Chapter 60

“Ah, I think I traveled too far south,” a fairy said to herself as she crossed her arms and flew through the air. “There’s just too much good fruit to eat past the dragon’s roost.” She sighed as drool leaked from her mouth. Movement beneath her caught her eye.

“What kind of creature is this?” she asked. She hovered above a blue, four-legged creature and tilted her head. The creature had the body of a boar, blue wings, and pointed teeth. Its eyes were reptilian and blue tufts of down sprouted from above its hooves.

The fairy shrugged and flew down in front of it while waving her arm. Black tendrils swirled out of her body and enveloped the feathered pig. It let out a squeal as it ran around, trying to escape the smoke, before finally collapsing in front of the fairy. The fairy grinned and flew down on top of its head.

“Don’t worry, little piggy,” she said as she rubbed its ears. “The queen will take good care of y-, eh?”

The piglet shuddered and flung the fairy off its head. It dashed forward and grabbed the fairy with its needle-like teeth. It shook its head and rattled the fairy around until she stopped moving. It snorted and trotted north towards the dragon’s roost, still carrying the fairy in its mouth.

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“Stella’s really gone too far,” Lindyss said as she narrowed her eyes at the fairy’s corpse. “Coming this far south? She must be looking for a fight.”

A high-pitched squeal interrupted her train of thought. Vur was holding the piglet upside-down by its tail as it flapped its wings and struggled. He poked it with his finger and received a bite in return. “What is it?” Vur asked as he sucked on his bleeding finger.

Prika laughed. “It’s your grandchild,” she said and grinned. “Just wait til you meet your daughter-in-law. You’d be surprised.”

Vur tilted his head and placed the piglet on the ground. It hissed at him before hiding behind Prika’s leg. “Does it have a name?” Vur asked.

“Nope. Snuffles can’t speak,” Prika said as she nudged the piglet with her snout. “Neither can your daughter-in-law. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you named her.”

“Floofykins,” Vur said without hesitation and pointed at the piglet. It squealed and rapidly shook its head back and forth.

“Floofykins?” Lindyss asked as she raised her eyebrow. “You’re going to name her Floofykins? She’s the offspring of a phoenix with a dragon-imprinted boar and you want to name her Floofykins. Can’t you think of something a little bit more awe-inspiring?”

Vur’s body blurred and he reappeared behind the piglet. He lifted her up and with one hand. “But she’s so fluffy,” he said and pointed at the bits of down on its legs. “See? I like Floofykins.”

Tears formed in the corners of the piglet’s eyes and it whimpered. Lindyss sighed. “Sorry Floofykins,” she said. “He’s being stubborn.”

Vur whirled the piglet around to face him. “Do you really hate it that much?” he asked the crying piglet.

It nodded and sniffled. Vur sighed. “Fine,” he said. “I’ll think of something better.”

He hummed. “Maybe if I add a title… How about… Little Miss? Yes, Little Miss Floofykins sounds nice.”

The piglet spat a white fireball into his face. Vur nodded. “It’s settled then,” he said as he wiped the flames off his eyebrows and smiled. “Henceforth, your name will be The Awe-Inspiring White Flame, Little Miss Floofykins.”

Lindyss shook her head and looked at Prika.

Prika shrugged. “Don’t look at me,” she said. “I kinda like it.”

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A man stood on top of a blue dragon’s head in a courtyard. He wore silver armor adorned with the crest of the human royal family, a pair of lions crossing arms. A black kite shield was strapped to his back and an orange longsword hung from his waist.

“Prince Rudolph,” a man said as he stood at the entrance to the courtyard with his head lowered. “The king is seeking an audience with you.”

Rudolph nodded and jumped off of Johann’s head, slowing in midair before he landed on the ground. “Very well, you’re dismissed,” he said to the sentry who saluted and ran off. “Stay here, Johann.” The dragon growled in reply and lowered its belly onto the ground.

A few moments later, Rudolph approached a mahogany door. “Prince Rudolph,” the two sentries said and stepped away while bowing. Rudolph ignored them as he pushed the door open and walked inside. He saw his father talking to a man, the pope, who was wearing white robes and a golden tiara.

“Prince Rudolph greets the pope,” he said as he knelt on one knee.

“Rise, rise,” the pope said and waved his arm. “No need for formalities when it’s just us.”

“Rudolph,” the king said as he stood up from his throne, “I’ll get straight to the point. The Sacred Spirits have decided to give us their blessing to counter the threat of the fairy queen. Too many of our people have gone missing in recent years and the Spirits are displeased.”

Rudolph’s heart beat faster in his chest. “You wish for me to inherit the Spirits’ will?” he asked as he lowered his head.

“Not quite,” the pope answered in place of the king. “The Spirits wish to have a full party.”

The king nodded. “We have decided that the top students for each position at the school in Flusia will have a chance to be blessed,” he said. “After all, they deserve a reward for choosing to attend despite the loss of the mana source.”

Rudolph frowned. “Many students recently graduated who were more powerful than the current students,” Rudolph said. “Me included.”

“Foolish boy,” the king said. “Did you think I would call you here to rub this in your face? The requirements are to be, or to have been, the valedictorian for each respective school. The Spirits will watch over an organized tournament and decide on who to bless. Don’t disappoint me.” The king gazed at Rudolph.

Rudolph trembled and crossed his arm over his chest. “I won’t, Father.”

“Good,” the king said. “The tournament will take place in three months from now. I wanted to warn you before you decided to go on an adventure and disappear for another year. Of course, I’ll let everyone else know only a week in advance. Use this time to prepare yourself.” He nodded. “You may leave.”

“Thank you, Father,” Rudolph said and bowed before leaving. He clenched his fists. Just you wait, Michelle.

 

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