Once there was a dragon who woke up to a a terrible crashing sound at the front of his cave. He rushed out of bed to find a princess chopping his furniture to pieces. “What are you doing?” he roared.
“Oh good, there you are. I need this to look convincing, you know?” She chopped his tail-rest in half, and then looked around. “All of this artsy mural stuff on the walls will have to go, too. Maybe I can cover it up with mud.”
“What are you talking about?”
The princess turned and raised her nose in the air. “I am trying to catch the eye of a brave knight, so I need to be rescued from a scary dragon. You aren’t scary enough.”
The dragon rolled his eyes and chased her out of his cave with a broom. Then he looked at his furniture and sighed. There wasn’t enough wood glue in the entire country to fix that mess. Maybe some of it was salvageable?
He ate breakfast in bed, as the bed was still in one piece. The eggs were half raw and half burnt. They tasted terrible. He spilled his orange juice all over the covers when there was another crash in the living room.
The crazy princess was back, and she had knocked down his front door with a battering ram. The dragon was feeling a little alarmed. “Can’t you arrange for the knight to rescue you from something else? There’s a volcano nearby,” the dragon helpfully pointed out.
“Too late,” the princess said. “I already sent the ransom note.”
“I’m being kidnapped?” the dragon squeaked. He cleared his throat. “I’ll have you know that none of my relatives hoard any gold. We’re allergic. Check my cave if you don’t believe me. You won’t get a single gold nugget in ransom.”
The princess scowled unattractively. “You are so stupid. I sent a ransom note from you, so the knight would know where to come to rescue me.”
“But why would I kidnap a princess?”
“Greed, of course. You want half the gold in the kingdom, or some such nonsense. Don’t worry about it. Let the knight chase you away, and it’s all good.”
“But this is my home!”
The princess sighed and shook her head. “My dad owns this kingdom so all the homes in it belong to my family. Now show me your most menacing face. Make it look like I’m really in danger here.”
“Wait a minute. Are you trying to get me hurt?”
“I’m sure you’ll be fine. Hey, did you fix the furniture? Stop it.” The princess stomped her foot.
“That’s it, I’m leaving.” The dragon packed up what he could gather in a hurry and hurried out of the cave before the knight could arrive.
As he flew away, he could hear the princess’s voice yelling, “Get back here! I command you to come back right now!”
He flew all day and all night, stopping only for a moment or two to rest his wings. He passed the volcano and the jungle and the desert and the snowy mountains. Finally, he reached a little island hidden in dense fog and flew to the top of the mountain at the island’s center.
His mother was out digging in the garden. She stood up when he returned, and brushed off her talons on her apron. “Why are you home so soon? I didn’t expect to see you for another century.”
“There was this crazy princesss…”
His mother sighed. “Say no more. We all know how that goes. Did you manage to finish some of your research before you had to leave?”
The dragon patted the briefcase he’d carried away with him. “It’s all here. The last cloaking field was entirely ineffective, but I was really pleased with the two that came before it.”
“Was the last one the one based on chameleon fields?”
The dragon nodded. “I knew it wouldn’t work on such a small scale, but they insisted I add it to the rotation.”
His mother breath-roasted some potatoes and passed them over. “Eat these. You’re all scale and bones. Let’s go over the paperwork inside at the kitchen table.”
Meanwhile, the princess waited for her knight in a muddy, smoky cave. Her trusty horse was wrapped in burlap painted green. The princess frowned and held out a flaming torch. “Just hold this stick in your mouth so I can see how it looks from a distance. Now! I’m commanding you to do it!”