The dragon let out a small sigh as it brushed the remains of its latest would-be slayer out of its cave. These constant attempts on its life were more annoying than anything else.
This particular dragon was four stories tall and bright golden in color, with shiny scales all over its body, powerful wings with translucent membranes, two white horns that stood straight up, and sharp teeth and claws capable of ripping any human in half.
As it returned to its nap, it wondered why so many wanted it dead. It didn't terrorize the kingdom, it didn't hoard loot, and it didn't kidnap damsels; what motivation could any human have to kill it?
I bet they're just trying to slay me for sport. Humans are so despicable, placing such a low value on--
At that moment, the dragon's keen hearing detected the footsteps of yet another human in the area.
Great. Here we go again.
The dragon raised its head to look at the cave entrance. This particular slayer appeared to be a young knight, male, lightly armored and wielding what appeared to be a magic scepter. His slow, controlled pace suggested that he was a calm, collected individual who made plans before charging into the fray.
"And you are...?" the dragon growled in its loud, raspy voice.
"Sir Nathan the Wise. Remember my name, dragon, as you will rue it within the hour."
Sir Nathan's voice was firm and fearless. The dragon tilted its head; this knight actually seemed like it might pose a challenge.
The knight began the battle, lashing out with a blast of magic aimed at the dragon's head. It ducked the shot easily, letting it fizzle against the ceiling, and responded with a blast of fiery breath, which he deflected with a magic barrier.
After a few minutes of battling, Sir Nathan made an unexpected move: he cast a teleport spell and brought a barrel of liquid into the center of the cave. The dragon stomped on it, easily turning it into scrap wood and spilling its contents all over the floor.
"What was THAT supposed to be?"
"That... was your undoing, dragon."
The dragon blinked. Sir Nathan retreated to the cave entrance as a strong scent filled the air.
"Step one," Sir Nathan narrated matter-of-factually, "sketch a ritual circle like the one on Page 8 using a mixture of the ingredients listed below as your ink. Step two, pour a quantity of pure magic essence into the center of the circle; stand a distance away."
Magic essence! That's what's stinking up the cave. But in this quantity?
"Step three: lure the target creature into the center of the circle. The spell will activate immediately. Use larger circles and larger quantities of everything for larger target creatures."
"I don't see any ritual circle," the dragon shot back.
"That's because it's drawn around the cave. I spent the past few weeks on it. You should see it; it's a mile across."
The dragon was about to retort, but then a strange feeling began to envelop it.
A ritual circle a mile across...? And what's this spell supposed to do?
It took a moment for the dragon to notice that its body was shrinking. It was a little disconcerting, feeling so incredibly light and seeing the cave grow around it.
CRA-A-ACK. The dragon reared back as pain filled every bone in its body. Its skeleton was shifting and changing shape.
This... this can't be happening!
Furious, it tried to bathe Sir Nathan in fire, but could barely manage a small burst. Almost immediately it recoiled, feeling the inside of its mouth burned by the flames.
What?! But I've breathed fire hundreds of times! I'm completely fireproof... what's happening?
As it writhed in pain, the dragon somehow managed to flip onto its back. In doing so, it felt its scales shift, as if they were no longer attached to him. It stared at its forelegs like a human might stare at its hands.
Its talons were changing shape, shifting to become four ordinary fingers and a thumb. Around its ankles a seam was developing, while the scales on its hands seemed to melt away, leaving what looked like pale naked flesh. As for its claws, they were changing shape and becoming simple fingernails.
I'm... I... I'm turning into a human!
The dragon felt for its wings and tail, which were shrinking fast. Its golden scales were transforming into fabric and taking on the shape of royal clothing. Even its horns seemed to be receding and turning into what felt like a crown, and something like hair was developing out of the back of his head.
No... no... I don't want this!
Its senses were going berserk. The dragon struggled to hear Sir Nathan's breathing and heartbeat, which had been crystal clear to it before. The cave seemed much darker than before thanks to its fading sight, and it no longer had its distinctive scent.
This is wrong! Very unlike a princess to... wait, what?
Somehow the dragon was now standing on its hind legs as they turned into normal human legs. Its breath was no longer fiery, and it couldn't help but grow conscious of the two large lumps that had developed on its chest.
I'm not a princess, I'm a dragon! I'm not... I'm not... ... ...
Her eyes went wide as her body finally settled. For a moment, the human woman's mind was completely blank.
Sir Nathan ran back into the cave to take on the new figure in the room. He was greeting a somewhat buxom human woman wearing a magnificent golden silk dress, complemented with black high-heeled boots and white stockings. She also sported lovely brown eyes, curly blond hair, and a cute golden tiara.
"Wh... what just happened?" she wondered.
"Allow me to introduce myself. I am Sir Nathan the Wise, perpetrator of your rescue from the clutches of the golden dragon. And you are...?"
"Princess Chelsea Drayaka."
That was definitely her name. She couldn't imagine having ever had any other identity.
"Let us go, Princess Drayaka. This atmosphere is very unfitting for a princess like you."
Princess Drayaka smiled as Sir Nathan escorted her out of the cave.
He's so brave and so dreamy. Maybe I'll ask him to marry me.