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Loose Threads

Six

Iain gave Canaan a hard look. “You too?” They were in the same suite he’d met Siobhan in and were standing in the living room.

Her fangs gleamed in her grin. “It is an interesting theory and we have the chance to try it once again. It worked with Siobhan, didn’t it?”

Iain rubbed his eyes. “She hasn’t decided if she wants to stay yet, has she?”

“She wants to stay, Iain and she wants to live. She just wants to mourn Gordon Wallace before she begins her new life here.” Canaan’s grin vanished and she poked him in the chest with the index finger of her upper right hand hard enough to make him grunt and rub the spot afterward. “If you hadn’t offered to take her to her home universe she would already be moving through the grief stage. What if you can’t prove he’s dead?”

“I really doubt he got far from his home before he was killed and she knows where they live. If nothing else you can tell her that nothing lives in the area and she’ll understand he’s dead.”

Canaan nodded. “True, but are you aware of the trouble that’s coming when Eve and April realize where Siobhan and Gordon lived?”

He smiled. “I take it you asked Siobhan?”

“No, I asked Theodora after you did an address check. Their home is at the edge of the downtown region which means according to what you told Theodora it’s kilometers inside the Zombabe shield. We are going to have to go through the shield and face the Zombabes for her. Not to mention we might have to face that world’s BLSF.”

“We’ve fought Zombabes before and we’re a hell of a lot stronger than we were then. As for the military, I really doubt the Blackguards get stationed to go in and fight Zombabes. They have better things to do. But I think we can sneak in as opposed to that dumb fucking smash and grab that Shikarou and Faelan did.” He looked at the container of pokeballs. “And if Dominique and I can swing it properly, we might go in at the same time Shikarou does and the BLSF will be busy chasing his ass instead of ours.”

“She mentioned that and I’ve done the odds on your success,” Canaan said grimly. “And that is a huge long shot. You’d have to hit a certain day and Dominique doesn’t have that kind of precision yet.”

“Then I’ll cheat. Theodora will create me an identity in the BLSF records and we’ll waltz in as a research team and find Gordon’s corpse.”

Canaan’s good humor returned. “Sneaky we can do. That we’re used to seeing from you and you can usually pull it off. Now let’s see what kind of weirdo you manage to pick from the Elfqueens.”

“Don’t I remember Vanessa picking you for me because you were the oddest psychic she knew of and she thought I could give you what you needed since you and she are friends?”

“Yeah, but you won’t get that lucky again. Elfqueens aren’t predatory so she won’t be a Hunter breed.”

“But you think I will have some kind of luck with her?”

She laughed at him for a moment. “So choose and show me wrong.”

“Fucking hell.” Iain reached into the container and closed his eyes for a moment before twisting his arm and pulling out a pokeball. “You do know that I get to open all of these eventually.”

She nudged him hard enough to make him stagger sideways and grabbed him by the shoulder to steady him before he could fall. “Yeah, but you have to admit that doing the first one this way is fun.”

Iain turned to look up at Canaan. “Did I give you what you needed?”

Her smile became loving and she picked him up to kiss him soundly. “Not only did you give me what I needed,” she said as she gently put him back down, “you gave me what I wanted and didn’t dare dream about ever having and you still do both of those things today, Iain. There is no place for me in the universe,” she paused and her grin reappeared, “or in any of the universes where I could be better off than I am right beside you. I mean that whether we are rolling around in your bed or dodging a hail of bullets and techniques.”

“That’s very flattering.”

“It should be. I wouldn’t say it to just anyone. Now open that ball so we can see what fate sent you.”

“I hear and I obey.” Iain toggled the ball as Canaan snorted her amusement.

For an instant, Iain wasn’t sure the ball actually held an Elfqueen, she was so far from the norm, but his ability to identify pokegirls reassured him that she was what she was supposed to be. She was taller than he was, probably around 6’1 or 188 centimeters, and thinner than any Elfqueen he’d ever seen. She was nude and he could see that she wasn’t starving, but she was slender and muscular like he’d expect a gymnast to be, with small breasts, slim but definitely feminine hips and relatively narrow shoulders. Her hair was a deep scarlet with the root of every hair a bright white, but because her hair was cropped shorter than his was it looked like her head was almost white colored with a red tint. Her face was long and narrow with thin lips and a broad mouth. Her large light brown eyes peered at him with mingled curiosity, dread and a fatalistic acceptance that was jarring.

What was most arresting about her was that from the bottoms of her breasts to her hips she was covered with tattoos in a tight array and in a wild profusion of colors. Looking closer, Iain realized that all of the tattoos were of faces, all female and many obviously of different pokegirl breeds, each picked out in exacting detail. Many of them overlapped, the ones on top partially obscuring the ones beneath. There was so much ink on her body in places that her skin was almost black, and in a few of them white ink had been used to trace the overlying tattoos so they would still be visible.

“She’s definitely different,” Canaan said as her antenna uncurled. The Elfqueen twitched and Canaan nodded. “She’s not feral and she’s not feeling suicidal or homicidal, so I’ll leave you two alone. Oh, and Iain,” He looked up at her questioning tone, “she’d appreciate a name change.” Then she grabbed the wire basket filled with the Elfqueen filled pokeballs and was gone.

The Elfqueen squared her shoulders. “Are you my master now?” Her voice was soft but in her eyes he could see the dread growing to crowd out everything else.

“I am. My name is Iain and you will be joining my harem.” He wasn’t going to try to explain clan just yet. Siobhan had taken a while to understand the workings of the family she’d not really joined and Iain suspected that she really hadn’t and was faking it, but he could live with that until she actually became one of them and got her twee.

The Elfqueen went down on one knee and bowed her head. “I will be a faithful servant for you, Master Iain. Thank you for taking me in spite of my ugliness. I will prove to be very useful and valuable to compensate, I swear.” Her accent was familiar but not one he'd heard recently. He was sure that if he heard her speak long enough he'd figure out where he'd heard it before.

Iain regarded her curiously. “Rise.” She shot to her feet and stood at attention. “At ease.”

