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“Is something the matter?” Iain focused on the doorway where another Moon elf stood. He’d been waiting for nearly ten minutes for his host to return. The newcomer, whose voice identified her as Ava, was a little taller than Kasserine. She had black hair like her mother, which fell to her shoulders, but what he immediately noticed was that while both were specked with gold as was common for moon elves, her left iris was solid black while the right was pure white. “I’m Ava and you are staring at the wall.”
Iain smiled. To keep from browsing the books he’d been working on some mental exercises. “Good morning, I’m Iain and your mother asked me to sit. So I’m sitting, and I’m trying very hard to ignore the books around me that I haven’t read. I’m rather fond of books and I like meeting new ones. They’re usually better company than a lot of people.”
Ava gave him an almost challenging look. “You’re not going to say anything about my eyes?”
“I wasn’t,” Iain said calmly. “I don’t think we’ve known each other for long enough to comment on each other’s looks. However, if you’d like me to comment on your eyes, I think they’re very striking and pretty.”
“Pretty?” Ava pulled out the chair to his left and dropped into it. “Everyone says that my eyes show I’m a monster like my mother.”
Iain smiled at her. “First of all, I disagree, which means that not everyone says that about you. And as for these other people, they’re absolutely wrong in what they’re saying. Kasserine is not a monster, and neither are you. You’re both pure Moon elf, but both of you are also very special and potentially very powerful wizards. Your eyes just give that away. As for whether they’re pretty or not, it is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I can’t speak for the masses of elves. I can only speak for myself and I think your eyes are pretty.”
“I was told that my brother has been dead for a very long time.”
“Did Kasserine tell you that?” Ava shook her head. “I’m sure that the people who told you that really hope they are right, but the fact is that he’s not dead. As far as being alive goes, he’s doing quite well.” With his perception Iain could see that Kasserine had returned with a tray and was standing out of sight near the doorway where she could hear the conversation without being seen. Apparently it was acceptable for mothers to eavesdrop on their daughters.
Ava was regarding him shrewdly. “Does he really hope we’ll marry and you’ll make my life better? Why would he care about me? We’ve never met.”
“Do you remember what you overheard me tell your mother about what a sociopath is?” She nodded slowly. “You are right that Kerrik hasn’t ever really met you. However, you are important to him if only because your mother loves you very much and because he loves her. As Ava, you don’t mean anything to him and you won’t until he gets to know you much better and as such he only cares about your wellbeing because your being happy makes Kasserine happier. He knows I’ll take care of you if we marry and he believes that will make Kasserine’s life better as a result and she is important to him.”
“Am I only important to you because if I marry you he won’t kill you?”
Iain smiled. “We’ve just met and I don’t know anything about you. You don’t know anything about me. The only way I might be important to you is because I might be a way out of the unhappy life you’re living now. That and you’re a polite young woman so you’re willing to listen to my story, no matter how absurd it sounds.”
Kasserine came in and put the tray down on the table before sitting down across from Iain. As she started pouring an aromatic tea, she looked at Ava. “Ask him how many wives he has.”
Ava looked at him. “My mother would like to know how many wives you have. As you are aware, there are many more elven women than men and so the men usually have more than one wife as well as other lovers.”
Iain had documented that little fact about this world when he was coming up with the information on Kerrik. “I am involved with a bunch of women. Please understand that I care deeply for them and I love many of them and that, being people, sometimes they like to have secrets that the others don’t know. Some of them don’t want the others to know if we’re married or not, but I can tell you that I have at least ten wives. I also have twenty four children with more on the way.”
Kasserine handed him a cup of tea. “How do you manage to keep them all happy?”
“We work together to make sure I have the time I need to spend with them. If Ava joins my family, we’ll do the same thing for her. I am going to insist she and probably you meet my family before we commit to any sort of relationship since you’ll be living there with us and you’ll want to be nearby her for at least a while.”
“Evermeet is our home,” Kasserine said.
“That’s not true,” Ava said. “You know it isn’t. We live here because we can’t afford to go anywhere else and most elven kingdoms won’t have us because in their eyes we are still Evermeet royalty and they’ll look into our pasts and discover who we are.” She looked at Iain. “How many of your wives are elves?”
“There is one woman who calls herself elven that I am married to and another one that I will probably marry one day and a third that I might. None of them are moon elves and you and your mother might not accept them as elves at all. In many ways all three of them are more like dryads than elves. There is another, but I’ll probably not marry her and she’s more of an aquatic elf than anything else.” Iain sipped at his tea. As expected, it was an herbal tea of some kind and surprisingly good. “In the interests of honesty, you should know now that I am not a Moon elf either.”
Kasserine and Ava exchanged a look. “You look like a Moon elf,” Ava said.
“That would be because I can look like a Moon elf,” Iain replied. “I can and often do look like a human too and if I wanted to I could look like a Sun elf or some other race, either elven or not.”
“What are you,” Kasserine asked.
Iain looked at Ava. “Are you asking that question?”
“You should probably answer my mother’s questions as if they were mine,” Ava said. “She’s my friend and she’s still my guardian for another year and I love her. Besides, if we don’t get along, she’s not married either. She can still have children and if my brother loves her as much as you say, he won’t kill you if she wants to marry you. Even if we do marry, what I said about her is still true and I don’t like seeing her alone and if we’re married I wouldn’t mind if she were your wife too.”
Iain wondered if the look of stunned surprise on Kasserine’s face matched what was on his. “Everything you said is true,” Iain tried to choose his words with care. “I would like to point out that in all of our discussions, Kerrik never suggested I pay court to Kasserine. I’m not sure how he’d feel about that and he frightens me.”
“That’s because my mother has never been married,” Ava said confidently. “As her son, he can’t think of her married. Don’t worry, I’ll talk to him about it. With that in mind, however, my mother and your possible future wife has asked what you are if you’re not an elf. I must admit, I’m curious about it too so I’m asking as well. What are you?”
Iain took a deep breath. “I’m a dragon.”
Both Ava’s and Kasserine’s eyes went wide. Ava recovered first and her words came out in a rush. “Are you a gold dragon? I think they’re very majestic and proud. Maybe a little too proud but you don’t seem like that at all, even though I haven’t known you for very long. Maybe you’re a silver. They’re very pretty and noble. I think I met one once, but she wouldn’t admit to being a dragon and said I was rude to ask. But they’re pretty proud too and really like rules. You don’t seem evil, but I guess it could be hard to tell. No, you’re not evil or my brother wouldn’t have let you get close to Mother. Maybe you’re a copper or a brass.” She gave him an expectant look. “So what kind of dragon are you?”
