Chapter One

Meg put the back of one hand to her forehead and leaned against the window sill of her chamber, looking out over the royal vegetable garden to the city of Crown, her imagination flying across the rest of the Kingdom of Greeve and into the wide world beyond. Her green gown flowed gracefully down her semi-slim sides. Her golden tresses—well, her light brown tresses—flowed almost as gracefully down her back. “Alas and alack,” Meg said in a breathless voice, “will no one come to take me away from this foul place?” She snickered. Boring place was more like it.

Meg’s mother was worried about the lack of princes coming to court her daughter. Meg wasn’t. She was more interested in coming up with a way of convincing her parents to let her go on a quest.

Meg left the window to change into a more serviceable skirt, tunic, and short, soft boots. She clipped her hair back and buckled on her sword, then headed downstairs for her first class of the day. She nearly crashed into Dilly, who was coming up the stairs. Dilly used to be Meg’s maid, but now she was Meg’s one and only lady-in-waiting. “Sword lessons?” Dilly asked, after neatly stepping out of Meg’s way.

“Sword lessons,” Meg answered. Swordplay was Meg’s favorite class, followed by statesmanship, a class taught by the austere Lady Fralen. Meg had expected to hate it, but to her amazement, she was pretty good at diplomacy and sort of liked it. Years of trying to get around her mother so she could hunt for frogs or roam the woods with Cam the gardener’s boy had taught her a lot about smooth talking, and it turns out that’s what statesmanship was. That and figuring out what the other person wanted.

Meg tried not to think about her other classes for today, etiquette and magic and dance. She was bad at all three.

“Lucky you,” said Dilly.

“Why, where are you going?”

Dilly made a face. “Eugenia invited me again.” Queen Istilda’s ladies-in-waiting were trying to turn Dilly into a fluffbrain, but so far, Dilly was resisting.

“You can tell me about it tonight.”

“Oh, I will!” Dilly gave a positively evil little laugh. Her reenactments of the embroidery-and-gossip sessions put on by the queen’s ladies were getting better with practice, though Meg suspected Dilly left out some of the talk about Meg not being courted by anyone. Laughing more normally, Dilly went on up the stairs, her brown gown and tidy black hair looking suitably demure.

Excerpt © 2009 Kate Coombs

About the book:
In this sequel to The Runaway Princess, Meg goes on a quest to find her runaway dragon, Laddy, but she gets tangled up with an enchanted forest, an angry giant, and a “mean girls” teen sorceress. Will she and her friends be able to escape with their lives, let alone find the missing dragon?

Release Date: September 2009

About the author:

Kate Coombs lives in the Los Angeles area, where she teaches sick kids in their homes for the school district. Kate is also the author of a picture book called The Secret-Keeper and a comic fantasy for middle grades called The Runaway Princess. In her alter-ego as Book Aunt, she writes a weekly children’s book review blog.