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12 August 2018 @ 09:31 am
_Meet the Family_ part 5  

Local phenotypes, and less variation, after at least one bottleneck.

And some darn pretty types, too! The tawny dark-blonde hair, tanned skin, with golden-brown eyes is striking. Rael blinked. But I'm sure they don't turn into lions at the full moon.

Demoiselle and Egret joined them.

Demi grinned. "So you survived Answer, and now you have to face the aunts."

Obsidian sniffed. "Now, now, we're being nice. Rustle likes her. And anyway, she's obviously one of Bran Butcher's, so she hardly qualifies as a . . . Oner."

Rael suspected she was blushing. Time to change the subject. "I'm finding your training methods very different than ours."

"Oh?"

Rael nodded toward the young girls playing in the upper pool. "We teach individual abilities only, not this triad cooperation. That's the first thing I noticed. Then what you teach them is the large scale stuff. We start with tiny manipulations. As we get older, we start doing the large power gathers, the large physical manipulations. What your youngsters can do astonishes me."

"How tiny?"

"Microscopic, once we get good at it. Most of our electronics are at least partially magifactured." Rael shrugged. "And then we get into the mental spells, and energy manipulation. And, well, outside of teaching and medicine, we don't use much magic in our daily lives."

She looked around the pools full of women . . . "Rustle . . . didn't come?"

The two aunts swapped glances.

Obsidian raised up enough to check, then sank back down. "Answer ejected Rustle from the Pyramid when she was eighteen or so. She formed the Rip Crossing Pyramid, and spends a lot of time there. Well, not right now, while she's keeping an eye on Xen, but she never attends regular lessons here, and rarely major ceremonials."

Topaz grinned, head down where it could be seen by many. "When she's in town, on one of the equinoxes, Answer feels obligated to invite her. Grinding her teeth."

"And grinding them even harder when Rustle declines." Obsidian grinned. "Now I think I've soaked long enough. If you're done, Rael, I'll walk back to the winery with you and check on my favorite nephew."

***

Xen was sunning himself on the front porch, The bright sun caught the faint fuzz of hair on his scalp, and his pale new skin was reddening.

"Sunburn's a bad idea, boy!" Obsidian called.

Xen grinned. "I was only out here for a few minutes. And I need to even out my tan." He rose and stretched.

"Likely story." Obsidian gave and received a hug.

Rael blinked at the fingernails on his left hand. "How'd they grow so fast?"

"In a Speed bubble. Twenty-to-one ratio. For me it's been fifteen days since we had dinner together."

"Yikes!"

Xen glanced at his aunt. "So did Answer behave?"

"By her standards. Just a few sneers and jeers, but Rael's training and discipline impressed her. Not that she said as much."

Xen nodded. "She just criticized everything else, right?"

"Pretty much. Well, now that I see you looking so good, I'm going to check on the children. I enjoyed meeting you, Rael." Obsidian's gaze swung back to Xen. "You should bring her around more often." She stepped back and vanished with a faint puff of disturbed air.

Rael sighed. "I can teleport almost fifty meters, now."

Xen chuckled. "Your specialty, I swear, is, getting through shields. You should go impress Nil. But make sure he knows it’s a demonstration, not an attack."

Then he wrapped her up in a hug and grope. Drew back to kiss her. "Mine. Forever."

"Ooo! Getting possessive?" She leaned against his warm muscles. "And only for another hundred and fifty years or so. Oners don't live forever. Not that either of us is likely to die of old age no matter what our genes do."

"True. But still." He rubbed his cheek against the top of her head. Held her.

"Don't fall asleep on your feet."

"Umm? S'okay." His arms tightened . . . and an odd spell flowed through her . . .

She swung an arm and thumped him.

"Oww!"

"You were falling asleep. C'mon. Back inside with you. And I think I don't dare tuck you into bed." She chivvied him as far as the stairs, and fled.

Don't seduce sleeping gods? I think maybe it's not even safe to hug them!

Chapter Five

At breakfast, Urial and Dogwood gave her an excited and somewhat garbled directions to find Archwizard Nil, spoken of in wide-eyed excited-scared tones.

"And it's on the equator! It'll be hot there!"

Which sent her back to her room to make a short sleeved shirt the innermost of her layering and leave off the tights beneath the riding pants.

Brr! This is what an Ice Age World calls spring?

Out in the barn, Mink rolled her eyes. "Did you pass the sheep farm when you rode in? Notice that ugly stumpy tower? Go around behind the tower. The dimensional gate is in a courtyard with an ordinary gate keeping the livestock from wandering back and forth. If no one's in the buildings, just follow the path down to the beach. They do all their practicing on the beach."

"You've been there?"

"Sure. Sometimes I take horses back and forth, or deliver stuff."

With a day off, Calico was ready to go, and happily galloped and trotted the ten miles. The tower, while stubby, wasn't really ugly, what with big windows with sills full of greenery, and the surrounding orchard in bloom.

There was a path through the orchard, did it go around to the gate?

"Are you going to the Wizard School?" A high voice from up in a tree.

"Oh, hello! Yes, is this the path?"

Shaking branches and a fall of flowers; a thin figure jumped down from the tree. "Yeah, follow me. I'll open the gate for you." The girl was maybe seven or eight years old, a head full of curly blonde hair bouncing as she galloped down the path. Talking all the way. "Granpa has pinto horses too. I like them! Are you a wizard?"

The child dragged open a wooden gate to a circular yard . . . a circle of blue sky and grassy sand dunes or sandy hills stood unsupported.

"Right. Thank you!" Rael turned Calico toward the . . . beautiful summer day across the gate.

"Say hi to Granpa Nil!"

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on August 12th, 2018 11:57 pm (UTC)
What date do Bran and Oscar get rescued?
matapampamuphoff on August 13th, 2018 02:24 am (UTC)
Whenever I need them.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on August 14th, 2018 12:31 am (UTC)
Spring 1395 in the draft _Lost and Fond_ to give an estimate.
matapampamuphoff on August 14th, 2018 02:12 am (UTC)
Everything is negotiable until published . . . especially dates.