Overqualified, Mouthy Princesses.
King Xander looked over his messengers who had just run in from the military off-country to help King Mac's people from a problem going on beyond his borders. "Okay, what's the problem that's causing the problems?"
"The country across the land bridge, the one that's partially covered by the ocean outside a few days a year, is having a civil war, Sire," one said.
The other nodded. "He was stationed by the bridge and I was ordered to sneak over to see what was going on at the nearest town. The leaders are having a revolt. They have a ruling council mostly, though there's two kings since their kingdoms joined. There's rumors that a third kingdom, from their other side, has joined in but no one had seen him."
"Why are they fighting?" Consort Genjo Sanzo asked patiently. "Is it over military things or bad crops? Something insidious?"
"It's political," the first messenger said. The other nodded. "That's all anyone knows. It's an internal politics manner."
"Which often happen when there's ruling councils," Xander agreed. He considered it. "Is it spreading?"
"Maybe to that third kingdom. We don't know much about them other than we buy some rare metals and crystals from them, Sire," the second messenger stated.
"Okay," Xander said, looking at his consort. Who shrugged. They looked at the messengers again. "We'll continue to support King Mac's protection while someone gathers information on what's really going on over there. We know he's got some military but by no means as large as ours. If ours want to cross-train with them, they do a lot more work in mountains than we do. So that's fine. I will not allow our military to act up like my stepfather would've allowed. If I hear of one *single* incident I'm going to have the general beaten to death then pile his unit on top of his body to burn alive. Am I clear?" The messengers both nodded.
"Good. Because if Queen Stella wanted to help I'd gladly let her. She's sweet that way." He smiled. One of the messengers shuddered but nodded harder. "Let me know as things happen. They can fire call if they want. If it becomes a running to save themselves thing, let Mac make the decisions for his own country but we may take in refugees. Goddess knows we need new blood in the country anyway." They all nodded and left. Xander shifted to look at his consort. "Have we heard anything about them?"
"I haven't," he admitted. "They've never sent diplomatic missions to my natal people." He grimaced. "Or here?"
"No. Even when my stepfather was flouncing around being a warlord. Get General Asherton!" he yelled. "He's so old he was ancient when I was a little kid learning how to train horses," he told his spouse.
"Ancient warriors do tend to live on," he agreed dryly. "Even if they're just myths."
"Not him. General Asherton could out drink my father and then beat his ass while still being mostly sober."
"Your stepfather had many woosey ways, Sire," the old man said as he limped in on his fake leg. "I was up here anyway, figured you'd want to know about those people."
"Not like we had military historians most of the time," Xander agreed dryly.
"Nah, your stepfather had 'em locked up for being dumbasses about his win by tripping into someone so they fell on their own swords." He bowed slightly to the consort. "I've known this one since he was squealing 'horsies' while pointing, Consort Sanzo."
"Which is why my stepfather decided I'd do good training them," Xander quipped with a grin for his spouse.
"Yup. Sure couldn't have counted on your half-brother, who was just as stupid as his father." He stared at them. "That country has a knighthood like King James and Princess Gregory's people do for doctors. Theirs is based on skills and honor, mostly. A few just have egos and skills so they made it onto the top tier. Their Knight Generals are in charge and have the Council itself. They have some cutesy name for those on the council for being so high up."
"So why are they fighting?" Genjo asked.
"Near as any bards have heard, the two top Knight Generals are arguing about listing all the ones who want to be knights."
"For ranking or education?" Genjo asked.
"No, because when they have attacks, they do a lot of damage," he said dryly. "One side figures it's a good idea after some of the things that've went on, the other one thinks it'll be misused and make them basically slaves to the system. They're taking sides but it may just split the two countries again."
"We heard a third king was involved," Xander said.
"Hmm. From beyond their borders probably. They get a lot of special stuff from them. The engineering college really adore those people but they don't let much out of their borders." Xander nodded once, considering it. "Could be he's there to take up one side over the other. Could be he's there because we heard about a problem that took out the old King's father at some King's meeting their people attend." Xander nodded once again. "Could be both really."
"I've allowed them to send refugees here. We could definitely use the new blood," Xander told him.
"Thank you!" the general shot back smartly with a grin. "We definitely could."
"I've also allowed cross-training with King Mac's people if they wanted to. They do a lot more work in mountains than we have." The general smirked and nodded. "And I've ordered that if we have one immoral break of the rules I'll be beating the general to death then burning his whole unit on top of his body while they're alive. If Queen Stella doesn't have a better idea."
The general burst out laughing and nodding. "That's a good thing. You haven't let them be lax but things happen during campaigns we'd rather not see. Especially not with strong allies like King Mac or King Horatio. I used to tie those sort to a tree and whip them until they begged to be sold into slavery as some troll's husband."
Xander grinned. "I like that." His consort swatted him with his battle fan. "It's that or a nice tent in the woods and we'd run out of space pretty soon with some units."
The general laughed so hard he coughed. "I thought that was very fitting, Sire. With all he did, he deserved it. Especially after I heard about the demon summoning stuff he hid from all of us." He grinned at the consort. "We like him being mean. It's suitable. We'd think he was weak if he wasn't mean enough." He looked at his king. "So far all that you've decided is sound strategy."
"Should we offer them help?" Genjo asked.
"No. That's one we need to stay out of," the general said. "They'll see us as an outside threat and merge back together to fight it." Both rulers nodded. "Then go back to fighting probably."
"I've seen that happen," Xander said. "Okay. Let us know if you hear things we haven't. I haven't heard from a bard recently since they're off sucking up to King Aaron for his bard's festival."
"I can do that, Sire. Have a good day dealing with the complaining ones that huffed that I came in first."
"Thanks for the warning," Genjo said dryly. The general smirked as he limped off. He looked at Xander. "Is it our day to hear complaints?"
"It is," he said. "I'm hoping one of them's Princess Gregory back from his vacation in King Steve's country."
"That was pretty and our surrogate is supposed to come back with him." Genjo shifted. "We need new pillows out here." Xander pointed so he went to get one that padded his butt better as people were let in. He sat down, getting comfortable. "Better."
Xander grinned. "I switch mine every few days so I don't flatten them into my butt's shape so they don't get too thin in spots." He looked at the complaining people. "Where is the majordomo?" he demanded when they all started to complain at once. All but one younger woman in the back. "You are all rude," he noted. "I can only help one thing at a time and since you all decided you were first, I'm going to take the one that didn't have that problem." He pointed at her. "Ma'am, what's your complaint?" he asked, smiling at her.
"Sire, I wish to find refuge for someone."
"We do take in good people who need to run from their homes due to certain threats."
"Why is that one running?" Consort Genjo asked.
"An alchemist and mage had him," she said quietly.
Xander nodded. "We know something about them. Have him brought here. We'll probably guard him until he's healed. We have others."
She smiled and nodded. "That is what I was hoping, King Xander. He'll be here tonight. He has...a few problems that he's still healing."
"Princess Gregory should be back sometime today. Talk with him and me about that later." She nodded and bowed, backing out of the throne room. He looked at his majordomo who was huffing in. "Is Gregory back yet?"
"Not yet, Sire. We got notice they docked a few hours late last night. I've sent a messenger to meet him about that refugee when I found out why she was here. Alchemists really do peeve and bother people too much these days." He looked at his list. "I have the first signed in as Capitol town and The Farms."
Xander waved them up. "What's the problem?"
"Sire, the farms aren't going to give us anything," one of them complained. "Can't we take over an area that's more fertile?"
"That area you want to take over is full of privately owned farms and poor people. We don't have anywhere else to put them."
"The farms used to produce quite well," he said, looking at the majordomo. "I don't remember any reports on bad growing out there."
"No, there never were, Sire. They were more than able to provide for the nearest towns." He took their maps to look at. "That's not suitable, that's crown given land. You can't just claim that."
"He could allow it."
Xander took the map to look at, grimacing. "No. I'm not going to allow that. Though that one large farm?" He looked at the town's representative. "Whose?"
"The orphanage, Sire."
"That's reasonable. They need the food security and they have a ton of people there at the moment thanks to that last sickness." He looked at the farm manager. "Why do you think it won't produce?"
"The ground isn't suitable for growing."
"Did you prepare it with manure in the fall when I allowed them to be reopened?" he asked.
"Yes, Sire. It's still bad soil."
"I'll have one of the coven go check it. They can tell field fertility and if there's something off in the soil." The man huffed. Xander stared at him. "If so we'll work on something like a few outside of the town's area. Not on anyone's land but near the town. There's a small field near the woods that might do. It's right on the road so you can haul things easier."
"The woods are foul and no one would eat the crops grown there," the farm manager complained.
The town's leader looked at him. "People who're hungry eat anything." He looked at the king. "We went out there yesterday to see what they were complaining about and didn't find anything wrong, but the fields hadn't even been tilled yet, Sire."
"I can go inspect," Xander offered. "I need to check the orphanage to make sure they're handling the extra mouths easily enough anyway. That was my pet project as a teenager." The farm manager glared at him. He stared back. "It's on the way."
"Or we could find a better farm manager," Genjo said. "By his actions it seems he wants the fields to fail." He looked at Xander. "That one father may do well."
"That he may. It would be closer to his children as well," he agreed. "Shawn's father was very sweet." The town's manager smiled but tried to hide it. "The children?"
"Very sweet, Sire. They were in town yesterday selling flowers they grew. The boys hated the flowers but their sister pointed out it made them good money. Shawn had been cooing at the flowers each time they got sold so they'd go happily to their new home."
"That's too cute," Genjo said dryly. "We'll see if we need a new farm manager and make sure the orphanage is suitable tomorrow sometime." The farm manager stomped off fuming. The town's manager smiled and nodded, bowing before walking off. Genjo sipped his tea and waved his fan at the majordomo. "More like that?"
