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The twins must go their separate ways to stop both the Paladonic Knights and Jessica.
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Chapter 25

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Murphey’s Law

Eldon paced the hallway, his girlfriend and new wife watching him. They’d changed out of the wedding clothes and into more comfortable apparel while Shelly was carted off to this deliver room. His twin sister was screaming in agony. What were they doing to her? Couldn’t someone relieve her pain? Why were their parents sitting there like this was normal? No one should ever have to suffer that much! Shelly was a strong woman and could handle a lot, but she sounded like she was dying in there.

And then she went silent.

That seemed even more ominous after the agonized screams. Was Shelly okay? Did something happen with the pregnancy? Why wouldn’t anyone tell them what was going on?

“Sheldon,” his mom addressed him, “for the last time, sit down. You’re making everyone else nervous.”

“How can you just sit there, mom?” he shot back as he continued to walk the corridor. “I’ve never heard her scream in that much pain before. Shouldn’t Gaia, or the doctor, or someone do something to help her?”

“Women can take a lot of pain,” Sheila said, her voice somehow calm. “Your sister is a strong woman, and—” She cut off as the door opened, and the short little goblin doctor walked out.

The doctor had on what was once a white smock and apron but was now covered in various fluids that made Eldon sick, knowing where they must have come from.

As if to belie the words she’d just spoken, Sheila stood and rushed towards the goblin woman. “Is she okay? How did it go? Why won’t you say anything?”

“Slave!” Lyden’s voice cut her short. “Let the doctor speak.”

For the first time in Eldon’s memory, it looked like Sheila Lance was going to argue back with her master. But after a moment, she nodded with a glare and turned back to wait.

“The birthing went well enough, and the mother is resting,” she said. She had to look up at everybody as she spoke. Eldon didn’t know many goblins, but this one seemed short, even for one of her race. “You’ll be able to go in and see her in a moment. She is currently feeding the child. It is a healthy baby.”

Eldon didn’t care two wits about the baby but was glad that his twin sister was okay.

“A baby… what?” Lyden asked. He’d gotten to his feet and stood behind his slave, holding her in his arms.

The doctor didn’t get the chance to answer, though, as Areth zipped out of the room, grinning from ear-to-ear. No one had seen her enter the delivery room.

“Well, it definitely is part of your family,” she said with a smile. For some reason, she glanced at Bridget. “It’s both a boy and a girl.”

“Twins?” Sheila and Lyden spoke at once.

Twins?! Sheldon thought with a bit of shock. No wonder Shelly was in so much pain. Except, the way the doctor had spoken, it didn’t sound like there was more than one baby. Could it be like Brock and Bridget? Two genders switching with one body?

“Nope!” Areth chuckled. The disgruntled doctor turned and walked back into the delivery room, ignoring the gleeful fairy as she muttered under her breath. “It’s both, but not like her.” this was said as she pointed at Bridget. “It’s male and female at the same time. Really cute baby, and I should know what cute is! By the way, that metal lady in there is really cranky!”

Eldon assumed that she was referring to Sonia as the metal lady, and didn’t blame her for being upset with the fairy. Areth took some getting used to and was definitely an acquired taste.

Eldon moved to enter the room, but of all people, Areth zipped up to block him. She even grew to a normal size when he tried to brush her away.

“Your sister is in no condition to accept visitors,” the fairy intoned, sounding more like Sonia than herself. Something has been off about the golden pixie since her resurrection. She seemed more serious and less playful, though, by any other standards, she was still very annoying.

Eldon opened his mouth to argue with her and demand the little pipsqueak let him through to see his sister, but a slender hand on his arm calmed him down.

“Love,” Mandy’s voice said behind him, “let’s give her some time to recover. Meanwhile, we have our own celebrating to do?”

He would have turned and argued with her as well, but the way she asked that as a question, and the way her sweet voice cut through his emotions to remind him how much she meant to him, calmed him down.

He turned to face his wife—his wife!—and gave her his best smile. “You’re right,” he said, grabbing a pair of her hands in his own. “We should…” He looked over her shoulder at Shlee, who started shaking her head. “You and I should go celebrate. I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be married to such a wonderful woman.”

It was true, too, and not just because he couldn’t lie in her presence. He loved her and found it more than a bit exciting to know that she was his wife.

“My dear husband,” she grinned at him, showing off her white teeth. Two of her arms slipped around his neck while the other two moved to his hips. “I plan on seeing if I can wear you out.” Her cheeks colored slightly as she looked around at their family, realizing that her own ability had backfired on her.

“What do you two think you’re going to do?” Alloria demanded, looking haughty and upset, her hands on her hips and her eyebrows creating a deep furrow between them as she glared at the newlyweds.

For a split second, Eldon thought they’d made a mistake, and he was being inappropriate in front of his family but shook it off. “Being married!” he told her with his cheesiest grin. Without waiting for any kind of a rebuttal, he scooped up his bride and carried her down the hallway.

He noticed Alloria grimace at them as he carried his blushing bride away, but also saw the gleam in her eyes.

