Chapter 20: Down Time
(04/15/99 0800 Blue Continent)
                Mary looked up at Gwen as her pokedex chimed a priority mail alert. “We need to land somewhere so I can get a message.”
                Gwen shook her head. “You and your boyfriends.” She turned and spiraled in to land in a clearing. “Remember, we just left Caomh Sith so keep it short in case there’s some pursuit.”
                Mary opened her pokedex and pulled up the message. She was expecting something from Sir Derrick about her recent message and was shocked when Sir Gregory’s face appeared on the display. The only messages she ever got from him were the occasional dressing down and a few blanket messages that went to all knights of her rank.
                He wasted no time in getting to the point. “I have received your message that your cover has been compromised and that you are going to flee Caomh Sith.” His mouth twisted angrily. “Once again, Dame Mary, you’ve screwed up.  I am not pleased and more importantly, Her Majesty is not pleased.” Mary turned white. This had come to the Queen’s ears?”
                 Sir Gregory continued. “However, Her Majesty and I agree that you will receive one chance to recover from your mistake. If you fail, don’t bother coming back. We’ll find you.” Gwen paled at the veiled threat. “Here are your new orders. You are to recover the Grimoire of Danu immediately and I don’t care what it costs you.” His eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared. “Her Majesty was most insistent that you understand this. Failure is not tolerated in a member of the Order, and especially not in one such as you.” He gave her an angry smile. “Either you succeed or you might as well save us the trouble of hunting you down and send Gwen back to us. Or you can be thinking about what kind of pokegirl you’d like to be.” The message ended.
                Gwen stared at the empty display for a moment before turning to Mary. “What now?”
                “Oh, so the bottom falls out and suddenly you remember that I’m supposed to be the one in charge?” Mary shook her head. “We’ve got two options here. Run and the Order will chase us down and capture you. I’ll either be killed or turned into a pokegirl.” She shivered. “I think I’d prefer killed.”
                “On the other hand, we can try to steal the Grimoire. That will very likely involve an attack on Shikarou. Everything we’ve learned about him suggests that’s just another death sentence.”
                Gwen frowned. “We are damned either way. So we need to come up with an option three.”
(04/15/99 1500 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent)
                Afternoon training was over and his harem had vanished; he suspected most of his pokegirls were working hard to figure out how to spend their million credits. So, with Dorothea as his guard for the day, Shikarou decided to take some sun and try to read some more of the Grimoire. It was difficult since Ogham wasn’t one of the alphabets he’d studied and he had to learn it as he went. It didn’t help that text was in Proto-Celtic, which he didn’t know, so he also had to learn a new language at the same time as he learned a new alphabet.
                Without translation spells it would have been impossible but after that he still had to go back and learn the text in the original language. Trying to use magic based on a loose translation was way beyond insane and Shikarou would much rather do something less risky, like throwing himself into an active volcano. At least that way his death should be quick.
                He was resting against a tree with Dorothea standing sentry nearby when Candace showed up. She smiled and shook her head. “Working hard or hardly working?”
                “Well, I was working hard, but now I shall stop that I may bask in the radiance that is you.”
                “That’s nice.” Candace settled down and leaned against him. “Please, don’t let me stop the compliments.” She peered at the book. “Ugh. Can you actually read that? It looks like gibberish.”
                Shikarou chuckled. “Some. I’m working on more; it’s just very slow going.”
                “Ok.” She pursed her lips thoughtfully. “I’m afraid I’m sort of here as a messenger. Mary asked me to come and talk to you.” She cocked her head. “Why wouldn’t she talk to you herself?”
                Shikarou considered briefly. Candace didn’t know much about the Order of Pendragon and he didn’t see any reason to involve her any more than absolutely necessary. “I startled her with something and she’s a little worried about it. What does she want?”
                “Her words were that she wants to meet with you under a flag of truce.”
                He nodded slowly. “Quaint. All right, I agree.”
                “Flag of truce?”
                “Aye.” He sighed. “I was hoping you wanted to spend time with me.”
                She gave him an amused look. “You know I’d love to, but I can’t. I am sorry about that, but face the fact that there are no counters out here anyway, and you seem to prefer them. And I have work to do at the clinic. Lynn’s ordering supplies for the clinic and I need to be there so the order actually reflects what we need.”
                He grinned. “The counter is kind of traditional with you, but I’m not a stickler for tradition.” His tone grew serious. “Is there anything you want personally? The harem insisted I take four million credits for myself and I have nothing I want to buy. Can I get you anything?”
                Candace smiled. “You’ve already given me so much. I wasn’t happy in Wick and this is a dream come true for me.” She rubbed her cheek against his. “I can’t think of anything I want more than what I’ve already got. Nobody calls me Joy and nobody takes me for granted.” She dimpled. “Here, I’m one of the king’s favorites!”
                “That you are.” He slid to his feet smoothly and offered her his hand, pulling her into an embrace. “So where is Mary hiding?”
                “She’s in the clinic.” Candace took his hand in hers and led him away. Dorothea fell in behind them as she activated her com to call Branwyn.
                Pythia, Circe, Yushiko and Elizabeth were waiting for them as they approached the clinic. Shikarou glanced back at Dorothea, who gave him a broad smile. “Branwyn’s orders to me were quite specific, my lord.”
                “Ah.” He looked around at everyone. “This is a flag of truce meeting, ladies, so don’t start anything.”
                Pythia grinned. “We won’t start any trouble, we’ll just make sure they get all of the consequences should trouble happen.”
                He sighed. “I’m grateful for the support, but everyone except Dorothea will wait in a nearby room, ready to come to my aid if needed.”
                Circe gave him a smug look. “Should we wait with the others?”
                “There are others?”
                “Branwyn, Helen, Nanu, Lorelei and Kebi are in the room next to where Mary and Gwen are.”
                “Blood and darkness! We didn’t need this much firepower for the Widow.” His ears twitched. “Wait in the room on the other side.”
                “You are welcome,” Elizabeth muttered darkly.
                Shikarou gave her a quick kiss. “I am very thankful for you and for this.” She perked up and smiled.
                “I should probably go check my bandages.” Candace gave him wink and headed off. “Leave my building standing.”
                Shikarou sighed. “Is anyone else standing by for World War 3?”
                Circe looked innocent. “I think Molly is having some kind of chat with Alice and Misaki in the room across the hall, but that’s probably a coincidence.”
                “Sure it is. Please don’t forget that Dorothea and I’ll be in there too.” Shikarou glanced at Dorothea. “I don’t want to have to be scraped off the wall.” Muttering something about a comedy of errors he went into the room with Mary and Gwen.
                Mary watched as Dorothea placed herself next to the only door out of the room. “Is she your only guard?”
