There Is Truly Nobody More Unstoppable Than A Grandparent Whose Grandchildren Need Help
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Lionel was done pretending this was okay.
“There’s no time to summon Owen,” he said with a growl, leaning on the table. “Even if this letter gets through, by the time he arrives, it could be too late.”
Bandits had been plaguing Great Scar, his home, for the past few weeks now. They’d threatened harm if the townspeople tried to ask for help, and were too well armed to fight back against. Or at least they claimed to be—nobody had dared challenge them yet.
“We don’t have any other choice, Dad,” said Otto, sounding pained. “We can’t fight them ourselves. They have the boys as hostages. The capital isn’t that far away, we just need to buy a week or two.”
One of the things Lionel loved about Great Scar was that it was quiet, peaceful. Violence wasn’t anyone’s first solution to any problem. But it meant that even when violence was called for, they stuck their heads under their wings. Lionel already hadn’t thought the town was doing enough to fight the bandits—they hadn’t been doing anything to fight the bandit, just setting up a community watch and asking people not to go out at night—but now things were far more serious.
The bandits had broken into the inn and kidnapped Otto’s sons. Lionel’s grandchildren.
They’d kidnapped Lionel’s grandsons.
“What if they don’t hold them as hostages?” Ophelia challenged. Otto had always backed down when challenged, especially by his mother. Came with being the younger brother, if only by five minutes.
But he just shook his head. “Why else would they have taken them? You know I love him, but Murph in particular is totally useless except as a hostage.”
“He’s right,” said Rodrigue, looking grim. His partners all looked grim too. Their son had been kidnapped along with Odin and Pierre, and Lionel could see a fire in their eyes too, different from his but unmistakable. “This isn’t our first hostage situation and these guys aren’t here to kill anyone or they’d have killed Tommy instead of warning him. The boys have time.”
“Lionel and Ophelia are right, though,” Arch said, leaning on the table. “We can’t just leave the boys for weeks while we wait for backup. Even if these assholes aren’t going to hurt them, we’re not letting them hold our sons for that long.”
“If we let them do this now,” said Oscar, nodding. “They’ll do it again.”
“Exactly. We have to shut them down now before they get any more big ideas.”
“So we attack them,” Lionel said, nodding. This made sense. The Brotherhood of the Sickle had taken something—someone—from them. The people of Great Scar had to take them back. Lionel had to take them back, and punish the bandits for ever thinking they could hurt his family.
“With what army, though?” Tina asked. She was a good woman, good for Oscar. Smarter than him, too. “We can have all the verve in the world but at the end of the day most of us don’t even know how to use weapons and we don’t know how many of these Brotherhood people there even are.”
We’ll do reconnaissance, said Lev. Figure out their numbers. We know where they are, so it won’t be hard. The bandits had left a trail all the way to Tommy’s farm, which was all boarded up.
“But how long will it take?” asked Ophelia, giving Lionel a look. Lionel had never understood the concept of marriage, of someone being his better half, until he’d met her thirty-nine years ago. She’d completely taken over his life, convinced him he wanted to live here in Great Scar, convinced him he wanted a family. And she’d been right every time. He had wanted all of those things. And he’d had them, and been happy ever since.
“Two days, maybe three,” said Tomas. “Less if we’re lucky.”
“That’s not acceptable,” Ophelia said. “Three days is far too long to let these ruffians hold our grandchildren.”
“Mom, we can’t just charge in and…”
“The hell you can’t,” Ophelia told Oscar. “For heaven’s sake, Oscar, your son charged into a cave with half a sword and killed the dragon in there by himself. I think we can all show half the backbone God gave to Owen and fight some bandits as a group, especially after they kidnapped your nephews from your inn.”
Owen was something of a marvel, if even half of what was in his letters was true. And it was—Lionel knew, because the boy was too stupid to lie. Apparently he’d been not only killing dragons, but fucking them. Well, he said he was making friends with them, but Lionel could read between the lines. Apparently plenty of dragons were just living among humans these days, with no concern for being discovered or hiding their identities.
How the world had changed.
“Mom,” said Otto. “It wasn’t Oscar’s fault.”
“Of course it wasn’t. It wasn’t any of our faults, but that doesn’t free us from the responsibility of doing something about it, now does it?”
“We are doing something about it. We can’t charge in half-cocked, though. That will just get someone killed.”
Oscar had always been a little too cautious. Louder than his twin, certainly, but of Lionel’s three children, Liv had always been the one to punch first and clean up later. But this time Oscar wasn’t wrong. They couldn’t just charge in. The boys were in danger.
And knowing that he couldn’t do anything about it made Lionel feel impotent and angry. It made him want to swoop in and burn Tommy’s house to the ground, clean his teeth with the Brotherhood of the Sickle’s remains after he’d brought Odin, Pierre and Murph back home. And he couldn’t do that, and…
“Lionel,” Ophelia said, hand in his. “Let’s go outside a moment.”
