This work is the property of Kerrik Wolf (saethwyr@ (SPAM) hotmail.com). Please remove (SPAM) to contact me.
You should not read this work if you are under the age of legal consent wherever you reside. This work may or may not contain any and/or all of the following: death, cannibalism, dismemberment, violent acts, implied sex, explicit sex, violent sex, rape, blasphemy (depending on your religion), BDSM, torture, mimes, necrophilia and just about anything unwholesome that you could consider.
Feedback is encouraged. I enjoy hearing from people. Positive feedback will be appreciated, cherished and flaunted in front of people. Negative feedback will be appreciated, cherished and listened to, that I might continue to grow. Flames will give me a good laugh. Feedback may be delivered to: saethwyr@(SPAM)hotmail.com. Please remove (SPAM) to contact me.
One Hundred Six
Iain landed in the center of the clearing and folded his wings as he surveyed the area around him for threats. Laraxithious landed nearby as he changed to his moon elf form. The gold shifted to his sun elf form and gave Iain an annoyed look as he breathed hard from the exertion of the flight. “Do you have to fly so damned fast?”
“Sorry,” Iain said apologetically. “I was lost in thought during the flight and, to be honest, I forgot you don’t train like I do.”
And you have other things you want to do today than show off your pet drow to Junior here, his twee noted.
They’re not my drow. Iain smiled slightly. But you are right.
“What is it your kobolds say?” Laraxithious smirked. “Oh, right, your apology is accepted.” He looked around eagerly. “So where are your drow?”
“They’re not my drow and the village is this way about half a mile,” Iain said as he headed down a narrow path towards the village. The villagers had cut the path for him, but, amusingly, Iain seldom used it. He’d been trained by Zareen to never take the same route twice between two points if at all possible and paths were for prey. “The clearing is for me to use, which is why we landed here.”
“Why is it so far from the village?”
“I suggested putting the landing point this far from the village. It’s so I don’t have to worry about children or panicking their animals, even if the village grows a bit,” Iain replied. “And if a dragon overflies the village they know it isn’t me, so they know they could be about to have a very bad day.”
“Are you hunting the evil dragons around here?”
“I am, but I’m sure there are some that I haven’t encountered yet. Besides, metallics who live in the area and claim this as their territory might well demand tribute from the villagers.”
Laraxithious nodded. “It is within their rights.” He eyed Iain curiously. “What would you do if one does?”
“I’ll talk to Laelra. If she’s willing to provide tribute, it’s not my problem. If she’s not, then I’d have to have a conversation with the dragon who was causing trouble.” He shrugged. “And when that dragon told me to go away and mind my own business, I’d add its horde to mine.”
Laraxithious seemed to be considering his words before he spoke and, when he did, he spoke slowly as if he was still considering his words as he did. “You don’t have to kill the involved dragon. You could drive him out of the area.”
Iain stopped and turned to face Laraxithious. “First of all, I’m not a chromatic and I’m not an asshole. Telling me something that I don’t like or might not want to hear isn’t going to make me angry. I may get grumpy, but I won’t strike out at the messenger or throw you off my land. Second, we’re not enemies and I don’t intend to turn you into my enemy by treating you like you’re an idiot. Third, you’re arguably one of the smartest people I could ever hope to meet.”
Laraxithious grinned. “Thank you for stroking my ego. Now what is it you wanted to tell me?”
“Dragons are among the smartest and most powerful creatures anyone can encounter. I am not going to beat one up and let her get away to plot revenge against me no matter whether or not she is a metallic, chromatic or any other creature that calls herself a dragon. That would be stupid.” He frowned and turned at an odd sound. “Ah, one of the giant squirrels.” He turned back to Laraxithious. “If I try to reason with a dragon and she is reasonable back, I’ll try to work with her to come up with some accommodation. If she’s unreasonable, I will warn off a metallic. I wouldn’t waste my time trying to warn off a chromatic. But if she tells me that the village belongs to her and she will treat them however she wants to, no matter what the villagers or I want, I don’t have a choice anymore. Laelra won’t put up with it, which means the villagers won’t put up with it, it’s a shrine to our goddess so they can’t just move and I am not going to let anyone slaughter the villagers if I can prevent it.”
Laraxithious looked thoughtfully at him. “If that is the situation, and I believe you will try to make sure that you will be as reasonable as you can when dealing with any of the metallics, then I will help you stop the dragon involved. My presence there, as a gold dragon, will pause other metallics who might leap to conclusions that are not true.”
“Such as I’m irredeemably evil?”
“That one does come to mind,” Laraxithious said with a chuckle. He halted. “I smell something I don’t recognize.”
“There is a drow watching us from behind that tree,” Iain nodded towards a clump of smaller oaks. “Some of them are still learning decent woodcraft and about upwind and downwind. It’s also true that they have no idea how good our ability to scent is, and I don’t want them to learn.” He sniffed the air as he double checked with his perception. “It’s Quendar. He’s one of the village’s hunters and, honestly, not a bad one. He just doesn’t understand how good our ability to scent is. Pretend you don’t know he’s there unless he intercepts us otherwise it’ll just piss him off.” He motioned Laraxithious into motion.
Quendar stepped out of the trees when they were a dozen feet from him. “Iain,” he said curtly.
At least this time, Iain reminded himself, there wasn’t a drawn bow being pointed at him. “Good morning, Quendar. This is Laraxithious and he’s visiting the village.”
“He’s not a follower of the Lady of the Dance?”
“I pray to her,” Laraxithious said quietly. “Iain introduced me to her after he saved my life and I swore to pray to her for a year out of thanks for what he did at her behest. After that I’m not sure if I’ll continue to pray to her but Iain gave me her religious writings and they are fascinating to read.”
Quendar nodded. “Then you are welcome here. Will this become your home?”
“It will not, but I may visit here more often,” he glanced at Iain. “If it wouldn’t be intruding on your territory.”
“If the villagers welcome you, then Quendar is right and you are welcome here whether you live here or merely visit as I do,” Iain replied. “How has the hunting been?”
“It’s been good for us,” Quendar said. “But something has been recently chasing the deer and I’m investigating. I think it’s a lycanthrope.”
“Want help with the hunt?”
Quendar grinned coldly. “Yes. Perhaps I’ll be fortunate and it’ll get you before I can kill it.”
Laraxithious was staring at him until Iain chuckled. “Quendar and I have some small bad blood between us.”
“He wants to kill you?”
“That’s not what he said. He hopes something else kills me, hopefully where he can watch, so he can remain blameless in my death.”
Quendar’s cold smile didn’t waver. “Yes.”
“Why does he hate you so much as to want you dead?”
