Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The days had passed quickly for some, and more slowly for a few. The children loved the water play in the fountains, the weather calm and unseasonably warm for October. Inari had come to visit with Star about Ghaunts arrangements, reminding everyone of the mans heroism and sacrifice for those he hardly knew. Star had given her a picture she had drawn of Robin. She 'knew' someone was looking for him and when she had asked him about his family his eyes filled with tears as he nodded. He was in awe of Inari until she had lifted him and tossed him the air, catching him. Tomas flew right next to him, laughing at the boys whispery giggles. Later, Alise had noticed Tomas' silence and asked what was wrong.

Tomas shrugged then his eyes filled with tears. “Tante Star say Robin has mommy looking for him. He go home soon...”

Alise had pulled her son into her lap and told him that they could still be friends. Her heart broke for her son but she explained that one could not keep a child away from his mother, that would not be fair. Tomas nodded but Alise and Stoney both could feel his sadness at the thought of his friend going home.

Wanting to speak to Inari, Keon had gone out to gardens when he heard she had arrived. Seeing Stars arms for the first time had shocked him. The small burns stayed blue and looked for all the world like a scattering of stars among the crescent shaped scars on her arms.

“Lady of the Stars and Moons....” he whispered and glanced towards Inari who nodded solemnly. Turning back to Star he asked what happened and when she explained Keon swore that Ardara would pay for the injury tenfold.

Laila and Ramji had made the most of their nights together, not sleeping much and thoroughly enjoying some time to themselves without any responsibilities. Laila practiced some Irish dance steps Rowan had taught her. She made the moves her own making them more sensuous and showed them to Ramji, dancing naked in the moonlight. Ramji thought she looked like an ancient pagan goddess come to life and wanted to lock her away, afraid of breaking the spell weaving between them.

The time had passed slowly for Raina. She wasnt used to be stuck in bed or laying on the couch, which is all anyone would let her do. Everyone anticipated her every need to the point of being totally exasperating. When she started snapping at everyone, Nick carried her outside and let her sit under the stars. Raina had sighed, “Leave me out here.. this is better than being locked up in the house...” Nick had made love to her, something slow and gentle and new to them both. Afterwards, they could hear Ky and Gareth upstairs and Raina started to laugh for the first time since the battle, her anger at being injured, waited on and losing Ghaunt finally melting away.

But the time had passed even slower for Tannr. He couldnt wait to hold Tori in his arms and be sure that she was going to be all right. He told her stories of the Vikings and the Sagas when she was alert enough, wrapped her in love with his mind and never left the balcony except for a very few minutes at a time. Tori would tell him to go but he stayed, even when she threatened to kick his ass when she was healed. Tannr laughed and they made bets, teased each other and Tori began to heal. Tannr could feel her getting stronger even though her hip still gave her some pain.

On this evening Tannr had stepped inside to speak briefly to his brother. He was getting ready to take his family home in the morning and wanted to make sure Tannr knew, just in case he needed to get in touch with them. Tannr had visited with his brother and sister-in-law for a few minutes, went into the bathroom to wash up and was thinking of asking one of the slyphs for supper when he had another visitor. Before he could open the door, Ike stuck her head in.

“Hey! I just wanted to leave some things for Tori...for when she wakes. Can I put them in the bathroom?”

Tannr nods, “Sure..” and notices Ike carries a change of clothes and some bottles of soap and lotion that Tori especially likes.

“Do you think she will be awake soon? I can tell she's getting stronger...”

Ike nods and hurries out, leaving Tannr perplexed. Ike's always a chatterbox, why the rush tonight? Maybe Monty is coming over....she said she wouldnt leave until Tori was better....

Stepping out to the balcony Tannr stops, his first reaction is fear. He doesnt see Tori, the balcony is empty. Then he senses her behind him.

“Hi Coppertop. Sure you still want me?”

“Gods, yes...” he groaned. “Come here....” Tannr pulls her into his arms, worried at how thin she had become and how pale.

Ike peeked in when her sister blocked everyone and smiled at the sight of Tannr and Tori, arms wrapped around each, the balcony softly lit under a huge full moon.

The Manse is quiet. The children are sleeping, as are their parents and guardians. For once mi amor is not taping his show, nor does he need to review any movies. I wait in the shadows as he hangs up his cape. He knows I am there even before I slide my hands along his chest.

His hands cover mine, stilling their movement. He watches my tongue as it slides along my bottom lip. I burn for him, and it isn't the Succubi in my bloodline. My nails lengthen as I slip my hands from under his. I pluck at the buttons of his silk shirt, slipping them open one at a time. The sight of his bared flesh pulls me forward until I lick a slow line along the tantalizing strip.

