The Ambivalent Dragon Part 3. Our story of Freeman the dragon and Princess Crowley continues. You can find Parts One and Two on the blog under Stories. Summary: Freeman, a peaceable, story-telling dragon meets Princess Crowley who has been turned into a giant by a disgruntled sorcerer.
Freeman hesitated and then knelt down in front of the Princess and held out his new pencil. “ It would be an honor if you would accept this. I can return to Warrenden for another for myself.” He shrugged.” It is not an easy or pleasant trip, with the trolls and other annoyances, but I will undertake it.”
Princess Crowley shook her head. “No, I don’t want your pencil, although I do appreciate the kind offer. I want to get my own. I am determined to do things for myself. I was sheltered too long in the castle and dependent on servants. Being out here in the forest has made me self-reliant and I like that.”
Freeman nodded. “ I understand and I admire your attitude, your highness. May I suggest that we travel together to Warrenden?” He pointed in the direction they would be traveling.” I know a route that will help avoid most of the unpleasantness. I warn you there could be trouble along the way. I manage to attract it.”
Princess Crowley clapped her hands together. “ I was hoping you would say that. We can help one another with the trolls and other troublesome creatures. Two united are better than on alone.” She smiled. “I can use my size and the reputation of giants as brutish and stupid to my advantage. I scared you didn’t I?”
“Indeed you did, your majesty. Of course, I may not be the best example. I am not the bravest of creatures.” He dropped his head.
“Never mind that. Let’s get started and we can talk more on the way. Are there adequate sources of food and water along the way, or should we carry supplies?” The Princess was already looking out toward the horizon.
Freeman assured her that during the warm months, there were always plenty of wild fruits and nuts along the way. They would pass by lakes and cross a couple of streams that would provide fresh water.
“ Lead the way then,” the Princess told him.They turned and headed back though the forest. “So tell me about this band of trolls that chased you into my forest. I have not seen trolls in my time here. “
Freeman replied, “ They actually do not live nearby. They pursued me quite a way. In my haste I strayed far from my usual path. That is how I ended up in your forest. I have never been in here before.” He used his pencil to push limbs out of the way. “ I avoid thick forests because the tree branches catch in my wings and my tail gets tangled up in the roots and brush. It offers more concealment but it is slow going. I can make faster time in the fields and grasslands, but of course I am easier to spot.”
“And you said you cannot fly?” The princess bent down to untangle Freeman’s tail from some vines.
“ Well, if I am in an open area and I get a running start I can take low, short flights that are more like awkward hops. It is not something to inspire fear into anyone or anything pursuing me. That was what I was trying to do when ended up here. I could hear the trolls laughing as they chased me. “
“But they did not enter the forest, did they?”
“No and I wondered why they stopped.” Freeman looked puzzled until he watched as the Princess straightened to her full height and placed her hands on her hips. “Oh.”
“ Yes. I have not been here long but I have managed to build quite a scary reputation among the more unsavory beings. I have run off my share of goblins, dwarves and thieves. I have not seen any trolls , but I assume word about me has traveled. “ She gave a rueful smile. “ The problem is I also frightened off the woodland creatures as well. I regret that. This forest was home to rabbits, deer and many kinds of birds. No more.”
“The law of unintended consequences,” Freeman said.
“ What is that?” The Princes stopped to remove some pine needles from her shoes.
“ It means that our actions for good in one situation can sometimes cause a bad outcome in another. Your posturing scared away the undesirable creatures, but it also ran off the animals who depend on the forest for life.”
“Oh. Yes, and I am sorry about that. I have always had an outgoing personality – bossy my mother, the queen, would say. I guess with my size I need to tone down the bravado.”
“ Well, said Freeman, as they emerged from the woods. “ I need to find some.”
Princess Crowley said, “ Perhaps we can help one another, develop the traits we are lacking. What do you say?” She extended her hand toward the dragon.
Freeman put his pencil down and grasped her hand. “ It’s a deal. Now I…”
At that moment a terrifying sound filled the air.