Chapter 6: The Shining Princess
The path through the mountains was much easier to follow than Vladimir could have hoped. Almost too easy, making Vladimir wonder if they shouldn’t have gone the long way around. The people in the trading post they passed spoke of dangers that ranged from bandits and demons to evil chipmunks that stole your trail rations. But so far the only danger they’d encountered was Maire’s incessant chatter. Despite all this time she never seemed to tire of new topics to discuss. Lysandre searched for repositories of information, and there was an open book walking among them that spewed out everything it knew. Vladimir wondered what would happen if Maire’s attention was put fully on Lysandre instead of him. The thought made him chuckle.
“I know, right! What kind of imbecile does that?! Everyone knows that’s not how that kind of trap works.” Maire chimed in happily, completely unaware that Vladimir had not been listening to her for at least two days.
As they came upon a pass between some boulders, a shadow passed over their heads. Lysandre looked up, a concerned look crossing his face, but continued without another word. Vladimir pulled his cowl back a bit and looked around, but the sun still shone high overhead and the rocks limited their vision to each side. So he pulled the cowl back down and kept moving.
All of a sudden, they heard a voice bellow in a slurred tongue, almost like that of a child, “Oh! She has come!” And with that a winged beast dropped down and landed in their path. About the size of a small horse, this beast had bright gold scales that shined brightly in the mid-day sun. As his eyes adjusted to the brightness, Vladimir saw gold and silver jewelry draped all over the creature’s body. It would almost look comical if not for the strong muscles that were beneath. Thanatos was quiet in its scabbard, so Vladimir drew one of his daggers and held it under his arm. The creature spoke clearly to them, “We haven’t had a princess grace us with her presence in soooo long, I am so happy to be making your acquaintance!”
The creature bowed its head deeply, and Vladimir realized it was bowing to Maire. Who quickly; almost too quickly, replied, “Fekiikiri, vorel othokent erthethurirl ghergo. It is so nice to finally meet someone who understands quality when it is before them,” as she flicked a strand of hair out of her face.
Lysandre’s hand tighteneed on the handle of his rapier, poised to unleash it at a moment’s notice. But the creature ignored the act and continued, “You are indeed beautiful my lady, but you seem too ill draped for one of your stature. If it pleases my lady, I have something for you.” And it lifted an enormous clawed hand and dexterously undid a silver necklace it was using as a bracelet.
Lysandre pulled Maire back, ensuring that the creature was still in his sight, and said, “I know this beast, it is a gold wyrm, a dragon. It is far more powerful and dangerous than it looks, we can’t trust it.”
But Maire’s face turned up a pout as she looked on the wyrmling and said, “Oh look at him, he is so adorable. Evil things don’t look like that!”
“No, I’ve heard of beasts like this devouring entire herds and destroying armies as if it were child’s play! We have to stop it before it gets a chance to fell us!” he said angrily. However, despite all the talk, the dragon never seemed the least bit concerned, it only sat back on its haunches and pointed up with its taloned hand. As they all looked, there on a boulder a ways away sat the biggest creature Vladimir had ever seen. It could probably stand up and tower over any building Vladimir had ever even heard of. One single talon was almost as long as Vladimir was tall. While beautiful, the sight made Vladimir so very happy his sword stayed silent, and he sheathed his dagger quickly. It looked at them and a trail of smoke escaped he side of it’s mouth. It almost appeared to be daring them to try something.
Lysandre blanched, and his hand leapt from his weapon. Turning to Maire said, “Perhaps we should indulge this little one. I mean he’s only asking for you anyhow.”
But Maire was already walking to the Wyrmling self assuredly. “Now, as you are a princess, you must know this, but your friends seem uneducated in the ways of proper folk.” It said as it glared at Vladimir and Lysandre in turn. “So I will have to remind them of the rules of a princess. Firstly, you must never do anything for beads.” And with that it draped the silver piece over Maira’s head. Vladimir had to admit, the beads fit all too well around her neck. “Your highness deserves them on principle, for she is definitely the prettiest. And second, you must find someone to buy you more shinies, ’cause a princess can never have too many shinies.” And with that and he glared at Lysandre and Vladimir again, keeping his gaze on Vladimir a tad longer, almost to accent the point.
“And from whom does this fine advice come?” Maire asked.
“I am Zarzithawthess,” said the creature with surprise dignity, prompting an enthusiastic introduction by Maire, and more grudging ones from the men.
The large dragon bellowed something in an unknown language, and the wyrmling replied back in the same tongue. Then turning to the party, the wyrmling said, “Mother says it’s time to eat, so I must leave, princess, but don’t let your servants mistreat you, or I’ll have mother punish them. She loves punishing dumb things.” And with that the dragon flapped it’s powerful wings and flew to its mother in the distance.
Lysandre and Vladimir shared a look of bewilderment, then shrugged. After a long travel, they finally exited the mountains and found a town. Vladimir was happy to finally be able to have a warm bed and a cold drink close by. The odd encounter with the dragon had Maire getting uppity about herself and talking about how they should learn to treat the Lady Maire with more respect, since she did so much for them.
The guards at the wall seemed confused to see people walking down towards them through the mountains, but didn’t question them. The town bustled with people, commoners, travelers, and even a group of people singing to passerby to their hearts’ content. Several streets presented themselves as options for an inn, but Vladimir didn’t have a chance to pick one as Maire turned him around and asked, “So what kind of shiny are you getting me?