He says nothing, but the rippling sensation in his muscles tells me he is not unaffected. I nip lightly, tugging at the wealth of chest hairs until a low growl rumbles and his hands sink into my hair. He grips tight, twisting the unruly curls into a hard knot. I moan softly and scrape my nails along his waist. He pulls my head back by the handful of hair and tugs me upwards. His mouth finds mine and there is no gentleness in the kiss.

We feed at each others mouths, bodies pressed close together. I can feel his mounting excitement as he nudges a leg between my thighs. It isn't until the wall presses into my back that I realize we have moved. I slide a leg up his, wrapping it over his hip. The position presses his bulge against my own heat. I smile as his breath hitches. Thin silk disguises nothing. I am as wet as he is hard.

His hands slide under my thighs, lifting me. My lips curl, eyes slitting as he rubs against me. His words are low, intense. "You are a dangerous woman."

"Then ve are a mated pair, mi amor. For you arre just as dangerous, if not more."

There is more purr than syllables, but he understands and heat fills his eyes.

He thrusts, making us both moan as the fabric between us rubs. My hands grip back of his shirt and there is a ripping sound as my nails shred it. He laughs, not the laugh that makes people shiver in fright, but the low husky chuckle of a man who has what he wants, just the way he wants it. The kind of laugh that sends a shiver along my spine and heat rushing to my core. I arch, writhing against him.

He steps back, letting my feet hit the floor. I look up at him, my breathes shallow and panting. He stares at me a moment, then down at himself. The sign of my excitement is as obvious as the wetness staining his trousers. The touch of his hands at my waist has me closing my eyes, only to open them with a start as I find myself flung over his shoulder as he strides down the hall.

The grip on my thighs is bruising. I moan as Magnus shifts a hand.  He slides it up over the curve of my ass as he takes the stairs. I gently rake sharp nails through the rents in the back of his shirt. He growls something and slaps. The sting makes me writhe and he kicks a door shut behind us. It isn't until he drops me on the bed, that I recognize our room. I push my hair out of my face and push myself up to watch him rip off the last of his shirt. His muscles ripple and I lick my lips.

He is on me seconds later, shoving me down on the bed and I fight him for dominance. Well, I don't fight hard. Just enough to stir his hunger. My skirts are forced up my thighs and I feel him grip the fabric of my panties. One hard tug and they are nothing but silken scraps that he holds high. I twist and he is pressed between my thighs, rubbing against me. I moan, arching into the roughness of the fabric. My hands slide down and he pauses as I undo his zipper, I reach inside and grip his hard cock in my hand, pulling him from the tight confines of his pants. I stroke, sliding from base to tip. He jerks in my hand, body stiffening. He wraps his hands around my legs and pulls hard. My skirts bunch up at my waist, baring me to his eyes.

He thrusts his hips, forcing his solid length through my tight grip. I can see the control it takes to let me hold him like this. I know it won't last long. Magnus forces my legs wide, pressing forward. His hand covers mine, guiding his cock until the tip brushes against the wet folds of my slit. He flexes his hips, rubbing his head along my wetness. I shudder, arching my hips. It is all the invitation he needs. Pulling my hand away, he shoves forward, thrusting into me as hard as he can. I moan and buck up, taking every inch. I arch, shuddering and cumming as his pelvis slams into my clit.

He leans over me, hands holding my shoulders down as he pounds into me. I writhe, rolling my hips under the welcome assault. He shifts, forcing my legs upwards until he can shift them over his shoulders. The change in position has him gliding over different nerves. It isn't long until I am panting his name, begging for him to bring me again.

He slides down my body. I whimper at the loss of his hardness, only to moan as his mouth covers my clit in gentle kisses. Teeth scraping over sensitized flesh soon has me moaning again. I rock my hips, wanting more, needing more. His tongue begins to lap, delving deep into my wet slit. One finger, then two press into me. I moan as he begins to slide them in and out in time to his licks and nips. It isn't long before I am shoving my hips at him, begging.

He urges me to turn and I crawl to my knees, offering myself. His talented tongue explores my exposed sex, fingers pressing, teasing, until I mutter over and over, "Fuckme. fuck, me, fuck me....."

He growls something that sounds like "My Pleasure" and I find myself being pounded into the mattress. My muscles clench around him, milking him on each stroke and I buck back, slamming into him. He begins to shake, hands gripping my hips as he takes me hard and fast. I reach beneath myself, reaching back to play with his balls. With a roar, Magnus rams deep. I feel him pulsing, throbbing as he cums, and it tumbles me over the edge. My vaginal muscles clench around him, milking out every drop as I melt around him.

