Drawful the Awful Part XXIII: Hike Up Your Skirt

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.

Drawful and Brooke had reached the trailhead at the edge of Beckenworth in the early afternoon. They didn’t have a lot of sunlight left in the day, but Drawful was sure they could still make it to the waterfall if they didn’t break off the main trail for some of the other sights in the wood.

He had asked Brooke to give him some time and left her waiting at the trailhead in the shade of the lush foliage of oak trees that framed the path they would shortly take. Brooke was enjoying a light nap thanks to the warm afternoon air and the blanket of the mimosas from brunch when a rising tittering began to pull her from a dream she already couldn’t remember.

Brooke opened one eye without lifting her head and saw two ladies she knew as nobility from the lands shared by Hubrista and Alabaster. The girls respectively had auburn hair and sandy blonde. Both had their hair braided in a complex pattern and fashion that Brooke could not possibly imagine taking less than two hours to do up in the morning and then the same amount of time to undo at night. Their dresses were silken and embroidered richly, and both looked derisively at the grass that the trod over to approach Brooke, as if it should be an affront for them to walk on anything but fine carpets and marble floors.

Brooke was mostly confused of why they were in the small village at all, far less on the end of it that bordered the woods and hills. Then Brooke recalled that the city gardens where nobility and richer gentry enjoyed passing  sunny afternoons was a short walk from where she was on the edge of town. The ladies must have been on their way for a parochial afternoon in the quaint village and spotted Brooke.

“Princess?” Lana called out unsurely.

Princess Brooke sat up finally and rubbed her eyes. “Yes, nice seeing you Lana,” she replied to the girl who had called for her, then to the other, “pleasure as always, Whitney.”

Lana and Whitney laughed to each other at nothing in particular as they continued approaching. Brooke assumed it was some joke the two had traded before rousing her. Brooke got to her feet and dusted off her pants, which the girls took evident note of, but only traded a look regarding.

“Enjoying an afternoon nap?” Lana asked, with a grin so toothy that she evidently thought the notion must have been some kind of joke.

Brooke shrugged and nodded, wiping some lingering sleep from her eye and yawning with extra indelicacy for Lana’s benefit. “Yep, it’s a very nice day.”

Lana looked repulsed so Whitney interjected. “Princess, we’re on our way to the local park to see how these villagers and country nobles spend their weekends. We saw you and thought you might join us?”

“You seem well dressed for the stroll,” Lana commented, looking once more at Brooke’s traveling pants and linen blouse.

“And then some,” Whitney added and the two devolved into giggles again.

Brooke took a deep breath and looked at the girls then up the path to where she could see the gate into the park and gardens. “I’m waiting on a friend, I think I’ll pass.”

Whitney’s eyes opened wide and she sardonically put a finger up on recollection. “Oh yes, your captor, I had heard your father had, what was the word?”

“Outsourced,” Lana offered.

“Yes, we had heard he had needed to outsource his search for your husband.”

“He didn’t need to outsource the search for my husband,” Brooke answered. She looked uncomfortably at the gates of the park, thinking once more of all the nobles and other gentry that she was sure would be milling about, chattering with and like Lana and Whitney.

“Oh? I heard he jumped at the opportunity to have the dragon handle it for him.” Lana recounted. “It was in the news last night. The Princess Brooke has been ‘kidnapped’ by a fearsome dragon, and the one who rescues her will be given her hand in marriage.”

“Yet here you are, looking every bit a captor,” Whitney commented with another bubbling giggle. “Seems to me it’s a play for a wedding day more than some unwanted theft of his beloved daughter.”

“Don’t worry,” Lana said in a stage whisper, “you can tell us.”

Whitney leaned in conspiratory fashion as well. “You know the Duchess of Edgemere? Well she only ended up marrying the now Duke because her father entered an arrangement with the local bridge troll.”

“You’re lucky your father took a dragon. They’re very well off. If your prince slays it, you get the gold in their keep as a dowry.”

