Dustin sighed as he took a swig from his mug. He was sitting on a black couch in a bathrobe with a wooden table in front of him. There was a half empty bottle of whiskey on the table. His face was red and tears could be seen in the corner of his eyes.
Screams sounded out from his kitchen. He stumbled onto his feet and wobbled to the entryway. More screams pierced his ears. He cringed and pinched his forehead with his hands. He raised his head and saw Mina, Tafel, and Vur along with three fairies naked in his kitchen.
“Stop staring!” Tafel shouted and covered Vur’s eyes with her hands. The fairies giggled and hid in Tafel’s hair.
“Dustin!” Mina screamed. “Clothes!”
Dustin’s face flushed with a deeper shade of red and he started to untie his robe. A lightning bolt struck his chest and he flew backwards, landing on his back.
“Why are you taking yours off!?” Mina screeched with horns pulsing yellow and cheeks red. Her body curled up to shield herself from his view.
Dustin coughed out a cloud of smoke. “Right,” he said. “Clothes.” He staggered to his feet and went upstairs.
“Why did you do that?” Tafel asked her mom with tears in her eyes. “Now Vur’s seen me naked. It’s all your fault. You messed up Exzenter’s portal.”
Mina pointed at Vur. Tafel looked down and her face flushed crimson. She turned her head away, but her eyes creeped downwards.
“She’s peeking,” Rella said as she propped herself up on Tafel’s horn.
“Definitely peeking,” Bella said and nodded.
“I’m not!” Tafel shouted and closed her eyes with her hands still covering Vur’s. Dustin came back downstairs with a bundle of clothes in his arms. He tossed it into the kitchen and turned away.
A few minutes later, the six people sat on the couches in Dustin’s living room. Tafel sat next to Vur and was looking down with her face red. Vur was sniffing the cup of whiskey in his hands while the fairies carried the bottle. Dustin was rubbing his temples with a cup of water in front of him and Mina sat across from him holding a cup of tea.
“This never happened,” Mina said, staring at the tea leaves in her cup. “Right?”
Dustin nodded. “I definitely did not see you naked or anything,” he said. “Nope, never happened.”
Mina’s face turned pink as she sipped her tea. “Good,” she said. She turned towards the two children. “As for you, young lady. Why didn’t you stop when I told you to?”
Tafel looked up and her mouth dropped open. She grabbed Vur’s arm and stared at her mother. She whispered to Vur, “That’s my mom right?”
Vur nodded as he drank a mouthful of the cup in front of him. His eyes widened and he downed the whole thing in one go.
Mina frowned and crinkled her brow. “Why aren’t you answering?” she asked.
Rella opened her mouth. “That’s ou-“
“Your water tastes like fire,” Vur said to Dustin. “I like it.”
Dustin raised his head and stared at the bottle of whiskey in the fairies hands and the empty cup in front of Vur. His face paled as he stood up and walked towards the stairs.
“I can’t deal with this,” he said and disappeared from view. Vur shrugged and held the cup out towards the fairies. They giggled as they poured him more.
Mina’s face cramped and she let out a cough, but the fairies didn’t stop. She turned back to Tafel. “Well?” she asked.
“Do you hate me?” Tafel asked. Her hands were white from clutching Vur’s arm.
Mina frowned. “No,” she said. “W-“
Tafel let out a breath and loosened her grip. “Then why do you never listen to me?” she asked, interrupting her mom.
“What’s going on, Tafel?” Mina asked.
“I always say things, but you never agree. I ask for things, but you never listen,” Tafel said as a tear rolled down her cheek. “Why?”
Mina bit her lip. “I’m sorry,” she whispered and lowered her head. Her lips trembled as she smiled. “You must hate me, huh?”
Tafel’s lips quivered and she looked down. Mina let out a sigh and shook her head.
The fairies placed the empty whiskey bottle on the table and flit in front of Mina. They wore shredded strips of cloth wrapped around their bodies like bath towels.
“So you’re the little devil’s mother,” Rella said and tilted her head.
“She’s very rude you know,” Bella said. “She tickled us until we peed.”
Yella nodded. “You have to take responsibility as her parent.”
Mina crinkled her brow. “Are these fairies?” she asked turning her head towards Tafel and Vur. Vur’s face was flushed and his head was drooping.
“We can hear you, you know?” Rella said and puffed her cheeks. “Of course we’re fairies. You should at least recognize the people you rendered homeless.”
“Like mother, like daughter,” Bella said and crossed her arms.
“It must run in the family,” Yella said and nodded.
Mina blinked at the fairies and turned back to Tafel. “Why did you bring fairies to Niffle?”
“She’s doing it again,” Rella said and pouted. She tugged on Mina’s ear.
Mina glared at the red eyed fairy. “What are you doing in Niffle?”
“We’re here to save our queen,” Bella said and stuck her chest out.
Mina’s brow wrinkled. “Why would your queen be here?” she asked.
“Hello?” Yella asked as she tapped her fist against Mina’s skull. “You demons kicked us out of our house and imprisoned her.”
“The mana source,” Tafel said. “Their queen’s trapped in our mana source.”
Mina frowned. “I’ve never heard of this.”
“Well it’s true,” Bella said and sat on Mina’s horn. “You demons are bad people.” She turned towards Tafel and Vur. “C’mon, we’re finally here. Let’s go sa-“
Vur fell over onto Tafel’s lap. “-ve her…”
“I think you gave him too much,” Yella said and flew over to poke Vur. He didn’t move.
“Me? It was you,” Bella said and pouted.
Rella let out a sigh. “Guess we’ll have to wait.”
“Tafel,” Mina said.
Tafel raised her head and gazed at her mom.
“There’s something I need to tell you,” Mina said.
Tafel frowned and knit her eyebrows together.
Zollstock closed the wooden door behind him. A metal click sounded as a latch fell into place. He wiped his hands on a brown towel next to him, leaving a black streak. The hallway was lit by a row of torches with stairs leading up on one end and a metal door on the other. Doors lined the corridor. A rat scampered into a hole in the wall, carrying a piece of dripping meat.
“Milord,” Seth said as he appeared with his head lowered in front of Zollstock. He wore a full black outfit that covered everything except for his eyes. “We’ve received a report. Mina has returned to Niffle and is currently residing in Dustin’s lodgings. Tafel and the dragon boy are with her.”
Zollstock rubbed his chin. “Very well,” he said and nodded. “Maintain a close watch and report their movements to me. Don’t let the royal family find out.”
Seth saluted and vanished, leaving behind a black mist.
Zollstock straightened the creases in his clothes. He chuckled as he walked up the spiral stone staircase. The torches’ flames were extinguished and the clang of a metal door closing echoed through the corridor. A few sobs permeated the silence.