This is a standalone short story and is not intended to take place in the same world as my main series.
The Princess and the Dragon - 2013 Edition
"The Princess and the Dragon" - By K. LeCrone
Short Story Written on October 1, 2005
Revisited on June 22, 2013
Long ago, there lived a Princess, whose love to one of the castle guards was such legend that it was whispered about by both the royalty as well as the peasant-folk. While war loomed, however, the two knew they could never wed, but each worked as they might to bring an end to the fighting: he with his sword, and she, with her wise words which she shared with the king, and all who would listen.
When the war grew closer, the brave Knight was called out more frequently to defend their homeland, but for each time he answered the call of his countrymen, he was away for longer and longer periods of time. Regardless of what dangers awaited him, each time before he left he would gently kiss his lady on the hand and tell her how he loved her. He would speak certainly of how he would always return, and that she would always and forever be the one he returned to. "That is a promise I swear to, Milady," he'd say. And every evening, as the light began to fade, the Princess would climb to the highest tower in the castle, and look out: just hoping to get a glance of her knight riding home. It was there, high above the rest of the world that she would softly sing a tune the two of their heart's shared, as if it might perchance call him home if he couldn't find his way.
Days turned to weeks, turned to months, and she would pray for his safety, and hope for the day when the two of them could be reunited once more. Without fail, every evening she made her way up the spiraling stairs to the highest tower of the castle and sang out her wishes to the far horizon for her brave knight.
One day, however, a sinking feeling set upon her heart, and though she knew not why, she was certain ill-fortune had come to her knight. Not a moonturn later, she saw a rider-less horse slowly approach the castle, and she knew for sure there would be no happy ending to their story.
She wept, as a mother for the loss of her child, and though many consoled her with well-intentioned words, none of their words could soothe the hollow ache she felt deep within.
Daylight faded and the vibrant colors of dusk transpired to night and yet she stayed awake against her will. But as the first stars of the evening peered into the night sky, she crept once more to the tallest tower of the castle, as if she might yet find peace there that she lacked in her heart.
Her tear-filled face looked out over the eerily-still horizon. Though she knew there would be no brave figure crossing the grassy plains to return to her, she began to softly sing the tune she'd carried so often for her Knight. She closed her eyes and let the music fill her. Her heart poured into every syllable, and though her voice cracked and faltered, she would not let the melody be contained within her breast until the final phrase had passed through her soft lips and carried into the waiting darkness. Only then did silence again greet her.
But then, without explanation, a warm breeze caught her face and somehow bid her to look skyward. Heaven itself opened up and turned before her, pouring out light and a peculiar sense of otherworldly peace unlike anything she'd ever seen or felt before. As it did, a strange, ancient music seemed to play on the wind in tune to the rhythm of her beating heart. Like a dream, the heavens began to shimmer and move as if they were churned to live. And, like a ghost, they took shape before her eyes. A massive dragon's face and form manifested before her and floated effortlessly, watching her. Its huge, flowing mane moved gently with the wind, and its iridescent scales twinkled lightly. In one smooth movement, it wrapped its strong tail around the castle, and calmly looked down to the Princess, and smiled.
"Dear Lady, I've traveled through the lands of the living and the dead to find you again. Your song called to me, and even after a cruel sword felled my body, the song shook me and awakened who I truly am. I have the soul of a dragon, of the noble race that loves deeply and protects truly. And as in my last life, I pledge to you in this one: I will keep you safe from harm and always be with you. And when old age comes to you after so many more great deeds on this Earth, I will be here still, and on that day you will join me in the clouds, for you have the soul of a noble dragon as well."
The Princess looked up at the dragon, and through a tear-stained face she smiled, and believed.