Iain glanced at Kasserine and was enheartened to see she looked as bemused as he felt. “She’s definitely a teenager.” Kasserine looked confused and Iain chuckled. “She’s young and easily excited.”
Kasserine smiled at him. “Yes, but it is good to see that she hasn’t had such excitement burned out of her by the way she’s been treated by others. I stop what I can, but I doubt I even know about all of ways she’s mistreated.”
Iain nodded. “I am not native to this world, so I am not any of the dragons you’ve ever read of or heard about. That means I am neither metallic nor chromatic and I am not one of the other types of dragon that can be found here or in nearby dimensions like the demi plane of Shadow. As for what we call ourselves, as dragons usually are, many of us are a bit pompous and our name translates to People, just like what elves call themselves translates to people too. And before you ask, I will not take on the form of a dragon in Evermeet because I don’t want the ensuing battle in which I will have to kill a bunch of elven soldiers. You wouldn’t like me after that.”
Ava smiled coldly. “If you could kill a certain colonel of the cavalry I wouldn’t mind, but I don’t want you to kill all the others to get to him.”
Kasserine stared at her in shock. “Ava! Who was it and what did he do?”
“If I tell you, Mother, you’ll challenge him, and I don’t want you to have to deal with the trouble that’ll bring after you kill him.”
Iain shook his head. “If you tell your brother what happened and ask that he do something about it, it is rather likely that this person will suffer a completely untraceable and unrelated heart attack or stroke and die suddenly.”
Ava looked surprised. “When someone dies suddenly like that, they do check to see if he was assassinated somehow. The presence of magic or poison is tested for.”
“You heard me tell your mother that you’re like her, me and Kerrik. With the right training and desire, any of us can will someone to death without anything less than a god being able to tell they didn’t just die. And if we’re careful enough, even most gods might not detect anything.” Iain smiled grimly at her shocked expression. “That’s why it’s sometimes so easy for the evil wizards like us to thrive and why it’s so hard sometimes for the good or neutral ones like us not to kill people or ourselves on a whim. That’s one of the things we must learn not to do and so we train to control our impulses and sometimes it is very, very hard. If we lose our temper, people can suddenly drop dead or explode into mist or any of a large number of unpleasant ways to die. Even now, if you focused hard enough, you might be able to kill this colonel. It just wouldn’t be undetectable.”
“We have had no training,” Kasserine said. “I know not to lose my temper because of some incidents, but control?” She laughed bitterly. “I am a trained wizard in the traditional styles of the elves, but my magic like that does what it will. I’ve taught Ava what I know, but I don’t know very much.”
Ava reached out and rested her hand on his. “I don’t want to kill people by accident,” she said quietly. “Would you teach us?”
Iain turned his hand over and gripped Ava’s tightly. “I can’t. I don’t know enough to teach you anything, but I know who can. Kerrik, please clean up and come here now. Your mother and sister are with me.”
Kerrik appeared. He was in his normal form and wearing a comfortable looking set of leather shirt, pants and moccasins. He was clean, but Iain could smell fresh blood around him. He looked around alertly, his ears halfway flattened. “What is it?” Iain could feel his magic sweeping the area around them for nearly a kilometer.
Sending him everything that’s transpired since he left to save time, Iain’s twee told him. “You need to take them as your students.”
Kerrik gave him an unhappy look, his ears flattening. “I told you not to tell my mother who I am.”
“Yes, and I ignored that order. If you chase me with an axe again, hopefully I’ll survive.”
“That depends on where I hit you,” Kerrik said with a small smile. “I already have a student and you’re farther along than you realize. You’d be stagnating for years while I worked to bring them up to the same level you’re at.”
Kasserine opened her mouth to say something and Iain stomped gently on her foot, startling her into silence as he spoke in a hard voice. “You brought me here to deal with a problem. I found a lot more problems than you realized and I’m doing what I do and putting the best person on the job to fix it. Sometimes it’s me. This time it’s you. The last time you lived through this timeline Kasserine was just lucky that she didn’t obliterate herself and, from what you told me, the only thing keeping Ava alive then was that she didn’t know she could will herself to death. I can create two more starter copies of my book and give each of them one. That way they could start with the truewizard books like I did and then you could teach them at the same time, like I’m doing now.”
Kerrik shook his head. “I just told you that it won’t work if the three of you are my students. The books won’t make that problem just go away.”
“I know.” Iain sighed and squeezed Ava’s hand once before letting it go. “Your mother is more valuable to you than I am and your sister seems to be a person you’d like knowing. We have already changed their timelines and now there’s no guarantee they’ll survive on their own. But they only have you or someone from your family as a potential instructor. I can’t do it and we can’t trust an outsider not to leave their minds or bodies alone. But while they have only you as an instructor, I have another choice.” Kerrik’s ears canted curiously and flattened again as he continued. “I have another teacher, the one who taught you and who would like to continue teaching me. I can go back to her and you can keep on teaching me your marital arts when I’m not away.”
“She won’t let you get by with a few lessons a week,” Kerrik said in a calmer voice as his ears came up. “She will want to keep you there for years at a stretch. It’s how she teaches.”
“That’s my problem to deal with. I can shadow walk through time, so for my family it won’t be much of an issue because they won’t experience it. I will adapt.”
Ava took his hand back and held it firmly. “You can study with us.”
“He’s right about us trying to train together,” Iain said gently. “Trying to do what I am currently learning would frustrate you and watching me effortlessly do what you’re trying hard to learn would frustrate you even more. You’ve been trained as a mage. You know that mixing students of vastly different knowledge levels doesn’t help anyone.” He looked at Kerrik. “She won’t kill me and she’ll let me go home regularly.”
“It still won’t work,” Kerrik said. “I can come here for short visits, but I can’t live here. It would cause too many problems, both with the elves and with the powers that watch over them.” He grimaced. “Especially with what’s coming with Lolth and the dark elves becoming the drow because of the wars that she’s working to start.”
“I know,” Iain replied. “They’ll have to come to Earth. They can be guests of my clan. That’ll let Ava get to know my family.” He shrugged. “Their lives here are not fun and it’s only going to get worse for them if they stay. It’ll be a lot better at my place. And before you say anything about your place, I don’t trust them to Raven’s mercies, not if they’re not harem and not under her firm control. I really don’t trust her with them if your mother seems to have the slightest bit of influence over you.”
Kerrik grimaced again. “You’re probably right about that too.”
“Do you want Mother to be happy,” Ava asked suddenly.
Kerrik eyed her before regarding Kasserine thoughtfully. “I would like that very much,” he finally said. “Her life has been shit because of me and there was nothing I could do about it.”
“Do you have to curse,” Kasserine asked crossly.