"No, Sire. A request from the Southern provinces." They came forward.
"What's the request?" Xander asked.
"We'd like to open another wedding facility, Sire."
He considered it. "The present one is doing good business. Is there enough down there that would need it? I haven't heard we had any problems with overcrowding."
"There's some that don't want to travel," one said. "We probably couldn't use one as large as that one, but we could use a smaller one."
"I have nothing against that," Xander agreed. "I was planning on putting one near the crossroads if we needed a second one. That's near a lot of things like the flower growing areas." They nodded with a smile. "I don't mind a plan being drawn up and all that. I don't want it to go empty and be paying people to work there that mean it costs everyone money."
"We've talked about it. Just small ones wouldn't do that and we could staff it only during the work times. We have a few orphanages down there that could do the work on those terms to earn pocket money for their futures." Xander nodded. "We can bring you a full plan?"
"Please do," Genjo said. "I'm happy that our one up here was strong enough to hold up to my cousin's last wedding." He shook his head with a sigh.
Xander grinned at him. "I'm glad they didn't ask us to view the wedding night."
"Me too." He looked at the commoners. "That would be fine. Bring us a full plan." They nodded and left to fire call their people. They could send it up faster than those ones could travel back and then back up here. It'd take most of a day each way.
Xander looked at the majordomo. "Next?"
"Next is ...." He looked out at the commotion. "I believe that's our new refugee, Sire."
He got up and walked out there. "What's going on?"
"This man is a wanted felon," one of the guards ordered. The guy fought him until he was down.
Xander stepped in, staring at him. "Tell me what's going on?"
"Who're you?" he ground out.
"The king." He grinned. "We take in refugees who need us to and aren't trouble. The woman outside trying to protect you asked for sanctuary for you."
"They'll come for me. I can't stay here."
"No one wants to come here, sir. They don't want the asskicking they'd get." He put a hand on his arm, which was metal. "That's interesting but does it hurt?"
"It's...they replaced mine," he said. He pulled away. "They'll hurt your people to get me."
Xander smiled. "I doubt that. We're former warlord's people. What's your name?"
"I'm King Xander." He nodded. "Come, let's talk about these people after you. Are they the ones that decided you're a felon?" He nodded. "Is it an alchemist?"
"He's the head of the army."
"Okay, we're good at defeating them." He smiled. "Get that one that asked for refuge here." He led him off to a quiet area in the kitchen. "Sit. Eat. You need food. Are you injured? We have an Ascelpian Kingdom healer on his way back from vacation. He's the court's official doctor." The guy stiffened. "He will not hurt you. Maybe call you names because Princess Gregory's really not a nice guy, but he won't hurt you. None of my people will hurt you because they know I'd kill them in a horrible manner." He pushed him back into the seat. "Cook?" She brought over tea and sandwiches. "Thank you." The blonde young woman from earlier walked in and smiled. "This one, miss?"
"Him, Sire, yes. Thank you." She hugged him. "Are you all right?"
He looked at her, shaking his head. "No."
"Then we'll figure it out. King Xander is the most protective person ever. Even more than King Steve was when you were hiding in his kingdom and took down some of his evil."
"I had fun helping with that too," Xander quipped with a grin. "King Steve's a really nice guy. I want to be him when I grow up." The girl laughed. He looked at the guy. "You are safe here unless you act to harm my kingdom or my people. Understood?" He nodded once. "If they try to hurt you, we'll handle it together because I'm the fierce bitch of the kings council. So for now, rest. We'll let Princess Gregory make sure any injuries are healing, without doing anything else to you or to your arm, and then we'll talk tonight? When things are calmer? Right now we have complaints and ideas from the country."
"I...I don't want them hurt."
The cook swatted him with a smile. "His stepfather ruled us for years and he was a warlord. There's not a baby in this country who can't protect themselves. Even his future hellions will be able to." Xander nodded. "We don't allow for doing anything less."
"This is not the kingdom of damsels," Xander agreed. "That's my consort's people." The cook burst out laughing and swatted him but went back to her roasting meats. "He's a Sanzo," Xander quipped with a grin.
Genjo walked in. "They are very damsel like at times," he agreed dryly. "An honor duel you've stopped twice?"
"Over that one maiden's kid or the other one?"
"I told them I was going to kill both potential fathers and give all their worldly belongings to that kid since the mother said she was coerced into laying with them during a festival by means of alcohol." He looked toward the door, waving at the page in the hall. "Open the door for me?" He did that. "I said either you two figure it the fuck out or I'm going to kill you both and make your kid inherit everything you own," he yelled. "The kid's six. It should've been figured out six and a half years ago!" He heard choking.
"Consider yourselves in great trouble when I find you if you don't fix it today!" He heard choking and smiled at the page, who closed the door and walked off giggling. Xander grinned at Genjo. "Happened right before I went to the academy," he quipped. "I didn't want to deal with them then. They knew not to bring it to my stepfather. He would've killed the kid and them, then raped the mother probably," he finished with a sigh. He grinned at the new guy. "I'm not like that and I've pretty well purged all that taint from here. If you find more, let me know." He walked off. "I'll have Princess Gregory hike in here once he gets back in a few hours. Find him a spot to rest."
"Xander is very proactive," Genjo said. "He's also the sort to get out of a sickbed to fight for the people. As he proved once. If you need things, let us know. I have three guards around here if you need more help." He stared at him. "Xander is fair but kind," he said quietly. Then he walked off.
The younger woman nodded, hugging his good arm again. "He is. That's why we asked for sanctuary here," she said quietly. "He's helped others."
"I... they'll come."
"They won't come. No one wants to mess with King Xander." She grinned. "Not even King Steve."
"Oh." He looked at the food, sniffing it before eating and drinking. Maybe he was safe here for a few days. It would be good to rest for a few days.
Xander looked up at the military attache to the groups in King Mac's country stomped in. Apparently he had left just after the messengers since they had only been there a few hours earlier. A lot of traffic from that way could be worrying. "Sire, they're going to fuss about any refugees."
"We will take in refugees," he said bluntly. "They're safe here and if they fall in love here, even better since we could use the new blood." He stared at him. "Why would they fuss otherwise?"
"We have heard that their country is a bit crowded," Genjo said from his seat on the couch for the visiting princesses. He looked up from his book. "We're not keeping them hostage and they can go back when things are sorted out if they wish."
"It's a long way to get here," the attache said.
Xander nodded. "But safe. That whole path is safe."
"There's mages who have threatened their people before, Sires."
Xander nodded. "We know about them too. They're generally stopped by something to the head. Even if it doesn't kill them outright, they can't cast magic with a concussion."
The attache blinked a few times. "Really?" Xander grinned and nodded. "Huh. I hadn't thought of that." Xander smiled. "I'll pass that along. What if the intervening countries don't like it?"
"We can do a carriage caravan," Genjo said. "We can fire call them. That's only four countries and all of them wouldn't mind the new blood. We can route around the corner of Pelgar's insanity the road goes near."
"He's putting up a fence anyway," Xander said. "To keep all undesirables out."
The attache nodded once. "Yes, Sire. I'll let them know. The generals wanted to know if we wanted to send a peace mission?"
"We are not going to step into a civil war situation to be the evil that they merge to fight against," Xander said bluntly. "We hold no stand on the issue they're fighting over. We're friendly, not stupid. If the people need help we're there. If the ruling council or whatever needs help, they need to take their fight away from their people. Before they don't have a country anymore. King Mac would not want to extend his borders that way and we don't have a kid who'd need their own kingdom yet."
The attache smiled but nodded. "Yes, Sire. I'll let them know. I'll also liaise with the groups on the way back there so no one has a fit about us shipping refugees in." He bowed and left.
Xander looked at his princess, who shrugged. "It's sound," Genjo agreed. He looked outside. "I hear Gregory bitching about sore asses. Must've not been a good vacation if the sex was that bad." Xander snickered, smiling at Gregory when he stomped in. "Was the sex that bad that you complained all the way home?" Genjo asked him politely.
"Fuck yourself," he ground out. "I rode back when I got the message." He looked at Xander. "I hate riding."
"Then go on your back instead?" he guessed with a grin. Gregory glared. He grinned. Irritating Princess Gregory was one of the most fun things to do in his day.
"Whatever. I heard we're having a problem?"
"We have one refugee. We're getting some more probably from that kingdom beyond King Mac's people. They're having a civil war among their ruling council." Gregory groaned, shaking his head. "One of them was caught in the crossfire. He's been injured by an alchemist who heads an army. He's concerned they'll come here for him."
"Like hell you'd allow that," Princess Gregory snorted. "Where is he?"
"Resting. He was exhausted and needed to eat," Xander said. "I'll take you. He's up by my rooms." He slid off his throne and looked at the pillow, tossing it onto the couch.
"I do not need to be assaulted by your butt stink," Genjo said, tossing the pillow that had hit him onto the nearby part of the couch. "Thank you anyway."
Xander grinned. Gregory smirked at him. "Maybe if you got up close and personal with his ass like that pillow you'd be a happier person, Genjo." They walked off.
Genjo snorted. "I'll meditate on that later," he called after them. "Right after some beers and a good smoke." He went back to his book in case something showed up before Xander got back.
Xander walked Gregory upstairs, slowly in deference to his bad leg. Xander knocked on the door, smiling at the young woman. "This is Princess Gregory, our palace's healer from the Asclepian kingdom."
"Well met, Princess Gregory," she said. "He's not exactly sleeping."
"Sometimes sleep hurts," Xander said. "The nightmares can't come if you're not down on that level." The guy sat up on the bed. "This is Healer Gregory." He pointed. "Let me know if you need anything more than what we have in the stores. I know the military units going that way raided the bandages and things." He left them alone.
Gregory looked at her. "You can stay so he feels safe. Not like I'm that mean to most people but I know he's not sure of things yet."
