Chapter 10

I actually knew very little about tourneys besides from the explanation I'd given the dragon. Daystar wasn't particularly eager to talk about what he knew and the Princess only talked about who was at the tourneys she'd been to rather than what they actually did, so I was pretty much making rules up on the fly. It didn't really matter anyway because I had to keep changing them to try to get the dragon and knight to agree to anything.

And whenever the Princess opened her mouth, the dragon would start to wonder why he couldn't just bite the knight and then Daystar and I would have to explain the whole "no one gets hurt concept" while the Princess sobbed in the background. Then as soon as we got that all settled she'd start talking about tourneys and it would start all over again

In the end I just snarled at her to shut up and she started complaining about me, which gave the dragon less ideas and they eventually agreed on the rules.

I sent both of them off to opposite sides of the clearing to stretch out while Daystar, Nightwitch, and I drew a circle for the fight, which the knight had insisted was absolutely necessary. Meaning we had to sketch out a circle big enough to give a twelve foot tall dragon room to move in. I tried to put the circle protection spell that Morwen had taught me into the circle so that none of us spectators would actually get hit by dragon magic or fire. However, I'm not sure it took since by the time we finished drawing the circle, the moss had grown over our initial lines.

Stupid magical forests.

"Are you sure you have to have a circle to fight?" I asked the knight, pointing at the moss that was slowly covering all our hard work.

"I really do think so," the knight replied. "It wouldn't be a proper tourney without it, don't you see." He sounded somewhat sorry but apparently not sorry enough to forego the circle

"I'm sick of proper dragons and proper princesses and proper tourneys," I muttered Night witch agreed whole heartedly waving her dirty paws in the air mournfully. But the knight and the dragon offered to help and we redrew the circle with wider lines in a fairly short amount of time. The Princess sat under a tree and did nothing.

Once the circle was finished the knight and the dragon stepped inside and stared at each other, formally.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" I demanded.

"Someone has to say, 'go,'" the knight said.

Why? They both knew they were there to fight, why not just attack each other once they got in the circle?

"Go!" Daystar shouted next to me.

I shot him a look, but then the match started, and I was busy making sure the combatants didn't kill each other. They were actually pretty equal. I'd expected the dragon to make mincemeat out of the clumsy knight but it looked to be the dragons first fight ever. The knight was more sure of what he was supposed to do, they only managed to hit each other at all once every four swings and even those didn't look like they hurt much.

They probably would have gone on fumbling awkwardly about except a tree suddenly sprouted up out of nowhere and hit the dragon in the nose.

It fell back, its tail flailed about wildly trying to balance, and it nearly clubbed Nightwitch.

"Hey, watch out!" I yelled.

The dragon jumped turned quickly, its tail swung wide. The knight wasn't as quick as Nightwitch and the tail hit him on his chest plate. The dragon yelped, the metal dented visibly and the knight when flying a few feet back, landing in the pool Daystar's sword had created and sinking into the water.

The Princess screamed and raced into the water, searching frantically. By the time Daystar and I reached her she'd gotten his head mostly above water and was trying to pull him out. There was no way that she'd really be able to lift a water logged knight in full armor but that didn't stop her from trying. We waded in and added out efforts to her desperate tugs and together managed to get him onto semi-dry land.

The Princess checked to make sure he was alive, and then she burst into tears.

"Alas! See now how sad is my fate! For my love has been grievously injured and I am without protection in this awful place. Ah, woe is me!"

"Is he dead?" asked the dragon asked, peering over Daystar's shoulder.

"Monster!" cried the Princess, though personally I thought it was a perfectly reasonable question considering her reaction. "Your base attempt to slay my love has failed! No second chance shall you have to harm him while I can stand between you! For if my love be slain, I care not whether I live or die, and thus I now defy you." She threw herself across the knight's chest dramatically.

The knight coughed, moaned, and opened his eyes. "I say, Isabelle," he said weakly, "that really is a bit uncomfortable."

The Princess sat up and started weeping all over his face, which probably wasn't very comfortable for a man who'd almost drowned.

"That was a very good fight," the dragon said peering. "Except for the last part. My tail still stings. I think I may have sprained it. Is armor always that hard?"

The knight tried to answer and started coughing instead. The Princess cried harder.

"I don't think all that water is doing him much good." I snapped.

Then the Princess surprised me, she stopped crying and glared up at me. Then she turned back to her knight dry-eyed and tragic-looking.

The knight finished coughing and wheezed, "I do believe I agree with you about the fight. That trick with the tail is quite good. I don't recall seeing it before. I really must remember it."

