Main The OP MC 9: God of Winning
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15 October 2021 (05:41)
Hey you. Yeah, you. You should join my Patreon page. When you join, you will get preview chapters of my future books to both read and listen to. You’ll also be able to see cover art sketches and get copies of sexier, NSFW versions of my already super sexy covers. If you are into audiobooks, I have a tier where you get 3-4 every month included for a crazy low price. Woah. Click here, or search for my name on Patreon.com If Patreon isn’t your jam, you can always join my Facebook group to get updates there. Chapter One “What do you want to do now?” I asked the tanned goddesses before me. “This way, Bash,” Mahini murmured in a tone that left no room for debate, and then she slipped her hand into mine before pulling me toward our house. A chilly breeze tugged at her obsidian hair, and she turned her face away from the wind. I squinted into the cold air, but I couldn’t take my eyes off my beautiful warrior woman wife, so my steps were eager as I followed along behind her. “Oh, wait for me!” Elissa squealed as she claimed my other hand, but the tiny redhead had to quicken her pace to match our longer strides. I’d just returned from a long voyage to the far side of the world, and I hadn’t seen my two pregnant wives in months. Their eagerness to get me alone was palpable, and I could tell the rest of the crowd could sense it, too. The townsfolk of Bastianville parted to let Mahini and Elissa lead me home, and the knowing smirks on their faces told me everything I needed to know about what they had in store for me. I received a few good-natured pats on the back, and more than one person let out a wolf whistle as we passed. It seemed no one would mind if I disappeared for a few hours as soon as I got back, and my cock twitched in my pants as I allowed myself to be pulled toward heaven, but I had one last thought of my other women. “I’ll be back!” I called back to the three ladies watching me leave. “Take your time!” Evangeline called, and the musical sound of her laughter rang through the air like wind chimes.; “You sure?” I glanced over my shoulder at my other women. The blonde bombshell planted one hand on a side-cocked hip, and her smoky-gray eyes twinkled with amusement. I’d been in love with the duke’s daughter ever since she’d disguised herself as a guard in order to join my group of soldiers, and after countless adventures both in and out of the bedroom, I was grateful she was finally my wife. I definitely preferred to have her on my side of the fight since the scrappy noblewoman was deadly with her throwing stars, but she’d been trained in every weapon available during her upbringing in Castle Bullard. “Yes, we’ll take care of everything!” Caelia said. The beautiful dark-skinned shopkeeper waved a delicate hand, and her warm gaze was full of joy as she watched us leave. Then she turned toward the stores of Bastianville, and she quickly disappeared down the street. The merchant was eager to return to her store, but now she had lots of exotic goods to showcase from our travels. Zenda watched me go with her mesmerizing sapphire eyes, but then she turned and whispered something to Eva, and the two girls laughed. The Zaborian historian was in good hands, and I’d get plenty of time alone with her later, so I turned my focus back to the path ahead. And to Mahini and Elissa. My eyes greedily drank in the sight of my two wives, and I swallowed down the lump of emotion in my throat as I thought about how long it had been since I’d last held them in my arms. Weeks spent at sea and traveling to and from the coastline kept us apart far longer than I ever intended, but the world was a much safer place now, so I could focus on home. And my pregnant wives. I’d met Mahini while fighting kobolds shortly after being summoned to this medieval fantasy world, and the desert mercenary had watched on in amazement as I stole her sword to destroy all the monsters single-handedly. The warrior woman was talented with a bow, and even though she didn’t remember, she’d taught me everything I knew about the ranged weapon. Her obsidian locks fell to her shoulders at a sharp angle, but her usually icy-blue gaze was full of warmth as she glanced back at me. My eyes trailed down her lithe, toned body to her abdomen, but there were still no signs of the life growing there despite the months that had passed since she’d first experienced morning sickness. The warrior woman wore padded leather armor that protected all her vital parts, but I knew beneath the armor laid a tanned, sexy body. Then my gaze drifted further south to where her ass bounced enthusiastically, and my cock throbbed against the restraint of my pants. “Fuck, I’m hard already,” I said as I hurried up my footsteps. “Good,” Elissa giggled as she practically jogged to keep pace with us. The petite redhead had shorter legs than Mahini and me, but her fiery energy helped her keep up with the other girls. She was the daughter of Bastianville’s mayor, Elrin, and I’d won her hand in marriage by killing a bunch of goblins. Elissa had been more than grateful when I’d saved her from an arranged marriage nightmare, and she’d taken to using a mace during our adventures, which earned her the nickname Skullcrusher. With her go get ‘em attitude and bubbly personality, it was always a shock to see her swing her weapon into an enemy’s head, but I never got tired of the sight, and I was currently enjoying the sight of the tiny little baby bump on her tummy. I’d seriously lucked out, but the God of Time deserved the best. Sorreyal had been my home for almost a year now, but I used to be an average guy from Earth working at a call center. I’d been dealing with what I used to call “Way-Back Wednesdays” where all the senior citizens made my life a living hell, and I laid my head on my desk for a quick power nap. Nothing seemed amiss when I heard the chime of my phone’s alarm ring in my ears. But everything changed when I opened my eyes and realized I wasn’t on Earth anymore. I’d been summoned by a sorcerer named Raijin Thornheart, and the Voldemort look-alike had unwittingly pulled me into a world of limitless power. Raijin originally intended to kill me to take my power for himself, but every time I died, I’d just wake up in the same place all over again. It took me a lot of attempts to figure it out, but once I did, I killed the sorcerer’s fourteen goons and escaped the Great Catacombs of Legend. As I left the nightmare chamber I’d been summoned in, a magical text box popped up on the stone wall and announced I was the Great One of Legend. According to the strange words in the creepy catacombs, I was the hero the world had been waiting for, and it would be up to me to return hope to the land. I was the God of Time. It had taken me a little while to process the information, but I’d played enough video games to pick up on the chosen one theme and run with it. I’d made my way through the maze-like catacombs to the entrance, but I’d made sure to explore every square inch of the tunnels before I left. I was the kind of gamer who always aimed for one hundred percent completion. That was when I’d come across the small town being attacked by kobolds and met Mahini, and my gaze flicked back to the desert goddess. My obsidian-haired wife was just as beautiful as the day we met, and I wanted nothing more than to be inside her again as soon as possible. It had already been way too long. We were almost to our house, and a moment later we were trotting up the steps. We’d barely crossed the threshold when the two women spun on me and pushed me up against the door, but I didn’t fight back as they both dropped to their knees in front of me. “You’re both amazing,” I sighed as I allowed my pants to be pulled down. “We missed you so much!” Elissa pouted. “I hope you’re never gone that long ever again!” “That’s the great part,” I said. “With the fast travel amulet, I am always one step away from home.” “You can do that again?” Mahini’s blue eyes lit up with excitement. “Pop out of thin air?” My wife referenced my sudden appearance in Bastianville after traveling for months in search of magical knowledge, but we hadn’t had much chance to talk about how exactly I’d achieved such a feat yet. “Any time I want.” I grinned. “I can even take people with me.” “What!” Elissa gasped. “Yep,” I confirmed, but then the desert goddess wrapped her hand around the shaft of my cock, and I inhaled sharply. “Fuck, I missed you both.” Neither woman gave me a response, and instead they both leaned forward to play with their coveted toy. An instant later, I felt the wet warmth of their tongues stroking my cock from balls to tip one after another, and a shiver of pleasure shot up my spine. They worked in tandem, and while one focused on my tip, the other gave my testicles lots of attention. Then they each wrapped their mouths around either side of my girth, and they slid as one toward my hips. Stars exploded in my vision from the pleasurable feelings overwhelming me, and I sank my head back against the door as I surrendered to their motions. They’d learned a lot since our first sexual encounters together, and I smirked as I remembered the shy, virgin women I’d turned into horny, cock hungry lovers. “How is that?” Mahini gripped my slippery cock firmly, but the pressure brought me out of my thoughts and back into the present, amazing moment. “Perrrfect,” I groaned as I rocked back and forth to enhance the sensation, and I could already feel my balls beginning to tingle. They were about to make me come right inside the door, so I held a tight grip on my self-control while they continued their Slip-n-Slide along my shaft. I let them suck me for as long as I could bear, but when I felt tingles bursting from my balls, I reluctantly pushed them back. They held their mouths open and their tongues extended as they eagerly awaited my cock, but I took a deep breath and pulled them to their feet. “Let’s take this upstairs,” I said in a voice hoarse with desire. “I need to feel your bodies. Now.” My wives quickly complied, and they sashayed their hips as we made our way up the stairs, so I smacked their ass cheeks every other step to speed them onward. Even Mahini let out a girlish giggle as we stepped into the bedroom, but then the two beauties began to peel off their clothes and armor. “Oh, fuck, yes,” I licked my suddenly dry lips. I removed the rest of my clothes while I watched them strip with rapt attention, and I spread out on the bed in a semi-upright position so I could see better. Mahini unfastened the straps holding her leather armor in place, and she created a tidy stack near the dresser before she began on the rest of her clothes. Elissa was wearing a sunny yellow frock, and she stared me down with her large, emerald eyes as she pulled the ties on the back loose. I was practically drooling already, and they weren’t even completely naked yet. Then Elissa slipped out of her dress, unbound her long, firered curls, and walked toward me with the most seductive expression on her face. My eyes carved into her flesh like a sculptor studying his muse, and my eyes focused on the slight bump on her lower abdomen. “Your son is strong.” My first wife caught my stare, and she placed a loving hand over our growing child. “You think it’s a boy?” I asked. “I believe so.” Elissa nodded, and her eyes glimmered with hope. Then my gaze swept over to Mahini, and her lithe, tanned form was revealed before me in all its glory. Her muscles rippled in the light streaming in through the window, and her taut abdomen still had its washboard slopes. She was as gorgeous as the day we’d met, and I itched to get my hands on her. “Get the fuck over here already!” I laughed and smacked the mattress on either side of me. The two women joined me on the bed, and I slid my hand beneath Elissa’s red curls to cup the nape of her neck so I could pull her lips to mine. Her mouth parted to allow my tongue access, and I groaned as the kiss deepened. Mahini positioned herself between my legs to resume her ministrations, and I ran a hand through her obsidian locks while I continued to make out with Elissa. My hand roamed from the redhead’s neck to her lower back, and I pulled her against me until her breasts pressed up against my chest. “Oh, Bash…” Elissa sighed when we finally came up for air. “I could kiss you forever.” “That’s not all I’m going to kiss,” I promised in a husky voice, and my hand slid beneath her ass cheeks to graze against her already dripping entrance. Elissa gasped and leaned into my touch, and her moisture immediately drenched my digits. Fuck, she was wet. “Come here,” I said as I pulled Mahini up from my cock. The