Greetings, faithful readers!
If you recall, I was recounting the story of my interaction with the most heinous mortal I have ever met. If her treachery is not yet proven, continue reading and I assure you, you will soon hate her as much as I.
My own swollen gut, filled with the half-digested populace of the castle, gurgled at the thought of surviving on nothing but a cup of lemon juice. The princess looked like a mouse’s fart could knock her over, but the health of this mortal was unimportant. One lemon delivered, then I would be that much closer to my goal. Storytime With Grendel: As You Wish - Part 1
I was on the search for a simple lemon—an endeavor that should have been a quick task, yet it took nearly two hours to find even a single fruit in the rubble of the village. Apparently, it was NOT lemon season, or the princess in her demand had already claimed every lemon in the area, but eventually I found one. Upon arriving back at the castle, I found her spoiled majesty in the same spot as I left her. Presenting her the lemon, the only thanks I received was more complaining that I had not cut it up, juiced it, and offered it to her in a silver cup “as was obviously how she liked it.”
One scouring of the ruined kitchens later, I finally found her precious silver cup, prepared her breakfast exactly how she liked it, and delivered it to the brat. The process made me feel somewhat benevolent in not keeping minions for myself—being a servant was demeaning, and I felt like my eating every potential underling instead was incredibly altruistic.
Once she had received her meal, I insisted on her giving me the information, only to be met with yet another demand. This time she wanted a new silk pillow. At this point, I instead tried to intimidate her by threatening her with my fiery breath, but the threat of heat did not even singe her own scorching attitude. I tried to hold her from the roof of the tower, describing how her tiny body would splat against the cobblestone below, but she simply crossed her arms and demanded I return her to her room. Never have I met a mortal so annoyingly impervious to my terror, yet so incredibly entitled in her defiance. Terrorize as I might, I was at an impasse and giving in to her only whim seemed to be the only way I could find out where her father’s precious bounty had gotten to. I was beginning to see why the little horror had been left behind to be eaten by a dragon!
Demand after demand, order after order I followed, and I took to repeating in my own mind the potential for millions of coins. “I want a new dress!” “I like totally demand you get me glass slippers!” “Get me a new fur coat! No, not one you made yourself! EEEWWW! IT’S GOT BLOOD ON IT!” she continued, over and over till finally, two days later, after innumerable demands, I had enough. I don’t know why her requiring a “green peacock feather quill and scarlet-colored ink” was the breaking point for me, but I could take no more.
“THAT’S IT!” I bellowed. “NO NUMBER OF COINS IS WORTH THIS. PREPARE TO BE CONSUMED YOU WRETCH!” I lunged for her. Just before I finally swallowed the irritation, she cried out, “FINE! I’ll TELL YOU! Ugh!”
Finally, we were getting somewhere. I detected a note of fear in her voice, to my amusement. I spit the wretched thing out on the floor.
“Like WOW you did NOT have to do that, for serious!” she whined. “I’ll tell you where my dad is. I just have one last thing I want.”
I nearly smashed her with my clawed fist. How dare she insult me further! But steadying myself, I repeated in my head, “Over a million gold coins. Over a million gold coins.”
“And WHAT is this ‘one last thing?’ Out with it lest I throw you from this tower!”
“Like, all I want now is what every princess wants—a prince!”
“And where would I find a PRINCE?!” I roared.
“There’s one that was visiting here a little over a week ago. Like right before you did your mean destroying thing. Super cute, too. His back was like super strong, and his arms were SO BURLY! He was headed back north last time I saw him. Red carriage. Odranian flags. His name is Prince Cardlian Orandorr. Should be only like half a day for you to fly, I bet.”
I shot her a glare—one filled with a thousand threats if she even thought about asking for anything else after this final, FINAL demand. Without another word, I put the door back in its spot, blocked it again, squeezed out of the castle, and flew as fast as my magnificent wings would let me fly north.
I followed a cobbled road towards Odrania—the most likely route of this supposed prince. I swore that if I did not find him soon, I would return to the ruined castle and tear the little brat limb from limb. To my surprise, half a day’s flight later, I spotted a red carriage traveling the road, a contingency of guards flanking it on all sides. Odranian flags flew from the carriage as I landed, and I would have been bothered by the futile attacks from the soldiers, had I not been ravenously hungry at this point. Fulfilling the princess’ every whim had distracted me greatly, and I had not eaten in far too long.
One feast of flesh and armor later and all that was left was one trembling prince in a red carriage. At least this mortal had the decency to fear me! I grabbed his rather brawny, princely self and took to the sky.
“PLEASE, SIR DRAGON!” he begged. “I DON’T WANT TO BE EATEN!”
I ignored his pleas as we flew, but eventually he questioned me again.
“PLEASE, DRAGON! WHY ARE WE HEADED BACK SOUTH?! WHAT AWAITS ME?”
“You have a date with a certain princess,” I replied over the rushing wind.
