The Journal Entries

Erwer, Narrin 17, 00264

P'nyssa's Child, Conception

The change in weather from the Castle to wherever it was D'israeli lived was dramatic. We went from frozen midwinter to high summer on apparently a high plain, grass and a few scraggly trees stretched out for miles around us. To the south there was an odd haze like a band of mirage that I couldn't make out. Also in that direction I could see smoke, so I guessed that was the direction of the settlement. Actually, that made sense. This stepping disk was associated with only one settlement and the tree associated with this disk was on the opposite side of it from the smoke. "Twenty kilometers, huh?" P'nyssa said.

"Something like that."

"Then we should start walking." And walk we did. It should have taken us nearly five hours to reach the settlement. As we walked if the haze got any clearer, I couldn't tell. We didn't speak much as we walked. We had walked the first four hours when I saw some dust being kicked up and I turned to my left to see what it was. There were four large beings on four equally oversized horses riding our way. I focused on them. Uncia? Out here?

For that matter, I didn't know where "here" was. For all I knew, we were on or near the Uncia climatorial bands, in which case Rael shouldn't been living out here.

They rode up and heeled their horses to a stop. The one in the lead spoke Quen. "Greetings, Friend. What brings you here?"

I replied in the growls, hisses and spits of traditional Unciati. "Good day, Uncia. We seek D'israeli Mittleson."

"Then you will find him living with us, over by our camp. Would you like a lift? I am called RRawl."

"We would very much. I am Shardik, and this in P'nyssa."

At the mention of my name, the Uncia began to talk among themselves. "We would be honored by your presence, Father," RRawl said in Uncia.

"Thank you." I said. I walked forward towards the horse. He held down an arm and hoisted me onto the saddle behind him. The one to his left helped P'nyssa onto her horse. He wheeled the horse back towards the smoke.

"Tell me," he said, "what brings you to D'israeli's home?"

"It is a personal matter of my..." I searched for the word in Uncia to describe my relationship with P'nyssa. I couldn't find one, so I switched to Quen, "Coimelin," literally, "The love of my life."

"I see. I would invite you to dinner, but I fear what we eat would not be palatable to you."

In Quen, so P'nyssa would understand, I said "I could eat your food, RRawl," and out of the corner of my eye I could see P'nyssa making NO motions with her mittens. I laughed and continued, "but I'm afraid my coimelin's stomach is not so experienced."

RRawl roared with laughter and said, "I appreciate that. Very well. You will dine with D'israeli tonight, but join us for a meal sometime."

"I will do that. Would you wish me for a hunt?"

"You will not slow us down?"

"Do my best."

"Rumor has it you once hunted with Lukas." Lukas was the only human who participated in the Uncia rituals of combat and territory. He rarely lost.

"The rumor is true. With him I killed the pamthreats who threatened the centaur town of Minya." Yeah, and I almost died in the process. Lukas came out with nary a scratch. Bastard.

"Then I would be pleased to have you hunt with us."

"Thank you, Uncia." We had reached the outer fence of the encampment.

We rode in and RRawl said, "You'll find the route to D'israeli's home over there," pointing to a short route that led...

To a cliff. The "haze" I'd been noticing was a cliff. This enormous plain that stretched for apparently hundreds of miles was on top of a cliff, and D'israeli apparently lived at the bottom of this. "He lives in your Faryth?" I asked. RRawl nodded his affirmative. "But, what's down there?"


"You're kidding."

"No. The drop is 2536 meters."

I whistled. What sort of geologic oddity had created this? "How long does this rift run?"

"There is a saltwater ocean 2500 klicks that way. The rift and the landbed below meet about 1800 klicks that way. The rift runs exactly along the northern border of the southern Uncia climate band."

"I'm impressed. Wait. We are not in Uncia land?"

"Not here."

"And D'israeli lives in the Uncia lands?"


"Very strange. And this sort of happened, right?"

The Uncia looked at me strangely, then nodded. "I've read your papers, Shardik. You always declare you are not the wise man we make you out to be. But you occasionally do have flashes of wisdom."

I blushed, I think. Praise from a Uncia is praise indeed, even if, as Shardik, I'm used to faint praise. I had no idea what he meant by his words, though. "Thanks, RRawl." I turned to P'nyssa and said, "Ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be," she replied, with a nervous tremor in her voice.

"Then lets go. Thank you for your aid, Uncia RRawl."

"A pleasure, Father Shardik." P'nyssa and I shouldered our packs, walked to the edge of the cliff and looked down. It did indeed look like it dropped for klicks. To one side we saw the mechanism of descent; a stairway carved out of the rock with disintegrators and fusers. We began our slow climb downward.

We reached the bottom after about three hours of careful descent. It wasn't that much of a problem; it was, after all, just a staircase. But it was a long drop, two and half kilometers.

Like all things on Pendor, the forest was on a grand scale, disappearing at the limit of vision in a haze of green forest-top and white clouds or mist. But a steady stream of wood smoke issued from down at the floor of the staircase, and I was somewhat grateful that Rael hadn't built too far from the stairs. The idea of walking any distance through what Uncia use as a hunting ground didn't appeal to me, not with P'nyssa following. I figured though that the lands immediately about the stairwell had been cleared of anything dangerous.

When we reached the bottom, we did indeed find Rael's house. It had all the modern conveniences, as far as I could see. It looked like a two-floor building of wooden construction, but to one side was the ubiquitous wooden hut with rad symbol, a Rigg's fusion reactor. Also apparent above the hut was a tall fresh-water condenser, and next to that a radio antenna. I wondered where the gravity antenna was; probably in the hut with the Rigg's.

"Do we knock?" I asked.

"Guess so," P'nyssa responded. She walked through the front gate to the door. I followed. She did indeed find a large brass knocker on the door, and knocked three times. There was sound of scrambling inside, and a feminine voice saying something in Quen I couldn't quite make out. The door was thrown open.