Kerrik smiled slightly as Ava giggled and Iain went stony faced as he tried not to laugh. “I think that’s the perfect word to describe how you’ve been treated since you returned from your trip pregnant with me. Your sister, the queen, treated you like shit because of the rape and because you insisted on having me despite it, because of her the court treated you like shit and even the servants treated you like shit. On top of that, the stupid in the court thought what happened to you meant that you were some kind of slut. I was there, remember? I didn’t see everything, but I saw more than enough to know the truth about how you were treated then. I was treated better than you and even though that was only because I was being forged into a weapon for the queen, it’s still the truth.” He looked at Iain. “Answer this question for me. Is Ava also the product of rape or did my mother actually have one decent relationship in the years I was gone?”
“Don’t answer that,” Kasserine snapped. “Ava knows she was an accident with a married man whose wives didn’t like me so we couldn’t stay together. By the time I realized I was pregnant, he was gone back to his home in Illefarn. I decided not to try to keep any contact with him.”
Iain looked at Kerrik. “You heard the lady.” Rape, he said with his twee. She killed him afterward.
Iain heard the subsonic growl from Kerrik but from their expressions he didn’t think either of the women could. Kerrik smiled at Ava. “To get back to your question: yes, I would like our mother to be happy. She deserves that for a change.”
“I am happier than I was when you were here,” Kasserine said calmly. “Ava has been a bright spot in my life and I treasure the time I’ve had with her. I regret what I did to you and I’d like to get to know my son. Iain says you’re not the monster my sister tried to get me to believe you were and I think he might be right. I’d like to find that out if you will allow me to.”
“When I was a child, I told you that I would give anything to see you happy,” Kerrik said slowly. “That hasn’t changed. While there are some things I cannot give up for anyone, but with that understanding, I would give almost anything for you to find happiness. Spending time with you socially is easy and something I would like too. After all, I don’t know you as a person very well either.”
“Is it true that you brought Iain here and told him to court me because if I marry Iain it’ll make Mother happier,” Ava asked. “That and so you won’t have to kill Iain because he’ll have joined our family.”
Kerrik shot Iain a look before turning back to his sister. “Essentially, yes.”
“Then tell Iain to court Mother too.”
“What,” Kerrik blurted in surprise. His ears went back and he rounded on Iain.
Iain very deliberately didn’t move. “I didn’t suggest this idea,” he said in an even tone, carefully meeting Kerrik’s gaze so he didn’t seem anything like prey or avoiding the subject. “I don’t have a problem with it, but I didn’t suggest it.”
“Kerrik,” Ava said firmly. Kerrik raised an eyebrow and looked curiously at her. “I have lived with Mother my whole life. I know just how lonely she is. If I were married to Iain I would be happy to welcome her as a sister wife.” She folded her arms over her chest. “In case you have forgotten, because of you the line of men who would be willing to marry me or Mother starts and ends with Iain, so you can’t kill him. And before you tell me that there will be other men at this place Iain wants to take us, Mother needs someone who can be as strong as she is and Iain just told us that we’re both going to be as powerful as gods.”
Kerrik’s other eyebrow rose to join the first. “He did?”
“Not in so many words, but he did say that we would one day be able to kill someone magically and if we were careful enough not even a god could determine that we were responsible. That suggests we will become very powerful, possibly even powerful enough to rival some of the weaker gods. That means only Iain is the one for us, or someone like him. And Iain said that good people like us are not common because they tend to kill themselves accidentally.”
Kerrik stared at her for a moment before looking at Iain. “Is she as smart as I am?”
“Both Kasserine and Ava have the same level of raw intelligence you have,” Iain said. “Before you enhanced yourself, that is.”
Kerrik shook his head slightly. “She may just be smarter than I was when I was an elf, and I was very smart.” He looked at Ava. “Are you deliberately manipulating me?”
She smiled. “I was hoping you wouldn’t notice that I was, but yes.”
“You’re not going to try to deny it?”
“You make me nervous. I’m a terrible liar when I’m nervous.”
“You’ll have to learn to get over that.” Finally, Kerrik looked at his mother. “What do you think of her idea?”
Kasserine shrugged. “I have always been alone. I doubt I’ll ever marry.”
Kerrik took a deep breath and let it out slowly “All right.” I’ve heard women say that around you before, he said to Iain with his twee. If she marries you I won’t call you Father.
I wouldn’t want you to.
Kerrik nodded. “I’m a harsh taskmaster,” he said. “If you two become my students, the fact that we’re related won’t mean anything for your lessons. Learning what we are and what we can do will be nothing like anything you’ve ever done before, and that includes the training in formal magic you’ve received. You’ll spend years honing your minds and your bodies both and the whole time you must do whatever I tell you to do when I am your teacher.” He glanced at Iain. “Iain can attest to what I am telling you. And once you become my students, you will be my students until I say you’ve mastered our art. I will not let you quit.”
“That sounds very much like what I told my son once,” Kasserine said.
“Yes, it does, and I mean it as much as you did.”
“I had the same instructor you did in swords and magic,” Ava said. “I know what you mean, and I accept your conditions.”
Kasserine looked at Iain. “You said we would be guests of your clan. Kerrik sounds like we’ll be there for a very long time, even as elves reckon time. Is the leadership of your clan going to accept our presence for so long? I am trusting you enough to leave Evermeet and go to another world with you. But that means we are at the mercy of you and your clan and it’s hard to trust that your leaders will agree to what you are obligating them to do.”
“They will,” Iain said.
“How can you be sure? I mean no insult, but I have heard that before from others and it turned out to be a lie.”
“Did your ring say I was lying to you?”
Kasserine shook her head. “No, it didn’t. Still, can you speak for the leaders of your clan?”
“Tell her,” Kerrik said. “She’ll find out eventually.”
Iain sighed. “I am the head of my clan.” He looked at Kerrik. “It always feels like I’m bragging and it’s uncomfortable.”
“The day that it stops being uncomfortable is the day you need to start looking for your successor,” Kerrik said.
“You’re a clan leader?” Ava was staring at him.
“Iain is the head of his clan,” Kerrik said. “He’s the ruler.”
“I don’t rule by fiat,” Iain stated. “I have a staff and we work out any difficulties. They know I’m here and understand that you’ll be coming to live with us.”
“How much land do you have,” Ava asked. “I want to bring Dancer and her family with me if I can.”
“Who is Dancer?”
“She’s a moon horse,” Kasserine said. “She’s the herd mare of a group of twenty mares and their stallion and rules over a band of six bachelor stallions.”
“Do you have enough land,” Ava asked anxiously. “They need a lot of land for grazing.”
Iain frowned and looked at Kerrik. “How much do they need?”
“Three acres per moon horse should be fine.”
“We should be able to house the herd with ample room,” Iain said. He glanced at Kerrik. Is bringing elven horses to my world a good idea?
