(c) Isabo Kelly
"There's a princess asleep two kingdoms over."
"So...it's a spelled sleep."
"And we should go try to wake her up."
"What?" Kaxem turned his large head toward the blue
dragon loafing around the center of his cave.
"You know like in the story--with a kiss maybe."
"Why in the two worlds would we want to do that?" He
looked back at his book, tracing a talon down the table of contents.
"I don't know. Cause it's something to do."
"'Cause it's something to do.' Rebop, what is that suppose
to mean?" Kaxem looked up from the book to scowl at his oldest
and most annoying friend.
Rebop shrugged, a gesture that moved one wing dangerously close
to a pile of Kaxem's books. "Do you have anything else to
Kaxem rolled his eyes and turned his back to the lolling Rebop.
Shaking his head, Kaxem placed his book on a nearby stack and
picked up a new one. His cliff cave was filled with these pillars
of books--and very little else.
"So shall we go, Red?" Rebop poked at Kaxem's wing
"Stop that," Kaxem slapped Rebop's talon away. "And
don't call me Red. Where are we going?"
"To Polsidia, the princess, remember?!"
Kaxem looked up from the spell book he'd picked up. "Now,
explain to me again why we would want to wake up this princess?"
"Well... Maybe there's a reward."
"We don't need a reward. What does the princess look like?"
"I don't know for sure. I mean I've never seen her, but
I've heard she's around 5'4", blond hair, green eyes..."
"Wait a minute, you mean she's an elf?"
"No," Rebop said through the side of his mouth.
"Wrong color hair for a pixie." Kaxem's brow ridges
lowered over his large purple eyes. "Is she a fairy?"
"No. She's a human."
"HUMAN!" Kaxem dropped his book. "Are you serious?
Wake up a human? Kiss a human? Do you know what kind of germs
it could have? Yuck. Besides, what would you do with a human princess
once you woke her up--provided you could even wake her up."
"What was the first question?"
"Are you serious?"
"Well... Maybe she's a dragon bespelled by an evil witch--like
that frog prince in Dovenshire, remember--and a kiss will turn
her back into a dragon."
Kaxem's brow ridges knitted together in the dragon equivalent
of a scowl. "I thought the kiss was suppose to wake her up."
"Well, that too." Rebop picked up the forgotten spell
book and placed it on the top of a perilously tall stack. "Say,"
he said plucking a book from the middle of a stack that Kaxem
only barely kept from toppling, "can I borrow this one?"
"Sure." Kaxem re-balanced the stack. "Now could
you please explain to me why anyone would turn a dragon into a
human, then put her to sleep?"
"Well, maybe an evil witch turned her into a human. Then
her fairy godmother put her to sleep so she wouldn't have to suffer
the torture of being human."
"That's absurd. Where did you hear about all this anyway?"
Rebop scratched the top of his head, carefully removing several
loose blue scales. "Well, I heard it from Tarsina who heard
it directly from Melina who's just returned from Polsidia."
"Melina! Melina is old and crazy!"
"Just because her horn curves at the end, doesn't mean she's
crazy. Your horns curve in, Red, and that doesn't make you crazy."
"I'm not a unicorn, Rebop. And don't call me 'Red'. You
know perfectly well my scales are burnt sienna, not red. Furthermore,
I'm not flying half the day to wake up a human/dragon princess
that may or may not be there because Tarlina heard a story from
a crazy unicorn!"
"It was Tarsina, not Tarlina."
"I don't care! I'm not going!" Kaxem turned abruptly,
knocking over two stacks of books with his tail, and walked out
to the ledge in front of his cave.
Rebop followed close behind, scratching his head with the tip
of his tail. "She might have a library." Rebop took
up a perch next to Kaxem on the ledge and began scratching the
scales on his forearm.
"Are you shedding again?" Kaxem asked without looking
"Yes. So what do you think?"
"I think humans never have really good libraries."
Kaxem extended his wings, soaking up the early rays of the sun.
A shadow crossed over the green valley below, slowly making way
for the morning light. Several dragons were already at the stream,
wading in for their morning baths.