I was nearly insulted by the fact that his frightened eyes turned to sheer horror at the realization of our destination. Here he was being carried by an actual dragon, miles in the sky, yet he dared to be more scared of a bratty young princess?!
“PLEASE, DRAGON!” he screamed. “HAVE MERCY! JUST DROP ME NOW!!!”
As I glared back at him with utter surprise, I didn’t know whether to be more enraged or impressed. I almost DID drop him, but I figured his royal fate to be the worse punishment for this disrespect, all things considered.
It was the dead of night when we arrived back at the castle, the only light for miles around being a single candle in the window of the tallest tower of a ruined castle. I landed back at my usual balcony and set the prince down.
“Go on ahead,” I gestured, pointing up the stairs to the princess’ room. In all my centuries of life, I had always been incredibly compassionate in the fact that a quick death by my bite left little suffering to my victims, thus I felt somewhat guilty ushering this poor fool to a fate worse than death. Over a million gold coins. Over a million gold coins.
I followed the prince up the stairs, moving aside the blockages in front of the door. As I removed the door, there came a squeal as the princess ran to her prince, wrapping her arms around his neck. She kissed him over and over again as the prince looked at me, sheer terror on his face. I knew not the interaction that took place when they had met before, but he mouthed the word “please,” and I truly felt the smallest tinge of guilt in my heart before forcing myself to remember my goal.
“ALRIGHT!” I bellowed, causing the princess to jump back from her unreciprocated love. “NOW! Tell me: WHERE IS THE KING AND THE TREASURE?!”
The princess smoothed out her nightgown, defiantly stood up straight and declared, “I can’t TELL you; I have to SHOW you!”
“And HOW do you intend to show me?!”
“Like, calm down, dragon! GoodNESS! Daddy has a bunch of maps in his office. Bring me the one in the yellow scroll tube and I’ll point out to you EXACTLY where he is.”
I let out a frustrated roar, but figured this was truly the last request. I locked the two lovebirds back in the room, blocking the door once again, and made my way down to the office. It took my nearly an hour to even find what looked like a room that might have once held scrolls, then nearly another hour to dig through all the rubble. Stone after stone I unturned until I had recovered every single scroll in the forsaken place, but in the end, I could not locate even one yellow scroll tube. I gathered up every document I could find in my massive claws and angrily stomped back up to the little monster’s room.
The scrolls scattered to the floor as I dropped them. Standing before me was a mess of upturned furniture and a broken door, carefully laid on the floor next to a very empty room. I had been tricked by the little horror! Treachery! I clambered into the room, blasting apart every closet and armoire in the wretched place, but no princess could be found. Though she could not move my blockade by herself, she must have used the poor, strong prince to help her in the endeavor!
I searched everywhere in the castle, burned every forest in the countryside, but to no avail. I never saw the horrid little princess or her ill-fated prince ever again. I like to think that they did not win in the end, and somewhere they are still in hiding, making each other miserable. I’ll never know, though. I do, however, have one last element to this story, and in it was my victory in this dismal situation.
As I had been searching the ruins for a yellow scroll, I came upon a portrait of one “King Ferivald the Glorious,” regent of the country and father to the most wretched human I had ever met. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but once I had calmed down from my princess-searching rage, I returned to the ruins of the castle and recovered the painting.
I kept that painting for years, plastered on the wall of my lair, and every time I looked at it, I would think, “Over a million gold coins lost” again and again. I memorized the king’s features, and eventually, years later, found myself in a country far to the south. I was pillaging a regal country house of the local lord, and to my surprise, the lord himself turned out to be the missing king! Upon threatening his life, as it should have gone originally with his daughter, he gladly gave up all his remaining wealth to me, which he had kept in a little bag that was much, much larger on the inside.
Nearly half a million gold coins-worth of gems and currency was still in the king’s possession, though I left him poor (and eaten). Even though I collected his remaining wealth and the neat magical bag, I still insist that his daughter, the world’s worst human, owes me the other half-million. If I ever find her, or her brawny prince, I will wring every last coin from them, I swear! Geldrin is now reminding me of my promise to no longer hurt any intelligent being in the name of “continued cooperation between dragon kind and mortals,” but we’ll see if he changes his tune after meeting the little brat.
As for now, though, thank you for continuing to stick with me on another tale! These have been getting longer, but I have realized more and more how much I like to talk. Geldrin has even set up his own parchment-making machine in his little library, so we’ll never run out! Until next time, keep on seasoning your delicious brains with knowledge!
Editor’s note: Is it just me, or is Grendel more willing to admit to when he had been outsmarted, and even times when he felt a bit of guilt? As much of a green as he says he is, I think there’s a lot more of his mother in him than he’d care to admit. How else would me or the harpies be able to live in our little rooms in his lair if he was still as much of a deviant as he says he is? Or maybe he considers me nothing more than a minion, and my servitude is a fate more demeaning than death? I don’t think so. I think as fierce as he is, there’s a large amount of good in this ferocious dragon…