They celebrated the very successful fruit harvest with a trip to "The Crossroads" and dinner in the Tavern.
They left the kids in the house, closed up, so they had no time at all, and drove the lazy grass fed mares just part the way, Traveling the boring parts. They stopped at the fanciest Hotels the first two nights and then pulled up at the Tavern the third night.
Harry was looking good. Not young, but then he never had. But spry and cheerful. He offered his two arms to Zenith and Cost and paraded them in.
Trump walked in on Hell's arm, almost giggling at the boggled look on the faces of a trio of young men eating at a back table. The two old men hogging the big table were oogling too, if a bit less obviously. It made her feel horribly smug and she put an extra bit of sway in her walk.
Hell seated her where the light shown on her. She smiled as he sat down beside her. So he wanted to show off and preen in front of these men, did he?
Zenith and Cost checked out the five men to see if any of them were worth pursuing.
Trump giggled to see the hounds eyeing the young men. Harry shut them out. Firmly. Deserved something, did they? No doubt the hounds would give it to them, probably on their way to the privy.
A redhead brought glasses and wine to the table, Jasper, Zamm's daughter.
One of the youngsters serving was chatting to the trio of young men about wine and ale. That was Garnet, wasn't it?
She must be about ready to advance, the way she was getting the men all hot. They were elbowing each other as she walked away. The youngest looking of the three was looking a bit smug.
Pixie, or whoever was cooking tonight had outdone themselves. The courses came and went, and they chatted about what they should do about their current worse-than-usual lack of nannies.
"The first four are so old, maybe we should look for a teacher, instead." Trump suggested. "Although the way you two are eyeing those fellows we may have more babies next year."
Zenith giggled. "They're cute, and trying to look so well mannered."
"Did you see the silly way they're holding their forks when they slice?" Cost smirked. "I think someone must have played a trick on them.
Jasper was plying the three with desserts and wine. Not to mention winks, swaying hips and that long red hair.
The three couldn't seem to decide which was better, the wine or the woman.
"Your competition is winning." Trump smirked. "Oh, dear, Hell, our shocking friends are in for a disappointment, I fear."
He'd been sitting back and lapping up all the femininity around him, and at that his eyes twinkled. "I refuse to believe they could possible shock you."
She chuckled and dropped her eyelids demurely. "You're right. I don't shock, I get even."
The older and obviously superior of the two men at the front table rose and walked over to them. Good, she'd been wanting to ask him what he did, he was very hard to place.
"Exquisite." He said, looking her up and down like livestock at an auction. "Just exquisite. How much for the whole night, exclusively?"
She boggled, a corner of her mind fumbling for a fireball, or maybe a slice. Or she could just let the dogs . . . Hell stood up and hit him square on the jaw.
Hell yipped and grabbed his hand. The man hit the floor with a thump and didn't move.
"Hell! Your hand!" She was distantly aware of the rest of the men jumping up and rushing toward them, but the dogs burst in, and the nearest young man tripped and fell flat. The dogs swarmed the other old man, knocking him flat.
"Enough! Out, dogs." Hell was furious. He glared at the other men. "And take your cur back to his kennel before I kill him."
Trump realized that he really didn't want to kill someone over an insult. Nor for his dogs to do so, but he was so angry, the dogs weren't capable of being calm.
"Come along my beauty, reward me for my defense of your honor. " He scooped her up and strode out the front door. The dogs followed them and Hell kicked the door shut behind them. The dogs eyes were flashing and it was time to defuse the situation.
She slipped an arm around Hell's neck. "My Hero! My darling! You have rescued me from the ravaging . . . whatevers. Take me!
"First I'm going to take you home." And they were in the entry, and the house opened for them. Hell swept her into the bed room. "And then I'm going to ravage you myself."
"First a glass of wine, My Hero. You are about to need both hands in working order."
She thought for a moment and smiled. Took a swig of something Lady Gisele had mixed up for her some time ago. Time for Hell to have a son.
They slept late the next morning and Hell finally, reluctantly opened the rest of the house. "I suppose I should go back and fetch Zenith and Cost. I wonder if they damaged those arrogant asses much."