He wraps an arm around my waist and rolls, keeping me well impaled. Shifting, he rolls us to our sides, I moan softly and wriggle back. Magnus moans my name softly, "Nadji... Nice homecoming...."

There are still clothes to remove. They are tangled around my waist and his legs, but right now... who the fuck cares....

The meal was almost finished; Chloe ate like a normal child... distracted by everything around her, but finally watching her father coax Teri to taste things, made her want to participate and show her papa she liked lots of things too. Pandora smiled... this was just the first of small rivalries she would encounter with her brother.

Teri had indeed grown; enough to surprise even Obsidian when he returned... he looked several weeks older rather than the week old he was. Ob could clearly see his mind was well advanced as well, and he started right in talking to him as if he understood his every word... and Kaltero's intense stare back convinced Pandora there was definitely communication and learning going on in the babe's head.

Members of the close knit community kept drifting by to ask Ob how Tori and the others were faring... and all seemed pleased that Tori was on the road to recovery. The couple that had assisted by being Star and Eriks doubles, were sitting down to dine; their work done, and a good meal due them for their efforts.

Traeger came in and slide in next to Ob... "I hear they are bringing weapons to the shop to be examined and spelled?"... Ob filled him in on the cache of weapons they obtained from the Drow battle and Traeger said "Guess my helpers will be learning something new from me, how to handle and disarm enchanted weapons... should be an interesting venture. Mortuis filled me in... so I reluctantly bid Rowan goodbye and came back to prepare." Traeger leaned over and admired his grandson, the child seemed to know who he was... and cooed at him while staring intently into his eyes.

"I swear if the child's vocal chords were mature enough he would be telling me something now." Ob grinned at him with an expression of pride. "He is talking to you man; but you haven't the psychic gift enough to hear him... he has been talking to us since before he left the womb." Pandora nodded her head.."Even Chloe hears him dad.... and the other children with Gar blood."

Traeger smiled back at the couple and his wondrous grandchildren..."'tis going to be an exciting time, watching my grandchildren grow; but I doubt there is going to be anything normal about it." They all laughed as Chloe clambered up on Traeger's lap, eager to be the center of his attention... and he obliged her by commencing to tickle her till her giggles filled the air around them....

The door opens and Star steps into the hall, Ruarc sleeping peacefully in her arms. Erik pulls the door shut behind them and the trio turns to head downstairs. Pike and Wish step into their path, barring the way. Holding his arms out, Pike waits until the baby is nestled in his arms. Wish lightly touches the couples' arms and mutters a few words. The Doppelganger spell dissolves, leaving behind a petite blonde werewolf and her large brawny mate. The baby changes as well. What remains in Pike's arms is a golem, a construct of wood and magick, which had been spelled to mimic Ruarc.

"Yer volunteering is greatly appreciated. 'Twas a diversion necessary t' smuggle the Lady Star beyond the Darkling's borders. May we call upon thee again, an the need arises?"

The large were grins. "Just tell us where and when, little Wyldthing."

Pike laughs. "We ha' arranged for a steak dinner. Monty needs only know yer preference in preparations." He shakes their hands and a demifae zips forward to take their choice to the kitchen. As the couple descends to the bar, Wish pulls a bubble around herself and Pike.

"Home or our Lady and Lord?"

Pike grins, mischief lighting the oft solemn eyes. "I believe The Lady is safely guarded at the manse. Our Lord is among people who will ensure his safety as well as we can." He takes Wish's hand and raises it to his lips. Brushing a kiss gently across her knuckles, Pike's breath warms more then the flesh of her hand. "I vote for home and some privacy for ourselves."

Her eyes smoulder, burning into his. "Then home it is..."

Pike steps into her, sliding his arms around her waist. His hands explore her back, tugging one sleeve to bare her shoulder, as they disappear from sight.

I can drive a car if needs be, but as it happens, none of us owns one, so we compromise by having Gareth's elvensteed counterfeit a car - a minivan, to be precise, even though the damn things are the very embodiment of evil. Have you ever noticed how many minivans there are at the mall?

I carry Raina out to the car and get her settled in while she gives me a look that could make the Titanic go looking for icebergs. Once I'm certain that she can't slip if we have to stop suddenly, I settle myself in the seat next to her, her feet actually in my lap. She suffers all this in stony silence, willing to submit to the indignity only long enough to get back to the Lodge - and then the shit's gonna hit the fan.

When we get home, I carry her again - back to the room we share, and lay her on the bed. I'm getting the coverlet settled about her when she speaks.

"Do I get a cookie and a bedtime story, too?"

I give her a pained look. "Raina," I say, "my sweet, passionate, stubborn, pain-in-the-ass love... do you perhaps recall spending a week in the Manseoleum because you rushed in where angels feared to tread? Do you really want to go back so soon, before you've had a chance to appreciate being home at last?"

