Vincent, Defender of Dragons

The younger prince of Hesperon sat astride his father's charger at the edge of the kingdom and gazed out over the Northern Wastes. He was young, too young for the armor he wore, too young for the lance that stood at his side like a small tree. Too young, as anyone would say, to be alone on horseback at the edge of the kingdom, but who would stop a prince? Surely not the King and Queen, who were too busy grooming his older brother to be the next king to worry about what their youngest son, Vincent, did with his afternoons.

So each afternoon, when his lessons were over, he would go to the royal stables and borrow Quicksilver, his father's fastest charger. He would equip himself from the royal armory, so that he would be ready for anything that would threaten the kingdom. And each day for the past year he had come to the edge of the Wastes to make sure the kingdom was safe. Each day he would strain his eyes watching the horizon, swinging his sword at tree branches, jousting with imaginary opponents, remembering his lessons in History and Battles and Strategy. He was keeping in shape so he could defend the kingdom, should an attack come on his watch. After all, there was nothing else for the youngest son of a king to do. Nothing.

And on this day, as he sat there astride Quicksilver, wondering whether he should practice jousting or fencing first, Something did come.

At first he didn't even notice Its approach, intent as he was on his practice, but when Quicksilver gave a nervous snort he looked up to see What was coming.

It wasn't a Barbarian horde. It wasn't a Plague of Locusts. It wasn't even a Fire, or a Flood, or an Evil Djinn.

It was a Dragon.

As the prince watched, stunned, the Beast came galloping over the plain, great gouts of steam billowing out of Its nostrils. It was still too far away to see clearly, but Vincent was sure it was an Evil Dragon, bent on Destruction and Mayhem. Most assuredly it was out to Eat Damsels and Hoard Gold, for this is what Vincent knew Dragons did.

"Help me," came a distant cry from across the plains, and Vincent scrunched up his eyes to see if maybe the Dragon had a Damsel crying her Distress clutched in its jaws. He couldn't tell for sure, because the Dragon was still so far away, but he thought maybe there was.

"I'm coming!" he yelled, and, seizing up his father's lance, he urged Quicksilver into a gallop toward the approaching Dragon. "I'll save you!"