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    Thread: Gods Chosen?

    1. #11
      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      Chapter 21: Attacks...on Multiple Fronts

      By breakfast time the next day she was ready. She boldly informed everyone that the Duke had sent his ‘slut daughter’ to seduce James... right in front of the Royal Family... and she wouldn’t have it.

      “He what!??” Cherry asked as she got told the whole truth, that the word got out Cherry had stayed, and now everyone thought that they had a chance at James too. “She might be the kind to jump into every bed she comes to, but James isn’t like that, he’s a decent man.” She declared as even her mother admitted he was something special... but he was a man... and sooner rather than later his needs would over take his reason...if approached the right way.

      “So, you’re worried that some outsider will get your favorite toy?” Cassandra asked, as Catherine gave her a dirty look for it. “If thats the case...I’ll go.” She announced as Cherry jumped to her feet demanding she stay away from James.

      “You failed to get his attention, so why not?” She asked as Cherry was quick to say she had his attention just fine, but he wasn’t the kind of man to rush into these things.”I wonder how many others will show up out there, his house only has 6 bedrooms, so they might need to start doubling up.” She hinted as Cherry’s face burst into such a red tint that it might start flaming any second.

      “I’ll go...” Cherry declared as John almost choked on his breakfast.” he’s my friend and my project, if anyone in this family gets him it’ll be me.” She declared as her mom cheered her on and John saw his chances at a quiet resolution of this matter going out the window.

      “It seems my thoughts on the matter don’t count here.” he said loudly, as the entire room stopped dead. John got to his feet and threw down his napkin onto the table and announced that if ANY of his girls went out there and got pregnant that ‘they need never return to this castle again’ and even Caroline sat down with a thump. John seldom put his foot down around her, but once he did that was that, and he stormed from the room into his office and everyone looked around at a loss for words.

      “Fine then, I was getting tired living here anyways.” Cherry decided as Catherine looked like she had something to say but she couldn’t get it out, and Cherry had her horse readied and she loaded what cloths she thought a working Adventurer needed, and was gone before noon.

      Queen Catherine was walking on egg shells when she went into the office to talk to John later on and as she asked if he was serious, he asked if Cherry went anyways, and she agreed.

      “Then thats what I wanted to know.” He admitted as she looked lost.” If she’s willing to give up on her Family, her Title and life here for a man, then its not a childish crush.” he said seriously as Catherine smiled really wide...it was his own test of her feelings...and she passed.

      “And you were right, there’s no one in our Kingdom better suited for her then someone she’d change her entire life for.” He announced... like it was some great wisdom... and Catherine gave him a kiss and said she was proud of him and he didn’t look too proud at the moment.

      Cherry was standing knocking on the door a while later and when the maid answered it she didn’t seem too surprised.

      “Is my regular room empty?” She asked and was told it was.” That’ll do fine then.” She said and walked in looking all around and found Sherry laying around the living room on what was obviously a new sofa that just arrived.

      “Hello, Sherry...” She said softly, as the other girl jumped up and smiled.

      “Princess Cherry I presume? I must say I’m a bit surprised to see you back so soon.” She heard as Cherry made it very clear she wasn’t a Princess anymore, she was an Adventurer in training, and she’d earn her own way from now on...as Sherry’s face went white... and she saw the competition getting serious right before her eyes.

      “What does your Father think of this?” Sherry asked and was just as astonished to hear it was all his idea, and that one way or another, Cherry was here to stay.

      “Where’s James?” Cherry asked, as she was told the head cook demanded a smoke house for curing meat, and so James was getting a lot of stone for the construction, and the men were out back now measuring the perfect spot to put it.”And no one’s protecting him?” She asked and turned on a dime and went back out to her horse and in a minute she was away and Sherry saw she’d be asked to do more than sitting around and hiding from her father here if she was going to keep up.

      James was working hard trying to get enough cut rock for the construction when a horse rode up and he saw Cherry back, in full Adventurer mode, and he just shook his head and smiled.

      “Princess, I see your back.” he said stopping for a break, as she informed him she gave up being a Princess and she was here to guard him from animals while he worked, and he looked shocked.

      “And the King?” He asked softly as she left him know John demanded it, saying if any of his daughters left the house and got pregnant they were being disowned.”Then you just need to..” James started as she asked him if he was a man or not....just like that...and he admitted he was.

      “A real man would admit he has feelings and not ask a woman to do all the talking for him.” She demanded and got off her horse and watched as he finally got the work done, and they went back to the house together.

      “So there really is a little bit of your mother in there somewhere.” James hinted, as they were putting the horses away for the day, and she admitted she knew he wouldn’t be pushed into things like her dad was, but he needed to know she was here to stay, and he admitted he saw that now, and they both felt they gained something that first day.


      Chapter 22: Earning a Living, One Heart Attack at a Time


      They walked in together and James announced that he was sure they had enough stone for the meat house now and the cook thanked him.

      “Now if the employees bunkhouse was finished,” he hinted, as James asked what he was talking about, he walked through it himself and it seemed fine to him. “ During the last hard rain we watched it carefully, because Winter will be coming soon.” he hinted as James agreed.

      “The wind blows through cracks around all the windows and doors. It’ll take a miracle and a LOT of firewood to keep people from freezing when cold weather comes.” he mentioned and walked away and James looked tired thinking he had more work to do.

      He walked out back and told the crew to check the bunkhouse too and let him know how best to make it more wind proof and warmer and they agreed as they seemed to be getting the little 8 foot square smoke house done in a day, and James was happy with that.

      The crew decided that the bunkhouse was usable, barely but to make it more wind proof for winter it needed another layer of wood, running the opposite direction from the original walls so the cracks would all be covered and they could even do a more ‘finished’ look to it making the entire thing look better than a rough building people just happened to live in.

      James dropped two more bundles of Oak there for them and they went to work on that and when it was done it looked as nice as the main house, and it didn’t cost him that much either since he was a regular customer now.

      “Now if someone just did some hunting,” James heard, as he turned to see Sherry there with a bow and quiver, smiling.” Any ideas where to look?” She asked as James just laughed and ask if she was any good with that, and she fired a shot into a post 30 feet away and a second one that actually touched the first, and she just waved her hand that direction and James agreed that was good enough.

      “We should ask Stanley, he’s my farmer, he got a nice pig last week that was eating his garden.” James added and they went for a ride to talk to him and see how that happened.

      The story was...Stanley caught a small pig eating the green pumpkins and rushed in and killed it with a hoe, and that gave them enough meet for a while and saved them some cash, as James agreed.

      “Next time you get something big, we now have a smoke house at the main house, bring it there and we’ll cure it for you.” James offered, and Sherry added...for a small donation...as James gave her a dirty look, but Stanley just laughed saying it was only right.

      “Now about the pigs, we’ve seen a small group over there.” He said pointing to the tree line about a hundred yards away. “There are some deer too, large ones, more than I could drag myself, so this pig was a Gods sent for us.” he admitted and James said that they were just thinking of doing some hunting and needed as much info as they could get.

      “My brothers asked about hunting here,” Stan’s wife asked, walking over,” and we said we didn’t know what rules you might have on that.” She hinted, as James said if they were hunting for themselves, fine or to help his friends here but no commercial hunting, that would ruin it for everyone.

      “If they take down a big pig or a deer,” Sherry added quickly,” drop a bit off at the house for taxes.” She said with a wink and Stanley laughed and agreed, and they rode out to the woods to check it out as James asked when he appointed her his negotiator, and she laughed saying he needed one.” People don’t expect to get anything for free.” She added and even he had to admit that was true.

      They stopped by a crossing in the stream where a lot of footprints were using it from the fields on one side to the woods on the other. James got off and saw some deer tracks and put one finger inside one and did a search, and when Sherry asked if he saw anything he admitted that they just crossed here, and one was watching them even now.

      She looked very carefully around and maybe 30 yards out she saw a set of horns moving behind some brush.

      “Don’t move...” She hinted as James pretended to keep checking the track and after a little careful calculations an arrow went flying, and immediately after crashing was heard,as the deer ran into the woods at top speed. She rode across the stream and stopped where she had seen it and not 5 steps away was a puddle of blood, a big one.

      “Good shot.” James said as he rode over too and she pointed in the direction it ran in.” When did you learn to hunt?” He asked as she reminded him her dad was a hermit, and every member of his family had ‘hobbies’ to keep them busy since they weren’t allowed out for any other reason.

      She walked along slowly looking for a while turning here and there, then cheered and pointed and James rode over to a nice buck laying there with her arrow in it.He got off and tied a rope to it and around the horn on his saddle and they walked slowly back to the house, and the cook was impressed saying they would eat well this week, and a lot cheaper than buying everything in the castle.

      “The Hunter Guild jacks up prices really bad.” James heard as Cherry came out to see. “ I thought you knew that much.” She added, as Sherry nodded saying it was standard for any guild, and James just said he bought stuff because he just couldn’t be everywhere at once, and they left it go for now.

      “Delegation...” James heard, as the cook started cutting up the deer and waved them all away so he could get it done.

      “ A Noble doesn’t do everything himself.” Cherry mentioned as Sherry agreed.

