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Princess Sahra and the Dragon Tribe

     There once was a royal family — King Romo, Queen Quinn, and Princess Sahra — who lived in their beautiful castle near a mountain range in the kingdom of Zahava. The King and Queen weren’t the nicest of rulers, and could be close-minded, naive, and egotistical, but everyone in their land respected them. Everyone except their daughter, Sahra. Unlike her parents, she had an open mind, was level-headed, and had a very compassionate heart. She didn’t approve of the way her parents ran things and wanted no part of it, despite the fact that they wanted her to carry on their powerful legacy. She expressed to them that she wanted a life away from royalty — a life where she could start fresh and be herself — but her parents would scoff at the notion and insist this is where she belonged.

 

One day, one of the royal guards burst into the castle in a tizzy. While he was exploring the mountain range around the castle to ensure the safety of the royal family, he stumbled upon an area that unbeknownst to him, only one person had previously discovered — Princess Sahra. In this area, he caught a glimpse of something quite peculiar. Not only did he see a handful of dragons, but a handful of dragons that could transform into humans of their own free will. He then ran back to the castle to tell the King and Queen of what he just witnessed. They decided to capture the dragon-people in order to show them off like trophies — a sign of power to other kingdoms. Princess Sahra objected, saying it was cruel and unnecessary, especially since the they weren’t doing anything harmful to anyone. Queen Quinn looked at her curiously and asked, “How would you know?” Sahra looked at the ground and didn’t answer. The Queen chalked it up to her daughter’s good-natured heart and thought nothing of it. Naturally, the King and Queen proceeded with their plans, not taking their daughter’s objections into account. The following day, an army of soldiers with their weapons in tow went to the clearing where the dragon-people had been spotted and found them. The magical beings were a peaceful people, and they did not want to hurt the royal soldiers. Instead of being aggressive like their potential captors, they tried to fly away. Sadly, nets that were shot out of harpoon-like mechanisms ensnared them mid-flight, and they fell to the ground, trapped. Triumphantly, the army took them back to the castle, where the proud King and Queen greeted them. Princess Sahra had a look of utmost loathing on her face. “Take them down to the dungeon and keep them locked up,” King Romo ordered. The soldiers did as they were told and took the dragon-people to the underground chambers. They didn’t put up a fight as they were tossed into the iron-clad cells.

 

After the soldiers left and the coast was clear, Sahra went down to the chamber to go meet the dragon-people up-close. She had seen them before, but had never interacted with them — just watched from afar — and had been in complete awe of their majestic beauty. They were in their human forms when Sahra reached them. When they first saw her, they retreated to the very back of their dank cells. As she came in the light, however, they were able to see the genuine look of sadness and pain on her beautiful and inviting face, which eased them slightly. “I’m so sorry that you all are in here. My parents can be absolutely awful. It’s… not fair. Not just. Nobody should be imprisoned for the sake of being imprisoned.” Her long brunette curls bounced as she shook her head in disbelief. One of the younger ones, about Sahra’s age, got up and moved to her. As he came into light, Sahra was stricken with a pang of immense attraction to him. She thought she saw a spark in his eyes when he looked at her as well, but she wasn’t sure.

“My name is Marcade. What’s yours?” he asked her. “Sahra,” she replied. He smiled. “That’s a beautiful name.” Sahra blushed. “Let me introduce you to the rest of the tribe,” he went on. He gestured to two other dragon-people that were slightly younger than he was. “These are my siblings. My brother Arlo and my sister Pyrina.” They nodded. “These are my friends Elyse, Brynn, and Slaz. We’ve been traveling together for a while, doing our best to hide away from humans.” Sahra looked at him quizzically, as if she asked, “Why?”, and Marcade, reading her face, answered her unasked question. “The rest of our families got killed by soldiers in other kingdoms. We’ve been living on the run ever since.” Sahra’s heart broke. “I’m so sorry you all have had to go through that. And for what? It’s… barbaric.” Sahra shook her head again. Marcade shrugged. “I guess people are scared of what they don’t know,” he replied. “Yes,” Sahra said, “but what some people don’t realize… is that the unknown can lead to something magical.” She paused. “I wish my parents understood that.”

