tagSci-Fi & FantasyBard's Tale 04 - Holly Wood

Bard's Tale 04 - Holly Wood

byTJSkywind©

Bardic Cycle

Date: March 28, 2095, evening

Locations: City of the Suns, village of Athenia, and wilderness to the west

This story contains magic and sometimes psionics (mental powers).

The story is about Reison Whisper Wind, a young half-elf warrior who wants to become a bard, and his three newlywed human wives -- the high priestess Tia, the warrior monk Tahna, and the bard Mindal. All three women are much older than he is, and are quite powerful; they have purchased expensive magic more than once to restore their bodies to that of twenty-year-old women.

The four newlyweds are currently residing in City of the Suns, capital of the Duchy Biyandi. The family currently resides in their private suite in the third floor of The Pixie Palace, an upper-class inn containing a large bedroom, living room, dining room, sitting area, kitchenette, and a large bathroom.

Tia is a longtime friend with Duchess Dianne Starshine, the latter who also held the office as the duchy's Lord High Priest. In the past, both Tia and Tahna have worked directly for the duchess and for the main temple in the capital to deal with unusual problems.

The three sisters have an extensive family living in New Brittany, a small village located to the south, on the eastern border of the Wood Elven Kingdom at the confluence of the Seine and Little Seine rivers.

There are also members of the Landers family living in City of the Suns. One such person recently met by Reison is their half-sister, Colonel Ehvona Landers Weaver, commanding officer of the First Cataphract.

Reison Whisper Wind has learned that Tia has a twin sister, Theodonra Landers Tanner, who lives in Sharaton-Charlottesville, capital of the nation of Tildor. Tia's twin sister serves Dorothy Moramorian, Queen of Tildor, as Chief Magistrate of the Queen's Bench.

Reison's family lives in Wood Haven, capital of the Wood Elven kingdom. His father, Urthel Whisper Wind, is currently making a living as a bookseller and his human wife, Medhbh O'Hara Whisper Wind. In the previous story, Miriel was discovered to have been brutally tortured and murdered in a black rite by the evil High Priest Karst, follower of the Kemetic god Set. Tia and the others, aided by two goddesses, found the missing girl, broke the curses, and returned her to life. Overwhelmed, Medhbh accused the women of marrying Reison for a chance at wealth, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Angered, they departed for City of the Suns.

Because Reison wants to become a bard like Mindal, the young family prepares to move to the capital so that when he has mastered the necessary prerequisite skills and is ready to attend college, they will not have to uproot their family. Like Tia, Mindal has decided that she, too, wants to have children.

There are two parts to this tale. The first part is entitled, Family Obligations. This part of the story covers Reison meeting some of his many in-laws, and days of him and his wives having a lot of sex.

The second part is somewhere around Literotica page 11 (page 93 on my word processor), entitled, The Whisper Wind Family Goes Adventuring. If you want to skip right to the adventuring, you can do so.

I'm told these stories fit into the Adult LitRPG genre. Adventurers of first- through fourth-level are considered apprentice level. Those of fifth- through eighth-level are journeyman. Anyone of ninth or higher experience is considered a master of their class.

Thanks to TerrytheTraveler for lending a hand with catching errors. Any gaffs, typos, dropped words, usage errors, omissions, commissions, permissions, submissions, definitions, WTFs, and OMGs are totally my fault. Enjoy!

* * * * *

Part 1 -- Family Obligations

Groggy, Tia stumbled out of bed and headed straight to the bathroom to relieve herself.

After washing up and putting cold water to her face, Tia returned to the main part of their suite. Glancing outside the window, she saw that twilight was quickly becoming evening. Feeling the emptiness of her belly, the priestess realized she must have slept through the entire day, still somewhat worn from all the powerful magic she'd channeled.

Wandering back to the living room, Tia looked around for her sisters and husband. No sign of them.