No. But making my mother and sister unhappy is worse, especially if you’re courting them. I’m sure you can protect them from the feral pokegirls. The horses will adapt.
“How much land do you have,” Ava asked.
Iain mentally reviewed the units of measure he’d been given by Kerrik. There was one that was roughly a hectare. “The clan’s land is over a hundred and fifty thousand hectares.”
Kasserine looked surprised. “Your clan must be very wealthy.”
“In land we are. You’ll see,” Iain said. He looked at Kerrik. “I can’t shadow walk a herd of horses home. Will you open a portal for them? If they want to go, I mean.”
“I could, but I hear my soon to be former student can open portals. It’s time he did it for his teacher. By the way, understand that you are only being granted free time to study under our teacher. You are still my student too and one day you will return to me to finish my lessons.”
“Yay me,” Iain said in English.
“What is that,” Ava asked.
“I said yay me,” Iain replied in elven.
She giggled. “I said that sometimes during my training too.”
Kasserine looked thoughtful. “It will take some time to pack our possessions for travel and I had to sell the wagon we used to move here.” She looked slightly embarrassed. “I have been unable to find any sort of decent work that brings in more than a little money and, while I have been as frugal as I can be, what little wealth my clan let me leave with has long since been exhausted. If I can get the money from the High Council, it will still not cover the price of a wagon, team of horses and all of the boxes and chests we will need.”
“I will ask Dancer to provide the horses,” Ava said confidently. “She has already offered to do so when we thought we were to be forced out by the Council.”
“You will need to explain to Dancer exactly what’s happening and where we’re going,” Kasserine told her. “I don’t think there will be other elves or moon horses in the lands of Iain’s clan, and she needs to know this before deciding to bring her herd into exile with us.”
“What happens to the moon horse dead,” Iain asked. When Kerrik looked at him, he shrugged. “We have a huge cloning facility now. We thought we’d need one for the fey dead, but it turns out that Danu and Danu want to start small so most of it isn’t in use and won’t be for years.” He rolled his eyes. “I even offered to clone some goblin babies for Arianrhod and the rest of the female goblins to raise, but they want to see if I can fix their fertility problem first. I was told that after a century or so they might resort to raising offspring not of their womb.”
“How is that going?”
Iain shrugged. “There are a few leads that might be promising.”
Kerrik scratched his nose and grinned. “That’s what I say when I don’t want to talk about something. It’s nice and vague.”
Iain shrugged. “I probably learned it from studying your life.” He cocked his head. “The money issue may not be important.”
Kasserine smiled. “In this instance, money is very important.”
“A stranger selling too many gems in one place will bring questions about where both the stranger and the gems came from,” Kerrik said. “And teleporting all over the place to sell gems will garner attention from beings powerful enough to notice such things. Both could bring unwanted attention to here.”
“Beryl brought me a Dikon from Theodora.” Iain stood and dug into the pouch Beryl had given to him. Suddenly he stopped as he felt something surround him. It was energy, and it made his skin tighten like he was standing near a live high power transmission line. “What is that?”
Kerrik was focused in the direction of the front door of the house. His ears flattened for an instant as the bell rang. “You have more company.” His voice was light, and Iain could tell it was artificially so. He glanced at Iain. You feel that. It wasn’t a question. It’s Corellon.
Kasserine made a motion with her hand and the bell rang again as she rose. “Excuse me.”
According to his perception there was nothing standing outside at the door. Iain looked at Kerrik as she left the room. What do you think he wants?
He’s been trying to get Mother to call me back to Evermeet for nearly a millennium. I thought I’d hidden my presence from him but apparently I was wrong. He probably has some errand he wants me to run and will try to trot out the idea that I’m one of his children and should obey him when I politely refuse. He didn’t care about me or Mother, why should I care about him?
So you’re Tommy Atkins now?
Kerrik chuckled softly. Exactly. He didn’t lift a finger to keep my aunt from banishing me or making my mother’s life miserable and now he wants my obedience. He glanced at Iain. Always remember that his idea of justice can be very cruel and never ask for his help. After all, when Lolth suborns the dark elf leadership and foments war on the other elven races, instead of taking the time and doing the work to determine the guilty among the dark elves and punishing them, he will instead merely do what my aunt did to me and banish the entire dark elf race, letting them become the drow and the slaves of Lolth, who will turn them into monsters and set them against each other as well as the elves and dwarves. And he will banish an entire race to her because she was once his wife, before she tried to kill him. He’ll let her torture and twist them into a race of evil degenerates because he remembers how good the pillow talk was.
Kasserine returned with a tall Sun elf. She looked slightly dazed and silently sat down. Ava started to speak and suddenly looked as dazed as her mother. Iain felt a lassitude sucking at him and resisted while plastering the same dazed look on his face that he saw on Kasserine and her daughter’s as he slowly settled back into his chair. The man smiled pleasantly at Kerrik, but his voice was flat. “We need to talk, Kerrik, the child of the Princess Kasserine.”
Kerrik’s ears were still and his face calm. “Do we? If so, we won’t talk here while you have my family ensorcelled. Take us someplace secure and release them.” He glanced at Iain. Did you resist his compulsion?
Take care of my mother. I’ll be back as soon as I can, but I may have to do what he wants so he’ll leave you and my family alone until they’re safely out of his reach.
Kasserine, Ava and, as soon as he realized what was happening when most of the magic around them drained away, Iain blinked and looked around as the man looked at Kasserine. “Kerrik and I are going away for a while. You accept this as completely normal.”
She smiled at Kerrik. “Come back as soon as you can. We’ll start getting things ready.” She looked at the man. “Take care of Kerrik. I haven’t seen him in a long time and I want him back unharmed.”
“I will not harm him,” the man reassured her. He looked at Kerrik and they vanished.
Ava reached up and rubbed her forehead. “Why does my head hurt so much.”
Kasserine looked puzzled. “Mine hurts too.”
“Have some tea, ladies,” Iain said.
Kasserine watched him top off her cup. “Is there anything in this?”
“I added nothing to the tea, neither material nor magic,” Iain said. “I didn’t say it would help your headache.”
“I don’t remember letting the man that took Kerrik inside the house,” Kasserine said suddenly. “What did he do to me?”
Iain sipped his tea and tried to look inconspicuous. Ava turned to him. “What happened?”
“I’m not sure you want to know the answer to that question.”
Kasserine looked at him. “Do you know what happened to us?”
Iain sighed. “I have some idea.” He grimaced. “Normally I’d just talk around this without really saying anything, but I do want to get to know you and Ava and I don’t want to play that game while we’re getting to know each other. But I caution you that there are some things you may not want to know. Having said that, I’ll answer your questions.”
