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Months passed, and the frozen temperatures finally released their grip on the land. Patches of snow were still visible in places that remained in shade all day, as well as up on the mountains where the air was colder. Only a handful of conifers were starting to show signs of budding and the forests continued to be bare of leaves except for the occasional evergreen dotted here and there.
The winter came and went with little fanfare, only one bad snowstorm made the two-hour travel to Ikuno’s cave impossible for close to a month. When he finally made the trek, the oni attacked Kal like a feral animal upon arrival, shredding his clothes and throwing him on the bed in her haste to get him inside her. Ikuno felt horrible for her actions afterwards, apologizing over and over for her loss of control until Kal began laughing, telling her that if she hadn’t already been naked when he got there he would have done something similar to her. Going from getting some action regularly to going almost four weeks without had left them both very pent up.
Prior to the storm, Kal had used the time he was with Ikuno to make improvements on all his runes as well as layer the protection phrase, as Kal had started to call it going along with his writing analogy from before, from the strength rune into the speed rune. Though it turned out to be significantly more complex than he had anticipated:
“Why the hell won’t this work! It’s like they completely cancel each other out!” Kal put his head down and bumped his forehead against the table a few times, “I’ve been working on this for hours and it feels like I’m getting nowhere.”
After their earlier activities, the oni hadn’t bothered putting her clothes back on and was now luxuriating naked on her bed, sipping saké and perusing one of the books from her library as Kal worked. The young mage sat up as Ikuno placed the tiny cup of rice liquor on one of the table next to the bed and walked over to take a look. Stepping up behind him she leaned over, placing her large blue breasts on either side of his head.
Once she had inspected the rune floating in front of them, the oni looked looked down, giving Kal a questioning look. “Of course they don’t want to work together, they’re opposite affinities,” she said finally.
Kal rubbed his head back and forth inside Ikuno’s cleavage and brought a hand up to casually play with a nipple. “Much as I’m enjoying this,” he looked up at her and smiled, “I couldn’t make out a word you just said.”
Ikuno chuckled and stood up straight, uncovering his ears and allowing him to hear again. “I was saying, you have two opposing affinities that’s why they don’t want to work together.” The oni went over and picked a book off the bookshelf as Kal collapsed the floating rune, streaming the ink back into its bottle.
As she laid the book in front of him, Kal recognized it as one of the very first Ikuno made him read after agreeing to teach him magic. A few pages from the front was a diagram of two concentric circles with several lines bisecting them.
“These are your main magic affinities,” she explained. “It’s not very complete, but most other affinities fall somewhere within these circles. As you can see here, Speed has an Air affinity while Protection is Earth affinity.” Looking closely Kal could now see that the symbols were very close to the base runes for each of the spells, from there he could also tell that Strength belonged to Fire and healing came from Water. “The illustration shows them directly opposite each other, meaning they try to cancel each other out. Really, you should have remembered and realized this without my help.”
Feeling sheepish Kal studied the diagram, having largely overlooked it in his initial excitement about beginning his studies. In the very center lie a geometric figure representing pure magical energy. The innermost ring held four symbols in each of the cardinal directions labeled Sylph, Undine, Gnome, and Salamando for each the four primary elements. On the second ring were Celeste, Sol, and Luna, representing the schools of Divination, Illusion, and Astral Projection. Across from those were Necros, Nox, and Obfuscati, in a very faint *********** and lacking symbols of their own. Far off in the bottom right corner, the word Entropa appeared in the same light *********** without a symbol.
“Other than these two,” he said pointing at Luna and Necros, “the rest of them make sense.”
“Astral Projection has also been called Dreamwalking,” said Ikuno pointing to the representation of the moon next to the word ‘Luna.’ “Honestly, I’ve never done it, so I’m not sure how accurate that is. As to why it’s across from the Necros school; Astral focuses on magic of the spirit without the body, Necros affects the body without a spirit, a corpse.”
Kal nodded in understanding then pointed at Undine and Salamando, “If I mix fire and water it creates steam, is there anything that mixes air and earth in a similar way?”
Ikuno was lost in thought for a few moments, “The only thing that comes to mind is a sandstorm.”
“A storm that only happens in dry, sandy areas called deserts, strong winds pick up huge clouds of sand and can carry it from one horizon to the other. Most of the time it’s just an annoyance to be waited out if you get caught in one, but if the winds are strong enough it can scour the flesh from your bones.”
“So, there is a way that they can come together in nature, now I need to figure out how to do it in the runes,” Kal leaned forward and went back to work while Ikuno returned to her bed and saké.
Kahrin was relentless in her pursuit of giving Kal a proper ‘thank you’ over the winter months, seeming to pop up every time he went into town, much to Perra’s annoyance. Despite what she had said after the incident with her brother, she tagged along almost every trip to act as ‘protector’ for Kal against the tenacious barmaid. Kal soon got the impression that Kahrin was showing up as much to tease Perra as she was pursuing him.
To make matters worse, he was making trips into Telsin far more often than he wanted. Now that the townsfolk knew he was a healer, it seemed like every few days someone asked him to take care of some ache or pain that person or a relative was having. In the beginning, he didn’t feel comfortable taking money from the people he healed. However, when he was pulled away from his duties on the farm for the twentieth time that week only to ride all the way to town for an aching elbow or knee, he began to feel like the people of Telsin were taking him for granted. Kal realized he had to do something for the sake of both his sanity and his farm. Asking for a bit of copper for his services resulted in a sharp decline in healing requests.
Ikuno got a good laugh out of his predicament, teasing him about being the savior of Telsin’s creaking bones during one of his and Perra’s visits. Perra then went on a short rant about Kahrin showing up every time they went to town, hunting down Kal and reiterating her offer.
Perra’s eyes almost popped out of her head when Ikuno calmly looked at Kal and said, “The girl feels she owes you a debt, let her pay it so she can move on.”
Perra refused to speak to him the entire way home.
His newfound fame did give Kal the opportunity to help when a snow-laden tree came crashing to the ground on the northern road, pinning a young man who worked at the nearby tannery. Having already been in town to take care of a man’s aching shoulder, that was more due to his old age than some ailment, he heard the sound of the tree falling but didn’t know someone was injured until one of the other workers came banging on the door of the house he was at.
Kal arrived just as they had just gotten an ox in place and were throwing ropes over the tree. Shovels lay nearby from a failed attempt to dig the boy out, unfortunately, it was too late in the winter season and the ground was frozen solid. The next quickest option was to drag the tree off the young man, Kal was immediately concerned their plan would prove as lethal as leaving the tree where it was.
The rescuers looked at the young mage like he was a fool when he told them to undo the ropes. When they refused, he walked over to one that was already tied off and used the strength rune to snap it in half, the farmer inside him cursing at the waste of a good rope, then threatened to break to the rest of them if they didn’t listen, large ropes like the one he just destroyed were valuable and hard to make. The tree was quickly freed and the menfolk cleared of the area. With the strength rune shining bright Kal sunk his hands into the wood, lifting the tree off the boy and tossing it down the road like it was a large stick. As the villagers watched in shock, he bent down and began healing the young man’s broken ribs and arm. Kal hadn’t realized it yet but, with the exception of the innkeeper, that was the first time he had used anything besides his healing rune in front of the townsfolk.