There, standing in the door, was the oldest-looking Tindal I'd ever seen. His apparent age must be a cosmetic decision, I thought. Nobody had to look that old if they didn't want to; being unaging, apparent age was always a cosmetic decision. He looked up and snapped, "Who are you?"

"Rael? Don't you recognize me?" P'nyssa asked.

He looked at her closely and said, "P'nyssa? P'nyssa Traken?" She nodded. "What are you doing here?" He sounded genuinely pleased to see her.

"We came to visit."

"Wonderful, wonderful. And who are you?" I was taken aback. He doesn't recognize me? Who is he to demand my identity like that?

Wait a minute. I was getting high and mighty again. I regained my composure and made a mental note to do something about that touch of arrogance I was developing. "How do you do, Dr. D'israeli. I am Kennet Shardik."

It was his turn to be surprised. "I'm... I apologize, Shardik. I had no idea. Come in, come in." He turned and said "Dagmar! We have guests! You can stand down the surgery!" He turned back to us and said, "You see, when somebody knocks at the door like that, it's usually the Uncia returning from a hunting party with wounded."

I nodded. An apparently younger femTindal walked into the room. Rael took a place between us and said "Dagmar, this is P'nyssa Traken, and this is Shardik himself."

Dagmar looked us over with an air of complete control; apparently, we were in her house, and that was that. "I'm pleased to meet you." However, physically she was quite attractive. Well-defined but just slightly overweight.

"How do you do?" she asked. "It's nice to meet you. I've heard quite a bit about you, P'nyssa. Rael was quite taken with you in the early years."

"He was?" P'nyssa asked, querulous.

Rael coughed and said "Ahem, well, yes. Be serious, P'nyssa, you were the woman of choice back then."

"I was such a bitch then, Rael."

"But that's what made you so interesting. Nobody understood you, least of all me, and with those exotic markings about your eyes, you were considered gorgeous. It's nice to see you've become a fine young woman, P'nyssa. And to have landed THE prize male on the planet." It was my turn to cough. "So," Rael continued, "We don't get many visitors. What brings you two out this far? Just a pleasant visit?"

"Actually, Rael," P'nyssa began, "I'm going to have another child."

"Wonderful! But that's not the reason for your visit, is it? Or is it?" His voice had just a hint of suspicion in it.

P'nyssa's never been long on tact and delay. "I want you to be the father."

Rael looked surprised for all of half a second. "Oh. Oh my. I see, I think."

"Rael, can we talk about this outside?"

"Eh? Sure, sure. Let me get my jacket." Rael and P'nyssa went through a door into the back of the old house and I heard the sound of a screen door.

There was a moment of dead silence, then Dagmar said "Ken, why don't you sit down?"

"Any place in particular?"

"Sit anywhere. The couch, the chair. Just don't use that rocking chair. That's mine."

I smiled and settled myself into a well-worn easy chair that looked like it had seen its share of patches over the years. "I have to ask you," she began, "what's this all about?"

"Think of it as an anniversary present," I said, thinking quickly. "P'nyssa hasn't had a child in over two hundred years. I realized that somewhere along the way my reluctance to have kids of my own was inhibiting her from doing the same. I mean, in twenty years back after she was decanted there were three, so she must enjoy the task."

"Who asked first? You or her?"

"Uhmm... Basically, she was afraid to tell me, but she talked... griped?... to friends about the one thing in her life that was missing. They told me, and I decided to tell her."

"Do you think you're up to it, Shardik?"

"Wait a minute," I said, getting all sorts of angry. "I can take that question from P'nyssa. I can take it from Ember, who's lived with me. I can even take it from my local AI. But what is it that makes you, a total stranger, ask that question?"

She thought for what seemed a long time, then said "I'm not a total stranger to you. We've got all the radiofeeds here, even the 'wire. It's kind of hard to not want to pay attention to your local god."

"I am not a god." Was she deliberately making me angry?

"What do you call someone who builds planets and then willfully creates the sentients who live there?" she asked in reply.

"A thief. Look, I built Pendor with stolen technologies, and, well, as for making you and y'all... That's based on the immortal's rule: An unaging person can do anything he wants, simply because he's got long enough. Dagmar, I didn't come here to discuss with you my involuntary deification. I came here because I am a man incapable of giving his love the child she wants. Since you and Rael seem to have some sort of agreement going, it's kind of obvious that if you say 'no,' the deal's off. Come back to the problem at hand: Are you part of the problem, or are you part of the solution? If you're not keen on the deal, I'll leave right now." I was getting angry, but my anger doesn't last very long. It's always been like that, like the mist, dissipating rapidly. I was settling.

She smiled, and said, "Fair enough. I guess I'm not one of those people who get invited to live at Castle Shardik, huh?"

"No, you're not. The people who live there know I'm only human."

"Must be a nice place," she said wryly.

"It is. So, from your point of view, are you a 'Yay' sayer or a 'Nay' sayer?"

She paused for a second. She had a cute smile, I realized. "I guess I'm a 'Yay.'"

"Do you want anything to do with the child?"

She paused again. She always took a lot of thought before speaking, I noticed. "I guess... Well, obviously the child is going to be yours and P'nyssa's, with no suggestion that there's something missing."

"Yeah, but it's also kind of obvious that the kid is going to know before he's ten that Mommy and Daddy aren't quite... Mommy and Daddy. He's also going to have to know who his biofather is in case something goes wrong. Mistakes in the gene code still show up, especially chemical crosses that can't be accounted for."

"I guess I'll have to be Auntie Dagmar."

"Guess so. And Uncle Rael."

"Uncle?" she asked, as if confused.

"It's not going to be Daddy. Maybe it will be. That's up for the child's decision."

Our conversation was interrupted by a banging in the back again, and Rael and P'nyssa came walking in, laughing like old friends. "Well," P'nyssa said, "It looks like we've got ourselves a willing victim."