Back in the bedroom, she saw them fast asleep. Tahna spooned up behind Reison, and Reison spooned up behind Mindal. By the faintly discernable musty smell, they had enjoyed themselves. The priestess shook her head. She must have been really out of it to have slept through whatever they'd been up to. All three slept peacefully together.

Both of her sisters were happier than they had been in a long time. That gift alone gave her heart a happy emotional tumble, for she loved her younger sisters dearly.

As for Reison, Tia loved him more each day. She was frequently surprised and impressed by his consideration and careful thinking. Whatever anyone else might say about their whirlwind courtship and marriage, the priestess believed they had formed a new family gestalt, stronger than the sum of the individual members, and that it would continue to grow stronger as time passed.

"Thank you, Dearly Beloved, for bringing him to us," she murmured in gratitude.

Her stomach rumbled, so she exited the bedroom in search of something to eat. At the dining table, she lifted lids to see what was available. With a disgruntled sigh, Tia noted they had enjoyed the lunch she'd ordered, and had picked the plates clean. Nothing. Not even a slice of bread remained.

Her stomach growled again.

She spied the empty cookie bin on the end table by the couch. Mindal had made good on her threat to eat them all.

Nodding to herself and growing hungrier, her goodwill toward her darling sisters and loving husband was tested. Finding not a single morsel in the cupboards, she grumbled. There were some mental comparisons to scoundrels and even pillaging marauders.

She was tempted to break into one of the ration packs in her backpack, but decided against it. Besides, they'd been in town for weeks now and all of their travel rations were standard, not iron-rations, and were likely to be stale or even turned. Before they left the city, they would need fresh supplies.

With a sigh, she calmed herself and went to her desk. Yes, they had been thoughtless brats. However, she admitted to herself that if she'd been awake, she would have happily used her priestly magic and had sweaty, heart-pounding sex with her husband as often as she could get him to agree to. Unless she was totally focused on something -- or someone -- Tahna was usually good about making sure some bit of food was set aside.

While her stomach growled again, the priestess kept in mind that sometimes a little selfishness was allowable, especially compared to the distractions of newfound love. And, she admitted to herself, she herself was partly to blame. Focused on becoming pregnant, she had not kept up with their supply of stores. As oldest sister, she'd long handled that task. Now, as First Wife, it was officially part of her duties.

Writing out a request for dinner, she went to the dumbwaiter, pulled on the rope and watched it descend.

Grabbing some clothing from the bedroom, she dressed in the living room, putting on a flannel shirt and wool skirt, her stretchy knee-high socks, and a pair of warm slippers. She'd started to take out a fresh pair of underwear, but then deliberately passed on it.

Tia had learned a long time ago that hanging onto anger was fruitless. Redirecting her feelings and her energy, she calmed herself.

The priestess reminded herself, Remember, psalm 33, Tia. 'If you seek happiness, first you must decide what happiness is, count your blessings, and then you must choose to be happy.' Choosing to be happy was the key. As First Wife, my attitude sets the tone of the household. We have been starving for what Reison gives to us. I can eagerly wait for my food to arrive, or I can be productive and reflect on the good things in my life.

Quietly singing some of her favorite hymns, Tia quickly cleaned and wiped down all the counters and the dining table, then stacked all the scattered dirty dishes onto the roll-cart. Several castings of the orison disinfect were used to ensure the food and eating areas were truly clean. Scattered dirty laundry, too, went into the hamper.

Feeling better and pleased at the cleanliness, she surveying the main room. Tia paused and gave a heartfelt prayer of thanks, for the companionship of her sisters and their new husband, and for their comfortable life. The goddess provided opportunities, but Her children were expected to work for their livelihood while living within the Lawgiver's commandments.

Tia retrieved her stationary. Seating herself at the main table, she wrote out a report of the previous days' events for Duchess Dianne. She included descriptions of their finding of Reison's sister Miriel, their treatment by some of the wood elves, and their experiences with the city guard officer outside the gates of Malganna, a main city within the Caloren States. Tia included her concerns about both the wood elves and the actions of the Caloreni guards. She also included her account of the judgment of Karst by the Kemer gods.

