When Isaac arrived via Jin’s teleport spell, they were first accosted by some of the guards. Once they knew Isaac’s business and confirmed he, more accurately Jin, had been given an enchanted pass key with the blessings of Nimlothel they returned to their business of ensuring the general security of the border checkpoint. Of course, now Jin had it in her head that the teleportation wards could possibly be defeated through magic. At least he convinced her to confer with Elena about how she might be able to go about doing that. The Grandelf should have much more knowledge available to convince the headstrong Enchantress why that was a horrible idea.

There wasn’t as much activity today, and Neasa wasn’t present so Isaac spent the time looking around. It really looked like an empty glade at first glance but there was definitely more there. There was a sort of compulsion to not look closer but it didn’t seem to work on Isaac at all. So then he only needed to see past the natural camouflage. It was a heavy shadow under some tree roots that he first spotted. It was being cast by a light source perpendicular from the angle of the sun, from within a tunnel dug under the roots. It was a narrow opening but seemed to open up a lot more very early on. He moved closer but a Golden Elf intercepted him and told him off. So he went back to looking around.

The next shelter he spotted was only apparent because of the baskets and large earthenware pots stored underneath. It was a canopy of interwoven vines and branches from the trees the storage items were nestled between. Finally, thanks to a High Elf climbing out from inside of one, he noticed that there were also hollows in the trunks of the surrounding trees that the Elves were using as some sort of dwelling.

It wasn’t much longer after this discovery that he heard Neasa’s voice call out to him. “Isaac!” She was suddenly standing at the tree line with Nimlothel and some plain Elves. Neasa blended in with the diminutive pre-evolved forms while the Elfqueen who was mentoring her clearly stood out thanks to her greater stature. Isaac’s Elfqueen sprinted up to him and jumped into his arms. It was far more affection than he was expecting, but Neasa’s behavior had been in flux ever since she evolved. She pulled his head down to kiss him fiercely, earning a contemptuous snort from Jin.

“I missed you,” Neasa said without quite having the full breath necessary. Then she moved over and squeezed Jin tight enough to make the Enchantress squeak. “I missed you too. I missed everyone.” She hugged Oleksandra, who was not caught off guard by the affection and returned the embrace. “Elena didn’t come?”

“No, she’s caught up in conservatory business,” Isaac explained. It was a mandatory staff meeting and Elena hated being there because they were intentionally run to give her no input in the discussion.

Nimlothel came forward with a hint of laughter in her eyes. “Neasa has been insistent she wait for her man and Erethueth to be present before she asks for her living weapon. She selected the tree on the second day she was with us.”

“Oh, one second.” Isaac sent the basic details across the delta bond with Elena. He felt some surprise, a lot of annoyance, and then spiteful delight before his positional sense regarding the Grandelf informed him she had suddenly relocated from somewhere to the east-northeast to right behind him.

“Things were wrapping up and this is much more important,” Elena’s voice held a bit of mirth.

“Elena,” Neasa ran to embrace the Grandelf as well, which surprised the veteran but not as much as Jin.

“Neasa, it’s good to see you.” She gave the small Elfqueen’s shoulder a light squeeze. “So you are ready to call your weapon?”

“I am. Old Ihoethon is the tree I am going to use. He’s an ancient yew who has provided many living weapons before. Nimlothel says he’s older than you are by centuries.” Elena clicked her tongue but fought down the impulse to scowl that Isaac felt originate from her. “What tree gave you your staff, Elena?”

“Oh, it was grown and then killed just for the purpose. It was a little sloe shrub, a blackthorn, is all I know.” Both Elfqueens present frowned upon hearing that.

Nimlothel opened her hands up imploringly. “Erethueth, would you be willing to provide a cutting from your living weapon for us to cultivate? Your staff is potent and I would like to make amends to its progenitor.”

Isaac felt the burst of confusion in Elena’s heart but she smothered it and didn’t let anything show. “Of course, Nimlothel. I will bring it when we next meet.”

