SS The Dragon’s Quest for Hopper:: Chapter 3 : Linda and Dominik

The Dragon’s Quest for Hopper starts off as any other low brow elf seeking a real place in life.  He didn’t think the real place would be babysitter to a dragon.  Part of him wishes the dragon mother decided on eating him instead of shoving him into this new role.  What was he thinking getting involved with Linda or Hartliebe or thinking he deserved more in life than running a beer company.  Beer is his life.  Or it was.  His life now seems a lot different.  And scary.
Genres: Adventure, fantasy

[WIP: The Dragon’s Quest for Hopper]

Linda and Dominik

I land in the yard of my home.  The smell of beer says how much we have been working.  One day a week and one month a year can we be on vacation.  I sigh resigning myself to such a fate.  When I truly take the job over, I will have a wife.  She will come knocking just as my mother and grandmother.  We work hard, but make a good living for ourselves.  We have the most profit out of all the families in town.  A hard life, but a well respected one.  Minus looking non-stereotypical.

“Father?”  I walk into the beer room to find Lord Carminio talking with my father.  He has a look of great interest, so I hold back.  Father spots me before I hear something, though.

“Dominik, come here.”  He motions me over.  Once there he wraps an arm around my shoulder trapping me beside him.  “This is my son.  He delivered it to your residence.”

I nod my head not even able to bow.  What is Father pulling?  “Four barrels for your daughter’s birthday.”

“Linda.”  The lord looks me over.  I question his word like it may lead to my death.  He chuckles at my response.  “Linda is my daughter.  A solo one she is.  I heard she snuck out after you came.”

“She wanted to tip me.”  I glance at my father.  His happy air leaves me feeling terrified.  “I had told her about the party thinking she wanted to try new things.”

The lord watches me carefully.  “Did she stay?”

“No.”  I pull back wanting to leave the conversation.  Father has me in a tight grip.  “Did something happen?”

“She asked for more.  And specifically asked for the young elf who delivered it the first time.”  The proud smile of the lord has me shivering in place.  What are they concocting?  “I wanted to know if something had happened.  We do not disallow servant and lord interaction.”

He thinks I did something with his daughter?  Crap.  Crap.  He may look happy now, but you do not mess with a noble.  Linda, that’s her name, did not give me any fair reason to think something of that nature.  Lord Carminio might play fun for now, but if he thinks I would…. I gulp over my thoughts.

“Of course we will offer whatever beer you and your daughter desires.”  Father squeezes me.  He has to have noticed my tenseness.  “When and how much?”

“Just a keg.  Tonight.  I would like to see his work for myself.”  He looks me over again.  With the order placed and his mind secure, I can only watch him walk away.

My legs feel like jelly.  It is not every day you get the attention of the lord.  Father lets me go and I fall to the ground not expecting the release.  “Father?”

“What luck!  To be the one who reaches the heartless daughter.”

“Heartless?”  Is there more rumors about the lord’s daughter than I have heard?  “She does not seem heartless, Father.”

“Exactly.  You win that blackened heart and you secure the easy life.”

“What?”  I stare at him shocked by his words.  Am I being sold to his Lord as Linda’s groom?  No, this is not right.  I was supposed to…  But do I want to?  I am so confused right now.

“I am glad you came when you did.  I have things for you to do.  Even if you may become the future lord, you work here for now.”

“I won’t be future lord,” I tell him point blank.  “I am not interested in the lord’s daughter.”

“Linda.  Her name is Linda.”  Father waits for me to stand before handing me a barrel.  “Follow me.”  He picks up another barrel and walks off.  I follow while my mind buzzes with the recent conversation.  This sounds like I should be asleep.  If I am I need to wake up.  This is a nightmare; I am just not sure how it would be.

When the party should begin, I am bringing a keg of beer to the lord’s tree.  I stand there looking up at the branches with a little different light.  The lord came to see me because his daughter made comment about me.

“Sorry.”  The plain voice has a note of sadness.  I look over at Linda standing in the shadows.  What light plays against her face and features brings out the common elfin expectations.  Her eyes do not look so bored, but she does not have Will’s boldness.  She also does not stare at me too long like before.  She flies off before it could be called a long time.  I watch the light catch her along the flight up.  I could follow carrying the beer, but I forgot my task with her acting so strange.