"Listen to the vampire, sis," Erik says, smiling. "You took a hell of a knock back there, and Rowan wasn't altogether sure about letting you go so soon."

"So soon?"

"So soon," he repeats firmly. "She made Nick - and Gareth and Ky and me - all promise to sit on you if you didn't behave once we got you home. I can appreciate that you have a genuine feast laid out for you" - Ky smirks and he winks at her cheerfully. Star catches the look and gives him a mock-glare, but you can tell she doesn't mean it, and neither does he; those two are made for each other, if ever a couple was. - "and I know you're starving; but you know what happens if you eat too much after you've been fasting for awhile. You overeat, and then you projectile-vomit all over the distant landscape. Take it slow, Sis; the picnic's not going anywhere." And then damned if he doesn't tip me a wink, too! What the hell? The Great Stone Face has a sense of humor? What's next?

About that time, Gareth rushes in with a plate full of Keebler chocolate-chip cookies. "Someone ask for cookies?," he says with a straight face. "They're made by elves, you know...."

In the floor, Ky is rolling around, clutching her stomach, kicking her feet and trying her damnedest not to giggle, but she's losing the battle....

Raina's face is a thundercloud and I can see the lightning in her eyes, ready to strike all over - but she catches a glimpse of Ky and then a grin fights its way over her face...

Stoney and Alise watch from inside, the French doors to the balcony open wide, giving them a view of the night and their daughter half asleep in Tannrs arms. After getting Ob's message Alise had been worried, afraid that she had somehow failed her youngest. The day she was born Alise had promised her only happy times for this life and already she felt not as special as the other children.

Stoney wraps an arm around his wife. She'll be fine Chaton... and it looks like she is getting some special attention....

I know...but still...

Alise sighs and glances to the other side of the room. She sees Star, Robin sitting in her lap playing with Ru's fingers. Ru was squealing and kicking, thoroughly enjoying whatever game it was.

Laughing Star pushes a lock of hair out of Robins face and her hand stills at the boys ear. Robin quickly pulls his hair back and Star shakes her head. She lifts the long blonde hair away from one of her own ears and shows Robin the pointed ear tips. The boys grin is wide as he realizes he is like someone in the group.

I wonder if Inari will be able to find the little ones family? Star is getting attached to the boy... so is Tomas...

Following his wifes gaze, Stoney nods. If anyone can locate them it would be Inari. We can only speculate on her contacts, she travels between all the Realms and Courts...if anyone is looking for a missing child she would hear of it.

Supper started out a noisy affair. The children were happy to see Raina awake and although still not feeling the best, going home. Stoney had promised them a visit to the Lodge when Raina was feeling up to it. One by one the little ones had wandered to the balcony and touched their Tante Tori, letting small hands slide over the smooth stone, their thoughts meant to comfort and heal. Tannr could sense how happy this made Tori, Alise and Stoney both noticed the looks as he gazed outside, the thoughts quickly covered.

After the meal Gracie slips out of her chair and goes to Tannr. He looks down at the serious expression on the little girls face, a beautiful girl although she looked nothing like her siblings or parents with that mass of brown curls. If Tori hadnt told him otherwise he would have sworn she was some kind of changeling child. She had mentioned that there was more to the story but he hadnt heard it yet.

“Tannr... story pease...”

Grinning Tannr lifts her to his lap. “What would you like to hear about, lĂ­till einn?”

A thoughtful look for a moment and Gracie replies, “Moon..” and points to the balcony.

The children listen, enchanted with Tannrs story of goddesses, the constellations and the moon. The sylphs clear the table and the younger children are fighting sleep after their long days of water play. Tannr carries Gracie to the balcony and points out the constellations to her. She repeats each name carefully with a slight lisp as if committing them all to memory.

Tori is able to see the pair from her spot on the balcony. She watches the tender careful way Tannr holds her niece and Graces little hand, fingers twirling in Tannrs copper mane. He would be a great father...

Ikes thoughts interrupt Toris, And he loves you beyond all reason... and dont argue with me. We could all see it when you captured. He wasnt coming back without you... literally. He planned to stay there and die fighting if you were lost to him...

Tori feels Ike grin at her silence. Its a rare occasion when she doesnt know what to say. Her attention returns to the pair on the balcony. Gracie has laid her head on Tannrs shoulder, fighting sleep.

Tannr can feel Tori, her thoughts partially blocked but tender and curious. He smiles softly, not sure exactly what she is thinking and hardly daring to hope that she would want a family with him.

Tannr smiles as he feels Tori listening to the children trying to convince Alise to let them play in the water longer.