Gaia had prepared an exclusive suite for the newlyweds, and it was to this room that he brought Mandy. The entire walk, she’d covered his face with kisses, and spoke whispers of what she was going to do to him once they were alone. She had him thoroughly aroused by the time he reached their door. It was almost a little weird, having the ability to grow hard again, instead of being permanently stiff, and he enjoyed it.

He kicked the door closed behind him. Mandy surprised him as she wriggled free from his arms and pressed her lips to his. His back hit the door as their kiss intensified. Two of her hands pressed against his shoulders, while her other set worked at his pants.

He groaned as his manhood became free, and her strong hands caressed his twisted length. His arms wrapped around her, pulled her firm body tight against him. Her arms at his shoulders wrapped around his neck as their tongues met.

A small portion of his mind worried that he’d struggle to perform. This was his first time since giving up his permanent body to restore Areth, and he no longer had the perma-boner. But it was only a small portion, as much of his blood was supplying oxygen to his second brain.

He moved to pick Mandy back up and carry her to their luxurious bed, but she shook her head and pushed back from him. She met his questioning look with a devilish grin. Placing her upper hands against his shoulders again, she lowered her body until she was kneeling before him. One of her knees rested between his legs, right on his pants, so he pulled his legs out.

She grinned up at him, licking her lips before leaning forward and nuzzling his shaft. He brought his right hand down and caressed her dirty blonde hair. She purred for a moment longer, then opened up to let her tongue out to trace along the curves of his shaft.

It was Eldon’s turn to moan, enjoying the sweet feeling of her talented tongue. A moment later, his breath caught as she opened wider and swallowed the head between her lips. He felt her skilled mouth work his tip, moving along the sensitive rim and eliciting even more moans from him.

Too soon, however, she stopped and pulled back. Eldon was about to complain, but it turned into a yelp when her four arms moved to pick him up and carry him to the bed. He couldn’t help but chuckle as she literally threw him onto the lush comforter and gave him a hungry look.

“Don’t think for a minute that just because I’m your wife, I’m going to become some docile cow, ready to make you a sandwich at a moment’s notice,” she said as she crawled onto the bed with him.

The mattress must have been made out of clouds and angel feathers; it was so soft, and yet firm enough to support them.

“The day I consider you docile, have my head examined,” he replied with a broad grin. Then he glanced at his crotch and added, “Both heads. Besides, if I’d wanted a soft wife, pliable and weak, I would have stayed far away from you. I prefer my women—no, my partners—to be capable and smart. With you, I just happened to get lucky enough to get good looks, sense of humor, level headed, and a talented lover added to the mix.”

“Oh, you know how to sweet talk a woman,” she cooed.

“Sweet talk, nothing,” he argued back. “I'm just honest—Oh!” He cut off as she took him back into her mouth.

Never being a selfish lover, he adjusted himself so that he could move underneath her. She gave an appreciative moan as he brought his lips to her nether-set and licked along her folds. He had to concentrate on pleasing her, trying to ignore the bliss she was giving him, lest he cum too soon. He hadn’t had sex on his mind with his sister giving birth, but now that they were in the middle of foreplay, it was all-consuming.

He concentrated on her clit, using every skill he knew to entice her towards her first orgasm. He sucked on her labia, used the tip of his tongue to swirl around her clit, or shove it into her hole, enjoying her taste. It became a race to see who would cum first, and he was determined to be the second across that line.

But the way she was moaning around his thick shaft, and her method of alternating her rhythm of bobbing, and the skill with which she incorporated two hands on his length, one on his scrotum, and the last tracing lightly along his inner thighs drove him ever closer.

She was the first to tense up and start shuddering, though. Eldon was rewarded with a guttural moan from her as she pulled her lips from him and road her orgasm, shaking atop him. He doubled down on his attentions, trying to make her climax last until she finally had to roll off him.

He turned and pounced on top of her, waiting for her to meet his gaze before he spoke. “I hope you know that just because you’re my wife, I don’t intend to slack off on making you as happy as I can, as often as I can.”

“I’m such a lucky woman,” she panted before pulling him down into a kiss. “Now, fuck your wife until she can’t think straight,” she ordered when they came up for breath. She emphasized her command by placing two hands on his hips and pulling them towards her.

His angle was wrong on the first attempt, and he ended up bumping hard against her magic button, making her shudder before he could realign. This time, when he pressed forward, he felt her velvety lips kiss his tip, then part to allow him entrance. She was as tight as she always was, and they groaned in unison as they became one. One heart. One soul. One love.

He set a steady rhythm, propping himself on one arm as he gazed into his wife’s soft brown eyes. He marveled at how she could look so sweet and yet so seductive as she bit her bottom lip. Or at how much it turned him on as her eyes fluttered every time he hit bottom.

Soon her hands were encouraging him to increase his pace. He dropped his head to suckle on one of her stiff nipples, arching his back to get more force into each thrust.

He was once again climbing towards his own end, and from the way she was meeting his thrusts with her hips, gripping his arms and waist, and making soft panting noises, he knew she was close also.

Then she gripped him, stopping him from moving altogether, and spoke. “I want to have a kid, Eldon. Get me pregnant?”

It took a moment for her words to sink in. She wanted to get pregnant? Now? Wasn’t there already enough going on in their lives?