She slid into a perfect parade rest, watching him intently. “That’s not at ease.”

She nodded and relaxed. “Master, many tamers are not aware of the difference and I try to err on the side of caution.”

“I’m former military.” He smiled. “BLSF naval forces, actually.”

“Yes, master.”

He folded his hands behind his back. “Do you want to know what happened to your last master or mistress?”

The Elfqueen's face was impassive. “Did you steal me from him, master?”

Iain was surprised. “No, that I didn’t do.”

“Then it doesn’t matter how you won me, master. I will do my utmost for you.”

“So you weren’t abandoned. Why were you in storage, if I may ask?

“I do not know, master. Perhaps I was placed up for sale before you acquired me. My old master had a large harem and he might have planned to reduce its numbers due to his rank being too low to keep them all.”

Iain suddenly had a nasty thought. “Your old master wasn’t Gordon Wallace, was it?”

“No, master, it wasn’t. His name was Elmer Wiggins, sir.”

Iain nodded. “Well, that’s good. Through that door is a bedroom with an attached bathroom. I’d like you to shower. There’s a robe if you want to wear it.”

“Master, what rank are you?”

“I’m high enough that you could wear a hazmat suit,” Iain said tersely. “You can wear a robe if you want.”

She flinched. “I am sorry, master. I am ready for correction.”

Iain sighed. “No, that was my fault. I shouldn’t have snapped at you. The truth is that I’m not from your Blue and I’m not familiar with their ranking system. Are you?” He shook his head. “Where are my manners? What is your name?”

Her eyes fell and she whispered it so low that only with his enhancements could he hear it. “Hogweed, master,”

“Why on earth would someone name you Hogweed?”

“It is because I am ugly, master. He named me after an ugly plant because of it.”

“You are not ugly.”

She was continuing to look at his feet. “Master, I know the truth. I am.”

“Look at me.” She slowly raised her eyes to meet his. “I lie to people a lot. If there’s a good reason for it, I’ll lie to family too. But I will never be cruel to you.” Her eyes held the beaten look he’d seen in Sofia’s when she first joined the harem but he couldn’t offer her revenge on the asshole that had done this to her. Worse yet, she believed whoever had told her she was ugly and that was going to be hard to change. “I know pokegirls that are absolutely stunning. Their bodies, their faces and their personalities all blend together in what is probably the closest you’ll ever find to perfection. I know pokegirls that are beautiful. You are right in that you are not stunning or beautiful. But to me you are pretty and that’s the God’s honest truth.”

Her eyes searched his for a long time while she tried to find a hint of duplicity in them. Finally she took a long breath and let it out slowly. “What about me is pretty, master?” There was a tiny hint of challenge in the question.

Iain settled down in the chair and pointed to the couch. “Please sit.” She slowly settled herself down where he indicated. “Would you like something to drink or eat?”

“No, master, I am not hungry or thirsty.” Those eyes were intent on his.

“Did you know that I am a sucker for redheads?” He smiled when she frowned. “And you have very pretty hair, even if it’s way too short. Would you be willing to grow it out for me?”

“How long would you want it to be, master,” she asked cautiously.

“Waist length would be wonderful and floor length would be awesome, but I want you to remember that I’m not like any other master you have had. What I want and what I will accept are too very different things as far as your personal appearance goes. If you want to keep your hair short I’ll suffer mostly in silence.” He leaned back in the chair. “And your eyes are pretty. They’re like milk chocolate.”

“Master, may I ask questions?”

“You may always ask questions. If I don’t want to answer I’ll tell you.”

“Will you answer my questions truthfully, master?”

He smiled. “I only lie to family to try and stay out of trouble with them and I try not to make a habit of it.”

“My other masters liked my tattoos more than anything else. Do you think they are prettier than my hair or my eyes, master?”

Iain looked down her body at the tattoos and gritted his teeth. He said he’d be honest. “To be honest, I think they’re ugly.” She gave him this startled look. “I’m sorry, but you did ask me to be honest with you.”

“Why do you think they are ugly, master?”

“Well, they’re crowded so much that some of them are partially hidden by others and they’re too gaudy and,” he sighed. “Why did you get nothing but faces, anyways?”

Relief shone in her eyes. “Master, I did not get them. I did not want them. One of my old masters had the first of them put on me and other masters have had more added as I became theirs.”

“Let me get this straight. Some jerk had a face tattooed on your stomach and more have been added by other jackasses. What the fuck was their reason for this?”

Hogweed stared into his eyes and took a deep breath. “Master, the master who had the first face put on me said it was because this way I would have a pretty face he could look at. He later added a few more from girls he saw that he thought very pretty. After that, masters would add the girls they thought were pretty so they didn’t have to look at my face. There are more on my back, master, and there they reach up to my shoulders. In front none of my masters wanted to cover my breasts.”

She looked worried when Iain began swearing in Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese and Swahili mixed together. He ground to a halt when the worry began to be replaced with fear. “I’m sorry. I was saying bad things about your previous masters and I shouldn’t have. It’s not polite to make fun of the retarded.” He took a deep calming breath. “Would you mind terribly if I removed them? If you want other tattoos I’m sure we can find something we both like, but can I get rid of those?”

“Please, master,” she said quietly. “It could kill me but I am willing to take that chance.”

“Why would removing the tattoos kill you?”

“I asked a Tats once if they could be removed, master. She said that nearly thirty percent of my body was tattooed and that to remove them would probably kill me.”

“I don’t think she was telling you the truth and it doesn’t matter. I could remove all of them and not harm you in the slightest.” He cocked his head. “I have already met a NurseJoy from Glasgow and she seems to think that she should jump to her feet every time I stand up. Are you that way too?”

“I am not from Glasgow, master, and while I had a few masters who wanted me to behave that way, I have not had one recently.”

“Good. I don't expect that kind of behavior and, honestly, it's a little creepy.” Iain slowly got up. Hogweed watched him alertly, but didn't move. “So I'll remove your tattoos and if you live without being incapacitated, which I expect you will, you'll go shower and then I'll bring you into the family.” He cocked his head. “Where are you from? I feel like I should recognize your accent, but I don't.”

