Coming of Age
By J.E. Bonneau
Smashwords Edition Copyright 2011 by J.E. Bonneau I dedicate this boo to !ee"y# $annen# and Bro"aidan who waited so patient"y for %addy to actua""y finish something& you are a"" my wor"d. I wou"d a"so "i e to than 'ico"a# I cou"dn(t ha)e done this without your eag"e eyes and artistic assistance.
*ro"ogue +Storyte""er, $he wor"d has a"ways been a con)o"uted p"ace# with the -and of .aerie# $he /nderwor"d# $ir('a('og# and a"" p"aces both magica" and mundane e0isting o)er# under# and around each other. -i e an origami rose# con)o"uted and intricate& o)er"apping and touching in p"aces. $he 1other is a forgi)ing sou" and $he .ather seems too indifferent to care. 2hat they did was not out of spite directed towards humans# so much as simp"y boredom with the current wor"d order. 3ne must remember that whi"e significant percentages of many popu"ations were contro""ed by obso"ete re"igious e0tremists& the a)erage citi4en was scientific and atheistic& disi""usioned and cynica" to the point of not be"ie)ing in anything. $herefore# $hey decided to ta e the origami rose and unfo"d it. Sudden"y one cou"d turn down a street and instead of the Burger !ing# find onese"f dri)ing through 3beron5s court. 3ne cou"d see 6ahweh5s +$he origina" name of the Christian 7od# from which Jeho)ah is trans"ated, seraphim and fa""en ange"s in the bac s of Christian churches arguing o)er penitents sou"s& or dicing for them# arm wrest"ing# or in fact any of the standard methods of sou" a""ocation. 2hen this was combined with the opportunity to spea to ange"s +who did not "ie# new how many other gods were out there# new how "itt"e 6ahweh actua""y cared# and thought that this was 8ust great as "ong as he cared about ange"s,# it created a sorrow that outweighed the 8oy of disco)ering that their god was definite"y# ob8ecti)e"y# rea". It was said $hey opened dimension gates# but $hey on"y opened perception. 1any thought $hey had brought magic bac . $hey on"y re"eased it from those poc ets in which it was trapped. Sudden"y a"" eyes were open. 2e ca""ed this the 9enaissance. .or the ne0t year# suicide was the most common cause of death and hysteria the most wide spread disease. 'ot on"y were humans faced with myth made f"esh# .aery was forced into contact with humanity for the first time in mi""ennia. $he :a"" of $he 1ountain !ing# where 'ordic fey went /nderhi"" to escape the touch of the %eath 1eta"# sudden"y opened into downtown Stoc ho"m. 2e ca""ed this period of hysterica" ad8ustment to the new wor"d order the 9eformation Chapter 3ne +-ady !a""isto,
I awo e when I hit the co"d hardwood f"oor. I sat up fast and saw :aw "oo ing up from the f"oor on the other side# and Story "aughing on the bed. $his happened e)ery time :aw s"ept with us. I began to wish I had 8oined A"i0 with Erin. :aw was snar"ing# ;.uc man e)ery time we5re in bed together I end up wa ing up on the fuc ing f"oor<= ;6eah<= I said# proud of that much after such a rude awa ening. ;-oo guys#= Story said# ;$here5s more to being in a band than fuc ing a"" the other members# you now. -ast night was incredib"e# than you both. 'ow we ha)e to get up and practice and I need both of you to he"p me untang"e A"i0 and Erin# or at "east operate the cameras. Besides# I "i e to see you 8ump.= 2e rose and pu""ed on robes to co)er our na edness. 3ut of respect for drafty ha""s not from modesty# we were not a modest bunch. By now no one had anything the others hadn5t seen. 2e wa" ed into Erin5s room. It was a"" done in b"ac # her co"or. $he wa""s were painted b"ac & a"" the furniture was b"ac "ac>uer or ebony. She had a huge ebony four?poster bed with b"ac si" canopy and curtains# current"y drawn aside. $hey had ic ed a"" the co)ers off& +yummsers<, they produced enough heat to eep each other warm. After the 9eformation# a"" of us fe"t freer to be ourse")es. A"i0 is -ionman# chief"y. $hat meant she had a go"den pe"t a"" o)er her body. 2hi"e Erin# for reasons of her own# had sha)ed her entire body on 3"d Earth# inc"uding head# and eyebrows. $his choice made her "oo a "itt"e a"ien but did not detract from her otherwor"d"y beauty. $he hair ne)er grew bac after the 9eformation so she did not e)en ha)e the stubb"e and fo""ic"e bumps she had whi"e sha)ing. :er smooth# hair"ess s in was a"abaster white and intertwined with A"i05s go"den fur it ga)e an image to ma e us a"" droo". I proud"y admit I stared 8ust as much as the boys. 2e decided to scrap Story5s schedu"e and wa e them in the best way< $hey were dead enough to the wor"d that we were ab"e to separate them without wa ing them. I tac "ed Erin and the boys too on A"i0. I "ay down ne0t to her# facing her thighs and began "ic ing "ight"y at her. Soon she awo e and ro""ed o)er on top of me. Erin5s breasts were bare"y on the A cup side of a t?shirt so it was easy for me to mo)e my head# abandoning what I was doing. I "oo ed up o)er her f"at stomach to her smooth chest with de"icious "itt"e breast buds. A sma"" go"d ring through her "eft nipp"e caught my eye. 1y ga4e continued down to her beautifu" ruddy pin tongue "owering down toward me. 2hen I fe"t it open me I c"enched my eyes c"osed# and went bac to what I was doing with a passion. $he three )oiced moans coming from the other side of the bed to"d me they were a"so ha)ing a good time o)er there# but I was too busy to "oo . Soon Erin turned around and mo)ed off me# so she was between my "egs# facing me. I missed the taste and the c"oseness# but now I had a good "oo at the smooth a"abaster head between my "egs# her tongue "apping at me# dri)ing me mad. 1y eyes c"enched shut as I came once again# and I fe"t my arms "ifted by what fe"t "i e :aw 5s hands. $hen he stradd"ed my face and entered my mouth. It was definite"y :aw . A"though# he had pic ed up some of Story and A"i05s taste and scent during whate)er they had been doing o)er there. :e stayed in that position for a few moments then he ro""ed me o)er and entered me# whi"e Erin continued "ic ing. I was happy to 8ust "ay there and fee". Boy did I fee"# I came so much Erin might not need brea fast. Chapter $wo +:aw , I was so hungry when we bro e for brea fast. .irst A"i0 and Story put me to wor # and then -ady !. drains me further. A"" that wor to p"ease them# I can bare"y wa" . $hen I get# ;C5mon :aw # it5s your turn to coo .= I to"d them to eat shit. But# I5m doing it. 'e)er cou"d say no# "east of a"" to $he .ami"y. Erin and Story both offered to he"p. Erin is he"ping# whi"e A"i0 and the -ady dragged off Story to the bath. I guess they hadn5t had enough. $his was fine by me. I "i ed spending time a"one with Erin. She5s >uiet and a "itt"e too phi"osophica" for her own good# especia""y at her age. She had something that 8ust made you fee" good. A"" those
things are probab"y tied up in her priestess gig. $his meant she wor ed for the 1other and .ather in whate)er capacity they saw fit. It was "i e many other 8obs# e0cept she was on twenty?four hour ca"" and she was paid in power. 3n top of that# her ste""ar charm had put her high up in the .athers fa)or. $his carried with it a specia" ind of cachet. Combined with her natura" resources# coming from a good "ine# she5d ended up one of the more powerfu" beings out there. 'one of that had anything to do with why I was staring. :er hard "itt"e titties on the other hand# had >uite a bit to do with it. 3ur recent get together "eft me re"a0ed enough to 8ust stare# for now. 3f course I cou"dn(t see them at the moment as she had her bac to me. She was standing at the big iron sin # pumping water with the big hand pump to rinse the potatoes she(d been scrubbing. 3ur house was bui"t o)er a hot spring so e)en as the spread of magic too the comforts of science we ne)er did without. $hings did become a bit more comp"icated with us ha)ing a red pump on one side of the basin for hot water and a b"ue pump on the other that tapped the we"". 2e were 8ust p"acing p"atters of food on our big# rough# wood farm tab"e as the others came down smi"ing and we"" scrubbed. 2e ate stea # wi"d mushroom ome"ets# fried potatoes# and brea fast ro""s. .inishing with strawberries and b"ueberries co)ered with fresh cream. It ta es a "ot of food to support our "ifesty"es. 2hen we finished# Story and the -ady too Erin off to bathe her. A"i0 tended to me. I new that it was magica" assistance in some way that meant we were ab"e to ha)e good water pressure in both of our bathrooms and that the pumps ne)er needed to be primed or any of that norma" pain in the ass stuff. But it wasn(t conscious spe"" magic. It was residua" atmosphere magic because we "i)ed there. Chapter $hree +Storyte""er, $he -ady and I g"oried in bathing Erin. 2hen a warm# soapy# f"at?chested and hair"ess gir" decides to get p"ayfu" and s>uirmy# it is a rea" cha""enge to find something to ho"d onto. $here were rings in her nipp"e# na)e"# c"it# nose# and se)era" in each ear# but I did not need to be ic ed in the head today. It made for >uite a wi"d# happy# "aughing# s>uea"ing time. I did not rush because a"" I had to do was ta e care of the anima"s before practice. 2e(d ta en the big bathroom# so we had to stand in the tub with Erin or there wou"d ha)e been no hope of ho"ding onto her. I(m sure A"i0 had 8umped in with :aw but there was a difference between two peop"e standing up to their waists bathing one person in a tub big enough for fi)e in our case# and A"i0 nee"ing behind :aw in a two person tub# not from necessity# but because she wanted to pamper him and "et him fee" the gift of her ser)ice. 1y chores that morning were rea""y on"y a matter of brushing the horses and "etting them out of the barn to gra4e. 2e had an inte""igent# te"epathic# magica" cat named *e""a4 up unti" a wee ago. :e too care of security magica""y# so we cou"d focus on the music. :e stored magica" energy as fat# so before a gig he wou"d become a wadd"ing ba"" of butter. After# he was a cat s e"eton in a s in suit ten si4es too big. -ast wee he was o)erwhe"med and i""ed by a group of wi"d humans at a gig. $he concert p"ayed but I didn(t rea""y pay attention# thoughts of touring. $here was >uite an unru"y e"ement# but *e""a4 seemed to be hand"ing it. I "et my mind wander. I didn(t notice how thin he(d gotten. I thought he had e)erything under contro" right up unti" a piano wire too his head off. $hen some wiseass punted it up on stage. $he music stopped. -ady !. scanned the room and then the bott"es behind the bar started e0p"oding into fireba""s. 2ith a thought# I was attended by si0# c"ass fifty?si0 demons. 'asty "itt"e miniature ogre "oo ing things with a big head dominated by a need"e fang fi""ed mouth and a bite that# if it doesn(t i"" outright# pac s to0ic sa"i)a that wi"" get the 8ob done s"ow"y o)er the ne0t few wee s. %emons are no more than anima"s made of magic not f"esh. $hey(re not e)i" by nature# but they are chaotic# and usua""y bruta". $ogether# we had the bar c"eared in a few minutes and an apparent death to"" in the doub"e digits. 'ot bad for such a sma"" bar.
2e pac ed up our stuff# inc"uding *e""a4(s remains. I tried to re)i)e him and put his head bac on. $he poor cat 8ust didn(t seem to ha)e the energy to "i)e. 'ot surprising when I "ifted him. E)en with the tab"e c"oth he was wrapped in he cou"dn(t possib"y ha)e been more than four or fi)e pounds. It was a somber ride bac # fi""ed with ta" of s"aying a"" humans. 2hen we got bac to the house :aw and A"i0 dug a ho"e# Erin and I bathed the body# and my -ady went upstairs to get the buria" it. Scented oi" and herba" gau4e that were basica""y worm bait# to assist in the body(s re?absorption into the earth. Chapter .our +Erin, $hat e)ening those of us with )ampiric tendencies@ Story# $he -ady# and I# decided it wou"d be fun to head into town for a hunt. 2e 8ust "eft the horses and ran. :unting brought out a "o)e of mo)ement and this enab"ed us to go straight to town instead of fo""owing the meanderings of the road. :aw and A"i0# being %ragonA2erebeast and "ionman respecti)e"y# hunted and fed as their bestia" natures directed. I now they came with us# but whether they hunted deer in the forest or preferred (the most dangerous game( I don(t now. Both were fair"y common for them. It was possib"e I "o)ed the run through mi"es of moist e)ergreen forest more than the actua" ta ing of "ife. A wor"d of )ibrant green# the "i)ing energy was pa"pab"e# especia""y in my hypersensiti)e hunt mania. 3ur hunt "asted about an hour and a ha"f# the feeding under twenty minutes and the run there and bac # maybe forty a"" to"d. 2e had gotten bac to our house about two?thirty. -ady !a""isto and I retired to my room. 2here we "ic ed spattered b"ood off each other then mo)ed to areas the b"ood had most definite"y missed. 2e fina""y fe"" as"eep around dawn. I was up around eight. .irst one up# which was strange for me. I pu""ed on my robe against the morning chi"". It might ha)e been the ear"iest I(d been up in years. *hysica""y# none of us needed more than three hours s"eep. 3ccasiona""y we(d be up as "ong as a wee # with no s"eep at a"". But I "o)ed to stay in bed the ma0imum my body wou"d a""ow. I went down to start a fire in the firep"ace# so the others cou"d wa e up in a more hospitab"e en)ironment. 2a" ing into the "i)ing room# I was met with a sight that a"most f"oored me. $here# sitting ca"m"y on the couch in front of an a"ready roaring fire# was *hi"ip %ucanten. *hi"ip was -ady !(s prodiga" mate. :e(d been off dimension hopping "i e Story# :aw # and A"i0(s partners sti"" were. $his wou"d be how our mot"ey bunch ended up together. *hi"ip was thin but "oo ed strong and wiry. :e ept his b"ac hair pu""ed into a ponytai". :is s in was the same mi" moon white that I wore# which wasn(t surprising. :is eyes were a hypnoti4ing smo y green# "i e mine. $his a"so was not too surprising# gi)en the circumstances. In our first "i)es# the ones that shaped us physica""y and set our p"ace in the .ami"y# we shared the same mother. $hough he was a few hundred years o"der so was more "i e an unc"e I ne)er saw. $hat(s nothing# Story(s my origina" father. But a few deaths and rebirths "ater that sort of thing ceases to matter. It has to# so as not to comp"icate things. In an immorta" fami"y# one ma es one5s own re"ationships. $imes change too >uic "y for things to be otherwise., Brother# unc"e# father# friend# it didn(t matter much. I was g"ad to ha)e *hi"ip there# but not near"y as g"ad as the -ady wou"d be. I "oo ed at him and decided to p"ay it off. B*hi"ip you(re up ear"y#B BErin you(re ba"d.B :e rep"ied. I opened my robe# B6es# a"" the way down.B BShow off. 6ou ne)er had body hair. Some of the piercings are new though. I guess it(s on"y one short step from the mohaw you had "ast time I saw you.= ;1ore than twenty?fi)e years and a death and rebirth cyc"e ago. $his fee"s more "i e me than anything I()e tried.B I to"d him# BI thin the fact I ha)en(t sha)ed since the 9enaissance means the 1other and .ather appro)e.B B3f course they wou"d. 6ou(re a goddess. Spea ing of goddesses how(s my immacu"ate -ady !.CB
E)eryone new Erin had a different destiny anyway. B:ey pussy# here itty? itty.or the same reason I dec"ined an audience I shan5t go into detai"# but getting ready for the concert the fo""owing day was the ne0t time I saw the others. I caught her up on the "atest news from $he $emp"e and the other wor"ds where the . 'o arm hair# no eye"ashes# no eyebrows tota""y hair"ess. B!a""isto# gods it(s good to see you. $he others were considerate enough not to "et their surprise mo)e past their eyes. It was apparent"y their standard practice to
. B3oh boys# she(s going to use her magic on us. . $he debris was 8ust stomped more deep"y into the ground. :e fe"" to the ground screaming and his friends attac ed# on"y to find themse")es "ifted off the ground and thrown against the wa"" by Story(s wi"". C(mon witchypoo# 4ap me. $o "oo at# howe)er# it was a stunning effect.B Chapter .B:ung "i e a dairy cow# and horny as a hedgehog# much "i e you remember her. But who new where in this 9oad 2arrior cum 9obin :ood wor"d. 'ot to mention the unwashed masses who patroni4ed it. Because a"" those microfi"ament hairs missing around her eyes and in her nose acted as dust and partic"e fi"ters. I(d nown >uite a few peop"e who(d sha)ed this or the other# but she was comp"ete"y hair"ess. Come on itty# I ha)e some cream for you.. BI was more thin ing about my toes. 3ne wou"d thin they cou"d abandon o"d pre8udices for new# but the human capacity for hate# much "i e their capacity for wi"fu" ignorance seemed to be bound"ess. E)entua""y the others )entured down. 2e soon arri)ed at the S"ippery Ee"# which sounded 8ust enough "i e a )enerea" disease to be appropriate for said ho)e". It was great to see Erin again. :er a"ready otherwor"d"y beauty made the smoothness "oo natura". But at "east on the road its different groups fi"th instead of the same o"d faces that repu"sed you the first time. $he on"y new construction was the odd bit of scaffo"ding ho"ding up the crumb"ing o"d constructs.= She was wearing sanda"s# so she easi"y e0tended her c"aws and ic ed down# ta ing off ha"f of his face. A few years of magic had done "itt"e to ma e this p"ace "i)eab"e. am far stronger than I "oo . $hey gra)itated to A"i0. It(s a"ways been my opinion that when they decided to rid the wor"d of the wor s of humans# $hey shou"d ha)e arranged for the humans to go as we""# because it(s unfair for us to ha)e hatefu"# 8ea"ous# terrified# pu"ing humans soi"ing( our fresh new wor"d. 2e ta" ed a"one for the better part of two hours.rom the way she rubbed against me I thought she p"anned to conduct our reunion in fu"" )iew.B A"i0(s smi"e softened but remained.B $hey "aughed and the "eader said. B-oo I(m )ery sorry that you suc # but don(t ta e it out on me.ami"y maintained a stronger presence than here. 'e)erthe"ess# I new it hurt her# no matter how gent"y I phrased it. I# on the other hand# whi"e en8oying an audience most times# fe"t certain things shou"d be pri)ate. I ha"f suspected the on"y reason they chose to perform here at a"" was the inte""ectua" cha""enge of discouraging troub"e# when i""ing the "ot of them is not an option. She was eager for news of $he Sisters# her incestuous "esbian >uad cum triang"e that she had not seen this incarnation. Because being set aside to pursue ones destiny is "one"y# when said destiny has not happened yet. .i)e +*hi"ip. 2hat happened was the human bigots 8ust added magic pre8udice to their "ist. A"" the o"d wor"d bui"dings stood drun en"y# with no attempt to c"ean up the detritus of decay. I# "i e a"" my brothers +e)en the big ones. Sad"y# since she was the youngest by se)enty?fi)e years# it was not hard for them to go bac to their o"d patterns. And it was unfair to the humans to "ea)e them in a wor"d where they had no contro". -uc i"y# my -ady came "ast. I too her in my arms and carried her upstairs. B*hi"ip<B She screamed# running o)er and 8umping on me. 2e ran into such a group on the road. I hoped they(d agree to tour again. She came bouncing down a moment "ater# stopped co"d# 8ust staring at me for a moment. -i e a new race. +I figured she wou"d be in troub"e if not for magic.B I said# ho"ding her to me.B She smi"ed down from her horse.
I did the one thing I new to do& I went bac . After about one hundred and fifty years of this fringe e0istence I met the .. I was a storyte""er# warrior# bard# and wandering ad)enturer# but I remained unsatisfied. 'ot "ong after my twenty?third birthday I attended the emperor on his deathbed. I became a Shao("in mon & I graduated to master status with si0 dots burned one by one into my forehead to mar my progress. $he emperor died and it was said he was deified# when in fact I had imbibed the magic. I had heard of certain steps by which a man cou"d become more than a man.ather# no stranger to the god gig. I went bac to my o"d "ife# saying to peop"e that my eyes changed when I saw the emperor achie)e godhood. But# when I decided to "in my "ife to Breach# I was not p"anning to rep"ace the cat. But they are the windows to my sou" and are my on"y feature I ha)e no conscious contro" o)er. 1y fur and hair turned g"ossy b"ac # and the horns were gone. I chec ed my ref"ection in the wa"" p"ate& my eyes were no "onger g"owing# but remained bright orange. 'ot by birth of course. I tried to pic up where I(d "eft off. 2hen I saw that# I thought of my o"d form and retrie)ed it. 2hich# of course# they neg"ected to mention unti" I(d popped my boot nife through the s u"" of the one who bounced off the wa"" and "anded ne0t to me. I(d mo)e on before I was e0pected to die. I tried se)era" di)erse "i)es in the ne0t thousand years. 1y nai"s were thic and sp"it to resemb"e a tiny c"o)en hoof on each finger and toe. I went through incredib"e hardship in the a"co)e where I(d craw"ed to die. 1y si4e and pre)ious position made me a status symbo". I was fi)e inches ta""er# fifty pounds hea)ier# and my eyes were g"owing bright orange "i e twin "anterns. So I mo)ed on# wrest"ing with my new spirit and trying to adapt. $he e0istence of a s"a)e is unsatisfying to the a)atar of a god. I cou"d not go out "i e this.
. $hen I returned with )isions of permanence to the bosom of my . Chapter Si0 +Aubi. I i""ed the priest and dran the draught myse"f. It was a"most enough to ma e me sic . -ast"y# I had a beautifu" pair of bu""(s horns. $hen they bitched at meC As if i""ing humans isn(t their idea of fun. I didn(t >uite now the score when I headed up the "ong dri)eway to the house that day. I ne)er met *e""a4. I "i)ed my doub"e "ife as part human and part something different and undeniab"y more for two hundred and si0ty or se)enty years. I(m not of any officia" race. 1y abi"ities waned at night to that of a demigod& sti"" more than I had occasion to need most of the time. I thought I might fi0 my prob"ems if I cou"d mo)e my human side toward en"ightenment. :uge I was# si0 cubits# twenty stone# or si0 foot nine# about two hundred and eighty pounds. But I was young and strong and I sur)i)ed the changes. In the course of that training I disco)ered# that I was much stronger in the sun@ being capab"e# with training# of anything short of creating "ife. I was born Au# a "ad unremar ab"e# e0cept in si4e# in Egypt maybe two hundred years before the beginning of the Common Era. At eighteen I was presented as a s"a)e to the 9oman Emperor. I was ser)ant to the pharaoh# a "i)ing con)ersation piece. I sti"" had neither reconci"ed my human side nor e"iminated it. I then studied yoga and $ai Chi unti" I(d mastered them as much as anyone e)er masters constant"y changing sub8ecti)e arts. :e trained me# as an introduction to the . I am instead a 9oman bu""?god. $he priests came to gi)e him the e"i0ir that wou"d i"" his withered body and bring his sou" to godhood. I aged myse"f e0terna""y as I "i)ed among the humans. $hey go red when I(m angry# and go"d with an inf"u0 of power.ami"y# which I was adopted into for $hey?on"y? now what reason.ami"y.minimi4e deaths that were direct"y traceab"e to us. 1y wi"" enacted itse"f upon my body. I arose nine days "ater co)ered in a g"owing white pe"t# with "ong cur"ing hair of f"ame. I(m sure he was >uite a guy. $hey remain an integra" part of my dai"y routine e)en to this day. $hen the ca"" of humanity pu""ed me bac into the fray. :e wou"d a"ign with 1ithras the most powerfu" god of his time# a bu"" god whose domain was sun and war# but had spread into a"" areas of his worshipers5 "i)es# +becoming a Christ figure that ri)a"ed Christianity for a"most a hundred years. 2ith a thought I changed.
It taught that a"" power "ay coi"ed "i e a serpent at the base of the spine. $his time it too near"y two hundred years.I studied the cha ras# which "ed me to undah"ini# a study named for a race humans had forgotten. Story answered# which was good as he was the on"y one who had seen and wou"d now me in my true form. 8ust horrib"e.. +As an adopted member I cou"d open the connection at wi""# but it is not a constant in my "ife "i e it is with them. $he first time it happened# I was changed in a moment. And through concentration and breathing it cou"d be coa0ed up through the cha ras. Being )ery "aid bac myse"f. I was g"ad Aubi showed up. $he b"ac on b"ac form I too second# but that I saw as rea""y me.B I said. Chapter Se)en +A"i0. BC(mon# no hard fee"ings# AubiCB *hi"ip as ed# e0tending his hand. It(s 8ust.B BI was 8ust thin ing about touring when A"i0 had that human prob"em in town. But that particu"ar afternoon I was heading up the >uarter mi"e cobb"estone dri)eway to rep"ace the cat.B $he -ady said. I(m sure you shou"d both be )ery proud of yourse")es. I went up to the door and noc ed.ina""y they >uieted enough for me to spea # B2hat(s going onC I was ta" ing to the 1other and . $ouring sounded fun and I was a "itt"e sic of being the on"y furry one. 3oh big surprise there. $hat was two months ago. Imperfect"y mastered# one cou"d end up a g"owing and powerfu" repti"ian beast. *"ans were >uic "y made to hit the road after their "ast engagement in town# a"ready p"anned for that night. And you ha)e been thin ing of touring#B I rep"ied $hey a"" bro e in then. $hat night we "oaded a"" our instruments in the wagon.B B6ou now# touring# that sounds fun. 'ot to mention# I(m a god. I had time to get used to it. Somehow $he 1other and . I(m sti"" the biggest guy I now. $ime and determination I had in abundance with no "ac of patience. .B I too it smi"ing my best toothy grin# disp"aying 8aws that cou"d grind stone +I5)e been nown to snac on the dry feeder corn they gi)e to "i)estoc . *erfect"y mastered# it cou"d ma e a man a god.. $he day I con)erted myse"f to pure energy and bac I new I was done and went home. BSo I was sent here to rep"ace the catCB I as ed. BAubi# what(s going onCB I cou"dn(t answer right away as the others rea"i4ed who I was and crowded around me for hugs and comments of (this sure is different from your man form(.= I didn(t say anything. I sti"" ha)e orange eyes and c"o)en nai"s. I hitched my horse to a tree and pu""ed off his headgear so he cou"d gra4e. B:ow cou"d $hey nowCB BBut I hadn(t discussed that with anyone. :e was an eighteen hand Shire sta""ion. B'e)er# brother. $hey said you guys cou"d use a roadie and security guy. I(m bac in true form now. It seemed they a"" had touring hopes# which they(d ne)er mentioned to each other. :e was a )ery p"acid beast for a"" his inte""igence# which suited me fine. B:a ha# positi)e"y hi"arious you two. E)en after a ha"f do4en years# gi)e or ta e# we continued to use e"ectric instruments that were spe""ed to wor without e"ectricity.B :er fa e tears >uic "y became rea" "aughter. $his was the strongest of human discip"ines by which one cou"d "earn to rip stee" "i e paper. BBasica""y#B said *hi"ip# not one to mince words.ather had 8ust nown. But I sti"" wanted to tra)e". BI "o)ed *e""a4# we a"" did# and to say he can be rep"aced bare"y a wee after his death. $his was where I first heard of *e""a4. B:e used to hand"e security for us magica""y# but it came time for him to start anew somep"ace e"se. %ar Auburn with cream mane# tai"# and fet"oc s on three "egs# the fourth matched his coat. :mmm must ha)e been that direct mind to mind connection they shared with a"" their descendants. I(d had him for two months and we shared an affection.. B$hat(s horrib"e<= Erin ye""ed.ather# about how a coup"e hundred years spent "osing one5s humanity a"" a"one ma es one "ong for the comfort of a fami"y.. It was a necessity in Story(s case# as an e"ectric bass was much easier to dea" with then a huge acoustic
Sudden"y out of an a""ey# sword raised# ran a human with puc ered e"oid scarring co)ering ha"f his face.but do you thin I5)e ne)er heard of . Apparent"y his friends got him to a hea"er.wou"d ha)e been. :e""# e)en some of my customers these "ast wee s.aery 7o"dC $hat I wou"dn(t at "east suspect itCB
.B As we rode into town it "oo ed pretty non?confrontationa"# e0cepting stares and g"ares.= Storyte""er said# . $hey attac ed us with swords he"d high# arms coc ed and heads comp"ete"y open to us. But tonight I ca"" the shots. $he unscarred ha"f showed him as my ic recipient of the other night. . :is rea" name was Jim 3(1a""oy# but had been ca""ed :oo since he had been forced to rep"ace his right hand. But regard"ess of the reason# I ha)e to "i)e in this town. 2e wou"d ha)e beaten their anemic pasty asses regard"ess# it was ine)itab"e. :e was a"" scars and burn mar s. BStory# hi. But o ay# we deser)e it. :e goosed his horse forward and ic ed the human in the face. 2e rode on# and found the owner of the S"ippery Ee" waiting outside. So can I impose on our friendship enough to as you to eep it outsideCB Story reached into a poc et coming out with a three ounce unstamped smooth go"d coin. I wou"d ne)er support the beha)ior of the townspeop"e. B2e(re going on tour after this gig# :oo .B I said "oo ing at the b"ood and oatmea"y s>uished brains. Aubi was riding beside me. 3ne of the most ama4ing# and disgusting# things I e)er saw. E0cept in Erin(s case. $hat coin wi"" more than pay for any rea"istic damages. But :aw showed them 8ust how hope"ess the fight was and speeded things up a bit. $onight anything goes. $he death of your cat friend demands retribution. :e was a"so fast for a Shire# easi"y ab"e to eep pace with the others# e)en carrying Aubi. 3ne who stayed bac from the fight had fired a crossbow at :aw (s head as he was turned the other way beating down a human who was trying to mount his horse. $he se)erity of the scarring seemed to say they cauteri4ed the wounds# so he wou"dn(t b"eed to death on the way. As "i e"y as not# you("" ne)er see us again. B:owdy :oo #B Story said# swinging down from his horse to noncha"ant"y sha e the man5s hoo . :e caught the bo"t from the air behind him without "oo ing and popped it through his opponent5s eye. :is foot went right through the bastard(s head. Before "ong e)eryone was dead or run off. BSo"id tag Aubi. $hen we were swarmed with o)erconfident humans. B6eah but where am I going to wash my footCB Aubi(s ic stunned them momentari"y. :e was the biggest fu"" b"ooded human I e)er saw.B B2ith no desire to cast a pa"" on our wor ing re"ationship# that has a"most become a friendship#= :oo began# . :e was maybe forty# comp"ete"y ba"d with a )an dy e beard. 2ith a bac so broad I cou"d thin of few# none but Aubi in this wor"d# who cou"d sit astride comfortab"y. Aubi(s Shire was an incredib"e nineteen hands high# Aubi says eighteen# but he has enormous hands# he was a beautifu" auburn and cream. She a"ways used a custom drum set she de)e"oped. 9are"y did they e)er grow abo)e si0 foot two# which :oo passed by a good three inches. But we are going on tour after this. Before he went to fat# he5d been one he"" of a fighter. 2hen the wagon was a"" "oaded up# we hitched it to our wagon horse# a draught horse# "i e Aubi(s# but a sma""er faster breed. As we rode *hi"ip mentioned# B'ow I now the norma" taboo on wasting the popu"ace. If it goes beyond that# e)en if the p"ace is "e)e"ed# you now we5re good for it# we("" rep"ace it comp"ete"y. Aubi wore an undyed s"ee)e"ess tunic# "oose "inen pants and hea)y boots# with the toes cut off so his feet cou"d breathe. 3f course it was no troub"e though# as it was ab"e to be separated into indi)idua" drums for transport.B B*e""a4 died before you e)en came here. 'ow you now I "i e you. :e cou"d sti"" discourage any troub"e that started in his bar.6ou 8ust want to i"" humans. And I for one don(t fee" tota""y )indicated for the death of our dear friend *e""a4.or the rest of us it was more about habit. It incorporated a centra" stee" drum# two bongos# two sma"" wooden drums# and a fair few other incorporated percussi)e surfaces and instruments that were actua""y "arger and more unwie"dy than norma" roc drums.
. I can(t say much about the others# but I had fun# and Aubi was c"ose enough I caught some of his mo)es.B B6eah itty# but we outnumber you a"most si0 to one. I s"ammed my head bac into its face three times fast before it cou"d mo)e# and it fe"" off. . $his got the mob going. As I was a"" but unoccupied# ic ing the human too "itt"e concentration# I had a "oo around. I(d say a conser)ati)e estimate wou"d be si0ty. It was outside the bar that the party started. 'ot to mention his head. Chapter Eight +:aw .I wou"d thin the now"edge I cou"d turn you into a wi""ing s"a)e with a thought# "et a"one a word# wou"d comfort you that I wou"d ha)e no reason to cheat you. I duc ed under his swing and came up "etting my %ragon b"ood gi)e me c"aws. 2e""# some assmunch 8umped up on stage and I ic ed him in the face hard enough to f"ip him bac ward into the audience# but that was business as usua" at the S"ippery Ee".aery go"d into whate)er it started as& bar or "ea)es or a stone. :e "oo ed at Aubi# B:ey Storyte""er# who(s the furba""C :i "i"( itty. I a"most wanted to ta e dragon form and toast the "ot of them. 1aybe he5d thin of us when he "oo s at whate)er it is he5"" end up se""ing it for. I was first attac ed by a good si4ed man ho"ding a three foot stee" pipe# "i e those used to anchor chain "in fences. I dug my right hand into his stomach# my "eft into his chest. But we had c"aws# fangs# and a barbarian strea . I(m not usua""y particu"ar"y bruta"# but the fuc ing cow was hanging on me.B :e did a spinning crescent ic to the wa"" behind him# "ea)ing a "arge ho"e not on"y in the siding# but the cinderb"oc beneath. If you ha)e a >uestion# the touch of iron or stee" wi"" render .B BI shou"d say so. I cou"dn(t say how many surrounded the garage turned stab"e. I trust you. 2e ended up "etting him eep it to remember us by. Aubi spo e# BI fee" it(s on"y fair to show you something. 2ith a"" her years as a warrior before her )ocation# I doubted any of it was hers. She he"d a scimitar she(d gotten from somewhere and was bathed in b"ood.B B$here(s no need for that. $hen I was 8umped by some great o"d thing# need"ess"y fema"e# I was surprised to see it had the necessary strength to mo)e at a""# much "ess bound onto my bac . $hen I used the pipe to fend off others as I too my time ic ing it to death with my stee"?toed motorcyc"e boots. B'ow if you want to ris a ra4or against this body# you(re we"come to try. I too the pipe from his ner)e"ess fingers and hit him in the head hard enough to bow the pipe. Erin had ta en her robe off and tied her obi sash# into a nee "ength "oinc"oth and wore nothing e"se. It started stabbing at my eyes# a brass nitting need"e in each hand. -itt"e itty wanna get sha)edCB :e f"ic ed open a straight ra4or.B3dd"y no#= Story said "oo ing bemused.B I rep"ied. 3f course our entire armory was with the horses or at the house. So stab"e in fact# there was a thought gi)en to ta e the coin bac from :oo .B Aubi rep"ied pointing out the ob)ious. 'othing happened. $hey were a"" armed@ swords# daggers# staffs# itchen ni)es# bric bats# pipes# big roasting for s# anything they cou"d get their hands on it seemed. Aubi standing ne0t to me said# B:aw # I thin they want a rumb"e. 2ho new how "ong it wou"d ta e to get its sic "y sweet rot sweat and fou" human stench out of my c"othes. BBut you(re human.B :e said# but we cou"d a"" see that he brushed the coin on his be"t nife on the way to his poc et. :umans hated to be reminded of their misfortune of birth. I "ifted him o)er my head and s"ammed him on his bac in the street. 'ot to mention superior strength and magic. I recogni4ed the hate mongers front man# -ucian Crow"ey# from past taunts.B -ucian said# as if it mattered. 3ther than that I(d ha)e to ca"" the gig annoying"y stab"e.
It was sheer "uc that the fina" ic caught me s>uare in the nose. 2ith the sudden "ight?headedness and pain grogginess# I fe"" down. 2e he"ped them out by doing our own attac ing. 2e danced around.B She apo"ogi4ed. I ended up facing a hu" ing human with a broadsword and a scampering . spur# I cou"d see the "ight g"ittering off the edge of each point. 2hen I touched him his "eg snapped up into my face. 3n the "eft was a coc spur# a spi e about fi)e inches "ong that came down near a need"e point at the end. In fact it was the on"y human# non?Asian match for arate. I wo e up a moment "ater on my bac # with Erin ginger"y touching my nose# hea"ing it. $he swordsman had a "onger reach with his sword than I had with my pipe. $o the human(s credit he tried to ic at me with his good "eg. 3n my face. :is friend posed more of a prob"em.She fought there# "oo ing "i e the se)enth incarnation of !a"i# the :indu goddess of death and destruction. 'e)er one to ic (em when their dead# I mo)ed on. B:ey#= Aubi said# B:e was mine.B I groaned# a"ways an0ious for new weaponry. . *robab"y wo e up because I was using my tongue. Aubi(s getting (em for you. B%on(t worry about it. An image aided by her pierced nose# and a ring sporting a tiny go"d capped fang in her nipp"e. %ying ner)es tend to react )io"ent"y when touched. Crow"ey and c"ea)ed his s u"" with my pipe. $he human ga)e a good fight. :e fe"" to the ground then I stomped on his throat and crushed his windpipe. 2hy don(t you go crash in the wagonC I("" dri)e and -ady ! and *hi"ip can ride our horses. /nti" o0ygen panic set in and he 8ust writhed around on the ground c"awing at his throat.B B$han s. 2ith a twist I put my fu"" weight down to assure its comp"ete co""apse.ina""y# I stepped behind him onto the coc spur# momentari"y immobi"i4ing that foot. It wou"dn(t be "ong before I(d be set.B I was most"y hea"ed# but sti"" ached# when she stopped. $hat was when I passed out.B BC(mon friend# there5s p"enty more.B B3 ay. I wore my standard "ong b"ac robe.rench Sa)ate master ic er with spurs. Sa)ate had a"ways "oo ed to me "i e a cross between s ipping and 9ussian dance. -uc i"y# that was a"" he had going for him. I a"most passed out. She wo e up when I was washing the b"ood off her# so she wou"dn(t stain the sheets. 3n the right was a standard rowe" +star. I carried a s"eeping Erin upstairs. I came up behind 1r. I("" be fine by tomorrow. BCan(t finish right now# too tired from the fight. I rode a b"ac Arabian I(d sto"en ear"ier whi"e the others were pac ing. .uc did that hurt. I had another
. Chapter 'ine +Erin. I cou"d fee" the co"d sheath of the sti"etto I wore in an open bodice ho"ster between what I(""# for genera" purposes# ca"" my breasts. I stood up rea" >uic when he ic ed me. Soon a"" others were dead and for the "ast coup"e of minutes the band stood around impatient"y. But it turned out hard to get >ua"ity ones. B1y spurs. I(d been thin ing that spurs wou"d be a good "oo for me. It was fun. Story dro)e the wagon# the others rode separate"y.B I motioned to the ten or twe")e hanging bac # trying to decide whether to run or attac . 2hen he was dead# I bent down to ta e the spurs off. -uc i"y# he fe"" bac ward.B She said# turning on her hee" and going to fo""ow my suggestion. $he spurs 8ust made it more interesting. $hen deft"y remo)ed his "aryn0 with two c"awed fingers. It seemed I was ne)er seen otherwise these days. 2e got home soon enough. I dodged around his "ead thrust and struc across his e"bow with the pipe. B%on(t sweat it. Just as I(m getting into the show my human ic bag decides to distract me by feeb"y trying to )omit up its own intestines and die. I ic ed into that nee with my inside "eg. Ear"y the ne0t afternoon as we headed out# I rode ne0t to Aubi.
I new whi"e f"aunting se0 organs might be usefu""y distracting# it wou"d a"so be the first thing aimed at if it(s bare.B $he bric red of contained rage edged up *a)arotti( s nec to his chee s..our rooms. I am the proprietor. Story remo)ed three stones between one and fi)e carats and handed them o)er. B$hat wi"" be fine# sir.B :e "oo ed pointed"y at A"i0 and Aubi. B:mmm# may I see themCB $he human as ed# po"ite"y incredu"ous. :ow may I assist you this e)eningCB B. .nife strapped to my thigh beneath a s"it hidden in the fo"ds of my robe. I(m a"so not going into batt"e star ers regard"ess of the shoc )a"ue. :e showed us four ad8oining rooms# grunted# s"urped some droo"# and shuff"ed off. So he cou"d afford to be generous. 7ino wi"" show you to your rooms.B B'o re"ation to whomCB A"i0 as ed. 'ow whi"e I(m not so modest as to wrap breasts that don(t need it. $he sma""est wou"d pay for better than this. I must assume you understand there(s a s"ight surcharge for boarding the anim.. Story hit *a)arotti(s hand from underneath# snatched the "argest stone from the air# and a""owed him to catch the remaining two. 7ino too the eys and "ed us to the third f"oor. Being my heart# my combat training was a"ready e0pecting that. 2hen we rode into a town near ten# I was "oo ed at with fear and disgust# a dar priestess tra)e"ing with her human ser)ants and furred demon guards. BDuite in order. $he word (9enaissance( seemed to pain our host when Story said it. :e assumed this "argesse wou"d buy him peace and >uiet in the demesnes of the humans. Being none too interested in wor ing our first night out.B Story said "oo ing serious. It was common conc"usion 8umped to by humans# sti"" fi""ed with fear dri)en paranoia. Sometimes it was e)en true. But his stupidity did not go as far as )oicing that anger. BCertain"y sir. As the co"d of night descended I pu""ed my hood up. 7ino<B :e be""owed o)er his shou"der. But he suc ed it up in his own best interest and said# BDuite so. E)en years after the destructi)e contro" systems that inspired it were defeated. :e was immediate"y attended by a young# buc toothed# bandy?"egged human. 'ot proper"y cared for# e)en the finest weapon can go to shit rather >uic "y. 6our two friends. :e nodded and came bac . 2e(d "eft our horses with the stab"e boy. B2e"come to She"ter Inn. :owe)er# on the road# I e0pected to ha)e to disrobe fre>uent"y to fight. I(m sure you("" agree. Beneath my robe I wore a wrapped "oinc"oth. It had c"eaned up we""# showing itse"f to be a weapon of e0ceptiona" >ua"ity +probab"y sto"en from a museum or co""ectors store.B Storyte""er said# with a thin tight smi"e. But his position as younger brother to the creators of the uni)erse ga)e Story un"imited access to such things. 'or wor ing at a"" for a bunch that "oo ed "i e the group we saw when we entered. 'ow my chest wi"" be aimed at. Inside there was a semi? attracti)e# mi"d"y ta"ented woman p"aying hapha4ard guitar on a stage that dwarfed her. 7ood thing I "iberated it from that muc y mob. BAn opera singer of the same name from before the 9enaissance. -uciano *a)arotti# no re"ation of course. I had a do4en shi)a throwing darts in the bu""et "oops of a bando"ier s"ung around my horse(s nec and a b"owtube pee ing out of the top of my sadd"ebag# its darts in a pouch at my waist. And how wi"" you be payingCB BEmera"ds.rom the sadd"ebag on the other side protruded the hi"t of my new scimitar. E)en if it hadn5t been so "ate# we wou"dn5t ha)e pursued a gig. It was the nicest inn we cou"d find.B Story answered. I was usua""y na ed. B$hese two stones wi"" co)er any surcharge# the rooms# the stab"es# and a"" we can eat and drin in your fine dining room.
