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            This work is fiction. The work has no relationship with any person existing at any time anywhere whether real or imaginary or copywritten. Everything in this work is mea culpa. 

            This work is the property of Kerrik Wolf (saethwyr@ (SPAM) hotmail.com). Please remove (SPAM) to contact me.

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Loose Threads

One Hundred Twenty Six

 

            Marguerite tugged on the bell pull and a large bell tolled in the belfry at the top of the house. Bats shot out of it, circled the belfry wildly and slowly began returning when the bell didn’t sound again.

            Zareen frowned. “Where is the knocker?”

            “They removed it,” Marguerite explained. “It was temporary while the bell pull was being repaired after Fester cut it with a round from his four pounder.” Lurch opened the door and Marguerite smiled at him. “It’s us and we have Iain with us.”

            Lurch gave a half bow. “Welcome.” He stepped out of the way and pulled the door fully open. “Parlor.”

            “Thank you.” Marguerite looked at Iain as they headed for the parlor. “He means that they’re waiting for us in the parlor. They’ll probably have tea and some kind of poison for you to ingest as a test of survivability.”

            Iain chuckled. “This should be fun. I’ve run across some toxins during my mission that will kill even an Addams and a few that will make even the most toxin resistant person sicker than hell.”

            Mamma smiled as they entered the parlor. “I would like to see these toxins so that I can include them in the ones I feed to the family to make them stronger.”

            Morticia gave her mother a stern look. “Mamma, introductions first.” She rose and extended a hand towards Iain. “It is very nice to see you again, Mr. Grey.”

            Iain kissed it. “Please, call me Iain. While I understand and respect the formality of this first meeting, I think we should start putting that formality behind us as soon as we can, especially considering that I may end up as your son in law.”

            Morticia smiled and gestured towards the couch. “That is a wonderful idea. Call me Morticia. Please, sit.” She looked over Marguerite and the others as the Unicorn and Dominique joined Iain on the sofa and Zareen moved to her customary place behind it. “Your clothing is different than it was a short time ago.”

            “That’s my fault,” Iain said. “I have been on a mission for a teacher of mine and haven’t seen my ladies in what seems like forever, so I dragged them off to a nearby universe to spend some time with them. It has a different flow of time than this universe and we were gone for a week, which allowed Marguerite to brief me on what I might expect and the progress of her mission. Hiding what we’d done would have been rude, so the decision was made not to even try.”

            Mamma leaned forward eagerly. “Our wizards were never able to do such things.”

            Iain smiled. “Magic, like some science, is about ideas. If someone doesn’t imagine something like parallel universes existing, they don’t ever experiment to see if it would be possible to travel to one. The fact that your wizards may have never traveled to another universe does not mean that they could not have.”

            Morticia’s eyebrows quirked curiously. “May have?”

            “If one of your wizards unexpectedly vanished, it is possible that he or she might have accidentally opened a path to another universe and then not known how to duplicate that to return and report what they’d done.”

            Morticia nodded. “That would make sense.” She gestured towards the tea trolley. “Would you like some tea?”

            “I would, and if someone would be so kind as to fill a second cup with the toxins you wish me to ingest, then I would prefer my tea black with no sugar.”

            Mamma leaned forward. “Can I get some of the most potent poisons that I keep with the spices? Those are too strong for normal family use.” She smiled. “I keep them for special guests.”

            “I look forward to trying them.” I have to purge this stuff from your system, his twee noted. We should let us die. No, that would be bad for me. And I’m immune to them in any case.

            Mamma grinned and bounced to her feet. “I’ll be right back.” She dashed out of the room.

            “You have made Mamma very happy,” Morticia said. “I only hope they do not prove too powerful for you.”

            “I guess we’ll find out,” Iain replied. “Is it safe to presume that I will be tested by everyone in the family who wishes to see if I am good enough for Wednesday?”

            Morticia nodded. “Yes. My husband is planning some big surprise for you and Uncle Fester has something as well. I even think that Pugsley intends to challenge you somehow.”

            Iain nodded. “And you?”

            “I have some questions, if you wouldn’t mind.”

            Iain smiled. “And even if I did mind, you still need to ask them.” Morticia nodded once. “I am ready for your questions.”

            “When we first met, you said that you were not human. Are you like us and carry the blood of the fey in your veins?”

            “The answer to that,” Iain said as Mamma reappeared and placed a large glass in front of him that was filled with an amber liquid which bubbled and put off a light brown cloud of smoke that drifted around the mouth of the glass, “is it depends. I have been told by a Sidhe that I am fey and I have been told by a Nipponese spirit folk that I am spirit folk, but I have also been told by a fey and a spirit folk that I am neither. The thing to remember is that I no longer carry any human blood in my veins. I am a dragon. More specifically, I would be considered a western dragon or a doragon in Nippon.” He grabbed a heavy cushion from the couch and pulled it in front of him in time for the knife to thud into the cushion. He glanced at the doorway where Pugsley gave him a sheepish grin and put the cushion on the floor next to his leg. “And that’s why, to some people, I’m fey and to others I’m not.”

            “Good try, Pugsley,” Gomez said as he walked past his son into the parlor. “Better luck next time.”

            Iain chuckled as he picked up the glass. “It was a good throw.” He drained the glass and put it down on the table.

            “This is my husband, Gomez,” Morticia said. “Gomez, this is Iain Grey.”

            “It’s about time,” Gomez said as Iain rose. “First you charm my wife and now you’re here for my daughter.” He extended his hand and Iain shook it firmly. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

            “You as well, sir.” Iain sat down again. “My first visit here was entirely by accident, but I believe it has turned out to be a rather fortunate thing for all of us.” He picked up his teacup and took a sip. “What other questions do you have?”

            “How was the poison mix I made you,” Mamma asked eagerly.

            Iain looked thoughtful for a second. “There are overtones of citrus and almond with some hints of chocolate, oddly enough. The only toxin I believe I did identify by its taste is curare, which wouldn’t work since it requires an open wound to take effect even if I wasn’t immune to it.”

            Mamma’s eyes lit up. “I did add a little chocolate to it and there’s a drug in there that will cause stomach ulcers so the curare and the cobra venom would work on a normal person.”

            Dominique was eyeing Iain. “How do you know what curare tastes like?”

            “There are some tribal goblins in Chult who use it on their arrows and I got some on my fingers and then stupidly licked them.” He blinked. “I licked my fingers, not the goblins or the arrows.”

            “Chult isn’t real.” It was Pugsley. “It’s in a game.”

            Iain raised an eyebrow. “You play D&D?”

            “Uncle Fester and I do.”

            “I also played when I was younger, but now I travel the universes and I’ve found a lot of places in books and games from places like Earth do really exist elsewhere, including the Forgotten Realms. There, Chult exists, and I’ve been there.”