“I have lived near Rotoroa for over a century, master. My last master was from Bristol and brought me to the Blue League.”

Rotoroa is in New Zealand and thus part of Orange, his twee said. “Ah, you're from Orange.”

She looked surprised. “You've been there, master?”

“Nope.” Iain opened the closet door and pulled out two of the spare blankets, keeping them folded as he did. “I just know a lot of trivia and recognized the name of the town. I would like to go someday, though.” He moved to the middle of the room and dropped the blankets on the carpet. “Do you want to lie down for this or do you want to stand?”

The Elfqueen stared for a second. “Master, you want to remove them now?”

“I do. You don't want them and I don't want them so I don't see any reason to wait. I'm going to do it with magic so I don't need any extra gear and the blankets will be sponges for the ink.”

“Will it hurt, master,” she asked as she got to her feet.

“It didn't hurt the person I did it to the last time I did it, but her tattoos weren't anywhere as extensive as yours. But if it does start to hurt, let me know and I'll stop. We can always do this in stages if it minimizes your pain.” Iain eyed her for a minute. “If you remember the quick conversation you heard when Canaan talked to me before she left, she didn't call me master or sir. She is in my harem so I wanted you to know that you don't have to either.”

Hogweed stopped and regarded him carefully. “Master, I was beaten when I forgot to give my master due respect.”

Iain nodded. “I am familiar with how the system works, but I also know that if a pokegirl is too busy making sure she says the right things, she might decide it's too dangerous to tell me something important, like the fact that there's some hungry feral sneaking up behind me and I should get the fuck out of the way.” His smile was cold. “Or she might hope the feral gets me and knows if she says the right things afterwards, she'll be all right even if it doesn't.” He held up a hand when she started to say something. “But it doesn't matter. I have a large harem, at least by my standards and the only ones who sir me are usually trying to make a point about how stupid I'm being right then. Since I see pokegirls as being as human as I started out as, I don't get any more upset at them than I would at anyone else calling me an idiot. And I don't get upset if they're right.”

He could almost watch her brain working as she tried to assess the truth of what he was saying. “As you command, master, so shall I do.”

He smiled. “You're not going to get off that easily, but I will no more command you to not call me master than I will command you to do so, nor will I punish you for doing either.”

Annoyance flashed through her eyes and vanished. “Master, how am I to know what to do?”

“That's the problem with me saying you're human too. Humans don't normally get micromanaged and they have to figure out what they're going to do and how they're going to behave. It's the same for me. As long as nobody hits anybody else because they're in a bad mood or to get my attention, I won't hand out punishments for their behavior. I might not like it, but if it's bad enough I'll ask that it stop. If it's too disruptive, I'll insist.”

She thought his words through. “So I can still call you master, master?”

“You may.”

“Do you want me to call you master, master?”

“Not particularly, but it is your choice.”

“Then for the time being, master, I will continue to call you master until I see how the harem interacts with you and then I will try to follow their lead.”

It wasn't what Iain wanted but she was disagreeing with him and making a choice against his wants, so it was a step in the right direction. And if she did follow the harem's lead she would be doing what he wanted. “Ok. So, can I remove the tattoos now?” He watched her and smiled. “Dianthus.”

She blinked. “Master?”

“I got the impression you weren't happy with your name and I thought I'd try to find one you might like. Dianthus is a pretty flower with a nice fragrance, and while I haven't smelled your hair yet, many plant pokegirls have a flowery scent to them.”

“I do not, master.” She looked thoughtful. “There are a lot of different dianthus flower species, master, and I have met several plant pokegirls with that name.”

“Well, dianthus barbatus has petals the exact color and pattern as your hair. You could be that species of dianthus and it would give me a private name to call you and for you to allow close friends and family to use.”

“What would that be, master?”

“Barb.”

“Won't everyone start using that name, master, once they hear you use it?”

“They might try, but if you don't correct them about it I will.”

She frowned in thought. “Master, I would have two names, but one would be special and only you would use it?”

“And anyone else that you allowed to use it, yes.”

For the first time he saw a hesitant smile on her face. “I think I would like to have two names, master. I have never met a pokegirl with two first names like that.”

Iain thought about it for a minute. “You don't know what's going on here, so I'll explain a bit while I work on your tattoos. So, stand, sit or lie down.”

“Master, how long is this going to take?”

“I'm not sure, but if you start off standing you can always lie down later and we will stop for bathroom breaks if it goes that long.”

“Then I would like to stand, master. I hope it will make it easier for you to be able to reach all of the tattoos.” She looked into his eyes. “If you are going to remove them, master, I would like for you to get every trace of them.”

Iain pointed in front of him. “Barb, please stand here.” She moved to stand in front of him and he hooked one of the blankets with his foot and kicked it into the air for him to catch. Then he rolled it into a cylinder and tucked it under one arm. “Ok, what I'm going to do is essentially vacuum the ink from your skin. I place my hand on your tattoos and drain the ink into the blanket, where it'll accumulate. Do you have a problem with me touching you?”

“Master, you said you were going to bring me into the family. Does that mean you are going to tame me?”

“It means we are going to have a lot of sex.”

Dianthus looked surprised. “A lot of sex, master? I find that hard to believe, but I would enjoy it even if my alpha punishes me severely for my temerity. But even if you just tame me once I will have to let you touch me. Master, it would best if I began letting you touch me right now.” Iain regarded her for a long moment until she began to look a little worried. “Master?”

“Sorry, I'm talking myself out of dragging you outside for some of that sex first and then remove your tattoos only to follow it up with more sex just to prove you wrong.” He shook his head as she gave him a startled look. “No, I'd be doing it for the worst possible reasons. First I remove the tattoos and then we go outside.” He looked up into her eyes. “If this process starts to hurt or something you feel is bad starts to happen, I want you to tell me immediately. If you agree to do this and you don't, when I find out, and I will, I will be very disappointed in you and probably more than a little upset that you didn't value your safety or my concern for you enough to help me try to keep bad things from happening to you. If nothing else, you starting to feel bad might be the first indication of the problem that could threaten your life or even possibly mine.”