“Who was that man and what did he do to me?”
“That was Corellon and he used magic to bewitch you and Ava. He tried it on me too, and I pretended it worked.”
Kasserine looked surprised. “That was my god?”
“One of them, yes, and it was one of his avatars.”
“Why was he here?”
“You will remember that, from time to time, his priests have been trying to get you to call Kerrik home,” Iain said quietly. “You refused them, using the excuse that your sister had forbidden it. Their god wants him for something. Now that he finally returned to Evermeet, that god came to tell him to do whatever it is. I do not know, nor do I really want to know what that mission is, lest it suddenly involve me too. Having said that, if Kerrik asks for my assistance, I will provide it.”
“Because he’s your teacher,” Ava asked.
“He’s my friend. I don’t have many friends and I treasure the few I have.”
“You would do that much for a friend?”
Iain shrugged. “I certainly wouldn’t do anything like that for a stranger or an acquaintance.”
Kasserine eyed him over her teacup. “You sound like how you described my son as a sociopath.”
“That would be accurate as I am one. People that aren’t important to me mean almost nothing to me unless they become an obstacle. People that are important to me,” he shrugged. “I am a very loyal friend, but I can afford to be because I am also very miserly about who I let become a friend.” He drained his cup. “Do you have a room that’s mostly empty or do we need to go outside so I can see what’s in my Dikon?”
“All of the rooms are like this one,” Ava said. “What is this Dikon?”
“It’s a storage device that you’ll have to see. We’ll need to go into the garden then,” Iain smiled at Kasserine. “I don’t suppose you grow the herbs for this tea.”
“I do or else we couldn’t afford to have it,” she said quietly. “It’s actually quite expensive and the only reason we have those herbs is because I brought seeds from the palace and until now I have managed to move them with us each time we go to a new home. I sell most of what I harvest and it helps us to get by.”
“It’s quite good. I want to take seeds with us so we can grow it at my home.”
“It’s already too late this fall,” Kasserine said. “I’ve already planted the seeds so they’ll germinate next spring. Unless you want to stay until next fall, there are no seeds.”
“I might be able to help with that,” Iain said. “But first, we need to go to the garden.” He rose and gestured towards the door. “Ladies first.”
“I don’t like having people behind me either,” Kasserine said as Ava headed down the hallway. “How about we walk together instead.”
She glanced at him as they followed Ava. “Do you find my daughter acceptable?”
“With the understanding that we’ve only just met, yes, I do. She’s pretty and very smart, and both of those have always interested me. Hopefully she will like me too.”
It wasn’t a long walk to the garden and Ava was waiting for them with an amused expression. “Do you find my mother acceptable as well? She’s also pretty and smart.”
Iain had wondered how good her hearing was. Now he knew as he nodded. “With the same understanding about just meeting her, I do. Do you really want me to court her?”
“I insist you do so as part of courting me.”
Iain dug out one of the Dikon as he looked at Kasserine. “And how do you feel about this?”
She looked uncomfortable. “The last time I was courted was before I became pregnant with my son. I wouldn’t know how to behave and I’m far too old for you.”
“He’s a dragon, Mother. He could be older than Evermeet itself. And I’ve never been courted, so we’ll learn what it’s like together.”
Iain activated the Dikon. “It sounds like she’s going to insist,” he said to Kasserine as the square container materialized in front of him. It was a metal cube two meters on a side and sealed with door that had a thumbprint reader on it.
Ava was staring at the container. “Is that like a bag of holding? Mother has one of those, but it’s not like this.”
“Ava, Iain doesn’t need to know about my possessions,” Kasserine said sharply.
“Sorry, Mother,” Ava said apologetically. “Iain just seems so comfortable I forgot.”
Iain blinked. “Comfortable? Me?”
“I like him too, Ava, and he does feel like he’s been with us for a long time,” Kasserine admitted, “but we have only just met.”
Iain frowned, closed his eyes and quickly examined himself magically. If Kerrik had used magic to make him more likeable, he couldn’t find it, so he opened his eyes and shrugged before using his thumbprint to unlock the door to the container. “This is something like a bag of holding, but it’s nothing you’d be familiar with otherwise.” He opened the door. “Well, this must be the trade goods.”
Kasserine came around behind him so she could look over his shoulder. The interior of the container was filled with rows of closely fitted shelves. Iain touched one and smiled as he tugged on it and it rolled out as he pulled. “Cute. They’re trays.” He examined the contents and grunted.
“Are those pearls?”
Kasserine was so close that Iain could feel her breath on his neck. Instead of answering, he lifted a large black pearl from the row of identical pearls it lay with and held it over his shoulder. “Take it.” She plucked it from his fingers as he looked the tray over. There were neat rows of white, varying shades of gray darkening to black and some gold and champagne colored ones. Sizes varied but these pearls were so flawless and uniform that Iain knew they’d been manufactured. On this world, however, pearls were only harvested as wild or natural pearls. Culturing was unknown and any of these pearls would sell for a premium.
Iain pushed the shelf back and tried some others. He found a small number of other gemstones, amber, salt, small bricks of tea, more bags of cinnamon, ginger, pepper and other spices as well as other small valuable objects, including some gold and silver jewelry ranging in design from simple to very ornate and begemmed.
“Well, I shouldn’t starve with this supply of stuff,” Iain said. He turned to look back at Kasserine, who had been joined by her daughter looking at the pearl. “Could you sell that for a decent price?”
She nodded. “This is a royal quality pearl and looks flawless.” Her head came up and she held it out. “I could get a small fortune for it. However, the jewelers know I’ve already sold my jewels. It would bring questions and possibly thieves.”
“How long would that rent a room here?”
She smiled. “Take it. This pearl would easily buy a house like this one.”
Iain tucked it back where it belonged. “That kind of trouble I don’t want to bring you.” He returned the container to the ball it had come from and swapped it for the one still in the pouch. “Later I will have to go shopping, but let’s see what’s behind door number two.” He released the container. On this one, the door had a piece of paper taped to it and Iain pulled it off to read. He gave a low whistle. “I think your money problems are solved, at least in the short term. If this paper is correct then this container is full of money.”
“How much,” Kasserine asked curiously.
“According to this, there are forty thousand gold coins and sixty thousand silver coins in here. Apparently, Theodora wanted to make sure I had enough money for any incidentals.” He looked at Kasserine as he placed his thumb on the lock. “This is available for you to help with the move and any supplies or whatnot.” He opened the door and chuckled. “See how the top shelves are gold in color and the lower shelves are silver? That’s how to quickly know where to go for the coins.” He pulled out a silver shelf. The coins were stacked neatly in evenly spaced rows and divided up in small parchment rolls. Iain pulled one of the rolls out. “Each of these is a hundred coins.” He turned and handed the roll to Kasserine. “Here. This is yours. If you need more, just let me know.”