            Pugsley’s eyes lit up. “Have you been to Waterdeep?”

            “Are you familiar with the timeline of the Forgotten Realms?”

            He nodded. “Very much so.”

            “Well, the last Toril I was on was right at the end of the Fifth Crown War. The city of Aelinthaldaar exists where Waterdeep might one day be if this place follows the standard Forgotten Realms timeline. I have visited a different Forgotten Realms where I did spend some time in Waterdeep. It’s an interesting city and it’s full of interesting people.” He looked at Morticia inquiringly.

            She smiled slightly. “You do understand that you do not look like a dragon, Iain.”

            He chuckled. “Well, if I couldn’t become like I am now, it would be difficult for Wednesday and me to have children. My people can change shape and, if you’d like, we can go outside tonight and I’ll shift into my draconic form.”

            “Why wait until tonight,” Gomez asked.

            “I’m here to meet you, your family and, hopefully, Wednesday. Having someone outside that group see me in my draconic form and get involved somehow or get others involved somehow would make that more difficult than it needs to be. Daylight makes it easier for them to see me.”

            “Logical,” Gomez said slowly. “And our neighbors are rude enough to spy on us, the cowards.” He placed a hand on his chest. “Can you believe that they say that we are the source of all of the troubles in this community? Us!”

            “I can believe that they would say that about you,” Iain agreed. “Their jealousy is so transparent, as is their lack of breeding as evidenced by their hurling such accusations without overwhelming and substantial proof.”

            Gomez pointed a finger at Iain as he grinned. “Exactly! And they will never have that proof.” His smile turned conspiratorial. “We’re too good at hiding evidence.”

            Zareen snickered. “Us too.”

            Iain drained his teacup and put it down. “Would it be too forward of me to send Wednesday a letter of introduction? She and I have never met and it doesn’t seem fair to not do something along that line.”

            “I think that would be a splendid idea,” Gomez said. “Morticia has her address on file. Would you please get it, dear?”

            Morticia rose gracefully. “I will be right back.”

            Iain picked up the cushion and removed the knife. He examined it. “Machine made, but still nice work. And the edge is perfect.” He looked at Pugsley and handed the knife back to Zareen. “Please return this to young Mr. Addams. I relieve you.”

            “Relieved.” Zareen circled around the room and handed the knife to Pugsley. “Throw was too slow,” she said. “Too much motion gave it away when you drew the knife. Try a sleeve scabbard to drop it into your hand.”

            “Uh, thanks. I will.” He took the knife and tucked it away as Zareen returned to her post. “And thank you, Mr. Grey.”

            “Relieve,” Zareen said loudly.

            “I stand relieved. Pugsley, call me Iain. I may end up as your brother in law, after all.”

            Pugsley stepped forward and held out his hand. “Then I’m Pugsley.”

            Iain stood and shook hands with him. “Nice to meet you, Pugsley. Maybe later we can discuss your sister’s weak points.”

            Gomez grinned. “Cheating already? Excellent!”

            Iain smiled. “I am doing my due diligence.”

            Pugsley returned the smile. “Later.”

            He returned to his place near the door as Morticia returned with a card that she offered to Iain. “Here is Wednesday’s address. She’s staying in a dormitory and eating at the cafeteria so that she may experience all that university life can offer her. I do believe, however, that she has had a difficult time with her roommates. There is a great number of very flighty girls attending university, I understand, who seem to move out almost as quickly as the dorm moves them in.”

            Iain read the card carefully and then offered it back to Morticia. “My experiences at university taught me that there are a large number of very curious individuals there who sometimes struggle to get along with each other.”

            Morticia took the card back. “You do not wish to keep this?”

            “I’ve memorized the information on it, but I will if you’d like.”

            “More magic,” from Mamma.

            “More training during my apprenticeship,” Iain explained. “My first instructor in formal magic liked to show me something and then have me recite it back to him a day or two later. He also liked to take me places, let me look out a window for a few seconds and then have me describe everything I saw. While I admit it is a good survival technique and just reinforced the situational awareness training I was getting from Dominique and some other members of my family at the time, it was still a lot of work.”

            “You have a twee,” Dominique said quietly.

            “Elminster made me promise not to use any memory aids and I didn’t,” Iain replied just as quietly. “I wouldn’t make that promise now, but then I didn’t know better.”

            Pugsley perked up. “You were an apprentice to Elminster the Mage of Shadowdale?”

            Iain chuckled. “No, I was apprenticed to Elminster the man, whose primary girlfriend, although he had many, his primary one was a goddess and who didn’t drop around all that much. He was not an early riser and was very grumpy until he’d had either a couple of pipes full of whatever he was smoking that month or, after I introduced him to it, a pot of coffee, had been poured into him. Sometimes he had both. May I have the next question please?”

            Gomez leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs. “Should you marry Wednesday, can you provide adequately for my daughter?”

            “Like your family, the Grey family is not destitute, nor am I. Wednesday will taken care of as well or as poorly as she wants to be taken care of.”

            “That is an unusual distinction you have made,” Morticia said. “You said the Grey family and you. What is the difference?”

            “I have my own private fortune,” Iain replied. “I accumulated it over the years without any use of clan money to do so and I consider it mine to do with as I please. Understand that if the clan needs money and I have some, I will transfer it to the clan without a qualm, but it’s still my money to do with as I please.”

            “If you did not use your clan’s money to start this wealth,” Morticia asked shrewdly, “where did it come from?”

            “I made my money using one of the oldest and most respected and fashionable methods,” Iain said with a smile. “I killed enemy dragons and other powerful foes and took their fortunes as mine. If things work out, someday you may be able to visit the trophy room where some of my clanswomen put the heads of those foes on display.”

            “Keeping the heads of your enemies,” Gomez said with a grin. “I didn’t realize you were so traditional.”

            “Understand I’m not an Addams and so, if what I do conforms to practices of your family, it isn’t deliberate. It’s just good common sense to keep the heads of your foes to remind other people that maybe they don’t want to decide to become your next foe.”

            “Yet,” Mamma said.

            “Excuse me?”

            “You are not an Addams yet. I like you and I believe Morticia and Gomez do as well. I also think that Wednesday will find you acceptable.”

            “I am still going to court her properly,” Iain stated.

            “And that is one of the reasons why Mamma thinks Wednesday will accept you,” Morticia added. “I think that Mamma may be right, but my daughter has her own mind and heart. And you still have to prove you’re at least as good as my Gomez.”

            “I suspect I’ll have plenty of opportunities in the very near future.”

            “You will,” Gomez said. “And that’ll start just as soon as we go outside.”

            Iain nodded. “Do you have more questions, Morticia?”

            She shook her head. “Not at the moment.”

            “Then how about we go outside and Gomez can challenge me to a footrace or whatever it is he wants to do?”