.. *a)arotti e0amined the stones under a "amp with a 8ewe"er(s g"ass. 2e were >uic "y met by the owner# a sma"" gray bird of a human in an anti>ue suit.
But ne)erthe"ess# they can(t be in here.B BAnd if we winCB I "aughed . B2hat power do they ha)e to bac this shit upCB I was getting annoyed yet sti"" per)erse"y interested. :e was getting a "itt"e throbby around the temp"es# if his ob)ious"y pu"sing )ein meant anything.B 1y curiosity assuaged and my disgust in)o ed I said# BI(m afraid you("" ha)e to send for the authorities then. It(s your ind of anarchy that brought down the wor"d. B2e"" we()e got them here in 3"son)i""e. I addressed the bartender# B3 ay# I(d "i e some sort of fi44y minera" water# if you ha)e it.If the impossib"e happened we wou"d be forced to find rep"acements. 2e ad8ourned to the pub"ic room. 1y curiosity was not reso")ed when they appeared& two aging# ug"y# and uncharismatic po"iticians and ten deputies. 6our dar breed isn(t e)en usua""y a""owed in this town. Sort of a (don(t "oo at me# I do not e0ist( 8obber. :e motioned a youth o)er and sent him running.ine# that("" be fine. 2e did not want to face the cuisine "i e"y to be found here without some sort of a brace. $he tab"es were big wagon whee"s with g"ass tops on tree stump bases. It is on"y by the grace of $heir :onors# the 1ayor and Sheriff that you5re standing here.B I grabbed a coup"e bott"es from behind the bar and went to sit down.B I smi"ed# re8ecting the proper word (homogenous"y( because I fe"t their du""ness went a"" the way down to their genes. $hey(re rea" good at con)incing unwanted e"ements to mo)e a"ong. It was "eft open who(d s"eep where. %o you ha)e portCB B3f course# this is a >ua"ity inn= :e said with an offended sniff.B B2hy notC Is there a "awCB I new fu"" we"" "aw had gone the way of ci)i"i4ation. I wondered how two men cou"d ho"d a town# en8oying a fascist state. B:ow fun for you. A"" done in sand co"ored stucco and wood. $he first thing we too care of was chec ing on the horses. 2e found a tab"e and I went to order drin s. $hat you e)en continue to "i)e. It was sti"" ear"y by our time# and not too "ate e)en by human rec oning. $he thin guy with the dar red hair wants a white wine. Anyway# the two furry ones and the big b"ond wi"" ha)e whate)er(s on tap. :er audience howe)er had the b"an open mouthed stares of the termina""y stupid.B . A"" the rooms "oo ed c"ean and we"" appointed. If I sent for the sheriff you cou"d a"" be hanging by midnight.B I rep"ied# prepared to be offended but not rea""y caring. B$he sheriff and his deputies are enough. I pu""ed off my hood to a few stares and pointing. BI ha)en(t heard of anyp"ace ha)ing "aws in years. But I ha)e to as you to put them outside or up in your rooms. $he inn had once been a 1arriott and the pub"ic room had been its ba""room.or good measure# I threw a beer stein through the mirror behind the bar. $he s inny b"ac haired guy and the woman ne0t to him wou"d "i e a nice tawny port. B6ou("" regret this.B :e recited.Aiming at mediocrityC 3h goody.B B. $he woman on stage was prettier and more ta"ented than I(d guessed at first g"ance. $hey were fine. 2hi"e we were there# Story put a shie"d on the wagon# so no one wou"d nic our stuff. BC"eaner than you. 2e wi"" not fa"" prey to the forces of anarchy and wic edness that grip the rest of the wor"d.= I rep"ied. I can(t ha)e anima"s where peop"e are eating# pub"ic hea"th and e)erythingF. 2e went in search of food downstairs.B B6eah# yeah# we("" see. 3ur mayor Char"es 3"son and his sheriff run a tight ship. I(m sure they(re c"ean#B :e said in a conci"iatory manner.BCharming fe""ow#B Story said. BAs a matter of fact# there is.
.B B$hat e0p"ains why you5re a"" so homogenica""y du"". $here can be no peace without "aw. It was meant to "oo )ery cowboy. B2hat we are here is happy. E2hite trash with pretensions of being country yuppie5 hit the mar much more c"ose"y. B1aybe so. .B :e smir ed. It was pretty standard.= I mumb"ed "oo ing around. *robab"y from among the "ynch mob who wou"d immediate"y string you up.
B A"i0 said# nose wrin "ing. S"ap the cuffs on me# sarge. $hen it crisped and began to swir" the warm air currents# fa""ing to ash.B
. $heir s in b"istered& then dar ened and began to "i>uefy and boi" pasti"y# "i e thic gra)y. B7uess we a"" now who(s gonna be shut out of bed tonight.B :aw smi"ed# drun on the power rush. :e was 8ust as wide"y supported as these two for a time.ine# there(s no way I can count the number of humans# not to mention huwomen I()e i""ed in my s"eep. Big 7 god. Showy# his natura" dragon form is fifteen feet "ong and maybe fi)e and a ha"f high. And yet the IS was sti"" the IS afterward# but that(s 8ust too deep for the "i es of me. If we turned our bac we wou"d sti"" be facing the IS. 6ou("" ta e care of me. A"i)e if not comp"ete"y intact. E0isting eterna""y a"one can get boring so the IS then sp"it into the 1other and . BI am# I don(t now about you.. BBit of a hog# aren(t weCB Aubi as ed# as we gathered against the opposite wa"". Story pu""ed one out of his chest. But our sur)i)a" scared them enough it was a"" worth it.B BAny more of your smart mouth and I("" do a great dea" more than put the cuffs on you. 3 ay fi)e. 3ur chi"dren must be made to see what happens when peop"e turn their bac s on 7od and their parents. :aw >uic "y toasted the "ot of them. B-oo pri)ate# I(m immorta". Bro e it# and dropped the pieces to the ground saying# B'ow I(m pissed. 6ou fuc ing rednec . $he deputies made a human wa"" around their "eaders. $his hurt "i e main"ining fire.B B2e cou"dn(t turn our bac on the IS. BI 8ust wish we cou"d do something about the sme"".B BI don(t care. B$hat(s disgusting#B I said.B $he sheriff grow"ed. Each he"d a ready crossbow. *"us# I saw the 1other and .ather to be ab"e to interact with the mu"ti)erse on a more persona" "e)e". As I "i e to say# the uni)erse without 7od is nothing# 7od without the uni)erse is sti"" 7od. It wou"d on"y piss me off. BC"ose your "egs then. But you had to eep f"appin( your smart mouth. $he IS is e)erywhere. 2e rose as they entered. And "et me persona""y assure you captain# I()e ne)er i""ed a human in my s"eep. If a"" your men fired as one# point b"an into my heart. $he tab"es near them caught fire. $hen I(d come o)er there# pee" your s in off# and then hang you with your own intestines. 6ou(re right. But c(mon# gimme a brea # I was s"eeping. :aw f"ashed bac and Story doused the remaining f"ames with a wa)e of his hand.B was :aw (s smug rep"y.B Story smi"ed B'ow I understand how important raping your own women is to your cu"ture. BSorry sport# I()e gotta show so"idarity with my sister. 2e don(t need a bunch of hippie faggots and a :are !rishna bitch to come in here# in "eague with Satan.B :e smi"ed. It(s your ind of bu""shit attitude that made our once great country into this horrib"e he""..ire<B $he deputies fired their crossbows into a"" of us. Attac <B Before anyone e"se cou"d mo)e :aw had become a dragon that fi""ed more than ha"f of the enormous ba""room. I mentioned to them how much I was en8oying the changes $hey(d made to this wor"d. $his is a peacefu" god?fearing town# a sma"" eye of freedom in your hurricane of chaos.B $he IS is what we ca"" the sentient panentheist uni)ersa" energy force that created a"" things for something to do.B $he mayor 8umped in# B2e were p"anning on "etting you "ea)e here# pretty much under your own power. 9apin( our women and i""ing our men in their s"eep# "i e cowards. $hat(s why you a"" ha)e dates with the rope this )ery day. $he sheriff spo e first# B2e don(t want your ind here. 7od wou"dn(t need to punish us if we(d been a "itt"e more responsib"e in ma ing you frea s toe the "ine.I suppose :it"er contro""ed se)era" countries with a core group not much "arger. I(m a hippie commie faggot de)i" worshiping rapist. And I want to assure you we respect that and fee" any woman who "i)es here by choice deser)es what she gets. Big# but not that big. 3 ay one# no two. 6ou can(t e0pect me to remember a"" of them. Story(s word(s seemed to incense the sheriff. :e went from red to purp"e before screeching between c"enched teeth# B.ather not two wee s ago. .
2hich "ea)es. Second# we don(t eep pets# especia""y not fi"thy pre8udiced humans who are rude to us.B :e said bac ing away >uic "y. $he comp"e0 "ayered sme"" of the forest re"a0ed me. $o go "eaping and swinging and bouncing through a forest. Crowded and noisy it was the antithesis of 3"son)i""e to the north.B Story smi"ed. It actua""y "oo ed "i e there had been some new construction in addition to the patched ramshac "e pre?9enaissance architecture. 2e snuc out of town to a)oid power mad townies "oo ing for fresh b"ood. $o masturbate "ying on a stout branch moaning "ouder and "onger than e)en the orgasms on"y you can coa0 from your body can warrant# simp"y because fuc it# it(s fun and freeing and gods damn it you "i e it.B I smi"ed.B Story rep"ied# B. BBoy# e0cuse me# boy.irst I assume you on"y offered us this 8ob because you(re scared shit"ess this who"e town might go the way of those bastards. BCan you he"p my husbandCB $he woman as ed.B $he woman said. BIt(s hours before we s"eep and there(s nothing to do here but retire to our rooms and discuss phi"osophy.B BAs you wish# Sir. -ouder and more carefree# wi"der e)en than a mon ey who has an actua" day to day "ife to "i)e. I went a"one as did Aubi and A"i0. . Can you he"p meC 1y husband(s been stabbed. And I5m moc ing you#5 so much the better. I(m si0 foot one. And either they were ma ing use of historic gas"ights the town a"ready had or they had insta""ed them# which was the biggest urban renewa" pro8ect I had seen since the 9enaissance Just outside of town I sna ed a white tan top undershirt and gray cut off shorts from a c"othes"ine. I(d e)en be wi""ing to o)er"oo the irreparab"e damage your man caused to my estab"ishment. I doubt anyone wants to do that.rom the sound# a pretty noisy one.
. It wou"d appear the positions of 1ayor and Sheriff are open. After our discussion had wound down# the proprietor approached Story. $he dar branches b"oc ed out most of the starry in b"ue s y. I "o)e the forest. $hat shou"d mean something. Story and :aw and *hi"ip and the -ady hunted in pairs. It was strange@ one town it(s impossib"e to find anyone to eat# but there wou"d be micro minima" chance of witnesses shou"d one get "uc y.CB B$he :unt<B 2e chorused happi"y. BSo#B Story said# "eading us out. I wa" ed into town# hungry& no one e)en ga)e me a second g"ance.$he inn eeper and the bartender had been ta" ing. -ea)es and pine need"es crac "ed "oud"y as I wa" ed. B2e"" I hope so. BI(m fair"y optimistic# ma(am# as "ong as he hasn(t "ost much b"ood. But I(d at "east hope for (sir( not (boy(. :e ga)e a ind of sha y bow# and ha"f mumb"ed# B7ood e)ening# Sir. 'ot through the eye proper# but ne0t to it and up into the brain. B$hat(s what I was thin ing. But I made no attempt to mo)e more >uiet"y.B I cou"d forgi)e the fa"se assumption I was ma"e. $he scent of pine and oa was strong# and what was thatC Some hic ory# beech# crabapp"e# app"e# and cherry. 2ith the 3"son)i""es of this wor"d. I s inned down "ea)ing my robe and "oinc"oth in a "ump and scramb"ed up a fine o"d oa . I shinnied up to the highest branches and "eapt from treetop to treetop crowing and ca""ing. I was tired and sweaty and "aughing# breath"ess"y "aughing to myse"f when I came within earshot of a town. B:as he "ost much b"oodCB B'o but he has an icepic through his head so we don(t ha)e much time. But I was fee"ing happy and hungry. $he smartest decision you can ma e is to bac away# before we i"" you too. 6our friends cou"d be deputies..B She "ed me down a grey cinderb"oc a""ey# to a man sitting ne0t to a garbage can# babb"ing# with an ice pic through his eyesoc et. $his was why a person puts up with the bu""shit.uc you# this is my forest. E)entua""y as I wandered# a woman approached. $hen it(s on to 8umping through the trees and if you stop to piss on a s"eeping hunter# as if to say# E. Circ"ing the town I saw no night "ife on which to prey so I mo)ed into the forest to the south.. Just a few mi"es away there(s food for the ta ing# if one can find any p"ace to eat it. I wasn(t spying# and what I hunt is too stupid to be warned by noises.
2hen she(d e0pired I finished off the husband. If Story had ground against :aw any harder it wou"d ha)e set their pants on fire. BI wou"dn(t say that. Being a god# I appreciate the occasiona" sacrifice# e)en when I ha)e to do it myse"f. In the words of -ady Sa""y Ca""ahan# BI don(t hate monose0ua"s# I 8ust don(t understand them. :e was not a hard nut to crac . /sua""y there are too many )ariab"es. Emotiona""y# what cou"d be more who"esome and natura" than "o)ing e)eryoneC *ractica""y# "i)es as "ong as ours open one5s mind to many new things. I was sated and c"ean# a"" b"ood absorbed# sitting under a tree contemp"ating my "ife# when A"i0 wa" ed up. 1agica""y# se0 produces the most powerfu" magica" energy ne0t to death. 7aining the energy through my s in.B I said. :is f"ow was a "itt"e s"ower and he sighed with apparent re"ief as he died. :a"f of it came spi""ing out of my fu"" mouth onto her and down my front. I see my word as more )a"uab"e than that. B'o one rea""y gets c"ose to you# do theyCB She as ed. I caught him and cut his throat ho"ding him abo)e me as the b"ood ran down my body hot and strong. As the . It "oo ed "i e the on"y ones who did ta e it serious"y were Story and :aw . I new the sme"" of his f"esh and b"ood wou"d draw predators so I "eft him where he "ay when my sacrifice ritua" was comp"ete. But I didn(t promise not to. -ife energy immediate"y becomes tangib"e to me when the anima"# or e)en person dies. I cou"d fee" my body drin ing in his "ife# ma ing me fee" a"ert and e0cited. -ady ! and *hi"ip made it c"ear they didn(t ta e their so"idarity promises serious"y when they went hunting together. I(m not usua""y one to ma e "ight promises. B2ant some companyCB She as ed. I cou"d sme"" wi"d sheep and deer not to mention se)era" predators# which gi)e a different bu44# that sometimes I en8oy.B Before she cou"d mo)e the pic was out of his eye and through her carotid artery. $he way they(d been "oo ing at each other and touching as if by chance a"" e)ening. I guessed that was more of a happy coincidence# as they wou"d ha)e ended up together regard"ess. 6ou too. I suspect I had my eye on A"i0 when I to"d Story I was staying out of :aw and A"i0(s "itt"e tiff# which had managed to di)ide our "itt"e team a"ong gender "ines. $his became e)en more apparent in the hour after :aw (s attac on the "aw. A"though# certain"y to consume. $herefore I wasnEt hunting to eat# per se. I cou"dn(t he"p wondering if the 8obs of mayor and sheriff wou"d sti"" be open if the townspeop"e cou"d see them now. I chose a "one ram that had wandered away from his herd for reasons that were neither immediate"y c"ear nor important. I "et her heart pump itse"f empty down my throat. A common occurrence# air is pushed out as the body re"a0es. At "east it(s possib"e now.B I said# coming out of my re)erie. And different inds of se0 magic ca"" for different inds of se0. I didn(t p"an it so soon. 1ost important"y# it fee"s good and ma es one a we"" rounded indi)idua".
. 1y guess was pro)en correct when I doub"ed bac to hunt the other way# I passed the two of them ma ing out in the croo of a tree.ami"y master of that ta"ent# Story found shapeshifting attracti)e. Chapter $en +Aubi. Certain"y not in any way that inc"uded me. :aw pretty much found someone wanting him attracti)e. B/nhC 3h yeah# sure.B :owe)er# I actua""y wasn(t rea""y thin ing about se0 at that point.B6ep. I pu""ed down and twisted to ma e a ho"e big enough to drin from comfortab"y. 3ddity of the god gig. I wou"d then bathe myse"f with their b"ood. She sat down right ne0t to me hugging my arm. It 8ust ta es a whi"e. :e(d smi"ed b"ind"y and babb"ed to himse"f as I(d ta en his wife. I()e wa" ed both sides of the street and ha)e a mu"tifaceted opinion in fa)or of not "imiting onese"f.
B6eah# I was surprised to hear about your "ife. B$han you# comes from swinging an eight pound broadsword for hours on end. Became a god. Anyway when I became the a)atar of 1ithras it was instantaneous. I(m g"ad it was her# and I don(t want to ma e it more than it was. I groped b"ind"y for an answer for years.= B$han you.5 2hat am I supposed to be# some o"d hermitC She "oo ed so hot and sme""ed so good. It gets "one"y. B'ot much to te"". :e was transformed into a Christ figure and a"most rep"aced Christianity in its ear"y years# a"most a hundred years of contention in fact. 1editation# yoga# and e0ercises that through concentration of chi cou"d ma e a man a god. It(s named after the magica" race I e0pect# but on"y because it(d be pretty odd to ha)e two things named !undah"ini. Besides I(m not an e0pert on the racia" be"iefs of the !undah"ini. $hese big round doub"e?% breasts that 8ust sat there defying gra)ity. BErin. I()e been anti?socia" for most of my "ife.B :e mumb"ed to himse"f.ather.B B$e"" me about your "ife. BSo you ha)e. BAnd Erin# fine. BA dea"C :mmm who(d you spend the night with sonCB BStoryte""er. I was adopted into the .B She turned her head and "eaned unti" her "ips were maybe an inch from mine. I now to the ine0perienced I read as one of them# but why I do escapes me.B :e said the ne0t time I saw him. I thought we had a dea". I found the .B 2as his o)er"y >uic abrupt rep"y. BAndCB I as ed.B 2e mo)ed on from there with "ess amusing commentary. 'ow I(m part of a team and it(s a "itt"e hard to change. I(d been up ear"y and gotten e)erything ready for us to go.B BBecause whyCB BBecause# I was thin ing I(d be the first.= I said# . It ma es you intro)erted if you5re not carefu". I noticed she wasn(t wearing any sort of support garment.B I said touching them. 2e stripped down. BImpressi)e. 2hat nowCB B6ou wanna fuc CB I as ed. I cou"dn(t get o)er being human. 2e"" not rea""y Ebecame5 at that 8uncture.B A"i0 as ed.B
.B B3ne thing I can say about immorta"ity#B I said.ami"y I 8ust don(t see much. $hen#B I "eaned in and inha"ed her scent# BI found you guys.I was born human.B Said A"i0# who had been. $here(s too many of us to be c"ose to e)eryone. 2hy the fuc shou"d ICB BBecause. :aw seemed rather )e0ed when he found out. $hey a"" made simi"ar dec"arations. /nti" my search "ed me to !undah"ini thought. I didn(t see you much# but there(s heaps of peop"e in the . I was scared and confused for a "ot of years. 2e were standing out in front of the inn the ne0t morning. I was o ay for a whi"e. :er eyes bugged a bit when I entered her. It was necessary. BI thought you weren(t ready to fuc anyone. But cou"d ma e a man an en"ightened being of pure energy# so it(s c"ose enough for casua" con)ersation. 'o one e"se paid mind to this (dea"(.B She said and opened the drawstring of my pants. E0cept Story who said# BI()e done you before.ami"y.B I said. B$hey didn(t want me for me# they 8ust wanted the stro es.B Erin spo e up. It was )ery nice# and nothing to i"" my friends o)er.B BSo ha)e they# e0cept Erin. (I5m so irresistib"e o"d stoic Aubi went cra4y for me. Comes from masturbating for hours on end. 'ot as much as mine had ear"ier# when she deep throated me. 6ou(re >uite impressi)e and proportiona" yourse"f. Became a"igned with a god# 1ithras. *hi"ip s"ept with the -ady. B2hen you(re surrounded by morta"s# it(s hard. So I was tru"y ready to face and embrace who I was. 2hen I wor ed up to where I cou"d actua""y be 1ithras it too about two hundred years of study and preparation. I guess I wasn(t too carefu". 'ot "itera""y of course. BI was thin ing I(d be the first. Bu"" god of war and the sun. B$hat(s what I thought.
So "uc y for me they5re off ad)enturing somewhere e"se. I said# BI guess we shou"d chec it out. 2e 8ust "eft 3"son)i""e.. B.B B2hat#B She as ed.But I a"ready am. She was accompanied by two younger women. *iss off before I gi)e you a reason to wa" "i e you ha)e a sword up your ass.B She snar"ed# smi"e dying on her "ips. 1y husband# Adam# is the mayor here. As soon as she started ta" ing my "efto)er rage from 3"son)i""e started to heat up. As usua" I was assumed to be the "eader. BI now. $he two towns sprang from that. 2ith that we hit the road. B$hat(s interesting.orgi)e meCB B3f course.BI(m sorry babe. 2e rode a"ong the road about fi)e mi"es# to the town Erin had said she5d hunted in the night before. B2e"" :aw here#B I said# BIn dragon form# burned your brother?in?"aw to ash "ast night. But we(re sic of dic ing in po"itics that don(t concern us.B I said# B6our husband and his brother must be >uite different. 6ou arrogant cow. I was thin ing about how tru"y ama4ing and se0y A"i0 sme""s and I needed to apo"ogi4e for being rude and "ying "ast night and starting a"" this. And she wou"d ha)e ept to the (dea"(. Erin suggested we chec out a wi"d town she(d found. B3ooh#B Seemed the genera" reaction.B She smi"ed.B She said.B :aw said# sounding genuine"y sorry# eyes downcast.B She smi"ed in her patroni4ing matron way. B3h you are per)erse. B2hy don(t you eep your disgusting comments to yourse"fCB She as ed# horrified and shoc ed. :aw "aughed sarcastica""y# B6eah# when ha)e I e)er ca""ed you (babe(C 2henC 'e)er. 1ore humans being sheep"e and gi)ing anyone who was wi""ing to command them immediate free reign to do anything.B B'ot especia""y.B B$hat(s my brother?in?"aw(s p"ace. I stopped the first adu"t we saw in town. I(d "i e to stay and ha)e him immo"ate the who"e fami"y.B +Gatan and Bri(an were A"i0 and :aw (s mates respecti)e"y and each of their best friends. She said# . BBut you now if Bri were here she(d be te""ing me not to. But a firm "oo con)inced him to stop mid?sentence and go inside.B Best thing to do when you are assumed "eader and don(t want it# is 8ust agree with what e)eryone e"se wants to do anyway. BI guess it was "uc y for you we fought. I shoo her hand from where I sat in the wagon# and said# B:e""o my name is Storyte""er and this is my band.
. 2hich got "ouder as I grabbed her one handed by the front of her )est and threw her in a watering trough.B She rep"ied. 2e"" dressed and ob)ious"y wea"thy. . B7ood toss Aubi. . Cou"d you te"" us where we areCB BCertain"y# this is 3"son City. I wou"d guess they were ser)ants# both because their c"othes were nowhere near as nice and a"so because they 8ust ind of ho)ered around her si"ent"y not ma ing eye contact with anyone. 6ou got some and a"". 2ho decided to 8ump into the con)ersation# a"ready drawing his b"ade. B6ou cou"d be hung.B B6eah# yeah. 9ea"i4ation dawned.$hey ha)e a "itt"e bet about whether an abundance of "aw or "itt"e "aw# but ta0ing p"easures is a better way to go)ern.B I(m not sure why this nonsense# which was comp"ete"y in eeping with the abusi)e disregard humans seemed to e0pect from their "eaders# made me so angry. 6ou can go screw. B$han you for your concern#= I smi"ed# getting into the groo)e of bantering with her. Chapter E"e)en +Story. So I(m sorry# babe.B $his "ast came from :aw .B B2hat about me(CB I roared. $hey a"" "oo ed to me for an answer.B Story said and A"i0 agreed# sitting up "aughing in the water.or treating me "i e a pri4e to be wonCB I as ed# touched. . A town officia" came by to try to ta" us into staying. She was a matron"y "oo ing woman of about forty?fi)e. BI(m 9ebbecca 3"son.B She said. I now if Gat were here it wou"d be on"y by the grace of a >uic reanimation spe"" that I5d be a"i)e again.
A"" the pretty gir"s without connections and some of the more effete boys. 'o fema"e fi)e to thirty is safe un"ess she has friends in high p"aces# re"ati)es who are powerfu" magic users# or is grotes>ue"y deformed.B *hi"ip said# ro""ing his eyes. 3ne. 2hat(re you guys doing hereC 2here(s *e""a4 and who(s the big guyCB BSonny# it(s been about si0 years. B6ep. After# it was ta en o)er by a corrupt "itt"e dictator# Hion. $hree. And he(s started a regu"ar chamber of horrors up at his eep. But sad"y I can(t hire anyone not pre?appro)ed by his ma8esty# Hion. Some to en8oy intact# others to e0periment on. 2e rode a"ong the pac ed dirt road. 2e used to "i)e near there before $he 9enaissance. B2e"" I ne)er. B$hat wou"d certain"y e0p"ain why you(re so tense.B BAre you staying "ongCB :e as ed. I(d soon see. :e had a tendency to not rea"i4e 8ust how specia" he was.B I thin he was hoping she wou"d. I aimed us for Hion5s !eep. But whyC 2e soon came into a fami"iar area. If not# maybe we ought to remedy that. $his is Aubi# our security chief and roadie.arms fa""ow and wor ed. 6ou cou"d "ea)e. I wondered how Sonny# the proprietor was doing. I ga)e him a ruby of no great )a"ue to ma e sure the horses were especia""y we"" ta en care of and nobody touched our stuff. BI don(t ha)e to stand for this. 2e stopped for a "o)e"y picnic in the ear"y afternoon before continuing on our way& and rode into town around sundown. $his has inspired random strip searches and se0 chec s in the street. I cou"d sme"" the a"most appeti4ing a"most nauseous scent of the farm. $hen he started ta ing boys as we"". :e got himse"f a nice "itt"e army of disenfranchised sadists and dec"ared himse"f ing. 2e rode on through the day. 2hat I do now is if you(re sti"" here when I count to fi)e. 2e headed inside. $wo. 2i"d rose bushes with sti"etto thorns and b"ossoms the si4e of a chi"d(s head. BA few days# I e0pect. I("" i"" him too. 2e rode out of town figuring there was nothing for us there.B A"i0 said# sha ing her head. A"ways the gent"eman. A"" separated by mi"e upon mi"e of chaotic wi"d growth. BI("" get my husband. BI(m afraid so. :e uses them for beds"a)es and sadistic games. :e was "i e"y dead by now. $his was a town that "i)ed in fear.B :aw was "o)ing this. B$rue.B She was getting noticeab"y scared. *e""a4 is dead. She "eft. . It had been a whi"e. I(m going to s u"" fuc you with a boot nife. 1ore than 8ust around# he(s got more contro" than e)er.B She said offended. -oads of cherries in different stages of ripeness and decay. . $he on"y c"ue we had that anyone was in residence was the occasiona" >uic furti)e g"ance out a hea)i"y curtained window. 2e fo""owed the stab"e boy into the stab"es. A pub"ic house. $hey used to try dressing them as boys. I don(t now. E0act"y the same. If they
. B$hat(s what I "o)e about you :aw . B6ou a"" were thin ing the e0act same thing. $he riotous ear"y summer growth decorating the shou"ders.B :e smi"ed. $he streets were deserted.B :aw said. Behind them# there were ear"y f"owering app"e trees. 2e had heard about a huge $udor mansion with an ocean )iew# so we mo)ed on. BStoryte""er and the gang. *assing houses# abandoned and not.arther bac and further on# a cherry orchard had gone to seed. *arents ha)e ta en to scarring their chi"dren intentiona""y. Sonny# a midd"e aged wiry man# was at the bar.B She gasped. 2e(d p"ayed there often in the ear"y pre? 9enaissance years. BCoo".B2hy don(t you shut up and get the fuc out of my faceC :ow wou"d that be# hmmmCB :aw smi"ed. :e spotted me.B B3"d frog boy sti"" aroundCB I "aughed# not ta ing it serious"y. $rying to set up a feuda" thing# with serfs and a"". %o you need a bandCB I as ed# nowing the answer BA"ways# when it(s you.
So she was ru"ed out# I presumed. 2e5re doing a"" we can for her whi"e she tries to bui"d up enough strength to tra)e" the distance to ma e recapture impossib"e. $hey circ"ed around. I do# howe)er now of two fema"es you(d be interested in. She(s the on"y one e)er to escape a"i)e# and with her maidenhead intact.weren(t born gir"s he(d ma e them gir"s.= :e continued . I hoped this wou"d go fast# I was ind of hungry. $he raised pattern was in eeping with the deep cuts of a short whip with many stee" tipped strands.B I agreed. B$he first ones name is $amarin#B he said.= I ca""ed. I want to than you. BI(m a"ready sentenced to die for he"ping the b"onde. -ea)ing a ragged ho"e and a twisted stump# both contributing to a burgeoning ri)er of b"ood.$he other one is a b"onde who came into town dusty and disoriented about two months ago. :is sides and bac were co)ered with fresh"y hea"ed scars. B:o"d up. BI guess we better go pay Hion a )isit. I caught up with her in an a""ey. B'o need to than me.= B. $hen the so"diers busted in# noc ing o)er tab"es and customers a"i e. B'o need#B said Sonny. /""man wa" ed up to me. :e raised his sword unnoticed. She was off trans?dimensiona" ad)enturing right now. I >uic "y i""ed my opponent and ga)e chase. :e rose behind me whi"e I was occupied with another. I wiped my feet on his c"oa of office and turned to continue. $here was no reason to unpac the wagon. :e and I go way bac .B B/nfinished business. $oo bad the same can(t be said for her hide.= Sonny said# .orty?fi)e minutes# gi)e or ta e. She stopped. 2asn(t a "ong wait. I figured I new why he thought we shou"d meet these two. BAs soon as he(s to"d you5re here# which wi"" "i e"y be present"y as fear and go"d ha)e made most citi4ens his spies# he("" send so"diers a"ong to co""ect you. She(s been up there since she was brought to town by his s"a)ers# maybe three years ago. $he streets say you are the mythica" Storyte""er# most renowned magica" e"itist and human butcher in the wor"d.B 2ith a twitch# my staff rose between his nees and with a twist he was f"oored.B B2hy wait and endanger you and your businessCB I rep"ied. She shined "i e you do. %oesn(t mean I wou"dn(t "i e to be surrounded with dead so"diers when I go. Sonny was human# but he was Sensiti)e# our name for a human who can recogni4e us for what we are and has a certain amount of fringe magic surrounding them. A b"onde of simi"ar energy to me put me in mind of my prodiga" mate# Spe""singer. :e co""apsed bac ward and the creature dropped his torn scrotum and the end of his muti"ated penis on his chest and ran. I had my own grudges against him. I thumped the iron shod end into his temp"e noc ing him out# maybe i""ing him. :a"f to surround us# ha"f to sta"" a fight they were not "oo ing forward to.B
. She(s been "i)ing in the a""eys since she escaped two wee s ago.B I said. 2e sat there# drin ing# weapons c"ose at hand# and waited. I tried to protect her when they came for her. BStoryte""er# I(m fran "y surprised you(re stupid enough to come bac . 2ea ness in hea"ing p"ays a part. It wou"d ha)e fa""en on me but 8ust then a sma"" figure in rags# dirt# and matted fur grabbed his crotch and messi"y emascu"ated him with a twist of inhuman adrena"ine?dri)en strength. I ga)e him my fu"" attention. It(s on"y $amarin(s ept them too busy the "ast coup"e wee s. . $hey 8ust whipped me away with a f"ai" and too her anyway. I guessed I might ha)e underestimated the thic ness of /""man(s s u"".I ha)en(t "eft this p"ace since the beating. *"us# I want to die on my own ground. :e had been a corrupt cop who "i ed harassing us in the days of e"ectric roc and record sa"es. BA "itt"e go"den furry one about fourteen. $hey were "ed by 7enera" /""man.air enough.B :e conc"uded.B :e turned and "ifted his shirt. Anyway# I(m $amarin. $he mystery person turned out to be the $amarin gir" Sonny had ta" ed about# as I e0pected it wou"d be. I was rea" curious as to who it was though. 1ost of those 8ust b"eed to death.
B I swore. Aubi said she might be your mate. She re"a0ed and I hea"ed her in a f"ash. I sat with her whi"e the others set up camp. $he human butcher part# I(d say my friends :aw and A"i0 both far surpass me on that front. Because it(s both easier on me and "ess stressfu" to the hea"ing recipient.B I said. B1ay I touch youCB I as ed BI suppose. She fainted.B I to"d the stubborn human. I(m going down fighting.B She said. I cou"d fee" her body tense. $hey put her in my ce"". I soft"y# s"ow"y raised my hand and brushed the side of her head with my fingertips. 2hyCB She was ob)ious"y s ittish# but game.B She said. BI("" a)enge you. I new she wou"d# when I poured so much energy through her. But e)eryone has a right to choose his own death. BSo# do something to impress me. BJust say it chi"d. :aw came with# so I was "ate getting bac . BIt wou"d ma e the tric easier. In an instant she was comp"ete"y renewed. -ight"y# with an open hand. BStupid human. B$he stories aren(t the on"y p"ace I()e heard of you. 2e went deep into the woods by the ri)er and I put a shie"d up so we cou"dn(t be seen. :aw had the horses and wagon pu""ed around front. $he fight was o)er and they were pi"ing bodies in the street. In the matter of a second her wounds were hea"ed# from scratches to a bad"y set brea that was two years o"d. It was the strongest shie"d I(d made in a "ong time.B I said affectionate"y B$hat is certain"y me#B he smi"ed. BI now but I can(t. I was in b"ood fren4y and wou"d not ac now"edge the outside wor"d unti" Hion had died horrib"y at my hand. A magica" e"itistC $he . I shoo it. B$his is hard. It wou"d ta e a better man than Hion to e)en sense it was there# "et a"one brea it. . $he on"y one. 7rown bac where it had been ripped out# and o)er scars that disappeared.B Sonny rep"ied.B She rep"ied# seeming in a hurry. B3 ay# 8ust get on with it.B 1y heart san . 2hen she wo e up she(d be fine# at "east physica""y.Interesting description# BI(m Storyte""er. After that Aubi came to re"ie)e me# so I cou"d go down to the ri)er and c"ean up. I preferred to do something "i e that s"ow"y. BStoryte""er# I need to ta" to you.or the first time in years# I(d wager. BSurprise me.B B$hen they wi"" ha)e to be my new ido"s. $his meant I cou"d put $amarin in a proper bed. About two months ago Hion(s traw"ers brought in a b"onde "ady.aery Court and other state affairs. I summoned the si" pa)i"ion I used when )isiting the . And they eep her so messed up she hasn(t a moment to compose herse"f.ami"y eeps its own counse" with good reason. $amarin was up by then. She seemed so confused when she came in. BShe used to ca"" your name in her s"eep.B :e said# e0tending his hand. B-i e magicC :mmm# any re>uestsCB I smi"ed.B She sighed. B6es#B I said when we had returned to the pa)i"ion and I5d sat on the bed ne0t to her. 1aybe# hopefu""y# before there(s e)en anything to a)enge.B She continued impatient"y. I opened myse"f to her# "et good fee"ings pour out of me. E)en her c"othes were c"ean and new. B1aybe I("" see you around. B1aybe#B I was sad as I rode off. I "aid $amarin in the wagon bed and went to ta" to Sonny.B She was getting )ery ob)ious"y upset. :er fur and hair became unmatted and c"ean.B I didn(t hear the "ast sentence.B I was concerned for her# but not rea""y thin ing she cou"d ha)e anything rea""y important to say. 2hich shows how wide the definition of hea" cou"d get with enough power behind it. Carrying $amarin# I headed bac to the inn. BIt(s your death if you don(t come with us.
. I(m the on"y one in town who has owned his p"ace since before the 9enaissance.
ina""y I got out dripping and wa" ed o)er. I new first hand that hea"ing didn(t fi0 the mind. $he ri)er was wide and deep enough in the midd"e# to my shou"ders. And torture no matter how artistic is not hea"ing. But in this case I decided to err on the side of caution. . As soon as I to"d the others what I(d done. . 2hat probab"y did the most to get me out# cherry intact# was that I was a "ate b"oomer. 6et I ha)e no bruises and am tota""y pain free. . But right now is a time for hea"ing. I neither own nor be"ie)e in swimming c"othes. Erin e0p"ained the prob"em. I(d e)en bathed c"othed to discourage the guards.Chapter $we")e +$amarin. I 8ust ha)e an idea of what you()e been through. BIt seems "i e on"y yesterday I was being burned and beaten. 'ot "i e the guards watched me either. I needed to go where)er Story had gone to wash up. But e)en from fifteen feet away I cou"d see her eyes fi"" with terror and confusion as she fainted and crump"ed to the ground.irst time I(d been swimming since I was tiny# but you ne)er forget. And yet# immediate"y I trusted these peop"e. . I promise what I did to /""man was not my norma" beha)ior. 2hen I started to notice a growth spurt hitting me I too to the streets.B B$amarin# I(m not scared of you. I swam na ed unse"fconscious"y. But I(d been unconscious for hours and from the sme"" of things had been sweating urine the who"e time. . -ong pa"e b"onde hair perfect"y combed down her bac . $hey a"so feared my magic and my strength. $hese were "ac ey(s not con>uerors.or the rest of my "ife I preferred nudity when I was safe with my fami"y. $his was definite"y swimming. It did# but incomp"ete"y. 2hen I saw poor Storyte""er(s eyes go dead I had an idea what had happened. Aubi fo""owed me to the ri)er. $here was no getting away from it. *hysica""y she was perfect from mi" white s in# to aristocratic bearing# to white gown with an "e "ength b"ue )estAc"oa .B
.ina""y "oo ing my age on"y now. I a"most wished I(d said nothing. But it was gent"e# no danger at a"". B3b)ious"y we must ca"" the 1other. 'ot concerned right then that I hadn(t been comp"ete"y na ed in about si0 years. It had been a coup"e wee s and I5d grown two inches# probab"y in e)ery direction. A not uncommon preference Erin shares. 9ight then I was "oo ing at Aubi. Especia""y when it wasn(t used by e)eryone.B She turned and entered the white si" pa)i"ion I(d wo en up in. Erin caught her easi"y and "ifted her into a brida" carry.unny# it was awfu" big to cart around.B Aubi said. . Sudden"y there was no >uestion that I might mo)e on to Springfie"d "i e had been my thoughts upon escaping Hion5s !eep. I had to te"" him.= I new her road home was by no means done.ourteen and I was in the buds and fu44 stage usua""y seen between ten and twe")e. :e 8ust sat there watching me.B Instead of the 1other# Spe""singer appeared. She5"" dea" with him "ater# as wi"" you $amarin. $hen we can start putting the pieces together. B6ou don(t ha)e to 8ust watch# you cou"d come in if you wanted to.or most of the few hours I(d nown them I was unconscious and without a "oo bac I chose them as my fami"y. :e 8ust sat there with a bemused ha"f?smi"e and watched me. But it wasn(t that I counted this as bathing. And on"y specifica""y for baths before that. . If my understanding of these peop"e was correct# (the 1other( was the actua" 1other 7oddess# co?creator of the wor"d. $hey were surprising"y understanding. B%efinite"y#B Said Erin# B1other attend me. So it was a serious fight for something they cou"d get somewhere e"se. But I(d changed. I noticed I was hea"ed# c"eaned and combed out. I wasn(t worried& I a"so new a perfect"y hea"thy body put pain in the past "i e time. Surprising in one so thin and etherea". Hion made serious efforts. I stripped down and 8umped in. But his cronies preferred instead to punish me# fre>uent"y from a distance# for ma ing it hard for them. 9ight now we need to get e)erybody coherent. But the poor "ady# I had to he"p her# to stop her pain. BHion is being softened up by the torture masters of Esca(rdu.
irst time it had been untang"ed enough to brush in years. 2hen I was towe"ed he dried himse"f# >uic "y brushed his hair# and then began to brush mine. 2hat norma" id doesC. But right now she cou"d pass for twe")e and my tunic was a dress that came midca"f on her. But the others smi"ed sentimenta""y. I e)en "et him dry my hair# face# and ears# possib"y the first man who I5d a""owed that near my head in years. It was a"so her good fortune it "aced up at the nec # or she wou"d ha)e had troub"e eeping it on. $hin ing that I hoped Storyte""er and Spe""singer were ab"e to he"p each other. I sat down on the ground with $amarin seated in front of me. So much so that one inherits it e)en if it had on"y been one parent that had it for fifty generations. Besides# the on"y man I e)er saw na ed was Hion and you don(t "oo a thing "i e him. +I now for sure it was the "atter now.B :e c"arified. 2e""# he wa" ed carrying me sidesadd"e on his shou"der. 2e used our c"othes to dry off a "itt"e. In Hion(s cast"e it was the thing I guarded most carefu""y.= :e decided# s inning down. By the end I was di)ing off his shou"ders# and "etting him mo)e us into deeper waters# for my di)ing. Either practica""y for warmth and protection. /sua""y it was more a once a month thing but this had been twice in one wee . :e needed a daughter who wou"dn(t die. . I found a wi"d ram which coo"ed my need for sacrifice nice"y. I needed a protector who(d a"ways be there. Chapter $hirteen +Aubi. She reminded me of a"" the chi"dren I(d been fond of that I(d seen from crad"e to gra)e. 3r because I(d hammered him into the ro"e of father I so desperate"y wanted. I(m more fami"iar with "i)ing in a human poisoned wor"d where it was impossib"e to pass it on. Away from town. $hen carrying our damp c"othes wa" ed na ed bac to camp. Spea ing of# Erin caught my attention the first time I saw her. $he ground was too roc y for the soft new"y hea"ed so"es of my feet# and I didn(t ha)e shoes. Before Story(s hea"ing spe"" I was afraid I wou"d one day ha)e to sha)e my head to be rid of the nots. I was too tired.B:uhCB BI thin me "ur ing around na ed wou"d frighten you. 2hose grandchi"dren I saw from crad"e to gra)e. B3h# don(t worry about that. But at fourteen I didn(t inte""ectua"i4e much. 2e had great times that day. 'ot to mention she was sooo beautifu". :aw snorted when he saw us arri)e# $amarin on my shou"der. 2hen we got to camp he got two big f"uffy towe"s from a huge oa wardrobe in a room in the pa)i"ion beside the one where Spe""singer was sti"" unconscious. Being friend"y wou"d ha)e to wait. A "ot of change in my "ife made me want to stay at ma0imum power# e)en at night# for the moment I cried when I saw $amarin in my s"eeping bag. $oo many senses seated in the head to ris its damage. But she didn(t see as I was "oo ing down into my pac . I s"ept in Aubi(s bag. 2e were in that poo" from mid?afternoon unti" fu"" dar .B BIf you(re sure. But e)en a reincarnating immorta"# we sti"" cou"d be "oo ing out for each other for a "ong time. I fe"" as"eep before Aubi came to bed. $he ne0t morning# when she as ed for one of my shirts unti" we cou"d get her c"othes of her own# being unwi""ing to wear her c"othes from before# I got a "itt"e misty. $amarin "oo ed "i e she was going to grow up pretty substantia". Immorta"ity is a dominant gene now# I hear.