Or perhaps, that was reason enough to procreate. Eldon couldn’t deny that the thought appealed to him. Just thinking about pumping her full of his potent seed, placing a child within her belly turned him on. In fact, if anything, he felt himself getting harder within her tight canal.

He heard her talking, trying to convince him of why she should get pregnant, but he ignored her. Not out of malice, or anything negative, but because he couldn’t think of words to voice the welling of love and devotion that welled up in his chest. Instead, he returned to kissing her and moving inside her.

The small break had given him a respite from cumming. He pulled out of his wondrous wife and rolled her onto her stomach. Rear lifted up as he aimed to re-enter. As he did so, he brought one hand under her to cup one full breast, thumbing her turgid nipple and leaned in to whisper into her ear.

His hips set a steady, forceful rhythm as he plunged into her again and again. His stiff cock drove against the front of her vaginal canal as he spoke the words he knew she wanted to hear.

“You want to carry our child?” he asked, his voice low and pitched for her ears alone. “You want me to pump you full of my seed? Cum inside you and place a child into you?” She managed to nod as she mewled her pleasure. He didn’t know if his words were affecting her as much as they were him, but he could feel her tightening her slick walls as he provoked her. “I can’t wait to see you carrying my child. Our child. The thought of you pregnant makes my cock harden even more. You feel that? Feel how hard I am at the thought of our child in your belly? I’m close, my brilliant wife. I’m going to fill you with my seed, and… and…” He trailed off as his mind flipped off. He was about to do as they both wanted.

“Oh, fuck!” Mandy gasped as she came once again. Her body managed to somehow become limp and rigid at the same time. Her insides squeezed him hard, and he couldn’t hold back any longer.

As he fired off his ejaculate into her welcoming uterus, he concentrated on making them as potent as he could. He wanted to get her pregnant. He wanted to have something to show to the world that he was alive. And no matter what dangers they may shortly face, he wanted to know that his legacy would carry on.

* * * *

Gaia met them as they rejoined the others, a broad smile gracing her dark lips. Without waiting for permission, she glided up to Mandy and placed her hands on the four-armed woman’s belly.

“Best to ensure that things start out safe from the beginning,” she said, closing her eyes and concentrating.

Dread struck Eldon at those words. He hadn’t even considered the dangers of having a mixed-breed child. Considering that both Mandy and he were mixed-breed, did that make it more dangerous, or did that mitigate them? What would he do if Gaia determined that their child would be a danger? It was what happened to his late stepmom’s—Becky’s—children. And why his dad and only remaining human wife never had children after the first couple attempts.

He looked at his new bride and saw the same fears reflected there. Fear that only grew as Gaia’s hands roamed across her abdomen and the Pillar of Earth frowned and continued to concentrate. Sweat beaded on the powerful woman’s brow as she continued to work.

No one dared speak, and Eldon realized that everyone was watching them. His father was holding his mother, fear and worry in their gazes. Shlee looked like she wanted to approach them, but didn’t dare. And Alloria looked angrier than he’d ever seen her.

“Wow,” Gaia said, breaking the tension and wiping her brow with the back of her hand. “It’s a good thing I was here before any of your sperm reached the egg!”

Eldon opened his mouth to speak but realized that his throat was dry, and he only managed to croak.

It was Lyden who managed to speak first. “So, you were able to make sure the child will be okay?”

“Yes,” Gaia said, and there was a definite slump to her shoulders as she spoke. “I had to kill off over half of his semen, as they were incompatible with her egg, but all the remaining should provide viable offspring.”

“Will it be a boy or a girl?” Eldon finally found his voice.

“Don’t be an idiot,” Gaia snapped at him. “Didn’t you hear me say the sperm hasn’t reached the egg yet? Now, Lyden, I promised to be more considerate to you and your wives, but that drained a lot of strength from me. Considering that I just did your family a huge favor, would you mind—”

Lyden coughing cut her short. Eldon noted the way his mom frowned, but she pushed her master forward. “Get her charged up,” Sheila Lance said. “But don’t enjoy it too much.”

Eldon understood what was being asked of his father, but chose to ignore it.

“Thank you, Gaia,” Mandy gushed, grabbing the other woman by both hands. “How can we ever repay you?”

“You can get out of my way so I can get my recharge,” Gaia snapped. Apparently, when she was this tired, she was ornery. “And you can ensure that my job doesn’t get any harder, and take care of Jessica when you get the chance.”

Before anyone could say anything more, the Pillar of Earth grabbed Lyden in one hand, and Sheila in the other, dragging them from the hallway.

“Has anyone gotten to see or talk to Shelly yet?” Eldon asked, glancing at the door leading to his sister’s room.

“She’s asleep right now,” Megan said. Eldon did a double-take, having not seen her. Though how he could miss the redhead sitting there, he didn’t know. She wore a new white blouse, and a tight pair of denim jeans, and was… Why was she here?

“What are you still doing here?” he asked, trying to sound curious, rather than annoyed that she was still around. Didn’t she realize that he wasn’t really interested in her?

“You’re about as tactful as Areth is when she’s trying to seduce our father,” Mei said. She leaned against one wall, arms folded under her breasts, shaking her head. Her horns knocked against that wall as she looked up and around, a wry twist to her lips. “Speaking of which, where did she go?”