She swallowed hard as his blue green eyes gazed up into her light brown ones. “Master, I do not want you to be disappointed in me,” she stated in a solemn voice.

“Smart and pretty,” Iain said. “I'm a lucky guy to find you.” He carefully didn't react when Dianthus turned bright red. He placed his hand on her abdomen and unlocked his magic. Dianthus' skin twitched underneath his fingers. “I'm starting now.”

He carefully began draining the ink under his fingers. The colors around his fingertips began to move across Dianthus' skin into his fingers to vanish. The blanket began to stain around the hand that was holding it tucked in position.

Dianthus made an odd noise in the back of her throat and twisted away from him. He locked his magic. “Are you all right?”

She shuddered once. “It doesn't hurt, master,” she said. “It tickles.” He looked down at herself. “Is it working?”

The skin around where his fingers had rested was definitely paler and in one place Iain could see bare skin. “There's a mirror in the bathroom. Go take a look at yourself.”

She was back a few minutes later and planted herself in front of him again. “It's working, master,” she said in a surprised tone. “Can you take all of them away?”

“I can and I will.” He put his hand back where it had been and restarted the process. She shivered but didn't move. “It still tickles?”

“Master,” she said between gritted teeth, “please do not ask. I'm trying not to think about it.”

“Oh, sorry.” He thought for a minute. “Ok, a little about the harem you're about to join. The alpha, which is called maharani here, is an Elfqueen named Ninhursag. You will be joining her court. She's almost as old as you are and is the daughter of a semi-famous general from the Revenge War named Autumn.”

Dianthus had been looking more and more unhappy but at this she jerked in surprise but didn't pull away from him. “Master, I served under General Autumn, but she was given command too late in the war to be famous. I saw her die. How can she have a daughter?”

OK, as you can see, I'm in training to be a wizard. I have an Archmage who can open portals between worlds and we've done a bit of traveling. You are from an Earth where Autumn died. I'm from an earth where she lived for fifty or so years after the Revenge War and had a litter of kits. And on this world she’s living in west Texas with a friend of mine and has five infant kits. However, while Ninhursag is Autumn's daughter, due to a magical accident she and I had together, she doesn't look like a parthenogenic twin of her mother anymore.”

“Master, is that why you don't understand about tamer ranks?”

“It is. Since I have another pokegirl from that world and will be adding still more, can you tell me a little about the system you're used to?” The blanket was getting sodden where he held it and Iain shifted to a clean place on it.

“I can, master. There are six tamer ranks, those being beginning tamer, apprentice tamer, journeyman tamer, tamer, master tamer and grand master tamer. The beginning tamer starts out allowed to have the standard number of pokegirls, that being eight. As they advance in rank, their allowance doubles and they are, of course expected to have more pokegirls in their harems. In fact, a tamer may not test for entry into the next rank until he has eighty percent of his maximum allowed active harem spaces already filled.”

“What about storage rights?”

“Tamers all have storage rights of twice their pokegirl allowance, master.”

Iain was beginning to wonder how much ink was in Dianthus' skin as he moved to another dry spot on the blanket. “How long have your masters been giving you these tattoos?”

“I am not sure of the exact time, master, but it has been every master for nearly two hundred years. There were times I actually got sick from the tattoos, which the artist said was due to ink poisoning and usually had never seen before. Fortunately, master, healing cycles keep it at bay.”

“You're a freaking nature pokegirl. Didn't this hurt or something?”

“It has always hurt, master, but one grows used to things that do not end. May we talk about something else, master?”

“Wait, how many pokegirls does that mean a grand master tamer can have?”

“A grand master tamer is allowed two hundred and fifty six pokegirls and can store five hundred and twelve pokegirls, master.”

Iain did some math in his head. “So a master tamer has to have a hundred and two pokegirls in his active harem to test for grand master? Fuck, that's a lot of pokegirls. What about the tradesman, researcher, breeder and watcher and pet owner professions?”

“I am not familiar with those, master.”

“Well, the rest of those are essentially tamers with specialized jobs who have pokegirls but pet owners are non-tamers who have a couple of pokegirls. It's to encourage people who never took the tamer test to help take a couple of pokegirls out of circulation.”

She looked puzzled for a moment, before understanding appeared. “Things are very different here, master. Where I come from, master, the law makes everyone a tamer when they turn sixteen. Most don't go past beginner or apprentice tamer, but every human has to own at least two pokegirls and has to go into the wilderness to catch ferals for at least a year and a half as part of their military training. Most go in organized groups. Since a person has to be at least an apprentice tamer to own land or go to university, you'll sometimes see more apprentices than beginners in some areas.”

So a significant portion of the population has at least six pokegirls?” Iain thought about it for a minute. “Doesn't that make for a lot of kits going into the ranch system?”

“Why would it, master? Any pokegirl is restricted to two pokegirls per litter and only three litters in her life before she becomes a pokewoman. However, most tamers only let a few of their pokegirls reproduce. Most aren't allowed to.”

“I dread to ask this since I can guess, but what happens to the other pokekits in a litter?”

“As you suspect, master, they are destroyed.”

It is time for you to put that blanket in the bathtub and start using the other one, Theodora said to him. You're dripping onto the carpet and I'm already going to have to replace part of it. Fortunately it looks like you will be able to finish before you need a third blanket to use as a sponge.

Iain stopped and switched the blanket to both hands. It was sodden and a drop fell to splash on his right shoe. “I'll be right back.” He hurried into the bedroom before she could answer and tossed the blanket in the tub. His hands were stained different colors and he shook his head before pulling a trash bag out from under the sink and trying carefully to put the blanket into it without making more of a mess outside the tub. He finally got it inside the bag and tied it shut, turning to see Dianthus peering over her shoulder into the mirror. “Does it look better?”

