Prika hummed while lying on her belly. She flipped to the next page of the book that was the size of a food stand and giggled. Nova peered over her shoulder, paint smears on his face and snout. “You seem awfully happy,” Nova said and blinked. “Whatcha reading?”
“The Godking’s Legacy,” Prika said with a nod. “It’s a romance between a squirrel and a sword. One of my prisoners finished it the other day.”
Nova scratched his snout, spreading more paint on his scales. “One of those people you imprisoned for not wearing pink?”
“No,” Prika said and rolled her eyes. “This one broke Prika Appreciation Monday. He didn’t create a sculpture of me and offer it to the skeletons, so what was I supposed to do? Not imprison him for breaking the law? Society would fall apart!” She laughed and flipped to the next page of the book. “I wonder how many people I’ll catch with today’s Rainbow Panties Wednesdays. Oh! That reminds me.” She placed a leaf in her book and closed it before facing Nova. “I caught this really weird blue thing. She could transform into different shapes: fishes, octopuses, birds; I had to evaporate her and store the vapor in a bottle to prevent her from escaping.” She reached behind her wing and pulled out a bottle with an unfortunate water elemental named Mistle inside of it. “Any idea what it is?”
“That’s a water elemental,” Nova said, taking one glance at Mistle.
Prika stared at the bottle in her paw. She blinked and met Nova’s gaze. “Think she can write romance novels?” She tapped the glass, but Mistle didn’t respond. Prika snorted and gripped the bottle, scratching the surface with the tips of her claws. She grunted and shook the bottle up and down and side to side.
Mistle screamed as she bounced off the walls of her glass prison. “Stop! Stop!” She sobbed as the bottle stopped shaking. “How can you be like this!? Who arrests someone for not wearing a hat!?”
“Fancy Hat Saturdays are a serious thing around here,” Prika said and flicked the bottle. It shattered, but Mistle remained crouched, hugging her legs. Her body was in the shape of a droplet of water, but once the glass broke, she solidified into a blue rock. “You broke the law, so I arrested you.”
“Who made that stupid law!?” Mistle shouted, tears dripping from her sapphire eyes. “I’ll beat him up!”
“I did,” Prika said. “Like I made Animal Tail Sundays, Prika Appreciation Mondays, Three Coat Tuesdays, Rainbow Panties Wednesdays, Socks and Sandals Thursdays, and Pink Robe Fridays.”
Mistle glared at Prika. “There’s something wrong with your head.”
Prika’s lips drew together into an O, and she blew out a steady stream of fire right onto Mistle’s body. The water elemental screamed as steam rose out of the cracks on her surface. “What did you say?” Prika asked, tilting her head. “I couldn’t hear you over someone screaming.”
“You’re a monster!”
Another jet of flames washed over Mistle. Prika swatted the vapor down and rubbed it into Mistle’s body, re-solidifying the screaming, watery rock. “Pardon?” Prika asked. “Someone screamed again, so I couldn’t hear you properly.”
Mistle shrieked as Prika puffed another breath of flames into her blue face. Prika tilted and lowered her head, bringing her ear next to Mistle. “What was that? It’s rude to ignore someone when they’re talking to you, you know?”
Mistle sniffled. “What do you want from me?”
Mistle’s sobbing stopped. “Romance … novels?”
Mistle’s rocky surface crinkled as she furrowed her brow. “Like Domeo and Duliet?”
“A who and a what?” Prika asked, raising an eyebrow. “Just write me stuff I want to read, got it?”
“I think so…?” Mistle blinked and scratched her head. She nodded. “I’ll do it.”
Nova scratched his chin before shaking his head. “Youngsters do things so strangely these days,” he said and sighed. He lumbered back towards his cave but froze after taking three steps. His back straightened as he stood on his hind legs, staring up at the sky. “An ice dragon, a darkness dragon, and two holy dragons. Sera, Grimmy, Leila, and…?”
“What?” Prika asked. “Dragons?” She grabbed Mistle and stuffed her into a bottle before standing on her hind legs as well. “That’s Grimmy and Leila, but that’s not Sera. Wow. Is it just me, or is it hot in here?” She blinked and ran to a nearby puddle of water, checking her reflection on its surface. She wiped away a few smudges on her face and fluttered her eyelids a few times before practicing a friendly smile. As the four dragons in the sky approached, Prika ran over to Nova’s side. “How do I look?”
Nova scratched his head. “Uh…”
“You look great!” Mistle said, giving Prika two thumbs up from within the bottle. “Perfect!”
Prika swallowed and nodded, staring at the ocean-blue dragon flying next to Grimmy. “I wonder where he’s from. Did Grimmy and Leila remember my plight and bring me back a mate? I really, really hope so!”
“Prika! Grandpa!” the ocean-blue dragon said as it landed in front of the two dragons.
Prika’s eyes widened to the size of a house. “You’re Vur!?” she shouted. Her red face flushed even redder and she hung her head, burying her face in her paws. “I’m…, I’m….” She slammed her paws against the ground and shouted, “Gah! I can’t believ—what the fu—goddammit! I give up.” She sighed and turned around, slinking away. Her tail dragged against the ground, leaving a line in the grass.
“Prika?” Vur asked. “Are you okay?”
“No. I’m not,” Prika said without looking back. “I’m going to disappear for a hundred years…. Yeah, a hundred years is appropriate….” She entered her cave and rolled a red boulder in front of the entrance. The edges of the boulder turned red as she bathed it in flames. The boulder and entrance melted together, fusing into a solid wall.
Vur blinked and asked Nova, “What’s with her?”
“Died of embarrassment,” Nova said with a shrug. “More importantly”—he pointed at the trembling holy dragon hiding behind Grimmy and Leila—“what’s with her?”
Kondra bit her lower lip as she poked her head out from behind Leila. “N-Nova,” she said. “We, we meet again.”
“Ah!?” Nova gasped and withdrew four steps. “You’re the stalker! I already have children—stop chasing me!”
“I’m not a stalker, dammit!” Kondra shouted. Her eyes shone white as she bared her teeth, shattering the ground beneath her feet. Leila and Grimmy stared at her, causing her to cough and look away. She shrank back and hung her head. “I mean, your, uh, grandson requested for me to come here as a quest reward. So here I am.”
“Now why did you do that?” Nova asked Vur.
Vur shrugged. “Grimmy told me to.”
Nova stared at Grimmy.
Grimmy grinned. “I thought I’d be able to see something interesting if you two met. And what do you know? Turns out my mother-in-law’s a creepy stalker.” He nodded and nudged Leila’s neck. “We learn something new every day, huh?”