Chapter 5 ~ The Gallant Tree Inn

 

A white witch and light elf accompany SpaceDog and his companions to The Village at the base of the world tree, (in the third realm of Alfheim) while on a quest to recover a stolen necklace. They plan to speak with the village elders. SpaceDog learns that one of the white witches is his sisters' daughter. Making him...


First There is a Mountain

A gust of wind blows and both Little Kitty and Panda Kitti watch something with great interest as it floats by and lands in front of SpaceDog. Another witch appears, and as her cloak is removed, she bows down kneeling prostrate at SpaceDog's feet.

[Sister Sister]  Star Lord SpaceDog, is your sister, my mother, Bonnie Jean Vanadis expecting you?

[SpaceDog]   Get up silly girl. No, she is not expecting me and I would like to keep it that way, for now. I'm your uncle? Hmmm... curious.

[Sister Sister]  Shall I refer to you as uncle?

[SpaceDog whispers]  If we are related as family, then you know what you should call me.

[Sister Sister whispers]  Yes Freyr.

Sister Sister puts on her cloak and says as she vanishes,

[Sister Sister]  Angela, you are relieved and I will keep vigil this long night. May the Goddess keep you safe.

Angela bows to the invisible witch and turns to the others already following Fontana.

Going down the path to the village, they notice the landscape changes a bit. The stream they were following earlier is now a bit larger and flowing stronger with a lack of vegetation apparent. The terrain has become barren and tall rocks line the sides of the ravine. The stream disappears into a whirlpool and is swallowed up by a hole in the ground. Further down the path in the far distance, they view snow-covered mountains. Fontana walks alongside Lady Robin pointing out pertinent features,

[Fontana]     We used to mine minerals in the rocks up ahead. They are rich with iron, cuprous, magnetite's, lead, tin, and aurum... more commonly known as gold. 

[Lady Robin]  How far is it to your village from here? 

Fontana snickers.

[Fontana]     We turn when the mountain in the distance is no longer there. 

The group continues along the path just a short way when...

[Lady Robin]  Wait! It's gone! What happened to the mountain?

[Fontana]    First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain then there is. And we...

Fontana backs into a large flat rock face and is suddenly gone.

As LeeZee turns around the corner seeing Robin standing alone.

[LeeZee]     Where did Fontana go?

Staring at the flat rock face with her eyes looking a bit bewildered she points to the rock.

[Lady Robin]  He was just there!

[Angela]        It's a riddle and a clue and a method to conceal the village entrance.

Angela walks into the rock and becomes invisible. From the rock wall, we hear her voice emanating.

[Angela]        Don't be afraid. Get your ass into gear and come on.

LeeZee runs, slams her elbow into the rock face at the wrong place then stumbles a bit and falls through the rock. The four male hounds howl at the same time, while the females howl before all run full charge into the rock wall. They too vanish. Robin turns to SpaceDog and Panda Kitti with her mouth open trying to say something with her eyes closed. SpaceDog grabs her hand and Kitti's paw, and all three go towards the rock.

When Lady Robin opens her eyes, she sees a large crystal structure, similar to the one inside the QETS. It is glowing brightly and illuminating a cavern filled with other glowing jewels along the walls. The dogs have gathered in a circle around the crystal structure and everyone else is holding hands, awaiting LeeZee. LeeZee finishes patching the minor scrape on her elbow with a dressing. Fontana, SpaceDog, Trixie, and Angela then sing in unison...

[GROUP]     First there is a mountain. Then there is no mountain. Then there is.

The crystal becomes dark and one side of the cavern vanishes revealing a mountain and a tree so large it appears to be touching the clouds. Fontana says aloud to the group.

[Fontana]    Welcome to Alfheim, home of The World Tree. We still have far to walk before we reach The Village of Elders, so let's get moving.

[Angela]      I'm sure SpaceDog is anxious to see his sister. Would you like to fly there with me?

A smiling Angela says, with a twinkle in her eye.