desert goddess ran the flat of her tongue along my entire length, and my tip twitched toward her lips. Mahini had a devious smile when she returned to my side, but I claimed those curved lips with my own until she was shivering with desire. Then I repositioned myself on the bed so the two women were lying against the pillows and I was kneeling in front of them, and I raked my eyes over their contrasting forms in an effort to capture their images in my mind forever. Where Mahini was tanned, Elissa was pale, and while the desert goddess kept her hair trimmed and tamed, my first wife allowed her red locks to flow wild and long. Their personalities were nearly opposites as well, but Mahini’s sharpedged stoicism paired very well with Elissa’s bubbly enthusiasm. I shook my head in awe at my own good fortune, but then I began to worship them from head to toe. I ran my fingers along Elissa’s bare skin while I mirrored the motions with my mouth on Mahini’s, and a moment later, both women were squirming beneath me. Elissa gasped every time I drew anywhere near her nipples, and she seemed much more sensitive to my touch than I remembered her being, but that only excited me even more. I experimented by grazing the pad of my finger across her areola, and the mayor’s daughter arched her back as goosebumps erupted across her bare skin. Mahini’s nipple hardened in my mouth, and she hissed with pleasure as I trailed my tongue around her areola in a circular motion. “You like that?” I asked them as I continued to manipulate their breasts. “Bash…” Mahini whimpered. “Why does it feel so good? You haven’t even touched my--” I’d migrated lower and lower while she talked, but before she could finish her sentence, I slid my thumb over her downy mound to the wet slit beneath. Mahini jerked, and her legs spread open almost instinctively. The view of her tight, wet pussy made my blood pulse rapidly through my veins, and I could feel my cock aching for her warmth. Then I pressed her inner thighs apart and dipped my head into her honeyed well, and I groaned with delight when I finally got to inhale her sweet aroma. There was nothing like it in the world, and I couldn’t believe I’d managed to survive months without her. Never again. I started slowly, but I planted teasing kisses all around her petals until her hips began to lift her sweet snack directly to my lips. Then I cupped her ass cheeks in my hands and lifted her up fully so I could dig in. The juices immediately flowed over my taste buds, and I lapped them up greedily like Winnie the Pooh with a honey pot. When I glanced up to check on Elissa, my wife was watching me with wide, fascinated eyes while she played with herself, and the image made my cock throb. “Ooohh, Bassh…” Mahini moaned and arched her back to give me even better access to her pussy, so I returned my attention back to making the desert goddess climax. I circled her clit with my tongue before I sucked it between my lips, but at the same time I reached over to help Elissa as well. The two women continued to squirm and drip, but they were being patient. So far. They would be begging for my cock before the day was over, though, and the thought urged me on even more. I licked and sucked until Mahini’s muscles began to spasm, but even then I didn’t relent. The tension in her body built to an unbearable peak, and then her mouth fell open in a silent moan as her legs began to shake. “Right… There!” The desert goddess’ voice came out as a primal growl, and I chuckled as I slid my finger even deeper into her entrance until I found her textured sensitive spot. Mahini grasped the sheets in white-knuckled fists as she shoved her pussy against my face, but I held her firm as I lapped up her delicious juices. “Yess!” My warrior wife exploded all over my face, and I drank down every last drop like I was a man dying of thirst. When her shaking finally subsided, I gently thrust my finger in and out of her as she came back to reality, but then my gaze turned to the pale-skinned goddess. “You’re next,” I promised, and I placed a sweet kiss on Mahini’s swollen pussy before I repositioned myself on the bed. Elissa eagerly spread her legs open for me, and her emerald gaze held mine with an intense heat as I lowered my face to her pussy. I watched in fascination as I dipped my tongue into her well of bliss, and her gemstone eyes widened as her lips parted. It was perfect. Then I attacked her clit with a gusto built up over months of absence, and the freckled beauty was dappled in sweat a few moments later. Her petite legs wrapped around my head with a strong grip, and I reached up around her hip to tweak her erect nipples. The mere touch of my fingers against her sensitive breasts sent Elissa into a frenzy, and she gasped for breath as her legs started to shake. “Keep going!” she pleaded. “Oh, Bash, never stop…” I did as requested, and I worked her through several orgasms before I came up for air. The bed was drenched in sweat and pussy juices already, and both girls laid in a semi-exhausted state upon the pillows. “You’re not done yet, are you?” I teased as I pushed myself onto my knees. “Far from it,” Mahini breathed without opening her eyes. “Just catching my breath.” “I almost forgot how amazing you are…” Elissa sighed. “I’ll never forget again.” “Good.” I gave my ladies a devilish grin. Then I grabbed Elissa by the ankles, and I yanked her bodily toward me. The freckle-faced beauty giggled and twisted around to present her ass, and I quickly straddled her from behind. I massaged her ass cheeks appreciatively, and each time I pulled them to the side, her perfectly pink, tiny pussy peeked out at me. My cock was so hard it ached, so I gripped my shaft in one hand while I spread open her legs with the other. I moved slowly, and I rubbed the head of my dick up and down her slit a couple of times until my tip was coated in her juices. Then I leaned forward, and I slid inside her tight tunnel inch by inch until I was buried to the hilt. “Fucck!” Elissa arched her back and moaned. “Goddamn, you’re tight,” I groaned as her pussy squeezed around my length. I withdrew at a tantalizingly slow pace, and I waited until Elissa whimpered out a request before I thrust inside forcefully. “Oh!” My wife gasped as she gripped the sheets. “You like that, don’t you?” I chuckled “I want more!” Elissa pressed her hips into mine in a matching rhythm as I pulsed in and out of her impossibly tight pussy. “Harder!” “As you wish,” I murmured, and I gritted my teeth as I complied, but then I jerked my chin at Mahini. “Come join us.” Mahini bit her lip as her icy gaze filled with doubt, but then Elissa reached out to grab her hand. “I want us all to feel good, Mahini,” the freckled goddess said. “Bash taught me what to do, remember?” Mahini positioned herself near Elissa’s mouth, and the redhead didn’t hesitate to bury her face in the desert goddess’ pussy. I gripped Elissa’s ass cheeks in both hands as I slammed in and out of her as hard as I could, and shivers of pleasure ran down my spine. The sound of our flesh slapping together mixed with their gasps and cries of pleasure, and the musical quality of the mixture created a pleasant backdrop for the delightful sight before me. It was good to be a god. Elissa’s orgasm was slow to build, but I could feel it coming through the tension in her muscles. Then her legs shivered, and she closed her eyes as she rested her face against Mahini’s inner thigh. “Yes, yes, yesss…” Elissa’s voice was full of emotion, and my heart swelled with love for the tender queen of my heart. With that thought, I lost control, and I gasped as my climax shook every muscle in my body. It felt like a thousand tiny needles of pure bliss were pricking my skin, and I buried my cock as deep as it would go in Elissa’s tunnel as I sprayed out my load. Elissa’s climax hit her a second after mine, and we both groaned as her tunnel squeezed and jerked around my length so that every single damn drop was milked out. “Oh, fuck,” I sighed as I collapsed on top of the beautiful redhead, but I made sure to keep the majority of my weight lifted by my arms. Before I’d even fully caught my breath, however, I felt Mahini’s soft touch caressing my back, and goosebumps erupted across my flesh. I rolled over and flashed her a grin, but as soon as I was flat on my back, the desert goddess straddled my waist. The image of her perfectly-shaped breasts heaving above me made me throb back to life instantly, and I was standing at attention by the time she began to lower herself onto my cum-slick cock. Her strong muscles contracted, and her pussy gripped my shaft like a well-oiled fist. “Oh, how I missed you, husband…” Mahini twisted her hips and moaned as she bobbed up and down on my length, and the resulting sensation was incredible. She had the muscle control of an Olympic athlete, and it showed. My dick was a toy for her to manipulate, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. “You were always in my thoughts,” I said, but then I gripped her hips in both hands and slammed my cock upward. Mahini’s lips quivered, and her ice-blue eyes widened as I rubbed my tip against the opening to her womb. Then, as her climax built up, she rocked her hips faster and faster until she moved in a blur of motion. The tanned beauty worked herself up into another orgasm and then collapsed against my chest, and it was several long moments before she was ready for another round. This time, I rolled her over, grabbed her by the ankles, and held her feet above her head as I slid back inside her tight entrance. Elissa cuddled up beside the desert goddess, and they exchanged a sweet smile. “Kiss,” I said in a husky voice. “Yes, husband,” Mahini purred. The two women flashed me sly expressions before they began to kiss with slow, tender movements. Mahini bit Elissa’s bottom lip, and the freckled beauty moaned, but the image sent me over the edge yet again. “Fuck, yesss…” I twitched as I erupted deep inside Mahini’s slippery tunnel, and my second climax was just as powerful as my first. Once I’d filled up my lover with a good bucketful of my cream, I let out a contented sigh before I collapsed backward. Our legs were all tangled together as we panted for breath, and I absently stroked their skin with the tips of my fingers as we all came back down from our highs. The room smelled of delicious sex and sweat, but the only sound was our labored breathing. “Ready to go again?” Elissa asked as she sat up in bed and eyed my still semi-hard member. “Whenever you are,” I countered with a wink. “We have a few more ideas,” Mahini teased. “No time like the present,” I laughed. Elissa leapt on my cum-slick cock like a kid attacking an ice cream cone, and I was swelling with need again a few moments later. We spent the rest of the morning in bed, and I lost track of how many times we all came. It was the perfect homecoming after a long journey, but after a few hours of lovemaking, my stomach growled insistently. The girls heard the noise, and they exchanged a pointed look. “What?” I laughed. “It seems as though it is time to go to the feast,” Elissa sighed. “Why does time have to pass so quickly?” “Don’t be sad.” I hooked a finger under her chin and brought her lips to mine. “I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. You can have me whenever you want, babe.” “I’m sure Miss Impatient can wait for you to regain your energy,” Mahini teased. “We wouldn’t want to stand between you and your people, either.” “I’m sure everyone is anxious to see me,” I allowed. “But you two are always my number one priorities. Don’t forget that.” “It is hard to forget when you remind me so thoroughly,” Elissa said with a pleased smile. “What else is a god supposed to do?” I winked. We bathed, dressed, and returned to the streets of Bastianville just as the sun slid past the midday point. Thick gray clouds blocked out the warmth the rays would have provided, and I shivered as we walked into the brisk wind. The streets were still crowded with people, and there were lots of unfamiliar faces among the townsfolk I’d known for a while already. My town had grown considerably since I’d taken control of it, and all my followers were thriving. My first task was to reconvene with the three women who’d returned with me from the Eastern Ocean, so my steps led me toward Caelia’s store. The merchant stood behind the counter, and she pulled a needle and thread through a piece of white fabric. She looked up when I entered the store, and her brilliant smile was just as dazzling as ever. Even though she’d been with me the whole time, her beauty still took my breath away. “Bash!” Caelia put down her project and strode out from behind the counter to fling herself into my arms. “Where’s