The Conquering Heroes
<Quit being a drama queen. She’s not trying to kill you. She’s just decided that the two of you should wait until marriage for certain things.>
<But she wants to wait SOO LONG! The wedding is planned for after we stop the Runelord’s plans.>
In the days since our unfortunate little adventure into the land of the dead, things have been fairly good. Aurora and I worked out the schism caused by our earlier words and we’re back to sharing a bed – the nightmares, you see – though we now have a chaperone. Aurora’s idea. Apparently if I had just gone for it earlier, the whole sex thing would have totally happened. But now that there was a wedding in sight, she wanted to wait.
Well, I’m a good Catholic boy, and everyone knows the most important part of a Catholic wedding is waiting until the baby is born. I kid! I kid! Essielle, please let God know I’m only joking, kay?
<It’s a little weird that we’re on a first name basis with our guardian angel.>
<Kira, I can name a dozen things that have happened to us that are weirder than that without even referencing our time dead.>
I finally took time to discuss Geo’s work with him. Despite the fact that I really didn’t want to know, part of me thought I really ought to learn about it anyway. He had in fact made himself part woman and used his body to rapidly grow a clone of Lenn. And he had combined himself with an undead using fleshcrafting with the help of that Oenipion Fleshforger. As such, he was pretty much unkillable without certain conditions being met. I could shoot him in the face and he’d heal from it in anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.
He had done it so he could survive the “birth”. Because that’s soooo much smarter than just building a cloning vat. And no, as far as I know, no one’s done so before, but I defy you to find me evidence that someone has ever done what Geo did. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
I also spent some time calibrating my power armor. There were a few points where it chafed a little and I needed to fix that. I also came to the conclusion that the VI I was using wasn’t powerful enough to fully control it. It could follow simple instructions, but I needed a more robust platform.
While I worked on that, Paulie stopped by. He was really interested in what I’d done. As I listed the features and the costs, he decided he didn’t need nearly that much. We hammered out the details and I promised I’d get to work building him a more bare-bones model. With magitech, that would be a lot easier than you’d think. Build first on a foundation of magic, then add in the tech. I was thinking electro-beams.
It took a few more days to gather all the treasure and finish scanning everything in the library. After that, Voidstrife forces had arrived, so we set up a new library liaison to work with the clockwork librarian. Construction crews were also brought in to renovate the fortress into a tourist destination for academics from all over the world. In a matter of months, the place would be bustling with scholars and support staff of all types. I still hadn’t gotten Chadwick behind me on the “luxury spa destination getaway” thing, but he’d come around.
Once we were satisfied that things were where they needed to be, we began the trip back to Magnimar. In truth, we could have teleported, but we had to get the carts and horses back. So we went by land for much of the trip, then took to the skies for the last half day or so, leaving a few people to bring in the horses.
It was early evening when we got back. Apparently someone had told the people we were coming. The streets were decorated with banners welcoming us back and the streets filled with throngs of people cheering our return. I couldn’t let an opportunity like this pass by. “Do a lap around the city!” I commanded over the radio. “VI, armor on.” Aurora gave me a questioning look. I grinned back. “Let’s put on an air show. Anyone want to join us?”
“Go. Have fun,” Geo said.
I tapped into the speakers on the helicopter and loaded up some AC/DC, then cast my flight spell. Aurora activated the magic in her armor since her wings wouldn’t be safe as we exited. I gently booped Aurora’s nose. “Tag. You’re it. Catch me if you can.” Then I fell out of the helicopter.
We played tag through the skies of Magnimar to the tune of “Shoot to Thrill”, which I would occasionally punctuate with sky effects from different spells I had prepared as well as spells my armor was capable of using. The lightning bolts, fireballs and even magic bursts of radiant light probably looked really cool from the ground. The lights on my suit streaking through the sky being chased by the lights of Aurora’s halo probably didn’t look too bad either.
Around the time “TNT” loaded up, someone on the ground began setting off their own fireworks – likely planned as part of our arrival – near the Lord Mayor’s estate. We looked over and saw that the helicopters had landed, so I let Aurora catch me. I switched the music remotely and we flew hand-in-hand through the fireworks to the tune of “I’m Gonna Fly” from Kiki’s Delivery Service – don’t judge me.
