No matter how hard I try, eating as a dragon is a messy business. It didn’t take me long to finish my breakfast, so I curled up to take a quick nap while enjoying my full belly. Aileene landed next to me and I smiled to myself as she settled against my back, draping her head and neck over my shoulder.
Happy? I asked.
Yes, she purred, I’ve got a full belly and I’m with you. Life is wonderful. After enjoying the silence and each other’s company for a few minutes, Aileene broke into my thoughts. Something’s troubling you, my mate, what is it?
I had a dream about the shifter battle last night but it was different than any dream I’ve had about it before.
How was it different? Aileene asked.
I told Aileene about my dream and we talked about how it had changed since the last time I had it.
Is that why you woke up so early?
I hummed in agreement.
What do you think it means? Aileene asked.
I’m not sure, but don’t feel like we have to do something about it today.
Good, she sent, because I want to take a nap.
I laughed at her response, agreed that it sounded like a superb idea, and dropped into cozy slumber with her.
Only an hour had passed since we fell asleep, but I knew it was time to return to the palace. I opened my eyes and took a few moments to appreciate the streaks of yellow, pink, orange and blue in the sky as the sun rose. On Earth, I hadn’t been an early riser but now could appreciate the simple beauty of a sunrise. Maybe it was the way I perceived colors as a dragon, but the streaks of sunlight seemed to shimmer and weave like ballroom dancers as they chased the darkness from the sky.
Contentment settled over me like a warm blanket as I heard Aileene’s deep breathing behind me and Shelley’s raucous snoring as he leaned against my side.
Okay, sleeping beauties, I sent, it’s time to head back.
I’m not sure if it was my sending or Shelley’s loud snore that woke him up, but he jumped to his feet, transformed into his bear, and bellowed a challenging roar.
Woah there, settle down Pooh, there’s no danger, I laughed.
Shelley wheeled on me with a wild look in his eyes.
Did you just call Shelley, poop? Aileene snickered.
No, Shelley exclaimed as I burst out laughing in the chuffing way I did while in dragon form. He called me, Pooh, as in Winnie the Pooh, who was a character in a book and a bunch of cartoons.
Yeah, I continued to chuckle, I would never call him poop, that’s just undignified for a Knight of the Realm.
So is calling me Pooh, Shelley grumped. Since Aileene is our witness, I challenge you to a royal butt-kicking this afternoon when we get a break from the council meeting.
I accept, what are the stakes? I queried.
The loser must do the winner’s laundry for a week, Shelley countered.
But, don’t the maids already take care of the laundry? Aileene asked.
Yes, but they’re willing to make exceptions whenever we make one of our bets, I explained. Sir Arktos, I accept your invitation to the royal butt-kicking this afternoon and will have my laundry piled outside the door of my bedroom for you to pick up before dinner. Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s head to the palace, we’ve got an exhausting day of meetings ahead of us.