She stared at it before holding it out. “I can’t accept this.”
Iain smiled. “You most certainly can accept it. Now we need to discover why you won’t accept it and see if I can convince you that you should accept it.”
“It’s not mine.”
“Did you hear me say that this is yours? That means I transferred ownership to you, making it yours.” Her expression turned mulish and Iain thought quickly. “You’re trained in elven magic and fighting, right?”
She frowned and nodded slowly. “I am a considered an expert in both.”
“I want to get some lessons in the elven styles of martial arts and magic. If I were elven nobility, how many lessons would that hundred silver coins get me? I also want to stay here, so include rent but I’ll pay my way as far as food goes.” He pulled another tube of parchment from the rows and dropped in her hand with the first. “I don’t like gruel. I expect decent food.”
He watched her expression lighten and she chuckled. “You’re not elven nobility and if I were to charge their rates this would get you a month of lessons.”
“Kasserine, I am a dragon and I am far better than any noble elf. Still, I’m not going to let you cheat me and charge me dragon rates.” She blinked as his tone suddenly became harsh. “I expect to be charged at least as much as you’d charge some idiot prince who wanted to learn to swordfight and I expect this money will make my lessons a priority for you. I’ve never trained with an elf so I expect you’ll have to start at the beginning. Do we have an agreement?”
Kasserine looked at the money and back at him. “Why are you doing this?”
“I understand if you’re too proud to take charity. I happen to be that way too and what I was offering wasn’t charity. But if I am going to be staying here while we’re packing your house up then I need to contribute with more than my mouth. The merchants here would probably rob me blind for several weeks while I was figuring out the relative values of things, so shopping is out, at least for the time being. Instead, I’m buying lessons, first in marital arts and later in magic. And I want Ava to like me, so this is helping without insulting her mother, whom I may also be courting if she decides I am. That means I’d like her mother to like me too.”
She smiled slowly. “I will need another roll of coins if I am to properly equip you as a young noble elf should be.” Iain handed it to her without a word. “Lessons start tomorrow at sunup, here in the garden. We train the body and the mind together and you will be doing a lot of exercising to build up your body before ever touching a weapon.”
“Ava, we will put Iain in the guest room.” She looked sternly at her daughter. “That means you must move your things out of it.”
Iain frowned. “It’s not her room, is it? I don’t want her removed so I have a place to stay.”
Kasserine smiled. “That is very kind of you, Iain, but we have not had guests stay with us since we moved to Drelagara and so Ava was using the guest room to store some things that she wished to keep but did not wish to keep in her room.”
“I see.” He carefully pushed all of the drawers of the storage unit completely shut, returned it to the Dikon and looked at Ava as he tucked it into his pouch. “Do you need some help cleaning my room?”
She laughed. “I do. I’d like to be done by the time my tutor arrives for my lessons.”
“Then let’s get started.”
“Wait.” Kasserine stepped in front of Iain. She kissed him gently on the right cheek. “I welcome you into my home as my guest.”
Iain was surprised, but thanks to Kerrik’s memories he knew how to respond to the formal greeting. He kissed her on the right cheek. “I thank you for the honor of accepting me as your guest.” He smiled and continued with the archaic form of the ritual that had been the custom when Kerrik was a child but had since fallen into disuse. “My sword is your sword, my bow is your bow and my shield is your shield.”
Her eyes went wide for an instant before she smiled warmly at him. “You honor me with your greeting, Iain.” The smile turned impish. “I had best hurry to procure your equipment so you will have that sword, shield and bow should I truly need them.”
He chuckled. “Indeed, that might help.”
Iain leaned back in his chair and picked up his cup of tea. “I would like to say that was an excellent meal.” It had been a rich stew of vegetables with an interesting assortment of spices. There was no meat, but meat was expensive and, until this afternoon, Kasserine had been almost out of cash.
“Thank you,” Kasserine said. “Ava assisted me and she is turning into a better cook than I am.” Ava just grinned merrily.
“The only weird part was not helping,” Iain said. “We feed anywhere from twenty to over three hundred at a meal, depending on who is home or not and I tend to help with either the meals or the cleanup afterwards.”
Ava gestured magnanimously at the table. “You have my permission to clean up so I don’t have to.”
“Thank you. I’ll need you to show me where the dishes and things go after they’re dry or otherwise I can rummage through the cabinets until I figure it out.”
Kasserine shook her head. “You are my guest. You shouldn’t be trying to help us with these things.”
“I feel the way I do about that because we have different customs and they’re clashing a little. My guests don’t have to help either unless they want to. For me, I keep hearing the voices of two of my daughters, who are named Olivia and Seraphina. They’re gently chiding me for sitting down and watching when I should be helping because they know that I know that it’s only good manners to help. Besides, if I am helpful, it will hopefully convince your daughter and you to let me stay and later court Ava when she comes of age.”
Ava regarded him curiously. “How do they know that you know this?”
“Because I have been correcting them on their manners when they forget them. I am their father after all.”
Kasserine cocked her head. “How old are your children?”
“They range in age from six years old down to less than a year.”
“How many of them are from this elven woman that you say we might not accept as being elven?”
“None. She’s pregnant right now.”
“And this other elven woman?”
“We haven’t had any children and she isn’t pregnant.”
“Why do you think we won’t accept them as elven?”
“I said you might not, not that you wouldn’t. You two seem to be more open minded than some elves and definitely more than the sun elves.” Kasserine smiled slightly as he continued. “But they are not Teu-tel-quessir and are not from any elven race that you would identify as such. I say they’re human and they say they’re the elven race of a larger group called pokegirls. Technically I suppose they’re both.”
“How can they be both,” Ava asked.
“Certain powerful and usually evil wizards can use magic to blend different creatures together to make new ones which are a mix of the components of the original creatures,” Iain said calmly. “An evil wizard on the world I came here from did just that using humans, animals and more fantastic creatures in the mix and created breeds of female creatures that he sent forth to attack the people. Because of the magic available as well as the transportation network that existed at the time, he sent them all over the world and in such numbers that they caused great damage.”
“That sounds horrific,” Ava said.
“It was. The disease that came around the same time they did was even worse, and it killed nine out of ten living things everywhere and depopulated the entire world. But these females were not, for the most part, inherently evil themselves and when they realized what they’d done, many of them rebelled against their creator and came to help the people they’d been fighting. Others went wild and started having wild children who are causing trouble with their attacks. Those creatures are the pokegirls. I say they’re human because humans were one of the things their creator used to make them and they can have children with humans when they reach a certain point in their life. Before that, they don’t need a mate to have children, which is why the wild ones are so much trouble.”