“But maman....”

“No buts Tomas....you have been in the fountains all day and are wrinkled as an old man. It is time for supper...” Alise rounds up the girls, but Tomas and Robin are stalling as much as they can.

“Do I have to get your father?”

Tannr can feel Tori grinning as Tomas sends, No maman, we are coming...

“Hey Red... I could ask Alise about having supper here... then you listen to the kids a little longer... unless you are too tired...” Tannr was still concerned about Tori wearing herself out, even in stone.

Oh yes... that would be great. Can you ask Alise?

Tannr went in search of Alise and found her downstairs, trying to get the kids all talked into changing out of swimsuits. She turns at Tannrs approach and smiles. “Hello! Can you grab a child please? Just pick one...” Alise laughs. “They are so wound up after playing in the water all day. You would think they would be worn out..”

“Maman... Robin hungry...” Tomas looks serious as if the boy had not eaten all day.

Tannr smiles at the chaos. “Tori wanted me to ask if the family could have supper on the balcony or in our room if you think its too chilly. She has enjoyed listening to them play.”

“That sounds like a wonderful idea...” Alises words are stopped by Stars approach carrying Ru.

“Can I join you? Erik is going to help Nick get Raina home and Rowan is checking some of the injured Riders.”

The arrangements made and the kids under control although excited to be near Tante Tori and stopping for a visit with Tante Raina before she goes, Tannr returns to Tori.

You should rest while you can, elskan min, the kids are excited... Tannr lets his love flow over Tori and sends images of him holding her close.

There is no mistaking the happy squeals of children. The joyous sound tugs at his heart, bringing a smile to his lips. He stops in the trees, watching as the kids splash, his Mera so obviously in her true element. He makes no sound, watching as a ball comes rolling his way.

Star's little foundling chases after it. It stops just shy of Keon's feet. As the boy reaches for the ball, he suddenly stills, eyes traveling upwards.  Keon watches the wary expression that shrouds the pale blue eyes. The shock of unkempt hair was damp, even though he looked as if he hadn't gone in the water. The boy backs away slowly, coming to a stop only when he is in full sunlight. His gaze never leaves Keon. There is a screech and a pale blue body darts past the boy. The young one instinctively reaches out to stop Mera. He watches, stunned as the little girl throws herself at the Dark Fae. Keon catches her easily and swings his dark haired beauty into the air.

"Da!!!!!!!!!" She squeals again and he hugs her close. She pushes back and stares behind him. "You no bringed her."

Keon tells her no, Eite did not come along. She was resting at the houseboat. Mera pouts until Keon whispers in her ear. The little girl throws her arms around his neck and hugs him tightly. Setting her on her feet, The Dark Lord lets her lead him towards the others. The boy steps backwards again, beach ball help tightly in his arms. Keon stoops down, putting himself on eye level with Star's orphan.  The child doesn't move.

"I am Keon. What is your name?"

The child says nothing. His wide eyes follow every move. "He don't talk, daddy. Tomi calls him Robin." Mera steps away from Keon, holding a hand out to Robin. The boy clutches it tightly and moves slightly behind Mera. "Robin, this is my daddy." The boy whispers something and Mera stiffens. She turns and stares at the boy, her face slowly. "No. My daddy is Sidhe, not a Drow." Her lower lip pushes out, defiance in her stance.

"Mera, *Ghealach Beag..." She turns at Keon's soft words. "I know what he thinks I am. I do look like one of the people he fears."

Tears course down her cheeks. "You not bad, daddy! You good!"

He wipes away the tears with a corner of his cloak. "Some people do not see me the way you do. Also little one, Robin comes from a place not like here. He has not been able to play like you can. He has never had the freedom you have. I expect you to watch out for him,"

Still stooping on his heels, Keon is knocked off balance by two small missiles screaming his name. Grace and Tara lie on him laughing. Robin stares in fascination, edging just a little closer, still trying to stay just out of reach.

Tomas hovers just above them, chattering away. He begs Keon for another sword lesson as Ramji has been busy lately. The young Gargoyle points at Robin and insists that he needs to learn as well. Keon laughs, leveraging himself up, "Alright Tomas! I will do what I can. Now let me rise and start my day!"

Giggling, the children run back to the fountains, Robin trailing behind, half watching Keon as he walks behind him.

*Little Moon

The sun goes down and I get up; I can't wait to look in on Raina. Gareth and Ky left me a note today, telling me that Raina had been awake and had spoken a few words before the pain meds put her under again. I want to see her, make my own assessment, then - maybe - speak to Rowan about taking her home. The Manse is a nice place to visit, I guess, but I wouldn't want to live here. Hell, I wouldn't want to die here.