A short time after that, things between Kahrin and Perra finally came to a head. Starting when a rider came galloping into his farm yelling for Kal at the top of his lungs.
“I’m here!” he yelled back as he stepped out of the barn, “what’s the problem?”
With a tug on the reins, the messenger pulled up beside Kal, “The midwife has sent for ye, Master Kal, she’s sayin’ it’s urgent, a babe an’ mother are both in danger,” the man presented a hand to help him up onto the horse.
Kal ignored the offered hand and darted for the house, running inside he went into his bedroom and grabbed his bracers, having not needed them for something as mundane as cleaning out horse and oxen stalls. Perra and his mother both frozen in place when he came bursting through the door and now stared at him wide-eyed as he walked out of the room sliding his arms into the vambraces and quickly drawing the rune to tie them.
“What’s wrong Kal?” asked his mother, now standing in front of her chair.
“The midwife sent for me,” he said as the laces finished tying, swearing under his breath he looked back into his room as he pulled his gloves back on. “Perra! I need you to dig my crystal out of my pack, get a ride with the man outside and meet me in town.” Perra set down the ladle from the soup she had been stirring and ran towards Kal’s room just as Kal grabbed his winter cloak and stepped out the door.
The man had pulled his horse around to the front of the house and, like before, was offering his hand.
Once again Kal ignored it, “There’s a girl coming out in a few minutes with something I need, give her a ride instead, which house am I needed?”
The messenger withdrew his hand, “Ye’ve no time ta saddle a horse Master Kal but it’s the second behind the inn, me brother’ll be out front,” he hung his head, “Jus’ listen for the screamin’.”
Stamina and speed runes shined nearly white as Kal sprinted off in the direction of town, kicking up swirls of loose snow in his wake. He was suddenly more appreciative of the extra traffic to his home keeping the trail packed down.
The rider’s jaw hung open as he watched Kal’s quickly disappearing figure tear off into the distance faster than a horse, up until he rounded a corner in the trail and was out of sight. Perra ran out of the house and saw the rider’s awestruck expression as he looked in the direction Kal had gone. “Hey!” she said tapping his leg, “Are you gonna help me up?”
Kal let the speed rune go dark as he came into town not wanting to take a chance on accidentally running into anything. He was also thinking about doing something to counteract the extra cold from moving so fast, even with his winter clothes he felt half frozen. Making his way along the firmer ground on the sides of the street he waited until he was directly across from the inn before venturing out into the mud, thankfully the colder weather had frozen the lower layers, but the sun still made crossing the street treacherous on days like today. He swiftly and carefully made his way to the other side before running the rest of the way to the house, his ears telling him that the rider had not been exaggerating.
As Kal approached a man that Kal assumed was the father ran up to him, “Master Kal! Master Kal! Thank goo…” anything else the man said was drowned out by a gut-wrenching scream from inside the small house.
The man opened the door for Kal but made no move to go in himself. Stepping inside the single room house his nose immediately picked up the iron-laden smell of blood. Off to one side, a wrinkled old lady was tending to the woman who had been the source of the scream.
“Boy, I told you to stay outside and keep others out of my way, you needn’t be in here to watch this,” said the old woman calmly without turning around.
“I believe you sent for me,” said Kal setting his cloak and gloves to the side.
She turned her head just enough to peer at him out the corner of her eye, “The healer boy, so I did,” turning back to the woman on the bed she continued, “a bit young for a wizard, aren’t you? No matter, as long as you can save the girl I’m not for caring if you’re still in a swaddling cloth. Now then, get over here and get to work,” she said in a dispassionate tone as though the whole situation was commonplace.
Walking over to the woman in the bed, her expression held a hint of relief at seeing him mixed with the excruciating pain she was in. He held his hand on her belly as the healing rune lit up. A warning from one of Ikuno’s tomes flashed through his head. The book had stated that healing a woman while pregnant was no issue as the magic treated the baby like just another part of the mother. However, healing a woman during labor “confused the healing magic” as the author had put it, accompanying his statement with horrific drawings of deceased mother and baby accidentally fused together by people doing exactly what he was about to. The healing rune went dark.
“I can’t, not yet. The baby and afterbirth have to come out or bad things can happen,” Kal figured it would be best if he didn’t go into detail.
The woman in the bed wailed in despair at his words while the ancient midwife pushed him off to the side, “Not much bloody good then are ya?” she rested her hands on the laboring woman’s belly. “The babe is fadin’.”
“How do you…” Kal looked closely at her hands, tiny green tendrils extended from her fingertips down into the woman. “You can use magic,” he said.
“I ain’t no witch, boy. Don’t know nothin’ about doing magic, but after so many years being a midwife, I do know mothers and babes.”
The woman’s belly rippled with a contraction and the laboring woman threw her head back, screaming in agony.
Kal looked at the old woman, “Maybe I can help.” Putting his hand next to hers he pushed a tiny bit of magical energy into the woman and used it to flood her body much like he did when healing.
The old woman’s eyes widened for a moment as she looked down, “ye might be of some use after all. The babe is turned,” she said after a moment. Reaching to her side she grabbed a clean washcloth and rolled it up, “Put that in her mouth, she’s grindin’ her teeth no sense in breakin’ ’em. Now help me an’ keep up with whatever yer doin’ that lets me see the little one.”
The midwife began pushing up and to one side of the woman’s belly, while directing Kal to press on the upper side in the opposite direction, after a minute or so of shoving the woman’s belly around, Kal felt something shift.
The old lady made her way to the foot of the bed and inspected the anguished woman, “Boy, on the next one lift her up so she can push proper.”
“The next what?” but his attention was drawn by the woman in the bed grasping at his hand, though still in extreme pain there was a look of determination on her face now.
A moment later she pulled herself up using Kal and let out another howl of pain, only slightly muffled by the washcloth. Kal quickly switched hands with the woman and adjusted so he could put an arm behind her back.
Twice more he helped the woman push through contractions before the midwife held up the woman’s new daughter letting the fluid drain from her lungs. Laying the baby on the bed she tied off the umbilical and cut through it with a quick swipe of a knife.
Dumping the newborn into Kal’s arms she opened her mouth to speak but his healing rune was already working to repair the damage from the difficult delivery.
“Don’t be too long, the mother needs your attention as well,” said the old woman a couple of minutes later, walking past with a pan containing the afterbirth.
Kal could feel he was running low on magic and cursed himself for burning his resources to get here so quickly and not just accepting the ride from the man sent to get him, gaziantep escort reklamları then again, they may not have lived if he had. He handed the baby back to the old midwife before turning to the woman, who fell unconscious the moment she had given birth. He could tell she was in trouble by the short breaths she was taking, he had seen it many times as an animal he hunted bled out. Laying a hand on her belly he barely got a chance to see where the magic was needed when his healing rune guttered and died.
“Perra!” she should have been there by now.
“Out here Kal! This guy won’t let me in!” came Perra’s voice from beyond the door.