. I trust you. :air"ess she "oo ed as far from human as I was. I new I wou"dn(t s"eep that night# so when $amarin was sett"ed I went hunting. I(d "i e a nice swim. I thought I sensed death"ess immorta"ity in her. Comp"ete"y a"ien to the a""ey rat who had maimed /""man "ess than a day ago. I thin we sensed each other5s immorta"ity# or maybe we both didn(t fit in comp"ete"y with the rest of the group. -uc i"y it was s"ee)e"ess as the armho"es came a"most to her e"bows. :e used one to finish off the ha"f? assed 8ob I(d done with my c"othes.
2ith the 1other(s he"p cou"d e)en do that. BI guess he"ping me too a"" of what energy she(d managed to ac>uire with her freedom. She cou"d torture Hion in Esca(rdu# turn him into a newt# tra)e" bac in time to turn him fema"e at birth. I(m sure a "ot of aggression against me was ta en out on her. B$his is nothing "i e that.B Both $amarin and Erin said in unison# then smi"ed at each other. But they(d write it off as yet another horror )isited upon them by a wor"d they cou"d not >uite understand. If you fuc in( want to now the fuc in( truth# Aubi. I fe"t e)en on top of my own dai"y abuse and muti"ation regimen it was the "east I cou"d do. Because I godsdamn sure as motherfuc ing he"" was not ta ing one of her fi)e hour rape sessions for her.ami"y member.B B$hat(s 8ust it Aubi. *robab"y the best# certain"y the best fema"e hea"er we ha)e. . $hey new they wou"dn(t get a second chance to pay the uni)erse bac for them being "osers a"" their "i)es. I was there for a "ot of it.irstborn as we"" as being the Dueen of the %ragons. B%o you want to now why I(m he"ping her# e)en if I ha)e to go through you to do itC $here(s not time to ma e you understand# so I("" be >uic . 'ot go out a"one for a whi"e.B $amarin said. 3f course they sti"" had a schedu"e to meet& they(d 8ust use boot ni)es and bro en bott"e nec s.a""en by an obscene"y "ong string of coincidences into their hands. Hion# a per)erted disgusting "itt"e f"eashit of a man# had been handed a string of coincidence so "ong that he
. If this had happened to someone they new# they wou"d be scared. But Spe""singer was created when the first woman who had sp"it from the 1other# Shi5"a# decided she wou"d "i e to ta e the form of a dragon.B Erin nodded. $hey new to do this she must be in so much pain# so humi"iated# so offensi)e"y debased in her own eyes# that she wou"d hide from herse"f and ne)er e)en rea"i4e she was doing it. Anyone e"se e)en comes c"ose& ic him in the nuts unti" he "oses consciousness. She was a percei)ed and resented >ueen of the wor"d. I don(t thin any human cou"d e)er understand our horror at Singer(s bad "uc . Spe""singer had a"" the power of a . BI()e been there# I can re"ate. BI5"" he"p.B She was crying hard now# but with iron contro" was sti"" spea ing c"ear"y. BErin# sure than s.= $his "ast was addressed "oo ing direct"y at me with so much confusing and misp"aced hosti"ity I a"most cried. A"though it didn(t seem "i e he(d said a"" he wanted to.uc it. A"i0# guard the door. Some. :a)e him grow up in an abusi)e house# and end up a grown woman under the contro" of himse"f from this time"ine# undergoing what she went through. Singer is ha)ing some prob"ems. A"" at the same time. A"though I am sure that it got worse when I "eft. I guarantee you ha)e ne)er seen nor heard about these ind of abominations perpetrated on a .B She turned to Erin.Story addressed the group. She needs he"p. !eep Story out nice# he(s fragi"e. !i"" him. I need he"p.ami"y power in a dragon form had been >uic "y and unanimous"y ta en as their >ueen# sp"it comp"ete"y from her and too a human form.= She got up >uic "y and matter?of?fact"y spo e to the others. $hey entered the pa)i"ion# "ea)ing the men to stare in confusion at A"i0. *"ease. Especia""y after she was too muti"ated for anyone but Hion to get it up. $anis# who through ha)ing . But I(m guessing it(s combat hea"ing and a caring heart. 'ot on"y did I ha)e the horror of what happened to Spe""singer# I a"so had made a foo" of myse"f and been rightfu""y s"apped down by $amarin. 2ho "oo ed comp"ete"y ready to carry out $amarin(s instructions# shou"d any of them try to enter. She 8ust escaped Hion(s he"" herse"f. But $amarin# no. I thin I(m the on"y one here who is ab"e to "oo Spe""singer(s prob"ems in the face. . In there. B2e were going to march on the eep today. I spo e up a"" o)erprotecti)e and scared. I too a nife for her.B :e stopped then. $o a""e)iate some sma"" amount of her pain.ami"y history has e)er been muti"ated and abused the way Spe""singer has been. She doesn(t need to add Spe""singer(s e0perience to it. $hat(s going to ha)e to go on ho"d. She cou"d do anything short of creating "ife. She won(t see me or ta" to me. BI don(t now how you came by your hea"ing e0perience.Erin# -ady !# you come with me. B%o you want to now a "itt"e piece of history# o"d manC= She addressed me. I too a few minutes to get my ro""ing stomach and 8umping heart under contro". . So get the he"" out of my way.B :e started crying. Choosing the name Spe""singer to comp"ement Storyte""er who she had a crush on and was pursuing. At "east I now what we(re "oo ing at. I apo"ogi4e for my need to be fran # but I bet no one in the i)ory tower anna"s of .
BSo what ought we men doC 2ou"d you ad)ise#B She thought for a moment then said# BHion(s gone. 3r Erin# she was a hottie. I was shoc ed momentari"y speech"ess. If you can accept that in other situations IEm going to want you to do it again. 2e entered the town protected by fog and mi"itary incompetence. 1on eyfuc s came within a hundred yards of our shie"ds and ne)er approached them. I 8ust wanted to grab A"i0 and fuc her ears off. B2e"" enough for me to forgi)e you treating me "i e your chi"d.B She whispered# cho ing up a bit. $his made me g"ow. I waited in front of the pa)i"ion unti" $amarin too a brea .It was tota""y my fau"t# $am. I wou"dn(t mind ma ing $amarin come (ti" her hair stood on end# but that5s best ept as a passing fancy. B2e"" enough for whatCB I as ed. I said# . 3r perhaps stupidity was business as usua" here. 3n"y a foo" wou"d thin I cou"d stand against Erin in matters of fuc ing. 2ith a recent addition of a fourteen foot "og wa"". I("" be honest. $he bui"ding was a"most entire"y enc"osed in scaffo"ding# as they tried to turn it into a pa"ace whi"e being too "a4y to actua""y rebui"d it. I cou"d sme"" a"" the new growth of the season in the pines# oa s and beech trees. $he mar>uee# sti"" intact. E)en your parents shou"d ha)e a"most comp"ete"y e"iminated commands from their re"ationship with you. It was mind bogg"ing. 2e wa" ed a"ong the road. 'ot for anything "ess than an emergency situation regarding the we"" being of someone as important to me as Singer. It seemed the sudden disappearance of their master had thrown e)erything into disarray. She was in shoc and for now# was f"eeing consciousness. 3n top of this ridicu"ous "ac of security# on"y the front and one and a ha"f sides had been finished so far on the wa"". I fee" c"ose to you. It was a ta"" e0?hote". $hat night I heard Singer had not awa ened yet.was ab"e to do this. 2e(d tramp"ed it down some when we rode through the other day# and it sti"" was.B Chapter .B B2e now each other we"" enough. She(s not e)en reached saining yet# and her eye is on Erin.B She said.B B6es#B I did now that.# and *hi"ip. I cou"d see a"" around the trai" the woods were tramp"ed down and torn up by Hion(s shithee" so"diers.ourteen +:aw . Aubi# me# A"i0 +since there(d be no men to guard against. So we 8ust went around bac and wa" ed right in.
. So this bu""shit isn(t o)er and it needs to be.B I was struc with such a fear of re8ected "o)e. I(m dense# but there(s a difference. 6et with a"" those potentia" combatants we saw one s"eeping guard in the guard tower by the gate.B I hadn5t nown that. said# :o?i?ay I?? in huge "etters. She got a few yards past me and turned# BAubi# you now I had to do it. At your age# 8ust short of saining and adu"thood. And we bare"y now each other. A"" the po""en in the air made me horny. It wou"d be hard to be si"ent"y snea y on horsebac . But you can bet a"" his ser)ants are continuing to fo""ow the "ast orders they were gi)en. BAnd you now whate)er may grow between us# I a"ready ha)e a "ot of respect for you and your wisdom. 2e approached Hion(s cast"e. E)entua""y the trai" widened and crossed the main road. $he road was "itt"e more than a se"dom tra)e"ed path out here. 2e set off at dawn the ne0t morning. It was so offensi)e"y improbab"e that it a"most "itera""y made my brain b"eed to contemp"ate it. I wou"dn(t go against your ad)ice norma""y without a pretty deep discussion of why. I had hard"y dared hope. $he staff of that p"ace need to be resworn to the new ing# who a"so must be found# or they must be banished or i""ed depending on 8ust how deep they were in. E)en the "itt"e bit of euca"yptus somewhere around. /nderneath was& 'ow Appearing@ -ord Hion(s *a"ace. 2hen she e0ited she wa" ed >uic "y past me with on"y a perfunctory BE)ening# Aubi. 2e new there were maybe two hundred so"diers sp"it into those wor ing as guards# who weren5t much different than a po"ice forceAmi"itary presence and Hion5s snatching s>uads and rape batta"ions# who were better trained but a"so cra4y and or e)i".
:aw thought a moment. $hen my eyes caught one and I soft"y ca""ed a ha"t. B'ot Hion#B Aubi said# B:e(s being tortured in Esca5rdu. 3n"y two were both s i""ed so"diers and non?human. $heir swords crossed with a c"ang. But :aw has an arm that can stri e through stone and hundreds of years of e0perience. Some of them e)en "oo ed "i e they cou"d fight# some were e)en not human +s"ow and stupid tro""s and boggarts most"y. I mentioned it. /nusua" in this bac water. Beside him fought 9i(an# a white -ionman# "ower eche"on re"ati)e of A"i0# sti"" officia""y .ami"y. B2hat do we careCB A"i0 as ed. 1y guess was he was here for the same reason I was. :e was so dead. 1aybe twenty to one. It he"d# surprising"y.B *hi"ip said.B B. I was surprised they hadn(t boarded up the unused chute.B :aw said.ine# we(re here to waste them too.uc in5 Hion. *u""ed through the ho"e was enough intestine to "oop three times around his nec and o)er the ga""ows post. $amarin suggested it and I was too confused and angry to do anything but fo""ow instructions. B7reat p"an# brother. 2e a"" managed to fit up the pipe hunched o)er# Aubi ended up craw"ing.B Chapter .B A"i0 said.B I answered. :e spun away and drew his sword before :aw (s cou"d decapitate him.B As we e0ited# :aw # in the "ead# wa" ed right into a ta"" round so"dier. B. B'o# the house staff won(t fight. $he on"y prob"em I see is that we5re out numbered something "i e a hundred to one. It was sti"" used for "inens. James# once .B I said.B B3h that(s better. C(mon# whi"e some are sti"" as"eep. I wasn(t concerned about our chances. $he operation was precise and professiona". A"i0 said. BBut they(re humans# for the most part. So we don(t ha)e to put this town together sing"e?handed"y. 2e co""ected near the door.B :e said. B2e can(t waste them a"".$here was a "arge pipe "i e an industria" "aundry chute that came a"" the way to the ground. So it was c"ang# c"ang# c"ang# fight# fight# whoops fat so"dier5s "ost his head. B3 ay#B A"i0 as ed. B'ow what(s the p"anCB B2e go out there and ic their ass. $his was done by his so"diers. But not this "ong. I saw none I immediate"y recogni4ed. Soon we were surrounded.ami"y# disowned when he stayed at Hion(s side after Hion betrayed us. $he room was big enough that we were ab"e to gather at the doub"e doors so we(d be ab"e to e0it as a group rather than e0iting sing"e fi"e. $o ensure he "i)ed as "ong as possib"e. Easi"y dup"icated if one drops a pot out a window onto pa)ement. $hey probab"y 8ust store it here unti" it pi"es up. :e had natura" ta"ent. 3b)ious"y Hion(s enemies. But first the bastard be""owed for his compatriots and the c"angs themse")es ca""ed their own. E)i" on the hoof.ifteen +*hi"ip. 2e need to gather what "oya"ty we can. I 8ust fe"t that we wou"d be better off 8oining the fight in a rea"istic mindset of what we were facing. See those handcarts with the dirty sheets and b"oody towe"s. %ump it down the chute and ta e it to the ri)er. 'ot to mention deserters. :anging s"ight"y to the "eft of center was Sonny. Abo)e and in front of the pipe was a ga""ows arranged with muti"ated bodies. :e had been granted c"emency because he(d been erased this incarnation. B$hese peop"e ha)e suffered enough. A three inch incision in his stomach. $he energy was sudden"y tight as a bowstring as the entire edifice waited for the other shoe to drop.B She rep"ied. 'or for that matter wi"" anyone not a warrior. A"so he
. -i e"y because so many were missing faces. I don(t now if *hi"ip cared about the "oca" humans. B2ho(s to say it(s unused. /pon entry we were in a huge window"ess room with row upon row of she")es. $he "aundry chute theory was pro)en.. %ecades ago# this betraya" was the "ast in a "ong "ine.
had nothing persona""y to do with Hion(s betraya"s. I forced my way into some b"eeding orifices that night. But with a dead husband I(m distracted. 1y -ady came running out crying. 'ot part of the set# I a"so had a sma"" triang"e. bac to the 3therwor"d. B6ou(re acting "i e a human..ather.B Aubi said. Aubi cou"d probab"y do it in fu"" sun# but it(s midnight.B :aw said. I new I was one of two women besides :is wife that he"d :is eterna" "o)e# but I didn(t "i e to rest on my "aure"s. -et me say. I cou"d do it on my better days. BAnd that was your own fau"t. Hion cou"dn(t destroy her. Story(s in with her.B B3h Aubi did that.B I spo e up# B2e"" I(m bac # and I bring no specia" messages from the other side. Singer(s unconscious. As a chi"d I used to ca"" it a (raper(. $he best I(d seen outside our group in a whi"e. 3ften someone resurrects us. 6ou two are way behind schedu"e. BI now. James as the captain of Hion(s persona" guard was a "itt"e more responsib"e.B B2ith Singer bac #B $he .ather and I had a specia" re"ationship.ather. A matching set of go"d hoops each with a hematite bead. 2e die sometimes. I new I "oo ed good. I found myse"f facing Hion(s captain of the guard# James# "ate of the .B $he . And what about 9oweC $he road is no p"ace for an infant. %amn trans?dimensiona" erasure. E0cept for a "itt"e stee" sodomy in the name of re)enge of Singers tormentors. 'ice 8ewe""ery. So "et(s mo)e on with our "i)es.B BI now# but they come bac E*hi"ip(s dead# his head(s in a bag. $oo good for me.B $he .ather said sitting bac with a sigh. Singer(s going to pu"" through this. B$han 6ou# . B6ou sat there with me decapitated whi"e Aubi due"ed the murdering assho"eCB B3f course not. $he moon"ight on my a"abaster s in.B B6es# .= BE)ening .B I rep"ied.B :e said.B B. $he . B'ot pregnantC= $he . I too my rapier to them. But they5re ne)er growing bac . I order you :ome and straight to bed. I(d finished my shift with Spe""singer sti"" unconscious. Course most of which were of my own ma ing. BErin# we need to ta" .Infant#= I said# B$he -ady(s not e)en pregnant. 'ot stay here.B B3h shit.ather was f"abbergasted.or "ess than an hour. :e was good with a sword. :e sat down beside me# B:e""o chi"d.
. $hen I sat on a roc by the ri)er s ipping a few f"at stones I(d pic ed up from the surrounding area.ather said# BShe and our -ady wou"d be both doing the same 8ob.ather of a"" peop"e standing o)er me. I went for a swim to coo" off and get my mind off e)erything.B B2hat(s so upsetting "itt"e "o)eC :e 8ust died. I don(t understand why you(re being a"" dramatic. B:ow come he on"y "oses his "egsC I was i""ed. :e "i)ed.B B6eah# I(d now. If I grabbed some b"eeding# shredded rims and ripped a coup"e of them inside out# who can b"ame me or say I was outside my bounds. Chapter Si0teen +Erin. 6ou new you were supposed to bring -ady !.'ot pregnant. Before your head hit the ground# his "egs had 8oined it. 6ou shou"d "i e it# you ga)e me the set.B 2e said in unison# disappearing.ather 8umped in. +$hey were a"" the same si4e but different widths for the gauges of my ho"es. I was right behind him with an a0e. I and 10 in my "eft ear# 10 in my right# 12 in each nipp"e# and J in my septum.ather said# . Sma"" 1I gauge rings in my c"it hood and one in each "abia near the top.B I smi"ed# "eaning against him. I was g"ad to see :im natura""y.B . !i"" that James upstart first I shou"d thin .ather.B 1y -ady stated.5 1ost of us can(t bring him bac .B $he . If they don(t# we(re reborn natura""y. 6ou(re right.ami"y. 3h than 6ou. I don(t "i e to go into my death# so "et(s say my ne0t memory was bac at camp with the . B2e"" he(s bac with us again. I wanted to "oo good for him.
B2hoa< I ha)en(t heard that. BAnd you won(t.B I said. But she(s young and has had her own bu""shit. 'o one is going in unti" they ha)e some idea if it wi"" be good for her. B:onest"y .It(s been a"most twenty years. I now that you5re counting the moments unti" she(s yours.B She said in her best (roya"ty to septic tan washer( )oice.B I was trying to p"ay it down a bit. She needs me to finish hea"ing. I "o)e you. B%on(t you understandC 6ou()e been dismissed. BI ha)e to get in there# she needs me.= I rep"ied. B%ar"ing one# we must a"so discuss $amarin. B$hat(s why I need to see her.B I said. But I don(t now. . B1mmmB 2as my rep"y. Singer was awa e when I returned. 6ou(re 8ust acting "i e a bitch. BAnd both of you end up destined for the "ast thing you(d e0pect right now.B :e cautioned. $he .:ow is sheCB Story as ed when I got out.I now it(s hard# and it won(t be a rea" dramatic he"p# but it(s a step. $hey need to see that they(re not the on"y ones to be fuc ed o)er. BAnd I you . E)en I now that part of our re"ationship is going to need to wait.= :e said# . I heard a disturbance 8ust outside.B B%on(t worry . It was so good I wish I cou"d write a"" about it.B 2e "aughed a bit together. Both to brag# and to educate. A "ot more recent"y than yours.ather as ed me to te"" her my story.9ight# I thin when she comes around you ought to te"" her your story# $amarin too. I said# .B BErin and $amarin now what she needs. %on(t gi)e it another thought.B :e said. I("" be bac in a moment.B B$han you chi"d. But it(s on"y to hide the pain.B I said# BShe needs for you not to see her "i e this.B She said.urthest thing from my mind.B I said# putting my hand on $amarin5s shou"der. 9un# run<B I got up to ta" to him. B'o. I(m going to te"" you a story. But the . I(m sure I("" send for you if you(re re>uired. 1aybe after this you can see her.= . BIt(s not their decision# A"i0B :e said. .= B'ot a prob"em. She 8ust wo e up.ather# I(m not thin ing that far in the future.B I wa" ed bac in. 7o# find someone worthy of you. B'o# you(re wonderfu". BErin# yes.B :e smi"ed.B I rep"ied. B. I was 8ust spea ing to the gir". 3ne of my "ife(s ido"s. I wish to be a"one now. I can p"ay the games as "ong as I now I("" win in the end. Singer started crying hysterica""y.B B2hat storyCB :e as ed bare"y interested. BShe(s being an obno0ious bitch. .B A"i0 rep"ied. I now what she needs.It has nothing to do with you. B7reat# teacher# sha"" we sit Indian sty"e on the story mat.B :e rep"ied sha ing with worry.= I said.B :e too me in his arms and began issing me# as my hands began to b"ind"y ta e his c"othes off.B B2e(d prefer to stay.. But you(re not mated. BI now# soon as it(s safe.ather says my story wi"" he"p. It wi"" be e)ery bit as you hope.B I rep"ied fran "y. I heard her muttering to herse"f# B9un you foo"# run unti" you "ea)e my shame behind you. 6ou sha"" ha)e her. BJust my "ife before I got my memory bac # this "ife.ather wou"d not appro)e. BSo# I(m a bitch#B Singer said.ather. B2hi"e I certain"y than you both for your he"p.B B3 ay# but soon. I now what you(re thin ing.And Erin# you two ha)e a future. $hat(s "ong enough to mourn the "oss of my innocence. But# it(s not your fau"t.B
. $he .B :e smi"ed# BI won(t# that said "et(s mo)e on to better things.B :e said. A"i0 and Storyte""er were arguing. B'o need mi"ady.B :e was now tru"y interested# not much# but sti"".ather. B$a e the gir"<B Singer roared. I counse" patience.
But he seemed wea"thy and refined and paid cash. 'o matter what he did I was firm on that. $hat decided them. I try to bite his dic off. I passed out& he 8ust pumped my head up and down ob"i)ious. But e)entua""y I became proficient enough to remain conscious. 2innon. I was not a""owed c"othes# and was bathed with a hose as "ong as I "i)ed there. And I(m spea ing to you at $he .ather were anything specia" :e wou"d ha)e sa)ed me. $here was nothing he cou"d do to stop the b"eeding. I was "uc y not to die. B3 ay# te"" your storyCB She su" ed B%on(t su" . But not together. -uc i"y he missed my )ita"s. -i e ragged chi"dbirth. $hat first night we had a )ery painfu" attempt at entry. $he guy wou"d gi)e in# I(d "ea)e# or he(d cut me. And he en8oyed pissing on me.. :e ne)er tried to enter me e0cept ora""y a coup"e times a month. I was so"d at twe")e to Jac :atchett. :e said yes# I said no. 2atson(s heart. :e was# of course# a chic en haw . I(d be re>uired to masturbate him about twice a wee .3h# p"ease shut up. 'ow I(m safe and I symbo"i4e that by prancing about na ed a"" the time.or a free "iposuction. 2hat I didn(t "i e was I was ept in a stout barred si0 foot s>uare stee" cage. Cho ing me as he did. :e rare"y came# but I wasn(t comp"aining.B I said and started. I(d be shitting in the corner# no faci"ities. I fought some of my fuc s o)er that as we"". I was gagged to unconsciousness at "east fourteen times. . 9un by a woman after 1r. But from the day I "eft the $oi"et# unti" I arri)ed at the 1other and . :e shoots me fi)e times@ shou"der# chest# three times in the stomach. :e was a"so obsessed with watching me e"iminate. .at "ot that it mattered# he cou"d ha)e found a 8ob somewhere. But he cou"dn(t bear to be thought common. 3n"y if Jac was out# the house was "oc ed up tight# and I was fee"ing particu"ar"y scummy. I was de"i)ered anonymous"y to the hospita". But no one won. So he 8ust beat me unti" I was his obedient dog. BAs a chi"d I was so"d to a man "i e Hion#B It started# BBy my parents for fifteen thousand pounds. Anyway# I was on"y three. Safer# but not fun. After he had been (successfu""y( fuc ing me for about three months# he got it into his head to fuc me up the ass. 3r I suspect# got them and I hea"ed. $he ne0t three years was more of the same. In my i""ness my memory began to return. A midd"estreet pimp. If the . Shit on me too but "ess often. Street s"ang for a pedophi"e. So he so"d me. 2ithout your mind to focus on# no one cou"d find you. I was fourteen#
.B I said. :e whips out a big ser)ice re)o")er and rapes me at gunpoint. She so"d me to a %r. $he buyer(s name was 1r. As if there was anyone e"se "oo ing to buy a "itt"e gir". :a)e his per)ert cronies o)er. :e figured with who he bought me from I understood denigration. I was a""owed b"an ets on"y when I pretended to en8oy his petty denigrations. Apparent"y he wasn(t fu""y "oaded. 2hich we repeated about once a month unti" it wor ed. :e hits me& I ic him in the nuts. I hemorrhaged.B B6ou had been erased on dimensiona" transition. Anyway I(d ta e my bottoms off to fuc . I ended up "aid up in the hospita" with my sma"" intestine shortened a good si0 feet. :e""# shit washes off. It was in a fight o)er nudity that I "eft the business for the first time. 2hen I got out of the hospita" he put me in# it was ne)er brought up again. $hey didn(t want to se"" me# per)ersion# you now. $hat first night when it didn(t wor # he 8ust stuc it down my throat. But I wasn(t magic enough yet to spontaneous"y hea" non?morta" wounds. $om 2atson.B BSo. :e f"ew me to 'ew 6or City.ather(s house ho"ding Jac (s se)ered scrotum in one hand# a rusty pruning hoo in the other& I was ne)er comp"ete"y na ed in front of anyone. I swore I(d i"" him one day. I see that in $amarin too. . $hey5d ta" about form and endurance "i e it was a sport. I se"dom e)en showered na ed.ather(s behest. *"astic surgeon. 2ith more pain and >uite a "ot of b"ood.or a bit e0tra one cou"d buy a top"ess b"ow8ob. %ad "ost his 8ob# and they so"d me to eat. :e was some sort of big mi"itary officia". I "o)e and respect you. I was born in Eng"and# Stratford on A)on# 8ust "i e 2i"" Sha espeare. I ended up in a foster home. :e s ipped out before the ambu"ance arri)ed with po"ice. $han $hem he was a >uic shot. $hen I(d finish and they(d be reaching through with "ace hand erchiefs# ta ing sou)enirs.
A"" tiny and sweet.ina""y I "oo ed in the mirror and saw myse"f as beautifu" for the first time. And Jac might i"" me. But thin si" pants with no underwear. I buried the point in his eye. $hen I pic ed up a f"at c"oth wrapped bund"e that had been hidden beneath my c"othes. *er)o(s dream. 7rabbing at the def"ating orb. BShe needs me. I had sharpened it against the curb. I "oo ed a"" innocent with big b"ue tea saucer eyes and "ong b"ond pigtai"s. I(d gi)e you a "esson but you ha)e a date.ather(s house. I grabbed his ba""s as a trophy. $he customers wou"d hate it. 2ith the s i"" of a professiona". 1y first conscious act of magic was to ma e Jac forget to pic me up. $hen I dia"ed K11 and "et the recei)er hang. I had surprises of my own. I was returned to Jac # my "ega" guardian. I shou"d put the trace on him and steer the tour to cross paths with him. I wasn(t a"ways "i e this. Chapter Se)enteen +Spe""singer. I used Jac (s scissors to ta e my hair off# and then used his ra4or on the stubb"e and my eyebrows.B I said and pu""ed. It was a rusty but sti"" usab"e pruning hoo I(d found in the deep bushes where I(d hidden in the par . Because sudden"y Storyte""er was in the room.B I don(t now how she thought her depression wou"d he"p me. $hose cut "i e tissue. 2hen they were dead I found I cou"d forgi)e them. 1y sense of time is fuc ed to shit# but I don(t thin he cou"d be more than fifty# at most# today. I was the hottest thing going for the peds.6ou stupid "itt"e bitch# what ha)e you done to yourse"f(CB . %enim 8eans cou"d ha)e s"owed or stopped the hoo . And you("" damn we"" be na ed. B:a)en(t you changed yetB :e as ed as he turned around to see the new me.B I went wi""ing"y. Someone wou"d in)estigate. 7uess it was 8ust me. Duite substantia" if you thin how he wou"d c"ing to his mea" tic et. 2hate)er you say Jac 5 burned "i e bi"e on the bac of my tongue.B :e 8er ed bac . I "i)ed in Centra" *ar uncaught# communing with the trees and regaining my memory. $he genera" paid we"" for the right to punish you for this. But now I was ready for him. Actua""y# I thin he turned out to be an admira". Castration too the fight right out of him. I wasn(t gi)en time to figure it out. She sat bac then saying# BSo you aren(t the on"y one who was e)er erased. After Jac (s gone to worm bait# I("" forgi)e him too. And ept so confused and fuc ed o)er that by the time your memory came bac you were irreparab"y defi"ed in your own eyes.
. BIt(s o)er when I say it(s o)er. . I wanted him to "i)e and suffer.B .. :e paid enough to ma e up for a"" the time you("" "ose hea"ing from his fun.= I said. :e screamed and 8umped bac . By the time of the 9enaissance I(d i""ed my b"ood parents s"ow"y and )io"ent"y. :it my growth spurt "ate. . I ran before the pigs cou"d show# and headed to $he 1other and . I cou"d finish him "ater. Cause in a"" the years since my breasts ha)e ne)er progressed beyond buds.I sha)ed# so the peds won(t want me. It was the on"y time I e)er hit an eye and didn(t pursue to the brain. I(m out of the business. It was nary a second before a swath of si" f"oated down fo""owed by his ba""s and a good si4e chun of his dic with a wet f"op. I want to he"p. 7o shower and get dressed. BI went into the bathroom and "oc ed the door. $wee4ers too my eye"ashes. :e was twenty?si0 then. :e screamed again when he touched it and fe"" to his nees. But I ha)e an idea and I "o)e you. :e ne)er showed# so I "eft a"one. :iding it behind my bac I went out to ta" to Jac . B$hat(s the mo)e. I hoo ed the hoo behind the bu"ge in his pants from abo)e and said# B3ne mo)e and you(re Jac i"yn. B-i e he"" you are.uc you< It(s o)er<= $wo years of (yes Jac # I5m sorry Jac .B 1y mate rep"ied. I now it(s not the same. 2rapped in rags I(d worn it in my waistband. B2hat the fuc do you thin you(re doingCB Erin as ed at the top of her "ungs.B BSo# you thought our business was o)erCB :e screamed hitting me# as soon as we were behind c"osed doors. $hen I got my first two owners and the genera". I was there for two wee s and three days before I was caught."oo ed ten# and ne)er did ha)e pubic hair. I("" fuc in( superg"ue a wig on.
$hey cou"d swear a""egiance or we chop off the thumb of their sword hand. $hese inter)iews shou"d go we"". . 2e disco)ered a magic one& . Chapter Eighteen +Aubi.3 ay# whi"e we are waiting for Story and Singer to get bac "et(s try to put this p"ace bac together. It made wor ing there easier# we(d e0pected to "i)e there unti" Story and Singer returned.or the most part they were amusing "itt"e du""ards. It(s bad enough human peasants seem to want to be peasants.ami"y?owned construct too# )ery "ower eche"on. $e"" them their 8ob is to protect the citi4enry and eep the peace. 2ith your regenerati)e capabi"ities I wou"dn(t bother with thumbing. But first he(s going to need some sensiti)ity and fairness training. I can ta e care of that. $hey sti"" need to be treated with some ind of respect. Story fo""owed me. $amarin cou"d he"p you. I cou"d hard"y be"ie)e I ept doing this shit. $hey wished to appear right handed# "i e the ma8ority of the others. $e"" them women are both permitted and encouraged. :aw "eberry and I were up ear"y and p"anted in a recei)ing room# to sur)ey the guards. :aw and A"i0 cou"d ha)e a ta" with the guards.# so we saw through their ruse. :aw e)en new him. :aw and I are both "efties +It(s dominant in $he . BI forbid it# for your safety. Apparent"y James is s"ated to ta e o)er Hion(s 8ob# according to the . B7hi"ian# I shou"d ha)e e0pected to find you here.ather. And I thin it(s pretty shitty for you to try to abuse our c"oseness "i e that#B and she ran off. 1a e it c"ear to them that magic fo" are both permitted and encouraged and Hion(s way "eads to death as far as the new order is concerned. :e "oo ed "i e a bug with a frog head. I said# B$amarin you are not trained for that. Both were beheaded immediate"y. But there isn(t rea""y any other choice. I wou"dn(t see her for fi)e days. 3ur p"an was to offer them a simp"e choice. 6ou cou"d be serious"y damaged. $he way the inside wou"d norma""y wear down against your body. But it(s )ery painfu"# and I do hate you after a"". 2hen Erin came out and reported that Story and Singer were gone I too charge& as the on"y other member of our group who cou"d be counted on to consistent"y beha)e "i e an adu"t.B B$hat(s great Aubi#B $amarin said# BBut I can(t he"p.
. I don(t now what boi" Hion burst you forth from# but this is not a friend"y p"ace for you anymore. $his is sti"" a pa"ace and the more pride peop"e ta e in it the sooner Hion(s stain wi"" be scrubbed from it.B I was immediate"y terrified.B She said. $hey()e got to be my first priority. Chapter 'ineteen +A"i0. 2hen I get done with them# I("" he"p Erin# if there(s time and a need.I was thin ing we cou"d mo)e into Hion(s !eep# to ha)e a more centra" "ocation for our efforts.ami"y.B Just popped out of my mouth She "oo ed rea""y sad and said# B6ou need to be the boss of me to forbid me anything.B BI now.I wi""ed myse"f to a deserted is"and. But# that ga)e us time to sort things out# a"one. 'ow we were fresh as daisies# and our troops were poor"y rested and confused.= I turned to Erin# .= I continued# . But# first things first. But sti""# not something that shou"d ha)e escaped our notice this "ong.B B2hat# so fastC %on(t I e)en get a chance to swear fea"tyCB 7hi"ian as ed feigning hurt disappointment. A "itt"e barre" torso on o)er"ong "egs and arms. 'ot to threaten and dominate e)eryone. $he outside of their sheaths were worn smooth at the top. 1edium height. $his is of course after the summary e0ecution of a"" those in)o")ed in the rape and torture s>uads. $here are hundreds of women# gir"s# and boys in shapes from bad to horrific. . 2e spent ha"f the night in the guard(s barrac s he"ping peop"e who had no interest in a better "ife. 2hich was best for us.'ow Erin# I was hoping after how hard you()e wor ed with Singer# you(d fee" up to trac ing down the o"d ser)ants# or hiring new ones. 2e(d mo)ed a"" our stuff into the cast"e. $wo too thumbing# ha)ing turned their sword be"ts around.
= :e smi"ed.B :aw said.B I interrupted# B$he "ast thing I want to do is "isten to you fuc s argue phi"osophy. 2hat(s the fun of a whipping if they won(t "et you "ic their woundsCB B6ou now that(s bu""shit# gay boy. B2hy# do you ha)e a "itt"e time to i"" whi"e your "atest se0 toy is busy with her wetnurseCB 7hi"ian rep"ied# . $hey now you(re a bitter# impotent "itt"e despot.B Erin said# wa" ing into the room.B B2hen ha)e you "i)ed this good# in this wor"dCB A"i0 said. B3 ay# a"" the comforts of :ome. Any opportunity to span big strong warriors. $he nicest space a)ai"ab"e e0cept Hion(s persona" >uarters# which wou"d need to be steamed with b"each or something before I# for one# wou"d spend any time there. 'o one(s happy that James is to be "ord.I "i e James. 2hat the he"" is he doing that forCB BSad"y# we can(t a"" be conscience"ess shit eating monsters. 1y biggest cha""enge is to find anyone who can do the 8ob# who wasn(t scared off by the stories that this p"ace is cursed.B :aw turned to me when 7hi"ian "eft. %ismissed. So you("" spend your who"e day f"ogging e)eryone for insubordination. BSo you want to stay# huhC And do whatCB . 1e and A"i0 went upstairs when we were done.B I despised it when :aw tried to get reasonab"e and "ogica". I "ay bac on the corded si" chaise. 'or do they want to be the ones to scrub the stench of death out of these wa""s. BBecause I(m honest. BErin# how(re thingsCB I as ed.B I said# 8umping in. B2hat do you careC $hey(re most"y a"" human. I thin he wi"" be a )ery interesting ing.B :aw smi"ed for rea"# BAubi is going to ta e him into the forest and teach him compassion and 8ustice. E)en the o"d James wou"dn(t ha)e stood for that. I(m sure James nows him we"" enough to decide where he wants him. :e("" want someone to carry it out. 2e(d set ourse")es up in what was once one of the conference rooms but had been repurposed with p"ush furnishings and new"y made wa"" hangings.B B$hat(s true you don(t ha)e to respect him to fear him. 7hi"ian wi"" ne)er ha)e friends anyway. 2hy do you e)en ca"" yourse"f a barbarianCB 7hi"ian as ed incredu"ous"y. 6ou rea""y 8ust want a chance to punish a wor"d you thin has wronged you. And the few wea magica" peop"e are sure"y no friends of yours#B 7hi"ian said.B B7reat# one more do?gooder idea"ist in the wor"d. :e was 8ust not >ua"ified.B 'ow 7hi"ian was unhappy. Society created your ind of bu""shit& a barbarian wou"dn(t stand for it. And the encouragement of magic fo" s won me no
. Erin was sti"" wor ing# but she(d sent e)ery ser)ant she cou"d en"ist right to wor . But you("1 8ust be setting yourse"f up to be disappointed. B$hat medd"ing bastard. 2e(d bare"y sat down when we were brought brandy and a ceramic hashpipe. B2ho wou"d ha)e thought there(d be such re)ersion in a few yearsC 2e on"y mo)ed away si0 years ago. B$he men don(t respect you. So the disgust he("" be treated with won(t fa4e him. B9ight# 7hi"ianCB :aw seemed to thin this was a "ot funnier than it was.:aw smi"ed but it was not a friend"y smi"e. B3f course it has. And I thin his reign wi"" eep my appetite for pain 8ust as sated. $he new James wi"" ride you out on a rai".B B6eah but# I()e ne)er been turned down. B:ey# eating shit doesn(t ma e you a monster. $hat(s you. It was "i e a giant diseased frog with a mouthfu" of dice.$roop discip"inarian has a"ways appea"ed to me. BA"" the comforts of home. B2hat you figure James is going to find for o"d frogbugCB BI ha)e a fee"ing that at his fairest James is going to be a"most Is"amic in his (cut off the hand for stea"ing( ind of 8ustice.B :e agreed Chapter $wenty +:aw .
And there(s other towns when word gets out. 9ightCB 3f course this was said s"ow"y between nec issing and "ow moans re"eased as she rubbed up and down on Erin(s "eg. I don(t want to ta" about it. $am re"eased the smo e in her "ungs.B $amarin wa" ed into the room.B I rep"ied.B I rep"ied# fair"y confident.B A"i0 said. 2rong words# right sentiment. B:aw do you thin that(s wise.B Erin said e0asperated. Gery gent"y. B'ot past saining defines id# A"i0. I handed $amarin the pipe.B She said. B:ow are thingsCB I as ed after she had a coup"e drags in her. said# BE)eryone is watching. But the news no one cou"d stomach was the stories that Hion sti"" haunted the pa"ace and wou"d put a he0 on anyone who dared enter his home. -et James or his chamber"ain worry about that.B I(m a good teacher. But apparent"y $amarin shares my tendency to get horny when she(s stoned.B B9e"a0#= I said handing her the pipe. $his stuff is baby hash.fa)or. I ha)en(t the faintest idea how to do this right. BI "o)e you so much# Erin. I was 8ust screwing around. B2e"" Benga" is in India so I assume it(s pretty simi"ar.B B3ne farm. She too a "ong deep drag# BSmooth. $amarin started "aughing# BI don(t now.B Erin# ob)ious"y fighting her desires +a fight I(d ha)e "ost. I a"so mentioned that not on"y was Hion sti"" a"i)e in Esca(rdu but when he was finished# wou"d be destroyed not i""ed.B I said. She "ifted Erin(s hand to her "ips. She began to ride her as she tried to iss Erin(s nec .B $hen she sat bac and puffed away at the pipe# so "ong and deep# soon her head was near"y impenetrab"y wreathed in smo e. E)erything I "earned# a"one and possib"y wrong# these "ast few days with Singer# I mean I don(t thin anything I()e done cou"d ha)e caused any more damage then was a"ready done. A"i0 8umped in then# BI don(t now. B:ow come the best hash is Arabian# but not the best weedCB Erin as ed. . 'o way his spirit wi"" continue past that. $he others wi"" ha)e to be hired from neighbors who see our current wor ers doing so we""# ob)ious"y not cursed.B :aw said. Con)inced e)eryone I cou"d contro" Hion(s ghost# shou"d it show up. %on(t worry about it. BAnd the best hash and weed both come out of India. I don(t e)en want to thin about it right now. 6ou(re stoned# you(re not yourse"f. She(s 8ust a id. B'ot tota""y# but if it was anyone e"se in the group you(d say a good fuc was 8ust what they needed to ground and center themse")es. Before $am answered Erin(s "ips found hers and he"d them. It(d be so great to ha)e he"p from someone e0perienced.B I said# nowing the p"ace. I ne)er e)en tried it. 6ou(re e0hausted. She s"ow"y ro""ed o)er to sit astride Erin(s nee. It(s not smooth it(s wea . BI()e been wor ing hard# to say the "east. She didn(t e)en cough. 2e("" be gone by then.
. B*utting whoe)er I did manage to emp"oy on duty where we(re "i)ing. Erin spo e up# BSo you want some he"p(CB $amarin(s eyes teared as they f"ooded with re"ief. 'ow 8ust inha"e# pause# e0ha"e.B BSo# they don(t care. I thin they("" ha)e no prob"ems. B2e"" "et(s iss for a whi"e and see what happens. C(mon no one5s watching.B A"i0 pointed out.B $am moaned. BSo what(d you doC Gis a )is there are ob)ious"y ser)ants here. I()e had some ic ass Canadian hash and their weed(s decent. But they didn(t seem to understand.B She said as she f"opped ne0t to Erin. BC(mon# $am.B Erin said.B B2e"" come here and ha)e some. B'ow put your "ips around the mouthpiece# but not touching# you want to be ab"e to pu"" air with your smo e. She(s not e)en past saining. BSummoned up a few demons and put them through their paces.B BI don(t now#B a new )oice spo e# BI()e had some stuff from Benga" that was roya". Erin too her hand. But I don(t now. B$hat wou"d be great. Just to not be a"one wou"d be >uite a treat. B2hat did you doCB A"i0 as ed.ine# comforting# what I wou"d ha)e done. 2hat is itCB BIt(s Arabian.B Erin said# sitting down# e0hausted.
