In the last Episode, Princess Crowley recited a poem for Freeman, threw away her uncomfortable shoes, and declared her intention to give up being a princess by breaking her crown.
Here are the last few sentences from last week’s post:
Princess Crowley looked over she shoulder and gave him a sly grin. “ My next poem has a message for you:
No more ‘Majesty’
Crowley is who I will be.
I renounce my crown.
What do you say to that?”
Before Freeman could reply a shower of arrows sailed over their heads.
Freeman dropped his giant pencil and lunged forward. “ Run, Princess!” He grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the hill where the arrows had originated. They ran toward a stand of trees. “Get down!” He shoved her toward a tangle of vines and foliage.
She crouched and pushed her snarled hair from her face. “What is going on? And didn’t you hear what I just said? Call me Crowley. I am not a princess anymore.”
“ No time for that, right now.” Freeman stretched his head and peered around a tree. “Those were dwarf arrows. The two of us traveling together must have drawn their attention. I have run into them before. They are a fractious lot.”
Crowley shuffled closer and peeked over Freeman’s shoulder. “I thought dwarves were cave dwellers and used other kinds of weapons like axes and swords.”
He gestured toward the hill. “The ones out there are plains dwarves. They are quite territorial and they use crossbows with deadly accuracy. That volley of arrows was just a warning.”
She placed a shaking hand on his back . “Now what? I may be large, but I am not invincible.”
Freeman turned and smiled. “ Princess… uh…I mean, Crowley, I will not let anything happen to you. I may lack skills, but my skin is as tough as armor and my loyalty is even stronger.”
“Thank you, Freeman, but-“
A clamorous shout interrupted her as a swarm of dwarves poured down the hill toward the trees.
Freeman grabbed her elbows and pulled her to the ground. “Stay here!” He moved toward the field wondering how long he could repel an assault with his meager powers.
The company of dwarves stopped at the bottom of the hill and launched a second volley of arrows directly at him, which crumpled as they bounced off his chest and belly. A command went up from the front line of dwarves. “Aim for his eyes and wings!”
Freeman folded his wings against his back and raised a foreleg in front of his eyes.
How long could he keep them at bay? What if he failed?
The dwarves reloaded their crossbows and took aim. Another command was issued. “Dispatch this inept dragon and get that giant!”
Freeman raised his head and drew himself to full height. A kind of fury he had never felt before surged through his body. He had to protect his friend no matter what. “NO!” As he yelled flames exploded from his mouth scorching the grass that lay between him and the angry horde. “ARRGGHH!” More fire burst forth, the flames reaching the front line.
The shocked dwarves froze in their tracks for a few seconds, then dropped their weapons and fled in disarray, scrambling over one another to get away.
Freeman was stunned as he watched the dwarves make a helter-skelter retreat. What had just happened? He had never been able to breathe fire before. He reached his claws up to his mouth which tasted like sulfur. He sat on his haunches and scratched his head in wonder.
A voice behind him said, “That was incredible! I thought you said you couldn’t breathe fire. You were holding out on me.” Crowley clapped him on the back and squatted beside him. “Very impressive.”
He shook his head. “ I don’t know how that happened. I have never been able to do that before. In Dragon Academy I could only manage to blow bubbles and feathers, which of course made me the laughing-stock of the whole school.”
Crowley looked thoughtful. ” Maybe since you were in danger…?”
Freeman replied, “ Well, I have been in scrapes before and I couldn’t breathe fire in those instances. This time I was so desperate to protect you, I got angrier than I have ever been. The flames just…I don’t know…came.”
Crowley took his claws in her hands. “I think you had the ability all along, you just didn’t need it –“
“Until I needed to protect someone I truly care about.” He shook his head. “I couldn’t let anything happen to you.”
She hugged him. “ I am truly grateful, Freeman. It was a noble act of bravery and friendship. Now I wonder what other hidden talents you may reveal?”
He laughed. “Me too. For now I want to find my pencil and get a drink of water to get the charcoal taste out of my mouth. How do the other dragons stand that?”
Crowley said, “ I could use a rest after that ordeal. I am sure you could too. It’s getting late.” She indicated the sun sitting low in the sky. “I think we have had enough excitement for today.”
Freeman agreed. “Not far from here is a small village where I have obtained food before. Let’s head there. Tomorrow will likely bring new adventures.”