Ky gives up her chair right willingly and staggers off - to do naughty things with Gareth, I'm sure. Raina looks better today. Her color hasn't all come back, but she's not that icky pale she was earlier. I settle in the armchair by the bed, silent as the dead, and just watch her breathe.

Some ten or twelve minutes later, her nose twitches; then she yawns. It's a baby yawn at first, then it turns into one of those I-can-see-your-tonsils yawns. I hear her jaw muscles pop and in the middle of it, she opens her eyes.

I raise a hand but say nothing. When she re-hinges her jaw, she raises her hand in her turn.


"I know how. What is want to know is when."

"Me, too." She looks around appreciatively. "This is the nicest mausoleum I've ever been in, but a mausoleum is a mausoleum for a' that."

"How's your head?"

"I've never had any complaints... ohhhh, that head!"

"You're better," I say with satisfaction. "Hang tight, I'm gonna go find Rowan and see if I can take you home. You want anything, ring for a sylph."

"Creepy little fuckers," she mutters. "Still, I could use a drink, maybe some of that tasteless broth...."

"I'll see what I can do."

I listen for Rowan's heartbeat and find it four doors down, on the opposite side of the hall. I rap quietly at the door and hear an equally quiet "come in."

Rowan is working on Star, cleaning and dressing the acid burns with some kind of ointment. She turns as I enter. "Sorry, Nick, you're dead. I can't cure that."

I grin. "Actually, I came to ask about Raina. She's champing at the bit to go home."

"Yeah, and I'm sure you have nothing to do with that.... Let me finish here and I'll look in on her. BUT" - she turns those Irish eyes on me, and they're not smiling - "if I let her go home, she needs rest and quiet. No fighting, no riding, no acrobatic sex. Got it?"

"Got it." I make a face. "Damn, she might as well be drugged again...."

"If she doesn't follow my orders, I'll drug her till she's as energetic as a string bean, and you can tell her I said that."

I snap a salute. "Yes, ma'am!"

She flips me off and I go back to Raina's room to await developments. "Sorry, babe, the doc says no swinging from the chandelier...."

Monty stands in the doorway, a bemused expression on his face. He, Patti, and Pandora have been expressly forbidden from helping. Chloe's dragon companion lies along the edge of a cabinet, basking in the warmth rising from the stove top. Ob holds his infant son in a sling similar to the one he had fashioned for Chloe, except the color of course. This one is black with vibrant splashes of what the Gargoyle had termed "Dragon Green, Gypsy Red, and Familia Gold". Teri watches everything closely. The child may still be an infant in form, but it is easy to see his mind is not. He laughs at the sound of sizzling as Chloe throws pepper and onion strips into the pan of cooking meat. Ike finishes slicing and fills Chloe's bowl again. The little girl sneaks a pepper strip and Ob gives her a scowl. She bats her large eyes at her father.

He shakes his head as he tells his young son, r's rolling slightly, "That is our biggest weakness, little warrior. Women. Beautiful, exciting, frustrating, glorious  creatures. No matter what the age, they will twist our hearts around their every whim." He snags a pepper out of the bowl before Chloe tosses them in. "Don't get your papa' wrong. There are women that are NOT like the women in our familia." He holds the pepper out for Teri, who grasps it in his small hand, watching his father intently. "There are evil creatures as well, who dwell within the Worlds." He grins, winking at Chloe. "Your *hermana mayor, mamacita, and tias... they have fiery tempers, and there are times they will drive you crazy," Ike throws a wet sponge at his head. Teri laughs as Ob dodges it, making the sling bounce. "See, your Tante Ike... she is a pain at times, but she is not evil."

Ob stirs the meat and vegetables as Ike and Chloe get out tortillas and fixings. "They are fragile, precious things,"  He closes his eyes and grimaces as something wet hits the back of his head. "but they are stronger than you would think." He glances down, watching Teri suck on the pepper strip in delight. "And, ^mi hijo," His words drop to a conspiratorial whisper, "we are not complete without them in our lives, as much as we tell ourselves otherwise... One day you will find one that makes you forget all others, and you will know."

He grins, tapping the tip of his finger on his son's nose, The boy stops gnawing on his treat and watches intently. His mind reaches out and touches Ob's. Images of the women he has picked up from the other people's minds flicker like a slideshow... Laila smiling up at Ramji... Alise laughing with Stoney and his cousins... Raina and K'thyri teasing Gareth and Nick... Patti swatting playfully at Jack... Star hiding a smile as she makes Erik sigh at something she has done or said while Ru sleeps peacefully in her arms. Ob's eyes widen and a thoughtful expression comes over his son's face. Teri looks around at the people in the room and frowns in concentration.

