Sir Claudus of Humbleshire awoke, his head ringing and rather filled with pain. He checked himself, finding he was a bit singed and rather bruised, but generally all there. His sword lay several feet away, broken in two and useless. He could not find his mace.
Looking up he could see the dragon. Long and sleek, with shiny scales glinting like fine silver and gold. The woman Claudus had tried to rescue was held in one great claw. The dragon’s eyes were upon him. Meeting those eyes, Sir Claudus glared his deepest hate. The dragon snorted a bit of smoke, nodded his head in seeming satisfaction, and leaped into the air.
The woman dangling from that great claw did not scream, or call for help. She looked up at her captor with mingled fear and awe. It almost looked like love to Sir Claudus, but that could not be right. The beast had held her captive for years, and over the years her letters begging for rescue had been circulating in the hero trade. “Save me from the dreaded dragon. Princess Mallow.”
“She does this all the time.” said a voice from behind him. Claudus turned, still on the ground, to face the source of the voice. His bruises screamed, but he used his knightly discipline to force his bruised body to respond. It was an old woman, sitting on a rock. He did not let down his guard, such as it was after his bruising, and eyed the strange creature.
“Who are you?” he inquired. His head hurt, and the sound of his own voice was like thunder between his ears.
“Her Fairy God Mother.” replied the old woman.
“If she has a Fairy God Mother, why does she sneak missives out of the dragon’s lair begging rescue from knights?” asked Claudus. “Why haven’t you just whisked her out of there? She has the Heroes Guild in a tizzy, I must say. Longest damsel in distress case on the books.”
“I have, several times.” said the FGM, with a sigh. “She always sabotages rescue attempts. She has issues. You know, psychological problems.”
“Oh, sorry. In the future they have this thing called psychology. I have been studying it in my spare time.”
“In the future?” asked the knight. “What are you talking about?”
The old woman whisked a crystal ball out of her sleeve, holding it up to catch the morning light. “It’s a part time gig.” she said. “County fairs, carnivals, that sort of thing. Being Fairy God Mother to a confused young woman who won’t be rescued leaves me with a lot of time to fill.”
The knight shook his head, and then wished he had not.
The ball vanished up the old woman’s sleeve, and she produced a pouch from her belt. Extracting a few herbs she rolled them together in a leaf she plucked from a bush next to her rock. She handed it to the knight and said, “Chew on this. It will ease the pain in your head and help you with managing those bruises.”
The knight popped the packet into his mouth and chewed slowly. It was bitter, but he felt a bit better right away.
“I don’t even recall the beast striking me.” he lamented. “Did I even get in a decent blow?” He glanced at his broken sword, hoping that it had been damaged in a mighty combat.
“Nope.” said the old woman. “The girl built up the fire you banked last night when you both went to sleep. She made it bright and smokey. The dragon flew in on this beacon, and sat with his captive until you stirred. He tapped you lightly with his tail, and gave you a hint of dragon’s breath. You went out like a light.”
“You dropped it. The dragon stepped on it.”
The knight sighed, and stood up. He looked back in the direction of the dragon’s lair. The beast was just a dot in the sky, almost out of sight.
“Will she ever be free?” he asked, as he picked up the broken pieces that had been his sword.
“Perhaps, someday.” said the Fairy God Mother. “Or, she might just be absorbed into the dragon itself. Perhaps, should the dragon die, she shall become a dragon herself.”
“Why the rescue notes?” he asked, as he wrapped the broken sword in his cloak. He was going to have to find someone to reforge the broken blade. He glanced around, looking for his missing mace.
“All part of her illness.” said the FGM. She was really enjoying having the opportunity to talk about the things he had learned, peering into the future through her crystal ball. “She and the dragon feed each other’s deepest needs, in some way. I haven’t studied that far, yet. Crystal balls aren’t easy to read. Anyway, part of her thinks she really longs for rescue, but the dominant part wants to continue the relationship with the dragon.”
“Maybe I’ll just become a monk. You know, one of those hermits.” said the knight, giving up on the mace. “Well, I guess I will be off, to look for a hermitage.” He waved and began wandering off through the woods in the direction opposite the dragon’s lair.
The Fairy God Mother took out the crystal ball, and pulled up her schedule. “Ah, a nice little county fair just two days away. I guess I better get ready.”
She glanced longingly in the direction the dragon had taken her young charge. Shaking her head, she turned away and lifted the edge of her cloak. Spinning the dark cloth around herself, she turned ninety degrees from everything and returned to her home in the netherworld.
The missing mace lay deep in the shadows, under a bush not far from where the knight had been. Having little else to do, it rested there quietly, and began to rust.