Chapter 16

“Can I go fight the zombies too?” Tafel asked her father.

Her father glanced at his wife and answered, “I think you should ask your mother.”

“No,” her mother said as she continued cutting her steak without looking up.

“But, Mom,” Tafel said, her purple lips pouting, “Gabel and Loffel are going.”

“And that’s all the more reason you don’t need to go,” her mother replied.

“But I want to get experience too,” she said. “Dustin thinks I’m strong enough. I’m even starting to grow more horns, see?” She pointed at her forehead. Two small bulges were protruding above her eyebrows.

“You can get more experience from Prim. She tells me you’ve been spending more time with Dustin than her,” her mother said as she cut another slice of steak.

“You didn’t even look,” Tafel said with a frown. “Dad?” she asked.

“Your mother said no,” he said.

“But if you say yes, that means I can go right?” she asked. “Mom has to listen to you, right?”

“Oh, honey,” he said and sighed while shaking his head, “you’re sadly mistaken. I signed away my rights when I married her. You’ll understand when you get older.”

Her mother smiled.

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“What’d your parents say?” Dustin asked Tafel after she finished lunch.

“They said I can go,” Tafel said with a smile.

“Really?”

“Yeah, Dad said I needed experience and mom surprisingly agreed.”

“Huh, I wasn’t expecting that honestly. Your mom seems like she’d be pretty strict.”

“Yeah, she is. But she thinks this is important.”

Dustin nodded. “Alright then. Since you have their permission, we’ll head over there now. I’ll call in a favor from a teleporter I know. We have to get there first before your brothers kill everything.”

“Right now? Let me leave a letter for my parents first. I didn’t think we’d be going so soon.”

Tafel took out a piece of scrap paper and grabbed a quill. She dipped it in ink and wrote out in curvy script,

‘Dear Mom,

I’m going to fight zombies to become strong enough to take my husband’s rights away in the future.

Love,
Tafel’.

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“Wear this,” Lindyss said as she held out a ring. It had a golden band and three rubies embedded in it.

Vur tried to put it on. “It doesn’t fit,” he said as the ring fell off his finger. Lindyss frowned. She tore a leather strip off the bottom of Vur’s pants and threaded it through the ring.

“Tie it around your neck,” she said and held the makeshift necklace towards him. Vur nodded, he learned how to tie knots from Lindyss when she made a belt to hold his dagger.

Lindyss looked at the ring hanging from Vur’s neck and nodded. “Time for lessons,” she said.

“Okay,” Vur said as he pet Snuffles. Lindyss had been teaching Vur how to read and write in between his arena matches by drawing letters on the ground. He already won twenty seven matches without receiving any injuries. The managers pit Vur against desert beasts hoping to create a more balanced match, but were horrified when he started to eat them. The crowd loved it though and some even went to the fighter’s quarters to offer him food. After Vur learned to read and write the elvish language, which was spoken by the sentient residents in the wilderness, Lindyss began teaching him snaketongue and human.

Lindyss watched as Vur read out the characters she wrote on the floor. He was squatting with his butt on his ankles and was using Lust to underline the characters. His dark brown hair reached just below his neck and was braided at the ends. Snuffles was sleeping on his head. His figure reminded her of the times she had spent learning with her dragon friend.

“Do you want to hear a story?” she asked Vur. He stopped reading and looked up. He nodded and Snuffles oinked as he fell off of Vur’s head.

“This is the story of how I met your mother.”

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“It was over a thousand years ago when I had my coming of age ceremony with all the other elves who were born in the same decade as me. The ceremony’s once a decade and the adults take the adolescents into the wild to find magical beasts to imprint them. The children would be accompanied by their parents to make sure they were safe, but they had to convince the beast by themselves. It’s hard to convince a beast to imprint you because they usually only imprint when their young are born.

My parents died a little after I was born, so I went by myself. I guess I wanted to prove that I was just as good as, if not better than, everyone else by finding an imprint on my own. I wandered for three months before finding a bat that had just given birth to its young. One of its newborns was sickly and I healed it; I used to be a white mage before I became… this,” Lindyss said as she gestured towards herself.

“Beasts with lineages are intelligent and the mother bat appreciated what I did. She imprinted me and I obtained her lineage. I stayed with her for a long time, providing her children with food and helping fend off other beasts. She gave me a home when I didn’t have one.” Lindyss smiled with her eyes shining.

“But all things must end. A behemoth bear invaded and I couldn’t stop it. She entrusted her children to me and fought the bear to give us time to escape. Days passed and I was living with the bats in a cave we found. I was so weak and angry at myself. I kept going back to the place where she died, looking for a chance to kill the bear, but I never found one. One day, I was watching the bear and then the sky turned dark and I felt my hairs stand on end. Grimmy descended and did what I couldn’t do with a single bite. I was outraged that my prey had been stolen, but at the same time I was relieved that it was over.

“He turned and looked at me with the corpse still in his mouth and I cried and yelled at him. He listened to me rant as he ate the bear and fell asleep before I finished talking. When he woke up, I was curled up in a ball sitting in front of the cave while crying. He asked me if I wanted power,” Lindyss stared at her hands and fell silent. And I said yes.

“What about my mother?” Vur asked after a long pause.

Lindyss snorted. “Grimmy might as well be your mother with how much you take after him.”

 

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