“Though,” Whitney sneered at the scenery once more, “since you’re out here by this wood, I guess that isn’t the case for your dragon.”

Brooke fumed and finally she cut them off. “My father didn’t outsource my search for a husband, you crows.” The ladies were both aghast and Brooke found she had lost all the years of patience and composure she had maintained in court events, galas, balls, soirees and other events with the two girls. She couldn’t guess why it had finally broken until she saw Drawful emerge from the nearby avenue with a market satchel over his shoulder.

“My father got a dragon to help me fend off the idiots trying to take my hand in marriage, until such time I find someone worthy.” Brooke straightened up proudly at the mission statement.

The ladies for their part hesitated only long enough to look at each other incredulously and snort in unified disbelief. “Oh? Until such time you find someone worthy?”

Whitney looked at Lana in response and put her finger sarcastically to her chin as if in thoughtful response. “Didn’t I hear something of a bill being passed in Alabaster recently?”

“Why yes, the regal matrimony equality act!” Lana answered with similar poor theatrics.

“Funny how she needs a dragon to find someone worthy when a law was put in place to open up the field to the dregs of her kingdom!” The girls laughed shrilly and Drawful gave his look of knowing inquiry to the Princess. Brooke shot him a look to ask him to let her handle this a bit and he paused in his approach over the grass while the ladies sustained their laughter.

“My father opened up the field to people with actual character who weren’t born with a silver spoon up their asses who don’t know the value of hard work.”

Brooke narrowed her dark eyes at the ladies, whose laughter only lowered but continued sputtering out. “Whatever you say.”

“Tell me, is your dragon reviewing these resumes?” Whitney added.

“He’s busy keeping idiots like you away.” Brooke shot another look at Drawful and the dragon lumbered up.

The ladies went pale at the dragon towering over them. Brooke could tell that they really hadn’t believed Drawful was real. When Drawful lowered to all fours and beckoned for the Princess to mount him, the ladies squeaked in horror.  “As I said,” Brooke resumed, with cooler tone. “Drawful here is my protector and defender. He is saving me from idiot nobility who seek to waste my time with their proposals for marriage, and their empty headed gossip. Drawful?”

The dragon tilted his head for the Princess to offer him a pat. After she did, he reared back and spread his wings, issuing forth a loud roar than caused the ladies Whitney and Lana to fall back. Drawful shot a wink at Brooke and she held on while Drawful roared once more and shot a fireball into the air and flapped his wings mightily, sending the ladies’ complicated skirts and corsets flying up into their faces.

Brooke laughed as Drawful returned to all fours and advised the ladies. “You ladies may want to change your dresses. Wouldn’t want the country gentry having gossip at the spilled lemonade that seems to have soaked your petticoats.” She patted the dragon’s neck and invited him, “Drawful?”

Drawful growled and lumbered off into the wood with the Princess on his lower neck.

The ladies eventually righted themselves and went racing off back into the village. The pair watched them and laughed loudly as they proceeded up the trail. After a minute, the Princess thanked Drawful and offered to hop off. “Why?” Drawful asked.

“I don’t want to make you out to be some common steed or mule, Drawful.”

Drawful gave it some thought, but continued his slow walk up the trail. “I can’t walk upright in these thick woods regardless,” he explained, “and I don’t consider it any sort of dishonor to provide you the ride, Princess.” Drawful paused and reached for the satchel he had momentarily hung from one of the fangs on his lower jaw. He handed it up to the princess. “I am sorry it is not more mimosa, it seems none of the cafes in the village offer to go mugs of it.”

The Princess smiled, Drawful’s scales were taking on the yellow ochre of the foliage and mingling sunlight of the shaded trail. She reached into the satchel and produced another bottle of elderberry wine. She smiled and popped the cork. “Just one?”

Drawful grinned. “After last night and our brunch this morning, I think I’ll wait till this evening before I turn purple again, thank you.”

Author: Y. Balloo

Amateur novelist / Work in progress.

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