[Angela]        How about it Star Lord?

[SpaceDog]   Nope, nope, nope, not gonna happen... not yet, the timing is all wrong. You go on and don't tell her I'm on my way.

[Lady Robin]  Is there something wrong?

[SpaceDog]   I think she will be in shock seeing me for the first time in over two centuries. Could you please give Bonnie Jean Vanadis something for me.

SpaceDog takes the dragon egg off his back.

[SpaceDog]   Tell her it is Istanna. She will know what to do.

He hands the egg sack to Angela.

[Angela]        This is Istanna? When? How? Rebirth?

[SpaceDog]   Yes, around mid-day, magic and yes. Shadowfax will be joining us later this evening and he is at 300% after the ceremony. He is just resting so no need to be concerned.

[Fontana]    He was absolutely glowing with the return of his magic. I will describe it in detail to you later.  

Angela takes the dragon egg pack and puts it on her back.

[Angela]        I saw Shadowfax leave your group earlier. This dragon-pack is as light as a feather. Air spirits are amazing creatures.

Angela gives everyone a hug and licks one of Fontana's ears during his hug. She then calls to the animals.

[Angela]        Treats!

SpaceDog and all the dogs note her command. Instinctively, Panda Kitti falls in with the dogs in line. Angela watches her familiar float over to Panda Kitti's shoulder and nods her head at the Cheshire cat.

[Angela]        Okay, okay, I get the picture. You can go with them.

She produces twelve pieces of cured meat sticks and one smoked fish for Little Kitty. She also provides some sugar cane for Panda Kitti.

[Angela]        Wait for it... paws!

Using her magic, she suspends the treats about a hand away from each animals’ outreached paw. When she slaps the Sugar Cane in Kitti's paw, the treats begin to fall and she says,

[Angela]        Go for it!  and not one treat hits the ground...  Panda Kitti and Little Kitty purr with delight and in unison sing out

[Kitti & Kitty]  MEOW!

Angela pulls her cloak over her head and disappears...


The Village of Elder

On the walk to the village, the group pass under long rows of grape arbors that shade the road and supply the travelers with fruit. Assorted vegetables grow and cling to the wood and stone structures. They pass many cultivated crops and an intricate irrigation system keeping water flowing in the fields, provided from rain runoff. Beasts of every kind graze the many fields between the crops amid the stone walls and fancy iron & brass gates. The hounds begin to weave in a pattern like a dance, or braiding hair as they move down the road. Songbirds can be heard and the smell in the air is very refreshing. White fluffy clouds with an occasional shower produce rainbows and a cool breeze. As they get closer to the village, more fruit and nut-producing trees are seen providing a canopy for the road. Soon they come to several homes and eventually arrive at many closely-packed buildings where folks are busy with everyday chores; cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc... We hear the hammering of a blacksmith as we come to a congested area filled with market goods.

Someone shouts out Fontana's name and he waves his hand at his friend. Speaking to SpaceDog,

[Fontana]     We are almost at the village square. Any idea where you would like to spend the night?

SpaceDog ponders as he looks around the square before answering.

[SpaceDog]   Is the Water Works still open or The Gallant Tree Inn?

[Fontana]     The Water Works burned on the last twin moons after a bar brawl. A black elf somehow got into the village and was killed in a fight with a dark elf whose family was kidnapped. It's been rebuilt, but...

[SpaceDog]   Smells like a Vomitorium, right? Never could find anything to get the smell of black blood out of the floor, could they?

[Lady Robin]  Vomitorium - A place in which, according to popular misconception, the ancient Romans, on Earth, are supposed to have vomited during feasts to make room for more food?

[Fontana]      Even after they removed all the timber, the smell of death still lingers in that place and is now the 'red light/black star' district. Oh, next to The Gallant Tree they tapped into a hot spring and opened a bathhouse. I highly recommend it and bathe there often. It has separate areas for males, females and family co-habitants.