Pausing in the semi-official account to the duchess, Tia went to her desk, and using temple-embossed stationary, wrote out an official diplomatic protest, to be filed with the Caloreni Embassy in Tildor's capital, and stamped it with her personal seal, blowing gently on it to help the wax harden faster.

Once that was completed, she skimmed through the documents, reflecting.

After a short internal debate, she also added her observations of the Earth's Daughter and the Tuathan goddess Brigit. The Duchess was both her friend and highest ranking member of the Ba'lorian church within the duchy. Mindful that she was recording the actions of their goddess, Tia was very careful in describing only what she and Tahna had directly witnessed. Presuming to know the Will of the Lawgiver was hubris, and a sure way to earn Her ire.

When she was finished writing, Tia took a long breath. Reison had certainly changed their lives. Married less than two weeks, and already so many things were different! For the better, in Tia's opinion, and she believed her sisters would agree. Reison, for his part, had entered into a lifetime commitment without blinking, loving each of them for who they were.

And then there was the whole event of finding his sister Miriel.

The priestess sat back and slowly exhaled. In selecting Reison for all three sisters to marry, the goddess had to have looked into his past and discovered his sister and her horrific murder. In the beginning of all things, the scriptures told that their goddess had been wounded terribly by the Great Enemy, and was thereafter sterile. Some believed that such was the reason she made so many beings Her companions, teaching them and caring for them. Calling them Her children. One of the goddess' titles was Protectress of Children, a title all priests and priestesses were expected to act upon whenever the need arose.

Miriel herself may have been pledged to the Celtic goddess Brigit, yet it was not surprising at all that the Lawgiver had tasked Tia with making things right for the young girl. There were only a very few priests in the entire region capable of even casting the spell resurrection. While they might have been sympathetic, the physical cost of magically-aging three years would have been a strong deterrent. For Tia, however, there had never been a question. Reison was now her husband, and Miriel was therefore her sister. The crimes against the girl-child had become crimes against her own family.

You do things for family. Even if it costs you dearly.

Scanning through the pages, Tia surprised herself with how much she had written. Thirty-seven pages. She added a date and page number to each sheet before wrapping it all up. Opening up her kit again, she melted more sealing wax, then Tia pressed her personal seal on the envelope. Once the seal was set, she addressed it.

Walking back to her writing desk, the faint pattering against the glass drew her attention. Seeing the droplets splashing on the window, she paused to glance outside. The lights on the darkened street below looked forlorn in the shadowy gloom. Most of the streets were empty, and those out and about scurried along.

Next to her desk was a marvelous magical device, Hadrian's Mailbox. Invented a century earlier by the arch-mage Hadrian Falonaë, it was both simple and amazing in its power. One wrote a letter to someone by taking quill and ink to paper or parchment. On the outside, the sender addressed the letter by name, and while visualizing the recipient, pulled back the handle near the top, and dropped the missive into the slot of the blue postal box.

Once inside the mailbox, the envelope would magically transport to the recipient, appearing in midair and floating to the ground by means of a feather fall spell. That is, the letter would float lightly to the ground as if it were as light as a downy feather. If all you had was the person's name and did not personally know the recipient, the letter could take up to three days to arrive. Generally, if you also had the city where the person resided, it would shave off a day of travel time; though it could take longer if the person was out of town, as the mail would actually try to catch up with the person. If you personally knew the person, however, the letter would appear instantly before the recipient, no matter where they were -- across the room or at the other end of the world, as long as they were on the same plane of existence.

Hadrian, who was still among the living, was a remarkable man and powerful mage, and a renowned expert in both the manufacture of magical items and the crafting of dimensional magic. It was rumored that sometimes the mailboxes would deliver letters to other planes of existence as well. But as Tia had never seen it happen, those could just be rumors.

The magical mailbox would only transport correspondence written on paper or parchment. Vellum and leather were outright rejected by the mailbox, the slot refusing to open. Attempting to include anything with the letter would likewise be refused; the letter itself would be accepted, while any enclosed items simply fell to the ground outside the mailbox.