<Oh, I’m judging the hell out of you.>
We did two tightening circles above the front of the manor where the Lord Mayor’s retinue was waiting for us. Every noble in the city had to be there. Apparently someone had called ahead. I dispelled the flight spells on us, allowing the residual magic to slow our descent to a few feet per second, or about the speed you’d reach jumping off a kitchen chair. We came in facing each other, my hands on her waist, hers around my neck. Her wings were flared out to help further slow us.
The crowd cheered the maneuver as we touched down. “A little service for the fans?” I whispered to Aurora.
“A little what?” she asked. Meh, close enough. I popped open my faceplate, slid my arm around her and dipped her back in a passionate kiss, drawing enthusiastic cheers from the onlookers.
What the hell? Was literally everyone in this city shipping us?
<You’re such a show off.>
<It’s only showing off if you don’t have enough style to make it look good.>
<You can’t see it, but I’m rolling my eyes at you harder than I ever have before right now.>
Lord Mayor Grobaras greeted us with a well-rehearsed speech. I’m not going to bother writing it here, as it was exactly what you’d expect. Hail the conquering heroes, champions of our hearts, blah blah blah, yadda yadda. That sort of thing. Also, I may not have been paying all that much attention because even just by holding my hand, and standing comfortably close, Aurora can manage to get my full, nearly undivided attention.
Afterwards, rewards were dished out. Meaningless titles, for the most part. Useless aside from obligating us to further serve the city and – most importantly from the Lord Mayor’s perspective – they cost the city almost nothing to give. The only real benefit is that we were now capable of owning land and collecting rents on it, which I’m sure Chadwick and I could turn a profit on, not that I was really worried about it. Maybe I could have my portion pay out to a local orphanage or something. I have more than enough money at the moment.
Chadwick apparently bought a house in town, so Aurora and I stayed there while the others took up back at the inn we’d been staying at. The furnishings were nicer than what we’d seen at any inn, complete with a nice day bed for our chaperone, because of course.
Aurora and I debated – openly in love, we didn’t argue as such – over when to have the wedding. Aurora made the case for waiting until we’d saved the world. I wanted to teleport to Absalom and have my priest friend there perform the ceremony that day. Maybe the next day, at the latest.
Of course, when has the man ever had the choice? Apparently we were waiting so we could do it right. All I needed for it to be perfect is for her to be there. And maybe a chocolate cherry cake. I was putting my foot down on that one. If she’s picking the date and the rest of the details, I get to pick the cake, dammit.
I dunno. I really don’t care. I just want to get it over with before she realizes that a slightly high mileage wizard may not be the best choice at the dealership.
Since I had been given the timetable of “once we’d saved the world”, I spent my time focusing on going through the digital version of the library in order to see if I could find a way to speed that whole thing up. Even digitized and indexed, it was slow going.
It didn’t help that I was also working on a lot of other things. I was building Paulie’s new armor, “wiring up” the new shield stone to the Lord Mayor’s mansion, studying to find a way to make a body for Kira without resorting to Geo’s craziness, fabricating new furniture for Chadwick’s house – his stuff was good, but I could make memory foam, so I win – and hand crafting Aurora and my wedding bands.
Let me take a moment to talk about those. First of all, no diamonds. Worthless rocks with artificially inflated prices, those. Instead, I managed to find a couple really nice white sapphires, which I used a combination of lasers and magic – my only use of magic on the project beyond using magicite to make the metals – to hollow and inject with a few drops of a mixture of Aurora’s and my blood, enchanted to never coagulate, turning the white gems red. I then carved them into dual-heart shapes and polished them carefully.
Then I made the bands, which were each made of three interwoven strands, one of titanium to represent Earth, one of mithral to represent Golarion, and one of adamantine to represent the starry skies between them. I set the sapphires into the bands carefully and engraved the inside of the rings with our names.
I showed my work to Aurora and she was suitably impressed. “Now we can run off and find a secluded little chapel,” I joked.