“How terrible,” Kasserine said. “These elves are some of this wizard’s creations?”
“Could they have been mixed with the Teu-tel-quessir?”
Iain shrugged. “It’s possible. This evil wizard traveled to many universes, but there are many worlds where there are races of pointed eared humanoids who call themselves elves. Some wouldn’t recognize you as elven, such as the elves from Middle Earth.” He sighed. “The problem for my ladies and the other pokegirls is that this evil wizard deliberately made them incomplete.”
Ava frowned. “What does that mean?”
“If they don’t have a human or one of a few other races to interact with,” he glanced at Kasserine, “sexually, on a regular basis, then they will go wild and lose their intelligence. That intelligence can be restored, but again that involves sex.”
She seemed to consider this for moment. “Can they leave you if they wished to?”
“They can. I would never keep anyone against their will except for a prisoner. And I don’t keep people prisoner for very long either.”
Ava frowned. “You let them go?”
“Sometimes. Other times I execute them.” He frowned. “Well, the last two I was asked to let someone else execute and I did.”
“You execute your own prisoners?” Kasserine looked at him curiously. “Why?”
“As the clan leader, I have the final decision on a sentence of death. I carry out the executions by my own choice, so I remember that I chose to end a sentient life. I feel it reminds me to consider all of the alternatives and not act too hastily to condemn people to death just because someone else kills them for me or out of convenience.”
“And when your clan grows so large that you cannot carry out every one of the executions,” Kasserine asked. “What then?”
“We don’t condemn that many people,” Iain said. “And the satellite clans police themselves with the inner clan’s oversight.”
“What would our status there be?”
“You start as outlander, which is anyone who isn’t clan. But as our guests and with the hope that eventually you will become clan, you’ll be treated as one of the inner clan and family.”
“If either one of us were to marry you,” Kasserine glanced at her daughter, “or even both of us, what would our status be?”
“You would be asked to join the inner clan.”
“So there is no automatically becoming clan?”
“Only if you’re born into it or if your mother or father joins the clan and you are underage. So if you joined the clan before she became an adult, Ava would automatically be allowed to join it.”
“Elven law says she isn’t an adult,” Kasserine observed. “What would clan law say about her age and place in society?”
“Clan law would defer to you, as her mother, unless she was obviously an adult and you were trying to keep control of her for some nefarious reason. Your decision of when she became an adult would be documented into clan tradition and help provide us with a guideline for any future Teu-tel-quessir who joined the clan or if we adopted any of the Teu-tel-quessir orphans we might encounter.”
“Are any of the children you now have adopted,” Ava asked.
“There are two. Their mother was satellite clan and the close friend of one of my wives., who is also the leader of that satellite clan When their mother was killed, we asked the children if we could adopt them and they accepted us as their parents.” He shook his head. “It was pretty fucked up. Their mother was killed by their aunt, her sister, whom we later had to execute for her crimes. All the girls wanted to know about the execution was that their mother’s killer was dead. They lost all of their blood family in one vicious and terrible instant.”
Kasserine was watching him with one eyebrow raised. “You cursed.”
“I did, and I do. I should warn you now that other people have tried to get me to stop and it hasn’t worked so far. If you want, I’ll try to keep it to a minimum around you, but sometimes I’ll slip.”
“A minimum would be none,” Kasserine observed with an amused glint in her eyes.
“Up to this point, that is what you’ve gotten,” Iain replied. “But perfection is a journey that never ends.”
“I understand that,” Kasserine said. “I have endeavored to keep Ava from learning to curse.”
“That’s admirable. Our rule is that there are things that adults do and that children cannot because they are not adults. Deciding if they have to wear clothes and cursing are two of those things and, until they are adults, their mother decides for them what they will do. Once they become an adult, the choice becomes theirs to make mistakes with.”
“Some of your clan do not wear clothes,” Kasserine asked.
“One woman in particular, whose name is Zareen, chooses not to wear clothing at almost any time. Others chose not to wear some or all of their clothes at different occasions, such as when swimming with the rest of the family.”
“Do you wear clothes then?”
“When we’re swimming, I am surrounded by beautiful women to whom sex is a very important thing. I keep my clothes on so as to keep mischief to a minimum. I agree that sex is rather important, but not everyone likes orgies and so we keep things like that private out of politeness.”
“You don’t mind them being naked around you,” Ava asked.
Iain grinned. “Not only do I not mind it, I appreciate it very much and so I encourage it.”
“What do your children say about you.” Kasserine asked. “And would you like more tea?”
“That would be very nice.” She refilled his cup and Iain took a drink. “Pokegirls have special powers depending on what they were mixed with. Some of them can detect whether or not people are good or not and some of my daughters have this power. I’m telling you this so you understand why my some of my girls say I’m a good bad man. They all say I’m the best father in the universes, but I think they’re a little biased.” He pulled out his phone. “Would you like to see pictures of some of them?”
Kasserine eyed the phone. “Magic?”
“No. This is a product of technology. Now, it is a product of principles that have not been discovered by the elven scientists, if you even have any, or alchemists or sages anywhere on this world.”
Ava smiled. “There are elven sages who will confidently state that all things have been discovered by elves that needs to be discovered. My tutor is one of them.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard people say that before. However, your sages haven’t even discovered that if you mix fifteen parts saltpeter, three parts charcoal and two parts sulfur, you get a compound that burns very vigorously and, if put in a sealed container and lit, will explode with enough force to shatter stone.”
“I have those chemicals in my lab,” Kasserine said. “We can prove the truth of your statement.”
“You mean besides using your ring to know that I’m telling the truth?”
“My ring can only tell that your statement that elven sages have not discovered this property is true. You have not said that this property is real.”
Iain grinned. “Very good. And it’s good to see that you’re both smart and pretty.”
Kasserine cocked her head. “Is that important?”
“Like every person in the world, I have a type, which, for me, means there are certain women I am attracted to more than others. I like women who are smart and strong willed. If they’re pretty that about makes them perfect for me.”
“Then you should be attracted to Ava as she is very intelligent.”
“I already said I did and I am.” Iain nodded. “It just got reinforced earlier when I watched her with her tutor. She’s smarter than he is.”
Ava looked surprised. “I am?”
“Several times you asked questions during his lecture that he obviously had to think about before answering. The questions were very good and pointed out some flaws in what he’d told you so far.” He stood and began gathering up the dinner dishes. “If you want me to make some gunpowder, I will, but making it inside would just create a mess and sulfurous smell when it burns. It would be better to do that outside and I’d like to do the dishes first.”
Kasserine rose. “I will get the chemicals. Ava, help Iain.”
