“Slay the dragon, rescue the princess. Slay the dragon, rescue the princess,” she repeated to herself over and over as she stepped onto a bridge swaying over a volcanic crater. Lava bubbled beneath her, and she gulped in shock.
She was afraid of heights.
She ran across, panting, desperate to escape the threat of being consumed by molten lava. Upon reaching the end of the bridge, she collapsed onto solid ground.
She sighed, her eyes shutting in relief. “That was a close one.”
A noise burst forth. A roar.
Her eyes widened. She jumped to her feet. “Right! Slay the dragon, rescue the princess!” her mouth suddenly gaped in awe at the enormous castle before her, with its two towers stretching out towards the sky.
In one of those two towers lay the princess. Or so she hoped.
She rolled her shoulders, and they cracked in response. “All right. Next step.”
Another roar burst forth. Light erupted from below, and with that light she saw the enormous shadow of a dragon standing behind the castle.
She gasped, biting her nails anxiously. She quickly caught herself in the act and, accordingly, shifted her hand to her sheath instead. She yanked out her sword, miniscule in her hand compared to the threat of a gargantuan dragon.
She began to walk around the castle, sword ready.
Another roar echoed off the walls of the volcano.
She closed her eyes, sipping a deep breath in. Then rushed forward, eyes open. A roar gushed forth from her mouth.
Once she had reached the opposite side of the castle, she screeched to a sudden halt.
The dragon standing before her was barely larger than the length of her foot to her knee.
She barely contained her laughter. “I’m supposed to fight this thing?!”
The dragon croaked, its voice echoing against the walls of the volcano until the noise had elevated into a hunger-driven roar.
She reeled back, laughing till her sides hurt. “This is so ridiculous!”
The dragon simply croaked.
She sucked breath back into her lungs and wiped her tear-filled eyes. “Well, that was fun! But I have to get going since you’re no threat. Thanks for the good laugh, though.” She patted its head. The dragon quickly attempted to snap at her hand, which she avoided quite easily.
“Oops! You missed!” she laughed, strolling her way back to the entrance of the castle. She walked through its hollow, shallow entrance.
Torches lit up the hallways, always one step ahead of her. She approached the stairway to the left tower. With no railing or support, she carefully made her way upwards, daring herself not to turn her gaze down lest she plummet and have her bones splatter upon the ground.
After a very long, hasty trek upwards, she finally reached the top.
It was empty.
“Are you kidding me?!” A string of curse words spun out of her mouth as she carefully crawled back down the steps and proceeded to the next tower.
“Hope you’re happy, princess!” her voice echoed down the long corridors as she trekked the lengthy distance to the second tower. “It doesn’t shock me that nobody’s saved you yet! Sure, I got orders from your father to save you.” She began to climb the stairway to the second tower. “Or, maybe not. I didn’t exactly get orders from your father to save you. Your father ordered a prince to save you, but that boy couldn’t make it an inch without crying for his papa. At least I offered to do something about his problem and made it here so that a prince could have you. And I was offered a permanent home where I can safely live in for the rest of my life, with servants and everything, if I saved you. So I took up the offer. Me: A servant girl. Saving a princess. Whew! This is… a lot of steps.” She paused, swiping her perspiring forehead with the back of her hand before continuing the long journey up the steps.
And then she reached the top.
Within the top of the tower lay a bare room, with the exception of the bed standing in the middle. She approached it, seeing it was covered in a rough cloth. She pulled away the cloth, revealing a woman with syrup-colored, wavy hair, caramel skin, shut-eyed, and wearing a dress of berry blue silk studded with diamonds.
She marveled, in awe at the sight of the beautiful woman lying before her. She cleared her throat, automatically remembering her status as peasant compared to the princess reposed before her. She pulled her own straw-like blonde hair back, and leaned forward towards the sleeping princess.
The princess’s eyes fluttered opened. “Oh! I’m—I’m saved! But… wait. You’re not a prince?”
“No,” she smiled. “I’m not.”
Maribel C. Pagan has appeared or is forthcoming in Persephone’s Daughters, Every Day Fiction, The Stray Branch, and others. She has received the Junior Reading Giants Award, has made the President’s List in Mohawk Valley Community College, and has received a number of other awards and scholarships. Additionally, she is the host of The Maddie Show on WLMU Radio, a Prose Reader for Apprehension Magazine, and a singer and musician for The Angelic Family Choir. Visit Maribel at http://therollinghills.wordpress.com/.