The big grin SpaceDog tries to hide is not overlooked by Lady Robin, Kanda Kitti or LeeZee.

[Panda Kitti]  Meow, kitties don't like baths, meow. We would purrrfer to get licked clean, meow!

Kitti is looking at Little Kitty who is still sitting on her shoulder. Both Lady Robin and LeeZee take SpaceDog by an arm and Robin whispers,

[Lady Robin]  I wouldn't mind being licked dry after a nice Hot Bath...

[LeeZee]        Sounds like a plan to me.

SpaceDog begins to chuckle and turns left at the next street. When the street ends they turn right where two buildings, with a walkway between them, are dwarfed by the World Tree behind them. The Gallant Tree Inn looks small by comparison but is much larger than any of the surrounding buildings.

Inside the stone and wood building, a great staircase leads up to the landing on the upper floor surrounded by twenty-one-bed chambers. On the first, there is a dining area with both tables and booths that fill the right The room is warmed by an open fireplace in the center. The kitchen is in the back and a lounge is located on the left side with an entrance to the public bathhouse and spa. When entering the Inn, they are greeted by a short, busty elf maiden with long white hair in a red and white dress who immediately stands up, bows, and in several languages, welcomes us. Once she raises her head, her eyes grow wide open and a huge grin brightens her smile. She jumps up from behind the counter and shouts,

[ ~Cyn~ ]      DADDY! You're Home!

She runs up and hugs SpaceDog like he was a long lost father, steps back, does a 360 spin making her long hair and dress fly about, her chest shakes and she falls back into place before composing herself. She walks behind the counter, sits on a stool and puts her chin in her hands smiling.

[ ~Cyn~ ]       How've you been Star Lord? 

[Lady Robin]  Daddy?

Robin questions and steps over to look at the elf looks her up and down, looks back at SpaceDog and again,

[LeeZee   Daddy?

SpaceDog begins to laugh hysterically, looks up, puts his hands together, winks at Robin and LeeZee, motions with his fingers for them to come closer. He puts his arm around their necks and whispers loud enough for all to hear,

[SpaceDog]   She is one of my adopted children. I own this place. She lives and works here with me, so, we have a place to stay.

[Fontana]      So you're the owner that nobody talks about?

SpaceDog turns his head on its side and looks at Fontana while shaking his head yes. He looks back to the counter where the elfin girls large eyes are glued to him and says,

[SpaceDog]   Get back over here and give your dad a proper sinful hug, Cyn.

Again she gets up from behind the counter saying,

[ ~Cyn~ ]    Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy!! You're home and Cyn has been so lonely these past two sets of twin moons!

She runs up and hugs SpaceDog again pressing her soft chest hard against his. She steps back, does another 360 spin, hugs him again, backs up and bows, waiting for his praise. SpaceDog places his hand on her long white hair and pats her head making Cyn blush and then smile.

[SpaceDog]   Cyn, my gorgeous child, I love you with all my three hearts! 

LeeZee with an air of wonder.

[LeeZee]      You will never stop surprising me Star Lord. What's next?

[SpaceDog]   Relax Captain Lindsey Smith. We've got a lot to discuss before meeting the elders. We will talk later. I think we could all use a good hot bath, don't you?

SpaceDog turns back to Cyn.

[SpaceDog]   Has...

[ ~Cyn~ ]     Yes, Angela came and delivered the package a while ago and told me you were arriving. Your sister is in the co-ed spa, but I don't think she knows you're here yet. I've reserved the best rooms for your guests that overlook the town. Will five be enough?

[SpaceDog]   We only require three at the moment, my suite and two additional. Make that four. Fontana, you are staying the night, my treat. We really have not made sleeping arrangements yet. LeeZee? Kitti? Want to cohabit a room together?

[Panda Kitti]  Meow Yes!

Panda Kitti looking at LeeZee who nodes in agreement. Little Kitty, who is sitting on Pandas' shoulder, bats Pandas' ear with her paw and telepathically says  'Meeeow too'.

