Part one here.
When Queen Eddelfritha the Second set her mind to something, she was not one to dally about getting it done. She was not a fussy sort of girl, and was perfectly content to pack nothing more than her toothbrush , a few packets of trail mix and a large seashell for a journey of indeterminate length and rigor. Eddie was fifteen and ought, by now, to have some common sense, as Prime Minister Egleston was always reminding her. Being an only child, however, and an orphan for a good two-thirds of her life, there was little to stop Eddie growing up strong-willed and impulsive with a lust for excitement.
With her satchel swinging from her shoulder, Eddie tore down the high-ceilinged entry hall, skidding to a stop just before she reached the doors in order to tie a loose shoelace and to tip her head back and call, “Nelson!”
A very stiff-looking penguin wearing a blue bow tie waddled to her side. “Yes, Your Majesty?” he sniffed, peering up at her through a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles which perched upon his beak.
“Fetch me one of the vorpal blades, if you please,” Eddie told him, “and a belt and scabbard, too.”
Nelson considered her in a distinctly-disapproving manner before bowing in her general direction and heading off into one of the various side-passages which branched from the entry hall.
Eddie stuck her tongue out as his retreating figure. “Puffed-up little toady.”
“I do beg your pardon, Your Majesty,” piped up a very small voice from about the level of Eddie’s knees; she looked down to find a young hedgehog standing politely with a gilt tray almost as large as himself held above his head. “Mail’s here,” he explained, proffering the tray.
“Thank you, Quentin.” Eddie bent down and retrieved the single envelope, her expression changing to one of distaste as she read the return address. “Oh. Yuck.”
“Something about tax returns,” Eddie supplied, ripping open the envelope and dumping its contents unceremoniously upon the floor, making Quentin flinch back; Eddie held onto the envelope, however, looking at it quizzically for a moment. Then inspiration struck, and she fumbled in her jeans pocket, drawing out a purple stub of crayon and brandishing it like a weapon. She scribbled something upon the envelope and then put the crayon away and set about folding the envelope into a spiky, winged shape.
Quentin, meanwhile, had been watching with wide eyes. His eyes got even wider when Eddie dropped the twisted paper to the floor and said briskly, “We’ll call him Lexington, I think. Crescendo.” The envelope responded by blossoming outward and upward, growing and extending into the shape of an angular white dragon. Quentin let out a squeak and jumped backwards as the dragon shook out its wings with a great rustling of thick paper; upon closer inspection, the return address was visible along the dragon’s left side, the inked characters stretched proportionately. Eddie’s purple crayon scribble showed upon the creature’s chest.
Two shoe-button-black eyes blinked down at Eddie from a height of about two and a half meters. “You called, miss?” the paper dragon rasped. He had a very dry, whispery voice, but this was understandable as his vocal cords were made of the same paper as the rest of him.
“Yes,” Eddie answered, reaching down to pat the cowering Quentin reassuringly upon the head. “Your name is Lexington, and you’ll be helping me get to where I need to go.”
The black eyes blinked again. “Very well, then. Kindly instruct me as to where your destination is.”
“The aerie of the Wisest Eagle. He owes me a favor.” Eddie reached for the doorhandle, but stopped, frowning down at herself. “Oh, yes. A sword. Where is Nelson?”
“Here, Your Majesty,” answered the penguin, emerging from the passageway he had vanished into earlier. He was carrying an extremely large, sheathed sword in both of his stubby wings, and the swordbelt dragged upon the floor behind him. He looked so ridiculous that Eddie couldn’t stifle a giggle, which she hastily turned into a cough as Nelson gave her an offended look.
“Here, Quentin,” Eddie said, taking the sword and belt. “Help me get this on.”
The hedgehog obliged, and in a few moments Eddie was armed to her satisfaction.
“It’s my dad’s vorpal blade, you know,” she informed Quentin, beaming down at the sword. “He killed a jabberwock with it once.”
“Really?” Quentin was overawed.
“Yup. That’s what that old, shriveled-up head is, the one that hangs in the Great Hall.” Eddie made a face. “It’s really not as big as they say it is.”
“Miss,” hissed Lexington, flicking his tail impatiently, “if you’ve somewhere to go, let us go now. The air smells of rain to come, and I do not fare well in the rain.”
“Why–” Quentin began, and then he stopped, looking rather flustered. “Oh. Right. You being made of paper and all that.”
Eddie double-checked the buckles on her swordbelt, then, grinning broadly, flung open the door. “Let’s go, then. Wouldn’t want Lexy here to get wet and start melting.” She swung up onto the dragon’s back, ignoring the alarming crackle of bending paper, and looked back down at Quentin. “Want to come with? I’m going on a quest.”
The little hedgehog seemed to shrink down where he stood. He shook his head fervidly. “N-no, Your Majesty, no thank you.”
“Suit yourself,” Eddie told him with a shrug. “Shut the door after us, will you?” She bent over Lexington’s neck and said something in his pointy paper ear, and Lexington trotted out the door, spreading his wings and segueing into a run across the castle courtyard to prepare for takeoff.
Quentin, watching from the doorway, saw dragon and rider leave the ground and diminish into the blue sky above. With a wistful sigh, the hedgehog shut the door again.