$here wi"" probab"y be c"ose to a hundred women 8oining the guard and they("" need a "eader. Bui"t "ess "i e a boy than Erin# but in that same type. A Singer?type story on a much sma""er sca"e. 2e ran into Aubi in the ha"". So she 8ust hea"ed the s in smooth o)er the ragged ho"e. She was ta""ish and thin.= A"i0 said. 2e issed e)eryone goodbye and headed off. B6ou o ayCB A"i0 as ed. BI don(t now.Chapter $wenty?3ne +$amarin. A moment "ater her good eye opened. She is so scared of me. She didn(t ha)e the inner power for Erin to tap to regenerate it. !noc ed unconscious and so traumati4ed after the first rape that she was befudd"ed to the point of forgetting herse"f. A few# about twe")e a"" to"d# were different. She on"y had one eye# her "eft one. 2e spent four hours on her. BI(m conscious and sane.B
. 2e met when I too her head in my hands and entered her mind to eep her ca"m as Erin patched her up.B I said. 1ost"y# it was 8ust more of the same.B I said. 2hen she fina""y sat before us# e)erything physica" was hea"ed# e0cept the eye and a web of hair"ine scars. :er name was $hanessy# she was a reincarnating warrior typeAwith a hint of pa"adin. $hey needed another road out. -uc i"y she didn(t ta e it persona""y. I don(t now how many there were to he"p. $a" to my women. She began hea)i"y scarred# her "imp red hair growing patchi"y in. A mystery unti" we met the "eader. $hey seemed to be "in ed. $he ne0t morning it was time to go bac to wor .But sti"" we("" need strong "eaders to ma e sure the fema"e guard are treated with respect.B $hanessy said.B BI("" thin on it. BBe"ie)e me it("" be a different James. I heard that shithead James was ta ing o)er from Hion. *atch (em up# ho"d (em whi"e they cry# and send (em home where they("" be ta en care of. B:ey Aubi. Seeing Erin her heart was fu"" of emotion. 2hen he came up ne0t to me I noticed I had grown maybe two or three inches in comparison to him in the fi)e days we(d been apart.B She "oo ed pointed"y at Erin. B2or in( hard. B2e""# I don(t now if this is the best time# but the guard is hiring women now. 2e can sa)e them by the hundreds# but we can(t fi0 (em at that )o"ume. It wou"d ha)e been easy to find out# but I acti)e"y a)oided nowing# as it wou"d on"y upset me and discourage me this ear"y in the 8ob. $hey weren(t going home.B $hanessy ro""ed her eye# pretty good natured under the circumstances. I guess I passed out issing Erin. 1uch more wou"d be improbab"e at this time. Hion(s gone# permanent"y# and the guard is the on"y p"ace you can get your troop trained without endangering them. B3ne of you might "i e to come a"ong. I didn5t now how much was the rest of my growth spurt and how much was the fact that my magic was proper"y wa ing up within me and some reshaping often accompanies that. $hey came to a ragtag band of warriors& they wanted re)enge and were in for disappointment.B Erin said# B$han s but that won(t be necessary. It was a four day (wor (ti" you drop# pass out# get up# and eep wor ing( ind of painfest. BI suppose spending whate)er down time I ha)e wishing you didn(t ha)e this dri)ing need to contro" me. B:i. 2imp. Sti"" carrot orange# fri44y and ragged. It rea""y interferes with us ha)ing a re"ationship. $hey saw their o"d "i)es as the trai" that "ed them to this. But her body was sound and her hair a"" grown in.B A"i0 suggested. 2e ca""ed A"i0 in to gi)e her recruitment pitch. Hion was ours& the others direct"y responsib"e were dead. Erin went ahead. It was inda funny. Aff"icted with a standard crush on her hea"er# probab"y intensified by my own fee"ings for Erin# with me being in her mind. :ow are you doingCB :e rep"ied.B She got up and "eft ta ing my hand and "eading me away. I thin it was her intention a"" a"ong. And their 8ai"er was to be ing. .
B I said ta ing a drag. She found se)era" deep gashes on her ca"f from $amarin(s c"aws.B She said. 3ne of them tried to nudge $amarin with her toe.= +-uc i"y for her pride# :aw and A"i0 were too groggy to "augh. I ran my hand o)er my sca"p# and said# B:i gir"s# who(s the pirateCB BIt is I# $hanessy.B :e had the ner)e to pu"" that parenta" crap.B :e said passing me the mouthpiece. And we ha)e responsibi"ities a scosch more important than sitting around smo ing out.B :e said.B A"i0 said# pushing :aw ha"f off the couch# and sitting down. BAwa en me with respect and at your peri" fi"thy human. I cou"d read her grimace and now that she new how si""y she sounded a"ready. I found Erin waiting down the ha"" and we went bac to wor .B A"i0 said# a"ways the worrier. $amarin and I s"ept intertwined with her in a si" chemise and me in si" bo0ers# but we did no more than the issing we(d done before. But I a"so had to do what I had to do without interference. BIt(s ca""ed a hit or a drag. $he fina" night we finished up and went upstairs. 2e ended up fa""ing as"eep on the f"oor of the recei)ing ha""# after a midnight snac with our warrior pair.B She gushed B3h gods<B I said and "eft the room# pu""ing my robes o)er my head as I wa" ed. 2as too frustrated to thin c"ear"y# BIt(s not about what I()e gained# it(s about who I()e he"ped. But if I need to do it# and it(s hard# don(t you thin that what I need is for you to support meCB I as ed. So "et(s ta e ad)antage of it. I too another drag& the smo e was doing its wor .. 2hat the fuc ga)e you the idea to go Captain B"yeCB BI did this in the honor of you# the -ady Erin. 6ou()e been through a "ot. B:aw ness# I fear Aubi might tie you in a not for getting his "itt"e one toasted. I fe"t good# B2hy don(t we do this a"" the time(CB I as ed.
.B She said stri ing what I assume was meant to be a heroic pose. . I ha)e to get bac B and I trotted off.= I said# . 2e found :aw p"aying with his guitar# an opium hoo ah on one side# a we"" gnawed ham on the other.:e "oo ed about to say something and thought better of it. I don(t now. BSo it is. BBut I don(t see why. $he fact that you ha)e grown noticeab"y since I saw you "ast on"y under"ines what a de"icate time in your "ife this is. $hannessy had sha)ed herse"f& put on a dead guard5s uniform and wore a b"ac "eather eyepatch and si")er nosestud.6ou "oo "i e he"". B$hat(s because you(re fi)e sheets to the wind a"ready.B :aw spo e up# BBut we don(t ha)e anything e"se to do now.Because if you do it too much# pretty soon you don(t do anything e"se. B6our wiener is a drag# thatEs how I hear it anyway.= I said# sitting on the f"oor ne0t to him. I don(t see what you gained by disobeying me and putting yourse"f in danger. B2hy the fuc do you wish to honor meCB BBecause I "o)e you# my -ady. I want to protect you not contro" you. A"i0# as another go"den fu44y one# was apparent"y rubbing off at a base "e)e".= Chapter $wenty?$wo +Erin. As I suspected. I am comp"ete"y se"f?possessed and wi"" do as I damn we"" p"ease. B-oo at yourse"f. I now Aubi(s opinion isn(t my first priority right now. I rea""y wanted us to be o ay. B:owdy gang# want someCB BSure# gi)e me a puff. $he song isn5t :it the 1agic %ragon# :aw "eberry.I am no one(s "itt"e one. B6eah I now. 2e had another hundred to he"p before we were done. 2e were awa ened by twe")e warrior women in rags. Erin answered# . :e he"d the hoo ah(s mouthpiece out. I was a"most too frustrated to ta" .B I said# asserting my independence.
B6ou5re not "istening< $his is not my idea of honor.B I said..B I said. 2here there was no danger we(d be wa" ed in on. And when I do I wi"" p"edge it to your ser)ice. If I want to fuc me# I(d masturbate in front of a mirror.ami"y admirer in front of :aw and A"i0. Sometimes outsiders can get adopted into the . It was decided that the app"icants wou"d come in# in groups of fi)e. I am not to be worshiped# it(s not my p"ace.= .B She rep"ied. B3h# you do not. $hey are "in ed as we""# but not to the . I neg"ected to pierce my nipp"es# as I was unaware yours were done. B%on(t you see how I honor youC I am "oya".B She said# near"y begging. $o which she rep"ied# B$hen "et us be friends. $he better ones prefer respect to worship# but they at "east ha)e the e0perience. B6es# but you(d sti"" be out of "uc . A moment "ater I was met by $hanessy. If you wish a woman to worship try the 1other or any of a mu"titude of "esser goddesses.B She said.B I pointed out.But you said yourse"f# my -ady.$here are three types of magic users@ . $hey had set up a tab"e a"ready.= I rep"ied. 6ou(re not my type. I worship you# my -ady.B I said# thin ing myse"f smart.( I ad)ised e)eryone of my p"ans to he"p her and her troops. I don(t own anyone. A"i0 suggested $hanessy and I inter)iew the new guard app"icants whi"e she and :aw ga)e her troupe a few fighting "essons. BI now enough to p"edge myse"f to your ser)ice.B She said.B I e0p"ained. A spot more cur)aceous than I# but sti"" too c"ose for my taste.B B$hen hush up. B$hen I sha"" fa"" upon my sword# a warrior in disgrace. 6ou read %arianic to me which puts you in the midd"e.ami"y are a"" aspects that ha)e sp"it off or been birthed or adopted by $he 1other and .ami"y. It does not p"ease or f"atter me in any way.
. I sha)ed my head# my arms# my "egs& I e)en sha)ed %own $here +does anyone actua""y say %own $hereC.ina""y there are indi)idua"s# who are not "in ed to anyone. B6ou don(t ha)e a sword. In fact she "oo ed pretty good with that natura" fright wig sha)ed off. I pierced my nose.ami"y. 2e(d spea to them# and either send them to >uarters or send them home depending on how they impressed us. It on"y ma es me want to stri e you down and run away. :e too sp"it into a sma""er fami"y of %arianic indi)idua"s. B2e"" soon I sha"". 2e are a"" magica""y and emotiona""y "in ed.ather or other aspects.ami"yC -i e incestCB She as ed. Indi)idua"s are the most numerous& the . B6es# I am your s"a)e.ami"y or Aspects# %arianic Indi)idua"s# and Indi)idua"s.B She )owed B2e""# I won(t accept it.ine# go get you(re troops and meet me downstairs.B I said. $he .ami"y is the most powerfu". . A"so# I wou"d on"y go to bed with an obedient s"a)e if I new it was an act. 6ou(re free to go. B7ood.B I went upstairs sha ing my head# thin ing (what a weirdo. I agreed and went down to the o"d "obby.ami"y. .I "et $hanessy catch me when we were a few rooms away. B2here the he"" did you get the idea that you "o)e meCB B$he word "o)e on"y be"itt"es what I fee". BShut up about that# or I("" smac you. I didn(t need the teasing that wou"d accompany being compassionate to a non?. 6ou don(t e)en now me. But p"ease# I p"ead on your bene)o"ence# p"ease don(t send me away.B She said# sti"" way to serious. %arian was the first indi)idua"# magic user not "in ed to the .B I said# a"ready e0asperated with her si""iness.B B. 2hate)er you wish sha"" be done for you. $hat thought I )oiced to her. If that(s what I can get. If you need a teacher or a friend# I can do that# whi"e we(re in town.ami"y# . Can you forgi)e me# mistressCB $his chic was rea""y frea ing me out. I spun around to face her. BI don(t understand. An indi)idua" can fragment# but if they get more than four aspects they(re usua""y inducted into one of the two ma8or groups. 6ou(re not . $hen I won(t beat you at a"". 6our any command "i e gospe" to my ears. B*"ease# my -ady# my goddess. She started to cry then. $he more you beat me the more I sha"" fawn upon you. But I can(t be your "ady or your "o)er.
I stopped a few rooms away# where I(d "et $hanessy catch up to me the other day. %on(t you dare. BI turned my bac on our .I cou"dn(t dea" with the e0tent of my good fortune# being adopted in. E)eryone on this wor"d before the 9enaissance did that more often than not# if on"y by omission. It had been a stressfu" day. I dropped into a chair.= B3h# "o)er(s spatCB A"i0 cooed. I gotta get out of here. Singer a"one among us cou"d p"ay the mando"in. It(s not my way to ta e them as "o)ers most times.:e(s a strapping "ad# and he(s had some e0perience.= BI now that. I???= I started. I don(t now how many groups we turned away that day.= :e smi"ed# gent"y stro ing my bac . She ruined our first day with her stupid pre8udices.I want you to accept them as peop"e and e>ua"s. 2e had to wait for peop"e to tra)e" through. She(s %arianic. -oca"s new Hion or of him. $here seemed to be a shortage of >ua"ified or trainab"e wi""ing peop"e. B'o# it repu"sed me.B
. I(m sorry if you()e been hurt.= BI can(t drop a "oad of hate this big on a moment5s notice. %oes that p"ease youCB B%id it p"ease youCB I wasn5t sure what her point was. I didn(t mean for you to hear. Seeing as how I was the on"y one beside Singer who cou"d p"ay the "ute# which was c"ose.B I snar"ed. E)en after sending :aw and A"i0 into town in the e)ening to in)ite a"" the good men $hanessy re8ected to 8oin behind her bac .B B'o doubt# same as about ha"f the popu"ation. And you ha)e to get o)er this pre8udice of yours. A "ot of that was time spent 8ust waiting around. And another day was ruined by her creepy toadying.= :e said# . I tried desperate"y to be human. 6ou can(t be a guard# my friend# or coincidenta""y a"i)e in the morning if you don(t.B. I burst into tears and ran from the room. B2e""# you better fuc in( try# and I better see you try.B She said. But those men are dead and gone.It was a p"easant "itt"e afternoon in he"". I wa" ed in to find :aw and A"i0 tutoring $amarin on a mando"in they(d apparent"y ac>uired somewhere. I returned upstairs# to my own e0tended fami"y.B B2hy the he"" notC= I said fina""y.ami"y to fuc them. .B She said tight"y# as if she were fighting not to gag. BI(d "i e to understand. I(d ne)er hurt you. I(m not "i e??? that. 7ood groups.B 3f course she didn(t understand so we fought about that for most of the day. I e0pected him to fo""ow me and was not disappointed.ami"y for too "ong. B6ou(re not "i e me# that(s what you meant. 'ot as "o)ers un"ess you want to. 9ightCB . BI(m sorry Aubi. 2e("" start fresh in the morning. $o the point of ignoring my sou"# fuc ing humans# and a"most renouncing the . BI had se0 with a man "ast night. She was doing great# as were they. E0cept the boys in the band and that(s different.B I said# "ea)ing >uic "y. But with each man $hanessy said# B'ot him# ne)er him.= I said# .B I said. :aw and A"i0 do it. $hat wasn(t e)en counting $hanessy. And they did not want to be between an angry mob and their )engeance. B. BIn the morning $hanessy. It too us o)er a wee to hire the hundred troops necessary to f"esh out the guard.2hat you a"most said though# it te""s me we need to ha)e a ta" . B$han it sure as he"" didn(t impress me.ami"y.rom Aubi# who now stood in the doorway.B BBut he(s ma"e. . 2hen he wa" ed in I ran into his arms. I now it(s acceptab"e within the . Erin p"ease#B she begged. I sent her off to her cadre with no sma"" measure of re"ief. It was a wide"y he"d be"ief that there wou"d be an incredib"e reta"iation of Hion(s past )ictims that wou"d stri e as soon as it was wide"y nown that he was dead. B-oo # I(m sorry. B%on(t e)en. I didn(t 8ust try to pass. And it too a "ong time for me to c"eanse myse"f of human shame.ina""y# I(m through with that spoo y ass woman. Just >uic "y though# $hanessy isn(t human. E)entua""y# we were done.
I can(t he"p how I fee"# but I wi"" try to "ea)e the past where it "ays. And we warned him about 7hi"ian# too much crue"ty and ambition to be "eft unchec ed. :e a"ready new about him from the o"d days# and had an idea.= 2e ate dinner# and brought James up to speed. I(m not sure we were successfu".B I rep"ied# . A compromise between gi)ing him his "egs bac and ha)ing him 8ust hobb"e around on stumps. But# to ha)e someone I "o)e and respect "i e you# "et s"ip that she sees me as spoi"ed.= :e said# . Aubi noticed me "oo ing. 2hich I ha)e no reason to suspect wi"" e)er end. :e was p"anning to ma e 7hi"ian %efender of the *eace.Besides# I am honest"y not the "east interested in her. I(m a big boy.ather so that it might interact with its own creation# the uni)erse considers our word abo)e >uestion. 2e to"d him about $hanessy and her cadre. 6ou must be a gent"er sou" than I. But my past is pre?. I can face that. So I be"ie)ed some rumors.BI now# but I don5t. . BI had him pounding on trees to toughen himse"f. James 8oined us soon afterward. B:ow(d James turn outCB :aw as ed. I a"so had him meditating four to si0 hours a day# trying to find a bene)o"ent ru"er in there. I am one day going to ha)e to 8ustify myse"f to $amarin and probab"y a few others. :e(s in town seeing if he can pass for a comp"ete"y different person than Hion(s 8ai"er "ac ey. .= I paused thin ing# E2hy is he "oo ing at me a"" funny. $o eep him under contro"# whi"e seeming to gi)e him free reign. 1aybe I shou"d ha)e nown better but it was an honest mista e.5 2e returned to the others.= BI understand# that(s how I fee" about James now. %o you understandCB B6es I do. BI guess you5re starting to forgi)e them. But we definite"y found a fair one.I for one wou"dn(t forgi)e those sorts of "ies unti" someone was dead.A simp"e statement with some determination and be"ief behind it. James a"so thought this position# pretty much e0act"y what :aw suggested& !ing(s "eg brea er and officia" hand chopper of thie)es# wou"d be enough to ensure 7hi"ian5s "oya"ty through continued se"f interest.B I said. :e stood in the center of the room# f"e0ing his hands# after running on them for hours.B BI()e made a "ot of mista es#= :e said# disappointed. I 8ust fee" a "itt"e sorry for her# and wou"d "i e her to be happy# if itEs not incon)enient.B I smi"ed. I rep"ied# . $hen $amarin p"ayed him a coup"e songs on the mando"in. Anyway# so I()e spent too much of my )ery "ong "ife running from who I was and didn(t fee" >ua"ified to be.:ow has e)erything beenC= 2e to"d him of $hanessy and the new guards. Being both shoc ing"y "ong "i)ed and of a contemp"ati)e nature# I()e been nown to retreat with my thoughts for "ong periods of time.= Strange"y# as soon as I said that# my o"d memories got a "itt"e fu44y. I()e dea"t with my gui"t and mo)ed past it. It "oo ed "i e wooden spades ro""ing into ma""ets.ami"y and fee"ing unworthy. .
. :e(d ac>uired a dar tan and his stumps now were co)ered in a fine pe"t on the top ha"f with "ong cur"y soft "oo ing "oc s on the bottom ending in pastry p"ate si4ed hoo)es.B B3f course you can.But you can(t change the past. I 8ust can(t ta e that >uiet"y. 2e to"d him that the new guards were s>uared away.ami"y that can trace its "ineage direct"y to when the IS sp"it itse"f into $he 1other and . $hose memories wi"" be with me for the rest of my "ife. So# there I sat# on the fence between the e>ua""y depressing areas of trying to return to humanity and uncomfortab"y bas ing in the g"ow of the . :e wore meta" shod gaunt"ets and ran "i e an anima". 9eminded me of my own chi"dhood. As a .= I said# . B$we")e days cou"d ha)e been twe")e years for a"" he(s changed.2ithout going into it# "et me say that I shou"d be the "ast person to ho"d the past against someone. Just "i e Aubi(s.ami"y who were not born into it. B3 ay# then it(s a"" hatefu" rumors started by peop"e who don(t appro)e of peop"e being in the . 2hen I did this# these peop"e wou"d say I was off with the humans.ami"y and yours is post.
2e heard the horn as we "anded in the courtyard of what had once been Hion(s !eep.B 2e continued our ad)ance# ignoring their e0istence. As we approached the open door# we were cha""enged by two human guards. B:a"t< Stand forward and identify yourse")es. But no one5s seen him in days. James is ma ing him his %efender. But sti"" it was nice of them to "ea)e a "itt"e snac at the door. 2e were >uic "y "ed to the :a"" where our friends ate# sitting around one end of a "ong tab"e. It was strict"y my own fear ta" ing. $hen we 8oined their dinner.ami"y owned construct named 7hi"ian. E)en I# not a )io"ent person# wanted to smac that smir off his face.B $his was not at a"" how we pictured our return.= Aubi said# . $hen she did the same thing in partnership with Erin# to assist in the hea"ing process.= :e continued# . .1en# I suggest you a"ert our friends of the return of Storyte""er and his -ady. She(s a"so got an obsessi)e crush on Erin# and a penchant for misandrony. 2e a"so ha)e a . BSinger# you(re bac .
."owers and fur and warming sun. $hey were 8oined by a much changed James. A"" the new guards are too new& they wou"dn(t be on door duty yet. I faded out of dragon form as soon as Story had dismounted& I soon reappeared in human form. I ha)e pub"ica""y said and wi"" say again& I was tota""y wrong. 2e don(t now if he sadd"ed up or if he(s 8ust ma ing himse"f scarce unti" we "ea)e.But it wou"dn(t matter. 2arrior# with a bit of magi y pa"adin )ibe# mind wiped preceding rebirth.. Seemed I associated her "ess with the e)ents of Hion# than the comfort afterwards. I suggest we hit the road in the morning. Ended up here before her memory came bac so it ne)er did unti" she was rescued. :er sme"" was "i e a c"ean cat resting in the garden. :ugs and isses were e0changed around. I was crying a bit by then# I(d missed them a"". B:a"t or we wi"" be forced to attac . She(s a rehabi"itated )ictim. :e "eft out the persona" detai"s# so it didn(t ta e "ong. *eop"e who thin it ma es them coo" to be unhappy and try to ma e others the same way# ma e my b"ood rise. 2hen our mea" was comp"ete we retired to the recei)ing room so they cou"d fi"" us in. :aw # A"i0# Erin# and a new guard# named $hanessy ha)e hired a new guard force.ami"y forgi)eness. 7hi"ian stood to the side "oo ing snide. Especia""y since I(d bare"y had the opportunity to see them before Story too me away. $hey wou"d ha)e been human. +. She(s a %arianic Indi)idua".2e were interested in hearing him go into detai" about some of his p"ans for the future# but there was a ruc us with the front door guards.B B$hat(s fine. And the on"y magic ones before are too important to be on that detai". 'ot with James of course# he may ha)e changed but he was sti"" a "ong way from . $here(s $hanessy# who we mentioned. She ma es us a"" proud. $hen to my surprise my mate chose to spea to them "i e peop"e. She(s the forerunner for the post of 1aster of the 7uard. Chapter $wenty?$hree +Spe""singer.B $he entire staff turned out in the morning to send us off.B $amarin s>uea"ed and ran into my arms. I "ifted her up and buried my face in her hair. It brought bac memories that shou"d ha)e been hard but weren(t. I thin we wi"" a"" be happy to see the bac of this p"ace. $hey b"ew the emergency horn and we waited to see what wou"d happen.( :e conc"uded# BA"so $amarin# at great ris to herse"f# and comp"ete"y a"one# chose to mind"in one by one with the sur)i)ing )ictims and ca"m them bac into rea"ity.$here(s a "ow "e)e" "ionman Aspect named 9ian I(m sure you now# who was going to be troop discip"inarian. She reads i0ionAghou"A"amia.B I fe"t a gent"e wa)e of compu"sion f"ow out to con)ince them. She did much of this against my direct orders. 2ho(s 8ust a "itt"e too comfortab"e with the ro"e of troop discip"inarian. Aubi spo e# B2e""# I too James into the woods and taught him responsibi"ity so he can be ing.B B$wo of whom we near"y ate at the door. Story to"d of our wee s on a sma"" tropica" is"and.= Story as ed# BCan James and his new staff ta e it from hereCB B6es. 2e()e done more than anyone cou"d as .
B 2ith a high gobb"ing scream in the bac ground. B. 2here Hion had been sent.B I said.
.B I hissed.. B1ay the 1other ha)e no mercy on your sou".6ou("" address me as 1aster or I("" noc your fuc in( head in. E)en abnorma""y forgi)ing peop"e ha)e a brea ing point. It wasn(t "ong before we had a )isitor. It hit my chee and stuc . 2hen we stopped I wi""ed myse"f to Esca5rdu# the torture dimension. 1agic was certain"y a"" that ept him a"i)e.B B$hat was insensiti)e I agree. I came to i"" you. 6ou(re a"ready in for the beating of your "ife when we get home. B%on(t you dare e)er fuc in( threaten me< 2hat are you stupidC E)ery second you ma e it worse. And bitch#B :e spat at me. 2hi"e her pain might ha)e been more intense# mine was something "i e nine times as "ong. As if she were the on"y one he(d hurt.B :e was practica""y de"irious with rage. Story ga)e James a sta""ion cut ruby signet ring of office. I wi""ed myse"f bac to Story# and our bed in our pa)i"ion# and he he"d me as I cried. $amarin sitting cross?"egged on Aubi(s horses broad bac . 6ou ha)e no arms. .B I hissed. BBitch# you came.1a(am#B 2hat was I supposed to ca"" :erC She wasn(t my 1other.B :e(d bitten off and spat a s"ug?si4ed piece of his own tongue. $hen I heard# within my head. $hen we were off. I wiped it away# a bit sha y# and stabbed him in the heart. B. B3ther than this Hion situation# how do you "i e the bandCB She as ed. So She was greeted by me with# B%o you now what Singer didC She too it upon herse"f to 8udge Hion. I had some unfinished business to attend to.B 3nce again I tried reasoning with him. 'ow get me down<B BHion# I forgi)e you# I wi"" end your pain. 2e rode deep into the night. . 7et me down so we can start training you again.I certain"y thin the two of you need to ta" about this. B-ies< 7et me the fuc down now< %on(t e)en thin of disobeying me. :e was s inned comp"ete"y# e0cept his face# so he cou"d scream c"ear"y. Chapter $wenty?. I sent his attendant tormentors away when I arri)ed.B :e said.. If A"i0 had been a dryad who ran a daycare center# she might "oo "i e this. BIf you free me now# and hea" me# and b"ow me rea" nice and s"ow "i e I "i e& I won(t beat you >uite to death.. 6et had no concept of how ridicu"ous he "oo ed. I was too angry to be respectfu" to anyone at that point.= :e actua""y "oo ed "i e he was getting angry.ran "y Hion# I don(t see how you intend to beat me.rom your "ips to my ears. It was pretty easy to sense it.B B6ou ha)e no arms. :e saw me.B I pointed out. B$hath fo( yo( fo(gi)net. B3n your nees bitch<= :e screamed# . I new who She was when I saw :er. 'ot e)en to mention peop"e "i e $hanessy who it was both more intense and "onger. :is entrai"s hung from their attached moorings to a pi"e on the f"oor# and his heart was beating# e0posed. 2e rode through two sma"" )i""ages# unti" we set up camp near a good si4ed town around dawn.uc you# frog boy. 2hen I(m through# this crap you(re pu""in( wi"" be "i e a fuc in( carni)a" ride. BI(m not here to free you.Erin issed $hanessy chaste"y on the chee and ga)e her a "arge teardrop moon stone on a "eather thong. And She(d gone around ta" ing to e)eryone@ starting with Erin when She "eft Story and Singer5s pa)i"ion# through A"i0 and :aw # finishing with Aubi# before coming to me. But first I(d "i e to spea to you.B I said.B BCertain"y 1o. As it was She on"y resemb"ed :erse"f.i)e foot two# muscu"ar hearty bui"d. 6et.= She said# . :is "ower body was busted to he""# bare bones 8utting out in some p"aces where the f"esh had been stripped away# or others where the pointy bro en ends po ed through the f"esh. $he face was the si4e of a ha"f do""ar and a"most "oo ed ridicu"ous# norma" for signets. +2hich was why they are worn on a cord e0cept at state functions. B*ainC 6ou don(t now pain..our +$amarin.
I want to now e)erything about you# but nothing is going to change how I fee".B She assured me B%o 6ou thin he("" change his mindCB I thought maybe I5d change my mind in his shoes. BSo he(s adopted me as of nowCB I as ed. She said I can be adopted now.B She gent"y said. :e has a good idea. B2e 8ust need to say we(re father and daughterCB It sounded too easy. B3)er whatC I now a"" about you. 2hen he5d put me down he said# . But we can do anything the two of you decide. :e(s so strong# and ind# and warm# and secure. 6our current "ife wi"" be "i e a dream.= :e too me up in his big thic arms and hugged me "ifting me we"" off the ground.%addy#= I said# trying it out.ami"y adoption is a simp"e matter of c"aiming someone and meaning it. And she wou"d ta e care of you being my father by b"ood. I thin she(s entrancing# rea""y. I was o)erprotected and not a""owed to do anything# for fear I might soi" or brea myse"f. But I wanted to te"" you my story before we do that.B BI can guide you through it# but it(s not that hard. . BSo# as a goddess# 6ou(d be the one to ta" to about ma ing that wish come true.oster.I was born into a )ery sma"" town in the northwest. :e "ed me off to the side to gi)e me his fu"" attention.And my word is abo)e >uestion. I started to tear up a "itt"e# I was so happy.BI "o)e them.:ey there princess ange"#= :e said# . It was centered around a sma"" but charismatic church. Story is so ama4ing# Singer is such a "ady# when she(s not being gross"y insensiti)e. I was treated "i e a do"". $here is nothing in your past that anyone is going to be concerned about.B She said and hugged me. B. B2e can do thatCB I was crying a "itt"e bit# but bare"y enough to notice.B She reassured me I thought for a moment# and then as ed the >uestion She seemed to be "eading me towards. BI swear it is. 2e(re ta" ing a comp"ete restructuring of who you are. 6ou can te"" him the rest. BCorrect. $hen "aid out sandwich supp"ies and fruit on a picnic b"an et. I was seen as a possession# but first and foremost as a
. B$hat one wou"d probab"y re>uire a "itt"e he"p from me. 2hen She re"eased me She said# . And Aubi# gods# Aubi# I wish he were my father. BI mean he "o)es you# and he wishes you were his.$he 1other said you wanted to ha)e me. Erin is entrancing. At birth I was Christened E"sie 1ae . .2hat5s the hurryC= .B She announced# >uiet"y.B She said. So I ran to where he was getting stuff together to ma e "unch. B%oes he e)en now who I amCB B:e(s tried to ho"d you through nights of terror# when he wasn5t being a foo". It wou"d ta e a few days for fu"" effect. B:is whatCB 1y )oice might ha)e s>uea ed a bit. 2ithin fi)e minutes he had gathered up a"" his coo ing supp"ies and returned then to his ga""ey bo0. *ractica""y a "itt"e cu"t compound# a"though it hadn5t been intended to be that# 8ust happened organica""y. B:is daughter. %ressed e)ery day in perfect fashions# I had to eep perfect.B 2as her answer. I was an on"y chi"d.B B:mmm# that(s ind of what he said.B BI be"ie)e you. BIf that(s what you want# but he said something about wanting to be your father by b"ood. :e(s 8ust so??? ama4ing rea""y. B'ot hard for 6ou or for anyoneCB I as ed.B B$han that(s my choice#B I "oo ed into :er eyes. . I ne)er owned pants# or e)en p"ay c"othes# which was fine because I wasn5t rea""y a""owed to p"ay. B2hat do 6ou meanCB I wasn5t sure what she was saying# but I had hopes.B She confirmed.B She said. :aw and A"i0 ha)e taught me more about "ife in four wee s than Gincent# the 2erebeast who trained me# did in the three years I "i)ed with him. :e(s 8ust e)erything to me. 1y parent5s free"y admitted that I was named after the Borden %airy cow# because they thought it was such a pretty name.B She smi"ed.= I was not sure what I was afraid of# but I new I wanted to be with Aubi right now# and I new I wanted to get my story out of the way. $hat(s hard to do instantaneous"y if we don(t want you traumati4ed.
I was nauseated and di44y for days# fe)erish# and ob)ious"y ha""ucinating.i)e +Aubi. I cou"d hear that they were both crying. I was ta en in by an o"d 2erebeast named Gincent.ami"y near"y "ost yourse"f.. :e taught me to stea" and he taught me to fight# not the warrior c"ass I hope to one day "earn# but the down and dirty street stuff that has ser)ed me we"" enough thus far. E:ow wou"d a chi"d now what she wanted un"ess her parents te"" herC5 So there I was@ wrapped in white "ace# cotton and crino"ines# patent "eather shoes# and cow name intact. By fi)e or si0 I primari"y "i)ed in my head# to the degree that there were >uestions that I might be autistic. 2e were hoping we cou"d find somep"ace a "itt"e more we"coming to get the sme"" of James(s nee Hion(s !eep off of us. I hated it from the moment I had an opinion. 3f course# this was ta en as une>ui)oca" proof I was a demon. $amarin 8umped down and ran on ahead# scramb"ing up behind Singer to sort out the "ast of her post?Hion anger.B :e said. 9enaissance happens# (Scream# scream# scream# magic# magic# magic# Satan# Satan# Satan# b"ah# b"ah# b"ah. 3f course my opinion wou"dn(t matter.B I rep"ied# wanting it so desperate"y to be true# but not yet >uite tota""y trusting it to be.B I was surprised he cou"dnEt see it. Chapter $wenty?. 2e rode on for about an hour. And the fur# c"aws# impro)ed senses# and enhanced speed and agi"ity did. 3b)ious"y# I had no a"ternati)e but to rip off my uniform of conformity# and c"aw my way past them and out of that house. A"" my time was spent either at church with hatefu" confusing adu"ts# or at schoo" or at hea)i"y super)ised tea parties with hatefu" confusing "itt"e gir"s..ore)er. I fe"t bad for him.ami"y. But he had fair"y consistent ru"es so I usua""y new when it was coming. $hen I was at Hion5s unti" I escaped and the "ess said about that the better. I sat on %addy(s shire# cross"egged. In my house# "i e so many others# it was assumed that not on"y was it not my prerogati)e to decide these things# but I wou"dn(t ha)e had an opinion if as ed. It was "ess than an hour before e)eryone cou"d fee" it. :e got the better dea"# but he wasn(t comp"ete"y use"ess. :owe)er for my sanity# I ha)e to assume he didn(t now who Hion was. 6et somehow four e0orcisms in three days fai"ed to rea""y ta e. 'o "itt"e boys in my "ife# no sir. Cou"dn(t ha)e me acting "i e a "itt"e tro""op. And in the . But I new it wou"d b"ow o)er >uic "y.B BSo we were each a"one and now we(re together. 2hen I was e"e)en he so"d me to one of Hion(s co""ectors for food and sma"" si")er ingots worth about fi)e hundred do""ars. I was a chi"d. . Story cou"d sense a magica" p"ace from twenty mi"es and I wasn(t far behind. It bent my heart. :e ca""ed me $amarin# because he thought I "oo ed "i e a "itt"e mon ey. B3h %addy# that must ha)e been so "one"y. 'egati)e emotions can(t be maintained when the aggressor is hugging the defender from behind.6ou had no one# I()e had a succession of "itt"e?f fami"ies and the big?. $hings were a"ready changing# the "ast time I(d done it I had an inch of space on each side# now my nees o)erhung by a"most the same. -i e static e"ectricity in the air.( %idn5t rea""y touch me. I wor ed for him and he he"ped me. BI ne)er had anything to "ose whi"e you "ost fami"y after fami"y. $hen I sprouted fur.B B-one"yC= :e said# . :e(d smac me around a bit. :e was wic ed and crue"# but not rea""y to me# too much. A "itt"e go"den beast gir" in a white eye"et s"ip. And hated them for doing it not too "ong after. 2e heard Story ca""ing round up and went bac to camp.decoration. Because if he did# I(m going to ha)e to add a "itt"e e0tra to the death sentence honor re>uires if I e)er meet up with him again. 2hich suc s# but he ne)er c"aimed to care about me.= %addy "istened intent"y# then he shared his story.
. B. $hen I came out in hi)es# my s in itching insane"y.
But when you heard them# there was no mista ing. 3ne wa"" was stone# centered with an enormous firep"ace. $amarin and I sat in the front row. 3ne wa"" accommodated the bar.2e(re Breach of the *eace.B I was pretty sure he was idding. And the fourth wa"" was the entrance. :is "ips mo)ed as Story sang# B$a e my hands and we("" go on a 8ourney. Story# e)er dramatic# be""owed# BStab"e boy< 6ou ha)e custom here<B A boy >uic "y showed himse"f. BI admire your faith in your fe""ow man.= Storyte""er said# .Certain"y# Sir. By the time we had eaten the p"ace was pac ed# and there were three or more deep outside the windows. I see you ha)e instruments. BIt(s 8ust business. Story and Singer5s magic combined to wea)e an i""usion purer than I()e e)er seen. B7oodman Janeth#= Story smi"ed# . As the first chords fi""ed the air the audience began to register awe and disbe"ief. Bant wi"" ta e care of your mounts. $hrough hea)en and he""# agony and ecstasy on a tre into eternity. 2ord had gotten out that someone had recogni4ed us as the rea" Breach of the *eace. $he f"oor was co)ered by a thic carpet of sawdust.B :e said. 1ay I assistCB B2e need you to board our horses and store our tac .B Story rep"ied. I fe"t )ery much at home.B Janeth said.B Story rep"ied. But you wou"d be the fourth Breach in two months. Around the perimeter were higher free standing tab"es where satyrs# centaurs# and others# who were not bui"t to sit in standard chairs cou"d stand and watch the show.B BI()e heard of Breach of the *eace. B6es# sir. About an hour after sunset the band was ready to go on. A few chords in the band disappeared. $he first song they performed was (Come 2ith 1e(. $here were sma"" tab"es on stone pedesta"s# to bring the diminuti)e patrons of fairy and pi0ie races to where they cou"d easi"y see the stage and be safe from their neighbors5 feet. Bant# I want premium ser)ice for these horses. 3n the ne0t "ine# BIt wi"" ha)e its ups and downs assured"y. Are you musiciansCB BJust so# sir. $here(s a"ways a "ot of dishes to be done for "odging if I(m not satisfied. B'o# your power is not being >uestioned. I am Janeth# this is my p"ace..B B$hat wou"d depend on if I was getting good )a"ue.B Between the "ad5s outstretched hands was another# sma""er i""usion of the "ife he was promising her. A dar E"f. I can fee" it. :e had dar o"i)e s in and b"ue b"ac hair on a form more fami"iar in pa"er co"ors. -yingAsitting center stage was a red?haired centaur maiden braiding f"owers in her hair and tai". :e e0tended his hands to her.= $he boy bowed. $he inn had a sma"" stage in a "arge common room that too up most of the first f"oor. In which the maiden was ho"ding the "ad(s hands then threw them down and sta" ed off. And ma e sure that the band didn(t ha)e anything to worry about before a performance. Earning my eep and whatnot# I "i ed to eep things neat and order"y. So whether you are in fact they remains to be seen.B +$hen was something he cou"dn(t ha)e cast whi"e p"aying and singing without he"p. B2e""# hmm# proofF sha"" I turn you into a newt(CB Story as ed. A song about a person proposing marriage. Sure"y you()e heard of us. I a"so wou"d be doing most of the setup. I did my part to un"oad the cart# a"" the hea)y "ifting. $hese# of course# in addition to the standard tab"es set up for man shaped and si4ed )isitors. $hen ran bac ta ing them up and issing them on the "ine# BBut it wi"" be most"y up
. Story "ed us to a rough hewn "og inn with a stab"e and a pasture. Instead of the 8erry?rigged ruins of synthetic bui"dings comprising most human sett"ements# as a way to ho"d onto the o"d times# these were new natura" bui"dings and the town appeared popu"ated with maybe si0ty percent magica" races. I suspect on some "e)e" no one rea""y be"ie)ed that the most famous magica" band of a"" time was actua""y p"aying in their sma"" town. A graying 2erebeast wa" ed out from the primary bui"ding# B7reetings.2e were hoping to e0change entertainment for a night5s "odging. $here were too many for me to count. I saw Satyrs# Centaurs# -amia# an A"f# and a coup"e E"ysians. It(s your identity that remains to be seen. . 9ep"aced by the image of a g"ade.Before "ong we arri)ed at a "og# stone# bric # and board town that appeared to be entire"y post? 9enaissance architecture.B Janeth smi"ed. A young ma"e# possib"y a suitor# approached. But I(m wi""ing to gi)e you the benefit of the doubt# for tonight. 3ne wa"" contained pane?"ess windows to the outdoor itchen.