A remarkable feature of the such mail delivered by the mailbox was the ability to reply. If within ten minutes of receiving a letter the recipient chose to respond, they could write a response on the original letter, even if they themselves didn't have a Hadrian's Mailbox of their own. One simply folded their reply into the shape of a paper airplane and threw it. The envelope would vanish, instantly returning to the sender. This back and forth could go on several times as long as space remained on the original letter.

When they departed for the capital, Tia knew she would need to have the magical mailbox sent to their new home. As she considered things, she realized their traveling days to City of the Suns, to the capital, and back to New Brittany would end. In starting a family, her life would be heavily focused with caring for their children and running their home. It would mean fewer overland visits to New Brittany and to City of the Suns, though magical trips by a portal spell were still possible. Care was needed with such use, however, as strong magic of any type might attract passers on the astral or ethereal or from one of other planes, and the attention could even be demonic or diabolic. Magical portals were definitely strong magic.

This suite of rooms in The Pixie Palace, too, would likely not see much use once they left. It would likely be best to pack up their personal items and have them shipped so as to follow them to the capital. The room could then be warded and closed until they returned, or they could even move out permanently, letting the room become open for public use. The sisters had spent a good deal of gold and time personalizing the rooms to their tastes.

That decision would probably be best decided by the family, she thought. Rightfully, this suite belonged to all four of them.

There were many things to do once they reached the capital. Finding a home for them to live in was only the first step. And if the house didn't have what they needed, there would be remodeling, which meant contractors, builders, permits, and many other considerations.

Of prime importance was Reison himself and his desire to become a bard. Remembering what Mindal had undergone, Tia had a quite good outline of what their husband would need to accomplish, and it would be good for her as First Wife to plan their lives around those needs.

Reison no doubt still had some adventuring to do before completing the fighter prerequisite for his profession. Tia had no idea how much experience he still needed, though Mindal could probably provide a good estimate. After a couple of years with the wood elves, he was at least a veteran, but as a professional fighter, he was ranked as an apprentice. He would need to complete a journeyman's level of competence before switching his profession to that of a rogue, starting at the bottom. Mindal had taken a few years to accomplish that proficiency.

The priestess added, Note to self. We need to find him a reliable teacher. A Master Thief who is well-skilled and willing to teach Reison, and honest enough to give their word to not steal from our family -- and abide by it. We have a year or so before that is necessary, perhaps longer, but best to begin the search now.

As Tia thought about it further, she realized there would more be time involved while he adventured and gained experience while polishing and expanding on his rogue skills. Three or four years maybe? Perhaps longer. There would also need to be spaces for her sisters and herself, too. A conservatory, a library, a gymnasium area, and a chapel. Most definitely a large kitchen. Storage for all the food, because nearly every teenager eats like two or three adults. Especially boys. Their legs are infamous for being hollow. And rooms for the children as they grow up.

Once Reison had completed his skills as a journeyman rogue, then there was the preparation for his application to the bard college. It would include a practical demonstration of his music talent, skill, and ability. Mindal, of course, would help with all that. And Tia already knew that Mindal would recommend that he take the two-year program over the one-year curriculum. Mindal said that Reison was smart enough to learn actual priest and mage spells, and those courses were only taught during the second year.

Of course, the priestess already knew he was bright, and unexpectedly wise for his years.

Tia continued to reflect. A minimum, then, of five or six years at the capital. If she and her sisters each had two or three children, they would have a minimum of six little ones running around. More than enough to keep Tia happy and occupied. She reflected a bit. Maybe two or three servants to help out with cleaning. Will they need a guard or two, to help keep their children safe?

A big house would be critical, and room to grow a plus.

She wondered what Tahna and Mindal would find to occupy themselves during all this time -- besides accompanying him, and how much help she'd get from them in running the household. And between everything, there would be children to raise. With her past experience teaching Michael Flannery and other children of New Brittany, she knew what to expect.

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