By James Christensen
Once upon a time, there was a king whose only daughter was a princess ten times more beautiful than any other princess in the land. Of course, it was only a matter of time before an evil wizard as powerful as the princess was beautiful, captured her and locked her in a high tower. The king sent his personal courier (that’s me) to deliver a dire message of severe threats concerning what would happen if the wizard did not release the princess. He was too eager to give his own response to bother paying attention. “Yes, yes, yes. Now, tell the king this:” I returned and delivered the equally dire message describing the impenetrability of the iron tower and his dedication to keeping the princess locked away until he himself was ruler of the land.
Far from being upset, the king merely called for his knight. The knight had been preparing himself for this moment his whole life. “No tower can stop me! I’ll cut my way through! I’ll climb it with my teeth! I’ll…”
“Don’t forget the dragon” I added helpfully. “Dragon?” His voice quivered slightly.
“Well, he didn’t mention a dragon specifically, but there’s usually one around in this sort of situation.” Suddenly, the knight seemed a little less confident. Almost nervous. “Your majesty, it seems like this would b be the appropriate acossion for the use of an enchanted sword.”
The king only hesitated slightly before presenting the knight with his personal enchanted sword. After quickly checking the handle to see that it was fully charged, the knight headed out to slay the dragon and rescue the princess. It was my job to go tell the princess, so she would have time to wash her hair, put her best dress on, and make similar preparations for her part of the rescue.
I arrived at the tower to find the wizard reclining in a chair, holding a box with two levers. “So, the knight approacheth, eh?” he said. “Wielding the kings own sword” I proudly replied. Instantly, I realized I had spoken too much. The wizards face darkened. “He thinks to use enchantments on me, a wizard?” I”ll be ready with spells, and a trap of my own! One touch of steel to my dragon’s hide will produce a lightning bolt with enough force to power the town for weeks!! I hurried back to give fair warning to Sir Knight before he arrived.
It turns out that there was a bigger sword in the vault. It was less enchanted, but much, much larger. Once again, it was my job to announce the honorable intentions of the knight to slay the dragon and rescue the princess. The wizard took the news with an attitude befitting an evil doer preparing to be defeated. First, he laughed an evil laugh. Then he narrowed his eyes in suspicion. Then he looked out toward the castle. He didn’t need any input from me to know what was coming. The sword was visible from here. He raged and flung the dragon controls on the ground where they sparked madly. “Technical difficulties!” he shouted, “I’m having technical difficulties and the fight must be delayed. There’s no glory in defeating me when my dragon is malfunctioning!”
The king was in full agreement of this honorable arrangement. “However, for every advancement he makes, justice and physics demand and equal and opposite advance on our part.”
Now the battle before the battle began in earnest. The knight began training a rhinocerous to replace his horse. The wizard added a giant mechanical scorpion tail to the dragon. The knight sent falcons to spy out the enemy’s stronghold. The wizard sent vultures to return the favor. The wizard began to build an army of tiny dragon minions. The knight learned to play the enchanted Pipe of the Pied Piper to rally minions of his own. Giant spiders from evil forests were employed in the making of traps. Giant frogs from allegedly less evil jungles were deployed in return. My journies from one stronghold to the other became increasingly less necessary.
One day, after observing the digging of a trench to channel lava from a recently constructed volcano, I stopped to see how the princess was faring. To my surprise, the tower had shrunk considerably. Where an imposing structure used to mark the skyline, now there was merely an iron parapet with a single window, level with the ground. She was not happy.
“Today was the last straw! When that wizard took the bottom half of the tower to improve his dragon, and took my grand view with it, I was disappointed. When my basement disappeared, it was annoying. When the kitchen disappeared for that stupid drilling machine, I was angry. But today, the bathroom is gone! I won’t stand for this any longer.” With that, she stepped out the window, and marched away. I hurried after her. The landscape had taken a turn for the worse since last she saw it, and who could be better than I to point out the hazards to her?