Once upon a time in a land called Aralia, there lived a Prince named Raymond and a Princess named Lilyana. They lived in a beautiful castle on a hilltop with their parents King Raymond and Queen Leah. All of the royal subjects loved the royal family and the kingdom was ruled with peace and love.
One day Princess Lilyana and Prince Raymond were horse-back riding around the kingdom and they sat down to have a picnic. Just as the Prince and Princess sat down to eat, they heard an ear-splitting noise coming from the castle. They looked at the castle in the distance and they saw that the castle was engulfed in an enormous cloud of fire. Raymond and Lilyana were shocked and distraught and they immediately mounted their horses and rode on to the castle.
They rode as fast as they could and were followed by numerous curious subjects and onlookers. When they reached the castle they were shocked to find that their parents had been stolen away in broad daylight by a blood-thirsty, fire-breathing dragon. The Prince and Princess did not hesitate to round up some of the most stouthearted and brave citizens in an attempt to pursue the dragon and rescue their parents. The problem was that the dragon had left no trail as to where it had taken the king and queen. However several villagers saw that the dragon had traveled South.
“General Rankin, you will head to the South-East until you can travel no farther and search for my parents,” Ordered Prince Raymond. “Chancellor Bartlow, you will travel to the South-West and into the desert and search for the King and Queen,” instructed Princess Lilyana. Prince Raymond announced, “The Princess and I will lead our group directly South in the hopes that the dragon took a straight course. We leave at once!”General Rankin was the leader of the kingdom's almost never used army; Chancellor Bartlow, was responsible for assisting the King and Queen in important legal decisions in the rare instance his expertise was required. The groups were antsy to be on their way in the hopes that the King and Queen could be rescued before they were hurt, maimed or eaten.
General Rankin's group spread out and traveled and looked diligently for three days until they reached the Aralian ocean, they looked doggedly for any whisper of a clue of the location of the dragon or the king and queen and found nothing, “This search is hopeless! We will turn around and travel to the West and search every rock and bush until we meet up with the Prince and Princess,” Ordered General Rankin.
Chancellor Bartlow's group also spread out and traveled for four days until they reached the Great Desert, they traveled fifty miles into the desert and they looked through every nook and cranny and found nothing. “We will head back to the East in order to cover more ground and hopefully meet up with the Prince and Princess” announced Chancellor Bartlow.
Prince Raymond and Princess Lilyana traveled to the South through the Aralian forest for what seemed like an eternity, they were so worried about the fate of their parents that they couldn't sleep and they didn't want to eat. On the fourth day of traveling Princess Lilyana exclaimed, “look there, it is one of Mother's shoes!” she was overjoyed to finally have some sign of the dragon's trail so she ordered the group to head forward at double speed.
On the fifth day of traveling, General Rankin's group met up with the Prince and Princess's group and they were also overjoyed at the sight of the Queen's shoe and the larger group headed South with renewed vigor. On the sixth day General Rankin shouted, “the dragon has been here! The trees are scorched and destroyed!” Prince Raymond was dismayed until he spotted a shiny object near a bush, he dashed forward and exclaimed, “look here it is father's crown! They may yet be alive!” Prince Raymond and Princess Lilyana refused to lose hope, they would not allow themselves to think the worst of the situation.
On the seventh day Chancellor Bartlow's group was reunited with the Prince and the Princess and the rest of the search party and they were glad to find that they were on the trail of the dragon and the King and Queen. On the eighth day of the search the terrain changed from forest to the rocky ground that surrounds the mysterious Southern Mountain Range. The moment the group reached the foot of the closest mountain an earth-shaking roar erupted from a cavern that could be seen nearby. Prince Raymond immediately marched to the mouth of the cavern and ordered the dragon to show himself. The dragon roared again and he came out to face the crowd.
“Release my parents, or prepare to die!” exclaimed Prince Raymond as he drew his sword. “I will never release them, I intend to keep them here with me forever.” Prince Raymond then lunged at the soft underbelly of the dragon but he missed and slammed the flat of the blade across the dragon's foot. “OOOWWWIIIEEE!!!!!” Cried the dragon, “Why did you have to do that?” Everyone in the crowd was so shocked at the dragon's reaction that they didn't know what to say or do.
Princess Lilyana hesitantly approached the dragon and reached for his foot and attempted to soothe him, “did that mean old Prince hurt you? He can be really rash sometimes. We just really want to make sure that our parents are safe” she said. The dragon began to sob uncontrollably and he said, “I only wanted some company! I am always so lonely because everyone is afraid of me, but I am a nice dragon! My name is Aloysius.” Princess Lilyana started to grow excited and she asked, “where are my parents?” Aloysius replied, “They are in my cavern, I have been enjoying their company and their stories and they have agreed to stay with me in return for my vow that I will do no more harm to Aralia.”
Prince Raymond asked, “you mean you didn't try to eat them?” Aloysius nearly vomited at the thought! “I do not eat humans, they taste disgusting! That is why my own kind don't want to live with me. I eat fish and the occasional deer when the mood strikes me,” Aloysius responded. Both Lilyana and Raymond simultaneously blurted “can we see our parents?” Aloysius called for King Raymond and Queen Leah to come out of the cave and they immediately ran to their children and hugged and squeezed them. Prince Raymond and Princess Lilyana were relieved and ecstatic to see their parents alive and unharmed but they felt bad for Aloysius.
Princess Lilyana announced that she had an idea that might help everyone, “Why don't you come and live with us in our kingdom? As long as you promise not to eat anyone and you control your fire-breathing I don't see why there would be a problem.” Aloysius was astonished, “Are you sure you would want a dragon around?” Prince Raymond replied, “Of course! As long as you remain a friendly dragon you would never be short of company or love, and when the people find out that you did not harm the King and Queen and that you are willing to return them without harm they are sure to forgive you and welcome you!”
Aloysius was so happy that he gladly accepted the offer, he hadn't had a family or a proper home in almost a hundred years. Indeed, he was so happy that he offered the group flights back to the castle; he wasn't big enough to carry them all at once but he had the whole group home in less than a day. From that day forward and for the rest of Aloysius's long life he lived in the kingdom of Aralia as an honorary member of the royal family.
Copyright Leah Hazzard 2011
The author lives in Nevada, USA.
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