“It required several years, but they finally managed to destroy the creature permanently. Its remains lie beneath the Radiant Temple as a reminder of The Lady of Eternal Light’s triumph over the forces of darkness and chaos.”
The two children sit with rapt attention as she concludes her story. The younger of the two sits up, and tears glistening in her eyes.
“I miss grandpa.”
The woman gathers both of them into her arms. “I know, sweetheart. I miss him too. But kobolds do not live as long as humans, and it was his time to return to The Goddess and enjoy a rest.”
“Why didn’t he get someone to turn him back into a human?”, asks the older child.
“Well, sweetie, that is complicated. Your grandfather eventually understood Dawnsister Scarlet’s wisdom in having a kobold on the throne. The Sootscale tribe grew and prospered and was a strong support for Tuskany over the years. When Lady Lulu took control of the tribe after her father’s passing, her friendship with your grandfather brought the kobolds even deeper into the fold. Even the gnomes eventually gave them some grudging respect and friendship. That might not have happened if he had become human again.”
The younger girl shakes her head, her voice tone slightly whining. “But he could’ve married Scarlet and been Happily Ever After.”
The woman smiles sadly. “Perhaps. But I suspect that was another reason that he did not seek the transformation. He understood that the Dawnsister did not return his feelings, and he did not wish to cause her any further discomfort or grief.”
The child folds her arms across her chest. “That’s dumb.”
“But what happened to Scarlet and the others?”, asks the older girl. “What about the Devil-boy? And Deirdre and Lilith? Did they get punished?”
The woman smiles indulgently and rises. “Those are stories for another night. It is bedtime now.”
“Aaaawwwww…”, moan the two girls in unison, even as they rise from the bedside.
“Go brush your teeth and hair, and I will be back to tuck you in.”
She leaves the room, turning the corner to find her husband leaning against the doorframe, a smirk on his face.
“They always want the same stories. I thought girls were supposed to like unicorns and rainbows and mermaids. Not fearsome monsters, armoured knights and sorcerers flinging fireballs.”
The woman shrugs. “They are their mother’s daughters. I was only ten when I was given my first blade. Fifteen in my first command. What else would you expect?”
He smiles, “I would be nice if they would stay little girls for a bit longer before they go off to slay dragons. They don’t need to become Lady Sera Salaam, Knight Protector of Tuskany and Holy Warrior of The Sarenrae, just yet.”
The sounds of small voices raised in argument intrudes on the conversation. Sera sighs and gives her husband a pained look. “Not to worry. They still have plenty of growing up to do.”
The young woman returns to the bedroom to find both girls sitting up in bed shouting at each other.
“DID NOT!”, yells the younger child. “She died and then he fell in love with Scarlet and he forgot all about her and loved Scarlet more!”
“Jaiyana was his true love!”, counters the older girl. “Just because she died doesn’t mean he stopped loving her. He didn’t even love Scarlet enough to stop being a kobold for her!”
“Enough!”, says Sera, raising her voice slightly to be heard over the din. “It doesn’t matter who your grandfather loved more. He loved them both, at different times and in different ways. Just like he loved you both, but never one more than the other. Now lie down.”
Both girls mumble quiet apologies and settle into bed, saying goodnight. Sera tucks each girl in, giving them a kiss on the forehead, first the older child, then the younger.
“Good night, Jaiyana. Good night, Scarlet. Sweet dreams.”