Happy Friday, guys!
I said I had something else for Valentines Day. Well, I’ve got a short story. My humble first attempt at romance in the spirit of the holiday.
I hope you guys appreciate what I go through for you.
Actually, I think these two are kind of cute, so it’s not that bad. 😛
So, enjoy. I’ll be posting the next part on the actual Day of Valentine.
It was the first time in a while Deuteronomy McCoul had needed to crane his neck to look up at anything. All seven feet of him were dwarfed in the looming shadow of the castle as he approached and he couldn’t help but wonder if he was the best-equipped person for this sort of job.
He stopped at the edge of the murky, green moat and looked along the edge. To his right was a drawbridge that was sawn too short to even think about getting across the whole thing. Two stone pillars stood, crumbling at the end where the bridge would have landed if it was long enough.
Deuteronomy squinted at it for a second, adjusted his crooked breastplate and moved on in the other direction. Around the corner, he saw what he was looking for.
A whole drawbridge lay across the moat, resting between two stone pillars similar to the ones he had seen at the other bridge. The archway it led into wobbled as though it might fall over at the slightest hint of human movement beneath it, but the courtyard beyond looked fairly safe.
Still, he thought, tiptoeing though a shaky entrance was quite a bit safer than the dragon battle I expected.
He rapped his knuckles against his large helmet, reassuring himself of its sturdiness and walked onto the bridge. It creaked loudly, unused to such weight and he winced. Not exactly the herald he’d hoped for the resident princess.
The arch overhead seemed to have decided not to crush him for the moment and he made it safely into the courtyard. All was empty and quiet. Fallen leaves tumbled around the stones, making quiet rustlings and chasing each other in the occasional eddies of wind.
Deuteronomy raised his visor and looked around for a minute. No movement other than that caused by the wind seemed evident. However, the steps up the highest tower were placed in quite an obvious spot. The princess was free for the taking. He made his way, smiling, over to the stairs.
I wonder if she’ll like me, he wondered, stepping onto the first step, I mean, I am a little intimidating. That’s what scares everyone else away. His heart sank at the thought, I’d hate for her to be unhappy . . . He sighed, I’m sure there would be someone who’s actually a prince that would like to marry her. Being her rescuer is important too, he consoled himself, and I have to do what’s best for the rescued.
Deuteronomy mounted the last step, his shoulders a little lower than before, and stood at the carved wooden door. A million images flashed through his mind of what the princess might look like, all had pretty smiles aimed up at him.
He frowned and shook his head to clear the thoughts. A scream is more likely, he told himself.
He closed his hand over the doorknob and gave a twist and a push. Locked. He tried again and it still didn’t yield. With barely a thought, he put his shoulder into it and broke in the door.
The sound of the initial cracking wood faded and the room was quiet. Mentally kicking himself, Deuteronomy propped the door against the wall to his side, and began forming an explanation for his un-princely entrance.
But as he turned around, explanations fled and questions took their place.
The room didn’t look at all like a princess’s chamber. Pieces of paper, stockings and a few cloaks littered the floor. Two dolls sat slumped in the corner and the bed was in wild disarray. The gauzy canopy that hung overhead had a knot done in one corner, holding up another doll, and a glove thrown on top.
Good gracious, my back storage room is tidier than this. Deuteronomy stared at all the chaos for a moment before fully realizing that the princess was not on the bed. Panic gripped him. So that’s why the castle had no dragon. There was nothing to guard. And that’s why no one else had come . . .
A soft snore from one of the corners interrupted his thoughts. He startled and squinted at what he’d previously thought was a pile of laundry. It was moving slightly. Breathing. With that realization, its human form was obvious. That black mass was a skirt and the previously unidentifiable brown tangle was hair.
Well, so there was the princess. Now to wake her and avoid the question of why she was asleep in the corner if at all possible.
Deuteronomy picked his way across the dirty floor and stood next to her for a moment before stooping and resting one of his large hands on her remarkably small shoulder. Nothing. He gave a gently shake.
“Aayyy!” the girl shot upright, springing to her feet with amazing speed and swinging something in his direction.
