Daily Fiction Challenge Day 14: Even Dragons Need Dopamine

#StoryADay in May Challenge Day 7

This makes two weeks of writing a daily price of short fiction to post here. It’s a milestone to celebrate and continue!

Since May 1, I’ve been doing the #StoryADay challenge, sometimes using their writing prompts and sometimes not. Today is a sort-of day. They provided a fourth grade spelling list of words to include in a story. I used some of them and some of them I used a version of the word, making it plural or removing plurals. I simply could not find a way to include the word keyboard into this fantasy story. But I still like the result.

Even Dragons Need Dopamine

Melena hefted the pot of leftover stew high enough to dump the disgusting mess into the castle garbage bin. The miasma of half-cooked meats and root vegetables reeked of garlic and onions to the point that she wondered if the cooks were simply trying to disguise the taste of some poison that had worked into the broth.

The dragon king had been very vocal in his displeasure, to the point that he had flown off to hunt his own dinner. When he returned, the remnants of at least two mountain goats covered his scales and he had to pick goat fur from his teeth.

He was up to his neck in the hot springs pool in the courtyard when he bellowed Melena’s name, pronouncing each syllable precisely. Mel felt like he was someone how cursing her each time he did that and he did it every day.

She washed the potatoes she was peeling apples for a breakfast mash for the human servants of the castles when he screamed. Grumbling to herself, she set her work aside, wiped her hands on her apron and scurried out to the courtyard.

“Yes, your highness?” she asked, trying a little too hard to get the right deference in her tone.

He sniffed and then sneezed, the air pushing against her life a strong wind. “Why do you smell of apples? Have you been working in the kitchen again?”

Melena straighten her shoulders and lifted her chin.

“Yes, I’m working in the kitchen again. Someone has to see that the people in this kingdom are adequately fed.”

The dragon narrowed his eyes and huffed small puffs of smoke through his nostrils.

“Are you critiquing the way I run my kingdom?”

“Yes. You demand practically all the meat the farms produce and then have me feed it to the pigs because you can’t bear to eat meat you didn’t roast yourself. Meanwhile, your subjects are starving because they can’t produce enough food to feed you and themselves, especially when you waste it.”

“Girl, you speak out of turn. Again.”

“If I can’t speak for these people now, when will it be time? In 70 years when their children’s children are starving?”

“When you have earned your spot as my heir instead of skulking around with the servants.”

“And how precisely should I earn my place, father?”

“Stop acting like a scullery maid and choosing a husband would be a good first step.”

“I’m not even a hundred years old. I am in no hurry to find a mate just so you can have grand-hatchlings. And what if I want to marry a human? After all, you did.”

The big dragon’s eyes softened and a tear formed in his left eye.

“I did. And we lost her before your fiftieth birthday. You were barely an adult. Would you wish that upon your child?”

Melena smiled, stepped forward and kissed her father’s snout.

“Dad, I miss her too, but don’t you think maybe it’s time to stop mourning and live? Lady Elena’s had her eye on you for the last 20 years and I know you enjoy her company too.”

“But your mother…”

“Would want you to be happy. And to stop hassling me. You’re young enough to have other children. Have a brood and let me be.”

“But if the peasants are having trouble feeding me, what would they do with a whole brood?”

“You could take them to the mountains to hunt, instead of eating all the livestock. Let the peasants have some time to build up their herds and flocks. And stop expecting the people you protect to worship you as their king.”

The dragon chuckled.

“Where did you learn such outlandish ideas?”

“From Mom…and you. You used to hunt every day and bring it home to share with everyone in the castle. Now you lie about in your pool or bellow orders. Let’s face it, Dad, you’re depressed and lonely.”

“I am. It’s time I admitted that. But also, I’ve been feeling a bit better lately.”

“That’s the medication I’ve been slipping into the stew. Of course, when you won’t eat it, we end up with extra dopamine for the pigs.”

“You’ve been drugging me?”

“I’ve been helping you get well. You’re welcome.”

The dragon raised his wings out of the pool and pulled her in to a tight, and wet, hug.

“You’re very much like her, you know. She would be proud.”

Melena sniffled and snuggled deeper into his embrace. “Thanks, Dad.”

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Lucinda Gunnin is a commercial property manager and author in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She’s a news junky, sushi addict, and geek extraordinaire.

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Lucinda Gunnin

Lucinda Gunnin

Lucinda Gunnin is a commercial property manager and author in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She’s a news junky, sushi addict, and geek extraordinaire.