                “Officially, yes. Unofficially, you are surrounded.” Mary blinked at the slightly disgusted tone. “I formally acknowledge the flag of truce and would like to ask why you wanted this meeting?”
                Gwen stirred and looked at Mary, who smiled back at her pokegirl. “First, I have to ask if you would give me the Grimoire of Danu.”
                She nodded. “That’s a shame. It would have made things so much easier.” She took a deep breath. “I have a problem. Well, Gwen and I have a problem. I’ve been ordered to recover the Grimoire or die trying. If I fail and live through the attempt the Order is going to take Gwen and, if I’m lucky, kill me. If they don’t kill me they will probably turn me into a pokegirl.”
                Shikarou waited silently.
                Mary swallowed. “Can I work for you?”
                “Didn’t you take an oath to the Order?”
                “Yes, but they just threatened to take Gwen and kill or transform me. As far as I’m concerned, that violates their obligations to me, which ends my allegiance to them.” She met his gaze firmly. “I’ve been watching you for a while and while you might send someone into a situation where they probably would be killed, I don’t think you would punish their failure if they tried their best.” She started to say something else and stopped.
                He cocked his head as his ears pricked forward. “Say it.”
                “I was going to say I also didn’t think you’d treat me as badly as they have. I am, was, a full knight and because I don’t have a dick I’m treated like a squire. You seem to give people the respect that they earn and you don’t cheapen what they accomplish.”
                Shikarou watched them for several minutes. Gwen finally started to fidget and burst out with “well?”
                Shikarou nodded. “I will back you fully in return for your full loyalty, liege lord to liegeman. If you break your oath to me, I will hunt you and your children throughout time.”
                Mary blinked as she digested his words and then nodded. “I will not break any oath to you as long as you keep your oaths to me.”
                “I will expect you to betray the Order of Pendragon.”
                She shrugged. “They’ve cast me aside. There is nothing to betray.” She frowned slightly. “They will still come for me and Gwen.”
                Shikarou smile was hungry. “I hope so, for I will be waiting for them.” His eyes sparkled. “In fact, I want you to help me to encourage them to do just that.”
(04/17/99 1000 Order of Pendragon, Blue Continent?)
                Sir Gregory frowned as he met Sir Derrick outside the throne room. “Why are you here?” he snapped.
                “Sir, I was summoned just as you were.” Derrick looked puzzled. “I don’t know why, Sir Gregory.”
                Gregory thought furiously. Derrick only had one responsibility that could cause both of them to be peremptorily summoned by the Queen. “Your bitch must have screwed up again.”
                Derrick gave him a startled look. “Dame Mary? I haven’t heard anything.”
                The doors to the throne room swung open and one of the Queen’s Dragonesses looked at them with a face completely devoid of emotion. “Her Majesty will see you now.”
                The two knights entered the throne room and kneeled at the appropriate point, bowing their heads. “Your Majesty,” they intoned together.
                “Rise.” The queen’s voice was angry. “Gregory, did I not state to you that no action was to be taken in regards to the Grimoire without my express permission?”
                “Yes, Your Majesty.”
                The Queen’s eyes narrowed. “Then how do you explain the fact that I just received a private message from a knight I barely know with this attached.” A screen built into the wall activated and played the message from Gregory to Mary ordering her to get the Grimoire.
                Derrick sidled slightly away from Gregory as the message played.
                The Queen’s voice dropped and became heavy with menace. “You invoked MY NAME, Gregory, and threatened a knight with the ultimate penalty in spite of the fact that I did not authorize it and never gave my permission to try to take the Grimoire.”
                Gregory paled as the blood drained from his face. “Your Majesty, I never sent that message.”
                The Queen’s eyes blazed. “You have a twin brother, Gregory?”
                “Your Majesty, I do not know where that message came from, but I assure you that I never said that to Dame Mary.” Gregory swallowed heavily. “I do not know what is happening here, but rest assured that I will find out.”
                “You will certainly help. Guinevere.” One of the Dragonesses stepped forward. “Take him and find out if he is telling the truth.”
                “Yes, my Queen.” She gestured an ashen faced Gregory to his feet and led him out the door of the throne room.
                “Derrick. You will attempt to contact Dame Mary and find out what she knows about what is going on.”
                “As you command, Your Majesty.” Derrick fled as quickly as protocol allowed.
                “Morgan, send for the Templar.” The Queen’s eyes narrowed as she watched another Dragoness stride quickly from the room. “This needs to be resolved and soon.”
(04/16/99 2200 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent)
                “I don’t understand why I’m in here again so soon.” Bellona gave him a quizzical look.
                “Would you like some tea?” He created a tray of tea and biscuits as she nodded. “Did Branwyn explain how the lottery worked?”
                “What lottery?”
                “Oh. When the harem grew to a decent size, Branwyn and I sat down and worked out how women would get to spend time with me. The best way we could come up with is a kind of a lottery. Everyone gets their name put into the lottery and as alpha, Branwyn’s name goes in one time for every four members of the harem. The beta gets her name put in once for every five members. That means right now, on a day one, Branwyn’s name is in three times, yours is in two, and everyone else is in once, for a total of sixteen names.”
                “Remember, during the day I get to choose the ladies I’m with at various times and this is only for my bed. I make sure that no one is left out.”
                “Anyway, Branwyn put your name in after your first night with me, so this is your first time this cycle. The lottery doesn’t refresh until the last name is pulled, so a new lottery starts every sixteen days.” He frowned. “Or seventeen, I’m not completely sure. You should probably ask Branwyn.”
                “So everyone gets one night with me every sixteen days, Branwyn gets three and you get two. It helps to relieve the boredom of the same girls in rotation.”
                “I know Branwyn allows the harem to trade days, sell them, or bet them against each other. I don’t know the details and as long as there aren’t any fights over me, I don’t care.”
                “However, unlike Devon, I do care if fighting erupts in the harem. Branwyn is not going to rule the harem like Kathryn does.” He frowned and muttered something under his breath.
                “What was that?”
                “I said ‘or like Maeve wants to’.”
                Bellona shrugged. “I don’t know anything about that. Maeve was before my time.”
                “I suspect all you missed was some infighting. I’m happy enough with Nanu, she’s not dumb enough to be that ambitious against Branwyn.”
                He shook his head. “Enough about them. How do you like it here?”
                “It’s been intense. We fought a Widow and you’ve got a bunch of wizards after your hide.” She smiled. “With Devon, it’s been pretty dull since the Dark Continent. I’m not putting him down; he’s got a lot on his mind with the kids and everything else.”
                Shikarou settled down next to her. “So, did you want to spend the whole evening talking?”