      “But I cant afford to pay to get everything done.” he insisted as the girls looked tired trying to help him see the truth.

      “ Don’t worry, we’ll teach you how its done.” Sherry said leaning on Cherry’s shoulder, and she agreed and James started feeling like he was back in school again.


    2. #12
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      Chapter 23: Learning to Take Advantage


      Breakfast the next day, and James had no idea what the girls had in store for him.

      He finished eating and went to leave and got pushed right back down into his seat.

      “Now we’re going to teach you how to be more successful than you are now,and believe me it’s not going to be hard.” Sherry said as Cherry agreed. “ First, you’ve been buying a lot of food for the estate because you keep going on Adventures instead of hunting. Yesterday in 4 hours we got a nice deer, so, what is a nice deer worth if you have to buy it?” She asked, and the cook walked out and said, 3 Gold, and James thought that was about right.

      “Lesson 1...” Cherry said as James smiled and waited.” anything you don’t have to spend money on is INCOME.” She added as Sherry agreed. “ So going hunting yesterday you made 3 Gold, more than you would in the same time Adventuring, because you didn’t have to spend it for food.”

      “Lesson 2,” Sherry said, as James almost started to laugh.” I mentioned, politely, yesterday that hunting on your property was fine...if they give you a bit of their haul before leaving, again...free food equals free cash.” She hinted as the cook agreed.

      “If we get more than we can use, we can always sell it.” He added as James saw that might be true.

      “Once they get a garden going, we get a bit of that too, as part of your contract agreement, right?” He asked as James agreed. “Have you asked if anything is growing yet, or did you just think you’d wait until next year?” He asked as James admitted they had green pumpkins that he knew of for sure, and the man nodded happily.

      “Half of everything they grow belongs to you, don’t forget to ask.” Cherry said as James admitted he never thought of it yet because Stanley and his wife would need food too.

      “I gave him seeds for the pumpkins, and he said something about getting pepper seeds from his dad.” James admitted and was quickly told that peppers made many great dinners and James agreed.

      “Where did you get the pumpkin seeds?” He was asked and he told the story of farms that were abandoned when he was out doing missions, and he told them about the last one where they got caught by a entire wolf pack and they killed more than 20 to finish the mission.

      “And he never brought a single animal home.” The cook announced, and James said they were only wolves, mission animals,and he got told that a wolf steak was just as tasty as a beef steak and boars were even better tasting than domestic pigs. “You never went on a mission and killed boars?” he asked as James admitted he had.

      “ 20 dead wolves...lets see, so then thats 20 hides, 20 carcasses, that would be around...” Cherry started figuring and finally just guessed.” Oh maybe half a TON of meat.” She hinted and James even looked shocked they walked away from that.

      “ 20 wolf hides, that alone is about 400 silver or 4 Gold.” Sherry added and James saw they were leaving cash laying around everywhere, and the girls agreed thats exactly what they were doing.

      “We have been getting a lot of wolf missions, they are out of control in places.” James admitted and Sherry said not to worry, because they were going along from now on, and James tried to say that Adventuring was hard work and dangerous... and he saw right away their minds were made up and he lost that fight before it got started.

      “We wont let him forget from now on, and a mission that pays 50 silver will now be worth real Gold.” Sherry added as the cook gave them a big thumbs up and went back into the kitchen and the girls walked away looking very pleased with themselves.

      Two days later James made a doorway and when the Team turned to look... out walked three people... and the sight of Cherry’s hair alone caused jaws to drop.

      “What the Hell are you doing?” Janice demanded as James told them all to stop and listen and the girls each told their stories and after a minute things got quiet.” So...you’re not a Princess anymore?” Janice asked as Cherry said from that day forward she was just an Adventurer like everyone else, and Mabel rushed them to her office to get them signed up right away.

      “In the name of the Gods...you brought your harem to work?” Janice whispered as James made positively sure everyone knew he wasn’t doing anything with either of them, and men all around the room looked sad for him, and his own Team wasn’t any better.

      “I knew it...” Someone hinted as James demanded to know what he thought he knew, as the room all turned away from him and his mouth dropped at their sad looks. “They want to go Adventuring, and I promised I’d take them, like they gave me a choice.” he added as a few people nodded they understood.

      “All done here.” Cherry called waving her Guild card around. “ Lets go Adventuring!” And Janice agreed too and they took a mission to chase boars from a farmers land before they destroyed his crops for the year, and after an hour of shooting and slashing 6 large animals lay dead, and the mission was done.

      “They know their stuff.” Ira mentioned as Janice admitted they were better than she thought.

      “James...” Sherry called, pointing, as they all looked around and two of the big pigs went through his door and Adam asked why.

      “Why buy pork when we can get it for free.” Sherry added as even Janice admitted it made sense.” Those two were worth maybe 2 Gold each, and you were going to let them lay here right?” She asked, and they admitted they were here just for the cash and had never thought of it.

      “Then these others are worth Gold too?” Adam asked like it finally sunk in, and Cherry admitted they could probably sell them to some restaurant in town, and they loaded them on one horse and rode back and got paid again from the same mission.

      “I cant believe we’ve been leaving all this cash behind.” Ira mentioned after they got their shares and everyone cheered and went to the bar, and there things happened just like before, with mouths hanging open all around, until James quickly took the girls home, and people could talk more when he wouldn’t hear.

      “He swears their just friends but the blond says she gave up being a Princess for him.” One man said as even Janice and the Team agreed.

      “If he has man parts at all this BS wont last.” One big man said loudly.” There’s not a man around that can turn down girls that look like that forever. So I bet he has one pregnant in 2 months.” he said loudly and bets were taken, and the list hidden away so they would never know, and James’s manhood went on the line.


      Chapter 24: Sweating and Betting

      They did a few easy jobs to see what the girls could do, and they seemed pretty happy just earning their own way for a change. Of course there were others that demanded that John would never disown his daughter, but they kept it quiet when she was around, and soon they all were friends and getting along as well as anyone else.

      “With this Team we can do bigger missions.” Adam mentioned, as James said not to because he didn’t want them to get hurt, and Sherry gave him a big hug for saying it, and seemed to hold on for a second longer, and Cherry stopped her cold saying ‘they had a deal’ and everyone else just laughed.

      “We’ve done some middle of the road stuff already and they have shown they have good skills.” Janice added as the girls thanked her for saying so, and James just looked away acting grumpy.

      “If you don’t want them hurt... then take them home and chain them to the bed.” Ira mentioned as Sherry jumped up screaming ME,ME! And Janice looked away to keep from laughing in James’s face when she saw his reaction.

      “Sherry...really?” Cherry asked, as Sherry settled back down for a while again.

      “You three are a comedy act, you know that?” Janice asked, as James just growled a bit while the girls laughed.

      “We do tease him pretty badly.” Cherry did admit while Janice gave her a big wink and asked if they were really teasing, and her face got red and she looked away.

      Another week, another mission. This one a little bigger and James wasn’t too happy about it. But they did great and this time some bandits got caught and handed into the authorities and Gold changed hands... and another young horse went into the barn... and James saw his thoughts of having a horse ranch getting closer.

      Sherry, with her nice figure and shoulder length brown hair and out going attitude, became everyones favorite archer, and Cherry with her bright yellow hair and great figure became everyone’s choice to be ‘lost in the woods with’ and the girls just laughed it off like it meant nothing while James spent every second watching to make sure no one did anything odd to them in the bar.

      But things like this cant go unnoticed, and both Duke Mennington and King John got reports saying the girls were making friends,and James was doing a great job protecting them.

      The Duke felt like he had done the right thing, she was a little slutty after all, in his mind... and now she was a legally wed wife... or she would be if he got his way.And some distance away a similar idea was getting tossed around at a different Castle.

      “Adventuring, right along side those bar hoppers James runs with?” John mentioned, as Catherine just smiled and said she saw them one day in town and they all looked really happy. “ So...you think then...?” he hinted, as she finally laughed and said,’eventually,yes’ and he decided that Cherry was a grown woman now and he’d wait to see when she’d come home for a visit, and tell them all her secrets.

      “I’m too young to be a Grandfather...” he hinted as Catherine gave him a dirty look and asked why he was the one worried about it, and he laughed as she gave him a big kiss saying that was one daughter down and only two to go.

      Another month closer to Winter and more improvements. Swimming in the pool might be great exercise and a way to get a quick bath too, but with temperatures dropping into the 60‘s things got a little chilly. So James went to the Guilds and after some talking they made him a tub. It was large and made of brass, the cheapest metal they could get locally, but it was 6 feet wide and 2 feet deep and once it got filled it stayed warm for quite a while.

      It even had a small tray underneath, and one small shovel of warm coals from any fireplace and the water stayed nice and warm for even longer.And this got added to the downstairs bathroom and things got even more comfortable.

      The cook got a new apprentice, and the stable hand a second helper, and slowly the Estate took on an air of completion, even though James was sure it was only in his mind.

      A team of hunters stopped by on the way out saying they had permission to be there and dropped off a large boar as payment, and since James and the ladies had been sending food back steadily the smokehouse was full, and they sold this one and another 3 Gold went into the house funds at the bank, now over 10 Gold for the first time.