Eva and Zenda?” I asked as I glanced around the shop. A few customers migrated through the well-stocked shelves, and they all carried baskets already heavily laden with their chosen purchases. I overheard them murmur about the fine quality of the Zaborian silks, and they oohed and ahhed over the fine wooden craftsmanship of the Arajian items. It appeared as though Caelia’s business was doing just as good as it ever had, if not better. “Eva is taking Zenda on a tour of Bastianville,” Caelia explained. “I wanted to look over my ledgers, but I said I would join them before the feast this evening.” “Bash is hungry,” Elissa informed her. “We will have the feast as soon as it’s ready.” “Can’t keep a god waiting, now can we?” Caelia laughed. “Where did you take the cart with all our loot?” I asked. “I didn’t see it on the way in.” “I took the horses to the stables,” Caelia said. “The cart is behind the store, but I left a lot of the items in the back, so I asked Riondale to post a guard.” “Perfect.” I rubbed my hands together. “I’m excited about all our new toys.” Mahini and Elissa exchanged a confused look. “Toys?” Elissa dared to ask. “Oh, they’re great,” Caelia assured them. “Bash has a good eye.” The four of us migrated to the back of the shop where Riondale was guarding the covered wagon personally, and I greeted my general with a firm clasp of the forearm. His short-cropped brown hair hadn’t changed in all the months I’d been traveling, but he’d started to let his beard grow out a little. It gave him an aged, wizened look that likely added weight to his position as general. “Hey, Ri-Guy!” I grinned. “How’s the army doing?” “Sir!” Riondale’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “I didn’t expect to see you so soon after your return.” I’d met the younger man during my quest to kill the crimson fire-breather, Smiguel, and the former lieutenant had proven himself to be a strong ally and great friend ever since. Riondale had originally been in the service of Evangeline’s father, the Duke of Bullard, but he’d allowed a few of his soldiers to follow me back to Bastianville. “I’m just efficient like that.” I winked, and a blush tinged the younger man’s neck. “Besides, I wanted to take care of the loot so you don’t have to stand here all night.” “If you don’t mind me asking, sir,” Riondale said in a hesitant tone. “What’s inside the wagon?” “You’re going to love it.” I clapped him on the shoulder and turned to the back of the wagon. I pulled off the cover and lowered the fold-down gate, and my general whistled appreciatively when he saw what was inside. Four large cannons salvaged from pirate ships were strapped into the back, but there were other packages shoved into every inch of available space. “Are those… Cannons?” Riondale’s eyes were wide as he leaned forward to take a closer look. “Yep.” I nodded, but Riondale’s attention was still locked on the weapons. “I stole them from some pirates.” “I’ve heard of them in ale stories,” the general confessed. “But I never thought they were real. Fire created from rock? Seems impossible.” “It’s a little bit more complex than that,” I said. “But they’re very real. As are the guns I took off the wannabe pirate king.” “You’ll have to tell me all the stories of your adventures some night,” Riondale requested. “But what is a gun?” Instead of explaining, I dug through the contents of the wagon until I located the two hip holster revolvers I’d taken from Raiz Stormbane before I’d killed him. Then I dug into the accompanying bag of bullets I’d found in the pirate king’s personal rooms on Esther Island, and then I slid one into the chamber. I aimed off into the distance, pulled back the hammer, and squeezed the trigger. The recoil still surprised me, but I knew I would get used to it with enough practice. My companions covered their ears as the explosion boomed, but Riondale’s expression was priceless. “Watch out!” Riondale shouted as he dove to the side, but the young man lost all composure, and he nearly fell over when his head whipped around in an effort to see where I was pointing the gun. Mahini and Elissa stared at me with wide, shocked eyes, but Caelia merely smirked. The shopkeeper was with me when we first encountered the weapons, so she was a little bit more familiar with them than the others were. “That happened so fast!” Riondale ran a hand over his head. “Can you do it again?” I was a little hesitant to waste the bullets since I didn’t have the means to produce more yet, but the younger man’s reaction was worth it, so I loaded another bullet. Then an idea struck me, and I flashed him a mischievous grin. “You try,” I said as I handed him the weapon handle first. “Anyone can do it?” He frowned as he gingerly inspected the gun. “You don’t have to be a god?” “Just point, pull the hammer back, and squeeze the trigger,” I confirmed. “But okay… there are some rules. Always treat it like it’s loaded; like it’s a bow with an arrow pulled back, so never point the barrel at yourself or any allies, and make sure that whatever you are aiming at doesn’t have something standing behind it you don’t want to hit.” “Okay…” Riondale pinched the gun like it was a venomous snake. “I’ll show you.” I moved to his side and showed him a few tips. Once he was in the correct position, I nodded, he pulled the hammer back, and then pulled the trigger. The ensuing bang caused my ears to ring, and I made a mental note to use some type of earplugs when I did target practice in the future. He nearly toppled over backward from the recoil, and he dropped the gun to the dirt like it would burn him. People poked their heads out of their houses and stores to see what all the commotion was about, but I just smiled and waved them off before I turned back to my general. “Good job.” I retrieved the gun from the ground while the girls giggled, but Riondale flashed me a sheepish smile once he regained his composure. “I apologize for dropping it,” the general said. “Accidents happen.” I shrugged. “We could both use some practice, and obviously I’ll help you.” “You would teach me how to use your guns?” Riondale’s eyebrows rose into his hairline. “I’d like all of our officers to have them eventually,” I said. “The future is changing, Ri-Guy, we’ve got to keep up.” After I wrapped the revolvers up in their velvet coverings, Riondale trotted off to fetch some helpers to unload the wagon. I gave clear instructions about where everything needed to go, the gold went to my house and the cannons went to the walls, and then I followed my women back inside Caelia’s store to get out of the increasingly cold air. “Will you be able to join us at the feast?” I asked as the shopkeeper returned to her needlework. “Of course!” Caelia flicked her chocolate curls over her shoulder. “Why do you think I’m repairing my favorite dress?” “I’ll see you there, then.” I placed a kiss on her cheek. “Can’t wait.” The shopkeeper waggled her fingers as we left the store. I took Elissa and Mahini in search of our other ladies, but the blue-skinned Zaborian historian was easy to spot among the Sorreyalian faces. Evangeline and Zenda walked slowly down the street toward Elrin’s house, so we hurried to catch up with them, and I slipped my hand into the pale-blue one of my newest woman. “I missed you,” Zenda whispered. “I missed you, too.” I squeezed her hand warmly. “Did you have fun with Eva, though?” “Oh, yes!” Her sapphire eyes glimmered with delight. “The people here are so nice! No one has said anything about the way I look.” “What do you mean?” I frowned. “You look incredible.” “I…” The historian bit her bottom lip as she shot me a shy sideways glance. “I’m so different… Mahini, Elissa, Eva, and Caelia are all so beautiful, and it makes me feel… foreign.” “We are all beautiful in our own ways,” Elissa said as she rushed to grab the Zaborian’s other hand, and my first wife’s gemstone gaze was full of warmth as she flashed our newest companion a wide smile. “I think you’re absolutely dazzling, Zenda.” “Didn’t I tell you so?” Eva giggled. “You’ve been worried over nothing.” “I feel silly,” Zenda sighed. “I am not used to this level of attention.” The girls and I continued to encourage the newest addition to our family for the rest of the walk to Elrin’s house, and by the time we trotted up the steps, her pale-blue face was bright with happiness. “Your Grace!” Elrin answered the door personally, and the Mayor of Bastianville fell into a low bow as soon as he saw me. “Hey, there, Elrin,” I greeted. “How have you been?” “Busy!” the older man laughed and rubbed his broad stomach. “New townsfolk arrive by the day, and when there’s a slight lull in people migrating here, then the merchants come in droves.” “That’s a good thing, right?” I raised one eyebrow. “Absolutely!” Elrin nodded. “But, please, come in. We can talk all about it.” “Sounds good.” I followed the older man inside, and a smirk twisted my lips when he gestured for me to take the best chair. I crossed my legs and got comfortable, and I glanced around the living room, but nothing had changed since I’d been gone. “Any issues come up that you need to tell me about?” “We’ve had an increase in crime,” Elrin informed me. “Small things. Stolen jewelry, tools left out go missing, and a few people reported hearing scratching sounds outside their windows at night. I believe there is more than one person responsible, but catching them has proven to be challenging.” “We’ll take care of it,” I promised. “Maybe even make a police department or something.” “Police?” Elrin stared at me and blinked. “It’s kind of like a town guard,” I explained. “Where I come from, the police are people whose main job is to ensure peace. They guard things, protect people, and investigate crimes. If we select and train a few people to monitor the behaviors of the townsfolk, it could deter what it can’t stop altogether.” “I’m open to any suggestions, Your Grace,” Elrin said. “What of your travels? Did you find what you were searching for?” “I did.” I nodded, but my eyes flicked to Zenda on their own accord. “And so much more. But I haven’t introduced you to my new friend yet, how rude of me.” Zenda blushed, and the skin of her neck turned an almost purple hue, but Elrin gave her a friendly smile. “Mayor Elrin of Bastianville,” I said in a formal tone. “I’d like you to meet the First Daughter of the High Priest, Zenda.” “Welcome,” Elrin said as he flourished down into another bow. “From what I have learned of your homeland during Bash’s absence, your father is the leader of the Zaborial Isles?” “Yes, he is.” Zenda inclined her head politely. “I was his assistant at the library.” “In our society, you would be considered a princess,” Elrin pointed out. “I never thought about that,” I said. Eva, Elissa, and Mahini all peered at Zenda curiously, but I knew they would have plenty of time to get used to each other. We were one big happy family, and while everyone was happy to have the Zaborian among us, any change took some time to adapt to. “How are you feeling, my daughter?” Elrin asked as he smoothly transitioned the attention away from the suddenly shy Zaborian. “Still having morning sickness?” “I feel fantastic!” Elissa flashed her father a brilliant smile. “Especially now that my husband is home.” “Maybe now you will stop talking about him constantly,” Mahini said under her breath, and everyone laughed. Knowing my passionate red-haired wife, that was unlikely. We visited with Elrin for a couple of hours, but by the time the light coming in through the windows began to dim, a knock sounded on the door to summon us to the feast. Tables had been erected in the square, and I recognized Torya, the innkeeper’s touch immediately. There were so many people in Bastianville I’d missed and needed to catch up with, but it would take me weeks to talk to everyone I already knew, let alone get to know all the newcomers. Braziers were lit to ward off the chill of twilight, and torches provided enough light to see everything clearly. A big bonfire illuminated the center of the gathering, and several people were crowded around it and warming their hands. The icy wind found all the gaps in my clothes, and I eyed the fire eagerly. I made a new save point as we joined the throng of people flowing toward the square, and I waved at the familiar faces I spotted among the crowd. There was Deena, Stryker, and Dalwin, but Jax and Torya crossed the distance to me and grabbed me by either elbow. “‘Bout time you came around,” the burly blacksmith growled. “I expected ya when the sun was still up.” “I’m sorry, my friend,” I laughed. “I’ll come to the workshop first thing in the morning.” “Relax!” Jax laughed and clapped me on the back so hard I nearly fell over, and then he wrapped an arm