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Loose Threads

Ninety Seven


            The creature was a writhing mass of tentacles that weighed somewhere on the order of two tonnes. The darkness of the ruined stone structure they were in almost completely hid its dark gray hide as it floated in the air several meters away from him. It shrieked in a high ultrasonic tone that would cause severe headaches in most people even though they couldn’t hear it.

            “What you think about my presence here isn’t important,” Iain said calmly, glancing around the room out of habit. It had three ways in or out, and the creature was partially blocking one of them. “I am only here to ask you a question. As soon as you answer it, I will leave.” The creature shrieked again. Iain shrugged. “Yes, humans can actually communicate and we are intelligent. It’s just you can’t hear their voices just like most of them can’t hear yours. I am using a spell to adjust the different sound levels and translate languages so we can communicate. Here’s my question: Where do the lost ones go?”

            The creature shrieked again.

            Iain sighed. “That’s a lie. Very few things can destroy the already dead. I think you know that. I think you’re hoping I don’t. But I do. This is the Lands of the Dead, both for your people and for mine. It’s just your region isn’t really all that near to the region where most of the humans live. Look, just answer the question, but be truthful. If you don’t know the answer, tell me.” The creature’s tentacles slowed and it shrieked again. “See,” Iain said, “that wasn’t so difficult, was it? You don’t know where the lost ones go. Thank you for your time and I will be leaving now.”

            The creature shrieked again and Iain’s head came around. “We’re not alone.” He turned as two more tentacled creatures entered the chamber he was in, one using each entrance. All three screamed together and Iain swayed. “Fuck, that hurt.” The first one shrieked again and Iain’s eyes narrowed. “’Capture it’? Is that why that dwarf sent me here, you’re slavers?” One creature lashed out with its tentacles and Iain sidestepped as he drew his swords.

            They were obviously used to their victim being incapacitated from their sonic attack since they weren’t advancing in any coordinated fashion, in fact one, the first one that he’d been questioning, was much closer than the other two and so Iain attacked it first in flurry of blows that sheared tentacle and flesh in a blur of steel. After hacking on it long enough, the creature began dissolving into a fine mist that slowly dispersed in the air. Iain spun and laughed inside when he saw the other two creatures were flying as fast as they could away from him. Sadly, for them, it wasn’t faster than he could pursue, and he chopped each of them into pieces and watched them melt away.

            “You can’t be killed, since you’re already dead,” he said as he sheathed his weapons, “but you’ll spend the next few years rejuvenating. Maybe, during that time, you’ll decide to take up another career path.” He checked himself for injuries, but the creatures hadn’t been fast enough to touch him. “Now, what to do about that dwarf,” he asked himself musingly. Suddenly he chuckled. “I have been spending too much time around Celestials. For a moment I wanted to stop that dwarf before she could get anyone else sold into slavery.” He shook his head slowly. “Still, I don’t want to get a reputation for being able to be pushed around and she did betray me into the tentacles of these fellows. That sort of behavior does need to be discouraged, especially towards me and definitely here in the Lands of the Dead.” He changed to his small dragon form and vaulted into the air to fly away.


            Iain stopped outside Jane’s Eatery and checked around him to make sure nobody was following him. He’d had this odd feeling that someone was behind him ever since the incident with the tentacled slavers. He doubted it was one of them. The Lands of the Dead were heavily segregated by species and world of origin and the tentacled beings came from a world vastly different from Earth. They couldn’t breathe oxygen, instead needing a very specific oxy-helium mixture with much higher levels of helium than occurred in the atmosphere Iain could normally breathe. They could only function in the Earthlike portion of the Lands for a few hours before having to return to the part where their dead were sent. Being dead, they didn’t really need to breathe at all, but the dead took great comfort in what they remembered and if they believed something was real desperately enough, for them it was.

            It was possible that the tentacled creature’s friends had sent word to the dwarf who had tricked Iain into seeking them out in the first place, but it was unlikely that she and her compatriots would be looking for him here. Where they lived, he smiled at the word, was essentially several days flight from here. He’d gone there as part of his hunt for his missing family members after hearing the rumors that the dwarf in question could tell him about where lost souls went.

            He also had finally decided not to try and find her to punish her for her deceit. Yes, she’d lied to him, but if he tried to hunt down everyone who did that, he’d be doing nothing else for the rest of existence. He wouldn’t forget her, however. And if he saw her again, well at that point he might spend the time to indulge himself just a little.

            He gave a mental sigh and pushed open the door, ignoring the bell. He had to be very cautious how much time he spent continually in the Lands. They were not for the living, not even necromancers, and if he was here too long, it started to affect him. It slowly wore away what humanity he still had, and it allowed baser things to stir, things that it was sometimes hard to put back to sleep when he returned to his family. Things that wanted him to want things that were unhealthy, at least according to others that he cared for.

            The other problem was that time wasn’t a constant here, and the living weren’t built to adapt to faster or slower time. It effected the dead too, but each experienced time at whatever rate they needed to resolve any outstanding issues that kept them from moving on. This was part of the magic of the Lands. This was supposed to be a waystation on the passage from life to death, even if people like Matilda, who stood behind the counter, seemed to be here for a very long time. Eventually, even she would move on.

            He nodded to Matilda. “Afternoon.”

            She removed the ever-present cigarette from her mouth to smile at him. “Necromancer, you are becoming one of my most regular customers.”

            “Thank you. How are you?”

            Matilda took a deep drag on her cigarette. “I do not change, Necromancer.”

            Iain shook his head slightly as he looked around the restaurant. “Sometimes I wonder why I even try,” he muttered. Over his visits he had seen some others eating here, but never very many and there seemed to be no pattern to the visits of other patrons. This time there was one other, a hooded woman who was, of course, seated at the table where he’d met Kelvin so long ago. It was irrational, but he considered it to be his booth. Curls of red hair escaped from her hood and framed a slender face.

            Iain frowned and cocked his head curiously before walking quickly towards the table and the woman, who was focused on her meal. “Barb, I have been looking everywhere for you and the others. I never expected to find you here.”

            Her head came up and she stared at him for a few seconds before her eyes went wide. “Iain?” She peered closely at him. “It is you. I had given up hope of ever finding you again in the Lands.” She slowly stood, watching him warily. “Or are you just another cruel trick to be played?” A thread of anger wove through her question. “I won’t put up with those tricks anymore.”

            “There will be no fighting in my place,” Matilda yelled. “If you want to fight, leave now!”

            Iain glanced back at Matilda but Dianthus spoke before he could. “Shut up, worm,” she snarled.

            “Worm? Worm?” Matilda waved her cigarette angrily in their direction. “What gives you the right to call me that?”

            “I know what you did,” Dianthus hissed. “You report to them. We all came here looking for Iain, and you informed on us. It let them find us. I would destroy you if I could.”

            Matilda scowled. “If that’s true, why are you here now?”