“She chased after your dad,” Shlee said, sniffing the air. “That little pixie looked quite excited to join in their fun.”

Eldon shook his head, annoyed. He was glad that Areth was back, but he’d forgotten how much trouble she could cause. And the conversation had gone away from his original question about his sister.

“So, Shelly is doing okay?” he pressed, more worried about her than anything else.

Shlee came up to him, sensing or smelling his concern, and gave him a mighty hug. He took a moment before he returned the embrace. While intellectually, he understood why she’d turned down his marriage proposal, he still felt rejected. She’d done her best to alleviate that, but he couldn’t help the way he felt. He still loved her and knew he had no right to press his emotions onto her, and so tried to be as supportive as he could.

“Your sister and the baby are both doing fine,” the werewolf informed him. “The doctor let your mom and dad in, and no one can seem to stop Areth from doing as she pleases, but the rest of us have waited out here.”

He didn’t care much about the baby. Maybe that made him callous, but the thing was the offspring of King Aecus and the product of rape. As long as Shelly was okay, that’s all that mattered.

The tiny goblin doctor poked her head out and stared at him. “Shelly is awake and asking to see her family. Where are your parents, young man?”

“Um…” he said, trying to come up with an answer before shaking his head again. Shlee pulled back from him and interlaced her fingers with his as Mandy did the same on his other side. “They’re a little occupied,” he told the doctor and started towards the door.

The goblin stopped him. He could have blown past the small creature, but he had enough respect for her profession to remain outside. “I said ‘her family.’ You may see her, Sheldon Lance, but the others must wait outside.”

With a grimace, Eldon gave both his women a quick kiss, then let them go to see his sister.

Shelly’s eyes were dark, and her hair was still stringy from her exertions, but she smiled as he walked in. The smile quickly fell, though.

“I’m sorry I ruined your wedding,” she said, holding a hand out to him.

He ignored the hand and leaned in to hug her gently. Despite being careful, she still grunted as his arms moved about her neck. She patted his back, then pulled away.

“I’m just glad you’re okay,” he told her. Movement on the other side of the bed caught his attention, and he realized that the baby was right there. Part of him was curious to look at the little monster, but he ignored it. “Mandy and I both understand that this wasn’t your choice.”

She gave him a lopsided smile before saying, “True, but I still wish she would have waited a little bit longer. That was so embarrassing, having my water break in front of everyone like that.”

Looked at his sister again, marveling at her mood. “I have to say, you’re in better spirits than I would have expected.”

She chuckled for a moment, then met his gaze. “I’m exhausted, and in a fair bit of pain, but things will get better. No more running for me. I’m going to be a better person from now on. If not for me, then for her.”

“For… her?” Eldon asked, confused. He looked around and noticed that Sonia wasn’t around. The android had all but been Shelly’s shadow, and it seemed weird that she was absent.”

“For Rain,” Shelly said and glanced at the bundle next to the bed. A determined look crossed her face, and Sheldon knew his sister wasn’t talking about the weather.

“Rain?” he asked, as a cold hand ran shivers down his spine. “You sound like you decided to keep it.”

Shelly regarded him for a long moment before answering. “Rain. Short for Rainbow, because of her skin. And she is a she, not an it. Like I said, I’m not going to run anymore. I’m going to take care of her and make sure she is raised right. She won’t be evil like her father. I’ll make sure of that.”

To Eldon’s ears, it almost sounded like she was trying to convince herself of that, as much as him. He didn’t know how to respond. Could he be that big of a person? Could he care for a child that was conceived out of such hatred and violence?

He walked over to the bundle and pulled back the fold of the cloth covering it. He barely stifled a gasp as he stared down at the creature. Red, blue, pink, yellow, black, white… He stopped paying attention to what the colors were but understood where Rain’s name originated from. Solid swirls of every color filled the infant’s eyes. There was no pupil that he could see and no whites. Just a mass of swirling colors. Shelly had insisted that it was a she, but he recalled Areth’s pronouncement earlier that it was a hermaphrodite.

Its tiny fist pressed against its little mouth. It made small, sucking noises. It looked so fragile, lying there.

It also looked innocent.

Anger rose up in him as he continued to stare at the newborn. How dare it cause his sister so much pain. How dare it look so carefree and without guilt for its father’s actions! Despite its alien appearance, despite the evil creature that had raped and molested his sister, the little baby lay there without a care in the world. It wasn’t right.

“Sheldon!” his sister’s voice broke through the red haze that was starting to fill his vision. He looked at her, surprised at the heat in her voice. “I’ve been calling your name. Look!” She pointed to the window, and Eldon turned to see what she indicated.

Ants. Ants of every size, shape, and color. Some he recognized, but most he didn’t, covered the window frame, and moved about to allow more to come in.

He moved to place himself between them and his sister, inadvertently also placing himself as protecting the baby.

“I don’t think they mean us any harm,” Shelly spoke in a softer voice.

“How can you be sure?” he asked. Ants were always the enemy. Since they were children, they were taught to kill any ant they saw on sight. Any ant could be a spy for King Aecus…

Except Aecus was dead, and this infant behind him was supposed to be their new ruler. Were they here to take the child away?