"Ha! Laughed their heads off, if I know them." Trump dragged herself into the bath room, and the wonders of a hot shower. Hell joined her and a great deal of soap was wasted.
Then the children woke and she fed and diapered and entertained.
:: Hello? You guys have as much fun . . . Hello?:: She frowned, she was getting a whole messy clump of weird feelings.
"Hell, I think we need to find Zenith and Cost, They feel very . . . odd."
He pulled her out to the entry and closed the house again. And then they were in front of the Tavern.
They walked in and halted in shock. Two dead bodies, the man Hell had hit, now with livid finger prints around his neck, and something . . . nasty.
"What is that?" Trump looked around at the very pale Zenith. She knelt beside her. Mentally, magically she felt all . . . weird. Horrified, sick, helpless, repulsed. "Zenith, what happened?"
"We went out, we walked around a bit, it was so nice out . . . " her voice dropped to a whisper. "It raped me. That hideous thing, and then it died. Inside me. I couldn't get it off. I had to cut it apart to get it out of me."
Trump hugged her. Looked around for Cost. She was big eyed and pale, sick and excited in equal parts. Glorious hustled back into the room with a cup of something for Zenith.
"She's coming home with me." The older witch looked at Trump firmly.
Trump saw the way Zenith leaned on her mother and nodded. "Of course. You come back whenever you're ready Z. We can keep the kids or bring them to you, whichever you want."
Zenith nodded. "How about bringing them in a few weeks?"
"I think I need to go with her, can you mind the kids?"
And that quickly her pyramid crumbled. She smiled wryly. A pyramid of one witch.
Hell was consulting with the other gods, and some wizards, and Rustle. Good grief. Little Miss Perfect shows her face
Harry came over looking disturbed. "I thought we could just ignore that other World's problems, but we can't have things like this happening around here."
Glorious nodded. "You need to close that Gate. But right now, I need to get home."
"Oh. Certainly." Harry nodded. "There, back in Ash for a short while."
Trump looked out the front door and sighed. Yep. Ash.
She slipped out the back and checked the stable. Her fancy coach was there, but no horses in sight. No doubt they were back at the Crossroads, out grazing on the hills. Wandering who knew where, getting stolen.
"Oh, the Old Dun's with them, he won't let anything happen to them." Harry assured her when she walked back in.
Gods. Sometimes you didn't even have to speak. "Yes, but how do I get them and my coach back together?"
"After tonight's meeting, I'll go back. Clearly the Gates need to be watched."
"Oh, good. Please don't go unless I'm inside?"
The old man grinned. "So I don't strand you where you might have to sleep at your mother's house?"
People were coming in, and they all examined the corpses. Trump was sick and tired of them, and Zenith and Cost left with Glorious, not wanting any more retellings. Hmph. Trump had been raped by and killed six men. One wasn't anything to have vapors over.
Hell sat down beside her and slung a hand over her shoulders. "Don't brag, my very own Trump. Apparently Zenith ran into some of her own worst nightmares. She not the sort of person that eats nightmares."
"I really have to watch what I think around you lot." Trump firmed up her shield.
He chuckled. "You? Worried about what someone might think? Noooo. Not my Trump."
She leaned happily into his ribs. "What horrible thing did you do that I'm your Just Deserts?"
"If I ever figure it out, I'll do it again."
"No you won't. I'm not sharing."
His arm tightened across her shoulders. "Good. Neither am I."
Eventually she walked out and visited with a few old friends, then her mother and her well named older sister Opinion, who just couldn't believe she'd left her children to have dinner at the Tavern, left Zenith and Cost at the Tavern with those horrible people, left the children again . . . Trump walked out and back to the Tavern. Maybe she'd just get a room, and sleep while everyone under the sun jabbered about what was probably a small military probe into their territory. If necessary, they'd crush the people who'd done this.
"Want to burn off some ire, eh?" The Auld Wulf looked around at her. "Rustle beat eight of their little gods without raising a sweat, then a priest with one of their 'real' gods, taking a few injuries. So if you want to kill them all take some friends along."