around Torya’s waist. “I know you’re a busy god.” Were they officially a couple now? I set the thought into the back of my mind, and I refocused on the feast. We were distracted by other townsfolk coming up to say hello for the rest of the night, and then the blacksmith and innkeeper vanished from view. I was happy for my friend, and he’d made a good choice with Torya. I couldn’t wait to see if they had kids. It was long after sunset when the feast started to be cleared away to allow the dancing to begin, and the beer was flowing freely. Laughter and chatter created a steady background soundtrack, and it was good to hear my people having fun. So much of their lives were based on working, chores, and their families, but they seemed happy enough. Zenda sat off by herself for a while before I managed to pull myself away from the townsfolk, but as soon as I was able to, I headed straight toward her. Her sapphire eyes were downcast and deep in thought, so I cleared my throat to get her attention. “Oh, Bash!” Zenda gasped as she startled. “I didn’t see you there.” “I’ve been unable to take my eyes off you.” I held her locked in my gaze as I swept up her hand and pressed the back of it to my lips, and when I flashed her a seductive wink, the purple hue returned to her neck. “How are you enjoying your evening?” “It is a wonderful party,” Zenda said. “We don’t have many parties in Nanau, or at least, I was never invited to any. I mostly kept to my studies, though. It is nice to feel included.” “You are always welcome and wanted,” I said. I took the empty spot on the bench beside her, and I pulled her into the shelter of my arm. Zenda sighed as she laid her head on my shoulder, and the spiky fresh growth on her head tickled my neck. “Can I… ask you something?” the beautiful historian asked in a hesitant voice. “Anything,” I said immediately. “Where… Um, where am I sleeping tonight?” Zenda stiffened anxiously against me. “Would you want to sleep in your own bed?” I hooked a finger under her chin to lift her gaze to mine. “Or would you prefer to share the bed with me and the ladies?” “I-I-I--” the Zaborian stuttered as her sapphire eyes filled with panic. “We’ll make a bed up for you in the extra room.” I smiled as reassuringly as I could, and I squeezed her into a tight hug. “There’s no rush to anything.” “Thank you,” Zenda breathed, and her muscles relaxed. “It’s not that I don’t want to…” “You’re a virgin,” I stated simply. “How did you know?” Zenda gasped. “I’m the God of Time.” I shrugged. I’d learned all about the beautiful historian while studying the ancient tomes of the Grand Occulta Athenaeum in the Zaborial Isles, so I could have written an instruction manual on how to woo her by this point. “Your powers are incredible.” Zenda’s gorgeous sapphire eyes brimmed with emotion. “I feel so safe with you, like you already know me better than anyone else, yet we’ve only known each other for a short time. How can that be?” “I know a lot of things,” I said. “You’re not imagining it. Ask the girls, they’ll tell you the same thing.” “We have a lot of talking to do,” Zenda agreed with a decisive nod. “And you and I have a lot of dancing to do,” I said as I pulled her to her feet and swept her out onto the dance floor. Zenda laughed, and the sound was like music to my ears, so I spent the rest of the evening doing everything I could to make her laugh again. It was a wonderful night full of friends and family, drinking and dancing, plus lots of amazing food. I couldn’t have asked for a better homecoming party, and my heart swelled with love for all the people of Bastianville. The dancing kept me sweating despite the bitter chill in the wind, but I noticed several people shivering as they huddled near the fires as the night progressed. The temperature continued to drop throughout the evening, and by the time we said farewell, the majority of the guests wore their hooded cloaks. I reset to my save point several times just to make the party keep going, and I managed to get all the local gossip. Jaxtom and Torya had been together for a couple of weeks, but many speculated it had been happening in secret long before then. A few people had passed away from old age, and the cemetery outside town had a couple fresh graves because of it, but everyone agreed the deceased had lived long, full lives. Rumors of the genders of my soon-to-be children ran rampant, and many asked if I had some godly knowledge I could impart to settle the bets. But I refused to give any thoughts on the matter, and I merely said I wanted to surprise everyone. My women and I stumbled home in the wee hours of the morning, and Zenda gave me a sweet goodnight kiss before she disappeared into her own room. I slept most of the next morning away, but something felt off when I woke up. I couldn’t shake the feeling, so I got out of bed and got dressed. Then I tiptoed out of the bedroom and down the stairs, but there was no sign of anything amiss. I frowned as I pushed open the front door to investigate, but then my jaw fell open. Bastianville was blanketed in a layer of pure white. I stepped out from under the awning and tilted my head up to look at the sky, but the colors were dismal and gray. The chill in the air was unmistakable, and I inhaled sharply as memories of sledding flooded my brain. It was snowing. Winter had come to Bastianville. Chapter Two The snowflakes tumbled softly to the ground like I was standing inside of a shaken-up snow globe, and every instinct in me screamed to run out to play in it. I envisioned children laughing and twirling beneath the falling snow and cups of warm cocoa being sipped next to a window. Winter was one of my favorite seasons, but I usually ran hot-blooded, so the lower temperatures didn’t bother me the way they did other people. Thinking about others’ distaste for the cold made me realize the snow also meant added hardship for Bastianville, and a frown creased my brow as I considered whether or not we were prepared for the upcoming winter storms. I headed back inside to put on some thicker layers, and I ran into Mahini on the stairs. “Good morning,” the desert goddess greeted me with a sleepy smile. “I can’t believe I slept in so late.” “You’re usually such an early riser,” I agreed. “This child has me exhausted,” Mahini confessed as she placed a tender hand on her lower stomach. “You need to learn how to take it easy.” I covered her hand with my own, and I smiled warmly. “You work too hard. Maybe this baby will be a good lesson for you on balance.” “Would you make me become weak?” Mahini frowned, and her eyes were like daggers. “I am a warrior.” “You’ll still be a warrior after the baby is born,” I said, and I pecked her on the cheek. “Just a little bit busier.” “We’ve already discussed distributing the child-rearing duties among the five of us,” Mahini said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “There will be no reason for me to miss training or going on expeditions with you.” “Alright, momma bear,” I laughed. “By the way, it’s snowing, so I’d dress warmly before going outside. I wouldn’t want you to get sick on top of being pregnant. You’d be bedridden for sure.” Mahini’s eyes widened in terror at the thought, and she turned to head back up the stairs without a word. I chuckled as I followed behind her, and when we emerged from the bedroom in our winter gear, Zenda was awake. “Good morning!” The historian moved about the kitchen cutting up fruit and buttering biscuits. “Are you hungry?” “I was upstairs for like ten minutes,” I chuckled. “You’re efficient.” “I usually am tight on time in the mornings,” Zenda explained. “The priests are early risers, and my father started taking appointments shortly after sunrise.” “Yikes,” Elissa said as she bounced into the room like a ray of sunshine. “If you weren’t making so much noise, I would have been able to sleep until noon!” “Oh, I’m so sorry.” Zenda’s eyes widened. “No, no, it’s okay,” Elissa giggled. “Now that Bash is home, I’d rather be awake anyway.” “Lissy’s sleep has been so odd since becoming pregnant,” Mahini informed me in a conspiratorial tone. “Where she gets the energy from is beyond me…” I chuckled at the differences between the two women and the love they shared. Mahini and Elissa had been friends before I met them, so they’d already known each other for quite some time. Now that they were sister-wives, though, they’d become even closer, and I hoped that never changed. “Shush,” Elissa said with a playful glare. “If you’d stop doing training sessions every day, sometimes several times a day, then maybe you wouldn’t be so tired.” “I must maintain my skills.” Mahini straightened her shoulders. “So I may better protect our babies.” “You are both with child?” Zenda’s eyebrows rose. “I thought it was just Caelia and Eva.” “We were pregnant first,” Elissa said in a proud tone. “But we met Bash first, so…” We all knew how babies were made, so she didn’t need to finish her sentence. “I am excited to see the newborns!” Zenda’s eyes lit up with delight. “I’ve never been around children before.” “Me, either,” I confessed with a sheepish smile. “Pfft.” Elissa flapped a hand. “You’re a god, you’ll be fine.” “Now, we were discussing breakfast?” Mahini craned her neck to peer over Zenda’s shoulder at the food on the counter, and we all laughed. We were halfway through a light breakfast when Evangeline and Caelia joined us, but the two women looked awake and refreshed as they poured their hot tea. Caelia wore the simple frock I’d grown accustomed to seeing on her while she worked in her shop, but Eva wore leather breeches and a plain white shirt. Neither looked prepared for the icy weather outside. “You know it’s snowing, right?” I said as I looked pointedly at their clothes. “That looks kind of thin.” The two women glanced at each other and then at the rest of us. “It’s snowing?” Eva groaned. “I hate winter.” “I think it’s quite nice,” Caelia argued. “There’s Winter Tidings to look forward to.” At least I had one person in agreement with me about the winter, and I looked at the others to gauge their reactions. Mahini seemed unconcerned either way, Elissa was already shivering, but Zenda sat straight-backed and blank-faced as she listened attentively. Mixed reviews. I needed to make sure everything was ready before the snow piled too high to travel through, so I made a new save point before I asked any questions. That way I could remain the awesome allknowing god they saw me as. “It’ll be over eventually, right?” I chuckled. “How long do the seasons last in Sorreyal?” “Depends on where you are, I suppose,” Eva mused. “Further north the winters are harsh and last nearly half the year. South of Vallenwood, it’s mostly just a wet season where the rains increase, but the temperature never drops below freezing. I’m unfamiliar with Bastianville, but I would say with its proximity to the mountains that we’ll have a good wet snowfall.” “It doesn’t go away until spring,” Elissa sighed. “Then the snow melts down the mountain, and we get flooded,” Mahini added. “That’s when you know winter is over.” “What was last winter like?” I asked. It was a reasonable question to ask since it had been less than a year since I’d been summoned into this magical fantasy world, but it would be even cooler to bring up things they hadn’t told me yet when I laid out my winter preparations. “Long,” Elissa grumbled. “Cold.” “I take it you’re not a fan,” I laughed and tweaked her nose. “You can stay inside the whole time if you want. I’ll have people bring everything you need straight to the doorstep.” “You’re amazing.” Her face brightened, and she leaned across the table to plant a wet kiss on my lips. “Thanks, Bash.” One down. “I wish I could stay with her,” Eva said as though she could read my mind. “But I would go stir-crazy. I need to stay active, or I’ll drive myself insane.” After I’d gotten all the information I needed, I reset back to my save point with a wave of my will, and we continued our breakfast without the questions. Bastianville had fared alright without me during the winter before, but food grew sparse, and dry kindling became a rarity, so I was determined to make this season even easier on the growing town. Once we’d all eaten and the rest of the women were dressed in warmer clothing, the six of us made our way outside. My boots crunched through the snow on the steps, and I made a mental note to start clearing paths as soon as the flakes let up. Maybe I could pay Dalwin a few gold coins from my pirate treasure hoard to have him do it. Hell, the kid would likely do it for free just because the God of Time asked him to, but I didn’t want to take advantage of my position. I was a benevolent god, at least where the people of Bastianville