The first time he heard it, he had the man killed.

The second time he heard it, he began to think hard.

The third time he heard it, he realized that it may actually be true.

The Dragon Prince had been dating the beautiful Princess Erottiq for a month, but people were talking. She was very open and friendly to the people in her father's kingdom, but she apparently was very attached to the stablemaster. Word around the Prince's domain was that she was having an affair. A friend's cousin's brother had personally seen her kissing the stablemaster.

Although the two kingdoms were at peace, there were some who felt the Prince should conquer the tame lands to the south. Rumors were started, tempers flared. The Prince assembled his ministers, and they all recommended force to restore his honor.

The horns of war sounded. Men kissed their wives as they set off for battle. The feared DragonKnights mounted their beasts, led by the Prince himself, and flew off toward the unsuspecting kingdom of his traitorous girlfriend.

When they arrived, no army opposed them. The DragonKnights flew to the castle proper and dismounted. The royal stables were down by the lower gates, and the Prince with his host strode to the front door.

In the doorway stood the beautiful Princess - kissing the stablemaster. The Prince stopped, confused, as he absorbed what he saw. The stablemaster was nearly eighty years old, bent over from many years of hard work. The princess' back was toward the invaders, and she said aloud, "Thank you so much, Uncle, for the lesson. My adoring Prince shall be proud of me when he learns that I have been taught the skill of Dragon riding."

She turned gaily, and stopped a foot from the Prince himself. She looked around, looked into his eyes and said, "I fear that you are planning an aerodynamic mythological coup. I pray this does not interfere with our dinner plans."

"No," he replied, his heart rejoicing at his bride to be. "You have taught me that a ruler must trust those he loves, and not those who would usurp his power." Turning to his men, he ordered them to assemble his ministers in the dungeon and to prepare for a wedding.

The southern kingdom did get conquered, but not by a coup.

Challenge by arcanamundi

Battered and weary, Indiana Jones crawled through the narrow, rubble-strewn passage that slanted deep below the Temple of Juno. Dust and grime clung thickly to him, making him look like a Greek statue come to life. In a vaulted section of the tunnel near a dark opening in the tunnel floor, he paused to catch his breath, and to let the faint sound of machinery overhead fade.

"I'm gettin' too old for this!" he muttered to himself. This was only marginally true, of course. Ever since his brush with the Holy Grail in Hatay, Indy had barely aged a day for every passing year. The Grail's power hadn't been supposed to work outside the great seal, but somehow it had.

Indy wasn't so sure he was happy about that. He hated the twenty-first century. The computers, the cellular phones, the society, and today in particular, the women. In his day, women had known their place. Sure, there'd been firebrands. That was how he liked them. But his competition on this particular job was like no woman he'd known in his extended lifetime. She'd been armed like a Nazi division, to start with. A bit of quick bullwhip work had disarmed her, and he had grown overconfident. He flashed his trademark smirk at her, and she'd responded with a combination of martial arts moves that had kicked the stuffing out of him in no time. Then she'd had the nerve to carry his semi-conscious body to her hotel room, tie him to a chair, and tell him she'd be back tomorrow, in time for dinner.

He shook his head, sending little cascades of dust running from his battered fedora. Well, she wasn't quite as clever as she seemed to think, and she hadn't beaten him yet. She was somewhere above, looking about the site with some high-technology sonic imaging machinery. If it was no better than the knots she'd used to tie him, it could surely be beaten. He'd taught those knots to her father, after all.

Her father was the link. Together they had seen an unusual inscription on an obscure Greek relic at the State Hermitage Museum in Leningrad -- now St. Petersburg. That city had its own scars from a long and painful life, he thought wryly. And when the latest remarkable findings from Crete had started a worldwide treasure hunt, Indy had put it together with that long-ago discovery and known just where to go. He'd expected no competition, until the woman had shown up.

Well, enough woolgathering. All was quiet. Her scanning equipment on the surface seemed to have moved off. Indy wedged the knotted tip of his bullwhip into a crack in the tunnel, and let himself down into the vertical slot. He should have about a five foot margin of error -- and yes, he'd touched stone with his heels. Indy let go of the whip handle. He pulled out a compact work light from his pack and flicked it on. Some twenty-first century tools had their uses.

The chamber was just as he had hoped -- level, dry, and free of bugs and other unpleasant fauna. He set the torch down and ran his hands over the plain stone container in the room's center. It was going to take some work to open it quietly, but he'd brought the tools for that. He concentrated, and before long he'd broken through the ages-old mortar and shifted the top. He drew in his breath.

There they were -- there could be no doubting it. The feathers, the wax, the sweep of the wingspan. Daedalus' wings. Not offered to Apollo after all, but hidden here.

Indy grinned. It remained to get them out past the woman, but he was confident he could do that. Worst case, he might be able to fly out with them. Yes, that would be almost poetic. In the dark of the Sicilian night, he could fly as high as he wanted, without risking the disaster that had befallen Icarus.

Then he heard the soft double click as the safeties were eased off of a pair of 9mm handguns. He turned slowly and looked his statuesque competitor in the eye. "Hello, Croft," he sighed.

"Doctor Jones!" she replied with a smile. "I fear that you are planning an aerodynamic mythological coup. I pray this does not interfere with our dinner plans."

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