            “I think that would be an excellent idea.” She rose. “Lurch, we are going outside so Gomez can play with Iain. Please fetch the maces and axes.” She motioned towards the door. “This way.”

***

            Wednesday Addams opened her eyes and sat up as she reached over and turned off her alarm clock exactly two minutes before it was supposed to sound. A glance across the room showed that her latest roommate hadn’t come back yet. The girl, whose name Wednesday couldn’t remember, had moved in with her boyfriend after a week of living with Wednesday, which suited Wednesday perfectly since the girl had been completely detestable. She’d been happy and perky and, Wednesday gave a sight shudder at the thought, bright pink. At least that was the color of almost all of her clothing, nail polish and other toiletries.

            She frowned and looked around the room more carefully. Something didn’t feel quite right and it made her inner alarm sound. That alarm had never failed her and she’d learned to listen to it when it sounded a warning. She sniffed the air and looked around again when she thought, for an instant, she smelled a stranger’s scent. A second inhalation detected nothing out of the ordinary.

            Then she saw the white envelope centered neatly on her desk, with her name written on the top in an elegant hand in black ink. She pulled on her dressing gown, checking to ensure her knife was in the pocket where it belonged before she searched her room and bath for intruders. A check of her door showed it was locked, just as she’d left it the night before.

            Then she sat down at her desk and regarded the envelope. To her experienced eye, it was made of high quality linen rag and probably didn’t hold more than a single sheet of paper. She sniffed it, not detecting any scent other than the paper and the ink. She examined it visually for nearly a minute before flipping it over to look at the back. It had been sealed with red wax and the seal denoted what she first thought was a unicorn lunging forward to strike with its horn, but she immediately recognized that the tail was long, powerful and sinuous. She didn’t recognize it, whatever it was. Under the creature and lying horizontal, pointing to the right, was a sword.

            Wednesday retrieved a letter opener from her desk drawer and carefully pried up the seal without breaking it. Inside was a single sheet of paper, of the same quality as the envelope.

            Wednesday carefully sniffed the envelope again before sliding the paper out of it and laying it flat before opening it. It was written in the same elegant hand that had addressed the envelope to her.

            Miss Addams,

            My name is Iain Grey, and I am writing this to briefly introduce myself to you. I live in Texas, in Sabine County. I cannot be more precise because the world I am from does not match the political maps that are available on this world and most of the normal references I could provide would be unfamiliar to you and of no use.

            As you are aware, some of the women of my family journeyed to your family’s residence and met with your mother and grandmother with the goal of arranging a meeting between you and me with the intention of courtship and possible marriage. You have already met Marguerite, Dominique and Zareen. Because of this, and because we have not yet met, I thought it polite to send you this missive introducing myself and explaining that, while I am not completely familiar with courtship rituals as practiced by the modern Addams family, I am a quick study. To that end, I only consider it fair to inform you that because you are an Addams, the poison that you have absorbed through your hands when you touched this letter should only make you violently ill for a few hours. The poison degrades rapidly in the presence of light and therefore it will not persist to poison you again or to allow you to use it on anyone else. Please remember to remain well hydrated while under the effects of the poison so it does not cause you undue and lasting harm.

            I intend to stay as your parent’s guest, that is if they will allow it, and I look forward to meeting you sometime in the next several days.

            Respectfully yours, Iain Grey

            Wednesday read the letter again and folded it neatly up before placing it back inside the envelope and laying it where she’d found it. She regarded it for a moment before nodding as her stomach suddenly twisted into a knot. “Very well, Mr. Grey, as my father would say, good show, sir.”

            Then she turned and vomited into her trash can.

***

            Iain looked at Marguerite and the others. “Let’s take a walk, ladies.”

            Morticia and Mamma were off with Lurch to do some shopping. As far as anyone could tell without using telepathy or magic to find them, Gomez and Fester were somewhere in the bowels of the house while Pugsley was in school.

            “Where are we going,” Marguerite asked as they headed outside. Morticia had provided her with a key and she carefully locked the front door.

            Iain smiled. “We’re taking a turn around the neighborhood. I don’t feel like walking, so shift, if you are willing to carry me.”

            Marguerite pulled her skirt up and shifted to her centaur form, her clothing changing to accommodate her larger proportions. “I am,” she said primly. “But aren’t we worried about being seen?”

            “Dominique will put up an illusion so any viewers will think I’m on horseback.” Iain swung up onto Marguerite’s back. “Zareen, you’re still our security but stay close so Dominique’s magic can cover you too.”

            Dominique lifted off to hover as Zareen shifted to her equine form and vaulted over the gate. “My spell is on all of us, Iain. As long as Zareen stays within three kilometers, she’s good.”

            “Excellent. Marguerite, once we’re on the road, please turn left. We’ve got a little more than a mile to go and then you can turn left onto a paved private road.”

            Marguerite looked back at him. “Hold on.” Iain wrapped his arms around her waist and she glanced back at him with a smile. “Keep your hands low, mister.”

            Iain deliberately slid his hand up to cup her breasts through her blouse. “And if I don’t?”

            Marguerite shivered. “Iain,” she said pleadingly, “stop it.” He put his hands back around her waist and she shivered again. “That was cruel.”

            “That’s me,” he said cheerfully. “I’m just a monster.”

            Marguerite hopped over the gate and headed left at a gentle trot. “Where are we going and why?”

            “You’ve done well enough on your mission,” Iain said, “and you’ve followed the parameters Ninhursag gave you, but she missed a couple of things. There’s a fourteen thousand acre ranch next door to the Addams residence and we’re going to pay it a visit. You see, if Wednesday does join the family, she’s going to want to come home to visit from time to time and we’ll need a base on this world. The ranch is currently for sale.”

            Marguerite stopped and twisted to look back at him. “I should have thought of that.”

            “Ninhursag should have thought of that and made it part of your mission,” Iain replied. “You haven’t done this before and she has. Now get moving again, please.”

            “I should have thought of it,” Dominique said from where she was flying next to them.

            “Bases aren’t part of your normal sphere of responsibility,” Iain was looking around attentively as they traveled. “And everyone needs to stop trying to blame themselves. I remembered we’d need one and that’s me backing you ladies up, just like I’m supposed to. I’m not going to jump all over Ninhursag for not thinking about it and I’ve updated Daya’s and Theodora’s protocols when we travel to consider bases, so it shouldn’t happen again.”

            “I take it this ranch is something we might like,” Marguerite said as she turned left onto the paved road and picked up her pace slightly.

            “You would be correct. Strangely enough, many of the properties around the Addams residence are for sale. The price for the ranch is a bit steep to me, but I’ve had Daya look the place over and she says that just about everyone in the harem will be happy with something there. And, since Theodora and Daya have been mining the asteroids back in One, we have plenty of money to work with. Daya is working on narrowing down a buyer for our gold and platinum who has few scruples and fewer transactional records and she’s already set us up an offshore bank account to transfer our money into before we move it elsewhere.”