"Actually, it was something of an accident," the dragon said modestly. "But I think I could do it again if I tried. Did you really think it was good?"

"Oh, quite," the knight said. "I think perhaps you broke one or two of my ribs." As if that comforted anyone.

"I'm sorry," said the dragon. "Is that bad?"

"It is certainly a bit uncomfortable," the knight said. "I don't really blame-" A coughing spasm interrupted him. The Princess looked alarmed, but she didn't start spouting off over-the-top speeches or burst into weeping. Her hands fluttered about, not dramatically but as if she was trying to think of something she could do to help, and she actually looked concerned. I blinked, I thought she'd been freaking out over the knight because that was how princess's were supposed to act when their handsome knights got wounded. But an actual desire to help wasn't traditional… she actually cared about him.

"You should get the armor off him, Morwen always makes a fuss about how wet clothes will cause colds." Nightwitch said and sprang up onto the knight's chest apparently looking for straps.

"What is this? Go hence, and leave my love in peace!" cried the Princess, reaching forward.

"You let my kitten alone," I warned.

The Princess stopped and looked me in the eyes. "And shall I neglect aught that may bring comfort to my love in his hurt?" she said.

"Nightwitch isn't going to hurt-" I started, then my mind mentally translated what she said from ye olde princesse. 'I have to do something for him and this is all I can do. Can't I at least do that? ' I couldn't snap at her for that, even if the idea of a kitten hurting a fully armored knight was ridiculous. If it made her feel better. "I guess it doesn't matter. Go ahead." Though if she hurt my cat I'd flatten her.

Nightwitch was not happy to be moved, as she was convinced she could have solved the problem all by herself, so the Princess earned quite a few scratches for her pains, but she managed to get Nightwitch away from her knight fairly gently. The coughing had subsided mostly but he was wheezing and it looked like breathing was painful.

"You don't sound very good," I informed him.

"If you can't fix him, can I eat him?" the dragon asked hopefully.

"No" cried the Princess. The knight started coughing again. And Nightwitch hissed.

"No! I can fix him! And if you interfere with one of my patients I will…"

"Of course not," I told him, trying to calm my cat. "You promised."

"It wouldn't be polite," Daystar added. "After all, that was why you had the tourney."

The dragon looked hurt. "I was just asking."

"Ah, what are we going to do about them?" Daystar "They can't stay here, not when the knight's been injured like that."

"It's not so bad, really it isn't," the knight said, and then started coughing again immediately. It didn't last as long as the other coughing fits but it still wasn't convincing.

"I suppose you could come with us," Daystar said. I could feel the blood drain from my face. Traveling with romantic gush princess and her proper knight, that was even worse than just the princess. Even if the knight healed up enough to help fight, the two of them together...they'd be sickening.

"Kill me now" Nightwitch muttered.

"That's frightfully kind of you," the knight said. "Very kind, to invite us to come with you. All of you?" He added uncertainly.

"I don't know," Daystar said. "I haven't asked the dragon about its plans yet. But you're quite welcome to join us, if you want to."

"Yes," I said with only a little sarcasm "I'm sure you'll be very useful when the wizard comes back." I stared at Daystar, trying to remind him that we did have an entire society of wizards after us and anyone who happened to travel with us.

"Wizard?" said the knight, with an alarmed almost-cough. "What wizard?"

"Well, actually, there are several of them," Daystar said, honestly. "Every now and then one of them shows up and tries to do something to us. The last one left when the dragon showed up."

"I'm sure he'll be back in a little while," I added. "Or one of the others will They've been chasing us all over the Enchanted Forest."

"You know," the knight said, "I really don't believe it would be a good idea for me to join you. I should almost certainly be a bit of an inconvenience, you see. Wet armor rusts, and with that and the ribs I'm afraid I'd be a little slow. Thank you terribly, all the same."

"If you don't come with us, what will you do?" Daystar asked.

"Morwen's," suggested Nightwitch.

"Morwen!" I translated excitedly. "They can go to Morwen! She'll know what to do for them."

Nightwitch started purring loudly, "Aren't you lucky to have such a brilliant and helpful familiar?"

"It sounds like a good idea, but will she want to?" Daystar asked.

"Morwen seems to like helping people," I told him. "And I'm sure she can take care of both of them."

"You know Morwen?" said the dragon. "I like her. She gives me apples out of her garden."

I envied the dragon, my neighbors weren't as generous with their apples. The Prince of the Ruby Throne never even picked any of his, but the one time I tried to grab some a flying snake attacked me, I broke my arm falling out of the tree, and then the Prince was pointedly rude anytime he came near me.