“He doesn’t really hate me. He just wants me dead,” Iain said. “The two are not the same thing in drow society. He feels that I have something he wants and he thinks that if I die he might get it. But that won’t happen if he kills me, so he’s not planning to kill me.” Iain glanced at Quendar. “Unless he thinks he’s found a way to kill me and still remain completely blameless.”
Quendar’s smile became a quick grin. “I’m still thinking about how that could be done.”
“You’re all insane,” Laraxithious stated.
“Sanity is in the eye of the beholder,” Iain said. “And it’s usually the one that fires the disintegrate beams out of it. Now, let’s go see the village and then I can join Quendar while he tries to figure out how to use me as bait for the lycanthrope.” Quendar laughed as Iain led Laraxithious on up the path.
Laraxithious waited until he was sure they were out of earshot of Quendar. “That one is not a dragon. Why do you tolerate his attitude?”
“It amuses me to let him think he can get me killed,” Iain replied. “And if he succeeds, it will be because I was colossally stupid and I’ll deserve it at that point. But mostly, I like the fact that he’s honest about his feelings for me.”
“You are insane.”
“Yeah, well, I have cookies even if the cake is a lie.”
“Come on, you’ve met a drow, but I suspect you really want to meet cute drow women. If that’s what you want, come with me.”
As he watched the final rays of the setting sun, Iain reflected that he had not intended to spend all day here at Ilhar Mrimm. He wouldn’t have, either, but Laelra had been intrigued by meeting another dragon, although she hadn’t told Laraxithious she had true sight and knew his secret. She’d insisted they both stay and visit for a while. Iain had never gotten back to Quendar on his hunt, but it wasn’t a big loss. Laelra was much prettier than Quendar would ever be, after all. And, if something got Quendar while Iain was where he was seen to be innocent in the death, he wouldn’t miss the obnoxious drow in the slightest.
Laraxithious had been enthralled by the drow and the village and all of the differences between the elves he’d already known and these new elves. Because of all the new things here to experience, he was in no hurry to leave.
Now, the communal dinner was over and people were starting to disperse for the evening.
Iain looked over where Laelra and Laraxithious were chatting. “I have to get back to my cave.”
“Can I stay for a while,” Laraxithious asked. “I won’t do anything stupid.”
Doesn’t that usually mean that something stupid is being contemplated, his twee asked sardonically. Iain decided that the question didn’t deserve an answer, since his twee was right.
“Your friend is welcome to stay here a while longer,” Laelra said.
“He’s an adult and can make his own decisions,” Iain replied as he got to his feet. “Thank you for welcoming Laraxithious to the village.”
“You would not have brought him here if he was a threat to us.” Laelra smiled. “I’m sorry you can’t stay the night, but perhaps I can turn your friend into a true convert to the Lady Dancer.”
It had been a while since he’d been here and Iain would have liked to stay and have a nice romp with Laelra, but he had an experiment simmering in his new lab and didn’t want it to explode when it finally boiled completely dry, which it should do in about four hours. That was just enough time to fly back to his cave, if he pushed the flight. “I’ll make arrangements so I can stay next time.”
“Good,” Laelra said with a wink that Laraxithious didn’t see. “I like having you here. And goodnight.”
“Goodnight.” Iain left the communal area and headed through the woods a short distance from the path at a quick walk, moving parallel to it. Thanks to Zareen and his other training, he made no noise as he moved, silently stepping around a feeding rabbit that never knew he was there.
He was surprised to see two forms waiting for him in the darkness of the clearing. Without perception or darkvision they would have been almost invisible. He immediately recognized one of them as being Quendar, but the other, a drow female, took him a minute to place. It was Zilvra Khaven. He hadn’t seen her except in passing since she’d joined the village months ago. “Quendar, Zilvra.”
“She asked me to bring her here since she didn’t know where your clearing is,” Quendar said. He smiled widely enough to show his teeth. “I’ll leave now.” With that, he headed up the path.
Iain looked at Zilvra, who bobbed her head in greeting. “I would like to stay at your cave for a while.”
“I don’t want to be here right now but I don’t want to leave the village forever yet.”
Iain looked at the clear night sky and gave a mental sigh of irritation. He’d been looking forward to a nice flight home. “I’ll teleport us back to my cave. Take my hand.”
Surprise was evident in her voice as she gripped his fingers tightly. “Teleport isn’t a priestess’ spell.”
“I never said I was just a priestess.” Iain murmured for a few seconds and they were suddenly standing not far from the greenhouse. “I don’t really have any guest accommodations right now so you’ll use my bed until I can make you one tomorrow.” He had one guest room and Laraxithious had some possessions in it from his current visit so it wasn’t available.
“I could sleep with the dwarves.”
He headed for the entrance to his cavern, followed closely by Zilvra. “They don’t have any spare beds and they won’t want you with them even if they did.”
She looked at him curiously. “They won’t?”
“You’re drow and, while they might appreciate you rescuing them, all of their other memories of drow are pretty negative.”
“Is my presence going to cause problems for you?”
Iain decided to be honest with her. “Yes, but the problems won’t be insurmountable and it’ll do the dwarves some good to remember that the world doesn’t dance to their tune. Sometimes we’ll have guests they don’t like and they’ll still have to be civil according to clan hospitality rules. It’ll be a good lesson for them.”
“I remember you mentioning hospitality when I was here before, but you didn’t go into detail since we were leaving immediately.”
“It’s not that complicated. We put you up and treat you respectfully. You do the same to us. If a fight comes to you, we will help you fight it. If a fight comes to us, you are not obligated to fight it with us.”
“And if I choose to fight alongside you?”
“Then your,” he glanced at her waist, “sword is welcome.”
“Are the dwarves your guests?”
Iain stopped at the entrance to his cave and ushered her in ahead of him. “No. They decided to become clan some time ago and took the oath. Now they and the kobolds are Greys.”
The cavern was lit by granite rods with continual flame spells on them. “If they weren’t clan, I wouldn’t be considering going to Guallidurth to get more dwarves.”
She turned to peer quizzically at him. “Why do that?”
“There are twelve dwarves here, six females and six males. That does not mean there are six couples.” He chuckled. “That would be way too easy. But several of them have expressed a desire for mates and they don’t want me going to Shanatar to try to recruit dwarves that would later turn out to still be loyal to their king. That and Shanatar dwarves would expect my dwarves to behave like, well, dwarves, and that would lead to a bunch of confusion since my dwarves don’t know very much about being dwarves since they were all born in Guallidurth and separated from their parents at an early age, possibly for generations.”
Zilvra nodded. “Many houses separate infant slaves from their birth parents. It makes it much easier to condition them to accept their lot if they are raised by the appointed teachers in any house. As drow slaves, the only customs they should know are the ones we,” she sighed, “I mean the other drow want them to have.” She looked at Iain. “Can you tell me how long I will feel remorse for things I did before I found Eilistraee that I now know are wrong?”
