Chapter 23

“Will my father be okay?” Tafel turned to ask Vur. She was sitting next to him on Grimmy’s head wearing leather pants and a woolen blue sweater. They were still on the ground outside of the demon’s capital. Snuffles was sleeping on Prika’s head.

“He should be fine,” Vur said. “Grimmy’s only dropped his prey once or twice before.”

“Please don’t refer to me as prey,” a voice called out from one of Grimmy’s claws. “It’s frightening enough being carried in a dragon’s claws.” Zollstock had thought he would be standing on Grimmy’s head as they flew through the sky, but Grimmy had snorted and refused. “Not just anyone can ride a dragon,” he had said and picked him up with his claws.

“Be careful,” Mina said from the city walls. Her face was pale as she watched Grimmy spread his wings and leap into the sky. A scream resounded through the air, but it faded away as Grimmy got further and further away from the city. Mina looked towards the capital and sighed. She wanted to stop her husband from going to the dragon roost, but she knew that the adventurer in him was still alive. Stay safe, Tafel, she thought and closed her eyes as her hands clenched the hem of her purple dress.

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Tafel hugged Vur’s right arm as she looked at the scenery below. “This is amazing,” she said with her eyes wide open. “Everything looks so small. Is that a roc? It looks so tiny.”

Vur nodded. “Did you want to eat it?” he asked.

Tafel’s mouth fell open and she shook her head.

“It’s kinda cold,” she said as she shivered.

“Sit behind me so the wind doesn’t blow on you,” Vur said.

Tafel shook her head and hugged Vur’s arm tighter. “I’m afraid to move,” she whispered.

Vur blinked and he turned his body while lifting Tafel into the air. She closed her eyes and screamed, but stopped when she felt something solid behind her back. She opened her eyes and saw Grimmy’s wings and tail with the earth visible behind them. She was sitting on Vur’s lap leaning against his body as he sheltered her from the wind. Tafel’s face turned red and she hugged Vur’s arm, which was draped over her shoulder, tighter.

“I told your mom I wouldn’t let anything happen to you,” Vur said. “I can’t let you get cold.”

Zollstock let out a sneeze in Grimmy’s claws. Tears streamed from his eyes as the wind buffeted his face. I hope Tafel’s not too scared, he thought as he tried to readjust his body.

“Quit squirming around,” Grimmy said to him, “or I might drop you. Not that I’d mind.”

Tafel watched as city after city, town after town, vast oceans of green and gold, passed before her eyes. Tears began to form and she smiled.

“Are you crying?” Vur asked. “Is it still too cold?”

Tafel shook her head and leaned her head on his shoulder as she turned to face him. “I’m happy,” she said. “Thanks for being my friend.”

Vur’s heart sped up as he looked into her purple eyes. “You’re welcome,” he said and turned his head away with red cheeks. Tafel blinked and then giggled.

Prika turned her head to look at the two children. “Doesn’t that just make your heart warm, Snuffles?” she asked her sleeping flying companion. Snuffles continued to snore.

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“Don’t worry, Sera,” Vernon said to the blue dragon that was pacing inside the cave. “I’m sure they’ll be back soon.”

“I’m going with them next time,” she said with her teeth bared. “It shouldn’t take more than a few hours to borrow books.”

“Maybe Vur’s exploring. Grimmy and Prika are with him; they wouldn’t let him get hurt,” Vernon said.

Sera’s tail perked up and she stopped pacing. “They’re back,” she said and let out a sigh. She flew out of the cave and into the green valley where she saw two specks in the air getting larger over time. Leila and Vernon waited next to Sera as all three watched Grimmy and Prika get closer.

“Vur kidnapped the princess,” Prika said as she landed in front of Sera. “He stole her heart too.”

Grimmy slowed his descent before landing on his hind legs. “And father,” Grimmy added as he opened his claw to release Zollstock.

“Oh, ground. I never realized how much I loved you,” Zollstock said as he collapsed onto his knees. “Please don’t leave me again.” His hair was disheveled and tears fell from his eyes.

“You two love birds can get off now,” Prika said. Vur and Tafel were still holding each other. Tafel squirmed.

“You should let go now,” she whispered with her face red.

“I like sitting like this though,” Vur said as he yawned. Tafel stopped squirming and leaned against him.

“What exactly happened?” Leila asked Grimmy as he crawled onto his stomach.

“Vur wanted to play with Tafel and the demon didn’t want her going alone, so he came too,” Grimmy replied as he yawned.

“Isn’t it bad if we remove the demon lord from the capital?” Leila asked. “Won’t that be taken as a sign of aggression?”

“It’s fine, it’s fine. I didn’t drop him,” Grimmy said and closed his eyes. Leila let out a sigh.

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Lindyss was sleeping in her bed when a voice called out and woke her.

“Auntie, the deaf man came to see you.”

The basilisk stumbled down the stairs and hid its snout under her bed. She got up and put on her red robe and walked upstairs to the mini-boss room.

“Why are they here?” she asked as she looked at Vur who was holding Tafel’s hand. Zollstock was standing behind the two with flowers in his hands.

“He said he wanted to tell you something, so I brought him here,” Vur said. He tugged Tafel’s arm. “Let’s go play with the bats,” he said as they headed back towards the entrance.

“Did you miss me that much?” Lindyss asked Zollstock while raising an eyebrow.

“Ah, n-no. It’s just that I never got to properly introduce myself to you the last time we met,” he replied. “My name is Zollstock the fifth. Demon lord with a sub class of warrior.” He bowed his head.

“Surely you didn’t come all this way just to introduce yourself to me,” Lindyss said. “Did you want to drink from the fountain? I’m afraid it’s running quite dry these days, so the price will be a lot higher than usual.”

“No, I wouldn’t dare to drink from your sweet fountain,” Zollstock said as he held out the flowers he was holding. “Please accept this.”

Lindyss raised an eyebrow. “This is a pitiful dowry if you’re trying to marry your daughter off to Vur,” she said as she walked forward to receive the flowers.

“That’s not what this is!” Zollstock said and then cleared his throat. “Thi-“

“I’m just messing with you,” Lindyss whispered as she stepped closer and put a finger on his lips. Zollstock’s eyes widened and he collapsed to the floor unconscious.

Lindyss channeled mana to her finger and placed it against his forehead. She stripped off his outer garments and moved his body into a corner.

“What are you doing to my father?” Tafel asked as she stood next to Vur and watched Lindyss drag Zollstock’s body.

“He was tired, so I decided to give him a nice dream,” she said with a smile.

“Why’d you take his clothes off?”

“He said he was hot,” Lindyss said. “You two should go out and play.”

“But-“

Vur pulled on Tafel’s hand and shook his head. “He’ll be fine,” Vur said and pulled her away.

Lindyss smiled and looked at the demon lord who was smiling and giggling in his sleep. I’m going back to bed, she thought and walked away.

“Oh, you’re so naughty,” Zollstock said in his sleep as he hugged a rock.

 

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