"The alchemists did things that we don't even know about and he doesn't remember."
"That's fine. I've seen them do some evilly stupid things." He came over. "Relax, kid. I'm not going to do more than check you over and make sure you don't need immediate help for injuries." He stared at him. "Then I'm going to give you something I use with the king when he can't sleep from the nightmares. It'll knock you deep enough that you can't dream for a few hours."
"Then I won't be able to fight back if they come."
Gregory leaned down to get into his face. "If they come, you won't get a hit in anyway. Xander will be there in front of all that. He's like that." He smirked. "Xander got out of a bed where he had been in a coma a few weeks earlier to go fight a great evil battle a few countries over. He's just like that. You and I won't even have to do more than clap. If we do, Princess Sam will throw a huge fit and summon demons to eat them. He likes that way of fighting. Or shooting them." He grinned. "Okay?" He nodded, taking off his shirt. "Pants too, junior. Just in case something needs to be healed."
"I have faster healing for injuries."
Gregory blinked. "What were they doing to you?"
"I was their Soldier, their Asset."
"Oh, fuck. That's so fucking stupid of someone!" Gregory complained. "I'll be damned if they get up here. Xander will destroy them for that." He looked at the metal arm, grimacing. "I can't even guess as to it being working right. So I'll ask. Is it giving you any problems? I know you'll lie to minimize it but try to stay close to the truth."
"Why would he lie?" the female demanded.
Gregory looked at her. "Everyone lies at times." He looked at his patient. "Well?"
"It works as it should."
"Okay." He looked at the scars. "Those are nasty. We have some cream to help where they're inflamed. That could ease any pulling." He checked for other injuries then looked in the guy's eyes. "How much do you not remember?"
"We can work on that. There's methods of hypnotism that can bring up memories. King Aaron studied that. He's a mind healer who helped lock up the most mental of the evil ones." He looked in his mouth then nodded. "We'll start with the basics. Eat something?"
"Good. Eat again. I can see your ribs, you're too skinny." The guy blinked a few times. "I am a healer. I can prescribe a long hot bath and food to start." He stared at him. "I'll get that syrup for you. You take one *small* sip. If you can more than taste it, you've had enough." He went to do that and came back with the special spoon. "One spoon not more than once every two days." He handed it over. "It will knock you down far enough that you cannot dream. Xander has horrible nightmares at times and visions. It blocks even those off." The man nodded, staring at the bottle. "That shit's hard to make but it's very useful. Get a hot bath, I'll send up food, and then you sleep tonight. We're all on high alert in case my levels of hotness drew something evil to come claim me." He smirked. "So you rest tonight. Get paranoid in a few days."
"They could have tracked me here."
Gregory nodded. "We have up to five princesses in residence here at all times because some of us needed sanctuary and it's safe here. Xander's mean enough to hand people to dragons to screw if they mess with him. Xander's tough enough that he stood up to some of the other rulers and called them little cunts to their faces before stabbing them because they needed it. Xander's not sweet, but he's good and protective. You. Are. Safe. Here. If you're not, tell him and he'll make sure it stops."
"They've infiltrated many groups."
"Yeah, they might've done that with his stepfather but Xander's also had a full bit of problems stopped the hard way. There's only a fifth of the original army here. The rest are tougher, stronger, and not drunk like his stepfather was." He stared at him. "They don't mess with Xander. If only so they don't get hit with Genjo's battle fan. Or his guard's special weapons against demons." He smirked. "They're good boys but not that way."
"Bath. Food. Take a spoonful tonight," Gregory ordered. "I'll talk to King Aaron about how to get the memories back. He should know. He trained with my people and was there when Xander helped his people over throw the old king." He limped off. "I'll be back with food."
She closed the door. "He's very...strong willed."
Bucky nodded, putting the bottle to the side. "He is."
"Let's start that bath? It can only help."
He looked at himself and nodded. "I could use it." He got up to go into the bathing area. "How do I use this?"
"Taps," she said with a point. "Block up the tub. They're sweeping the kingdoms from the engineering school. They're fire warmed somewhere and flow up here." He hummed but blocked up the tub with the wooden plug then ran the water as hot as he could stand. He sank into it slowly, moaning in pleasure. She handed over a brush, the soap cake, and a bottle of stuff that was labeled 'for hair'. She let him bathe himself. She smiled when the princess came back with a maid. "He's in the tub."
"That's fine," the maid agreed. "I'm Persephone. Tell me if he needs seconds. Consort Genjo wanted fish soup tonight so I brought him a large bowl and some bread, plus a salad. Boys need vegetables to get better you know." She smiled and left.
Gregory nodded at her back. "We like her. She's not the sort to take shit from anyone and she's swatted me more than once for flirting. She came from the former King Hades' country after they had that plague." She shuddered. "She's a good woman." He stared at her. "Make sure he takes the meds tonight," he said quietly. "People who don't sleep for too long start to hallucinate and then get violent. Call Persephone if you need me tonight."
"I can do that," she promised. He nodded and left her, going back to his house out back. She leaned in. "Want food in there?"
"I'll be out soon. I heard him."
"Good. Means I don't have to be sneaky." She smirked and let him finish bathing himself. She might like the idea of scrubbing him down but not until he was better.
Xander saw Bucky the next morning, pulling him to the area where the fire with the fire calling station was. "Gregory!" he bellowed. He came limping out of the kitchen.
"Let me call King Aaron." He put in the potion and hit the right button. "Get me the King, or Princess Reid," he ordered.
"Princess Reid is up and about, Princess Gregory. Give me a minute please." He ran off.
Gregory looked at his patient, nodding. "Good, you got some rest." A young man's head popped up. He pushed his glasses up his nose. "Reid, this is Bucky. He had alchemist mess with his head."
"We heard rumors about one doing that," he said with a frown. "Compulsions? Hypnotic commands?"
"No memories," Gregory said. "Maybe the others on top of it."
"I broke their programming," Bucky said, frowning at him.
Gregory smiled. "It's good you're able to express yourself." He looked at the other princess. Who was smirking some. "How do I break that blockage?"
"Two easy ways, and they'll give him great headaches when they come flooding back in one huge deluge of thoughts. We can break the blockage chemically, and it'll stay broken. Or we can go in hypnotically and break it."
"He used a machine."
"Then it'll probably need the chemical method," Reid said. "We can do that and let you lock yourself in a room for a bit. Because you'll see every single thing your mind has ever recorded. Within a few hours." Bucky winced. "But then you'll know. We can go the slower way, but it could take years and there's no guarantee you'll get it all back." He sipped something.
Reid pushed his glasses back up his nose again. "The chemical one hurts. It can drive you to hurt yourself in some cases. That's why we'd be locking you in a room for a few days while it worked. Then we can talk about it. I can be there tonight. We heard there was someone that was mentally screwed with so we were prepared to send someone to King Xander's land." Bucky looked confused. "Xander's a probability generator. If it can happen, it does to him or to Princess Sam, and if there's bad things, King Xander usually knows about it and helps handle it. We like guy for that much alone." He grinned at the king.
Who waved a hand with a grin. "We like you too, Princess Reid. I'm just glad no one suggested I marry you instead of Genjo." Reid burst out laughing but nodded.
"Hell, I'm surprised Cuddy didn't try to get me to marry you," Gregory complained. "She tried hard enough with others." Xander patted him on the back. "We're testing your taint tonight."
"Thank you. I haven't heard you making anyone squeal anytime recently."
"Aaron said he'd like to know how you treated that," Reid said, looking behind himself then at them. "Princess Cuddy never took down anything."
"That's because she refused to help," Xander said dryly. "Though in the initial stages, an incubus or succubus actually helps a lot."
"I hadn't thought of that. Did Princess Sam or Prince Dean come up with that?"
"Sam. During that time I got poisoned by Willow the Destroyer."
"Huh. We'd love an account so we have one handy," Reid said.
"I can do that," Gregory agreed.
"I'll be up there tonight. Give me time to grab a horse." He hung up.
Gregory looked at Bucky. "He's young but he went to train at our academy at fourteen." Bucky winced. "He's been doing this for half his life now."
"Wow," Bucky said. He looked at Xander.
"My daughter's brilliant but she's fostered with King Alan. Gregory, can you check her healing talents? I know she's about to have some sort of power change in the next few years."
"Usually with puberty," he agreed. "She's only eight. But yeah, we can do a check now and then. That way I can sponsor her into our academy and then the one that Hakkai trained in." He limped off. "It's breakfast. There's no skipping allowed for warriors or kings."
"Yes, dear," Xander sighed, looking at Bucky. "If you don't do what he says, he nags and he gets mean. He calls me a little boy a lot." Bucky shook his head but they went in to eat. Xander got a hug from the maid. "Happy birthday."
"Thank you for the flowers, Sire."
"No, I sent you the fruit candy. I think someone sweet on you sent the flowers." She giggled and went to get them tea and coffee things. Xander sat down. "Bucky, take the seat to your right. That one's one of Genjo's guards and he's grumpy in the morning just like his princess."
"We have tea brewing," the maid quipped. "We heard them complaining and fighting this morning over who got the shower first."
"They have three showers," Xander said dryly.
"I think one's maybe blocked."
"We can go look at it," Xander promised. "I'm good with plumbing. I learned when they put in the hot water system. Oh, we're going to look at the city farms today." She laughed and started on a basket for lunch.
Genjo stomped in. "Xander, one of the showers doesn't work. Where are the ones trained in that?"
"I'll look at it later," he said patiently. "They're off building the new housing area for the poor that need changed from the thin, crappy ones my stepfather built that're falling in. Before we go to the farm."
Genjo grimaced. "Do I need to go to the farm?"
"Yes. That way you know where they are," he quipped. He grinned. "Then we're going to the orphanage to check on it."
