The Pumpkin Fairy and the Dragon King

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The Pumpkin Fairy and the Dragon King (Fantasy, Writing Mentorship Award 2023)
A young fairy man from a dwarf mining village had longed for love, but he was not as much of a provider as he was a lover. When a dragon whose very body was encrusted with riches attacked the village, he set out to find this Dragon King's den and potentially its riches.

Chapter 1

To Jacqueline’s House

In a giant, hollowed-out pumpkin lived a young fairy man, barely nineteen years old, by the name of Bellamy. His features were so soft that they still called him a boy, and some would call him a girl. His skin and hair were fair and bright like ivory, his eyes were amber, and his face was smooth. He was short and thin, with the roof of his pumpkin hut only being a few feet above his head, but still taller than the dwarfs in the village his pumpkin hut resided in, called Dwarfle.

He’d heard it was fashionable to match some of one’s clothes with their eyes, so he went out and made his own yellow dye from the plants around the village. The greenery of the land was more golden under a blue sky, and thus named Gyldland, so it was easy to make such a dye. He fashioned a vest with buttons after the ones he had seen in the big fairy to the northwest, Aldenstadt, and soaked the vest in the dye and let it dry until it was yellow like a honeybee. However, he would have saved it to wear after work that day.

He’d made sure it fit precisely like his other clothes, like his blue-grey trousers, his collared shirts, or his fine leather boots, for he knew that fairy women often had an eye for details. It was partly for his own satisfaction and partly for theirs. He had one lady in mind that he had received a letter from that morning.

It was the last workday of the week, so Bellamy woke up to the rising sun’s light beaming through the little window holes in front of his hut. “Good morning, morning,” he said. He tied his hair back in a maroon-colored cloth and got dressed. He walked out past his yard of tall grass and flowers while dodging buts and went down the only cobblestone paved road in town. Cobble Road was lined with little dwarf huts made from logged wood and held together with clay. Some of the dwarfs were already up and about down the road, some were just getting out the door, and others were surely rolling out of bed.

The dwarfs who settled the village were the men that could not face their families, for they could not provide in the times of strife that followed the war that came to Gyldland. So, they came to the mountains southeast of Aldenstadt by Lake Opal at the end of the Egir River, and together the dwarf men created a gold mining settlement that would keep their new village afloat.

Bellamy and the dwarfs filed into the black, torch-lit mineshafts. They’d picked up their picks and hammers to carve out the ores from their veins. Bellamy, years ago, had to have his own tools that were big enough for his size but still lighter than the standard dwarf tools, as he was only half as strong as they were. While they often stood as high as a woman’s waist, they had burly bodies with puffed chests and mighty arms. Bellamy never won an arm-wrestling contest in his life.

The dwarfs only wore long shirts with a belt around their waist, boots, long caps, and long beards. They did not care for pants as they restrained their tree trunk thighs that marched and hopped down into the mines. They had to go deeper and deeper as the village had been mining under the mountain for years for what gold they could hope to find. They would find other as well, like iron. Bellamy hated iron because the mines would reek of blood.

Bellamy and the dwarfs began to work and the hammers and picks to clang, so he began to sing a song he had brewing in his head for weeks now:

Mine, mine, mine! The mine’s all mine,

And I’m sweating like a swine.

The hammer’s hold, but the gold’s gone cold,

Or that’s what I’ve been told.

So, it’s said

I’ll get my bread

In a hundred years, when I’m dead.”

Some of the dwarfs joined in and the song echoed through the mines and gave them a lively air despite the dark and the odor. They repeated it, counting one hundred more years each time. Some just hummed and whistled the tune, and those that were grumpy simply worked in another tunnel.

Bellamy, like many of the dwarfs, chose to work in the mines because it netted far more coin than simply being a farmer whose crops obeyed the will of the land. If the ores were in the earth, one could find them if they tried hard enough.

With a handful of Gyldish coins, Bellamy had Kopfstan, the cobbler dwarf, fashion him some fine laced, leather boots, a matching belt, and balsam to care for both. He wore these every day and was complimented for it. Of course, many dwarfs followed up any genuine compliment with a fake insult.

It was midafternoon when Bellamy and the dwarfs emerged from the mines covered in dust and minerals that, while dark, would sparkle in the light. They took their sacks of coin from Tungstan, the head miner, and dragged themselves down to Lake Opal, which was only a short walk down Cobble Road. The dwarfs stripped their dirtied clothes and bathed communally. Some were very quick to bathe, while others splashed around and made a game of it.

Bellamy often drifted from the group, for he liked to wash by himself. He savored the feeling of cleanliness, but never wasted time. He toweled himself with a washcloth and put on fresh clothes to not walk back home dirty or naked.

