Saturday, May 14, 2016

Threat of the Fire Demon - Chapter 26

Saul picked at his teeth with one long claw. “I swear between you two women you make the best meals in The Realms. I didn’t think I could eat anymore after all the bounty of the circus.”

Charles noticed the outing had also improved Saul’s mood. He was smiling again. He’d been a bit down the last few days.

Brela leaned over the table to clear the plates. She swatted at Saul to stop him from picking. The cat looked properly chastised and put his paw back on the table.

“We can’t take all the credit, we couldn’t possibly do it without Charles, our huntsman,” Azur complimented, showing her love for the man.


Charles actually worked out a deal with the werewolf pack to hunt together and share the kill. It worked out well and the root cellar was full almost to overflowing with meat and canned or stored produce, and it wasn’t even fall yet.

Saul was the only one who felt as though he was not pulling his weight. He was still regulated to four legs and tired easily, but he was much more hopeful for a recovery over time since Azur healed his face. So, he spent as much time as possible caring for Simone to keep her out of the way of the working adults in the family.

Simone was playing with her blocks on the floor. Saul lowered himself down from the cushioned chair he had taken to sitting in lately at the table. He limped over to the child and sat down with her.

“What you building, poppet?”

“A castle,” she answered without hesitation. “Like Raven’s.”

She had a glimpse of the vampire’s mansion from the back of a dragon today while taking a ride with Charles.

“Oh, I think we can build a better one than, Raven’s.” Saul picked up some blocks and started stacking them up into a round tower.

“Finish your castle and then it’s off to bed,” Brela said.

“Daddy, do I have to go to bed?” Simone asked starting to test the solidarity of the adults in the room.

“If Brela says so, yes, you do.”

“Azur?” she asked hopefully. Sometimes she could get Azur to plead for her a little more time and her Daddy and Brela would give in.

“Not tonight, honey,” Azur said, as she dried the clean plate Brela handed her and put it back on the shelf. “It was a big day today. I think you best mind Brela.”

Simone looked to her last hope, her usual supporter of misdeeds and mischief, Saul. She didn’t even get to ask. He shook his head.

“You can hardly keep your eyes open as it is, poppet,” he chuckled.

The child was already leaning up against him and letting out exhausted yawns.

“Crawl up and I’ll give you a horsie ride to bed,” Saul offered as consolation.

The offer woke the child up enough to have her climb on board and Saul limped toward the bedroom.

“Hold on tight to the rocky horse,” Charles admonished.

Saul squint his eyes over his shoulder at his friend. “Funny, very funny,” he said.

“Azur, come tell me a story, please,” Simone called from the back of her steed.

“I’ll be right there. Get in your nightgown…”

“And don’t forget to brush your teeth,” Brela added.

Charles smiled at the women’s backs. They made quite a team.

“I’ll help finish up,” he offered rising to plant a kiss on the top of Azur’s head. “You go tend to the mouse.”

“Okay.”

She handed Charles her cup towel and went off to look after Simone. Saul always had trouble with the buttons on her nightgown. His paws were just not made for them. If he was left to his own devices he used his claws like a button hook and pulled then through, but it was a time consuming job on a wiggly, sleepy child and usually resulted in the gown being buttoned up all lopsided.

When she reached the bedroom Simone was brushing her teeth and Saul was pawing through her drawer looking for a nightgown.

“Here,” she offered, “let me.”

He moved back obligingly and sat down next to the bed. Azur found a pink gown with yellow flowers. When Simone came out of the bathroom, she shucked the child out of her blouse, pants and socks and pulled the gown over her head.

“Did you have fun in town today?” Azur asked the child.

“Yes,” she said with glee as she hopped into bed and Saul pulled the covers up around her neck.

“What part did you like the best?” Azur asked.

“The dragons,” Simone said without hesitation.

Azur had enjoyed the dragons too, but she enjoyed finally seeing the town and meeting all the neighbors. They were so welcoming and complimentary of her talents with the wonderful fertilizer. If they only knew. She wanted to hug herself. With something so simple, something fire demons took for granite, she had changed their world.

She was told by the folks she met how the produce from the farms had spread to the town. Not in an organized fashion, but in bushels and baskets to the first inn on the road and from there in further. The word that the magical manure came from the Bouchard Farm spread and from there it was not a huge leap that everyone started to talk about Charles’ new wife. It was passed time they should have made an appearance.

Charles explained before they left that he wanted to show her off and tell her story to a few key people in town. He needed to pass her off as the Egyptian with a talent for creating potions that would grow things. He knew it was only a matter of time before Raven heard of her. He might have heard already.

“I have a story about a dragon,” Saul said. “Would you like to hear it?”

“Yes…” Simone sat up in bed.

Azur eased her back down and pulled the cover back up.

“Lay back and listen then,” she told the child.

Saul proceeded to tell her about Charles and his adventure with the youngling dragon and its mother in the land they crossed through on the way to see Azur. He made it very suspenseful with the crimson grass so unbelievably tall, and the dragon swooping and diving above their heads. When he told the part about her Daddy getting yanked off his back she covered her eyes and buried her head in Azur’s lap as she sat on the side of the bed. But, when he got to the part about the mother dragon and wove in some of the stories she told him on the way back home, Simone’s eyes grew large and questioning. The stories the dragoness told were not only for Saul, but also educational for her youngling. They were stories with morals and about being good and true to one’s family.

“So he turned to his mother and said, ‘Why didn’t you eat the troll?’ and do you know what she said?” Saul asked Simone.

“Because the troll had babies,” Simone said with conviction.

“Indeed,” Saul affirmed. “The mother troll had just been protecting her babies and the dragoness didn’t want to leave the babies without a mother.”

“It’s not good to be without a mother,” Simone said in a very big girl voice.

She looked up from where her head lay in Azur’s lap. “Are you my mother now?”

Azur was a bit surprised, but in a ‘my-heart-is-bursting’ kind of way.

“I’d like to be,” Azur replied with a warm smile.

“Can I call you mommy?” Simone was full of questions.

Azur brushed the hair back from the child’s forehead. “I would like that very much.”

Simone reached over and stroked the side of Saul’s face. “Night, kitty,” she said.

She rolled over and snuggled down in her pillow.

“Sleep well, poppet,” Saul said.

Azur pulled the blanket up over her shoulder.

“Night, mommy,” she said through a huge yawn.

Azur leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. “Good night, sweetheart.”

Saul limped toward the door by Azur’s side.

“Charles should have been here for that,” he said.


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