"I remember." The other three guys walked in.
"Which bathroom is it?" Xander asked.
"The one off the main area is broken completely," Hakkai said, sitting down with a nod at Bucky. "And the one in the bedroom area for the rest of us is running at a trickle."
"I can look at it and if it's something huge, you guys can come use mine." They nodded at that. People came in to eat and left but very few stopped at their table. At least until two tired looking men stomped in and flopped down.
"Princess Tony, Prince Don," the cook cooed. "I'll get you food in a moment, boys. Tea?"
"Coffee please," Tony said. He looked at Xander. "My father has now started to fuss about things because I'm too far away in Don's kingdom to help by being his second-in-command."
"Your father is a bit old and is probably feeling his age after he nearly got beaten during sparring practice the other day," Xander said dryly. "I'm told the boxing got him knocked out for a few minutes but that may be because they found something in his system that shouldn't be there. Though he's suddenly remembering a former wife you've never known about."
Tony blinked a few times. "Seriously?"
"Yeah. Back when he was a very young prince. Apparently she and their child were killed shortly after she gave birth to your former sister."
"Huh. I did not know that. I have to call my stepmom. Abby will know." He dug in with a moan. "Thank you, Cook."
"Welcome, dear. Oooooh!" she squealed, bowing and hugging the young woman. "Prince Amellisame!"
Xander grinned at her. "Hey, sweetie. Come eat. Did you ride Cougar?"
"I did. He's in the field being happy. We had to stop in on King John and King Paul first for diplomatic things. He wanted a stable instead of traveling." She sat down in a free seat, smiling at the others. "Hi, Mommy Genjo."
He smirked at her. "Smartass."
"I get it from Daddy."
"Yes you do," Xander quipped. "Dear, this is Bucky. He's a presently hiding person here."
"Hi." She waved with a grin. "I'm Amellisame, Daddy's only spawn so far. When am I getting siblings?"
"I brought back their surrogate with me," Gregory said. "And two others who wanted to come study." Xander beamed at him for that. "She's very pretty."
"I get to meet her when?" she demanded, staring at her father and 'mother'.
"Sometime this week when she shows up," Xander quipped.
"Okay. As long as she's nice I won't mind." She looked at Gregory. "I healed something the other day."
"That's a great thing. Your dad asked me to test your healing skills and potentials the next time I ran into you."
"Uncle Alan said the same thing," she said. "That's why I got to go do diplomatic things with Uncle Don and future Uncle Tony." She smiled. "It was a deer."
"Animal healing is still a great thing," Gregory assured her.
She beamed. "Cool!" She moaned at the food. "Thank you for not being inn food. It always tastes like old beans." She dug in with a moan, getting happy while she ate. "I need to check Cougar over after breakfast," she told everyone. "Then I'm available for hugs and nagging me to study."
Don looked at her. "If I have to nag, I'm sending you to Charlie at the engineering school."
"That might be nice. At least they won't want me to drill in manners and dancing there. Oh, Daddy, I ran into the headmistress of your former school and told her I needed to do more than dance. She got all huffy about the proper ways. Queen Buffy was there too for a treaty negotiating. Buffy told me what she learned there. I pointed out I was already beyond most of those classes and you demanded I train with the guards in case there were bad guys." He nodded, staring at her.
"She was not amused and claimed that the proper ways were dying and she nearly had a vapor fit like some of the old ladies in the court up there do. Alan drove her off shrieking about the proper ways and me not being a good enough Prince because I'm only half royal. Apparently I disappointed her by not being of her kind, when she's not really a princess at all, just the former girlfriend of a king, and did all that nasty adult stuff for him when his wife wanted him to go away."
"Your mother is a good woman," Xander told her. "For a while she was the only sanity I had. The one that took you in when she disappeared was much the same. They were both my tutors." He gave her a pointed look. "I would hope you live up to your mothers' ways and skills, daughter."
"Me too! And I told her that. She got all huffy about non-purebreds. I told her how that was bad in horses." She smirked. "Then King Alan suggested she go see that kingdom they found out about below King Jameson's that's full of mages."
Xander laughed, nodding some. "Some of them are nice but a lot of them do hate non-bloodline magic users coming out of their common population. Personally I look at those sort like they're weak little ants because they're jackasses."
She nodded. "We met with one. He was. Snooty too. Even Uncle Alan said so after he was gone." She ate another bite, looking at Bucky. "Has someone like Uncle Charlie seen your hand? I noticed it's metal and he does things like that. He came up with ideas about the hot water system and all sorts of neat things with math stuff."
"I was a bit surprised that there was no sacred math spoken at his wedding," Xander quipped.
"Us too but we'd never say that because Chuck will start to learn magical math instead," Don said dryly. "We'd all like to stop that before it starts. Ian won't do more than nag him if he tries."
"They're cute together," Amellisame reminded him. "That's how we all learned what to do when you get married."
Don looked at her. "You've got years yet, dear. Dad won't let you go too soon." She beamed and stuffed her mouth again. "Did Cougar have a problem on the way here?"
"No. He's not happy with all the riding so I'm going to look at his hooves and stuff first. I know his shoes are all right. I checked those last night. He's not lamed or anything, or even a bit sore. He's just cranky so I'm going to go spoil my poor horse this morning."
"Good," Xander agreed. "You're good with him. I'm very proud of that."
She grinned. "I'm happy too. He's a special little guy. Who has grown really tall." She finished up and ran outside. "I'll be in the field or the barn," she called back.
"Okay. Yell really loudly if something's going on," Xander called after her. "Let the head groom get you stuff instead of climbing up the ladder. It's broken!"
Xander smiled at Don. "Your dad has done an *excellent* job helping her grow up with sense and compassion."
"He's more than happy to have her there," Don said with a grin. "Though he's not really looking forward to girl talking time. She's growing up and he's not sure how to talk to her about that stuff since she's the first girl in the castle since our mother died."
"I told him to have my stepmom Abby do it," Tony quipped. "She's good at it."
Don nodded. "They did bond very happily in the market during the last visit. They got bouncy together on fruit hand pies." Tony laughed, nodding some. "Is she going to be safe to come here?"
Xander shrugged. "We've hoping all the stupid is done with. She'll still probably go up to visit frequently."
"Probably. We can talk about it with Dad during the next convergence meeting." Xander nodded. They heard a female scream and hopped up, Xander making it outside first. He fired on the baby dragon out there, killing it. He looked at his daughter, who was guarding her colt. "You okay?"
"He's fine, Daddy."
"I wanted to know about your injuries, daughter." He stared at her. "Cougar's special but if that thing hurt you I'm going to make it into bits for stew."
She looked at herself then shrugged. "That's blood." She looked her special little guy over, making sure he wasn't cut anywhere. He nudged her with his nose, staring at her. "No, he's good so I guess I have a booboo." She looked at herself. The bleeding cut got a wince and her putting pressure on it like her lessons had told her to. "Ow."
Gregory came out and picked her up to carry her off. Cougar followed them to the barn neighing at his human. He looked at the young male elemental spirit horse. "She's fine. It's just a small one. Let me check it then you two can cuddle." The horse calmed down but still followed them inside. "Get me the medical kit," he ordered. The groom ran for their version. He found a claw mark on her leg and cleaned it up, then bandaged it. Cougar came over to nuzzle her, making her hug him back. "Awww," Gregory said dryly, staring at her. "You're gonna be fine."
"I hope so. It's just a big scratch. I didn't even feel it." She frowned at her leg. "That's stupid."
"Sometimes they are," Xander said, looking at her. Then at Gregory. "No spit or anything?"
"Not even any debris from whatever was on the claws," he said patiently. "Most claws aren't poisoned. Go check the dragon out."
Xander went to do that. "Someone tell King Alan she's fine before he can have parent ESP and call."
"Already did," Don called with a wave from the front hallway. "She good?"
"Long claw mark on her leg. Gregory's got it."
Don nodded. "That'll be good. We can handle it." He went to help her spoil Cougar. She was very good at it but he could get her the better combs down since he was taller. Cougar was going to suck up to his human for hours of brushing, braiding, and petting. Plus probably some treats because Amellisame was just spoiling that way.
Xander looked up and sighed then at the dragon. "That's not native to near here."
"That's native to where I grew up," Bucky said quietly.
"Okay. Can they be sent or just annoyingly came hunting for easy food?"
"They eat rabbits," he said. "Otherwise, no idea."
"Okay," Xander agreed. "We can figure that out. Someone call the coven," he called.
"Already done," Don called. "They're on their way."
"Thank you." He walked over to the dragon, walking around the body to check it over. "It's wearing a collar."
"They sent it," Bucky said. "They sent it after me."
Xander looked at him. "They could've sent it after me because I sent troops to help King Mac's people guard against their civil war spreading over that land bridge."
"Point," Don agreed as he came out. He came over to look at the collar. "Can we pick this?"
Xander squatted down to get the collar open. He handed it over. "Does it have any markings?"
"Not that I know about," Don admitted. "You'd have to ask someone from over there."
"We can ask Stella. She learns about stuff like that instead of Mac. Mac's very practical."
Don grinned. "That's one way of saying uptight," he said dryly.
"Yeah." He took the collar to look at. "Two marks and a ruby. Expensive." He took it inside to call them. "Get me Queen Stella," he ordered, still looking over the collar.
"The Queen is not taking calls today."
Xander looked up. "Now. Before I tell my generals to make their people strip in the middle of the market near the castle." The guy on that side huffed off. Xander grinned at the new one that showed up. "You're not the queen."
"The queen is feeling ill, King Xander. Can we help?"
"We had a dragon from your neighbor's kingdom show up. The collar has markings and I know things like that you ask Stella about."
"Oh, that sort of problem. No, she's probably the only one that has a good idea on claim markings. She's got the sniffles."