Cyn gets out the Valknut keys along with robes and towels from the supply closet. Cyn looks at the dogs,

[ ~Cyn~ ]     The rooms have clean sheets and the waste facilities are behind the tapestry with a double moon. Only one moon means it

s occupied. Pups? The usual room closest to your master?

The dogs sit up in agreement, with the exception of Marina who rolls over on her back letting Cyn know she will sleep anyplace on the floor. Cyn hands the Valknut key to room three to LeeZee, the Valknut to room two to Patty Smith and puts the third key to room one between Robin's breasts.

[ ~Cyn~ whispers Let Daddy fetch that...

[ ~Cyn~ ]     Oh, and here's your key Fonna. I will tell Angela where you are staying.

She winks at Fontana before he walks into the kitchen. Panda Kitti hands over the basket of fruits and vegetables to Cyn who accepts them with a smile.

[ ~Cyn~ ]    Take your things to your room, then go to the baths and wash. Tea will be served just before the sun's set. Daddy, welcome home. I'll make your favorite curry tonight along with some sweet potato crepes. 

On the side of the inn, a covered walkway leads to the hot springs area and the three guest baths on the second floor. On the ground floor, there are larger public baths which are fed by a hot spring. Before SpaceDog took over the Inn, he used sophisticated equipment to survey property and created several large holes in the rocks down to the volcanic underground water chamber. While doing this, he tapped into the roots of the world tree and found it to be an exceptional source of minerals that could rejuvenate most living things. A sign detailing the source of the water was posted at the entrance to the bathhouse. 

When guests enter a room, they find a small table with two chairs, a chest for storing supplies at the foot of a large bed and a wardrobe for clothes. There is a washbasin and an assortment of dragon glass and ceramic containers. On two of the walls are thick tapestries that hang muffling any sound from adjacent rooms. In the wall opposite the door, two large clear glass framed windows are surrounded by stained glass. On either side of the windows, shutters can be opened to allow fresh air inside. The rooms are very comfortable with apparent heat from under the flooring. There is also a chamber pot for emergencies and the outbuilding is located outside and contains stalls for male or females waste-recycling. From the top of the stairs, turning left takes you to the covered hall that leads to the private hot spa entrance only for inns guests.  The group soon gathers to explore the luxuries of their new accommodations...


Bathhouse and The Awakening

On the first floor, the Public Bath House has an attendant taking money or bartered goods and provides towels and baskets for holding clothes or other belongings. There are thick opaque glass windows surrounding the bath area for lighting during the day, but the bath is closed at sunset. Public bathing pools are lined with tile; blue for men and pink for females. Families and couples have gray and white tiled rooms. There are also private changing rooms.

Entering the open-air spa on the second story (across from the Inns guest room) there are no changing areas, only three baths divided by opaque stone walls two meters high. Behind the walled-off rooms, each huge pool is lined with assorted large smooth black, blue, gray and white tiles. Flowing from holes in the wall, waist-deep hot water flows out on the opposite side into washbasins used prior to bathing. Underwater benches provide seating along the sides. On one side of each bathing pool is a raised area for towels. A handrail is provided for a leisurely entrance into the water. Looking up, there is no roof, only a clear sky with sunlight in the morning, shade in the afternoon from the World Tree, and stars or moonlight at night. Torches are not allowed for fear of contamination but wax candles provide illumination near the washbasin areas.

The companions find their assigned rooms. LeeZee unlocks the door and Panda Kitti enters first and pounces on the bed. Little Kitty flies across the room, floats down and perches on a cushioned chair.

[Panda Kitti]    Meeeow! This feels so nice.

They purr in unison. LeeZee sets down her heavy pack and sorts out her gear before dropping everything (including her clothes). She strips down to nothing, wraps herself in a towel and heads out the door to the spa..

[LeeZee]      Lock the door if you go out, ok? 

