A shadow darkened the land as something massive passed in front of the sun. The townsfolk thought it a cloud at first, but when a mighty bellow echoed from the heavens everybody stopped and stared upward to find that a hulking figure had blocked out the sun. Its form lay dark in its own shadow, but its teeth gleamed sinisterly as it spoke with a soft, serpentine voice that echoed off the castle’s bulwark.
“Humansss! Skarekiern flies before you! Terror of the four winds and she who decimated the Plains of Arkori! Kneel, lest I reduce your labors to ash and feast upon your remains!”
Suddenly terrified, some townspeople shouted and ran about while others did as the dragon commanded, kneeling with their palms facing up in submission.
“I demand only one thing!” Skarekiern announced. “Bring me the fairest princess in the land, and I shall leave your dwellings untouched! Tell your king and queen my demands! Do this, and do this now, for my patience wears thin and my hunger grows!”
Alerted by the commotion, the queen appeared with her daughter in tow, striding down the street with an unfettered brow and a rigid back. She carried with her a speaking trumpet, saying loudly to the dragon, “What have we done to offend you, oh noble Skarekiern? Our kingdom made peace with your kind centuries ago, and proudly keep it! Please, name our crimes! Surely there is a peaceful solution other than handing over my only daughter?”
“I have named it, human queen!” Skarekiern bellowed. “I demand the fairest princess in the land! Nothing else will sate me!”
“Glorious Skarekiern, for what reason would you want my daughter?”
“The reason is mine, and mine alone!”
“Great Wyrm, please, I—”
“Silence! Surrender her to me and I will—”
The queen turned. Her husband and his retinue approached from down the road. He looked just as rigid as she, but seemed vastly more annoyed; which was rather at odds with the situation. He held out a spyglass to her. “Look.”
Looking uncertainly at the instrument, she took it from him and aimed it skyward.
“What is this!” Skarekiern yelled. “What is in your hands? Human weaponry? Drop it immediately and I shall yet let you live!”
The queen tightened her mouth and blew noisily through her nose. She lifted her speaking trumpet back to her lips. “Edadora, get down here this instant.”
“I know not this Edadora! I am Skarakeirn! Terror of the—”
“Now, young lady! Or I will summon your mother!”
The dragon fell silent, turning away to fly off in a different direction. But as it did a significantly larger and more terrifying shape appeared on the horizon, roaring loud enough to shake tiles from the nearby rooftops. The smaller drake froze in midair as the mother wyrm stopped before it, growling and hissing at it in drakontongue for several long moments, before they both tucked their wings in and landed gracefully just outside of town.
The king and queen walked stately towards the dragon, but when the queen turned her head to regard her daughter, she found her in the same spot she had been moments ago, quietly trying to walk in a different direction. At the queen’s sharp look she halted, nervously rejoining her at her side.
When the royal family had left the city walls to join the dragons, they were met with a curious sight. The smaller one—Edadora, not the mighty Skarekiern she had claimed to be—had sheets tied to her wings, a speaking horn attached to her maw, as well as other makeshift cloth accoutrements attached all along her body. When flying close to the sun the ragged costume had magnified her size greatly, but now it made her look silly. The younger drake averted her gaze.
“Your Grace,” the larger wyrm said, bowing its head low. “Please forgive my daughter for bringing fear upon your people. She has embarrassed me greatly with this stunt of hers.”
The queen looked sidelong at her own daughter with a disapproving glare. “So long as you will forgive mine, Marakin. She clearly had a hand in it too, or did you stitch that costume yourself, Edadora?”
Edadora grumbled something unintelligible in drakontongue. Her mother flicked her tail at her, causing the young drake to jump with a shriek.
“Apologize,” Marakin ordered.
Edadora shuffled in place. “I’m sorry…”
The queen glared at her daughter. “You too.”
The princess looked down. “I’m sorry, mother. Your Grace, Marakin.”
Marakin said, “I told you to ask them politely, Eda. Was this polite?”
“They would have said no!” Edadora protested.
“I did say no,” the queen said.
“Ask,” Marakin growled. Smoke licked up from between her teeth.
Edadora still didn’t look up. “Can…can I kidnap Hiri for the Moonvapor Flight?”
“As I told her, no!” the queen said firmly. “She doesn’t yet know the first thing about flying, and you want to snatch her up from my castle’s ramparts for your very first celebration? I’m sorry to say I’ve already seen your claws at work on my mannequins. Maybe next year, and that’s final young lady.”
“See! She doesn’t know what fun is!” Edadora whined.
“Neither will you for the next three months. Come. We’re going home.” With another bow of her head, Marakin launched herself into the sky. Edadora shared a somber look with Princess Hiri before dejectedly following.
The queen grabbed her daughter by the ear. “Do this again and I’ll put you in a tower so high that not even your friend Rapunzel’s hair will reach the ground. Now come, we're leaving too.”22Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ2Yb7uH70St