            “I managed to evade them again,” Dianthus smiled coldly. “Now I want them to find me and learn that I too have escaped them forever. The easiest way to do that is come here so you can tell your masters where I am.” She turned worried eyes on Iain. “You should have never come here. Return to the living, now!”

            Iain had no idea what she was talking about. “What is going on?”

            Dianthus’ eyes narrowed angrily. “Grasp my cloak but do not touch my skin.”

            Iain clutched the hem of her cloak. “Now what?”

            The scene changed around them. “Release me,” Dianthus said.

            He let her go. “What is going on,” he repeated as he looked around. They were standing on a muddy hump in a swamp. Leprous looking trees surrounded them and the air was redolent with the stink of water and decomposing matter. It was dark and the only light came from dimly growing lichens that covered some of the trees.

            “Matilda is a spy for the Powers.” Dianthus said. “She led them to us.”

            Iain took a firm grip on his suddenly surging temper. “What happened?”

            Dianthus was scanning around them. “Keep your voice down. This isn’t human territory and the things that live here would like to consume us.” She watched him check his swords. “Some of them can’t be hurt by steel.”

            “Then take us somewhere we can talk.”

            The Elfqueen shook her head. “Matilda is already informing them about our visit. Once they know I’ve resurfaced they will hunt me down. And once they know you’re back, they’ll unleash all of their resources to find us. They’ll start by using their human servants and those will hesitate before trying to come here.”

            Iain took a deep breath and slowly let it out, emptying his lungs as he did. “What happened?”

            “You took Scheherazade and Irena and returned them to life. That angered the Powers That Be. They’ve been waiting for you to die so they could exact their revenge. When we were killed, they saw an opportunity to punish you, once they realized we were associated with you.”

            Iain forced his rising fury down. “What did they do?”

            “They made time flow faster for us,” Dianthus said. “Much faster.”

            Iain paled. “How long has it been for you?”

            “Over a thousand years,” she said. “It’s been the same for all of us. It has been so long that everyone else but me has moved on. They lost hope that you were coming for them.” She dropped her head. “For us. I too had finally decided I was done waiting. That’s why I was at Matilda’s. This was going to be my last day here. When the Servants of the Powers arrived to capture me, I was going to step through my doorway and escape them forever.” Her head lifted and she met his gaze “How long have I been dead for you?”

            “A little more than a month. I am so sorry that I couldn’t save you.” He started to reach for her and winced when she backed up quickly.

            She smiled warmly at the flash of pain in his eyes. “It isn’t that I hate you, Iain. It’s that the Powers and the Servants can track me if they’re close enough, but they can’t track you. They will locate me. And if you touch me, they can use the residue of my death to track you.” She shook her head and gave a low chuckle. “And, even after a thousand years, I want your touch more than anything else I can imagine. If you touch me now I may not let you go for years.”

            Iain let his hand drop. “You know I will do anything I can for you. Is there anything I can do to help?”

            “There is one thing, but you hate it.”

            “I don’t care if it involves me being the girl for a bunch of burly men or Dildoqueens if it saves you,” Iain said quietly. “You are mine and I am not giving you up unless you absolutely cannot bear to be with me.”

            Her eyes searched his. “You can carry me out with you.”

            “I don’t know what you mean. How can I do that?”

            “I have spent my time here learning and fighting, Iain, so I could be my best for you. One of the things I learned was how to ride someone. Danu rode you to come to our world, remember?”

            Iain remembered well how much he’d hated it, but he’d accept far worse to save Dianthus. “It hasn’t been a year and a day.”

            “That is only a requirement if I am to walk out of here under my own power, like Pandora did. If I ride you, you would be stealing my dead soul from the Lands. I would need a body to inhabit, but I think I remember you saying that we had bodies waiting for us.”

            “I did and you do.” He smiled slightly. “Even if you didn’t, we have your DNA and I would be willing to carry you until we grew you one.” He braced himself. “What do I have to do?”

            “I am not a goddess, Iain. I can’t promise you I won’t hurt you even worse than Danu did.”

            “Will I survive carrying you, even if I have to go into a medic to do so?”

            She nodded slowly. “Yes.”

            “Then I am taking you with me.” He raised a finger when she started to speak. “No more discussion. Do it.”

            “Once I touch you, the Servants will be able to track you. You cannot stay here for long after that.”

            Iain opened the portal back to the Theodora. “Then I won’t stay long after you’re riding me.” He smiled and held out his arms. “So now you kiss me and I take you home.”

            “You will need to kiss my body so I can leave you and enter it.”

            “Woman, enough talking. Start kissing!”

            Dianthus threw herself into his arms and kissed him fiercely. She flared silver and slowly flowed into his mouth.

            With Danu, it had been like he was breathing very humid and warm air for a handful of seconds. Dianthus, on the other hand, felt like he was trying to breathe tar as she forced her way inside him. Fortunately, holding his breath was no longer much of an issue and he waited patiently until his mouth was clear. The pressure he felt inside his chest was the same. “Are you all right?” There was no response, but he didn’t really expect one. After all, she wasn’t Danu and didn’t have the powers that a Sidhe goddess would have.

            He turned towards the portal. Behind him, a woman appeared. With his perception he could see she was wearing silvery armor and carrying a glowing two handed sword. Long golden hair swirled out behind her as she held up her hand in an imperious gesture for him to stop. “I order you to halt!” Her expression showed she expected to be obeyed.

            Iain lunged through the portal and turned as he drew his pistol. “Incoming!”

            Drones dropped from the ceiling and began a slow transit around the portal as he backpedaled. He drained the magic from the portal and it vanished.

            Theodora appeared. “I’m glad you were wrong.”

            “Me too.”

            “Who would it have been?”

            “Some kind of Servant of the Powers That Be,” Iain replied as he holstered his pistol. “She is probably saying a lot of very bad words about me right now.”

            “I’ve learned women tend to do that when you’re involved with them and they’re not clan.” Theodora’s eyes narrowed. “Your energy pattern is almost identical to when you were carrying Danu. The drones, who had been returning to their hiding places, changed direction and surrounded him. “Explain.”

            “I need to go to medical and to the clone tanks. I’m carrying Dianthus’ soul. Summon Ninhursag, April, Zareen, Irena, Candace and Ganieda to meet me there. Prep Dianthus’ body for awakening.”

            The drones drifted upwards until they floated above the height of his head and began circling him as he moved. “They’re on their way. Why Zareen?”

            “You’re worried I am a threat. If I am a threat, she’ll react fastest and hopefully kill me before I can hurt anyone. Brief her on her role.” He looked at her as he headed for the doorway. “And, for the next seventy two hours, you are ordered to kill me if I become a threat. Do not attempt to capture and do not attempt to talk me down. Acknowledge your orders.”

            Theodora didn’t look happy. “I acknowledge and accept your orders. You think you could be a threat?”