            There are people ahead, Zareen sent to them. I am waiting where I will not be seen for you to join me.

            It’s a working ranch, Iain replied, deliberately including all three women and Daya in his communication. There are people here and I have an appointment to see the house. We’re looking for a woman named Dawn Williams who should be waiting for us at the house. We’ll join you and shift before we walk the rest of the way to the house.

            After joining Zareen and shifting to bipedal while Dominique landed, they walked towards the house. Almost immediately a man rode up on a palomino gelding. “Good morning,” he said. “Can I help you?”

            “I’m Iain Grey and I have an appointment with Dawn to see the house,” Iain said. “We’re staying nearby and walked instead of driving.”

            The man nodded and pulled out a phone. “Please wait. We’ve had a problem with some eco freaks,” he paused, “some people who want to trespass onto the ranch to tell us how we should be running it. They’ve been more active recently. Let me call Dawn.” He touched a couple of buttons and put the phone to his ear. “This is Tommy. I’ve got some people here who say they have an appointment with you to see the house. They’re on foot, so I wanted to confirm with you.” He nodded. “That’s the name he gave.” He nodded again. “Got it. Bye.” He hung up. “I’m supposed to escort you to the house.”

            Thomas Williams, Tommy to his friends, Daya said to them all, is the younger brother of Dawn Williams.

            The man dismounted. “I’m Tommy and I’m Dawn’s brother.” He stuck out his hand and shook with each person in turn.

            “I’m Iain, this is Marguerite, Dominique and Zareen.”

            “If you don’t mind my asking,” Tommy said as he led them towards the house, visible in the distance, “you don’t sound like you’re from around here. Where are you from?”

            “I sound like I’m from Ireland,” Iain replied. “We’re a diverse bunch. Dominique is from London, Zareen is from Scotland and Marguerite is an American.”

            Tommy’s eyes lingered on Marguerite’s chest. “I can see that,” he said slowly. “Do you have any experience ranching?”

            “A bit.”

            A woman was waiting on the porch to the house and came down the steps as they approached. “Good morning, Mr. Grey. I’m Dawn.”

            Iain smiled. “I’m Iain and it’s a pleasure to meet you. This is Marguerite, Dominique and Zareen.”

            I’m tweaking things in her mind so she doesn’t decide to automatically hate you, Marguerite said to him through their bond. She’s recently been dumped by her husband for some woman with blond hair and huge breast implants and immediately thought you were a philandering bastard like he is as soon as she saw us.

            That could be unfortunate and thank you.

            Dawn looked severely at her brother, as if she’d seen him ogling Marguerite. “Thank you, Tommy. I’ll take it from here.”

            Tommy blinked at her tone. “Uh, yeah, sis.” He smiled at Marguerite. “I’ll see you all later.” He mounted the horse and rode off, looking frequently back at them as he rode out of sight.

            “Sorry about that,” Dawn said. “Tommy is,” she shrugged.

            “Constantly horny,” Marguerite suggested. “Unfortunately, I’m fairly familiar with the type. I didn’t encourage him at all.”

            “All you have to be is breathing, with tits like those, and any man would be encouraged,” Dawn muttered. She glanced at Iain and turned bright red. “Sorry, sorry!”

            Iain chuckled. “Dawn, I’ve seen people like your brother before. Marguerite’s bust is rather impressive and she’s not wearing a bra, which doesn’t help.”

            Dawn blinked. “How do they stay,” she shook her head violently. “Sorry!”

            “The really interesting thing,” Marguerite said, “is that I don’t have implants of any sort. They’re just naturally perky.”

            Dawn glanced at him and turned even redder. Iain smiled. “I believe you wanted to sell us on the house and then the ranch, Dawn,” he suggested.

            “Oh. Right.” She gave him a weak smile. “I’m sorry, Iain. It’s been a bad day for me and I’m being inexcusably rude. Please come inside with your friends and have some tea with me. Do you drink iced tea?”

            “I love iced tea,” Iain replied. “Unsweet, please. Then you can show us the house.”

            “That sounds good,” Dawn headed for the front door. “Come with me, please.”

She glanced at him as they headed for the porch. “I’m curious, you walked?”

            Iain was ready for this question. “My younger brother is attending university and he met a girl. They act like they are turning out to be pretty serious, but there’s something about her that seems off and, when you’ve got as much money as we have, you have to investigate people because well, as you Americans say, the weirdos.”

            Dawn smiled. “We have our share of them too.”

            “I figured you did. Her family is almost completely off the grid. They use only cash and don’t have any real debts, which I found curious, so I contacted her family. They were polite and invited me out to visit for a few days and we’re at their house.” He shrugged. “They’re, um, different. Honestly, after meeting them, I’m not sure if I hope my brother has found ‘the one’ or not. Anyway, I saw this place was for sale and I am always looking for a decent investment, so I set up an appointment with you and came over.”

            Dawn looked puzzled. “I know everyone who lives around here and nobody lives within walking distance of us. What is the name of the family you’re staying with?”

            “Gomez and Morticia Addams.”

            Dawn’s eyes went wide and her mouth dropped. “You’re staying with them? But, but you seem so normal. Oh, your brother.” Her eyes went wide again. “Your brother is dating Wednesday Addams? You need to stop that relationship, now! Boys that date her end up getting really badly hurt. I mean they end up in the hospital kind of hurt, not living with a broken heart kind of hurt.” She shook her head. “That whole family is completely insane.”

            “I’m starting to see that.” Iain smiled disarmingly. “Which is one of the reasons I’m over here, looking forward to seeing your place and getting some tea that doesn’t have things swimming in it.”

            Dawn smiled slowly. “I can understand that. Come with me and I’ll get you and your ladies some tea.”

***

            Once they were out of sight of the house, Marguerite shifted to her centaur form and looked at Iain. “Are you going to try to fondle me again?”

            He grinned. “I didn’t try, I succeeded. What are your plans for tonight?”

            “We’re in someone else’s house,” Dominique pointed out.

            “We can go outside, but my hearing has become outstanding and last night I found out that Gomez and Morticia have a healthy sex life. I was trying to be polite about it so I didn’t turn up in your room but I’m not doing that again. I did tease Marguerite a little while ago and I’d like to make it up to her.”

            “I’d like that too,” Marguerite stroked the top of Iain’s head. “And we can go running tonight.”

            Zareen grinned. “Did you see the nice hay barn that Dawn led us past? I’ll bet it’s got some soft hay in it.”

            “I think I’ll be able to tell you if it does tomorrow,” Marguerite looked at Iain. “If that’s all right with you. Is it?”

            “I think we have an excellent plan.”