"I've had that. The dragon wasn't all that large but it did claw my daughter. I want to know who I get to send the dragonhide present to."
The guy winced but nodded. "She's coming and not happy."
"Me either." Stella stormed into view. He held up the collar. She paused, frowning at it. "It was on the dragon that showed up in the courtyard and scratched the daughter's leg."
"Oh, dear." He let her see it. "That mark is the mage Zemo's mark. That's probably holding the spell," she said with a point at the ruby.
"Stella, why are you out of bed?" Mac called from out of view.
"Xander's calling because a dragon got sent and scratched his little girl."
"She's eight," Xander said. "It's shocking the hell out of us."
She smiled. "Definitely a great age," she said dryly. "What's the other mark?" He let her see it. "Hmm. We'll see why they did that. Mac, go ask the prisoner in our jails who would've sent the dragon to Xander's kingdom and why."
"Sure," he complained. He leaned into view. "Is your daughter all right?"
"Long cut but not real deep. She was more concerned her horse was hurt. Then she went 'blood, must be mine' and looked calmly."
"Aww," Stella said with a smile. "Don, bring her with you to the new treaty talk."
"I can do that. She and Abby got along very well."
"That's sweet too." She smiled at Xander.
"I have no idea how to talk to her about girl things," he said with a shrug. "Let me know if it's about me or if it's about a refugee?"
Mac winced. "I heard."
Xander grinned. "I just threatened your page that I was going to have the generals make a few units do a striptease in the middle of the market."
Stella laughed. "I could use some entertainment," she quipped. Mac scowled but went to question that guy. She winked at him. "I liked the torture idea for bad behavior. I can add onto that." She strolled off. "We'll let you know, Xander."
"Thank you, Stella." He hung up and looked at Don, who shrugged. "Stella's one hell of a woman and a queen. She's a good role model for my little girl."
"She and Abby both are," he agreed. "Between the two giving her girl advice she'll grow into a hell of a queen." They went back outside. Bucky was looking over the dragon for anything like poisons. Cougar was being fully fussed over in the carriage horse field by his human and she wasn't fussing about her leg at all, even if the colt was nosing it now and then. "Cougar's about four now."
"He is," Xander agreed. "Still a young thing. About the same as a teenager."
Don nodded. "He's very good to her."
"I'm so happy she's worthy of him." He grinned at Don. "Impala did a nice thing letting him meet her."
"Yeah, she did. Have you seen John?"
"No. Neither has Dean. He called up recently looking for him." They both grimaced. "We'll figure it out. Dean's taken control. Castiel thinks weird things are going up there, that powers are gathering against them."
"Castiel is a bit paranoid sometimes," Don agreed. "Unless you think it's related to that war?"
"No. He didn't even get that feeling over Genjo's battle."
"Was he there?"
"Yeah. He got there a bit late but he and a few of his cousins took on the asshole demons." Bucky looked at him. Xander grinned. "My spouse had a foretold battle a few years back. We were in another country to the west."
Bucky shook his head. "That's weird."
"No, weird was thousands of demons," Xander said. "Me bringing part of the army to help. Using the siege engine carriage."
Bucky frowned. "You have a carriage that's a siege engine?"
"Yeah." He grinned. "My stepfather used to be a drunken warlord, Bucky. We have all sorts of weird things around here. There's a reason we used to have a 'hangover' flag for the top of the castle. He tried to take over the engineering school once. They proved their worth by almost decimating his whole troop while leaning out windows." He smirked. "Since then he gave them a lot of work, and paid for most of it surprisingly, and if a prince or princess was going there, they were favored hostages that could create for him."
"There's so many weird things in storage," Gregory complained as he came over to sit on the steps with them. "Tony and I went to browse one day. There's a whole lot of broken ideas that must have come from a concussion." He looked over at Xander. "How many came from you?"
"Almost none. They liked my idea for making smaller, lighter siege engines that could be moved easier. Some maybe even at the personal carry level for certain short thrown things like explosives. They couldn't figure out how to do it. They did lighten up the siege engines a lot so they're easier to haul places. I pointed out that a lot of the ladders they put out only work if you're a tiny little jackass. I suggest it work for those of us who were more muscular and maybe even had armor on. They did that but wouldn't sell those to my stepfather." He grinned. "He let one princes he captured die. They weren't real fond of him after that."
"Is your stepfather still alive?" Gregory asked.
"As far as the person who checked on him last month said, yup. That demon's keeping him alive."
"Pity. Can we put him out of his misery?"
Xander shrugged. "That's not up to me. Ask the centaurs."
"Eww," Gregory complained.
"Centaurs are cool," Amellisame complained from her spot. She looked over at them.
Xander grinned. "I put my stepfather in Wayfaira woods as an eternal princess, dear. He knows that."
"Eww," she complained. "That's mean."
"Yeah but he deserved it. Ask Alan."
"I can do that. I read about him in history lessons." Xander nodded at that. "Was he that mean?"
"Sorry but at least we're not really related to him."
"That's good." She hugged her horse and then snuggled in. "I'm going to nap. Is that okay, Cougar?" He lipped her hair so she curled up next to him. He guarded her and had a snack thanks to the groom giving him some hay as he walked past with a grin.
Xander grinned at the groom. "Thanks."
A page came out. "Sire, Queen Stella said they sent the dragon because he was going to take you out. That way your daughter would have to take over early and be talked over to his side."
Xander and Don both burst out laughing. "That wouldn't ever work," Xander assured him. "She'd never listen to anyone that Alan found suspect." The page nodded, leaving. Xander looked at him. "Why is he wearing Jethro's colors?" Don hopped up to go see in case the guy was a threat to Tony. Xander looked at Bucky, shrugging some. "Apparently he doesn't know how stubborn and moody Sam can be and he's half her title holder until she's of age if I'm dead. Or how mean Genjo is."
Genjo walked out laughing. "They think I'd roll over and let them talk to my stepdaughter."
Xander grinned at him. "They think they'd be able to talk her around to things?"
"Point. She is stubborn." He looked. "Awww. We need that picture thing." He got the majordomo to take a photo. He sat down next to his spouse. "Why is Don threatening a page?"
"He's wearing Jethro's colors."
"Oh." He nodded. "Good reason." He looked at the dragon, grimacing. "That's a bad thing."
"It scratched the daughter. She was more concerned about her horse."
Genjo smiled at Don when he came back. "Good job with her."
"She's just as stubborn as her father is," Don quipped. "He's a spy, but not from Jethro. He thought you were Pelgar."
Xander rolled his eyes, shaking his head. "Yeah. Do I need to talk to them?"
"No, we can," Don promised. "Jethro's on his way up too." He walked off again. Someone inside screamed and begged someone for help by name. "I doubt that assistant is going to help you. If he's a spy too, Xander's going to have fun with them."
"Yes, I am," Xander called. "Do I get to come do that?"
"Daddy, I'm sleeping," Amellisame yelled. "Shut up."
"Sorry, dear." He leaned over to look inside. "Do I need to come help?"
"No, I've got it," Don promised, leading those two off. "I'm going to use your facilities."
"Sure. I don't. They're all dusty."
"That's fine. Dust isn't a problem." He hauled them down there with a few guards. One tried to get Don down but Don was good and well trained. That guard went down and another came to tell Xander, who came in to talk to his guard.
Princess Reid slid off his horse with a sigh of pleasure. "That's a long ride." Amellisame ran out to pounce him. "That's very good. Who're you?"
"I'm the crown prince," she said dryly with a smirk. "Who're you? We had a bad guy earlier after the bad dragon."
"I'm Princess Reid from King Aaron's kingdom. I came to help that young man."
"Oh, okay. Mother Genjo's in the throne room listening to people complain. Daddy's down in the dungeon helping Uncle Don talk to stupid people."
"I can go talk to Consort Genjo, dear. Escort me? I've never been here." She frowned at him. "I don't usually travel without the rest of the family. They're like that."
She snorted. "Sometimes you have to do a lot of things by yourself to prove you can." She led him inside. "Consort Genjo, this is Princess Reid of King Aaron's kingdom."
"Thank you, dear." Genjo looked at her. "Can you go find Bucky?"
"Of course." She skipped off. "Bucky, Princess Reid is here," she bellowed.
"She's better than all the pages," Genjo said dryly.
"That's sweet of her though. I have no idea about children." He sat down. "Problems?"
"A few spies. They sent the dragon to take out Xander so they could 'help' Amellisame rule."
Reid snorted, shaking his head. "I've heard about Xander taking out dragons."
"Yes he did."
Bucky came in with the small prince. "I'm fine."
"Excellent," Princess Reid said with a smile. "That's a good state to be in." He looked at Genjo. "Can we have a spot to talk?"
"Of course. Need seats?" Reid nodded. "We have the private parlor. We never use it. We gather in here to bitch when we need to bitch." He led them in there and then walked off with his stepdaughter. "Why don't you call me stepdad?"
"I can do that?"
"Yeah, you can. Same as I'm called Consort Genjo instead of Queen Genjo."
"I didn't think about that." She grinned. "I can do that."
"Thanks. Want to go play with the guys?" She cackled and ran off to pounce Goku. He was nearer to her age and liked to wrestle around with her and teach her how to protect herself while the two older guys watched.
Genjo smirked as she ran off, going to check on his spouse. "Princess Reid is here."
"He's nice but spent most of his life studying people," Xander quipped. He wiped off his sweaty brow and looked at his spouse. "We really do have to make sure that idiot does realize he's stupid."
"That could be dangerous and include others," Genjo cautioned.
Xander nodded then grinned. "Unless you think the generals over there are involved?"
"I have no idea."
"Hmm." He nodded, walking off. He dusted himself off before calling. "Hey, Mac." He grinned. "Check on my generals to make sure they're not part of that Zemo's plan? The idiot thinks he can take me out, take over my daughter's raising until she becomes queen, and that we'll all allow that."
