It didn’t take long for his rage to make the transformation complete and soon he was beating two large wings. He took a large breath of the cool air and let out a loud roar mixed with a blast of sun hot flames. He swooped down into the courtyard and entered the main hall of his castle and found her there. The princess was soon snatched by his long, black claws and carried safely back to her room.
It took him a whole day to calm himself down enough to transform back into his human form. Even then he was too frustrated with himself to go up to see her. He would have been perfectly happy if he never saw her again. How dare she try to escape like that? Hadn’t he taken good care of her? He gave her food, water, clothing and he was willing to give her company as well. What more could she want? He would have let her starve, but he needed her. She was the key to his plan. She was the princess and an only child. Whoever she married would become king and he would be king. Ohh how sweat the revenge will be when he, a dragon, became the king over the land that had mercilessly hunted down and exterminated most of his kind. He just needed to figure out how to make her fall in love with him. It shouldn’t be that hard, his human form was quite charming and handsome. Plus she had no idea that he was the dragon that was holding her here. Humans were so stupid, how could they not know that dragons can change form?
Yes, he would visit her again and bring food and water. As he was climbing the stairs an idea struck him and he set down the food and water down on the steps. He then balanced on a step and leaned back. He fell and smashed into the steps below. He head swam around and his vision was cloudy. He retrieved the food and water and continued up the steps, stumbling as blood began to drip from a cut on his forehead.
It took a little longer than he would have like, but after she took a few gulps of water and a few handful of food, his plan worked.
“What happened to you?” the princess asked him.
He mumbled, “Nothing.”
She responded just as he knew she would, “Nothing? Look at you. You are bleeding. Come have a seat, let me take a look at that cut on your head.” She led him over to her bed and sat him down. She fetched a towel and a basin of water and began to clean the gash on his forehead. His skin tingled as her soft fingers grazed against his skin.
“What happened to you?” she asked again.
He was ready this time, “The dragon was so furious that you tried to escape that he forbade anyone from coming to you. At first I was just as scared as the other servants, but as the days went by and I pictured your angelic face, I knew that I had to see you again. So I stole some food from the kitchen and grabbed some water and ran here. Well the dragon saw what I was doing and came after me. He knocked me down, but I was able to get into the stair way before he could get a hold of me. He is way too big to fit in the stairway.”
“You did that for me?” asked the stunned princess.
“Well yeah” he responded.
“Now what will happen to you?” she asked.
He dropped his head and said, “I don’t know. Can I stay here?”
“No, no that would not fix the problem. The dragon obviously wants me for some reason and alive. Why else would he kidnap me? He could have killed me when I made a dash for it, but instead he just brought me back up here. He wants me for something, maybe to try to draw my father out to kill him? Anyways here is what you are going to do. You are going to go down those steps and go straight to the dragon. You tell the dragon that you convinced me to give my oath that I will not take a single step down those steps again.”
“Ok, that might work. Can I ask you a question before I go?”
“Why is that whenever I come to bring you food, or to clean, you are always sitting out on the balcony staring out beyond the walls?”
The princess walked over to the balcony and gazing out said, “I am waiting, searching for my knight to come rescue me.”
“Does this knight in shining armor have a name?”
“Yes” she said with a little smile, “but his armor is not shining. He claims that it is just a waste of time to polish armor until it shines, but I know better. He does not like the attention that shining armor brings. But to answer your question, his name is Sir Richard Ringcham.”
“Why do you wait for this Sir Ringcham? Why not your noble father? Surely he would be the one to come and rescue you?”
“Yes my father will come, but it takes time to raise an army and travel the many miles to this desolate, abandoned castle. Rich will get here much faster for you see I have his heart and he, mine.”
Ahhh, so this Sir Ringcham was the keeper of the princess heart. Well this would be even simpler than he had imagined. He would get the princess to tell him why she loved this man. As time passed he would show her that he had all the same qualities that she loved in this Rich. All the while he would plant seeds of doubt in her heart of Rich’s love for her. For one thing, why had he not come yet? Yes that is a good one. If this knight did show up at his door, he would kill him and leave his lifeless body somewhere where the princess could see it. Then he would come and comfort the princess as she mourned. It was all too simple, this Sir Richard Ringcham would be his key to the princess’ heart. He had already learned something that the princess like about this Sir Rich, his humility. He decided to probe a little deeper and asked, “Why do you love him?”
“He pinky swore that he would always be there for me”
“That seems kind of childish to me. I am sorry, but you strike me as a mature women, not a little girl to makes promises solely based off of the smallest, weakest of all fingers.”
“It was very childish” she said as she blushed, “I was five and he was seven. Some of the older kids at the castle invited me to go spend the night with them in the dungeons. Well, once we got settled in, a round faced boy named Chris told a story about one of the old inmates in the dungeons whose name was fingerless Jack. They said that fingerless Jack had been forgotten down in the dungeons and that he grew hungry. He first lived off of the rats that would come to nibble at his fingers and toes. Eventually the rats learned that if they went near Jack he would eat them and so they stayed away. But they would torment him. They would run around just outside of his cell, just far enough away that Jack could not reach them. Jack started to get mighty hungry and began thinking why there were so many rats? They had to eat something. He noticed that they did not eat other rats, so there had to be something tastier than rat down in the dungeons. Then it downed on him. The rats ate toes and fingers. He thought that he would give it a try, so he took a bite out of his little finger. He enjoyed the taste so much that he began to eat all of his fingers one by one. After he had eaten all of his fingers he ate his toes. Now he roams the dungeons, looking for other prisoners so that he can eat all of their fingers and toes. He always starts with the little finger. Well as soon as the story was finished, they all bolted out of the cell and locked me in. They started yelling for fingerless Jack to come and eat my fingers. I was so scared. Then Rich came down the stairs and convinced the others to leave me alone. They left and he opened the cell. He came in and sat beside me and took my hand. He told me not to worry, that he was there to protect me. He was my knight and that I was his princess. I asked him how he would protect me; fingerless Jack was coming to eat all my fingers. He reminded me that fingerless Jack always started with the pinky finger. He then took my pinky finger in his and said my finger will protect yours. You don’t have to worry, I will always be there for you.”