            “Dianthus knew how to crawl inside me. She claims she’s been in the Lands for a thousand years, and she is intelligent enough to have learned how to do that during that amount of time. Still, I can’t tell lies from truth, and just in case it isn’t her and it tries to take control of me,” he shrugged.

            A glowing blue sphere appeared. “You are not going to medical. I’m putting Dianthus’ body in a medic and moving it to the brig. You can try to awaken her there. There’s only one place safer than the brig and I don’t want you near the things in your lab.

            “That’s a good idea.” Iain followed the light at a quick jog, ignoring the slowly growing pain in his chest.

            Everyone he’d asked for was waiting for him in the brig. He slowed to a walk and made a beeline for the medic. “Zareen, post.”

            “No like,” Zareen said as she slipped behind him. “Do. Careful.”

            “I intend to be. Irena, Candace, when Dianthus comes out there’s no telling what will happen to me. And even if nothing happens to me, she’ll need examined, by you, Theodora and Ganieda.” He hissed as the pain jumped in his chest. “I have to kiss her while her soul leaves me. Open the medic.”

            “I will only open the top half.” Theodora said. “with the bottom sealed I can control her nervous system and keep her heart beating and her breathing normally until you’re done.” Air hissed and the top portion of the medic moved slowly upwards as it opened to reveal Dianthus’ face and chest. Iain immediately leaned over and pressed his lips against hers.

            Irena joined him. “I have been dead before,” she said quietly. “I can die again if something goes wrong. I’ll be ready to hold you up if this takes longer than you can stay bent over like that.”

            Get back, Iain said through his twee. I’ll let you know if I need help but I don’t want you near me just in case.

            “Promise us.” Ninhursag said.

            I promise I’ll admit if I need help.

            “Get away from him, Irena.”

            The Sanctuary Goth pressed something against the back of his neck and returned to standing with Candace. “Theodora, he has the medical sensor on him now.”

            “I’m reading him.”

            Don’t trust my promise? He felt something force his jaws open and begin flowing into Dianthus’ body from his. The pain was excruciating and he locked his limbs in position as he numbed his nerves. Apparently the pain wasn’t physical because it didn’t diminish at all.

            Theodora appeared between Ninhursag and April . “We don’t trust you to necessarily know when you need help.” She frowned. “After all, right now you should be writhing in agony on the floor.”

            “Iain feels he failed Dianthus and the others,” April said quietly. “He will die before he fails her again.”

            Another medic floated into the room and landed behind Iain. It opened silently. “If Candace and Irena can’t repair whatever Dianthus does to him,” Theodora said, “get him into the medic.”

            Candace looked at April. “I understand your card’s healing magic can do things our healing can’t. I’d like you to be ready to assist us.” April looked surprised and she smiled. “I know that Siobhan didn’t think your magic was of any use compared to that of a Nurse Joy. I am not so willing to dismiss your abilities so quickly. Will you help us if we need it?”

            “I’ll be ready,” April said.

            “Thank you.” She smiled. “I hope that Iain will just stand up and announce that it sucked ass to go through what he just did, but we won’t know for certain until he does.”

            It definitely does that, Iain said. Theodora, my twee is sending you everything it can on what I’m experiencing. Filter the emotional loading from it and share with my medical staff, please.

            “Oh no you don’t, Mister,” Irena announced. “I am not missing agony again. Share it all, Theodora.”

            “That would probably incapacitate you,” Theodora said. “I presume you want to enjoy his pain, not experience it.”

            “I said all, Theodora. If it’s too much for me, I’ll let you know.” She was watching Iain closely. “But just to be safe so we don’t incapacitate me completely just when Iain needs me, give me three seconds of his pain and let’s see if it’s too much for me.”

            Theodora shrugged. “Adding emotional loading to data stream in three, two, one, now.” Irena’s eyes went wide and she gave a soft moan that went on for three seconds before breaking off. “Emotional loading has been removed. How are you?”

            Irena was gasping for air. She waved a hand as Candace reached for her. I can’t talk, she sent through her twee. I was clenching my teeth so hard that I cracked several of them and if I try to speak I’ll get blood everywhere.  She gripped her jaw and her hand glowed. Then she swallowed hard. “I’m healed.” She eyed Iain. “It hurt so much that I was paralyzed. I couldn’t even scream.” She took a deep, shuddering breath. “And I really wanted to. How is it that he’s still conscious?”

            “He’s Iain,” Ganieda said with a grin. “Water is wet and Iain is stubborn.”

            This is not the worst pain I’ve had to endure, Iain said.

            “The torture,” April shook her head. “Of course.”

            While that was definitely notable, I was thinking more of Lucifer’s attempts at comedy.

            April laughed. “She isn’t very good at it, but I never found her to be painful. But if you can tell bad jokes, you should be fine.”

            “I suspect the bad jokes are an attempt to distract himself from what he’s going through,” Ninhursag said. “Irena, on the pain scale, what were you experiencing?”

            “Full body pain on a very definite ten,” Irena said instantly. “It was radiating out from my center, behind my lungs and heart, but before it reached my spine. It had more than enough power to make my entire body hurt the same, but I could feel where it was coming from.”

            I hadn’t analyzed it that completely, Iain said. But you’re right.

            “You’re not a trained medical professional either,” Irena replied, “with a mother who came with her own scalpels and the urge to explore limits.” She smiled. “I’m glad you didn’t go get her to replace me after I died, but you should have.”

            And see you every time I looked at her? No. That wouldn’t have been fair to her or to your memory.

            “Update, Dianthus has non-autonomic brain activity on the infra and delta bands,” Theodora announced. “The patterns are nonsensical, but definite.”

            “Is that significant,” Candace asked.

            “Clan historical medical records indicate that infra and delta brain wave function starts first when downloading memory information from a memory copy into a clone after someone’s death. I don’t have any idea what it might mean for a soul entering a new body, but I hope it means things are going well.”

            “What would be expected next in a download?”

            “Alpha wave formation followed by a slowly rising and falling theta pattern.” She smiled. “Alpha waves detected.”

            Iain fell backwards, landing on his butt. “Great,” he muttered as he climbed to his feet. “Now that hurts too.” He paused. “That’s better.”

            Irena grabbed his arm and pulled him the rest of the way to his feet. “There.” She frowned. “Candace, I don’t sense any injuries on him.”

            Candace grabbed Iain’s other arm. Her frown was almost identical to Irena’s. “Iain, I didn’t sense any healing magic coming from you.” She looked at him curiously. “Theodora, was he physically injured during this?”

            “His throat, esophagus and trachea were all heavily damaged during the transfer.” She cocked her head. “Now they’re not. Iain?”

            Iain gave a mental sigh at the women all staring at him and was very conscious of Zareen well within striking distance. He reached behind him and pulled off the medical sensor, which he handed to Candace. “I fixed them.”