Mac snorted, shaking his head. "Not likely."
"He sent a dragon to do that."
"He sent spies." He grinned.
"I noticed the dust."
"He thought I was Pelgar."
"Oh, god, he's dumb," Stella moaned, shaking her head.
"Though I was an eventual target."
Mac nodded at that, then groaned as he walked off. "I'll have them call, Xander."
"Thanks." He grinned at Stella. "They're so screwed if I have to step in."
"Amen," she quipped. "A lot." She hung up with a wave, going to cackle her way to the kitchen so she could make sweets. Xander would probably be visiting soon thanks to this and he had a world renowned sweet tooth.
Xander leaned into the kitchen. "Amellisame, Queen Stella wanted to know if you'd visit. All her girls are grown up and she's missing girl times."
"I can do that. Can we bring Queen Abby?" she asked Don with a smile.
"We need to make sure that this Zemo asshole doesn't want Jethro and hasn't confused him with Horatio," Genjo said dryly.
"We have a meeting in two days," Xander quipped.
Don smirked. "We do, in Jethro's kingdom." Amellisame wiggled in her seat but got back to eating.
Xander ruffled her hair then went to make plans for that trip.
Xander rode up into the courtyard, slowing his horse slowly and then dismounting and tying off his horse. "Leave him, I'm doing something in a minute," he called into the barn. He walked into the castle. "Abby, where's Jethro?"
"In bed. He's got confused mind problems thanks to that drugging."
"That's great. That guy who sent the dragon at me? He thinks Jethro's a weak leader." He stared at her. She was growling. He nodded. "He sent you spies. He sent me spies thinking I was Pelgar and in your colors."
"Oh, goddess," she muttered, shaking her head. "They're stupid."
"They're not only stupid, but they think they're a warlord." She stared at him. He grinned and nodded. "Apparently my stepfather was like his perfect idol. By the way, you guys have people on your borders that shouldn't be there. I'm heading there in a few."
"I can send people with you, Xander."
He grinned. "I have half a troop with me. The rest are coming with Don, Amellisame, and Genjo plus his team." She laughed, patting him on the cheek. "Let me go talk to those stupid humans." He strolled off. "They'll be here in about an hour."
"That's fine. I can have someone make tea and sweets." She ran off to tell the others that had to know. "Get me the general!" she shouted as she ran. "And cookies! Amellisame's coming! With Consort Genjo!"
"I'll make tea, ma'am," the head housekeeper said, hurrying to do that.
The head of the local military stomped in. "Ma'am. You called for us?"
"That idiot Zemo tried to take out Xander thinking he was Pelgar, sending spies in our livery to him." The general winced. "We have people on our borders because they think Jethro's weak."
"They're stupid," he said bluntly.
"King Xander is going to talk to the stupid ones." She stared at him.
"No, ma'am, that's my job," he said, hurrying out. "Stop King Xander so we can join him," he bellowed. "First troop, mount up. Second, guard the castle! Only known people in and out."
"Consort Genjo's coming with Amellisame," Abby called after him.
"And let in the cranky Consort of King Xander," he called. "That battle fan hurts like a bitch when he hits you with it." The military fell into where they needed to be and they caught up with Xander before he crossed out of the town. "Sire, it's our job to talk to people threatening us."
Xander grinned. "They sent a dragon after me because he thought I was Pelgar and he could take over for my daughter."
The general laughed. "Like hell! You're more stubborn than your stepfather ever was!" They rode out together, joining up with Xander's troop. They weren't many but they were well trained.
Xander walked his horse off the boat from King Mac's land. They had spent two weeks in Mac's kingdom gathering intel on this group. Including him sending a few spies over to see how big of a clusterfuck their ruling council really was. So here he was being himself. He stared at the guard waiting on him. "Present me."
"Who're you, sir?" he asked. He tried not to look bored but this was an annoying position.
"I'm King Xander of the Joined Kingdoms. I'm here to talk to your stupid people." The guard stared at him. "Your stupid people sent things to take me out. We're sixteen countries away." The guard winced. "Now, announce me please."
"I can send a messenger ahead, Sir."
"Thank you." He waved and his escorts came out, including one that was wearing a cloak. That one pointed and they mounted up, heading that way. Xander looked around. "Much nicer than when we went to visit King Steve to help him," he quipped. "Not as many idiots with guns and ideas."
His consort stared at him. "Don't do anything like you did then."
"Sure," he said with a smile and a blown kiss. "I'm going to turn back into Princess Xander, dear." Genjo groaned, shaking his head. Xander hummed as he rode and looked around. "Hmm, must've split off from Mac's people originally. Same architecture."
"It is pretty," Genjo said. "Lots of glass though. Metal too."
Xander nodded. "We have a lot of stones because they're in the fields."
"I figured that out," he shot back. "I feel pity for Alan's kingdom since they're in the mountains." They rode into the main town and the guards tried to stop them. "I'm Consort Genjo Sanzo of the Joined Kingdoms. This is my spouse, King Xander." The guards got out of the way. "Thank you." They rode in and guards tried to follow them.
Xander waved a hand. "Let them. They're paranoid because their people are core rotted with stupid alchemist-run people. That's probably why their council is fighting like children." His guards let those guards be. Xander had a thought that it was tactical to try to split this group's focus by dragging him into this scuffle but he wasn't going to fall for that. He had heard good things about this ruling council so he'd stop the stupid that drew his people in and then help them. He rode up to the castle and got off, letting the guard designated for it to hold the reins. Xander walked up the stairs first, pushing the doors open. "All right, we've all had enough of your shit in the Joined Kingdoms," he announced.
"Who're you?" someone demanded.
"King Xander of the Joined Kingdoms. Your stupid people decided to try to invade a few of our countries." He stared at him. "Get your children in charge. Their stupid is getting contagious or is caused by the alchemist in charge of the idiots."
"What?" he demanded.
Genjo held up a hand. "Just...get them. Before he loses his temper and blows up the building. He's like that." The man ran off.
Xander grinned at him. "Thanks, dear." He stomped into the room where people were arguing. "Good. You heard about us." He stared at them. There were obviously two sides since the table had a small no-go zone in the center. They were all mostly handsome people, and very tense. "Is Zemo the alchemist and his army of idiots yours or just infecting you? Because he tried to take out people sixteen countries away."
"Who're you?" one demanded. He was blond, well built, and looked like he was pissed off now.
"King Xander. Your people tried to take me out to take over my kingdom." Xander stared at him. "Don't make me repay it in kind."
The man stood up. "You can't come in here...." He stopped. "Bucky," he breathed.
"He's under my protection," Xander said bluntly. "Your idiot alchemist didn't even try my kingdom because I was giving him sanctuary. Which he still has the right to if he so desires."
"He killed people," the other man in the center of the table said.
Xander laughed, staring at him. "Under magical and mental control," he said bluntly. "What would you do when you can't fight back?" The man glared back. Xander stared at him. "My daughter's scarier than you are. She's only eight."
Bucky laughed. "She is very stubborn. She reminds me of you, Stevie."
"You remember," he said, brightening up.
He nodded. "Princess Reid had something that opened everything. I remember everything," he said bluntly. "I had no control of myself or my actions then."
"We can still put that on trial and should," the second ruler said.
"Then we'd get to put you on trial for your failed creation at the engineers college killing half a town," Xander said, tossing down a sealed envelope. "That was found out from bards and verified by their people." He tossed down another one. "Half of your ruling council's lighter people are core rotted with Alchemist Zemo's little party of fun. Which we in the Joined Kingdom will be charging him for."
"We'll trade you prisoners."
"Sure," Xander said, pulling out a crossbow and using it on him. It fired a net that tangled him up and wasn't able to be cut or untied without a special tool. "You're wanted in the Joined Kingdoms for the murder of approximately three hundred people thanks to your invention blowing them up."
"We settled that," he ground out.
"No, your father didn't. You didn't. They banished you and the king in that kingdom wasn't in charge then. The statue of limitations hasn't run out yet. You're still able to be charged." He stared at him. "Some of us know more about honor than you do. We actually live by it. That's why we took down a warlord of great stupidity. Now we're apparently going to have to save ourselves some work by taking down one you should have since they're yours."
One of the minor knights on the council yelled and came at him with a sword. Xander spun around to block the blow with his arm while pulling his own to fight back. The guy went down to a stomach stab. "We will win!" he shouted. "Hail the HYDRAS."
Xander snorted, staring at him. "I can summon one of them if you want to really swear allegiance to them," he said dryly. "King Steve has one in his country he'd probably like to give away. Want me to call him for you?" The man choked and whined. Xander looked at the two leaders. "You have failed to keep your problems within your own borders. They have tried to poison Queen Stella and King Mac. Tried to take me out, tried to take out King Jethro. Tried to take out King Paul, who is of the Angelican line and has people who have some weird, yet powerful powers. Tried to take out the Sanzo court and they're all mean bitches. I should know, I married one." He pointed. "They have tried to mimic my stepfather's former ways and we don't really appreciate that. I ended him, I can end this since you guys won't."
"Can we talk about this?" a new voice asked as a dark skinned man stomped in wearing a tight outfit of leather and a panther's head. "We've been having problems with them as well."
Xander stared at him. "We have records of you."
"That was my father. He was killed recently. Who're you?" He flexed his claws.
"King Xander. Former stepson of Warlord Tony DeMal. Rightful heir of King Arant."
"I heard nasty rumors about your stepfather."
Xander smiled. "He's paying punishment as an eternal princess in Wayfaira woods. Apparently the centaurs he used to try to torture treat him well."
The new guy snorted. "That's evil."
"Thank you. He deserved it." Someone came stomping in and he nodded at her then at the one behind her. "Witch," he said with a nod. "We can introduce you to some of our covens. We have one in my country that's very uptight and King Paul's country has one that has taught many witches how to be easy in their skills."
