“I know how you feel,” Princess Aimee said, as she scratched behind the dragon’s ear. “Alone, with no friends who care for you. It isn’t easy being a princess either, you know. People think it is, but all they really want you for is what you can do for them, and that’s not love.”
The dragon groaned beneath her touch, and abruptly rolled over, much like a dog wanting his belly scratched. Of course, she obliged. Aimee was no fool. In fact, the only reason she was still alive was because the old beast had contracted an infestation of mites and was horribly itchy. She had offered to scratch behind his ears first, her tiny fingers reaching within the small crooks and crevices his talons would not fit. He did not speak, as dragons are so wont to do, but she could see the intelligence there behind his eyes and knew he had understood her.
Aimee was tethered by her ankle with a large iron chain, which was in turn attached to an enormous boulder. She had some limited amount of freedom in that she could travel a small distance both inside and outside the dragon’s cave, should she choose to, but her chain was very heavy and tired her. She could see no means of escape, regardless. Eventually he would eat her. That was just the way of it.
Things within her father’s kingdom had not been well for several months. Crops were not healthy; there had been only a small amount of rain all season and harvests were few. There was little food and even less money. People were unhappy to say the least, and were now demanding that drastic measures be taken immediately.
Being the seventh daughter, and not in any position to inherit the throne, the responsibility fell to her. Sacrificing the Princess should appease the Gods, and turn bad fortune around, or so the superstitious commoners thought. Aimee had her own thoughts on the subject.
“I don’t know why they think this will work,” she spoke quietly, a trace of petulance in her voice. Forgetting herself for the moment to lean against his immense belly, she continued mockingly, “Spilling the royal blood will pacify the spirits and bring the rain…. blah, blah, blah…. I should have run away when I had the chance. Now, my fate is sealed.” She slid to the ground, tucking her knees up under her chin and staring at the length of chain keeping her captive. The dragon sighed then, contentedly she thought, and she felt it settle down deep in his abdomen just behind her.
It was a distant rumble that broke her somber reverie, and she jumped up with a happy shout, surprising the giant beast at her back to his feet. “Thunder!! That means rain! Rain is on the way!! Thank the Gods, I’m saved!!!”
Excitedly studying the sky for any trace of precipitation, Aimee didn’t see the dragon swing his head around, jaws open in a wide, hungry grin.