She smiled and rolled her eyes playfully. “No, but those will be wonderful at our proper wedding.”
“Is it really that important?”
“It is,” she said. “I know you’re eager to bed me, and believe me, you’re not the only one that’s having trouble waiting, but it’s truly important, okay?”
“Fine,” I said, giving her a kiss just improper enough for our chaperone to smack me with that wooden stick she carries. I don’t know who gave her that stick. I don’t know who told her to hit ME with the stick. But I know that one day I will find out. And someone will rue that day. RUE, I SAY!
The next morning, Aurora got up before I did and went off with Lenn for more training. He was teaching her how to harness her rage by yelling at bugs. Hand to God, I’m not making that up. I went and watched once. He made a grasshopper explode by yelling at it. The other Lenn – I really need to figure out something less confusing to call him – came by not long after and asked me to forge a new weapon and some armor for him. He wanted an axe like the one Lenn uses and told me that anything in a mid-range armor would be fine.
As I worked on the axe, Kira decided to sass me. “You really haven’t figured it out?”
“Figured what out?”
“The wedding thing.”
I really hadn’t, so I told her so. “Please enlighten me, dear sister, font of all womanly knowledge,” I teased.
“Jackass. You’re more of a woman than I am. You’re just apparently too dumb to pay attention.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that I’m going to really enjoy one heck of a laugh at your expense later.”
Later that morning, Chadwick dropped by and asked me to copy the scanned library for him, which meant I had to make him his own computer and copy over the VI to run it. While I was at it, he had me copy over my music as well.
“Anything else?” I asked as he was preparing to head out and continue his work on the trade negotiations with the Lord Mayor. It was turning into more than just a favored status for the Voidstrife group, but into a true negotiation with my adopted brother negotiating on behalf of Absalom.
“Actually, yes. I was thinking of having one of the new servants stock the liquor cabinet. You want anything for when we celebrate this trade deal?”
“If you’re really that close to concluding it, then some high end brandy would be nice.” Brandy's a sophisticated drink for sophisticated people and I have an image to maintain. Now if I could just get some Sprite to mix with it.
“Done.” He turned to leave and stopped. “Wait! I almost forgot. There is one more thing I would find useful if you could make it for me?”
“You remember when you told me your world had devices that could record events as they unfolded. Do you think you could make me one?”
I considered it. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I could make a video camera. “Sure. Why?”
“Once the formal treaty is written up, I’d like to record the signing to show back home.”
That made a lot of sense. Being able to show the fruits of his labors would really raise the family’s standing. “I’m out of spells of the right level to pull it off. If it can wait until tomorrow, however, I’ll make it happen.”
He clapped me on the shoulder. “I knew I could count on you. I won’t need it for a few days at least, but don’t tarry too long. I’ll need you to teach me how to use it.”
With Aurora back sharing a bed, the nightmares were gone once more. Now that she knows she’s separate, Kira’s pretty sure she could consciously dispel the bad dreams. She can now sleep whenever she wants – which she does to give me privacy – and is not necessarily bound to sleeping when I do. She has to limit movement to keep from leaving me exhausted, but she can even take over the body when I’m sleeping.
The nightmares were gone, but the strange dreams were back. This one was set in some kind of secluded castle. In a cave.
“I can’t believe you got the dwarves to give you Castle Honnleath, sis,” my twin brother Cedwin was saying to me.
“That’s your doing, brother.”
“My doing? I didn’t even talk to the dwarves.”
His confusion amused me. “No, and thank the gods for that. What you did was more important. You killed and humiliated their enemy. Your… what would you call him? He’s dead, but I guess he’s still technically your father-in-law. Anyway, the dvergar hated him. He killed some of their lord’s kin who had been sheltering with him through a bad storm.”
“So they were grateful I killed him back? Grateful enough to give us a castle?”
“Not exactly. He was a well-known human purist. I may have told them that you killed him so you could take his only daughter and ‘taint’ his line’s human purity with a bit of elf blood. That insult to his entire lineage amused them enough to offer us this unused castle.”
“But that’s not what happened at all!”
