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Story Time

Laura Anne Gilman is the Nebula- and Endeavor-award nominated author of two novels of the Devil's West, Silver on the Road and The Cold Eye, and the short story collection Darkly Human, as well as the long-running Cosa Nostradamus urban fantasy multi-series (Retrievers, PSI, and Sylvan Investigations), and the "Vineart War" epic fantasy trilogy.

Under the name L.A. Kornetsky, she also wrote the Seattle-based "Gin & Tonic" mysteries.

A former New Yorker, she currently lives outside of Seattle, WA with two cats and many deadlines. More information and updates can be found at lauraannegilman.net, or follow her on Twitter: @LAGilman.

"There was a prince who lived in a broken-down castle n a broken-down land. He had no great treasures, no great armies, no great love to save him, and neither did his land, and he cursed the skies and the streams each day, that had cast him to be born to this life, to be born to the poverty."
"How could he be a prince, if he was poor?"
"Running a country is very expensive."
"Didn't he have a fairy godmother or a dragon to bring him money?"
"He did not."
"He needs a dragon."
"Does he, now?"
"He needs a dragon, and a love. Because you can't just have money. You gotta have love, too."
"You are very wise for one so very young."
The youngling made a face, nose scrunched up.
"Tell me more about the poor prince."
"The prince did not wish to be a prince. It may be that he wished to be a dragon himself, to spread great wings and fly off, to bring back treasures, and perhaps a fair maiden who might come to love him."
"Or eat."
"Or eat. Although that would only stave off his hunger for a little while."
"But he wasn't a dragon? Not even a little bit?"
"Not even a little bit."
"So what happened? To the prince."
"Nothing happened. He stayed where he was, and cursed the skies and streams, and did the best he could. He fought off famine and foes, spread himself as thin as he could. But it wasn't enough. And slowly, his people starved, and died."
"That's not a story!"
"It's not?"
"It's not a good story."
"No, perhaps it is not. How would you make it better?"
"He could ride off and have adventure! And find a fortune!"
"And then who would take care of his people, while he was gone?"
"Oh." The youngling made another face, knuckles cracking. "Adventure could come to him? With-- with a fairy godmother, who had missed his birth and wanted to make it up to him. With a big party and presents. So he'd not be poor ever again."
"That would be a good story."
"But it doesn't have a dragon."
"No, it doesn't."
"...I would be his dragon."
"Would you, now? And what would you do, if you were his dragon."
"Bring him my hoard. If I had one, that is." Knuckles dragged across a worn, scraped floor.
"And if you did not?"
"I'd find one. And bring it to him. So he wouldn't have to curse any more, but could be happy, and not worry about his people any more. And he could go have adventures, then. That would be a proper story."
They were silent a moment, contemplating adventure.
"And I'd find a love for him, too. A princess. Or another prince. Or a coal-girl. Princes fall in love with coal-girls, don't they?"
"Perhaps they do."
"Do they ever fall in love with dragons?"
"Sometimes, in the very best stories, they do."
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
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