“If you have a good heart, you’ll feel that guilt for the rest of your life,” Iain replied. “But use it to push you to do as much good as you can instead of letting it overwhelm you in a spiral of guilt that does nothing for you or those around you and eventually ends with your own destruction.”
Zilvra’s smile was amused. “You are very definitely a priestess of the Lady of the Dance. Perhaps I am here because she thinks I can come to you for counsel.”
“Perhaps you’re here because you don’t like the way Laelra runs the village,” Iain noted as he led her into the second cave and turned down a passage neatly hewn into the rock. They stopped in front of a stone door. “Here’s my bedroom.” He shoved the door open to reveal a bedroom large enough that the double bed in the middle of it looked tiny. Candelabra and wall sconces with continual flame rods in them illuminated the front part of the room with a dim light that didn’t even begin to fill the chamber.
Zilvra glanced amusedly at him. “I was told in the village that you’re a dragon. I thought you’d have a large pile of coins that you slept on.”
Iain laughed. “Apparently so did the kobolds who dug out this room. I’ll eventually get more furniture and things in here, but I may have to move to a smaller room since I’m not sure I could ever fill this room with my stuff.”
Her tone was teasing. “You don’t have a hoard? I’d heard that all dragons have hoards.”
“I like soft mattresses. As for any treasure I might have, it’s safe where it is. And this will be your room until I can get a guest room put together.”
“Where will you sleep?”
“I’ve got a sleeping bag and I’ll bunk down in my cave.”
“You are very kind to offer me your bed. I’d argue with you, but I like mattresses more than some bag that you sleep in. Good night.” She headed into his room and carefully shut the door behind her.
Iain looked at the door for a second before shrugging. “I hope she knows what a chamber pot is. Now to make sure my lab doesn’t explode tonight.” Whistling, he headed off.
“Why are you here?”
At the tone, Zilvra looked up from her meal as one hand dropped below the level of the table to her sword. She frowned for a second while processing the words and the face in front of her before she remembered the name of the dwarf standing on the other side of the table with her arms folded over her chest. She’d changed a lot, having grown several inches of length to her hair and put on some healthy weight. “Solnys.”
The dwarf nodded. “And you’re Zilvra, but that doesn’t answer my question. Why are you here?”
“I am here because the village isn’t where I belong.”
“You don’t belong here either.”
Zilvra smiled slowly. “Iain brought me here and told me I am a guest. Doesn’t that mean you should be respectful to me?”
“I haven’t yet begun to be rude to you, drow.” Her green eyes were hard as she unfolded her arms to ball her fists at her sides. “I acknowledge that Vazmyr rescued us, but that only means I don’t challenge and kill you and I won’t let anyone else do it either.”
Zilvra’s smile turned cold. “I have trained with a sword since I was a child and I have killed many times before. I don’t doubt that you’d try to kill me, but don’t expect to be successful if you do.”
Solnys closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “You are our guest,” she said slowly as if reminding herself. Her eyes opened. “I said I wouldn’t challenge you and neither will anyone else. I’ll see to that. But you are not wanted here and I want you to leave as soon as possible.”
“I will leave when I am ready to or when Iain asks me to,” Zilvra said calmly. “I know you don’t like me because I am drow and not because I did something offensive to you. Laelra explained to me that I will face this attitude for the rest of my life, if I remain on the surface. And I told Vazmyr to bring all of the slaves that he could. He would not have rescued you otherwise. He was the captain of my guard and he was sworn to protect me. Nothing else mattered to him. I am sorry that more of you could not be saved, but it is not my fault that you were a slave. The only thing that I will accept as my fault is that you are here and you are free.”
“Iain freed us, not you.”
“Perhaps, but without me ordering Vazmyr to bring you, you wouldn’t be here to be freed.”
Solnys opened her mouth and closed it again. “I can’t dispute that,” she said quietly. “That doesn’t change the fact that we don’t want a drow here.”
“At this time I have nowhere else to go,” Zilvra said. “I do not belong in the village and, like you, I do not fit in elsewhere. I asked Iain if I could stay here for a while and he allowed it. I will try to keep my presence here as unobtrusive as possible, but I must stay here for a time.”
“Why can’t you stay in the village?”
“I am from a highly ranked noble house in Guallidurth. Most of the drow in Ilhar Mrimm are from Guallidurth and they know who I am. They make my life there impossible because they find it hard to believe that I could follow the Lady of the Dance.” She shrugged. “If nothing else, Iain can teach me to hunt for myself so I won’t starve if I return to the village and the people there continue to refuse to share food with me unless Laelra is around to chastise them for it.” She turned and slipped off the bench to stand next to the table. “Just as Iain has accepted you and allowed you to stay here, he has accepted me and offered me his hospitality. I have accepted that hospitality. I am sorry that you don’t like me, but I will be here for a while.”
Solnys regarded her silently for a few moments. “Are you aware that there are kobolds here and that they are clan?”
“I remember Iain mentioning kobolds, but other than that, I know nothing about any kobolds here and what is clan?”
“We are Grey Clan. Iain is the clan leader. The hospitality that I must afford to you is because of clan law. We, the dwarves, are clan and the kobolds are clan. Don’t go attacking them. Iain is their master, but they do not follow anyone else’s orders, and neither do the dwarves. There are no slaves here. We’re free and we will never be anyone else’s property.”
“Iain is your king?”
That made Solnys smile. “Iain says that, historically, the clans wiped out or absorbed the kingdoms around them. He says a clan leader outranks any mere king, but that we’re not supposed to mention it to the kingdoms when their people start coming here. We only tell them that we are clan and that, if they attack any clanswomen, and that includes the kobolds, for any reason except in self defense, they will be exterminated.” She hesitated. “We will also protect our guests.”
“What if there is an arrest warrant for a guest or member of your clan?”
“Then they may petition Iain to withdraw his protection. If he refuses, they have no other recourse.”
Zilvra smiled. “You know a great deal about this, for someone who started out as a farm slave.”
“I speak for the dwarves. I am studying to be Iain’s second, since he has no wife and Quick Bite does not wish to add to her responsibilities. Iain has insisted we learn to read and that we question things we don’t understand.”
“And she’s asked a lot of questions,” Iain said from the doorway. “Which is what I wanted.”
Solnys whirled and came to attention. “Sir!”
Iain came to attention. “Miss!”
Zilvra hid a snicker as Solnys turned red. “Solnys means well and you shouldn’t tease her. How long were you listening to us, Iain?”
“I heard the entire conversation but decided not to get involved to see if the two of you could come to some level of an understanding. Now that you have, I can appear.” He looked at Solnys. “I’m proud of you.”
