Celia sat next to a green sprout that had two leaves poking out of the top. It was eight inches tall and the stem pulsed with a golden glow. She was reading a book out loud next to the sprout with her wooden spear on the grass beside her. She wore brown leather breeches with a green cotton halter top. Her gold hair cascaded down to her lower back.
A shadow fell over the glade and Celia shivered. She snapped her book shut and lifted her spear as she stood up. Two dragons, one black and one red, circled above her.
“This should be the spot, right?” Prika asked while looking down.
“Yeah, look,” Grimmy said while nodding, “you can see the crybaby down there.”
“Who’s a crybaby!?” Celia shouted as her right eye twitched and she raised her spear. A second later her face paled and she knelt on the floor. “I mean, greetings, Grimmoldesser, Pyrrhicandra.”
Prika and Grimmy landed in front of Celia who lowered her head.
Grimmy snorted. “This is the new tree of knowledge?” he asked. “Isn’t it too tiny?”
It’s your faults! Celia thought, but said, “Yes, it has only started to sprout recently.”
Prika nodded. “And you elves are bound to protect this, right?” she asked with a grin.
Sweat started to form on Celia’s brow. “That’s correct,” she said. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
“You’ve probably heard of the new kingdom that Lindyss founded right?” Grimmy asked as he flapped his wings.
Celia’s face contorted. “The corrupted one?” she asked. “We’ve received reports about it, but decided it would be best not to interfere with her actions.”
Grimmy slammed his claw into the ground in front of Celia, causing her to fall over backwards. “Don’t call her that,” he said with his teeth bared. He snorted and pulled back his claw, leaving fissures in the earth.
“U-understood,” Celia said as she felt her eyes grow hot. Her vision blurred. “It won’t happen again.”
Prika cleared her throat. “Anyways, about that new kingdom. The skeletons are numerous, but they really can’t stop a wave of SSS adventurers without abandoning the city in a siege,” she said. “We’d like the elves to help out.” She stepped forward and sniffed the tree of knowledge sprout.
Celia frowned. “I’d have to ask the elders. I don’t control our policies,” she said as she sat up and wiped her eyes.
“Oh, don’t worry. The elders will agree,” Prika said and smiled.
Celia tilted her head. “Why do the dragons care about the undead kingdom?” she asked.
“It’s going to be Vur’s playground,” Prika said, “and quite frankly, I’m bored. It’s been a while since I’ve done anything entertaining. Wouldn’t it be fun to rule over a kingdom in the shadows?”
Celia stared at Prika. “I-I guess?” she said, “Hey! What are you doing?” She turned towards Grimmy.
Grimmy was using his claws to dig the surrounding dirt away from the tree of knowledges sprout.
“Digging,” he said and lifted the chunk soil carrying the roots of the sprout.
“You can’t do that!” she said. “This is the holy land!” She stared at the sprout in Grimmy’s claw.
Grimmy laughed. “No, no. That’s where you’re wrong,” he said, “the tree wasn’t planted here because the land is holy. The land is holy because the tree was planted here, you see?” He flapped his wings and leapt into the air with the sprout.
Prika winked at Celia. “I told you the elders would agree,” she said and flew after Grimmy.
Celia stared at the two dragons as their figures got smaller and smaller. She turned her head towards the hole in the ground and sighed. She picked up her spear and trudged out of the glade.
“Is that a dragon?” the naked wizard asked as he stared up at the sky with his mouth open. “Is that two dragons?” He was standing in the middle of the street with a skeleton standing next to him. The people in the streets glanced up at the sky for a brief moment before continuing what they were doing.
“Quick, let’s go after them,” he said as he grabbed the skeleton’s arm and pulled it with him.
“Isn’t that Exzenter?” a man on the street asked the woman standing next to him. They stared at the naked man pulling the skeleton with him, running through the streets of the undead kingdom. The woman’s face turned red as she turned her head away.
“What’s the number one time mage doing here?” the man asked out loud and scratched his head. He shrugged and turned back to face the woman as Exzenter got further and further away.
Exzenter stopped running and smacked his forehead. “Why am I running?” he asked and spread his arms open. Wind swirled around him and he disappeared along with the skeleton in a flash of light.
Lindyss sat underneath a tree on a hill as she watched Prika and Grimmy approach. She was wearing a green robe and her light-brown hair was wrapped in a bun behind her head. She felt the ground shake and stood up. She frowned at the ground and saw cracks spreading underneath her.
She stepped to the side and a moment later, a hand broke through the earth. Lindys stared as another hand shot out of the ground and proceeded to dig a hole into the surrounding dirt. A face with a white beard appeared above the ground and looked up at her. Lindyss stared back.
“Help?” Exzenter asked as his hands flailed above him.
Lindyss took a step back and coughed. She turned her head away to look at the dragons in the distance.
“Please don’t act like you didn’t see me,” Exzenter said as he spat out dirt, “stupid elevation teleporting nonsense.”
Lindyss tilted her head down to look at the man. She knelt to the ground and scooped up a handful of dirt and placed it on Exzenter’s forehead.
“I’ll be sure to bury you properly,” she said and nodded. “May your soul rest in peace.”
“No, no, no, no,” Exzenter said as he shook off the dirt from his head, “wrong kind of help. Dig me out?”
A skeletal hand popped out of the ground next to Exzenter. Another hand popped out, and a skeleton slid out of the ground.
“Oh. Greetings to the lord,” the skeleton said and nodded at Lindyss.
She pointed at Exzenter. “What is this thing?” she asked. “And why can it speak?”
The skeleton clawed away the dirt in its eye sockets. “Oh, that’s just a crazy man,” it said. “He fell from the sky. I think he was seeking salvation.”
“How rude. My name is Exzenter,” he said and pouted. “I’m the envoy sent to establish a relationship with the kingdom of Konigreich. The human kingdom sends its regards.”
Lindyss turned to look at the skeleton. “Is he serious?” she asked with an eyebrow raised.
“I think everything he says can be taken with a grain of salt,” the skeleton said and nodded.
“No, no. I’m really-. Oh they’re here!” Exzenter said with wide eyes as he stared at Grimmy and Prika in the air flying towards them. Lindyss turned and shielded her eyes as Prika and Grimmy landed, causing a gust of wind to blow out.
“We got it,” Grimmy said and grinned as he held out the sprout towards Lindyss.
“What’s this?” Prika asked as she stared at Exzenter’s face. She poked his forehead with the tip of her claw and Exzenter yelped. She turned towards Lindyss. “You should really stop planting such strange things. This is why you haven’t gotten married yet.”
Lindyss’ right eye twitched and she threw a thunderbolt at Prika.
Prika swatted it towards Exzenter with her claw. “Violent tendencies too,” Prika said as she shook her head. “Tsk, tsk.” Exzenter coughed out smoke through his frizzled beard.
“Should we plant it here?” Grimmy asked as he peered at Exzenter.
“No,” Lindyss said and dusted off her hands, “the nutrients in this soil will make the tree stupid. We should go somewhere else.”
Grimmy nodded and lifted Lindyss onto his head. His wings flapped and he jumped into the air. Prika looked at Exzenter and shrugged before taking off.
“Wait!” Exzenter shouted. “Let me study you!” The figure of the dragons got smaller and smaller as they flew away. He shifted his eyes towards the skeleton.
“Help?” he asked.
“Have you tried praying?” the skeleton asked. “When everything seems to be going wrong in life and you just can’t seem to get free, a prayer can heal your soul.”