Beyond the Scales

The princess curled herself up in a ball, doing her best to ignore the chains which shackled her wrists as she tried to get comfortable on her bed. She was acutely aware that her fever was getting dangerously high, and she wondered how long it would be before the prince would come and rescue her, because she wasn’t sure how much longer she could withstand the heat in the dungeon.

A loud noise to the right of the dungeon made the princess look up from her bed. She tilted her head, straining to hear more of the sound. Metal clanking, she thought, and maybe even… footsteps?

She didn’t want to get her hopes up – she’d thought her saviour had come many times before, only to be left disappointed- but then, all her dreams came true at once, as the prince she had long awaited came charging around the corner.

She quickly got to her feet, and waved excitedly at the prince, grinning from ear to ear at the mere sight of him.

Strangely, the prince slowed in his approach, walking towards her more cautiously than he had before. Sensing his fear, she looked around her, searching for any danger that he might have spotted, but she couldn’t see anyone else in the room.

Thinking perhaps that he might want her to go to him, she started forward, only to be yanked back by the chains that bound her wrists.

She lifted them in despair, signalling to the prince that she could not move without his aid. This seemed to spur the prince once more, and he ran over to her, lifting his sword to cut her free of her restraints.

The princess held her arms out away from her body to make it easier for the prince to cut through the chains. Having total faith in her knight in shining armour, she didn’t think twice about closing her eyes as he begun to make the swing; meaning that she didn’t see the moment that the blade started to change its’ course. For rather than freeing her from her bonds, the prince swung the sword around and aimed the point straight at her chest!

The blade plunged through her scales, deep into her heart. The princess let out a roar of pain, her eyes filling with tears of confusion at the prince’s betrayal, before finally falling forward into a restful sleep, her fever finally burning out.

Though the prince searched high and low in the castle, from the deepest depths of the dungeon, to the tallest point of the tower, he could find no signs of the beautiful princess he had heard tales of. So instead, he took comfort in his triumph over a mighty beast, and left to brag to all of his fellow royals about his conquest.

While the prince felt pride in his victory over the rare and nearly extinct creature, (which had been restrained and therefore easily killed), he did not realise that he had failed the true test of his character; He had been unable to see the unique beauty of the majestic and kind of heart dragon princess, and had been so threatened by her power he had slain her instead!

So there, dear reader, is where we leave our tale; for there can be no happy ending when princesses wait for a prince to make them a queen, and so called princes continue to only look for socially-constructed ideals of beauty in their search for love.

– © J. E. Fitzgerald –

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