Kal stomped over to the door and flung it open. Perra tossed him the crystal, catching it he glared at the father, “Idiot,” he spat and slammed the door behind him.
Striding over he went back to healing the new mother, after a minute he looked at the old woman who was still checking over the baby, “I don’t know if I can save her, magic can heal wounds but can’t create new blood to replace what she lost.”
“Do what you can, boy. If she lives, she lives. If she dies, she dies.”
“That’s pretty cold.”
She looked up from the baby, “I’ve watched more women die in my life than you will likely meet in yours. For you and for him,” she nodded towards the door, “it may be a terrible thing. For me, it’s just another day.”
Kal frowned at the woman’s callous attitude, “Someone once told me that if I became a mage I would become numb to killing people, I haven’t killed anyone yet and never want to. The thought terrifies me already and your lack of caring for her life is not helping.”
“I’m not here to help you boy, but I will tell you this, choose carefully,” she said, “I’ve watched many women and little ones die, but so many more would have passed away had I not chosen this path. I’ve become jaded, yes, but it’s the sacrifice I made for the lives I’ve saved. If down your path you must kill, then choose carefully, each death will make a kind man like you harder, make certain it’s worth it. Enough about that, tell the girl outside and the father to go to the inn and get us some fresh linens and some stew, it looks like our new mother will be needing some as well.”
Kal looked over and saw that her breathing had slowed some, it still wasn’t close to normal and she was very pale, but she at least seemed to be out of immediate danger, looking down at the flows of magic he could see that the healing rune was nearly finished working.
Stepping over to the door he sent Perra and the father on the midwife’s errand, sitting down in a chair next to the bed he suddenly realized how exhausted he was. The old lady walked over and began lightly slapping the unconscious woman in the face.
“What the hell?”
The mother gradually opened her eyes and lifted her head, the midwife then undid the buttons on the woman’s shirt and placed the swaddled baby at her breast for her first meal. “Every mother should be awake for the first suckling, remember that.”
Kal saw the smile the new mother was giving her daughter and looked over at the old crone, “Okay, maybe not so cold.”
After bringing the new linens and taking the old ones behind the inn to be washed, Perra and the new father made a second trip to get bowls of stew for the new parents and the midwife. Perra was a bit scandalized by the mother’s state of undress until she was forcefully reminded by the woman that Kal had just helped deliver her baby and saved both of their lives as well as being there for her daughter’s first meal, there wasn’t much sense in being bashful now.
Perra’s mood didn’t improve when the midwife looked her up and down and said to Kal, “Good child-bearing hips on that one, won’t have nearly the troubles of this one here,” she waved her spoon in the new mother’s direction.
Once everyone was settled and had tucked into their food Kal and Perra excused themselves and made their way over to the inn for their own bite to eat. Kal was ravenous after the day’s events, finishing two bowls of the inn’s hearty stew before Perra was done with her first.
Like a whirlwind, Kahrin seemed to come out of nowhere and grabbed Kal by the hand, little more than dragging him into the back area where the barmaids’ and Bren’s rooms were.
“Hey!” Perra yelled jumping up and running after them, as she passed the bar Master Ellis reached out and grabbed her by the arm.
“Leave them be, Lady Perra, she needs this,” he said.
Perra jerked her arm out of his grasp with a glare and ran into the back, changing to a determined stomp as she caught up with them in front of Kahrin’s room, “Now see here you hussy!”
Kahrin rounded on her, “Nay, ye be seein’ here lass,” Perra stopped in her tracks from the barmaid’s serious expression and tone, “This game ‘s been fun but it’s over now. I’ll say me thanks ta yer man ‘ere, an’ we’ll be done with this silliness. I’ll stop chasin’ him about, but if’n he wants ta share me bed again he’s welcome any time he wants.”
Perra sputtered, “What makes you think you can…”
“Five generations,” said the barmaid in a softer tone, “Five generations o’ women with bellies not made fer giving birth but they all tried anyway. Five generations o’ women who died in childbirth, me own dam nearly died with me, she wasn’t so lucky with me sis. After five generations of lasses growin’ up ne’er knowing the love of their mum, my niece will be the first.”
Perra rocked back on her heels, stunned by the revelation. She looked at Kal.
“I had an idea they were related once her sister had gotten cleaned up a bit, but didn’t know for sure until just now,” he said shrugging.
Kahrin stepped forward and put a hand on the younger woman’s shoulder, “I’m nay here ta steal yer man, but words aren’t nearly enough, and this is the best an’ only way I know ta thank him proper fer savin’ ’em.”
Perra studied the woman’s face, then looked at Kal, deep in thought she switched between the two multiple times before speaking, “Master Ellis was right, you need this.”
Perra’s face showed her internal struggle, seeing the look of sincerity on Kahrin’s face she came to a decision. Slowly she stepped forward and kissed Kal on the cheek, “I wish I understood why this is so much harder with her than with Ikuno or ‘Dell. I’ll see you back at home tomorrow.”
“So, you’re lettin’ me borrow ‘im for the night?”
Perra nodded slowly.
“Thank you!” Kahrin surprised the young girl as she stepped forward and wrapped Perra in a tight hug, then whispered in her ear, “Thank ye so much, ye mean a lot to him an’ I don’t think he’d have gone a step further if ye hadn’t said okay. Jus’ remember, he loves ye lass, yer first time with ‘im ‘ll be far better’n me givin’ ‘im a tumble as ways o’ showin’ me appreciation.”
Perra was blushing bright red as Kahrin released her, Kal gave her a questioning look, “Are you okay Perra?”
“F..F..Fine, Kal!” she turned and bolted for the front of the inn, calling behind her, “See you at home!”
Kal looked at the barmaid, “What did you say to her?”
Kahrin grinned, “Nothin’ much, jus’ gave ‘er somethin’ ta look forward to,” she said pulling him into her room.
The solution to the speed rune continued to elude Kal for the next few weeks, then the snowstorm came and he was unable to work on it with the help of Ikuno’s library. During this time he often felt that if he were able to actually see a sandstorm in person it might help, though he wasn’t sure exactly how.
Inspiration came to him as he tromped his way to Ikuno’s cave for the first time since the storm, the handmade snowshoes strapped to his feet keeping him from sinking into the deep snow. As he walked, a gust of wind picked up some of the loose snowflakes and sent them swirling into the air. Just as quickly as it came the flurry moved on, leaving the snow gently falling back to earth. Kal stopped and watched, imagining the snowflakes as tiny grains of sand. The earth, in this case, sand, had to be small and the air had to be moving in order to support it.
It occurred to him that the protection phrase around the outside wasn’t canceling the speed glyph, it was like air trapped in a sealed cave and blocking it. Heartened by this revelation, and eager to test it, he ran to Ikuno’s as quickly as the snowshoes would let him. Unfortunately for him, as he got closer to the cave his thoughts became focused on more pleasurable activities. Ikuno pouncing on him and ripping his clothes off made him forget about his epiphany until his next visit, as they spent most of their time ‘catching up’ after a month apart.
Execution of his idea took longer than he expected and the snow was beginning to melt when he finally managed to get it to work.
