Another prompt–I have a back log!–about finishing the quest. Success looks like something different for different people, but here’s a dragonslayer’s story.
Roberta was a dragonslayer, and she was excellent at the job. The problem was–kings. Kings and their fondness for offering their daughter’s hand in marriage as the reward for slaying a dragon. Luckily, not every king thought the ability to kill a large, carnivorous beast meant a person was good royalty material.
But some of them were too poor, too lazy—or sometimes too embattled by other kingdoms wanting the princess for their heirs. Of course, they didn’t want to give the princess to Roberta, their goal being a king who could help produce future heirs to the throne.
Roberta could do a lot of things, but she couldn’t get another woman pregnant.
So, each time she pulled off her helmet and revealed her face, there were… discussions. Often, loud royal snit fits, but in the end, they’d negotiate. Being known as a king who cheated a dragonslayer guarenteed no one would slay any future scaled invaders. As long as she got paid, Roberta was happy.
Until she went to rescue Princess Lenore, who was being held hostage by the monster, and not waiting safely in the castle for her knight in battered armor. Lenore held her own pretty well, which wasn’t usually the case. The princess escaped the dragon before it ate her—dragons didn’t, contrary to myth, hold onto any human, royalty or not, for longer than it took the beast to get hungry. She hid in the cave, unable to escape through the open countryside surrounding the dragon’s lair without risking getting caught again. She scavenged food and water, and stayed alive for the two weeks before Roberta arrived. Eight assorted knights and nobles died in the interim, failing to rescue Princess Lenore.
After the dragon lay dead, Roberta peeled off parts of her armor to check her injuries and wipe off the sweat. Despite what people assumed, Roberta wasn’t hiding her gender. She had good, practical armor, which didn’t include two curving pieces over what wasn’t a particularly ample bosom.
She saw the princess limp out of the cave, and nodded, starting to redon her armor for the presentation.
“You’re a woman,” Lenore noted, her expression thoughtful.
“Don’t tell me your father’s offering you as a reward,” Roberta puffed, exasperated. The dragon, fat and well fed, had been in stupor, and not the most difficult kill she’d had. But it still wasn’t easy to kill a beast that size, and she ached from the effort.
“He is, and I can tell you’re not pleased.”
Roberta shrugged. “I’d rather be paid.”
“I’ll ensure that happens,” Lenore promised, “but why don’t you marry me anyway?”
“Haven’t you killed enough dragons? Don’t you want to live the rest of your life in some kind of peace?” Lenore asked.
Roberta couldn’t argue about that, but she saw plenty of weaknesses in this plan. “Yes, but–”
“Hide your face, and we’ll work something out,” the princess said.
“Work something out?” Roberta echoed. “I don’t see how!”
The princess considered, her dirty fingertips tapping on the rocky cave wall. “No, it’s perfect. My father’s heir, after me, is a cousin of mine. The dragon killed most of his family…”
“Yes, perfect,” Roberta said, stung by the casual way the princess spoke about the slaughter.
“I don’t mean it like that. It’s terrible, how many people have died. But, I can’t change that. I can change the future.”
Roberta made a ‘go on’ gesture.
“What I mean is… he’s young. We can raise him, and his younger sister, as our heirs. They’re next in line. No need for me to go through childbirth.” She shuddered.
“And your father will go along with this, after he finds out I’m a woman?”
“We’ll have to make sure he doesn’t have a choice. Say you’ve made a vow, or are under a spell or something, so you can’t remove the helmet. We can work out the details. Then you take off your helm after we’re married, in front of some important witnesses.” Lenore considered. “I can think of a few who would keep him from stopping us.”
“And the rest of the marriage?”
“What do you think princesses do, with all those ladies in waiting, kept away from any men?” Roberta winked.