            “When a true lycanthrope is injured, it can heal part of the injury by shifting into either its lycanthrope form or it’s human form. The image that it changes into isn’t wounded, and the shift tries to reshape the injury into uninjured because of that. We all carry in our head an image of us that is normal and uninjured. As part of my training with Caintigern, I’ve learned to use that image to remove injuries. Technically they’re not healed. Instead, the injuries are essentially deleted by resuming my normal form, which isn’t injured in my mental image of it. It takes less energy and can be faster than healing magic works.”

            Candace looked at Ninhursag, who shrugged. “You’ll probably want to consult with our wizards. My magical training isn’t sophisticated enough to deal with a lot of the things Iain pulls out of his pockets.”

            The kami Nurse Joy nodded. “I’ve sent a question about this to Dominique. Ganieda?”

            The Snugglebunny Splice was watching Iain. “Theoretically what he’s saying makes sense, but it wouldn’t be nearly as simple as he makes it sound.”

            “This is the sort of thing that makes me start thinking about how to successfully lie to you.” Iain rubbed his eyes. “This shit makes way too much extra work for me convincing people that I am rational and then all the demonstrations to prove I know what I’m talking about. Theodora, status report.”

            “Brain wave patterns are continuing to improve. I can see some of Dianthus in them, but there are significant differences.”

            “What if she’d passed through a thousand years while she was dead?”

            Theodora’s tone turned thoughtful. “Extrapolating. Yes, that would explain much of what I’m seeing.”

            Ninhursag raised an eyebrow. “A thousand years?”

            “According to her, the Powers that Be made time pass much faster for our dead than they would normally experience. It was to punish me.” Iain sounded tired and furious at the same time. “So, for them, I never came and they all eventually lost hope I would and moved on to their next step, which punishes me by taking them where I can’t get to them easily. According to Dianthus, she’s the last holdout.”

            “It took a very long time, but even I finally realized that he didn’t need me and so wasn’t coming,” Dianthus’ voice was low. “It isn’t true, but after so long it was easy to believe.” The rest of the medic unsealed and she slowly sat up. Irena helped her and she smiled at the Sanctuary Goth. “Thank you.”

            “Brainwave patterns are, with extrapolation for a thousand more years of experience, normal for Dianthus, I believe it’s her,” Theodora announced.

            “Why punish Iain,” Ninhursag asked.

            “They had use for Scheherazade and he took her away from them.” Dianthus took a deep breath. “Things smell sharper than they did there. From what I found out, they don’t normally find dead who will aid them. Most just stay in the Lands for a time and move on. Their Servants are very busy and they will eagerly accept any dead who offer to work for them. Scheherazade was a Celestial, so some of the Powers were happy to bring her into their service. She made their little fiefdom bigger and them a little more important in the hierarchy. Losing her the way they did lost them status among the others. Irena wasn’t nearly as important a loss, but the fact that he took her still rankled.”

            “You can sit up but you are not ready to try and stand,” Theodora warned Dianthus. Then she smiled. “Welcome home, sister.”

            Dianthus started to say something and stopped as her delta bond with Iain formed. She looked at him. “I had forgotten what your face looked like but I had never forgotten the hole that my death left that was just filled. I am sorry that I ever doubted you would come for me.”

            Iain smiled at her. “A thousand years is a long time to wait. I’m not sure I’d wait that long for anyone.”

            “You would carve out a new kingdom with new wives,” Ganieda said confidently. “And then you would make us bring them all back with you.”

            “Candace, Irena,” Theodora said, “we will need to run some motor tests on Dianthus to ensure a smooth wakeup and integration. Iain will have to leave or she won’t ever pay any attention to us while we’re trying to test her.”

            Iain reached out and took Dianthus’ hand. “I need you to do what they want. I need you to recover as soon as you can so you can rejoin me and my guard.”

            Her eyes glowed with joy. “I will. My place is with you.”

            He tugged his hand free and turned to Ninhursag and April. “Please tell everyone to keep this as low key as possible. We can’t pretend that Dianthus just returned from a trip away, but she’s back and she has been gone, to her, for a very long time. Fitting in may take a bit.” He grimaced. “That and if any hint that we could bring the dead back to life got out it would have us swamped with requests while others would be trying to destroy us for heresy.”

            April looked thoughtful. “In some ways it might be better for everyone if we treated her as a new girl. Her status will be lowest for a while no matter what.”

            “It’s what happened with me and Scheherazade,” Irena noted. “That gives us a pattern for anyone else who returns from the dead. And it won’t take Dianthus long to begin rising to whatever rank she can achieve.”

            April nodded as she turned to Ninhursag. “But she is inner harem and you’ll have to stress that with the Polk acquisitions.”

            “Dianthus is like Heather,” Ninhursag replied. “She is Elfqueen but not part of the court. She and I may have to knock a few heads to make people believe that, but I don’t think it’ll be too difficult.”

            Dianthus was laying back down, looking tired. “I am Iain’s. I have always been Iain’s and I will always be his. Any who try to keep me from him will bleed at the very least.”

            Ganieda looked at Iain. No comment on how creepy what she just said is?

            Iain glanced at her. She spent a thousand years waiting for me to come for her. I accept her as mine, now and forever.

            Ganieda’s ears flicked. When will you say that to me?

            Pretty little doe, you gave yourself to me and I will never let you go.

            For an instant,             Ganieda’s eyes closed and she shivered slightly. I will never leave you.

            It’s not your choice anymore. I won’t let you leave. He reached for Ganieda’s hand. “Candace, does Dianthus need to rest before she gets tested to destruction?”

            Candace shrugged. “I don’t know much about this process. Theodora?”

            “She needs a basic functionality test. After being dead for a while, learning to use a living body again can be like learning to use a limb that has been replaced. She also needs to eat so we can test how her organs are functioning, but eating is still considered to be part of the functionality test. I’ll monitor her sleep tonight, but I won’t remember anything unless there’s a problem or she gives me permission. I don’t expect there to be any complications since Tirsuli cloning technology is very mature and the human body is rather robust. The chances of any sort of problems are down in the billionths of a percent, but we need to test before April begins retraining her. Dianthus will have a lot of learning to do. She’s been dead and this body is new, and better. Her body is just that, but it is as flawless as I could grow it without doing any genetic engineering on it since that currently isn’t allowed per clan protocol for pokegirls.”

            Ninhursag frowned. “It isn’t?”

            “Iain and I aren’t comfortable trying to tweak your genetics until we have a much greater understanding of what your bodies can do now. On the world you came here from, four, after three hundred years of research, science has only begun to explore what a pokegirl’s true capabilities and limits are. Throw in the complexity added by the fact that you can evolve, and I don’t want to design a better heart for April’s daughters only to have it explode when they’re heavily stressed or hit with Jusenkyo water.” She shrugged. “And I really don’t feel comfortable trying to give you implants of high density muscles, plating your bones for greater strength and such. I’m not even comfortable doing it with people like Monica, since she has pokegirl genetics that can activate, causing threshold.”

