Chapter 24

Tafel’s face paled and she crouched while hugging her stomach. Vur was standing in front of a behemoth bear corpse with his hands dripping blood. Vur turned and looked at Tafel with a smile on his face.

“Are you okay?” he asked while reaching towards her.

Tafel fell over and scrambled backwards, dragging her clothes against the grass. She stared at Vur with wide eyes and her body trembled.

Vur stepped forward.

“D-don’t touch me!” Tafel yelled as tears sprang to her eyes. She curled up into a ball and clutched her shoulders.

Vur lowered his hand and tilted his head. He looked at his hands and remembered being scolded by Lindyss for spreading blood everywhere. His eyes glowed and a stream of water materialized in front of him. He rinsed the blood off and crouched next to Tafel.

“The blood’s gone now,” Vur said while raising his hands, “see?”

Tafel raised her head and looked at Vur with wide eyes. She didn’t say anything.

“What’s wrong?” Vur asked.

Tafel’s lips trembled. “Y-you’re scary,” she whispered and lowered her eyes.

Vur’s eyebrows knit together. He sat down next to her, leaving more space than usual. “I don’t understand,” he said as he looked at her.

Tafel shook her head and closed her eyes. The two sat unmoving. A rabbit hopped out of a bush and scampered past the bear corpse.

“Do you ever get scared?” Tafel asked with her eyes still closed.

“Sometimes,” Vur said. “Auntie’s very scary if you wake her up.”

A moment of silence passed. Tafel raised her head and looked at Vur. “Is that it?” she asked.

Vur nodded. “Why are you scared of me?” he asked.

“When your eyes glowed and you killed the bear and smiled… You didn’t seem like a person anymore,” Tafel said. “It felt like you were going to eat me next when you looked at me.” Tafel shivered and clutched her sleeves while looking down.

She heard Vur stand up and felt his hand on her head.

“I would never hurt you,” Vur said.

Tafel looked up and stared him in the eyes.

“Promise?”

Vur nodded. “Promise.”

###################################################################

Zollstock groaned and opened his eyes. Grey stalactites hung tens of meters above him. A breeze rolled over him and he shivered. He looked at his body and saw his discarded clothes hanging from nearby stalagmites. It wasn’t a dream? he thought. He stood up and saw Lindyss sitting on a chair in a corner knitting a sweater.

“You should put some clothes on before the children get back,” she said without looking up. She was wearing a purple robe and her light-brown hair was tied in a bun behind her head. Zollstock stared for a second before nodding. He stumbled as he got dressed.

“That was amazing,” he said. Lindyss smiled, but didn’t say anything.

“Was that a one-time thing or…?” Zollstock said and his voice trailed off.

Lindyss laughed. “You want to do it again already?” Lindyss asked with a smile as her eyes twinkled. “The children will be back with food soon you know?”

Zollstock let out a laugh. He stretched and winced after taking a few steps. He clutched his groin and fell to the floor while panting. Sweat formed on his brow.

“Was I too rough?” Lindyss asked as she chuckled.

Zollstock shook his head and took a deep breath. “It’s nothing,” he said and grimaced.

“Then you should look forward to tonight,” Lindyss said with a wink. “I hope it won’t be too hard on you.”

“Auntie!” Vur’s voice rang out from the entrance. “We’re back.” Zollstock stood up and took controlled breaths before nodding. Vur walked in, holding Tafel’s hand with his left and the behemoth bear’s hind leg with his right.

Zollstock’s mouth dropped open. “How’s that going to fit on a table?”

Vur looked at him, sighed, and shook his head. “Dragons don’t use tables.”

Vur moved the bear in front of him and sat down with Tafel next to him. Zollstock waddled over to Taffel and sat down while wincing.

“Are you okay?” Tafel asked. Zollstock nodded while breathing in.

Vur stabbed Lust into the bear’s side and sliced a strip of meat off. He grabbed the blade of the dagger and offered the hilt to Tafel. Tafel hands trembled as she took it before looking at her father. His eyes were closed and he was grimacing. She shrugged and tried to copy Vur’s previous actions, but she couldn’t break the bear’s skin.

Vur placed his hand over her’s and guided her actions. Soon, Tafel also held a strip of bear meat in her hands. It’s so squishy, she thought and her face paled while her mouth opened slightly.
“Don’t let the blood drip,” Vur said as he lifted one end of the strip and stuck it in Tafel’s mouth before she could react. Tafel’s eyes widened and she was about to spit it out, but stopped when she realized it tasted sweet. She felt warmth flowing from her throat into her belly and her body relaxed.

“Tastes good, right?” Vur asked as he grinned.

Tafel nodded and bit off a tiny piece of the meat. “It tastes really good,” she said and swallowed the piece. Vur smiled and cut off another strip of meat. Zollstock fell over and twitched as he clenched his fists.

“I don’t think your dad is okay,” Vur said. “Should I heal him?”

Zollstock looked at Vur. “Ple-“

“No,” Lindyss said as she stepped over to Vur. “He said it was nothing. You shouldn’t heal him or it’ll hurt his pride as a man.” Lindyss smiled as she tore off a chunk of bear meat and walked over to the basilisk in the other room.

Vur shrugged and continued to eat. Tafel giggled and ate her piece. Tears rolled down Zollstock’s face.

###################################################################

“It’s been such a long time, Mina.”

Mina smiled. “I’m sorry I haven’t come to visit often, Mother,” she said. She was sitting in a room with another woman who looked similar to her, but with wrinkles on her face. Mina wore a white dress and her mother wore a dark-blue gown.

“Zollstock left with the dragons?” her mother asked. “Everyone’s been talking about it. Rumors say he angered one of them and was kidnapped. A few people say they saw him dangling from its claws.”

Mina’s lips twisted into a smile. “Well, he was taken by the dragons of his own volition. Just not in the manner he wished to travel,” Mina said as she picked up the steaming tea cup in front of her.

“Aren’t you worried something will happen to him?” her mother asked and sipped her tea.

Mina shook her head. “I’m more concerned about him sleeping with another woman,” she said. “He seemed too eager to leave.”

Her mother smiled. “He wouldn’t dare,” she said. “He knows the consequences.”

Mina’s fingers turned white as she gripped the cup and took a sip.

“He better.”

 

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