"Victim, Hell," Rael said. "I have wanted to get into bed with you since I was four!" That statement surprised me not in the least; when Rael was '4,' he was just coming out of incorporation shock as a full-grown adult. "So," he continued, "What did you two talk about?"

Rael, you sound like a grandfather. "This and that. Mostly about what role you two would play in the child's life."

"What role do I have?" Rael asked, innocently. "It's not as if I'm doing anything constructive. I'm contributing ten minutes to the whole affair-"

"I certainly HOPE it takes more time than that!" P'nyssa interrupted, laughing.

"Oh, it will, it will. I was talking about the coitus itself, my dear. As I was saying... where was I? Oh, yes... And besides, I'm doing something I dreamed about a lot when I was young. What you two want is almost coincidental."

"It'll still be your child, Rael."

"The Hell it will be. It'll be yours. You're the two who'll have raised it. I'd just get in the way."

"So what do you want when he asks, 'Mommy, where did I come from?'" P'nyssa said quietly.

"Tell him the truth. I thought that was the rule around here," Rael said.

"It is, as far as I know," I said.

"Then it's settled," Dagmar said with A Voice Of Authority. "So, when do you two plan on... making babies?" she said with a big grin.

"Waitaminute, waitaminute, Dags dear," Rael said. "I'm not about to hop into bed with the young lady. These two have just walked thirty kilometers to get here and descended the stairway. I think they'd both like to eat and perhaps to rest."

"Actually," I said, "my feet are killing me. Dagmar, is there someplace you'd like me to remove my boots so I don't kill anything?"

"Just outside the back porch is fine, through that door and out the next screen. Don't worry, this part of the Faryth-" She said that pretty well, for a non-Uncia "-is pretty clear."

I thanked her and headed out.

Dinner was excellent. I imagine when you have to cook for yourself, you either learn to live with it or you get better. Rael had clearly done the second. Dagmar told me that Rael always cooked the larger meals.

"When do you have guests?"

"When there's somebody in the recovery room."

"Oh." It therefore shouldn't have surprised me that the meal had an abundance of heavily spiced meat, seeing as she was talking about 'cooking' for Uncia. But Rael was enjoying himself, and he did cook a dinner palatable to more delicate stomachs (like mine). I can eat Uncia "native" food, but it's not something I would choose to do regularly.

Night came as it always comes on Pendor. Mountainscapes and cliff faces do not bring on night any faster on a ringworld; the sun is always overhead. I know, I've written that before. But I was born on a planet and I know what a sunrise and a sunset are. There are none here, not the way planetary people know them.

I sat quietly in the living room listening to the radio. The station they were listening to was a surprising mix of ancient instrumental and vocal rock'n'roll, with a heavy emphasis on groups like Madhsenger, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Dire Straits. More than half the music was Terran, and all of it was heavy instrumentals. I found it quite to my liking. I wrote down the index number for future reference.

P'nyssa and Rael were in a corner talking. Every once in a while I heard a giggle or laugh, and I stifled an urge to turn and look, instead concentrating on a book I'd brought, a novel by a Centaur author, written entirely in Centaur, which is a modernized form of Greek as divergent from ancient Greek as Italian is from ancient Latin. Dagmar was off somewhere taking care of her home.

I must have been wrapped up in my story, because Dagmar walked in and said "Hi. Where are Rael and P'nyssa?"

I looked up in bewilderment. "I don't know," I admitted. "They must have wandered off."

"Guinness," Dagmar said, addressing someone I had apparently not been aware of, "Where's Rael?"

A deep and soothing voice responded, "Rael has retired for the evening with the young lady, Dagmar."

Wow, that was quick. "It seems, Lady Dagmar, that they have discreetly snuck off, a discreetness blown by your AI. And you haven't even introduced me."

"I am Guinness," said the voice. "I apologize."

"That's all right," I answered. "Most people don't introduce an AI, even when he or she is a member of the household. Especially since in some cases AI's cover whole townships, and it's assumed we've met already. Where are you?"

"I am housed in a Magi, if that answers your question. I am service for the Kritt household at the top of the ridge, the Rael household, and the Pawl household three hundred and thirty-seven kilometers aspin of here."

A Magi? A flying GP construction system serving as a Majordomo? I suppose it's possible. Never heard of such a thing before. "I'm pleased to meet you. Who wrote you?"

"I am a collaboration between Bawr Mahn Shardik and Freya Majors."

"Wow. Made by the best."

"Thank you. I'll relay your compliment to my mothers."

"Do that. If you'll excuse us, however..."

"I understand. You wish to speak as privately as possible." There was an audible .click., and the AI detached.

I turned to Dagmar and said, "Fascinating friend you have there."

"He's a monitor. We don't ask much of him, unless it's to do ambulance work. You know."

"So," I said, rather quietly, "what do we do now?"

"Well, it isn't as if I can go to bed in my own bedroom."

"Bed only sleeps two?"

"Rael only sleeps two, I think," she offered. "There's only one guest bed, too." She looked at me and said, "What's wrong, Ken?"

"Nothing... I guess."

"No, seriously."

"Well, I guess I'm not used to being put in this kind of position. The arrangement P'nyssa and I had at home allowed us to work around any 'special nights' we may have wanted to ourselves, and to others. I sort of feel like I 'have to' sleep with you, almost like doing stud service, so Rael can have P'nyssa."

"It's not like that at all."

"Isn't it?"

"Well, do you like me?"

"Of course I like you, Dagmar. You've been a perfect host, you're very pretty, and you've welcomed me into your home. Why shouldn't I like you?"

"Then why would bedding me be stud service? It's not as if I were hiring you. You're not one of those people who excel at feigning interest, Shardik, I can see that." She rose from her rocking chair and walked towards me, kneeling on the floor in front of my chair. "Let's try an experiment."

"Like what?"

"Well, why don't you start by kissing me?"

"Why don't I... ?" I looked at her, shrugged, and leaned forward, kissing her quickly on the lips.