“It may not have been the intention, but it did technically happen. Look it had lost us any support of the human lords already, so there was no harm in spinning it into a tale that helps us. We needed somewhere we could be safe from the humans.”
“I guess that’s fair enough. But it makes me look like the bad guy here.”
“Just by having the audacity to exist, we’re already the villains. Don’t worry about it. I would worry about your wife instead, were I you.”
“What’s wrong with my wife?”
“Well, based on your bride’s illness the last few weeks, I suspect that you’ve already ‘contaminated’ her father’s line.”
“I’m going to be an auntie, brother.”
“I have to go see her.”
“By all means,” I said. He hugged me and ran off. I ran my finger gently over the parchments on the table, feeling the texture of the ancient documents. There was a lot we could do with full maps of the dwarven tunnels. The humans would soon learn the folly of attacking us.
And when I found that wizard, I was going to cut out his liver and feed it to him if it was the last thing I did.
I woke up and discussed the dream with Kira. She confirmed that it was actually a memory, but was unwilling to tell me more. She seems to think it’s a good idea if I try to recall it on my own. Of course, while I’m awake, it’s all coming up blank. Maybe I just need to wait for it. Or maybe I take a page out of Katie’s handbook and find a way to put Kira in a half-Nelson until she spills the beans. Either’s good.
<You’re welcome to try.>
<I can build powered armor and giant robots.>
<Oh. Right. Still not telling.>
And that was it. For almost two weeks, nothing happened. I built things. I studied. Aurora trained. Chadwick made deals. Lenn taught noble ladies to make cakes. Geo worked with his weird cult friends. Other Lenn practiced with his new axe. Paulie… did Paulie things. I don’t know. I lost track. I’m sure that won’t come back to bite us in the ass later.
But for nearly two weeks, I didn’t have any moments where I feared for my life. I didn’t have to investigate anything horrifying. There were no ghosts, no monsters, no inbred hillbillies eating the flesh of the innocent. And we didn’t need to commit genocide once.
Yeah, I’m still thinking about that. Look, it’s not that I’m feeling guilty. It’s that I’m feeling guilty that I don’t feel guilty. I mean, I beat myself up over not realizing there was dissension in the ranks and not reaching out to those who could have been our allies. But I don’t at all feel guilty over killing all those giants. They were going to hurt others, and I put them down. Well, others did most of the heavy lifting. But you get what I mean.
S.L.A. Marshall did a study in World War Two that found that a rather high percentage of soldiers weren’t firing to hit their targets, just aiming in the general vicinity. It’s considered controversial nowadays, with many citing problems with the science, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Most people don’t have it in them to kill under any but the most extreme circumstances. Things like severe rage or fear are required.
Yet I can gun down hundreds to save thousands without batting an eye. Like they’re simple numbers. I wonder what that says about me. Am I some kind of psychopath? Shouldn’t I feel guilty?
I don’t have an answer. And I don’t think I have much motivation to really worry about it. Bad people died. Innocents lived. And I sleep well enough at night aside from the unrelated nightmares I get when I sleep alone.
Maybe I’ll just refrain from ever running for any public office bigger than a local school board. Just to be safe.
The end of my idyllic days was heralded by the mid-afternoon arrival of Chadwick. Apparently he needed my help with the negotiations. Yay. Trade agreements. My favorite. At least I could run through code permutations in my head to try to further improve my VIs while the boring discussions happened around me.
After the second day of tedium, my mind must have craved stimulation, because I had another dream. This one was weirder than many. The stars above were all out of alignment, looking familiar, but just different enough to be terribly wrong.
What was weirder is that I could see the stars even though the sun was out.
I was in a field of various daffodils, primulas, rosas foetida and sunflowers, but I didn’t smell the scent of any of those. I smelled a faint scent of lilac – likely from the real world proximity of Aurora to me – and hydrangeas. Samantha was nearby. I also caught the scent of the Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus – the daylily – a flower whose scent I noted as being present after a transformation into Kira has just ended.
I’ve had lucid dreams before, but this felt different. In a lucid dream, I could do things like gift myself with flight or teleport, but I couldn’t do that here. It was almost as if I was somewhere else entirely, but also in a dream.
