Hey, it’s Eddy again.
Edward von Drachen. Remember? I know, you’re used to Cal’s point of view. But he’s not the only guy with stuff going on!
So, we just got to Rikostead, a small village at the base of Dragon Roost Mountain.
It’s getting dark, so we’re going to spend the night at the local inn before making our way to the mountain proper.
Dad insisted on it. I wanted to go right away, but he’s tired. Those dragons aren’t going anywhere.
He could just portal home, but he’s just as curious about this land as we are. We know barely anything about Drakonia, so we’ve all been fascinated by everything Nadia told us on the way here.
And Mr. L totally gets that my dad wants to find my mom. Dad had a ton of vacation days saved up.
He’s a bit of a workaholic. Cal’s told you how reluctant Dad is to leave the writers’ room when he’s got a blockbuster idea, right?
Cal and Marley will be portalling home, however. Unlike my dad, Cal has a wife and kids at home, so he can’t just run off and spend all of his time adventuring away from them.
Judy’s very understanding, though. She knows that Cal made a promise. She doesn’t mind him helping me with this, but he hates spending too much time away from his family.
I can respect that.
So, those two will be portalling home, and me, dad, Erdrick and Nadia will be staying at the inn, and meeting up with Cal and Marley in the morning.
Dad’s got his Omega Buster on him, and I’ve got dragon powers, so Nadia will be safe here.
But we’ll be getting separate rooms. People will talk if they see the princess sharing a room with me. People have already seen us being all smitten around each other. We don’t want a scandal.
Yeah, waiting until marriage is the norm here. At least, for nobles.
And no, Lorik isn’t planning to marry Nadia off to some noble several times her age.
They’re not that backwards.
So, after Cal and Marley portal out, we head into the inn, the carriage parked outside, the horses being lead into the stable.
And we rent two rooms. One for me, Dad and Erdrick, one for Nadia.
We get our room keys, and head up.
We got room keys at the Quester’s Rest too, but Victor suggested that Judy ward the rooms to keep unwanted visitors out, because the locks looked really easy to pick.
He even picked the locks himself, to prove a point. He had the doors open in thirty seconds, and he wasn’t even trying.
But the locks here look a lot sturdier. Which is good, because none of us know any magic, to my knowledge.
As Nadia bids us goodnight, she enters her room, and we enter ours.
“It’s a bit bigger than the rooms at the Quester’s Rest, Dad.”
“And cleaner. I barely got any sleep there, I could have sworn something in the bed was wriggling.”
“Ewdwick saw a cupp-uw of cok-woachies duin speciaw huggies in dat woom.”
“Now you tell us, Erdrick?”
“Daddeh diddin awsk.”
“Y’know, that’s fair. But I think we could all get a good night’s sleep here. Nadia vouched for this place, and I trust her.”
“You’re really fond of her, aren’t you?”
I sit on one of the two beds.
“I am. She’s… she’s like me. She’s got noble blood, and dragon blood. Even if I’ve got more dragon blood than her. But it’s not just that, Dad. She’s a helluva woman. I barely know her, though. So Dad, don’t start writing wedding invitations just yet. I’m gonna take this slow. I don’t wanna rush this. It was kind of a jerk move to blurt out that I like her, by the way.”
“I’m sorry, Eddy, but everyone can see it.”
“I know, it’s obvious, but still, Dad.”
Erdrick, examining the woolly toys the room is supplied with, looks up at me.
“Ewdwick nu knu wai hoomins waste su much time. Wen fwuffy wan be speciaw fwends wif udda fwuffy, fwuffy git tu da point.”
“Yeah, but it’s different with humans. Human women tend to be pickier, and don’t like random assholes flirting with them. If I just walked up to a woman and said Hey, wanna be my girlfriend and make some babies?, I’d get slapped in the face.”
“Ewdwick see wut daddeh meen. Ewdwick haf seen dat awn Tee-Eff-Enn tuu. Fwuffies hu wan babbehs su much dat dey wun away fwom dey hoomin daddehs an mummahs. An den dey haf babbehs wif da fiwst fwuffy dey see. Dey nu am pick-ee.”
Yeah, it’s not just mares who go foal-crazy and do a runner. Many a stallion has eloped with a feral mare who got in through a hole in the fence. Or left through said hole to find a mare to settle down with. Or just to get his no-nos wet, not considering the logical consequences of doing so.