Despite Shelly’s words, he held his ground. If they wanted the baby, he would hand it over, and good riddance. Shelly acted like she was okay raising it, but she would be better off without this constant reminder of what was done to her.

His tension grew as the ants moved to the floor, then climbed one upon another, forming into a humanoid shape. It towered over him, there were so many different ants. Its head, with its protruding, multi-colored mandibles, bowed as it pressed against the ceiling.

“We come in peace,” the giant myrmidon said. Its voice was distinctly feminine. He’d rarely ever faced one of these, but he’d never heard of a female myrmidon. If it breathed out fire at him, there was nothing he’d be able to do to protect his sister. The monster was just too giant. “We have come to pay homage to our new queen.”

“Who are you?” Shelly asked, her voice sounding calmer than Eldon felt.

“We are the queens of all the queens,” the creature said. “There is one of us for every type of ant in each world.”

“Have you come to avenge your last king… um, queen?” Eldon asked.

The thing regarded him for the briefest of moments before turning to face Shelly.

“We mean you no harm, Queen’s Mother.” That sounded as much as a title as anything Eldon had ever heard. “We are aware of the feud between Queen Aecus and your father, but there is no feud between us. Our only concern is for our new queen.”

Eldon relaxed, but Shelly’s voice rose an octave as she spoke. “You’re not taking my baby!”

Eldon turned to her in shock. He had no idea that she was so adamant about the child.

“Please, be at ease, Queen’s Mother,” the ant being said, and bowed low. “We would not separate the newborn from its mother. We are not monsters. We have come only to pay homage, and to offer our services as a nanny.”

“Nanny?” Eldon and Shelly asked at the same time.

Again, the creature barely even noticed Eldon’s presence, as it spoke to Shelly. “Our queen will need guidance as she grows to understand our ways. And while we are sure that the Pillar of Earth and the family of the mighty Lyden Snow are very capable, we would prefer to have one of our own around to protect our new queen.”

Eldon’s first thought was to reject its offer, but he stopped himself. This wasn’t his decision to make. And he knew that Myrmidon’s were fierce and mighty warriors. Having them on their side would be a great benefit to their cause.

The large mass of roiling ants finally turned and faced him. “No, brother to the Queen’s Mother. We will not fight for your cause unless commanded to by our queen. We will, however, ensure that she is kept safe, no matter the danger.”

Why does it seem like most females can read minds? Eldon wondered to himself. He also wondered if it was all queen ants or only some that could see into his thoughts. If she was still digging through his mind, she didn’t respond to his musings.

The baby started to fuss, and before anyone could react, the giant ant-creature scooped it up and handed it to Shelly. She looked as shocked as Eldon felt, but she recovered faster than he did.

She pulled aside a flap in her blouse, and he caught a quick glimpse of nipple before the baby latched onto it. He also noticed what looked like welts, and didn’t miss the way Shelly grimaced at first.

“She has small pinchers,” she responded to his concerned look. “She also tends to be a little aggressive when she first starts but calms as soon as the milk starts flowing. Now, do you mind giving me some privacy as I feed my little Rain?”

He glanced at the sizeable shimmering creature in the room with them, unsure if he should leave, or just turn his back.

“Shoo,” Shelly insisted, using one hand to wave him away. “If she meant us any harm, I’m sure we’d already be dead.”

He didn’t necessarily agree with that statement, but he wasn’t in the mood to argue. He also had to admit that part of his issue was his ego, and not wanting to admit that this thing might be able to take him out quickly.

“Do you want me to send Sonia in if I see her?” he asked before slipping back out.

The way she grimaced told him volumes more than her words did. “No, I’m good.”

Apparently, Sonia and Shelly were having issues. Knowing that he was the last person to try and offer her relationship advice, he left the room.

“How was she?” Shlee asked as she stepped up to him, Mandy right behind. The two women were holding hands, and despite everything, that made him feel warm inside. Knowing that his wife and girlfriend were still close reminded him that he was acting selfishly for feeling rejected by the werewolf. She had her reasons, and he understood them. She hadn’t rejected him, but rather the idea of marriage at this time. After what that prick vampire did to her, he should be grateful that she stayed with him, instead of shutting her heart down altogether.

“She’s…” he trailed off, trying to figure out how to explain the Queen Myrmidon. “She has a new companion.”

“That’s a weird way to describe a baby,” Megan said.

“Not the baby,” he corrected her, giving her a frown. Why was that woman still here? “The ant queens have all come to honor the baby as their new ruler.” He spent the next few minutes describing the queen and recounting the conversation.

“I’m going to hunt,” Mei said, pulling away from the wall. “Let me know when it’s time to leave for the other world.”

“You’re coming with us?” he asked his half-sister. As far as he knew, she rarely ever left this world. Only to act as protection when they were expecting violence. He thought it would be just him, his dad, and Shlee going on the diplomatic mission to try and stop whatever legislation the Paladonic Knights were trying to enact. She didn’t answer before rounding a corner.

“As am I,” Megan cut into the conversation again.

He turned with a sigh to ask her why, but Mei spoke before he could. “After your last encounter with the American government and the Paladonic Knights, I decided I needed to be around to protect Dad.”