The clearing of the throat behind me seizes me up.  The lord watched the entire interaction.  I am in trouble.  “I see.”  His two words speak of many more.  I turn to face him.  The shadows cast on him have me shaking in my boots.  I flutter my wings to keep standing.  Not a fight.  Anything but a fight.  If I hit him, I die.  If he throws magic, I die.  Crap.  Oh crap.  I back off to his step forward.  “You are scared of me.  Yet you said you did nothing with my daughter.”

“I swear, sir, I did nothing.  Not a thing.”  I wave him off.  My keg now stands behind him not next to me and the trunk of his tree stops me.  Oh crap.  I backed myself into a hole.

“Stop, Father.”  I spot Linda standing there wand at the ready.  She can use wands?  Of course.  All nobles can use wands.  They are cast out if they can’t.  “I will use it.”

“Liar.  You aren’t ready to be lord.”  Carminio turns to face his daughter head on.

With the light shining on this, I pause.  The pause has me realizing Lord Carminio is not Linda’s father.  There is nothing about the two that match.  My mind clicks back to when Jay made the suggestive spell and everyone fucked someone different.  There were very few who were happy except Jay.  It is common for elves to not live with their biological fathers, I know this.  But I try to think back to when I first met Lord Carminio.  No, the lord I remember looked very much like his new daughter.

“You aren’t the lord,” I whisper it.  The pair turns to me.  I say it louder taking a step to the one I called lord.  “You are an imposer, aren’t you?”

“He is.”  Linda glares.  “But no one believed me.”  Her hand waves the wand like second nature.  “And if I kill him, I become lord before I am ready.”

“You dealt with an imposer?  For how long?”

Carminio, or whoever he is, grows nervous as we proceed to confine him.  “You will never capture me!”  I reach for him as Linda casts her wand.  I land in the space the lord used to occupy as a chicken.

I try to make a comment, but all that comes out is cluck.  Linda hisses an apology while disappearing up the tree.  What can I do as a chicken?  I peck the ground against my desire.  The needs of the chicken form overwhelm my logical process.  I am not smart enough to stop it.  Good thing Jay and the rest of them are at the party and not here.  I would never hear the end of it if they knew I was turned into a chicken.  By the lord’s daughter nonetheless.

“Sorry.”  Linda lands softly next to me with a new wand.   Quick spell and I drop to the ground unbalanced in my elfin form.  I glare at her.  “I wanted to hit that guy.”

“Who was that anyway?”

“He came in and killed my parents.  He tried to kill me, but can’t.”  She pulls her sleeve to one side.  A giant dragonfly symbol is burned into her.  “I’m dragon marked.”

“Oh…”  I reach out to touch the dragonfly symbol.  If she is dragon marked, all of her children will be too.  “What does this mean?”

“If he killed me, the dragon would show up and take everything as hers.  In the kingdom every noble is dragon marked.  To make sure no one steals the lines to the king.”  She bites her lip covering the tattoo up.  “So, um…”

I touch my keg saying, “Let’s bring the keg up.  I’ll tap it for you and we can calm down.  Once the village knows…”  She nods flying up ahead of me.  I can handle the keg no trouble.  My size makes that easy.

Four hours of sitting in the lord’s living room drinking with Linda leaves me more sober than I really want to be.  I cannot drink fast enough to get the thoughts running through my head to go away.  Father finds us there drinking our concerns away.  After a long confusing conversation, he starts to tell the entire village what happened.

“Thanks,” Linda whispers my way after the village fills the room with chatter.  Everyone who is somebody is there.  Which brought the party outside inside.  And six more kegs, two wine bottles, and a hoarded barrel of last season’s hard cider.  It feels like a wedding celebration not a funeral.  Thinking it over, they tend to feel the same to me.  The difference being if there are more happy tears or sad tears, but there are always tears.

I shrug at her.  “I did as I was requested.  Did you ask for me because I was not concerned with the fake lord?”

“Most of the village is too concerned with their image, so they stay blind.  You have no reason to be.”  She plops down cider in hand.  Her eyes stare at me until I sit down beside her.

My eyebrows scrounge together.  “I am very aware of my image.”  And how bad it is.

“You do not seek the perfect look.  You accept the look you have.  Everyone else buys the Elixir.”  She sighs watching the drink in her hand.  “It is bewitched.  I don’t think anyone realizes the truth, yet.  Even your father fought the idea tooth and nail.”

“He’s gone.  And you can get rid of the elixir.”  I point it out as she sips from her glass.  We should be sloshed.  We drank enough.  Maybe the adrenaline high keeps us sober.

“I plan to.”

[About Cat Hartliebe] [Cat Hartliebe’s Books] [WIP: The Dragon’s Quest for Hopper]

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