He hadn't seen her back before, but if she'd been right about the tattoos going from her waist to her shoulder blades, it looked like he'd made a lot of progress. Her shoulders and the upper half of her back were bare, revealing almost pristine white skin behind. It looked odd against the golden hue of her lower body, shoulders and neck. She glanced at him. “Yes, master it does. But I will have to be careful not to burn while my skin tans.”

“You could wear clothes to help.”

“Master, I may after my skin finishes tanning, but until then it is a potential weakness for an enemy to exploit.” She turned to look at him. “Master, can we finish now?”

Iain turned on the shower at its hottest setting and watched ink swirl down the drain until the tub was clean. He wondered idly if the ink would have stained a regular tub made with fiberglass or iron instead of being made with the futuristic materials Theodora took for granted. Turning it off, he smiled. “That sounds great. Let's go.”

Iain took another trash bag with him when they went back to the living room and he put the blanket inside it before kneeling with his hand inside the bag. “Barb, stand in front of me.” She did and he put his hand back on her stomach and started draining the ink once more. “So you served in the Revenge War so you're around three hundred or so, right?”

“I am, master.” Her face was screwed up with concentration as she tried not to get away from the light tickling sensation that covered her entire torso.

“How many kits have you had?”

“I was never deemed important enough to be allowed to reproduce, master. I was pregnant once, but it was terminated.”

He nodded once, not trusting himself to look up at her and be able to hide his anger. “Here a pokegirl can get pregnant if she wants and there are no restrictions on litter size, which is a good thing.”

“Why is that, master?”

“I have a Nightmare named Zareen who is nearly ready to deliver and from what we can tell,” which meant that Theodora had told him and he'd double checked with his perception, “she's carrying seven kits.”

Dianthus looked shocked. “She must be huge, master.”

“That she is, but she still carries it easily and is quite happy about events.” He looked up at her again. “You will have the opportunity to have kits if you want to.”

She looked down at him and shrugged. “It’s probably not worth it for me to have kits. I’m sure your alpha; I mean maharani will have enough for you, master.”

“Ninhursag wants to have a large court and she’ll probably want you to help add to it. As for not being worth it, I’m not sure what you mean.” His eyes flicked up to her face and back to his hand. “Is this about you not believing you’re attractive?”

“Master, while I appreciate your kind words the truth of the matter is that,”

“Enough.” Iain’s firm command cut her off in mid-sentence and she jumped away from him at the restrained anger in his voice. She blinked at his expression and quickly moved back against his hand. He focused on what he was doing and didn’t look up, speaking as calmly as he could. “Barb, I can’t stop you from believing what you believe. What has happened to you is the worst kind of mental abuse and it is the result of you being regularly abused for centuries. It will likely take years to correct, although hopefully not as many as it took to get you this way.” He shrugged. “And I’m not sure I’m the right person to be trying to help you work through this. My empathy is pretty lousy when I’m furious and I would love to find all of the men and women who did this to you, dress them in fire retardant outfits, tie them to poles and pile wood soaked with pitch around them and provide healing magic so it takes forever for them to die when I light them up. Canaan will probably have to help trying to expedite the process along with you. But for the first step I would like you do something for me and I’d like it to be a promise to me.” He looked up into her eyes. “I want you to promise me that you’ll stop telling people that you’re ugly. It’s a lie and I don’t like it.”

“Master, I am flat chested and too skinny and too tall and my face is all wrong and my arms are too long and my hands are too big and I’m just ugly.” Tears glittered in the corners of her eyes and began to run down her cheeks.

Iain stood and gently wiped the tears from her face. “Barb, as opposed to me admitting that you’re right, which is not going to happen because you’re not, how do you want me to address this? Do you want me to explain how you’re wrong body part by body part or do you want me to tell you just how pretty you are?” When she didn’t answer he smiled in a way that made her tremble for an instant. “I see it’s my decision then.”

He lifted her hand in his and kissed the back of it gently. “You’re taller than I am and,” he turned her hand over and covered her palm with his, “your hand isn’t larger than mine, so if I were as tall as you were my hand would be bigger. So your hands can’t be too big for your frame.” He kissed her palm gently and then raked his teeth lightly over the fleshy part of her palm.

She made a surprised noise and shivered slightly. “Master?” There was a soft quiver in her voice.

“You brought this on yourself,” he chided her gently. “I gave you the chance to decide how I was going to answer your complaints about your looks and you refused to which left the decision up to me and that give me permission to do this the way that I want to. It’s too late for you to take that permission away from me.” He cupped her elbow and lifted her arm. “You say your arms are too long.” He kissed the inside of her elbow, sucking gently on it and she shivered again. He kept his mouth close to her elbow as he spoke, so the warmth from his breath pulsed over it with each word. “Your arms hang down to your upper thighs. Surprisingly enough, my arms hang down to the top part of my thighs. I know my arms aren’t too long and so I can confidently state that your arms aren’t too long either.” He sucked on the inside of her elbow again and she made a soft noise that brought a smile to his face. He composed his features to remove the satisfied look before he straightened and met her eyes.

There was uncertainty in her gaze, uncertainty and just a hint of heat. “Now I want you to stand still. Will you do that for me?” She nodded slowly. “Good.” He moved around behind her. “I believe you also said that you were too tall. Now I could dismiss that statement by pointing out that you are well within the normal height range for Elfqueens or I could tell you that Ninhursag, your maharani, is a lot taller than you are and nobody thinks she’s too tall, but you may not know what the height distribution is for the Elfqueen breed and, as for Ninhursag, you haven’t met her yet, so you might think I was lying about how tall she is. Besides, we’re not talking about all of the other Elfqueens and we certainly aren’t talking about Ninhursag. We are talking about you.” He placed his hands gently on her hips and smirked as he felt the muscles under his hands tense and she started to shift her weight forward slightly. Like I’d do what you expect right now, he thought to himself with amusement.

