“My lord, a dragon sighting is nothing to take lightly. We must immediately send a knight to slay the beast,” the noble fidgeted with his fork as he addressed the king.
“I have heard the rumors, I shall have Faric investigate, however, do not expect much.” The king responded, looking straight at the noble.
Sir. Elwind rode through the massive iron gate, heading for crossroads, where the last sighting had been. He did not care much as to whether or not the peasants burned or the cows were eaten, but Theodore Westhall, head of the house of Westhall, had provided an ample reward. Plus slaying a dragon would look quite good on his resume.
The king walked up the stairs to Faric’s tower. It had nearly been two months since he was last forced to make the climb. Shenanigans were always afoot when one visited the wizard. Last time he had only taken two steps into the room before being turned into a squirrel. Luckily the wizard had turned him back quickly.
Upon reaching the top of the staircase, the king carefully opened the wooden door, only to find the entire room coated in flames. The king jumped back, but when an ember landed on his arm and began to burn merrily, he realized that the fire had no heat, and more importantly, wasn’t ruining his robes.
The king stepped into the room and shouted, “Faric!”
“Philip!” Faric shouted back, then in a normal tone, “I was testing a new spell, backfired rather spectacularly don’t you think?”
“Think? Could you please,” King Philip said, motioning to the flames.
“That’s just it! I’ve been trying to put it out for a good two hours now. No matter what I try it doesn’t go out!”
“Have you tried water?” Philip said, knowing Faric sometimes overlooked the simplest solutions.
“No! That’s brilliant, one sec,” Faric waved his hand and water shot in all directions, soaking the entire room. The flames were immediately gone. Faric waved his hand again and the water vanished, leaving a dry room and, thankfully, a dry king.
“In any case, a dragon has been spotted near crossroads. If you could confirm that rumor. Also, my son has gone missing several days in a row now but is always back by supper. If you could see where he’s going.”
“No problem Philip, I’ll get on it, expect a glowing purple cat by Wednesday.”
Prince Philip was walking along the wall. The west tower was his destination. He was a good hundred feet or so when the door to the tower opened and his father stepped out. Philip ducked behind this year’s shipment of apples and watched the king walk back to the castle.
Once inside the tower, the prince relaxed. The wizard rarely came out of his tower, much less to the entrance to the secret passage underneath.
The passage was narrow and uncomfortable, but it would get him out of the castle unseen.
The prince heaved the rock covering the exit to the side, revealing trees, many, many trees.
A large purple housecat bounded up to the king, opened its mouth, and spoke in Faric’s voice.
“My lord, I have solved both mysteries, please come to my tower whenever timely.”
The king patted the cat’s head and walked towards the wizard’s tower.
The prince pulled out a book and began to pull the manna in the forest towards himself. His hands wove through the air as he listed the arcane gestures out loud, being sure to get them right. He had been practicing magic since Faric gave him a book if simple party tricks, however, when he relearned the book he asked for another, and managed to sneak out several others. This was a spell from one such book.
As the prince completed the spell he felt the mana surrounding him change, then filter into his body. He relaxed as the spell was completed, and didn’t have to wait long for the effects to start kicking in.
Philip watched his hands as talons elongated from his fingernails, scales covering his palms. Similar changes happened to his feet, spreading up his legs and pulling up his heels. The scales quickly spread over his arms and shoulders, where new limbs began to grow. As the scales reached his hips he felt them shift, pushing his body forwards onto all fours. Additionally, his spine extended into a long tail, new muscles forming to control the scaly appendage. By this time his wings were almost fully formed, thin membranes connecting the fingers. Finally, his neck began to extend, pushing his vision away from his body. As the scales spread across his head two horns emerged from his skull. Lastly, his face pushed out into a muzzle, complete with sharp fangs and the ability to breathe fire.
Philip stretched, admiring the way he could twist his body all the way around so his tail went past his head.
The king watched as his son transformed into a horrible monster.
“I never expected him to pick up magic this quickly, I mean, a full dragon transformation and he's only had that book for a month!” Faric said as he watched the boy through his scrying mirror.
“You taught him to do this?” the king asked, apprehensive.
“No, I did not, he thought himself. I gave him a book of simple tricks, you know, making a small object invisible, simple levitation, etc. When he returned it he pinched a few other books, I don’t know which, but I figured he’d be responsible.”
The king composed himself, then said, “I’ll have to talk to him, if you could talk to me tonight just as the sun is going down in my room.”
The king promptly left the room.
The prince flapped hard, pushing himself into the sky. Ever since his first transformation, his dreams were filled with images of soaring over treetops and villages. Magic made his dreams a reality. Trees flew past his head as he relished in the feeling of the wind on his scales.
Philip gained altitude, then dived, leaving his stomach far behind. The trees came at him fast, but he was faster. He pulled up, avoiding splattering himself across the ground, then continued, rolling upside down. For a brief moment, the ground was the sky and the sky was the ground, but before this could fully register he was back in a dive, straining even harder to right himself. He was too slow; the trees caught him this time.
The dragon plowed through the upper branches before slamming into the trunk of a larger tree, stopping him dead. The ground rushed towards Philip’s face, then everything went black.
Sir. Elwind was galloping along the road to crossroads, mentally reviewing the weaknesses and strengths of the mythical beast he was hunting. Dragons are fast, nimble, can fly, and breathe fire, but they pay a price for such strengths. Their bones were quite thin. A good blow to the skull was all required to knock them out. The problem was getting in range.
Sir. Elwind rounded a bend and, to his utter amazement, a dragon was lying unconscious in the middle of the road. Sir. Elwind couldn’t believe his luck. Then realized he had no idea how he was going to deal with the beast. Killing it would be preferable, abet difficult. He didn’t have the equipment for cutting through its scales, and frankly, he was hoping to hire help in crossroads.
Trapping it would have to do. Sir. Elwind pulled a length of rope from his saddlebags and walked over to the unconscious dragon, dragged its head over to the nearest tree, and tied the rope around its neck, securely fastening its head to the tree. That would prevent the creature from burning through the rope. Next, he tied its forepaws together, ensuring it couldn’t cut the rope with its talons.
Then Elwind set in to wait, eventually, someone would come along, who he could send for help.
Help did arrive, but not in the form he had expected.
Sir. Elwind jumped as he heard a popping noise from behind him. He spun around, revealing none other than the king and his court wizard standing right behind him.
“My lord!” Sir. Elwind began, “The rumors were true! I have knocked the beast unconscious, and was waiting until someone came along to help.”
Only part of that was true, and the king knew it, “I see, however, I am going to have to ask you to continue on to crossroads, Faric and I can handle the situation. Don’t worry, I will pay you twice the amount that noble offered.”
As soon as the knight was out of sight the king turned to the dragon.
The prince lowered himself into the market square, giggling madly as everyone vacated the area as fast as they could. There were certain perks to being royalty, and this was by far the best.
Landing, the dragon prince looked around, but it seemed all the shutters closed as soon as he was looking at them. As usual, some of the children had hidden in a nearby alley, fearfully watching him. Philip knew eventually one intrepid adventurer would eventually approach him, and when he made it back the kid would have quite the story to tell, at least, if the guards didn’t shoo the dragon sitting in the marketplace away first.