Story introduced the band to deafening cheers. It was Story5s spo en word number (7raduation(. $he chase is on. $a ing an empty sou" poo" stone I(d fortuitous"y found
. $he time has come. -i e A"i0(s mate Gatan and Singer had been unti" recent"y. $onight we hunt together. About :aw and his mate Bri(an. I didn(t thin to specify bio"ogica" father. But her "oosening grip a""owed me to sweep my daughter out of her dead grasp. She was dead before she dropped my baby with shoc and fear. It was fourteen years ago# I was wa" ing down a street on some undetermined wor"d# simi"ar to the wor"d of today# not pre?9enaissance earth of fourteen years ago# when my eye was caught by the most beautifu" baby# rosy pin with a f"uff of "ight b"onde hair. BIf you "ea)e me# who(s going to ta e care of our babyCB She whined. I am we"" p"eased my chi"d# we"" p"eased. .B :e reached for the baby with one hand and started to remo)e his be"t nife with his other# BItC 6our daughter< Can(t we 8ust "ea)e her in the forest for someone to findCB :e sneered.But it5s my baby. After they too their bows# they a""owed themse")es to be ca""ed bac for two encores.B $hen they sang (:aw (s -o)e(.'othing wi"" stand in the way of our being together. I a"most grabbed her and ran# I he"d bac # indecisi)e.ore)er. 'othing can hurt us now. $wo new i""usions# men# one mid?twenties# one "ate teens# appeared.B $he "itt"e p"ay faded as she too his hands in the "arger.= . $hen they did the comi?erotic. . $hey were the ones whose "o)e of )ariety created man?headed dogs# dragon winged unicorns# and . Chapter $wenty?Si0 +Aubi.-o)e and Se0. But as brothers and friends. I too his hand a"ong with his nife# when I disarmed him.B As the p"ay within the p"ay showed them wa" ing happi"y arm in arm# he sang B. 2as I comfortab"e "ea)ing the birth parents a"i)eC $he man said# . $hey sang (2a" of a 2arrior( $hen $amarin went up and they did a few straight songs# without i""usion.= :e sang# B2e wi"" wa" together with the barbs of hate and 8ea"ousy of those a"one and un"o)ed f"ying toward us.B 2e saw them wa" # in miniature# past a group of )ery bitter "oo ing centaurs whose eyes ga)e off "itt"e dar darts of hate and sic "y green darts of 8ea"ousy. $his creature was arguing with a *"ainsman# a cross between *"ains E"f and *"ains Barbarian that bred true. 'ot master and s"a)e. 6ou ha)e "earned.Just gi)e it here and I5"" i"" it. 2e sha"" triumph. $hat night I "earned one needed to be specific with the 1other and . B$ogether we "i)e# apart we naught but fade away. 1y way# I "op off its head# we throw it in a dumpster and we(re done with it. BCome brother.or we wi"" be together# and together we("" find some 8oy in a"" things. $onight you Become. 6ou are worthy# we are one. 'ot as teacher and student. 'ow# before it draws any attention to us.B BI don(t now#B She started crying. $he g"ade dar ened. $ogether we are strong.= $hey ended the set with# (2hat(s 2rong 2ith 6ouC( their first hit off their first C%.ey mystics born without eyes so their )iew of the astra" p"ane wou"dn(t be distracted by mundane sight. $he bitch eager"y he"d my daughter out to be s"aughtered. $he darts bounced away from them on the "ine# B$hese arrows wi"" def"ect (gainst the shie"d of our "o)e. $hey were both beheaded before his stump had time to spurt. $he i""usions started again# on that one. She was he"d by a Sy"ph woman# air e"ementa" .B BI("" i"" it then. . $he hunt# the game# the sweet tang of b"ood. She was off dimension hopping.B $he i""usions ran hand in hand offstage and out the door. $he music started.ey. BI can(t# not a"one. $hat night I had a dream. $onight we "ie together@ in the b"ood# the entrai"s# the tattered tooth?mar ed f"esh.ather. BStupid bitch< $his isn(t 7o"di"oc s "and< In the forest it dies s"ow"y of e0posure and anima"s eat it. 6ou ha)e grown. $his isn(t about stand or fa"".p"easure wi"" far outweigh pain. B6ou are.If it5s dead#= :e crooned# .B :e said# indifferent. She stayed up for (9unnin5 $hrough the 'ight( the Gampire theme song# with (-o)e and Se0( and (2a" of a 2arrior( it had been on the C% they put out before the 9enaissance. I said I wanted to be $amarin(s father by b"ood.= She whined.
$o top yourse"f up. -ater I find she(s been so"d to Hion. She had a cry that ca""ed the attention of anything in the county with ears. %aughter of
. :ow do I do itCB I was e0cited and as ing si""y >uestions. I wo e up in camp and new my dream was my new rea"ity.B She ad)ised. B3b)ious"y.ather "i)e# before my daughter was hungry. B7osh you don(t now Gat at a""# do youC $hose in the now ho"d that he smithed a race of sentient meta" peop"e so he(d ne)er ha)e to get up and ma e brea fast. Breach had a coup"e out of town dates right before $amarin(s friend# 1aggie(s# birthday party. I don(t see how she cou"d ha)e ta en more than si0 ounces# more "i e"y four# but it seemed more at the time.B I rep"ied.B B:ow# magicCB I as ed. Breach :ouse and the surrounding ranch were raided by nomads. :oo ing up with them in the beginning. BI understand that# but why do you need a wetnurseCB $he 1other as ed BI(m p"anning to eep her and raise her as my daughter.B I rep"ied. 1y gir" wo e up and immediate"y demanded food. 'ot "ong after they mo)ed past fami"y gatherings and into professiona" music with a record contract. After about two wee s her hair dar ened to a go"den hue and the fur she now bears first became apparent. 1en# magica""y# can breastfeed. $hen she wi"" genetica""y ha)e three parents. She de)e"oped fangs and c"aws# which none of her parents had# but I understood this was a common side effect to being nursed on b"ood.= she said# .B 3dd"y# it didn(t sound that nauseous anymore. B$hey can go a"" night and sti"" get up and ma e brea fast in the morning. $hey were sti"" s>uare and f"at and cow "i e. And the memories ept coming. I had the opportunity to try this out "ess than an hour "ater. B'o. 2hat do Gatan and Jesse ha)e in commonCB She as ed# if she was not e0asperated# she was at "east ready for me to fina""y get it.B I smi"ed. But now they carried an edge "i e tiny ni)es.B She smi"ed# as if it were ob)ious.B I to"d the 1other when I saw her. Some magica" maneu)ering got me to $he $emp"e# where the 1other and . BI need a wetnurse. I went to the 1other about it. She reacted so )oracious"y to the f"ow of my "ife I thought she might drain me past mo)ement. I figured one day I cou"d gi)e it to her and she(d ha)e two "i)es worth of energy to p"ay with. B2hyCB She as ed. 2hat disconcerted me was# about this time# I cut my tongue on my teeth. And e)erything was cheerier# and $amarin and my re"ationship was better than e)er. I remembered "ea)ing her with 'isse# a :i"" %warf emp"oyed to c"ean the house. So she stayed behind. 'ow I remembered noc ing on the door to Breach :ouse thirteen years ago# an infant in my arms. BIt(s because of a"" that b"ood going out.B B'o that(s 8ust energy wor . But he and the others were fed on b"ood. BJust cut or bite a ho"e in your finger and stic it in her mouth.B BAnd you thin that(s what I shou"d doCB B2e"" it is the on"y way to get your b"ood into her. :er capti)ity was now four months# rather than four years# but had the added aggra)ation of e)eryone nowing who she was. I thought that was why you ept in contact with your worshippers and attended their sacrifices as often as you do. I to"d her the story of the sy"ph and the p"ainsman. -et(s ta e a different tac . 6ou need to be ta ing some in to rep"ace it. B2e"" I guess it won(t be anymore.Just as Jesse. 'isse i""ed# the house ransac ed and burned# $amarin ta en. B*erfect# more than I can as . $wo of which they made before the 9enaissance changed e)erything. Starting with the nomad tribe we "eft a trai" of b"ood that stretched to Hion(s !eep. 'o no they# and many others you don(t now# were a"" nursed by ma"es. She("" now what to do.that morning in a 8un shop who thought it was carni)a" g"ass# I trapped their departing spirits. I cut my inde0 fingertip with my be"t nife.
Chapter $wenty?Se)en +Storyte""er. 2e()e got a bar fu"" of men here# I thin you(d 8ust better "ea)e.
.B I said to the band# than turned my fu"" attention to the new enemy.:ow (bout if I return the troub"e. I("" "et a"" of you# e)eryone# "ea)e here a"i)e.B I smi"ed# B$hat(s o ay# we don(t eat their ind.B $he bartender said. I was carefu" not to "et her touch it. 2hen we "eft we were tired# and the more barbaric of us were spoi"ing for a fight. So he cou"d sti"" pro)ide food and drin s and not "ose any business. Just shut up before someone gets hurt. B2hyCB BBecause it wi"" ma e it more rea" to me. BShades of 3"son)i""e. A "arge grassy c"earing that had functioned in the past as a town common was right outside Janeth(s p"ace. . $he sheriff scow"ed at me s>uinti"y.B It was the Emess of troub"e5 "ine. B$hat wou"d ru"e a"" of us out.'ow we need si0 beers and don(t gi)e me any shit. 2e tied off the horses in front of the sa"oon and entered. 2e cou"d te"" by the stares# snorts and derisi)e comments that we had found what we were "oo ing for. B-oo # we(re in a hurry.And use my refund to pay the ta0es. I smi"ed# and grabbed a hea)y g"ass stein off the bar# then used it to ca)e in the bartender(s s u"" for starting this mess. I pa"med the hea)i"y shie"ded ha"f sphere stone& I didn(t want anything "ea ing out before it was presented to her officia""y.B I didn(t need to as what.B A perfect"y reasonab"e offer. It was g"owing gent"y "i e a cand"e. But I a"so wasn(t thri""ed to thin about those two.B BAfter you pay the stranger(s ta0 and the disturbing the peace ta0.B I new :aw and A"i0 were ready to roc without the banter# but they "et me fo""ow my own script.B B$hat(s it. B3ur chi"d. I("" gi)e you my top offer right off the bat. 3f course -ady ! was bac and ready when her goddessdaughter was ta en. A"so future concerts wou"d be gi)en outside# so more peop"e cou"d attend.Aubidacha ahamet# 7uardianed by Storyte""er and -ady !a""isto %ucanten.= I said# warming up. As I sat there re)e"ing in my new "ife when $amarin approached. $hey shou"d ha)e ta en it. B6ou 8ust bought yourse"f a mess of troub"e. I didn(t want the power to 8ump into her when she wasn(t ready. 2e found a human town by "unchtime. $rying to# through the strength of speech# ma e new memories push out the o"d. I(m not going to dic er with you. So hate against us was ta en out on her. $hat night as we ta" ed# we decided that we wou"d stay a few days and en8oy the company of our own ind. 2e sat and ta" ed about o"d times..B +3dd"y when spea ing to humans Edon5t gi)e me any shit5 is usua""y interpreted as# Emay I p"ease ha)e some shitC5. 2e stayed with Janeth and Bant for near"y a wee # performing e)ery night. Sun ye""ow and forest green predominated but there was a "ibera" measures of bric red# red and white swir"# and pa"e cha" orange. B:eed your own ad)ice beast "o)er.B Said a man dressed as an o"d west sheriff with ten men behind him.B :e said in what seemed >uite a whiney tone. In our new wor"d Singer had come bac and -ady ! "eft about two wee s before the fatefu" dates in 3ctober# when $amarin was "eft behind. I showed it to her& we cou"d see her birth parents sou"s in there. 'ow I was the one who i""ed Hion beating him into puree but no Esca5rdu.B I reached into my bag and grabbed a mu"tico"ored wood bo0 I(d car)ed for when I ga)e it to her after her saining. Afterwards e)erything was pretty much the same# e0cept Story and Singer were there to he"p. BBut that one "oo s "i e it(s on"y a chi"d.B :e said# as if it were his business. I opened it# my hand sti"" concea"ed& I didn(t want to spoi" the surprise. . I 8ust had to "augh. B$his is a human on"y bar.= I suggested# . B%addy# can I see it. :it (em boys.B I ad)ised# >uite reasonab"y. $he bartender immediate"y pointed at A"i0# Aubi# and $amarin and said# B2e don(t ser)e their ind.
.:e""o#= I said :e "oo ed o)er at me. :aw stepped in front of his nife hand# catching it.:mmm#= I said# >uite unimpressed. $hey are Story# Singer# A"i0# and that5s :aw behind you.= :e smi"ed. 3b)ious"y dumb as a stump. 3ur fun o)er# we departed.Shamus B"ac feather and yoursC= :e smi"ed bac .6ou now JanethC= I was surprised for some reason.7uess that5s because we don5t p"ay much country.= :e sounded a "itt"e persona""y pissed . Erin5s the saucy min0 in the b"ac .= . She and Aubi had 8ust pu""ed in a "itt"e c"oser behind Singer on the other side.= $amarin said proud"y. . :e grabbed the guys arm when he punched at him and put it in a hammer"oc . I hope they ha)e something big p"anned for your saining. 9ednec has come to mean bigoted# fat# o"d men. $hey5re fair"y open?minded# and they5re the on"y group s inheads are scared to fight.ina""y with a s"ash across the throat he dropped the human and too the ne0t# "ast one. :e was huge and thic .B 3b)ious"y :aw "i ed his banter as much as I# but he preferred it during the fight.:ow o"d are youC= $amarin new the important >uestions. .6uc # whyC= $his from $amarin. 'e)er heard of you. . . . .= . B3ops#B he said. .*hysica""y or chrono"ogica""yC= :e turned to face the one he wou"d ob)ious"y prefer to ta" to. $his was certain"y a )ote in his fa)or.:mmm.= She gigg"ed.= . 2hich ga)e me pause& I had no "o)e for hic s. . But there I was. I sensed magic# but I had troub"e measuring it.6ou "oo "i e a rednec .Both physica""y and chrono"ogica""y I5"" be fifteen 1ay se)enth. .$amarin# this is my dad# Aubi.*hysica""y about se)enteen. $hey sha)e their heads so they a"" "oo a"i e# and then hate anyone who isn5t 8ust "i e them. Shit ic ers ha)e simi"ar tastes in music# 8ust "ouder and faster. Chrono"ogica""y say ten years past.:aw cou"dn5t stop "aughing and was ob)ious"y ha)ing fun winding his way through this gang of nothing@ cheap ass deputies and a few drun en patrons.= :e smi"ed at me and tipped his hat.9ea""y#= I as ed. Sudden"y# one that $amarin had f"oored got up and charged. .uc ya ind"y Story..= It was neither my habit nor my p"an to 8ust 8ump in. .= :e assured. $he "ad answered# .And what5s a s inheadC= She as ed. :e was ob)ious"y trying hard to mas it in the presence of humans. :e was sti"" there whi"e e)eryone e"se was f"oored# dead or out the door. .= .= :e said. $wisting unti" the shou"der came out of the soc et. :e wore a red and tan chec ed f"anne" shirt# 8eans# c"odhoppers# and a f"at brimmed "eather hat. $hen using the "imp arm to start stabbing him in a b"oody parody of a chi"dren(s tease.3ne of the most )enomous of the human hate groups. I rode up a"ongside.And the current generation prefers shit ic er. 2ith a sharp twist# eeping the arm.Bad press.SainingC=
. B2hy you stabbing yourse"f pa"# why you stabbing yourse"fCB . 6ou are the most famous magica" band in the wor"d. . 3n the edge of town# we saw a young "ad about $amarin5s age# or a bit o"der# hitching out of town. BC(mon g"ass8aw#= :aw said# .I was iddin5.Both.= . :aw pu""ed him up to ride pi""ion. .:i.-ess than si0 wee s.= . 2e5re Breach of the *eace.I used to fuc your ind in prison.I now e)eryone.So what5s your nameC= I thin she might ha)e been f"irting with him. And youC= :e as ed. And Janeth wrote a coup"e days ago and to"d me you were in town. B1atron may I he"p you across the street. .'ati)e costume#B :e smi"ed# . I was not at a"" sure I "i ed this de)e"opment. . .B :e escorted the human to the door# and out.
;Coming of age. .ifteen is when you are a woman.= :e said it as a statement of fact. $he g"eam in his eyes said her womanhood was of persona" interest to him. :owe)er# if gir"ish gigg"ing meant interest# she was showing p"enty. :ic in the .ami"y# scary thought. ;I5m not too fond of hic s.= I said# I do not now why. :e sighed and turned to face me fu"" on. ;Story don5t yan my chain# I5m in no mood.= ;6ou are awfu" f"ippant for someone ha)ing his first meeting with someone many consider a god.= $hose were my actua" words# .ather he"p me. ;'e)er was one to fo""ow the crowd. Besides# you are being a "itt"e bitchy for someone renowned for a sunny disposition. Especia""y with a id he 8ust met.= ;6ou5re right# sorry& something5s 8ust putting my teeth on edge.= I was a "itt"e p"eased that whate)er was running off my mouth hadn5t "eft me comp"ete"y without manners. ;*robab"y me# I5m pretty stressed and I5m nown for broadcasting my emotions.= :e said. $amarin spo e up# ;If that5s true how come Story5s fee"ing it and I5m notC= I answered# ;'one of you are. 6ou see $amarin# it5s traditiona" for me not to ha)e any shie"ds. 6ou a"" b"oc outside energy. 1ost intentiona""y# you ha)e instincti)e ones as a gift from your )isit to Hion. A trademar of mine is to ne)er ha)e shie"ds. It says EI5"" hand"e anything that5s thrown at me.(= ;Sounds dangerous.= $am said. -oo ing sympathetica""y distraught# which I appreciated. :aw spo e# ;So# Shamus what are you stressing so hard aboutC= ;-et5s say my community has p"ans for me that I ha)e )ery mi0ed fee"ings about.= :e said# ob)ious"y not comp"ete"y happy ta" ing about it. ;2hat communityC= :aw as ed. ;$he 9ea"m.= :e sounded miserab"e ;9ea"mC= $amarin as ed. ;$he 9ea"m of .aerie# the coa"ition of .aerie races# tribes# and c"ans under the bene)o"ent ru"ership of 3beron the 7reat.= :e sounded more than a "itt"e bit sarcastic and bitter. ;2hat conf"ict do you ha)e with $he .o" C= I as ed# as they were my peop"e# or more precise"y we shared a mutua" fondness. ;I5d rather not say.= :e said uncomfortab"y. ;But it has something to do with why you5re running.= $amarin as ed. ;It is why I5m running.= .or a moment he "oo ed a "itt"e more sett"ed. $a" ing to her. ;6ou can5t run from the entire 9ea"m#= I said# ;$hey5re e)erywhere. Especia""y since $hey opened /nderhi"". ;I now# I5m hea)i"y shie"ded# and on"y want to buy enough time to thin # not run fore)er.= :e sounded e0hausted and for a moment about to cry. ;3 ay gang# we can badger Shamus "ater.= :aw said and goosed his horse and trotted away up ahead. 2e rode through the afternoon. I was apparent"y noticing Shamus5s discomfort and tried to eep the others off him. .ina""y I 8ust ga)e up because he was on"y pursued a bit by :aw who he was riding with and who cou"d ta e no for an answer. 1ore so by $amarin who it was ob)ious he did not want protection from. ;So where are you fromC= She as ed. ;:ere and there# South Eastern Canada origina""y. 1y mother was from the forest by Janeth5s p"ace origina""y. So we mo)ed here when I was a id.= Shamus said. ;3h# I don5t ha)e a mother.= ;2e"" with a father "i e Aubi# a mother wou"d on"y be redundant.= $amarin seemed to "i e that. I cou"d see Aubi was p"eased as we"". I rode ahead "ea)ing the boy in capab"e and ind hands. 2e decided we wanted to eep good memories of Janeth5s p"ace fresh and combined with no desire for a repeat of this afternoon# it wou"d be best to not e)en "oo for a gig tonight. 2e camped at dus # no towns in sight.
2e started a fire# ate# and sat around ta" ing. Shamus was sti"" re"uctant to ta" about himse"f. :e did untang"e a ban8o from the c"othes in his bag and began to tune it. ;Ba"dur5s sa e# a ban8oC= I said# ;I to"d you I hate shit ic er music.= ;:ush up Story. I now you now the ban8o is suited for e)erything from b"uegrass to roc to Irish traditiona". I want to show you I now it too.= Shamus said. ;3 ay if you must.= I might ha)e had to force it to sound "i e I was idding rather than the dead serious bu""shit opinions I(d )oiced a"" afternoon. :e sounded damn fine. 2hen he finished we app"auded and he smi"ed shy"y. ;1aybe I cou"d p"ay with you guys sometime.= ;I don5t now. A ban8oC= 1y gods# I was being an ass. Aubi spo e up# ;Shut up o"d man. Shamus may I.= Aubi too the ban8o and p"ayed some pro >ua"ity b"uegrass. ;'ow shut up before I go through e)ery shit ic er song I now which is c"ose to a"" there are.= I 8ust stared at him# e)eryone was f"oored. ;I didn5t rea"i4e you p"ayed anything.= I said. 1y day for being a foo". ;I5m o)er two thousand years o"d# of course in that time I pic ed up a "itt"e music.= Aubi said# ob)ious"y I shou"d ha)e thought of that. ;7reat# %addy# what e"se do you p"ayC= $amarin as ed. ;I cou"d probab"y ho"d my own with any instrument in the band. :owe)er# p"ay we""C ."ute# sitar# fidd"e# "ute# ban8o# bongos# bodrahn# wire strung harp# and hammered du"cimer.= ;2ow# %addy that5s good.= ;*retty good# I now both Story and Singer can beat it.= Aubi said. Aubi e0amined ShamusEs ban8o. ;$his is a sweet one# man. Cherry and stee" frame# stee" frets# "ambs in boards. $hese probab"y aren5t e)en made anymore.= :e began to p"ay. I recogni4ed .innegan5s 2a e and was reminded of the instrument(s )ersati"ity. 2e 8ammed through the night with Shamus on ban8o# Aubi on a f"ute that he had bro en down in his bag# and $amarin trying to eep up on her mando"in. Chapter $wenty?Eight +$amarin, $he ne0t morning I wo e up to find %addy and the boy stretching in front of the fire. I had thought he was cute from the first& but "oo ing at his frec "es# and his "ong dar red hair cur"ing down to his strong shou"ders# his "aughing green eyes# he a"most too my breath away. $here he was ne0t to %addy& his shirt off# the sun on his creamy s in. :e turned and I noticed how cute his tummy was. ;%roo" muchC= Erin said ma ing me 8ump. ;Buc ets. 'ow hush# you5re distracting me.= She >uieted and sat beside me. Soon her warmth and honey sweet scent were distractions enough. I turned and tried to iss her# she stopped me with an upraised pa"m. ;%on5t we want to watch ShamusC= ;-ater.= I pushed her bac on her e"bows and issed her thorough"y. I started wor ing on her buttons. She pushed me away. ;!issing# sure. *"aying in the water# 7ods yes. :owe)er# I cannot go any farther unti" after your saining at "east. 9ight now# you are a id regard"ess of how "ustfu" you may be. *"ease "et this wait unti" you5re a woman.= She was a"most p"eading# ob)ious"y not trusting herse"f if I pushed. 7ods that made me hot. ;But# won5t this ma e me a woman.= I said in my best f"irty )oice. ;'othing5s gonna ma e you a woman e0cept time.= She said with a smi"e. ;Corny p"atitude head.= I "aughed. ;Corny true p"atitude head.= She rep"ied ;2e5"" 8ust iss then.= I said with no intention of ma ing it easy on her. ;6ou do now how to ma e it hard on me.= But she was smi"ing. ;It5s the "east I can do.= I smi"ed bac .
$hat afternoon I cornered Shamus in the woods ne0t to the stream. :e said he was going for a wa" to thin . I approached him from behind as >uiet"y as I cou"d. ;:i $amarin.= :e said when I was sti"" fi)e feet away. ;:ow5d you now I was hereC= I as ed# shoc ed. ;A gir" your age sme""s "i e a hormone factory# in a de"iscious way# of course. A"so you breathe "i e your father# and the :amadryad in that oa bac there wants you rea""y bad and I can hear his thoughts.= :e rep"ied. ;6ou can hear peop"e5s thoughtsC= that sounded promising# ;2hat am I thin ing right nowC= ;I can on"y hear .ey thoughts.= ;.eyC= I as ed# 8ust to be sure. ;.aery races& .aoine# .airy# 9ammi in# Stone E"f and such. 6ou ha)e Sy"ph b"ood but it5s dormant.= :e said. ;2hy can you on"y hear .ey thoughtsC= I as ed. ;-ong story# I don5t wish to discuss it right now.= :e sounded tired. ;6ou5)e got tasty "oo ing "ips.= I said ;$han you.= :e smi"ed. ;!iss me#= I said# coming into his arms. ;!ay#= :e issed me hard and deep. 1y nees went to 8e""y. ;I5m sorry# I5m preoccupied. I5"" try to concentrate on you.= :e issed me again# sweeping up my spirit# centering me on him unti" he bro e contact. ;$han s# I needed that. -et5s go.= 1y "eg was burning where his erection was pressing on me. ;2e can iss more if you want to.= ;'o# that was about a"" I can hand"e. $hat one has me a"most ready to p"an our wedding. I 8ust ha)e a "ot going on right now. A "ot I ha)e to wor out. %istractions# no matter how de"icious# do not he"p. I need to sort myse"f out first.= ;$hat5s o ay. 2e5)e 8ust met. I ha)en5t e)en had my saining yet. $here is Erin# what wou"d she sayC 2e5re ind of in)o")ed.= I rep"ied. ;I guess neither of us can do this right now.= :e said. ;Agreed#= I agreed. :e pu""ed me c"ose# saying ;.uc it#= and issed me. I me"ted into him. 2e wou"d find some way to sort this out. 2e issed through the afternoon and into the e)ening. ;So# te"" me what you5re stressing about.= I as ed. ;Bac at camp. If I5m ta" ing# I5m on"y ta" ing once.= 2e wa" ed bac to camp and I got e)eryone together. ;So what5s upC= I as ed. ;2e""???= :e dropped his shie"ds when he began to spea . Sudden"y a group of .aoine Sidhe appeared# four towering warriors and a hea)y o"d 8udge "oo ing one in the midd"e. ;6ou ungratefu" "itt"e bastard.= $he o"d one spo e. ;After e)erything you5)e been gi)en.= ;.uc you o"d man.= Shamus said. ;Story# gang# this is 1odred# 3beron5s high chamber"ain.= ;And I was sent to ta e you bac . As you no doubt new# since you5)e been hiding.= 1odred dec"ared# ;I5m not at a"" sure I5m going bac .= Shamus said. ;6ou5"" do as you5re to"d# you "itt"e bastard.= $he chamber"ain demanded. ;I wou"d "i e to see you ma e me.= Shamus smi"ed. ;Just what5s going on hereC= Story as ed. ;3beron and his gang were staying at Janeth5s.= Shamus said. ;As is his habit# 3beron wanted to dice for the bi"". $herefore# Janeth stipu"ated that if he won the "ord had to ta e me into his ser)ice. 2e""# he won. 3beron disco)ered when he tried to "ea)e# I ha)e a specia" ta"ent. 'o one can brea a promise to me. 3f course# this time I was hoping it wou"dn5t ic in. 2hy cou"dn5t he 8ust "ea)eC Just pay his stupid bi"" and "ea)e. Course Janeth on"y wanted to embarrass him. :e is too honest to ha)e had reason to disco)er my ta"ent# curse it. So he e0pected 3beron to sheepish"y bac out.= ;-oo boy#= 1odred said# ;$housands wou"d i"" for the opportunity that5s been handed to you on a p"atter.=
;At the price of my freedom.= Shamus snar"ed# "oo ing ready to fight. Causing 1odred5s f"un ies to f"e0 threatening"y. ;2hat does he want you so bad forC= I as ed confused. ;I5d thin if he tried to ditch you# he wou"d be happy if you ran.= ;$he boy has become )ery important to his ma8esty.= ;2hyC I wou"dn5t ha)e thought 3beron the type to eep catamites.= :aw commented. ;Cata?whatsC= I as ed. ;Butt?boys.= :aw rep"ied. 2hich c"arified nothing. ;3f course he is#= Shamus rep"ied# ;$hat5s what that who"e Sha espeare p"ay is about. :e wanted $itania5s Indian boy so he cou"d bugger him. 7ods now she won5t "et the gnar"ed "itt"e dwarf near her beautifu" form.= I was starting to get an idea of what butt boys might be. ;'ow that5s none of your affair.= 1odred grow"ed. ;It most certain"y is. If his wife wou"d "et him fuc her# he5d ha)e no use for me.= Shamus said snide"y. ;$hat is not for you to say. 'ow come a"ong.= 1odred was purp"ing. Story spo e up# ;1odred# I wi"" not ha)e you forcing a boy who ob)ious"y wants nothing to do with you or your ing.= ;.or the "ast time# he is not the ing5s catamite. :e5s his heir.= .ina""y the chamber"ain "ost it# ye""ing. Si"ence reigned. ;3beron# -ord of a"" .ey# too a stab"e boy as his heir on a betC= Story didn5t now whether to "augh or ye"". ;:e didn5t e0pect to "ose. :e has "ost mayhap three times in his "ife. :e has ne)er had a prob"em getting out of a bad bet.= 1odred said. ;2e"" what happens nowC= I as ed. ;:e ta es o)er. :e5s better suited to the 8ob than many.= 1odred said. ;:ow soC= or some form of it was said by most of us# inc"uding Story and Shamus himse"f. ;2ho5s 3beronC= 1odred said# ;:e5s -ord of the .ey# specifica""y European fey. :e is a"so the :orned 3ne for many of the human witch groups. 1any more that do not worship him ca"" their high priests 3beron. $his cou"d ma e Shamus the high priest5s high priest. 1y master was ing because that is where his power "ay. :erne# Janicot# -"eu -"aw 7yffes a"" ha)e "ed from within# first among e>ua"s. Shamus is certain"y suited to that. 'ot to mention# he5s one of the "uc y few who pu""ed death"ess immorta"ity through "uc of the draw coming out of the sou" poo". $he fina" touch# Boy# show them your birth form.= Shamus# "oo ing unhappy# faded from focus and returned four inches ta""er# with tawny s in stretched o)er a muscu"ar torso# deep red mahogany hair hanging in cur"s past his shou"ders# cur"ed ram5s horns and a f"uffy goatee. :is c"othes were now reduced to a "oinc"oth and whi"e he had feet# he had )ery woo""y "egs and thic f"at toenai"s. ;Sorry son#= Story said. ;But the chambermaid or chamber"ain& chamber pot# whate)er. Scu""ion 1odred ma es a good point. %o not change who you are# 8ust change what you do with it. .irst# you ha)e to return to your mentor and "earn more about the shoes you5"" be fi""ing. 6ou5"" a"ways be we"come with us# but on"y after you5)e done your duty.= Shamus sighed# and resumed his norma" form. :e b"ew me a iss# and disappeared# hanging his head between 1odred and his entourage . ;%o you thin we5"" e)er see him againC= I as ed. ;Count on it.= %addy and Story said in unison# "oo ed at each other# then at me and smi"ed. Chapter $wenty?'ine +Erin, 2e rounded ourse")es up and set out on the road. $amarin(s heartbrea wou"dn(t be "essened by hanging around the "ast p"ace she saw him.
$e"" him we do hyrs to the 7oddess. 2atching my daughter ride a"ong so >uiet and sad# I got to thin ing how soon her birthday wou"d be upon me. I then did a s"ight"y reworded )ersion of# (1ay the Circ"e be /nbro en. 2e dec"ined nowing our presence wou"d draw the 1other and .Smart ass.As night began to fa"" we saw a town. $he crowd went wi"d.ather# who had better things to do. Continuing in a humorous"y re)erent )ein# ($he 7oddess in 1y Bodice. It was a"so a tota""y )egan p"ace. $he *an hymn# (In a Sunny 1eadow(. $his is odd because I had )egan friends that bui"t entire reputations on their pasta and soup.or them or for youC= She b"ushed pretti"y then "oo ed a "itt"e timid at me. . $hen one# two# and three hundred# century mar s remain big ones no matter how o"d you get. 'o anima" products of any ind. . *erfect for a ma"e bard# or me.( About a figure carried for "uc . $hey offered us a p"ace at their night"y Circ"e.2ou"d you a"" care to bac me upC= . But I wasn(t so"id"y confidant in my party p"anning s i""s for a young "ady. . In each encore we did three songs.2iccan# which is a "itt"e better but not much.= I said. Story went to spea to the proprietor# whi"e the rest of us found seats. $he soup tasted funny and the pasta suc ed.= $amarin said.aerie(# a ba""ad about how than fu" the singer is that most fey chic s put out. A"so it cou"d be distracting for our gir"# si"ent"y weeping on her dad(s horse.It5"" be a "ar ..= She per ed up and we started setting up.6ou5re gonna singC= 2as the genera" consensus.= :e said sitting down..= Story 8ustified that# . 3r oi"s# for some reason. . . 2e s"ept abo)e the ta)ern and the ne0t day "eft against screams of anguish at the thought of our "ea)ing.ifty# the ha"f century mar .$he Si")er Crescent#= A"i0 said# .a e b"ac or rea" 2iccanC= A"i0 as ed. 2hich meant the food tasted funny. 2e doub"ed our set and that was enough for us. Se)en# which was first thresho"d# when one(s adu"t powers started to come in. . . :owe)er# I suppose my friends did not see warm unsa"ted oi" free hummus as a pasta sauce. :e wants to now if we do hymns to the goddess. /nti" you get as o"d as me when you ha)e a birthday sti"" but rare"y ce"ebrate it much and your age seems entire"y irre"e)ant. 3 ay# against the sound of petu"ant whining we set off. $hen sang the mi"d"y anti?Christian post? 9enaissance# (%ing %ong# the Church is %ead(# fo""owed by (In the -and of .= I said.%on5t worry 9andy? pants# I5m not the 8ea"ous type# e)en if I was I wou"dn5t ho"d a hot piece "i e him against you. 1y drums center stage. . 2e got a standing o)ation# and were ca""ed bac for three encores before we refused. 2e i""ed.$his p"ace sounds ind of promising. .Sure# I figure I now the tunes and witches are cra4y about b"ac robes. *"us fifteen was a biggie. Segued into# (2e A"" 7o 2ith the :orned 3ne(. . I had about fi)e wee s. A >uic discussion decided a gig might be fun. $he town was ob)ious"y human# but the magica" customers of the ta)ern we entered seemed to be treated a"most re)erentia""y. Story and :aw on one side. $wenty?one# which was not officia""y anything# but unofficia""y was when one is supposed to actua""y ha)e a hand"e on being an adu"t and beha)e responsib"y# often the age one marries. 1o)ed to# (1agic is?(. $he Circe hyr# (If :e Can5t $a e a Jo e(# +Circe had a tendency of turning men into farm anima"s.. A"i0 and Singer on the other.2itch c"ub. . Chapter $hirty +Aubi. .= Story rep"ied# none too p"eased.
. 2e started with the fami"iar# (2e A"" Come from the 7oddess(. *retty common for )egan restaurants. $hen capped with# (7imme that 3"d $ime 9e"igion(. $he breads and sa"ads were >uite good. $hey fed us before we went on.= I said.( 1o)ed on to ($han 6ou %ear 1other(.$oo bad Shamus isn5t here.ifteen# which was saining# when one was an adu"t.= I ha)e a soft spot for the poor parochia" 2iccans. . Anyway# after eating the fi)e of us mounted the stage and prepared to p"ay.
And you can(t sit around pining# you ha)e your own "ife to "i)e and your own destiny to persue. AnythingC= :er swing from b"ac est despair to e0citement spun my head around.B She s>uea"ed. I ru"ed out Erin for ob)ious reasons. She confirmed that my in)o")ement wou"d be "imited to the dance after her saining when the ma"es wou"d we"come a new woman. 'ot to mention her saining itse"f. A"i0 answered# BIt(s 8ust a prob"em of getting past that first rush of despair. 'ot A"i0# I(d say# but more "i e her than me assured"y. 'ot "itera""y# don(t now if she cou"d. %o whate)er you want# to anyone. $a e a coup"e wee s off from responsibi"ity.B B2e()e heard of a "ord not too far from here who is human# but interested in the occu"t. and *hi"ipCB She "oo ed so accusatory# it bro e my heart. $hat(s what I(d do. And A"i0 had an idea.B She cried.$his isn(t some "itt"e schoo" gir" crush# %ad. BIt(s not my sty"e. But I cou"dn(t thin about parties and 8oy with $amarin so miserab"e.I(m not disregarding the deepness of your fee"ings for Shamus. I shou"d ha)e guessed. B$hat cou"d be fun.. Singer seemed the best choice. I waited unti" our p"ans were somewhat so"id. But you do not now how "ong it wi"" ta e unti" his training is done. 2e thin you need a )acation from a"" this. As a ma"e I wou"d on"y be in)o")ed on the periphery. 2ho is itC -ady !. But as so"e parent I had to choose another fami"y member to ta e mother(s duties.$he fact this was her saining year 8ust made me more ner)ous.B I "oo ed into her eyes and smi"ed. I got A"i0 and Spe""singer together to brainstorm. B6es# we ha)e a "itt"e drama p"anned for your amusement. Just turn into an anima". $hrow a barrow of dead rats on the ing and his entourage# do it. $he rest of the gang agrees. B%o weC %o te"". *unch you# fuc Erin# denounce Story as a Bo"she)i . And I resent you being so ca)a"ier about my fee"ings.B I didn(t now how to broach the sub8ect with my daughter.= I thought# but said# . But $amarin is not "i e me. B6ou()e both been separated from "o)ed ones and bore it we"". I cou"d see her mind bubb"ing.B Singer said. She can be a born again )irgin "ater. I waited unti" Erin too $amarin out.B BSo I can 8ust do whate)er I want. As there are prob"ems in e)ery re"ationship and you a"ways carry a torch for your first "o)e# you might as we"" marry them. Just if she fee"s "i e wa" ing into an inn punching the eeper in the face and then throwing him down the outhouse ho"e# do it. BI new it. But I get to name e)eryone. So what cou"d I ad)ise her aboutC And "eading the ma"es in we"coming her is an important part. $hat(s what I care about. $his e)ening he wi"" be )isited by a )acationing "ord# his "ady# his "ady(s man?at?arms# the "ord(s sorceress# her domesticated demons# a ma"e and fema"e# and their fema"e chi"d.B .B I said. :oping a hi e and some )o"canic intensity issing wou"d cheer her up. I can(t say I was happy about ha)ing so "itt"e to do with such an important part of my daughter(s "ife. But I new nothing about being a woman. I paused a moment to get a ho"d of myse"f# the pain in her )oice was "i e a nife going through me. She was happy to do it when I brought it up to her. So I didn(t at first. $hat night# thirty mi"es outside our intended destination. BI now %addy# but I 8ust miss him so muchB She cried.B I said. Comp"eting her chaotic chi"dhood# she now must be trained how to beha)e in pub"ic. It is ind of . :owe)er she is prone to fo""ow her s"ightest whim. I wou"d 8ust focus on her birthday. 2hat I(m suggesting is staying with us and 8ust going cra4y for a few wee s. 7et it a"" out# so you can ca"m down and "oo at a"" this with a c"ear head. 6ou rescue me from Hion 8ust to farm me out to re"ati)es.B B6ou(re sending me awayCB She screamed# sudden"y more angry than upset. B:oney# I()e been concerned about how upset you()e been. 1y daughter arched one eyebrow and eyes g"ittering with her o"d spar said. :owCB I as ed. BActua""y# I thin some time with them wou"d be good for you. A"i0# I 8udged too sing"eminded to mu"titas .B BIn this case I agree. If you ha)e found your mate so young# you are "uc y and I respect that. B$een angst rears its head.
.ami"y tradition to marry your first true "o)e. I got myse"f together and said# B6ou(re hurting. I(d suggest a wi"ding. She said there wou"d be other gir"s at the 2omen(s Camp at the same time.B I said# BBut no. In this case# e)en fuc Erin# 8ust do it.
As A"i0(s eyes f"ashed with rage.B :aw p"ayfu""y pouted BI don(t now#B $amarin said# fee"ing better. BI()e seen few emperors with guards so e"aborate"y dec ed out. BE0cept to say e)erything must sme"" strong with a nose that big. Se)era" were b"eeding. BBut you said?B BAgreed. It was chamois "ined and )ery "ight so it was fair"y comfortab"e.B2hatCB 'ot sure why that was so e0citing. Story and Singer are -ord and -ady . And :aw e0perimenta""y tried re"easing his dragon b"ood in the right mi0 facsimi"eing dragons in armor with bone p"ates. B%emon %ust. B2hat we go through for you# :ep4ibah.(B $amarin inter8ected. $oo good.
. 'ot p"ow your way through the -ord(s 3wn. $he captain reca""ed his men and Story signa"ed $amarin to descend. 3f course we a"" new our gir" "oo ed nothing "i e any of the eight hundred?odd types of demon which this man wou"d be un"i e"y to be fami"iar with anyway. B:aw #B I said with Aubi one beat behind saying the same thing.B Story said. So big in fact it ma es your huge ass "oo sma"". 'ow captain# if you can see your way c"ear to ca"" off your so"diers. B$his isn(t getting any fun had.B BI(m not e)en going to dignify that with a rep"y. At the inn where we stopped for "unch# I disregarded a pointy wi4ard hat I(d been thin ing of for something more modern. $amarin was sitting up a tree surrounded by so"diers. Aubi wi""ed his horns bac as he# A"i0# and $am s inned down and dressed in rags. BShe "eft two fine men dead in her wa e to de"i)er the message that you wou"d be a"ong short"y. B2e(re doing this for $amarin.B :aw said. Story and Singer ca""ed some country gentry finery from their )ast otherwor"d"y wardrobe.5 2ou"d 8ar his ears# that c"assification system being too practica". :e stammered out# B2hatC 2hat(s your prob"emC 6ou said I stin . 6ou wi"" be 1a"obius and A"i0 wi"" be Je4abe".B B.etterbump& :aw wi"" be Sir 9egina"d Biscuit. BI get to name e)eryone. A bemeda"ed so"dier said. I put on si")er sna e armbands.B She too off. Story and Singer are supposed to be "oca" "and barons. She smi"ed down to us.B Story said. :mmm# that(s interesting.B :aw rep"ied.B B-oo gang#B $amarin said. 'ow how far from this p"ace are weCB B$he "ord(s manorC $en mi"es at a guess. $hat comes from demons rightC And a pubescent demon wou"d probab"y be putting it out "i e a sa"t ce""ar.iggy and must a"ways spea with an accent# but not a"ways the same accent.B Story said.B Apparent"y our ideas didn5t fu"fi" her )oracious appetite for si""iness.B Aubi continued.B :aw said upon hearing this# as he 8oined our discussion. BBuc up# Biscuit o"d chap.B I saw him free4e. Chapter $hirty?3ne +Erin. EShe(s a C"ass L2. But I(m going to sme"" a "itt"e gamy. If you found yourse"f in the depths of chaos and confusion and were to wagg"e your weenie at the passing maidens# it cou"dn5t be your fau"t and yet might be fun enough to buy your participation in this tea partyCB She offered# e0tending her hand.B Story answered. A shiny# stee"# s u"" cap that s inned c"ose to my entire sca"p# coming down to a widow(s pea in the front and down to another point at mid?nec in the bac . BI meant come straight to the manor without sidetrips into distraction. But# it might e)en be fun. B9ight you are# my sweet.B Story said. A"i0 smi"ed# B7oing to.B B3 ay# I can do that.B She addressed Story. BI carried your message 1aster.B B6ou commanded me# (-et nothing de"ay you. I5"" see you guys when you get there.ine. BI thin you need to thin more in the boi"ed "eather and copper dis range. B7reat.B A"i0 smi"ed. 2e arri)ed c"ose to an hour "ater. And I wi"" be :ep4ibah. 3f abo)e a)erage but sti"" "imited means. A )ery potent chaotic and ha""ucinogenic power enhancer. B2hat manner of demon ha)e ye there# goodmanCB A new man as ed# as he approached. I can co""ect my property. Erin wi"" be Senora . It "oo ed good.or her. BE0act"y so# my "ord# a demon.B :e smi"ed and shoo . B. 2e("" ha)e (It was a"" her fau"t( put on your tombstone.