“Thank you, Erethueth. Now, I have received permission to bring the man, Isaac, and his other pokegirls into our lands. Old Ihoethon grows close to the border, uphill to the north. There are certain conditions though. His pokegirls must be put up into their pokeballs while we travel and he must consent to have his vision muddled by spellcraft, or he may wear a blindfold if that is more agreeable.” She smiled apologetically. “This is more than we would normally allow for an outsider, but you are trusted by Erethueth so we have decided to make this exception. If Neasa continues to prove herself worthy, and we also get the chance to know your character for ourselves, perhaps this won’t be necessary in the future.” Elena also looked apologetic while Neasa seemed a bit pleading. She wanted him to be there for this and it wasn’t too much to ask. He looked to Jin and Oleksandra.

Oleksandra was simply accepting of the matter and Jin huffed and muttered, “Fine, but I want to see them cast the spell on you first.” Nimlothel seemed confused by the Enchantress’ condition, but she had no idea how rampant Jin’s magical kleptomania ran nor how potent she was at gleaning spellcrafting knowledge. Although she wouldn’t have diagrams to swipe in this case.

Isaac felt dizzy as they strolled through the elven woods. Primarily the magic had made him incredibly nearsighted while also confusing his sense of direction. It made him incredibly uncomfortable, a sort of paranoid or claustrophobic reaction. Neasa stayed close to him though, which helped him to fight off the insecurity. She wanted to tell him about her past week and hear what had happened with Isaac and the others. So he shared the encounter with Pazuzu. Other than that, they hadn’t really been up to much.

Neasa had been taught the song the Vesna Elves sung when calling a living weapon and the rest of the ritual. She also sparred against the young Elfqueens without really being taught any fighting styles yet. She didn’t outright state it, but she seemed to be facing a bit of ostracization. Nimlothel was the only Elfqueen to make the effort to welcome her and some of the parthenogenetic daughters of Nimlothel’s rivals were passive-aggressive in their hostility towards Neasa.

They were dismissive of her crafted bow, both for its material and recurve style. They warned her about the folly of tying her life to a human, cautioning her about the inevitable heartache when her man expired long before she would. They were mocking when she failed to grasp the intricate peculiarities of their culture; all of them growing up immersed within it. It explained why she’d been so excited to see familiar faces. Isaac would quickly get homesick in such a situation as well.

Old Ihoethon was an ancient tree. Wider than Isaac could stretch his arms, from fingertip to fingertip. Yews were an evergreen tree with short, broad needles. Some of the trees nearby had a few bright red berries growing in clusters on the tips of the branches but Old Ihoethon, being a male tree, did not. There were some signs of reverence the Vesna Elves held for this tree, the most notable being a flat stone slab that must have served as some sort of altar. Neasa approached and produced some sort of small loaf of bread which she left as an offering. It was crumbly and filled with a lot of seeds and nuts. Then she started to sing in elvish.

Her voice was weak at first and her rhythm slightly off, but she was performing the song solo and a capella; without any accompanying music. As she progressed though she found her strength and once she did she unleashed her inborn, Elven magic. The tree responded somehow, Isaac couldn’t really say how but it did. He’d released Oleksandra and Jin to watch and Jin made a frustrated noise, she could never get a sense of what was going on with this sort of wild, nature magic.

Amber colored lines started to run up and down the vertical strips of bark that covered the ancient yew tree’s bark. They converged around a hollow in the trunk and from within the faint light intensified to a glow so bright that Isaac couldn’t see past it at all. Something curved stretched out from within the illuminated crevice and Neasa reached in and pulled out her new bow. Her quiver followed. It was a dramatically arched recurve bow of Scythian style, just like her previous bows. Neasa’s song ended and the radiance died. The Elfqueen seemed tired and energized at the same time.

“Congratulations, Neasa,” Nimlothel said as she put a hand on the smaller, younger Elfqueen’s shoulder. “We’ll go back to the post and you can spend the day with your man, or your bow. Whichever you prefer.”


“I didn’t miss her at all,” Jin said under her breath after she finished the teleport that returned them to Elena’s home. She had her face scrunched up like she was thinking and not happy with what she was thinking about. “Is that… bad?”

“No,” Isaac said quickly. “If you rubbed it in her face it would be but that’s just your personality, Jin. You’re lower in agreeability than average, I’d bet.”


