I’ve always thought the stories of maidens sacrificed to dragons most unfair. Not just the sacrifice, but that if some hero came to save them they were his prize. After all, it could be anyone! And that was the seed for my story, The Dragon and the Princess, which first appeared in the anthology, Dragon Lovers.
Rozlinda of Saragon is the official SVP, the Sacrificial Virgin Princess. If a dragon comes from the enemy country of Dorn it will be her duty to give her blood to send it away. No problem! It’s a symbolic sacrifice, no more than a cupful at most. In fact, bring it on! Once done, her time as SVP will be over and at last, at long last, she’ll be allowed to cease being V.
But things don’t go quite to plan.
The dragon arrives to ravage the land. Tick!
She lets her guard chain her to the rock, quite enjoying it as the captain of her guard is the man she has in mind to help her to cease being V. Tick!
The dragon comes and eats the blood-soaked rock. Tick!
Someone kills it. What
Any man who saves an SVP by killing a dragon wins the hand of the princess in marriage. Even if it’s the terrifying dragon rider of Dorn himself?
Apparently so. Help!!!
The priest stepped forward. “Er…, do you assent to use the Saragondan ceremony, sir?”
Reverend Elawin looked around as if hoping someone would intervene, but then raised his practiced, sonorous voice. “Then I declare that all present are witness to the wish of these two, Seyer Rouar of-”
“Just Rouar,” the Dornaan interrupted.
The priest gulped, but picked up, “Of these two — Rouar of Dorn and Rozlinda of Saragond, princess of the royal house, sacrificial virgin of the blood, revered sacrifice to the dragon…”
Rozlinda listened numbly as her attributes rolled out and the ceremony began. When asked if she willingly and joyfully chose Rouar of Dorn as her husband, she looked from face to face to face. “How can I say yes?”
“Leave out the joyfully,” the Dornaan said. “I assume the princess is willing to do her duty for her people.”
“Do you, Rozlinda, willingly choose Rouar of Dorn as your husband?”
Rozlinda delayed, sure that something, someone, had to intervene. Nothing did. She whispered, “Yes.”
When the priest put the same question to the Dornaan, his answer was firm.
Reverend Elawin produced his knife. Rozlinda muttered, “More blood,” but she didn’t protest as he jabbed the fine point into the pad of her hand and then into the pad of the Dornaan’s, nor as her wounds was pressed to his.
“Thus you become one,” the priest intoned. “May blessings rain upon you, bringing prosperity and fertility in your home and in your land. And,” he added hesitantly, “may the blood continue through you.”
That phrase was used only at the wedding of a princess of the blood. “Is that what this is about? You want princesses of the blood for yourselves?”
“Something like that.”
She had to admit that made sense. “Will that mean your dragons won’t invade?”
“If all goes well, yes, Rozlinda.”
It was the first time he’d said her name, but it didn’t help because it came strangely from his mouth, with a throat-rolled r and the i stretched almost to an ee.
He spoke a foreign language. His people spoke a foreign language. They probably all looked as peculiar as he did, and had strange, even offensive smells and customs. She looked around frantically again, but he hissed something like, “Zupsisi.”
And the dragon moved.
Rozlinda yelped and backed away, but the man locked her against him as the dragon heaved onto its front, got its legs under it, and then rose.
“It’s alive!” she protested, yanking against the imprisoning arms. She twisted to face her father and the knights. “He tricked us! That has to invalidate the ceremony.”
Her father was slack-jawed, but said, “A wedding is a wedding…”
“It can’t be.”
“There is nothing,” the deep, emotionless voice said, “that says the dragon must be dead. Only that the man must lay it low and place his foot upon its neck.”
“All the same…” But then she yelled, “Stop it!”
She was shouting at the dragon, which had circled its long neck to point its huge, red, flaring nostrils right at her face. The point of a long tongue flickered in and out. No one could doubt that deep in its dragon-beast mind it was thinking, Yum, yum. More princess blood. It was even drooling, a viscous yellow and pink stuff.
The man wasn’t controlling her anymore. She was clutching his arms for protection.
“Seesee, behave!” he said.
If a dragon could pout, this one did, but it moved its head away, circling it on the long, flexible neck as if inspecting king, knight, priest, and councilors. They all flinched back. Then it poked its head off the hill and breathed at the crowd below. Horses reared.