                The DragonQueen put her cup down. “No.” She cocked her head. “I do have one more question, however. Where do you go when you get up in the middle of the night?”
                Shikarou sniffed along her neck and she arched her throat. “Here and there. Is it important?” He kissed her throat and bit down gently. Her eyes closed and she hissed softly. He glanced up at her. “Problem?”
                “There will be, if you stop.” She hissed again as he bit down again and her hands wrapped in his shirt, fabric popping as her claws sank in. She tore sideways, ripping the shirt to shreds and leaving thin lines where her claws sliced his skin.
                Bellona pushed him backwards on the bed and started licking the bloody scratches. “Mmm, you taste good.”
                Shikarou reached down and, grasping her by the armpits, dragged her up his body as he rolled to put her beneath him. “You were on top last time, now it’s my turn.” He pulled her arms above her head and held her wrists with one hand as he sucked a nipple into his mouth. She moaned in pleasure.
                He took the nipple in his teeth and bit down gently and her body arched beneath him. “Harder,” she whispered and struggled to free her hands. He bit down harder, slowly cranking up the pressure until she whimpered in pleasure/pain. “Oh, god yes.” She jerked her arms hard and her eyes opened and she looked at him with wonder. “Are you stronger than me?”
                “Perhaps.” He bit her other nipple quickly with sharp teeth and she moaned. “Bellona.” She looked at him. “The word is ‘enough’.”
                Surprise filled her eyes. “You think I’m going to be the bottom tonight?”
                “Yes.” She began struggling again and Shikarou pinned her down. She snapped at his ear and he just chuckled and caught her lower lip in his teeth and bit down slowly, sinking his teeth into it.
                She moaned and relaxed. “Maybe this once.”
                He grinned and let her lip go, watching her lick the blood from it. “Maybe?” Reaching his free hand up, he felt at the junction of the headboard and the mattress and pulled out a set of heavy manacles. He expertly fastened one around her wrist and quickly flipped the chain around a support for the headboard and captured her other wrist as well. “I think definitely.” Her eyes widened and then narrowed.
                She summoned her wings and tried to hit him with them as her tail wrapped around one of his legs and pulled. He reached awkwardly under the bed and pulled out a short heavy dagger. Grabbing one wing, he smacked it against the headboard and drove the dagger through the membrane, pinning it to the wood. She jumped and yelped and he quickly repeated the process with her other wing and a second dagger. “I have another one for your tail,” he warned.
                “Stop this right now,” she yelled. “You bastard, when I get free I’m going to kill you!” Her tail unwrapped and lay limp. She tried to struggle, but the daggers in her wings pulled whenever she moved too much, limiting her motions.
                Shikarou stripped off his clothes and kicked her legs apart. “Who am I?”
                Bellona’s eyes narrowed. “Never.”
                Shikarou grinned. “We’ll just see about that.” He leaned down to close his mouth around a nipple and paused as green scales spread over the DragonQueen’s body as she summoned her armor.
                She grinned back. “Never,” she repeated.
                “Wolves have one of the most powerful bites in nature.” Shikarou kissed the armored breast and scraped his fangs across it as Bellona raised her head to watch. He carefully laid his teeth on it and slowly bit down, feeling the armor begin to flex against his bite. Bellona’s eyes widened and she squirmed as he increased the pressure and she winced and jerked when his fangs punched through. He lapped at the blood with broad strokes as he watched her face. “I’ll do the other one too.”
                She glared and her armor retracted. Shikarou pulled a potion from beneath the bed and held it up. “Want it?”
                He leaned down and placed his lips over one of the puncture wounds and sucked hard. She arched and moaned. He licked his lips clean as he raised his head and her eyes locked on his tongue. “That’s not a nice way to ask.”
                She hissed the word. “Please.”
                Her body writhed when he sucked on another puncture. “I don’t think you are sincere.” He slid down her body and licked her hip. “Say it.”
                His teeth pricked her skin. “Are you sure?” She just looked away and he sank his teeth into her waist.
                She screamed and jumped. “Master, stop, please, I beg you!”
                He chuckled. “Should I heal you?”
                “Please, master.” She sighed as he sprayed the bite on her hip. “Thank you, master.”
                Shikarou slid down her body and spread her legs, kissing his way down her belly. She raised her head. “What about my breast?”
                Shikarou glanced up at her and nipped her inner thigh hard enough to bring blood. She jumped and hissed. “Master, I am sorry. My breast, master, please.”
                “No. I like the taste.” She shivered as he licked her thigh and continued downward. She moaned when he kissed her mound and jumped when he blew gently on it.
                Suddenly she jerked. “My wings. Enough.”
                Shikarou sat up and slid up her body to pull the daggers from her wings. “Hold on a second.” He sprayed each of them with the potion, healing up the holes. “Are you ok?” He reached for her manacles.
                “Shikarou, wait.” Shikarou stopped and looked curiously down at her. “It was just my wings. Can we keep going?” Her wings vanished. “Please?”
                Shikarou pressed a finger to her lips. “Hush. You never have to tell me twice to stop and never have to beg me to continue. What about your breast?”
                “Uh uh, it hurts in a good way.” Shikarou kissed her deeply. “Thank you,” she murmured, “for understanding.”
                He chuckled and kissed her unwounded nipple, causing her eyes to close. “I actually have to be careful with you; most of my D&S experience was with a woman who went from zero to agony almost instantly and was kami tough.”
                                Bellona’s eyes went wide. “Please, never make that mistake with me.” A smiled appeared. “I like the warmup.”
                Shikarou shifted to her other breast and licked the bite wounds. Bellona moaned slightly and shivered. “Honestly, so do I.” He glanced up at her. “Same word. Here we go.” She nodded and he licked her breast thoroughly, cleaning it of the drying blood and glanced up at her once before carefully setting his teeth back into the bite. She hissed in pleasure/pain and her body arched when he slowly lifted his head, tugging with his teeth. Blood began to trickle from the holes once more and he carefully licked them clean before moving down her body.
                “Oh, god that was good,” she whispered/moaned as she clamped her legs together. Her voice strengthened. “You won’t trick me again.”
                He chuckled and sank the tips of his claws into her inner thighs and she jumped and they fell open. He covered her mound with his mouth and she sighed happily.
                He lapped at her and her moan became a sharp cry as he closed his lips around her clitoris and sucked before returning to his lapping. He continued lapping for a while and her moans slowly grew louder and louder and she screamed and convulsed when he slid two fingers inside her and stroked.
                Bellona whispered something and Shikarou paused. “What was that?”
                “Fuck me.”
                He smiled and stroked again and her body arched beneath his touch. “I can’t hear you.”
                “Pleasemasterfuckmemasterpleasemasterfuckmemasterplease,” Bellona whimpered as he slowly moved his fingers inside her. “PLEASE MASTER!”
