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Adventure Fantasy Sad

“I'm telling you, man, I make the greatest grilled cheese you've never tasted.”

“Sure,” Connor rolled his eyes at the younger man, who just grinned at him. The result of the grin mixed with the dried blood at the corner of his mouth and the several half-healed wounds dotting his face made him look psychopathic.

“Come on cuz,” Rollin said. “You've never even tried it, how could you know?” Connor shook his head, causing the manacles binding him to shake.

“I've seen you cook remember?”

“When?”

“The time you tried to make stuffed goat, or perhaps when you set the house on fire making cookies? Maybe when you…”

“Alright, alright, I get it. But man, this is a grilled cheese we're talking about. Not some complicated recipe for master chefs. A four-year-old could make a grilled cheese.”

“And yet I maintain that you cannot.”

“Rude,” Rollin muttered, he relaxed his neck. Allowing his head to roll sideways.

“I'll show you when we get outa here, I'm gonna make a grilled cheese so good, you'll think this all worth it.” Connor turned to him, straining the chains slightly.

“We will get out of here,” Connor told him, eyes shining with resolve.

“I know,” Rollin muttered.

“And when we do, I'm going to laugh at you when you burn the house down trying to prove your grilled cheese skills.”

“It was a tiny fire,” Rollin exclaimed. “I didn't nearly burn the house down. And I maintain that making cookies, which is baking, has no bearing on one's ability to make a grilled cheese.”

“Say what you will, it doesn't make it any more true.”

“You are insufferable, you know that. You are going to eat those words on top of delicious grilled cheese. It will be like seasoning, spices, or something-other. My grilled cheeses are so good, as to be beyond purchase. If I were to sell it, people would offer hundreds of dollars, I would become a millionaire.”

“Then why don't you sell it?” Connor challenged. Rollin laughed.

“I'm too busy getting myself into trouble with you to spend my life making sandwiches.”

“Too true, we should throw a party celebrating our thirteenth time breaking out of a dungeon.”

“Nah, we'll wait until our twentieth escape.”

“You planning on being imprisoned again?”

“You planning on stopping, whatever you call what we do?”

“I call it adventuring. But it doesn't have to lead to us being imprisoned.”

Rollin looked at him, disbelief evident on his face.

“Well, how about a small celebration then? You can serve your grilled cheeses.”

“Deal,” Rollin said with a grin. “I'm telling you though, they'll blow your mind.”

A click sounded, and Connor grinned.

“Show time.”

A moment later a tall Grey Elder, as they liked to call themselves. Or Loppy Faced, as Rollin liked to call them, entered the room, a bright scowl on his face.

“Do you ever speak of anything other than the most nonsensical vitriol you can think of? I spent the last hour-and-a-half forced to listen to you too babble on about a sandwich!” The thing growled in his rasping voice that seemed to slither out of his mouth and burrow into the ears of his friends.

“If you had tasted my grilled cheese, you wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it,” Rollin said, head lolling sideways.

The creature growled, and, exactly as Rollin had hoped, approached and struck him in the face.

An electrical shock raced from Rollin's heart where the draconian spirit resided, blasting the deformed figure away from him.

“I've been waiting a hell of a long time to do that,” he said, spitting out blood. He focused on the fickle power within him, finally awoken, and flexed his wrists. Fire poured from through his veins and the manacles cracked.

“Beat that,” Rollin told Connor. “I told you Draconian spirit was better than Fey.”

“Yeah yeah, get me out of here and we can argue over pointless nonsense later.”

"I'll have you know that my grilled cheese is second only to my great conversational skills.

“Pain in the ass,” Connor muttered.

“Ah, I love you too.”

Rollin smiled as Connor forged ahead of him. Then dropped the act as soon as he was out of sight.

He clutched a hand to his chest and spat the blood that was building in his mouth.

“C'mon, it's all clear,” Connor called. Rollin came back to himself, painting his usual easygoing air. Connor would need him if they were to get out of this alive.

They would deal with after, after.

The two intrepid adventurers snuck through the dungeon, wondering where the creepy elves, or whatever they were were hiding.

“Hey, look at this,” Connor called. He was standing in a tall doorway, leading into a kitchen.

“Oh great, I'm starving,” Rollin said. Before Connor could stop him he was rifling through the fridge, grabbing ingredients quickly, then starting up the stove.

Fifteen to twenty minutes later, Rollin had finally completed his stack of grilled cheeses. He took a quick bite and smiled in satisfaction. Then packed them into a bag. Only then did he accede to Connor's assistance that they escape.