'aughty# naughty demon.B She(d been craw"ing bac wards# genuf"ecting and throwing dirt on her head. An( I wi"" naught permit it. -et(s see two "i)es p"us training and in)estment. $hen# of course you(re "iab"e for any damage your demon does. B. B:ep4ibah# you ha)e been a naughty "itt"e demon.= Story said# . :er right hand cupped the gir"(s breast through her b"ouse# the "eft around the gir"(s bac ho"ding her c"ose. I()e been interested in magic since this a"" happened. I "oo ed at it more as a way to cement my power.iggy# my research assistant. Spea ing of# about those two guards. 'ot so terrib"e for me I admit. -east twe")e ounces for the pair. Anyone can get a demon to obey at home. Beside me you wi"" find my "o)e"y wife# -ady Bodicea . 2e are trying to assimi"ate her into a proper ser)antEs ro"e.= BEight. B:er sire# 1a"obius here# is an archdemon of the fifth "e)e" of the underwor"d.$a e why we(re here.But Story# of anyone# new how to spin a yarn.etterbump. *"ease# I entreat you& I(m so e)i" and disobedient. $amarin immediate"y grabbed a particu"ar"y come"y "oo ing maiden in her mid?teens.B -ord Barnum said# sha ing Story(s hand. 1y esteemed scho"ar#B the man as ed. 1y farm somehow shifted around the town.irst we ha)e Senora . :er right hand pu""ed the fabric off and away and the "eft hand mo)ed up to cup the maid(s other breast# thumb and finger teasing the p"um co"ored nipp"e. :er dam# my minion Je4abe"# is a $ragedy of the 'inth *ower.etterbump.B B3h I am# -ord .B 3ne of the guards b"ew Assemb"y when we arri)ed# to ca"" the househo"d to order on the front "awn. -itt"e :ep4ibah has no officia" standing in the :ierarchy. B:ep4ibah no. 2e need a p"ace around strangers to test :ep4ibah(s training. Before their gratitude has a chance to coo"# I ha)e e)eryone sign an oath of "oya"ty in the e)ent of an attac . I(d "i e to be e)en more successfu". $hree demon minions# that has got to be sweet.B She grabbed one of the house *e ingese#
. I brought a thin hide cord into action whip"i e. Because such a mating wou"d be "ogistic impossibi"ity in a free en)ironment.B Starting out Eng"ish nanny# the sentence ended between Scottish and Jamaican. -andho"der# sorcerer# and a"chemist. -i e you. $errib"e thing# a man(s wor"d changing comp"ete"y in a moment. I wou"d say she(s rough"y e>ui)a"ent to a se)enth "e)e" Sorrow. %escending the tree is their get# "itt"e :ep4ibah.B BAnd who are you.etterbump# I am. Come to my manor# if you p"ease. I am -ord E"mer . B1ay I first introduce my companionsC . Story as ed# B%oes this set a standardCB B.B BI(d say twice that. :ow does si0 ounces of go"d soundCB BEach# or for the pairCB Barnum as ed.B B%one.or now# I(d say# it(s best "eft on a situationa" basis. 'ow she reached bac and grabbed a "itt"e "i)eried pageboy and tossed him spinning through the air and into a bush.B Barnum said. B$he pair. $amarin instant"y was on her nees# crying and b"otting her eyes with the hem of my robe between bouts of issing it. $here# we were to be introduced to the entire staff and fami"y. She he"d the gir" c"ose# issing her.B BIt(s not a"" fun# 'eighbor. $amarin re"eased the maid# who ran into the manorhouse# and turned on me# snar"ing. 2ith her are my demon minions@ 1a"obius and Je4abe". !i"" a dragon with a catapu"t my son and I bui"t for a co""ege physics c"ass# sudden"y nobody(s arguing that an act of 7od# no matter how bi4arre# ma es a man a ing So to spea . BSe)en. Sudden"y she too a firm grip on the bac of her dress and tore it co""ar to waist. Beside my sorceress you wi"" find Sir 9egina"d Biscuit# my -ady 2ife(s man?at?arms.B 9emembering that assigned trait# I now spo e "i e an Eng"ish nanny. I(m -ord 9ed Barnum. B3h 1istress Sorceress# forgi)e me.B B$en. Sudden"y I(m gentry. But if it won(t obey in a crowd it(s no good to anybody.orgi)e me 1istress Sorceress# I can(t contro" it. I tra)e"ed here# -ord 'eighbor# as I hear you are interested in the forgotten arts.
I don(t now what she had in mind# I assume it wasn(t that specifica""y. I()e had se)era" that had to be therapeutica""y destroyed for that reason a"one.= Story said.B Story said I piped up in a Swedish sing?song# BSir Biscuit# I(m afraid I need assistance restraining this one..B $amarin c"umsi"y pu""ed me to her# pawing my breast# and trying to iss me. B. 'ot an uncommon state but sti""# no "ess incon)enient for its fami"iarity.B $amarin spo e up# BIf I(m depressed# 1ommy and %addy get upset. 3ne hand trying to fight his f"y open. I met her with much tongue wrest"ing# groping and grinding.B B$ouched 1istressC :mmm. $here I was# so horny I was a "itt"e nauseated# and I hear Barnum say# BIn my e0perience so"diers are a"ways more comfortab"e with their own ind. :arm"ess to them. $amarin ro""ed out of my embrace and sei4ed him. Effects are "uc i"y transitory. Story# ca"m"y as if such things were common in a day said# BIt(s the demon powder they secrete. 3f course he didn(t now :aw was in )ery "itt"e actua" pain.B Barnum rep"ied. Barnum# o"d sa"t# don(t be wic ed. $here was a"ways fuc ing her# but howC 1y te"epathic abi"ities were not into the rea"m of words# but pictures cou"d be made to suffice. B3h yes# it(s ghast"y rea""y.B B'ot the summer(s "ar I thought it was# demon training. Barnum said in a way that meant she certain"y didn(t# and "oo ed >uestioning"y at me. :o"ding it by the tai"# she hit the master of the house upside the head with the yapping dog. .pampered and powdered. She tries so hard# yesC I am touched. I wou"d say se)era" "oo ed recepti)e# but we("" ne)er now.orgi)e the poor "ad before he sta)es his head in. 'ow I was thin ing "i e Story. See#B :aw stopped# sha ing his head s"ow"y to sett"e it. $his raw anima" energy.$his happens e)ery time. I want to fuc one of them. Brea out the truncheon# it(s time for "uncheon. I()e been at it for the better part of my "ife and I sti"" need the he"p of the eminent "ady sorceress with an inso"ent fi""y "i e our :ep4ibah.B :aw trotted o)er. I needed to rut soon or I(d become an inte""ectua".. . Eight gir"s between fourteen and twenty. $amarin was dri)ing me cra4y.B
. -ea)e off man# I forgi)e you. But this wi"dness. :e proceeded to wagg"e a growing "ength of :aw coc at them.B BAffection# missCB $he -ady Barnum as ed# "oo ing a "itt"e green.rench?sounding. 1aybe I cou"d fuc her? no# that wou"dn(t wor . So I was thin ing your man cou"d bun down in the barrac s. 1y coc was hard enough to cut diamonds. But apparent"y demons are ferocious"y c"annish.B BGery we"". 2hat cou"d I doC Cou"dn(t fuc her# too young. Saying# BI(m tired of fuc ing demons. I turned aside with a southern draw"# BShe needs affection or she("" become despondent.orgi)e my humi"iation.B :e indicated Barnum(s daughters and their friends. B3h you poor baby. 2ho wou"d ha)e thoughtCB Story chimed in# BSing"e greatest impediment to training them.B BI forgi)e you Sir Biscuit.B Sudden"y I was affectionate and .B -ord Barnum pronounced. Chapter $hirty?$wo +:aw . BC(mon arms?man# "et(s see your pi e. And e)en s"owing down his natura" hea"ing to appear more norma"# the damage wou"d be in)isib"e in a few days# gi)e or ta e. In her best tongue e0tended porno?sty"e.B :aw too a deep breath# as if scenting $amarin(s mus . BSee# see 1istress# do you see thisC Signs of my wic edness. $hen he twisted out of her embrace. $hen he began to hit himse"f in the face with a war mace from his be"t.B BI see#B 1rs. $o us a powerfu" pornogenic and chaotic. B3h certain"y#B Said my new"y Asian )oice# BIf she doesn(t fee" "o)ed and appreciated she("" become depressed. B3h no indeed# -ord 'eighbor. And if 1ommy and %addy get upset# peop"e die.
But my 9eggie Biscuit# you(re supposed to be mine.= . 2hich widened s"ight"y as Story nodded# saying# .:e(s doing it again# -ord. B:e"p with the demons and what not. . I rea"i4ed the %emon %ust escape I had been gi)en. . And fina""y that means we wi"" re>uire the 6eoman Biscuit a"so remain. BI thin it best if we stay together.:ep4ibaaahhh#= I wai"ed 8umping on her# pawing at the a"ready tattered rags she wore. I am a horrib"e# sinfu"# naughty gir".I sent Story a picture of me raping one of the guards# so sudden and intense he actua""y tried to dodge it "i e a b"ow. I continued to "ic A"i0# who had ta en me this time.As you wish# -ord 'eighbor.I mean# boys are so si""y. I didn(t ha)e to contro" myse"f# and this was no time to act appropriate"y. $hen had to pretend to stumb"e. I (reco)ered myse"f( and craw"ed from underneath Aubi# craw"ing o)er to where Story was standing where I(d thrown him.= By then A"i0# in the midst of comforting her# had at "east tied $amarin(s top bac on. Crying and screaming# . Storyte""er and Erin both immediate"y grabbed me and tried to pu"" me off of her. But $amarin threw herse"f on me.3f course I wi"" marry you# dar"ing. . Aubi grabbed me from behind and A"i0 grabbed $amarin. . 3h# I am not worthy of your ser)ice.= she said. . .2e"" "et(s head in# Sir.3h my "ord# my "ord# I ha)e dishonored you again.6ou meant daughter. She started issing me and trying to he"p me with the nots that he"d her rags on. .I(m sure our host ser)es a "o)e"y daughter# I mean dinner# of course.= She "oo ed around at e)eryone now staring at her. I shan(t as your assurance that you can contro" those in your party better within my house than I ha)e seen e)idence of so far.2hich# I(m afraid# means her parents must attend her.3f course. 2e ha)e p"enty of room for a"".1y sweet "ady I ha)e done it again.B Barnum said ne0t# ob)ious"y not wanting us in the house. .:orsey ride %addy< %addy# horsey ride<= :e tried to ob"ige her but she was ic ing his chest hard enough to noc the wind out of him# and wrenching his horns from side to side with a force that >uic "y bu""dogged him to his nees.= She "oo ed at me# no "onger crying# a soft bemused smi"e on her face .= I meant daughter and Story new it.I thin it wou"d be best for :ep4ibah to remain with us# for her training. Seeing her "itt"e bron4e nipp"es fatten and grow hard in the bree4e right before my eyes# I a"most fought free of Aubi.= I said.B Story said. As my "egs buc "ed he put his fu"" weight on me and rode my bac down to the ground. As we are both gent"emen and I assume that this can be ta en as granted. 3h I am wic ed. $amarin craw"ed ne0t to me to beg forgi)eness of Singer. She
.B B1aybe your man and the demons wou"d be comfortab"e in the "oft abo)e the stab"e.= Story said# . $hey wrenched us apart# but $amarin(s top came off in my hands.= I reached o)er and grabbed her pu""ing her to me. Story magica""y b"oc ed me as soon as the picture of me fuc ing a horse appeared in his head. And we wi"" ha)e ten thousand babies.= I began to thorough"y "ic her face. :e(d nown me to go further to pro)e a point . :e "ifted me up and s"ammed me bac down. 1y mouth had dropped open with the shoc . 9ight gir"sC= I swear to me# it was a"" I cou"d do not to bang her "i e a festi)a" drum right there in front of e)eryone. 2hi"e $amarin c"imbed up Aubi to sit on his shou"ders ho"ding his horns she started ic ing him with her hee"s# ye""ing .-oo my "ord# I(m doing it again. I a""owed myse"f the freedom to toss them aside with a shrug and continue trying. Again we were pried apart with much apo"ogy and carrying on on our part. I saw a moment of concern f"ash through $amarin(s eyes# then I win ed at her and she rea"i4ed that we didn(t need to be the responsib"e parties.Si""y 9eggie# you don(t get babies from buttse0.= -ord Barnum said# smi"ing thin"y. 6ou said you(d marry meeeee< 3h the betraya"<= I patted her bac and gent"y disentang"ed her c"aws from my c"othes p"acing her gent"y on the ground.= .
!ic %addy in the nuts.= She said.And out. . So if they did manage to escape it wou"d not be sadistic murder# as they 8o e. . . Aubi intercepted her# catching her soft"y# swinging both of them up in the croo of his arm# then ta ing the maiden away and setting the two gir"s down separate"y.. But instead# if my fami"y wou"d be safer with you here or if my husband undertoo the sma"" e0periments he has actua""y been attempting up unti" this point.= She ca""ed running.'ow now# sweetie. After the first one she 8oined him in the (mantra( .*ay them no mind. But there is no reason to thin about that. It(s not whether my husband and fami"y wou"d be safer with you here or if he undertoo the onus of demonic e0periments without you.2e"" no spe"" is unbrea ab"e ob)ious"y# but ours are so strong that they wi"" not be bro en. .6es %addy. .= :e ga)e her a big hug and iss. She s>uea"ed# "aughing shri""y# and screaming# . It wou"d 8ust be three demons acting e0act"y the same as our "itt"e :ep4ibah is now.-oo -ord 'eighbor# I gi)e you my persona" guarantee that you# your "ady wife# and e)eryone in your fami"y wi"" "i)e through our entire )isit with you. 'ot (woo hoo( smi"ing# more indu"gent (isn(t she cute( smi"ing. . .3h %addy(s "itt"e shadowbeast is so c"e)er.And how we are going to comp"ete"y decimate e)ery human for mi"es in a fren4y of debauchery and sadistic games. :er arms at fu"" e0tension ho"ding the same maiden she had pawed at ear"ier o)er her head.= she s>uea"ed ic ing him medium hard in the thigh.= :e "ed her in ta ing a deep breath in. In hopes we wi"" re"ease and banish them.And when you said your mantra did you picture how we are going to tear our sorcerous oppressors to confetti if we e)er brea these spe""s that ho"d usC= .I(m bored# bored# boorred.= . 2e mustn(t ic %addy in the face.= -ord Barnum "oo ed sudden"y better as he breathed a sigh of re"ief and said# . Chapter $hirty?$hree +Storyte""er. 'ow in.= $amarin 8umped up.Boorrreed<= She ca""ed running around the courtyard. Aubi(s head snapped bac but when he brought it forward he was smi"ing.In the nuts. . %emons hate to be he"d in ser)ice. 6our safety wi"" be a damn sight more assured with us than if you tried to "earn these same things through your own e0perimentation. /n"ess they are.= I corrected him# .= She wai"ed.3 ay sweetie# do you fee" centered nowC= :e as ed.'o< Bad :orsey# Bad %addy :orsey<= Somehow in her gigg"y wigg"ies she positioned herse"f that when she p"ayfu""y ic ed out# she caught him under the chin and then in the nose with the same mo)ement. $his wou"d be incon)enient but not irreparab"e. .I don(t see how it(s need"ess"y if it(s our safety at ris .= -ord
. I comforted them the on"y way I cou"d under the circumstances# ma ing "ight of the danger. .8ust rode him down and ept trying to ride him on his hands and nees.= -ady Barnum spo e up then# ./nbrea ab"e. .'ow now my "itt"e he""cat& we must "earn to be ca"m around the materia" p"ane dwe""ers. $hey(re 8ust trying to scare us. But they are a"ways chaotic. Aubi# who cou"d not continue# and wou"d not e)er hurt his baby gir"# did what thousands of fathers before him had done. 'ot precise"y true# but acceptab"e for our purposes. And I must say it is a"so "i e"y you persona""y wi"" be gi)en a great dea" of fascinating and arcane now"edge.aster %addy# faster. It wi"" on"y frighten you need"ess"y.Sorry %addy#= She said in a tone that in no way sounded sorry# and then she ran into the manorhouse. And besides# our ho"ding spe""s are unbrea ab"e. But I assure you demons are not a"ways e)i"# any more than any other creature can a"ways be e)i". :e f"ipped her off his bac catching her and tic "ing her ribs as he "aid her on the ground.I(m so proud#= :e smi"ed.6es %addy#= She said# . A moment "ater she came running bac out. . 1mmm i""# mmmm i""# mmmm i"" i"" i"". .I don(t thin anyone wou"d e)en concei)e of cha""enging that. Barnum and his -ady had ac>uired a definite ye""owish green cast. 'ow breathe with %addy and say your mantra.= She said this "ast "oo ing direct"y at -ord Barnum and his -ady# her face was radiant with 8oy and peace.= :e said# sounding the sma""est bit hysterica". .
= .Barnum "oo ed )ery disappointed# but I cou"d see him rea"i4ing she had a )a"id point by the e0pression on his face. As we wa" ed past I heard her whisper# BAnd did you hear that s inny gir" ta" C 2hat(s up with thatCB :e 8ust shushed her and said# B%on(t# what if she hears youCB Chapter $hirty?.6ou see dear# in this area and the surrounding townships# we ha)e ta en a page from medie)a" history& as we a"" ha)e had to# ob)ious"y. 'ow I can tru"y "earn to beha)e.E0cuse me -ord :uman#= She said# . I can guarantee that no member of my party ho"ds any grudge against you or yours.3h you don(t need to try to te"" me# Barnum# I now a"" about such things. .1y good -ady# that wou"d be a comp"ete"y )a"id point. But it was a point I had thought of.= I finished and my eyes searched the faces of our e0pected hosts.= 1y opinion remained that her heart was more in $amarin(s mouth than in what she was saying. .= $am had been (a""owed( to ser)e at dinner to show how we"" her training was going. . $he difference# I suspect# is in such ser)itude there are ru"es that ensure her good treatment.:ospita"ity is one thing# but p"ease Sir# endea)or to contro" your pets. $here are no bene)o"ent# itinerant magic teachers wandering the countryside offering en"ightenment. But of course I bow to your opinion. Because the magica" arts are not safe# nor are they easy.= .1y -ady# my "o)e# I fee" that the right thing to do is to offer hospita"ity to these peop"e. And they wi"" come with arts that seem so safe and e0citing# and then who nows perhaps your entire fami"y ends up mind"ess 4ombies under their contro". .:e(s as young and foo"ish as you are# and the sooner both of you accept that the way things are is the way things are and show yourse")es ready to do your duty by your fami"y# the sooner you can both get on with the business of being adu"ts. $his is actua""y dangerous.In "o)e with a comforterC= Barnum said# .= Barnum "oo ed confused and possib"y pained.= Story rep"ied.3h# -ord 'eighbor# I dec"are I ne)er now if you are teasing me or being comp"ete"y serious. In the winter months we emp"oy
.our +Erin. A"though when :aw and Erin pu""ed $am down she said. 3n the other hand# I do now that this is )ery important to you.1arrying her off to a guy who is in "o)e with a b"an et# "i e -inus sty"eC= -ord Barnum "oo ed to Story# "i e he wasn(t sure if he ought to ta" to her. E0cept# why am I hereC I ha)e come here because I heard through the grape)ine that your husband had a deep interest in occu"t now"edge. Barnum spo e# . I focused on Barnum# he was the one who wanted us here and if we had him on our side I be"ie)ed he cou"d con)ince his wife for me.= Barnum(s daughter spo e up# coincidenta""y the one $am had issed and run around the courtyard carrying# . . :e(s in "o)e with someone e"se# for -ord(s sa e.I can understand your cha""enges# -ord 'eighbor.= She said when she came up for breath. .= to the gir" before continuing. 6ou now how important I fee" it is to be hospitab"e# especia""y to strangers.7ods damn it# I want to fuc you. $hat e)ening at dinner I o)erheard Barnum say to Story# . And so I wi"" grant it. I now with your he"p I("" succeed.rom what I cou"d see -ady Barnum seemed we"" into it. 6ou wi"" find no true harm at our hands.-ord :usband# I(m fee"ing manipu"ated. :owe)er# you wi"" find e0periences and education with us beyond anything I see you being offered by anyone e"se. . But this is not in)iting a farrier to "unch after he shoes our horses. If I heard it# as uninterested in the word on the street as I am# I now that any magica" predator out there "oo ing for someone to mis"ead into danger is going to hear the same stories. . Story nodded and motioned him to go on. I current"y ha)e a wi"d teen min0 of my own# trying to get my daughter Jessie Jo to gent"e down and marry the boy her mother and I ha)e chosen for her.I ha)e e)ery intent to enter our :ep4ibah into se0ua" ser)itude as soon as I hear a worthy offer.Chris doesn(t want to marry me either. .6ou are marrying this beautifu" f"ower of womanhood#= She "eaned o)er and "oud"y whispered# .3h than you good "ady.= $amarin "eapt onto the -ady(s horse facing her# and began issing her passionate"y.= .
B.I don(t thin we ought to put the pressure of ser)ing on her tonight.Sounds "i e a tru"y fine idea.= It was a testament to the efficiency of Barnum(s reign how >uic "y three new p"aces were set# and it was a testament to Story(s inf"uence that they didn(t >uestion my assurance that it was necessary.= Barnum and his wife did not "oo impressed with that idea and Barnum spo e. I am not your woman to be to"d that my memories are made up stories. B2e feed her no such thing.B $amarin said# digging in. $amarin 8umped to her feet# brandishing her for at Story.= I rep"ied. B:eppi# sweetheart.I wou"dn(t say ne)er dear. 3f course there was a"ways f"e0ibi"ity if she fe"" in "o)e with another man# as "ong as they were unimpeachab"y discreet.B -ady Barnum "oo ed scanda"i4ed and sic . She wi"" not eat whi"e they are ser)ing. . $hat wi"" mean we ha)e to a"so set p"aces for her parents. Is that rea""y what he fed youCB B3f course not# goofy. And I wou"d ad)ise we not put too fine a point on them as that is not as much a socia" fau0 paus that so many of her actions are. In the cases of some# the e"der"y# the )ery young# the habitua""y co"d# a maid might be assigned to stay the night in their bed and eep them warm unti" morning.B Story said.3b)ious"y the so"ution is for them to get married anyway. . $he boy wi"" eep his bit of b"an et on the side.= I re"eased her wrist and she sniffed the ham and began to nibb"e at it absentminded"y as she "oo ed at me.= I wou"d ha)e continued but I noticed then that $amarin was hitting herse"f in the face with a ham that amounted to an entire pig(s "eg and repeating# . 7oing from bed to bed in the e)ening warming the bed before its owner retires. $he traditiona" fi0 wou"d be for the wife to ha)e a fema"e "o)er# to assure that a"" heirs be"ong to her husband. 'ow you admit what you()e done to me or I swear# I wi"" ta e your fuc in( eyes<B I "eaned o)er and put my hand gent"y on her wrist. .= I didn(t notice the first few times as I was facing the Barnums and she started out in more of a monotone before raising her )oice to a scream as the b"ows became harder. But $amarin was not about to "et herse"f not be the center of attention. 'ob"e coup"es ne)er share a room anyway. $hese maidens are ca""ed comforters# both because they eep one warm on winter nights but a"so they pro)ide comfort??? in the case of unp"easant dreams and the "i e.She has had a busy and trying day# Sir.She does ma e a good point though.$here is no reason to carry on "i e this# e)eryone ma es the occasiona" mista e.= I said to Story. . B3ne thing I do "i e is the ge"atinous gumminess of their unformed bones.maids who act as bedwarmers. And your daughter wi"" of course fuc me. 9ea"istica""y if we don(t want to dea" with a mini?me"tdown the smart thing to do wou"d be to set her a p"ace ne0t to me and ha)e her practice the "ess physica""y stressfu" s i"" of eating at a tab"e.I said ne)er when I meant rare"y. BAre you ca""ing me a "iar# you fuc C . B2e feed you no such thing<B Story repeated raising his )oice. .= .= . 6ou are disco)ering the unp"easant truth# that marriage for "o)e is not on"y a fair"y new idea but po"itica""y impossib"e.etterbump ne)er
. B$his is much nicer than the food we get at home.= Barnum said.irst you feed me nothing but ha"f formed babies "i e boi"ed tomatoes fi""ed with 8e""y crunchy bones# and now you deny itC I wi"" not sit >uiet and "et you do that. . .B $amarin said.So the betrothed is in "o)e with a peasant and you and his father want an a""iance between your fami"ies.etterbump "ets me eat is a bow" of aborted fetuses a day.'ow that#= $amarin said.Stop that at once<= I shouted# wa" ing bris "y o)er to her and grabbing her wrist. :er attitude changed from eyero""ing rage to amused smir in a b"in . Course I(d fuc her. But I decided to co)er her (fau0 paus( .= . She was "aughing soft"y and put her for down# a"most sitting down again. . I am not your s"a)e.= A >uic g"ance around the tab"e showed me that A"i0# :aw # and certain"y myse"f agreed that the idea appea"ed. BA"" -ord .But with tab"e manners and such# wou"dn(t that be more emotiona""y and menta""y stressfu" on the poor gir"C= .2e"" her tab"e manners aren(t that bad# comparati)e"y.As you say# my "earned friend.B She said.
I sat at his tab"e ne0t to you and fed myse"f.iggyCB B'othing my dear#B I said pushing my chair bac and motioning her into my "ap.B Jessie Jo smi"ed and b"in ed si"ent"y for a moment.B $he gir" said# "oo ing innocent"y embarrassed and confused. B%addy# the demon(s trying to rape me<B She 8umped on :aw who had stood the moment she screamed. $he rest of the mea" surprising"y went without incident. I(m a magica" gir" about your age and my fami"y and I are here messing with e)eryone to ta e my mind off the fact that my boyfriend mo)ed away. BI("" he"p#B $am said# B6ou can ha)e a "o)e"y dance with a charming gir" who digs you or I can go $awanda the ama4on a"" o)er your ass and at the )ery "east you are going to be dry humped on this tab"e. $amarin "oo ed thri""ed# a huge smi"e stretched her "ips tight. BI(d "i e )ery much to dance# :ep4ibah.B She f"opped bac "imp in his arms. 1mmm# I can sme"" it on her. B6ou are a strange sad gir" JJ.C(mon rape me# 8er . BI te"" you this for two reasons. I hate fathers who thin they own their gir"s. 2hen I re"eased her she stood up and too her seat.B Jessie said.
.B Jessie "aid her head on $amarin(s shou"der and he"d her tight as they swayed and danced s"ow"y to the music. . BI don(t understand.B She said. . BSecond"y# your father is trying to marry you off against your wi"". BI don(t now. $am wa" ed o)er to Jessie Jo# the daughter she had been amusing herse"f with. %on(t you agreeCB $am as ed.B Jessie "oo ed at her surprised. $amarin is your name and I wish to show respect# but I a"so wish to be casua" and show we are friends.B She said s"ow and breathy. 'ow rape me. BI 8ust don(t "i e to see you get so wor ed up# my precious. B6ou(re idding. B2hat are you trying to imp"y .B B$hat is a"" the more reason.B She said.B She >uic "y stood bac up.B I wrapped my arms around her# stro ing her and issed the side of her head "ight"y for a few moments. 2hen dinner finished $amarin got up and e)eryone fro4e for a moment.B B1istyCB $amarin "oo ed "i e she cou"dn(t be"ie)e e)en in a situation where her name was forgotten that she wou"d e)er be mista en for a 1isty.B $amarin said.fed me. . B1ay I ha)e this danceCB $am as ed with a bow.B Jessie smi"ed at her# sma"" and confused for a moment. I(m not a demon.B She "oo ed her up and down# moan?grow"ing deep in her throat. BA"" o)er.irst# there is something about the way you sme"" that ma es me want to "ic you a"" o)er. $hey started p"aying a s"ow me"ancho"y dance song.B She too $amarin(s hand and stood. She shoo her head and continued at her norma" speed and )o"ume. Are you sure you e)en now how to en8oy thisCB B2e("" 8ust ha)e to see.B :e started to iss her nec and "ic her co""ar bone and chest. So I thin a "itt"e %emon %ust e0posure might be the thing you need to ha)e some fun. As $amarin too her to the sma"" c"ear space in front of the musicians and too her in her arms and said# B6ou may ca"" me $amarin. She wrapped her "egs around him ye""ing# BAnd she(s not supposed to rape me is she# Sir !nightC 6ou(re supposed to rape me.ocusing on certain areas.B She said. It too a few minutes of e)eryone sort of wa" ing on eggshe""s but her sheer adorabi"ity soon softened e)eryone into en8oying themse")es. B1y name is $amarin. $amarin was charming and witty. BI do# 1iss $# I do. B$oday with you# when you issed me and after that when you "ifted me up and ran me around the s>uare# that was the first time I had an idea of what peop"e meant when they said (ha)ing fun(.= :aw said# BShe must ha)e been e0posed to %emon *owder. BI am a"most certain that I am not. B1iss $. :e stood there ho"ding her and "oo ing confused. She wandered o)er to the string >uartet that had p"ayed for our amusement throughout dinner. I can go either way I 8ust want to spend some time being c"ose to you. Jessie ye"ped ho"ding $amarin tight# and then spun out of her arms B:e"p# she(s trying to rape me<B She screamed# sudden"y crying. After a moment she "ifted her head up again.
$am sid"ed up as what I too to be a "ust spe""# or possib"y some sort of chaotic too ho"d. E)en though it was not the rea" reason we were there# our co)er story that I(d teach Barnum magic ob"igated me to gi)e it a shot.B She "oo ed past $amarin ignoring her.I("" he"p. But I must say that perhaps it is unwise to ta e the word of a demon at face )a"ue. BCome come#B :aw said# setting Jessie in her chair. $amarin started in span ing her. Chapter $hirty?.= She said# as she pu""ed Jessie(s s irt up. :er fu"" white bottom shown to the room& 8ust the edge of her b"onde furred s"it )isib"e at the bottom. I started on demon summoning# which I norma""y wou"dn(t co)er unti" someone was much further a"ong in their training. .B $amarin draw"ed s"ow"y as if she was thin ing. .= $amarin said e0cited"y bounding o)er.B I smi"ed# B6es dear# a"" of us at this part of the tab"e heard her whisper that to your sister.B $hen returned to her "imp ()ictim( pose. BBi""ie Jo# what are you thin ingCB She screeched. 2hich probab"y meant her hair was dyed# as pubes usua""y ran dar er than hair not significant"y "ighter. B2e"" it wou"dn(t be proper for you to be forgi)en without punishment.B Bi""ie Jo continued.
. I fe"t Aubi cast as he said# BJust get up c"ose to her sweetie# I(m sure she wi"" become interested >uic "y.B $amarin wai"ed.B And she punched him in the chest. And you can(t e)en eep your accent straight. Just warming her up rea""y# but her mother "oo ed scanda"i4ed. She dropped her s irt and ran to her mother. :e has as ed for assistance because that is necessary to their training. :e cou"d on"y be taught ceremonia" magic where separate entities were ca""ed upon to do ones bidding. Aubi(s spe"" disintegrated "i e dust and Bi""ie Jo was sudden"y shoc ed and crying with shame.B BBut she said she(s not a demon. As demons# spirits# and the "i e won(t e)en ta e notice of a human without someone inter)ening on their beha"f. BJer .She sat up abrupt"y# B$hat(s not rape# 8er . 'othing bad wi"" happen.iggy(s speech impediment. But he not on"y is paying for damages# he is a"so gi)ing now"edge# the greatest of a"" gifts# in e0change. She immediate"y came a"ert and sat up. %addy they are moc ing us. 2e now -ord . B/n"ess you wou"d "i e to ta e a moment in so"itude with our :ep4ibah to see if the e0istence of %emon *owder is rea" or not.etterbump and his g"orious -ady wou"d ne)er abuse the goodwi"" of friends "i e the Barnums for a "ow"y 8est. B9ape me# pu"" my hair# hit me# ma e me cry.B I said# ignoring her comment on my accent as I decided to pretend I didn(t notice I was doing it. B$rust me human. 'ot to mention the heat of her bottom. B.%addy he"p< 2hat are they doing to meC= 3ne of her sisters# Bi""ie Jo# said# BShe(s fa ing it.B :e g"anced o)er to $amarin and bac .B B'o than you# Sir !night. $he gir" was bent o)er with her s irt f"ipped up o)er her bac and her nic ers down as soon as the words were out of $amarin(s mouth.B B3oh yes. But he was human# so I cou"dn(t teach him any magic that was powered by him. 3ur -ord is trying to train these creatures to ser)e humans# as is their p"ace in this wor"d.i)e +Storyte""er.B She f"opped bac "imp against him. $he gir" sat up and screamed. 3n top of that# they had to be ca""ed on in the name of deities and arch demons who must be appea"ed to and begged to assist. She sat up again immediate"y and punched him a second time. I 8ust heard the demon gir" say that she wasn(t proper"y a demon and she was 8ust pretending and ta ing ad)antage of our hospita"ity for her wic ed amusement.irst"y I wi"" not e)en comment on your rudeness pointing out Senora . 3r at "east you("" "i e it at the time. $amarin sid"ed up to him and reached both her arms up Jessie(s fu"" s irt and s"ipped her underwear off# "ifting her butt out of :aw (s arm for a second as they came down. B*"ease don(t te"" me I need to educate you on the honesty and trustworthiness of demons. BCunt shou"dn(t ca"" my b"uff#B $amarin sub)oca"i4ed# "oo ing at me from the corner of her eye. :e had nothing there to power it. BShe(s not paying attention to me# %addy. Sudden"y the gir" was )ery wrigg"y and affectionate as she writhed passionate"y against $amarin begging her forgi)eness for >uestioning her demonhood.
But I had to thin of a way to wor the ca"" into the in)ocation whi"e not "etting him hear such fantasy destroying terms as (c"ass M2(. /sua""y some incense and ta" about how awesome he is wi"" be enough# especia""y at the beginning stages. But before we can e)en discuss setting a circ"e he says# BI notice your assistant# Sorceress .B :e said with a smi"e. BI recommend you begin with entreating -ord Ba(a"# a demon "ord# to send you a ser)ant. 2e were on"y s"ight"y farther a"ong in preparing for the ritua" when he went off on yet another tangent.riend Barnum#B I started# when I fina""y got him bac on the point. B2e"" you wou"dn(t be doing this at a""# actua""y. It(s nice to thin about how modern man shou"d be ab"e to impro)e on the way things ha)e a"ways been done. But you aren(t "i)ing in a modern wor"d. But no# sacrifice isn(t actua""y necessary# depending on how big of a boon you are as ing for. So if the circ"e brea s or you ma e any other mista es# he stands between you and any thought of retribution# and he is rea""y too high to bother with petty re)enge so he wi"" be forgi)ing of mista es. B%o you rea""y thin arranging Jessie Jo(s marriage with that boy is the e>ui)a"ent of pimping her outCB B'o.B B6es# 'eighbor# it(s a sad ta"e actua""y. :umans do not "i e change as a species. It a"so "oo ed "i e a stereotypica" demon# which I new was important to him.B I rep"ied# BI ha)e no way of understanding what you face. Because that(s what the peasants want to see to fee" "i e e)erything is norma". But the stress of such power has dri)en her >uite mad. $he daughter being p"edged in marriage for a po"itica" a""iance is a dramatic story. So it was more cremation than dar act. But you decided to ta e the feuda" route# and feuda"ism is not something you can do ha"fway. I ha)e no )assa"s# nor any wish to bui"d a ingdom# nor peasants to protect. BIf you fee" ready to try# I am content with supporting you.iggy seems to ta" in a different )oice or at the "east a different accent near"y e)ery time she spea s. B. I don(t now if I can do that. Simi"ar to an a""igator in the fact that it was about as smart as a dog whi"e being far more doci"e than its appearance suggested.B 1y intent was to ha)e him summon a c"ass M2.B I reminded him. 2hich in this case is not 8ust feuda"ism# but feuda"ism as it(s understood by the twenty?first century mind.B B:ow cou"d that not be what you were e0pecting# -ord 'eighborC Sacrifice is a part of the standard understanding of demon magic.B $his 8ust came to me in the moment# and I was p"eased with it. B$rue# and I don(t want to rush into anything# but I am eager to start if you thin we(re at a p"ace where I can "earn by doing rather than ta" ing.I had to be carefu" to ma e him do e)erything# as my true status wou"d >ueer the resu"ts if gi)en the opportunity. 'ot on"y wi"" that not wor # but the peop"e won(t stand for it. I actua""y thin you got "uc y that she is fighting you a bit. 'ot to mention in the days when Ba(a" was worshipped the standard sacrifice was meat and it was burned up in a fire. $hey ha)e seen it in a "ot of shows and mo)ies. A mind that most"y understands history as )iewed through mo)ies. $his increases your protection because you are offering him a sacrifice. She is a mistress of the forgotten arts# I definite"y cou"d not function at such an ad)anced "e)e" so consistent"y without her. :owe)er# I ac now"edged to myse"f that we shou"d ha)e discussed a bac story for why she did this before we came. 'ot to mention before I cou"d teach him anything I had to get him to focus. $he worse that can happen is he wi"" stop answering your ca""# which can a"most a"ways be o)ercome by offering a bigger sacrifice. 2hat you are doing is certain"y no different from what men in your position ha)e done for thousands of years. 6ou need to gi)e them a go)ernment that they(re comfortab"e with. 6ou can(t cherry?pic through e)ery type of go)ernment& use what you "i e# disregard what you don(t. $here is no denying that democracy wou"d wor in a town this si4e. :e is commanding the demon. $hey insist on peop"e beha)ing as they e0pect them to. 6our citi4ens ha)e a"ready had to dea" with a "ifetime(s worth with the 9enaissance a"one. It is a testament to her strength of spirit and pure character that she is ab"e to ho"d it together as we"" as she can on a day to day basis. BA sacrificeCB Barnum began worried"y# B-i e an anima"# or a personC $hat is not what I was e0pecting. :e seemed eager as cou"d be when he was ta ing me to his c"andestine magic "aboratory behind a boo case. I don(t now what I(d do without you.B :e said# his eagerness bare"y concea"ed.B B$han you. $his was actua""y done best by describing a
c"ass M2 in detai"# not gi)ing him a name and nowing Ba(a" wi"" p"uc the image from his mind and fi"" it. 2e had a wi""ing accomp"ice in Jessie Jo# had scared her sister Bi""ie Jo sufficient"y that she wou"dn(t come near enough to me to be effected by my %emon *owder or %ust# we "i ed to change up what we ca""ed it as 8ust another way to hint sub"imina""y that we were fu"" of shit. 2hen a"" was said and done# she was a serious industrious gir" who had now disco)ered she "i ed to cut "oose occasiona""y but o)er a"" she wanted a so"id predictab"e "ife. Jessie Jo was 1J and she had fraterna" twin sisters# Sammi Jo and Bettie Jo# who were my age# and a"so a ten year o"d# %orothy 1ae# who was not in residence when we arri)ed# ha)ing gone to a friend5s house for the wee end. :er sisters and their friends seemed to en8oy the p"acebo effect# or possib"y# they 8ust "i ed the e0cuse to run a "itt"e wi"d. I new Story was actua""y fu"fi""ing his bargain with Barnum. I had him banish it as soon as I had sorted out he was 8ust going to stand there "oo ing at it. I figured it wou"d possib"y be done by the time we "eft# but I new none of us wou"d ma e it a priority. I thought it wou"d be a "ong time unti" Barnum cou"d safe"y ca"" e)en a wea demon and e0pect to send it home without troub"e. :e was fit and attracti)e as were both his parents# so he had e)ery "i e"ihood of aging we"". -ord and -ady Barnum had had two boys# o"dest and youngest "i e boo ends# and si0 gir"s. I was p"eased with how these things had gone so far# a wee in we had estab"ished ourse")es as a fi0ture for e0citement in the househo"d. 3nce I(d had some fun I fe"t a "ot better.
. Jessie Jo and I became friends o)er the ne0t few wee s as I he"ped her brea "oose a bit and she he"ped me ha)e some innocent fun at her fami"y5s e0pense.
Chapter $hirty?Si0 +$amarin. 'ot because I had anything against him# but there wasn(t rea""y a human a"i)e I trusted with a pet demon. $he youngest Barnum sib# by an hour or whate)er from his ne0t o"der sister# was Joseph# ca""ed -itt"e Joe# who was the "i)eried page boy I tossed. So the on"y thing I rea""y needed to cope with day to day was the "esser (I wish Shamus cou"d see this( and I >uite fran "y was ept busy enough that I simp"y didn(t thin of it for hours at a time and when I did I wou"d distract myse"f as >uic "y as possib"e by doing the most outrageous thing I cou"d thin of. I new she was en8oying her time with me# but it was no surprise when she confided that she wou"d be a "itt"e re"ie)ed when we "eft and her "ife cou"d go bac to norma". It became common enough that they wou"d act out if anyone from our group was around and we had to say that they must sme"" residue on our c"othes. :er betrothed was about her age and she was fond of him. 9ed Junior was of course "eading the e0pedition the two husbands were off on. Especia""y seeing Bi""ie Jo(s humi"iation. I o)erheard her more than once ma ing her brother describe it and bemoaning not seeing it firsthand. :e was smart and funny# whi"e maintaining a good head for figures and so"id business acumen. Both teaching him simp"e magics and demonstrating demon hand"ing in a safe en)ironment. I was actua""y p"eased in hindsight that I had gotten away with gi)ing him an e0perience he wou"d count as successfu"# but that he didn(t ha)e anything to show for. By far the most interesting disco)ery I made about my new friend was that she didn5t rea""y ha)e a prob"em with the future as it was offered to her. I "ed him through the in)ocation to Ba(a" and he got his demon# and then sorted out he didn(t now what to do with it when he had it. But I didn(t rea""y now or care as demon wrang"ing wasn(t my thing. It turned out that Bi""ie Jo and the o"dest sister Bec y Jo were both married but they were staying with their parents whi"e their husbands went on a combination census and "ate ta0es co""ecting mission. 3nce I had ca"med down there was no denying that I hadn(t nown Shamus for "ong and I was abso"ute"y certain I(d be seeing him again before too "ong. $his meant anyone who was e)en around me and to a "esser e0tent my (parents( had at "east the potentia" to ma e things a bit cra4y. 2hen she came bac she was >uite )e0ed that she(d missed our first night.