      James was getting pretty happy the way things were going, and even though he was under pressure from not only the Guilds and friends but now even Cherry and Sherry got into it more often.Cherry knocked and asked to come in one night when they got ready for bed, but James talked his way out of it, and Sherry just opened the door and climbed in the tub with him while he was soaking and even his anger didn’t stop her, and after a few minutes they shared the tub...and some rather obvious advances.

      “We wont give up you know.” She hinted as James freely admitted as much.” It really is men isnt it?” She whispered softly but the second she got his attention it was obvious that wasn’t the case.

      “I care about you both but I’m not the kind to do things just for fun. And if I had to choose a wife, there’s someone who gave up a lot more than you to be here.” he hinted while looking sad and Sherry burst out laughing.

      “Every Noble has an OFFICIAL wife, but that doesn’t mean she’s the only one. I never wanted to be your wife, but, living here is too great to leave, and you know me well enough to know that I love my men and relaxing, so thats no trouble for me at all. Make Cherry your wife and I’ll just be here as an Adventurer, and maybe share a tub once in a while. She hinted and made a move that surprised him, and while they didn’t have sex...exactly...she was a lot happier, and James understood things a lot more after that.


    3. #13
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      Chapter 25: Family


      Sherry and Cherry had a serious talk and Sherry told her what was said and she seemed OK with it. Then she admitted she got a little ahead, and explained what happened and Cherry looked embarrassed enough to explode.

      “You can do that?” She whispered as Sherry smiled and said ‘oh ya..’ and Cherry didn’t know if she believed her or not.”You really don’t know anything do you?” She asked, as Cherry admitted she had a tutor at the castle and she learned a lot from them.

      “And they taught you nothing like this?” Sherry asked as Cherry agreed.”Then you were ripped off. This is just normal stuff men and women do. Some for fun... some for children... and even though I can say James knows not much more than you. He’s a great guy and worth being with, right?” She asked as Cherry smiled and agreed. “Then get in there and get married, my place isn’t up front being seen, and I’m happy with that.” She admitted and a deal was done and Cherry went back to James’s door that night and knocked...and this time he left her in.

      At breakfast the next day it was like light and dark, Cherry was smiling too wide to express and her whole laid back attitude said she was more than just relaxed, and she was happy showing it.

      “So...how was it?” Sherry asked right out and Cherry didn’t hesitate to say it was ‘wonderful’ and Sherry got the biggest laugh and got growled at for ruining the mood.”That really was your first time huh? Oh I remember that too, and it was a magical moment. But now that you two are past that, things get even better.” She hinted as James almost choked on his food, and Cherry asked how things could possibly get better than that, and Sherry just smiled and said ‘you’ll see’, and left it go for now.

      But the word got out quickly and it didn’t take James long to see he had at least one spy in his house. One maid, Doria always seemed happy to hear things being said, or was always just walking by at important moments, and after one such time when it got mentioned they should invite the King and Queen over, they got a message asking if they could come...within a day.

      He wasn’t quite as sure about Frank, his new stable hand, he was totally serious even when he didn’t need to be, and that reminded James of someone, so he left some hints drop that he and Sherry were getting along great, and at that the man finally smiled for once, and the message got sent.

      It was getting late in the Fall and winter was just a round the corner, and so James decided that they’d have a celebration of the Harvest, something many towns did, and invite all the in laws to their feast. It wasn’t like he thought Garret would come, but then he was a hermit, and James had the ultimate weapon to see to it he arrived.

      He left the message out saying the next really warm day, it would be an outside feast around the pool with a bonfire and drinks and James would introduce his entire staff to the families there. Garret got the message of course and his wife was all ready to go, but he refused saying traveling on roads so far was suicide and he wouldn’t think of it, but then at noon that day as King John sat by the pool having a drink and smiling as the girls all got their last day of swimming in, James stood and yelled ‘are you ready?’ And Sherry ran out of the house dressed in her Adventurers cloths and agreed, as James gave everyone a suspicious wink, closed his eyes for a minute and said: “Give me a doorway,” and opened a door, and Sherry ran through.

      “That never ceases to amaze me.” John hinted as everyone there agreed.

      The door opened right in front of the throne room and Garret jumped up looking shocked and his wife the Duchess Shirley Mennington looked surprised but thrilled when Sherry ran through.

      “Lets go! There’s no traveling today!” She screamed as Garret protested, but Sherry and Shirley had him by the arms and in a minute they went back through, along with Sherry’s younger sister, Judy. In a second they were standing by the pool as James welcomed them, and Garret’s family got out for the first time in ages. Judy got a swim suit from her sister and joined in as Garret sat in a nice chair slowly having a drink while looking at all the pretty women in skimpy cloths and even the Queen was there and she smiled and waved at him, and he forced himself to look away.

      “Nice to see you out Duke.” John hinted, as Garret agreed it was a nice day and he seemed pretty safe seeing the Royal Guards watching over the party, so he did his best to smile while Sherry knew for sure that trip gave him a heart attack.

      “Its not that I hate being out with Royalty...” he started as John just smiled,” but the roads these days are hazardous to travel on, why just this past year I lost 4 convoys and my daughter was kidnaped for ransom. I swear we need more patrols to safe guard our lands.” he went on and John agreed, saying that with the help of Adventurers like James and his Team more bandits were being brought in every day, and Garret looked impressed saying he hadn’t known James was still working, as John just laughed and many others had that big grin, knowing he only worried about what Sherry was doing and not a lot of info got sent back so far.

      “These are the people who are serving us today..” James announced as his little staff bowed for the Royalty there and were told they were doing a great job.” Of course Garret knows Frank here, he came from your Castle to work here didn’t he? And Doria there is from John’s castle so I would imagine she works for the Queen, right Your Majesty?” James asked as Catherine looked a little embarrassed to say the least and John gave James a nice round of applause for his assessment of the situation.

      “Well...( cough, hack) she is my daughter after all.” Garret got out as Catherine just added that she was sure a little extra security would be needed since a Princess lived here now. And James got the biggest laugh, right along side King John and Catherine just laid back to relax while she had the chance and James accepted them both saying someday they might well be needed, and everyone agreed.

      “And to make things clear...” James said loudly, as everyone looked his way,” Is anyone unhappy living here?” he asked as both girls smiled and said they were very happy here, and they got smiles all around.

      “Oh and I hear congratulations are in order...” Catherine hinted as people looked oddly as Cherry’s face burst into redness.

      “Yes,” James added quickly,” I asked and Cherry will be my First wife, and Sherry my second, right?” he asked with a wink and they both agreed and the place got a rousing round of cheers and Cassandra waited and asked how good was he..and Cherry said she’d see to it she never knew... and they both laughed.

      “ooh, an older sister...” James whispered as Cherry said not to even consider it, and Casi looked embarrassed but happy he took that moment to tease his new wife.

      “Just remember...I’m...” John started as he heard a loud ‘ahem’ and he rethought it.” WE’RE too young to be grandparents yet, so do be careful.” he added as the girls both growled saying they weren’t stupid and James agreed saying they would be careful... but only the Gods had full control... and everyone just smiled at that.

      “Don’t worry Catherine,you’ll be the most beautiful Grandmother ever conceived of.” James hinted, as her face went red and she thanked him for saying so, and Garret looked faint that James could speak that way to the Queen and get away with it.

      “He’s got mom figured out already.” Cassandra whispered as Cherry just chuckled and agreed.

      Chapter 26: Outlaws and In-laws


      Getting ready for the Winter months took top priority now. James transported tons of firewood to a pile behind the house and the stable hands stacked it neatly between the house and the bunkhouse for employees. Winter was a cold windy couple months with lots of rain, but luckily they were safe enough inside and even as the stream swelled to three times its normal size, things stayed safe. even though during one storm James spent the night watching if it would reach the house, but it never did.

      The Holidays came and went and soon Spring was just around the corner and everyone was never happier to see that first 60 degree day after weeks of cold and rain.

      “We survived!” Sherry cheered running all around the yard laughing as Cherry got a good chuckle at her attitude. “Longest three months ever!” She said as even Cherry agreed it really dragged on.

      “Now we can think about getting back to work.” James said and they both agreed and went to Cartilage for the first time in weeks, and many people cheered for them as the doorway opened and out they walked and a few looked sad as James finally asked why.

      “I lost good money because of you.” One man screamed, and finally James heard all about it and the girls laughed saying they purposely were being careful so King John didn’t have a heart attack screaming he was too young to be a grandfather.And the room got a good laugh out of that.

      “So, where is everyone?” Sherry asked and they were told the other half of the team took a quest to rid some farm of trouble makers, and when she asked why they didn’t tell them they got laughed at saying ‘some people need to eat a little more often’ and James admitted they were off for quite a while.

      “How about this one?” James asked pointing to the board and Cherry smiled and agreed. It was a quest to stop animals from killing and eating fresh plants just starting to grow on a farm, and she reminded James that the smokehouse was just about empty too, and he agreed. And in an hour they were done, 2 large pigs arrived back at the Estate and they made their first Gold of the year.

      Then they returned to the same area and after a short hunt, killed 2 more and sent them to town for sale and in their first day the house account started back up from the few silver it had fallen to during the Winter.