“What the hell are you doing?” Ikuno asked staring at the rune in front of Kal. His haste rune, as he was now calling it no longer feeling that ‘speed’ was a proper de***********ion, looked like nothing she had seen before. With the recognizable speed enhancing glyph in the middle, around that was a ring that made it act like their shields that projected the magic above the rune itself, intermixed with those glyphs was the symbol for ‘rotate’. Outside of all that was the protection phrase, but it had been broken into smaller parts with only a symbol or two in each division.
Kal set the final rune into a piece of leather for reference then made another one out of Aradelle’s ink for testing. Placing his finger on the piece of hide, the haste rune lit up along with a dimly glowing copy floating just above it, but the outer protection phrase remained hazy and transparent. A moment later the inner part began to spin around the central speed glyph, rotating for about a second before making outermost circle glow and sharpen as it powered up. The divisions holding the parts of the outer phrase expanded slightly, splitting apart and mixing their protection into the streams of speed enhancing magic that rushed past. At the same time, the entire floating rune lit up as bright as the original on the leather as the rune fully activated.
The rune winked out as Kal cut the flow of magic. He grinned from ear to ear as he picked up the strip of leather and began wrapping it around his wrist, until Ikuno’s large blue hand closed on his forearm, stopping him.
Glaring at Kal she said, “Oh hell no. You are not putting that on until it’s been tested.”
Kal bit back a sharp retort, quickly realizing she was right. “Fine,” he grumbled, “any ideas how to do that?”
A few minutes later, Ikuno and Kal were out in the woods strapping his new speed rune to a hapless rabbit doe they had caught. In front of them was a hastily constructed channel of snow with smooth sides piled up to be taller than Kal.
“I’ve caught and eaten plenty of these, how come this seems cruel?” Kal said affixing a barely charged crystal under the leather, a channel of ink on the bottom side would bring the magical power from the crystal to the middle of the rune.
“Probably because this is serving no higher purpose other than making sure you don’t kill yourself. If it makes you feel better, we can still eat it later,” she said holding the rabbit steady while Kal worked.
“Nope, if it survives this, it goes free. It would feel even more cruel to have it live, only for us to turn it into dinner.”
Kal stepped back, “Just to be sure, you set the rabbit down, the ward down there activates your enchantment that will dump all of the magic from the crystal into the rune and we hope that it runs towards your illusion of a hole in that tree,” he said waving a hand down the channel of snow.
“Pretty much, and if the rabbit pops or burns out it’s better than your arm,” she said.
“Ugh, I know, but it still seems wrong. Let’s do this.”
Ikuno put the rabbit down, after a quick pulse of her healing spell the rabbit jumped up and bolted away from them. Human and oni watched intently as the rabbit crossed the ward. The rune flared to life spinning up quickly with the excess energy from the crystal, as the floating rune activated the hare streaked into the illusion with a loud crack that sent a shower of splinters out the backside of the tree. Both of them cringed at the noise.
Kal looked up at Ikuno, “That didn’t sound good.”
Dispelling the illusion, they saw there was now a very real hole in the tree trunk where the illusion had been. Walking around the tree they heard scrabbling in the snow a few feet beyond.
Kal ran over to the sound, “It’s alive!” he yelled.
Ikuno wasn’t in as much of a hurry. “It’s in one piece,” she said, giving the hare an appraising look.
Kal picked up the dazed rabbit and got bit on the thumb for his trouble. Handing it to Ikuno, who was more careful about keeping her fingers away from its teeth, his healing rune came to life and he carefully watched the flows of magic as they sought out injuries.
“Skull is fractured but not split, surprising since it didn’t break the skin, nothing deeper in the head though,” he said as the magic went to work, “Upper spine was damaged, but it’s healed already, so pretty minor there. Its foreleg got beaten up but that will be fixed in a few seconds.” Drawing a rune in the air the leather strip untied itself from the rabbit and floated into his hand, the crystal appeared to have fallen out during the test. “I think that could be considered a success,” he said grinning at Ikuno.
Ikuno held the flailing and squeaking doe up by its back feet, “Sure you aren’t up for dinner?”
Ikuno laughed and dropped the hare into the snow where It bounded away from them as fast as it could manage. She watched it hop away for a moment then turned back to Kal, smiling she said, “I wouldn’t tease you if you didn’t make it so easy!”
Kal and Ikuno stepped off the thin mountain trail onto the old road that would take them to Aradelle. The young mage had made more over winter between selling furs to the tannery and his new position as a healer than he normally did in a year. Keeping in mind his upcoming trek across the mountains to see Aradelle, he had spent some of his newfound wealth on some boots better suited for travel, an investment he was currently extremely pleased with after the aches and pains of his first two ventures across the mountain range.
His other new item was an exquisite black fur-lined winter travel cloak given to him by the tanner as thanks for saving one of his men from the tree earlier that winter. This put him in the awkward position a week later of explaining to the tanner that he was wearing his old winter cloak so the people in town would quit avoiding him. Judging by the villager’s reactions, having a wizard and healer in town was okay, having a wizard and healer in a very high-quality and very noticeable black cloak was not.
As they started on the dullest part of the journey to Aradelle’s, Kal was about to ask if Ikuno could tell him more about the odd type of magic he had seen the old midwife use when she interrupted his train of thought.
“Tell me about your father, Kal, you don’t speak of him much,” she said.
Caught off guard by the sudden question Kal took a moment to collect his thoughts before answering. “There really isn’t much I can tell you directly, he died when I was very young. Mother said that they met on one of her trips into town, soon after they started arranging times when they could meet. It wasn’t long after that he began earnestly courting her.” Kal laughed, “Gran was furious, she had spent so much time teaching mother etiquette and how to read, now she was seeing it all go to waste over some farmer boy. She tried everything she could to keep them apart, but my father’s parents had passed away some time ago so if he wanted to go off and be with mother there was no one to stop him. Gran forbade mother from going into town to see him but even on a small farm she couldn’t have eyes everywhere. When she stopped showing up, he started sneaking over, catching mother out by herself so they could have a few moments together. She said there were a few times Gran broke them up with a rake or hoe in her hand, running my father off into the woods.
“Gramps, on the other hand, could see the eventual outcome and began saving money for the iron stove that’s in my house now. I understand it took him almost five years to put together the money for that much iron and traveled all the way to the capital to have it made.
“Gran was unhappy about the whole situation but after a year finally gave in and allowed them to get married. Mother said she was absolutely livid when she found out that Gramps had been going over to father’s gaziantep escort resimleri farm to help out and keep things in shape over that year, accusing him of egging father on instead of giving mother a chance to find a boy in a lord or lady’s estate. He saw the time as more of an investment as his daughter would soon be living there. Gramps told mother later that he had other reasons for helping father as well, to make sure his livestock was healthy.”
Ikuno gave him a questioning look.
Kal chuckled at her expression, “If Gramps had gone over and seen that he was neglecting his livestock so he could chase after mother, he would have been right alongside Gran in running him off. Instead, when he got there all the animals and fields were taken care of, telling Gramps that he was working extra hard to make the time to be with mother.