                Shikarou slid up her body and rubbed his head against her opening. She opened her mouth to say something and instead moaned as he forced himself into her, burying his length in one long stroke.
                She orgasmed when he nudged the head against her cervix. “Oh, god! It feels bigger than last time.”
                “The way things are going, you never know.” Shikarou began driving quickly inside her, his body battering hers with each stroke as she raised her hips to meet his thrusts. She spread her legs wider and he drove harder; drove her up the bed until she met the headboard. Her claws scrabbled at it, tearing chunks from the wood as she crested and her back bowed. Her scream made his ears ring and urged him faster as he felt his orgasm building and his cry joined hers as his orgasm seemed to start in his toes to explode into Bellona’s tossing body.
                He rested on her as they came down and her labored breathing slowly returned to normal. She sighed, moved her arms and frowned. “Can I get released?”
                Shikarou reached for the manacles and laughed quietly as he let her go. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him back down to kiss him soundly. “What is so funny?”
                “This.” He showed her where the chain on the manacles had almost parted. “You almost got free and these things are rated for twelve times human maximum strength. You aren’t supposed to be that strong.”
                She kissed him again. “That is probably your fault, you horrible man.” A sigh and she nuzzled against him. “I had a good Tamer when I was a Domina and I thought he understood pain, but you,” she shivered. “That was wonderful.”
                “With the right partner, it’s easy,” he replied, “and you are a darling to work with.”
                She chuckled sleepily. “So can I be your darling?”
                Shikarou kissed her gently. “I think that would be nice. Um, should I heal your breast and your thighs?”
                “In the morning. I like the way it feels right now.”
(04/17/99 0130 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent)
                Bellona sleepily stirred and opened an eye. The other one joined it as she realized that she was alone in his bed and sat up and looked around, wincing and cupping her injured breast. “Ow.” She fished the dropped potion bottle from the floor and healed it and her thighs before sliding out of bed. She idly picked wood from her claws as she checked for him and smiled to herself when she discovered that he was gone. “Now the hunt begins. Let’s start at the arena.” A quick stop to clean up in the bathroom and she slipped out into the hall and headed for the arena.
                As Branwyn had said, a sign was now on the door announcing that hazardous conditions were inside and warning people to stay out. A second line noted that Shikarou had relaxed the psychic blocks and he could be reached via telepathy if needed, but not to disturb him unless it was an emergency.
                The DragonQueen tried the door and grinned when it opened. She waited a moment for flames or clouds of poisonous gas to pour out and when nothing happened she peeked inside.
                The arena was smaller, only a dozen meters across and covered with nothing but white sand. Shikarou was wearing a pair of tight fitting shorts and was working through a series of what she recognized as katas; she’d seen Devon doing them often enough. He was moving slowly and deliberately and she could see his muscles quivering as he moved smoothly from position to position.
                She frowned. “Branwyn never said he knew martial arts. I wonder if she knows.”
Carefully, she eased the door open enough to slip inside without being noticed. As soon as she broke the plane of the doorway with her body, she was sucked inside the room with a loud yelp. The door swung smoothly shut, cutting off the beginning of her cry of pain.
                Shikarou heard the cry and smoothly turned to see a green haired black form plastered against the ground, trying to scream. “Multiplier to 1.0” He blurred across the ground and kneeled next to her misshapen form as her cries died to a keen of pain. “Hold still.” He summoned his wand and cast a healing spell, straightening out her limbs as he did so.
                Bellona took a shuddering breath as the pain stopped and he picked her up to cradle her against his chest. “Didn’t you see the sign?”
                She sighed, her breath warm against his skin. “Branwyn told me that it might only be true at the time you put it up and I wanted to see what you were doing. What happened?”
                “I was working out and you made the mistake of entering a gravity field that was set at twelve times stronger than Earth’s. You snapped several bones in your legs immediately and more when you hit the ground.” He nuzzled the top of her head. “But you’re ok now.” He smiled. “Darling.”
                She chuckled quietly. “I like the way that sounds. Should I ask why you can even move in that, much less exercise?”
                She heard the laughter in his voice. “Well, my darling Bell, I am much stronger than you know and my working out in a higher gravity field lets me get a good workout in an hour or two as opposed to most of a day in your gravity.” He glanced at her. “I’ve been thinking about boosting the gravity for the harem workouts as well, what do you think?”
                “I don’t think anyone but Pythia or Yushiko could move in that,” she replied honestly, her beta responsibilities coming to the fore. “Can it be set for anything else besides that strong?”
                “Yes, anywhere from zero gravity and on up to one hundred gravities in increments of a tenth of a G.” He smiled. “I’ve never been able to go over fifteen gravities yet, but I’m getting closer.”
                She thought hard. “I’ll have to try it for myself, but it sounds like it might be useful.” The DragonQueen gave him a hard look. “Does Branwyn know you can do martial arts?”
                “We’ve never talked about it specifically, but I haven’t been trying to keep it a secret.” He shrugged. “I’ve tried to let my harem do most of the fighting, as is proper here. You know, she might not know.”
                “She’s going to be pissed.”
                “Not really. She understands me better ever since we,” he broke off. “Never mind.”
                Bellona reached up and touched his cheek gently. “Since you and Branwyn did what?”
                He looked at her thoughtfully for a moment. “Bell, darling, I’ll need your oath of secrecy on this.”
                She gave it without hesitation. “What?”
                “Before you joined the harem, I was undergoing some medical testing and that and some other things that were going on were making Branwyn worry about her place in my life. To put her mind at ease about how I felt about her, I asked her to marry me. I love her and it was a natural next step in our relationship.”
                Bellona blinked. “She said yes.”
                “She said that she would only if we got married right away, so we went to Wick and bribed a priest to marry us then and there.” He grinned. “It made me late to a meeting with Candace and Poppet. Poppet was bitchy about it, but Branwyn knows that our lives will be mingled forever and she’s much happier because of it.”
                “You do realize marriage to pokegirls isn’t accepted across the whole League and most of the other leagues don’t recognize it.”
                “She’s my wife and that is that. I don’t give a fuck what other people think.” Shikarou smiled. “She realizes that I’ll have other wives, but she’s much more self assured now and I want her to be happy.”
                “Who else might you marry?” Bellona cursed at herself as the question slipped out.
                Shikarou stood and settled her on her feet. “That question I will not answer.” He watched a flicker of sadness pass across her face and sighed. “All right, but I still have your oath.” She brightened and nodded. “I won’t tell you of anyone else but I will say that you are on the list of considerations, even though I’ve only known you for a short time.”
                Even with her black skin he could see her flush. “Thank you,” she whispered.