Panda Kitti rolls over onto her back and paws at the air making purring sounds as she quickly falls asleep.


[SpaceDog]   I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a good long soak in the Hot Springs.

Walking up the stairs and going to his room with a towel in hand, he finds the door to the room locked. SpaceDog hunts for the key and finds Lady Robin bending over showing him its hidden location..

[SpaceDog]   Did Cyn put that in your treasure trove? I bet she wanted me to go fetch it like the dog I am, right?

SpaceDog produces the key from its hiding place in a flash so quickly that Lady Robin never feels a thing and he holds it up like a prized possession.

[Lady Robin]  How did you?

Robin is puzzled by SpaceDog's tricky fingers. Unlocking the door he tosses the key back into Lady Robin’s treasured chest. On entering the room, SpaceDog sits and removes his boots before walking over to the wardrobe where he removes his wool tuxedo and shirt. Robin enters the room and looks around.

[Lady Robin]  What's that sweet smell?

SpaceDog points to the large tree between the two windows decorated with ornaments and pieces of paper tied with string hanging on the branches,

[SpaceDog]   That, my dear, is the smell of a newly grown World Tree. A seed pod landed on my head and I planted it sixty-nine days ago and that is how much it has grown. I'm not sure if I should plant it outside or cast a spell to stunt its growth and turn it into a bonsai. Smells refreshing, doesn't it? The hot speings smells the same because I tapped into one of the roots of the World Tree.

Robin sits on the soft bed..

[Lady Robin]  How many children do you have?

[SpaceDog]   Biological children, only three. I have only seen one shortly after he was born. His mother, Gerd, left and took him with her. His twin was born late and nearly died. She was removed from my care when I had a breakdown.. In all my travels throughout the ages; I have never come across him again. That day in history is the only time I have been banned from traveling. Please don’t ask me why. The other is a half-elf by the name Rosemary. I lost touch with her and her mother shortly after she matured into an adult.

[[Lady Robin]  Sorry! I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.

[SpaceDog]    Don’t get your knickers in a twist. Over a lifetime, I have adopted over 500 children like Cyn, Dee, Ruu and…

[Lady Robin]  Now I’ve met Cyn and I presume she is your latest adopted daughter? She's very sexy if you ask me.

Lady Robin begins to get undressed and turns away from SpaceDog who is removing his trousers.

[SpaceDog]   It was a package deal. Cyn, Dee, Ruu, and CeFuu run The Gallant Tree Inn as my adopted family. Cyn and Dee are polar opposite twins yet both are geniuses and get along with everyone. Ruu and CeFuu are also twins but are sons of different mothers. Their now-deceased father, Harri, was a good friend of mine for many cycles and also the father of Cyn and Dee. I know, it gets very complicated. 

SpaceDog (wearing only a towel), walks over to an old chest and opens to reveal a cooler with cobalt bottles like those found in the QETS. He takes one out and waves it in Robin's direction. She declines while looking at all the interesting artifacts surrounding the room. He puts it back and gets out a light blue clear bottle. When she finally turns around, he's walking through the door.

[SpaceDog]   Lock the room and join me in the spa.


The Bath

On entering the bath, they find LeeZee having her hair washed by a young dark-skinned elf. Three other elves are with a woman soaking in the water. SpaceDog removes his towel, rinses off and steps in.

[SpaceDog]   Bonnie Jean Vanadis, it’s been too long sister.

His sister is a gorgeous long haired brunette. She sits with attitude and with a sarcastic tone in her voice, says...

[Jean Vanadis]  Damn Freyr, I thought you dropped into the eighth realm of Hel and lost your way home. Sheesh! What brings you back from the dead anyway? Have you been chasing those Valkyrie wenches again? Who’s the redhead? How’s Shadowfax doing? Where is my son and when will he come to see me?