“Once they were married it was four long years of waiting and worrying that either father’s seed was weak, or mother was barren before I came along.”
Ikuno’s sharp look and wide eyes went unnoticed by Kal as he was too engrossed in his tale.
Kal’s tone became somber, “He died not long after my third birthday, him, Gran, and Gramps were all killed by a werewolf, not a wolf girl, mind you, but a true werewolf. They had gotten word of attacks from towns to the west and that it was coming towards us but there was little a small town like Telsin could do to stop such a beast with no knights or even a town guard. Gramps had hurt himself out working, so my father took the mule we had at the time to bring them some supplies from town and help out a bit as he healed. Father had planned on coming back the next day, unfortunately, Gran and Gramp’s farm was next in the werewolf’s path. It attacked that night.
“Another farmer had heard the werewolf’s howling coming from the direction of my grandparent’s farm and put together a posse in town to investigate. I asked one of the men from town who was in the posse to tell me what happened since mother wouldn’t. He told me that all three had been ripped limb from limb and partially eaten, the mule and livestock had their ribcages split like opening a wardrobe and their hearts, livers, and brains eaten by the monster,” Kal shivered a bit at the memory of the terror in the man’s eyes as he had described the scene. He left out that the man had been so reluctant that Kal had to pay the man to even tell him. “Thankfully we never heard about the werewolf again, many assumed it had turned north after attacking my family.”
After a brief pause to collect his thoughts he continued, “Mother sold Gran and Gramp’s farm and used the money to hire some hands to help out and teach her the things she didn’t know about farming since Gran had insisted her education be elsewhere. Mother never remarried, saying that father had been her soulmate and it didn’t feel right to take another man. Not that she didn’t have offers, I remember her running one man off with a pitchfork who didn’t want to take no for an answer. That continued until I was old enough to take over and the extra help was no longer needed. About the time I came of age was when she started getting weaker, when she got truly ill was when I met you.”
Ikuno didn’t reply, seeming to be lost in thought.
“Hellooo,” Kal said waving his hand in front of her, “all that and nothing to say?”
“Sorry Kal,” Ikuno said glancing over at him, “You’ve given me a lot to think about.” Seeing the question his eyes she hurried on, “Though I do have some good news, obviously I didn’t know this at the time, but I avenged your father and grandparents.”
Kal’s eyes went wide, “Really!?”
“Yes. Really. Near as I could tell they were correct in the werewolf turning north but when it ran into the mountains it started back east again, which brought it right to my home. I was outside to meet it since it tripped my wards, but I didn’t know what it was and was unprepared for a creature so powerful. Werewolves are insanely strong, especially around and during a full moon, our fight is the reason I have that clearing in front of my cave, between us we felled every tree that used to be there.”
“Bloody hell,” said Kal.
“Bloody is right, as I said, I was unprepared, magic blasts didn’t faze it and it was too fast for the blades to hit, even after casting a strength spell on myself it still overpowered me. Luckily because of my nature, I’m immune to lycanthropy. Though it’s bite took forever to heal and made me very sick for about a week.”
Kal mulled over the unfamiliar word ‘lycanthropy’ for a moment before asking, “If it overpowered you how did you kill it?”
“With my last resort,” Ikuno held out her hand as if grasping something, a rod of light extended out and a type of magic he hadn’t seen before began swirling around the rod. The magic swirled faster until an iron club, longer than he was tall, appeared in her hand with a flash. Above the handle, the club had six flat sides, each one sporting a row of steel spikes that ran all the way up to the end, getting larger as the club got wider, and topped with a hexagonal steel endcap. Even knowing how strong Ikuno was, he could hardly believe she could hold it one-handed. “It’s a part of an oni’s nature and it makes us extremely strong, but it has one large drawback,” Ikuno held out her other hand like she was going to cast a spell, but nothing happened, “it absorbs magic. Granted, the times I’ve fought wizards it’s irreplaceable, but those battles were few and far between.”
“It’s a fantastic weapon” she said pulling her arm back and throwing it at incredible speed down the empty trail, in the distance Kal saw a flash and a few seconds later the swirling magic made it appear in Ikuno’s hand again, “it’s just far more than what I normally need.” Ikuno laid the iron club across her shoulders making Kal wince until he saw that the spikes sunk into the club anywhere they touched her skin. A smile crept across the oni’s face, “It’s been awhile, that feels nice. To finish my story, I had to use this to beat the werewolf down, and into a few pieces. After that I packed up all of his parts and he eventually met the same fate as Sir Michael, digestive juices play hell with regenerators, I think that werewolf kept her fed for nearly two years.”
“Serves him right, the bastard,” said Kal with a satisfied grin, “I know you didn’t do it for them but, thank you, and I’m certain that mother will appreciate the news as well.”
“Hey, Kal,” she said giving him a sly grin. Holding her hand out with fingers splayed she asked him, “Wanna try another game of Uncle?”
Kal looked down at his strength rune then up at Ikuno’s club, meeting her gaze he calmly said, “Nope.”
Kal, Ikuno, and Aradelle didn’t get the joyous reunion as they had all been hoping for. Kal and Ikuno had planned on surprising Aradelle and were approaching from the direction of the shack, which was also downwind, so Aradelle wouldn’t pick up their scents. Ikuno had mentioned that since she was with him it wouldn’t trip the ward she had made to alert Aradelle of potential mates. As an added precaution Ikuno summoned an illusion for them to hide behind, the poor quality of the image getting a laugh and a comment about sticking to black curtains from Kal with Ikuno then reminding him that she never claimed to be good at illusions. The added steps turned out to be little use, as they came close to the alarune’s clearing the wind carried sounds of an argument to Kal and Ikuno’s ears. They crept forward the rest of the way, moving quietly until they could see Aradelle and her visitor.
“I told you I can’t!” said Aradelle plaintively.
The woman with Aradelle looked to be dressed in a shimmering burgundy sleeveless robe with strips of gold along the edges and blue ovals about a hands-width apart surrounded by areas of jet black just inside the trim. The two antennae sprouting from her forehead as well as the orange iridescent compound eyes combined with the blackish-brown armor-like coating over her lower legs and arms marked her as a monster girl. Kal was quick to notice the difference between Aradelle’s eyes and the mystery woman, Aradelle’s had a similar iridescent sheen to them but were one solid color with none of an eye’s normal features while the other woman had clearly recognizable facets and something in how her eyes worked created a moving dot that gave the impression of a pupil.
“Come on ‘Dell why are you being like this? I just woke up and I’m starving! Just open up those legs and I’ll get those juices flowing, then I can get a nice long drink and leave you alone,” said the woman.
“You don’t understand,” said Aradelle sounding like she was about in tears, “I really can’t! I have a seed and I won’t produce any more nectar until Kal and Ikuno come to…”
The woman threw her hands up in the air, “Ikuno! Ikuno! Ikki! Ikki! Ikki! It’s all I ever hear about from you for the past few years! I’m the one who comes and visits you all the damn time yet all you ever talk about is fucking Ikuno!” she snarled at Aradelle.
