A sudden, sharp cry escaped her lips as she strolled the towering, turreted castle’s garden path that blossoming spring morn. “Ahhhh, it is time,” she breathed in wonderment. The long-awaited pangs were beginning, and she welcomed them. Cradling her stomach’s pregnant orb, she smiled as the cramp subsided. “I have dreamt long of this moment.” She recalled the anxious, hopeful years of marriage before the new life had sprung up within her. She had tried to be patient, and now the primal maternal urge to suckle her own child would be fulfilled.
From her graceful, tiara-crowned head to dainty feet clad in pale-yellow silken slippers, she bore the unmistakable mark of royalty. Her richly embellished gown glowed as if spun from fibers of the golden fireball above, but her true loveliness shone in her sunburst smile and luminous eyes.
Again the pain clutched at her insides, stronger this time, and she leaned into it with elation. Thoughts of presenting the King with this prophesied fulfillment of their desires lit her countenance with exquisite radiance.
Unconsciously she murmured aloud, “I have wandered further than I intended and must hasten to my chambers while I am still able.”
A peculiar rushing sound and the force of a violent wind startled her out of her expectant reverie, and a stench of burning sulphur caused her to instinctively cover her mouth and nostrils. Before she could glance around, a massive winged dragon alighted on the path before her, his scarlet scales smoldering. Multiple hideous heads were studded with vicious-looking horns. Foul, hot breath assaulted her, and she drew back in terror. His immense tail lashed about menacingly, tearing at the leafing trees and pulling down a hail of rocks from the nearby hillside. She attempted to shield her stomach from the stinging stones and fragments of flying bark and branches.
The brute had planted himself directly in front of her, so she could not follow the path back to safety. His cruel eyes leered at her with unmistakable desire. She knew why he had come, and it was not for her.
“I know who you are,” she announced with sudden courage. “You are the ancient dragon of the northern reaches who is reported to have a ravenous appetite for the tender flesh of newborn princes, but you shall not have this one! He is mine, and he is the King’s!”
Before the words had fairly left her mouth, she doubled over with a spasm whose force well-nigh dropped her to her knees. As she groaned, the dragon licked his many lips with his long forked tongues, and drool trickled down his chins. His mocking eyes gleamed as with sparking fire, “I promise you, oh Queen, I will have him, and he will be a sweet delicacy—a most succulent morsel to satisfy my hunger.” With a claw he wiped away dribbles of saliva and lightly smacked his lips in anticipation.
He sat watching intently as her pains increased in number and duration until the moment when her moans and cries reached a crescendo and became intermingled with the wail of the male child born to her. He straightened with eagerness to snatch the infant, but a giant eagle, the trained, personal pet of her husband, swooped abruptly into their midst and grasped the boy in its sheathed talons, hurtling skyward again in the space of a breath.
As the dragon lunged for the child and then began thrashing about in the disappointment and rage of his loss, the woman flew as if on wings herself to a hidden shelter the king had prepared for her as a refuge from rain, wind, blazing sun, or sudden storms. She could hear the dragon’s wrathful roars, deprived of his coveted prey and realizing that she also had escaped him. He began to take furious pursuit, but she slipped into the well-screened entrance to the rocky cave and fled into the enfolding sanctuary of its deep, dark core.
With keen perception, she recognized this would mean protracted, all-out war with its attendant savagery, bloodshed, and destruction before the dragon could be vanquished. The beast had his allies, as did the King; and neither would agree to a truce, nor would either surrender.
Tears rained freely, while her womb and her arms throbbed with their emptiness. “My King,” she whispered into the air, “I trust you to preserve the babe, but I tremble at this shroud of sorrow flung upon my heart. How long must I wait for joy?”
Based on Revelation 12
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