For the Busy Business-Parent

Whimsical Bedtime Stories for Children of All Ages

The Dragon In The Forest

Zlartinpole was a dragon who lived in the forest near the land of Slodinbob.

Everyone in Slodinbob was afraid of Zlartinpole. They were afraid of his big green scales, of his long spiky tail, and they were especially afraid of the fire he breathed out of his two round nostrils.

The fire came out in three colors -- RED, PURPLE, and BLUE --

....and it was very hot!

Now in reality, Zlartinpole only breathed fire when he got scared or sneezed, but everyone thought he did it to try and burn Slodinbob to a crisp.

As a matter of fact, everyone was so scared of Zlartinpole that one evening, a group of townspeople got together and went to see the King and Queen of Slodinbob. They wanted to demand that something be done to rid the land of the dreaded dragon.

King Mercer was a kind man, and he and his wife, Queen Melinda agreed to meet with them.

The leader of the group, a young man named Harold, spoke first. "Great King Mercer, we are afraid for our lives! That horrible dragon lurks near our homes, and threatens to burn them all down!"

Priscilla, the pleasant woman who ran the food market, spoke next. "Everything we have worked our whole lives for could be destroyed in an instant if that horrible dragon continues to live here!" she said worriedly.

Everyone in the group shouted in agreement. "Yes!" they all shouted at once. "We must rid Slodinbob of the dragon!"

King Mercer spoke slowly in his deep, rumbling voice. "I understand that you are all afraid of the dragon. Queen Melinda and I shall discuss what should be done. We will invite you all back to a meeting once we make our decision."

Queen Melinda, dressed in her glistening jewels and elegant robes nodded in agreement with her husband. "We will not keep you waiting for long, because we too are worried about what damage this horrible dragon might cause." The townspeople seemed satisfied, and went on their way.

Once they left the castle, Queen Melinda turned to King Mercer and asked, "Have you seen Princess Marigold this afternoon? I have not seen her since lunchtime, and I am beginning to get rather worried." "No," said the king, "and I am very worried about her as well." Princess Marigold was the only child of King Mercer and Queen Melinda. They loved her dearly, but also worried about her constantly because she was always running off and getting lost in the forest.

This time, young Marigold was romping through the forest near Slodinbob. She ran and leapt. She frolicked and pranced, her long, amber hair swaying with every move. Princess Marigold was having so much fun she did not realize how late it was.

"Oh dear," she said to herself, "I must get back to the castle. Mother and Father must be getting very worried about me." She looked around and realized it was too dark to find her way back. Frightened, Princess Marigold put her head in her hands and started to cry.

"Pardon me," someone with a very gruff voice asked. "Are you lost? Do you need help?"

Princess Marigold looked up to find herself staring face to face with Zlartinpole the dragon, who had bent his long neck down to face her.

When Marigold realized she was looking at a dragon, she jumped and let out a loud scream! Turning to quickly run away, the Princess Marigold accidentally tripped and fell backwards, landing right smack in the fold of Zlartinpole's right wing, which gently scooped her up as she fell, carefully settling her on top of his back.

"I hope my scales are not too rough for you," Zlartinpole the Dragon apologized. "But it is much too late for you to be out all alone. Strangers could be about, you know. I'll see you home safely. No one will trouble a Princess under the care of a dragon."

Princess Marigold was still a bit afraid of this fire-breathing dragon whom everyone said was going to be a big problem for the land of Slodinbob.

"Are you the dragon that is going to burn everyone's homes down?" she asked in a very frightened little voice.

"Goodness gracious me!" exclaimed a startled Zlartinpole, "What a thought!"

"Absolutely not," he replied firmly. "I would never try to hurt anyone or anything."

"Then why is everyone so afraid of you?" Princess Marigold inquired curiously.

"They just don't know me very well, and one should never try to judge a book by its cover. Now then, no more questions -- we'd best get you home."

With that, Zlartinpole flew into the air with Princess Marigold's arms wrapped tightly around his neck. "Wheee!" Princess Marigold squealed with delight. "This is so much fun!"

Shortly afterwards, Zlartinpole and Princess Marigold landed in front of the great castle. When the two knights guarding the castle gate saw the dragon, they quickly drew their swords. Princess Marigold was afraid that the men would try and hurt Zlartinpole. Instead, the knights dropped their weapons, and ran inside.

"I wish everyone wouldn't be so afraid of you," Princess Marigold began. "I'm going to go to my parents and tell them what a wonderful, kind dragon you are."

Zlartinpole wiped away the big sad tear drop that fell onto his protruding nose. "Thank you so much", he said sincerely. "I hope that when the King and Queen find out I helped you, that they will tell the people of Slodinbob that there is no reason to be afraid of me."

Princess Marigold waved good-bye as Zlartinpole flapped his gigantic wings and flew back to his home in the forest. As soon as he was out of sight, Princess Marigold ran to find her parents in the castle.

When she found them, they were sitting on their golden thrones looking very angry.

"Young lady," her father started, his voice bellowing with anger, "Just what did you think you were doing, accepting a ride from a dangerous dragon?"

"He's not dangerous. He helped me, because I was lost, and... " the princess began.

"That's enough Marigold!" Queen Melinda interrupted in a stern voice. "These courageous knights told us that the dragon was about to attack the castle! They told us that the dragon was holding you captive and they had to hurry before it did something terrible to you! They said they had to hurry to alert the other knights because they had no chance of fighting such a large and violent beast on their own!"

Princess Marigold looked very shocked. "But he wasn't holding me captive," she tried to explain. "I didn't know where I was and he..."

