Chapter 87

“It’s been a month since the last worm outbreak,” Gale said. He stood in front of an altar dressed in the white robe that the pope had worn. “I think it’s safe to say that we have fully exterminated them, Your Majesty.”

“Good. But we must maintain vigilance,” Randel said with a sigh. He stood in the middle of the temple with his shoulders slouching. His purple robes had grease stains decorating the sleeves and belly. Dark circles surrounded his eyes and wrinkles lined his forehead. Bits of food were entangled in his beard by the corner of his mouth. “And how are your duties as the pope? Are you able to handle them?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Gale said and nodded his head once. “However, I think making Michelle a bishop may be a bit too much for her to handle. Her father just passed away and she-“

“Work conquers sorrow,” Randel said and waved his hand. “It’s best to keep her busy to distract her from her loss.”

Gale swept his eyes over the king’s unkempt body. Are you really one to say that? he thought. “Pardon my abruptness,” Gale said and lowered his head, “but how are you doing now that Rudolph is gone? Isn’t it about time we hold a proper funeral for him?”

“I’m fine, Gale,” Randel said as his eyes narrowed. “The country requires me to be strong. Holding a funeral at this moment after our people have been terrorized by the worms would be inappropriate. When we recover, we’ll hold a national holiday to honor the dead. We know that the worms can lie dormant for up to two months from our sources in Fuselage. We’ll construct a memorial as a reminder of our resilience then.”

“I understand,” Gale said with his head still lowered.

“More importantly,” Randel said as he leaned against his scepter, using it like a cane, “have you figured out the effects of the formation?”

Gale shook his head. “It seems like something that only the popes have knowledge of, but unfortunately the knowledge wasn’t passed on to me. I think it’s best to leave it alone; however, I have noticed a marked decrease in the amount of mana surrounding it. It’s most likely due to us burning the crystals from The Vault of Spirits to get rid of the worm infested hosts. Let’s hope nothing too catastrophic happens when the formation runs out of energy.”

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Vur sat on top of the head of a giant purple spider facing Lindyss who sat on its butt. The two were surrounded by the fairies’ birthflowers in the room that Charon had teleported back to Konigreich. The purple spheres illuminating the room were now golden and splotches of gold decorated the purple leaves of the flowers.

The spider’s body tensed as the walls around them trembled and the floor wobbled. Faint screams could be heard outside of the room, coming in from the newly added windows. Lindyss sighed and channeled her mana as a whirlwind swirled around the earthen block, stabilizing its position above the narrow tower.

“That’s the third earthquake in a month,” Lindyss said and looked out a window. People were running about and ducking underneath shelters made of bear skeletons. “We’re really going to have to figure out what to do about this room.”

Vur didn’t respond as he played with the hairs on the spider’s body. He raised his head and focused his gaze on Lindyss. “You said that you were going to tell me once I beat Mr. Skelly in a war,” he said and crossed his arms over his chest.

“You really beat him? Let me ask,” Lindyss asked as she raised an eyebrow. She closed her eyes and an image of the undead skeleton leader appeared in her head. Did Vur beat you in a mock war?

A moment passed and Lindyss chuckled. “Sorry, Vur. Mr. Skelly says, ‘he technically didn’t beat me. He used his soldiers to win against my soldiers, so it can’t be said that he, as a person, beat me. I did not lose. Skeletons never lose,’” Lindyss said with a smirk. “You’ll have to try again next time.”

“That’s not fair,” Vur said and pouted.

“Skeletons never fight fair,” Lindyss said and laughed. “And stop pouting. You’ve been hanging around the fairies too much.”

“Then how am I supposed to make you tell me?” Vur asked and knit his eyebrows.

“You don’t,” Lindyss said and brushed her hair behind her ear as she stood up, “so stop asking. It’s a boring story anyway and a certain dragon would probably kill me if I told you.”

“Who?”

“Your mother.”

Vur tilted his head. “Grimmy?”

Lindyss burst out laughing before she walked away, careful not to step on the flowers on her way out.

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“The nightmares again?”

Tafel nodded and plopped herself down onto her grandmother’s bed. Her grandmother sat up with a groan and wrapped her arms around Tafel.

“You poor child,” her grandmother said and rubbed her back. “Maybe you should take that strange creature for a walk.”

“Strange creature?” Tafel asked and broke away from her grandmother’s embrace.

“Yes,” her grandmother said and pointed at a winged creature sitting on Tafel’s head. “That one. The thing on your head.”

“On my head…?” Tafel asked as she raised her hand above her head. She felt something soft and squeezed. The creature squealed before hissing and ruffling her hair with its hooves. “Floofykins? How did you-, I don’t understand. What? When did this happen?” Tafel sighed and held Floofykins in front of her face. “Well, you’re Vur’s granddaughter after all, so I can’t really judge you by normal standards.”

Floofykins stuck her tongue out before waving her hooves at Tafel. “Alright,” Tafel said. “I’ll walk you. Do you want to come, Grandma?”

Her grandmother shook her head. “I’m getting too old for midnight strolls with winged pigs.”

Floofykins started to cough and hacked up a hairball with a piece of paper sticking out of it. Tafel wrinkled her nose as she brushed away the stiff fur and read the letter:

Dear Tafel,
 
Don’t be sad.
 
Love,
Vur

“Ah, young love,” her grandmother said as she peeked over Tafel’s shoulder. “You should clean that up before you store it, or it’ll stink up all your other love letters.”

“Grandma!” Tafel said as her face heated up. “This isn’t a love letter!” She paused. “I think…”

“Mhm,” her grandmother said. “And I’m an elf. Now go walk that pig before it pees on my bed.”

Floofykins stuck her nose in the air and snorted.

 

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