But the two carcasses were well received, with Zizi and Muby roping in Rumakova and her Mother. Ice asked the uncles if they had any drying frames and got them into the work of stretching the hides.
Rumakova's brother's wives were sent off with meat to cook, and Dog nudged Slow and nodded toward the childless women. "You two should invite them to dinner."
Zizi hid a grin. "Ask them if they have any potatoes."
They had all kinds of vegetables, and so did a few other neighbors. And wide planks on sawhorse type tables and benches appeared and if it wasn't a feast it was definitely a good sized party as the whole village came. Everyone contributed and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and in the end, Muby had a single crock of venison in brine, and a smug expression.
Sitting around in the twilight, Ice asked Muby about how many of the Trees here had any magic. "It's useful for all sorts of little things, and doesn't take much."
Which garnered skeptical snorts and demands for demonstrations.
Dog grinned and sent out a faint push and tiny weak shield. "There. No mosquitos allowed tonight. I've got another to keep bugs out of the orchard, but the guy who taught me said it was mostly done by women."
Which got the women's attention.
Zizi frowned from Dog to Ice. "Is women's magic different?"
"No one magic is identical to anyone elses. But the guy who show it to us was from Comet Fall, and their witches may be different." Ice shrugged. "We can try it tomorrow, if you like. It's sort of a dance and song."
Which they all wanted to try immediately and the dinner broke up for a bit of singing and dancing, only some of it the Witches anti-bug spells. Then Ice coached them on the anti-rodent spell-song that was apparently even funnier when translated.
Dog blinked and listened carefully. I understand about half of that. Should have studied harder.
I wonder if the translated version will even work?
The three childless women roped in a third bachelor and those little bottles were brought out for examination . . . and sips. They all went away shortly after that, laughing and drunk.
The old chief and his wife exchanged shrugs.
"Even without children, they'd be better off married instead of alone." The old lady frowned at Ice. "One trusts they aren't going to have one of those orgies we hear about, Fusa Weni!"
The Chief straightened, looking dignified. "Oh surely none of my hunters would be so foolish . . ." he caught his wife's gaze and they both started laughing.
Dog reached and hugged Zizi. "I love your village, and your people. We will come back often."
Sometime around midnight they got their sleeping rolls out of the ute and sacked out in the very little house Ice had built.
"It's usually a bachelor house, but Chorza got turfed out for us now, and so you and Zizi could have some privacy on your wedding night." Ice grinned. "You can have the loft. Mind your head!" Ice shifted the little table and put the chairs up on it so there was enough room to lay down without blocking the front door.
The little back door let out on the path to the outhouse shared by three houses.
It's so close to home it almost hurts.
The next day they helped with the outer wall extension. Ice and Dog following very careful instructions as to the size as they used slice to shape the raw timber into 20 cm by 30 centimeter posts. Five meters long, a meter and a half of each buried. During the noon break they coached a few of the men on all the scrap wood they'd accumulated.
"This is both very dangerous and very useful. And like a village needs a smith and his forge, a miller and water wheel, a few trained magicians, and a few women who can do the pest spells can be assets. But they must be trained. Well, there's a reason so many of us part-Oners get told to head for the city. Uncontrolled magic, just suddenly starting in a teenager is frightening for both the youth, and the people around him or her."
Ice looked back to where Rumakova was talking with a bunch of women.
"Rumakova's right when she says that what we have now is what we go on with. We . . . just have to figure out how to live with ourselves." Ice shrugged. "I was tossed out of two villages, and a good thing. I really, really needed training. Before I killed someone."
The Chief shrugged. "What we are going on with is very few children. Can she get this new government to get us something that will work, but not cause worse problems." He frowned at the trio of bachelors, who failed entirely to show any shame. "We need families, not orgies."
Ice sighed, and looked at the three unrepentant men. "The women, all three of them will get pregnant. Maybe you six should get together and decide who likes who best and get married."
They all swapped glances. "We'll be fathers?"
"Yes. And have several more, even if we have to smuggle in the Wine of the Gods."
"How do we . . . know whose baby any of them are and which woman we want to marry . . ."
"Maybe start by sitting apart and seeing which woman seems to want to sit by which of you?" Ice shrugged. "They aren't sweet innocent maidens, they've all been married and divorced at least twice. Don't worry about the parentage of the first child, just raise them to be Trees any man would be proud to call his son or daughter."
The Chief nodded. "We never should have named you Fusa Weni. Even as a youth you showed sense and maturity."
Rumakova's fat brother scowled at him. "You ought to have left our sister alone."
Ice snickered. "And you ought to have noticed that your sister was only flirting to try and make a certain Hunter jealous." He glanced over at Ridhe, who laughed.
"She was so young and naïve at that age. Had I noticed, I'd have fled the village with you." A sudden grin. "She has improved amazingly since."
They all laughed and got back to work.
But later, the three bachelors split up and the childless women drifted into their vicinities. And each picked a different man to chat and flirt with.
Dog snickered. "And a damn good thing. If they'd all wanted the same man, or the men wanted the same woman . . ."
"It would lead to unpleasantness's. So at least it's not starting out disastrously. Another couple of days working in the village, and you can go hunting. Umm, several of us will follow along, just to make sure you didn't stumble over a magnificent old stag that dropped dead of natural causes."
Dog tried to glare but wound up laughing. "Follow along?"
"Quietly. Apart from an occasional joke. But not when it might mess up your hunt."
"Oh . . . this will be . . . an interesting hunt."
Ice grinned. "I expect to truly enjoy it."