I followed the scent of hydrangea and daylily, moving quietly to avoid detection. I’m not sure why I was being stealthy, but I had the feeling I should be. I even tip toed through a patch of tulipa tarda, though that might have just been for pun’s sake.
I crept up behind a kerria japonica hedge – bush? shrub? – and heard voices. “And he suspects nothing?” Samantha was asking.
“No, he’s too focused to realize what’s going on around him,” Kira replied.
“Excellent. I do hope you’ll tell me all about the look on his face when he finds out.”
“Oh, I will, but it might cost you,” Kira said. I knew that tone. That was the tone one uses when fishing for a kiss – or more. As curious as I was about what they were talking about, I wasn’t invading Kira’s privacy like that, so I noped right the heck out of there at all reasonable speed while maintaining as quiet a retreat as possible. On the way out, I ran across a troop of nightgaunts. I might have been in danger, but they seemed afraid of flowers for some reason. I decided not to try to figure out why.
<Hey! You heard us in the Dreamlands?>
<Considering what you were hiding from me, you have no room to be outraged. Also, “the Dreamlands”?>
<Oops. Extra special no comment.>
<I guess that explains the nightgaunts, at least.>
<I’ll talk to Samantha and ask her to make sure you aren’t pulled in too. You aren’t mad, are you?>
<Why would I be mad?>
<Because I’m dating your ex?>
<Why would I begrudge her happiness? As long as the two of you take things slow and do your best to make sure neither of you gets hurt, go for it.>
<Since when are you so mature?>
<I believe I learned it from a pony.>
<Ah, there it is.>
I woke up from the weird dream to see Aurora’s face inches from mine. Her eyes were open and, for lack of a better term, she looked hungry. Not literally hungry. We were both using rings that reduced need for sleep and eliminated need for food. Whoever had coined the term “man eater” had seen that look in my fiancé’s eyes.
“You okay?” I whispered.
“I don’t know if I can take it anymore.”
“Take what anymore.”
“The waiting. I don’t want to wait. I want to go throw out our chaperone and stop waiting.”
My heart skipped several beats. “If you don’t want to wait, then don’t. I’m suddenly extremely ready right now.”
She giggled. “I do love you, you know.” She kissed me a little too long and the chaperone hit me with a stick. I’ll be honest, the chaperone was a little too reminiscent of a nun for me to sass when she did that. Like any good Catholic boy, nuns terrify me.
I had a spell prepared. In an instant, the psycho nun could be unconscious. But I could tell Aurora was strangely relieved that she had intervened. “So, I’m guessing not today?”
Aurora sighed and nodded. It was clear she was just as frustrated as I was. “It’s important.”
“If you say so,” I said. “I’ll respect your wishes. Just call off the lady with the stick.”
The next day, Aurora had gone before I woke up. I decided to start doing more research, since it was too early to wake anyone. I thought I had a breakthrough in my investigation into placing Kira’s soul into a new body, but I was wrong. I’m pretty sure if I explore that line of research further, I could use it to create a spell to completely combine our souls – the opposite of what I’m trying to do, really – with the little side effect of maybe never being unable to untangle ourselves. On the plus side, it would probably give us an intense boost of power.
At least I was making progress there. I could tell you all about Karzoug’s war with Alaznist and a ton about the old empire, but it didn’t give me any hints on how to find and stop him. It was like a mental form of blue balls to go with the more real version I was getting from Aurora’s need to wait on the wedding.
I was so focused on my research that I forgot to go with Chadwick to the day’s negotiations. So he came and found me after they broke for lunch. “We’ve had a breakthrough. I need you there for the signing. Get cleaned up and put on something fancy.”
“How fancy we talking?”
“Remember that suit you wore to Mother’s birthday party last year?”
“You want me in a tuxedo?”
“We’ll be recording this.”
“Tuxedo it is. Black, white and purple okay?”
“Should be fine,” he replied. “Just hurry up.”
I gave him a look and then used magic to cleanse myself, change my clothes and even style my hair and trim my facial hair. “Good enough?”