He leaned down and ran his tongue from the dimple at the top of her ass up her spine to the base of her skull. She whined and twisted to get away from him, but he clamped down on her hips and held her still until he was done. Then he peppered her shoulders with gentle kisses until they gleamed wetly and she tried to lean back into them. “I don’t see where you’re too tall at all. Now I will admit that you are just a bit too tall for me to easily kiss on the lips without making you have to bend your head down, but I have other pokegirls in my harem that are a lot taller than you and I, being a bright fellow, have found a lot of different ways to solve that particular conundrum.” He slid his hands up her body to her armpits. “And one of them is perfect in this situation.” He shoved his foot behind her knees, folding her legs and holding her firmly to lower her knees to the floor instead of slamming them.

Then he walked around in front of her, trailing his fingers over her skin. Her eyes were wide and she was taking shallow gasps of air but she didn’t move as he smiled down at her. “Now I’m taller than you are.” Then he took her head in his hands and kissed her hungrily, his mouth devouring hers as she suddenly was kissing him back, her hands twining in his hair as she groaned into his mouth.

When he tightened his grip and pulled his mouth off of hers, for an instant she fought to keep him there. He looked into her eyes and saw confusion, frustration, anger and hunger sweep through her to finally be replaced with hunger tinged with patience. “Master,” she breathed, her eyes glowing with need as she dropped her hands back to her sides.

He could smell her arousal as he smiled. “I’m not done yet. I still have other parts of you that I have to explain to you are perfectly all right. But don’t worry; we will come back to this soon enough.” She nodded and he leaned forward and kissed her above each eye. “You have beautiful eyes, I’m not sure if it’s your eyes or your hair and I won’t be able to tell until you grow your hair out, but one of those is easily your best feature.” He dropped his head and kissed her on each cheek. “You have a narrow face that is oval, I will admit, but it isn’t really that bad and you have cheekbones that models would give up some of their own organs for.” Then he kissed her gently on the lips, holding her still when she tried to respond. “And, yes, your lips are thin, but not too thin. In a world where most of the normal looking pokegirls tend to have full lips, it makes yours stand out. So your face isn’t even a little wrong, so it can’t be all wrong.” Then he tugged gently. “Rise.”

She stood and he ran his fingers down her ribs. “You are slender, not too thin. Your shoulders are just wide enough that it looks like you’re not healthy, but you are.” He traced lightly over her hips. “And just like the rest of you, your hips are slender but not boyish. Nobody with half a clue would confuse you with a boy from either the front or the back.”

He smiled up at her and she trembled at what she saw in his eyes. “That brings us to your last complaint, that you are flat chested.” His hands tightened on her hips and his smile spread. “I am so glad that you said something about it.” He leaned forward, sucked her right nipple into his mouth hard and bit down gently.

Diantha’s knees folded and she grabbed him to stay upright as her body jerked wildly and she gave a long guttural groan. He held her against him until her jerking stopped and she tried to stand on wobbly legs. Then he helped, holding her up until she could get her legs under her. “If you were really flat chested,” he said softly, “your previous masters would have tattooed your chest just like they did your shoulder blades. You have small breasts, especially in comparison with most Elfqueens, but you are far from flat chested. While small, your breasts are perfectly shaped, which is why your previous masters didn’t dare touch them. And, at least as far as your right breast is concerned, your nipples are quite sensitive.” He smiled lasciviously up at her. “I’ll get to the left one in just a minute.” She gasped and shivered once. “But the truth is that of all of the things about you that you think I don’t like, and that you certainly don’t right now, your breasts are the easiest to change.”

He waited and finally she asked softly. “How, master?”

“I have access to permanent bloom or I could just get you pregnant and let nature take its course. After that, bloom could be used to adjust as you wanted.” He smirked up at her and her cheeks flushed red. “Guess which I think would be more fun?” Her flush deepened and his smirk became a grin. “That’s right. I think you would look splendid with your belly swelling with our children.” Her eyes closed and she took a long shaky breath that came out of her in a scream when he inhaled her left nipple and sucked hard enough to bruise. Her eyes flew open and she stared down at him as he pulled free with an audible pop. He smiled up at her. “Can the tattoos wait just a little longer?”

Her voice was smoky and warm with her lust. “You will remove them all, master?”

“I promise.”

“Then they can wait, master.” She pulled him into the bedroom.

***

The arrow thudded into the ten point ring, just narrowly missing the X in the exact center of the target. “I think you’re cheating,” Ygerna said laughingly.

“Well we can’t have that,” Iain replied as he pulled another fiberglass arrow from the quiver in front of him and drew back the composite recurve.

“Good. I don’t like it when others cheat,” Ygerna replied with a smile.

He released and the arrow hit next to the first. “I was talking about you thinking.” He reached into the quiver and looked down with a frown when his fingers didn’t find anything. His frown deepened when he counted the arrows in his target. He turned to Ygerna and held out his hand with a stony expression. “Talk about cheating.”

She smirked and put two arrows in his palm. “I never said I couldn’t cheat.”

Iain chuckled as he dropped one of them into the quiver and nocked the other. “Is that how you won as queen, by making a rule that all of your opponents couldn’t have as many arrows as you could?”

She smiled and pulled her first arrow from her quiver. “If you have power, use it or someone will take it away from you. And I’d never decree that. Instead I made each competitor give me their best arrow for me to shoot along with mine. I gave them my worst arrow in return. If I did poorly with their arrow, I blamed them for giving me a faulty arrow.” She nocked her arrow and took a shooting stance.

“Hey, I’m not done shooting yet.”

She glanced at him as she drew and lifted in one smooth motion, her smile fading as she concentrated on her target. “Shoot faster.” Her arrow neatly bisected the tiny X in the center of her target. “Eleven points.”

He scowled at her as she drew a second arrow from her quiver. “How many points do I get if I hit your bull's-eye?”

Her eyebrows rose as she smiled widely at him. “Sir, I thought you wanted me to spend more time getting to know your family before you even tried for my bull's-eye.”

He grinned. “Ha. Your target.”

“If you were to hit the bull's-eye on my target with one of your arrows,” she drew and fired, getting another eleven points. “You would have missed your target and would deserve zero points. I, however, would appreciate such chivalry in a man as to give me more points by putting another arrow in my target. Just be sure and get ten or eleven.” She glanced at him with amusement. “I deserve no less than perfection.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” He aimed his last arrow at his target and released. “Eleven more for me.”