[SpaceDog]   Will you stop calling me by the name Freyr, please. Well, it is good to see you too, sis. The QETS brought me here and I'm not dead yet. I have not been with a Valkyrie in a while. Jean, this is Lady Robin and she is from Midgard. Lady Robin, this is my twin sister. These days, she is calling herself, Bonnie Jean Vanadis. Shadowfax is doing exceptionally well for a young unicorn and your son should be here, after the moons are high. How long have you been the village elder? Did you get the egg? Where are you living these days? Have you seen Gerd or Rosie?

[Lady Robin]  It’s an honor to meet you Elder Vanadis. Twins? You don't look like twins.

Lady Robin says bowing. Both SpaceDog and Bonnie Jean burst out laughing and hug one another before splashing each other with water and behaving like two children.

[Jean Vanadis]  I have been an elder for 179 cycles I think. Yes, Angela surprised me when she delivered Istanna. I put her in the hot tub drying room after I converted it into an incubation chamber. I am living at, Tree Fort, with my daughter, Sister Sister. I still have not heard anything about Rosemary, your son or Gertrude, sorry Luv.

[SpaceDog]   We are twins, but don't look the same. She kept her appearance but changed her hair color.  I changed my appearance entirely with an artifact to prevent Odin from recognizing me and I have morphed into a fox in centuries.

Robin strolls to the female side of the community bath for some privacy.

The dark-skinned male elf says,

[ ~Ruu~ ]       Hello Dad. Dee should be here when she is finished cleaning the public baths. Speak of the demon child…

Dee throws a bar of soap at Ruu. He catches it a hand away from his face, throws it back double speed at Dee. She catches it with her knife.

[ ~Dee~ ]      Love you too, Ruu. 

LeeZee looks up while Ruu dries her hair on some hot rocks.

[LeeZee]        Wow, just one big happy family, aren’t we.

[Jean Vanadis]  And you are a friend of my brother? 

~pause~

[Jean Vanadis]  Wait! I know you… you’re my brother's Goddaughter Lindsey? Gracious you have grown from the child I met last time I saw my brother. Have your talents awakened?

LeeZee almost in a panic,

[LeeZee]     Will someone, PLEASE, explain what this awakening is?

[Jean VanadisYou mean he’s still keeping it a secret? How old are you? Now, cycles or years, doesn't matter. Tell me!

[LeeZee]     I just turned 33 a month ago. Years…

Bonnie Jean makes an odd hand signal SpaceDog recognizes.

[SpaceDog]   Everyone out of the water except LeeZee and sis. I want you, LeeZee, sitting in the bath. You will find a round seat in the center! We are about to awaken your gifts. Remember when Istanna gave you, a breath of Chi energy with a kiss?

(Looking at LeeZee, he points to the center of the bath)

[Jean Vanadis]  You are about to feel something truly amazing. The transformation will commence now!

Bonnie Jean Vanadis instructs LeeZee.

[Jean Vanadis]  Put your hands on my brother's head. Whatever happens, do not let go!

Kneeling behind LeeZee in the water, she places one hand on LeeZees' hip and the other on her shoulder. Closing his eyes, SpaceDog does the same to her opposite side facing LeeZee.

Bubbles start to rise in the water surrounding the three. The two siblings begin to breathe together simultaneously. At each breath, a yellow mist appears from both SpaceDog and Bonnie Jean's mouths surrounding the succubus. LeeZee begins to panic and shakes her arms violently when Star Lord and his sister begin chanting, first in dragon speak, then elfish, then something totally unknown to translation. When they stop chanting, the bathwater steam suddenly disappears as the water goes cold. LeeZee begins to smile as tears fall torrentially from her eyes....  she SCREAMS,

[LeeZee screams]     CHOCOLATE FUCKING ORGASM!!!

Lady Robin run back into the room half-naked...

[Lady RobinWhat just happened? 

Three World Tree seedpods suddenly fall from above into the spa with an echoing Splash! Splash!! Splash!!!


Chapter 4 Book 1 Chapter 6
All Books Chapter 4 Chapters Chapter 6