      “That was a good first day.” Sherry said as she and James shared the big tub and she was rubbing her leg saying sitting around all Winter had made her soft. So being the perfect gentleman, James massaged her leg for her and she smiled thinking she hadn’t particularly liked him that first day but after thinking it she dove on him laughing saying she was so happy to be here, and in that moment she proved it.

      A day later as James gathered some more firewood he remembered that Stanley had a basic house with no place for his animals. No fences yet that he saw, and not barn. He did manage a small lean-to type thing with nothing but posts and a roof, and that helped but he dropped a nice sized pine tree, and made lumber out of it. Not the best but lots of it and sent it to Stanley’s house so he’d get some stuff for free.

      Of course Stan wouldn’t use it until he checked, and Sherry told him that it was his for anything he wanted to use it for, and he thanked them and ran back home. In the next week a wagonload of people went by waving, and when they left Stan had a small barn, more like a big shed, and a small fence, and he was ready for more animals again.

      “Another big improvement for Stanley.” James hinted and he got reminded that anything he added to his lands made their value go up, so even free lumber made new buildings and they made more work and more cash possible.

      “Speaking of which, Browny has been doing his job too, so it looks like your idea for a horse farm is getting started.” Cherry added as James just smiled and said it was OK with him, and they went looking for more work.

      By now they were in a nice steady rut, and things worked out well for them. But one day as a rider from the castle stopped by early he handed Cherry a bag and in it was 20 Gold and she looked surprised, as he handed her a note and rode away.

      It said: “ you haven’t been home for quite a while now and your allowance has been building up, so from now on we’ll send it right to you. Signed King John,” and James smiled wide and Cherry said they had disowned her for coming here, and she was shocked.

      “You never believed that did you?” James asked as she just shrugged her shoulders and gave him a huge hug. “Come on, I’ll take you to the bank to deposit this.” he said and away they went and got that little job done, as Sherry stood by watching and finally screamed ‘my father is soo cheap he hasn’t sent me a single silver in all these months!’ and went inside... as the message got sent.

      Two days later and 10 Gold arrives and a note saying ‘come get it next time’ and she laughed and James just shook his head. Another trip while on their way out for work, and it started looking like James wasn’t going to have to worry so bad about paying everyone ever again as their bank account passes 100 Gold for the first time.


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      Chapter 27: Gathering for the Future...Far and Wide


      On one quest they were riding back when James stopped to see some cattle wandering around an old grown up field eating and he sat there for a minute and everyone asked why.

      “We’re miles from the nearest working farm, so where did all these cattle come from?” He wondered and after a minute thinking, it was decided that they were wild, probably from some of the farms that got destroyed when their owners got killed by bandits or thieves.

      “Anyone got a rope?” James asked as Sherry just laughed and said she could drop one from here, and he laughed saying that he wanted them alive, and everyone nodded that he had the perfect place for a few.

      Some were really big and shy and as he walked up slowly talking they scattered and fell back a bit. But a few were barely a year old, if that, and they were still pretty tame. He managed to get close and threw a rope around the neck of one and it fought for a second or two as he talked nice to it and it settled down after a while. He walked back to the Team with this one saying Stanley probably could use a milk cow at his place, and Sherry laughed out loud saying not this one, its a bull, and James looked embarrassed as people laughed at him.

      So he tried again, and this time he found a female and got a rope on it. It was a comedy act as it tried dragging him around the field but he finally tired it out and now he had 2 to take home.

      “You got 4 horses and now two cows...or cattle at least...” Adam mentioned and James said it made no sense to let them wander wild when he had fields with tons of free grass in them, and everyone agreed.

      “One male and one female both pretty young, we’re going to start raising our own beef it looks like.” Cherry added and James agreed and they walked them back through his doorway and he had them put into the fence behind the barm.

      “He’s learning..” Sherry whispered and even Janice agreed. “If you can get stuff for free don’t pass it up,” and James mentioned they’d keep their eyes open and maybe get another one later on, and everyone saw his little Estate becoming self sufficient pretty quickly.

      With the mules James gave him Stanley could do a lot more farming this Spring. His dad got him a small plow and the leather craft to go with it and now Stan had an acre of land in a garden and was still working on plowing another field beside that one. As he worked plowing, his wife walked along and planted, and by the first of Summer they had a good looking farm going, with two fields one with vegetables in it and one with grain, and everything seemed to be growing fast and strong, and James congratulated him for a good job, and Stanley looked pretty happy to.

      During the Spring James went to the meeting at the castle and had to report what he had done to improve himself since past meeting. He told them about getting a few horses to start breeding,and 2 young beef cattle and John smiled and nodded, and then he said his man Stanley was raising pumpkins and grain and a few other vegetables, and he didn’t know how well that would go since it was their first year. John agreed saying that he would be required to pay 10% in taxes at the next meeting and James agreed with a deep bow.

      Of course how do you measure 10% of a pumpkin, or a piece of grain, but when he asked Cherry she laughed at him as... well she should.

      “One pumpkin out of 10...” She hinted ,” or one animal out of ten, its not that hard dummy.” She hinted as James nodded sadly and looked away.

      “Even if things go well we might get another horse or two or maybe 1 new cow, so if its not 10 we don’t have to pay?” He asked as she looked away with a huge grin.

      “I’ll do the taxes, you just keep working like you always do.” She hinted and he left that to her, and he just went on gathering things or hunting for extra cash and by Fall they had done pretty well.

      Now the next meeting came, and while the Nobles sat in a row of seats watching it going on their people brought in their taxes and sat them along one wall. John nodded and approved or asked questions of a few who seemed to forget some things they had but didn’t report, and finally he called James’s name and James just waved to pointed to the door and in walked Cherry, in her Adventurers cloths, and two people carrying baskets of things and she informed the King that they were done for the year and what they had raised, in grand details, and how things had gone. Several bushels of food came in and one horse and she informed him that they expected to do double that next year, and he tried hard to hold a serious face as his daughter showed she really did remember her classes she took.

      “Fine...well done...” John said trying not to smile to wide.” Next!” And Cherry turned on a dime and walked back out, to be greeted by her mom and sisters and they said she looked great in that and that she really made a statement to Father that they could be business people too.

      “James isnt a good mathematician.” Cherry hinted as they all laughed.” So I’m in charge of our taxes and finances.” She bragged and everyone thought that was just great and they had lunch together while James was forced to sit through the whole boring thing until everyones taxes were either paid, or they got arrested.

      Then he was ready to go home and Catherine whispered that he hadn’t grown to many things this year, and after seeing what she meant he hinted that she hadn’t gotten much older either, and her daughters got the biggest laugh while James got scolded for teasing the Queen.

      “Maybe next year.” Cherry added as James agreed, and like it or not that became a contract, and he’d hear about that later.


      Chapter 28: Foes and Woes


      Even though everyone was having a grand time, not too far away others were not so lucky. King Aran lost half his army and almost as much of his fortune in his attempt to take over the entire Kingdom. But even though he failed badly he still hadn’t given up trying to find out why John had acted so differently towards the end. It wasn’t like him to order night raids, or attack and claim guard posts. He was all about sitting back and letting Nature take its course, and of course Nature smiles on the aggressive..or so he thought.

      He was sure that John was acting as a puppet of some powerful figure, and that was why he lost, not because John was a better King but because someone he didn’t know or understand was pulling the strings.

      Even when his advisors tried to explain to him that he had lost allies and friends because of it, he just growled because he didn’t really care about those anyways. But knowing up front that he’d take a decade to recoup his losses made him sick and with less people to deal with his economy was in the tank.

      “We must reach out to new people, open new trade lanes and then you can get the money back this war cost you. If you don’t there’s a chance the Kingdom will go broke and that would be a catastrophe!” One man said and Aran nodded he understood. But a diplomat or negotiator he really wasn’t, his skills were always in war and subterfuge, but to gain new allies and trading partners he decided he’d force himself to go and talk to those he hadn’t bothered with before.

      He would call it his Traders Tour, and knowing some people wouldn’t like seeing him coming, he took along a few friends, like a Master Wizard and the top 5 men in his Royal Guard.If he took too many it would look bad so these 6 would be enough, it would take a small army to defeat these, and he felt safe enough with them along.

      He sent out messages the day before he started, and when John saw it he looked tired just thinking about it.

      “He lost a lot during the war.” Phillip mentioned as John agreed. “ My sources say this is his way of looking for new trading partners, because some he talked into waging war with him wont even speak to him now and his economy is faltering.”

      “So this fiasco has nearly cost him his Kingdom.” Glen added as many nodded it was probably true.” So now Aran comes wandering back, hat in hand looking for handouts. How sad for him.” he admitted as even John looked sad for him.

      “This will be a complete embarrassment to him.” John offered and then shook his head slowly.” I can only hope he learns something from all this.” he said and many just smiled that he would never really give up on him, even after all this.

      “He can pass through, but he doesn’t need to stop here, so make that clear.” John added and the word was sent and Aran left the next morning looking for friends and allies. While John sent messages out first saying he was coming and be careful around him, and then they sat back to see who would even let him in.