The Dragoness who was guarding Ygerna glanced at the Elf standing nearby and guarding Iain. “It is nice to see her smile so often.”

Heather didn’t stop surveying the area. “It is, but I wish they didn’t torture me with this, Tara.”

“You volunteered for Iain’s security detail,” Tara said. “If you don’t like it, quit.”

“It’s not that.” Heather gestured at the two competitors. “I want to shoot too and I’d win.”

“Only until I shot,” the third guard said. “And then you’d lose, Heather.”

Tara chuckled. “Are you that good, Dianthus?” She’d worked with Heather several times before and trusted the Elf to keep a clear head if trouble arose. And since she didn’t have to protect Ygerna from Iain or his family, she could relax a little while keeping an eye out for ferals or other enemies. Her queen understood this and even quietly encouraged it amongst her few remaining guards. Dianthus, however, was new to Texas, new to the clan and new to guarding Iain. Only Heather’s obvious acceptance of the newcomer let Tara withhold judgment for the moment.

She was also new in Tara’s experience in that she was the most unusual looking Elfqueen the Dragoness had ever seen. She’d never seen one so scrawny looking before but she didn’t look starved. Even her clothing was odd for an Elfqueen, being a brown sports bra top and comfortable cargo shorts and where most Elfqueens would be barefoot she wore low ankle brown hiking boots. And the oddest part was that from to bottom of her sports bra to the top of her shorts her skin was almost blindingly white, especially in comparison to her bronzed arms, face and legs.

“Heather is from this world and fought in the Revenge War.” Dianthus said quietly. She was usually quiet. “I am from the Glasgow captures and I fought in the Revenge War too, but I’ve had three hundred years of fighting since then and my skills have only improved.”

“That’s why she’s on the guard rotation so soon,” Heather said. “Ninhursag can outshoot everyone in the clan. But out of the five times she’s shot against Dianthus, she’s won two, tied two and lost one.” She smirked slightly. “In that order.”

Dianthus shrugged. “I’m still working out my relationship with my bow. I haven’t been allowed to have a living bow in over two hundred years and it’s taking some getting used to again. When she and I get along better then I’ll give Ninhursag more of a challenge.”

“What happened to your last bow,” Heather asked curiously.

“I was forced to put it and my quiver into a bonfire and watch them burn,” Dianthus said tonelessly. “By my queen, who then gave me to a human as a gift for something he had done.”

Heather swung around to stare at her. “That is horrible.”

“Guard Iain,” Dianthus snapped. Heather started and went back to watching their surroundings. “The past is the past. Iain has given me a new bow and quiver and new frightening things to think upon.”

Tara frowned at her. “If you’re scared of him, why are you guarding him?”

“The things he gave me to think upon are scary. Wonderful, but scary and I do not fear him. He is my master and I trust him absolutely.”

After retrieving their arrows, Iain and Ygerna scored each other’s points. “You’re still ahead by sixteen,” Iain told her. “Nicely done.”

“Thank you.” She looked at the score again and then at him. “I have a question.” He looked at her curiously. “How different would your score be with your other bow?” She made a motion towards the staff tattoo on his arm.

Iain smiled. “My score would be perfect at ranges nearly five times this one, Ygerna. It’s like using a magic item, but my bow is alive and magical and we synch together to form a synergy that lets me make scary accurate shots at impossible ranges. What’s even more impressive is that it’s not that impressive for Elves with living bows. Any of them could routinely make shots like that too.”

“Then why are you shooting that bow now and not your own?”

“You may be more skillful than I am but you don’t have an enchanted bow and I want an equal playing field with you,” he said simply. “No matter what each of us says about you needing to get to know my family better , although everyone involved is very pleased that you are working diligently to do exactly that, you and I are courting and this is kind of a date. You don’t have a living bow and crushing you in a friendly match doesn’t serve any purpose except to piss you off.” He smiled slightly. “And if I want to do that, there are a lot of other ways that could be done that wouldn’t let you stand next to me with a bow and arrows.” His smile faded. “You told me that you don’t have a lot of friends. To be honest, outside of my family, I don’t either. And I like you. Once you relaxed, you’re a fun wofey to be around.”

She blinked. “Wofey? What is a wofey?”

“You’re not a human, so you’re not a woman, are you? You’re fey.”

She shook her head slowly. “It’s a wonder your twee doesn’t burrow its way out of your head to escape your so called sense of humor.”

“I asked Theodora to give me one that was paralyzed from the neck down. All it can do is sit motionless in my brain and cry.”

She drew her first arrow and smirked. “I hope our children don’t get your sense of humor.”

He glanced at her and smiled as he leaned close to her ear. “I look forward to seeing what they do get from me,” he whispered.

Ygerna’s arrow missed her entire target by a good half inch and she spun to stare at him. “What did you say?”

“You have been more than open about what you want in a relationship,” Iain said quietly. “And if I wasn’t interested in giving you just that, you’d still be in Haven.”

She lowered her bow and stared at him. “You have wanted to father my children since before I came here? Why didn’t you say something?”

“I’m me,” Iain replied. “I didn’t want to father our kids then, but I was willing to consider you as a breeding partner. Let’s be honest, though, and admit that I’m willing to consider a wide range of women for a wide range of things. I am the man that mothers warn their daughters away from. But it wasn’t until recently that we started clicking as a couple and what I was willing to consider before became something that I expect to do and want to do unless something goes spectacularly wrong between us.” He lifted his bow and turned back to his target. “You’re fey and I don’t know all of your rules, so this may be out of line. If it is let me know, not that it’ll change my mind, but it might be a deal breaker.” He drew an arrow from his quiver. “I have a large family and I can’t ever promise to be faithful only to you. But the fey don’t seem to be big into monogamy anyways. It does mean that I can’t expect you not to have other men in your life and I can’t even expect you to let me be the only man to sire our children.” He drew and released, hitting the X. “But understand this, Ygerna, and if you can’t do this then we probably won’t work out because this is pretty much nonnegotiable.” He turned back to her. “As long as we are a couple, I will be the father of any child from your womb, no matter who the sire is. I’ll kill any man or fey who tries to take my children from me and I won’t care if he’s your lover at the time. Can you live with that?”

