acuity all dragons possess for assessing treasures they might claim and guard as their own. “I think twenty gold will cover the overall development, another twenty for office space and overhead, then thirty for staffing and ten more for marketing.”

The prince was digging through his purse now and raised an eyebrow. “I have eighty,” he confirmed warily. “Office space? You mean this hovel?” Alistair challenged disparagingly.

“Well, yes, I rent.” Drawful confirmed. “This should be comforting to you, that I’m not wasting your investment on opulent spaces and unnecessary frills. This is a lean operation. Your investment is being put towards completion of the project and maximizing profit.”

The Prince looked past Drawful at the hovel in new light. Suddenly it looked more like an efficient factory to multiply the gold he was holding. Drawful knew the pitch was successful and extended a taloned hand. The Prince eagerly turned his purse upside down into Drawful’s waiting palm.

“Thank you sir, I’ll send an update of the progress by the end of next quarter.”

“End of next quarter?” The Prince checked.

“Certainly, I’ll include an overview of the project development timeline and target date for completion.”

“You’ll tell me the target for completion at the end of next quarter?” The prince was incredulous.

“Yes, project planning and management, resource allocation, all of these things will take time. Your initial investment will certainly help us through the planning phase of the application development.” Drawful filled the purse Brooke had handed him and gave it back to her, and gestured for her to head back inside, which she did with a smile.

The Prince followed Brooke’s departure with his eyes and then looked up at Drawful. “Well, any chance you can move the timeline up? At least to end of this quarter for that plan and target?”

Drawful grinned and managed to look only slightly contrite. “I will do my utmost and update accordingly. In the meantime, we should get going so that we can get some initial work done to hit your more aggressive delivery date.”

The Prince patted his now empty purse. “I don’t have money for an inn.”

Drawful looked confused and the Princess stifled her laughter from the armchair by the hearth. “Oh? Well, luckily your castle is only ten miles away. Good night, sweet Prince.” Drawful slammed the door and plodded proudly into the living room and took the other chair by the hearth. They clinked glass and bottle happily at the turn of events, and even shared a laugh when rain began to fall mere minutes later. The fire of Drawful’s hearth felt particularly homely to the Princess thanks to knowing that she was beside it and not in the rain trotting off with an entitled ass of a Prince.

Both Princess and Dragon fell asleep in the living room. Drawful did so to dimming thoughts of how his story might someday be told. The Princess drifted off to the happy consideration that perhaps rather than finding a suitor, she had found a defender and friend.

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