When there are no heroes

This is the Finale of Princess for the Night. Part I of Princess for the Night is here

opium tales as was with Tonna, Isabella was brought in chains in front of the cave by the elders.

Cold, damp, and wearing a white dress that isn’t enough to keep her warm, she walks with her head down. Only unlike Tonna, she’s not thinking defeat. Rather, she’s focusing on what she needs to do.

As I’ve said earlier, her mother passed out. Her father lies in the barn unconscious with his front teeth knocked out. Her aunt though, her dear aunt, fed her some soup with some meat this morning to keep her warm and keep her strong.

Only her aunt knows. Her dear aunt.

One of the elders makes the mistake of looking her in the eyes. These elders have done this many, many times, and have become cold. But this one looks her in the eyes. And sheds a tear.

They know Isabella. They know her heart, her boldness, her compassion. They know that they’ll never see that again.

The elder wipes the tear and he and the others walk away as they finish chaining Isabella to the wooden pole in front of the dragon’s cave.

Focus

Isabella got very little sleep as she and her aunt worked over and over again the spell. The key to doing anything right? Repetition. Yeah, I know that sounds boring but it’s true. If you want to be good at anything, do the same thing over and over and over again until it becomes second nature.

You practice it in ideal conditions. Then you hope you can pull it off under stress.

Well, what can be more stressful than a giant monster coming to eat you? Especially when you know in graphic detail how the monster consumes its prey?

Isabella hears movement. She sees the beast slither out of its cave.

Not yet.

She sees the beast looking around. Then, the beast eyes its prey.

Not yet.

She sees the beast moving forward. Still too far away.

Not yet.

She sees the beast slithering forward. Then, the beast raises itself on its hind legs.

As practiced, the potion leaves her dress and goes up and up. With her hands tied, she has to do it entirely with her mind.

It does. The potion goes up and up. And the dragon opens its mouth. And the potion goes in his mouth and breaks.

Almost immediately, the dragon feels different. Instead of chomping down, the dragon eyes his princess. He lowers his head slowly. Down and down, all the way to the ground and looks at her.

Then the weirdest thing happens. A smile? Can a dragon really smile?

He nudges her lightly with his head, then raises his head to bite.

But no, not bite her. He bites the chains. Isabella is free.

When your world is up in flames

She doesn’t run. Rather, she comes forward and kisses the dragon on his leathery nose.

The dragon once again lowers his head and Isabella climbs aboard his neck. She’s never felt anything like this before – a connection to a beast. And, the mightiest of all beasts.

The virgin sacrifices end now, and to be sure, Isabella knows that some people are going to have to die.

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