A Damsel in Distress

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The prince plunged his sword into the throat of a monster. It chortled as its blood spluttered on the cobblestones of the castle. The prince pushed the monster down and turned around swinging his sword. There were no more monsters on the bridge. The last of the valiant company of his men were fighting them further down. He could see the armor of the few of his remaining men, glitter in the cold moonlight. He wanted to rush to their aid, but the monster horde seemed endless. So many men lost, and it would all be in vain if he couldn’t rescue the princess. He gritted his teeth and turned towards the castle.

It took him a few tries to get the castle doors open. He ran into the empty castle, shouting her name. He wandered the halls calling to her at the top of his lungs. Finally, he stumbled into the throne room, there in the far corner on a large throne shaped from the skeleton of some long dead monstrosity, lay the princess. She lay in a nest of silk pillows and apart from the pained expression on her face seemed rather unhurt.

Her eyelids fluttered when he called her name. She opened her eyes and looked at him, they lit up like beacons. She sprang from the throne and ran towards him. Her once pretty dress was tattered, but she looked just as beautiful as she had in the portrait that had been shown to the prince. She looked just as lovely as he had imagined her when he had read her letter pleading for him to come and rescue him from this monster-infested land where she was being held captive by a demon. No one had believed it and had warned the prince against going to her rescue. But something about her portrait had lured the prince. And he was glad as she rushed into his embrace. She kissed him tenderly and stared at him with hope.

There was a deep rumbling from inside the castle. The princess was shaken by the sound. She pushed the prince away, “You are brave to have come to rescue me. But, I am afraid it is hopeless. You will never be able to defeat the demon.” She trembled as the rumbling in the ground grew closer. “Please, my dear prince, go and save yourself. The demon will not harm me. I will not have you lose your life in a vain attempt to save me. The mere thought that you are out there, the mere thought of your love will give me the strength to endure this ordeal. Please, brave prince, leave now and save yourself.” ‘So noble and so fair’, thought the prince as he pulled her back into a warm embrace. “Don’t worry my sweet princess. I will never leave you here to fend for yourself. I will defeat the demon for you.” He pushed the princess behind himself and drew his sword just as the door to the throne room flew open.

A demon stood before the prince. He was as tall as the roof of the castle. He had the terrible face of a lizard, the wings of a bat, hoofs of a goat and the tail of a crocodile. His muscles and the large scales that covered them bristled as he saw the prince there. He raised his head and breathed a  plume of fire that scorched the roof of the castle. He pointed to the Princess and in a voice like thunder said, “ Mine! Mine! Mine!”

The demon made to grab the princess, the prince struck the demon’s hand with his sword, but sword simply bounced off the scales on the demon. The demon picked up the Princess and placed her gently on the throne.

Then the demon turned towards the prince and lunged at him. The prince and the demon fought for hours on end. The prince had a few broken ribs, and a gash that had almost turned him blind. He could feel blood in his lungs when he drew a deep breath. The demon had lost half a wing and part of his tail but was still raging on.

The demon lunged at the prince with his mouth open and, the prince’s sword caught on a sharp tooth and snagged it clean out of the demon’s mouth. The prince lifted this large canine and dug it deep into the demon’s neck. The demon howled in agony. Large fountains of blood gushed out of his neck as he slowly sank to the wet floor.

The princess rushed towards the prince and hugged him despite him being drenched in the demon’s blood.

“You did it, my brave prince! You have defeated the demon!” She kissed him tenderly and it seemed to heal his broken ribs.

A large commotion rose up around the castle. Hundreds of monsters began to howl in pain. The prince looked around in surprise.

“It’s all the monsters that were guarding the castle. The demon was their master, they are his minions. They will want revenge for their master’s death.”

The prince looked out of a window at the huge horde of monsters now trying to break into the castle. He knew a lost cause when he saw one.

The Princess hugged him, “You saved my honor, dear Prince. That is all I care for. I love you with all my soul.”

The prince smiled, “I just wish there was a way to save you from them all.”

The princess turned to the demon’s body sprawled on the floor, “There is a way. But I could never ask it if you. Never.” She said.

The prince looked at the demon, he saw what needed to be done. Even after everything he had faced that night, this thought sent a shiver down his spine. He looked at his princess, her face a serene moon in this night of horrors. He looked at the monster army waiting to claim her for a prize. He took a deep breath and sighed. His decision was made.

He walked to the demon’s body sprawled in a pool of its own blood. The demon’s face was open in a grimace of endless pain. The prince looked at his face one last time in the pool of demon blood and then back at the demons twisted face. He scooped up some of the slimy thick blood and anointed himself with the demon blood. He let the blood slither down his face and enter his mouth. He felt it enter his blood, mix with his soul. The prince screamed. He fell to his knees and saw his reflection shift and change. The prince screamed and the monsters outside the castle howled in response. After a long agonizing while in which the prince felt like he was ripped apart and put together a few times, the demon stood up again.

The Princess ran towards the demon. “My love, my one true love.” She hugged his huge hand as the monsters outside the castle fell silent, “no one has ever made such a sacrifice for love. You shall always be my beloved.” She kissed the scales of his hand.

A tear slid down the princes now scaly cheek, he would never be a prince and he could never have his princess, but at least his princess would be safe. They would still have a life, of some kind.

The demon lifted his princess and placed her on the throne. He tried to kiss her but his mangled mouth made it impossible.

He turned around and dragged the body of the earlier demon out of the throne room. He didn’t want his princess staring at that all day long. He dragged the earlier demon to the grounds of the castle and dug a deep hole and buried him.

The demon started to return to the castle. His monsters were agitated, they informed him someone was trying to break into his castle, probably to hurt his princess. He rushed to the throne room. As he approached the throne room he could see a prince in shining armor standing with his princess. His princess smiled at him, “My prince!You are brave to have come to rescue me. But, I am afraid it is hopeless. You will never be able to defeat the demon.”

The demon howled. He raised his head and breathed a  plume of fire that scorched the roof of the castle. He pointed to the Princess and in a voice like thunder said, “ Mine! Mine! Mine!”

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