Cal once told me a real tear-jerker about one dumb bitch he dealt with, who actually believed that her unneutered stallion would ignore his natural urges and remain abstinent just because she said so, and when he inevitably broke the “no special huggies” rule with a feral, she cut his nuts off with a pair of scissors.
And that’s not even the end of the story. You wouldn’t believe what happened when the mare came back. It’s heartbreaking, I’ll tell you that.
Bitch shoulda just bought a Special Huggie Friend. Those things practically pay for themselves!
What was that poor bastard’s name? Was it Monty? I can’t remember right now.
“Yup. See, when it comes to this kind of thing, fluffies have it easy. But of course, a lot of those fluffies who run away to have foals regret it.”
“Ewdwick saw dat tuu. Dey stawt missin dey daddehs an mummahs, an wan gu homesie, but nu can fine da way. Su dey am stuk awn da stweets.”
And even if they do find their way home, their owner usually isn’t happy to see them come back with a family.
It doesn’t help that the runaway often considers it a given that their owner will happily house their special friend and foals too.
In the fluffies’ defence, they aren’t the ones paying the bills. And whose fault is it if the owner doesn’t explain these kinds of things to their fluffy, hmm?
“Right! You see, it’s not a good idea to hitch your wagon to someone you barely know. And that’s true if you walk on two legs or four.”
Erdrick waddles over to me, and I gently lift him up, placing him on my lap.
He coos, as he gets comfy, and then looks up at me.
“But Ewdwick nu knu Auwewia dat much, an Ewdwick am habin babbehs wif hew.”
“We weren’t even sure if fluffies and woollies could have foals together. But they really aren’t that different.”
We’ve been learning a lot about how woollies were created. It was pretty much how fluffies were created: by combining DNA from different species. The only real difference is that magic was used instead of science.
Well, Umbra was created with both, but he’s dead, and never got his no-nos wet, so it’s a moot point. He was one of a kind, is my point.
Maybe he wouldn’t have been such an asshole if he had gotten his no-nos wet.
Meanwhile, in the next room, Nadia sits at a desk, reading a book by candlelight.
She’s an avid reader. During the ten years she spent in hiding with Panthera, she read every book in their hideout several times.
And some of those books were books of magic, so yes, Nadia does know some spells. Panthera gave her some lessons too. But she doesn’t know enough spells to be deemed a proper mage.
The walls here are a bit thin, so Nadia, unbeknownst to the von Drachens, is hearing every word of their conversation.
And she’s been smiling the whole time.
Elsewhere in Drakonia, a woolly waddles out of the forest surrounding the Lich Yard.
An earthie mare, who looks like a walking corpse.
She’s still got both eyeballs, but one of her legs is broken in multiple places.
It got caught in a crevice.
The entity currently steering the mare’s body just pushed on. The mare’s soul, still in there, is the one feeling all of the pain. The entity is shunting it off onto her.
And savoring her silent screams.
The mare speaks up, her high-pitched voice sounding extremely raspy.
“Awwight, I’m witewawwy out of the woods, but I’m not figuwativewy out of the woods. If I can just find a host hawdiew than these shite-wodents, I can stawt making some weaw pwogwess.”
Woollies are the only living creatures in Drakonia dumb enough to go near the Lich Yard these days, to the entity’s consternation.
Any other animals living in that forest either got the hell out of there ASAP or fell victim to natural selection.
And any humans in the area who didn’t heed the sign never lived to tell the tale.
“Kowkea was hewe. I could feew his pwesence fwom the Wich Yawd. Him, and his shite-wodent. But they’we gone now.”
The mare smiles.
“But it doesn’t mattew. The dwagon-boy’s stiww hewe. He’s awmost as good as Kowkea.”
The mare sees an eagle up in the sky.
And the eagle notices the mare, seeing an easy meal.
As the eagle prepares to dive, the mare grins.
“That’s wight. Come a wittwe cwosew, why don’t you?”
The eagle dives towards the mare, and she opens her mouth, just when the eagle draws near.
Clouds of black smoke pour out of her mouth. Her body falls limp.
And when the eagle screeches in surprise, the smoke all pours into its beak.
The entity quickly asserts control over the eagle’s body, beating its wings in triumph.
“Now this is more like it!”
The eagle takes flight, leaving the mare’s corpse behind.
“I’ll find the dragon-boy in no time with a body like this!”