Una wakes up imprisoned. Another scene that remained very similar to the way I originally wrote it. Most of the scenes between Una and the Dragon worked really well the first time around because they were so clear in my mind. And I could really picture how it would be to wake up in this new, horrible, ash-covered world that was once home. What a nightmare!
But this time, it is no nightmare. The Dragon is real. The Dragon is present.
Under the bed. I really believe this moment when Una wakes up and finds herself under her bed. When I thought through how it must be for her, following the Dragon's revelation of his horrible, three-story form, this just made sense! She shut the door on the Dragon and fled back to her own rooms. Somehow, we always think our own rooms will be "safe." But even there, her windows look out upon destruction, and I'm sure her ears are ringing with the sounds of fire and fear.
So the poor princess, her lungs full of dragon smoke, her heart pounding with terror, crawled under her own bed and curled up there in a shivering ball. All alone.
Silence. After the cacophony of the night before, the silence of Oriana Palace must be so horrifying, so jarring. So full of the threat of the Dragon . . . This scene really makes me shudder, reading it now.
Panic. All right, maybe "real" heroines of modern stories don't have panic attacks. But I do think this is an honest reaction. And if there is one thing I strive for in the midst of my outlandish fairy tales and fantasies, it is a sense of underlying honesty. I want the emotions to be real. Not "fictionalized" emotions, the types of feelings and reactions we only see in fictional characters. Real people know real fear.
And a young girl, no more than eighteen years old, who has lived a sheltered, comfortable sort of life without ever a threat of danger, suddenly finding herself alone in her own house, uncertain of her family's fate, held captive by an evil more enormous than all nightmares can conjure . . . well, I think she would panic. I think she would lose what little self-control remains and give in to hysterics, if only for a moment.
But she doesn't stay there. She does eventually pull herself together and go seeking answers. Maybe she doesn't grab a sword and try to go get herself fried by a foe far too great. But Una does demonstrate some honest heroism even so.
The Duke and the Dragon. This scene between Duke Shippening and the Dragon was added into a later draft, probably about draft three. For the first two drafts, I really didn't bring Duke Shippening back into the story. But I really liked his odiousness and thought it would be fun to let him play a larger role. So here he is!
We learn in this scene that the duke is allied with the Dragon . . . and has been for quite some time! We'll learn a little more about that in Veiled Rose. But in this novel, we know at least the Dragon has made the duke some pretty promises, including Una for a wife.
Promises I really don't think the Dragon has any intention whatsoever of keeping . .
"She's not ready." When the duke demands that the Dragon hand Una over to him as promised, the Dragon makes this cryptic remark, "She's not ready yet." To which, of course, the duke responds, "What's she got to be ready for?"
But we know, that this is foreshadowing of what's to come for Una. The Dragon is biding his time. He knows that soon enough she will be completely his. But not yet. Not just yet.
The cringing Prince of Southlands. Here, for the first time in several chapters, we hear rumor of Lionheart. From the very mouth of the Dragon!
One of my own. The Dragon promises to help hunt down Prince Felix and King Fidel, sending one of his own. So the way is paved for yet another dragon to come on the scene!
He will come. Una, relieved to know that her family is alive, tells herself again and again that Prince Lionheart will come to save her. Though, yet again, I wonder if a small part of her might not mean Aethelbald when she thinks this. After all, she only says he will come, not Leonard will come. I think there is a subconscious trust in the Prince of Farthestshore, deep down in her heart.
But she must find out what happened to her jester.
Una speaks to the Dragon. Yet again, in light of the horror that is the Dragon, I think Una demonstrates surprising courage when she rushes out and demands word of her jester-prince. She's as weak as a mouse in the Dragon's presence, and his poisons must wreck havoc on her senses. And yet she faces him, despite her terror, and demands answers to her questions. She has some spunk, does our princess of Parumvir!
Your jester is dead. In a weird, twisted sort of way, the Dragon speaks the truth. The jester Una loved is no more. He's been swallowed up in the prince Lionheart has been forced to become. In the choices he has made, the path he has elected to follow. There is no room for a jester upon the throne of a prince.
And the prince has chosen another bride . . .
My Personal Favorite Lines:
"I will send one of my own to help you in your task."
"Swear it!" the duke demanded.
The Dragon showed his fangs in an awful smile. "By the fire in the very marrow of my bones." (p. 189)
He regarded her through red slits of pupils. "See what a well-trained puppy I am, coming at your call?" (p. 190)
"You killed him!"
"I? No, not I," the Dragon said. "No, Prince Lionheart killed your jester." (p. 191)
Questions on the Text
1. So, time to use your imagine. Picture yourself in Una's place. When the Dragon had imprisoned you, and you'd shut the door of Oriana Palace, what would you have done next? How similar would your actions have been to Una's? How dissimilar?
2. When you first heard the Dragon mention Lionheart, did you think the prince was dead? Or did you guess at another possible answer?
3. Favorite lines?