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
Rich and Dominik
Derrick is unsurprisingly cooking. His dragon children are either cooking beside him or playing silently on the other side of the room. Something dealing with little wooden trains. But not real wood, since I saw a puff of smoke come from the youngest: Shawn.
“No fire, Shawn.” Derrick does not even notice me enter. I walk over and pop a cut up piece of potato into my mouth. He slaps my hand before I can take another. “If you’re hungry, ask. I can give you something more filling.”
“I’m not hungry. I probably should eat before since it may be a while before we are safe.”
“And you’ll probably need your strength. I’ll make a plate. Then you and the rest of the bloods can get some sleep.” He grumbles out the last three words. I chuckle not even explaining my motives. Derrick wanted me there. I’m an adult elf. I grew up. And I’ve been a blood and under a dragon mark. I can watch the kids. I think. Maybe. “I’ll pass out the quiche. Anyone who eats their entire piece can get pie.” He taps a blueberry pie dripping with gooey perfection. It makes my mouth water.
The other bloods sit down at the table waiting. Derrick makes a trip bringing half the plates in one swift move. And soon everyone is served. I sit down with them. This quiche that we must eat looks like a healthy version of an omelet. I probably have never had it before. Yet it does not turn my stomach like I thought food containing meat would.
“Thanks, Dad.” Rich holds out his empty plate. “Can I…?” He glances to the pie.
“Give the others a few minutes to finish. You shouldn’t rush through your dinner.” Derrick still cuts up the pie in the number of pieces he needs for us. Plus one. “Cyro said he’ll eat later.”
I nod. Did I look like I cared? Eating, I find myself confused by the food more than anything. With Derrick my food contains meat. He needs it as a dragon. And I can handle it. I eat normally as an elf. I’m used to it. When I change, though… I gulp staring at the quiche.
“Are you not going to finish?” Rich pokes at my plate.
Derrick stops him with the words, “Still hungry, Munchkin?”
“Yes.” Rich throws his head up and down. The outlandish nodding has me back off.
“Here, I can make you an omelet.” Derrick puts on a frying pan to work. “The rest of you who finished can have your slice of pie.” He points out the plates he made with blueberry pie.
The others begin eating the pie, while I continue to slowly munch on my egg meal. Will I really be able to forgo elf cooking? Will I have to eat meat like the other dragons do? I stab my plate thinking of all those little birds unable to live because of me.
“You really don’t like meat, do you?”
“I was raise to be vegan, you know. Meat hurts elves. And to press the importance of staying vegan, they explained how much pain the animals go through just to serve meat lovers. Those who eat meat… They’re…”
“It’s okay. You have at least fifty years before having to have meat in it.” Derrick pushes a slice of pie at me. “And if you want, I have a few people who can trick elves into eating meat. For fun, they said. It’s a group called Free Meat. I’ll give you their number in a few years if you haven’t come around.”
The pie settles me a lot. Blueberry pie tastes perfect compared to the quiche of before. Derrick allows Rich to finish it off for me, so it wasn’t wasted. And it’s not like I could bring the birds back to life. That’s impossible. “This is good.”
“I got the recipe from Free Meat.” Derrick smirks.
I pale looking at the pie. What is hidden inside the pie? Where? Why do that to perfect delicious pie? “But…”
“I didn’t offer the rest of the crew pie did I?” Derrick motions to the last piece. “Cyro told me. He needed to be certain you can eat meat. Now I can tell him, you can. Without issue. Minus your mental limiters.”
“I wasn’t brainwashed.” I glower at the pie. “I can eat meat. I’m not like you who wants it.”
“It’s a need, not a want.” Derrick nods to the plate. “Go ahead. Finish your pie.”
Each bite leaves the linger of crying birds in my head. Maybe I am brainwashed. It doesn’t hurt. And the bird will never come back. And I will need it eventually. I should get used to it before I need it. This will take some time to get used to.
“Everyone ready?” Derrick turns to everyone besides Rich and me. We are at the table eating. Rich really is more scarfing. I am slow to eat. If only he didn’t tell me about the meat. He shuffles the kids off to bed. When he returns Rich and I are done eating. “Now for you two. Come on.”
“I can help.” Rich grips the bench seat. “Please, let me help.”
“Nope. Neither you nor Dominik will be up on deck for this.” Derrick motions out of the room. “Now for bed. You’ll need your strength tomorrow once we land. You are going to shore with them, right?”
“Yes.” Rich salutes.
“Then hurry up. If you aren’t awake when we land, you’ll be stuck on board with me.” Derrick grins at his son. It’s terrifying to see and I gulp glad to not get that grin at me.
