Princess: Really? Was that the best you could do?
Dragon: What’s your problem?
Princess: What is happening to chivalry these days? Doesn’t anyone have any manners or just common courtesy anymore? If you’re going to abduct a fair maiden you could at least do it well!
Dragon: You don’t know what you’re talking about. I did the whole thing perfectly! I don’t care if this is my first time, I have instincts. I know what I’m doing.
Princess: Well, I’ll have you know that this is only the seventh time that I’ve been sacrificed to a marauding dragon, and I will not have you do it improperly. I have standards to maintain, a reputation to uphold. I will not have it said that I fell victim to a sloppy abduction.
Dragon: If you’re a fair maiden, you ought to be mild and gentle, meek and fair of speech. You should be more worried about what they’ll say about that. You didn’t even swoon at the sight of me! I know as dragons go I may not be much, but I’m still a powerful and fearsome monster.
Princess: You’re right. You are great and terrible. Utterly horrifying. I can hardly bear the strain of your presence. I’m sure it was just chance that I haven’t fainted yet. Do you want me to faint now, or later?
Dragon: You should have earlier. Not that it much matters at this point.
Princess: Ok, then we’ll just come back to that later. We’ve got much more important things to discuss now. For instance, what is your plan, exactly? I mean, now that you’ve kidnapped me, what are you planning on doing with me? Are you going to devour me soon, keep me as your slave for years, lock me away in a secret tower—
Dragon: Now that you mention it, I am getting hungry. I got out of there in such a hurry that I forgot to grab some lunch.
Princess: I’m sure you are after such an otherwise brilliant success. But I think a different plan would be best.
Dragon: I’m the dragon here and I can do whatever I want.
Princess: Of course you can. I just think it would be better if you didn’t eat me.
Dragon: You get yourself caught by a dragon and then you think you’re so smart? I think I know what I can and can’t eat.
Princess: Of course you know all of the rules about what dragons can and can’t eat, but I’m special. I’m different. I’m sure it’s already plain to you that I’m not really a princess.
Dragon: Wow, that’s convenient. And you just happened to be in a castle surrounded by guards and servants. And you just happen to be dressed in finery with a crown on your head. And it just so happens that everyone bows to you and calls you “your highness.” You seem in every way just like a princess.
Princess: I know; I’m supposed to. I’m the decoy.
Dragon: Decoy? I’ve never heard of a decoy princess before. That sounds like a very unrespectable profession. Are you sure that’s even allowed?
Princess: I’m pretty sure. That’s what they tell me anyway.
Dragon: Well, I can still eat you. In fact, I definitely should. I do not want to condone this ridiculous “decoy princess” tactic, and the best deterrent would be to eat them.
Princess: Well, I’m sure you know this, it probably just slipped your mind, but eating me still presents a problem.
Dragon: That’s just silly. We dragons aren’t exactly snobs about what we eat. Besides, it would be only honorable, on the principle of the thing.
Princess: But you remember the peculiar sensitivities of a dragon’s stomach, and what happens when he eats a false princess, right?
Dragon: Of course I know. I’ve eaten plenty of fair maidens! You may not be as satisfying or as tasty, but I’m not that particular.
Princess: Are you particular about dying? [Pause] You see why I can’t let you eat me. You seem to great a young dragon to die so soon.
Dragon: I would be flattered if I didn’t think you were just trying to avoid an untimely death. I’m not sure I should believe you.
Princess: Oh, but I saw it happen to a dragon once. It was very unpleasant just watching it. Why don’t we discuss plan B instead?
Dragon: Keeping you here, you mean? I guess that’s better than nothing. Or I could lock you away in a tower, where you wouldn’t be an annoyance with your constant objections.
Princess: Yes, and then what?
Dragon: And then you spend years here, or there, until I am defeated or you are rescued. I’m not sure I like it that much, but it’s tradition.
Princess: But think about what would happen if you held captive a fair maiden who was not really a princess.