"Come on," Rebop pleaded. "Just this one last
"Oh don't beg, Rebop. All right! I'll go. But I'll be willing
to bet we don't find anything."
Rebop simply grinned a grin only a fellow dragon could appreciate,
and launched himself into the air leaving a pile of blue scales
behind. Kaxem outwardly resigned himself to the situation with
a sigh, then more enthusiastically than he wanted to admit, jumped
off the ledge and caught a thermal upward to join his hovering
"Ready," Rebop said smugly.
"No," Kaxem replied. "Let's go." They turned
west and started toward Polsidia.
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"Would ya look at that line," Kaxem whistled.
"I told you there was something going on." Rebop pumped
his wings once in triumph. Below the circling dragons, stood a
multi-turreted castle on a hill. Noon day sunlight sparkled on
it's white stone walls. Bright yellow flags snapped and sputtered
from the highest spires. From the main entrance, across the drawbridge,
down and around the hill, and into the forest, stretched a line
of creatures ranging from the lowliest gnome to the highest ranking
elf, from shining knights to common farmers, from ogres and trolls
to fairies and pixies, each awaiting their chance to wake the
"Rebop," Kaxem looked skeptically at the crowd, "that
line is not moving very fast. We could be here for a month."
"In all honesty Kaxem, I thought there would be a weeding
out process--you know--like a challenge of some sort. Then, only
the ones that passed had a chance to wake up the princess."
"Well, maybe we had better ask one of those people. Perhaps
there is a challenge and these are the ones that passed."
"Awfully easy challenge, then." Rebop mumbled as the
two friends began their descent.
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"Pardon me," Rebop tapped the leprechaun on the shoulder.
"What?" The leprechaun turned, looked up, and took
two steps back. "Well!" he huffed indignantly, straightening
his purple cap. "And what would you be doing here, dragon?"
"Well you don't have to be rude," Rebop bristled.
"And you should have announced yer mass before sneaking
up on a leprechaun like that."
"Mass! What do you mean calling me Mass?"
"Rebop," Kaxem placed a restraining claw on his friends
forearm, "he just meant your size."
"So what brings yer kind to this event?" The leprechaun
continued to glare at Rebop while he straightened his green tunic
and made a show of brushing dirt from the sleeve.
"Is this the line to wake up the princess?" Kaxem asked
trying a smile which only started the leprechaun shuddering.
"Aye, yer in the right line. And at the right end I might
add. Pretty quick for dragons, aren't you?"
Kaxem took a soothing breath. Rebop returned the leprechaun's
glare. "I don't like the little fellow much, Kaxem. What
say I step on him. Then we'd be one up in line."
The leprechaun blanched, took another step backward and bumped
into the troll standing next up in line. "Watch it, dwarf,"
the troll growled, then turned forward again to continue his quiet
waiting. The leprechaun stepped away from the troll, finding it
healthier not to point out the troll's mistake. Looking back at
the dragons, he saw the toothy smile they exchanged. Huffing to
himself in quiet, offended mumbles, he turned his back on the
dragons and faced the back of the troll's over large thigh.
"I've never met such a rude leprechaun, Kaxem. Do you think
he could have passed the test to get in to see the princess?"
"I don't know, Rebop. Maybe this line leads to the test,
then from there those who pass go on to see the princess."
"Awfully complicated," Rebop said.
"Or maybe the line is the test." Rebop and Kaxem both
turned to see the human woman that had walked up behind them unnoticed.
Her long red hair hung in two plaits one over each shoulder of
her green leather tunic. Green eyes blinked in a white heart-shaped
"Now there's an interesting notion." Kaxem scratched
his jaw. "I've never read of anything like that before."
"It's just a thought." The red haired woman shrugged.
"I don't really know for sure one way or the other. By the
way, my name is Gretta."
"I'm Kaxem, and this is my friend Rebop."
"Rebop. That's a strange name for a dragon."
"I was named after my mother's grandfather," Rebop
answered pleasantly. He got that question a lot.