Isaac thought for a second. He could never remember all five off the top of his head. “It’s one category in a model for the biological components of someone’s personality. I guess, it’s the hardware that provides the base for the brain of that individual. Agreeability is how much you value the wants and needs of others compared to your wants and needs. So if you’re low in agreeability, other people aren’t as important to you. However, you’re also less likely to fall into group thinking and are more willing to speak out if something doesn’t seem right while someone with high agreeability will go along with things for the sake of harmony.”

Jin made a ponderous sound. “So it’s good that I didn’t miss her?”

“No, it’s not good or bad. And you would probably hurt her feelings if you made a big deal about not missing her. Don’t tell me you haven’t caused trouble from being inconsiderate in the past.” Jin gave him a guilty grin. “Astoreth is also probably really low in agreeability, maybe more than you. She just developed habits to not cause trouble because of it.”

The mention of Astoreth seemed to have brought something unrelated to the Enchantress’ mind. “Oh! Guess what I realized!” Jin’s eyes were suddenly alight with delight in mischief and she suppressed a squeal. She looked around to see who else was in earshot and whispered at a volume she knew only Isaac would overhear, “Chibi Star-nee is the smallest now.” Her eyes blazed. “And I’m the only one who knows.”


Chandrakanta let out an exaggeratedly content sigh as she finished wrapping herself back up in her sari. “Have I mentioned you have good hands?”

Isaac still managed to blush even though he’d been helping her out this way for a few weeks now. “Only every time.”

“Well, it is the truth. Firm but gentle.” The Megami picked up the pail, about one third full with fresh milk, from the counter and poured it into a much larger one with a fitted lid with a clasp. It could hold the entire twenty-five liter volume Chandrakanta could produce daily. The old five gallon buckets used everywhere across the United States of the twentieth century wouldn’t have been enough to hold the full volume; not without around thirty percent more capacity. “Would you like some cream? There’s some settling to the top.”

“No, we don’t use it for much and there’s still some from yesterday.” They were in the kitchen of Elena’s home, Isaac still didn’t know if Chandrakanta had a house under her own name. He doubted the cosmopolitan Megami did. She didn’t seem very concerned with material things and her massive web of social connections probably always provided a bed for her somewhere. She fastened the lids with the clasps and hefted it up to carry into Elena’s living room. There was definitely some violation of physics going on because Chandrakanta’s breasts weren’t that large before milking. She put the pail down beside the couch and settled down for some cuddling that had become a part of the whole milking process. Isaac sat next to her and the Megami snuggled against him, a light and warm contact. “You know, you’re a lot calmer about this now than when we started. How come you got so excited before,” Isaac commented on her much more subdued behavior.

Chandrakanta’s eyes vanished completely as she smiled. "Oh, I do not know. I suppose I just allow myself to get a little caught up in my feelings. Especially with having my milk be used, it was very exciting before I had someone willing to take the time to do this with me. Nursing was my only outlet, because I find this painfully lonely to do by myself."

“Elena and Astoreth didn’t help you?”

Her hair and blouse swished against each other as she shook her head. “They will for a while but it does take a considerable amount of time and they are both busy with their own lives.” Isaac frowned at that, but those two didn’t have a delta bond with the celestial so that made it more difficult to appreciate how meaningful this was for her. Candi was also such an agreeable person, she’d never press the issue.

“So who gets fresh milk today?”

“There is a family in White Lotus who had one of their Milktits seized unjustly. She is the direct descendent of one of my batch sisters. They are suing to have her returned to them but this will help them make up for the shortfall.” She looked over at him with eyes cracked open out of curiosity. “Do you think I am petty?”

Isaac was a bit startled by the question. “Why would I think you’re petty? You’re one of the least petty people I know.”

She smiled and leaned back hearing that. “It is something I was accused of, long ago. I was told I should concern myself with greater matters. That helping in such small ways would not amount to anything.” She breathed in deeply and then settled down with a great sigh. “That’s what makes it so wonderful. It is so meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but the genuine joy when you are willing to do nothing more than work alongside humble people and help them in some tiny amount to survive… It is intoxicating. I wish I could help them see…” Isaac supposed she was talking about other celestials.

