Chapter 4: The Princess

As Geshtar trotted along, he heard singing. He dismounted and looked around for the source of the noise. Soon he spotted her: a princess. He walked toward her, curious. As he approached, she froze.

"Who are you?" Geshtar asked, before she could flee.
"I am Princess Constance of the Kingdom of Brookstone. I was to be married to a valiant knight, but a wretched dragon captured me and cast a spell which forces me to return to its lair every night. I fear I will never be freed or reunited with my beloved."

Shocked, Geshtar looked away in shame. He questioned the girl, and she reiterated how much she hated the dragon and wanted to escape.

That night, Geshtar followed Constance to the dragon's cave, and after ascertaining that it was asleep, he crept up to it and pried off several of the looser scales, weakening its natural defenses against man-made weapons. The rest of the night he spent carving and shaping a longbow, fletching arrows, creating a small, hidden shelter, and waiting.

By the time the Dragon emerged from the cave and deliciously stretched itself out, Chaos had drifted off to sleep. Geshtar, however, was wide awake and nervous with anticipation, and, taking careful aim, loosed an arrow. The dragon, completing its stretch, folded itself compactly onto its hind legs, and - fwoosh! - saved itself, unintentionally, from the arrow. Hearing the arrow zing by, the Dragon swiveled its head suspiciously. Seeing Geshtar, his eyes narrowed with rage and he leapt to his feet and charged after him. Geshtar hastily drew another arrow, fitted it to his bow, and thwap! The dragon skidded to a halt, stopped just as much by surprise at the arrow's penetration as by the arrow itself. Its eyes rapidly glazed over and it slumped to the ground, its blood slowly seeping into the earth.

Alerted by the noise, the Princess emerged and, seeing the Dragon's cooling corpse, thanked Geshtar warmly, gathered her few belongings, and set off on her way. Not having the heart to reveal her love's fate, Geshtar bid her farewell. He climbed to the mouth of the cave, determined to explore the Dragon's lair. Making his way along the stone passageways, he found cavern after empty cavern. In one small cavern he discovered another maiden. She asked him how he had gotten into the cave, and, upon learning of the dragon's death, simply smiled. He asked her why the caverns were all empty, and she replied, "The gold was cursed, so that it would all disappear when the Dragon died. It was meant to prevent treasure-hunters from killing him, but in the end, it didn't matter, did it?" Then she, too, ran off, leaving Geshtar alone to ponder the events of the day. He continued to search the caves...

On to the next chapter...

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