"Well, it's nice to meet you both," Gretta said, nodding
"Rebop," Kaxem said, "I never knew you were named
after your great-grandfather. I just thought your mom was a little
"Oh, no. She was just very fond of her grandfather. Gretta,
what brings you to this line? Are you going to try waking up the
"Actually, I'm just a sort of pack mule. I've brought a
prospective with me from over the mountains." She turned
to show the black leather backpack she wore.
"What do you have in there, some sort of trick to wake the
princess?" Rebop poked the backpack with one sharp talon.
"Watch that poking!" a muffled shout came from the
pack and a small head appeared from the top. The little man had
long brown hair and a brown beard that disappeared down into the
pack. He scowled up at the blue scaled face that loomed in front
of his. "Do you mind, you oaf?"
"What in the two worlds is that?" Rebop asked the woman.
"I can very well answer for myself you oversized lizard.
I am Gerald O'Gram, dwarf of the Octimom Mount."
"He's going to try waking up the princess," Gretta
"You are exceptionally good at saying the obvious,"
"Why on the two worlds would a dwarf want to wake up a human
princess?" Kaxem asked of no one in particular.
"Same reason as all the rest of you grubbers. The reward!
Gold beyond even a dwarf's dreams."
"That's a lot of gold," Rebop added helpfully.
"Are you sure about this reward," Kaxem asked.
"Of course, you giant tomato. Why else would anyone travel
all the way to Polsidia to wake up a human?"
"I am not red," Kaxem pouted. "I'm burnt sienna."
"You're a fool like the rest of these grubbers. None of
you stand a chance of wakin' that girl," Gerald shouted.
Those hopefuls within hearing range grumbled rude replies, then
returned to their silent waiting.
"Do you know the secret to waking the princess up?"
Rebop asked with genuine interest.
"Oh don't pay too much attention to him," Gretta piped
in pleasantly. "He talks big, but he doesn't know any more
than the rest."
"Gretta, would you kindly keep your overworked mouth shut!"
the dwarf shouted.
"Oh hush up, you old grouch. I may have to carry you around,
but I don't have to put up with your oversized ego or your surly
"Humph!" Gerald grunted, turning his back as best he
could on Gretta and the two dragons. Gretta smiled then looked
back at Rebop.
"Gretta," Rebop asked, "why do you have to carry
"I lost a bet." She shrugged. "Do you have any
ideas about waking up the princess?"
"Well, I thought maybe a kiss would work."
"Possibly. But wouldn't you need lips?" She looked
pointedly at the two dragon's large, teeth filled, lipless mouths.
Kaxem and Rebop looked at each other, then back at the woman.
"I forgot about lips," Rebop said with a shrug.
"That's okay. I mean, everyone has probably already thought
about a kiss anyway. Everything nowadays is cured with a kiss.
I can't imagine this line would still be this long if all it took
was a kiss to wake her."
"Maybe the kiss has to come from someone specific,"
Kaxem piped in. The circumstances were not much to his liking,
but Kaxem could never resist a theoretical discussion.
"Perhaps the answer's in this book," Rebop said, presenting
a book for the group to see.
"'102 Ways to Wake Up a Sleep Spelled Princess'," Gretta
read the title.
"Where'd you get that?" Kaxem gaped at his friend.
"From your stacks. It's the book I asked to borrow, remember?"
"Oh, yes, of course. I'd forgotten about that. You know,
I didn't realize I had a book titled '102 Ways to Wake Up a Sleep
"Maybe you should start keeping a list of all the books
"I'll consider that when we get home. In the mean time,
I say we look over the 102 ways to wake up a princess and see
if one way applies to our situation."
"But how do we know which will apply to our situation, when
we're not exactly sure what 'our' situation is?" Gretta wrinkled
her brow and curled one side of her mouth up.
"You're right, of course," Kaxem said. "First,
we must assess exactly what our situation is. Now, what facts
do we have?"
"Well, we know there's a princess," Rebop said.
"And we know she's asleep," Gretta added.
"Brilliant!" Gerald exclaimed. "With so much intellect
at work, you'll have the problem solved any minute now."
Everyone choose to ignore the dwarf.
"We're also pretty sure she's a human princess," Kaxem
continued as if Gerald hadn't spoken. "That should narrow
things a bit. How is the book arranged, Rebop?"