Deuteronomy jumped back, throwing his hands up in surrender.
The girl threw her short curls back out of her eyes, “Think you could just . . . oh.” She lowered her small weapon, “You’re here to rescue me? Holy dragon’s breath, about time.”
“I . . .” Deuteronomy swallowed and lowered his hands, “Yes, I’m here to rescue you, M’lady.” He bowed respectfully. His dipped head was still quite a bit above her upward aimed one even in this position.
The princess scrunched up her nose and looked over at the door he’d propped up against the wall. She gestured to it with her still tightly held object, which, Deuteronomy now saw, was a hairbrush. An obviously unused one.
“You bust that door off yourself?”
“Um . . . well . . . yes, M’lady.”
A smile broke across her face, “That’s the way to deal with those locks.” She sounded as if she approved. Deuteronomy relaxed a little.
“What’s your name, big guy?”
Big guy? Somehow he was expecting a slightly more formal address than that. He bowed again involuntarily, “Deuteronomy McCoul, M’lady.”
She grinned wider and stuck out her hand, “That’s a mouthful. I’m Pippa. Nice to meet you.”
Deuteronomy removed his glove and shook her hand, enveloping it completely in his own in the process.
Looking Pippa over, he thought, he wouldn’t particularly have thought of her as a princess.
Her dark curls were cut short and barely touched her shoulders, unlike the long, flowing locks he’d heard about on princesses. A leather jerkin and a ruffled black skirt over practical breeches and a tunic took the place of a fancy silk dress.
And she was very small. Though everyone was small compared to Deuteronomy, Pippa in particular made him feel like a church tower next to a little thatched hut.
“So what region are you from? I don’t think I’ve heard of any McCouls in positions of stature recently.” Pippa propped a hand on her hip and tipped her head up at him.
“I’m not a prince, actually, M’lady. I . . . I’m a blacksmith. It just didn’t seem right that you be stuck here for so long and no one rescue you and . . . so I took it upon myself.”
Pippa’s face softened, “Gosh, that was nice of you. Yeah . . .” she let out her breath and plopped down on the floor, her skirt billowing out around her. “Most of the questing knights that go and rescue princesses are my brothers. (I have five older ones, y’know.) And I used my one messenger to tell them not to come and bail me out. I was getting kind of tired of them babying me in everything.”
“Your one messenger?” Deuteronomy asked. He was still a little taken aback by her lack of formality. “That’s supposed to be the one you send to the knight who you want to rescue you. Who even put you up here?”
Pippa snickered, “Let’s just say I merited the . . .” she put up her fingers as quotation marks in the air, “ . . .’severe displeasure of the reigning authority after repeated annoyances to the kingdom.’” Dropping her hands back into her lap, she shrugged, “He locked me up here again. I’ve kept myself busy and there’s plenty of food. But I ran out of almonds yesterday, so you showed up just in time.” She smiled approvingly up at him.
“I’m . . . um . . . glad I could be of service, princess.” He tried not to look too confused. Almonds?
Pippa stood back up and smoothed her skirts. She tipped her head back up at him like a curious bird, “Why do you knights always wear those helmets? I like seeing people’s faces.”
“Apologies, M’lady.” Obediently, Deuteronomy pulled off his helmet and tucked it under his arm.
Pippa observed his face for a few seconds. Her smile quirked up higher on one side, “That’s a better view than that metal serving tray across your face.”
Deuteronomy blushed and rubbed his hand across the back of his neck.
“So,” Pippa picked her hairbrush back up and spun it around in her hand, “How did you defeat the invisible dragon?”
It felt like Deuteronomy’s heart dropped into his stomach, “Invisible dragon?”
Pippa stopped swinging her hairbrush and her back stiffened. There were a few seconds of silence before a roar shook the crumbling castle walls.
*shrugs* Yeah. Good place to stop, don’t you think?
Well, let’s hope I finish it in time for my scheduled day and not leave the dragon hungry… 😛
So, how do you like the story thus far?
Please comment! I’d love to hear from you! 🙂