Eldon remembered that night with a shudder. That was the night the P.K.’s bombed the Whitehouse, and that Becky died. He took it as a slight that his half-sibling didn’t think he could protect their father, but then he recalled that his body was no longer permanent. He could be killed, and every bit of help he had should be welcomed.

Except for Megan. He turned back to the redhead and tried to look calm as he asked, “And why are you coming along? Shouldn’t you be getting back to your ranch, or whatever?”

Elbows from both sides poked into him, making him grunt, but he ignored them, keeping his eyes on the other woman.

To his surprise, she smiled at him. “Curiosity? Boredom? Maybe I just want to spend some more time with a man who is rude, but blunt. Or maybe I think that I can help make a difference in the world in a way that I never could in Texas. Or maybe a hot, half-dragon/half-human woman with a shred of courtesy invited me along to help.” She stepped up close to him, her face inches away from his, her chocolate brown eyes challenging as she stared at him. “Or perhaps I want to see if you’re worth the time to get another taste of my pussy.”

He stared at her, wondering if she realized what she’d just said. He was used to people speaking more than they meant to when Mandy was around. She met his gaze, not flinching.

“Huh,” she said after the moment started to grow uncomfortable. She turned to look at Mandy, and then Shlee as she asked, “Does he often go quiet when challenged like that? I at least expected him to come back with a snide remark when I commented on my pussy.”

Shlee was the first to burst out laughing, soon followed by the rest in the room, excepting Eldon. He couldn’t understand this woman. At first, she acted like a stalker, but then challenged him as though he wasn’t good enough for her.

Why couldn’t she get the hint that he wasn’t looking for another woman? He loved Shlee and Mandy, and they were enough for him. Sure, he still had feelings for Gloria, but she’d rejected him.

And besides all that, he was working to save the entire freaking universe from Jessica destroying it! He didn’t have time to consider convincing her of anything.

“Do what you want,” he finally told her. “I now know you can look after yourself, and I don’t think you’ll be slowing us down. Just…” he trailed off as her smile grew wider. With a shake of his head, he left his thoughts unsaid. He was about to ask her to leave him alone, but if she were going to be watching his back, he decided it was best not to do so. Besides, she might take it as a return challenge, and chase him even harder.

“Glad to see you’re paying attention,” Megan said, then surprised him by stepping up and giving his cheek a soft peck.

Of all the brazen… Right in front of Eldon’s girlfriend and new wife! He didn’t feel guilty for the other woman’s actions, but it still felt weird to him.

“He’s finally learning,” Mandy said and kissed his other cheek.

“Marriage seems to agree with him,” Shlee grinned and kissed a spot lower than Megan had.

Women are nuts! he thought. All of them!

“No, Mr. Lance,” the Myrmidon said from the other room, “we just think a little differently than men do.”

He realized that he was surrounded by only women, and they were all giving him an odd look. Before he had a chance to respond, or even think up a response, Gaia formed up out of the ground, looking a lot better than she had when she left. His dad and mom came down the hall a bit later, looking disheveled with Areth humming happily after.

“Good. You’re all here,” Gaia said as Sheila tried to fix her master’s rumpled hair. Eldon did his best not to think about what they’d obviously been doing.

“What’s going on?” Mandy asked.

“It’s time for those heading to Earth to leave,” Gaia said without any further preamble. “It’s been over two months since you were last in that world, and the Paladonic Knights haven’t wasted any time. If you’re going to reach the summit in time, you need to leave sooner rather than later.”

Eldon realized that he hadn’t taken any time to prepare. He wasn’t confident what awaited them, though he had to admit that he was a little trepidatious about seeing the President of the United States again. Hopefully, she wouldn’t be looking for a tryst with him. Unbidden, his eyes went to Megan, and then his dad. How did he manage so many women in his life?

“I summoned my car earlier, just in case,” Lyden said. “It should be here by now.”

Eldon had forgotten that the Orange Bubble was in this world. It would make traveling a lot quicker.

“I also have news,” came the Myrmidon’s voice as it entered the hallway. Of course, Lyden took one look at the giant, multi-hued ant creature and started looking for a weapon that wasn’t there. He stepped in front of Sheila at the same time Areth began gathering water between her palms.

“Whoa!” Eldon stepped between them before any actual violence could break out. “She’s on our side. Well, on the baby’s side at any rate. Dad, Mom, meet the new… um… nanny for Rainbow.”

“Rainbow?” He heard Mandy ask behind him. It occurred to him that few had seen the new baby, or knew much about it.

“Oh, poo!” Areth grumped as she dropped her hands. She giggled a moment later as the water that she’d gathered fell on Lyden’s head, soaking him. “Ha! I think you’re wetter now than you were after Gaia and I—”

“Not now, Areth,” Lyden growled. The fairy closed her mouth, but it is evident that she continued to laugh.

At the very least, her antics defused the tension in the room.

“You said you had news?” Eldon turned to ask the creature. Despite his words, it still felt odd to calmly converse with a being that not long ago was a mortal enemy.

