They came to the edge of a meadow full of soft green grain and bright yellow flowers. A delicious scent wafted from the stalks, somewhere between licorice and oatmeal.
“Shrennel,” B’frona explained. “It must be the dragon whelp’s first food. He must not eat flesh because—”
The little dragon let out a throaty whoop and trounced into the field, biting playfully at tiny flying creatures ascending from the buds.
“Oh, no, bees!” Gina exclaimed, concerned that they might sting Puff.
“‘Beezes?’ You really are a simpleton. Everyone knows that beezes do not exist. They are mythical creatures, tiny striped monsters with poisoned swords in their tails who brew magical treacle syrup! How absurd to believe in such a thing!”
“What? But in Middleton we have bees on our flowers all the — oh, wait, they’re not bees, they’re pixies!”
“No, you stupid girl, they are flower faeries! Much smaller, and much more ridiculous than pixies; they never talk about anything but themselves. Still, the plants could not produce shrennel without them. Look, he is eating!”
Puff was chomping happily on a clump of shrennel stalks. Several faeries cursed at him in heavily accented tinkles as they flew off.
“And that’s good?”
“Yes! Now he will have the taste for shrennel forever. Have you never had shrennel? You really are the most ignorant person I have ever met, even if you do think you are a queen!”
“So teach me, Know-Everything Boy! And what about you? Where do you come from?”
The Mill on the River Rennou, Gina learned, was at the western edge of the Frengan Light Forest, and had been prosperous for generations. But B’frona’s family had broken that pattern. They had been far from blessed. He spoke vaguely about his father, alluding to an indistinct accident that had somehow incapacitated the man, leading to B’frona’s own dawn-to-dusk procession of duties.
“Wait, wait, wait,” Gina interrupted, “so you’re saying that your dad makes you do all the work?”
“No, I’ve told you, because of his accident—”
“Right. He crushed his—”
“Hand…his hands…both of them.”
“You told me he crushed his foot.”
“I…I didn’t say that.”
“Yes, you did!” From the moment Gina and B ‘frona had met, all pretense of politeness had been nonexistent. Which generally means you’re either going to be someone’s enemy or their best friend.
“Well, yes, his…his foot and his hands…and so he will never be able to work in the mill again because—”
“Left or right?”
“Left or right foot?”
“You said ‘right’ before.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“You’re lying your brains out!”
Thoughts: When you argue constantly with someone, it generally means you’re either going to be their enemy or their best friend.
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