The Princess's voice brought me back to the present "Who is this Morwen?" she asked. "Think you that she could help my love, indeed?"

"Morwen's sort of a friend of ours," Daystar explained. "She lives back that way, with a lot of cats, and her house has kind of a strange door."

What was his problem with the door?

"I didn't have any trouble with it," I said. "And she has nine cats. She told me while you were asleep."

"Nine cats?" said the Princess, looking puzzled. "But what has that to do with my love, who is so grievously hurt?"

"I said it wasn't that bad, Isabelle," the knight wheezed uncomfortably. "Really, I wish you wouldn't make such a fuss. I shall be quite all right in a little, I'm sure."

"If this woman with the many cats can help you, then we shall go to her," the Princess declared. "For you are my love, and I will have you whole and well." She actually sounded pretty determined

"Oh, but really, Isabelle-"

"I'm sure Morwen won't mind," I interrupted. "She fixed Daystar up just fine. She's even good with wet swords." Since that seemed to be the main thing guys with swords cared about

Sure enough the knight brightened up instantly. "Are you quite sure? Because I'm frightfully wet, sword and armor and everything, and it would be very nice if I could keep it all from rusting. It's rather expensive, you see."

"I'm sure she could manage that," I told him. "Of course, you don't have to go. You could stay here and wait for the wizard to come back."

That got him downright eager to leave. Though unfortunately with all that settled the Princess reverted back to talking about how wonderful her knight was, which perked the knight up even more.

I hurriedly checked with Nightwitch, and together with Daystar and my memory of the trip we put together pretty good directions of how to get back to Morwen's house. We repeated these a few times to the Princess and the knight, who after listening to his praises for an hour seemed pretty chipper, and sent them on their way.

It wasn't until they were out of sight that I let out a breath. "That's a relief!" I muttered. "For a while I thought you were going to make us go with that stupid princess. It was bad enough having to listen to her here without following her around."

Daystar blinked. "But I thought you changed your mind about her! You were being a lot nicer to her after the knight got hurt."

I snorted. "So I feel sorry for her. She really cares about that klutz in the tin can. I could tell. That doesn't mean I like her! I still think she's dumber than you are, but I'm glad they're going to see Morwen."

Daystar just shook his head and turned away.

"Why do you have wizards chasing you?" asked the dragon.

"It's a long story," I said. "I'll be glad to explain, but you might want to make yourself comfortable first."

The dragon sighed. "Have you ever tried to be comfortable with a sprained tail?"

I giggled at the image, and the refreshing non-politeness. The dragon tried several, increasingly strange positions then settled itself, curled around the little tree that had hit it in the nose.

"That's better," it said. "Enchanted trees are always more comfortable than regular ones."

"Enchanted trees?" I asked, suddenly imaging wizards lurking in the shadows.

"Of course," the dragon said. "What else do you expect to find in an enchanted forest?" I felt slightly embarrassed but the dragon didn't seem to notice "I'm going to have to remember to tell someone about this, though. There haven't been any new ones in a long time. You were going to tell me about the wizards," said the dragon.

Daystar explained about The Sword and Antorell and why the wizards were after him, then after glancing at me, explained why the wizards were after me. And then he explained what had gone on since we met up. The dragon listened intently, several times its tail twitched, painfully, in excitement.

"That's very interesting," the dragon said when Daystar finished. "Where are you going now?"

"Morwen told us to follow the stream," I told him. "And Suz said we should go talk to someone named Kazul."

"It's the same thing," the dragon said.

"What do you mean?" Daystar asked asked.

"The stream goes to the castle, and Kazul lives right outside it. I wonder why she wants to see you?"

"What castle?" I asked, already prepared for another round of vague non-answers. "And who is this Kazul person, anyway?"

"It must have something to do with that sword," the dragon said, ignoring me "Especially if it really does belong to the Sleeping King."

"You mean you know something about it?" I demanded. "Well, then, tell us what the stupid thing does?"

The dragon looked sheepish, which was in and of itself a very strange sight. "I don't know. I'm not old enough yet," it said.

"Not old enough?" I had a sudden image of how much bigger a full grown dragon must be.

"That's why I wanted a princess," the dragon said. "Otherwise, Kazul won't tell me anything important until I'm two hundred. She says that before then dragons are irresponsible, unwise, and talk too much." It looked faintly indignant. "I don't talk too much."

I had to restrain myself from bursting out in more giggles though I'll admit there was a faint edge of hysteria to it.

"Who is Kazul?" Daystar asked nervously.

"Oh, I thought you knew," the dragon said. "Kazul is the King of the Dragons."