(04/17/99 0900 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent)
                “You know what the coolest thing about having a teleporter is?” Faelan took a long swig of his beer.
                “Enlighten me.” Shikarou waved to the Elf behind the bar and she gave him a smile and started drawing him another beer.
                Faelan pointed with his mug at the plate window as rain streamed down it. “Even when I’m out on the road during my pokegirl journey, I’m not in that crap.” He grinned. “Nice and dry, I might add.”
                “It might be good weather to catch water types.”
                Faelan snorted. “Then get out there and show me how it’s done.” The shared a chuckle. “Have you found anything out about the Grimoire?”
                “Other than it’s annoying and hard to read? Yeah. I’ve read almost the whole thing.” He sipped at his beer as Faelan waited expectantly.
                “Oh, you didn’t ask me to tell you what I’d found.” Shikarou grinned at Faelan’s glare. “It covers a wide range of topics from magical transformation to temporal magic. There’s even some combat stuff in there that’s kind of frightening. I’m talking level mountains and raise land from the seas sorts of magic.”
                “So you could dispense with that ferry?”
                “Don’t give up your day job for comedy. The tidal waves might be a slight drawback.” Shikarou frowned. “The only problem is that as far as the Order is concerned, it might as well be filled with blank pages. It’s Sidhe magic and humans would die if they tried to use it, well before any effects started.”
                “Maybe they don’t know that.”
                “That’s what Mary thinks.” He shrugged. “Of course, she’s not that high in the hierarchy and they don’t like women, so she may not know much.”
                “Already sharing secrets with your new acquisition? So how’s she in the bedroom?”
                Shikarou shrugged. “I have no idea. You’d actually have a better chance with her than I would. She doesn’t believe that she should sleep with her boss.” He grinned. “Gwen was really pissed when she found that out, too. She was even willing to jump me without Mary. Pythia and Circe had a chat with her and she’s decided to try somewhere else.”
                “Must have been some discussion,” Faelan observed dryly.
                “Took a piece of forest that I had and made it into farmland.” He shook his head. “Strangest thing about that, a feral Moonflower came into town and yelled at me over it. I actually understood what she was saying. Misaki is making it more fertile and we’re going to replant with new trees. We’ll put in an assortment of trees this time and make it nice and pretty.”
                Faelan saluted him with his beer. “Unfathomable is the power of the land lord, but at least it lets the pokegirls know who to complain to.”
                “Better hope not because if anything happens to me, you’re it.” Faelan choked on his beer.
(04/17/99 1500 Ruins of Edinburgh, Blue Continent)
                Pythia zipped overhead and noted the guards and their pokegirls watching her as she came in to land in the authorized zone. A bored looking official came up. “Yes?”
                “I’m supposed to teleport home and get my Tamer, but he told me to make sure I got authorization to prevent any misunderstandings.”
                He nodded. “I’m glad to see he knows the rules. What is his name?”
                “Shikarou Urufu.”
                The official blinked and grinned. “He’s the one that zapped that Widow. My little brother was responding to the callout and our parents were terrified about it. I can’t wait to meet him.” He checked his handheld. “Yes, he’s got permission for himself and one pokegirl for a visit.”
                Pythia nodded. “Thank you.” She vanished and reappeared with Shikarou a few moments later, before the official could get bored and wander off.
                Shikarou had barely gotten free from Pythia when he found his hand being vigorously shaken by this complete stranger. “I’m Randy Simpkins and I just wanted to say thank you for taking out that Widow. My little brother Kevin would have been in the group attacking it and we both know there would have been few survivors.”
                Shikarou managed to free his hand without hurting the enthusiastic fellow. “You are quite welcome, Mr. Simpkins.”
                “Randy, please.” Simpkins checked his handheld. “You are cleared to enter; you just have to go through the inspection station. Is this the pokegirl who’s going to be visiting with you?”
                “No.” He pulled a pokeball from his belt and released his Mini-Top. “This is Nanu and she’ll be visiting with me.”
                The Mini-Top looked around with a disgruntled look. She was clad in a pair of tight shorts and a thin crop top. Both were in a digital camo pattern but didn’t do a very good job against her thick white fur. To anyone who knew her, it was obvious that she wasn’t wearing her customary knives and pistols and didn’t look happy about it. Her black hair was pulled back in a bouncy ponytail and it was obvious she wasn’t wearing anything under her shirt. “So here we are.” She glanced at her Tamer out of the corner of her eye as Randy hurriedly put some distance between himself and the new arrival. “Why?”
                “It’s a surprise, one that you will like.”
                “You’d better be glad I trust you.” Her voice was flat.
                Shikarou ignored her and turned to Pythia. “I’ll call you when we are ready to leave.” He unbelted his pokebelt and handed it to the G-Spliced.
                Is she ok? Pythia was looking concernedly at his Mini-Top.
                She’s fine. Shikarou widened his broadcast to include Nanu. She’s just upholding the reputation for pugnacity that Mini-Top’s have.
                She’s doing a good job. Pythia commented. Randy is about to pee himself.
                Nanu’s mouth twitched in what couldn’t be an attempt to suppress a smile. She turned it into a scowl and Randy sidled further away. Stop that. Her attempt at communication was weak, but she was getting better quickly.
                She’s a quick study. Pythia projected amusement and affection at both of them before vanishing.
                Shikarou nudged Nanu. “Neutral face.” Her scowl deepened before she smoothed her face into an emotionless stare. He turned to Randy. “We’re ready.” As Randy led them inside Shikarou gave Nanu a quick wink and was rewarded with another non-smile scowl.
                Nanu realized quickly at the inspection station that it was a good thing Shikarou had insisted that she leave her weapons behind, even going to the point of strip searching her himself to make sure she wasn’t trying to sneak anything past him. She had to admit he’d been thorough; he’d even found the needles hidden in her hair.
                None of the four guards there were OfficerJennys and the two humans were obviously looking for any excuse to put their hands on her. They had run a detection wand over her body four separate times and each time managed to rub her nipples with the detection wand, making them tighten and protrude. However, she followed her Tamer’s lead and stood calmly even as she seethed inside. She got the distinct impression that he wasn’t happy about the situation either.
                Finally Shikarou had enough. “Do you know who I am?”
                One of the guards sneered. “No. Should I?”
                “I’m the guy who took out the Widow near Plymouth and if you fondle my pokegirl again I’m going to feed you that wand ass first. They’ll fine me a lot of money for it, but I can pay with the bounty.”
                The guard frowned as this thought percolated through his brain. He swelled his chest as he turned to Shikarou, who smiled and flexed his claws. “Yes, I would do it.” The guard abruptly deflated and backed off.