      Aran got responses that ranged from’sorry not interested,’ to ‘get out!’ and he wasn’t too happy about it. He heard a lot about some people here and finally got asked in by a wealthy trader and he sat across from him having a drink.

      “Let me say I’m honored to meet you in person, Duke Mennington. I’ve heard so much about you and your Trading skills.” Aran bragged as Garret got all happy thinking his name had spread so far.

      “I’m glad to see my hard work has not gone unnoticed.” he said with a huge grin and Aran saw he had one hooked here.

      “I’m looking for some trading partners up this way, since the war is over I feel its my duty to mend hurt feelings.” Aran lied... as Garret gushed saying that was very honorable of him and he would gladly work with him on a few deals.

      “I must say though, John seems to have changed a great deal lately, have you noticed?” Aran fished as Garret just laughed saying he was getting older and now that the war was over he had daughters to marry off and new Nobles he made from heros of the conflict.

      “New Nobles? I wasnt aware.” Aran added as Garret went on and on about the newest Baron, “James Hudson, such a fine young man and talented too! Why he has 3 active Magical abilities now and learns more every day.”

      “It was he who came to the Kings rescue using a magic skill called Transportation. He got convoys of food and weapons ready in Cartilage and sent them magically into the castle. With his help John could have held out forever.” he bragged as Aran saw the truth, John did have some help, enough to make him a Noble for it.

      “But wouldn’t he usually make him a Knight first?” Aran asked as Garret reminded him that not only did James send food and weapons, he personally put together a Team and attacked the enemies main camp while they were attacking the Castle. Doing massive damage and killing dozens himself. That was all Aran needed to know and he thanked Garret for the chance to trade with him and they shook on it, and he said he wanted to meet this old Magician, and Garret laughed out loud.

      “He’s not even 20 yet!” he admitted while Aran’s face fell to new lows. “ He is a Magical Prodigy, trained by Master Glen himself and now so important that John wont let him leave. He also has chosen Princess Cherry as his First wife, and when I saw that I rushed my daughter Sherry there too...and they claim they were never happier.” Garret gushed on,as Aran thanked him for the info and left...to seek out this Prodigy and see him for himself.

      “King John’s middle daughter...” Aran’s Wizard friend said softly as they rode along.” Since you have your own Kingdom and John had nothing but daughters, this young man becomes eligible for the throne as soon as he marries the Princess. So... do you think John wants him here that badly, or...” he asked as Aran nodded seriously. He may have finally found John’s Master, the one who gave the true orders during the war. Someone so skilled that even a King threw his daughter at him, and she learned to like it. This man he definitely wanted to meet.


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      Chapter 29: Meeting the Enemy

      But Garret might have made a big deal out of getting bragged about but he was no fool. The second Aran left he sent a message to John telling him what happened and then John, after calling Garret a few names under his breath, sent one to James warning him what was happening.

      James decided that it was no use running from it so he told everyone Aran was coming, and they waited together and early the next morning a convoy pulled in out front and several large soldiers got out and watched everywhere as Aran stepped down and walked towards the house.
      James and his wives walked out to meet him, and he was impressed to see everyone was armed. James had his staff and the girls their weapons, and he stopped short looking them over and finally smiled his best smile.

      “Princess Cherry...I wasn’t informed you were getting married and so, since I was in the area, I felt it was important to stop and congratulate you personally.” he said with a bow and she thanked him for coming by and asked if there was anything they could do for him, and he looked over at his Wizard friend... who had a special skill. He wore Seers Glasses, and when he looked at another Wizard he could see exactly how strong they were. A skill that had turned the tide in many battles he was in.

      He looked to see what the man thought, and after a second the Wizard shook his head NO, and backed away slowly, and even Aran was impressed.

      “And this is the newest baron, James Hudson isn’t it?” he asked as James agreed and stepped forward and shook his hand and then stepped back.” A Wizard too, how interesting.”

      “I hear you have 3 abilities at such a young age, is that true?” he asked as James said it was...if you don’t count things like stone cutting and wood working... he learned those to help make the house and not to use to fight, and Aran nodded with his big politicians smile going full time and after a little small talk he went back to his carriage and they turned and started away.

      “Why did you say no back there?” He asked his friend. He thought for sure they could take them and killing John’s Master would put him back in charge and then Aran knew he could win.

      “My ability rating is 26,” The man said as Aran agreed, a decent rating for sure thats why he hired him.” That young man’s is 73...and he’s not even fully trained yet.” he admitted as Aran nearly screamed.

      “In a fight he could destroy the entire convoy by himself, and his wives wouldn’t allow him to act alone. What you hoped for was impossible. He truly must be a Prodigy, I’ve never heard of anyone who uses 3 skills at once, and he admitted he does stone cutting and wood working too, and he doesn’t even consider those a real skill, but others work for months and years to learn those skills, and he thinks they are unimportant to him.” he explained as Aran saw that maybe James was even more impressive than he first thought.

      If James was the reason Aran lost and he was this young and skilled, another attempt was a waste of time and resources. He would definitely become King some day and Aran saw that opposing him would be deadly. Even John... seeing him first hand... had given him his daughter, no small feat considering John’s love for his children, and Duke Mennington too gave him a young woman and they were now happy together, and that meant James owed both John and Garret for these fantastic gifts, and they hoped to ride his coattails into prosperity in the future.

      “Of course, I understand now.” he said and laughed and decided his would tie his wagon to this young Wizard as well, and he rushed home to tell his youngest daughter the good news, she was getting married.

      He quickly returned and after a full day running full speed he finally got back to his castle.

      “Married?” Carla asked as Aran said he found the perfect man for her... a year younger but handsome and highly skilled.

      “A Wizard, a real Prodigy too, he has mastered 3 abilities so far and has fought in a war and changed the tide himself. King John thought so highly of him he made him a Baron, and Cherry, your cousin, is his first wife.” Aran went on as he saw her seriously considering it.

      “A Baron’s wife huh? Hmm not bad considering the low level of applicants around here.” She hinted and he agreed and she decided she’d go see, and they loaded enough of her things to last a little while and a fancy carriage started back towards the Estate before noon.

      If James was such a ladies man then Aran would get in on it too, and when it came time for favors, he’d be right there getting his as well, and they would be substantial for sure.

      It took several hours running full out, but she got there before dark. They stopped next to the house and everyone walked out to see who was here this time, and a beauty with raven black hair stepped out and Cherry looked surprised.

      “It cant be...” Cherry said and ran and gave her a nice hug.” Carla! Its been ages!” She said excitedly and Carla agreed and Cherry asked her why she was here and she told her the story as Cherry looked less than thrilled then, and James just shook his head that Aran had tried something like this.

      “You can stay for a visit,” James said as everyone agreed,” but the opening for my wives have been filled... admirably so as well.” he said making sure the ladies got full credit, and Carla just smiled and they took her things inside... and she saw a real challenge here...and she loved a challenge.


      Chapter 30: Challenges


      Its was clear to James what was going on. Aran saw him with two wives and decided that sending another would give him some say over James in the future. Not a bad plan if it were a surprise...but King John saw it coming and left him know what to think if someone arrived.

      It’s not that she wasn’t pretty enough, her figure was very nice her black hair immaculately combed and brushed, and her cloths only the best...not too surprising considering what Aran thought of himself and his Family.

      She moved in quietly and her and Cherry got time to talk like old friends, and James listened in silently just nodding and smiling from time to time. She wasn’t as arrogant as Aran seemed, and she seemed happy to get out away from the castle and see old friends and new people.

      Cherry and Sherry mentioned they worked part time as Adventurers and it helped keep the Estate going, and she looked shocked that James had his wives work, but they quickly pushed that idea away saying they enjoyed it and made many new friends, and James smiled and admitted they were highly skilled, and they both got red faced when he admitted it...and he wondered if they took it wrong.

      “Besides...it’s fun.” Sherry said and everyone agreed and when they asked if Carla had any skills they might use on adventures she admitted she studied Magic, but nothing too powerful.

      “What type have you studied?” James asked and after a minute she said she studied the art of Communication...and James smiled and nodded he now understood.


      “I can use Transportation magic, so anywhere I have been I can return to quickly.” he admitted as she nodded she heard that too..” So you can talk to anyone you have met before regardless of distance, right?” He asked as she got red faced and admitted it was true. “Then you can tell your Father we know why you were chosen and you’ll be returning home after a nice vacation.” He mentioned as he got up to leave and she called after him.

      “If thats what you wish I can do that...but I can never return...father made it clear that this was my choice, and since men my father tried setting me up with were...well...less impressive...I volunteered to come here. If I should return unwed, then he will just send me back.” She admitted as Sherry and Cherry both looked sad for her, and James wasn’t at all sure she was telling the truth.

      “Then stay a while and we’ll see what happens.” He said and left the room and Carla waited a few minutes and asked if James was gentle or not, and Cherry just smiled and said she didn’t need to worry, once his mind was made up he wouldn’t force himself on anyone. She was as safe here as she was at home. And she wasn’t sure that was the answer she had hoped for.