She stared at him. "How did you know?"
"My stepfather used to summon demons and King John tried to curse me a few times," he said dryly. She smirked and lit up power. "It won't bother me, dear. It will get you hit back." She threw it at him and his consort knocked her out. "Thanks."
"Welcome. At least this one isn't like Rosenburg. I don't feel evil emanating from her."
The first woman stared at him. "You're a Sanzo."
He smirked. "Consort Genjo Sanzo."
"I heard of your battle."
"Thank you. You are?"
"The Black Widow."
Xander grinned. "I'd fangirl over you but you might get upset. You were one I looked up to for strength to beat my idiot stepfather."
She tipped her head. "You're King Xander."
He nodded. "Your idiot alchemist that's infecting your people tried ours." He handed over a scroll. "The Joined Kingdoms wants him to stand trial for death penalty offences."
She read it over, nodding. "That is reasonable." She looked at him. "We do not know much about him though." He pointed at the body on the floor. "I had not suspected him as being turned. Interesting."
"He wanted to swear his allegiance to hydra's," Genjo said blandly. "Xander offered to get the one from King Steve's kingdom."
She smiled slightly. "I'm sure that would be amusing. Why is Knight General Stark tied up?"
"Because he's still liable to stand trial for taking out a town," Xander said bluntly. "I'm not putting up with this shit. I don't want to have to deal with your stupidity virus infecting your people. I did not want to see it poison some of us. I didn't want to see the dragon it sent at us thinking we were King Pelgar." She winced. "Or them thinking they could actually help my daughter finish raising as a queen.
"The whole Joined Kingdoms are done with that stupid and they want him there to stand open trial. Since he's raised an army. He's mentally and magically coerced people thanks to some machines and magic. He's also infected others and caused your present uncivil war. We'd like him sooner. We could have sent more diplomatic people but with a war going on mine will get through it."
She nodded. "That's a good reason. We can find him." She looked, staring at the cloaked man. "I know you."
"I remember why you know me," he admitted quietly. "Princess Reid fixed the memories they collapsed in my mind."
She winced but nodded. "There are those who would fault him for his actions while controlled." Xander gave her a look. "They would also accept General Stark being charged as it would get him out of his way."
"If that's Zemo, he's the one we're looking for," Genjo said.
"There's those who support him silently," another said. Xander nodded at that. "We don't want to have this war."
Xander looked at him. "We don't want you to have this war either. Personally when we heard about it, we were all but pissed that a stable country was going to be torn apart by the genocidal squads coming. King Mac doesn't need that on his borders." That guy slumped. "We don't want it for your people either. But we will not allow this problem to fester and boil over on us again. We're too busy with regular alchemists and demons to deal with this issue too."
The first leader walked over. "Is he safe with you?"
"Yes. We've went on a finding of anyone who was corrupt within our ranks. I lost my majordomo and a few others I thought I could trust. Including a few generals. I'm vicious when things like this happen around me. I grew up with stupid and I'm not letting it flourish again in that same manner. If I wanted the world taken over, I would've taken it over when I took out my stepfather." Someone shot at them and Xander winced but Genjo moved to hold the injury. "Guards, get them," he ordered. "They can beg Princess Gregory to save their mangy asses even though we left him in charge at home." They ran off to find that shooter. He looked. "Bad?" he asked.
"No. Not too deep." He got out of Hakkai's way, letting him extract the bullet and heal it. "Thank you, Hakkai."
"Not a problem. Not the worst we've seen." He looked at the leaders, handing the woman the bullet. "In case it helps."
She stared. "You can heal?"
He nodded. "I'm trained to." He smiled. "And to fight demons."
She nodded. "I have heard of Consort Genjo's associates. Good job."
"Thank you. It was bad but necessary."
She nodded. "We feel the same way right now." She looked around. She heard an alarm and winced. "That's the invasion alarm."
"Either they're late or the stupid is coming to us," Xander quipped. "I hope our guards aren't part of that. We only picked up two on the way in." He looked at his consort.
"They were in the back and the one holding the horses is one of yours."
Xander nodded. People rushed in. Xander pulled back out his crossbow, throwing explosives at them. A few screamed. Many died. They were still trying to kill them.
"I think not," Sam said as he strolled in. He pointed. "People are upsetting Genjo."
"They're stupid then," the guard ordered. "Get the idjits, boys."
"General Asherton," Xander quipped. "Pleasant to see you."
"King Alan sent us, Sire. They tried for your daughter by force and nearly killed her horse." Xander winced. "He's fine. She was guarded in a closet. She got free once but Prince Don took the weapons from her. She's every bit your daughter, Sire." Xander smiled and nodded. Someone tried to stab Xander and got it back instead. "Boys. The stupid is irritating me."
"Which is a very bad thing," Xander quipped. "Even I learned that. Oooh, another proclaiming themselves to a hydra. We should summon one."
"King Steve would really love his problem one gone," Sam quipped with a grin. "Jethro sent me instead of Tony. Tony and Don are guarding the families. We're pulling out old things we haven't used since before you were born."
"Great!" He grinned. "If I wanted the world taken over, I would've done that instead of letting people go." They shared a smirk. "Their head alchemist is named Zemo and it's thought he might've been behind my poisoning and things, Sam."
"Hey, we've been wanting to talk to that idiot and then kill him," San quipped. "Great."
"Who're you?" Bucky asked.
"Princess Samuel of Winchester." He smirked. "Xander and I fight together a lot."
Xander nodded. "We do." Someone lunged at him and he shifted then stabbed them in the side. "Not today, dear. I'm not amused." Sam shuddered.
Genjo looked at him. "The last time you had that look you showed up at my battle in a carriage that turned into a siege engine and had an army," he said.
Xander blew a kiss. "Yes it was." Genjo shuddered.
Black Widow looked at him. "I had heard rumors."
Xander grinned. "My father liked to capture engineers and give them drunken ideas while he had them hostage. He actually respected them because they beat his ass when he came for the college once."
She nodded. "That is a good thing."
Xander smirked. "I think so. Very little of it was mine and most of mine works. Sam, what do you think about me suggesting to Charlie that they send someone to look at all the stuff stored to see if they can make anything useful out of it?"
"I think that's a good idea," he said, looking at Genjo.
"Would that give us that barn back?" Genjo asked dryly.
"Probably not immediately but we're building onto the main barn. We have had a great year for foaling."
"I think some fertility goddess came to pet the mares," Sam said dryly. Genjo laughed but nodded. "Good thing Xander likes to train horses for the army."
"I do. I'm good at it too. Thanks for reminding me, Sam." He whistled. The horses rushed in to stomp the rest of the problems. The ones who weren't threatening their people's armor were safe. The rest were knocked down and some stomped on. Black Widow went to save one. Xander whistled and pointed, shaking his head. That one left that guy alone. Xander looked at Steve, who was staring in awe. "We're not standard," he said.
"Clearly." He cleared his throat. "Can I talk to Bucky?"
"He's a free man. He has sanctuary if he wants it. That's up to him. My daughter enjoys him and told him he has pretty hair." He shrugged. Another few rushed in to threaten them but the horses stopped all but one. Only one horse got cut and another one bit that guy's head for it. Xander killed that one going for Genjo. "He only kills demons."
Genjo cleared his throat. "Banishing guns do work on humans, just not as dramatically. Unless they're very pure."
Xander grinned. "I think only members of your family are that pure."
"Could be," he agreed. "Staring at your navel thinking about the universe does lead to that since you can't do anything else." Sam burst out laughing and took out someone tried to reach for him. The magic going off made Sam flinch but fight back. Xander's necklace absorbed a lot of it. Genjo's guards moved and Goku's special staff weapon popped out to beat that person while a half-moon scythe on a chain whipped past them to get the guy. The mage died. "Boys," Genjo said happily. "Thank you."
Goyjo smirked. "I was feeling left out."
"That's not Zemo," Steve said. "That's...the Red Skull guy. He did an improper change. They work together."
Xander grinned. "Can we hunt that one guy down for you?"
"You don't find Zemo, he finds you," one of the downed guards sneered.
Xander kicked him in the head. "Or we summon him," he quipped, looking at Sam.
"I can do that," he agreed. "It's not that hard. We need a picture."
"We can capture him," Steve said. "We have a few bigger problems and it looks like he was part of one of them." Xander stared at him, looking amused. "It's our country."
"That would mean you'd have to work together."
He nodded. "We can and have before."
"Then we can go back to the boat to wait," Xander offered.
Steve looked at Stark then at Xander. "I'll need him." Xander let him go. "Can we have Bucky?"
"Why are you asking me instead of him?" Xander asked.
"Bucky?" he asked, trying not to give him a hopeful look.
He stared at him. "I can help," he agreed. "I want part of that person too." He looked at the other king, the one in cat armor. "I did not take out your father. I'll vow it if you want."
He stared at him, nodding once. "I can feel the truth."
Bucky slumped a tiny bit, nodding. "Thank you."
"I believe you want to heal."
"Princess Reid of King Aaron's kingdom helped him," Genjo said. "He's a mind healer. He and King Aaron are both mind healers who studied in the Ascelpian kingdom."
"I've heard of them. I didn't like their princess and presumed heir."
"In the Joined Kingdoms there's a curse," Xander said. "All first born or first in line are princes. All second are princesses. It's avoiding an ancient curse."
Xander grinned. "Sometimes princesses are the most interesting. I was, Genjo was, Sam is." He smirked. "We get shit done."
Sam nodded. "Very few princes get things done. Don, my brother, Gabriel, your daughter."
"Tony's brother isn't bad, but Tim's a bit uptight," Xander said. "He's growing into the same sort of handling things that Tony is."
"Why is he considered first born?" Sam asked. "He's younger."