            “So she doesn’t need to rest before being tested,” Iain asked.

            Theodora smiled. “I didn’t really answer that, did I. No, she does not.”

            “Then, ladies, she’s all yours and I’ll see her later.” He looked at Ganieda. “I’m not going to be late for Sofia’s training lest I have to listen to another lecture from April on timeliness.”

            April laughed as he vanished.


            Ygerna looked down the table. “Lucifer?”

            The Megami Sama nodded. “Thank you, Ygerna. The Sisterhood has contracted with the Texas government to provide more support roles while they’re consolidating the parts of Sunshine that have requested to be Texans. Instead of directly providing troops to hold the land, the Sisterhood is instead covering parts of Texas to free up TDF troops so they can provide direct assistance to the local personnel. General Hays and I both agree that the people providing aid and support to the people wishing to become Texans should be wearing Texas uniforms and not clan ones. I anticipate that will remain the case when the negotiations with the parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana that wish to join Texas are concluded.”

            “What about New Mexico,” April asked.

            “Since Belldandy and her sisters are currently spending a great deal more time in that part of Texas working out their new romantic entanglements with Andrew and his family,” the women at the table exchanged knowing grins as Lucifer continued, “the Alliance will probably be providing people to help with any New Mexico and northwestern Mexico additions. I have offered to give them a series of courses in mercenary operations and negotiations so they don’t end up running such operations at a financial loss. General Hays and Robert are not great at negotiating, but Nicole has grown into an inspired one and she is very sharp and precise. I’d almost say she’s fey. I’d approve more if she wasn’t so often facing off against my negotiating team. It is very fortunate that I have never intended to become wealthy solely from my income as a mercenary. It is also possible that the Alliance may subcontract some of the work with Andrew’s people as they are already professional mercenaries, even if they specialize more in problem solving as opposed to static engagements. Garrison work is not as demanding as field operations, but having troops sitting relatively idle can create new issues that will need resolved. As an aside, Texas is becoming strapped for cash and I have been offered a land agreement similar to the ones we have elsewhere. I have accepted this deal so they have money to pay the government’s operating costs and the Alliance. The new land will not be contiguous to what we already own in Texas, but it will provide my sister Ninhursag more regions in which to grow plants to her heart’s content.” People chuckled. “I am also aware that President Robinson may approach us to spend the cash we have been paid with to get it back into circulation. It is being spent in Shield, Thistle and, a lesser extent, Stile, on logistics such as local food, but the cash spent in Shield and Thistle doesn’t leave the area since we are favoring clan over outlander and the money spent in Stile rapidly vanishes into Indigo.”

            “Aaron’s already mentioned something about it,” April said. “His conversations are unofficial, but still let Lorena air her concerns. The problem is that, other than more land, there isn’t much we can’t get from clan or make ourselves.”

            “We are supporting several charities across Texas,” Kasumi added. “However, the fact that we insist on complete transparency during the vetting process as well as day to day operations is causing some issues in finding charities that we are willing to fund. That and we refuse to let a charity become dependent only upon our generosity.”

            “This discussion is not on the agenda,” Ygerna interrupted. “And Lucifer is currently reporting.”

            Lucifer sipped at her water. “Since Prometheus and the Sisterhood are entirely separate organizations, I have had to do something similar to what we’re doing with Texas and contract forces from the Sisterhood to protect some Prometheus assets in other places. The destruction of the league militaries has allowed there to be riots and other shows of defiance to take place, as we expected, but there have been riots in lands controlled by some of the governments we supply and a few of these riots have been aimed, either accidentally or deliberately, at us as foreigners, and at Prometheus since Prometheus is the face that many of them see the most often. More troops is a more visible sign that I will not tolerate the destruction of our property and the show of force tends to ward off the violent displays without us having to so far deploy lethal measures against them.”

            “I would recommend caution,” Bellona noted. “Often, if the riots are deliberately targeting something like Prometheus, those shows of force are only temporarily effective, usually ending with a much more massive attack after the people targeting Prometheus can assemble the necessary resources to convince themselves that they can reduce the new defenses.”

            “A very accurate analysis,” Lucifer said with a warm smile. “I don’t suppose you would be willing to renounce your allegiance to the clan and join the Sisterhood, would you?”

            “Stop trying to poach my people,” Ninhursag said. “Lest in my frustration I accidentally forget to schedule you with Iain.”  

            Everyone laughed, Lucifer the hardest of all. “I will endeavor to remember that. I will also send out word to my people to investigate and see if we can determine whether any of these riots could grow into something more substantial, as my new sister here has suggested could be the case.”

            Bellona looked pleased at the compliment. “I’ll have Daya put more sensors around all of the Prometheus holdings and see what we can learn that might help. This will include the Texas ones since not all Texans like pokegirls having so much freedom and power. That and we already know that Indigo, Johto and Sunshine all had agents in Texas, but we are still trying to determine just how large those networks might be and what resources they might have available.” She rubbed her eyes for a second. “I’m trying to recruit agents of our own, but I am first having to recruit people here to train to be able to recruit agents once they’re on station. Because of all of this I don’t expect we’ll have any decent humint assets anywhere for many years.”

            “It is fortunate,” Ygerna said, “that we only expect miracles from Iain.”

            Iain chuckled along with everyone else. “Bellona, you haven’t been here long and we are very appreciative of what you and Daya have already accomplished in that short time. For now, we will have to be satisfied with electronic intelligence, overhead surveillance and some sensor blankets where we are sure they won’t be discovered.”

            Daya and Theodora were standing near Iain. “We are very proud of our protégé,” Theodora said. “And she has some interesting ideas on intelligence gathering, even if many of them are illegal under clan law.”

            Iain looked back at her. “Are they illegal to use on outlanders?”

            “They are a bit unethical, but not illegal if we are at war, which we are.” Daya looked past him. “Lucifer and Pandora will object eventually to their use.”

            “Send me the information on these ideas and I’ll take a look at them,” Iain ordered.

            “I would like to see them as well,” Lucifer said firmly. “I am not as squeamish as you may believe.” She smiled coldly. “After all, these people did murder my Eve and others of my family.”

            “Send them to her too,” Iain said. “Now, Ygerna, you’re hosting this meeting of the General Staff. Is there anything else?”

            She looked around. “That completes the agenda. Is there anything impromptu that needs aired?” Nobody spoke. “Then I am ending this meeting. Kasumi will host the one on Friday.”

            People started leaving and Iain reached out though his delta bond. Vanessa, please stay. She sat down without looking at him. Soon it was just him, her, Ninhursag, April, Lucifer, Theodora and Daya. “Theodora, secure the room.”

            Theodora nodded as the door slid shut. “The room is secure with phase and teleport blocks.”

