Anna found herself sitting in her room that evening after all the guests had left. On her lap she held the itty bitty little dragon. Anna sat and watched him for a long time. She stroked his neck and scratched between his wings, he seemed to like that.
"You'll need a name won't you." Anna lifted the dragon up to eye level and stared at him intently. "What should it be? Perhaps Flame?" The dragon stared at Anna indignantly, and snapped it's jaw lightly at her thumb.
"Okay, I guess you don't like that. How about Nibbles." The dragon looked so offended that Anna immediately said, "No! Let's pick another. How about... how about... oh let me see. I got to think of a good name. Um... How about Cornelius? I got it! Cornelio!" The dragon let out a tiny roar and flapped its wings in approval.
"Cornelio it is." Anna smiled. "Now we need to figure out what you're going to eat for supper. The wizard said you can find your own food. So, can you?" The dragon let out a puff of smoke and took off flying around the room. Cornelio ducked and swooped, twirled and somersaulted through the air. He looked almost like a large metallic butterfly. After a little while, he finally landed on the window sill with his nose pressed firmly against the glass.
Anna trotted over and cracked the window open just enough for the dragon to slip through. Out he went into the cool evening air. Cornelio let out a minute roar and released an impressive spear of flame into the gathering darkness, and with that, he fluttered out into the garden. Anna watched as he flew from one plant to the next, snapping at mosquitoes all the while. He swooped here and there and finally snagged a small vole from between the plant stalks. Anna let out a squeak of excitement, horror, and interest rolled into one sound. Thankfully the dragon settled down in the tall grass, so Anna didn't have to watch the demise of the vole.
After about ten minutes or so, the dragon flew back to the window and slipped through the opening. Anna held out her hand and the dragon, now plump, settled down in her palm. She carried him over to the small chest and gently set him in, and then watched in fascination as the tiny dragon burrowed under the gold. He wriggled for a little bit, trying to find the perfect spot, and then he settled in for the night.
Anna headed to bed shortly after. It had been a long and exciting day for her and she was very tired. As she curled under the bed covers, she whispered, "Good night, Cornelio." A tiny sniffle and slight glow, was the response she got. She smiled.
Anna woke with a start. It was dark and late, no sounds could be heard. Anna lay in bed listening, trying to figure out why she was awake. Then she heard a slight tch sound coming from outside her window. She sat up in bed and stared in that direction, hoping to see what it was that had made the sound. There on the window sill she could see the outline of Cornelio, posed with wings wide spread and neck outstretched, staring out into the darkness.
Anna slipped from her bed and tiptoed over, "What is it Cornelio?" The dragon barely glanced at her before regaining his pose. Then he tapped a claw against the window. When Anna did nothing in response, the dragon tapped the window again. This time Anna moved over and cracked the window open a tiny bit. With a speed Anna didn't know Cornelio had, he dashed through the window and out into the night. She could see him belch fire into the night air once, twice, and then all was still.
A shiver ran down Anna's back. She opened the window all the way and called out into the garden, "Cornelio? Cornelio, where are you?" She could hear no response. Then suddenly a pair of strong and very hairy hands grabbed her and pulled her from her window sill. Anna let out a yelp of surprise before one of the hands muffled her cries.
A low gravelly voice whispered in Anna's ear, "Please don't make another sound, princess. I don't think Dordil will need much of an excuse to finish off your dragon. He doesn't like being bit by dragons, even little ones." Anna refrained from squeaking a reply, all she did instead was nod. Then the voice whispered in her ear again, "Sorry we have to meet this way, but things are getting urgent, and we need-" a sharp hiss from someone else cut of the voice's whisper. Anna saw, or rather felt, a heavy sack being placed over her head, and with that she was bundled up and carried off.
The next thing Anna knew, she felt the bump bump of a pony's trot. At least she figured it was a pony. It felt like a pony. She was slumped over the saddle like a sack of potatoes, and she was starting to get a little dizzy from the rocking motion of the animal. Then suddenly, the pony stopped. Anna heard the gravelly voice again, "We'll camp here for the night. We are far enough from Ironwell, and I think we ought to let her know what's happening."
Anna felt herself being removed from the horse, and then suddenly the hood was removed. She blinked in the bright sunlight as she looked around the forest glade the ponies had stopped in. And then Anna looked at the riders of the ponies. They were short little men, not much taller then Anna herself, and they all had long course beards. Anna giggled a little despite not knowing where she was. All the little men looked so funny.
"Eh?" said one dwarf. He had yet to dismount from his pony, "Is she laughing at us?"
"I think she is laughing at your face." Replied another dwarf, whose beard was a bright red color. "Anyone would laugh at your nose."
"'Ay, that's not nice." Said the first dwarf as he attempted to jump from his pony's saddle. Except his foot got caught in the stirrup. Half way through his descent, his foot stopped moving, even though the rest of his body continued straight down. The final product was that his nose and right foot where at the level of the other dwarf's knees, and his left foot stuck straight into the air. Everybody laughed, including Anna, at the sight of the upside down dwarf.
"You silly little man," Anna giggled, "Why are you jumping off the pony? You should slid down gently."
The dwarf struggled for several seconds until finally his foot slipped free and he slumped to the ground in a pile. He grumbled to himself, "I know how to get off an horse. This 'ere nag just moved funny as I tried to dismount."
The other dwarfs had started to gather around Anna, and she started to feel slightly frightened as she realized she didn't know who they were. Then one of the dwarfs, the one with the gravely voice, took pity on Anna and said, "Back up boys, give her some space. We've got a lot of explaining to do, what now that we've captured a princess."