This is PURELY an experimental project. Basically, I wanted to see what happens when you take two beloved but not-exactly-great works (well, it's up for debate, I guess…) and mix them together. Lots of wiki research involved, but I hope the result is fun to read as it was to write! If you would like to read more, let me know. Feedback would be appreciated!
Nine boys. Four girls. Dominic, Damien, Derek, Donald, Dillon, Dickon, David, Darryl, Douglas, Delilah, Danielle, Diana, Doreen. You learn to live with a big family pretty quickly, especially if you're one of the oldest children.
You would think that I really didn't have to. After all, Dominic and Damien, my two older brothers, could protect us all alongside Dad. But as I ended up getting more siblings, I soon learned that even I had to be a little rough as well, because how are you supposed to manage all of those young'uns if you can't law down the law at times?
I remember that during playtime, I would automatically be given the part of the dragon and would have to fight against Dominic and Damien while the rest of my siblings cheered for them. And soon that's what they called me. "Doreen the Dragon." Of course, Dad wouldn't let them for long because, ultimately, the dragon was "the bad guy", and I couldn't be the bad guy forever. But actually, I preferred being the enemy at times. It forced me to be competitive, and I loved it.
Mom honestly wasn't that fond of it. She had been chased by enough dragons in her youth. Of course, Dominic would retaliate by saying that if it wasn't for a dragon, she wouldn't have met Dad in the first place. True, Mom would say, but that doesn't mean you must make your sister one. She's a lady first, after all.
By lady first, Mom meant that she expected me to look as beautiful as possible so that someday a young, dashing man will sweep me off my feet. This attitude was to be expected from the youngest of the royal children of the kingdom of Blyer, which she happened to be. Oh, my mother and I get along well, but we have our differences. But it could be worse. I could have had a mother like her mother, Queen Hilda. But luckily, Queen Hilda is my grandmother, and she's already made up her mind not to meddle too much in her younger daughter's affairs. It's a long story, but let's just say that there were some problems between her and Dad in the past.
To put it this way, I have three younger sisters, and they are all following my mother's advice quite well. They love playing the princesses in the stories, and they aspire to meet their future husbands in the same way Mom met Dad. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with that, but I just can't feel that way. Why? I don't know, actually. Maybe years of being an older sibling gave me the mentality that I had to be doing something else for my wacky family.
As I got older, it became clearer and clearer to me what I should be doing. When we were younger, Dominic, Damien, and I were used to doing chores and we would love to spar with the cutlery (much to Mom's chagrin). Sometimes, I would win, although both Dominic and Damien would concede that they had "let me." When I was old enough, Dad let me ride on his horse Bertram, and ever since then, I wanted to go horseback riding every day. While my sisters and I went outside to pick wild berries, I would often practice my target skills by throwing berries at them.
Dominic soon started taking private combat lessons under one of father's friends—a knight named Sir Timothy. And afterwards, it was time for Damien to do so as well. Very soon, I was expecting the same. However, Dad told me otherwise.
"Why can't I take lessons too?" I protested. "I can fight just as well as Dominic and Damien."
"I know you can, Doreen," said Dad, "but you're already a princess—you won't really need to use these skills. Plus, you know what your mother would say."
I looked down and hung my head with a sigh. This I already knew. But then, I lifted my head up and said, "Well, I want to at least learn a little. What if you and Dominic and Damien are not around, and someone has to protect Mommy and the others?"
Dad thought about it. He knew that I was getting better at some of the skills he had somewhat taught me. Eventually, he allowed me to take private fighting lessons with Sir Timothy, under the condition that I finished all of my chores first and did not tell Mom. This I agreed to wholeheartedly. For the next few years, I learned the art of combat under Sir Timothy alongside my brothers. At least when I was around, our training was in secret, for people in Blyer would certainly laugh at the idea of a girl learning combat alongside other men. I was also the last of the private students Sir Timothy took, for he had already sworn not to take any more by the time Dad asked him to teach me; the rest of my brothers went to other good knights for training, including Sir Samuel the Mighty and Sir Joseph Christanaroth.
Sir Timothy and I grew close as teacher and student, and he was willing to show me everything he knew about combat. He had daughters, but none of them were that interested in fighting, so perhaps for him it was interesting to see whether he could shape a female student to fight as well as a male one. Meanwhile, Dominic started taking an interest in Sir Timothy's daughter, Clara, and I wondered if someday they would wed.
As I got older, it became clear that I was learning much more than what was intended. If I were male, I would have been expected to eventually become a squire, but I knew that this was not expected of me. However, one day, after a practice duel against him, Sir Timothy sat me down for a long talk.
"You have become an excellent fighter, Doreen," he said. "I cannot bear to see your potential go to waste. Answer me honestly—if you could, would you like to be a knight?"
I looked up at him, thinking to myself. I had longed to be a knight, this was true. "If there was any way I could, I would try."
"Then listen to me. I have heard of a school far away—a school that permits female squires."
My eyes lit up—I could not believe it. "Is this true?"
"Yes, and from what I heard, it has grown to have quite a reputation. The program is very rigorous, and they would train you in ways that I cannot even comprehend."
I was struck with awe, and yet, I started to feel sad. "Then…I would no longer be your student."
"I'm afraid it would have to be this way. But if you were to enroll in this school, you could learn so much more than if I were to continue to train you."
"And my family? What about them?"
"I will talk to your father…and your mother too." He added the last part before I could even finish his sentence. "If I tell them that you have the potential to succeed, they will have to believe me. And if you were to succeed, you could perhaps even change the way things are done here. It could be done someday…since I have seen you, I have faith in it."
I blinked a few times. It would be more than a dream come true to enroll at this school—to learn about what I loved so much to do. Then, I said, "Tell me—where exactly is this school?"
Sir Timothy smiled. "The kingdom of Camelot."