            “What if the hay is full of thistles and hard stalks,” Dominique asked.

            “I’ve got a Dikon with some furs in it,” Iain replied. “I think they’d work well as a backup in case the hay barn doesn’t work out like we hope it will.”

            Marguerite cocked her head. “Are those the furs from the bed at the place on Ragnarok where you awakened me?”

            “No, those are still there and they’re mostly Ovis and Equus along with a bit of Casteroides mixed in. The ones I’m carrying are giant mink furs I brought back from Twenty Three.” Iain climbed onto Marguerite’s back and wrapped his arms around her human stomach. “So, I’m now taking comments on the tour.”

            “It’s a nice house,” Dominique said. “There’s a lot wasted space in it with the cathedral ceilings and all, but Daya says the ground underneath it is strong and would support sublevels if we decide to excavate.”

            “We’ll still have to do some construction on the surface,” Marguerite noted. “There isn’t anything suitable for a barracks for the planetary response team Daya will require us to have for a while.”

            “We can make it look like the rest of the buildings,” Iain looked thoughtful for a moment. “They raise Angus for sale and we can either stay with them or switch over to the Santa Gertrudis that we’ve got in Texas.”

            Dominique lifted off to hover beside them. “What’s the difference?”

            “Angus can be more aggressive and they don’t grow quite as fast as Santa Gertrudis do.” Iain grinned and thickened his Irish accent. “But then they’re an Irish breed and we all know about the Irish.” Everyone laughed.

            “Dawn said there were avocado and olive orchards,” Marguerite noted. “What we did see looked good, but Dawn’s mind told me that she was careful to select the best parts of the area around the main house to show us.”

            “Daya has looked over the whole ranch,” Iain replied. “Right?”

            Daya’s hologram appeared on the ground by Marguerite’s right front leg. “In any working ranch you would expect to find things that will always need repaired when doing a snapshot of the ranch’s activity. I didn’t find anything that was excessively damaged or worn. The Williams family has done an excellent job of keeping the ranch up and I don’t think Dawn is aware of the marijuana plot that her brother is cultivating on the far west edge of the ranch. It’s not really big enough for him to be selling a lot of product and I suspect it’s for personal use and casual sales or use by friends. I would recommend we keep growing some, but we might want to hide it better since US federal law makes growing illegal narcotics a felony. There are licenses for domestic growing for sale in this part of the US, but you have to pay large honorariums to the right people to even have a chance to get one of those licenses.”

            “You mean bribes,” Dominique said.

            “I am using the word in its original Latin context as my sister is a Roman empress and both her empire and the area around where my namesake lived both used honorariums properly and not as it has been cleaned up for modern use.” She smiled coldly. “Which means you are completely correct. The local government is quite corrupt, but then we are talking about outlanders.”

            “Can that corruption be used to our benefit,” Iain asked.

            “Yes, it can and I am tracing the movement of money in order to track down the power players in this area so we know who we need to deal with and who their flunkies are.” Daya looked at Iain. “The ranch will do what we want it for and it’s large enough to make hiding some of the things we do not want discovered about us much easier, even with satellite surveillance.” She folded her arms. “You’re just balking at the price tag.”

            “I am,” Iain admitted cheerfully. “Thirty five million dollars is a lot of money.”

            “Not for us it isn’t and it’s not coming out of your hoard,” Daya said. “Stop acting like it is.”

            “I don’t care where the money comes from.” Iain looked around him. “Ok, Daya is a buy vote. The rest of you can chime in now.”

            “Buy,” Zareen said. “Room to run.”

            “You have to be trespassing to spy on us unless you have satellites,” Dominique said. “And trespassers who find the wrong things don’t have to be found themselves. Buy.”

            “That’s kind of vicious,” Marguerite looked at Dominique in surprise.

            “I fought in Scott’s wars and, unlike you, I was on the front lines. Everything started from some nosy reporter deciding her rights were more important than anyone else’s and privacy didn’t mean anything against her wants. Anyone trying that shit with us is going to disappear forever if I have any say in it.” Dominique stated.

            “I agree with Dominique,” Daya said. “Family comes before any other person on this world and clan comes right after family. Trespassers get captured, interrogated and eliminated if they pose the slightest threat.”

            Iain squeezed her slightly. “Marguerite?”

            She twisted her torso to look at him. “What happens if I say no?”

            “There are lots of other places all over the world to look at. I think this decision should be unanimous for the people on the ground here. If you say no, we keep looking.”

            “What’s your opinion?”

            “It wouldn’t be my first choice but it’ll do. If we do buy it, I think we’ll keep buying the other local properties. As for the ones not for sale, we can make all of our neighbors into at least acquaintances and, when they decide to sell, we’ll add their properties to ours. The more land we have that we can lay sensors on, the greater the chance we capture those trespassers before they get to where they can see anything that might make us decide they have to die. And, honestly, we all know that all of the beautiful women in the family will ensure there will be at least some trespassers, if only the stalkers when they hit on someone like you and you tell them to piss off.”

            Marguerite’s eyes searched his for several seconds. “I think your way would work,” she said quietly. “And stalkers are potential rapists and they should all die. Between Ganieda and me, we can wipe the minds of almost anyone else.” She nodded. “Buy.”

            “Daya, we have a decision.”

            Daya nodded. “The only real potential problem that I see is the transaction or transactions where we turn our gold and platinum into cash. A lot of money will be involved and that can make some people treacherous.”

            “I am well aware of that,” Iain said with a hungry grin. “And Ninhursag sent an almost perfect group of ladies to assist with that. Between Marguerite’s telepathy, Dominique’s spells and Zareen’s special brand of lethality I am not worried about it. Either the first person we contact will deal fairly and honestly with us or the second one will remember what happened to the first one and will.”

            Daya raised an eyebrow. “Considering the quality of the people we will be dealing with they might not believe that they can’t trick us even if their predecessors didn’t. We might just run out of this type who is willing to do business with us.”

            “I don’t think that’ll be the case but, if it is, then we’ll just find several criminal or terrorist organizations around the world, steal their cash and leave signs that lead them to blame each other. Our way would be faster, but needs must when the devil drives.”

            Marguerite frowned. “There are terrorist organizations that aren’t criminals?”

            “It depends on who you talk to. There are groups of terrorists that are considered legitimate political organizations by the countries that spawned them. But we have to have a legitimate looking source of our immediate wealth and I’d prefer to deal with some shady brokers. If nothing else, between me, Dominique and Marguerite, we can turn a treacherous scumbag into a treacherous scumbag who isn’t treacherous to us.” He smiled again. “And everyone here, including me, is eminently practical when it comes to that sort of thing.”

            Daya nodded. “And we need money before we can engage a lawyer to handle the real estate transaction. I currently have six outlander scumbags under consideration who have the resources and slippery morals that we desire.”