She looked at me with smiling eyes and said "Not like that. Try again." I leaned forward again, and again kissed her. Only this time, her tens came up and wrapped around my neck, keeping me in place. Her lips opened just slightly and I felt her warm tongue pressing against my lips.

I responded to her tongue, opening my mouth. I could feel my heart speeding up, responding to this new female, this new sensation. The old sensations of newness (does that sound strange to you? It shouldn't) made me feel warm. I pushed off the chair and fell forward onto my knees on the floor. I was still raised off the floor while she had settled; I was still kissing her downwards, but passion had taken over. We were no longer merely experimenting. Dagmar was right, this wasn't stud service; this was sharing.

We broke for a moment, settling back into our individual heaps on the floor, looked at each other with mock guilty expressions and sidelong glances, slow, knowing smiles, and finally as one we broke out laughing. "Okay," I said. "Let's take this into the guest room."

"O-Kay," she said, sounding each syllable. She rose and took my hand, leading me into the back of the house. Off to the left there was a small room with a good sized double bed covered in animal fur blankets (Which we wouldn't need. The night was hot enough, and we were about to make even more heat.)

She literally pushed me down onto the bed, face up, and stepped up onto the bed, kneeling over my body. Her tens held my face and she said, "Still feeling uneasy?"

"Hell no," I said, reaching up to about where the biceps would be on her and pulled her close. The heat of her body was almost uncomfortable, and I knew that we were going to be sweating soon. The thought made me smile. She kissed me unabashedly, our tongues wrestling. But she was on top, and she took it upon herself to explore more of me. She slid down to my right and I could hear her approaching my ear. Her lips and teeth found it and began to nibble, first and the lobe and then up along the ridge. I squirmed under her touch; I both love and hate to have my ears nibbled. It feels great, but it makes me lose all control. She slowly slid down along my throat, and her warm mouth left a light liquid trail that cooled in the summer night. It suddenly struck me that I'd left a blizzard behind back at home. I was glad I had.

"You humans have such small ears," she said.

"Is that a complaint?" I said.

"No, no," she said through muffled kisses. She was attempting to unbutton my shirt. I helped. "Just an observation." She got my shirt open and began to run her tongue softly over my nipple. I moaned quietly. She was driving me crazy. "Do you like that?"

"You have to ask?" I replied.

"I guess you do," she said around her teeth, which a soft grip on me. I coughed suddenly; she looked up and said "What's wrong?"

"What do you mean?"

"Come on, Ken, I'm a healer, you can't hide that from me. I distinctly felt a choking sensation from you."

I smiled and said, "It has something to do with my nipples. I've got no idea what it is, but when someone bites on my nipples too sharply, it doesn't hurt, but I feel like I'm choking, or at least like something's tickling the back of my throat. It's my only evidence that acupuncture works; my nipples are someway connected to my throat, but I don't know how."

She looked at me querulously and said, "I'm going to have to experiment on you a little later." THAT sounded ominous. "In the meantime, I guess I'll have to find something a little less... distracting. Or maybe moreso." She shuffled down and began to kiss my belly. It tickled, and I laughed. She laughed along. "Ticklish, are you?" she asked with one of those voices that makes the victim say "Uh oh." "Just for future reference," she said, as if to reassure me.

Her mit had found my pants and was rubbing my erection through the cloth of my jeans. I suddenly realized just how erect I was, and pushed up against her. She responded by undoing my zipper and belt and opening my breeks. My erection, freed of the cloth, slapped up against my stomach. "Anxious little fellow, isn't it?" she asked.

"Very," I said. At this point I wasn't unthinkingly lustful, but she was very surely getting me there. I decided it was time to stop being entirely passive to the process and reached up to unlace the overly long sark she wore, untying each delicate ribbon and then pushing the sides away. She let the shirt fall down about her tens. Her breasts were small, like P'nyssa's... why was I making comparisons?... and the nipples were standing out firm and hard. I reached up and traced my fingers slowly around the exposed aureoles, then down about the fur undersides and up around the outside. As I traced along her body between her breast and her underten she shivered delightfully. "I think I've found a soft spot," I said.

"Mmm, hmm..." she said. I slowly traced along her body, finding other little places that made her shiver or giggle. She too was ticklish. I delighted in finding those places as she slowly stroked my cock between her mits. Her fur was an even light blue with an occasional almost feline grey that was only slightly exposed above the beltline of her shorts. I wanted to see where that grey went to, so I reached down for the buttons of her shorts and undid them when she suddenly slid back away from my hands. "Not yet," she said. She pushed away a little further until she saw lying supine on the bed. She turned around a little and said, "First, I'm going to have a little desert."

She took my cock into her mouth and slowly closed down on it, engulfing me. I groaned with pleasure as she sucked on it, slowly at first so that I almost didn't feel it, then with mounting pressure, her mouth bobbing up and down.

She stopped and backed an inch or two away, blowing cool air over me, then again dunking my cock back into her hot mouth. As she was doing so, she slowly maneuvered her body until her hips were next to my head. I got the picture almost immediately and slid underneath. Somehow in the process of all this she had managed to get her shorts off, and the patch of grey fur did indeed go wrap between her legs and up over her buttocks. I found it very attractive. I tried to concentrate, but there was little I could do; Dagmar was turning out to be an extremely skilled fellatrix. And in this position, my cock slid down her throat. There was no warning; she simply engulfed my entire member down her throat and stroked me there. I groaned in appreciation and with mounting fervor; I was going to come at any second.

Dagmar apparently sensed this because she began to suck my cock with complete abandonment, taking the whole length in swift strokes. I tried not to respond, not to push up, but it was hard not to. I wanted to come, and I could feel it rising.

Dagmar slowed, and she was right, staving off my orgasm for stroke after stroke. There was no stopping it, I was going to come, but she wanted me to grit my teeth. She stroked, and I felt, I felt...