Ava sighed as Iain took the plates towards the kitchen. “Yes, Mother.”
Kasserine’s house was on the edge of town and so her back yard opened out into the plains where the moon horses lived. That made it convenient for Kasserine to take Iain on a run as part of the first morning’s exercises.
Iain had never really enjoyed running the way that some people did, but he’d gotten pretty good at it due to April and Sofia’s inclusion of a lot of running for conditioning training. Kasserine’s idea of a good run was shorter in distance than the ones he did training with the clan, but she pushed harder and made him run faster over the shorter distance to compensate.
As they saw the house come back into view, Iain reflected that at least there hadn’t been one of April’s fiendish obstacle courses included as part of the run. That helped, as did the fact that Kasserine looked more tired than he felt.
They stopped a little way from the yard and Iain offered Kasserine his canteen. While she drank, he stretched some to keep his muscles from complaining as much later.
“Your stamina is excellent,” Kasserine said as she gave him the canteen back. “Is it because you are a dragon?”
“It’s because the clan trains for war and the women who run the training program are merciless with their victims.”
Kasserine laughed. “I can hear the fondness for them in your voice that belies your complaint about their teaching.”
“That wasn’t a complaint. We are at war, with the wild pokegirls and with some nations around us who want to conquer the lands we live in. Right now we have a cease fire with most of these nations, but a cease fire is not a peace.”
Kasserine nodded. “It is not.” She started to say something else, but a loud explosion sounded from the garden and a dark cloud billowed into the air as someone started screaming in agony. “Ava!” She was off like a shot, followed closely by Iain.
The table where Ava studied had been shattered by some force that had left black marks streaking the top of it and she lay nearby, curled up into a ball as she continued to cry out in pain. Iain dropped to his knees beside her as Kasserine crouched to examine her daughter. He clapped a hand on Ava’s forehead and she went limp. “Pull her legs straight.”
Kasserine quickly straightened her daughter’s legs and Iain rolled Ava onto her back. “What happened?”
Iain was peering intently at Ava. “I think your smart daughter paid way too much attention last night to what I was doing and not enough attention to my warnings.” He summoned his knife and slit Ava’s shirt open from bottom to top. The knife vanished and he pulled the halves apart. “The sulfur smell, the smoke and the table suggest she made some gunpowder, packed it into a container to make a bomb and set it off.” Blood was welling up in a hole in Ava’s abdomen and running down her side to soak into the grass beneath her. “When the bomb exploded, it threw pieces of whatever she used as the casing in all directions and one of them is still inside her. It didn’t ricochet, though, so this is a pretty easy extraction.” He drove two fingers all the way into the wound and felt around, using his perception to guide his progress. “Got it,” he grunted as he pulled the fingers back out. Between them he was clutching a shard of pottery that Iain tossed to the side. Then he pressed the hand flat against her stomach. “I’m going to heal her now.”
Kasserine glanced up at him. “You are a priest?”
He chuckled as the wound began to close. “I am, but I’m still in my novitiate and not nearly advanced enough to cast any divine spells. I’m using my truewizard magic to heal her, as I was taught to by my clan’s primary healer. One day you’ll be able to do this too.” The hole finished closing, leaving no sign it had ever existed. “She’s got some bruising from the concussive force and she’s going to have a spectacular pair of black eyes later today, but I’ve healed all of the tissue damage so the black eyes will fade fairly quickly and she’ll be completely mobile when she wakes up from the healing sleep I put her into.” He’d also healed her shattered eardrums and other injuries but didn’t feel the need to detail every single bone she’d broken in the blast. She must have been leaning over the bomb when it went off to be hurt so badly by a small black powder device.
“Could you wake her up?”
“I could,” Iain said as he pulled Ava’s shirt back together to cover her nude torso before wiping his fingers off on the bottom of it. “But my teacher says it’s better to let patients wake up on their own. She should be up before the evening meal.” He slid his arms under Ava and stood, lifting her with him. “So we can put her to bed or someplace where you can keep an eye on her if you’d like.”
“Put her on the dining room table,” Kasserine said as she stood. “I’ll clean her up and then put her to bed until she wakes.” Her eyes flicked down to her daughter and back up to him. “Thank you for saving her life. I’ll never be able to repay this.”
“There is no debt for this between us, Kasserine. I did this freely and without expectation of recompense from either of you. The fact is that,” he said as he headed for the house, “it’s pretty hard to court a dead girl. And having children with one is almost impossible.” He glanced over his shoulder at her. “If nothing else, it’s kind of my fault she blew herself up. If I hadn’t shown you two how to make gunpowder she couldn’t have made that bomb.”
“What happened to Ava is her fault,” Kasserine said with a tone of finality as Iain carefully deposited Ava on the dining room table. “She is young and impetuous and still does not think before acting. I am pleased that the lesson did not cost her more than bruises and I pray she will remember it.”
“Yeah, well, hopefully the next time she makes a bomb she’ll set it off at a reasonable distance from her.”
“You think she might do this again?” Kasserine worked the ruined shirt off of her daughter and tossed the bloody thing to the side.
“I don’t know. I do know that when I was a kid I had a fascination with things that burned and things that went boom.” When Kasserine looked blankly at him, he smiled. “Things that go boom means things that explode. From a distance, the sound of an explosion is a boom.”
“I see. Did you ever grow out of these fascinations?”
“I did not.”
Kasserine glanced up at him with an amused smile. “Are you saying that you are still childish in some ways?”
“I am childish in many ways,” Iain confessed. She laughed. “I’ll head back outside and clean up what I can from the explosion. And you can later tell Ava that while I wanted to ogle her nude body, I didn’t because I didn’t want to do so unless she wanted me to see it.”
Kasserine chuckled. “She and I both appreciate that, Iain. Just remember that if she wants to show it to you, that’s fine, but there will be no touching until she’s an adult.”
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
Ganieda – Snugglebunny Splice
Heather - Elfqueen
Dianthus Barbatus – Elfqueen
Marguerite - Unicorn
Allison – Umbrea (Outer Harem Alpha)
Daphne - Whorizard
Lynn - Growlie
Chuck – Doggirl
Ryan – Unicorn
Winifred - Rack (German)
Rosemary - Mistoffeles (Uruguayan)
Silver - Pegaslut
Joyce – Milktit
Melanie – Iron Chef
Siobhan – Nurse Joy (Glasgow)
Golden Cloud – equine unicorn
Arianrhod -Fey Goblin Female
74 male Goblins
89 female Goblins
Queendom / Outer Harem
Dionne - Elfqueen
Adrianna - Elfqueen
Heltu - Wet Queen
14 Wet Elves
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
Geraldine - Human
Mother s & Children