The Princess and the Firedrake
Copyright 2012 by Jim Stinson
When the great front door of the palace slammed shut, Princess Alix was locked in alone in the dark. Every noise in the sudden, total blackness seemed magnified: the rattle of the lock as its bolt shot home, the clank of the big brass key as it was withdrawn from the keyhole, the clop-clop sound of booted feet as they marched away on the outer side. When the footsteps had finally died away, the silence itself seemed oppressively loud.
Blind in the windowless chamber, the princess groped until her fingers found the wood of the door, then she turned and pressed her back to it. She took a deep breath and willed her heart to slow down again. It was only the great entrance hall, after all; she had crossed it numberless times. She considered her situation: the inner door was directly opposite and there were no longer furnishings to trip over. But how many steps were there to the other door? She didn’t know; she’d never needed to remember. She set out slowly, carefully, with one hand lifting the hem of her gown and the other hand held palm-forward in front of her.