“While you started out antagonistic, you managed to either work past or hide your animosity to Zilvra. You listened to what I said about clan hospitality and I know how hard it was for you to do what you did.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Iain chuckled. “Say it with me. Thank you, Iain.”
Solnys sighed. “Thank you, Iain.”
Iain grinned. “You almost rolled your eyes in annoyance, didn’t you?”
“I did not.”
“Yes you did!”
Solnys folded her arms over her chest again. “Unless you are using a truth spell, I was not going to roll my eyes and that is the final word on the matter.”
Iain chuckled. “I’m not. Those damned things have been used on me too often for me to think it’s fun to do it to others.” He looked at Zilvra, who was obviously trying not to smile. “So you want to learn to hunt?”
“I’ll learn anything you can teach me, Iain, but the villagers would like to pretend I don’t exist, and that includes when food gets distributed.”
“All right. I’ve got to get some logs pulled into my lab so I can start turning them into lumber for a new bed. After that I can take you around and show you the changes that have happened since you were last here.”
“How many logs to you want,” Solnys asked. “I can make the arrangements for them to be placed in your workshop.”
Iain raised an eyebrow. “How are you going to get them into my lab?”
“Quick Bite and I have an agreement. If I need muscle, the kobolds can provide it. They’re a lot stronger than they appear and they’re very good at working together.”
“Come with me and Zilvra and I’ll designate the logs for you.”
Iain stood in the moonlight outside his cave and played his bagpipes. One of the requirements of Elistratee’s religion was that her priestesses must be able to play, craft and repair at least one musical instrument. The normal instruments of her faithful were the horn, the flute and the harp. Iain could already play the flute and he had plans to learn the harp. But he still had his guitar and bagpipes and, although the pipes weren’t welcome in Ilhar Mrimm, he still liked playing them and wasn’t going to stop just because some drow didn’t recognize good music when they heard it.
He finished the set and stood for a moment, before looking over his shoulder at the mouth of the cave. With his perception, he’d known when Zilvra had appeared and stood silently as she listened to him play. “Yes?”
She hesitated for a second before coming out to join him. “Is that the musical instrument I heard stories about the last time you played in the village?”
“These are bagpipes and, yes, they’re the reason I was asked to stop playing that night.”
“I wasn’t there, but I’d heard about it. It’s actually an interesting instrument and nothing like what the comments led me to expect. I like it.” She stepped into the moonlight. “Have you tried playing your bagpipes at the village since that night?”
“I haven’t played at the village since.”
“You’re angry with them?”
“At the time I was irritated,” Iain admitted quietly. “And my pride got a little wounded since I think I’m a better player than a lot of the people I listened to without anyone commenting on.” He looked down at the bagpipes. “But I play what I want when I want to play. If they want to tell me what I can and can’t play there, then they can either offer me money or some other incentive or I can ignore them.” He smiled briefly. “They haven’t offered an incentive, so I play music here.”
“Have you spoken to Laelra about the situation?”
“She already knows it. She’s one of the ones who told me to stop playing.”
Zilvra frowned. “I thought you two were still lovers.”
“We’ve never been lovers. Lovers implies a romantic relationship. Sometimes I go to the village and she has some free time and we fuck.”
The frown deepened. “So she treats you like a drow female treats a male.”
“Not exactly. In Guallidurth, before you accepted Elistraee into your heart, you’d tell a male you wanted to have sex with to go and wait for you in the bedroom and he’d go and wait for you there, right?” She raised an eyebrow and he smiled. “With the proviso that he knew that you knew he wouldn’t be setting up death traps in the bedroom to kill you as soon as you got naked and relatively defenseless and that he knew that you’d still check for traps, poisons and anything else you could think of before actually entering the room with him and that horrible things would happen to him if he’d done anything along those lines or you even suspected he might have been thinking about it.”
She laughed softly. “With those conditions, and if he was lower ranking, yes.”
“While the other drow might think that I’m lower ranking than Laelra, I don’t think that, so I’m not. I’ve never allowed her to order me around. The day you came here, she wanted me to stay so we could have sex. I would have liked to, but I had things here that would have exploded if I’d been away too long.”
“How do you behave in Guallidurth? The women there wouldn’t put up with that behavior.”
Iain shifted to the drow female form he used in Guallidurth. Zilvra’s eyes went wide when he changed. “Most of the time, when I go to Guallidurth, I do it as a drow female so I still get to call the shots except to the small handful of other females who can prove they outrank me. And those, I try to avoid. I also don’t stay in the city any longer than I have to.” He shifted back to his elven form.
“That is very impressive. That’s not an illusion, is it?”
“No, it isn’t.”
“What do you really look like?”
“Every form I wear is me. It’s what I really look like at the time I look like it.” He paused for a second as something occurred to him. It that was true, then how was it that Laelra was able to see him as a dragon while he was an elf?
Maybe she saw your spirit, his twee suggested.
Iain gave a mental shrug and added it to his list of things to study over the next few centuries. He realized that Zilvra was waiting with a curious look in her eyes. “Sorry, I was woolgathering.”
“I am not familiar with that saying. What does it mean?”
“It’s from people gathering wool that sheep had ripped off while going around during their day. Sheep can be considered something similar to deep rothe. From a distance, the people gathering the wool looked like they were aimlessly wandering around. Woolgathering suggests my mind was doing something similar.”
“No. I was considering something in a way that I hadn’t before and it surprised me for a second. What musical instrument is your choice?”
Zilvra made a face. “I had not decided on one in particular yet. No one was volunteering to teach me anything, which made my not deciding easy. What do you play besides the bagpipes?”
“I play the guitar and the flute. When I get the chance, I’ll learn the harp as well.”
“Could you teach me to play the flute?”
Iain turned to face her. “Learning a musical instrument takes time. You’re not going back to Ilhar Mrimm, are you?”
“You heard what I told Solnys. I do not belong at the village. Here,” she took a deep breath and let it out. “This place feels right.”
“And as Solnys told you, this place is clan territory and the people who live here are clan. We’re not really set up for long term care of guests.”
“I do not understand what it means to be clan, Iain. Could you teach me that too?”
“I can and I will.” He tucked the bagpipes under his arm. “Is your new bed satisfactory?”
“It is. What is the filling in the mattress?”
“Kattle wool.” She frowned and he smiled. “Kattle are a type of sheep that lives wild in the valley. Their wool is very soft and we’re shearing them twice a year to encourage wool production.”
“Will I see them soon?”
“You will.” He glanced at the sky. “Now you need to get some sleep.”
“What about you?”
He looked up at the sky again. “I guess I need to try and sleep too.” He gestured towards the cave entrance. “After you.”
After locking the door to his bedroom to keep people out, Iain placed a hand on one wall and focused his will. A sliding doorway appeared. He slid the door open and stepped into the chamber on the other side. He closed the door and watched it vanish before turning to wait until Eirian joined him. “How are things here?”