He returned to his pumpkin hut and laid on his bed to evaporate the soreness from his back. With his right hand, he picked up the letter he got this morning. He fought every impulse to not tear it to pieces, as the wax seal had an “O” pressed into it. It was the seal for the Opalmeyer family and if addressed to him would mean the sender was Jacqueline Opalmeyer, the youngest daughter of the estate. She was the only fairy woman in the area around Bellamy’s age being barely a year younger.

He opened the letter with trembling fingers, pulled out the folded paper inside, and read with his heart throbbing in his chest. Little had excited him so much these days, and he had not heard from her in a long while. She had been away on family business for a few months, and he missed her. She wrote,

“Dear Bellamy,

I’m sorry that I’ve been away, but I have returned to the house. I have important news to share with you, and I would like to share it with you in person. If you could, please come to the Opalmeyer estate after you finish your last workday for the week.


Jacqueline Opalmeyer”

Bellamy bounced off his bed and prepared himself. He pulled his newly dyed vest off the hanger outside and brushed his hair. He picked and bundled blue violets and yellow honeysuckle for a bouquet and placed it in a sack to keep it a secret from everyone. He sometimes held it up to his nose for the thick, warm, fruity smell. He also put in a pair of fine leather boots with a short heel, which were polished the night before. The leather, too, had a delightful smoky smell. Kopfstan had made them as a favor to Bellamy and wished to see him succeed with a woman once in his life.

By dusk, Bellamy set out and jogged down Cobble Road to the fairy manor houses on the hill, just on the other side of Lake Opal. His mind ran through old memories of her like flipping through an old favorite book.

When they had first met, he’d felt drawn to her before he’d even seen her. She’d like to climb up into the trees, mimic the animals of the woods, and throw her voice to prank passersby. She would smirk and stifle her giggling at their confusion, although her hands became sore and calloused from gripping the rugged bark.

Bellamy would come to visit the woods around Lake Opal, where she did this to talk to her as if he were having an audience with a disembodied goddess. He would have believed it if she didn’t pretend to play a riddle telling goblin from the moon. Sometimes, he would catch glimpses of her between the branches and leaves.

One day, she came down from the canopy to meet him face to face. He had to look up to see her long, thick navy hair and sky-blue eyes. Her hair was in one big braid that went down to the girdle around her gown. She stood head and shoulders over Bellamy and was quite thin, despite her wealthier upbringing. She was born during a drought and so her sisters despised having another mouth to feed. It was torment for her to have to work in the kitchen and only to get the leanest meal.

She told him about the other day when her sisters had burned a meal meant for one servant of the house. “Old Matilde had nothing else to keep up her energy, so I gave her mine. They keep doing it to her. I wonder if it’s just to spite me. I haven’t had much to eat the last few days.”

Bellamy said, “I could bring something from my garden or even the market in town.”

She blushed. “Oh, you don’t have to do that for me. I’ve managed without food before.”

He put his hands on his hips as if to make a stand. “I will not let you go hungry.”

Bellamy made it a habit to gift her bread and potatoes. She came to his hut for treats like fresh pumpkin pie and helped with preparations. Although, it was really made of squash, the cousin of pumpkins. Bellamy often awed at how she could eat like a noble and beast at the same time, rehearsing table manners with force and vigor. The sweet, spicy smell of pie filled his nose and as naughty thoughts filled his mind.

After dining, they huddled up together and shared songs, jokes, and riddles. If Bellamy had ever become blind, he would have admired the beauty of her voice. It was warm and smooth. Any lullaby of hers put anyone to sleep, and he would drift off at times when she spoke.

Once they sat in his garden together and she nudged him awake. “What do you wish for?”

Startled, he collected himself. “A wish? I’ve thought about having a castle made of solid gold.”

She laughed. “Solid gold? That seems rather impractical. What if someone beats your walls in? Or what if it gets struck by lightning?”

He felt sheepish at her remarks. Bellamy was not a very educated as a boy and didn’t know the ins and outs of metals he mined. “It’s just a fantasy, after all.”

“In that case, I want to be whisked from that awful house by a handsome prince.” She pointed to the Opalmeyer manor far on the horizon. “Polite, clever, and caring. And funny. Cannot forget about funny.”

“You could just marry a clown. Serves the same purpose.”

She grinned. “I only know one, and I just met him the other day. May I take your hand in marriage, your clownliness?” She jokingly held out a hand to receive his while using the other to hold back her laughter.

He took her hand and dramatically put the other on his chest while on one knee. “I, the Clown Prince, take this young maiden to be my clown wife until death.” She giggled and pulled him up by the hand close and held him tight. She said, “I haven’t known you long, but I think I like you. You’re the next best thing to a prince.”

