That was when he met the fox.
Evilly cunning creature, it set traps for Russel, bits of fur and fluff to make the prince think he knew where the animal was only to have it attack elsewhere. Blood ran down his face from bites and scratches. His boot was gone as were one of his toes. When he connected with the blindingly fast creature, it was killed easily. Russel's sword took the head off in one swing, but not before he'd been badly beaten himself.
Sitting, he downed liquor from his flask, letting it burn through him and give him false strength. He was at the door. Just a few more yards and the girl would be his. He tugged his boot back on, biting back a scream at the pain. Leaning on his sword he stumbled forward, ready for this to be over.
Magnificent spread his wings and beat them twice, nearly knocking the weakened prince over by air alone. He laughed great clouds of smoke that blinded Russel. The prince dropped down, breathing the fresher air below.
A dragon? He was going to fight a dragon? No woman was worth this. No kingdom. The witch take Victor, his wife and his daughter. Russel was finished with the lot. Crazy, every last one of them.
Scooping together his stamina and sword, he pushed himself up, lashing at the great red beast. Pale violet claws narrowly missed him, grating on armour already beaten by a bear. Unlike the bear, her claws tore through the metal, pulling him for a moment before falling backward.
Landing on his ass, he held the sword up as the dragon bent down to bite him.
With a roar, he sprang back, blood dripping from his mouth. He'd managed to hit him. He jumped up again as his tail swung at Russel's legs and stabbed the tip. He somehow slid between the scales, ripping it open. More blood sprayed as he lashed with it.
With more confidence, Russel began looking for other tender bits. One wing was sheared off, but he took a claw to the face, blood running into his eye. He found a weak point under his forelimb and made the dragon step back.
The beast's purple eyes seemed cloudy. Had he scored a lethal blow? He tried for the same spot on the other side and Magnificent, no longer resembling his name, fell with a thud. Russel ran his sword through one of his eyes to be sure the job was done. Then, cleaning the blade on the grass, he limped into the fortress.