                “You’re cleared. Get going,” the other guard almost snarled at them. The two pokegirl guards hadn’t moved or said a word the entire time.
                They were led into a visiting room that held a table and some chairs and were left to wait. Nanu turned to him. “Why are we here?”
                “To see someone. If I told you who it would spoil the surprise.”
                The Mini-Top suddenly chuckled and teased her nipples with her fingers before thrusting her chest at him. “You like?”
                “I like you doing it much better than the guard.” Shikarou grinned. “You just like your new breasts.”
                She returned the grin. “I do admit that Misaki did a good job. They’re exactly what I wanted, bigger but not so big as to interfere with my draw.”
                Shikarou’s ears rotated. “Someone’s coming.”
                Nanu smoothed away her smile and assumed an alert posture. “Since I’m your only pokegirl here, I’m your guard. Don’t do anything stupid.”
                He nodded. “Don’t forget your job in your desire for revenge.”
                Nanu gave him a quick confused look and blanked her face as the guards came in leading a prisoner. He was elderly, probably in his late eighties or so, with wisps of white hair crowning an otherwise bald pate. However his eyes were clear, and filled with a malign intelligence. He looked Shikarou over carefully as the guard manacled him to the table.
                He remained silent until the guard had left the room. “I don’t know you.” He stared at Shikarou one more time and shook his head. “No, I would remember someone who looks like you do.”
                Shikarou smiled and pulled out his wand, soundproofing the room. “Now the guards can’t hear you.”
                The prisoner started to look mildly worried. “Who are you?”
                Shikarou turned to Nanu. “He’s here because he’s been convicted of murder and manslaughter. He’ll be here until he dies and, frankly, I was surprised when Aggie found him.” He gestured towards the prisoner. “This is Robert Bates.”
                Nanu’s mouth dropped, but she recovered quickly and spun to face the prisoner. She marched over and leaned down to peer into his face. A smile grew as if Yule had arrived early. “Bobby boy,” she almost purred.
                The color drained from Bates’ face and his eyes started in his head. “You are dead,” he whispered. He turned to the door, his chains rattling. “Guard! GUARD!” His eyes whipped to Shikarou. “Don’t let her kill me!”
                Shikarou smiled. “Nanu, you heard the man. No killing.”
                Nanu sighed. “Very well.” She stroked Robert’s face. “Bobby, Bobby, Bobby. You’ve been a very bad boy.” She raised her head slightly. “Can I hurt him?”
                “I can heal just about anything short of death.” He smiled. “Enjoy, but remember we only have a half an hour.”
                Twenty minutes later, the screaming had gotten so loud that Shikarou had folded back his ears to protect them. Finally Nanu couldn’t wake Robert any more and stepped back, her chest heaving. Her clothes were dripping with sweat and it took Shikarou most of the ten minutes remaining to clean everyone up and heal Robert’s injuries. Some of the blood drops proved elusive and took a while to track down.
                Nanu frowned as Robert stirred. “Do I have time to blow you in front of him?” She smiled. “Just to remind him of what sex with a woman looks like.”
                “No, I’m afraid not.” Shikarou pulled out her pokeball. “Time to go.”
                She gave Robert a sweetly evil smile. “See ya, Bobby. Maybe we can do this again sometime.” The containment beam swept over her and she was gone.
                Shikarou smiled at Robert’s sudden look of terror. “She won’t be coming back.”
                Robert sagged. “Thank you.”
                Shikarou pulled out his wand and poked Robert in the chest with it. “Don’t. In two days you are going to have a massive myocardial infarction. Enjoy your remaining time.” He went to the door. “Guard, we’re done here.”
(04/17/99 1700 Order of Pendragon Headquarters, Blue Continent(?))
                There was a soft chime and Morgan stepped forward to check the display. “Your Majesty, the Templar knights you sent for have arrived.”
                “Have them made comfortable and I’ll see them in the morning.” The Queen returned her attention to her desk and the papers on it. Most of them had to do with the Order’s projects and she sighed quietly. The most vital project needed the Grimoire of Danu and she hoped it would be back in her possession soon.
                A few minutes later another soft chime sounded and again Morgan stepped forward. “Your Majesty, you have a private message from Dame Mary.”
                “Again? Play it.”
                The huge screen in the wall brightened, revealing a life sized Mary. She smiled. “Your Majesty, I greet you.” The Queen frowned. That was not a normal greeting from a low level knight to her Queen. “I am still in Caomh Sith and have not attempted to retrieve the Grimoire. I know that Derrick has tried to reach me, and, frankly, I’m not taking his messages.” The Queen’s eyebrows rose. “In fact, in light of Gregory’s threats, I don’t consider myself a knight in the Order of Pendragon and would never have contacted you except my king requested it.” The Queen’s eyebrows rose higher.
                “My lord has asked me to contact you so that he might give you a message, so without further ado, here he is.”
                Mary shifted the display to show a tall, well built Oriental man with long black hair that curled out of sight and solid black wolflike ears perched high on his head. Behind him stood what looked like a Seraph or some other Celestial pokegirl. One of his ears flicked idly as he smiled and drummed the fingers of one hand on the Grimoire of Danu. “My name is Shikarou and I hope you get this message, Queen Pendragon, or whatever your name is. Mary doesn’t know it and I really don’t care.”
                “Pause message.” Shikarou stopped in mid word at the Queen’s command. “Morgan, fetch the Templar at once.”
                The Dragoness nodded. “Yes, My Queen.”
                A few minutes later, four Templar knights stood in the throne room. One of the signs of their favor is that they were allowed to have their pokegirls in the Queen’s presence and the twenty four Battle Angels were drawn up in formations of six immediately behind their individual Tamers. Between the four Tamers, every evolution of the Battle Angel was present and the colors clashed in a primal energy that seemed to swirl throughout the room.
                The Queen rose and nodded to them. “Valiant Knights. I have a quest for my most loyal and capable subjects.” She pointed to the screen. “I charge you to bring me that book, the Grimoire of Danu.” Her eyes narrowed. “In addition, that man is Shikarou Urufu and I want you to bring me his head.”
                The leader of the Templar studied the screen intently. “As you command, so shall it be.”
                The ancient vow resounded through the room and the Queen smiled. “Journey forth and carry out my will.”
                The next morning the Queen settled herself behind her desk once more and sipped at her morning tea. “Your Majesty.” It was Guinevere.
                “There is a pending message, Your Majesty, the one from Dame Mary. Do you wish to finish viewing it?”
                “No.” A pause. “Wait. Yes, I would like to see what this insolent wretch has to say and I could use some amusement this morning.”                
                “Should I start the message over?”
                “No, back it up to where this false king started speaking and let it run.”
                “Yes, Your Majesty.”