I came, groaning aloud, and I could feel each shot of come load up in my cock and then get squeezed out, the pleasure was enormous, the relief equally so.

After a few seconds of breathing hard, I reached up and pulled her cunt down to where I could reach it with my lips, parting her labia with my tongue to reach her soft insides. I decided I couldn't really work at this angle and said "Dagmar, wouldn't you rather lie down?"

"If you like," she replied and turned over, lying down on the bed. "By the way, did you like that?" she asked with a mischievous grin.

"I'll show you how much I liked it." I spread her legs and lay down between them, in a position that I find comfortable. I leaned forward and kissed her cunt just at the very top, then realized that I was neglecting parts of her. I arose from my position to lean much further forward, bending over to kiss her nipples, teasing them. Turnabout is fair play. I began to lick around the aureoles, and her groans grew louder as I progressed along her fur towards her underten, where I licked softly. She groaned. I progressed down her side, and she squirmed under my tongue. I laughed and slowly made my way back to her cunt, kissing her on the top where I'd started. "You're a tease," she accused.

"Guilty, as charged," I said, leaning down to part her cunt with my tongue. I wanted to get her wet, but her vagina was already dripping juices, and I just lapped them up and spread them over the upper parts of her cunny. Her juice was thick and sweet, and I couldn't drink it but I could certainly enjoy it like candy, licking enthusiastically. I dove in wholeheartedly, kissing and licking until I decided that it was time to get serious; I brought my right arm over her leg and parted her cunny, gently tugging up the hood covering her clitoris. I licked around it and she responded by telling me lick harder. I complied, directing my attention to her clit, licking up and down.

Three hundred years of experience has not dimmed my enthusiasm for going down, but it is plenty of time to realize that you can never perfect the art; each woman is different and one woman is different day by day. I licked her as well as I could, and she replied to whatever skill I have by saying "I'm coming... a little harder..." and I replied, pressing in hard as her orgasm came on. A loud, low moan escaped her as she came. I eased back a little, but she pushed me away from her cunt and said, "Cuddle with me, Ken."

I rose and lay next to her. She wrapped her tens around me and said "You're very good at that."

"Thanks," I said, a little embarrassed. Then I laughed. "I hope Rael and P'nyssa enjoy themselves."

"Oh, I'm sure they are." One of her mits snaked down over my side and found my cock. "What are you're chances?" she said as she slowly stroked it.

"If you keep that up, better than fifty-fifty."

"Then let's make it a hundred percent." She wriggled down the bed and again took my cock into her mouth. The talent she showed was certainly deserving of my complete attention, and she did indeed soon have me rock hard.

She stopped and looked at her handiwork, then to me. "Fuck me, Ken," she asked.

I didn't need to hear her a second time. She lay down on her back, and I slid into her the old-fashioned way, missionary position. It's a lovely position. Her cunt gripped me tightly and completely, and I abandoned myself to the thrusting demands my cock wanted me to make. I started out pounding her and never let up. I don't know what came over me, I just needed to fuck Dagmar and fuck her hard. She apparently was willing to comply, because she simply started chanting, "Yes, yes, yes," like that with each thrust. My first orgasm had satisfied my immediate wants, and the second was a long time coming. She spread her legs a little wider and I went a little deeper, long hard thrust sliding in and out of her body. I was completely aware of everything, the speed, the fur of her thighs and her mittens twined around my neck, her yellow eyes staring into mine, her black hair twirling loosely over the blue fur of her face, her breathing, hard and ragged.

I thrust, and I could feel my orgasm rushing forward like a freight train or a cybertank, and when I came I dove to muffle my scream into the pillow she rested her head on. I simply lay there, bent over her, on top of her, breathing hard into her neck, feeling a few strands of hair getting into my mouth as I inhaled and staying. I licked at them gently as I tried to clear my dry mouth, slowly rising from my position to look at her. "You okay?" I asked.

"Oh, I'm fine," she said, her deep but feminine voice full of passion.

"Ready for bed?" I asked.

"Yes, I think I've been worn out for one night."

"I could go on," I said quickly.

"No, no... that's all right. I think we've both had enough for one night."

I nodded and slowly slid my cock out of her. I shuddered at the nigh-painful sensation, but then rose and cuddled her close. After a few minutes when the time seemed right, I rose and went to the bathroom. She joined me, and there were a few moments of casual touching and joking, like old friends and lovers, as we brushed our teeth and cleaned up. Closing the door and turning off the lights, we bedded down for the night.

It was a hot night, and we didn't cuddle close because of it. But I did hug her. And I did say "Thank you."

The next day was spent in what was, for me at least, a most unexpected fashion. I hadn't anticipated coming to Rael's home to spend four hours in surgery! Guinness (He proved to be much larger than I had thought...almost large enough to hold a spaceworthy drive) brought in some idiot Uncia from the southern holding, not older than twelve, who had gotten himself mauled by some large prowler, and Rael and P'nyssa spent the next four hours in surgery trying to save the Uncia's leg. Meanwhile, Dagmar and I were kept busy patching up the ear of the Uncia's elder, who had gotten a good chunk of his scalp removed in the rescue. Somehow, Dagmar's sense of humor combined with her knowledge of English proved to be annoying; her choice of music was selected bits from Monty Python, and patching up an angry and frightened Uncia to the tune of "Every Sperm is Sacred" was difficult.

But persevere I did; I'm no slouch when it comes to the meatball department, and this was only a missing flap of skin. The eardrum was intact, and Dagmar did most of the needlework. I was grateful; it had been so long since I'd done any sort of work that I didn't feel qualified anymore. I was determined to throw myself headlong into refreshers when I had the time. And when was that going to be? Twenty years from now, at best.

The Uncia lived, but he lost the leg. By Pendorian Uncia tradition, there would be no cyborging and no replantation. The kid would simply wait until it grew back, which it would, thanks to the changes I made to their genecodes three hundred years ago. But that growth would take three years, and in the meantime, the kid would weaken. He might never recover. And unless he took his own life or was killed by an accident, animal, or Uncia, he was immortal. Never was a long time.

