The next morning came and Vixia and I were shunned once again. We made our way over to our table and sat down with our breakfast, like usual. The tiny dragon was perched on my shoulder, hidden by my long hair. He quickly scrambled down my arm to sit on the tabletop instead. He stared at our food, unblinking.
“Do you think that maybe the little guy is hungry?” Vixia asked.
“Probably.” I was about to tear off a scrap of meat to give to him when Darius walked up to us.
“Here, I brought this for the tiny one.” It was almost as if he had read our minds. He put a small dish of meat down in front of the little dragon as he took his seat. The tiny creature immediately began to gobble down his breakfast, acting as though he was starving.
“How did you know that we had him?” I asked. Darius chuckled as he took his seat across from me.
“I saw his scales poking through your hair. Hide him better next time.”
“Oh, right.” I looked back at the tiny dragon. “I wonder if he came in last night because he could smell the food.” I watched him scarf down a scrap of meat and lick around his mouth with his long tongue. Darius nodded as he took a bite of his own breakfast.
“Probably.” We continued eating, but we didn’t have enough time to finish before Nesryn showed up, giving everyone their duties for the day.
Vixia and I listened carefully, and while our expectations were low, hearing “chore duty” after our names was not what we were hoping for. The rest of the guild got up and left to get ready for their quests, just like the day before, while Darius, Vixia, the little dragon, and I continued eating at our table. After she was done giving everyone their assignments, Nesryn walked up to us.
“You two are on chore duty again today, but I have a special request.”
“What is it?” Vixia asked.
The guild master pointed at the tiny dragon.
“Find out how he got in and seal it up. That’s all. If you need anything, I’ll be in my study.” And with that, she left. We finished our breakfasts and got to work.
I helped Darius with cleaning dishes and tending to the kitchen while Vixia looked everywhere for any sort of crevice that the tiny dragon could have squeezed through. I was taking a break when she finally left the kitchen, letting out a defeated sigh.
“How did you get in here, little guy?” she asked, crossing her arms and looking in my direction. The little dragon, who was sitting in front of me on the table, turned to look at her but did nothing else.
“When he first showed up last night, it looked like he may have gotten in through the window,” Darius began, stepping out of the kitchen behind Vixia, “but I closed it as soon as I was done cooking. There’s no way that he got in from over there.”
Vixia groaned and the tiny dragon tilted his head at her. Darius turned and walked back into the kitchen, letting out a sigh. My eyes wandered back to the dragon and an idea popped up in my mind.
“Maybe we should give him a name,” I suggested.
“Hmm . . .” Vixia rested her chin against her knuckles, leaning against the doorway. The tiny dragon blinked. “I have no clue. Do you have any ideas?”
I shook my head.
“Hey, Vixia, could you help me real—” Darius’ voice was interrupted by the loud clang of a metal pot hitting the floor. The dragon in front of me jumped and his throat puffed up. He stretched out his wings in what I assumed was an attempt to make himself look bigger. Vixia rushed into the kitchen to help Darius and the tiny creature slowly calmed down, huffing a little and transitioning back to what he looked like before he was startled.
“Puff,” I said quietly.
“What?” Vixia wondered aloud, poking her head out of the doorway.
“His name should be Puff.” My wife shrugged at my suggestion and returned to the kitchen. The tiny dragon, Puff, scuttled across the table and leaped off the edge. He quickly headed into the kitchen after her.
“Wait, where are you going?” I asked as I got up and followed.
When I entered the kitchen, Vixia and Darius were pulling out ingredients for that night’s dinner. Puff had already made it halfway across the room and quickly slipped out of my sight.
“Puff?” Vixia and Darius both watched me as I walked toward where I last saw the small creature. He was nowhere to be found since he had headed toward a dead-end.
“Did you lose him?” Vixia asked.
“I guess so.”
“Puff!” she called.
We heard a quiet chirp and I spotted him pulling himself out of a small crack in between the stones in the wall. He scampered over to Vixia and stared at her, blinking a few times.
“That’s how you got in!”
Darius chuckled from behind us as he pulled a full bag out of the trash can. “I’ll go ahead and seal that up for you guys,” he offered. “Ketsuna, can you take this out, please? The dumpster is outside at the western side of the building.”
“Yeah, I can do that.” I walked over and took the bag from him and left the kitchen.
I walked outside, trash bag in hand, and started heading toward the dumpster. The sky was a bright blue color since it was past noon on a clear day. I was almost to the dumpster when I heard a familiar voice. I stopped and crept around the side of the guildhall. When I peered around the corner, I saw Sparrow and his party mates standing around, chatting and laughing.
What the hell are they doing here? It’s not even lunch yet.
“Hey!” All three of them jumped as I headed over to them, eyes narrowed. “What are you doing? Aren’t you supposed to be helping keep watch for more dragons right now?”
“We’re just taking a break,” Sparrow groaned. “Besides, aren’t you supposed to be inside playing maid or something?”
I dropped the trash bag in my hand and started storming closer.
“Look, I’ve been doing the best that I can with the job that I’ve been given, but that’s something that you could hardly say. You guys are lazy at best and negligent at worst.”
“Who are you calling lazy?” Sparrow snarled, staring me down.
“That’s enough!” Sparrow and his buddies were suddenly looking past me and I turned around to see Nesryn walking over to us, her eyebrows furrowed. “Sparrow, what are you guys doing here? You’re supposed to be halfway across the city right now.”
“Um . . .” Sparrow struggled for an answer, but couldn’t find one. He looked over to his friends, who just shrugged. I could tell he was panicking. “I wanted to challenge Ketsuna to a duel!” I raised an eyebrow at him.
Oh boy, you just screwed yourself over.
“A duel? Like practice sparring?” Sparrow nodded and Nesryn continued with, “Why didn’t you bring it up ahead of time?”
“I didn’t know how to submit the information to you,” Sparrow lied, glancing over at me. I kept my eyebrow raised while I stared at him. He took note and looked back at Nesryn.
“You know, I should reprimand you for this,” Nesryn growled. Sparrow appeared to cower for a moment. “But I’ll allow it,” the guild master finished. “A duel would be fun to watch and it would be great practice for you to spar against one of our best dragon-slayers anyway.” She then turned to me. “Ketsuna, would you be up for it?”
“Sure,” I answered with a smile.
I went and got my armor and weapon and the other remaining guild members came outside to watch, including Vixia and Darius. We relocated to a sparring area behind the guildhall, which was just a large patch of dirt with some white markings on the ground, and suited up in our gear. His armor appeared to be blunkier than mine and he was wielding a two-handed sword with a broader blade than mine.
I have the advantage here.
Nesryn stood before the crowd as Sparrow and I stood on opposite sides of the battlefield, facing away from each other. I wasn’t really listening to her until she began to list the rules.
“No brutal injuries, no attacking private areas of the body, no lethal force. When I say go, both opponents will turn around and the duel will begin immediately. May both opponents have the best of luck.”
This is way different from a dragon fight, I thought to myself as the guild master began counting down.
But I knew that I wouldn’t lose.