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art by Shane M. Gavin

The Princess and the Monster

Ryan Creel lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife, Barbara. He runs a law office by day, but longs for a future where the benevolent ghosts of J.R.R. Tolkien and Ed McMahon will visit to tell him he's a wonderful writer, and hand him a great, big, cardboard check, respectively. This is his first published story.
She opened her eyes, revealing golden orbs that glittered like stars in the night.
And as the morning sun rose slowly over the northern mountains, black pupils narrowed to slits, and stood like knives, to accommodate the light.
It was time.
She uncurled her great, green reptilian body from the base of the Mother Tree at the center of the forest, and displayed her massive wings--proud banners of her heritage. I am born of Tiamat and Leviathan, said the wings… fear me. And all the creatures of the forest went silent or retreated and heeded the warning, for they knew she was greatest of all the hunters in all the world.
She coiled like a snake and sprang through the tree canopy, unfurling her wings and riding the winds on sails through the heavens. Her scales shone like jewels in the light of the sun. With a prodigious wave, she was off in pursuit of her quarry.
The beat of her wings reverberated through the treetops beneath her.
And all living things quailed as she sped through the sky, a verdant blur.
Then she caught the scent and took to the trail, knowing the elfling would not stay hidden in one place for long.
She crashed into the village--an emerald meteor--and the ground shook as she touched down. She roared her challenge to any who would oppose her. And she reared up, turned her cavernous maw skyward, and let loose a torrent of orange flame into the morning air.
No villager rose to the challenge, save one, a small boy who'd woken at the sound. The child calmly turned to face her and roared with boyish enthusiasm at the great green beast. And the child's mother crawled from her cottage in terror to collect her foolish offspring.
The daughter of Tiamat and Leviathan bared her fangs and narrowed her ancient eyes.
And the villagers filled the air with their cacophonous cries.
But the scent was lost, the elfling was not there, and so she burst from the earth and took to the sky once more.
She drove her powerful wings downward and flew up and up until she caught the scent once again. She flew hard and fast to the great stone city, alighting atop the royal castle. Her bellow exploded like thunder through the sprawling kingdom of man.
The men and women and children below scattered like rabbits before a lion. They had never seen her like, and though the fear washed over them like rain, a few paused in veneration of the wonder they beheld. And the horn rang high above the peal of screams.
The soldiers came forth clad in shining mail, each carrying a sword.
And the head of the guards yelled above the fray, "We must protect our Lord!"
But she was not there for them, and the elfling was gone, and so she pushed from the rooftop and flew to the hunt once again.
Then it was there, the soft scent of lilies and berries that could only belong to one being in all the realm. She flew faster than the wind in the direction of the rising sun, toward the mountains, toward her quarry. And when she landed at the mouth of the cave, she knew her search was over.
She stepped into the black cave and her pupils rounded from great black knives in the darkness. At the end of the cavern, she saw the elfling, whose ice-blue eyes glowed with magical fire, and whose radiant golden curls shone bright. The dragon trumpeted in triumph.
Then she circled, pawed and clawed at the ground, and boomed, "FOUND YOU!"
And the elfling said, "It's about time, now it's my turn, so shoo!"
And then the daughter of Tiamat and Leviathan flew from the cave, and the elfling turned to the wall, hid her eyes in her arms, and began to count, "one… two… three…"
The End
This story was first published on Monday, June 4th, 2012


I wrote the first draft of "The Princess and the Monster" in the middle of the night. In the dream, the dragon flipped between three incarnations: the great green beast of the story; my lynx of a tuxedo cat, Lemon; and my beloved childhood Rottweiler, Sunny. But, like most dreams, the first draft had very little structure to it. So I thought it might be fun to write it like a poem, where the form and function go hand in hand.

- Ryan Creel

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