Moments later, there are more images. Rowan and Poppy Traeger folding bandages, Ob dancing with Pandora in Romani robes, Tori on a white bed with tubes still in her arms and Tannr holding her hand as he talks quietly to her, Keon and Cassie walking in the moonlight, Tante Silk and Mortuis sprawled on a couch together... Pike and Wish curled up together, asleep in a mound of hay... not images that would have been foremost in anyone's mind. He shares the images with Ike and Pandora, hiding the concern over what this could mean for the future. One thing for sure. They will have to guard themselves more closely, and monitor the thoughts around him as well. Tracing the path of the thoughts, they find some of the images came from Patti and Monty.

Chloe looks up at her parents and aunt, and shrugs. "Tara feels alla times. Teri gots piktchers in his head and horns and spikes. Tomi and I gots wings. Mera breathes unner water." She frowns. "Gracie don't know what she gots yet. It makes her sad sometimes. She thinks she not special. Tara tells her it's commin though." Tears shimmer on Chloe's dark lashes. "Gracie hides it, but we know she don't think she is good enough."

Ob sends a quick thought to his brother and sister-in-law. He gathers his daughter in his free arm, letting Monty take over serving the fajitas. Helping her settle her on the countertop, he strokes her wild mane. "~Gitanilla, you are all special, each in your own way. What you can do is not what makes you that way, it is who you are, the person inside. Gracie is special because she is Grace, just as you are Chloe, Mera is Mera, and Tara is Tara. The same with the boys. None of you is exactly like the other. And each of you is a jewel in the treasure chest of our Clan. Besides, Gracie has time to find herself. Your **Tios and Tias, they did not know their callings when they were your age. I did not know mine."

Monty edges out of the kitchen, tray heavily laden with food. Ike and Patti follow, carrying trays of drinks and utensils. Pandora reaches for her daughter as Ob takes the now dessicated pepper from Teri and wipes both their hands clean before following everyone.

When the kitchen is clear of bodies, Ob kisses his son's forehead. "Women... they are like rollercoasters, all the ups and downs... but trust me Kaltero... I wouldn't trade any of them away, not even for my own life." The infant boy watches him with wide eyes. Ob smiles at his son as both their stomachs rumble. "Let's go eat, mi hijo, before the girls eat it all... and trust me, they CAN eat."

*big sister, little momma, and aunties

^my boy

~Little Gypsy

**Uncles and Aunts

Raina starts to doze after talking to her brother. She has questions but her mind or her mouth wont cooperate with actually giving voice to her thoughts. When she opens her eyes, Alise is sittng on the bed whispering something in French. Raina tries to vocus on the vision in front of her.

“It's an angel..”

Laughing Alise says, “No, its me and I doubt if anyone would say I am an angel.”

Reaching out and running her fingers through the long unbound tresses Raina whispers, “Alise... you were here earlier... with Nick....”

Alise nods, “I was.”

Tannr bursts through the door with K'thyri, relief plain on his face. He leans over the bed and kisses Raina on the head. “Hi sis... Hows the head?”

“Hurts.... Tori?”

“Resting... in stone. She has some pain, and is pretty weak...”

“Go... go back to her.. I cant stay awake... drugs....” Rainas voice starts to fade and she cant keep her eyes open.

Tannr nods, kisses her again. Ky decides to stay with Raina and the group gets ready to head to their rooms. Alise takes Rainas hands in hers, “Ma souer, we will talk later... I love you..”

Raina tries to smile, her reactions slow and her words starting to slur. “I love you too...”

Alise smiles as she stands, and Raina is fast asleep before the group even leaves the room....

Light brown curls shimmer golden when glistening against the ebony blue of his own daughter's wavy moptop in the dim room. Nearly invisible in the dark room, Keon's smile is like a sudden touch of moonlight on a starless night. Silk stands by his side watching Grace and Mera sleep, a soft smile curving her own lips.

Her words are hushed, the rolling cadence of her accent betraying her exhaustion. "Beautiful gairrrls. 'Tis the firrst trrue sleep the leetle ones arre getting. Did you know, *Mi Perro, The cheeldrren made picturres of the... rrescue misseeon?"

Keon raises a dark brow, "Since our return?"

"No. As eet vas happening. Yurrr daughteer hopes you saved the "Blue Voman"? She vants to meet the voman weeth skeen like hers." At the worried look that flicks through Keon's eyes, Silk lays a hand gently on his arm. "No. She just vonders if she could be a distant relative." Slik laughs softly. "A cooza of her motheer perhaps."