“It’ll have to be. We don’t want to be late.” I thought I detected a smug satisfaction in his voice. I debated whether it was too late to strap on my holster, but decided it would create an ugly bulge in the otherwise perfectly fitted suit.
We arrived at the Lord Mayor’s mansion and servants ushered us through. It was obvious they expected us and had been impatiently awaiting our arrival. It was quickly apparent that they were ushering us out towards the large private garden. Why were we signing documents in the garden?
I tried to ask Chadwick, but he just hurried me along. Then I began to hear music. I recognized that music. “Chadwick…why are we signing documents in the garden?!” I was almost panicking, but I didn’t quite realize why.
He just grinned. “It was the best place.” That was a lie. He was lying! I was outraged. He signaled to the servant waiting at the door to the garden. The man rushed along. A few moments later and the music changed. It was clear that the orchestra had practiced this.
The song they were playing caused a memory to flash. I was back in that cabin where I had nursed Aurora back to health, humming the same tune – “Pastel Pure”, the opening to Marimite, in case you’re wondering – as she slept. She woke up with a small smile. “That’s a beautiful song.”
“I think that one day I’d like it played at my wedding,” I said, not really thinking about it.
“Tell me about weddings on Earth,” she said sleepily. So I did, giving her a bunch of variations, including the American standard, traditional Irish touches and even adding in details of my perfect wedding, including the aforementioned Pastel Pure as the song during the prelude before the processional. I then went into detail on the clothing worn, especially focusing on the bride’s dress…
Oh, crap. While describing the dress, I had made a joke that “Only virgin brides can wear a truly white dress, of course. Ladies who have soiled their purity have to wear a lesser shade of white.” It had been a joke. I thought it was a silly thing to worry about. But she must not have caught the joke.
She thought that I thought that it was important. That’s what the last few weeks had been about. She had been abstaining because she thought it was important to me. I couldn’t help but be moved by that. It was so silly of her, but she had done all that to make things as perfect as possible for me.
Well, the least I could do was to do my part flawlessly. I looked over to my right and there were several of my friends in their finest outfits, some in clothes I’m pretty sure they didn’t own before this. They’d even manage to make Geo’s tentacles look presentable. That was a minor miracle if I ever saw one.
Even Calais, my old friend, was there. I must have been really distracted to let them get all this done without hearing a word of it. He congratulated me and we all took our positions, marching in shortly after to stand at the altar, where a cleric of Shelyn stood to officiate.
I glanced over the crowd and saw so many familiar faces. Mother Voidstrife was there, seated next to Chadwick’s wife and child. Behind them sat numerous others from Absalom, including Calais’ uncle, several of my old bandmates and a couple of my former instructors. There were so many, it’s hard to name them all, honestly. I was surprised to see the Lord Mayor seated in the crowd, as he seemed a logical choice for escorting Aurora down the aisle.
The orchestra finished its song and, after a brief pause, began playing “What a Wonderful World”, signaling the start of the processional. It started out softly and reached a triumphant crescendo as Aurora walked in, escorted by Lenn – our older friend, not the one Geo made. It was a sight, the giant man bent slightly to allow my tiny Aurora to hold the crook of his arm. He walked with practiced patience, which in and of itself was amazing. And the sight of my bride was nearly enough to take my breath away. No, I mean it. My heart skipped a beat and I almost fainted.
She was wearing a dress so white it was nearly blinding, but also trimmed with green – I had mentioned that my mother’s wedding dress was, so she had done so as well, I suspect – and illuminated by a soft glow from her halo, which she had managed to project without producing her wings or metallic skin. “Heavenly” doesn’t even begin to describe the sight. I fear that I could write for years and never do justice to the vision of my beloved walking down that aisle.
She walked up and took her place at the altar. My knees went weak as she pulled up the veil. At that point, there’s a bit of a blur in my memory of events. I mean, I’ve seen the video, but I don’t remember doing much of it. We said our vows, exchanged rings and then came time for the kiss. That part I remember. It started out chaste – we were in public – but Aurora would have none of that. She spun me around and dipped me back, planting a kiss so hot that I’m surprised parts of my clothing didn’t spontaneously catch fire. And, true to what I described, a Taldan translation of a verse from the English version of “Sakura Kiss” was performed during the kiss.
