Prompt: The moment the king set the crown on her head, the ancient statue crumbled. Written 21 February 2021

An hour before her coronation, Princess Senka sat cross-legged on the floor, trying to do magic. Eyes closed, she tried to reach out and feel for the magic she knew must be around her.

When her concentration broke, she stood up and reached for the book she kept hidden in her desk. It was old and worn, and many of the pages were written in a language she didn’t recognize. One she could read, however, was labeled as a Spell of Awakening. Sure she could use it to wake some latent magic in her, she sat back down and chanted the spell until a group of servants bustled in to get her dressed.

Her old nanny picked up the book and tutted at her. “My lady, we’ve gone over this. The royal family-“

“Has no gift for magic.” Senka finished. “I know. But it’s still fascinating.”

“You will have far more to focus on once you’re crowned, my lady.” her nanny insisted as the others bustled around them, lacing her dress and pinning her hair.

“Do you not think magic would be a useful tool for a monarch?” she pointed out. “To be able to detect lies, or sense danger.”

“That is what the Mages are for, Princess.” the nanny argued.

“And how do I know I can trust them?” she asked. Before the older woman could retort, she raised a hand, “I know, I know they’ve sworn an oath, but you must see how much simpler it would be to have my own magic.”

“But you don’t have magic, Princess. That’s all I’m saying. You don’t have the time to waste on impossible hypotheticals.”

Senka did not continue the argument. Her nanny was right, of course. She had many duties to focus on once she was crowned, so Senka allowed them to dress her without another word.

When the time came for her coronation, she walked down the halls of the palace, now covered in arrangements of snapdragons and tulips. Music swelled as she was escorted down the aisle, stopping before the enormous stone tree twisting behind the throne.

It happened the moment the crown touched her head. The great statue crumbled, and the roof above went with it. A rush of wind and a chorus of startled yells, and suddenly in front of her stood a great black dragon, snarling at the crowd around him. “Who has done this?” the great beast roared. “Who performed the Awakening?”

Worried murmurs passed through the audience, and Senka inhaled deeply before stepping in front of the dragon. “It was I, Great One. I performed the spell.”

An expression of curiosity came over the dragon. “Why did you do this, little queen?”

Senka fought the urge to lower her head in shame. “I wished to awaken my own magic, Great One. I did not understand the spell.”

The dragon scoffed. “You rule a kingdom infested with magicians and yet you desire more power? Why?”

She stiffened. This great being would not even blink at the arguments she’d raised wit her nanny. “I wish to be a just and capable ruler. To wield magic would be to better understand my subjects who do so.”

“A diplomatic answer.” the dragon replied. “But not, I think, a true one.” The creature raised a claw to its neck and plucked a single, inky scale. “Use this, little queen, and show me what you would do with your magic.”

She took the scale, and the magic took form the moment she thought it. The rubble of the stone tree and palace ceiling flew up and knit itself together into a life sized copy of the dragon, curled above the throne. The hole in the ceiling remained.

The dragon laughed. “Flatterer. I will come to check on your rule. Keep the scale, and use wisely its power. And should you choose to call me again, simply speak to it and I will come.”

As suddenly as it had arrived, the dragon was gone. But the story of the queen who faced a dragon and earned its favor spread like fire and lasted for centuries afterwards.

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