            “Send me their files and I’ll review them to see who we want to deal with first.” He pulled out his phone and touched a button before putting it to his ear. A few seconds passed. “Hello, Dawn, this is Iain. No, there aren’t any problems, quite the contrary. I wanted to tell you that I accept your asking price and I will be purchasing the ranch. If you would text me your lawyer’s information, I’ll get it to my firm and we can start the due diligence part of the purchase, but I don’t expect to find anything that’s going to be a deal breaker.” He paused. “While I really appreciate the invitation, I’m afraid I have something that I have to do on Saturday.” Another pause. “Friday should work. We’ll see you then. Goodbye.” He put his phone back in his pocket. “I think Dawn wants to keep us close to ensure this sale goes through. We’ve been invited to dinner on Friday. We’ll be back long before Wednesday returns home.”

            Daya nodded. “That would make sense. The Williams family has had the ranch on the market for two years now and there has been only one offer and that one was a deliberate lowball to try to get the ranch very cheaply.”

            Dominque grinned. “Do you think Dawn would fuck you to keep the sale?”

            “She would sleep with you, but not for the sale,” Marguerite looked back at Iain. “She’s on the rebound and lonely. But she isn’t your type.”

            “I already knew that she’s not the girl for me and it doesn’t matter. First, you’re right and she’s not my type. Second, I’m here to court Wednesday and I am almost absolutely certain that dating someone else at the same time is not what would make Wednesday feel all that special. I am certain that making her feel special is rather important to our relationship. Finally, Dawn comes with Tommy. I don’t think that any pokegirls, much less ones that are family or clan, have done anything to deserve being involved, however slightly, with that kind of an,” Iain paused for a moment, “individual is the nicest thing I can think of to call him. But some pokegirl would decide he’s probably good enough, spread her legs for him and then decide he’s marvelous once she’s bonded.” He made a face. “And then I’d have to listen to Lucifer, Pandora and maybe Sorrel.”

            “Sorrel?” Dominique frowned. “She’s one of your liches.”

            “Yes, and they all are unique individuals. Sorrel and, to a lesser extent, Matilda, decided several centuries ago that I needed moral advice from them. Sometimes they sound remarkably like Pandora.”

            “Did you need that advice,” Marguerite asked curiously.

            “I really don’t want to answer that because they’re riding me and can hear our conversation. I don’t want to encourage that behavior.”

            Marguerite snickered. “That sounds like a yes.”

            Iain sighed. “It is. They kept me from doing some stupid things, them and,” he paused, “someone else who I’m not going to name until I get to have a meeting with Kasserine, Ava and Selsharra. Marguerite, take me back to the Addams residence, please.”

            She trotted forward. “Yes, Iain.”

***

            “Please,” Gomez asked imploringly.

            Iain glanced at Morticia and gave a small shake of his head when she didn’t respond. “Gomez, do you even have a driver’s license?”

            “I don’t need a license to drive a car,” Gomez said dismissively. “That piece of plastic doesn’t teach you how to drive.”

            “No, it doesn’t,” Iain admitted. “But getting one does test you for basic driving skills and not having one means I don’t know if I can trust you to drive my car without flipping it over or wrecking it.”

            Gomez’s eyes lit up. “You can ride while I drive! Then you can see!”

            Iain suppressed an urge to throttle the irrepressible Addams. In order to be able to attend the Friday dinner at the Williams ranch, Iain had requested a car from Daya so he could take his family and not have to look like they didn’t have any transportation. They’d also need it for the lawyers and other things later. Said car had been dutifully provided. What Iain had overlooked was the conversation he’d had with Theodora about getting a vehicle here and her plans to involve Daya and Marguerite in making sure the car he got was something appropriate for dealing with the Addams family.

            It was a Rolls Royce Phantom III that was almost solid black. The vehicle was black, the tire rims were black, the undercarriage was black, the windows were tinted as dark as was legal and the engine, under the bonnet, was solid black. Only in the interior of the vehicle was some dark gray that was used as contrast for the black.

            But it wasn’t entirely what it seemed. The engine was fake and hid what Daya considered to be a suitable modern powerplant capable of producing far more power than the vehicle’s design could ever handle, much less safely handle. It had a limiter on it, but that only reduced the power output to an amount that made the car as responsive as a professional race car. The suspension had also been upgraded to handle the new power. The only issue was that the car still weighed over thirty five hundred kilograms or seven thousand eight hundred pounds. As an example, a NASCAR racing car minimum weight, which every racing team wanted to get as close to as possible, was less than half of that. That was a lot of extra momentum and inertia.

            And now Gomez wanted to drive it.

            “Look, let me meet Wednesday first. I can make her feel good about me by asking her for her honest opinion of how well you would handle my car and then I’ll decide, ok?”

            Gomez nodded. “Fine! My daughter knows I’m an excellent driver and she’ll tell you that.”

            “Does she let you drive her motorcycle?”

            Morticia’s lips quivered slightly as Gomez gave him a startled look. It quickly changed to offended. “That has nothing to do with driving your car!” Fester nodded enthusiastically from where he sat.

            That was evil, Dominique said across their bond. I knew there was a reason I liked you so much. She’d taken Zareen’s place as his guard today, although she was much lower profile now and was sitting next to him on the couch.

            I could live with Gomez smashing the car, Iain replied. Daya can replace it with an identical one easily enough. But my concern is that Gomez will want to smash that one too and all of the ones after that. It might even become a game to him to see if he can destroy the cars faster than we can replace them. It’s not like he’d hurt himself much. He can survive things that would have instantly turned the old Iain into kibble.

            Dominique’s red eyes turned to meet his. And what about the current Iain?

            Current Iain is a little tougher than old Iain was. “Then I’ll talk to Wednesday about it when she returns.”

            Dominique gave Iain a winsome smile. “So, are you going to teach me how to drive our new car?”

            Gomez’s eyes lit up. “Yes! You can teach us both and then you’ll know I can drive your car safely.”

            Iain doubted that the word safe would be found anywhere near Gomez’s driving techniques, but Dominique had definitely mousetrapped him and the gleam in her eyes said she knew what she’d done and was enjoying it. I take it you feel it’s been too long since your last spanking and you want another one.

            She gave him an innocent look. I never want those, Iain. Ever. Did I do something wrong?

            You’ll find out tonight. Iain rose. “Let me get my keys.”

***

            Dominique grinned when she heard the motorcycle. “It’s one thirty am. She’s on schedule.”

            Marguerite looked up from her book. She’d gone shopping with Morticia for food and had picked up a bodice ripper from the supermarket’s book section. It was mostly improbable people in incredibly improbable situations involving technological vampires from Atlantis, but it was interesting enough that she intended to finish it and hunt down the rest of the series. She used her twee to check the sensors and recognized Wednesday’s Harley Davidson Fat Boy as it pulled up to the gate. “Zareen.”