“There is a thunderstorm that has been going on for the last week. I’ve sealed the entrance to keep the humidity and creatures fleeing the rains out. A tribe of batiri goblins passed through two days ago. Ling is tracking them and we’re marking their encampments. At this point I see no reason to wipe them out. How big is the territory of a tribe?”
“I’m not sure. I guess we’ll find out together.”
Eirian chuckled sourly. “Another research project, my lord? I have already started inscribing the projects we are pursuing along with the ones you want to pursue into a book. I considered using a scroll, but it would already end up being longer than a hundred meters. That would make it difficult to use as a reference.”
“I agree.” Iain flashed a grin. “Have the animals been a problem because of the rain?”
“No, my lord. The most dangerous creatures such as tigers and the dinosaurs don’t normally enter caves and, even if they did, we have plugged the entrance to the cave with a stone door that will keep out everything except insects, rodents and snakes. I have stationed one of the harem there to kill those intruders and I rotate the duty out among us every day.”
“We chose Chult for reasons other than the weather for this outpost. Do we need to rethink that decision?”
“No, my lord. Your undead harem needs a place away from the living and this works well, as long as we keep the humidity out of the library. Our magic makes that a fairly simple undertaking.” She headed for the exit to the chamber. Iain fell in behind her as she continued speaking. “Later we may wish to have your kobolds come here and neaten up the tunnels. Their mining skills are far superior to our crude attempts.”
“That, if it happens, will be a few years out.”
“We understand, my lord. In better news the sugarcane is thriving and this harvest should be outstanding.” She entered a chamber and stopped in front of a skeleton that stood silently as it waited for them. “Here she is.” The Dragoness picked up a small chest, opening it reveal a pale gem. She turned and presented the chest to Iain. “My lord.”
Iain picked up the gem and turned to the skeleton. “Are you Phaerxae Dinaen?” The skeleton nodded and opened its mouth. “Is this your gem?” The skeleton nodded again. “Nyclioch ameloth zalestiel rholaeip. Kalieth lhurept.” The skeleton shuddered for a moment. Iain inserted the gem into the skeleton’s mouth, where it dissolved into the roof of its mouth. He waited a few seconds. “It’s funny.”
“What is, my lord?”
“Drow proclaim their superiority over all other elf breeds but Helesatra is the only one of them to wake up as soon as she got her gem. I don’t know if it really means anything, but it is certainly interesting and could be funny to use to push the drow liches.”
Eirian chuckled. “Viersunuth didn’t either, my lord, and true dragons feel they are superior to all other beings in the universe. Helesatra believes that her immediate awakening may be due to the power give to her by her diabolic sire. When are we going to Evermeet?”
Iain glanced at her. “I wasn’t in a hurry to do so. Why?”
“Because there may be an analog of Selsharra there who has no one to give all of her immense treasures to. She is undead and, since you have tasted the energy of one Selsharra, you should be able to locate this one. If she is like the one who is clan, she will be very knowledgeable about the political situation in Evermeet and perhaps in the other surface elf kingdoms.”
“If she ever existed.”
“She did, my lord. Kerrik said she was one of his tutors during his childhood, so she was a baelnorn before Kasserine became pregnant with him.”
“Considering the tendency of people I love to adopt analogs of their family as kinfolks, I don’t think Kasserine, Ava or Selsharra would appreciate me binding the one of this world into my undead harem.”
“My lord, she became a baelnorn in order to protect her family line. It is now dead. You can offer her the opportunity to protect Kasserine, Ava and their children. She will have to reside here with us for the duration of this mission but then she will be able to see them again. She will be able to act freely to help protect her new family if she wishes, she just won’t be able to act against you or the clan.” Her eyes regarded him calmly. “Kasserine will understand that if she is not bound, she will remain an ongoing threat to you, us and the mission. She will also understand the asset that Selsharra represents, both to the mission and to afterward.” Her teeth gleamed in her cold smile. “As Kasserine does not presently wish you to die, she will appreciate the neutralization of the threat that Selsharra presents.”
Iain held up a hand. “Stop talking already, you’ve convinced me. However, I am not going to keep adding to the undead harem. It’s already pretty damned large.”
“I believe, my lord, that Selsharra will be the last that we shall require for some time. That will give us a moon elf, a sun elf, some drow and a human in Julia. A dwarf might be useful, but that is a discussion for another time.”
“Dwarven wizards tend to be hated by dwarves,” Iain said quietly.
Eirian nodded. “And the decree that all members of the undead harem will be mages is absolute. You would not change it and neither would I.”
“We’ll make it work.” Iain rubbed his eyes. “Somehow.”
“When do we leave for Evermeet, my lord?”
Iain grunted sourly. “We’ll leave early tomorrow morning. I want to get there around daybreak so we have all day to search. We’ll take the Lemon Sour and do an orbital bounce to save time as well as try to avoid any High Wizard who would like to stop us.”
“You will carry everyone in the dead harem who is here, my lord.”
“As long as it’s understood that you stay on my skin unless I order you off so I don’t get revealed as an outlander.”
Eirian dropped her head submissively. “Yes, my lord.”
Iain looked at Phaerxae’s skeleton and back to Eirian. “Did you need me for anything else?”
“No, my lord.”
“You said it’s raining outside. How bad is it?”
“Aurum believes that this might be the Chultan equivalent of the monsoon and the rain is steady and hard. There is a lot of flooding. It should not reach the cave but if it does, we will use wall of stone to completely seal the entrance. If that becomes necessary, we will likely leave it sealed and excavate another entrance above the flood limit.”
Iain thought about it for a moment. “Seal it now. If it does flood, then we’ll build an airlock system as an entrance for next time. Since you’re all undead and I can breathe water, we can still go outside if it becomes necessary to deal with any problems. The flood stage we could find on the rocks didn’t go this high, which is why we felt safe planting the sugarcane here, but, if it does flood around here that much, we’ll deal with it.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Then I’ll leave you with the former matron Dinaen here and head back to my cave. Just don’t forget my rule about priestesses of the Spider Queen.”
“I will not, my lord. She will only pray for spells in the Underdark and at least a distance of two kilometers from this facility.”
“That’s probably the best we can do right now to try to avoid her goddess’s attention.” He shook his head. “I’ll see you tonight.”
Iain trudged through the streets of Leuthilspar, the capital city of Evermeet, as the sun slowly climbed above the horizon. The city was much larger than Drelagara, and much older, having been founded right after the island had been pulled from Arvandor, the elf version of Heaven, over eight thousand years ago. Paved with crystal, the streets glittered like diamonds in the morning light. Iain could easily imagine it being blinding on a summer day around noon.