He’d been breathing hard, hadn’t he? Yes, maybe it was a good idea to take a walk. He nodded, let her lead him out of the inn. “I’m sorry,” he said to her, once they were outside, in one of Great Scar’s quiet, snowy streets. It really was a perfect town. “I’m trying not to get too worked up, but…”
“Why?” Ophelia asked, and Lionel blinked, looking at her.
“Because…you know why.”
“No, Lionel, I do not,” said Ophelia, arms crossed. The light from inside threw harsh shadows across her face. She’d grown so much older, so quickly, since Lionel had met her. She was only fifty-eight, he reminded himself. They could well have forty more years together. “These people have kidnapped our grandchildren. Why aren’t you going to get them back?”
What was she talking about? “What would you have me do, Ophelia? Fly in and burn everything down?”
“Yes, you bonehead, that is exactly what I’d have you do!” Ophelia didn’t raise her voice, because she never did, but Lionel still stood straighter at the intensity of it. “Maybe we were right to keep secrets when we were younger, but in what possible world is that more important than rescuing those boys right now?”
Lionel was in shock. He stood there, not moving. “They’d run us out of town. Not just me, our whole family. Our children.”
“Nobody will do any such thing and if you think they will, you’ve been paying no attention whatsoever, Lionel of Great Scar. This is our town. Our son runs the inn. You are practically the mayor. Owen is marrying the prince of Dolovai, for fuck’s sake, and everyone’s proud just to know him. And even if they did run us out of town, so fucking be it, if it means our family is safe.” She was glaring at him like she hadn’t since their first date. “Now, stop being an idiot, go back into that inn and explain how we’re going to rescue them right this instant.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Lionel said, pausing. He pulled her into a kiss. “You should chastise me more often.”
“We are not talking about sex right now.”
“Go inside, you horny idiot.”
“I love you too,” Lionel said, kissing her again. She was right. He was being stupid. He looped his arm through hers, and they went back into the inn together. Everyone was still at the table, and Lionel took his place at its head. “We’re going to rescue the boys right now,” he announced.
“Dad, you can’t just…”
“Be quiet, Oscar,” said Lionel, looking at his collar and imagining he could see the mark under it. His oldest son had never been very good at taking orders, but he also clearly recognized the tone in Lionel’s voice. Lionel took a breath, then let it out, reaching inside himself and letting go of something he’d held onto so tightly for so long that it took actual effort to release.
But release it did, and Lionel vaguely heard gasps as his chest expanded, his scalp tingled, his pants tightened. His shirt ripped open as his wings came out, spreading behind him, gold and red. His pants were low enough that his tail just pushed them down a little rather than ripping them, and his horns wrapped tightly around his head.
Lionel opened his eyes, which he knew would be glowing their original yellow. “I am going to rescue them right now. You are all welcome to come if you like.”
Lionel expected screams and fleeing and torches, but instead all everyone did was stare at him. Arch silently put a coin in Tomas’s open hand. Well. Fine, then.
“D-dad…” Otto said, pale. “You kept this a secret for…our whole lives.”
“We’ll talk about that later, son.”
“Fine,” said Oscar, crossing his arms with something that might have been a pout on a boy like his brother. “But we are going to talk about how much cooler Otto and I would have been if everyone had known about this growing up. How in creation are we going to tell Owen about this? You knew, right, Mom?”
“Obviously I knew, Oscar,” said Ophelia, a hand on Lionel’s wing. “But you can stare at your father later. Right now we have work to do.”
Lionel nodded. “Let’s go. We’ll see if those bandits are brave enough to hold their ground with a dragon bearing down on them.”
The Brotherhood of the Sickle was about to feel the full weight of Lionel’s family on their necks. But if that wasn’t enough to convince them, Krnyln’oljka-skssnjl’tchkkhc’ktakkck would quite simply tear them into however many thousands of pieces it took until they posed no threat to anyone ever again.
4 thoughts on “Others, 41”
Knew it! Owen was way too much of a dragon whisperer to not have some dragon in him.
He really was! He just has a little too much innate knowledge of how they think for it to have totally been a coincidence, haha. I’ve been waiting on this official reveal for a long while, but the signs were indeed all there. 😀
Clearly, this development means that Owen is going to turn into a dragon at some point in the future, whether partially or fully.
And just because the hissy-fit will be hilarious, he’ll get his wings before Joey does.
I mean yes, clearly if Owen ever does unlock transformative powers, even if only partial, he’ll be better at it than Joey is. 😀 That’s just the order of the world and it’s only fair that since Joey does win the literal dick-measuring contest, Owen should win all the metaphorical ones!