There wasn't much of the joyful noise we'd had the night before. Dagmar and I comforted each other. My penis had a mind of it's own and rose to an occasion to which it was not invited. I ignored it.

The third day brought an attempt to revive our bruised spirits. Dagmar and Rael took us to a small lake at the base of the cliff from which a soft spray fell from above, like perpetual rain. Rael explained that there was a river from the high plains above that ended at cliff's edge, and the fall was so great that it diffused a great deal. It also struck a few rock on the way down, rocks that had yet to be worn away.

"Then this is a fairly recent incident?" I asked.

"Oh, yes, the rock at the top of the cliff is apparently somewhat softer than the lower strata, and the river is slowly eating away at the material, drilling a groove into the mountainside. Personally, it's too convenient. I'd suspect some personal intervention."

"The Uncia?"

"I think Guinness is more up to this than the Uncia. It is his specialty. He is a FAMECE, after all."

I agreed. P'nyssa was already into the water when Rael and I reached the lake. I dove in enthusiastically and joined her, kissing her closely. "I love you," I told her.

"I love you, too," she responded. "Oh, and guess what?"

"What?" I asked.

"Come here," she said, pulling me through the water to where her clothes lay. "Look," she said, pulling out what looked like a small electronics package. I recognized it as a medical monitor.

"Yeah, so?"

"Look at conclusions package, in ram block 5."

I punched in the request, and read it slowly. Hormonal transits, implantation positive, monitoring continuing, conditions nominal. I looked up at her and said, "Does this mean..."

She nodded slowly, her smile betraying her joy. "Uh-huh. Guess what, sweetheart? Your P'nyssa's pregnant."

I looked at her, and she looked at me through coy eyes. I hugged her and vaulted her out of the water with a loud "Yes!"

"What?" Rael asked. He'd managed to get himself about half into the water.

"Look for yourself!" I said, tossing him the monitor. I hoped it was a standard Pendor monitor; they were all waterproof. This one was, and it floated. Rael fished it out of the water, grumbling because its location forced him to go deeper in to the lake. He read it carefully and said, with a quiet voice, "That was quick. Congratulations, P'nyssa." There was something in his voice, something almost reverent. Despite his earlier comments about his contribution being "almost nothing," and his jokes yesterday about "genetic hit-and-run," there was a sense of awe in him, I think, that powerful sense of "I did this?" That he was responsible for half of the introduction of a new person. The fact that I understood the process chemically did not dampen my reverence, either. It hit me just as hard as it hit them.

After a few minutes I said, "We should drink a toast. Quick, who has the champagne?"

"Oh, no," P'nyssa said. "None of that. No champagne. No alcohol, nicotine, anything like that." Damn. Being in love with a doctor is not always fun and playing doctor.

"Okay, then, let's break out the Orange Juice." Dagmar laughed at that. But she quickly said, "You know how to take care of him, P'nyssa, do so."

"Him?" P'nyssa asked.

"Look," Dagmar said, handing her back the monitor. "You've got ten months to decide on a name, because that says XY, and you know what that means."

"A boy." P'nyssa looked up and said, "I've never had a boy before."

"Don't sweat it," Dagmar said. "I've had three. And four girls. The boys were easier."

P'nyssa was still off somewhere in her thoughts. "I could ask P'maya. She's had two boys."

"P'nyssa? Hello, Parma to P'nyssa, Parma to P'nyssa, are you there, P'nyssa?" I said jokingly. Parma is Pendor's Starship Docking Facility.

"Huh? Oh, yeah." She looked bewildered. "Ken, what do you want to name him?"

"I don't know. I haven't gotten used to the idea of you being fat yet."

She cuffed me playfully over the head and said, "I'm not going to be FAT, I'm PREGNANT, you, you, you..."

I laughed and grabbed for her. "I love you, P'nyssa."

"I love you too, Kennet R'yal Shardik. Happy Father's Day."

"Happy Mother's Day, P'nyssa Traken Shardik." I kissed her. I heard a stage sigh from behind me, and Dagmar said "Isn't that sweet?"

I turned around, said, "I'm going to get you for that," and swinging my arms out gathered a huge volume of water to splash at her.

The water never reached her. It stopped halfway and fell to the lake. The water by Dagmar then raised of its own accord and rushed back towards me, a huge wave that washed over me. Damn! Dagmar's a telekinetic! Arrgh! And I thought I was going to win simply because a Tindal's tens aren't strong enough to splash effectively.

We lounged at the lake for the rest of the day, and went back to Rael's and Dagmar's house only when it started to rain.

"You're going to spend one more night?" Rael asked.

"I don't see why not," I said. "I had planned on spending at least a week, maybe more. I hadn't planned on P'nyssa taking on the first day. I mean, it's only a day's walk back to my house, Rael. No big deal, you know."

He paused as he chewed on a large piece of whatever that strange red vegetable he had was; there was a similar vegetable on my plate, and I was debating trying it. Oh, Hell, I only get to live once.

"Besides, Rael," P'nyssa added, "I don't relish climbing those stairs in the dark."

"True enough," Dagmar added. "You know, P'nyssa, your best bet is to climb the stairs in the early morning, spend the day up at RRawl's ranch, and then walk to the tree after nightfall. They have bunks, you could take a daynap."

"Dagmar, I'm only two days. Stop acting like it's my fourth trimester."

Dagmar grinned. "I'm only trying to help. Besides, I wasn't talking about that. I mean it. You should take it easy. Those stairs are murder, and even with those clothes the sun will be pretty bad."

"We'll probably get a ride from the Uncia," I said.

"Don't count on it, lad," Rael said. "They're pretty touchy about those horses. Even if you are Na'Shardik, they might want to keep those horses back. Especially if you walk at night, after they've been ridden all day."