Ikuno tapped Kal’s shoulder getting his attention then whispered in his ear as the woman was speaking, “Many monster girls have something similar to Aradelle’s dust for snaring mates. Butterflies also have a dust that if you breathe it in you will go lust crazy. If you fight it,” she said tapping his head, “your protections from your enchantment won’t kick in, understand?”
Ikuno shook her head. “Probably not,” she said with a concerned look on her face before motioning towards Aradelle. They both stood up and Ikuno dropped her illusion as they stepped out into the alarune’s area.
“Well maybe if you treated me like something besides…” Aradelle snapped, stopping as she heard a rustling behind her. Aradelle turned around to see Kal and Ikuno step out of the bare shrubs surrounding her clearing. Her face lit up on seeing them, “Kal! Ikuno! You made it!” she said bouncing around in her flower happily and momentarily forgetting about the robed woman.
“That’s Ikuno!?” said the woman, “This blue ogre is the wonderous Ikuno? What the hell, Aradelle! She doesn’t even need your nectar! You’re lucky she doesn’t just eat you.”
Aradelle spun around hands balled into fists at her sides in anger, “That’s right! I’m not just food to her! She comes to see me because she loves me and cares about me not just because she wants my nectar!”
With a grin, Ikuno glanced over at Aradelle as she and Kal stepped up to stand beside the alarune, “To be fair the last time we were here we did collect some of your nectar, though I think Kal did most of the eating that time.”
The woman quivered with rage as she glared at the alarune, “You can’t spare me a drop to eat after sleeping all winter, yet you blush like a lovestruck teenager as soon as she speaks?!”
Kal peered around Ikuno, who was standing between him and Aradelle. He looked first at Aradelle’s face then up at Ikuno, “She’s blushing?”
The robed woman gasped, not having paid the slightest attention to the ogre’s cloaked companion until he spoke and revealed himself as a human male. Kal watched in surprise as her robe unwrapped itself from around her revealing it too actually a set of shimmering butterfly wings, though the inside of the wings looked like… tree bark? Her unveiled body was covered in a full corset made of the same black-brown chitin, which suddenly split in two down the middle and moved to either side on small insect-like arms, beneath was an impressive pair of breasts on a voluptuous human torso. Her wings shivered, shaking loose a cloud of glittering silver dust.
“Bea! No!” Aradelle yelled.
Kal glanced at Aradelle, “Bee? She’s not a bee she’s a butter…” Kal suddenly found himself choking as Bea pumped her wings, sending the cloud of dust straight at Kal and lifting herself into the air only to land further back, next to the edge of the clearing.
“Kal!” screamed Aradelle moving towards him but Ikuno put an arm out holding her back.
“Remember your enchantment and it’s protections Kal, remember what happened with Aradelle,” Ikuno whispered fiercely in his ear before looking at Aradelle who was glaring at the traitorous oni. “Better this happen now when we are here to protect him so he can learn to overcome it.”
Kal took a deep gasping breath, the aphrodisiac took effect knocking control away from his conscious mind, making him feel like he was watching through a window at things that were happening to someone else.
His cock became painfully hard in a few seconds and he watched as his hands undid his belt and pulled down his trousers with maniacal haste. Looking to his side were six holes he could put his cock into, but they weren’t what he wanted. Over there by the clearing edge, that was the cunt his cock needed. Kal’s conscious mind railed against the thoughts running through his head, knowing they weren’t his but unable to stop them any more than he could stop his body from making a breakneck run at the butterfly girl.
Bea had bent over away from him with her hands on a small tree, Kal came to a skidding halt behind her, grabbing her hips and beginning to thrust, the thought ‘cock in hole, cock in hole, must get cock in hole’ running through his head completely unbidden. After a couple of misses that bent his cock at angles that made Kal’s conscious mind wince, he was going to pay for those later, he finally plunged full force into the butterfly girl, hilting himself in one stroke. The butterfly girl’s shriek as he filled her was one of pure ecstasy while Kal’s mind was busy being thankful for the woman’s copious lubrication as it was the only thing keeping that from being very painful for both of them.
Kal immediately began pounding into the woman pulling her hips back into him, each thrust making loud slaps of flesh on flesh as they came together. After only a couple dozen strokes he buried himself inside Bea’s pussy and let loose, cumming far more than usual as he emptied his balls inside her. Before his orgasm had the opportunity to subside he was already moving his hips again. Bea had her face pressed against the tree, her long thin tongue lolling out and eyes rolled up into her head with an ecstatic smile on her face.
“Dammit Kal! Quit fighting it and fuck her!” Ikuno called out from behind him.
“What the hell do you think he’s doing Ikuno?” Aradelle snapped at her.
“He’s fighting it,” she said to the alarune, “the enchantment works on intent. He never had any desire to have sex with her, it’s all the aphrodisiac making him do this, so the enchantment’s protections aren’t activating like they did with you.”
Kal’s inner mind heard the conversation behind him but wasn’t sure exactly what to do about it. Focusing, he blocked out the stream of thoughts generated by the aphrodisiac and concentrated on the woman in front of him trying hard to look beyond his extreme annoyance and find the desire to actually want to have sex with her. Seeing her mouth hanging open in pleasure gave him the opening he needed.
The fog lifted from his mind, though his hips kept moving. Reaching up he grabbed a handful of her hair, as his hand closed Bea noticed the change and snapped out of her pleasure haze.
She lifted her head and tried to look back, “What the?”
Kal pulled out and pulled her off to the side away from the tree, quickly spinning her around by her hair and forcing her to her knees, “You wanted something to drink?” he growled at her as she looked up in fear, “drink this,” he said pointing his cock at her mouth. Like Aradelle, Bea was unsure of what to do when a man wasn’t under the influence of her dust, which scared her at first. She relaxed when he just wanted her to suck him off, that she could handle.
Or so she thought, as she opened her mouth to take him in she failed to notice one important piece of information.
Kal was not happy.
Kal thrust into Bea’s mouth making her gag repeatedly, he wasn’t forceful enough to hurt the girl but he wanted her to understand just how upset he was after what she did to him. Despite his rough treatment, the butterfly girl found a hand drifting down toward her sex. This man was demanding, uncaring, and mildly terrifying compared to the hard, pounding, single-minded fucks caused by her dust, to her surprise she found the differences very exciting.
Kal thrust his cock between her lips and held himself there as his balls drew up and he unloaded into her mouth with a yell. To his surprise, her cheeks bulged out and some even dripped out from around her lips despite her frantic attempts to swallow it all.
Kal felt a large hand come down on his shoulder, “That’s enough Kal, I think she’s done,” said Ikuno.
“I think you’re gaziantep escort sitesi right,” he said, “but I’m not.”
Kal bent over, reaching down once she was done swallowing, and lifted Bea’s chin so they were eye to eye, the aroused look on her face quickly faded, “My women are kind enough to not mind who I stick my dick inside or we would have some serious problems. I’m giving you a pass because I understand what you did is part of your nature. But,” his voice dropped to a growl, “if you see me again and want some action you fucking ask, because if you use try using your dust on me again…” His strength rune glowed bright red as he made a fist then turned and put his hand through the small tree she had just been leaning against, sending it toppling away from them. “Get out of here,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand.