He’d landed the Lemon Sour several miles the up the river Ardulith and walked to the town after hiding it. His destination was a large stone structure in an area not far from the docks of the city. Grown from the native stone, like a lot of the buildings in Evermeet, it held the best apothecary and herbalist supply shop in the city and, quite possibly, the best in the region. It was operated by a family of green elves who had run the shop for generations. In Universe Twelve, however, Selsharra had owned the building and leased it to the family to conceal the fact that her crypt and all of the items she held in trust for her now dead family lay beneath it.
The green elves only knew she was the building’s owner and had no idea of what she was or of what lay beneath their shop and home.
Iain stopped when the shop came into view. It looks the same as what Selsharra Grey described to you that one time, his twee noted. The name is the same too. Eirian visited it and can verify if we are correct.
Iain nodded unconsciously. So it means she probably existed. But the question is, when the last of her family died, those many thousands of years ago, would she have destroyed herself? He moved to the alley to the right of the shop and leaned against the wall as he used his perception to explore the area underground. Unsurprisingly, there were caverns under the shop. They were made of worked stone, rather tidy and extended far beneath the structure above them. They went so deep that he couldn’t see the ends of it, but he did see furniture that looked worn, but still cared for and serviceable. I wonder.
He shrugged out of his pack and pulled out a ballpoint pen, a piece of parchment and a black silk ribbon that was covered with writing. Selsharra, he wrote on the parchment, I am outside the shop you own and waiting in the alley beside it. I would like to speak with you about a proposition that could be to our mutual benefit. Sincerely, Iain Grey. He folded the parchment and tied it shut with the ribbon. Then he put the pen away and put his pack back on.
He looked around carefully to make sure the alley was empty before holding out the parchment. “Selsharra the moon elf baelnorn.” The parchment and ribbon vanished. Eirian, if she shows up and attacks me, do not hesitate. If she comes to talk, great.
And if she does not come at all, my lord?
That spell will take the message to her. If she has been destroyed, it will arrive at her remains, but there’s no way to know if she has been destroyed or not from this or where she is. If she doesn’t come, we’ll try another method.
Is there a way to tell if she has been destroyed, my lord?
That would require a lot more work than I’m ready for. If I have to go that route, I’ll need to return to my cave and use my lab.
The door to the shop opened and a cloaked and hooded figure came out, carefully closing the door behind it. It immediately turned into the alley and headed down it to stop in front of Iain. Red pinpoints glittered in the darkness under the hood. “How do you know of me?” The voice was Selsharra’s.
“I was told of your existence by Kasserine.”
The hood jerked and fell back to reveal the decayed face of Selsharra the baelnorn. Time had not been kind and her hair was just a few clumps of raggedy black and what little remained of the soft tissue of her skull was bits and pieces of mummified tissue scattered all over the filthy skull in front of Iain. “That is impossible. She has been dead for thousands of years. They are all dead.”
“You know there are other universes out there.”
“I was once a High Wizard. I know more about them then you do.”
Iain managed not to smile at her arrogance. She might even be right, but he doubted it. “Some of them are very much like this one. In one of them, Kasserine did not die when she went on her trip and vanished. She returned, was pregnant and had a son. Later she was banished from the family and disappeared. I met her, her son and her daughter. In another universe, one that I will be returning to in seven hundred years, they still live.”
“Why did her family banish her?”
“Fear. She became an adult and stopped aging, but her magical skills kept improving. Her family feared her loyalty and feared that she would take the throne from them. Her sister’s daughter and granddaughter worried about the succession. The granddaughter, when she was queen, finally got rid of her the only way she could since she feared that her Selsharra would not let her murder Kasserine out hand. In fact, Selsharra counseled this queen to not banish Kasserine, but the queen ignored her to do what she wanted.”
“Why do you tell me this?”
“Eirian wants to catch you and bind you to me so you will be of use to us during my project here. I’d rather have your willing help now and, later, you can meet the other Selsharra, Kasserine and Ava, and perhaps help her protect the two of them and their children.”
Selsharra was still for several second. “I will not help you.”
“I must admit that was not what I was hoping for, but so be it.” He bowed. “Then I wish you good day.”
Selsharra lunged towards him in a quick movement that caught Iain off guard. Still moving, she took him by the throat in both hands and slammed him against the wall of the shop. He landed directly on his spine and his world went white with pain for an instant as she spoke. “You know of my presence and I cannot allow that.” Her hands clamped down like iron bands, crushing the cartilage in his throat as she shut off the air to Iain’s lungs. “I am sorry for this,” she said pleasantly, the red glowing dots of her eyes staring into his, “but you give me no choice.”
Iain was aware of his undead harem pouring off his body as he reacted instinctively, thrusting power into Selsharra in an attempt to throw her off him while he regained control of his body. Her form exploded into flame that burned away all of the remaining flesh and her clothing in a flash of light and heat to reveal a gleaming skeleton. Then Emerald and Sorrel dragged her off of him.
Iain went to one knee, coughing as his throat healed. Selsharra’s nails had become as strong as her bones and he felt his throat gingerly, wincing at the pulped flesh and stream of blood that pulling her from him had caused when her nails had raked across his skin and sliced him open. His esophagus reopened enough to breath and he sucked air in a loud whistle that died down as the damage mended.
Eirian knelt to peer into his eyes. “My lord? Your injuries are not immediately fatal.”
Iain smiled wanly. “That which doesn’t kill me maims me,” he whispered hoarsely. “Then I heal and eventually get stronger than I was before I was attacked.” Under his hand, his throat wounds were closing, but a burning pain in his chest told him that her nails had been poisoned, either deliberately or as part of the embalming process that had prepared her for undeath. Whatever it was, it was very potent and he could feel his legs turn to rubber while he waited for his body to purge whatever it was. “Help me stand.”
Eirian stood, reached down to grasp his elbow and effortlessly lifted him to his feet. “My lord, you should let the toxin pass before you attempt anything else.”
“If I wait,” he whispered, “then she’ll be gone, taken away by you for processing before I can forbid it. I have to copy her memories before you do that, in case the procedure ends up destroying her because she’s a baelnorn and not a normal lich.”
Eirian’s head cocked. “But you will allow us to process her?”
“She tried to kill me. She’s not going to stop just because we won today, so releasing her is not going to happen. We don’t keep prisoners for long term and that means she is bonded or she is destroyed. Frankly, destroying her is something I’d like to avoid unless it is the only remaining option.”
The Dragoness nodded. “Can you stand unaided?”
Iain tested. “Not yet.” He tried to lift his arm and laughed when it flopped uselessly. The laugh quickly turned into coughing. “I feel like Wesley in The Princess Bride after the Pit of Despair incident. Take me to Selsharra and put my left hand on her head.”