were concerned. Dressed in warm pants and heavy boots, the girls had no problems following the path I carved through the snow, but I moved slowly so I could pat down bigger sections at a time. By the time we reached the main street, there were a few other townsfolk out and about, but they were so bundled up that I couldn’t tell who they were. “Bash!” Jaxtom boomed from down the road, and the giant of a man lifted his bare arm over his head. The crazy fucker wasn’t even wearing a shirt. “Aren’t you cold?” Mahini’s razor-sharp eyes scanned over the blacksmith’s pert nipples and goose pimply arms. “Eh, it’s good for ya every once in a while.” Jax shrugged. “Freshens up the blood.” “If you say so.” Elissa stomped her feet and rubbed her arms through her thick, fleece-lined cloak. Jaxtom laughed and shook his head. “What are you up to?” I asked. “Checking on Torya’s stock of firewood,” Jax explained as he jerked his chin toward the town’s only inn. “You are a very cute couple,” Zenda said. “Aye. Thanks.” Jaxtom actually blushed, and the blacksmith ran a hand over his buzzed head. “Do you think the rest of the town is ready for winter?” I asked bluntly. I trusted Jaxtom’s opinion more than most, and we’d been good friends ever since I’d first arrived in Bastianville back before it had even been renamed after me. I’d spammed resets until I’d mastered the art of smithing a fine quality blade, and I’d managed to impress the skilled blacksmith on my “first try” from his perspective. I’d earned his respect, and we’d been buddies ever since. “Could be better.” Jax spat to the side of the road. “Could be worse.” “Cool,” I chuckled. “Let’s see if we can make it awesome.” “Knowin’ you,” Jax said, “it’s going to be the best winter Bastianville ever saw.” “I hope so, my friend,” I said, and I clapped him on the shoulder. “Let’s grab Riondale and get the cannons mounted on the walls first. Then we’ll make sure everyone in town has enough firewood to last them until summer.” “We’ll need to clear the road out of town if we want to continue to receive shipments,” Caelia said. “I have a few contacts who take up the work every winter.” “Perfect.” I nodded. “See if they can recruit a few more workers so we can extend the cleared section out as far as possible. I’d like to keep the roads open between here and the rest of my holdings.” “That will require regular maintenance,” Eva pointed out. “We have the people and the money to pay them,” I countered. “I’m sure there’s more than a few people who just moved to town that are still looking for work.” “The migration hasn’t stopped.” Mahini gestured to a side street that angled off the main road. “We had to build a whole new section of houses while you were gone.” “The homes are starting to edge up against the walls,” Jax joked. “We can start building upward.” I shrugged. “That’s what they do in the big cities.” We started walking toward the barracks as we spoke, and the number of people on the streets increased as we passed through town. People swept snow from porches, carried armfuls of wood inside, checked on their animals, and some even just stood gawking at the snow. The barracks were bustling with activity when we arrived, and a wide section of ground had already been cleared of snow in a perimeter around the building. The structure itself was just a repurposed house I’d given to Riondale to use, but it housed the wall guards between their shifts, the officers beneath him, and his personal chambers and office. The young general could rarely be found behind his desk, though, so I hoped he was still in the building at all. The two guards on either side of the entrance snapped to attention as we approached, and they held open the door for me with their faces locked blankly forward. Riondale had been training his men well, and I was glad to see my choice in leadership was so wellplaced. “Great One!” Bryn, one of Riondale’s men who’d been sent with me on the dragon hunt a while back, greeted me with wide, surprised eyes. “It is an honor to see you!” “At ease, Bryn,” I laughed. “It’s good to see you, too. Where’s your cousin?” Bryn, Thanor, and Ian were all related to Riondale through their grandma, Yaya, and the canny old lady had raised them all singlehandedly. They were good men, and they’d been loyal, trustworthy followers. “The general just returned from his morning rounds, sir,” Bryn informed me. “He went to his office to do his daily reports.” “Thanks.” I grinned. “Let’s grab a drink with the other boys some other time.” “Say the word, Great One!” Bryn matched my grin with a shiteating one of his own. “Just call me Bash next time,” I warned. “Deal,” the soldier laughed before he saluted me. I made my way up the stairs to the general’s office, and I knocked on the door as I swung it open. “Come in.” Riondale barely looked up from his papers when we entered his office, but then the seven of us crowded the small space, and he looked up with a grin. “This is a surprise!” I ushered Mahini and Elissa, who were the most pregnant, into the two chairs on the opposite side of the desk from the general, and the rest of us stood behind them. “It’s snowing,” I pointed out as though this explained everything, and the general lifted an eyebrow in a questioning manner. “Bastianville did okay last year, but there are a lot of ways we can better prepare while there’s still time. I need your help to organize some large-scale measures to ensure everything continues as normal for the rest of the winter.” “Great idea.” Riondale nodded. “I’ve made a few plans in your absence as the season grew closer, but I’m not familiar with leading so many people, and I have been so busy that I’m afraid my plans haven’t been fully enacted yet.” “First, we need to get the cannons on the walls,” I said. “And find a source for more cannonballs. Then double the amount of dry wood in storage, if not triple, and triple-check all our food storage levels. I don’t want anyone going hungry or freezing to death on my watch.” Riondale nodded. “It will be done.” We spent the rest of the morning discussing our plans, and the general had runners flying from his office and headed in all directions with various instructions. I had an army at my disposal and four towns to organize, so once Bastianville was set, I’d travel to Ivywood, Carleone, and Wyndvale to ensure all my holdings were thriving. With the fast travel amulet I’d received from the High Priest for killing the God of the Purge, I could blip from one necklace to the other magically, so I wasn’t worried about the time it would take to travel throughout my territory anymore. After Riondale and I were on the same page, and the army was put to work getting everything done, the rest of us were free to check in on the business owners to see what they would need. A couple of new places had opened up, and I was eager to check them out, but I didn’t want to play favorites, so I started at one end of the street and worked my way around to the other. There was a new restaurant and a new tavern, and I noticed construction of a new inn going up on the opposite side of town from Torya’s. Bastianville’s population had nearly tripled since I’d first taken control of the town, and the flow of travelers had steadily increased with no signs of slowing down. There was more than enough business traffic for everyone to get rich, but Stryker’s face popped into my head. I doubted the cynical man would be thrilled at the competition, but it was nothing a few words with the God of Time couldn’t fix. The man had held a grudge against me at first, but after a few drinks and a few resets, I’d figured out the source of the issue, and it didn’t have anything to do with me. “Let’s go have a drink at Stryker’s,” I suggested. “Sounds great,” Elissa said with an exhausted sigh. “We’ve been walking around all day.” “I could go for some tea,” Zenda said. “Oh, come on!” I laughed. “You’re the only one who isn’t pregnant. Drink with me? It’ll put a fire in your stomach.” “Do you have zuzu?” Zenda’s lips twitched into a smile. “Not at Stryker’s,” I said. “But there’s spirits just as strong, I promise. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.” “Alright.” The blue-skinned beauty dipped her hooded head. “The rest of us will have to settle for tea, though,” Caelia said. “It won’t be forever,” Mahini pointed out. “And then we’ll have babies!” Eva squealed. “I gotta get back to the inn for dinner,” Jax muttered. “Tell Torya we said hello,” I said with a teasing smile, and the blacksmith nodded sheepishly before we parted ways. Stryker’s tavern was warm and inviting with a fire blazing in the grate, and we took up seats at an empty table near the flames. To my surprise, it wasn’t the burly, typically sour-faced bartender who appeared from the back-room doors, but a curvy auburn-haired woman in a cleavage-revealing top and apron. “Abi!” Elissa greeted warmly. My mind reeled as the familiar-sounding name clicked a memory from another timeline, and I struggled to control my demeanor. Abi was Stryker’s wife who’d run off with a false god before I’d arrived in town, and the barkeep had been heartbroken and sour ever since. “Hello, Abi,” I said with a bright smile. “I have been looking forward to meeting you.” “Great One!” the busty woman gasped and immediately dropped down into a deep curtsy. “And his ladies! Stryker, Stryker! Come quick! We have special guests!” “What is it, woman,” Stryker’s voice growled playfully, and he came out of the back room an instant later, but his face lit up when he saw us. “Bash! I was hoping you’d stop in for a mug soon. I see you met my wife.” The barkeep wrapped an arm around Abi’s waist, and his chest puffed out in pride. I was a little surprised the tavern owner had let the woman come back after she ran off with a false god, but he seemed overjoyed by her return. I needed to know what happened, though, so I made a new save point with a wave of my will. “How did this happen?” I laughed. “When did this happen? Tell me everything.” “It was you, actually,” Abi said softly as she cast her hazel eyes to the floor. “You killed the God of the Purge, and I was freed from his influence.” My jaw really did fall open at those words, and my head spun. She’d been in the Zaborial Isles and had somehow managed to find her way back to Bastianville before we did, but we’d traveled to Arajah as well, so it wasn’t entirely unreasonable. She had to be a very resourceful woman, though, and my opinion of her elevated based on that observation alone. “The god who lured you away from town…” I began to piece together the story from what I already knew about Stryker, and what I’d learned about the power the God of the Purge possessed. The asshole easily could have hypnotized the poor woman and broken the barkeep’s heart in the process. He’d managed to force me to turn my own blades on myself during one fatal attempt to kill him, but after that I got my hands on a protection amulet so I wouldn’t fall victim to his abilities anymore. I’d seen a few people who weren’t from the Zaborial Isles among the freed zombies, like Risthan from Arajah, but I had no idea the man had made it as far as Bastianville. “He called himself the God of the Purge.” Abi nodded sadly. “I remember some of what he made me do…” “We can forget all that.” Stryker rubbed her shoulder in a comforting manner. “You’re home now.” “That’s incredible,” I breathed. “It’s all thanks to you,” the tavern owner said as he flashed me a broad grin. “You’ve fixed all my ails, Bash. Just as you promised.” I reset back to my save point with a wave of my will, but I had a shit-eating grin on my face when the chime rang in my ears. “You traveled far to return home,” I said in an all-knowing voice. “That shows true strength of character.” “I had to get home to Strykie,” Abi giggled. “My sugar bear can’t function without me.” “Aye, that’s the truth,” Stryker said with a smile, and he was practically all googly-eyed as he stared at his wife. I’d never seen the barkeep be so pleasant and happy, and it lifted my heart. I hadn’t even realized I was healing the man’s broken heart when I agreed to destroy the God of the Purge’s evil influence. We spent the rest of the night drinking and catching up with the reunited couple, and it was truly heart-warming to see the obvious love in Abi’s eyes as she gazed at her husband. My women shared tales of our adventures both overseas and throughout Sorreyal, and I had to admit it was quite the story when it was all laid out. I’d been a busy god. The next morning, I was woken up by a loud pounding knock on the front door, and I threw on a pair of pants and grabbed one of my panabas before I trotted down the stairs. Jaxtom stood on my porch, and his eyebrows were knitted