Friday, April 16, 2021

The Queen of the Forest by Renee Gerald

 Raspberry hues kissed the horizon as the sun peered up over the mountains. Waterfalls lounged along the cliffs as the streams stretched upwards to the mouth of a cave, agape with a yawn. Emerging from her cave with a muffled groan, the Queen of the Forest opened an emerald encrusted eye lazily. Scales glittering like lost shards of glass in the sunlight, she stretched out her wings and greeted the day with a bellow. Pushing herself upwards, the dragon dove into the sky with grace, sketching along the clouds and the swirl of colours as the morning came to blanket her. All the other creatures could only look on in envy, her grace and beauty was only balanced out by her power.

Preparing herself for a landing, the dragon stretched out her claws and clung to the roof of a tall tower, that watched over the rest of the forest with only a window that would blink like an eye as the sun caught the glass. The creature let out a warm greeting as she craned her neck round to the window.

“Good morning, your majesty” the young woman beamed, pulling back the curtains and pressing a hand to the dragon’s snout. A warm gush of air enveloped the

woman’s face as the dragon exhaled in delight. The young woman was the princess from a nearby kingdom, who resided in the small tower among the creatures.

Rumours flew like arrows in the kingdom, any gossip or news was fired without caution and it ended up that many believed, the dragon had captured the princess. “Ugly brute.”

“I heard she eats babies!”

“That poor princess, she must feel so afraid.”

However, the princess wasn’t afraid, nor was she trapped. The tower was a safe haven, from the people who whispered about her, from the men who trailed after her like bloodhounds and from the heavy title of Princess, and from the even heavier title of Woman. The Queen of the Forest felt fondness for the princess, she stumbled into her life with no direction, yet it felt she belonged among her and the other creatures.

Spring graced the forest and winter chased after her, summer blazed the skies and autumn suffocated it with oranges and yellows. Days and months became years  and the dragons love for the princess continued to grow. Midnight hours were full of stories that the princess would read from old picture books, even if the dragon didn’t understand them entirely, hearing her voice was enough. Mornings were filled with their regular greeting, wandering around the forest and collecting various vegetables for supper. It is often believed that dragons guard their treasure. The Queen of the forest didn’t have any gold or gems, but the princess shone like a  fallen star, and that was more than enough.

A cold winter’s morning whispered through the sky. As the sun peered over the horizon, the hues of pink set fire to the sky and it  was  almost  as  though  the sunrise bled out onto the snow. A shadow  loomed over  the hills, as a figure made  its way to the forest. Crows cried with hoarse throats and the naked trees turned away in fear, ashamed of their figure as he entered the forest.

The sudden crash of a wooden door woke up the dragon, a scream piercing through  the air and shaking her awake. A crisp white horse stood proudly outside the tower    as a brute dragged the princess away from the castle. His hazel brown hair  twisted  and curled like vines, his smirk was worn in unearned confidence and his  shiny armour glinted like a knife in the winter sun. The princess continued to kick and scream as he hushed her, his lips becoming a rose and each kiss along  her  arm  a thorn. Ignited with rage, the dragon let out a  shrill  roar,  her  teeth  shards  of  ice ready to plunge into his flesh. The white winter  cloak  of  snow  that  covered  the forest became lit with venomous fire. Animals darted from their dens, birds flew up and found comfort in the sky as the Queen of the Forest had been infected with

fury, letting it burn its way through the forest like a plague.

Throwing the princess to the floor, the knight ripped a sword from his sheath and pointed it at the dragon, hollering like a wild dog. The dragon’s eyes were crimson, poisoned with blood, nostrils flared and claws curled she ran for the knight. Like a streak of white paint across a blood red canvas, the horse darted off into the distance as anger propelled the dragon further towards the man who had invaded her forest. Scrambling to her feet, the princess darted back into the tower, taking cover from the flames that licked the sky with a forked tongue.

It was almost like a dance, the dragon twirled around shooting flames at the knight     as he twisted in time with her, every now and then jabbing his sword at her. The shower of sparks rained down like confetti as a sudden wrong step, twisted the dragons movements. He finished with a twirl, penetrating her heart with the sword. The Queen of the forest shrieked, as he pulled out the sword, ribbons of blood decorated the snow. The angry fire consumed the forest, the naked trees had been ravaged by the curling flames and  the  sky  was  scribbled  out  by  the  charcoal smoke.

The knight sprinted off, despite all his destruction; he only became an echo, never to answer to his crimes. The Queen of the forest lay in her blood, her emerald encrusted eye flickering faintly as the princess approached with a tear stained face. She pressed her hand gently to the dragon’s snout, words tangled in her chest as she sobbed. The princess placed a gentle kiss on the dragon’s snout. A sudden burning light of gold embraced them both, stars spiralling from them and bursts of silver piercing the sky. In the dragons place, lay a young woman, wearing an emerald dress and had ginger hair the curled out from her face like the flames of a winter sun. As the fire began to dim, the trees turned back towards the two women and the sky spluttered out its blue, clearing its way of the smoke. The two women embraced each other in a hug and kiss, and despite the damage, from the monster who rode on the white horse, they knew they would be ok.

© Renee Gerald

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