“Mother, what do you mean, ‘Halflings don’t go vagabonding around the countryside like half-wit half-ogres looking for a dry place to piss?’ If YOU hadn’t gone wandering North with a passing caravan I would not be here!! Or if I were, I wouldn’t be gloriously gnomish!! And I would not have a father to go looking for. So don’t YOU tell ME about Halflings staying close to home!”

“I was trying to find a place to sell my minch weed tobacco for a decent price. I was NOT vagabonding!”

“Mother, when a girl goes away from home and comes back eight months later pregnant, she has been vagabonding! And I don’t buy that old minch weed story, anyway. You may have had a few bales of it on the mule, but you were looking for more than a few coppers extra per hundred weight. You were as tired of this back water burg as I am. You wanted some adventure in the great wide world, and you found it. And now you are NOT going to keep me from finding what is out there! I think you’re just jealous.”

“It was the profits from that shipment of weed which dug this home for us, Preshy, and you know it! I went and I came back and I’ve spent the rest of my life raising you like a decent Halfling , and if I had a tiny detour along the way it was a folly of youth. A folly which I want you to have the good sense to avoid! Raising a child alone in the hard world is no way to spend your youth. I want something better for you!”

“Oh! OH!!! So I BLIGHTED YOUR YOUTH!! And now you want to BLIGHT MINE! Thanks, Mom. I’m so sorry I’ve been such a burden to you. All the more reason I should leave and turn you loose!”

“Preshy, you know that is not what I meant! I would not trade you for the world. And, yes, I did have an….interesting trip when I was young, but there are other, more important things in life.”

“It’s not MY fault you have lived like an ice virgin all these years!!”


“Plenty of eligible harvest squires have come knocking on your door, and they still do. But you’ve been wearing your pants double buttoned and old maid laced as long as I can remember. So don’t blame me!!”

“I’m not blaming you, Preshy. I’m not. Since I met your father, it’s just not been in my heart to slip pins with any other. And raising you has been a joy. A trial and, more than occasionally, a royal flimdingle, but always a joy. And whenever it has just seemed like too much to put up with, you grin that…that grin and the world goes merrily on its way again.”

“Father’s grin!”

“Yes! Your father’s grin, blight you. Are you happy! I miss your father’s grin, and if you go off and do not come back, I’ll miss yours and his both!”

“And what if I go off and we BOTH come back?”

“Don’t, Preshy. Don’t start that talk again. You will never find him, and if you do, he will never come here to stay. I wouldn’t want him to. Virlimshire is too small a world for him. Living here would be the death of him. And if he came back and then left again it would be the death of me! Just leave well enough alone, Preshy. Please!”

“When have I ever left well enough alone, Mother?”

“Oooohhh! Don’t say it as if it were something to be proud of, child.”

“Don’t call me child! You know I’m not a child! And it’s because I have never left well enough alone that I am NOT a child. And if you were honest, you’d admit that you are proud of that! I’ve worked hard getting ready to go out. I’m not some gnat brain with a wild dream. I’ve trained! I’ve studied! I’ve had…experiences. A lot more than you had had when you went ‘vagabonding’ and got yourself knocked up by a cocky gnome who left you to raise me by yourself.”

“Gusten was entirely honest about his intentions! I’ve told you that! It’s not his fault! What happened happened because I wanted it to happen.”

“Yes, Mother. That’s the way it always is. What you want you get. What you want to do, you do. They call you Dilty the Dainty Dragon in the Shire when your back is turned. Well, guess what. You’ve hatched a dragon daughter from your little adventure, so you might just as well accept the fact and watch me jump off the mountainside. I DO know how to fly. You taught me and, I think, Daddy must have had a hand in it to. There’s no stopping me! So wish me well. And if all goes as I plan, I’ll be back soon enough and not alone.”

“Oooh, Preshty.”

“He’ll stay, Mother! He’ll stay until he goes. And when he goes, I’ll go with him and bring him back again! We get what we want, you and I, Mother. And who knows. Maybe all three of us will go someday and come back when the world is much older.”

“….I love you, Preshty.”

“I love you, too, Mother. Now help me with this strap. And let me taste some of that squash puddle soup before I leave. The sun isn’t quite up yet.”

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