Derrick shows us the small cabin separated off from the others. Rich settles in the bed while I get a cot on the other side of the room. Derrick leaves and locks the door. Rich hears it just as well as I did. He slams on the door yelling at his father.
“Calm down. I will be going to shore. Your father just doesn’t want us going upstairs on our own. It’s dangerous. Tait said so.”
Rich’s eyes widen. “Tait?”
“The spirit who travels in the stick. Didn’t I show you before?”
“He has a name? I saw him wandering the other night. It was scary. He would cry out. I told Dad and got laughed at.”
“More of them will be on the island.” I tell him lying on the cot. It’s more comfortable than I expect. I’d prefer a better place for rest, but it’s a ship. I’ll call this good enough. “It’s only been a few days at sea.”
“The weather’s been with us.” Rich bounces on his bed. “Or more like Dad can change the weather to suit. That’s how we farm so well.”
“So it was a farmstead.”
“Barely needs any tending.” Rich nods.
“Dragon magic is powerful.”
“And Dad isn’t the strongest.” Rich rolls over to stare at me. “Hartliebe… He’s in a way under her wing. She’s scary. Have you met her?”
“She gave me the mark I carry.” I hold up the wand. “And this. It’s filled with her magic. She considered me a good choice as babysitter.”
“Wow.” Rich lies back on the bed staring up at the ceiling. “I can’t imagine someone stronger than Dad. He’s really powerful.”
“And that’s why he wants you safely down here. He knows of a lot of dragons stronger than him. He doesn’t even have real land. He’s living in Hartliebe’s space. And he’s fine with it.” I sigh closing my eyes. “And we need to sleep so we can handle tomorrow.”
“Dad barely sleeps.”
“Like once a year?”
“Yeah.” Rich turns to me again. “Cyro, too, then?”
“Yup.” I pull the ratty blanket over me and roll to face the wall. “Good night, Rich. See you in the morning.”
“Yup.” Rich exhales loudly. “Tomorrow we land.”
The morning comes with loud howling and rattling of the entire ship. “Seems we reached the dangerous part of landing.”
Rich shivers on the bed. “This is with Dad’s control?”
“Told ya. We could be up there without dying, but why force ourselves through it. Who is up there anyway?”
“Dad, Cyro, and Amanda, I think. Ethan I believe would be the one who’ll run out if we need something.” Rich frowns hugging his knees to his chest. “I’m…”
“Scared?” I nod understanding that thought easily. Although I am scared of the shaking, I’m worried over what comes next. Cyro has plans. And those plans are going to leave us hurt. I know it. “How many died when Old Pops came here?”
“Most of his crew.” Rich tells his knees.
“See. And since the crew can hide below the deck, most of us will live. Which do you prefer?”
“Life?” Rich blinks back tears. “Maybe I should stay on the ship instead of go ashore.”
“I’m not going to tell you want to do.” I stretch and ready myself to be free of the room. I do not even check the door. I assume it’s still locked.
“Ugh.” Rich shivers again as another rattle shakes the boat.
We handle this for several minutes before Ethan enters the room. He looks at me calm and comfortable and then at the not quite teen curled up in the bed. “Well, I figured I’d check on you two before we land. How do you feel? Scared yet?”
I glower frowning. “Really? You think I’m scared of this? I collected those two freaky keys in a mountain that distorted images. I chased down a baby dragon and fought him off with spells I did not even know. I handled three sirens… no wait, four.” I recount in my head to be sure. “The island will be bad enough. I don’t need to walk in with fear.”
Ethan chortles sitting on the bed near the kid. “So is Rich, the all powerful big brother going, then? We could use a fire breather. Cyro isn’t very good at it.”
“I’m not either.” Rich hides his head. “I cannot call it when I need to and it comes when I get scared.”
“Perfect.” Ethan stands. “You can come if you can manage to walk off the ship on your own.”
“Walk? We are that close to shore?” I stand watching him.
“Yup. There is a dock. Tait said it’s something to do with what went on before the spirits arrived here. I think it was drug trafficking.”
“Great.” I roll my eyes. The ship seems to be rocking less, although the howls continue. “Are we almost there?”
“Yup. Derrick will unlock the door when he closes a protection sphere on the ship. We’re almost through the dangerous spot.” Ethan stands following me out. “I have a weird feeling, we’ll be flying out, though.” He hands me something big. “Good thing I took this.”
“What?” I stare down at the fire key we took. “How did you?”
“Cyro pocketed it for me.” Ethan grins. We are headed for the deck. As we reach the door, it opens. The noise has diminished to near nothing. Derrick stares down at us. “So we’re ready?”
“Not quite. The crew will dock us. And a camp will be made on the sand.” Derrick moves past us. “You can look at the shore up close, though.”