"Well, there are individual sections, but they're divided
by spell casters not castees. We have to know who put the princess
"That's easy." Gretta brightened. "Don't you fellas
keep up with your history. The Polsidian Royal Family has been
plagued by the same evil witch for the past two centuries. Every
couple of decades or so, someone in the Royal Family manages to
insult the witch, and she doles out some spell or other as punishment.
One story claims she sent thousands of warty toads to over run
the castle." Gretta shuddered. She did not like toads at
"Now you're sure the spell caster is an evil witch and not
a fairy or sprite or something, right?" Kaxem asked.
"Positive. She's definitely an evil witch."
"Let me see," Rebop ran his talon down the books table
of content, "evil witch, evil witch... Ah! Here we are- 'Evil
Witch.' 'Poisoned Apple, Pricked Finger, Scented Rose'...."
Rebop read the subsections.
"To bad there's not a general spell for waking a human sleep
spelled princess," Kaxem said.
"'General Spell for Waking a Human Sleep Spelled Princess',"
"Marvelous, Rebop. That makes this a lot simpler."
"Okay, page 264." Rebop began flipping pages.
"'Page 264'!" Gretta exclaimed. "But there are
only 102 spells in that book. Why so many pages?"
"Oh, well, there's a lot of background information. See,
this chapter begins with a short description of 'Evil Witch',
then goes on to discuss possible motivations, psychology, variations,
mistakes, etc..." Rebop held the book up for Gretta to see.
"Each spell may take up more than one page also," Kaxem
chimed in. He simply loved spells.
"So what does the 'General Spell for Waking a Human Sleep
Spelled Princess' have to say," Gretta asked.
"Yes, how does it work?" Gerald said, suddenly very
"Hold on, now." Rebop pulled the book back against
his chest. "Why should we share this with you, dwarf? I mean
if there is a reward you might try to cheat us out of it."
"The book is mine, after all." Kaxem took a half step
toward the dwarf.
"Now just hold on." Gerald held up his little hands
to ward off the glares of the two dragons. "What would you
two say to a deal? We could share what's in the book and then
split the reward."
"And why would we want to do that? The book is ours. We
could have the whole reward." Rebop smiled at his own cunning.
"Yes, but then you would be waiting in this line all day
and probably well into tomorrow." The dwarf grinned and paused
for effect. "I have a way for all of us to get to the front
of this line in a snap."
Rebop and Kaxem exchanged looks before Rebop said, "That
doesn't sound fair to the rest of these folks who've been waiting
in line for what I can only assume has been a long time."
"How do we know the line's not just an illusion?" the
dwarf asked through a knowing grin, his bushy brown eyebrows disappearing
into his hair line.
"The challenge..." Gretta whispered all their thoughts.
"Can you tell if the line is an illusion before you move
us to the front?" Kaxem asked. He could just remember reading
something on this topic very recently.
"That's all part of it, dragon," Gerald shouted, bouncing
a bit in the backpack.
"I don't understand," Rebop rumbled, scratching blue
scales from his jaw.
"Simply put, the spell I have will only move us to the front
of the line if the line is an illusion. Otherwise, nothing happens."
"What do you think, Kaxem?" Rebop asked.
"I think I believe the dwarf, Rebop."
Gerald's smile actually managed to get bigger.
"But I don't trust him."
Gerald's smile turned down.
"You're right about my obnoxious little burden here,"
Gretta said. "But for a deal to be struck you must try to
trust each other a little bit. Otherwise, we are at an impasse.
If you dragons give the spell first, Gerald could move only himself
and wake up the princess before you could catch him. But if Gerald
moves us first, you could still refuse him the spell."
"Thank you for that insightful analysis, Gretta," Gerald
said dryly. Everyone ignored him.
"I have an idea," Rebop said. "What if we gave
Gerald most of the spell, all but the last line, then he moves
us all, then we go to the princess together and finish the spell
"You're requiring that I trust you overgrown lizards quite
a lot," Gerald huffed. "What good does half a spell
do me? You could still refuse me the rest once we move."
"If we give our word of honor..." Kaxem began.