"Silence!" her father yelled loudly, interrupting her. "You will no longer go wandering about wherever and whenever you please. Go to your room immediately."

At that very moment one of the royal knights ran into the room. "Your Majesties," he said as he bowed to both the King and Queen, "The beast is gone. But we will find where he is hiding. Once we do, Slodinbob will no longer be terrorized."

"Go to the forest at once!" King Mercer commanded in a louder voice than usual. "Comb through every tree, every hill, every valley. Find the dragon, and bring back the beast's head!"

Princess Marigold was on her way to her room when she heard her father's command.

"I must go to the forest and warn Zlartinpole, before Father's knights find him," she said to herself. She quietly sneaked out of a secret exit behind the stairway that led upstairs to her room. She ran as fast as she could, past the town hall, past the marketplace, past the schoolhouse. When trees and green surrounded Princess Marigold, she knew she had found the forest. But where was Zlartinpole?

She looked up at the tops of the tall trees, but saw nothing but leaves. Was he behind a large rock? Perhaps he was at the bank of the stream, having a sip of water.

Suddenly, she heard a loud roar and the air was filled with smoke. Turning around, she saw Zlartinpole, looking very embarrassed, as came out from behind a berry bush.

"I'm sorry if I frightened you, Princess Marigold," he said. "But I was smelling some beautiful flowers, and I'm afraid they made me sneeze."

Princess Marigold wrapped her arms as far around Zlartinpole as they would stretch. "I am so glad to see you," she said. "But I came here to warn you -- my father's knights are after you, and they want to bring back your head. My parents just wouldn't listen to me! I tried to explain . . ." Her voice became a trail of sobs.

Zlartinpole put one wing around Princess Marigold, and drew her close to his side. "It's not your fault," he said as he tried to comfort her.

Just then one of the king's men appeared out of the darkness, holding a bright torch. "Princess Marigold! Princess Marigold!" he yelled in his loudest voice. "Get away from that monstrous beast!"

"He's not... he's not... " the princess sobbed, before Zlartinpole gently pushed her away.

"Run home quickly Princess Marigold! It is not safe for you here," he said. Princess Marigold stole a quick, sad glance back at him, and then began running just as fast as she could back home to the castle.

King Mercer's knights slowly approached, one by one, until twenty of them surrounded Zlartinpole with their swords drawn. "You will not get away this time!" one of them growled.

"Don't try to escape!" bellowed another.

"You will no longer terrorize the land of Slodinbob!" yelled a third.

Zlartinpole saw what a difficult situation he was in, and began to get very scared. He got so scared, in fact, that all of a sudden from out of his nostrils came a loud:

and a cloud of smoke rose from where his flames hit the ground.

The knights first scattered, and then they all charged towards poor Zlartinpole!.

"CRACKLE! HISS!" went the flames as they hit the shield of one of the knights, promptly melting it into a silvery puddle.

The guards kept charging, and Zlartinpole kept breathing fire, trying his very best not to hurt anybody. This went on for quite some time, until all of a sudden, interrupting this ruckus came a loud shout of


The guards instantly recognized this voice, and stopped in their tracks. There stood King Mercer, with Queen Melinda and Princess Marigold by his side. "I am so glad my prize horses got us here in time," King Mercer said, pointing towards the three golden steeds.

"My darling Princess Marigold just told her mother and me exactly what happened to her today, how this dragon named Zlaten, ummm . . . Zlarted, ummm . . . "

"Zlartinpole," Princess Marigold whispered in her father's ear.

"How this dragon named Zlartinpole," the King continued, "rescued her from being lost in the woods. It was our terrible, terrible mistake to believe that this creature intends to harm Slodinbob. Men, please put your weapons away and return to the castle." The guards, as always, did exactly as the King commanded.

"As for you, Zlartinpole," began Queen Melinda, "We owe you our deepest apologies. We should have listened to Princess Marigold when she tried to explain earlier, and we should never have assumed you were so dangerous just because you are a dragon."

Zlartinpole's big green eyes filled with tears of gratitude, and the Princess Marigold gave her friend the dragon a big hug .

"Come back to the castle with us, Zlartinpole," King Mercer offered. "You can be our official guard dragon."

"Thank you so much for your generous offer, Sire," Zlartinpole said, "...but I must decline. The forest is my home. It is where I feel safe and happy. I don't want to live anywhere else."

Princess Marigold looked especially disappointed. "Will I ever see you again?" she asked. "Please don't look so sad," he replied. "I promise that you will always be able to find me here."

By now, it was very late, and Princess Marigold, King Mercer, and Queen Melinda were very tired and had to go home to their castle. They all bade farewell to their new friend Zlartinpole, and promised to visit him in the forest very soon.

Zlartinpole waved goodbye to his friends then leapt into the air, flying higher than the tops of the tallest trees, and right into the clouds.

The End

A Dragon In The Forest by Paula E. Kirman - Copyright 1997 - All Rights Reserved

Illustration Pending

About the Author:

Paula E. Kirman is a freelance writer based in Edmonton, Canada. She is a graduate of the University of Alberta, with a Bachelor of Education degree in English and Music. Her articles, book reviews, and interviews have appeared in such magazines and newspapers as the Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Prairie Books Now, and The Beaver. She is also a poet, and has poems forthcoming in a variety of print and electronic publications. "The Dragon in the Forest" is an adaptation of a story Paula wrote years ago. The tale won an amateur writing contest, and was performed as a play for children across Western Canada. You may write to Paula Kirman at

Animation Credits:
Flame: Alchemy

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