            “Going.” Zareen vanished, appearing in Iain’s room. She froze when she realized Iain had his pistol pointed at her and then grinned when he put it away. “Smart. Wednesday might ambush.”

            “She’s not the only one I’d be concerned about here. Fester still hasn’t pulled the latest stunt he’s threatened me with. Is that her bike?”

            “Yes. Marguerite asked fetch.”

            Iain slipped on his boots and took Zareen’s hand. “Let’s go.” They were in the women’s room. “Thanks.”

            “Welcome.”

            Iain looked at Marguerite as he gave Zareen’s hand a quick squeeze and released it. “How should we play this?”

            The Unicorn gave him a nervous smile. “Wednesday will challenge you somehow. Be ready for it.”

            “What’s wrong?”

            “I don’t want to screw this up. It’s my first mission for the clan and I want to earn my place in our family.”

            Iain sat down next to Marguerite and slipped an arm around her waist. “Now that I’m here, you can rest assured that Ninhursag will place any blame for any screwups squarely on me, where it belongs. You’ve done an exemplary job and I’ll make sure that Ninhursag gets told that.”

            She rested her head on his shoulder. “I just don’t feel like I did enough.”

            Dominique snorted. “The only way you could have done more is if you’d seduced Wednesday and I don’t think she’s had the opportunity to experiment with girls yet.”

            “She’s at uni,” Marguerite pointed out. She blinked. “University. College. I have been listening to all of you way too much.”

            Dominique nodded. “And she has no friends there, according to Morticia. She can’t even keep a roommate.”

            “Hey, not having a roommate can be awesome,” Iain said.

            “Is this about your ex-girlfriend,” Dominique asked.

            “When I got rid of her, I felt a great amount of satisfaction when a check of my place showed no more signs of her anywhere. And it only got better when I changed the locks.”

            “She didn’t give up her keys?”

            “She did, but I didn’t believe that was the only set she had. She was more than a little bit crazy possessive and it was safer to change the locks and not worry about it than find her back in my place when I got home one day.” He hugged Marguerite. “What should I do when she challenges me?”

            “Don’t let her win. She said she’d been approached by boys at university and had found them to be weak and useless.”

            Iain nodded. “That agrees with what I was thinking about how to approach this.”

            “Defeat her soundly,” Zareen suggested.

            “I’ll see what I can do. But I have one important question: Is she worth it?”

            “Yes,” Zareen said.

            Dominique smiled. “She is.”

            Iain looked at the Unicorn next to him. “Marguerite?”

            She frowned, looking thoughtful. “I think she can be,” she said slowly. “If she wants to be, I think she will. And she opens the door to the rest of her extended family around the world, many of whom will eagerly accept pokegirls as family and treat them like everyone else.”

            Iain smiled. “See? That is the kind of exemplary work I’d been referring to. That’s strategic instead of tactical thinking and something we badly need more of in the clan.”

            Marguerite blushed slightly. “You really think so?”

            “I don’t lie about that sort of thing. And you, pretty mare, know it.”

            “That means a lot, coming from you,” Marguerite lifted her head. “And we have work to do tonight.”

            “This morning,” Dominique corrected. “Tonight we’ll all be friends or we’ll be burning the casualties.”

            “Speaking of casualties,” Iain said. “Daya, do you have news?”

            She appeared. “My examination shows that the frame on the car is torqued badly out of square. It will be easier to replace the entire vehicle than to disassemble it and repair it.” She smiled. “Considering what happened, I would like to suggest that I use battle steel for the vehicle this time. It will make it a lot harder to damage.”

            Iain shrugged. “Do what you think is best.”

            Daya’s eyebrows rose. “I am not Theodora and I am your admiral so I feel I should point out that you just gave me free rein to do anything I want towards your car.”

            “I trust you as much as I trust Theodora. You are free to do what you feel is necessary in any case, Daya. As for the car, I would like to have one that I can drive more than once before having to replace it.”

            Daya cocked her head. “She was right.”

            “Oh?”

            “Theodora warned me that this day would eventually come and that I would feel more fear than exaltation at the freedom you have just given me. She was right. I will do my very best not to abuse the trust you have given me, Iain.”

            “And that’s all I can ask of anyone, Daya.”

            The hologram nodded. “You’ll need a motorcycle along with the car.”

            “I will?”

            “Wednesday rides one. Logic suggests that if you have one as well, the two of you can go driving as a couple.”

            Zareen laughed. “Racing. Wednesday competitive.”

            “There is an understatement,” Marguerite said.

            There was a knock on the door. Daya vanished as Dominique opened the door to reveal Pugsley. “Yes, sir?”

            He looked past her. “I wanted to see if you,” he broke off, “oh, Iain is here.”

            Iain nodded. “We were talking about your sister and how to best handle my meeting her. They told me not to let her win. What do you think?”

            Pugsley nodded. “If you let her win, she’ll always feel she’s superior to you.”

            “Thank you for the advice. Were you sent to tell us that she’s arrived?”

            He nodded. “She’s going to spend some time talking with Mother and Father and you won’t meet her until dawn.”

            “Will it be outside at fifty paces with pistols,” Iain asked curiously.

            “Not at first,” Pugsley said. “After that depends on how your meeting with her goes. And Father will provide any pistols if you do need them.”

            “Thank you for telling me that, Pugsley,” Iain said.

            Pugsley frowned. “Can I ask you a personal question?”

            “You can. I might even answer.”

            “Why are you interested in Wednesday? You’re not one of us.”

            “No, I’m not, but outsiders have married Addams before.” Iain gestured towards the window. “And I’m much more like an Addams than I am like them.” Iain nodded towards a chair. “Come inside and sit down.”

            Pugsley hesitated. “Is it all right?”

            Dominique threw the door wide open. “If it wasn’t, I’d be telling Iain no and you to leave. Get in here.”

            He slowly entered and sat in the chair, looking nervously around the room.

            Zareen smiled at him. “We all wear clothes, Pugsley. We won’t attack you now.”

            “Look, I don’t spend a lot of time around women. They tend to go somewhere else pretty quickly unless they’re an Addams woman and then,” he shrugged. “I’m not ready to marry.”

            “What do you want to do,” Marguerite asked.

            “I like explosives and I want to learn as much about them as I can.”

            “Traditional, modern, high tech, which is it you’re most interested in,” Iain asked.

            “All of it. I want to learn everything about explosives. Detonators, the charges, the explosives themselves, all of it. My parents think I’m a little bit silly about it.”

            “Parents do that,” Iain said.

            “I wanted to join the French Foreign Legion and learn demolitions, but they say I’m too fat. So did the Army.”

            Iain nodded. “You’re not. You’re just built really stocky like some Addams are, but the world’s militaries aren’t going to see it that way.” He dropped his hands into his lap. “And to answer your earlier question about your sister, I didn’t intend to come here and court her.”