"Bah!" Gerald shouted.
"If we left out only two words?" Rebop ventured.
"Ah! Now that I might be willing to go along with."
Gerald pulled at his beard.
"Is it a deal then?" Gretta asked.
Both dragons and dwarf nodded in unison.
"Rebop, let me read the spell," Kaxem said. "I'll
know which two words to leave out." Rebop handed Kaxem the
book. Kaxem read:
"Through trails and tricks I've come, this princess to wake.
With magical words, her eyes will I open. Levan nock tura newara
_______ pake. Tu ora lo ________ emena havake."
"You read that wonderfully, Kaxem," Rebop complimented.
"Thank you, Rebop."
"Well, you picked two perfect words, dragon. That spell
will fall flat if the wrong words are used," Gerald grumbled
"If the right combinations of wrong words are used, that
spell could be dangerous," Gretta commented.
"Your turn, dwarf," Kaxem said.
"All right, then. Let me down, girl," Gerald ordered.
With his feet finally on the ground, the dwarf began to chant
so low and in such a strange tongue, that neither of the dragons
could understand. So intently were they all watching the dwarf,
that no one noticed the subtle changes going on around them. When
Gerald finished his chant, the dragons looked up to discover they
were standing at the foot of the drawbridge to the castle. The
line had disappeared.
"That was very good," Rebop said to the dwarf.
"I was expecting a sensation of some sort," Kaxem said,
"but I didn't feel a thing." Both dragons looked at
each other with gaping mouths.
"Shall we go find the princess?" Gretta smiled and
gestured toward the castle's open portcullis.
They walked over the drawbridge, through the gates and into the
courtyard of the castle. "Where do you suppose she is, Kaxem,"
"I don't know, Rebop. It's awfully big, isn't it."
"I would guess she's in the top room of the tower,"
Gretta suggested quietly, pointing to the castle's central tower.
"That's quite a climb. Do you suppose we'll fit in that
room?" Rebop whispered to Kaxem.
"Oh, I should think so, Rebop," Kaxem whispered back.
"That's a very large tower."
"And I'm sure they've made allowances for dragons,"
Gretta whispered to both dragons.
"Why are you fools whispering!" Gerald bellowed.
"Shhhh," Rebop chided the dwarf. "The princess
"I know she's sleeping you giant blue frimpet. That's why
we're here. TO WAKE HER UP!"
"Oh. Yes. Sorry."
"Gerald, can that spell of yours get us into that room?"
"Nope. Won't work like that."
"Can't you dragons fly us all up to the window?" Gretta
Kaxem looked up at the large window at the top of the tower and
nodded. "I think Rebop and I can fit through that window,
but lifting off from the courtyard will be too hard."
"Right, then," Rebop said. "Back out over the
The small group followed Rebop to a clearing just the other side
of the drawbridge. Gretta helped Gerald back into the backpack,
then Rebop gave them both a gentle lift up to Kaxem's neck.
"Hold tight now," Kaxem warned. "Lift off can
be a bit jerky."
The two dragon's pumped their powerful wings and took to the
air. They circled once to fix the position of the tower window
and to make sure it was big enough for dragons. It was. They glided
through the window and came to an abrupt stop inside the towers
top room. The large chamber was empty but for a small bed against
the wall opposite the window. On the bed lay a small, blond, human
"She's sort of pretty for a human," Rebop commented
as he helped Gretta and Gerald off of Kaxem's neck.
"Bah! She's human. They're all pretty ugly," Gerald
said. Gretta set the pack down and let the dwarf out again.
"Gretta's human, though, and she's not ugly," Rebop
Gerald snorted. Gretta simply shrugged and said, "I'm not
really human, Rebop. It's actually quite a long story. I'll tell
you all about it sometime."
"Okay," Rebop agreed with a nod.
The group crept quietly to the princess' bed. "Who should
recite the spell," Gerald asked, whispering.
"I say we let Kaxem," Rebop said, quietly. "He
read it so beautifully the first time."
"Thank you, Rebop. Gerald, do you agree that I read the
"Now, we're all of the same mind here, right? We are all
to split the reward if we wake her?" Gerald looked at the
other three closely.