 

Every night after that, after everyone in the castle went to sleep, Princess Sahra would sneak down the long hallways with tall ceilings and a great many doors to the dungeon where she would bring Marcade, Pyrina, Arlo, Elyse, Slaz, and Brynn food and water. They would all talk, laugh, and exchange life stories. Every so often, Sahra would have to find a hiding place somewhere in the dungeon when the occasional soldier would come down to check on the prisoners. When the soldier left, she would come out of her spot, everyone laughing with relief, and resume their conversation. They all became fast friends, especially Sahra and Marcade, who took a strong liking to each other. About a month after Marcade and the others had first been imprisoned, Sahra was returning from one of her nightly chats, heading back to her room, when she overheard a conversation between her parents in their room.

“How much longer do you plan on keeping them here, Romo? They’re just taking up space.” Sahra inched closer to the door to hear better. “And I’m not sure why, but they don’t seem to be getting any weaker, even though they haven’t been getting any food or water. Have you been feeding them or something?” The queen asked. King Romo scoffed. “Why would I do that, Quinn?” he exclaimed. “Waste perfectly good food like that? On some… disgusting creatures? Preposterous. They must be built for not eating or something.” The Queen continued. “Well, they need to go. Like I said, they’re taking up valuable space.” The King thought for a moment. “You’re right,” he said. “They must go. Tomorrow, at first light, we’ll execute them all. Call it… spring cleaning.” They both laughed. Sahra put her hand over her mouth to keep her gasp quiet.

“We can do the honor of personally opening the cells and letting the soldiers in tomorrow,” Romo went on. “Is the key still behind the painting of Madysma?” “Yes it is,” Quinn answered. “Well, goodnight Romo. We have a busy day planned for tomorrow,” she said, chuckling.

“Yes we do! Goodnight Quinn,” the King replied back. Sahra slowly moved away from the door. Her face first flashed a look of hatred, but it quickly turned to horror, realizing that her new friends were in grave danger. She hurried back to her room to think of a plan. 

 

A little while later, after she was sure her parents were asleep, Princess Sahra crept out of her room, slinging a backpack with some clothes in it on her back. She carefully closed the door and headed towards the dungeon. The painting of Madysma the Fortune Teller was on the way, located in the hallway leading to the underground chamber. Sahra lifted it from the wall and found the skeleton key right where her parents said it would be. “Thank you Mom and Dad,” Sahra said. She put the painting back on the wall and headed down to the cells. When she got there, Marcade and the others all looked at her, surprised. “Not that we’re not happy to see you, but we already talked tonight,” Arlo said, laughing. “Is everything okay?” Sahra looked at them all with a mixture of sadness and determination.

“No,” she said, “Everything is not okay. My parents are planning to slay you all at first light.” A shiver swept throughout the dungeon. “But it’s okay though,” Sahra continued. “I’m going to get you all out of here, and we’re all going to leave this place.” She paused. “I mean, if it’s okay if I come with you all.” They all smiled, but Marcade’s smile was the biggest. “Of course it’s okay, Sahra,” he told her. She let out a sigh of relief.

 

“Thank you so much! I was sure hoping so.” She began to start opening up the cells. “I’ve been wanting to escape for some time, and after my parents find out what happened, it wouldn’t be good if I stayed around anyway, so better now than never, right? Plus, I’ve always wanted to fly,” she added. “When else am I going to get that chance?” She gave Marcade a wink, who returned it with a charming smile. After all the cells were opened, a sense of urgency was now present in Sahra’s voice. “We don’t have much time, so we have to hurry. The sun should be rising soon. Follow me. We’ll head out to the courtyard. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the dungeon.” She escorted them all outside into the cool early morning air. The tribe transformed from their human forms into their dragon forms. Sahra froze in awe of all the different color dragons now standing in front of her. Marcade, now a crimson scaled dragon, turned to her and asked, “Are you ready to hop on?” Sahra snapped back into action. “Yes! No. Wait! I just have to get some things so we can have some money for food and supplies later.” She paused. “Just in case, if any of the guards spot you before I get back, go ahead and fly off without me, okay? I couldn’t bear to see you all being captured again.” The dragons all looked at her incredulously. “We’re not going to leave you behind!” Pyrina said. “Promise me, please!” Sahra pleaded. After a moment, they reluctantly nodded their heads. “Great. Now, I shouldn’t be long. Hopefully I’ll see you all in just a second,” she said, winking, and started running back into the castle. Marcade transformed back into his human form and ran after her.

“Marcade!” Sahra told him. “You didn’t have to come with me!” He smiled.