Dragon: You’re not that bright, are you? I imagine just about the same thing that would happen if I held captive a real princess.
Princess: But, on the contrary—
Dragon: I am sick and tired of your “contraries.” You need to behave like a damsel and sit there quietly while I decide what to do.
Princess: I know, I feel kind of silly saying all this, and I’m sure that there are lots of things you know that I don’t—
Dragon: Just get to the point!
Princess: Well, who would rescue me?
Dragon: Is that all? Well, it’s not my problem.
Princess: But if no one comes to rescue me, you can’t have any epic battles to be sung across the land. And as I grew old and ugly in your cave, you wouldn’t even be able to keep a real princess.
Dragon: That is just uncalled for! If I can catch you, I can catch a real one.
Princess: Of course you can catch her, but where would you keep her? You can’t keep two maidens in one lair.
Dragon: Oh really? You can’t tell me what to do. Just watch me.
Princess: But knights and princes steer clear of oddities like this. After all, how could one of them, in good conscience, rescue two fair maidens when they could only marry one of them? And everyone knows they will not work together. And then if we weren’t rescued, how would you get on with a growing domestic life? You’d end up spending more and more time at home, and less and less time out enjoying life, pillaging and destroying—
Dragon: Aha, but you’ve said, it’s possible one of them would rescue you and marry you. Not that I would want to live with this tongue of yours. You are far too opinionated and talkative for my taste. But a knight won’t know that before he rescues you.
Dragon: No! No more interruptions! No more objections! This is the way it’s going to be! You can’t possibly talk your way out of this one, there is nothing left to object about. It’s perfect! It may take a while before some knight decides he can’t get a real princess and rescues you instead, but I’m a dragon, I have centuries of patience.
Princess: Patience is a virtue—
Dragon: That’s the first nice thing you’ve said all day.
Princess: But this is the last thing, and it’s really important. Knights will only rescue maidens who are still pure.
Dragon: You have got to be kidding me! Didn’t I just tell you to stop talking? You can’t even take directions! Wait—what?
Princess: Only a woman who retains her girlish innocence and untainted perfection can hope to be rescued. How can a noble knight marry a woman without these qualities?
Dragon: I see. Now you’re going to force me to free you because of your dysfunctional personality?
Princess: I—yes, I’m afraid it’s true. I’m not rescue material or good for eating, or even a real princess. I’m quite worthless, and it’s rather humiliating.
Dragon: If I were you I’d be humiliated too. I’d be past humiliated. I’d want to die. So why don’t you just hold still and be quiet and I’ll put you out of your misery.
Princess: Please don’t do that.
Dragon: I will, to put us both out of our misery!
Princess: But my death is the only thing I have left, if you take that away—
Dragon: I’m about to give to you. Then I won’t have to hear your voice ever again!
Princess: But if you waste my death like that I’ll be forced to haunt you. If I’m going to die, I want to die for a purpose, to have a death that is noble and meaningful. To die without a higher reason like feeding a dragon or saving one’s city is to waste death. My whole life is a waste up to this point. I couldn’t bear it if my death is too.
Dragon: I don’t really care about how you feel about it, I just want to be rid of you; you wouldn’t dare threaten me with that! I’ll find some way around it after I kill you.
Princess: And besides, even if you did manage to get rid of my ghost, it would take you hundreds of years. And in that time no respectable kingdom will have any dealings with you. Knights and princes will never come near a haunted dragon, especially one that killed damsels at whim. You would be cursed, haunted, and lonely. You really don’t want to just kill me.
Dragon: Yes I do! I haven’t met anyone this annoying, frustrating, and painfully inconvenient in my whole life! But living with yourself is probably curse enough, seeing as you’ll never be married or rescued. So, I’m going to go kidnap a princess in the next kingdom, and when I get back I had better not see your face or hear your voice ever again or I will kill you, haunting or no, sickness or no, curses or no! Now get out!
Princess: [As he walks off] You know, you could–
Princess: That makes eight.