[Reddit Prompt] You are a princess just freed from her tower, and your best friend, the dragon, is dead. You are expected to marry the knight who murdered her, and you go along with the preparations, all the while planning your revenge.
I’d once read, “revenge is a dish best served cold,” in one of the old library books I used to have, and it wasn’t until my wedding day that I understood those words.
You’ll have to forgive me, I’m a bit distracted as I wait for the wedding reception, but I’ll do my best to explain what I mean. The best place to start is the tower.
It wasn’t big, but it had been my home for nearly ten years and had all these wonderful things in it. A big library, a fully equipped kitchen with an endless supply of food, an arts and craft room with a window that had the most beautiful view of the forest, and my room with a balcony that I loved sitting on every evening to watch the sunset. But the most interesting, and perhaps the most frightening, part of the entire tower was the dragon.
At first, she and I didn’t get along. She was my jailer and burned all the would-be heroes that rode in on horses of white to cinders. After the second year, though, we finally spoke. I couldn’t tell you exactly who made the first move or when we decided we were friends, I think that’s how the best friendships happen, or at least that’s what all the books I’ve read said. What I can remember is our first lunch.
I hadn’t known dragons could change their sizes, but when you’re a being filled with that much magic, I suppose there are a great many things you can do. I had been surprised to find her sitting in the kitchen sniffing at the oven. She was no bigger than a full-grown man, her long neck sweeping down and head turned to have one eye peer into the oven.
“Are you making shepherd’s pie?” She asked me eagerly. Her voice rumbling in my head as dragons could not precisely speak the human tongue.
“May I have some? I haven’t had any in nearly an age.”
And that was it. Our friendship grew, and we commiserated together over the fiction books we read.
Yet, she was still my jailer. She had her duty, and maybe I foolishly believed that she could never be defeated. After all, we’d been together for ten years and not once had anyone prevailed. So when the knight and his party burst into the kitchen, swords drawn, yelling something about victory and saving me, I can’t say I was all there.
On the day she died, I can only remember a few things. The woman mage helping me pack some belongings, the way the men raided the rooms for “valuable treasures,” and the smell of her favorite cookies burning in the oven.
My return to civilization was meet with great fanfare. I saw my mother and father for the first time since I’d been stolen away. They told me about the prize I had become, and the kingdom I would now go to as the knight who recused me was a prince. I would be wed at once.
Prince Marcol is not like the princes I’ve read about in fairytales. He’s brash and crude and demanding. He commands his army with an iron fist. As for the party members that came with him, I would say they match his energy. They all seem full of themselves, especially now that they’re called “Dragon Slayers.”
During much of the wedding planning, Prince Marcol snared at anything that did not meet his extravagant taste. In the evenings, he’d rant about the staff’s uselessness and the state of the country that his ailing father would be leaving him. And if I tried to sit and watch the sunset, he’d yell at me for not being more grateful. After all, he slew the dragon and freed me.
“How?” I’d never asked. I realized I’d been in a state of shock up until he was snarling in my face about not being a proper trophy.
“What?” He stepped back.
“Over ten years, I’ve watched so many try and fail. Then you come along, my lord, and best the beast. And it’s only now I realized I never asked how?”
His smile, I’ve never liked it, but the one he gave before he launched into his heroic epic, that’s the one I hate the most.
“You poisoned her?”
“Of course!” He declared proudly, “you think I’d fight that demon without a plan.”
I remembered the days leading up to her death then. The way she grew quiet. The way the shine left her scales. She said that she felt a little off but not to worry, dragons were tough.
“Lorri used some great spells on the watering hole it went to.”
Then I remembered the forests, how a part of it seemed to be dying. I was upset that the trees were losing their vibrant colors, and now I knew why.
“What excellent planning, my lord,” and he smiled that smile I hated.
The wedding planning continued. Invitations went out to all the important people, and when they asked if I had anyone to invite, I broke. Who would I, the princess from a tower, invite. Noone brought the mail. My only friend was gone.
Revenge is cold because it is calculating, and you must have a calm mind to think, to plan.
It was only a thought at first, but it grew with each guest that showed up. With each retelling of his heroic rescue and with every question that began as, “you must be so happy to be free?” Or “how horrible was the dragon?”
Do you know what no one asked, why I was locked in the tower? Why the dragon guarded me?
The knock on the door startled me from my thoughts. The reception is about to begin, and I feel oddly calm. Not nervous like I thought. Maybe because I know I’ve made all the possible preparations I could.
The hall is filled with people and food and decorations, but I see none of them. I see only my goal, and he stands at the table, chest puffed out.
“My beautiful wife,” he booms, and the crowd cheers as I strode toward him.
Lorri is a fine mage indeed. She jumps to her feet and shoves Marcol out of the way of my lighting spell. It rips through the table and craves out groves from the wall behind them. The silence is massive; the shock on everyone’s face is evident.
Lorri leaps over what remains of the table and charges. The air swirls with her power before suddenly puttering out as she stumbles. Blood gushes past her lips. She looks at me with wide eyes before falling to the floor, dead.
“There were a lot of books in that library,” I say. My voice is cold, ” and a being of magic guarded me for ten years, so I guess you could say I learned a few tricks.”
“What are you doing?” My mother yells.
Mage dies to poison water.
Marcol pulls out his sword and holds it aloft, “you’re minds been corrupted!”
I smile, “my parents never told you how I ended up in that tower?” My power rises and presses down on everyone, “I caught the eye of a mage, and he wanted to teach me the magic that the world looks down on. But he died from his wounds before he could. So he left behind his familiar to teach me.”
Marcol might be a crude man, but he is also a brave knight. He stands tall and steady, even as the whisp of my power breaks the stone around us.
“You killed her.”
The dawning realization on his face is delectable. To realize that I wasn’t some damsel after all.
“I’d like to return the favor of freeing me,” I say. The swirling air goes still. A look of shock takes over his features when I wave my right hand. He slumps as a white light seeps from him, then pops out into a ball. The next moment his soul is in my hand.
I look around the room. No one moves. They all avoid my eyes. My parents are in tears, and I want to go to them. More than anything, I want to sweep them into my arms and tell them it’s over. But I know what I’ve done.
I’ve started my journey as a dark mage.