Trump growled. "If they show up anywhere in my vicinity, I'll show Little Miss Perfect Rustle how to do it properly."
He shook his head. "Should you say things like that when keeping company with Michael?"
She sniffed dismissively. She was most likely already pregnant, so what else could happen to her?
Eventually everyone trooped off to bed, and Harry moved the Tavern back to the Crossroads.
She yawned and leaned on Hell. "May be we should start back in the morning?"
"It is morning. I'll go check on the horses." he said.
Trump yawned and followed him. Maybe she'd settle down in the coach, and sleep . . . "I thought Harry's old Dun was a gelding." The decrepit old creature was fucking one of her beautiful mares.
"Doesn't appear to be acting like one." Hell grabbed a halter and started catching the creamy pale mares she'd hunted all over to find for her carriage. "Has Harry always let him run loose?"
"Oh yes, we all used to grab rides on him . . . oh, of course." She stomped back inside. "Harry! Someone has given your old dun gelding some of that wine. He's not a gelding any more."
Harry and Mot came in from the front porch. The bodies were gone.
"Not again! And it takes a year for it to wear off." Harry shook his head. "Mot, you're going to have to be careful to lock up visitors' mares from now on. Although when Hell's around all the care in the World . . . "
Mot rolled his eyes. "Somebody gelded him again, the Sheep man, I figured. Maybe the hormones haven't worn off yet, is all." he headed out the back to help harness the mares.
"So." Trump stomped back out to the stable yard. The Dun followed the last mare into the lantern light. "Hmph. No nads. Hopefully you haven't gotten any of them pregnant, then."
Mot nodded. "Hope not. The old fellow's so old . . . wind up killing him if we have to geld him every other month, or something."
Trump looked wistfully at the padded seats of the coach, but climbed up to sit at one side of the driver's seat instead. Pixie trotted out and handed up some hot sausage rolls. Michael climbed up and then steered the mares out of the yard and onto the road. When they'd settled down a bit he snuggled up to her and let her feed him while he drove, and then tacked her into his side. He was humming happily as she nodded off. She only woke twice, once when he stopped to scold the dogs that had belatedly shown up, and again when they stopped and camped beside a pretty stream, and they curled up contentedly together and slept, letting the dogs deal with intruders, human and otherwise. In the morning he Traveled them the rest of the way home.
It was time to get in the hay, so Trump went back to meditating on weather and managed a nice dry week and a good crop of rather coarse hay. The mares went back to the stable in Karista, and she settled down to mind a rather large number of children.
She got back to the mages' staff again. They were doing fine, but were getting very short on cash. That was good news for her.
"Would you be interested in minding children? Perhaps even starting a school?"
Hell was quite happy to create a corridor between the two islands. And so with the onset of cool weather, they settled in comfortably.
1378 Spring Equinox
Nic, Loc and Tir added their grounds to their 'keeping' and had the island looking spruce in no time. They fenced off about half of it for the mares, who were fat and bulging, all four of them. Of course Trump had them beat in that category.
Klyn, Sommer, and Hemli had the thirteen kids well in hand, and they had a great spring fertility ceremony. Being quite huge, Trump sat out the orgy in the fields, with Hell firmly beside her.
"This is just fascinating." he said. "There's practically no power collecting going on out there. It's all natural level stuff, and the women aren't even from the Mage tradition. And you say those mages in Ash had great crops every year?"
"Well, I'll believe it when I see it."
Trump paid attention to Nic and his farmer's knowledge and shoved air around to avert or attract rain at need, and got bigger and bigger.
"And how many daughters are we going to add to the fold, this time?" Hell had his ear against her belly and an arm around her. "They aren't kicking as much."
"Out of room," she reassured him. "It should be any time now . . . Oooo." her muscles tightened in a familiar clench.
"Want me to get Idea?"
"No, it could pass, and, well, hours and hours of her advice are not what I want."
Hell looked at her suspiciously. "My wicked little witch, do you enjoy labor?"
She smirked. "Painful uterine contractions? Umm, yes."
"I foresee a whole lot of children in my future."
Triplets. Boys. Three chubby little darlings that were going grow up to be just like their daddy.