            Vanessa slowly looked around the room. “What is this about?” She smiled grimly. “Do I get to start killing people now?” There was both dread and eagerness in her voice.

            “We believe that the leagues have been punished enough for moment,” Iain said quietly. “If you disagree, well there’s not really anything we can do except talk to you about it. Other than Kerrik, you are the most powerful person on the planet.”

            Vanessa frowned and fixed her gaze on him. “You just told me a lie.”

            Iain blinked. “Shit. You too?”

            “Who do you think is more powerful than I am?”

            “I asked you to stay for a reason. Can we go there instead?”

            Vanessa leaned back in her chair and folded her arms. “Now I’m curious. Who is it and why don’t I already know about her?” She smiled when he didn’t say anything. “Go ahead and tell me it isn’t a female.” His jaw set. “You can’t because it would be a lie.”

            “Fuck. You’re in a feisty mood and I don’t want you picking a fight with her, friendly or not. It could be really, really bad.”

            Vanessa leaned forward. “Tell me.”

            Iain sighed. “I believe that Caintigern is powerful enough to very difficult for even you to handle. Please don’t test that idea.”

            “Caintigern has not done anything to deserve my attention,” Vanessa said. “Still, I would like a sparring partner I could let loose with.”

            “You may have to wait until our daughters are grown for that,” Iain pointed out.

            “Is Caintigern going to become clan,” April asked.

            “She has shown no signs of being interested in anything along those lines,” Iain said carefully.

            “And if that changes?”

            “Then it changes and we, being me and Caintigern and me and the rest of you, will discuss it. Now, can we get back on topic?”

            “Vanessa, we asked you to stay for a few minutes for two reasons,” Ninhursag said. “The first is that we’re all angry about what happened, but you are uncharacteristically angry. We’re worried about you and we would like you to consent to therapy, either with Ganieda and Marguerite or Theodora. We also would like your input into whether or not Myrna and Saoirse could benefit from it.”

            “And if I refuse?”

            “You are an adult,” Ninhursag said. “If you refuse then you refuse. I don’t want an answer immediately, but I would like you to consider the prospect and speak with me about it in a week.”

            Vanessa nodded. “I will consider it at length. What is the second reason?”

            “We would like to invite you to join the command staff as its junior member. We feel that you have the clan’s best interests at heart and would be a benefit to the clan if you were to become the Grey.”

            “Even if I’m uncharacteristically angry?”

            Ninhursag nodded. “You have always exercised judgment without allowing your emotions to influence your decisions. That is what Iain strives for and what we want all of our leaders to do.”

            Vanessa glanced at Iain. “I think his emotions are engaged too much in his pursuit of Mitsotakis, but that isn’t pertinent to this discussion. Why now?”

            “Because,” Iain said, “we lost some of the command staff and we need to make sure that the leadership of the clan and the clan endures if the rest of us are killed. It’s not because you’re the hardest to kill, it’s because you’d be an excellent leader, even if you’re a Celestial.”

            “What’s wrong with being a Celestial?”

            Iain smiled humorlessly. “People can be good and people can be bad. But what the one thing that the Grey and the command staff must focus on is making sure that, by whatever means are necessary, the clan survives. A Celestial who hesitates at doing what must be done to ensure Grey survives is as much of a problem as an Infernal who makes decisions and chooses methods that brings more trouble to Grey and not less.” He nodded towards Lucifer. “She can do this and so can you.”

            Vanessa started to speak and stopped, looking thoughtful. Finally she shook her head. “My first instinct is to tell you to go to hell.”

            “You should listen to that instinct,” Iain said. “Run. Save yourself.”

            “Iain,” Lucifer said reprovingly. “We are not lost.”

            “You’re not. You’re a born leader who lives to give people orders. Me?” He laughed. “I am drinking water as fast as I can so I can pee on all the fires and there is no way I can keep up.” He leaned back in his chair. “But this little meeting is not about listening to me whine. Vanessa, you are formally invited and asked to join the command staff. Please think about it for a few days, but we not only would really like you to accept, we need you.”


            Iain nodded. “I am essentially a despot. I desperately need calm people around me so I don’t decide to turn Greece into a bubbling lake of lava just to ensure that Mitsotakis is dead. After all, if he didn’t care who he killed in trying to murder us, why should I care about who I kill in trying to zap him?”

            Vanessa looked into his flat gaze and shivered. “You have good people here already.”

            “Ninhursag is a queen and as vengeful as I am. April,” she smiled as he flashed a quick grin. “April is an Irish woman to the core and perhaps a little more vengeful than I am. Lucifer is more even tempered, but Eve’s death has hit her hard. You lost as much as any of us, but you can ignore that anger and think rationally.” He traced a line over the tabletop with his finger. “I figure it’s the reason you didn’t do the logical thing with the Giovanni family.”

            Vanessa frowned. “What logical thing?”

            “Typhonna was in stasis, and the controller for it was implanted in the ruling Giovanni. You proved you could take people into and out of the stasis field when you pulled Typhonna out for that match on the moon and then stuck her back into it. If you’d slapped the ruling Giovanni into the tank next to Typhonna or, even better, nestled him gently into her arms, his family would have been stymied for generations while trying to figure out how to get it and him out without waking Typhonna too. In the meantime, the leagues might have discovered the situation and actually done things to strip the Giovanni family from much of their power base.”

            Vanessa stared at him before shaking her head slowly. “I never considered doing that, but it would have solved the problem neatly.” She leaned forward slightly, her eyes searching his. “I don’t really have a choice, Iain. I will join the command staff.”

            “You always have a choice,” Ninhursag said.

            Vanessa was still watching Iain. “In a simple thought exercise he neutralized the Giovanni family and ensured that they would still have to spend money to maintain the facility housing Typhonna until the end of time. I shudder to think what he might come up with just as quickly if he decides that he doesn’t care what price humanity and the world pays if he gets what he wants. I have no choice if I am to keep him from becoming the next James Scott.”

            “Scott was an amateur,” Iain said. “He had magic and technology to cross dimensions, he did steal the technology of other worlds and reproduce it, he genetically engineered armies of super soldiers and super magic users, he sterilized and then, with help, wiped out most of the life on Earth and he still managed to lose.” He smirked. “Or did he?”

            Vanessa shook her head. “Cowslip was a desperation move when he realized the war was being lost.”

            “That’s what he told people,” Iain replied. “If he’s the super genius people paint him to be, maybe he intended things to go this way from the beginning. Maybe the Red Plague was his too.” He shrugged. “Or maybe none of the above. When we find him, I’ll peel off his skin until he decides to cooperate and tell us everything he knows.”

            “You will give him to me and I will upload his memories,” Theodora countered. “Then we get what he knows, he doesn’t get to lie to us and you don’t have to torture anyone.”