      But after some thought James came up with a plan. They took her to meet people at the Guild Hall, and introduced her around town too. Butchers,the Cooking Guild, the Clothing Guild, all the major Guilds and the girls started wondering what he was doing. Then they went on a small quest to rid farmers fields of animals, and when 2 large boars and several deer fell, he turned and asked what price these hides and meat would fetch in town, and Carla smiled and asked, from many miles away, and they got a guaranteed rate before they ever left the fields.

      “I see now...” Cherry said as they rode back with their wares.” Carla can talk to all the Guilds and we can let them know we have things for them and get prices without even leaving the Quest area.” She said as James agreed.

      “Since she claims to be stuck here now, she might as well do something to make herself some cash. I’m sure there are things she’ll want from time to time.” James said and hinted she might stay but she’d need to fend for herself, as everyone else just smiled knowing he wasn’t that mean to anyone, he was just being careful.

      “I didn’t see many people working your land, were they all away doing something?” Carla asked, as James said he kept his numbers small so he would know he could pay them, and she laughed as the others got a big grin too.”I mean farmers, hunters, things like that. You don’t pay them...they pay you. You really don’t know a thing about being a Noble do you?” She asked as Sherry said they were giving him lessons, but he was a slow learner.

      “Hunters help keep you in free food, and then sell the rest to earn their own living. Farmers need land, without it they are nothing, so have several farmers working fairly close together, they will become friends and help each other and they then help you with free food and materials to pay your taxes. The more you have working the more prosperous you will become.” Carla went on as the other two agreed, and James saw he still had a long way to go.

      “How much land do you own?” Carla asked as even James admitted he didn’t know.

      “The entire valley, Father said.” Cherry mentioned as they decided it needed explored to see what they really had to work with, and everyone agreed to that, and as they sold their wares in town and divided up their cash, another trip was already planned.

      James opened a door, and they stepped through to Stanley’s place and James said this was his friend, Stanley and his wife and they farmed here, and Stan shook her hand and smiled and asked if there was anything he could do for them.

      “Know anyone else that might want to farm here?” Carla asked as James saw her stepping right in like it was completely natural.

      “I was going to ask but kept forgetting..” Stan mentioned, as James smiled and waved for him to continue. “ My younger brother is looking for work and he asked if you needed more people. I know you do but...I’ve been so busy trying to keep things going here...” he admitted and James saw working all alone was hard for a farmer.

      “Same deal as before...50/50“ James said as Stanley agreed.” I’ll see you get some free lumber and he can set up his own place.” he said as they both agreed, and with Carla’s help they sent a message to the Farmers Guild offices saying the deal was done, and the young man got the message that afternoon.

      “That will help.” She hinted and James agreed that it would as they rode up stream looking all around.” You have enough land her for a dozen small farms.” She hinted as James admitted they had herds of animals too and he was letting some land so they could thrive as well.
      They rode for a while, seeing boars and deer and a few wild horses, and James smiled because he didn’t even know they were here, and then got off to walk around a bit. The went and got a fresh drink from the stream and Carla was seen digging around in the shallow water and after a minute picked up a small stone and washed it off. It shone like glass but was pure black and she tapped it on a rock but nothing happened and she smiled wide.

      “What’s that?” Cherry asked as she handed it to her and she admitted it was pretty.

      “Onyx..” Carla mentioned as Cherry looked impressed.” Its a rare stone called ‘Volcanic Glass’ It comes in black and white and is used to make jewelry.” She remarked as everyone looked impressed with her knowledge of all things cash related.

      “You have quite the education don’t you?” James asked as Carla’s face grew red.

      “My father is very insistent on finding anything and everything worth a single silver, so these are just things I took an interest in.” She admitted and James thanked her for helping him too and she smiled and said that if this little rock was here then it probably came from further upstream and she and Cherry walked along in the shallow water and found several more pieces from the size of a fingernail to half as big as a man’s hand.

      She called back and the Crafter’s Guild was more than interested and James opened a door and they stepped inside the Guild Hall and they examined the rocks they brought with them.

      “5 Gold.” The man said and James agreed and Carla asked if they had anyone willing to prospect for more on their land for a fair price, and after some discussion a deal was reached and James had a new income stream, and his account would go up quickly after that.


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      Chapter 31: Hand over Fist


      Stanley’s brother Jason moved in with him that evening, and James made a trip out to the woods and dropped 2 bundles of lumber at Stanley’s house for them to start with. That took care of that for now, and James mentioned over dinner that he now knew he had horses on his Estate and he had planned on raising horses anyways. And Carla left him know that with the few he had, he might be able to get a few more to breed with and give himself a faster start, and he agreed with that and everyone saw Carla doing her best to look useful, so James wouldn’t send her home too quickly.

      “That was a nice profitable day right James?” Cherry asked as he had to admit Carla knew her stuff and they all smiled.

      “Now to see how badly the Craft Guild messes with us over the gems.” He hinted as Carla looked like she’d growl any minute and she looked at Cherry and asked if he was always like this, and she agreed. “Oh the Guild itself I trust, but young people out here prospecting can turn in whatever they feel like, and we’ll know quick enough when we get next to nothing when they turn their rocks in.” he hinted as even Sherry admitted that if they weren’t really honest being way out here alone, nobody could tell what they got in a day.

      “You need to be more trusting, after all people need to eat too, and so working on your land they’ll do better than working in some cave...and a lot safer.” Carla added and James decided to just wait and see.

      He saw a team of young men wading the stream well below his house one day and slowly working upstream each day he saw them. They each had a nice sized bag hanging from their belts full of stones and they laughed and smiled as they worked. James could see some nice cash coming in, since one pocketful was worth 5 Gold, and he figured by the end of the week he’d have at least 40 Gold or more coming in.

      He waited and on Friday he stopped by the Guild Hall and the Guild Master waved him over all smiles. His take for the week? 25 Gold, an average of 5 Gold a day, not too bad, the Master said as James just smiled oddly and said ‘yes not too bad’ and walked out. But the Guild Master saw that look... and it made him a bit angry. James thought he was being cheated somewhere and to prove him wrong the older man took his horse out to the Estate and rode up on the prospectors as they worked.

      He made as little a sound as possible and when they saw him he was right there all smiles.

      “How’s things going today?” he asked as the one kid looked away and the other laughed saying ‘the Baron was making money today’ and shook his bag which obviously had some nice stones in it. But his partner was doing anything possible to look away and the Guild Master asked why only 25 Gold was turned in for the Baron, who owned the land, all last week and together they had nearly that much today?

      “How not!??” The one young man screamed,” He’s got money and women and look at us...out here in mud up to our knees while he sits there making out all day! He gets what he deserves I say!” he went on and he just dug his own grave, and him and his partner got thrown from the Guild for stealing, and the town Marshal had a few words with them too and they weren’t seen again after that.

      But James got a message saying they apologized for this and new people, a man and young woman came out after that, and they stopped by the house every day on the way back to show them what they found, and James was a lot happier after that and his accounts went through the roof compared to what Adventuring paid.

      “I guess there are crooks everywhere.” Sherry commented during breakfast, but James said most people were honest, but being alone and unsupervised gave them too much temptation, and some just weren’t strong enough to avoid it.

      “Even when he knows some will falter, James always tries to see the best in people.” Cherry hinted as he refused to say.

      “Even spies...” Carla mentioned softly as James admitted that she had helped him a lot, and even if her father had offered her as bait, he would not take advantage of her while she was here.

      “And if I choose to stay?” She asked straight out as Cherry and Sherry both waited on the answer and James mulled it over in his head for a second and then spoke.

      “ I could hire you as consultant, you do know more about running an Estate than I do.” He hinted as Cherry coughed loudly and he remembered she was in charge here already. “ Cherry’s assistant maybe...” he added quickly, as everyone laughed and Carla saw she might not be sent home after all.

      “I’d consider it...” She admitted and some kind of deal was struck, and she might stay but just as certainly would not become a wife here...or so he said now.


      Chapter 32: Bad Intentions and Misunderstandings


      A few days later Cherry and Carla were sharing the big tub and Carla smiled and said James was a stubborn one wasn’t he...and Cherry laughed and agreed.

      “Don’t take everything he says seriously...he’s been really stressed lately after your father was here.” Cherry admitted as Carla nodded saying she heard he came with bad intentions...but they thought better of it after meeting James face to face.

      “Your dad does like to pick fights doesn’t he?” Cherry asked as Carla just rolled her eyes.

      “He’s weird, he thinks he owns the world or something, honestly I’m surprised he’s still alive.” She admitted as Cherry looked shocked. “ He argues and fights with everyone, so seeing him growing old was never in my plans. But his luck has been holding out for a long time.” She admitted as Cherry just nodded sadly.

      “If he just settled down my Father would gladly have him trade with us I’m sure, but trying to start wars over things that were settled ages ago? Isn’t that just ego?” Cherry asked as Carla completely agreed.

      “He’ll never be satisfied...” Carla added as she got out and dried off.” His ambitions will be his death someday, you mind my words.” She said and went to get dressed, as a message got sent saying Aran was incorrigible, and even his own daughter thought he would fight until his death.

      Well 2 weeks later and James’s manhood was finally noted and approved. Sherry, the loud and aggressive one got pregnant first, and Garret went on and on about how she ‘finally settled down’ and became a good wife.

      Of course that meant King John would be asking some serious questions too very soon, and Cherry laughed when it got mentioned.