Chandrakanta stood with slow reservation and hefted the milk pail again. “I have to always move on though… when I have stayed with someone for too long…” She gave Isaac a sad look, but then wiped it away with a genuine smile. “That is why I am so grateful for Star and Nel. We work well together, the three of us.”

“You do, Candi. See you tomorrow.”

“Yes, I will see you tomorrow, Isaac.” With that, she walked out the door and down the footpath leaving Elena’s property to teleport away.

A few seconds later Oleksandra entered the room. “Isaac, you have a message.” She was carrying his computer which he had left upstairs in his room.

“Oh, thanks Leksya.” The Battle Battle Angel’s ears perked up a little as she smiled and dropped down to sit with him. He took the offered device. “It’s Vardan.” Isaac looked towards where Chandrakanta had disappeared. “He ran into Candi earlier this week and it made him wonder how we’ve been doing without the academy running.”

How was Isaac doing? He wasn’t lonely, he had two of his pokegirls with him all the time and saw Neasa and the big sisters frequently enough. Elena more than the others since he was living in her house. It did leave something unfulfilled though. They weren’t really his peers. He’d certainly been doing better when he also had contact with the other cadets. Also the structure of the academy helped him out, he was someone who easily fell into habitual idleness.

“We have not been hunting recently. I would appreciate the opportunity to engage in unrestrained combat.” Oleksandra stated.

Isaac looked at her curiously. She didn’t enjoy fighting so that was an odd thing for her to say by his estimation. “Why is that?”

“I have been experimenting with my armor and weapon systems. I have reached the point where a field test is necessary. Lethal outcome is likely.” Isaac made a noise to indicate he understood.

“Maybe he’ll be up for some hunting. I wonder how close to the Vesna High Queendom he is.” Isaac composed a message to inform Vardan of the pertinent details.


Things snowballed beyond Isaac’s expectations. Vardan apparently knew Nimolethel, knew her because of course he did. The Paza family was the one most concerned with maintaining good relations with the Elf super-colony in their backyard, after all. So when Isaac had informed him that he’d become entangled with her court through Neasa, Vardan had gone out of his way to contact the wild Elfqueen and made arrangements. Now Isaac and his pokegirls were part of a coalition to push into the hills where the nearest tribe of Goblina dwelt. The Elves had scouted out a warband including some Hotgoblina on the move towards the valley. The Elves were wary of pushing out on their own but with human support matters were much more favorable.

Vardan’s fiance was also going to be participating. Apparently Catalina greatly enjoyed hunting pokegirls, even more if they were intelligent while wild. Vardan assured Isaac she was a good woman, just one with an intense personality. He supposed he could understand. He was in a relationship with a few who could meet that general description.

The humans met at the mountain village closest to the Vesna outpost, the one from which Elena had hired a sleigh pulled by a Frozenare. Guessing by the fact that a young woman in a very finely crafted hunting coat was hanging on Vardan’s arm, Isaac assumed that she was Catalina. She was a bit pale skinned, snow white, which contrasted strikingly with her rich, dark brown hair styled in ringlet curls. She had a Kunoichi standing behind her and Sabina was standing on the other side and to the rear of Vardan. The Vixxen was shimmering slightly, probably using a technique to keep the air around the wealthy humans warm.

The woman Isaac assumed was Catalina did not have a very friendly disposition. She had a bored set to her mahogany colored eyes which grew into mild contempt as she saw Isaac intended to approach them. “So, you are Isaac Markiyan, the boy who charmed my Vardan?” She asked this with a voice with the same warmth as the wintery mountain air.

“Lina,” Vardan started to protest.

Catalina shot a brief glare towards her fiance. “Hush, love.” Her attention returned to Isaac. “You have no further intentions towards my betrothed?”

Isaac could feel some sort of mild influence on his psyche, similar to Vardan’s but eliciting an entirely different sort of impulse. Arousal, sure, but one his mind contextualized as dangerous. “No, it was just a, a fling.”

She studied him like he was a bug under a magnifying glass for a few more seconds. Then the cold bitch attitude thawed and she gave him a charming smile. “Good. Catalina Stefania Dragulescu. Vardan’s fiance, I’m sure he’s told you all about me.” He hadn’t, not really.

“Isaac Markiyan.”

“I know who you are,” Catalina said in a perturbed sort of voice.