Keon heaves a small sigh, then shakes his head. "With everything going on since we got back, I fergot all about checking on Eite. Fea was going to take her to the boathouse." Raising her fingertips to his lips, Keon asks sweetly. "May I impose upon yer hospitality fer just a wee bit longer. 'Tis not fair ta leave Eite in ta company o' strangers."

Pale fingers caress pitch toned skin. "She sleeps sweetly. She wakes.. I tell her papa weel be back as soon as the blu voman ees settled weeth friends, si?" She cups his face, bringing his dark gaze up to meet her own. "Go Perro. Yourr leetle vone is safe here."

Keon kisses Silk's pale fingers and moves quickly from sight. The Huntress chuckles softly and tells the sleeping girls. "Twould ha' been verra dramateek an he had a grand cape ta tvirl about heem. Sleep vell leetle vones."

Once on the Shadow Paths, Keon whistles. A thunder of hooves precedes the arrival of his coal black steed. Launching himself into the saddle, Keon races toward the boathouse that has become his sanctuary, and thar for a select few others.  Crossing back into the Human Realm the dark Lord is greeted by laughter and a cookout in full swing. Fea meets him as his foot comes down on the wood of the dock.

She grins up at the tall Fae Lord, handing him a beer. "Ron and his mates were having a bit of a hang out when we got here. They took Eite from me and bustled her t' meet Guunnar." The wrinkled crone rolls her eyes and cackles merrily. "Wait till ye see the great hulking oaf..."

There is a loud splash, followed by loud laughter. The pair strolls to join the party. Guunnar dwarfs a large grill station that Keon had never seen before. Riders and Mers mingle with Murdhuachans and Shifters. Eite sits in a wicker chair blushing at Guunnar's teasing.

Keon hides a smile as Ron looks up. The scowl on the Dark Lord's face has the fox hurrying over.

"It just happened, Keon. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to let it turn into this. It was just the guys and I, then Guunnar and Twillon. Next I know there is a grill and then Mer Cronigh brought Eite. The Water Folk were just suddenly - "

Keon laughs, cutting through Ron's rush of words. "It's ok lad. This sometimes happens after a hard battle."

Guunnar joins them, tugging Eite in his wake. Keon shakes his head at the chef apron tied across Guunnar's massive form.  "Truly Guunnar? Kiss the Cook? Are ye reduced to beggin lasses for affection?"

Guunnar grins "Vatever vorks, mein freund. Could have vone made dat read ^Pogin Mo Thon." He grins crookedly. "Dis vone..." He points at the message, "Dis vone ist gut fur mich."

Eite moves closer, stepping out of the way of someone behind her. Guunnar grins down, as she edges slightly forward. "Und dis vone... ve chust make her feel velcome, ja?"

Eite leans close to Keon murrmurring, "The party was going on when we got here..."

Keon smiles. "Where that Viking goes, parties just happen." He winks at Eite. "Ye'll get used t' him. We have."

Guunnar laughs. "I tink it vas udder vay aroundt Bro." He hands Keon a beer. "Trink! To making it trough anudder day!" He turns and shouts to someone on the boat's deck, shouldering his way through the loud group.

"OY! Ve got any Cheese Puffs left?"

*My Hound

^Kiss My Ass

The night was well advanced before Ob got back to the tavern with Chloe; and Pandora had given Teri to his father, so Ob could spend some time connecting ..while she took her drowsy daughter upstairs and tucked her in. Ob filled her in on the battle; and Pandora felt the hair on the back of her neck raise as she realized just how dangerous the rescue and escape had been. That they had as few casualties as they did was a miracle... that Gaunt was lost was tragic to her... he had given up so much to help rescue Tori; and in the end made the ultimate sacrifice for his newfound friends. She had met him only briefly as the rescue had been planned; but she felt his gentle and giving nature.

Now the sun had risen on a new day; she held Teri on her lap, he cooed as Chloe held a crystal dangling on a chain in front of hm... his eyes following the colors that spayed across the walls as the sun reflected through its prisms. Ob had taken his place on the terrace right outside the doors as the sun began to ease over the horizon... Pandora wished he could have been with her longer; but now that he was back, hopefully he would be at her side each night to hold her as she slept. She hoped for his sake... and the other gars; that Tori might awaken from her stone sleep soon to join them.

A knock on her door ,"Come in..." and Monty advanced into the room with a breakfast tray loaded with fluffy scrambled eggs, toast, and an assortment of fresh fruit in bite sizes pieces just right for Chloe. A carafe held steaming coffee and a small mug held hot chocolate for her daughter. "Thought you might like to spend a little time together up here this morning; let Ob hear all the happy morning sounds of his family... I'm sure he missed you bunches." Pandora looked at him gratefully as he set the tray on a small table before the terrace doors, within sight of Obsidian's stone form.