The head coiled back to be tucked on the beast’s back, perhaps chastened, perhaps sulking. By the blood, the monster behaved like a poorly trained puppy.
The dragonlord doesn’t exactly have an easy time of it either. Dragon drool is an aphrodisiac, and the drool of a queen dragon is said to be particularly powerful. As he and Rozlinda eat a meal on the way he discovers how true that is, but he must bring back a virgin princess. Unfortunately, his princess bride is affected by the dragon drool too, and very keen to change her state.
“We’re husband and wife.” She ran her tongue down her third skewer of meat, licking the sauce, eyes half closing as she relished it, but still seeming to catch the fire’s flame. “What does that mean in Dorn?” she purred. “Being husband and wife.”
His mind went blind-blank.
She closed her lips around the end piece of meat and slowly pulled it off. “This is so good,” she mumbled. When she swallowed, she looked straight at him. “We will share a bed? With all that means? Tonight?”
“No,” he choked out. He needed a reason. “No bed.”
She smiled at him. “Do we really need one?”
It was as if an earthquake shook inside of him, and a volcano exploded in his head. He was on her side of the fire, licking sauce off her full lips. Her eyes widened, but she licked him back, her tongue like fire. Distant alarms clamored, but he was deaf and blind except to her. The bravest, brightest, most beautiful woman in the world, pulsing with heat and life. Round, sweet, wet, willing.
He grabbed that marvelous hair, cradling her skull, commanding her lips to him then plunging his tongue inside to explore her deeper, hotter taste. A clatter told him her skewer had fallen onto stones, but he was lost, lost in the torrid wave of her, her smell, her taste, her essence drowning him.
Their mouths became as one, sweet and spicy with the sauce, hot and deep as the womb itself. They were plastered together, her supple, vibrant body everything a man could ever desire. He fought billows of silk to reach her leg, her silk-covered leg — was ever anything so alluring? Except a silk-covered bottom, so round, so hot, so damp in secret places.
Wife. He tumbled her to the ground, throbbing, struggling one-handed with his clothing-
“Ow! Stop. Stop. Rocks! Owwwww!”
One of her flailing fists glanced off his nose. The pain was just enough to bring him out of madness. He heaved away. By the womb, what had he almost done?
She sat up, rubbing her hip, but smiling. “Just rocks. I’m sure we can-”
“No!” he snapped, backing, unable to be anything but rude.
“I’m sorry. But the rocks…. It hurt.” Tears glimmered around her eyes.
He wanted nothing more in the universe than to comfort her, to take her into his arms again and drown in her wonders.
To save her.
Temptation slammed into him. If she wasn’t a virgin she would be safe.
Dorn would die.
“That’s why we have to wait,” he said desperately. “Until we reach Dorn.”
“Oh.” A tear escaped to trickle down her cheek. “But won’t that take three days?”
Three days. Two more nights. His body pounded with pain, his mind exploded with it.
“The river,” he said and staggered off to the saving shock of cold water.
Seesee lay coiled in the stream and he sensed nothing from her. Not alarm, not amusement.
“If I start doing that again, stop me.”
But you would enjoy it.
“What’s that got to do with it?”
People are funny.
“Coming from a dragon…. Doesn’t it matter to you that the dragons survive?”
“And don’t you need princess blood — virgin princess blood — to lay eggs?”
Say no, say no.
He gave up. Dragons could communicate, but that didn’t mean people always understood, even dragoners who lived their lives with them. Among the dragoners they used “dragon sense” to mean “incomprehensible.”
The Dragon and the Princess is at times light-hearted, but underneath it deals with duty, sacrifice and deep love. Some readers found the climactic scene disturbing, but of course it has a happy, triumphant ending.
The original anthology is still available in print and e-book, but my story is also available by itself now. You can find out more here.
There’s a menu of all my work in e-book here.
And an excerpt of my next new book, A Shocking Delight, here.
“The man she shouldn’t love. The woman he shouldn’t marry.”
To complete the dragon circle, A Shocking Delight follows on from my Regency Historical The Dragon’s Bride, published in 2001
No real dragons there, however. Does it make sense to write “real dragons?”