“Yes,” the thing nodded her head. “Some flying ants have spotted Jessica in the Pillar of Air’s domain. They are uncertain of her intentions, but from what we’ve gathered from your minds, she might be after the Pillar of Air. Though we do not know how she would attack her.”

“She’s after Lysa?” Lyden growled. “We have to stop her!”

“No,” Gaia said. Even though her voice was calm and level, it cut Lyden off and drew all attention to her. “Others will go and protect your daughter, but you must go to the summit and defeat the Paladonic Knight’s plans.”

Lyden looked around, ready to argue until his eyes landed on Eldon. “Eldon can go in my place. He can change into my form and pretend to be me.”

“Again, no,” Gaia rebuffed him. “While your son is a capable man, he does not have your wisdom, nor your time and experience as an ambassador. It must be you. Eldon is too much of a hothead.”

Eldon heard Megan and Areth snicker at that, but ignored them.

Mei returned then, gnawing on the remains of some small, furry animal. She swallowed what was in her mouth before speaking. “Lysa and I are good friends,” she said. “Mom and my siblings will go to protect her, Dad. We’re the best suited to do so in Lysa’s Air domain.

Eldon had to agree with her. He’d visited there a couple times when he was younger, and the Pillar of Air’s demesne was no place for land-bound creatures.

“Keep her safe,” Lyden stepped up and pulled his daughter by Blue into a hug. The draconic woman seemed uncomfortable by public affection.

“Wait!” Shelly called from her room. “I’m coming with you.”

“Like hell, you are!” Sheila shouted, surprising everyone with her vehemence. “You just gave birth! You’re in no shape to…” She trailed off as Shelly limped out of the room, fully clothed. She was pale and had to lean against the doorway to remain upright.

Eldon saw the steely determination in her eyes and knew she was impossible to argue with when she had that look.

“But what about Rain?” Sheila asked, knowing that look as well. “You can’t just leave her.” Apparently, Shelly had told their parents that she was keeping the baby. He still didn’t understand her reasoning for changing her mind, but he also didn’t like the idea of his sister going to face off against Jessica.

“Rain needs her mother,” Eldon reinforced their mother’s argument. Logic rarely worked when Shelly grew stubborn, but perhaps her emotional attachment to the little one would sway her.

“We can accompany her with our new queen, and keep them both safe,” the Myrmidon announced.

Eldon tried to come up with another argument, but all eyes turned as a new voice spoke up.

“I agree with your family, Shelly, but if you insist on this foolishness, then I will go as well.” No one had seen or heard Sonia enter the hallway, but from her stance, she wasn’t willing to accept any further arguments, one way or another.

“No more running,” Eldon heard his sister mutter, before nodding and giving the android an appreciative smile. Once again, he wondered what was going on between the two, and once again, he decided to keep his nose out of it.

“Well, I still don’t like it,” Lyden said. “If you think for one minute that I’m going to—” He was cut off as Gaia waved her hand and the ground lifted to swallow him whole. Before anyone could react, Eldon felt the ground beneath his feet soften, then rise up and swallow him in darkness.

It only lasted for a couple seconds before the cocoon of earth fell away, and he found himself outside. He looked around in time to see an egg-shaped mound each fall away from Megan, Shlee, and Mei. The Orange Bubble was right there with them, purring softly as though happy to see its master after a long absence. The ancient orange Volkswagen Beetle possessed a portion of the Pillar of Fire’s soul from before she took on the mantle of Fire’s power and was sentient in its own way. Angela was a succubus at the time, which allowed the car to use illusion and evasion magics, as well as incredible speed.

“I guess that’s one way to lose an argument,” Lyden groused as he regarded his car. Shelly wasn’t with them. He glanced around and then jumped back as the passenger door opened on its own.

Brooke stepped out, dressed in a dark, tight-fitting outfit. The mermaid had two shimmering blue blades at her hips and looked for all the world like she was ready for battle.

With a groan, Eldon realized that all the women with them were redheads. At least Areth was left behind. Her antics would only cause issues on their delicate mission.

“Brock and Oberon are waiting inside,” Brooke said and held the door for them to enter.

“Brock?” Megan asked. “Isn’t he the large merman with the huge mechanical legs? How are we all going to fit inside that little car?”

Eldon grinned and ignored her. She’d learn.

Sure enough, the woman gasped as she ducked to enter the doorway and saw the dimensionally larger space inside.

Shlee started gabbing about some ancient television show and explaining how it was bigger on the inside.

Eldon thought about going into the back where there was a large bed but saw his father and Brooke reaching it first. Brock stood to the far side by the fountain, able to stand up entirely within the car, with Oberon sitting on his shoulder, snoozing. For such a little creature, he sure could snore!

He heard his father complaining to his mermaid wife about his treatment by Gaia and decided that he wanted to be in the front. The windshield showed a significantly distorted view of the world and pulled the curtain across it as he got into the driver’s seat. He wouldn’t be doing any driving; the car would take them to their destination on its own.

“Can we talk?” Shlee asked just as he let his head fall back and eyes close. He wasn’t particularly tired but didn’t know when the next chance they’d get to rest would be.

He looked at his lover and smiled. “I will always have time for you,” he told her and meant it.

The smile that lit her blue eyes warmed him up inside. He knew their relationship wasn’t perfect, but he still loved her.

