A plastic red dragon looks down at a grey plastic knight. They are standing on colorful tiles that are meant to be a dungeon. Image by Chris Busterillos on Unsplash.

This story comes from a writing prompt that said: Offering the dragon marriage into the royal family had been a power play on the king’s part, a way to intimidate the kingdom’s enemies. He had not anticipated the dragon actually accepting the offer.

Here is the story I wrote in response to this prompt:

Gruzedla the Brave was in the stables, tending to her horse. They had just returned from Marhagan, a town whose people had always been loyal subjects of the King of Agbratten. Gruzedla was sent on a quest to attempt to learn why the people of Marhagan had stopped tithing.

Both the knight and her horse, got covered with muck, dirt, and pollen on their way back. It was a warm day. So Gruzelda tied her horse to a post outside the barn, and then returned with several buckets of water and a scrub brush.

Bucephalus (whom Gruzedla called “Boo”) started to prance a bit upon seeing the water buckets. Gruzedla smiled, dumped one of the buckets of water over the horse, and started scrubbing.

Both knight and horse were enjoying the moment. Boo loves (almost) nothing more than a good bath in the warm sun. He also enjoys carrots.

It was then that Gruzedla heard the sounds of frantic footsteps approaching. She dropped the scrub brush and pulled out her sword, ready for battle if it was called for.

“Gru!” panted the serving woman who stopped near the knight.

“King Alfred… has asked me… to bring you to him… something about… a quest?”

Gru recognized Eplheiba, a servant girl who worked in the kitchen. She would sometimes bring carrots – that were still good, but no longer for human consumption – to Boo. Gru patiently waited for Eplheiba to catch her breath.

“I’m sorry… I was ordered to come fetch you. King Alfred wants to see you immediately, if not sooner. You must hurry to the throne room.”

“Hold on,” Gru said. “I can’t go into the throne room looking like this!” She gestured at the muck, dirt, dust, pollen and other stuff that had collected on her armor and her hair.

Elpheiba, still recovering after her sprint to the stables, looked terrified. “I’m sorry, but there is no time for a bath. The King was very clear about that.”

“Understood.” Gru picked up a bucket of water that was still full, and dumped it over her head. Elpheiba made a nervous squeaking sound.

“Let’s go!”, said Gru. Elpheiba began sprinting again and Gru was able to keep the pace. The second the two women reached the door of the throne room, Elpheiba ran back to the kitchen.

Two knights guarded the door to the throne room. Each saluted Gru, the King’s favorite knight. They clicked the heels of their boots together at the same time. Each grabbed a door handle, opened the double doors, and gestured for Gruzedla to enter.

Gru walked up the long, red, carpet that led to the throne. King Alfred looked both impatient and angry. Gruzedla performed the gestures of respect by bowing her head, and clasping her hands together in front of her.

“My King! I bring you news from Marhagan. The people have been influenced by the promises of King Fezuzo of Adalantia. He appears to have offered them monthly parades, extra warm boots to wear in the cold months, and more food than what you are – very kindly – sending to the people.”

“I have been told,” Gruzedla continued, “that this promise from King Fezuzo has not yet resulted in any of those things. However, the people of Marhagan want to believe that help is on the way.”

King Alfred nodded his head, impatiently, as his favorite knight explains things. “Is that all they want? Bah!” the king said, in the most sarcastic tone Gru had ever heard him speak in.

“No, my King, that is not all. King Fezuzo made those promises with a severe stipulation. If the people wanted the parades, warm boots, and additional food – they must stop sending their coins to you. And that, my good and benevolent King, is why they have not been sending tithes.”

King Alfred pounded his fist on the arm of his throne hard enough that the sound echoed through the room. He put his face in his hands for a moment, and let out a deep, frustrated sounding sigh.

“Gruzedla the Brave,” he said in a quiet voice, as he looked into Gru’s eyes. “You are my favorite knight because you tell me the truth about things. Everyone else tells me falsehoods because they are afraid of my wrath if I don’t like what they reported.”