$he ne0t day# after consu"ting the others# I to"d her that not on"y was there magic a)ai"ab"e that wou"d s"ow the de)e"opmenta" progress so her pregnancy cou"d ta e II wee s rather than the traditiona" I0# so")ing the timing issue.esti)a" of . 'ot to say that I fe"t we needed it. . I new what $amarin had in mind with her "itt"e human friend# or soon to be no "onger human friend. $o a degree it was e0act"y what her father was doing with his foo"ish arcane e0periments# and his "ady wife supported him in doing it. Jessie Jo had a "ot of fun issing and p"aying around with me# but I new I was not the member of our party she was interested in.ami"y status wou"d be a""owed to be mothered by this gir"# no matter how nice she was. E)eryone wou"d "i e"y be into0icated and eat a feast composed on"y of deserts. I appro)ed of it. :er fami"y didn5t ta e to our disruptions the way she had# but e)en they agreed one day a year of pandemonium and irresponsibi"ity wou"d be a we"come change. I considered adding a "itt"e postscript to their story# as it was being written by the gir"s and :aw # to a""ow that her magic infection might spread through her fami"y "i e the f"u. $hen she broached the sub8ect that it was too bad that if Sir Biscuit impregnated her the baby wou"d be born too soon after her marriage to be be"ie)ab"y her husband5s. /n"ess she practiced# the dose of magic she caught wou"d be "ess de)e"oped and wou"d 8ust ma e her a "itt"e "uc ier than she wou"d ha)e been otherwise.She and I p"anned a . I was pretty sure that if she were to say# . A"so# in the new wor"d order# magic cou"d be a se0ua""y transmitted condition.ami"y member who cou"d manifest any race at wi"" that he actua""y was. But I was a"so pretty sure that it wou"dn5t ta e much more than :aw 5s conscious wi"" to impregnate her with seed that was on"y of his body.esti)a" of . Chi"dren cou"d discip"ine their parents# peop"e wou"d ha)e to approach beggars and p"ead for the opportunity to gi)e them money# and masters wou"d "abor for the p"easure of ser)ants. $his brought up the >uestion of if we were a"" magic in our group. I appro)ed of messing about with the humans "i)es for $amarin5s amusement and I appro)ed of introducing magic into the gir"5s "ine. In addition to the other c"assica" traditions they had re)i)ed they wou"d add an annua" . :owe)er# I was sti"" uncertain if I thought it wou"d be positi)e to ha)e it coming into the "ine random"y# e)en within members who ne)er e)en considered the >uestion "ong enough to ha)e an opinion on whether or not
. I assured her that Sir Biscuit might )ery we"" be interested in such a rende4)ous. She >uite "i ed the idea of raising a ha"f magica" baby. And she new her father wou"d be o)er8oyed with a grandchi"d who cou"d ta e his magica" e0periments to the ne0t "e)e". Chapter $hirty?Se)en +Singer.oo"s. I new there was no way that a baby with . So that was parenta" permission right there. E)en so# she was so sensiti)e about not hurting my fee"ings that she waited unti" the second time we were discussing the bacchana"ian aspects of the day before she e)en mentioned that it was too bad Sir Biscuit wou"dn5t be interested in arranging a rende4)ous with her. A"ready# with a thought# I had inserted the spar that wou"d awa en magic in any in her "ine who tru"y wanted it and was wi""ing to wor for it. $he >uestion of if she wou"d then gi)e se0ua""y transmitted magic to her husband was answered& it depends on how strong"y she wished to.Sir Biscuit# you now what might be fun?C= :aw wou"d be na ed before she finished# 8ust in case she might suggest something that cou"d in)o")e na edness. 'ot to mention our introduction wou"d bring a much more natura" strain of power into her "ife than her father5s traffic ing in chaos might bring. 2e had a"ready discussed this at "ength# but I assured her once again that we were.oo"5s for our "ast day with the Barnums# which wou"d be a month to the day before her wedding. 2here her first# by :aw if she sti"" wanted that# wou"d be of his heritage& but 8ust ha)ing intercourse with him cou"d pass magic on to her# so a"" her chi"dren wou"d be ha"f magic# or fu"" magic depending on whom their bio"ogica" father was.or one day no one5s actions wou"d ha)e conse>uences. $he ha"f 2erebeast# ha"f %ragon in human form he appeared to the uneducated but magica""y conscious# rather than the . 2ith his b"ind f"opping around# the best possibi"ity was it entering the "ine by turning someone dando or hamademon.
$rying to wor and become one with it whi"e it was in her. 1agic tends to fo""ow the path of "east resistance# un"ess forced into a particu"ar pattern by its creator.But what if somebody eats twoC= JJ as ed.2i"" I be ab"e to do that if I become magicC= . .= I said# as $amarin said# . -i e the afternoon we spent tasting wedding ca es for JJ5s ceremony when I tied their abi"ity to taste sweet with the sensation of se0ua" p"easure& the sweeter the ca e the deeper the sensation. I had inherited the 1other5s fondness for e0periments# but maybe not as strong"y. I cou"d ha)e twea ed things so there had to be a direct "ine of infection from her but my "o)e of e0periments was cropping up rather more strong"y than I origina""y thought. $he night before the . . I was "eft with -ady Barnum# both of us trying to entertain the other out of po"iteness and a scramb"ed idea of whose responsibi"ity it was.= $am continued# . 1y stand on the sub8ect was@ humans were once magic and had become human when they re8ected their gifts.So if someone has two# one of the spe""s comes off with the first person they iss and if the first person they iss had one as we""# they 8ust carry it unti" the ne0t person they iss# and so on unti" it finds an empty person to "atch onto and if they snee4e in the interim ma ing a space# then the second one stic s into the new"y )acated s"ot. 2hy gi)e them a second chanceC I thin my fina" decision wou"d be ma ing it a symptom that when she got a co"d she ga)e magic to e)eryone she ga)e the co"d to but the magic wou"d go away when the co"d did# un"ess the person 8umped on the opportunity and treasured and c"ung to it. $hat way it won5t be instantaneous so no one wi"" now it5s enchanted Nc"airs and I cou"d do it so that they a"" turn into the same anima" but that5s boring. A coup"e of centuries bac I had spent decades and more with far more boring women than -ady Barnum and her daughters and handmaidens. :aw as my man at arms was honor bound to be with me# but I was safe with the -ady of the house# so e0cept for escorting us anytime we "eft the grounds he busied himse"f he"ping train Barnum5s troops. E)ery few days I wou"d ma e her 8oin us for an afternoon to show how we"" trained she was.esti)a" I sat with $amarin and JJ and discussed their p"ans as I decided what I might contribute to the fun. So far to my now"edge no one has e)er figured out what I was doing who I didn5t te"" myse"f.2hat if I were to enchant a p"atter of Nc"airs so that if you ate one# the ne0t time you snee4ed you wou"d turn into the "ast anima" you saw.= .= I said. $hroughout this )isit on an a)erage day# Story wou"d be educating -ord Barnum. A"so nown as he"ping Barnum or fuc ing with his fami"y.Course she can do that.Can you do thatC= JJ as ed.If that happens it won5t be too "ong unti" e)erybody in the )i""age is an anima". . $amarin wou"d be p"aying with JJ supposed"y "earning from her ste""ar e0amp"e how to beha)e "i e a proper young "ady of the age. 2e are starting a tradition with the . It was her home# but it was my troop who had ta en o)er. . I 8ust had to ma e my own fun.they wanted the power. .If you "earned how. It was a "itt"e party fa)or I5d de)e"oped in the sa"ons of the Archbishop *hi"ip %ucanten.But#= JJ said# sudden"y ner)ous. . And if it5s big then way more peop"e can en8oy. :e a"so was eeping his promise to be comp"ete"y >uiet and discreet as he wor ed his way through any number of members of the house or "oca" )i""age that caught his eye.= I said# p"eased with the idea.3ooh Singer# I want this to be an ongoing thing. I was a"so the on"y fema"e besides A"i0 who remembered the midd"e ages c"ear"y and the socia" mores of the time didn5t stic in my throat the way it did hers. 2hat if we were to present the Barnums with a huge beautifu" p"atter# a p"atter on"y to be used on this day each year# and you ma e any food ser)ed from that p"atter contain the spe"".=
. Aubi# A"i0# and Erin sp"it their time between assisting Story and chaperoning $amarin.esti)a". 1ore than anything (my own fun( ended up being e0changing other sensations for se0ua" gratification.I can ma e it transferab"e. I new that this Espe""5 for "ac of a better term# wou"d create a magica" strain of e)ery co"d she had that wou"d spread through humans gi)ing temporary power.= .
And the fa e %emon %ust and 8umping on the gir"s in the band tearing at their c"othing wou"d ha)e been fun e)ery day for a hundred years. Gacationing with the Barnums had been an e0citing "ar and 8ust what $amarin needed we a"" agreed. I mean the ind of thing that wou"d ma e :aw and A"i0 b"ush and stammering"y as if that sort of thing is "ega". Just enough time to gi)e a change of perspecti)e# but not rea""y e)en too much time away from their wor . But ba"ancing the two wears on a guy and can get boring.Are you free for a "itt"e whi"e my "o)eC Because I rea""y need the nastiest# cra4iest# fuc ing se0 you ha)e in you. I passed my husband as I went out the front door for a breath of fresh air. 2hite and bitter and nothing rea""y you5d want. I was not as anti?human as say Erin but I was not some sort of per)erted humanphi"e. If there is one thing this tour has taught me# it5s that the "east you thin of humans# they wi"" surprise you by being e)en "ess.I5"" ma e the effects on"y "ast twenty?four hours. I ha)e been (proper?"ady?of?breeding(ed unti" it5s bubb"ing "i e a brainpan fu"" of ba ing soda.= . I need you to remind me of who I am. I wanted to educate them and raise them up# but that wasn5t what we were there for and there fran "y wasn5t time. And I need you to remind me that I5m not that )apid decoration. I had to watch how I touched other gir"s in front of anyone I intended to spend the night with and an amusing but i"" timed fau0 %emon %ust romp cou"d ruin two days of wor if seen by the wrong gir". I cou"d bite my tongue and admit that it wasn5t a hardship for me to p"ay the "ady of breeding with the nou)eu0 nob"e# but when I had a few moments to myse"f I cou"dn5t spend it a"" pratt"ing with teenagers# no matter how charming they were.Actua""y dear?= :e started to say# but I cou"d te"" he was 8ust teasing# going to pretend to beg off# but e)en that wou"d ha)e been too much for me. I didn5t want to say anything but being a wi"d out of contro" horndog was on"y fun beyond a wee if either the audience ept changing or the audience had enough peop"e you were interested in that you honest"y en8oyed sto"en gropes day in day out. $here were enough women in the 1anor and the nearby )i""age that e)en with one or two night da""iances I cou"d be ept busy. $his was cra4y. E)en when you(re en8oying no strings attached with a human gir"# she doesn5t want to see you 8umping on other gir"s.
.. I want to fee" dirty. After a few wee s of it I was beginning to get a bit bored. A"i0 was 8ust as horny as I and Erin was comp"ete"y anti?human so there was ne)er a night I had to do without. I found I rea""y needed to mo)e around a bit. I5d ha)e you ta e me here but I5m horny and bored# I am not an ado"escent "i e $am or an eterna" ado"escent "i e :aw . Sometimes I 8ust needed something different. Chapter $hirty?Eight +:aw . 2hether they are human or magic. I can guarantee that. 3n the spur of the moment I grabbed him saying# .= 2e a"" agreed that was enough premeditation and now it was time to mo)e on. So ta e me somep"ace pri)ate and defi"e me. In the end I "imited myse"f to a few comments about great fema"e "eaders of the midd"e ages# there weren5t many but they e0isted& as we"" as strong wi)es who ru"ed e>ua""y with their husbands# in fact if not in name. $hey seemed to be impressed with me and wi""ing to do anything I suggested# whi"e not actua""y be"ie)ing me. $he 9enaissance wasn5t e)en ten years ago# and the time 8ust before had pub"ic schoo"s that were so anti?patriarchy# history c"asses were ma ing things up to down p"ay there e)er being time when men were tru"y in power. I stopped him with a iss and then "ed him off myse"f. I ga)e myse"f an hour of passion# another hour of screaming and "aughing maniaca""y and then a deep breath and I was ab"e to meet the "adies for afternoon tea with a demure smi"e and patience for the boring pratt"e of women of pri)i"ege who were not )apid decorations# but aspired to be. 6et the first generation without pub"ic high schoo"s and women not on"y are 8udged by 12th century standards# as baby ma ers and fodder for fami"y a""iances# but no one >uestions it# 8ust accepting it as the natura" order.
= I indicated a space straight across from me. 3nce I fe"t her sett"e on my shou"ders# her "ower "eg "oc ed o)er my wing8oint. It wasn5t anything they5d e)er needed to discuss as far as I new.yes p"ease#= a"oud. 2hen she was across the c"earing and "oo ing at me# but not direct"y at me# I phased out. JJ "oo ed a "itt"e ner)ous so I motioned her o)er ob)ious"y with one c"aw. JJ was a nice gir" who a"" of us in the band wou"dn5t mind fuc ing& e0cept Aubi. E)en in the band $am chased Erin# a"though as yet they5d not done much. She 8umped a bit with surprise but when she saw it was me she too the end of my tai" in her hand and patted it bac . I wo e up on the day of the feast fee"ing a "itt"e b"ah about the who"e e0perience. I "i ed JJ and wanted to ha)e se0 with her.Sir 9egina"d# I thought the reason you were so eager to snea me off 8ust now was you were interested in a rende4)ous in the forest. . In the end I p"aced part of my tai" right up against her and he"d it firm as I tried to pu""
. Sudden"y# I wanted to ma e it specia" for her. She s>uea ed out a "itt"e scream when I pic ed her up& then said . She tried to "et go and I he"d her tight. After a moment she seemed to get the idea that I wanted her to rise. . *"us the defau"t position was a .JJ#= I said# . It is annoying any time wor is ruined by a mista e. 2e had to snea out# e)ading the humans who fe"t they had a sta e in her )irtue. She was 8ust too stiff. I reached my tai" up and patted her gent"y on the shou"der. I was in shades of brown and green# probab"y I5d b"end better into sage brush than forest# but I wasn5t hunting so I saw no reason to change. -uc i"y the band happi"y assisted me.2hen you are trying to ma e an impression >uantity does matter. $hey were curious# but they new I5d te"" them when I was done. . :e and $amarin seemed to ha)e a father daughter agreement not to "i e the same gir"s this "ife to e"iminate the ic factor.= . Anyway# she was an adorab"e human gir"# who e)en Erin "oo ed twice at since she wou"dn5t be human much "onger# and she wanted to ha)e my baby. I new she saw a man si4ed )orte0 of space and time that grew and became amorphous before concentrating# and c"earing as I stood there a twenty foot dragon. Both of them seemed to ha)e a )ery broad taste yet it ne)er o)er"apped. But it was a fact that I wou"d ha)e rather ha)e done it a wee or ten days before. 'ow go stand o)er there across the c"earing.A"though it wi"" ta e "itt"e con)incing if you choose to "ead it that way after we5re done. And Aubi too A"i0 up on her propositions the most of any of us# a"though he was not in a rea" high se0 cyc"e of his "ife.ami"y member was incapab"e of doing wrong& because our wi"" was our definition of right. But I in)ited you out here to show you a bit of the wor"d you5)e re>uested entrance to. I too a few steps in a 8umping run# f"apping my wings and too to the air# a bit 8er i"y# but that was norma" ta eoff. 'ot to imp"y getting impregnated by a magica" stranger wasn5t specia" enough. But the f"ight was smooth.'o dear#= I said# . I thought you might "i e to go on a "itt"e ride. After a few minutes f"ying o)er the forest ho"ding hands with her with my tai" I gent"y started to "ift it.= She smi"ed. And when the same thing eeps happening it can get a "itt"e boring.I thin you are a )ery nice gir"# and I5m "oo ing forward to stea"ing some time with you "ater# in a comfortab"e p"ace suited to getting to now you better. I as ed her to accompany me into the woods.= She "oo ed confused but obeyed. $he "ast time I5d impregnated a human woman on a "ar # the chi"d became president o)er America5s greatest period of economic growth of the modern age# so I new my babies had "eadership potentia". It may ha)e been boredom# it may ha)e been that the other side of my homicida" temper is a )ery soft heart. $hen I got to thin ing about it. I began a spe"" in my head that wou"d stabi"i4e my f"ight so the fact that I was mo)ing my tai" around "i e an arm wou"dn5t mess with us "i e a mad rudder.6ou must remember& I am sti"" me no matter what I "oo "i e# you are comp"ete"y safe at a"" times# and do not "oo direct"y at me when I5m changing or you wi"" get a wic ed case of )ertigoAmotion sic ness. 2hen we were far enough away I new there wou"d be no nosy )oyeurs# I found a c"earing big enough. 3nce we were airborne things were better# she seemed to not be ha)ing an easy time eeping her ba"ance as my wings f"apped. She wa" ed c"ose enough that I cou"d grab her around the waist with my tai" and "ifted her onto my bac .
She c"apped when she saw where we were going# ta ing a heroic stand she wa)ed to the peop"e be"ow and we circ"ed a few times to ma e sure e)eryone who wanted a pee got one. I started c"imbing# through the c"ouds and beyond. .= So apparent"y it was ob)ious I had something on my mind. By the end she was showing off for her friends and fami"y. I caught her gent"y and f"ew bac up to the top to do it again two more times before f"ying bac to the manor.east party."ying "oo ed smooth and magica"# as it was& but touching either of us wou"d be "i e high?fi)ing someone as they dro)e past in a car. 2hen it seemed "i e we were as high as we ought to go# air >ua"ity wise. I mimed how to mo)e her arms and "egs to change direction and di)e. She "oo ed e0cited but a"so terrified and was screaming# .3n"y one way to find out.ina""y I got my point across and she rose s"ow"y and ner)ous"y and I supported her with my tai" as she stood )ery ob)ious"y ner)ous but e>ua""y ob)ious"y e0cited.After that I5m surprised you can5t impregnate me with a touch# Sir. And Biscuit# o"d chap# your -ady is "oo ing for you. I5d done this a do4en times and new we had a fair few minutes of fa""ing before we5d hit the ground. .$han you Sir#= $a ing that to be the c"osest to f"ying a"one she was comfortab"e enough doing I f"ew her "ow o)er her fami"y# ta ing care to not f"y so "ow someone might reach out to touch either of us.'o Sir 9egina"d< It5s too much<= I mo)ed her under me and brought my other forec"aw down. I made a "ong s"ow turn and headed bac toward the 1anor as she wa" ed a"ong my spine. I turned from the 1anor as I gent"y began to e0periment more with ha)ing her f"y on her own. 2e had 8ust reached the arch opening when $am stopped us.$he on"y thoughts I5m ha)ing Sir# is if we can get away for a pre)iew after ha)ing 8ust been away f"ying.= She said.I5m not stopping you guys. . $hen "eaned o)er and said# .her up with the tip. She has some ideas for the . 3ur dear Jessie Jo5s fiancNe thought our p"ans for a
. I began to s"ow"y pass her from c"aw to c"aw.= She "aughed.6ou now me Sir 9egina"d# a born hero.I can#= I said at norma" )o"ume. :er mother and sisters screeched beneath us as she ran a"ong my spine# I wrapped my tai" around her waist and he"ped her mo)e through a cartwhee" straight a"ong my bac bone. It seemed to me that it was important that she ha)e the fu"" e0perience. . It was a fact that it wou"d ma e it e0ponentia""y easier for her to one day f"y on her own# but I tru"y did not be"ie)e that was her destiny. 2e were o)er a "a e when she said# .I don5t now what happened 1iss Jessie.= . I had her hand# subsidi4ed by magic to secure her. 2e e)en had a few unti" we were c"ose enough the eye cou"d trac the ground so the body new it was fa""ing.But where5s the fun in thatC 2hyC Are you ha)ing second thoughtsC= . !nowing Singer5s p"an# I spo e "oud"y addressing to anyone within hearing distance# . I too her hand and went to turn down a narrow ha""way.= She said# .ina""y her screams were of "aughter and freedom rather than fear. I ept my wings fo"ded tight and e0tended a"" four "egs in a mime of how she was supposed to "ay so she didn5t spin out. I reached bac ta ing her hand and wrist in my c"aw I eased her off my bac to sai" in the wind a"" by herse"f. . She screamed in terror# but ha)ing me c"ose enough I cou"d sa)e her at any time comforted her and she ner)ous"y watched me# but stopped screaming a"most immediate"y. I didn5t te"" you this but if you are going to ma e an educated decision to be found or not found??. /nti" I he"d her under my be""y# both c"aws ho"ding her torso secure"y. I "anded us right in front of the house# "ifted her off my bac with my tai" and set her down# then phased out and bac to myse"f. I trust you to do whate)er you want. /nti" then it wou"d fee" e0act"y the same as f"ying.I remember what you said about eeping me safe no matter what. I "et go of her and stopped f"apping so we both dropped "i e stones. She "et out a whoop# then ye""ed# . . $hen from c"aw to tai" then bac to c"aw. In the end I 8ust assumed it was one of those whims that gets c"aws into your brain and won5t "et go.I5m 8ust saying# JJ your mom is "oo ing for you.= I said. I snee4ed and a"" of a sudden I was a dragon# $han you for coming miss# to ma e sure I didn5t faint and p"ummet to my death.= .
. $he sun was a"most set and I wanted to get this done.
. It was a magica" chaotic first"y# so yes it did cause peop"e to beha)e erratica""y. . So there was a )ery rea" chance that anything cou"d happen. I "i ed my women more in the A"i0 and $amarin mo"d& passionate# a "itt"e cra4y# and open boo s when it came to their p"ans or desires. 'ot to mention I wanted to be e0tra concentrated for JJ "ater.= She said with a sweaty smi"e. I thin he wi"" be a good partner. Chris and his comforter showed up and we too a coup"e of p"atters of food we had pur"oined up to the attic.= She was a )ery pragmatic gir". $hey are due within the hour. Because today their on"y responsibi"ities is to ma e sure the wor we do is to their satisfaction and do whate)er "itt"e bit they want to. .:mmm# that sounds orgy ma ing.$han you# Sir. 9ea" %emon %ust was a potent chaotic and pornogenic# as we5d said# but it was more than that. $here is so much to do# and it wou"d defeat the purpose of the day to e0pect the ser)ants to get it. I was thin ing of 8er ing off into my supp"y of %emon %ust# to introduce a bit of myse"f into the proceedings and "i e"y ha)e an effect on any pregnant woman or woman who becomes pregnant in the Bacchana"ia of tonight. . 1ore "i e Singer.= She said# trotting off to find her mother.= $am said with a smi"e. I ran into JJ on the way bac into the manor when I was done.= .$hat was nice of them.I "i e Chris. Any spe""s done under the inf"uence cou"d be counted on to wor # probab"y o)er wor and >uite possib"y bac fire# but there was "itt"e chance of anything 8ust "aying there power"ess when %emon %ust was in the air.:e""o dear#= I said# . E)eryone had p"ans for tonight# and none of those p"ans were disrupting dinner specifica""y# p"us they a"" wanted fu"" tummies and "ots of energy for whate)er their persona" p"an was. .So what5s on the "ist $amC= I as ed as we wa" ed bac the other way.I5m sorry to say#= I said# thin ing the answer was ob)ious# . I was going to ca"" a thunderstorm# seed it with %emon %ust and gi)e the )i""agers a simi"ar e0perience to what we wou"d ha)e up at the manor# but since it wou"d be disso")ed in water# it wou"dn5t ha)e the te""ta"e g"ittery f"a es. I dragoned as soon as I was outdoors and headed to the south. %id you te"" him of our p"anC= She "oo ed surprised for a moment. Since the wedding is something "i e a month to the day from today# he and his entourage decided to come ear"y and he"p with both sets of festi)ities.= .So they warmed you up for meC= I as ed.I suggested to Singer and them that we get some rea" %emon %ust and substitute it for the g"itter that we sprin "e down on the party.:ow5d the feast goC= .party sounded so interesting that he 8ust had to see it.= I issed her on the chee and said# . $here was a fey race# %emon *rinces# who "oo ed demonic but weren5t.= I rep"ied. But it a"so caused rea"ity to beha)e chaotica""y.It seems that the decision is tru"y made for us. But I do not fee" tempted to share my innermost thoughts and desires with either of them. But then I decided the dust a"one wou"d ha)e an effect and I didn5t fee" "i e ta ing the time. . $hey were basica""y %emon %ust infected e")es and faeries who had bred true. I he"ped with a"" the set up for the ne0t few hours# finishing by stopping by the itchen to ma e a coup"e of sandwiches. . So we decided that the actua" feast itse"f wou"d be a pran free 4one. It was a power enhancer# so anyone with magic b"ood# e)en dormant cou"d count on it wa ing up as "ong as they were under the inf"uence. . $hat# combined with a "ast minute p"an of my own# meant wo"fing down a coup"e of sandwiches and s ipping the feast itse"f. And his comforter# Emi"y# is )ery nice and )ery accommodating.I wou"dn5t now Sir 9egina"d.I5d ha)e to agree# Sir.%on5t worry dear# when this is a"" o)er you wi"" be so g"ad you did it# a"" of it. It was secreted by demons as a byproduct of their power# which meant it was not uncommon to gi)e peop"e demonic powers and sometimes appearance.
-ady !. As we rode away Erin said to $am. %o you thin there is anything you might "i e to do about that. $hen again# simi"ar cou"d be said of :aw .:appy Birthday<= we ye""ed. 2e had 8ust sat down to chat when we heard the -ady5s high tri""ing whist"e. +$hanessy had changed her name when she disco)ered that in f"ower symbo"ism# sending a wi"d tansy was a dec"aration of war.2e"" my good night. Story was car)ing a )enison haunch that was roasting o)er the fire. :er usua" idea of dinner was eating in ta)erns or I wou"d whip something up out of my portab"e ho"e in a foot "oc er. 2e hung ba""oons# ribbons and a si")er . $hey wa" ed into our c"earing and the "anterns immediate"y re"it. 2e sat with $amarin at the head of the tab"e and Story at the foot. Janeth and Bant were wrest"ing the a"e eg off their wagon.# Janeth and Bant# and at the "ast second $ansy and her Ama4on p"atoon. $hey were now wandering wage b"ades.= But I new Aubi was a"ready ta ing care of e)erything. $he rest of $ansy5s p"atoon was setting the tab"e e0cepting the few who had not yet returned from pic ing berries. I got Story and Singer to he"p with the guest "ist# finding fo" s more than suggesting. She was married and had at "east si0 ids. 2hen hugs had been e0changed around# we set to getting the food on. *hi"ip was decanting the wine. . 2hen e)eryone cou"d mo)e again# Singer disappeared the dishes and it was present time. I fee" warm and "oose in my 8oints and my core fee"s satisfied but in that# E*"ease Sir# may I ha)e some moreC5 ind of way.. 2e had buried a pig wrapped in c"ay# some potatoes the si4e of bread "oa)es# a croc of cheese# and some coconuts. :aw and I a"ong with $ansy and two of her cadre set to digging up the roasting pit. Chapter $hirty?'ine +Aubi. *erhaps something that wou"d ma e my body fee" "i e it had been bent and pret4"ed "i e a crump"ed tissue and I5m wa" ing a "itt"e ginger"y and bow "egged tomorrow. $he tight growth of trees put us in fu"" dar when the gir"5s eyes were ad8usted to ear"y dus . Singer was churning butter.'ow we need to start p"anning your birthday. E)en harder to grasp was the fact that our dar"ing barbarian& the youngest in the band# e0cepting $amarin and this incarnation of Erin# had been ic ing around the ad)enture circuit for se)era" hundred years. Apparent"y# James5 pa"ace he"d too many bad memories of Hion. 2ith choco"ate icing# tart cherries# and wa"nuts. $he guests inc"uded a"" of us# -ady !. A huge eight "ayer ca e a"ternating choco"ate and )ani""a "ayers I5d ba ed. was pu""ing bread out of a stone cairn she had made. It was hard to consistent"y remember our "itt"e fami"y was a short?term association. I do not thin $amarin rea"i4ed A"i0 had ids. A huge ban>uet tab"e was brought in# and its center stac ed with presents.She "eaned against my chest# . Any thoughts in that ba""iwic # SirC= I "ifted her into my arms and began to c"imb the stairs in answer. Each guest as they arri)ed began to he"p# e)en an immense"y pregnant -ady !. . I heard A"i0 and the -ady discussing pregnancy to the de"ight of a )ery attenti)e $amarin. $ansy and her two "ieutenants ate at the tab"e# whi"e the rest of her army sat in a circ"e around the fire. $amarin was wa" ing throughout mar)e"ing. It too us about twenty minutes from $amarin5s return to ha)ing the food on the tab"e. I was so busy p"anning the day was upon us before I new it. A"most no one was sti"" awa e as the band too our "ea)e# chatting about our "itt"e ad)enture.:appy Birthday<= banner with rainbow print. Erin was shuc ing corn carefu""y as A"i0 pu""ed it from the coa"s on the edges of the fire. Erin and A"i0 cou"d not eep her in town a"" day# so we had to eep busy. 2e had the g"ade decorated and the food s>uared away. 2hen someone "oo ed in her ear"y twenties# it was hard to imagine she had ids who probab"y "oo ed the same age. I new she new I wou"d ne)er forget. 2hen the food was gone# Singer and the -ady brought the ca e out. $he "anterns went out as one. So a surprise party was out. O *hi"ip# 3beron and his entourage +3n beha"f of Shamus who was "eft behind to study# to his inca"cu"ab"e rage.
. $his meant I had to bui"d some surprises into it. In a group that measures such things in centuries.
$his is what I start my warriors on# use it as if you were worthy and soon you wi"" be. $hat beautifu" ca e %addy made. :e wa)ed his hand noncha"ant"y at 1odred who rose and approached. Ja"ani# I grabbed and issed on the "ips# mo)ing a wee bit deeper before retreating.5 $ansy "oo ed >uite f"ushed and sat down >uic "y. Inside was a si" pouch# which in turn contained a crysta" sphere# the si4e of a sma"" app"e. $hey each too their present from those pi"ed on the ban>uet tab"e to the side and sat ho"ding it and waiting their turn. Sudden"y we were a"" b"inded when the g"obe became a tiny sun. Inside was what "oo ed "i e a miniature samurai sword with a ten?inch b"ade.= :e c"arified. She was not e)en a year o"der than I was.Chapter . 2hen the co"ored "ight spots had subsided# Janeth and Bant came forward. $iana carried a gnar"ed b"ac hawthorn staff# tied with a red )e")et ribbon. :er bo0 was 8ust under three feet "ong# thin but hea)y.rom the 9ea"m# by order of -ord"ing B"ac feather. $heir bo0 yie"ded a pair of warrior wrist"ets in stee" with si")er and copper accents and suede "ining.= It "oo ed "i e I wou"d be e>uipped for warrior training soon. A"i0 went ne0t. 3beron cou"d on"y be described as an ug"y "itt"e man.1mmmm#= .ami"y and handed me his gift. 1agnifies magic. It was about three feet "ong with a he0agona" circumference of about fi)e inches. $his one5s %amascus stee"# the on"y thing better than traditiona" Japanese. :appy Birthday. I caressed its si" en smoothness# . Inside was an iron c"ub. I put it out immediate"y but it was a few moments before we cou"d see c"ear"y again. Since one needed specia" too"s to remo)e them# it was e0pected they wou"d ne)er come off in batt"e.e"t its weight and ba"ance.ami"y fo" s through first. $han you. She b"ushed and ran bac to her troop# which I found immense"y f"attering. I ga)e him my best E:uhC5 "oo and said# .It5s perfect.orty +$amarin. It was pointed at one end with a sma"" iron fist at the other. I cast into it one of the few tric s I ha)e "earned# a tiny g"ow that Erin ca""s a finger f"ame and I ca"" a night "ight.1ade of me"ted fairy dust. $he bo0 was "ong and thin. :e presented me with a s>uare bo0 wrapped in green paper. $ansy rose# "etting the crafter present and the other accompany to a)oid fa)oritism. $his had to be the biggest and best surprise of my "ife& the food# $he . $hey were the Ein5 thing with warriors who chose to fight without shie"ds. $hey "oc ed on with pins 2hich wou"d be affi0ed with the tiny inc"uded hammer and tongs.= :aw and A"i0 both ga)e her thin contemptuous smi"es intended to say E$he standard pena"ty for using the word Eworthy5 in a derogatory manner with a .ami"y member is death. I issed them both on the chee and than ed them. B($is sprite g"ass. It was decided that it was present time. :aw came first of the .It5s a tonta# Japanese dagger. It was sunshine ye""ow and practica""y radiated energy. $ansy5s "ieutenants 8umped up and approached. 'o matter how I he"d it# the gnar"ed wood fit my hands. 3beron and 1odred wanted to go ne0t. It was wrapped in chamois# bare at the ends& it had feathers#
. I stood up and hugged them both# and issed $iana "ight"y on the chee ..= :e said with a s"ight undertone that made me fee" "i e he on"y said it to ma e it c"ear that this was not from him or his be"o)ed ing. . Ja"ani carrying a bo0 that yie"ded a dar wood compound bow that had sma"" tension whee"s on each side to further impro)e its ic . She smi"ed and wa" ed bac . I thought it was a good idea to get non?. Apparent"y# her position was in deference to her crafting of weapons and her ear"y a""egiance in Hion5s cast"e.= . :e was a hunchbac ed dwarf who "oo ed o)er a hundred# though he "oo ed strong and had a magica" aura that was a"most )isib"e. $ansy spo e up# . .= :is ma8esty said. I to"d 3beron it was beautifu"# the awe e)ident in my )oice. E)eryone pu""ed the benches around in a circ"e with me at the top.ami"y# and 3beron# $ansy# and them. $he sheath was b"ac "ac>uer and the hi"t wrapped in shar s in. Ja"ani was b"onde and )ery cute for a b"ac smithAwood crafter. $iana was short and thic "y muscu"ar# showing dwarf b"ood.
I hadn5t seen one in years and had ne)er seen one that "oo ed this new. . . I cou"d te"" it was a boo e)en through the wrapping# but I was surprised to find it a photo a"bum. It was a guitar case# as I5d suspected from the shape.= She nodded at 3beron. $here was one of me and 'isse wa)ing goodbye to the band as they rode off for an away concert. . 'e0t was a hea)y green si" brocade "ace up 8er in. Scrying mirror on the other for future ga4ing. I(d say it "oo ed "i e a cross between a shaman5s stic and the scepter of a homicida" 8ester. . $he rest of the pictures were recent# starting with one of me di)ing off %addy5s shou"ders as we p"ayed in the water on that first day after my rescue. . $he first was Aubi showing up on $he 1other and . *hi"ip chose to come ne0t handing me two bo0es# one "ong and thin# one s>uare and f"at.2e a"" wi"". $here were se)era" of us around the o"d Gictorian manse we shared. And I was pretty sure en was another name for wi""ing something into being. And pretty good as a dagger as we""# especia""y against Bane Sidhe and the possessed. $he first he"d a nife napped in the ancient sty"e from b"ac obsidian# the hi"t si")er wire wrapped. But "uc i"y I pushed that thought right aside. . . 7ood for focusing and directing power. . 3n c"oser inspection I saw that the entire side pane"s an "e to hip were remo)ab"e.= 3beron was unworried being so powerfu". As I paged through my "ast threads of confusing pseudo memories were swept away. A medium hea)y c"oa of raw grey si" . I remembered there was a friend5s birthday party I didn5t want to miss.= I was surprised by how far I fe"t I had to go before I e)en rea""y new what to do with many of my gifts. :aw he"ped the gra)id -ady up. .or a moment I a"most refused to ta e anything that meant so much to him. .I figured it was about time someone ga)e you so"id proof to dispe" the confusion your mind seems to ha)e committed itse"f to.6ouEre we"come to be pregnant for a"" my birthdays. :e carried his gift as if it were made of g"ass.irst guitar I e)er used professiona""y. 3n one side it had a pentagram made of si")er wire.. +Apparent"y e)eryone was wi""ing to change their past to impro)e mine. *erfect c"ub and proof against the fey. 1e at two or three na ed co)ered in b"ood o)er an e)iscerated "amb# my first i"". 3ne of me# no more than fi)e# dancing on stage with Breach before the 9enaissance. Each page he"d one eight by ten photo. If I new 'isse wou"d be i""ed and I wou"d be abducted and so"d to Hion# I wou"d ha)e happi"y missed it. . . $he first was a pair of grey si" panta"oons with a pair of s"its up each side.I needed something to do with my hands whi"e *hi"ip was fussing o)er me "i e an o"d hen. 1odred howe)er turned green and white in turns.Eight pounds of co"d iron# his name is E")es5 Bane. $here were pictures of me with 'isse# the hi"" dwarf nanny and house eeper Breach emp"oyed.= $he second bo0 he"d an obsidian dis the si4e of a sa"ad p"ate.ather5s doorstep with a tiny baby. *hi"ip and the -ady5s departure# Janeth and
.6ou are >uite we"come. I too it upon myse"f to contact the Archi)e and en this up.= E)en not nowing the materia" )a"ue# which I wou"d "ater "earn was incredib"e# I new the sentimenta" )a"ue. :owe)er# he ob)ious"y thought it an inappropriate gift for the unofficia" gir"friend of the -ord"ing of the . She smi"ed and returned to her seat. Story approached.ey.5JM Stratocaster# in )irgin white. $high high "ace up mistress boots# two tunic dresses# se)era" sets of "acey# se0y but )ery soft undies# and a white baby do"" dress of eye"et "ace that wou"d ma e me "oo "i e a "o""ytot.= I new the Archi)e was the magica" .Be at ease.= :e said. But I than ed him and issed his chee . 2hen I opened it# the band gasped. Singer approached saying# . In case I didnEt want to be comp"ete"y na ed# but c"ose. I issed her and said# .= :e said# re"easing me and returning to his chair. Inside the trun were se)era" bund"es wrapped in tissue paper. Duite a hau".beads# and an eag"e5s c"aw at the top.$han you so much<= I said throwing my arms around him and issing him. $hen a medium weight grey raw si" )est# a pair of short hee"ed pi0ie boots. .$each me to p"ay#= I as ed.*entac"e on one side for contro""ing summoned spirits.It5s an athame# enchanted ritua" dagger. .ami"y history boo . Sorry# your 1a8esty. $he ne0t one had him in a roc ing chair his inde0 finger p"aced between my tiny b"oodstained "ips. She wadd"ed happi"y o)er dragging a sma"" wooden trun .
Erin stayed with me throughout as my tutor and companion. -i e# >uite honest"y# it had been before my "ife was Efi0ed5. See a )ision of your future.ami"y on the sub8ect. $ry to ponder your "ife so far. I refused to "et one e)ent from my past run my "ife or ruin my "ife. $hen into the c"earing wandered a brown and white pinto pony. %idi was an adoption "i e %addy. $hat shou"d grow as you do# both as you remember more of your past and as you "i)e into your future. Chapter .orty?3ne +$amarin. But any idea of how I might stop it escaped me. I "i ed it. $here was a note pinned to the brid"e. I sat bac against the wa"". I cou"d not bear to ha)e someone# anyone# "oo at me "i e that. Shi5"a and %idi5mao taught me carna" s i""s from tai5 chi to the courtesan arts# as they were the ac now"edged authorities in the . Sudden"y I was o)erwhe"med with the memory of a near gang rape# I had bare"y escaped. As you are a"one in the dar try not to s"eep. 1y mind cringed away. I tried to see my future. I saw a who"e "ife based on an angry desire to pro)e I cou"d beat
. 3n the e)e before my saining day I was put a"one in a sma"" thatch hut shrouded in b"ac si" . I thought bac on my past. I cou"d hand"e Erin with on"y a sma"" amount of ner)ous nausea I cou"d te"" myse"f was e0citement. Enter chi"d# there5s no way out but through. $his got me thin ing about my capti)ity.or what I was doing I didn5t need that.ami"y Arms 1aster# taught me combat. Singer too me there acting in the mother ro"e. -ady ! and Bri5an# :aw 5s mate# taught me magic as we"" as how to be a "ady as the fami"y defined it.E)en though I was a boneheaded warrior# I was a member of the .irstborn# and Story5s origina" mate. I sti"" had managed to e0it intact# but I had entered a "ot more trusting. I issed her and he"d her tight crying. I got an image of me fuc ing Shamus# but I wasn5t being se0y aggressi)e# it "oo ed "i e a contest. 2e were together# maybe our wedding night.ami"y# so when it came to magic I had a"" the power and information I cou"d want# where the hardest anything cou"d be wou"d be opening a connection with another more powerfu" or smarter . But they said nothing. A"i0 and Bronwyn# Erin5s sister and the . $omorrow you are reborn a woman. $his is your )ision >uest. . I saw Shamus# no surprise but gratifying. It was white b"onde and spi y. . It was shorter now# but more horrib"e. :e was fitted with a 1e0ican b"an et# a "eather sadd"e and a bit"ess brid"e. Shi5"a was one of the .= She wound the shroud o)er the door. And not a contest between friends. A prob"em with restructuring the past was# un"ess one rebui"t one5s "ife e)ent by e)ent# there was a"ways the possibi"ity that chance wou"d throw a cur)e. It wi"" sp"it as it gets too big. 9e?enter the dar # re?enter the womb. :ow cou"d I end up mated to a being who was racia""y# for a"" intents and purposes# a symbo" of "ust# when the )ery thought threw me into a panicC %amn it# I cou"d not redo my who"e "ife again. $he memories in the a"bum had now ta en o)er# but there was sti"" time with Hion. $hat cou"d >uic "y become a )ery addicti)e way to a)oid ones prob"ems.ami"y member and as ing for their he"p. She started "etting the hair on her head grow bac . $he guards surrounded me# the hunger in their eyes so "i e the innocent hunger I saw in Shamus. I new I wou"dn5t be s"eeping# so I had se)en or eight hours to use up. 2hich meant it too "ess )io"ation to brea my trust and my heart. It said simp"y# .= I was stunned speech"ess.. But when he approached me# I a"most screamed. 3ne day you wi"" need a photo wing in the "ibrary at your house# my death"ess dar"ing.Bant# my beautifu" Shame"ess in both his e)eryday and true form. I wanted it to be happy and p"ayfu". 2hen my $ria" 'ight came# e)en Erin cou"dn5t he"p.= I new it was from Shamus# both in my gut and because 1odred and 3beron seemed surprised and bothered. She was a Gietnamese E"fA%ragon ha"fbreed.with "o)e. I was to be gone a month being trained and prepared for womanhood in the . But ma"e "ust# ne)er. 2hen I fina""y re"eased her she stepped bac # sitting ne0t to Story# smi"ing misti"y. .ami"y.$amarin# tonight you "ea)e your chi"dhood behind. In the morning I issed %addy and the boys goodbye and rode my pony with the gir"s to the women5s camp.