together into a deep frown. The muscular blacksmith wore a leather tunic that made him look like a Native American, but he wrung his hands together in an anxious manner. “What the fuck is going on?” I asked as I scrutinized my friend. “It’s barely sunup, Jax.” “Well, Bash, uh,” Jax muttered and ran a hand over his head. “There’s no emergency, but I need to ask ye somethin’.” “Um, okay?” I stood back to let him in. “I’ll pour us a drink. It looks like you could use one. Ever had a Zaborian drink called zuzu? It’ll make the hair on your chest fall off.” Jax chuckled and followed me inside, but he shuffled his feet and kept his eyes cast on the floor. I shook my head in confusion as I fetched my carafe of zuzu, and I poured two small cups in silence before I handed my friend one. I lifted it in cheers and tossed it back, and the blacksmith copied my motion, but he immediately began to sputter and cough. “What’d ye call that?” Jax wheezed. “Hell fire?” “What’s going on, Jax?” I pressed, and I took his empty cup to pour another round. “I’ve never seen you like this before, and we’ve been through some shit together.” “Well, it’s hard to say, ye know, heart stuff.” Jax accepted the second cup, but this time he sipped it gingerly. He still winced, but his shoulders relaxed a little, and some warmth returned to his face. “Heart stuff?” I tilted my head. “What do you mean? Is everything okay with Torya? Did she leave you?” “No, no, she’d never…” Jax cleared his throat, but then he looked me dead in the eyes. “I wanna marry her, Bash.” “Oh.” I laughed loud and hard in relief, but then I placed a comforting hand on my friend’s shoulder. “You had me worried there for a minute.” “You don’t get it.” Jax frowned. “I ain’t ever been married ‘fore.” “Everything is going to be fine.” I grinned. “How can I help? What do you need? Name it, and it’s yours.” “I, uh, need you to say the words at the ceremony.” Jax shuffled his feet. “Well, I want it to be you. Torya, too. You mean a lot to us, Bash. We ain’t ever believed in a god until you showed up and fixed everythin’.” “Done.” I clapped my hands with finality. “It’ll be the best wedding I’ve ever officiated.” “You’ve done some already?” Jax raised an eyebrow. “Nope.” I grinned. “That’s how I know it’ll be the best.” “Aye.” Jax smiled faintly, tossed back the remnants of his zuzu, and handed me the empty cup. “That’d be nice.” We talked a little bit more until the blacksmith seemed back to his normal self again, and then I sent him back to his betrothed with reassurances that she’d have the wedding of her dreams. The two were some of the leaders on the Elder Council I’d created, and the town had depended on them long before I’d ever shown up. They were good people, and they deserved all the happiness they could find. I spent the next few days helping with wedding plans, winter preparations, and trade agreements. I was a busy man, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The construction on my church was nearly completed, and the engaged couple agreed to wait until it was finished before they said their vows. With the temperature dropping steadily every day, it wouldn’t be very enjoyable to have the ceremony in the town square. When the final touches were made on the interior of the new building, we informed the betrothed, but that sent them into panic attacks. They scrambled to gather up all the necessary items and got everyone organized in record time, and we decided to have the ceremony at sunset the next day. There would be a potluck feast afterward, so we began construction of a large pavilion to hold everyone, but I had to admit there were some downsides to the colder weather. “Everyone ready?” I asked before we made our way over to the church. The ladies were all dazzling even in their thicker, fur-lined winter dresses and cloaks, and I let out an appreciative whistle as I scanned them over. “I can’t wait to see Jaxtom and Torya finally say their vows.” Mahini wore an ice-blue dress split over each leg to reveal thick leggings beneath, and her black cloak had a silver hem surrounding the hood. “They’ve both been so good to the town.” Elissa looked graceful in a dark green velvet hood over a matching low-cut gown, but she paired the ensemble with long, elbow-length white gloves. “Even though I haven’t known them long, they’ve always been kind to me.” Evangeline wore fur-lined breeches made of shiny black leather, and she had a gray tunic tucked into the waist, but her outer covering stopped just under her butt to allow for more movement. “They’re good folk.” Caelia’s soft purple gown looked warm with the mink fur wrapped around her neck, and her cream-colored hood contrasted the dark colors of her hair nicely. Then my gaze fell on Zenda, and my jaw fell slack. “I’m ready,” Zenda said in a soft, shy voice. The blue-skinned goddess wore a dark blue number that clung to her form in all the right places, and the slits on either side of her legs revealed thigh-high fur-lined boots. She’d thrown back the hood of her midnight-black cloak, and black gloves covered her hands to the wrist. “You’re all so fucking hot I’m going to lose my mind,” I said. I said it over and over again, but it was always worth repeating. I was one lucky son of a bitch. I wore a military-style jacket I’d had custom-made for the occasion by Bellona, the town’s seamstress, and I thought I looked pretty crisp in my new getup, but I wasn’t worried about my appearance. I was focused on the happiness of two of my closest friends. We made our way to the chapel, and we joined the flow of townsfolk as they poured in through the open double-doors. Sarosh stood at the entrance, and she passed out programs to everyone as they entered. She wore a thick maroon robe, and her hair was tucked beneath a fur hat. She looked just as I imagined a priestess should. “Howdy,” I said as I accepted the program. “A wonderful day for a wedding, is it not?” Sarosh smiled. “I’m glad you’re the one officiating so I can enjoy the ceremony.” “Do you like weddings?” I asked. “Very much,” Sarosh said, but then she tilted her head toward the entrance. “I’ll see you inside.” I realized I was holding up the line, and I gave her an apologetic smile before moving on. The inside of the church was warm and inviting, and lanterns hung from the exposed wooden ceiling beams. It reminded me of a scene out of a medieval movie, and it was all mine. I showed the ladies to a bench in the front where they could get a good view of the ceremony, and the other members of the Elder Council took the other front row seats. Then I strode up to the platform to take a position on the center of the stage. Jaxtom walked in a few moments later from a side entrance, and I chuckled when I saw the blacksmith in a tight-fitting black tuxedo-style outfit. His face was freshly shaved, and he smelled like flowers. He also kept straightening the sleeves of his jacket and clearing his throat, so I placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Everything is going to be fine.” I grinned. “You look, and smell, great. Torya’s going to be so happy.” Once everyone had squeezed into the building, the music began to roll down from one of the balconies, and the doors opened one more time. Then Torya stepped into the opening and paused to build drama, and every pair of eyes in the room leapt to her. The innkeeper’s dress was made of lace, and it hugged her body like it was barely even there, but the skirt trailed several feet behind her. She wore a strand of pearls around her neck, and she gripped a bouquet of white lilies. Her veil covered her face, but I could see the shadow of her smile beneath the sheer lace. Then the bride walked slowly down the aisle in time to the music, and everyone watched on in awed silence. Torya looked beautiful, and I flicked a sideways glance at Jaxtom to see his reaction. The love in his eyes was plain for everyone to see, and tears sprang into their corners before he dabbed them quickly away. The innkeeper stepped up onto the platform, arranged her train and skirts, and then took Jaxtom’s hands in her own. “Ladies and gentlemen, people of Bastianville, merchants and travelers from afar,” I said in a loud voice as I started the ceremony. “Welcome to the union of Jaxtom and Torya.” Chapter Three A hush fell over the crowd as I began my speech, and I had the attention of everyone in the room. Torya blinked back tears as Jaxtom clutched her hands like she would fly away if he let go, and even I swallowed past the emotion rising in my throat. “Most of you are already familiar with the two people standing before me, but just in case, I’d like to speak on the characters of two people I am proud to call my friends.” I swallowed down the lump in my throat. “When I first arrived here, this town was called Addington, and a horde of kobolds stood poised to destroy every soul they could find. I killed the threat to the townsfolk before I met anyone.” I had the rapt attention of the entire church, but several people nodded knowingly as they were transported back to the day I’d first shown up in their midst. “Then I was brought to Stryker’s tavern, and everyone showed their gratitude for my actions in their own ways.” A smile played on my lips as I thought back to the generosity of the townspeople, even after they’d experienced plenty of hardships themselves. “Torya immediately insisted on getting me into a hot bath and a warm bed, but Jaxtom grabbed my swords and promised to make me some of better quality.” Jax grunted and looked down in a self-conscious way, and Torya squeezed his hands lovingly. They were too cute. “They didn’t know me from Jack,” I said. “All they knew was that I showed up for them, so they showed up for me. When Jaxtom banged on my door and asked me to do this, I didn’t have a single moment of hesitation. I have accomplished many things during my time in this world, but helping a true friend find his forever happiness has to be the most rewarding thing of all.” Then I cleared my throat and gestured to Jax. “Do you have the rings?” I asked. “Forged ‘em myself,” the blacksmith grunted as he dug into his pants pocket. I nodded in approval as he slipped the silver band with a ruby gemstone centerpiece onto Torya’s left ring finger before handing her the wide bronze circle for her to place on his. “Repeat after me,” I said. “With this ring, I promise to give you unconditional love, a lifetime of trust and honesty, and a commitment to our future together.” Torya and Jaxtom mimicked my words in unison, and I nodded again. The words were a little unorthodox, but I was the God of Time, so I could make up my own rules as I went along. “In the name of myself, Sir Sebastian, the Archduke of Sorreyal, Dragon Slayer, Pirate King, and God of Time, I now pronounce you man and wife until death parts you.” A loud round of applause echoed my words, but Jaxtom and Torya were deaf to the audience, and they stared at each other like nothing else existed in the world. “That’s your signal to kiss,” I murmured to the newlyweds. Jaxtom wrapped an arm around Torya’s waist and practically lifted her off her feet to bring her lips to his, and the innkeeper melted in his arms as she kissed him back. The roar of the gathered crowd shook the walls of the brand-new church, and everyone stomped their feet until the couple finally separated. “Congratulations, you two,” I said. “I wish you a lifetime of bliss. Now, it’s time to party!” “Aye!” Jaxtom laughed and clapped me on the shoulder hard enough to knock the air from my lungs. Then he swept Torya up into his arms as she giggled like a school girl, and the tall blacksmith carried her back down the aisle toward the entrance. I followed them with a wide smile on my face, but I paused to collect my five beautiful babes from the front row. The crowd began to rise to their feet and filed out of the church, but we were all headed in the same direction, so I just allowed the flow of traffic to guide me forward. I braced myself against the cold air, but it didn’t take us long to reach the moderate shelter of the large pavilion we’d erected a few days prior. We’d needed someplace to have the feast where everyone could gather and dance, but none of the buildings in town could accommodate this many people. We’d improvised at the last minute, but the entire town had helped my soldiers and workers to erect the pavilion. Large bolts of fabric and tarps were nailed around the sides to break the wind and slanting snowfall, and braziers provided enough warmth. Soon, the crowd’s combined body heat would bring the temperature up, but in the meantime, several people huddled together around the small flames to warm their chilled fingers. Tables lined one edge, and dishes of all kinds