      “It’ll happen when it happens, and yes I know Sherry is a little more out going and even a bit pushy, thats why she got pregnant first... but fear not... I was never in a hurry so now seems like the time, since someone else got a jump on me.” She hinted as Sherry apologized but it got waved away like it wasn’t important, but from that day forward Cherry became a different woman, and 2 months later she too was with child, and Queen Catherine was right there a day later asking a million questions and pushing James out of the room when possible doing it.

      “Family...go figure...” he whispered and went for a ride to talk to Stanley, who he appointed as Head Farmer, and his brother and his new wife and he saw they both had good fields growing now and grain and flour wasn’t going to be a problem after this Fall. They gave him a bag of vegetables while he was there and he thanked them and rode on, noting that Jason had a small fence up and several baby boars in it.

      Then further upstream to the mine... a pit really... and it was below a small waterfall and the Guild swore that many rocks would have accumulated there, and so far they had been right. Since the prospecting started James’s account went up by 1000 Gold and was still getting deposits regularly.

      He returned home and gave the cooks the fresh produce and went into his office to make notes for Cherry saying what he had seen on his trip today. This way she kept better track of things, and since she was having a baby now he was really sure her mom and dad weren’t going to let her do a thing that wasn’t needed.

      And while all that was going on Carla left her father know she was staying, and he was thrilled. She carefully avoided talk of having children for now because she didn’t admit there was nothing between James and her at the moment. Aran felt sure he had the inside track for favors in the future and only heard what he wanted to hear, and Carla liked being away from him and her family. Here she could relax and have fun and even did a few jobs with the Adventurer Team , more for fun than anything else. Her father sent her 10 Gold a month for expenses and she barely even spent it, most times she put some in the bank, and her own account had some cash in it in case she would ever need it.

      But now everyone went into baby mode and with Garret and his wife sending messages demanding Sherry see a doctor, and the Queen visiting every few days, the house became pretty busy compared to the quiet spot it had been.

      Now new baby beds came in and lots of things they’d need and when Sherry finally delivered Garret and his wife Shirley were right there, with John and Catherine waiting as well. But it took no time at all and a new life was born and Garret bragged like it was his, until Shirley gave him a slap to shut him up, and everyone in the room laughed as he settled down for a while.

      Cherry was happy for her too, and nearly went into labor herself in all the excitement. But it was a false alarm and she managed to hold on for another 3 weeks before delivering her beautiful baby boy, to the cheers of her entire family.

      With Sherry’s baby girl and now a baby boy James was completely exonerated for some of the things people had been whispering about him. Bets were finally paid at the Guild hall and he knew the next time they stopped by things there would be a little more noisy too, and he couldn’t wait.

      But now James went into the ‘cooling off period’ when he was told not to touch the ladies for at least a few weeks, just to make sure they were properly healed, and it became clear after the first week the pressure was on him too and Sherry teased him then walked away laughing and Carla got a kick out of seeing him getting stressed over simple things.

      “If it gets too bad...” Cherry mentioned as she fed her darling baby,” you do have another wife you know.” She hinted as James demanded he didnt, and he’d wait.

      “She was woman enough to tell you straight out why she was here weeks and weeks ago, and she’s done everything she can to fit in...” She insisted as James looked sad.” the only reason you don’t have a third wife is... you...and nobody else.” She insisted as he looked away and finally whispered that the two of them made him happy and he didn’t need anyone else, and she smiled for him and whispered that the Gods sometimes intervene, and they all understood that, and he nodded and said nothing as he walked away.

      Carla heard about it later and Cherry told her they had a meeting and she was accepted, if she wanted to be, as she nodded looking sad too and saying James was a great man and she could do a lot worse, and Cherry gave her a big hug and said not to give up, and she agreed.

      She decided it was time to try at least, and as James soaked in the tub the next day, Carla walked in wrapped in a towel and dropped it and sat down across from him as he tried not to look.

      “This is new...” he managed to say as she giggled at him.

      “I said I’d stay, what else is there to say?” She asked as he cleared his throat and admitted he held his opinion of her father over her...and that probably wasn’t fair.”I was your third wife the day I arrived and will always be. My time here has been nice and relaxing...up to a point...” She hinted as even he had to smile wide at that one.” So either we get along better, or your third wife will be seen going to the bunkhouse after dark, and we dont want that do we?” She hinted and laughed thinking it, as James gave her a dirty look and said it couldn’t be THAT bad...as she added he had been waiting for 3 weeks, her...6 months...and he looked a little more understanding after that as they sat there waiting.

      Finally she slid over beside him and if she would have stayed back he still had a chance, but in arms reach and looking very sexy...not happening...and finally she gave him a soft kiss and that ended both their dry spells right there.


    7. #17
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      Chapter 33: Old Thoughts Become New Ideas


      Glen had a few days off and was visiting his friend that ran the Magic shop. He sent all his students here and when he got the chance they engaged in some friendly ‘conversation’ for a few hours here and there.
      They were just finishing up and as he laid back smiling she turned with a serious look on her face, and he asked what he did wrong now.

      “About a year ago you sent a kid to me, a tall brown haired kid that traded a starter staff for a new one, remember him?” She asked as he laughed out loud, it was more than a year now for sure, but yes he remembered.

      “James...” he reminded her and after a second she agreed.” He’s a Baron now, the King even gave him one of his daughters, and they just had a baby.” he said as she looked surprised.

      “Why ask about him? Thats old news.” he insisted but she said it wasn’t and she reached into her closet and out came that little staff James traded her and he looked shocked she still had it.

      “I’ve been working with this for a good while now. The crystal thats in it is more powerful for its size than many I use here, so I wanted to see if I could order some bigger ones and make better staffs and wands.” She mentioned as he agreed and waited. “ I had 12 different geologists from all over the country check it...even sent it to the Castle and had people there check it out and compare it to the National Archives.” she went on and Glen saw where this was going... and she saw it in his eyes.

      “You know don’t you?” She asked as he lit a cigarette and sat back against the wall.

      “I had my suspicions.” he admitted as she laid it down on the bed and sat there staring at it.

      “The wood is light colored and very light weight, the crafting Guilds have no clue what its made of, and the crystal is not from this world. Thats what one man said and laughed at me as he handed it back and walked away.” She said seriously and he just nodded.

      “He says he was training next to his home town when a huge storm came up and he passed out from it. He awoke here along the road about 10 miles from the Capital.” Glen said as she looked too shocked to speak.

      “Do you believe him?” She asked as he agreed he did, after nearly two years of constantly being watched he never made a mistake, never said anything different, so to him this was the truth, wither it was in Reality or not.

      “He believes it is, thats all any of us can say.” Glen added softly as she nodded and put it back into the closet.” Going to keep it?” he asked as she laughed and asked ‘what do you think?’ and he nodded and they talked about the newest Baron and his ability to make friends everywhere and even children now, and after some more ‘conversation’ some time later she asked a question he had never thought of.

      “If he’s from another world and has all these skills and abilities...wont his children have them too...that could change our world forever dont you think?” She asked as Glen had to actually consider that for a minute. A cross between Humans from their world and another from somewhere else...he was sure no one would know the answer to that question...but if he was lucky before he died he might, and he laughed softly and said they could only wait and see, and she agreed.

      Weeks past and the children grew like weeds. Now 6 months old they were into everything and the girls swore they needed rope to keep them out of trouble, as James laughed and they joined in.

      But they were being watched by the castle and others too, to see if either of them had any abilities at this young age. No one saw anything unusual so they stopped worrying about it and one morning as Sherry woke up to hear her baby playing and laughing she got up and walked over and froze...the child was laying there looking at a wooden horse James hung on a string for her to see and with a wave of her hand it swung back and forth and she laughed at it...even though it was a foot or more above her reach.

      She watched for a few minutes and as the animal stopped swinging, Clare waved to it and it started again, and she’d laugh some more. It wasn’t possible she could touch it, but she was, and Sherry screamed for everyone to come and see and they cheered that the baby had some type of ability and it was showing even now.

      Jimmy , Cherries son hadn’t shown anything yet, but even Glen reminded them that some children don’t show abilities until puberty sets in, and that Clare was most likely a Prodigy, like her father.

      The word got out pretty fast, and soon everyone who was anyone knew, as gifts came in from all the other Nobles, and Aran sent a message to Carla asking when she was due, and she told him in no uncertain terms to let her alone. If it ever happened she’d let him know, and he saw that being away from home was making her a strong woman, and maybe going to be harder to control.

      But he left it go for now and finally decided that watching these first two would give them all an idea what any more kids would be like. James got a gift from Aran, two new workers, and James thanked him knowing full well they were only here to spy on him, and Carla agreed saying she’d be in charge of those two, and she made sure they did a fair days work too, even if it surprised them they had to.

      By now word of James and his remarkable abilities and story of his trip to this world spread far and wide. Even King John mentioned him to friends from other Kingdoms and through them to their Kings and Queens.

      Now James got messages from time to time asking him to come and visit them, many wanted to question him about his travels and see his skills and he sent them back thanking them for their concern, saying he had a family to take care of and young babies and so he wasn’t planning any long trips.