“I will send word to King Fezuzu to…” The King paused, then continued with, “encourage him to undo his promises to the people of Marhagan. King Fezuzo is all talk and no action. Marhagan’s people likely know this.”

“But,” King Alfred said, clapping his hands together. “I have another quest for you. It is a bit… unusual.”

Gru once again bowed her head and clasped her hands together. “I am at your service, my King.”

“Excellent! I’m sending you out to find a dragon. Not just any dragon! I’m thinking about a specific dragon who lives in a cave on the hillside not too far away.”

Gru listened carefully. “I will do my best to fight the dragon, my King.” In the back of her mind, she was trying to squelch the image of dying from excessive fire damage.

“Oh, I don’t want you to fight a dragon. I want you to make the dragon an offer.”

Gru stared back at her King, confused.

“Let me back up a bit,” the King said. “Do you remember when eldest son Tanner got married to Princess Myaza of Beckleplains?”

Gru nodded her head. “Yes, my King. I was among the knights who were protecting their carriage as it headed to the church.”

King Alfred nodded. “Tannan and Myaza have two children now, an heir and a spare, so to speak.”

“My younger son, Triton, who spent several years as part of the Royal Navy, recently retired. He and Darious – his husband-to-be are waiting on the paperwork. I completed my portion of it years ago. But, Darious is from Upper Ghyllxos, and their council insists on dotting every I and crossing every t.”

Once again, Gru nodded and patiently listened to her King.

“My youngest child – well, she’s actually an adult now. How time flies,” King Alfred said, shaking his head. “Rosalind vehemently refuses any suitor who comes calling. None of the young men were up to her standards, I suppose.”

“Tannen and his wife are doing well, and appear to be loved by her people. Triton will – eventually – also do well after the paperwork ends and the marriage begins. Rosalind, however, she’s not interested in getting married – or having children.” The King sighed in frustration.

King Alfred handed Gruzedla two pieces of parchment. One was a map to the dragon’s lair. The other was a letter that she should give to the dragon.

“I don’t mean to be impertinent, my King, but it sounds like you want me to hand a marriage proposal to a dragon on your behalf, possibly against Rosalind’s wishes?”

King Alfred nodded his head. “Of course! That’s exactly what I want. There is always a lot of paperwork, and back-and-forth with Royal marriages. This is just how things are done.”

“That said,” King Alfred said with a smirk, “I expect the dragon to decline the offer. Dragons collect treasure, and they live for a very long time. Can’t imagine dragons would abandon all that hard work collecting things to marry a Princess and get stuck in tedious politics.”

Gru, once again, bowed her head and clasped her hands. “I will do as you ask, my King.” She sprinted through the castle, received some dirty looks from the well dressed women she passed by, and headed to the stable.

Boo and Gru immediately set out to complete the King’s quest. It took less time to find the dragon’s lair than it did to find her way to Marhagan. It certainly helped that the cave opening was huge and easily spotted from far away.

After climbing up the winding, rocky path to the cave, Gru and Boo took a short break. The view from there was wonderful! She gave Boo another carrot, tied the horse’s reigns to a nearby rock structure, and headed inside the lair.

Gruzedla the Brave expected to see a lot of treasure in this cave. And she did! There were several piles of gold lying about, next to large piles of unsorted gemstones. Gru knew better than to touch any of that.

The light in the cave dimmed. Only a dragon could cast a shadow that large! Gru slowly turned around and was stunned by how huge a red dragon could be!

The dragon stood still, looking down at Gru. “Why are you here? You haven’t stolen any of my treasure, so you must want something else from me.” The voice of the dragon echoed through the cavern.

Gru watched as the dragon blew tendrils of smoke out of its nose. She opened up the letter that was for the dragon, and started explaining herself.