graced the surfaces. White lilies in small glass vases decorated the spaces between the food, and I marveled at Bastianville’s women’s ability to acquire blooms at this time of year. A band sat in a corner, and I saw Stryker among them with what looked like a lute. Abi filtered through the incoming crowd and passed out drinks to everyone like she was an octopus on crack, and I was amazed at her ability to multitask with a bright smile on her face. Jaxtom and Torya sat in the middle of a table situated in one corner of the pavilion where they could see the entire room, and a line of people had already formed to present gifts and pass on well wishes. They would be busy thanking people the entire night, and I didn’t envy them that. “What a lovely winter party,” Eva observed as she slipped her hand into mine. “Bastianville has done it again.” “It’s quite the wonderful little town,” Zenda agreed. “We stick together around here,” Caelia said with a proud smile. “The way it should be.” Mahini nodded her approval. “Oh, Bash, I’m so hungry!” Elissa moaned. “Would it be rude if I ate so soon after we arrived? I really want to tell them congratulations, but the line is already so long…” “Feed my child, love,” I chuckled. “We’ll all give them our regards after we eat.” “Thank you!” Elissa bounded toward the buffet table like an adorable gorilla loose at the zoo, and we all followed in her wake. After our plates were heaped with goodies, we made our way to a table near the newlyweds, and the music began by the time we sat down with our food. Then Abi brought over a tray full of drinks, and she made sure to give non-alcoholic beverages to the pregnant ladies, but my beer was stout and cold. After food was enjoyed by all, Jaxtom and Torya opened the dance floor with a slow, romantic number. I clapped enthusiastically when they finished their first dance together, and then others quickly filled the space and joined them. My mug was never empty for the rest of the evening, and I made a mental note to send a fat tip over to the tavern for all Abi’s hard work. Stryker stepped away from the band for a few songs to dance with his long-lost wife, and then I began to pull my women out to the dance floor one after another. We danced, laughed, and had an all-around great time, and I had to admit, it was one of the best weddings I’d ever attended. And I’d been to a few. Namely my own. “To Jaxtom and Torya!” I said as I lifted my mug in toast. “May you have a long, joyous life together, and hopefully grace us with some children with Jax’s hair.” Everyone laughed and applauded, but then other townsfolk began to give their own toasts, and the evening swept away. It was late in the night when we finally parted ways and let the happy couple get to bed, but at least they got to spend their first night together in the new home the people of Bastianville had given them as a wedding gift. Both had been living in their businesses for far too long as it was, but now that they were together, it made sense for them to have a place to call home. Life went back to normal the next day, though, and Bastianville continued to prosper despite the added chill in the air and the snow on the ground. The flakes ceased after a few weeks, but the drifts were piled feet deep between businesses. A few people fell sick, but nothing Theodora, the town apothecary, couldn’t handle. Every seventh day was reserved for church and the weekly market, and Sarosh began to settle into her role as First Priestess. As she got to know the townsfolk, her confidence rose, and soon she was calling on individuals during her sermons to give their personal testimonies. Her performances were riveting and entertaining, and I attended every one religiously. After church, we always headed to the heart of town to explore the market, and I made sure to bring plenty of gold with me. The pavilion from Jax’s wedding was proving to be more than useful for the economy as well. Merchants from all over gathered beneath the awning, and the tables became booths for their wares. There were vendors from Vallenwood, Mistvale Keep, and Kassar, but I also spotted some foreigners from as far away as the Zaborial Isles and even Arajah. Then there were some Nordic-looking men who looked comfortable in their thick furs, and I wasn’t sure where they were from, but then I remembered the mages from the Northern Reaches all had the same fair skin and blonde hair as the visiting merchants. I recognized a few of the business owners from some of my other holdings among the crowd as well, and I made a point to talk to them personally as I made my rounds. Ivywood’s representative had brought loads of building materials like timber and clay shingles, but Malakai, Carleone’s blacksmith, displayed an assortment of finely made horseshoes and various other metal goods. Gryse Yavaro, the traveling merchant I’d met in Wyndvale during a previous adventure, was a common fixture around Bastianville these days, and it seemed the foundation of his business was just bringing new merchants to town with him each time he came. I didn’t mind, and I made sure to purchase a few things from him to encourage him to continue coming back. Bellona brought out some of her high-quality clothes, and Jaxtom displayed some of his craftsmanship while Torya sold pies by the slice to represent Bastianville. They stood proudly behind their booths, and I bought items from them as well just because they were so cute. My coin purse was practically empty by the end of the day, but I’d only brought what I’d wanted to spend, and there was plenty more where that came from. I’d become a wealthy man on my travels, and anything my heart desired was mine almost before I completed the thought. All my women were pleased whenever we left the market, and our packages were brought straight back home to unwrap and enjoy. If there were new outfits purchased, they would be modeled for my viewing pleasure, and then I got to watch them take those same outfits off. Zenda continued to be shy now that she was away from her familiar surroundings, but I gave her plenty of time to acclimate to Bastianville and her new life before I pressed her for some time alone. I itched to explore her fully, but I knew it would be so much better when she was just as ready as I was. I was able to spam respawns until I knew everything about her, but she wasn’t granted the same ability, so it would just take her some time to warm up. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and one day around noon I went out in search of the beautiful historian with my borrowed books in hand. I found her in the tavern interviewing some of the townsfolk for her research paper on Sorreyal, and I waited patiently for her to finish speaking with Elrin before I approached. The Mayor of Bastianville flashed me a fatherly wink as we crossed paths, and I grinned back at him. I imagined he knew me well enough by this point to be able to read my intentions on my face. Hell, anyone with eyes could see how I felt about the Zaborian goddess, but I’d been a gentleman for as long as I could tolerate. I moved through the crowded tavern toward Zenda’s table, but I accidentally bumped into a red-haired woman as she moved to sit down in a chair. A dark-haired woman on the other side of the table gasped and pointed at me, and the redhead whipped around. “Oh, my bad,” I muttered. “Quite alright,” she said with a sweet smile, and she turned back to the woman on the other side of the table. “Shall we?” I shrugged and continued on to Zenda’s table, and I made a new save point as I walked up to her, but she still hadn’t noticed my approach. “Hey, beautiful,” I greeted with a flirtatious smile, but then I looked pointedly at the books in my arms. “Can I steal you away?” “Of course, Bash!” Zenda graced me with a brilliant, brighteyed smile. “I was just about to take a break. Elrin is the fifteenth person I’ve spoken to today!” “That’s a lot?” I chuckled. “Try hundreds in a single day.” “No man could accomplish such a feat,” Zenda argued with a shake of her head. “I’m no mere man,” I pointed out, but then I offered her my arm. “Shall we?” “Absolutely.” The historian closed her journal full of scrawled notes, gathered her other materials, and threw them into a satchel. Then she allowed me to lead her toward the entrance and toward our house. We braced ourselves against the sudden chill that greeted us outside, and we huddled together as we walked into the wind. The snow removal teams worked day and night to keep up with the blowing drifts, but there were still spots where we had to crunch through ankle-deep snow. I stomped the flakes free from my boots once we reached the porch, and then we hurried into the warmth. Zenda prepared some tea, and I lit a fire in the grate. The house was empty since all my other women were busy with their daily activities, so we had the entire place to ourselves. The blueskinned goddess seemed to pick up on this, and the purple tinge bloomed on her neck. “You’re blushing,” I said bluntly as I situated myself on the couch. “Well, yes,” Zenda said, and her sapphire eyes widened at my straightforward observation. “It has always been slightly flustering to me to be alone with you.” “That’s just because it’s unfamiliar,” I comforted. “You’ll get used to me, and it won’t be so bad.” Zenda giggled and looked away. “I didn’t say it was bad,” Zenda countered after a moment of silence. “And I’m not entirely sure I want it to fade. It is unfamiliar, yes, but far from unpleasant. I’ll make some more observations, though, and get back to you with the results.” “I look forward to your analysis about how I give you butterflies in your stomach,” I laughed. “Come on, sit down and relax. I can’t read this gibberish on my own, but I’m sure you could teach me how pretty fast.” “You are a swift and efficient learner,” Zenda agreed with an amused smile. The historian sat stiffly on the opposite end of the couch as me, and she gestured for me to hand her one of the volumes sitting on the cushion between us. I scooted a little closer until she stiffened, and then I settled back into the sofa. I was a patient god. “Where should we start?” she asked. “Let’s begin with the title,” I suggested as I picked one of the books at random and handed it to her. “Alright.” Zenda’s laugh was like a bubbling brook rolling over mossy rocks in a hidden glen, and the sound refreshed me better than the crispest water. We spent hours poring over the volumes written in the cryptic language of the dragon priests from long ago. The swirling text patterns looked like scribbles to me, but Zenda peered closely and nodded every so often as though they made perfect sense to her. The historian enjoyed quizzing me on little details from her reading whenever she reached a stopping point, so I was often resetting back to my save point in order to get the answers right. Zenda had difficulties with some of the translations, and her confidence began to falter, but there was no one else available, so we had to accept her best judgement. “There is still so much I need to translate, but it will take a lot of time,” she said after several hours of debating a single sentence in the dragon smithing instruction manual I was determined to get translated. “I’m sorry, Bash, but I am only human.” “Just do your best,” I said. “It’s not like I can do much better yet.” “Nonsense,” Zenda said with a dismissive flap of her hand. “You’re always one step ahead of me, and I imagine you could have translated these yourself in no time. You’re likely just having me help because you enjoy my company.” “Alright, so you’re not wrong,” I laughed. “But I like it better when we do it together.” The light began to fade while the fire died down, so we took a short break from our studies, but I still wasn’t very much closer to discovering the secrets to dragon smithing. The words were beyond challenging to pronounce, and even Zenda’s education was put to the test. My eyes burned from staring at the parchment, and I rubbed them with the back of my hand. I wouldn’t let myself get frustrated, though, since I knew I had the answers within reach. I was tempted to reset back to my save point yet again so I could spend several more hours getting closer to my goal, but then I caught Zenda staring at me out of the corner of her eyes. She quickly looked away when I looked her way, and the purple blush on her neck darkened considerably. Zenda wanted me. It was worth the risk to try, and I had a save point on standby just in case, so I leaned across the couch to graze my lips softly against hers. The softness was tempting, but I controlled myself. Zenda gasped, and her sapphire eyes widened, but she didn’t pull away. It wasn’t our first kiss, but