Aldric liked riding his dragon the way everyone else liked riding horses. He would often go on long expeditions through the sky, swooping and swirling to dance with the clouds, and trying hard not to expose his teeth to the grit that was always present no matter the altitude. As a matter of practicality, he took to wearing masks – black so he wouldn’t have to wash them too often – and due to his absent-minded nature, he often forgot to take them off once he was back home.
He ruled over a small, but economically powerful, country built on good sense and common courtesy. The children called him “The Candy King,” and looked forward to every Lammas when he would fly his dragon overhead and drop parachuted packages full of all the sugar and chocolate that his kitchen staff could put together, followed by a few stunts to scare and delight his people. He spent most of his waking moments focused on ensuring their happiness, and took enormous pride in being their king.
However, his benevolence did not extend beyond his borders. Aldric preferred to stay isolated from the world, and aside from a few well-established trade routes, kept his country entirely to itself in social and political matters with the reasoning that he had enough to worry about without dabbling in everyone else’s affairs. As a result, terrible rumors abounded unhindered about the “Dragon King,” who terrorized the countryside with fire and violence.
Aldric was blissfully ignorant until the first self-described hero showed up. He had been out on his daily ride, and had returned to play his organ while meditating on how to improve the healthcare for orphans, when he heard a sudden scream. He started and turned around, and to his horror found one of his guards injured by someone shouting hysterically about justice while flailing a sword.
The man was promptly jailed for his crime, but because he refused to state which country he had hailed from, Aldric didn’t know where to return him to. Thus, he was sent to a work camp, which was far more productive and reformative than letting people waste away in dungeons.
The next hero gave a speech before attempting to use his sword, claiming that Aldric was obviously evil from his black mask (he had forgotten that he was wearing it again), and threatened to slay his dragon. That made Aldric angry, so he sent this hero to the work camp as well – he wouldn’t allow anyone to menace his pet and get away with it.
This continued periodically for some time, with every single hero too absorbed in himself to listen to reason. Aldric was forced to tighten security around his borders, and his subjects became increasingly suspicious of outsiders in defense of their beloved king.
Mercifully, Theo the prince showed up on Lammas while Aldric was making his traditional candy drop. He had hoped to make a name for himself by defeating the evil dragon king, though through a series of unfortunately hilarious events, had brought his sister the princess Azalea along as well. Azalea was delighted to see the colorful parachutes drifting down from the sky, and even more enamored when she discovered they were carrying sweets. As a result, she refused to let Theo hide her away when he left to confront the dragon king about his evil ways – which were beginning to look less and less evil up close – and accompanied him to the castle.
Aldric settled in to play his organ upon his return, working on a song that had come to him while he had been flying on his dragon, and was deep in thought when Theo and Azalea arrived. Theo had wanted to burst in with his sword drawn, but Azalea insisted that they introduce themselves properly and speak to him first, arguing that anyone who cared that much about children couldn’t be all that bad. Theo had to turn his face in embarrassment while Azalea knocked and asked to see the king, stating their full names and kingdom in the process. It horrified him that his sister had so little sense.
As it was, they were shown into the audience hall and announced to Aldric. Upon turning from his organ, he was delighted to discover the most beautiful maiden that he had ever seen curtseying before him.
“Dragon king,” she said, her voice sweet and clear. “We have come to implore you to stop your evil ways…”
“I take care of my people, and I am loved by them,” Aldric replied, his eyes locked on the beautiful princess. “Is that evil?”
“Not at all, your highness, but you keep a dragon for a pet,” Azalea answered.
“She is a creature of the earth, as much as you or I, and I care for her deeply. Is it evil to love a pet?”
“No, your highness.” Azalea knelt down on the ground this time, and Theo’s face burned red with embarrassment. “But you dress all in black and wear a mask, and surely that is a reflection of the darkness in your heart.”
“Oh, confound it!” Aldric ripped off his mask and tossed it aside. “I have much on my mind, and I forget that I wear it to protect myself while on my rides. I wear black to save myself from worrying about my clothing. Is that evil?”
“No, your highness.” When Azalea looked up, her eyes were shining with deep admiration. Aldric stepped over to her and helped her to her feet, then stayed for a moment holding her hand as they gazed at each other. Theo saw it all in a heartbeat, and knew that his intended heroics were not needed.
A month later, Theo returned home to announce the news of Azalea’s engagement to Aldric, and talked freely about how wise and generous the dragon king was. The wedding was a grand celebration, and in the years that followed their children grew up happily as they played freely in the castle and enjoyed riding the dragon with their father.
The kingdom was never bothered by heroes again.
Look what I figured out how to do with the Reddit link, lol.