Bellamy snapped out of his daydreams. When he arrived at the Opalmeyer house, the sky was a rainbow fading into black and the stars peeked out timidly. Cicadas ringed like twilight sirens beckoning the night. The manor was made from masoned brick and topped with rust orange shingles. The windows glowed dimly from candlelight.

He opened the sack as he walked to the front door to pull out the violet and honeysuckle bouquet after he’d used the door knocker to announce his appearance. A servant opened the door. Matilde was an aging woman and looked at Bellamy as if she hoped someone came for her. She joked, “Are those for me, darling? I didn’t know young men fancied old hags.” She snickered at her own self-deprecation and Bellamy’s embarrassment.

The servant turned back inside the house and shouted, “Miss Jacqueline, you have a guest!” A minute later, Jacqueline appeared at the door, at least Bellamy thought so. She was not the boney girl he remembered. She was wide, thick, and plump. Her arms and waist were two or three times as big. Her face was soft yet defined. Her face was painted pale, her brows were darkened, and her lips reddened. She did not wear some old grey frock, but a silk, low cut dress to match her deep blue hair. He admired the gold trimming, but he restrained his eyes from gazing at her chest for even a half second, but he knew from his peripheral vision that her breasts were swollen. He thought she looked not like his lover, but a young mother.

She smiled at him like she was going to cry, but she held her composure. She walked out the door and closed it behind her so that the house did not overhear them. She waved to him with a barely raised hand. “Good evening, Bellamy. It’s great to see you again.”

He stood with his fingers twitching, holding back the idiotic smile on his face. He handed her the bouquet, and she looked delighted to see his flowers again. Her lips pursed and her eyes darted anxiously, as if she regretted taking them.

“These are beautiful, but I do not think I can keep them here. I’m sorry.” She handed them back to Bellamy. He looked confused and then looked down to pull the boots from the sack.

“That’s okay,” he said. “I got you these, too.” He beamed a smile until he wondered if the boots would fit around her calves now, since the order for the boots was a while ago.

She said, “You’re very kind, but I just got new boots.” She tapped her foot on the ground rhythmically. “Jean got me them the other day.”

He asked, “Who’s Jean?”

She placed her hands on her stomach and struggled to look Bellamy in the eye. “Jean von Silberique. He’s the son of one of the Aldenstadt lords. He is also to be my husband, and I am to be the mother of his child.”

Bellamy only now noticed that her stomach had a firm, round shape, unlike a normal fat belly. Carrying a child, she could not walk down Cobble Road by herself without soreness and fatigue.

Bellamy tried to fight back tears. “And I’m just now finding out about this?”

She put out open palms. “You must understand. It happened so quickly. It was a dream I thought I was going to wake up from every morning. He has everything. He is everything I need.”

Bellamy could only look at his feet. “I understand, but that doesn’t make it feel any better. Did you just forget about me?”

Jacqueline was unsure if it would be worse to say “yes” or “no.”

“There’s more I must tell you. Tomorrow morning, I will be moving out of my house to his estate, far from here. We may never see each other again, and maybe we shouldn’t.” She opened her arms out wide for a hug. “I guess this goodbye.”

Bellamy leaned in to wrap his arms around her. He sniffled and tried not to cry on her shoulder. They rocked and swayed and held the hug for as long as they felt they could.

She pulled back and wiped her tears. “I’m sorry about this, Bellamy. I am, but I can’t live like this anymore. My sisters are devils, my father is a fool, and my mother is a tyrant. And Jean, he just has so much more to give.”

Bellamy asked, “Was I not enough?”

“You were great, really. I loved our time together. I don’t think I could ever forget that little pumpkin hut if I tried. I just think I deserve a better life than I’ve been given, and I don’t think you could give me that now.”

Bellamy’s heart sunk into his chest like a boulder in a lake. “Oh.”

“It’s nothing against you, personally. You will find the one for you. It’s just not me.” She almost choked on her final words. “Goodbye, and farewell.”

Bellamy took his sack of boots and flowers and waved goodbye to his old love, trying to hold a smile. We walked back down the hill from the manor houses, and he could hear Jacqueline sniffling far behind her.

In the last moments of twilight, Bellamy walked back home with leaking tears. For all his work and dedication, it was too good to be true. The first girl he had fallen in love with, who seemed so right for him, had picked another man over him.

He honored her choice, and yet he still felt she’d run one of her kitchen knives through his heart and bandaged it with apologies. He was only half the man she wanted and now only a memory. The one excitement he had in life withered with the flowers.