“We really haven’t had a chance to talk since you asked me to… or since the wedding, and I wanted to make sure we’re okay.” He could hear the worry in her voice, and it tore at his heart. “I could smell your concern earlier when I hugged you, and I can see the pain in your eyes sometimes when you look at me.”

He reached out at took her hands in his. “I love you, Shlee. I’ll be honest and admit that it felt like you were rejecting me when you turned me down, but Mandy helped me see how selfish I was being. I didn’t consider your feelings or what you went through when I asked you to marry me. Hell, your last fiancée tried to kill us! I will wait for you to be ready. And if it never happens, then so be it. My parents aren’t married, and they’re happy together. It was an impulsive gesture on my part, and—oomph.”

He cut off as Shlee leaned in and kissed him. Her tongue snaked around his lips, never trying to enter, but teasing for a moment before she pulled back.

“You were starting to babble,” she accused him, but with a wolfish grin. “But thank you, Eldon. I do love you, and I wish Mandy were here so there could be no doubt. I—”

This time he cut her short with a quick kiss. “I don’t need my wife to tell me that you love me,” he said with a smirk as he pulled away. “I can see it in the way you smile when our eyes meet. In the way your voice changes slightly when you talk to me versus others. And in the actions you take. You’re here with us now, instead of mourning your loss. You’re coming with us when I know your heart is still broken over Dimitri’s betrayal. You’re a strong woman, with a great heart, Shlee, and I love you dearly. I wish I could take your pain away, but since I can’t, I hope you know that I’m here for you if you need me.”

She met his grin with one of her own, before dodging her head forward and giving his cheek a quick lick. “I was afraid you were going to start rambling again,” she said. Then before he could come up with a response, she dipped back in and pressed her firm lips to his. This time her tongue came out to play, slipping between his teeth and dancing happily with his.

“Ooh,” Oberon’s voice cut in above their heads. “Can we start another orgy in here? That’d be a great way to pass the time!”

“Knock it off, dear,” Brock commanded from further back in the car as Shlee and Eldon pulled away. “I already told you, there weren’t going to be any orgies during this trip.”

Eldon grimaced as he recalled the fuzzy memories from the mind-controlled group-sex that Oberon was referring to. That hadn’t been their decision, and he was more than happy to never have another.

Just as he opened his mouth to let Oberon know which hole he could shove that suggestion into, the Orange Bubble lurched.

“What the…” Lyden announced from the back as the magical car jerked again.

Shlee sprawled into his lap, and Eldon struggled to help her get upright when the car flipped onto its driver’s side, and a horrendous screech sounded next to him.

“What happened?” Eldon asked as Shlee and he disentangled from each other. The car had come to a stop, but his head rang from a blow he took in the process.

“I don’t know,” his father said, concern thick in his voice. “The Orange Bubble is almost always smooth to ride in, unless… What’s that?”

Eldon rubbed at his ears, trying to will away the ringing, but it was Shlee who answered as the car shook again.

“It sounds like explosions. Can we be under attack?” She had a small cut on her left cheek, but it appeared to be minor. The way her left arm hung limply at her side, however, was another matter.

“You’re hurt,” Eldon worried over her, but she shrugged him off. He watched as her arm righted itself, and Lyden answered her question. She was a fast healer, which he should have recalled from her being a werewolf, but his head was fuzzy.

“The car is magical. It’s not supposed to be detectable by any ordinary means when traveling. It’s why I never had to worry about speeding tickets, or the paparazzi when I’m traveling around on Earth.”

Eldon felt at his head, noting a tender but large lump in the back. He must have struck it hard against the windows when they crashed. As he looked around, he found the interior of the car was lit from daylight outside, but dim otherwise. The Orange Bubble’s interior lights were dark.

“Brock?” Brooke called out, then shouted, “Brock!” She sounded dazed, but panic soon filled her voice. “Lyden, he’s not breathing!”

“Whoa…” Oberon’s voice wobbled as much as Eldon’s head as he tried to stand. “What a bad trip. Brock? Bridgette?” There was a pause, and Eldon saw the small fairy king stumble around. One of his wings was broken, hanging oddly from his back, and the other had a terrible tear in it. Then he spotted his lover. “Oh, fuck! Lover!” He leaped into the air and landed next to Brock’s prone body.

Brock’s mechanical legs were tipped over. The water that usually rested in the bowl that he swam in soaked the carpet beneath. Eldon knew he needed constant water, though he also knew it wasn’t required for him to breathe.

Pounding sounded from outside the car, on the door that was directly over Eldon’s head. The voice that yelled in was full of authority and sent chills down Eldon’s spine.

“By order of the righteous and human society of the Paladonic Knights, we order you to come out and face justice, foul abomination, and betrayer of humanity, Lyden Snow.”

Eldon turned to look at his father, color draining from their faces as they recognized that voice.

“I thought only men were part of the Paladonic Knights,” Megan said as blood dripped from a cut on her chin.


2020-03-27 12:27:40
Love where this story is headed. I think I read the first book and now this one in the past 3 days. Found this by accident and I am so glad I did. Becky’s death really hit me Hard i hope you continue the story going.

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