The young girl stared at the reflection of her eyes on the brightly polished steel.
“So this is one of Wayland the Smith’s swords?”
“Swords forged with the fire of the earth itself at the beginning of time.” Her words resounded within the cave.
“The old legends say whoever wields his swords can never be defeated in battle. They are sharp enough to cut right thru a dragon’s skin and even pierce its heart.”
“The legends are all true.”
“Why do you give it to me?”
The dragon looked straight into her eyes.
“Because I love you.”
“And knowing I could kill you in your sleep and leave this cave you still give it to me?”
The dragon looked away from her and glanced gloomily at the huge pile of burnt bones and molten steel littering the entrance to the cave. When it finally answered its voice was barely a sad whisper.
“Because I know you don’t love me.”
The knights were still discussing amongst themselves who should make the next attempt to rescue the runaway princess. After a three month siege seeing half their numbers turned to ashes, the king’s promise to cede his crown and all of his kingdom to whoever killed the dragon was sounding less tempting by the minute. Suddenly a lonely figure walked out from the cave, wielding a bloody sword in one hand and carrying the dragon’s limp tail in the other.
She nonchalantly walked past the tall, armor clad figures with dropped jaws, heading straight for the royal tent.
“Father!” She called out. “You vouched your crown and kingdom to whoever killed the dragon. I now reclaim your promise. Here’s my proof and witness.”
She threw the bloody tail at the feet of the king. Before he answered she had already turned to face the knights. Raising the heavy sword over her head, she let the dripping blood paint a war mask on her face.
“Should any among you wish to dispute my claim, let him come forward and raise his sword in challenge. If not, heed now before your queen!”
The king and knights stared silently at this small girl whose eyes flashed with a flame hotter than any dragon’s fire. One by one they dug their swords and knees to the ground.
She surveyed her new army, then looked beyond them to the dark mouth of the cave.
“I’m sorry my love, I know it hurt. But it was the only way.”
A page brought the king’s horse before her.
“Don’t worry. We both know it will grow back.” She thought with a knowing half-smile.