Kal glared at her the entire time Bea picked herself up and with a quick jog jumped into the air flapping her wings hard to take her away from the insanely strong human. She tried hard to ignore the full feeling in both her belly and pussy from his cum. Harder to ignore were the fluids mixing with his cum as it dripped down her legs from his display of strength. The man, she remembered ‘Dell and Ikuno calling him ‘Kal’, had shaken off her lust frenzy and punched through a tree barehanded. As she flew away she already knew when her mating season came later this spring she would be seeking him out. There was no question about one thing, next time she would ask, even if she ignored the blue-skinned ogre he had as a companion, she did not want to piss him off.
Kal took a steadying breath as he watched Bea fly away, shaking his head he turned and walked past Ikuno to go pick up his pants that were lying next to Aradelle. The alarune had a look of sadness on her face as she watched Kal, he could tell that she wanted to reach out and embrace him as he got closer but figured that her lack of experience with males kept her rooted from uncertainty.
“I’m sorry, Kal,” Ikuno called out from behind him, sounding truly contrite. She hadn’t moved from the edge of the clearing where she put her hand on his shoulder.
“No, you aren’t, Ikuno,” Kal replied , raising his voice so she could hear as he picked up his trousers, “I know why you let this happen, and I understand it had to happen so I know how to deal with similar situations in the future. Since you’ve taken it upon yourself to teach me about the outside world, you really have nothing to be sorry for.” Looking at his trousers then down at his still hard prick, he threw the pants to the side in disgust, “What is up with these aphrodisiacs making a guy hard for ages after he cums?”
Ikuno chuckled as she walked over to him. “Fine then, I’m not sorry for letting her do that to you, but I am sorry you didn’t get to enjoy yourself.”
Aradelle leaned over the side of her base to see that Kal’s cock was indeed still standing proudly, “Unfortunately I was telling Bea the truth, I won’t produce any nectar until you and Ikuno plant Eludora. Honestly, I don’t know if my nectar would help clear the effects of her dust even if I could.”
Kal pulled Aradelle close for a hug that she excitedly returned, “Don’t worry about it ‘Dell I’ll manage until it goes away.”
Ikuno looked down at him smiling, “I have three ways to take care of you and ‘Dell has one, I think we can do better than ‘manage’,” she said but Aradelle was shaking her head.
Aradelle opened her mouth and ran her finger across her tongue showing it to Kal and Ikuno. “Even my mouth is dry, sorry I can’t help,” she said looking apologetic.
Kal scrunched up his face and smacked his lips together imagining going days with a completely dry mouth, “That sounds awful, though it does explain why your kisses are so sweet.” Aradelle sighed and gave him a doe-eyed look, he decided not to correct her that he was just commenting on the taste. “Why do you stop making nectar anyway?”
“It’s a trade-off with girls like Bea,” she explained, “You take my seed and plant it, then you can feed from me.”
“‘Feed from you,’ it sounds odd when you say it like that.”
Aradelle looked embarrassed, “Well it’s not like I don’t enjoy what they do to get it.”
Kal peered closely at Aradelle’s face, “You’re blushing again, aren’t you?”
Aradelle let out a cute squeak and hid her face behind her hands, Ikuno answered for her, “Yes she is we just can’t see it, however, butterfly and bee girls can.”
“How does that work?” Kal asked but before anyone could answer he grunted in pain and reached down below his still hard prick to cradle his sack, which was about three times larger than normal. “Holy hell, they’re huge,” he said wincing and activating his healing rune, that only delayed the pain since it came back as soon as he stopped.
Ikuno lifted him up by the hips and placed him inside Aradelle’s flower, “‘Dell, did you get a chance to taste Kal while you two were double-teaming me last time? If not, you will now,” she said then leaned over and engulfed Kal’s cock, she began bobbing her head back and forth trying to quickly get him off and release the pressure in his scrotum.
Aradelle watched for a few seconds, her tongue tracing around her lips and breathing heavy as Kal’s oni-sized cock disappeared repeatedly into Ikuno’s mouth, she reached down to touch herself and the dryness reminded her she didn’t have any nectar yet for lubrication.
“Ikuno!” she hissed in a whisper, “I can’t do that remember? No nectar!”
Ikuno pulled off Kal’s cock with a pop and said, “I suck, you drink,” before burying her nose in Kal’s pubes and working his head with her throat while at the same time positioning Aradelle’s face next to hers.
“Ah fuck!” Kal yelled in warning just before he came. Ikuno pulled off and pointed his prick at Aradelle’s open mouth, in a flash of inspiration she aimed a little higher and the first long spurt covered most of Aradelle’s face in white spunk, the second filled her mouth to nearly overflowing. Ikuno was shocked at how much Kal was producing, she leaned Aradelle back and pointed his cock lower coating the alarune’s small breasts then even lower still to completely coat her sex and inner thighs with another copious spurt. Kal’s last few shots went straight into Ikuno’s belly as she deepthroated him once again.
Kal gasped and drew a deep lungful of air as his orgasm subsided, opening his eyes he stared in shock at Aradelle’s state. The alarune was still leaned back in the position Ikuno had placed her and she appeared to be shivering with excitement. Aradelle’s hands came up and began massaging his cream into her breasts, her entire body jerking each time she brushed across her nipples. He could see her tongue moving about in her cum filled mouth appearing to enjoy the taste just as much as Ikuno. Every so often she would take a deep breath in through her nose, each time she did her body would shake as though she climaxed.
“Damn,” Kal whispered in awe, “I did that?” he asked Ikuno, but the oni wasn’t listening.
Instead she was moving as if entranced towards Aradelle’s coated thighs and sex, starting at her thighs Ikuno carefully removed every trace of Kal’s seed around the alarune’s sex with her tongue. Moving down and spreading Aradelle’s cheeks she teased the alarune’s rear pucker with her tongue, collecting the bit of Kal’s cum that had slid down there and making the plant girl squeal. As Ikuno brought her tongue back up and began teasing and cleaning the lips of Aradelle’s sex the alarune started breathing harder and harder until she was forced to swallow what remained in her mouth and pant in earnest from the pleasure.
Ikuno latched on to Aradelle’s clit the same time the alarune drew in one of those long breaths through her nose, the plant girl laid her head back let out a high-pitched shriek while her hands roughly pinched and pulled her small blue nipples. The alarune passed out as her orgasm finished washing over her, Ikuno didn’t miss a beat and caught the insensate girl, adjusting quickly so she could begin cleaning Aradelle’s chest and nipples with her tongue.
“Hey, Ikuno?” Kal said sitting down, “it looks like we aren’t done yet.”
Ikuno looked over and Kal motioned at his still hard cock, instead of answering Ikuno gave him a smile and went back to her task. Cradling the still unconscious Aradelle in one arm, with the other hand she undid the belt holding on her bottom furs, letting them drop to the ground. The oni knelt down next to Aradelle’s bulb and leaned forward, with the same hand she grabbed the bottom of her asscheeks and pulled it to the side, silently offering Kal his choice of what to fill up next.