Eirian scooped Iain up her arms. “I will be your legs, my lord.” She carried him over to where Selsharra waited with Emerald and Sorrel.
The baelnorn had been bound in a softly glowing web of red light that had pulled her into a ball. She jerked a few times as Eirian knelt next to her with Iain. “Release me,” she said.
Eirian lifted Iain’s arm and dropped his hand on Selsharra’s head. “No,” the Dragoness said. “My lord would have been willing to leave you here, untouched, but you decided to kill him. You made your decision and now you truly have no choice.”
“Then destroy me quickly,” Selsharra said in a voice of utter despair. “My line is dead and I have nothing except unending existence. I cannot destroy myself or I would have done so millennium ago.”
Eirian laughed. “Destruction is not what is next for you.”
“Now you will join us. You will give the assistance my lord asked you for.”
“I am a baelnorn. You cannot force me to serve, not for long. You should understand this.”
“We shall see. My lord, do you have the memories you want?”
Iain pulled his hand away and revealed a blue globe of light clinging to it. It sank into his palm to vanish. “I do,” he said, his voice sounding stronger.
“Emerald, take her from this place. Ling, Julia, go with Emerald and begin processing Selsharra.” Eirian chuckled. “Thanks to our lord, we will not have to remove the flesh from her skeleton before proceeding.”
“That’s great,” Iain muttered as he tried to stand again. He still wasn’t ready and relaxed in Eirian’s arms. “I was trying to blast her off of me. Apparently I still have work to do with the concept.”
Emerald picked Selsharra up and stepped into the nearest shadow to vanish. A second later, Julia and Ling left.
“My lord,” Malachite asked curiously, “if you have the baelnorn’s memories, you know where her treasure is and how it is guarded, do you not?”
“I do,” Iain said. “And I will show you where to post guards while Selsharra is processed. Some of the wards are designed to kill anything not already dead. Unless Selsharra doesn’t survive processing, I don’t see any reason to tempt fate with my life. So we’ll guard her holdings until she can remove the defenses.”
“You do not think we can defeat her defenses?” It was Dabria, the Dark Queen. “Elves are no more than humans and humans are not much at all except for their usefulness against going feral.”
Death, Iain reflected, hadn’t given Dabria any humility. “Selsharra is thousands of years old and has been a practicing mage the whole time. James Scott couldn’t penetrate her outer defenses except by throwing sacrificial pokegirls at them until he hit the inner defenses. Those magically move her entire holdings somewhere else if they’re tampered with unsuccessfully. This new location is as heavily defended as the current one is and then you’re back at square one, and that’s if you can find it.” He tried to stand again and decided his legs would hold his weight. “Eirian, help me to stand, please.” She held him still until he touched her hands and she released him. “Dabria, I know exactly what her defenses are. I know how to activate them and I know how to remove them.” His eyes met hers. “And it would take me decades of unceasing labor to remove enough of them to prevent the movement from taking place.” He shrugged slowly. “It makes sense. It took her centuries to put all of them in place.”
“My lord?” It was Maria, the Slutton that Ninhursag had killed so long ago. “Will it take Selsharra decades to remove the guards and wards?”
“It may well,” Iain admitted. “But she designed the whole thing to never accidentally transport her treasure away because of anything she does. And during that time I can keep busy with my mission while she futzes around with the defenses.”
Alabaster cocked her head curiously. “Will she even need to bypass the defenses, my lord? If I had designed such a layered defense, I would have still made it possible for me to bring anything I wanted into and out of it. She could, with or without our help, bring all her treasure, no matter where it is, into our hands. Then the traps are not an issue for us and it will not be decades before we can even begin to add the treasure to your hoard, my lord.”
“Ladies, there speaks wisdom,” Iain said with a smile. “And that is a great reason to wait for Selsharra to wake up.” He took a slow step. “The toxin is almost gone. You ladies can ride me now. Since I’m here, I’ll wander the city and drop sensors as I go so we can start surveillance here.”
Between the returned nightmares and becoming a drake of the People, Iain didn’t sleep much. He was drifting off when he heard the quiet popping noise and his eyes came open as he instantly threw himself out of bed and halfway across the room to end up in a ready stance with his back against the solid rock of his walls. He didn’t relax when he saw the scroll sitting on the floor next to his bed. He reached out with his power. There was a fading magical residue but nothing else.
He waited until all the residue had vanished and the scroll held no magic before breaking his ready stance and padding back to his bed so he could pull on a pair of shorts in case someone checked on him. Some of his dwarves had issues with nudity in general and with him being nude in particular, even in his own bedroom. It didn’t really matter to him, but right now their overreaction would be inconvenient.
There was a wooden ewer filled with water and a mug on the small table next to his bed Iain ignored the mug to drink deeply, straight from the ewer. He was tempted to throw the scroll away unseen but finally decided against it. The homing message scroll setup that he used, he’d learned from Kerrik, who had developed it from a formal magic spell that did essentially the same thing. But, for the original version you had to know the spell, know what the subject looked like and know their name. The number of people that Iain could think of who could do all three of those things in regards to him and lived on this world, well he could count that number using nothing more than the fingers on both of his hands.
The problem was that the number of people who knew those three things and who also might have a reason to send him such a message was zero, as far as Iain knew.
It was remotely possible that Kerrik was sending him a message this way, but Kerrik was, in his own way, as paranoid as most truewizards were and he would have warded the scroll to prevent anyone else except Iain from reading it. Iain sensed no such warding, so it was rather doubtful that Kerrik had sent it. Presumably, Magdalene or Tanika would have added similar protections to any message that they would send to him.
As for Nightraven, neither she nor Caintigern had shown any sign that they used this communication method. He didn’t doubt that, at least for Nightraven, she had some way to contact him if she wanted to, but he’d never experienced it. Born one of the People, her sense of time and urgency were, quite truthfully, inhuman. There was nothing that couldn’t wait the handful of minutes until he returned or she came here to judge his work. While the ward Kerrik used merely kept anyone except the recipient from reading a message from him in various ways including wiping the scroll and sending him a message of the event, Nightraven would almost certainly have included some kind of lethal reward for any being who dared to interfere in her business with her current student. Again, such a warding would be magical and he could detect it if it were present.
He didn’t smell any strange residues on the scroll. There were two scents on it, the first a male’s that Iain didn’t recognize. The second scent was female and tantalizingly familiar, although he couldn’t place it either, like a perfume someone had smelled while walking somewhere else only to encounter later. There wasn’t anything useful that he could see on the exterior of the scroll, so he picked it up and frowned at the seal embossed in wax. It was the seal of the kingdom of Keltormir. The urge to burn it to ashes unread returned stronger, but Iain ignored it as he broke the seal.