"Of course," Kaxem agreed.
"Fine then, dragon. Read away."
"Rebop, does the spell require any preparation or set up,
any special hand gestures," Kaxem asked.
Rebop opened the book, scanned the introductory passage. "None,
Kaxem. Since it's a 'general' spell, it simply has to be recited
in the presence of the princess."
"Well then, hand me the book and we'll get this little adventure
over with at last." Kaxem looked at the spell, then raised
his head and solemnly recited the complete passage to the sleeping
human. "Through trails and tricks I've come, this princess
to wake. With magical words, her eyes will I open. Levan nock
tura newara meck pake. Tu ora lo hotra emena havake."
"Has it worked?" Gerald crowded close to the princess'
bed and stood on his toes to see the girl's face. "Is she
All four watched breathless as first the princess' eyes fluttered
then opened. She blinked several times, turned to look at her
saviors, and said, "You've come. I knew I could get all of
you together." The four would-be heroes stared at the girl.
Gretta was the first to recover. "You mean you were expecting
us the whole time," she asked.
"Well, not you specifically. The diviner was only able to
predict that there should be two dragons, a dwarf, and a pixie."
"Pixie!" Kaxem and Rebop exclaimed in unison.
"I told you I wasn't really human," Gretta shrugged.
"That was part of the problem," the princess interjected.
"I was sure that I could get two dragons and a dwarf to cooperate
given the proper circumstances, but I was very worried about a
pixie getting involved. Especially with a dwarf."
"Hazards of gambling," Gretta said through a crooked
"As it stands, you four did find each other and managed
to cooperate enough to get here and awaken me. That was no small
feat. Fegil will be so pleased."
"Hold on a bloomin' minute," Gerald shouted, throwing
his short arms into the air. "Is there a reward or not? Who's
this Fegil? Why a dwarf, two dragons and a pixie? What the blazes
is going on here, princess!?!"
"Fegil is the diviner who foresaw your coming. But the sleeping
princess part was my idea. Say, how long was I asleep anyway?"
"About three weeks," Rebop provided.
"That's all? Well I could swear it was longer. Anyway..."
"I still don't get it," Gerald complained.
"It's simple, sir. You ask of a reward. Your reward is to
receive your hearts' desire. Adventure."
"Adventure?" all four said at once.
"My heart's desire is gold," Gerald said under his
"Adventure, friends. Each of you has been craving adventure
for most of your lives. My kingdom requires the help of brave
individuals like yourselves. Fegil looked to the spirit world
to find our hope and saw you four. And now you are here at last,
despite all misgivings, and you've proven yourselves more than
worthy of the tasks that lie ahead. Destiny guides us. You four
have been chosen by fate to accompany me into history. From this
day on you will live the lives you have always craved. Get ready,
my new friends, for you are about to begin the greatest adventures
of your life times!"
The stunned silence lasted for a full minute. Then Gerald said,
"I'd rather have the gold."
"Yeah," Rebop said, scratching at a loose scale. "I
think I'd rather just have the gold too."
"What do you mean?" the princess asked wide eyed. "There
is no gold. You're supposed to want adventure."
Kaxem looked at Rebop and raised his brow ridges. Rebop shrugged
and covertly twirled a clawed finger around his temple, then looked
back at the princess. "Sorry, princess, but I don't think
we'll take the adventure."
"Are you sure there's no gold," Gerald asked pleadingly.
"What gold!?!" the princess shouted.
"Such a rude princess," Gretta commented dryly.
"Rebop, we'd better be going," Kaxem said nodding toward
the window. The princess threw her legs over the edge of the bed,
looking frantically at her four would-be heroes.
"It was very nice to meet you, princess," Rebop said.
Gretta helped Gerald back into the pack, mumbling, "I've
got to give up gambling with dwarves." Rebop once again helped
them both onto Kaxem's neck.
The princess, now on her feet, frantically waved her arms and
yelled "Wait! Wait!"
As the two dragons leapt from the tower window, Kaxem said, "Rebop,
why was your great-grandfather named Rebop?"
"He wasn't," Rebop said. "He was named Bop.
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