Kal hopped out of Aradelle’s flower and sank into Ikuno’s pussy, getting well lubed before pulling out and pointing at her backdoor. As his cock slowly slid through the tight ring of her anus, Kal was thinking this might be a long but fun ride.
Kal was thinking ‘fun’ may not have been his best choice of words as he and Ikuno exhaustedly fell into their bed in the small shack. The oni had thoroughly enjoyed herself between licking Aradelle clean of his cum, and getting her ass not only well fucked but filled to the point she looked like she was about six months pregnant by human standards.
Twice he had cum inside Ikuno’s rear before she cleaned him up and sucked him off again before painting Aradelle a second time. He even got the head of his dick inside the alarune’s pussy using his own cum as lube but was unwilling to do more for fear of hurting her, content with making small movements as his balls refilled and Ikuno gave Aradelle’s clit a thorough tongue lashing. The final time he emptied himself in Ikuno’s bottom Aradelle flipped upside down to hang outside her flower, returning the oral attentions from before and making Ikuno roar loud enough to scare away all of the nearby birds as she came. Thankfully his cock had finally started to soften signaling that Bea’s dust had run its course.
Though they had hoped to be back to Ikuno’s home by nightfall they had come prepared to stay the night if necessary.
Kal laid back in the bed, “That dust is some potent stuff, though it felt good to cum that much it would be nice if it didn’t last so long, well, and making me lust crazy too, that part was unpleasant,” he looked over at Ikuno, who was rubbing her pregnant looking belly with a wistful smile on her face.
“Are you ok Ikuno?”
“I’m fine, Kal. I’m just a little sad and a little envious.”
“Because this can never be the real thing for us,” she said running her fingers over her belly. “Immortals can’t bear children. If we could our numbers would quickly overrun the world. That’s not necessarily true, we can have offspring but not with humans, only other spirits similar to ourselves. This feeling is as close as I will come to Aradelle and any other women you have children with.”
Not knowing what to say Kal kissed her tenderly then wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight as they both fell asleep.
Morning found Kal and a much slimmer Ikuno standing in Aradelle’s clearing.
“It’s time, isn’t it?” said Aradelle, taking deep breaths in an attempt to keep her emotions under control.
Kal and Ikuno nodded.
Aradelle glided back to the center of her flower, a hole opened around the vines that her feet turned into, allowing her to drop down inside. From his quick peek Kal could see there was a fairly large chamber hidden below the ground, larger than he had expected anyway.
A few moments later Aradelle rose out of the opening clutching Eludora’s seed tightly to her chest and accompanied by the two vines that had been mysteriously absent yesterday. Murmuring a few final words of encouragement along with a last kiss on the hard, brown shell she passed Eludora to Kal who gave the seed a quick hug of his own before passing her to Ikuno who wrapped the seed in blankets and placed Eludora securely in her pack.
Ikuno had warned him about this part, it didn’t help.
Aradelle stood there, her body wracked with sobs as she attempted to say goodbye to them. Kal and Ikuno both put their arms around her, doing their best to comfort the distraught alarune. Despite her sobbing, her eyes remained dry without her nectar. At the alarune’s insistence, they said their goodbyes before turning and walking out of the clearing, followed by the sounds of the brokenhearted plant girl. As they approached the clearing’s edge Kal thought about Kahrin’s sister and niece and the look on the mother’s face during the baby’s first meal. He thought about how Aradelle would never get to experience that feeling and now she couldn’t even shed a tear as her child was taken away.
Kal stopped, Ikuno doing the same to turn and look at him a moment later.
“Give me a minute,” he told Ikuno as he dropped his pack and walked back towards the alarune. As he approached her flower, Aradelle threw her arms around him and sobbed into his chest, he wrapped his arms around her and kissed the top of her head feeling his own eyes start to well up. Taking her face in his hands Kal touched the corner of his eye to hers then did the same on the other side, as he moved back twin tears made their way haltingly down Aradelle’s cheeks.
Feeling wetness, she reached up to touch her face, then pulled her hand away and saw her fingers were damp.
Her face crumpled as she threw her arms around Kal’s neck, “I love you Kal!” she cried.
He wrapped his arms around her again, “I love you too ‘Dell, I’ll make sure our daughter is well taken care of.”
Aradelle just nodded into his shoulder.
After giving them a few moments together Ikuno came back over and farewells were repeated, however, the mood had changed dramatically with Aradelle calling out as they left, “Love you, Ikuno! Love you, Kal! Love you, Eludora!” they almost made it away without incident until Aradelle yelled out, “Love you, Eludora! Be good for Daddy!”
“Daddy?” Kal managed to utter, before promptly forgetting how his feet worked and crashing face first into the forest floor.
Back on the trail home, Ikuno couldn’t pass up the chance to tease Kal.
“Look at the two of you. Saying, ‘I love you Kal!’ and ‘I love you ‘Dell!’ after only knowing each other for a few days. It took you months to say that to me and she took even longer! Keep it up an I might actually start getting jealous.”
Kal smiled up at her, “We have a lot in common. Besides having a daughter together,” he said, nodding towards Ikuno’s pack, “and we both love the same big blue ogre.”
“Hmph, ogre,” she grunted, turning away so he wouldn’t see her cheeks go purple.
Hours later they arrived at Eludora’s new home for the next few years. Years ago, Ikuno had made a clearing due south of her home for just this occasion. Over winter they decided to abandon the first location and make another small clearing just off the route Kal took between his and the oni’s homes.
“Ready to try your new spell, Kal?” asked Ikuno as she set Eludora’s pack down.
“I hope so, this is the only reason I learned it,” he replied.
“You may want to look into geomancy a bit more, you seem to have a knack for it, certainly not like your abilities with runes, but it’s fair to say you are picking it up quicker than normal,” she said, pulling Eludora’s seed out and unwrapping it from the blankets.
“Compared to using runes, all these extra motions feel clumsy,” he said as he drew a plain magic circle where Eludora was to be planted. Standing outside the circle he held out his fist and drew a rune above it, charging it with power but not activating the spell yet. “Ready?” he asked Ikuno.
“When you are,” she replied holding the seed.
Kal made a swirling motion with his hand above his fist, activating the floating rune between them. He watched as the rune above his fist tethered itself to the circle at his feet then began moving further into the ground, when he felt it was deep enough he stopped the swirling motion and moved his fist upward as if pulling a plant out of a flowerpot. The magic circle on the ground copied Kal’s motion lifting a large plug of grass, roots, and soil. Most of the dirt came loose and fell back into the hole as he gave his hand a small shake before moving the plug off to the side. Ikuno walked over and made a depression in the loose earth, carefully placing Eludora inside. As Ikuno stepped aside Kal brought his fist back over and down, the floating cylinder of soil and roots moving back into place and coming to rest over the seed that held his daughter.
As they packed the top layer of grass back into place Kal felt a pulse of magic shoot off toward the northeast in the alarune’s direction.
“Looks like Aradelle will be able to make her nectar again,” he said.
Ikuno and Kal made their way back to the oni’s cave to resupply for tomorrow’s journey over the mountains to go see the alarune again.
Aradelle and Kal had some unfinished business.
Edited by: Old Fart
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