“I apologize for the intrusion. My name is Gruzedla the Brave, favored knight of King Alfred, of Agbratten. My king hopes that you will marry his youngest offspring, Princess Rosalind. Many suitors have asked for her hand, but the Princess turns them down.”

“Interesting…” the large red dragon commented. He slowly lowered his head until he was at eye level of the letter. “The font is too small. Read it to me.”

Gru nodded her head and began reading.

“King Alfred of Agbratten requests that you consider marrying his youngest offspring, Princess Rosalind. She is a young-adult who absolutely does not want to have children. Gruzelda the Brave has a locket around her neck that contains a portrait of Princess Rosalind.”

“If you take a liking to the Princess’s portrait, the Agbratten government will begin generating the required paperwork that is needed to be signed off by many people before the marriage can be officially approved.”

“As you may know, it is not unusual for adult children of Royalty to marry someone who is from outside their kingdom. Should your marriage to Princess Rosalind commence, you would become the Princess’s consort. Typically, this position includes attending official Royal gatherings, waving at the commoners who come to watch you and your spouse, and occasionally being written about in the tabloids of sketchy newspapers.”

“King Alfred of Agbratten would be thrilled to have you marry his daughter. She hasn’t found someone worthy of her yet. King Alfred believes that you would be seen as very impressive not only to Rosalind, but also to the people of Agbratten.”

The dragon listened intently. He appeared to be considering his options. Gru waited, assuming that the dragon would not want to marry a human, even if she was a princess.

“What does the Princess look like?” the dragon asked.

Gru reached underneath her chest plate so she could grab the portrait that hung on a leather rope around the knight’s neck. She held it up for the dragon to view.

“If you choose to marry Princess Rosalind, you will have to sign the end of this letter to make your intent official”, Gru explained.

“That parchment is way too small for me to read, much less sign,” said the dragon. “Could you sign my name for me?”

“Um.. yes? I think I’m allowed to do that.” Gru picked the feather quill and a small bottle of ink out of her pocket. “Typically, if a person who wishes to marry cannot sign their name themselves, we allow someone to write it on their behalf. What is your name?”

“My name is… something that is not understandable in your language. Too many syllables and letters that you would never be able to pronounce properly. You may call me… Fred.”

Gru wrote “Fred” at the bottom of the letter. She pressed the bottom of the small ink bottle into the paper, to make an impression of her mark.

“Done!” said Gru, putting away her quill and ink. “I should have said, things are now officially started. It can take a long time between now and when the wedding happens. You will receive more letters as the process continues.”

“One more question,” said Fred. “What does Princess Rosalind think of this marriage proposal?”

“I’m really not certain what she would think about this. Perhaps I should ask her to send you a letter, if you would like that.”

Fred nodded. Gruzedla the Brave turned and marched out of the cave.

The moment Gru returned to the Kingdom of Agbratten she placed Boo into the stable where he could eat and take a nap. She sprinted her way to the closed doors of the throne room, and was let in by two guards.

King Alfred was thrilled to see his favorite knight return. He was all smiles.

“Well? What did the dragon say about marrying Princess Rosalind?

“Things went well, my King. Fred, the red dragon of the large cave, has accepted the marriage proposal. I read the letter to him because it was very small and hard for him to see. And, if you look closely, I followed our kingdom’s custom of signing his name for him, complete with my mark next to it for clarity.”

King Alfred froze. “I… did not plan for this outcome. The dragon was supposed to turn down the offer. What am I going to do now?”

“If you would like my advice, my King, I suggest we talk with Princess Rosalind about this. Clearly, she’s not interested in any of the eligible men that have tried to court her. And, if you had not noticed, she has filled the walls of her room with paintings of dragons.”

This story I wrote on Tumblr is based on a writing prompt titled: Offering the dragon marriage into the royal family had been a power play on the king’s part, a way to intimidate the kingdom’s enemies. He had not anticipated the dragon actually accepting the offer”.

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