She considered and spo e.Are you ready to "ea)e your chi"dhood behind and 8oin the Sisterhood of 2omenC= I didn5t e)en ta e a moment to thin about it.= . . :im trying not to seem too eager# me trying not to seem too scared. I fe"" as"eep thin ing about it# and I did not dream we"". I was now a graduate warrior with what I guesstimated as one and a ha"f times the strength and two to three times the speed and agi"ity of an a)erage adu"t human ma"e.= Another of them spo e up# .And for retreatC= $he other three chose that option. I ha)e seen my )ision. . .I first faced them as a group and as a group I must defeat them.Are these the )ermin you spea ofC= I spit on the ground and said# .= I thought of the most common dragon# and thought that sounded pretty fun.= . I got "ong sha""ow cuts a"ong both forearms a"" o)er my hands and one across my stomach. And I did not e0pect they were much abo)e a)erage.I counse" retreat. *erhaps I had to "et it change my "ife# but I wou"dn5t "et it change my "ife comp"ete"y. I re"eased my pony bac to camp& I wou"d need a much more hands on e0perience if I was going to beat this.# before the other fi)e cou"d scatter. I found his trac s easi"y.But I suppose you ha)e your own dragons to s"ay. . It5s four trained men against one gir". . As it was I had to be carefu".But Boss#= 3ne of them said# .I say we fuc in5 i"" her. If it wasn5t for their "eather armor and the fact that they were armed and I was not# I doubt they wou"d e)en be a cha""enge. I am not ready. $he standard ordea" is hunting and s"aying a standard green. I rode into their c"earing and had speared two of them# one through the eye and one through the "aryn0 +tearing his throat out in the process. As one fa""s another wi"" ta e his p"ace# unti" you ha)e con>uered a"". So when I found him he was
. I fo""owed them unti" he re8oined with the others one by one. $heir "eader was saying# .I appro)e.A )oteC I5"" gi)e you your )ote. :e was in a hurry and none too interested in stea"th at the e0pense of speed. . . :appy :unting.= I rep"ied# nowing instant"y# that wou"dn5t be enough. I awo e as they were unwinding the shroud.She5s not human.= $he guards disappeared.= I rode my pony to the south# spear raised# eeping to as much of a straight "ine as I cou"d through the trees. . She surprised us and she got "uc y.6es. I had much more energy than he# and was not running in armor. I needed to beat this once and for a""# in a way that wou"d gi)e me bac my freedom. I5d he"d my own against them si0 or se)en inches and forty pounds ago# a writhing cra4y chi"d. It seemed the ca"" for a )ote of no confidence had destroyed the "eader5s sense of "oya"ty# if he had e)er had one. But e)en together they were not incapacitating. I fo""owed one and ran him down beneath my pony5s hoo)es.= She thought a moment and said# .I ha)e gathered them in a g"ade fi)e hundred yards to the south.= She said.= .I wi"" set them free in the forest to the west.She5s sti"" a id# and hence no rea" threat to us.= :e was the on"y yea )ote.It is traditiona" to ha)e an ordea" by which a chi"d pro)es her readiness to become a woman.'o. . 2hen I had the other three down I s"iced off a"" their heads >uic "y to ma e sure they were not fa ing their incapacitation# before trac ing the "eader. I ran bac to the c"earing and found a set of prints I cou"d fo""ow. I sped up# ready for this to continue. I bided my time unti" I new I was behind the remaining four.= I to"d her of my )ision of how my past might fore)er haunt me. A"" for i""ing her. As the other three ept me busy# he snuc off and escaped. I saw Shamus and I in our timid# serious marriage bed. I needn5t ha)e hurried& I found them hudd"ed in a circ"e.= . It f"ashed forward to ten years "ater and we were sti"" doing the same thing. I5d wor up to it.= A group of armed men appeared in an energy bubb"e.'o.anything by rage and wi"" power a"one.:unt them each in turn. :owe)er# I had no intention of gi)ing them an option# I 8umped into the midd"e of their group# scratching and ic ing.= .I don5t care#= $he "eader bar ed# . And I ca"" for a )ote of no confidence in you as our "eader. I was brought before $he 1other. 2e can5t "et a coincidence "i e that demora"i4e us.
$hen you are a foo".= :e stopped mo)ing beneath me# pa"ed significant"y# and began to sweat. $his is E"sie. It was hard# but I was stronger and had my own adrena"ine f"owing. As they approached I noticed a mu"titude of "itt"e differences that amounted to two gir"s of simi"ar racia" heritage and too "itt"e "ight.= :e gasped# tiring. . 2hen a"" was prepared I met $amarin at the baths. I a"so was >uite aware of what she was fighting.I begged you. She5s been through a "ot. I was 8ust fo""owing orders. . Chapter .So you thin I5m sti"" a idC 6ou sti"" thin you can ta e meC= She taunted him.3r maybe you("" be scared when you see I5m considering ramming my b"ade up your ass in an ana"ogy of rape.= :e said. :e stopped resisting and "ay there gasping and roc ing gent"y side to side in the tiny amount of space I a""owed him. . :e had doub"ed bac past the first two I5d i""ed.So nowhere to run now. I new $amarin had drawn on the 1other5s strength# I fe"t the pu"" myse"f.Be better than me# p"ease. I swept his "egs and di)ed on him as he fe"".= I reminded him. :e started to s"ip "oose a bit so I need him in the nuts four times in rapid succession.6ou ga)e me a new "ife. $a ing the e0?so"dier5s hand I "ed the shi)ering frightened figure to the saining circ"e.= 2ith that I ic ed his other nife away. I saw he had ta en another dagger from his fa""en comrade and was ho"ding it and his own in a two handed fighting sty"e that "oo ed we"" practiced.= $he 1other smi"ed# ne)er missing a beat.= She said presenting the gir" to $he 1other.Jesus Christ# bitch. I was hoping she cou"d "i)e at the 2omen5s Camp unti" her own saining in a few months. I wou"d ha)e "i ed some time to discuss this with $amarin# but I had to hurry to get things ready as she was bathed in preparation for the ceremony.I("" chance it. %o you want to rape me nowC C5mon I dare you. I ta" ed to her about what it meant to be a woman and a goddess# one and the same thing in the eyes of the uni)erse. I did find myse"f fee"ing a twinge of pity and compassion& I 8ust wanted him to fee" what I fe"t.acing a woman a"one# not a "itt"e gir" with si0 friends to ho"d her for you. . I had him cornered against the tang"ed o)ergrowth of a "arge windfa"" tree.= $wo beautifu" and ind "oo ing fu"" time Camp attendants were summoned to care for E"sie and they >uic "y "ed her away. I did a foot feint# and then roc ed myse"f forward snatched one of the daggers from his hand and threw it into the brush. Sudden"y I fe"t inspired# as ing the 1other5s assistance I entered his mind. She# being :erse"f# natura""y new what $amarin had done when she did it. . . I beg you.
. 'ot that he i"" me of course# that he "ea)e me a"one. $his time I was he"ping myse"f.= :e began to buc and strugg"e.orty?$wo +Spe""singer.E)en if that5s true# it5s sti"" the attempted rape of a chi"d.So I ga)e the so"dier my o"d one.Bu""shit<= I ye""ed# . *"us# I suspect she wou"d be more comfortab"e away from . $he actua" saining ritua" cannot be seen by the unsained. 2hen I finished I fe"t free and c"ean and new. . I was reminded of he"ping the other )ictims of Hion# and the other )ictims of this guy for that matter. A >uic death was too easy# and too good for him. . .So# so"dier# getting scared yetC 'ot enough# I5d wager.*"ease 8ust i"" me.Certain"y she may. .= .= . But she wi"" ha)e to "ea)e this circ"e. 2hen he had his wind bac he whispered# . *erhaps when you rea"i4e the best you can hope for is "osing your nuts. Sub8ecti)e"y# she 8ust escaped from Hion5s cast"e. 3b)ious"y# it went without saying that I was better than him regard"ess.= I saw the star raw panic in his eyes.= I said.considerab"y worse for wear than I# a"though I was the one b"eeding. *unishab"e by death in any ci)i"i4ed society. As I ta" ed I painted her.ami"y areas# as that is not her p"ace. . I "anded with both nees on his stomach# dri)ing his breath from him. :owe)er# I found myse"f confused then f"oored as she entered the 2omen5s Camp "eading a furry gir" who# e0cepting being brown with b"ue eyes# cou"d ha)e been her when we first rescued her. She said# .
I ha)e seen her "earn. Singer says I(m a"most done. I ha)e touched her spirit. . .7oing cra4y#= She said# . She is ready. I e0p"ained how to guide the head and shou"ders as they emerged and to"d her to wrap 9owe in a towe" and p"ace her immediate"y on her mother5s tummy. . . $amarin was ha)ing both ears done twice# both nostri"s done once# and her be""y button. . She g"ows with "ife. I said# . She is ready.I second her. Appropriate"y confrontationa"# but open to being con)inced.= $am rep"ied.-ady ! has decided she5s happiest with *hi"ip ho"ding her# so wou"d you "i e to catch the babyC= She was at my side before she e)en had her mouth open to answer.orty?$hree +Aubi. . $amarin caught her beautifu""y and had her wrapped and de"i)ered to her mother in a simp"e mo)ement.I ha)e watched her grow# body and spirit. Enter. $hen I "ed her to the saining circ"e.I ha)e fe"t the power in the touch of her hands and of her "ips. . . *hi"ip sat on the bed behind his -ady ho"ding and supporting her as she s>uatted ha"f on ha"f off the bed# and breathed through a contraction. As we "eft $amarin "eaned o)er to me and whispered# .:ow are you doin5 babeC= :e as ed. *iercing and tattooing had "ong been saining traditions. -ady ! as ed me# BIs "abor a"ways "i e thisC I want to wa" around and "ie down and 8ump around in cra4y pent up frustration.= $amarin said# 8ust a "itt"e confused. $he baby had 8ust crowned when $amarin and Erin returned.Spira"s for the eterna" cyc"e# crescent moons for her aspect as 1aiden# tris e"ions# f"ames on her thighs and be""y# sty"i4ed water "ines on her breasts.= *reser)ing the sacred trust of women I wi"" 8ump ahead to when *hi"ip appeared# $he -ady was on her side as I ground the hee"s of my hands into the sma"" of her bac . $amarin became a woman# -ady ! became a mother# and her daughter# 9owe# became a person. 1ore pear"s were braided into her hair# which she wore up.= .= I said. .I am a woman now. .Singer# does baby goo come out of si" C= Chapter .I ha)e taught you# I ha)e watched you "earn and grow.1y body g"ows with the energy of new "ife. $amarin and Erin and I cooed and ra)ed o)er the "itt"e ange" for a few minutes before "ea)ing her and her parents to get better ac>uainted.'eed you e)en as C= She got into position as -ady ! shifted her hips a "itt"e further off the bed. . 'o chi"d was e)er to"d what to e0pect from the ceremony.2hy do you come to this 2omen5s Circ"e# chi"dC= Bronwyn said. 1y breasts fi"" and pro8ect# the 8uices of womanhood f"ow from me. 6ou are ready. Erin was a"so tattooing a sma"" sty"i4ed f"ame on her be""y to symbo"i4e the fire of passion ind"ed within her.ina""y Bronwyn herse"f stepped aside saying.$hen I5m g"ad I made it in time.
. %ecorated young gir"s and new mother5s seemed to be her fa)orites.= Erin said.2hat woman seconds the petition of this chi"dC= Bronwyn said# the "ast "ine of her cha""enge comp"ete. S"ow"y each woman there came forward and )ouched for $amarin5s readiness. .I second her. .= $amarin and Erin went into the bac to get her dressed for the we"coming dance.= I said.I second her. $amarin was in a corner of the pa)i"ion being pierced and tattooed by a )ery aroused Erin. $he ne0t contraction brought an a"ert if confused "oo ing infant into the wor"d. $amarin wore a ruff"ed raw si" dress with seed pear" accents.= .= Shi5"a said. She is ready.But it5s good.6eah# that5s pretty norma".= . .2hat ma es you fee" ready# chi"dC= Bronwyn as ed.ami"y going through "ife transitions in one room. Bronwyn and Erin barred the path. 2hat I saw were three daughters of the . I was busy with the birth# so I "eft them to it. .
2e beg the sufferance of the new maiden.I caught the -ady(s baby. I()e heard so much about you.= 2e entered $amarin(s recei)ing room& around the perimeter of the pa)i"ion each new maiden en8oyed a pri)ate recei)ing room to accept tribute of the men of her c"an# before a"" women and men 8oined in the huge dance pa)i"ion for one enormous ce"ebration..%addy#= She said to me# . Besides the boys in the band# we were a"so 8oined by Gatan# A"i0(s mate# and Jesse# $he .= I introduced the fina" member of our party. .. $hen we a"" bowed before her and "aid our gifts at her feet.I was to"d to ma e sure the boys and I were a "itt"e "ate& when it became c"ear the -ady was dropping 9owe.= $am said. .= I wore new hea)i"y embroidered pants and tunic# with a )est cape.= . .'ow $amarin#= I said.I missed you %addy.= I said# .= She said. .:a"t< 1en ha)e no p"ace in the woman(s camp# e0cept as in)ited guests.2hat am I wearing my mirror mas . She "oo ed e)ery inch the warrior she(d been for se)era" score years before ta ing up the priestess gig. Bronwyn returned# .= Bronwyn went within# whi"e Erin "oo ed menacing. I cou"d te"" he wou"d ha)e we"comed a greeting "i e :aw had recei)ed# but he 8ust bowed o)er her hand and issed it. A"" the more because she was now re?growing the hair she had a"ways had as a warrior and ne)er before as a priest. 2e were a"" drumming# gifts in bags o)er our shou"ders.= I spo e for us# . . Bronwyn and Erin barred the door.$amarin#= :e said# .ami"y(s fa)orite son and answer to Jesus.It(s ca""ed pride my "itt"e "o)e. hot. But they were sti"" cream on cream with "ight co"ored beading. 9ight now you ha)e to meet your admirers. $he tip of his pointed rough cat tongue s"ipping out to "ic the crease between her midd"e and ring fingers.3h :aw "eberry# you say such things.$his is Gatan.$hen you may enter.'ow of course you now Storyte""er#= :e bowed issing her hand. 2hat I wore to a"" occasions and in a much p"ainer unembroidered )ersion on more norma" days than not.ami"y# the best warrior# and in the top ten most beautifu" peop"e I ha)e e)er met.6ou(re "oo ing.= . She came and hugged me.And I you# my sweet.6ou 8ust ha)e a g"ow about you.= Gatan is a si0 foot four "ionman with a mane of "ong wa)y go"den hair. She en8oyed our re)erence# but ga)e us "ea)e to rise.*"eased to meet you# sir.= :is )oice changed on the "ast word# to a sort of groan. 2e sang songs in honor of $amarin(s beauty. $he .3h Story#= She said b"ushing. .ather(s fa)orite son# who decided to show up# for reasons of his own. 1y daughter too him in her arms and ga)e him a )ery unchi"d"i e iss.or a moment my father"y arm around her bac supported her fu"" weight as her nees ga)e out.%o you bring tributeC= I "oo ed at our gifts and assented.I "oo beautifu"C= I as ed# . 3b)ious"y *hi"ip and his -ady were no "onger e0pected.= I rep"ied with a smi"e. It was we"" after dar when I "ed the men drumming and ca""ing for entrance at the dance pa)i"ion. She got her feet bac under her and said# . But you()e got a "ot of time away from me in your future. . An opinion I assumed $am shared as there was an (1mmm( purr in the bac of her throat that I don(t thin she new she made when I introduced him.-ast"y this is Jesse. .6ou "oo beautifu". . .= She "oo ed at Jesse# about twenty?three physica""y# "ong dar b"onde hair# ange"ic
.And I(m sure it(s not e)en a cand"e compared to your g"ow. :a"f hypnoti4ed with 8oy it seemed. 1i"ady#= . 'o one in)ited you. :e(s the strongest ma"e in the . A"i0(s mate. . 3n the day you became a woman# ma8or good arma.= I turned# . .%id youC $hat(s a p"easure I()e ne)er had.= B"ood rushed to :aw (s chee s# but I wou"dn(t ca"" it a b"ush. .And# of course# :aw #= I introduced the ne0t ma"e in our party. .= . .Charmed.
.= 2e a"" commiserated with her about the burden of fabu"ous gifts.-o)e puddingC $hat(s the nast.'e0t is A"i0(s. .2e"" "o)e "a)a wou"dn(t ha)e fit the metaphor. $wice in each ear# each nostri"# and her be""y button.= It was a %amascus stee" atana# to match her tonta# in a boi"ed "eather o)er the shou"der sheath. $hey ma e me so hot.I don(t now baby# it(s been a "ong time. In addition to being the handsomest man at the dance you were a"so the ta""est.riday at M@M0# don(t be "ate. . *atience comes. :aw and A"i0 both ha)e mates they rea""y miss. $ime is f"uid# but it(s tangib"e# once you gain an adu"t(s sense of it a year is a year is a year.= I hoped I(d e0p"ained it we"".$his is "i e the twe"fth time you()e mentioned it.3f course it is.6ou ha)e to now this gig is winding down. 6ou()e got Erin and soon you("" ha)e Shamus. 2e danced into the night. . . A "ar that was so perfect and awesome it wi"" go down in history as we"" as "i)ing on in the occasiona" reunion
.= I said.= She "oo ed a "itt"e shoc ed# but the months with :aw and A"i0 ser)ed her we""# . . .= She rep"ied. .1y "itt"e gir"# a woman. . I(m e0cited# I swear# but it(s bittersweet. $his was a "ar . And Erin wi"" e)entua""y mate and then there("" be another. I(m getting a "ife.= $amarin said# .$his is from Singer. I now a "ot of women "i e that.= It turned out I didn(t need to e0p"ain it. A si")er circ"et with a phases of the moon symbo" on its front# and a twisted si")er armband.= Jess apo"ogi4ed.= .I now my sweet# but you(re not 8ust mine anymore.= I must admit the idea intrigued me. I noticed p"enty of women chec ing you out at the dance. $hen grand ids# and whate)er the chi"dren of your daughter(s "o)er with someone other than your daughter are ca""ed# they(re sti"" in of a sort I(m certain.I thin they can fit you in at the $emp"e of Jessic on . .= She indicated her se)en new ho"es.= I said smi"ing# my hand resting on her shou"der. .*agan ChristC= She said. She ooohed and aaahed and mo)ed on. E)eryone from my sister maidens to women who are o"d "i e you.ina""y I wa" ed her outside# to get some air and fina""y gi)e her her present. $hen she opened the gifts brought by the boys but I decided to gi)e her mine pri)ate"y "ater as I didn(t now what tapping the sou" poo" might do to her.= . .= :e said. 6ou cou"d ha)e your choice. . But how "ong a year seems is pretty much the same at two thousand as it was at a hundred. 3dd# as once you get to now them# you see Gatan is the socia" butterf"y of the uni)erse.= She said. $hey supp"y the neepads and f"a)ored "o)e 8e""ies.'ow "et(s see what our new mother has made for me.'ot so "ong to you o"d man. 3ur fami"y(s getting bigger.'ow Erin a"ready ga)e me her gift by decorating me so beautifu""y. ($he nast( of course meaning the nastiest thing he(d heard. Jesse too her hand# pressed it "ight"y to his "ips then he"d it to his chest. . .= .'ot.2e"" %addy#= She began# .= $he bo0 contained a moon crown. .= I said# with bittersweet sentimenta"ity. . Anyway# "o)e"y to see you boys# but I ha)e to open my presents# so we can get to the dance.6es %addy# but I(m sti"" your gir".= Being a few years younger physica""y and a more approachab"e beauty than Gat made Jesse easier for her to tease with.features# fu"" "ips# and green eyes that me"t your heart.I was ind of hoping you wou"d supp"y the "o)e 8e""y. . *riorities change.Sorry# I might be ab"e to pro)ide a sma"" amount of "o)e pudding but it on"y comes in one f"a)or. :e smi"ed as he said# .I(m so proud.= She opened up the -ady(s gift to find a "ace up "eather bodice# an o)er the shou"der sword be"t with a crescent moon buc "e and a pair of suede pants that "aced up each side.I am grown up# maybe you ought to thin about starting to date.3oh semantics. !ind of a "ost puppyAca"endar mode"AAdonis effect.I now#= $amarin said shy"y# trying to be casua".I(d worship at your a"tar anytime. . . It ma es them fee" safe.'o matter how "ong I "i)e# sub8ecti)e time doesn(t rea""y change.= Gatan said.
1y nees are sti"" wea . I now she was some sort of air fey that "oo s ind of "i e a s inny Sidhe. .= I too out the bo0 and prepared to hand it to her.rench braid as she stood in the sadd"e ho"ding her
.It was easy at the time# it(s on"y afterwards. I was trying to hit them hard enough to punch c"ean ho"es in them without shattering the g"ass.It shou"d be no different than tapping stored energy out of a crysta" or any piece of 8ewe"ry. 6ou need a "ife of your own.= . She hadn(t changed forms& she(d refined the one she had. 1y ids wi"" need a grandfather.$am# my "o)e"y. .I now %addy#= She said in her "ong suffering (%addy is such a worry wort( )oice# .:ow do I tap itC= $amarin as ed. :ow are you young womanC= I as ed probing her face with my eyes for any sign of troub"e.$hat(s pretty big 8u8u for a no)ice.ami"y parties we are going to be "i)ing our own "i)es. . :er hair was "ighter and pu""ed bac from her face in a thic .= I opened the bo0# presenting a brace"et to her. -i e e"ectricity in that it was faint"y "uminescent and faint"y mu"tico"ored and most )isib"e in its distortion of the air. I as ed her if she wanted to go bac in and try out her new form on the boys. $amarin(s hand was noc ed away as it rushed into her. . But being my dad and my ids5 grandpa is not a fu"" time 8ob. :er fur was now shorter and finer# a "ight downy fu44 on"y )isib"e in "ight or "oo ing )ery c"ose. 2hen her form stabi"i4ed she was sti"" ob)ious"y the same gir". I noticed she had her ears# nose# and na)a" pierced# with a chain around her waist connecting on both sides to her be""y ring and two more connecting her ears to her nostri"s 2hich I assumed was specifica""y because she was trying to "oo "i e a barbarian raider and not a new regu"ar "oo . It was a wide thic si")er cuff with a sou" poo" the si4e and shape of ha"f of a mandarin mounted in its center.2e"" it(s good for my reach to e0ceed my grasp.I caught their sou"s for you. I now that you i""ed them because they were going to i"" me. She grew two inches in a moment& her hair faded three shades from honey amber to a sunny b"onde. She f"e0ed her fingers& her c"aws were wider# f"atter# and thinner but sti"" "oo ed sharp and strong.3 ay# but enough about me. -et(s ta" about you. 'ow it(s time to start thin ing about a ci)i"ian "ife.= . . She said right now her bones ached a "itt"e and she wou"d rather 8ust sit and ta" for a "itt"e whi"e "onger.= I said# a "itt"e worried. But this tour is our "ast. I fe"t this was the "east they cou"d offer you.I()e 8ust had a "ot of time to thin about the past and the future and e)erything "ast night.6eah I noticed when we were dancing I seemed to be supporting a bit more of your weight than I e0pected. $he stone swir"ed with co"ored energy. Chapter .. I was throwing roc s at bott"es when $amarin rode past. $his is not my saining day& we can ta" about my "ife another time. As you now.orty?. .= I said. And I thin your tendency to s"ip into intro)ersion means you need someone to share that "ife with. $hat(s a"" I rea""y fee" I need to now about them.our +Shamus. Bright ye""ow and deep green predominated but there were swir"s of dar red# fire red and white swir"# and pa"e dusty orange.= As she went to ta e the brace"et its energy pro)ed to be more accessib"e to her than I e0pected. . She stood for a moment c"enching and unc"enching her shoc ed hand and sha ing her head s"ow"y to c"ear it. In between those reunion concerts at .. As I watched# she became a "itt"e fu44y around the edges as two "i)es worth of energy f"owed into her.= She said. 6ou had two thousand years on and off of iso"ation# fo""owed by fifteen years in intense"y intimate circumstances with the band.I now he was ha"f p"ains barbarian and ha"f p"ains e"f. .= I mentioned . B9ightCB I agreed and continued# .= .I(m pretty darn we""# father= She to"d me the story about "itt"e E"sie.I suppose you now I brought you out here to ta" a "itt"e bit about your birthparents.= .I now %addy#= She said. I need a father.concert. She "oo ed different somehow.
She was a"so wearing -ady !(s gifts# which put whate)er nubi"e femininities she had on disp"ay.I 8ust want to ta" and catch up.And we wi"".'ot at a""# I()e had two months with no competition. 3r are you 3beron nowC= . . $hat(s why I "ost the fur.= She smi"ed a smi"e that was e>ua" parts mischief# affection# and "ust and said# . A sweaty# fun "itt"e moc batt"e had engaged around us. . $he boys hit the dirt when the "adies arri)ed. $amarin shouted# .I "i e the sound of that.= Erin smi"ed.atana abo)e her head# E")es( Bane in a fringed suede sheath on her bac .= I too her hand as she re"eased me with the other arm and we wa" ed a few steps to Aubi.So what happenedC= She as ed# re"easing me partia""y to ho"d me at arm5s "ength and "oo at me.1mmm#= I purred# . I am B"ac feather to my minions. . $he "ac of fur wou"d e0p"ain her "oo ing more mature# as fur can hide some physica" signs of age. She "oo ed more mature and e)en more stunning"y beautifu".= I set her on the ground and bowed s"ight"y.= .aery steed 1uffin and too my -ady into my arms.'o# 3beron was his rea" first name.I(m betting you wi"" prefer the fee".C(mon wa" with me and we("" ta" . Behind her# a"" dressed in warrior gear and painted were Erin# spi y white hair grown out& A"i0# hair braided and scimitar raised& and Singer standing in her sadd"e# bow drawn.I can understand that.=
.So"dier< *resent# gir"<= Sudden"y her brown and white pinto pony was a we"" musc"ed warrior# gent"y ho"ding her out to me.1uffin# who(s side are you onC= I disregarded that she had named a . . . .'o# I can sti"" see it.= . $he moc batt"e had ended fair"y >uic "y when they saw we weren(t p"aying. . Anyway# a "ot was "eft to 1odred# *uc # and past "ords@ $ane# 'ua""# and . $o you# I wi"" a"ways be Shamus. I "i e it.'o# I had my (woman we"coming time( at the party "ast night. 6ou 8ust shortened and softened the fur to a go"den down. I "earned much more from a few nature gods who had ru"ed the fey before there was a court. :e wanted to get my training o)er with and retire. . .= $amarin said.I rea""y "i e it.Incoming<= 8ust in front of the "adies.= $amarin rep"ied# . .io""# who had a"" ru"ed as 3beron had# as ings. %iscounting human witches who dis"i e change and sti"" wi"" refer to me as 3beron# which wi"" effect how often I answer their ca""s. $hese days they ha)e fewer minions and more worshipers# but they were )ery he"pfu". I may ha)e been forced on him# but he(d warmed to the idea. . But I thin the most noticeab"e change was that her fur was gone and she was strea ed with warpaint. .1e too.ErinC= She as ed turning to her "o)er. C"inging to me she said# .I()e missed you. 2hen she saw me the warpaint and decorati)e chains )anished in a thought.= I rep"ied again. . %ionysus# :erne# Janicot. I cou"d accommodate# I was in true form and cou"d outrace their horses at "east in the short term.= 2e wa" ed into the forest and I started ta" ing. I shifted into my norma" form and stood in front of $amarin(s ga""oping pony# commanding# .= I reassured her.6es# my "o)e. $hen we("" discuss what I want.= . She 8umped on me in a crushing hug.And your bac C= She sounded a "itt"e afraid of the answer.= I rep"ied.6es# my "o)e. Apparent"y $amarin wanted to ma e an entrance.%o you mind if I go for a wa" with Shamus# %addyC= Aubi rep"ied# .Shamus. .6es.= She said. 3beron was getting o"d# tired of the game.So you(re doneC= She as ed.= I rep"ied. I brought my "ips within an inch of hers.$o stayC= She sti"" didn(t want to get her hopes up.3 ay#= She said# . I 8umped in# . She )isib"y pu""ed herse"f together# a"though her eyes remained moist. . .And I you#= I said.2e"" I went bac when Story sent me# as you saw. I a"so fought for and won# on"y ha)ing to be in my true form for state functions# I usua""y prefer to be "ower ey. I hit the camp shouting .
= . I issed and "ic ed across her stomach# around her be""y button. I issed her breasts and "ic ed at her nipp"es# up to one shou"der# down her arm# ta ing each finger one by one into my mouth. And I new it didn(t matter# adoption wou"d ha)e carried the same status.6ou()e shown me you can be chi)a"rous and ga""ant. I was done with his nonsense.I wi"" not insu"t a "ady(s modesty.= I said. $hen I mo)ed up the inside of her "eg& ca"f to nee to thigh. . . I eased her pants down.orgotten# and they wi"" be forgi)en if you ta e me in and "et me get comfortab"e. As I c"osed the pa)i"ion# she grabbed me and issed me hard# saying# . . . .I want you. I pu""ed bac and opened her.= I said# .I need you.She ha")ed the distance# .Ah# grace as we"" as beauty. 2e bro e mouth contact for a moment# but our bodies remained pressed tight. I remembered our issing in the woods through an afternoon.= :e said# far too confident"y to be thin ing c"ear"y. I began to un"ace her pants.= :e sneered.'o than s. Beginning with her nec # around her co""arbones# down her sternum# up o)er her ribs. I tasted her with one deep passing "ic of her fu44y c"eft before mo)ing to her other "eg teasing"y.= I issed her. I new that wasn(t true.Adopted daughter. *uc appeared with a sardonic bow.. $he tip soft"y and eager"y e0p"ored me.I wou"d not as you to# mi"ord.6es sir# than you sir.= I immediate"y rea"i4ed my mista e. :er warm sweet "ips parted and her hot# s"ight"y rough tongue entered my mouth.aery.= She said# . I admired her shiny fo"ds# the peta"?"i e appearance of her. I issed down her be""y to the p"ace where her go"den down began to thic en and "engthen into her pubes# shorter and softer than norma" but a good match to her body f"uff.9obin<= I summoned my foo".= She smi"ed# . I made out simi"ar"y with these demanding "ips before I fina""y sett"ed in to issing and "ic ing her deep and hard trying to "ap up her cum as fast as she produced it. $his time I mo)ed my hand o)er her# petting her itty gent"y as I issed and "ic ed her "eg.1odred<= I shouted for my chamber"ain. .etch my pa)i"ion.I("" not ha)e your sweet fresh body on the ground. I need you so bad"y.= :e "oo ed at us a bit contemptuous"y# but that was his norma" "oo . $hen he said# .If you summon my pa)i"ion within ten seconds# I("" "et you i"" 1odred.= . $his is beautifu".. 1o)ing up to her hip# I issed a"ong the outside of her thigh# o)er her nee# a"ong her ca"f# o)er the top of her foot# I "ic ed her toes and the so"e of her foot. I noticed something une0pected a thin membrane of tissue coming from the wa""s in a ring. But what I rea""y want to now is can you fuc me "i e a rutting beast. 'ot sure why I bothered arguing.*"ease forgi)e the offensi)e actions of my e0?chamber"ain. I too her ring into my mouth and tugged on it gent"y with my teeth. I mo)ed to her other hand# "ight"y "ic ing her pa"m and suc ing each finger# nibb"ing on the inside of her wrist then the soft croo of her e"bow# then mo)ing up to that shou"der. Beneath you.And I rea""y "i e you.= .
. .= I pu""ed aside the doorf"ap to re)ea" an opu"ent chamber worthy of the -ord of the .She(s the daughter of a god.= In a moment my pa)i"ion stood in the c"earing# made of si" in browns and greens co)ered in beautifu""y sewn si" "ea)es it "oo ed perfect"y rega" and fey. $his howe)er is a commoner.2hyC= I rep"ied# . .= . 1y petting hand was soon rep"aced by my issing mouth.= I "aid her down on a mattress fi""ed with fairy dust and began to un"ace her c"othing.If you i"" 1odred and summon my pa)i"ion within ten seconds# I("" ma e you -ord(s :igh Chamber"ain. :e appeared and I commanded# .$amarin# honey am I the firstC= I had to as a few times before I recaptured her attention. She moaned and ground her hips against my shou"ders. $hen I made a >uic tongue trip down the midd"e of her body. *uc disappeared in the act of garrotting my e0?ad)isor. -ight"y "ic ing her f"esh as it became e0posed.1y -ady#= I said# .= :e "oo ed at me and "aughed# .
If you cou"d "ose yourse"f in your first time enough to mar me "i e this# I("" wear them proud"y.6ou are way too nice. . After the initia" hiss of pain she >uic "y fe"" into the hea)y rhythmic breathing I too to be the beginnings of en8oyment.'eat. As I began ha)ing "itt"e bui"ding orgasms# I noticed we seemed in synch.= .But what if I hurt youC= I as ed.3r at the )ery "east way too infatuated with you. I wou"d not be ab"e to put them bac together without magic. .
. 2hen I fe"t my fina" big one bui"ding# I noticed her moans were getting "ouder and speed up. . I "ost myse"f in her and in the moment. . .$he difference is if you "ea)e me hanging now# I wi"" not on"y put out the word that you are a tease# I wi"" a"so show you new meanings of that word.= $hen she saw my bac . I began to >uic "y remo)e the rest of my c"othes. . But I wanted to ma e you wor for it. $hey("" probab"y start dropping hints about 3beron and $itania.= . $hen I rea"i4ed it was an honest in>uiry as to the fate of one of the p"ayers in this drama who had not been addressed.= /nder the pressure of threats "i e that I had no choice but to gi)e in. $hen began to gent"y but thorough"y try to p"ease her.= .. 'ow shut up and fuc me. I "ay down ne0t to her and pu""ed the si" comforter o)er us.Some# I(m sure.But don(t you ha)e to be fey to be $he -adyC= She as ed. After a few moments she threw herse"f bac with her "egs open and said# . . .2hat about $itaniaC= She as ed. 2hen her >uiet moans began to bui"d in intensity and I cou"d fee" the muscu"ar sheath of her begin to spasm tight"y around me I decided I had made her first time worth the troub"e. I("" ma e you so horny you wi"" cry with need and sti"" I won(t gi)e in. .I need a -ady. I rammed myse"f in to tear her >uic "y.or a moment I was 8ust a "itt"e hurt& as if she was trying to pawn me off# or refuse my hand.= She said. 2hen I sti"" hesitated she sat up with a start.%on(t worry#= I said# . $he pain a"most stopped my orgasm midstream# but I made it. She dug her nai"s into my bac in her abandon. She f"ipped me onto my bac # with her astride me and physica""y tore my c"othes off.= I thought she 8ust didn(t want to thin about her birth parents. She went down on me# ine0pert"y but with a ferocious eagerness that was on"y s"ight"y hotter than it was scary.3b)ious"y.3h baby# I(m sorry.If you hurt me# you("" ha)e to ma e it up to me.= She said. $hey norma""y ta e it artificia""y in saining training# so your first time is better. As "ong as they ha)e one there is no need for both -ord and -ady# but it won(t be "ong before they are "eaning on me to mate up and sett"e down. -itera""y. . Course %iana is a ()irgin( goddess. But you ha)e sy"ph b"ood. . $hen as we "ay together and I gent"y washed her with a c"oth and warm water "eft out for that purpose she noncha"ant"y said# .= She smi"ed. I "o)e dy es.= She smi"ed. Anytime you hear ()irgin( goddess# thin dy e goddess.-oo either you fuc me now or you fuc me "ater.But "i)ing with $itania as a persona was turning %iana co"d and capricious# so she mo)ed on.= I said# .6eah# I new that. 7ods rea""y# I(m sorry. 1y )irginity isn(t gonna disappear 8ust cause you(re scared.= I opened her "egs a bit farther# "ic ed her for one more >uic taste# then "ined the head of my coc up to 8oin her.I wou"d say that was a success. 'ow fuc me.= I said. She too 3beron(s "ea)ing as a cue to depart herse"f.= She said.= I said snugg"ing against her.= She said# as if that was a state secret. .= .'ot me# %iana#= She c"arified.'ow fuc me. I 8oined her with abandon# a"though a"one I(m usua""y a >uiet comer.9ight bac at you.$itania was the goddess %iana ha)ing a few centuries "ar . She roared in the bac of her throat that was ha"f moan ha"f grow" of frustration. . . :e didn(t choose a -ady# so the 8ob was contracted out independent"y to a woman who found him repugnant.
I "aughed a"" the harder# ho"ding the woman I "o)ed.2hat do you meanC= She as ed "oo ing a "itt"e confused a "itt"e "i e she might be getting ready to "augh if I showed myse"f to be the empty headed c"ichN I was mouthing.= I e0p"ained. . $hat a"so describes the ma8ority of deities.3h# goddesses can fa e it.= I paused a moment# then as ed. 2i"d Sidhe who sp"it from the rest of their race when they decided they were the :igh . Anyway# my saining was a b"ast.= I said. .Ah and you pic ed up this wisdom in the# what si0 years# since your own sainingC= She "aughed. . . Singer ga)e me a moon crown and a fai"ge armband. .It was great. $he underwear I got for my birthday are some of the nicest c"othes I()e e)er owned. . $hey can no "onger change at a"". . I paused a moment as her succinct summary san in.$he %aoine Sidhe were once the most powerfu" fey race. $hin ing they were not on"y stronger but better than the other races.$hat is it e0act"y# "o)e. 6et in that time they became s"a)es to order# where fey had a"ways drawn their power from the chaotic power of nature.:uhC= She "oo ed at me b"an "y. . %id you get anything coo"C 3r was it 8ust underwearC= I 8o ed.our fifths of your "ife.= I "oo ed at her confusion# and c"arified.So they are the magica" )ersion of 4ea"otsC= She as ed. I fee" so different. . 6our father is an a)atar. E)en in the face of necessity.2e"" with god b"ood on your father(s side I(d say you fit the demigod "abe" as we"". 1odred and 3beron were turning the fey into Sidhe. $hey consider themse")es to be the gods( own chosen race. $a" ing to fabu"ous"y o"d men about their "i)es.aerie to pro)e this. . $hey created the See"eigh Court and tried to estab"ish it as fey nobi"ity. . So I guess they can s"ip the "oopho"e of officia" fey.= . And they do more to ma e me fee" pretty than a wee 5s worth of "ustfu" g"ances from a certain horny ram I cou"d name. .I mean you(re a"ways the same person. . I am a demigod# now.3 # I("" stipu"ate that you are correct in that.'ot many. $here are sti"" a few . Shi("a# one of my carna" tutors# ga)e me a b"ac si" robe#
. So it(s been twe")e years since my saining.*resents.ami"y and the 9ea"m in their attempt to estab"ish themse")es as the ru"ers of the rea"ms of magic.So how was your sainingC= She smi"ed so big and her eyes got a "itt"e misty at the thought.= I answered her# smi"ing and tic "ing her ribs a "itt"e bit. . $hen I started "aughing. A"i0 ga)e me the atana I was using in our "itt"e (batt"e(. It has fi)e forms from sma"" unadorned si")er "i e a conductor(s baton to a rune car)ed wi""ow wi4ard(s staff.= .aoine Sidhe.I suppose#= she said.. .2e"" adu"thood is "i e that.I got my piercings and tattoo from Erin# the "ady ga)e me a "ace?up "eather bodice# suede pants# and a be"t with a moon phases buc "e. But no# I got most of this particu"ar opinion inter)iewing e0?-ords of the . I(m sure your dad wou"d say the same. $hen I remembered that this rift happened when they a""owed ear"y Catho"ics to teach that Sidhe were ange"s who refused to ta e sides in the war between 7od and -ucifer and were damned to earth rather than he"".:ey# don(t you be dissing underwear.And what about meC= She as ed. But not in the ways I e0pected. /nti" they were comp"ete"y warped.= . . . $hey ha)e warred with both the . But how many 1odreds are there in the 9ea"mC= She as ed.ey is c"assified as races so magica" they cou"d not sur)i)e in the absence of magic. :aw (s mate Bri(an ga)e me a wand that she said was regu"ation fairy godmother.= I apo"ogi4ed and she continued..= I said.ey# and too the race name . 6our opinions or thoughts might change with your point of )iew# but the core is a"ways the same.As I said when we met I am "i e ten years past my physica" age. .I thin he actua""y did say something pretty simi"ar "ast night at the dance.= .$he more you change the more you stay the same. $hat is why I was needed to come in. But what ma es you the "ogica" choice for -ady is the fact that you a"so ha)e fey b"ood and are mated to the -ord.ey and -ords of the 2i"d.= I rep"ied.= . But a pure god is so o"d and changed they are practica""y in their chaotic pure energy state# on"y ho"ding on to corporea" form through force of wi"".:ow was your hau"C= I as ed .
$he on"y reason he(s so comp"iant is because he(s too young to ta" . I wanted to.= She turned to me# .1uffs# show me your unicorn. . .2hat do you meanC= She as ed# comp"ete"y ob"i)ious to what she had.aery steeds are 8ust another fey race# re"ated to phou as.= I said# .1uffin# get in here.'ow ma e your "egs thic er and more muscu"ar. . Simi"ar to his unicorn with shorter pe"t# "onger hair# and bigger ears# shaped and situated "i e a deer(s.:e(s not one with a car form# you5)e seen his man form# and he(s got a pretty good unicorn and a passab"e dragon. mo)ed to Ca"ifornia as a chi"d. .1uffin# "engthen your bac "egs to match the front. And Story ga)e me a 8ade grasshopper# that(s my totem# and he taught me how to bring it to "ife and send it out spying for me.7"ad you "i e him.:e(s on"y so "imited# because he(s so young. :e "i)ed most of his "ife in the 'orth County area of San %iego.= I said.camiso"e# g?string# and garter be"t with stoc ings# and %idi(mao my other tutor ga)e me the same in white. Sudden"y 1uffin was a bright emera"d green dragon# shaped "i e a rabbit with "ong fore"egs and thic powerfu" hind "egs# with a potbe""y and a truncated a""igator snout. :e b"ogs on B"ogger and $witters under the name wordofbonneau.$hat(s why I ha)e to mo"d him now.= I said.
About the Author J.I ha)e a "itt"e something for you# myse"f.= She smi"ed.E. Sma"" for a dragon but bigger than the pony.:e(s a .3 ay from now on this is your true form& the other is your origina" form. Both with me riding it astra""y and a"so independent.Abso"ute"y. .= I said# .= She said.= I said and he became a snowy white pony?"i e creature with mane tai" and fet"oc s of shiny si" en cur"s. $amarin chimed in with# .B $he changes were >uic "y made. Bronwyn# Erin(s sister and the .:ad to reset the defau"ts. 1arrying young and ha)ing three ids meant he needed to wor in the corporate wor"d for security and he has on"y been writing fu"" time for a short time.1uffinC= I as ed. .
.E.= she said.ami"y warmistress ga)e me a "abrys a0e. Bonneau is an American current"y "i)ing in Auc "and# 'ew Hea"and. . .6ou are so nice. 6ou didn(t ha)e to do that.But you can instruct him to change.$hat(s fine#= She said# . Born in the %etroit area# J.6ou rea"i4e he(s inte""igent# . .= In a moment he was a pretty impressi)e "itt"e dragon. . . %addy ga)e me this sou" poo" brace"et with my birth parents in it. :e finished his first boo at 1P.= . . And than s for the pony. .= $he pony nosed the f"ap open and came in. .= Sudden"y the Indian war pony was a stoc y shaggy beige and brown unicorn pony.'ow show me dragon. A"" their energy "eapt into me# but I put it bac # but now it has some of me mi0ed in it.aery steed.:a)e you e0p"ored his repertoireC= .3 ay try your body one shade "ight of sorre" and your hair mahogany.= .= I said.= he stretched and the rabbit dragon became more of a stag.9ea""yC= She s>uea"ed# . So I did get underwear# and I(m gratefu" for it.3 ay# natura" form. . %addy said that was good because my bit wi"" tune the other power to be easier to use. $hen she turned to the pony.3 ay# than s.= As we fine tuned 1uffin a bit more# it occurred to me that I wou"d bet she wou"d# upon ref"ection thin I ne)er ga)e her the saining gift I offered. . E0cept "o)e you of course.3 ay a touch of cream to the body.= She answered. :e began writing when he was nine and has considered himse"f a writer e)er since.= . Anyway# :aw ga)e me a set of throwing ni)es.= .I don(t ha)e to do anything.= I said.= She "oo ed at him critica""y. . So when he grows up# he won(t gi)e me troub"e.