They continued searching for an exit. Rollin blasting the occasional freak.

Somehow, as always they made it out. Rollin lead Connor through the surrounding woods, then closed his eyes, and focused.

“Rollin, you better not be doing what I think you're doing”

“It's too late Connor,” Rollin said with more calm than he felt.

“BS! You're not sacrificing yourself for me.”

“Is it a sacrifice if I am anyways dying?”

There it was the ugly truth.

“You're not,” Connor demanded. “You can't!”

“Connor, I can, and I am.”

“Why didn't you say something, why…”

“I needed you to be thinking rationally. Tell Kasi and Chelsi that I love them.”

“Tell them yourself.”

Rollin began to speak, summoning the dragon that slept within.

“What am I supposed to say to them?” Connor demanded. “That I sat by while your husband and father sacrificed himself for me?”

“Tell them I love them, and eat the sandwiches with them.”

“Come on,” he pleaded. “There must be a better way.”

“There isn't,” Rollin said softly. “Goodbye, my friend. Know that you've always been like a brother to me.”

Then he let loose the dragon within. For one moment, for one blissful, free moment, he felt the inner bleeding recede, and he felt like he wasn't dying after all.

And then as he screamed his dragons named]e, and everything turned into fire and wind and water and earth, he whispered one last spell.

And Rollin, magical thief, protector, and adventurer extraordinaire died.

Connor felt white heat envelop him, searing and burning. The liquid fire poured into his bones, the excruciating agony was second only to the pain as he felt his friend's soul leave his body. “Goodbye, brother,” Connor whispered into the wind.

Then with a sound like a roaring dragon, the world was still and the fire is gone, and the light was black.

Connor awoke, he was told, exactly thirteen hours twenty-two minutes, and fifteen seconds after he had appeared outside of the small country house.

He was in Rollin's house. The guest room was always prepared for him. Rollin's wife, Kasi after making sure he was alright sat him at the dinner table along with her daughter.

“What happened?” she demanded from him. “Because my husband's body and his Draonspark were lying not far from you when you appeared.” her tone was accusatory, and Connor flinched under the pain of her gaze.

Before answering, Connor stood and found his pack, pulling out the pack of sandwiches, which had been magically preserved.

“He told me we should eat these,” Connor said softly. “And that I should tell you he loved you,” his eye trailed to his niece. “Both of you.”

“How did he die?”

“I'm not certain. He pretended he was uninjured as we made our escape. Didn't want me distracted, or so he said. When we got out, he led me into the forest, told me he was dying, and then used the last of his life force to transport me here.”

Connor looked away, attempting to hide the tears in his eyes. Then stopped, Rollin was worth a few tears.

"I'm sorry I couldn't save him, he sobbed. His tears came hot and fast, he could hardly breathe through the lump in his throat.

Then a small hand wrapped its way around his own. He looked up, meeting the eyes of his friend in the face of his friend's daughter.

“Don't cry uncle,” she said softly. “Daddy wouldn't want us to cry.”

So the three of them, and later when Connor's own wife, who was Rollin's sister, as well as their children, all six of them, spoke of a lost companion, and, finally ate the grilled cheeses.

"Those, have got to be the greatest grilled cheese in the world.

No one disagreed.

Chelsi, daughter of Rollin sat on the roof of her house, arms around her knees as she carefully cradled her father's dragon stone in her lap.

The nine-year-old stared at the stars, wondering where her father was.

Then she felt a spirit reach out and caress her cheek.

Chelsi.

Chelsi shivered, looking up around in wonder.

“Daddy?”

Shh, baby, I don't have long. An image of her father's face appeared before her.

I'm sorry I have to go sweetie, but I wanted to tell you I love you.

“Daddy, I'm gonna miss you,” Chelsi cried, tears forming in the corner of her eyes.

She pumpkin, it'll be alright. I see you have Zalor, my dragon companion.

The young girl clutched the stone close.

She is yours now, take care of her. When you're old enough to be one with her as I was, you will know. Oh, and when you do tell her I'm sorry for leaving her, just as I am sorry for leaving you.

An almost incorporeal hand brushed against Chelsi's cheek. And she leaned into her father's touch.

And then he was gone.

“Goodbye, daddy,” she whispered into the air.

She looked down at the stone in her hands, wondering at the dragon spirit within.

She would befriend this dragon, just as her daddy had.

She would honor his memory and walk in his footsteps. The girl stroked the warm stone, fire in her heart, and she vowed to herself then.

“I'll make you proud, daddy.”

September 09, 2022 08:59

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