"Listen," she said dryly, "I know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the princess and they're supposed to–"

"–get married and everything, yeah," the knight finished. "It feels clichéed to me too."

"The truth is, I'm sure you're lovely, but," the princess considered her words, "I'm only into women. Sorry kid."

The knight was silent for a while. "I should be truthful too. I'm not a man. You're the first person I've told."

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"Listen," she said dryly, "I know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the princess and they're supposed to–"

"–get married and everything, yeah," the knight finished. "It feels clichéed to me too."

"The truth is, I'm sure you're lovely, but," the princess considered her words, "I'm only into women. Sorry kid."

He laughed, "actually, I didn't even want to be here. It was my sister who sent me."

"...is she cute?"

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"Listen," she said dryly, "I know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the princess and they're supposed to–"

"–get married and everything, yeah," the knight finished. "It feels clichéed to me too."

"The truth is," the princess said casually, "I'm asexual and aromantic."

He shrugged. "Creepy tradition anyway, if you ask me."

"Hey, can we get out of here though?"

"Sure. Do you fancy going for an ale?"

"Yes please!"

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"Listen, I know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the princess and–"

"–and you're worried I'll be upset because the story was wrong and you're a prince instead?"

He looked up hopefully. "You're not?"

"Of course I'm not!" the knight grinned. "I mean, just look at you!"

"So err," he laughed nervously, "aren't we also supposed to get married?"

"Let's not rush this. Good relationships take time."

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"Listen," she said dryly, "I know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the princess and they're supposed to–"

"–get... married? Wait." The knight took off his helmet and scratched his brow, puzzled. "I'm getting some serious déja vu here."

The princess frowned. "Yeah, me too. Weird."

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"Listen, I know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the princess and they–"

"–get married and everything, yeah," the knight finished.

“Well,” said the princess, “I hate to be rude, but you seem to be slightly... Dead. You do know you’re a ghost, right?”

“Oh! That. Yeah.” She grinned, apologetic. “I made it past the dragon. Just not alive.”

The princess shrugged. “I guess that works. We can figure something out.”

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The knight looked around the empty chamber. He was sure this was the right place. So why was this tower empty? There wasn't even a dragon outside.

Pinned to the bedpost with a small silver dagger was a handwritten note:

‘Needed toothpaste and dragon food.
Gone out to town.
Back soon x’

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"Listen," she said dryly, "I know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the princess and they're supposed to–"

"–get married and everything, yeah," the knight finished. "It feels clichéed to me too."

"The truth is, I'm sure you're lovely, but," the princess considered her words, "I'm only into women. Sorry kid."

The knight took off her helmet. “Well, that’s convenient!” she laughed.

The princess grinned and bit her lip.

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"Listen, I know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the princess and–"

“Wait, wait,” the knight lifted his helmet visor to show his frown, “there’s a princess too?”

“Is that not why you came here?” asked the dragon.

“I’ve met princesses before,” said the knight, “but it’s not every day I get to see a dragon!”

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"Listen, I know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the–” they stopped abruptly with a frown.

“I know. There’s no gender neutral variant of princess. Frustrating, isn’t it?”

“Unfair, really,” they sighed. “Knight is a gender neutral term.”

“Well, kinda?” The knight shrugged. “Technically it’s male by default, like doctor, because it used to be a job women weren't allowed to do."

“Ugh. So patriarchal.”

“I know, right?”

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"Listen," she said in confusion, "I know how this is supposed to go. There’s supposed to be a knight. Who are you?”

“Goblin.”

“Yes, I can see that.”

“Strong goblin! Skilful goblin! Pass dragon. Climb tower. Find princess!”

“This is not exactly how I imagined this going.”

“You come with goblin?”

“Um...”

“Goblin city have no leader. You come! Be Goblin Queen!”

She sighed and shrugged. “Eh, why not? As long as I don’t have to marry you.”

“Ew. Gross.”

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"So, you know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the princess–"

“–yes," the knight cut in, "I know. We have this the wrong way around."

"I never defeated a dragon before," the princess flourished her sword proudly, "but how did you end up locked in a tower?"

"I never wanted to be a knight," he sighed, "I'm terrible at it. I wanted to be a baker."

"You can be whatever you wish." The princess held out her hand. "Come."

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"Listen," she said, frustrated but calm, "You know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the princess and they're supposed to–"

“–get married.”

A restrained nod. "And you remember our deal?"

"...yes?”

“So just WHY,” the princess yelled in anger, “did you EAT the GOD DAMN KNIGHT??”

“I... was hungry?” The dragon looked sheepish. “I’m sorry! Old habits are hard to break!

“I’m never going to find anyone at this rate.”

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"Listen," she said quietly, "I know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the dragon, rescues the princess and blah blah blah."

The knight raised an eyebrow.

"But I can't just leave right now." The princess gestured to a nest with three large dragon eggs. "I promised the dragon I'd be her nurse maid."

"Oh," his eyes widened with realisation. "Ohhhh! Hey, can I stay? I could knit them little sweaters! Do dragons wear sweaters?"

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”Listen," she said dryly, "I know how this is supposed to go. The knight gets past the... wait a second!”

“What is it?”

The princess scowled. “You’d better not have hurt my dragon!“

“No, no,” the knight raised her hands disarmingly, “he’s asleep out in the entrance hall. I just snuck past.”

She looked relieved. “Thank goodness. I don’t know what I’d do without Raspberry.”

“His name is Raspberry??”

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