“Oh, well, this is my Enchantress, Jin Yun.” He motioned towards Jin who was rigid with the effort necessary not to react to Catalina’s bitchy attitude in kind. Isaac focused on the pokegirl behind Catalina, also of Edo descent. She had very dark purple hair. Probably Japanese, Isaac guessed but he couldn’t explain why he assumed that. “Who is your Kunoichi?”

Catalina balked at Isaac’s introduction of Jin and his request for one regarding the ninja pokegirl. Vardan laughed seeing his fiance caught off guard. “I told you, my love, he’s unusual. No offense intended, Isaac. The Kunoichi is mine, though. You have met Chiyome, right?” Vardan seemed confident at first, but that faded as the confusion on Isaac’s face only grew. “She was there with us the entire…” The Kunoichi cleared her throat as quietly as possible while still being heard. Vardan looked back at his ninja pokegirl and she shook her head a miniscule amount before letting it hang a little. “Ah, right, forgive me. Chiyome is shy but I need her to act in the open today.”

“Ah…” Isaac didn’t know how else to respond. “Where are Catalina’s pokegirls then?” He assumed she wasn’t going to try hunting ferals on her own, though she seemed fierce enough to try he doubted she was that stupid given the calculating look in her eyes as she regarded, well, everything.

“I will let them out when we get out from among these… hovels. Veliboria tends to intimidate the peasants.” She made a noise of disgust. “I can’t believe you’re making me associate with those uncivilized tree-wenches.”

Vardan pulled Catalina in closer to him, which she fought lightly against but smiled as he overcame her resistance. He placed the faintest kiss on her neck before speaking. “You always find the guides unsavory but you know they make the hunt go better, my love.” She seemed to accept this. “Well, this is all of us. I have a sleigh waiting for us.”

It was a smaller sleigh than the one he’d rode in with Elena but there were two Frozenare rented to pull it. It also had much more engineering incorporated into the support structure. Isaac remembered Cosmina mentioning that, at least according to her estimation, Catalina had the more extreme personality. Isaac had assumed that meant she as even more of a BDSM enthusiast but it seemed the young Miss Dragulescu’s tastes were for thrills. They rode hard and the powdered ice flew into their faces while Catalina leaned against the front top rail and laughed the entire ride. Especially when the entire sled was tossed into the air when it hit a rock or hard chunk of ice.

Catalina fell back into her seat as the Frozenare team started to slow down. They weren’t at the control point, that was down deeper in the valley. They’d rode uphill nearly to the tree line. Still, there were the telltale signals of an Elf post here too. “Lina, you’re bleeding!” Vardan grabbed his fiance by the shoulders and pulled her close to inspect the wound. A dribbling line of red running down from her forehead where a chunk of ice must have struck her. “You should have-”

“Spare me, Vardan. I’ll be fine. Do not treat me like some-”

Iisus Hristos, femeie, you’re hemophiliac.”

“And because of that I am not allowed to enjoy myself?”

“If you pass out from blood loss in the mountains your father will see to that!” Vardan’s anger and concern suddenly made way for a look of dawning comprehension. “Isaac! You can use healing magic. Please mend the cut on my love’s forehead.”

“Oh, right,” Isaac looked to Catalina who was still expressing defiance, but she must have noticed Isaac’s hesitancy and smoothed her face while leaning towards him to give him access to the small cut. Healing the wound was easy. It wouldn’t have been very threatening in any normal circumstance.

Catalina ungloved her hand and wiped the blood onto her index finger, which she then sucked into her mouth. From the way her cheeks and jaw were moving it was clear she was running her tongue over the digit and she made a small, happy moan. She noticed Isaac’s questioning look and glared, the finger popping out of her mouth. “My blood is pure. My family has genealogy records going back over a century before pokegirls. This is a habit from childish thinking. If I consume what I am losing then I am not truly losing it.”

Vardan chuckled. “And then she naturally developed a curiosity for the taste of the blood of others.” Catalina shot him a glare that faltered from the affection underneath. “Well Isaac, let us go so she may take blood from the ferals and not her betrothed.”

(-[|]-) End 13.2 (-[|]-)

‘Iisus Hristos, femeie’ “Jesus Christ, woman” Romanian