"I guess we'll take your suggestion." I looked at P'nyssa, who merely nodded in agreement. An old phrase ran through my head: "Common Sense Isn't." Too true.

We retired to the living room, the four of us, listening to more modern orchestrations from the Tangent Arc Philharmonic, mostly Tindal compositions of the type that drove less experienced conductors mad. But the conductor that night was Marcus Ann'Hrius, a Markal, a race I would never have suspected of any musical ability at all (except for those large ears). And he was superb. The music rose and fell majestically, and Rael pulled out a large bottle of Chani wine and the three of us who were allowed started to get riotously drunk when I noticed P'nyssa was pouting.

"What's wrong, sweetheart?"

"I'm not allowed to drink with the rest of you."

I though about this, trying to weave the though accurately through alcohol-buzzed pathways, and managed to say, "It's for the child's own good, sweetheart." I reached to hug her. I wasn't that drunk, just a little buzzed (Still, hide my 'cycle keys!). She hugged me back, and I can't resist kissing her neck when we hug like that, so I did.

She responded. I kissed her again and began to nibble, enjoying the sensation of her warmth against me. Rael had had the good sense to turn on a room cooler. I moved up, finding the lower lobe of her large, elfin ear, and began to slowly work my up the side. She shivered and whispered, "I want to make love to both of you."

"What, me and Rael?"

"Yeah, at the same time." She looked at me with a grin. I responded by agreeing with her, reaching up and undoing the clasp of the simple roquelare she wore. Underneath it she wore nothing but a simple piece of lingerie, which I easily untied. It fell about her.

She was perfectly naked on the couch, her nipples immediately standing up in the artificial cold. Rael scooted over to where I was as I stood up to walk onto the couch and behind her, settling down with one leg on either side of her. This left her naked chest exposed to Rael and Dagmar, who both took the hint. I began to nibble on the back of her neck, and she responded by cooing softly. Rael was softly toying with her nipples, and Dagmar, much to my intoxicated surprise, was nibbling on P'nyssa's toes. Never figured Dagmar for a fetish. P'nyssa seemed to be having trouble deciding whether she should laugh, giggle, moan, or just hold her silence; she was trying to do all four.

I leaned back against the couch to give myself some room, reached up and began to give Nyss a backrub. She sighed with pleasure as I did so; I was having trouble seeing what was going on, but as far as I could tell, Dagmar had worked her way up P'nyssa's leg and was now licking her cunny; Rael had given up trying to find a space to work in of his own and was now paying attention to his own wife. Personally, I was happy to be right where I was.

P'nyssa moaned as I tried to relax her and Dagmar tried to make her more tense; the battle was being fought for her pleasure. But it soon ended when P'nyssa said, "Why don't you all take off your clothes?"

Rael agreed first; having drunk the most there was no stopping him. Personally, I more uninhibited when I'm sober; I know when I'm drunk I'll do something stupid. Rael also still had his wits about him, because the first thing he did was turn down the efficacy on the cooler.

I rose to undo my own clothes and helped Dagmar with hers. She was grateful for the help, as she seemed to be all fumbles. The three of us were soon as stripped as P'nyssa, who had lain down on the couch. "Dagmar," she said in a voice full of lust, "lick me like you were." Dagmar soon was kneeling on the floor by the couch. P'nyssa gestured to Rael, who was sporting a handsome looking penis of his own, to come to her. He straddled her upper body and offered her his cock; she sucked it hungrily.

Personally, I was happy just to sit back and watch at first; it was fascinating watching three Tindals make love, all that blue fur moving, scintillating in the light with sweat. It was neat.

But the scent of their lovemaking reached me, and I had trouble containing myself much longer. The only accessible target to my besotted brain was Dagmar's lovely ass, which was high in the air as she bent over to lick my beloved's pussy, so I unashamedly knelt to the floor and crawled over to her, parting the cheeks of her ass with my hands and plunging my tongue between her buttocks, running it up and down the crack of her ass, from the top where her spine ended to just where I could reach her vagina without bending my neck to the breaking point. I gently probed around her asshole, my tongue coaxing it with gentle pressure. She cooed and pressed back against my face, the fur of her buttocks tickling my cheeks the way all the furred hominds did; it's a pleasant sensation.

I finally decided that this wasn't going to get her any closer to orgasm (forget my own... that was definitely future event.) I lay down on my back on the floor, grabbed a cushion to support my head, and shimmied between Dagmar's legs. I gestured to her and she lowered herself onto my face. This was almost comfortable; at least it was the right angle. I licked her already wet and open cunt; she'd been sliding her own mitten between her legs, stroking herself. Her mitt found my hair and tousled it while I ate her. I heard what was definitely her groan muffled (no pun intended) by P'nyssa's cunt. I licked Dagmar's clit like it was the only thing on Pendor for me. She sometimes lost track of of the fact that I was only human, her legs giving way and settling down on to me. This isn't that bad; my head can take that kind of weight. What I was worried about was breathing; I might have drowned a few times. Was she concentrating on me, or Nyss? Didn't matter, I was deliriously happy.

There was a muffled feminine scream from P'nyssa, followed by one from Dagmar. She got up off of me and extended a ten to help me; I ignored it, she looked none too steady herself. I rose and wiped my mouth off on my arm. She looked at with a similarly wet face. P'nyssa was still lying on the couch looking like she'd been ravaged by a Mongol Horde, her eyes closed tightly and her breath coming in short, hard gasps. Rael was sitting on the edge of the couch. P'nyssa said "Ken, lie down on the floor like you were."

I followed her instructions, lying back down on the floor, which was still warm from earlier. She rose up from the couch and crouched over my groin. Taking my cock in her mitts, she began to stroke me, bringing back to life my erection. With little ceremony she aimed it at her cunt and sank down onto me. The familiar warmth of her pussy felt so good, and I just lie there like she'd asked me to. Her eyes closed again, then opened. "Rael," she said in a hoarse stage whisper, "Take my ass."

