I promised myself that I would always post something between my story posts. It’s not really happening. Oh well! At least having something I have to post weekly keeps me posting at all!
Enjoy Part Six!
Part Sixth: “To Save My People”
The royal family rode back to the Castle with the noblemen following while the rest of the people walked dejectedly back to their homes.
“That took a long time,” commented the Queen as a groom took her horse’s reins, trying to sound as if she cared how long it had taken, even just a little. “What a sly creature! Couldn’t you have tried to make things go a bit faster, Cedric?”
“When a dragon wants to go in circles it is often wise to let him. Go to the Throne Room,” the King responded, and no one blamed him if he sounded rather snappish.
The four of them entered the great room where they had sat before the confrontation with the dragon. A long, red carpet ran to the foot of the platform where the thrones sat. Various servants and noblemen were going to and fro, and all of them tried valiantly not to stare at the Royal Family as they came in.
The King ordered them to bring smaller chairs to the foot of the dais, and then leave him alone with his family. They hurried about following his directions and one-by-one slipped out. Left alone, the family pulled the chairs into a circle, and sat down.
“Cedric, are you sure we can’t fight him?” Queen Eleanor asked, breaking the silence.
The King was silent for a long time. “No,” he said at last. “We cannot. Dragons’ scales cannot be pierced by any weapon. They heat armor with their breath and make it a danger. Some of the smallest can kill a man with a flick of their tail. The only reason to fight would be to defy him to the very last—which I meant to do, until. . .” he glanced at the fidgeting Penelope and continued. “No, we cannot hope to win, even with all the men in the City. We will all die in the end, unless. . .” All eyes turned towards the Princess now.
“Penelope dear, you needn’t,” said Eleanor, in a pleading voice. “Please, no one expects it of you.”
No one expects it of you. Penelope took a deep breath, remembering how Henry had yelled at the dragon. “Yes, I know that.”
A long silence followed. A candle in a bracket on the wall flickered and went out. The Queen began to cry again. Oh, this is hopeless! thought Penelope, biting her tongue against the urge to start sobbing herself.
“I’m a princess,” she said out loud, clenching the ornately carved arms of her chair. “If I can save my people, I am willing to. . . to die. Father, please let me do it?”
Cedric glanced at his wife. They looked into each other’s eyes for a long moment before he turned away. His voice was shaky as he answered, “Yes, Penelope. If you are willing, you may go.”