                . “My name is Shikarou and I hope you get this message, Queen Pendragon, or whatever your name is. Mary doesn’t know it and I really don’t care.” He smiled thinly. “I know you are seeking this book,” he tapped the Grimoire’s cover, “and so far it has cost you one dead knight, one disgraced knight and one driven from your ranks.”
                “Granted, it may be entirely possible that you can absorb such losses without notice, but my conversations with Lady Mary indicate otherwise.”
                He smiled broadly, showing a mouthful of sharp teeth. “I was hoping that by explaining a few things, you might understand the futility of your position.” The Queen’s eyes narrowed as he continued. “The Grimoire of Danu was not written by humans and it cannot be used by them.”
                The Queen dropped her teacup and stared at the display in shock as it shattered on the stone floor. How did he know that? But he was continuing relentlessly and she went back to paying attention.
                “It’s written in a dead language in a dead alphabet and I doubt you have the scholars necessary to translate it and even if you did, any attempt to use the spells inside it would kill any mortal who attempted to cast them.” His smiled faded. “While I don’t doubt that you have some accomplished spellcasters, it is impossible for mortals to use this book. Give up the pursuit.”
                He frowned. “In any case, coming after the Grimoire would prove problematic for you. I am the lord of the land for this island and the book has shown me how to hide it inside the ley lines that cross this island. Even if you took me or killed me, the book would be lost to you.”
                The Queen gasped. “That is impossible.”
                “You will not gain access to the Grimoire of Danu because, well, because you are assholes and have tried to kill me and I take that thing sort of personally. Now I’m willing to let bygones be bygones, but if you persist in annoying me, I will squash you.”
                He picked up the Grimoire and opened it up, settling it in his lap as he reached for his tea. He glanced up at the sensor head again. “Now shoo and don’t bother me again, lest you anger me.” The display went dark.
                The Queen took a deep breath and closed her eyes as the color drained from her face. She tried to speak and had to lick her suddenly dry lips and try again. “Morgan, have the Templar left?”
                “They left right after their audience with you yesterday, Your Majesty.”
                “Damn.” Every Dragoness stirred. Their Queen never uttered profanity. “Contact them immediately. They are to abort their mission and return to home right away. They are not to attempt to retrieve the Grimoire and they are not to kill Shikarou Urufu.”
                “As you command, My Queen.” Morgan hurried from the room.
                The Queen leaned back in her chair and watched a servant cleaning up the spilled tea as her mind whirled. Who are you, Shikarou Urufu and how can you open my book?
(04/18/99 0545 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent)
                “All I’m asking is where is she getting her information? Is she making it up?” Bellona attacked her breakfast with vigor while Branwyn formulated her response.
                “I’m not exactly sure, but she says her information comes from her god.”
                Bellona snorted. “So Shikarou is telling her what his religion is supposed to be?”
                “No,” Branwyn began slowly, “Shikarou says that that sort of stuff just comes out of the cosmic awareness.”
                “Which is what?”
                The Unicorn gave a sigh of relief as Shikarou appeared and settled down between them. Circe followed and floated over the table to settle down on the other side.
                Bellona gave the Alaka-Wham an annoyed look. “I would appreciate it if you walked around the table like everyone else does. When you levitate over it I always wonder what just dropped off your feet into my food.”
                Circe chuckled and started filling a plate. “Can she order me to do that?” The query was addressed to their Tamer.
                Shikarou nodded. “Yes, she can, since it’s for the good of the family and I think she’s right. That’s a nasty habit and it needs to stop.”
                “Crap.” Circe smiled at Bellona. “Since your wish is his order, I guess it’s my command.” The four of them chuckled at the quip.
                Branwyn loaded a plate with waffles. “Shikarou, Bellona and I were just discussing Yushiko and where she gets her information about your worship. Can you explain it?”
                Shikarou looked uncomfortable, but he was slowly coming to terms with his godhead and nodded. “There is a formless something out there that for lack of a better term is called the cosmic awareness or unconsciousness or one of many other terms that are currently in use, but all of them refer to a collective intelligence that seems to be a gestalt of all intelligence everywhere and anywhen. It’s not aware as we understand it, but it holds the sum total of all knowledge and gods access it when they do godlike things.
                “Priestesses like Yushiko can tap into it to gain an instinctive knowledge about how a new god is to be worshipped and then record it for others.” He shrugged. “It’s how a normal schoolgirl can threshold into a Slicer, become a Valkyrie and then go on to become an Armsmistress and suddenly be proficient with weapons and armor that she’s never heard of, much less seen or used.”
                “What do priestesses get from the god?”
                “The god refines the information that the priestess puts out, personalizing it so to speak. A god is also the source of any religious magical power.” Shikarou froze as his eyes went wide. “Blood and darkness. That has to be it. I am such an idiot.” He stared into space as his mind raced.
                Branwyn touched his arm. “Beloved, come back to us.”
                He blinked and gave her an affectionate smile. “Sorry, I was struck by a thought.”
                Circe grinned. “We noticed. If it had hit you any harder, it would have spattered brains over the table.”
                Bellona made a face. “Not during breakfast.”
                “I’ve been making a profound error. Yushiko tested high for magic use and I have been pulling my hair out trying to discover why I can’t teach her the simplest spell.” He beamed. “It’s because she’s not a mage at all.”
                Branwyn frowned. “I don’t understand.”
                “She’s a fucking priestess. If it wasn’t for that, she would probably test as a magical null. She can cast priest spells, not wizard spells and I missed it entirely.”
                “Do you know how to teach her priest magic?”
                He shrugged. “Not a clue.” Another roll of the shoulders. “However, I am her god, so between the two of us we should figure something out.”
                Bellona nodded. “Ok. When are we going to experiment with training under increased gravity?”
                Branwyn looked interested. “I want to know the controls for that system, if you would be so kind.”
                Shikarou sighed. “I’ll show them to both of you this morning, but you have to remember to be cautious in using it. Two gravities may not sound like a lot, but that doubles your weight and that increases the wear and tear on your body. I’d really prefer that no one use it without me being there for some time to come.”
                Branwyn nodded. “Agreed.”
(04/18/99 0800 Caomh Sith, Blue Continent)
                Shikarou’s com chirped and he glanced at it as Brawnyn gave him a curious look. “It’s Poppet.”
                She frowned. “I wonder what she wants this time.”
                Shikarou pushed a button on his com. “Shikarou.”
                Poppet looked distinctly frazzled. “Would it be too much of an imposition if I came and stayed in Caomh Sith for a while?”
                Shikarou frowned. “What an odd question. Of course you can.”
                The Unicorn gave him an uneasy smile. “I don’t suppose I can I stay for about twelve years?”