Hey! I almost objected. Making love to P'nyssa that way was a rare enough treat for me. But it was okay, I could understand. Rael is a little smaller than I am in the erection department.

Rael smiled and got behind her. I felt him straddle my legs behind her, and could feel him positioning himself. Then, from inside her cunt, I felt it; Rael invading her anus slowly. She let out a high-pitched gasp and almost collapsed, but I caught her by the shoulders. I could feel his cock slowly pushing up against mine through the wall between the two channels; the feeling was fascinating. Then all the motion stopped. We sat there, suspended. Nobody wanted to move first; everybody was afraid of hurting somebody else. Then slowly Nyss rocked forward gently, pulling herself off of us just a centimeter, then slowly backing onto us again. This slow push-pull went on for a while, and I felt Rael take the initiative, slowly withdrawing, then pushing back in. From where I was, I could see P'nyssa's eyes screwed up tight with both pleasure and pain. He slid down; I could feel the head of his cock pushing against the base of mine. Then slowly he slid back in. Then out again. P'nyssa's eyes opened, and she was panting heavily with the effort. "Fuck me, Rael," she said.

Rael began to respond the way I would, slowly, concerned for her. I agreed. But she urged him on, and he responded. I began to respond as well, pushing up and then withdrawing from her cunt. There was a pause in our sex for a moment, and I noticed Dagmar sitting out on the side, masturbating with a simple vibrator pushed up against her clit. She had her eyes glued to Rael and Nyss. Rael began to slide inside Nyss again, slowly fucking her to an increasing tempo. The feeling of our two cocks sliding side by side inside my beloved's body was mind-blowing, and I responded hard, wanting to go on forever and knowing that there was no way it ever would.

I heard Nyss say something in Tindal, a language most people considered "dead," since almost all the natural hominids speak Quen as their base language. I tried to figure it out, but my cock demanded my attention.

I was going to come. I tried to stave it off for as long as I could, but I heard Rael groan aloud and say, "I'm coming P'nyssa!" and I felt him push against her hard enough I almost came all the way out. He pushed a few more times, then collapsed back onto his legs. It was just P'nyssa and me, now. We fucked each other, our eyes staring into the others', making love like never before, knowing that she was pregnant was like magic. Her eyes were needful. We were building together, and I felt that rare link we sometimes get; our orgasm was going to happen at the same time, and she was riding me, and I was slamming into her, and I could feel it, and we were going to...

Come! I shot into her, screaming with release as she collapsed on top of me. I was dizzy. Lost. I wrapped my arms around her and held her tight. Was I crying? Was I that happy? I don't know; all I know was that I remember her sitting up next, looking at me with this huge smile. "Thank you," she said. She was crying.

"You're welcome, coimelin, love-of-my-life." I know there were tears in my eyes. I turned to Dagmar and said, "And thank you too."

Dagmar nodded. She and Rael were cuddling together. "You're very welcome." We rested and then went to bed, P'nyssa with me, Dagmar with Rael, for some sleep.

We awoke the next day and Dagmar insisted on feeding us breakfast. "You'll need your strength for the climb," she kept saying. She at least had the common sense to feed us light fruits and one egg apiece, staying away from greasy meats and breads that would just weigh us down on the trip up. I was grateful.

We said our good-byes, exchanged hugs and kisses. Being bisexual, I felt a touch of regret at not having gotten my hands on Rael when I had the chance, but maybe he would have disagreed. I'm definitely more preferential towards women, anyway.

We walked the kilometer to the stairs and P'nyssa said, "Two and half klicks of stair, right?"

"Something like that."

"And that's... how many stairs?"

"Rael said 14,263."

"Piece of cake."

We began the climb. It took most of the morning, and about an hour after we had the sandwiches Dagmar had made for us we arrived at the top. The Uncia ranch was about 100 meters away, and when we arrived we were greeted by a large female Uncia who had heard about us. She welcomed us in, and surprised us by having fresh fruit and clean water ready (Fruit? In a Uncia hold?). Dagmar had apparently radioed ahead. She also insisted we bunk for a few hours, and P'nyssa and I were so beat we agreed right off.

We awoke just as the shadow was drawing across the sun, heading into dusk. Well, I did; I woke P'nyssa up getting out to the bathroom. She washed up with me, and we dressed and walked out. The Uncia matron, who's name tuned out to be V'Lanj, insisted on feeding us. She was so much like Dagmar I would have accused her of being Dagmar, except I knew there were only eighteen triple-talents on the Ring, and Dagmar isn't one of them. We were thusly fed despite our weak protestations. V'Lanj wisely fed us little and poured great gouts of fresh water down our throats. Her attitude was so characteristic of the rustic, 'domesticated,' Uncia, that I found myself chuckling at the havoc I had wrought. P'nyssa joined in me amusement, and our spirits thus lifted we headed out across the plain. It was only four hours or so before we reached the tree, and Dagmar had been right; it was far easier in the dark.

There was a four-hour difference between Rael's home and the Castle, so when we arrived night had again just fallen. There was a drastic difference between where we had been and the Castle. After all, it was still winter at the Castle, and everything outside my window had turned white with snow. The storm had long blown off, and the Castle was once again airborne. I saw a Centaur, Rhys, I think, tromping through the snow being chased playfully by his youngest colt. It made me smile.

P'nyssa joined me at the chilled window, placing her chin on my shoulder and leaning against me.

"What was that you said in old Tindal?" I asked her.

"When?" she asked.

"When Rael and I were both inside you."

"Oh, that. I said 'It's nice to have the whole family together like this.'" She smiled.

I returned the smile.

"Ready for part two?" she asked.

"Dunno," I said. "If that was part one, it was supposed to be the easy part."

She laughed. "You just wait. The best is yet to come." We watched the ocean lap at the snowbound beach, the winter wonderland.