Grimmy lay on the ground with his belly on the floor, staring at the door to the temple. Tafel hugged Floofykins as she paced around in front of Lindyss on the steps. Paul had purified his robe and cleaned up the mess he made earlier, but he was still sitting on the floor since his legs wouldn’t stop trembling.
“U-uhm.” Paul squeaked. “Wasn’t there a pact made a long time ago forbidding dragons from entering the capital?”
“Hah?” Grimmy asked as he squinted his eyes at Paul.
“I’m sorry!” Paul squealed as he covered his head with his arms and curled up into a ball.
Lindyss scratched her head. “Yeah, there was something like that wasn’t there?” she said as she rummaged through her bag. “I think I still have it somewhere here…”
“What?” Tafel asked as she stopped pacing and looked up. “Why would you have that?”
“Because I wrote it?” Lindyss asked as she raised an eyebrow. She pulled a rolled up piece of laminated paper out of her bag. “Why else? And it’s just a copy so it doesn’t matter if you burn it.” She turned towards Grimmy who shut his mouth and swallowed the flames on his tongue.
“Let me see that,” Grimmy said as he held out his claw. Lindyss placed it on his palm.
Grimmy scanned the document and nodded. “There’s no issue with me being here then,” Grimmy said and grinned towards Paul who was still hiding his head. “It clearly says, ‘Dragons will not invade any human establishment that has a scion of the royal family’.”
Paul’s shoulders were hunched over as he peaked up at Grimmy’s face. “But the prin-“
“Dragons. Plural. I am a singular dragon,” Grimmy said as he passed the document back to Lindyss. “I see no issues with my presence in the area.” He blinked and stared at Lindyss. “You knew.”
Lindyss smiled. “Of course. I wrote it.”
“What other loopholes did you include?” Grimmy asked as he reached for the paper again.
“Those are for me to abuse,” Lindyss said as she stuck out her tongue and incinerated the paper before Grimmy could grab it, “and—for the sake of the human race—for you to never find out.”
The door to the temple creaked and Tafel stiffened. A few moments passed with no other noise and she exhaled while looking down at Floofykins who tried to bite her nose. “Why is this so nerve-wracking?” she asked as she held Floofykins in front of her face. She sighed. “I’d rather fight three reapers at the same time.” Floofykins tilted her head and squirmed in her grip.
Tafel frowned and turned to Lindyss. “Is she not imprinted?” Tafel asked as she parted the fur on Floofykins forehead.
“No,” Lindyss said and offered Floofykins a piece of roast pork. “Snuffles is a male, so he has no instincts whatsoever to imprint his offspring and her mother didn’t have an imprint.”
“Somehow that feels wrong,” Tafel said as she looked down.
“Well, phoenixes never existed on this continent until 800 years ago. They came at the same time as the humans from Fuselage,” Lindyss said and looked up at the sky. “They were as arrogant as dragons and vied for the top spot in the ecosystem. So, the dragons wiped out the phoenixes, but spared their eggs, effectively leaving their race as strong as wyverns.” Lindyss sighed and shook her head. “A lot of dragons died during those hunts.”
Tafel frowned and looked at Floofykins who looked bloated. “I meant it felt wrong to feed a boar pork, but that’s also pretty messed up,” she said. “Why’d the phoenixes leave Fuselage?”
“Same reason why the humans did,” Lindyss said as she turned towards the door of the temple. “To survive.”
“They never told us why humans moved to this continent. We always started history lessons at the time of landing 800 years ago,” Paul said, his voice barely above a whisper. “I feel like I heard something I shouldn’t have.”
“Then keep it to yourself,” Grimmy said and snorted. “What are you, a child?”
“But something this hu-. I’m sorry! Please don’t eat me!” Paul shrieked as Grimmy glared at him. He prostrated himself in front of Grimmy. “You’re right, oh wise one. I shouldn’t have questioned you. Forgive this unappealing, stick-thin human who definitely tastes like sour milk and expired eggs.”
The temple door swung open and Vur walked out, his aura gone. He looked up and met Tafel’s gaze. The two stared at each other without moving. Creaking sounds came from Floofykins as she squealed and struggled to flee Tafel’s tightening grip.
“Tafel?” Vur asked, his body frozen mid-stride.
Tafel nodded as she released Floofykins. She inhaled and took a step forward. She stopped in front of Vur. “You almost killed me,” she said with her hands on her hips.
“Take responsibility,” Tafel said, her face red, “you brute.”
Vur blinked and nodded as he wrapped his arms around Tafel. “I’m sorry.” The two stood motionless with their ears resting against each other’s.
“Now kiss!” Grimmy said. He chortled. “She actually said it.” He turned to Lindyss and grinned. “You owe me a meal when we get back.”
Lindyss sighed. “I’m disappointed in you, Tafel,” she said and shook her head. “I thought you’d be more refined. Do you know how much effort it takes to feed a dragon? And those two aren’t even listening to us.”
The rest of the people inside the temple walked up to the entrance and froze, unwilling to take another step. Paul met Lillian’s and Michelle’s eyes. Michelle stared at Grimmy with her eyes wide and mouth open.
‘What’s going on?’ Lillian mouthed to Paul. Paul shook his head and his eyes flickered towards Grimmy.
A white light formed a line of words above his head with the words, “Don’t move. He’s scary. <-.“ It disappeared again when Grimmy turned his head to find the sudden source of light. Paul looked down, avoiding the dragon’s gaze.
Rudolph yelled. Green runes flashed along his arms and body. He shrieked as he clawed at the runes with his nails. Tafel and Vur broke away from each other, turning to look at the prince. He writhed on the floor as blood started to leak out of and coalesce along the runes, erasing them from existence.
“Johann! Something’s happening to Johann.” The prince gasped and shuddered as his eyes rolled upwards. After a few more moments of twitching, his body stopped moving.