            “I would like to point out,” Iain said quietly, “that we’re talking about the man who fucked up the lives of most of the women I’m involved with and care about. He did the same thing to any daughters we might have unless they’re not pokegirls. Because of him they can go feral. Torture is the least of the things I’d like to do to him.” He smiled thinly when Vanessa looked appalled. “You call it backsliding. I call it what it is, which is just being honest. Will I ever get the opportunity to do any of these things to Scott? Considering that on the long list of people who would try their best to beat me to him includes several who can teleport, I doubt I’ll ever get close to him while he’s still alive.”

            “Vanessa,” Lucifer asked, “would you be willing to undergo therapy if Iain attends the sessions with you?”

            “I will,” Vanessa said without hesitation.

            “Wait, what?” Iain looked around the room. “Why rope me into this?”

            “You are uncharacteristically angry, Iain,” Lucifer said. “And before you counter by saying that you are always angry, you are uncharacteristically showing how angry you are, which is as concerning as Vanessa being angry. You are as dangerous as she is. If you can agree that she needs therapy, then you should be able to agree that you do too.”

            Iain started to say something but turned it into a sigh. “There is no way I’m going to win this one, is there?” He looked at Lucifer. “That was well done. You know I will sacrifice for any of your welfare and you know Vanessa or any of you would do the same for me and you just tied our issues together with a nice red ribbon.”

            Lucifer smiled warmly. “I love you and I care deeply for Vanessa. I would do almost anything for either of you and you will forgive me for the manipulation in time, but it keeps the rest of my family safer and so was necessary.”

            “Fine. So, Vanessa, are you up for some couple’s therapy? If nothing else, it’s extra time spent with me that doesn’t count as together time.”

            Vanessa looked at the sudden unhappy expressions on the faces of several of the other women in the room and laughed. “That was mean, Iain.” Her laughter slowed. “And yet, considering how they have maneuvered each of us into doing what they want, well deserved. I don’t think this therapy will be fun in any sense of the word, but time spent with you is time well spent.”

            We will take Myrna and Saoirse with us, Iain said to Vanessa over their bond. They are as angry as you are, if not more so since they lost family that they have known their entire lives.

            Yes. And it will solidify the fact that we are doing therapy and not merely being lovers while in dreamtime. I think I shall tweak our family one last time over this. “When can we have our first session,” Vanessa asked with hint of eagerness in her voice.

            Ninhursag growled softly. “Soon. Is there anything else?” Nobody spoke and she nodded. “Then we’re done and Iain has training in ten minutes with Sofia and Arianrhod.”

            “Yay me.”


            Iain looked around the room, carefully observing the expressions of the women who taught him magic. They were in a classroom that Theodora had build for magical training on the Danger Room. “I’m going to hijack today’s lessons. I know it’s unusual, but something came up and I’m probably going to get asked about it today so I figured I’d go ahead and run the session so I can explain without waiting for you to figure out the right questions to ask.”

            Rosemary flicked her ears. “Is this about your miraculous healing when you were bringing Dianthus back to us?”

            “It is.”

            “Then I yield my class to you,” Kasserine said. “I must ask about the training that I had prepared at the request of Dominique. Will I be allowed to give it?”

            Theodora appeared. “April and I are scheduling an extra class in three days. It’s the soonest we could coordinate all of your schedules and ensure you’d all be available for it. That will let you teach next and the regular rotation won’t be changed, allowing Ygerna to take her turn in four days, as scheduled.”

            “I appreciate that,” Ygerna said. “I had something special planned and it required that particular day because of the phase of the moon.”

            “It’s taken care of,” Theodora said. “Iain, you may begin.”

            “We’ll start with a demonstration and then proceed to some discussion before the rest of the demonstrations take place, if there are any,” Iain said as he pulled off his shirt. “I’m going to start by asking that nobody freak out.”

            “Like that’s not going to happen,” Ganieda said as she got up and moved to stand behind him. “Iain has asked me to be his assistant, so I’ve seen what he has planned and the first part is fairly safe. Keep that in mind.”

            “Other than the yummy show,” Rosemary asked, “why are you taking off your shirt?”

            “I like this shirt and I don’t see any reason to make Theodora replace it.” He glanced over his shoulder. “Do it.”

            In a blur of motion, Ganieda’s tail looped over her shoulder and stabbed him in the center of his back hard enough that the tip exited the front of his chest and then vanished as she pulled it free, leaving the tail up in her attack position.

            Iain grunted and stepped forward from the impact of the strike before stabilizing as everyone jumped to their feet. “I am all right. Dominique, line them up in seniority based on time in the family to examine me. I am not going to be mobbed.”

            Dominique rapped out names in order and people reluctantly lined up. Then she turned and ran her hands over his chest, avoiding the line of blood that had ran down it. “There’s no wound,” she said, looking up at his face.

            “This healing method is almost instantaneous,” Iain replied. “As soon as Ganieda’s blade was removed, I began healing the stab.”

            “What if she hadn’t pulled her tail out?”

            “That would be a bit more problematic, but there are ways to deal with that too.”

            Dominique nodded. “I’ll want to see that later.”

            “I know.”

            She stepped out of the way. “Ganieda, it’s your turn.”

            “I’ve already seen this,” the Snugglebunny Splice said. “I made him show me before I agreed to help him today. It’s Rosemary’s turn.”

            The cat Pokegirl leaned down and sniffed Iain’s chest before taking a quick lick of the blood on him. “It’s yours,” she said as she straightened. “Did it hurt?”

            “Very much. Pain is part of evolution’s way of telling us we’ve been injured. I want it to do its job, although I’ve learned to keep it from being overwhelming so I can still react when I’m severely hurt.”

            Rosemary stalked around him. “It looks like she hit you in the spine. That should have crippled you.”

            “She did. I didn’t have time to fall down before she’d pulled the blade back out and I healed it before I could collapse. I can prioritize the healing process and repaired the spine first.”

            “That’s good. I’m done.”

            Ygerna touched his chest and shook her head. “You could have given us some warning of what was about to occur. You frightened me a great deal and that tends to make me angry.” Her golden eyes met his. “You are very fortunate I am much more curious than upset at you.”

            “If I had tried to explain what was about to happen, either you wouldn’t have believed me or you would have tried to stop the demonstration.”

            A smile ghosted on her lips. “You should not know me so well. I am supposed to be flighty and unpredictable, as are all Sidhe.”

            “You have been impulsive before, but never flighty.”

            “I accept the compliment in lieu of the apology I am unlikely to receive. Kasumi, he is yours now.”

            Kasumi pulled his head down so she could rest her forehead against his. “My heart is still racing. Should I prepare to watch you be stabbed through the brain next?”

            “I haven’t been tested on that one yet. It’s hard enough to learn to do what I can do,” he replied with a smile.

            “Good, because I am still not ready to be your widow.” She pulled her head back. “I do not think Kozakura or Yuko need to learn that you can do this. Few kami are this resilient and I would like them to seriously look for partners when we go visit my family. They will compare any they meet to you, especially Yuko, and I have not changed my mind on being unwilling to share you with either my grandmother or my daughter.”