      But for some that wasn’t good enough, and King John got a message asking if another Monarch could come for a visit, and he agreed, and King Solomon of the Eastern Islands arrived 2 weeks later, and his caravan looked more impressive than anyone had ever seen before.

      He brought a long line of carriages with him, and supply wagons and soldiers, and when they entered the city, John was right there in his Royal finery and they greeted each other very officially and the new King was led inside while his people got rooms to rest from their long journey.

      “The Prophet isn’t in the castle at the moment?” Solomon asked as John asked him who told him James was a Prophet, and the man waved that away saying no one in recent History had been like this, and if he was sent to his Kingdom he would sit at the King’s right hand and help rule, since none other had his skills.

      “I am in constant contact with him, not to worry. He lives on his own Estate that I gave him, not 5 miles from here, with his three wives and children. Nearly every Noble as well as myself, sent women for him, and he was very picky and chose 3, one of them my daughter Cherry, and she gave him a beautiful baby just a few months ago.” he said happily as the man nodded saying that this man’s children might be exceptional, and John admitted even at 6 months one young girl was showing powers.

      “Be careful my friend...” John heard as he looked much more serious.” people of his caliber with those skills are needed badly everywhere. Not all of us have been so blessed. And many might try and remove him from your Kingdom by force if necessary.” he hinted as John burst out laughing and his visitor sat back in shock.

      “He’s a wizard of great repute...” John mentioned as King Solomon agreed.” He and his wives do Adventure work... for fun... they brought in more than 2 dozen bandits and pirates in a year, with little to no damage to themselves. James uses Magic like it is nothing and I wouldn’t be surprised to see an army wasted in his front yard. But of course I have people there watching him as do others around us. No force can take him away if he doesn’t want it, and would be a waste of good soldiers to even try.” he added laughing as King Solomon had to think about that for a moment. He had heard James had enormous skills, but to be bragged about by a King, and he truly didn’t seem worried either, maybe he was greater than even he had first thought.

      This was going to be a very important visit, he could see that now.


      Chapter 34: Truth...and Consequences


      They spent a day talking and even with Royal duties to perform on such a rare visit, the conversation always turned back to James and his Family.

      “I suppose since you traveled so far you might want to meet him personally.” John finally admitted as King Solomon agreed wholeheartedly. With a nod of his head the carriages were gathered, and even before that a message got sent by bird, the new standard. James got it minutes later and told everyone they had Royal visitors coming, and food and drinks were readied and people got into better cloths just as the caravan pulled in out front.

      King John got out followed by a rather big and tall man wearing Royal clothing and when he stepped forward all his soldiers did too, and John watched carefully to see what was really happening.

      “This is King Solomon, from the Eastern Islands, he and his caravan traveled for weeks day and night to get here to meet you.” John said seriously and James saw right away it was true.

      “You could have taken your time, I will always be here.” James said smiling as the big man looked very serious indeed.

      “I have heard of your great power and wish to see it tested, if you don’t mind.” he said seriously as he turned to see every soldier with him frozen in their tracks and James looked upset, saying he had young children inside and would not allow sword fighting on his land, as the King looked too shocked to speak and John mentioned he had been warned, and they finally both broke out into laughter and James tapped his staff and the ice went away while every soldier stood trying not to shiver from the ice water he left in their boots.

      “I see your reputation is well deserved, my apologies,” he said as James just nodded and looked as serious as he could. “If we may enter...I have some important things to discuss.” he hinted as James agreed and he said the Kings Guards could wait outside, and he agreed, and with his and John’s soldiers standing guard a new meeting started at the dining room table as drinks and food got brought and King John sat back waiting to hear what was sure to be a long talk.

      “My land is full of skirmishes and wars between the Nobles. They think if they show their strength they will get my attention and I’ll reward them.” Solomon said as James asked him if he had done it in the past, and he admitted he had.

      “You set a dangerous precedent by doing it once or twice and now everyone wants in on it. The wars around you might well be partly your fault.” James mentioned as King Solomon cleared his throat in embarrassment and finally agreed.

      “But how do I stop it now that it’s begun?” he asked as James informed him that he needed to make a strong statement, that wars were not needed and that prosperity would only follow those that stopped fighting to do more profitable things.

      “Perhaps...” John snuck in as James waved for him to continue.” perhaps Trade with other lands. I know we havant had a chance to discuss this yet but every land has specialty items that cant be gotten elsewhere, so trading for them lets everyone see new things and learn more from others.” he hinted as James agreed and even King Solomon seemed to think it might work.

      “If they are fighting over cash, make cash easier to get, and save many lives?” he asked as James agreed.

      Then King Solomon smiled wide and reached inside his robes and brought out a small scroll and opened it and handed it to James to read, and with a few exceptions it was exactly what he had just said, and he handed it to King John to see and he asked why come all this way just to find out what his own advisors had already said.

      “It took a team of 12 more than 6 months to come up with this, and you saw it right away and told me without a second thought, while they are still fighting and bickering about it back in the Capital even now I’m sure.” he admitted as James looked shocked.

      “It was a test.” John mentioned as King Solomon agreed.

      “Sorry...so many tests in one day... but my Kingdom is very far from here and so I had to be sure of you and your intentions.” he admitted as even John looked surprised. He looked up at the ceiling and smiled and said ‘yes, you can come in now’ and a minute later a young woman in fine ...nearly see through robes... walked in very softly and politely and gave them all a huge deep bow.

      “ Conversation skill similar to mine.” Carla mentioned as the new King agreed.

      “This is Master Iona, the next in line to lead the Hall of Seers, our National religion. She sees all and can speak to others from far away, and she has volunteered to live here with you, so that we can converse openly from time to time and you can help advise me.” he admitted as James asked if that was really necessary, saying now that they had met Carla could contact him even from here, but he admitted it was.

      “She is also...my daughter.” he admitted as Cherry cleared her throat and politely mentioned that James didn’t need more women living with him, and the new King saw it coming and laughed.

      “Nothing like that I assure you. She has a betrothed back home, a fine member of the Royal Guards, but they are not ready for that yet. So she stays here, learns new things from others outside our lands and becomes a better Queen someday.” he mentioned as Cherry saw her worry was unfounded and she apologized for jumping into the conversation.

      “As you can see...” John said with a wave of his hand.” James is highly loved and respected even here, so it was only natural the First Wife mentioned it.” He added as King Solomon nodded he understood and apologized for any misunderstandings.

      “With open war going on in my lands even my Capital might not stand forever, if that happens I want her as far away as possible and well protected.” he hinted as James agreed she could stay, for now, and John nodded saying that security here would be beefed up starting today, and James saw more construction coming soon if this went on.

      His bunkhouse had been made for 10 people and it was pretty full now, with soldiers stationed here he might need more room and as he whispered that to John he smiled and said soldiers were tough people and even sleeping in a barn was fine and James left it go for now.

      “Sounds less and less like small skirmishes doesn’t it?” Sherry butted in as James gave her a dirty look and she smiled and looked away and King Solomon had Iona’s things brought in and James saw she got a room upstairs and they all shook hands and the carriage got loaded and they turned and went back to the castle with John waiting on the real reason King Solomon wanted her so far away, and he thought he knew now that the deal was done.

      “King Solomon...” John started as they sat down for dinner “ I appreciate the confidence you’ve shone by coming here and leaving your daughter in our care. But this seems a bit..drastic...for a few skirmishes doesn’t it? Or is there something more you’ve yet to mention?” He hinted as the new King looked sad and finally nodded it was true.

      “My spies tell me that all these attacks are being instigated by a kingdom many days travel to our North. They are a people of strong soldiers and a leader with an iron grip. Only the seas around us have kept us safe for all these years, and now trouble brewing from within? Not a coincidence I’d say.” He admitted as John said his Navy must be kept busy and he admitted there had been sea battles.

      “But now with a few Nobles acting as friends to the Khan Empire they want to alow them free access to our ports...a huge mistake in my book...and because I refuse, now they fight us as well. Times are getting tough and dangerous for my people, so a trip of such lengths was necessary for the safety of my family.” he went on as John left him know his daughter was in safe hands, and he said he hoped so.”If my kingdom should fall, then she alone will survive and when the time is right she can return and recover the Throne, thats all I can asked of anyone.” he mentioned as John admitted if things were this bad then he would have done the same.

      “About that Trade deal I mentioned...perhaps you could use a few more military ships? My brother owns a kingdom of his own south of here and its surrounded by the sea. I’m sure he could sell you a few to help bolster your forces.” John hinted as King Solomon got a big smile and agreed and a message got sent right that second for Aran to see and he was more than happy to make a profit, and when the new King was ready to leave...three heavily armed warships went back with him... and his kingdom looked a little more secure now that he knew his family’s name was safe.


    8. #18
      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      SORRY... for the first time since I started writing I lost the entire story. Got a virus and ahd to reset my machine, wiped out everything...all my storys and all my games. o now theres nothing toi post here for a while. Please forgive me for this messI'll be back soon with something just as good.


    9. #19
      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      Removed...stay tuned.

      Last edited by kevin398; 10-11-2017 at 09:38 AM.

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      Sorry to hear about the issues with your computer matey.

      Mokonzi

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