“The Mouse & the Dragon” – Parts 7-10

Chapters I-III

Chapters IV-VI

~ VII ~

Her time with the dragon carried on like that for the next forty-three days. She would enter its lair and be greeted with snarls and roars, but it made no attempt to harm her. When it finished its tantrums, it turned its back to her while she talked which didn’t bother Hildy as much as she might’ve thought it would. As it was, talking to the dragon was no different than talking to Ziggy.

What was disappointing, however, was her lack of tangible progress in earning the dragon’s favor. The roaring and stomping eventually stopped altogether and it seemed to begrudgingly tolerate her presence, but she never got the impression it was growing to like her.

Periodically it flew off and barred the castle’s entrance with a wall of fire, as it had that first time. Every so often, it would swipe at her with its tail or wing—not to hurt her, but an attempt to frighten her off. Sometimes it blew smoke in her face.

Nevertheless, she refused to let that get her down.

“It’s only been forty-three days,” she told Ziggy in her chamber. “I knew when I started this it would take time. I just need to be patient.”

After washing and eating a small breakfast, Hildy returned to the dragon’s lair that morning and found it in its usual position of a curled semi-circle atop the treasure. She greeted it with a smile and wave, and her good cheer was returned with a growl and huff of smoke.

“And Guten Tag to you, too,” she said. Continue reading


“The Mouse & the Dragon” – Parts 4-6

Chapters I-III

~ IV ~

Things changed on day two thousand, eight hundred and twenty-nine.

Hildy paced around her room in a circle, alternating between hugging herself and chewing on her fingernails. Her stomach rumbled and her legs felt weak. She was pale, haggard, and her face was strained with anxiety.

“This is bad, Ziggy,” she said, looking out the window for a rescuer that wasn’t coming. “My father must’ve thought someone would have succeeded by now. Or maybe he … I don’t know.”

By this point, twenty-three heroes had tried and failed to slay the dragon. As disheartening as it was to watch the growing number of victims, Hildy eventually grew numb to the disappointment. Perhaps one day a warrior would emerge and finally destroy the beast, but she had stopped getting her hopes up every time a new challenger appeared.

Disappointment and heartbreak, however, turned to dread and desperation when she realized her food supply was dwindling.

For most of her time trapped in the castle, Hildy hadn’t paid attention to the food stores. The pantry next to the kitchen was a huge stockroom that, as far as she knew, had been packed with as much food as possible when she was left there. Whenever she was hungry, she simply rummaged through the pantry and found something to cook, although variety was limited and spices were unavailable.

A pair of cook books was included in her slim reading material, and she read both cover to cover nearly a hundred times each. She had every recipe memorized, but they only seemed to taunt her with potential meals she couldn’t make. All sorts of ways to cook steaks and chicken and fish and pork. Elaborate pasta meals and countless possible sides. Desserts and pastries to eat after. But no means to bake a single one of them.

She promised herself that when she escaped the castle, she would cook each and every meal suggested in both books and try every one.

But as the days ticked by, that ambition seemed a dream that wouldn’t come true. In retrospect, she wasn’t sure if she assumed she’d be free long before the food supply ran out or childishly believed it never would. Either way, she realized too late how naïve that was because starving was becoming a grim reality. Continue reading

“The Mouse & the Dragon” – Parts 1-3

~ I ~

The knight charged forth, shield up and spear ready. His armor glistened despite the dreary overcast sky like a chrome beacon amidst his hellish surroundings. The horse’s neigh was loud and triumphant as the clopping if its hooves echoed on the scorched cobblestone. The knight’s banner, an orange lion against a black background, billowed in the wind.

He would’ve been a majestic sight to behold had Hildy not seen it already or known what was coming.

The knight crossed the stone bridge and charged into the castle’s courtyard where the dragon awaited. Their confrontation was brief and it ended like all the others. The knight did better than most and actually got within striking distance, but with a swipe of its tail, the dragon swatted the horse and sliced the poor animal in half.

Its rider flew through the air and landed with a metallic clang like the sound of dropped pots and pans. The dragon paused, allowing him to regain his bearings, with no evident fear of its latest enemy. It waited for the knight to get to his feet—whether out of curiosity, boredom or sadism, Hildy couldn’t guess.

Alas, the knight froze upon seeing the great beast before him. Although his face couldn’t be seen due to his helmet, his body language suggested his courage had been cut in half like his steed.

A muffled scream echoed through the courtyard as the knight was snatched in the dragon’s jaws. The sound of crumpling metal, crunching bones and desperate howling could be heard even from the tower as it chewed on its prey. When it was satisfied, the dragon spat him out in a ball of fire.

Whatever was left of the knight hit the ground with an explosion, and Hildy winced at the sight. No matter how many times she’d seen it, she could never get used to such brutality. Before turning from the window, she saw the fallen knight’s tattered banner drift across the ground like autumn leaves and lamented yet another brave life lost for nothing.

She sighed and scratched another mark on the wall. That was thirty-one. Thirty-one would-be heroes had come and died trying to slay the dragon. And thirty-one times she hoped against hope someone would succeed and free her.

But after three thousand, two hundred and ninety-seven days, Hildy was done waiting. Continue reading