                Branwyn gasped. “How long, mother?”
                “Ok, only ten.” She sighed. “Christine is the most colicky baby I’ve ever seen and she’s driving everyone here mad. If I don’t get away, I don’t know what I’ll do.” She glared when Branwyn giggled. “I heard that. You think this is so funny then you come here and be an aunt and help take care of her.” She shook her head. “Devon hasn’t slept in several days and Letita is a wreck. Poor Christine has cried herself hoarse and I’m worried she’ll permanently damage her vocal cords.” She grimaced.
                Shikarou nodded. “We’ll be there in half an hour. I know some old remedies for colic and I’ll be glad to take her for a while.”
                Poppet sighed. “Please, take her far away.”
                “There may be a problem, Devon may still be angry with me.”
                “If I tell him you’ll take Christine and let him get some sleep, trust me, he’ll welcome you with open arms.” She grinned wearily. “He’s too tired to tame his harem.”
                “Half an hour,” Shikarou repeated.
                Poppet nodded. “Don’t let me keep you then and I’ll talk to Devon. If he’s too obstinate about your help, I’ll let you know.”
                Twenty minutes later Branwyn and Shikarou appeared in front of the Conservatory. Devon was obviously waiting for them and nodded stiffly. “Shikarou.”
                Shikarou grinned. “Now, now, let’s help your daughter get some sleep and then you can decide if you want to try to kick my ass. I don’t want to let her suffer just because you and I are stubborn.”
                Devon looked startled for an instant and then a tired smile appeared. “You are right, we’ll take care of Christine first.” He led them down to the guest house, which had been refitted as a semi-permanent home for Devon and his family.
                They could hear a baby screaming as they approached and Devon gave them an apologetic look. “It seems like it’s getting worse and I’ve actually had to start putting certain members of my harem into storage before they hurt someone.”
                Branwyn chuckled. “Rhiannon?”
                Devon didn’t look amused. “First one. I caught her with a pillow in Christine’s room.” He frowned. “Letitia doesn’t know and I don’t want her to.” He led them down a hall and into a room where Letitia was rocking a screaming red-faced blue haired baby. The NurseJoy was too tired to talk and merely nodded to them.
                Shikarou went over and slipped the baby into his arms as he spoke to Devon. “I’ve got her and I’ll take her for a walk. You two catch a nap.” Devon nodded and was speaking quietly to Letitia as he and Branwyn left.
                He carried the screaming child a couple of hundred meters into the forest and Brawnyn watched as he touched Christine’s stomach and muttered quietly. The infant gave a startled hiccup and fell silent. “Ah, much better.”
                Brawnyn gave him a curious look. “What did you do?”
                “Father developed a spell that cures colic centuries ago and gave it to me as a wedding gift. It’ll last for twenty four hours.”
                “What happens then?”
                “Everyone is much more rested and sometimes the colic doesn’t come back.” He pulled a pokeball from his belt and released Helen, who looked around and smiled.
                “You rang?”
                “This is Christine, Devon’s first child and I suspect she’s going to discover she’s hungry very soon.”
                Helen’s face melted as Shikarou showed her the child. “She’s such a precious child.” She settled down against a tree and opened her shirt. “May I?”
                He handed her the baby and she settled her against a nipple. Christine blinked and latched on like she’d never been fed. “She has a healthy appetite.” Helen glanced up at him. “Will ours?”
                Branwyn suddenly looked thoughtful as he smiled. “It seemed like my daughters were always hungry.” He paused and looked off into the distance as they listened to the sucking sounds. “I hope they are doing well.”
                Helen chuckled suddenly. “She’s gone to sleep.” She checked Christine over. “She took a lot, her stomach is full.”
                “Good, she probably hasn’t had a good meal in a while.” Branwyn gently took her from the Milktit as Shikarou pulled out his wand. She frowned. “What is it?”
                “She took in fuel which means she’ll give off waste. It’s what babies do.”
                Branwyn sniffed the sleeping baby before handing her to him. “I think she’s already working on it.” She watched as Shikarou used his wand to clean the baby and her diaper. “You will have to teach me those spells.”
                “I will. It’s just that we’ve been focusing on combat magic.” He grinned and clutched Christine to his chest as Branwyn reached for her. “I’ve got her.”
                Helen laughed quietly. “Are we going to end up fighting for her?”
                Shikarou smiled. “No. I’m the boss. I get her.” He smiled at Branwyn’s slightly outraged look and handed the sleeping child to her. “Here.”
                Branwyn smiled sweetly. “She looked more like her father when she was screaming.”
                Shikarou shook his head. “That’s enough of that. Devon is doing the best he can. She needs to be put down. She’ll sleep better that way.”
                Devon was sitting on the step when they came back and looked up sharply when Shikarou touched his shoulder. “Is she?” he asked quietly.
                Branwyn showed him the slumbering child and he smiled tiredly. “If you work any more miracles, Shikarou, I’ll start joining Hatsumi at your shrine.” He rose and turned. “We’ll put her with Letitia.” He stopped and looked at Shikarou. “I’m sorry I’ve been such an ass. Thanks for helping.”
                Shikarou smiled. “Let’s get your daughter settled comfortably and then you can get some sleep.”
                A little while later, Christine was in her cradle with Helen keeping an eye on her while Devon curled up with Letitia. Shikarou took Branwyn’s hand. “Let’s go find Poppet. She looked like she needed some sleep too.”
                Branwyn squeezed his fingers. “Do you want children?”
                “Yes, I do, but not right now. We’ve got centuries together and while we don’t want to rush, we also don’t want to wait too long.”
                She nodded. “That’s what I think.”
Name:                                                     Urufu Shikarou
Age:                                                       250
Residence:                                             Caomh Sith, Blue Continent
Region:                                  Scotland
Status:                                                    Active
Rank:                                                      59
Security Clearance:                              Epsilon
                Tamer                                     Y
                Master Tamer                       Y
                Researcher                            N
                Watcher                 N
                Breeder                  Y
Active Harem
Species                  Name                                      Level
Alaka-Wham                         Circe                                       64
Unicorn                  Branwyn                                56
Milktit                                    Helen                                      55
Bellona                   DragonQueen                       49
Seraph                                    Dorothea                               47
Ria                                          Kebi                                        45
Armsmistress                        Urufu Yushiko      44
G-Spliced                               Pythia                                     42
Sphinx                                    Lorelei                                   40
Vampire                  Elizabeth                                38
Mini-Top                               Nanu                                      34
Alpha                                     Branwyn
Beta                                        Bellona
Badges: Scotland:               Stornoway, Rum Island, Glasgow
                                Ireland:   Belfast
                                England:                Plymouth,
                                Wales:                    Magicunt Village