“If we ever travel to your birth world, Iain, I want to find the fey that live there and ask them why they didn’t track you down and seduce you to them and never let you leave their side.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “And I would worry that any mother who warned her daughters away from you was only trying to clear the field for herself. Yes, I can live with you being the father to all of my children.”

They shot a couple more arrows before he spoke again. “Good. Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll be sure and score that zero for you.”

“You cheated!”

“How is revealing an intimate secret cheating?” He shot another arrow and reached for yet another.

She growled inarticulately at him. “I am still ahead!”

“Only if you don’t miss again,” he said smoothly. “I might have something else startling to reveal and you never know when something like that might pop out.” He released and smiled. “Eleven more for me.”

“I will not miss again!”

“I hate to disappoint you, but you already have.”

“What!” She frowned at him and then at her bow. “I have not.”

“I see your arrow in my target giving me eleven points. That means zero for you. I really appreciate that, too, I desperately needed the points.”

Ygerna stared at his target and shot him an evil look before lunging for his quiver only to find it empty. “Where are your arrows,” she snarled.

“They’re in my target.”

“Your sense of humor had better improve or I’m going to help your twee escape,” she muttered under her breath.

He smirked. “It would probably appreciate that. However, I win. And as the loser, you have to let me give you a back rub and be your servant for three hours.”

“I will never touch your loathsome body with my,” she broke off in mid yell. “Wait, what?”

“I believe your twee is trying to shout something to you,” he said amusedly.

“If it is,” she said as she grounded her bow, “I’m pretty sure it contains the word scum and it’s associated with your name. Do I get to torture you?”

“I said servant, not whipping boy. But I suspect teasing me with your body and leaving me unsatisfied will be torture for me.”

She gave a good natured chuckle. “As if there wouldn’t be a plethora of mouths, hands, pussies and asses all waiting to help you after the three hour ordeal ended.”

“It is nice if torture is followed by some sort of relief,” Iain said with a straight face.

“When does this time start,” she asked curiously.

“It starts when my hands start the backrub, my mistress to be.”

She smiled suddenly, “I should make you start by licking my back for a while so the time does not start.”

He just grinned. “And you think I couldn’t turn that into torture for you?”

“True.” She put the bow down. “Let’s get the arrows so we can get this scored and official so I can take you someplace more interesting. I hope you like scented oils.”

He shook his head. “Let me brief the security detail and then I’ll fetch the arrow that missed.” He headed for the three guards. “Ladies,” he said quietly, “I think Ygerna and I are going to move this inside for something a little more intimate.”

“We heard, master,” Dianthus said.

“I’ll make sure we take the time to stop near a break room so you can get something to drink and go to the bathroom if needed,” he continued. “After that I don’t know if she’ll want you to stay around or not.”

“Sir,” Tara said with a small smile, “Dianthus and Heather could hear you both quite well, so we’re aware of the situation. Her Majesty will want us to stay and witness your humiliation, sir.”

“OK.” He turned to the Elfqueen. “You don’t have to watch if you don’t want to. If Ygerna insists on a third witness I can find someone else.”

“Master,” Dianthus said with a smile. “I am not jealous of the time you spend with others. I am pleased that you still want to return to me after being with some of them, but you have convinced me that I cannot change your mind about me being pretty to you no matter what I think and I thank you for it.”

“You know,” Heather said, “if he decides he likes that and wants the rest of us to call him master I’m going to put an arrow in your ass.”

“That’s not how it works and you know it,” Dianthus replied. “He lets me call him that because I want to. If you do it’s because you want to. And you’d have to hit me first, child.”

“I’m going to help Ygerna gather arrows.” Iain turned and jogged off.

Tara checked her equipment before glancing at Dianthus. “You don’t think you’re pretty?”

“My previous masters didn’t think I was pretty and therefore I wasn’t. He does and therefore I am. What I think about the matter is of no import, but he reassures me that over time I will come to agree with his opinion of me. Heather, the arrow that missed went to the right and is thirty meters away and stuck behind that bush with the large branches to the left that looks like a talon. Fetch it for our master.”

“I’m on it.”

Iain Grey

Inner Harem

Ninhursag Grey - Elfqueen & maharani

Eve Grey - Megami Sama

April Grey - Duelist & beta

Dominique Grey - Blessed Archmage

Pandora - Fiendish Archangel

Canaan - G Splice (Hunter Amachamp & Alaka-Wham)

Zareen - Nightmare

Raquel - Fiendish Rapitaur

Sofia - Ria

Vanessa – Evangelion

Lucifer – Megami Sama

Outer Harem

Allison – Umbrea (Outer Harem Alpha)

Daphne - Whorizard

Lynn - Growlie

Chuck – Doggirl

Ryan – Unicorn

Winifred - Rack (German)

Rosemary - Mistoffeles (Uruguayan)

Silver - Pegaslut

Joyce – Milktit

Outer Clan

Melanie – Iron Chef

Siobhan - NurseJoy (Glasgow)

Queendom / Outer Harem

12 Elves

Heather - Elf

Dionne - Elfqueen

Adrianna - Elfqueen

Dianthus Barbatus - Elfqueen

Heltu - Wet Queen

6 Wet Elves

Dead Harem

Eirian - Silver Dragoness

Aurum - Gold Dragoness

Skye - Blue Dragoness

Emerald - Green Dragoness

Beryl - Red Dragoness

Julia - human

Ling - Cheetit

Matilda - White Tigress

Liadan - Twau

Sorrel - Armsmistress

Natalie - Blazicunt

Maria – Slutton

Rhea Silvia - Chimera

Mothers & Children

Vanessa

Myrna

Saoirse

April

Dorothy: Duelist

Meara: Duelist

Regan: Duelist

Canaan

Hannah: Huntress

Rebecca: Huntress

Joyce

Lisa: Milktit

Sherrie: Milktit

Harriet: Milktit

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