The Dragon Known As Iaingrey Is Hereby Summoned To The Court Of His Majesty, King Thefaren Of Keltormir. There He Is To Present Himself, During Court, Before The Throne On The Second Day Of The Next Full Moon.
As Ordered by the Will Of His Majesty, King Thefaren.
The full moon was in nine days.
Iain tossed the scroll on his dresser as he used his twee to access the computer hidden inside the treasury. That allowed him to review the satellite information so he could find Rhyem Ammanth. The scroll might be from the king of Keltormir, but the rules of the spell still had to be followed and only Rhyem could have had the three prerequisites. Since he’d been visiting Rhyem to give him heads, during their first meeting, Iain had tagged him with a transmitter to make it easier to find him in the future.
The problem was that Rhyem only fulfilled two of the requirements since he was not a High Wizard and only someone that powerful could cast the spell at all. Since all three of the requirements had to be met, Iain was presented with a mystery. Since it involved people being able to bother him, Iain intended to solve it, and quickly.
Unsurprisingly, Rhyem was at his estate just outside the capital of Keltormir. However, none of Iain’s people had ever been there. Still, that was an easy problem to solve.
Iain threw on some clothes and headed outside. It was early winter and a thin layer of snow crunched under his boots. The waxing moon was up there somewhere, but Iain couldn’t see it for all the clouds fat with more snow to drop that filled the sky overhead.
The White Tigress poured off his arm in a stream of white smoke and appeared. “My lord, how may I serve you?”
“Would you please ask Eirian to come here? I need to speak to her.”
Matilda smiled toothily. “I am quite capable, my lord. Is this reason something that I could not do for you in her stead?”
“I need someone to fly about four hundred miles over some mountains and heavy forest to someplace none of us have been so she can be the anchor for the rest of us to join her.” Iain said evenly. “I am going to let Eirian decide who goes.”
Matilda’s smile vanished. “And I cannot fly. I will fetch her immediately, my lord.”
“Matilda?” The White Tigress paused. “I do value you and I do appreciate what you’ve done for me in the past and will do in the future. You were instrumental in uncovering the full extent of what the Orange League had been doing to Blue. When I think you can do something for me, I do not hesitate to call on you and that hasn’t changed, regardless of the favoritism Eirian gives towards the other dragon type pokegirls in my undead harem.”
Matilda cocked her head for a second, her ears flicking. “It shouldn’t surprise me that you know about it. It grates sometimes.”
“Of course it does. You were an alpha and an ambitious bitch of a pokegirl while you were alive. Undeath has only made you more so. How did your magical studies go during the two centuries you were on the Phantasmal Surveyor?”
“I am as good as most of them now, my lord.”
“I’ll remember that since it widens the scope of the things you can do for me here. Now please go tell Eirian that I want to talk to her.”
“My lord, why not use your twee?”
“I wanted to talk to you.” Her head came up and she frowned. Iain smiled slightly. “You and the others are one of the lifelines I have to my past and future with my family back home. I’m going to need those lifelines more in the years to come and I want to get into the habit of using them now, while I am still only starting to miss the part of my family that I can’t spend any time with right now.”
“We’re part of your family?”
“It’s called my undead harem for a reason, Matilda. You are clan and you are family. If you weren’t family, I’d call you my troops or something like that.”
Her tail twitched. “Since your other women are not here and we are harem, will you use us for sex, my lord?”
“No. You don’t need it and I don’t think you really want it. Additionally,” he grinned for a second, “you are almost all pokegirls. If I have sex with one of you,” he shrugged. “I’d better be fucking all of you lest that cause infighting within the harem.”
Matilda laughed. “Yes, my lord. I will fetch Eirian.” She stepped into a shadow and vanished.
A few moments later Matilda returned with Eirian. The Dragoness bobbed her head in greeting. “My lord, Matilda reports you have a mission for us.”
“I’m sending you some map coordinates. I want someone to fly there to establish a transport point for the rest of us. The destination is the home of Duke Rhyem Ammanth and it’s in Keltormir’s capital, so caution will be needed for the landing and final penetration of the target. I want this because it has become apparent that he and I need to have a chat about some behavior of his that I don’t like and we need to have it soon.”
“Should we bring you his head?”
“No, I only want to talk to him right now. Alive he’s likely to be much more forthcoming during our conversation. However, once we’re there I will bring the Lemon Sour down on automatic pilot so I have it available in case there is something I want to transport without giving away the secret of shadow walking, like perhaps a moon elf duke as my prisoner.”
“I will send Iolite, my lord. She will leave within the next ten minutes while I assemble the rest of the harem to protect you.”
“Is that really necessary?”
“Ninhursag is not here to argue that you need protected, my lord, but you still do and now the job falls upon us. These elves are magically aware and we must treat them with the same caution we would treat a powerful Archmage or magically trained legendary.”
Large flakes of snow began to fall around them. Iain glanced at the sky for a moment. “I’m not going to argue with you.”
“There is no need, my lord,” Eirian said. “Are you going to order us not to protect you?”
“I will not, because you’re not wrong and I don’t have any plans that involve me dying and somehow enjoying it.” He held out his hand. “Matilda, back to work.” She chuckled and dissolved into white smoke to flow into to the tattoo on the skin of his forearm. “Thank you, Eirian.”
“We will endeavor to remain unobtrusive while protecting you, my lord,” Eirian reassured him. “The fewer of our enemies that know of our existence, the better we can protect you. I would rather we ride you and only move to protect you in an emergency, as we have been doing.”
“I agree, so that’s what we’ll keep doing.”
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
Dianthus – Elfqueen
Golden Cloud – equine unicorn
Arianrhod -Fey Goblin Female
74 male Goblins
89 female Goblins
Queendom / Outer Clan
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
Alabaster – Dragoness (white)
Onyx – Dragoness (black)
Lapis – Dragoness (blue)
Garnet – Dragoness (red)
Iolite – Dragoness (purple)
Malachite – Dragoness (green with white swirls)
Dabria (was Loviatar) – Dark Queen
Omisha (was Hel) – Demoness
Viersunuth great wyrm blue true dragoness
Helesatra Vyshaan half pit fiend (fiend) half sun elf. Princess of the Vyshaantar Empire.
Talyl – drow commoner
Zarza – drow commoner
Sabrae – drow commoner
Sintree – drow commoner
Alyfaen Dinaen – drow, matron of House Dinaen
Phaerxae Dinaen – drow, former matron of House Dinaen, mother of Alyfaen
Selsharra of Evermeet
Myrna (Age 4)
Dorothy: Duelist (Age 3)
Olivia: Megami Sama (Age 6)
Seraphina: Megami Sama
Miram: Angel (Age 5)
Caltha: Nightmare (Age 0)
James: Jamie Harris kid (Age 2)