I’d been giving her lots of space since we’d returned to Bastianville, so it had been way too long since I’d last tasted her ocean flavors. I withdrew just enough to gaze deep into her mesmerizing eyes, and the swirling vortex of emotions pulled me in as time ceased to have meaning. “Bash…” Zenda breathed as she fluttered her eyelashes. “I… I think I’m ready.” I nodded, which caused our noses to rub together, but I claimed her mouth again without another word. I was more insistent this time, more passionate, and I slid my tongue past the boundary of her lips with an urgency caused by months of waiting. Zenda moaned and tilted her head to give me better access, and her hands clung to the front of my shirt like she would float away if she let go. I cupped her cheeks with gentle hands as the kiss deepened and continued, but my blood was like fire in my veins. I needed to feel all of her, every blue-tinted inch was a wonderland of adventure ahead of me. Then I came up for air to take a few calming breaths, and I smirked at the beautiful historian as I stood up. “We should put the books away before they get damaged,” I suggested. “Then we can really focus on this new experiment.” If Zenda was a cartoon character, she would have had hearts exploding out of her eyes at that moment, if the look of total adoration and love she gave me was any indication. The Zaborian beauty sighed as a playful smile curled the corners of her lips, but she didn’t say anything as she slid the hardbound volumes into her arms. Then she went down the hallway to put the books away in her room, but she swung her hips seductively as she walked away from me. As soon as the door to her bedroom clicked shut, I stomped my foot to activate the fleetness ability of my griffon feather boots, and I dashed up the stairs to the bedroom I shared with my wives and lover. The ladies had cleaned it that morning before leaving the house, but I turned down the blankets and lit a couple of candles. Then I closed the curtains, and I grabbed one of the flowers in the vase on top of the dresser to scatter the petals in a trail from the door to the bed. I stomped my foot again to get back downstairs before Zenda emerged from her room, and by the time she returned to the living room, I was once again lounging casually on the sofa. I stood up and crossed the distance to her in a couple of long strides, but then I slid one hand behind her neck and the other onto the curve of her lower back. Zenda gasped when I tugged her against me, and her lips parted ever so slightly, so I didn’t hesitate to claim her mouth with my own. The historian melted against me, and I was deliciously aware of the curves of her body pressed into all the right places. When her breathing grew rapid and her pupils dilated, I nibbled on her lower lip before pulling back to gaze into her half-lidded sapphire eyes. “Are you sure you’re ready?” I asked. “Now would be the time to stop if you’re not.” “Yes.” Zenda nodded. “I… I want you, Bash.” “Oh, Zenda, I’ve wanted you since the moment we first met.” I smirked. “It would be an honor to introduce you to a world of incomparable pleasure.” The Zaborian goddess bit her lower lip as a mixture of excitement and nervousness flooded her gaze, so I kissed her again until she was putty in my hands once more. Then I scooped her into my arms, and I carried her up the stairs toward the bedroom. “You’re so strong,” Zenda sighed as she wrapped her arms around my neck and rested her head on my shoulder. “You barely weigh anything!” I laughed. “It’s like carrying a bag of feathers.” “You mean a pillow?” Zenda giggled. I nudged open the bedroom door with my foot, and I placed Zenda on her feet just inside the threshold. Her observant eyes immediately scanned the room to take in the flower petals and candles, and a pleased smile lifted her lips. Then I took her gently by the hand, and I led her closer to the bed. Zenda hesitated, so I paused to give her a questioning look. The historian’s eyes twinkled, but she lifted her hands to the clasp of her robe, and the cyan fabric fell away in a fluid motion. Then the Zaborian goddess stood before me in all her bare-skinned glory, and it was like the clouds parting to reveal the sun. My mouth fell open as I took in her uniquely gorgeous body, and my gaze lowered at a tantalizingly slow pace to trace the lines of her collarbone to the supple rise of her breasts. Her areolas were a navy hue, and they were already stiffened beneath my attention. There were darker shades of blue where she’d gotten less sun exposure, and even some green and purple hues in the shadows of her beautiful tits. She was a living work of art, and I could have just stared at her for hours. Then my eyes fell to the lithe curve of her abdomen and the slope of her narrow hips, but I couldn’t shake the similarities to the females on Avatar. A thin line of light-green hair decorated the mound between her legs, and my mouth watered as I imagined what she tasted like. Her thighs were soft, more light-purple than blue, and I wanted to bury my face between them. I swallowed hard as I returned my gaze to her sapphire-blue eyes, and Zenda’s pleased smile told me everything I needed to know. “You’re absolutely stunning, Zenda,” I said. Then I took her by the hand and led her the rest of the way to the bed. “T-Thank you.” Zenda’s bottom lip trembled slightly, and goosebumps rose on her arms. She had a submissive air about her that was making my cock throb, and I struggled to maintain my composure. I kept my clothes on, but I kicked off my griffon feather boots before I followed her onto the bed. There was fear in her eyes, but still the twinkle of excitement, so I kissed her again. Zenda arched her back to press her body against mine, and I groaned into her mouth as my hands slid down the length of her form. Her curves were soft and inviting, and my fingers itched to spread her legs open and go straight to the heart of the matter, but we had the rest of our lives to fuck like animals. The first time should be special. Once Zenda’s breathing came in ragged pants again, I trailed my lips along her jawline and down her throat, and I planted wet kisses on her collarbone. My hands explored her skin with the softest touches I could manage, and she shivered with delight when my fingers grazed over the silky skin of her breasts. I pushed myself a little lower and laid on my side so I could reach all the important places with my mouth and hands, and I locked Zenda in my gaze as I flicked my tongue across the hard nub of her nipple. The loud gasp that erupted out of her made me chuckle, but I repeated the motion a few more times until she was squirming to get closer to me. My fingers teased the skin around her other nipple in slow spirals, and her chest rose and fell heavily with each breath she took. “How does that feel?” I asked as I paused my ministrations. “Do you like that?” “Um, yes?” Zenda sighed. “I-I-I feel strange…” “It’s just going to get better and better,” I warned her. Then I trailed my fingers down her ribs and began to circle her belly button, but my spirals drifted outward inch by inch until my digits caressed the sensitive skin above her pussy. Zenda squirmed, and her thighs twitched like she was about to spread open her legs, but then she settled back down, so I continued my caresses and kisses. The blue-skinned goddess clamped her eyes shut as she submitted to the sensations coursing through her, but her mouth hung open in a silent moan. Next, I followed the path of my fingers with my tongue until a slick trail shone in the candlelight. I paused once I reached her mound, and I caressed her thighs until the muscles in her legs relaxed. Then I slowly pushed them apart as I repositioned myself between them. “What are you doing?” Zenda inhaled sharply as her sapphire eyes cut into me. “Is it okay if I kiss you here?” I asked as I flicked a teasing finger across her slit. “Ohhh!” Zenda gasped, but her legs spread even more, so I took that as a yes. Without any further hesitation, I dipped my head to her well of pleasure, and I slowly licked her from bottom to top. Her juices dripped out to meet my tongue, and the fruity sweet nectar tasted like a dessert made for a king. “Oh, Zenda, you taste so good,” I groaned, and I struggled to control my urge to devour her like a ravenous animal. “I-I-I do?” Zenda giggled in a nervous manner. “It isn’t… gross?” “Far from it,” I reassured her, but then I could wait no longer, and I returned to the delicious Zaborian feast in front of me. I dug in with gusto, and I lapped up the flavors like I was annihilating an ice cream cone. Zenda moaned and wiggled her hips, but she had no idea the heights I was about to take her to. This might be her first time, but I considered myself an expert in the art of cunnilingus. Sweat dappled along her abdomen and forehead, but she peered down at me with such rapt fascination that it reminded me of an alien observing a human specimen. I could see her mind trying to process all the new types of stimulation she was experiencing, but the shock and confusion on her face would soon be replaced by ecstatic bliss. After I got her good and wet, I slowly spiraled my tongue closer and closer to her clit until she was panting, and her eyes closed once more. Her node of pleasure was swollen and throbbing by the time I gently flicked my tongue across it, and she twitched her hips compulsively. I chuckled into her inner thigh as I withdrew slightly, but once her breathing returned to normal, I sucked her clit into my mouth and massaged it with my tongue. “Wha--” Zenda tried to speak, but her words fell silent, and her wide sapphire eyes stared unfocused at the ceiling. She was about to climax. I couldn’t help the grin lifting my cheeks as I attacked her clit like my life depended on it, and I built up the pressure and tension until her hips were lifting in rhythm with my motions. I worked her up almost to the breaking point, but then I backed off only to repeat the process all over again. When Zenda’s slender fingers instinctively found their way to my hair with a vise-like grip, I knew she was ready, so I cupped her ass cheeks, lifted her dripping wet slit to my lips, and stared straight into her eyes as I tongue fucked her. The Zaborian beauty drew her eyebrows together as her lips pouted, and then I returned my focus to her clit. A few well-placed hard flicks of my tongue sent her entire body in spasms, and her love juices gushed from her tunnel to drench my mouth. “Ooooh, Bash!” Zenda squealed as her hips began to gyrate. “What is happening to me?” I didn’t answer, and instead, I slipped a single finger inside her tight, wet pussy. Zenda’s back arched as her eyes flew open, but I lowered my mouth to her clit again. I gently thrust my digit in and out of her entrance until I felt her internal muscles relax, and then I added another finger. I curled my fingers up and in until I found the extra-sensitive spot with the textured ridges while I simultaneously massaged her clit with my tongue, and Zenda froze as another orgasm flooded her senses. My hand was coated in her slippery wetness, but that only lubricated my movements even more. “Oh, my!” Zenda stiffened, and the look of sheer bliss I’d been waiting for slid onto her face. I brought her back down to reality slowly, but I continued to gently thrust a single finger in and out of her slippery tunnel. I could feel the resistance of her hymen, but her entire body was completely relaxed, so I knew she would experience minimal discomfort. “Bash,” Zenda murmured as she began to squirm. “I need… Something…” “What do you want, Zenda?” I asked as I breathed hotly on her abdomen. “I want…” She tossed her head from side to side. “Something deep inside me is screaming for more.” “Do you want to feel me inside you?” I asked. Zenda’s eyes flew open, but there was no fear in her gaze as she nodded. Then her vision trailed down to my clothes, and she cocked one eyebrow pointedly. I chuckled as I yanked my shirt over my head, and I wiggled out of my pants as fast as I could. Once I was completely naked, I stretched out on the bed beside the sweat-dappled beauty, and I gave her a moment to take in the sight of me before I continued. Zenda’s eyes trailed down my ripped chest to where my cock stood at attention, and her sapphire gaze widened as she took in my size. “Will it… fit?” She bit her lip in an adorably naive fashion. “Like a glove,” I promised. “I’ll go slow at first so you can get used to me.” Zenda nodded as her lips found mine, and this time, she led the intensity of the kiss. The blue-skinned goddess wrapped her arms around my neck, and she pressed her hips against mine as our tongues twirled together. I co