            “But you’re here.”

            “When I arrived here the first time, I met your mother. She greeted me politely and presented her hand to be kissed. I can at least act like a gentleman and so I kissed her hand before I left. I never intended to return, but one of the women in my life, who has a nose like a bloodhound, smelled your mother’s scent on my lips. I don’t normally smell like strangers and had to explain what happened, stupidly including the fact that your mother wanted me to return and meet Wednesday since I’m a wizard.” He glanced at Marguerite. “That was Lynn and she ratted me out to some of the other women in my life.” He rubbed his eyes. “We recently lost several members of our family to a government attack. Some of the women in my life think we need to get stronger by adding more fertile women to the family and, because of that, they sent Marguerite here with Dominique and Zareen to evaluate Wednesday to see if she might help us with that. I was off doing some work and I didn’t find out what was going on until after I returned. By then, Marguerite was already here and I was presented with a fait accompli. At that point it was either disavow what they were doing and recall Marguerite and the others or go along with it.” He shrugged. “Marguerite and the others acted in good faith and I am not going to disavow them for that. That would be rude and I try to avoid being rude to the people I care for. Does that explain things?”

            Pugsley nodded. “It does. You’re here because Marguerite and the others want you here to court my sister. How do you feel about this?”

            “I haven’t met your sister yet and I’ve only seen her once before. She was asleep so we didn’t interact much.”

            Pugsley looked puzzled. “When did you meet her?”

            “I broke into her room in the dorms earlier this week and left her an introductory letter. I was quiet enough that she didn’t wake up.”

            Pugsley stared at him. “You went into Wednesday’s room and she never woke up?”

            “She did not.”

            “She knows you were in there?”

            “I left the note. How she thinks it got in there, I don’t know yet.”

            “Wait,” Dominique said. “Zareen took you there. She was supposed to leave the letter.”

            “I never agreed to that. I said I was going to leave Wednesday an introductory note and then you and Marguerite decided that meant I was going to let Zareen do it for me. That was never my intent.”

            Zareen grinned. “I waited in the hall and watched. She never twitched. Our male has gotten sneakier while he was away.”

            Dominique cocked her head. “Would you have slept through what he did?”

            “Complicated.”

            “Please explain.”

            “I trust Iain absolutely. I would have slept through him doing that. I would not have slept through anyone else doing what he did.”

            Dominique’s eyes narrowed. “How can you tell, when asleep, if it’s Iain or someone else?”

            “Iain is Iain. Only Iain smells like Iain. When I smell, Iain, my twee makes sure it’s him and I do the same thing with our delta bond. If something doesn’t match, I wake up.”

            “What’s a delta bond?” It was Pugsley.

            “It’s a psychic connection between a pokegirl and someone she really cares about,” Marguerite said. “It can be used to help a pokegirl identify her person, even if that person is disguised or hiding.”

            “Wow.”

            “Yeah, wow,” Iain agreed. “I believe you said I’ll meet Wednesday in the morning around dawn?”

            “Yes.”

            “Well, if you don’t mind, then we’re going to get a little more sleep. I’d like to be as rested as possible before your sister tries to ambush me.”

            Pugsley got up with a grin as Zareen opened the door. “Yeah, she’s good at that.”

            “Goodnight, Pugsley,” Iain watched him leave and Zareen close the door. “We need to watch that. I don’t normally forget that strangers are around.”

            “Me either,” Dominique added. “Some kind of fey trick?”

            “Could be. He’s unnaturally good at being unobtrusive. We just need to pay better attention.” He sighed. “If it’s all right, I’ll nap in here.”

            Dominique grinned. “Think Wednesday will try and attack you during the night?”

            “I think I left a nifty trap in my room because I expect her to try something during the night and I’d hate to have to disarm it when it’s so much easier if she trips it for me.”

            “What kind of trap it is?”

            Iain smiled and produced a green ball about an inch in diameter from his pocket. “This is a jelly ball. Once it’s activated with a command word, which can be verbal or mental, if it strikes someone, it spreads out and wraps around them before contracting and trapping whoever it hit. If it misses, it evaporates after five seconds. It’s powerful enough to neutralize someone like Scheherazade. It even sticks a pseudopod into and over the victim’s mouth to keep it from speaking to cast spells or do anything like bite down on a false tooth.” He offered the ball to Dominique, who took it eagerly and then pulled out a purple stone. “This will neutralize the jelly. That or it dissolves after forty eight hours.” The stone went back in his pocket.

            Dominique was examining the ball. “Did you develop this?”

            “I did.”

            She looked up at him. “Did I tell you that you’re my favorite student? You’re smart, cute, innovative and willing to share.”

            Iain chuckled. “I’ll show you how to make them.”

            She grinned. “And that’s why you’ll stay my favorite student.” She looked at the ball again before handing it back to him. “But are you really still my student? You’ve been doing magic for longer than I’ve been alive. And this is not the work of a student.”

            “Dominique, you still have a lot you can teach me. I’m still your student and you’ll still lead on any projects we collaborate on.”

            “Good.”

            Iain got up from the bed and settled down in the chair that Pugsley had just vacated. “I can’t trust you women to keep your hands to yourselves so I’ll nap here. Get some sleep. This is probably going to be a long day.”

            Marguerite gave him a mock glare. “We? We can’t keep our hands to ourselves? I think you’re confusing your hands with ours.”

            “Not important,” Zareen said as she climbed into the bed with Marguerite. “This keeps two of us from being angry with the one he did sleep with, no matter whose hands end up going where.” She smiled hungrily. “He’s right, too. If Iain’s with me, my hands will be going to his cock and my mouth to his. At first.”

            “Bed, everyone,” Iain said loudly. “Except, apparently me.” He closed his eyes and leaned the chair back against the wall.

 

Iain Grey

 

Harem

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

Candace – Nurse Joy (kami)

Bellona – Dragonqueen

Elizabeth - Vampire

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

Mother                        Children

 

Vanessa

                                    Myrna (Age 4)

                                    Saoirse

April

                                    Dorothy: Duelist (Age 3)

                                    Meara: Duelist

                                    Regan: Duelist

Lucifer                       

                                    Olivia: Megami Sama (Age 6)

                                    Seraphina: Megami Sama

                                    Miram: Angel (Age 5)

                                   

Zareen:                       

                                    Caltha: Nightmare (Age 0)

                                    Kim:  Nightmare

                                    Xanthe: Nightmare

                                    Epona: Nightmare

                                    Philippa: Nightmare

                                    Nott: Nightmare

                                    Nyx: Nightmare

 

Sofia

                                    Anna: Ria

                                    Esmerelda: Ria

 

Monica Chambers

                                    James: Jamie Harris kid (Age 2)