Chapter 26

“You got cursed by fairies?” Zollstock asked his daughter. Zollstock was sitting in front of a bear corpse with Vur and Tafel.

“Yeah,” Tafel said.

Zollstock sighed. “What’s your mother going to think? I can’t have you go back to her like this,” he said.

“She’d probably think it’s your fault for not watching over me,” Tafel said as she watched Vur cut out a piece of bear.

“It’s not my fault that the fairies cursed you,” he said while adjusting his pants.

“No, it’s not your fault,” Tafel said and covered her mouth. “You just stayed in the cave all day with auntie.”

Vur looked at Zollstock. “Your pants are on backwards,” he said.

Zollstock looked down. “No they’re not,” he said. “This is how I always wear them. You’re imagining things.”

“He’s lying,” Tafel said with her voice muffled by her hands.

I really can’t take her home like this, Zollstock thought. “… We should probably go back soon or your mother will be worried sick,” Zollstock said. “Do you want to go back?”

“No. I don’t want to go back. Mom and Prim are too strict,” Tafel said. “I hate learning how to act like a lady, and I have no friends there. I want to stay here with Vur.” Her eyes glistened as tears started to form and she lowered her head.

Zollstock rubbed his chin. “Alright then,” he said and nodded, “you can stay for now.”

Tafel looked up. “Really?!” she asked with her mouth open.

He nodded again. “Your mother’s going to be furious at me,” he said and smiled, “but I think it’ll be worth it to let you gain experience and grow.”

“Thank you,” Tafel said and tackled her dad with a bear hug.

Zollstock groaned and his face turned pale. “You’re welcome,” he whispered back.

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

“You did what!?” Mina yelled at Zollstock who was looking at the floor. “It was your idea to let her go and now you don’t even bring her back?! Does she mean nothing to you? Do my words mean nothing to you?” Mina’s horns pulsed red and her hair rippled in the air as she glared at her husband. She had received reports that her husband came back without Tafel and went to the clinic before coming to see her.

“Please. Calm down,” Zollstock said with his head still lowered. “I can explain.”

“I’m waiting,” Mina said with her arms crossed over her chest. Her hair stopped waving, but her horns still glowed red.

Zollstock looked up. “The resources in the wilderness are a lot greater than they are here,” he said. “She can eat magical beast meat for breakfast and drink from the fountain of youth when she’s thirsty. She can even find a beast to imprint her. Give her enough time and she’ll be one of the strongest leaders we’ve ever had.”

“I don’t care about that,” Mina said. “You could have brought her back and explained it. Did you even see how Vur acted? What if Tafel becomes as wild as he is? Did you even think about that when you abandoned her in the forest?”

“But-“

“Tafel doesn’t even need to be strong,” Mina said. “I don’t know why you insist on making her a combat freak. If you brought Gabel or Loffel there, then I wouldn’t mind as much, but Tafel?”

“She has so much potential,” Zollstock said. “We shouldn’t stifle that just because she’s a girl.”

“Potential to do what? Run off and get herself killed?” Mina asked. “Aren’t we in the process of making peace with the humans? There was no need for her to become strong before and there’s even less of a reason now.”

“But weren’t you an adventurer before too?” Zollstock asked Mina. “Shouldn’t you know why she needs to become stronger?”

Mina’s horns stopped glowing and she frowned. “It’s because I was an adventurer that I know she shouldn’t live that kind of life,” she said. “Tafel is not going to be an adventurer.” Mina turned around and slammed the door as she left.

Zollstock stared at the door and sighed. I knew I should’ve brought her flowers and chocolate. That could’ve gone a lot wor-.

The door flew open.

“I forgot to ask,” Mina said with her horns glowing, “when’s she coming back?”

“Um. I don’t… know?” Zollstock said. “Wait! Wait!” He waved his hands in front of his body as Mina stepped closer to him.

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

Mina’s mother was pouring tea when her house shook. She stood up and walked to the window. There was a hole with smoke pouring out of it on the top floor of the demon lord’s castle. She shook her head and went back to her seat. Poor Zollstock, she thought and sipped her tea.

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

“Mom, can I imprint Tafel?” Vur asked. The dragons were resting in the valley and Vur was with Tafel sitting in front of Sera.

“What? Ew. No. That’s gross,” Prika said. “She’d be like your daughter then. Let me do it.”

Sera glared at Prika. “I thought we agreed it was best not to imprint non dragons,” Sera said.

“Yeah, but I want kids too. I don’t even have a mate,” Prika said while frowning.

“Why does Tafel want to be imprinted?” Vernon asked.

“I want to be strong like Vur,” Tafel said, “so he doesn’t have to always protect me when we play. And if I get stronger, then I won’t have to listen to my parents.”

“Good enough for me!” Prika said and approached Tafel.

Sera put her claw on Prika’s snout.

“What will the elves think if we imprint a demon?” Sera asked. “What will the humans think?”

Prika pushed Sera’s claw off. “You imprinted Vur,” she said. “Who cares what anyone else thinks?”

“Vur’s not an heir to a throne. Tafel can be,” Sera said. “Don’t forgot what my father said about angering the humans.”

Vernon and Grimmy coughed while turning their heads away.

Prika rolled her eyes. “Fine, I get what you’re saying,” Prika said and turned to Tafel. “Sorry, squirt.”

Tafel frowned. “That’s okay,” she said. “I’ll just have to get stronger on my own.”

“Just because you can’t get a dragon to imprint you doesn’t mean other beasts won’t,” Prika said. “Why not a behemoth bear?”

“My teacher told me that you can only get imprinted once,” Tafel said and covered her mouth, “I wanted to be like Vur.” Her face turned red and she lowered her head.

“Oh?” Grimmy said and grinned. “You know he can still make normal babies, right? There’s no need for a dragon imprint.”

Leila nudged him. “Hush, they’re not even 6 yet.”

“Eh? Don’t tell me you two don’t know how babies are made yet,” Grimmy said towards the children.

The two shook their heads.

Vernon coughed. “Well you see,” Vernon said as he cleared his throat, “when a boy and a girl love each other very much, they form a connection. When they eat together, talk to each other, live in the same cave together, hold hands with each other, that connection grows stronger. When the connection reaches a certain lev-“

Sera smacked him. “You’ll make the children stupid.”

Vernon sighed and rubbed his snout.

“So I can’t imprint Tafel?” Vur asked.

Sera shook her head. “It’s best if you didn’t.”

Vur frowned. Tafel tugged his hand. “It’s okay,” she said. “I’m happy enough that you asked for me. Let’s go play in the water, okay?”

Vur nodded. “Okay.” The two turned and left the valley.

Prika stared at the backs of the two children and sighed.

 

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