“I’m not leaving you, Sahra. So what are we getting?”

“It’s all on the other side of the hall, past my parents’ room,” she said. Marcade smirked.

“Of course it would be past your parents’ room,” he said. “Wouldn’t want this to be too easy or anything.” They quietly hurried down the hallway, past the King and Queen’s room, past Sahra’s room, and into the treasure room. Sahra stuffed a number of different jewels, necklaces, bracelets, and gold pieces in her pack. “Technically, I was supposed to inherit this anyway, so it’s not really stealing,” she told Marcade. He laughed. “I guess you’re right.” As she was putting the last bit of it in her pack, the room, ever so slightly, began to illuminate from the light of the morning sunrise coming through the tall windows. “Oh no!” Sahra exclaimed, terrified. “We have to leave! Now!” She grabbed Marcade’s hand and rushed out of the treasure room and past her room. As they were about to pass the King and Queen’s bedroom door, it opened, and Quinn poked her head out to see a startled Sahra and Marcade, who stopped dead in their tracks, overtaken by shock. They all stood there for a moment, looking at each other. Romo started walking up behind Quinn, wondering why his wife was just standing in the doorway. “Quinn, is everything al—” His mouth dropped open at the sight of his daughter with one of the dragon-people in his hallway. Blood boiling, he said at the top of his lungs, “WHAT ON EARTH IS GO—” Before he had a chance to finish, Sahra once again grabbed Marcade’s hand and raced down the hallway towards the courtyard. “GUARDS! GUARDS!” King Romo shouted, “STOP THE TRAITOR AND THE PRISONER! STOP THEM!”

 

As Sahra and Marcade ran down the hallway as fast as they could, doors flung open all around them with guards pouring out behind them. They ran past most of them, but as they neared the last few doors before they were home free, some guards stepped out in front of them, blocking their path. Sahra, at a loss, frantically looked at Marcade. He smiled confidently and transformed into his dragon form. “Hop on!” he told her. She quickly jumped on his back and held on for dear life. Still keeping true to his peaceful nature, he avoided using any fire or his claws to do any harm. Instead, using the tall ceilings to his advantage, he flew clear over the guards and out into the courtyard, where the rest of the tribe was at the ready to take off. “Let’s go!” Marcade shouted. The rest of the dragons flapped their wings and flew into the air, following Marcade and Sahra. King Romo and Queen Quinn angrily rushed out with their guards, helplessly watching their freed captives and their daughter fly away. Keeping his eyes fixated in their direction, he told his wife, “Sahra is no longer my daughter. She is my enemy. Our enemy.” The Queen turned and looked at him in astonishment. “Romo,” she said softly. “Do you really think that’s necessary?” He took a moment before he answered. “I meant what I said.” He turned and headed back into the castle, his wife and the guards following suit.

 

As the wind whipped through her hair, Sahra kept looking back as the castle got smaller and smaller. She couldn’t believe she was finally leaving. She was finally free. Knowing they were at a safe distance, the dragons slowed down. “How do you like flying?” Marcade asked. “It’s amazing! I love it!” Sahra shouted happily. “Marcade, thank you for saving me.” He gave a hearty laugh. “Saving you? You saved me! You saved us all! We owe you, Sahra.” They flew in silence for a bit, all taking in what just happened. “Marcade?” Sahra asked, breaking the silence. “I bet you could have easily taken those guards head on no problem. How come you didn’t attack, even though they were going to attack you?” He took a moment to answer. “I believe in giving humanity a chance,” he told her. “Even though our families were killed by humans, I don’t believe violence is the answer. Sure, it might give you a win in the short term, but what does it do for you in the long term? One’s body may be in tact, but the conscious will be broken. As long as we stay true to ourselves, we can get through anything — and still keep our heart pure.” Sahra’s heart melted, and she gave him a loving squeeze. “So where are we going?” Sahra asked. Brynn chimed in and said, “I vote we go to Neropa Forest. We haven’t been there in forever!” The others nodded in agreement. “I like that plan. It’s a lovely place,” added Elyse. “I agree! Let’s do it!” Slaz added. Marcade looked at his siblings. “Pyrina, Arlo?” They looked at each other and nodded. “That’s fine with both of us!” Pyrina said. “Great! Neropa Forest it is. You’ll love it there, Sahra.” Her eyes twinkled, thinking of the grand adventure ahead of her.  


 

- Fin -

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