            “I’m good with that.”

            She smiled slightly as she waved Kasserine and Ava to join her. “They would give you strong babies.”

            “I love you. I like them. That means your wants come before anything they might want or even think they need.”

            “Good.” She gave him a quick kiss on the lips before joining the other teachers.

            Kasserine gave him an amused look. “You understand that, after seeing this, I do not think there is further reason for either me or Ava to hold back when sparring with you.”

            Ava touched the spot where the blade had exited. “You do not scar?”

            “I haven’t gotten a scar in a long time.”

            “That’s good. I like your chest as it is.”

            Kasserine smiled at him. “Can you teach this to the other wizards in our family?”

            “I’m not sure. And the teaching method is a bit brutal.”

            “Are we done with the demonstrations,” Dominique asked.

            “Unless you request something specific later, yes.”

            “Then go wash up and put your clothes back on. This is supposed to be training, not looking at delicious eye candy, even as much as I might enjoy that.”

            “I’ll be right back.”

            A few minutes later everyone was seated at the table again. Dominique leaned back in her chair. “You said that Caintigern taught you this and you just said that the training is a bit brutal. Care to elaborate?”

            “This is one of a series of things that Caintigern taught me that she lumps under the definition of survival. It’s not something that all of us dragons can learn to do and she was curious to see if I, someone who wasn’t born a dragon, could learn to do it.” Iain had a large mug of hot tea and he looked at it for a few seconds before continuing. “The first thing she tested was that I had a strong enough desire to live to be able to survive what she was going to do to me. It involved seeing if I would give up and die. I didn’t and so she moved to the next step.”

            Kasserine frowned. “Would she have let you perish during this test?”

            “I didn’t ask, she didn’t say and I didn’t let it happen. That is something she and I discussed in detail before she proceeded. If she was to let me die and I rose as a lich, it would ruin my value as her student. She agreed. I don’t know if it made her hold back or not, but she said she was impressed with my survival drive.”

            “Then what happened?”

            “I got to attack her for a while and she healed using this technique while I observed. Then she let other things attack her while I observed. Finally, it was my turn in the box and those things happened to me. The first four times she forced my body to heal the way she wanted me to learn to do. On the fifth time I figured out how to do it. She tested this ability in many different ways.”

            Ava leaned forward slightly. “How long did this training take?”

            “The lessons aren’t done yet, so I can’t answer that question.”

            “Why is she teaching you this,” Kasumi asked.

            “From their history, while as a race the People tend towards being peaceful, if racist and haughty, towards outsiders, as individuals, and among their own kind, they can be very arrogant and more than a bit aggressive. This can lead to informal fights and formal duels. Considering the natural weapons that they have available and then add in their magic, many of these fights end in fatalities or really severe injuries. The history of the People extends back for tens of thousands of years and, during that time, they have developed some rather complex social interactions and rules to oversee these conflicts. Still, they don’t always work and, someday, if I ever encounter more of them, my lack of knowledge of etiquette could easily lead to me offending someone who thinks they’re better than I am and precipitate a fight. That’s especially true when you consider that it is a female dominated society and, as a drake, I’d be a second class citizen as well as a foreigner.”

            “Considering we’re talking about you, I doubt it would be just one duel you would be challenged to,” Ygerna noted.

            “Well, with the training I’m getting in survival and their fighting styles, my goal is that nobody will be around to challenge me twice, at least not in a fight to the death.” He smiled. “After all, Kasumi isn’t ready to be my widow.”

            “And you should always keep that uppermost in your mind,” Kasumi said firmly.

            “None of us are ready to be your widow,” Ava added. “Always strike to kill.”

            “I will.” He looked around. “That’s pretty much all I can say right now about what’s going on. Later I may enlist your help, individually as well as collectively, to help me get stronger, but if that’s it I thought we’d go out to the grassy zone and I’d show you some more spell variants that I know.”

            “I have a question,” Ygerna said. “If I shoot you with an arrow and it snaps off inside you, what happens when you heal using this technique?”

            “During this process my body will break any foreign material down into its constituent molecules and I either use them if my body can or they get eliminated when I next pee or have a bowel movement.”

            “Is this under your conscious control,” Dominique asked.

            “It is to a degree, but most of it is unconscious so I can heal even if I’m not awake when I’m injured. And when I am trying to, taking conscious control can be difficult. It’s the reason that Elizabeth can’t feed off of my blood without my help. Any holes that get poked in me close rather quickly unless I work hard to let them stay open.”

            “What about replenishing your blood?”

            “My mental image of me has me with a regular blood volume, so that’s what I get when I use this method.”

            “Does Kerrik know how to do this?”

            Iain shrugged. “We haven’t talked about it. I suspect he knows something similar, but he isn’t one of the People and Caintigern will not teach anything to one of the lesser races.” He looked around. “Anything else or can we go outside and have fun?”

            Ava grabbed his hand. “Fun.”


Iain Grey



Ninhursag Grey - Elfqueen & maharani

April Grey - Duelist & beta

Dominique Grey - Blessed Archmage

Pandora - Fiendish Archangel

Zareen - Nightmare

Sofia - Ria

Vanessa – Evangelion

Lucifer – Megami Sama

Ganieda – Snugglebunny Splice

Heather - Elfqueen

Marguerite – Unicorn

Scheherazade – Dread Wolf

Irena – Sanctuary Goth

Lynn – Dire Wolf

Rosemary – Mistoffeles


Outer Clan

Golden Cloud – equine unicorn

Arianrhod -Fey Goblin Female


Satellite Clan

            74 male Goblins

            89 female Goblins


Queendom / Outer Clan

73 Elves

Dionne - Elfqueen

Adrianna - Elfqueen

Heltu - Wet Queen

14 Wet Elves


Dead Harem

Dead Harem (22)

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 analog of Iain

Alabaster – Dragoness (white)

Onyx – Dragoness (black)

Lapis – Dragoness (blue)

Garnet – Dragoness (red)

Iolite – Dragoness (purple)

Malachite – Dragoness (green with white swirls)

Dabria – Dark Queen

Omisha – Demoness


Mother                                    Children



                                    Myrna (Age 4)



                                    Dorothy: Duelist (Age 3)

                                    Meara: Duelist

                                    Regan: Duelist


                                    Olivia: Megami Sama (Age 6)

                                    Seraphina: Megami Sama

                                    Miram: Angel (Age 5)



                                    Caltha: Nightmare (Age 0)

                                    Kim:  Nightmare

                                    Xanthe: Nightmare

                                    Epona: Nightmare

                                    Philippa: Nightmare

                                    Nott: Nightmare

                                    Nyx: Nightmare



                                    Anna: Ria

                                    Esmerelda: Ria


Monica Chambers

                                    James: Jamie Harris kid (Age 2)