And I would like to find a hand like yours to take mine,
And with one kiss we could stop time, and I'd fall in love with you.
Tomorrow's far away; let's place our hope in today.
Just you and me in a beautiful spring...and we'll always fall in love, again.
Why? Because I’m a dork. There was a reception – well, more of a ball, really – with every wealthy member of society present. Aurora and I danced our first to an orchestral version of “Eyes On Me” as everyone watched, but for me, there was no one else in the room but her. She had improved considerably. I suspect that her time training with Lenn hadn’t just been shouting at bugs.
We then danced with friends and family as traditional as well as some of the members of the local government hierarchy. And then came the most important part of the reception. The time dreaded and held in awed anticipation by all. Yes, that’s right. You know what I’m talking about.
That’s when we danced the Chicken Dance.
Yes, thanks to a joke made to someone who I didn’t think would remember anything, I have unleashed the Chicken Dance upon a second planet. One day, humanity will stand on trial for that. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.
Chadwick revealed that he was giving us his house in Magnimar as a wedding present. He also told us that he’d be returning to Absalom after the party and leaving us to make ourselves at home. We would be all alone. I almost felt giddy. That big house and just me and my amazingly beautiful – also beautifully amazing – wife. Well, okay, we had the servants that he’d hired – they were paid up for the next six months! – there as well. But they were good people and none of them would hit me with a stick for grabbing my wife’s splendid backside.
For a split second after he told me about the house, there was a part of me that wondered if Aurora would be cool with me putting up a couple Gurren Lagann wall scrolls in the living room. That part of me was quickly beaten into submission by the other parts that didn’t want it to screw up our wedding night.
After we had spent enough time dancing, feasting and socializing, Aurora and I boarded a pimped out carriage – thankfully, I hadn’t told her about the tin cans tradition – and made our way home. Kira put herself into a dream state to give us some privacy before we arrived. I carried my wife over the threshold – I think she said a prayer to Alsetta as we crossed – and up to our bedroom.
Alone at last, I was suddenly nervous. But Aurora had waited long enough. She kissed me ardently. After several minutes, she pulled away. “Do the magic thing and make our clothes go away,” she commanded. Luckily, I had that spell prepared in case of an emergency. Like if our chaperone had gotten herself locked in a closet somehow and we only had minutes to take advantage of it.
A few words and a flick of the wrist and we were both naked in the light of the moon streaming in from the skylight. In a strange reversal, now Aurora was blushing furiously. She looked very nervous. But now I was no longer unsure of myself.
I took her hand and led her to bed, where I made love to the most astonishing woman I’ve ever known. She made up for any inexperience with boundless enthusiasm. There’s something special about sex with someone you truly love that sets it far above sleeping with random others. It was honestly the best I’ve ever had. The earth moved.
No, really. There was an earthquake during… let’s just say the timing was beyond incredible. It was a three, maybe a four – more likely the former – on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale. Aurora seemed startled. “Is that normal?” she asked, unsure about whether she was imagining the tremors.
I kissed her reassuringly. “I’m just going to call that the gods’ way of telling us they approve until I hear otherwise.”
“Should we go investigate?”
I shrugged. “We could. Or…” I said, kissing her neck and leaving the sentence hanging.
She moaned softly and wrapped her arms around me. “Definitely ‘Or…’,” she breathed hungrily.
It’s a damn good thing we have those magic rings that let us get by on only two hours of sleep, because it was a long night. In fact, we spent the next several days in bed. We probably would have stayed there longer, but Sheriff Hemlock arrived late one morning.
Apparently the earthquake had been a little stronger back in Sandpoint – a six or so on the MMI, hearing him tell it. And, of course, that was only the beginning of their problems. Because Sandpoint never has simple problems.
I guess I would have to wait to complain about our cake being lemon until later.
Chapter V starts officially in the next entry, which might take a short while as I've gotta focus on the rest of my move first.