"Due to the second marriage that got him Tim, it was part of the marriage contract," Xander said.
"Oh!" He nodded. "Does Jethro have natural children?"
"Apparently he had one but made himself forget about her after she and her mom were killed. The recent poisoning brought it back to his mind."
"Ow," Sam said, shaking his head. "Jethro's an uptight asshole about things. That's gotta be bad."
Genjo nodded. "We spent a day there. She's guarding the baby once your brother-in-law showed up to help."
"Your people allow same sex marriages?" one of the ruling council asked.
Xander smiled and nodded. "We do. We have surrogates picked out but otherwise it's allowed most everywhere. There's a few weird places that are weird in the bad ways. But we don't admit them to the kings' convergence. They're up in the mountains by Sam's people and King Alan's people. We only talk to them when they have horrible plagues."
"The rest of the kings decided long ago that as long as there were proper heirs that was all fine," Sam agreed. "It's been over six hundred years. King Alan's people were the last to ratify that treaty."
Xander nodded. "They all think Genjo has tact that I was born without."
"I do," Genjo said.
Xander grinned. "See?" He had to duck the battle fan. "Sorry, dear."
"Shut up, Xander."
Sam looked at him. "Are you jonsing for your smokes again?" he asked. He didn't quite manage to avoid the battle fan. "Sorry, Genjo."
"Thank you. Have some diplomacy, Sam. You usually have more than my consort."
Xander nodded. "I sucked some of his out once upon a time. I nearly named Sam my diplomat because my country has no one suitable."
Genjo looked at him. "That would be all but admitting you were going to marry him if I die, Xander."
Xander blew a kiss. "You're not allowed to die. Ask the army."
General Asherton looked at him, shaking his head. "Our king needs someone that equals his mind and manners but helps him get better at things he's never had. Like tact and diplomacy."
"I could've grown that," Xander said. "We all know why I didn't."
He nodded. "True."
Xander looked at him. "Why is your prosthetic on the wrong leg?" The man changed and his army charged. Xander fought them off. The backup unit rushed in to help them. "Get the alchemist and mage," he ordered with a point. They captured him but he tried to get away. Xander shot him, injuring him on the leg. One of the horses got a bite on him. Then one of the knights pounced him and brought him down. The mage moaned as he hit the ground. "Thanks. You're really good." He killed the last one and sneered. "You're not worthy to bleed on me so stop it." The man gasped and died. "Thank you." He walked over him. "Any others?" he ordered.
"No, Sire," they called back. "All gone."
"Thank you. Come get the horses." He patted his on the nose. "You're a very good boy. Thank you." The horse nuzzled him and Xander handed over a treat. "Make sure they get treated for injuries and treats for doing so good."
"Yes, Sire," the handler agreed, leading them off. He whistled and they followed him to get food, treats, and cleaned up. A few others that were outside had to get kicked around but he had helpers.
Xander looked over at Steve and grinned. "I train our war horses. It was my old job with the army."
"You did a great job."
"Thank you." He smiled. "So, the mage?"
"Knocked out, sir, but very crafty."
"We can handle him," he promised. "We have magic nulling things." Sam used them on the guy - hands and ankles. Plus a neck cuff that hitched to his wrist cuffs that meant he couldn't raise his head fully.
"He can ride pillion," Sam said as he straightened up. He looked at Xander. "Where's our father?" he asked quietly.
"Going after the demon that killed your mom again. The last I heard somewhere near the Sanzo border in King Paul's kingdom."
"Great. He didn't leave any word."
"You know your dad, Sam."
"I do." He looked at the remaining people. "Are there more problems?" he asked pleasantly.
"We're still fighting over a law," one of them said. "They want to make lists of people who can aspire to our jobs."
Genjo looked at them. "So your later people can take them out? Will that cover people who are trained but more usual than special?" They all stared at each other. "Frankly, I wouldn't let that start. An academy probably already has one of their students anyway."
"We can do some damage," Steve admitted.
Xander nodded. "Any battle can do damage. You guys just prove it better."
"That was my point," Steve admitted. "Plus they were going to use Bucky as a tool to start a real war."
Xander nodded once. "I don't like those sort anyway. I see the point of realizing who can do that sort of damage but you already have most of them on a list and if you asked that sort if they'd help, they probably would."
"The list would allow them to send us to handle things we didn't know about," the Black Widow said. "We could control it."
He looked at her. "When you die, will you still have control of it?" She shook her head. "Will your heirs appreciate that and use it well?" She more slowly shook her head. "Then there's already a list somewhere. Do they need a better one?"
"They think they do so they can send us at battles."
"That's conscription," Genjo said. "It's not worth it. You're not slaves. If you are slaves, you're in a very weird place since you rule things." They all nodded. "We all agree, there's already a list. Conscription is always the wrong idea."
Steve cleared his throat. "Why did you come in like you were taking over?" he asked.
Xander smirked at him. "Because if I had come in like a courtier there to talk diplomatically you either wouldn't listen or you'd try to get me on one side or another. If I come in kicking in doors, then you tend to actually listen instead of just half-hearing and nodding, then making me react." He pointed at the other king. "I'm pretty sure he did the same thing. He showed up with an 'I'm going to get this asshole' instead of an 'I'd like to talk about your asshole'."
Stark nodded. "That's a reasonable thing to me too. Force only really understands force."
Xander nodded. "Plus, me coming in like a diplomat would've broken me out in hives. I sent ahead a diplomat and he's somewhere being talked onto the wrong side."
"Handled it," Sam said. "He's back with the generals being debriefed and straightened out. We think this is the same alchemist that had you repoisoned and brought Horatio's brother back to life. Both of which are charges the Joined Kingdoms want to see him brought up on."
Bucky walked over. "Xander..."
"You're welcome to come back whenever you want or need to, Bucky. I told you I could handle it if they caused problems."
Bucky nodded. "You sure did," he said, looking around at the mess. Xander smirked at him, patting him on the arm.
Stark looked. "What is that?"
"The arm that the alchemist replaced mine with," Bucky said. Stark made a grab for it. "No."
Xander grabbed Stark and swung him into the wall. "He's still under my protection and if you harm him I will definitely drag your ass back to face charges." He stared at him. "I take my protection vows seriously."
Sam nodded. "Yes he does." Xander grinned at him. Sam smirked back. "Thank you for diverting me from Gabriel showing up to stalk me more."
"Welcome. It frustrates him but that does him good. Makes him think up plans and plots."
"And porn," Hakkai said dryly. "Because he asked me if it was anatomically possible."
Sam laughed, punching him on the arm. "I'm sorry."
Xander nodded. "I told him it wasn't, Sam. Not even for the very bendy people in Genjo's people."
Genjo snorted, shaking his head. "I don't know why they stand those exercises."
Goyjo shrugged. "It makes sex nicer sometimes. Very flexible means a lot easier in some positions." Genjo glared at him. "What?"
"We're visitors," he noted. "They're not used to you two playing. Stop it before they decide we're all like that."
"Sorry," he said with a grin for the knights. "It was a long trip with no inn girls."
Xander nodded. "They were strangely absent. Usually that one inn with the green roof has a ton of them." He shrugged. "It's something Horatio can look into since they're on his border."
"You like inn workers?" Stark asked dryly, staring at him.
Xander looked at him. "Your idiot alchemist repoisoned me with a poison that leads to a buildup of chemicals in my blood if I don't release it and the only way is through sex. It's them sometimes or an incubus again."
Genjo nodded. "That poison is not kind." Stark was gaping.
One of the older knights walked in. "I've heard of that poison. We have no hope of curing it."
Xander looked at him. "If you try to hold off wearing it out, you have no hope of survival. Or you can use a succuba or incubus to help with that. If you fire call or write Princess Gregory in my country he'll send you a primer on what's happened and what we tried. He's gathering that for others as well."
"You fire call?" he asked. "How?"
"The engineering college created a way thanks to a student that had some magic." The witch from earlier was waking up. Sam looked at her then at Xander, who shrugged. "She's mostly harmless. She's not totally trained because she glows in the dim light."
"Tara's coven could help her. They're good witches who have a lot of control. They teach too. Much nicer than the one upcountry from you, Xander."
"They can be bitches," Xander agreed. "Very uptight bitches. But protective."
"They are that," Goku agreed. "They wouldn't let me near something because I'm a guy. Apparently that was a bad thing that day."
"Sometimes," Xander agreed. "Especially with how the old tower up there got built." Goku nodded at that. He was leaning on his staff. They heard a horse scream. "If that was mine, I'm killing someone else," he bellowed.
One of Xander's guards shook his head. "Wrong sound for our type of horses, Sire. Has to be a draft horse at that level of volume." He went to check when Xander pointed. He came back. "One of our stallions mounted him."
Xander looked up and sighed, shaking his head. "I could've sworn I gelded him. Twice."
"It regrew again, Sire," the horse guard said. "I'm moving him out of the way after he gets off the draft gelding, Sire."
"Yes, Sire." He went to do that and apologize.
Xander looked at Sam. "Can you yell at Castiel's cousin that cursed that poor damn horse?"
"Yeah, I can," he agreed. "Or ask Cas to do that."
"Are things really weird up there?" Steve asked Bucky.
"It was okay until a dragon flew down to try to get the king and his daughter. She's sweet but eight and a bit mouthy."
"We're very proud of that and that she's so smart," Xander quipped. "Plus she's a gifted healer."
"I've been giving her some healer lessons," Hakkai said. "With Gregory's help. We've been going over anatomy."
Xander smiled at him. "Thank you. That's very sweet, Hakkai."
"We like her more than you," Goku said dryly. "She hugs and doesn't nag us or be mean to us when we get between you and the coffee."
"I can send you to do the monthly checking to see if my stepfather has died." Goyjo turned green and held his mouth.
"Xander, please quit being mean to Goku," Genjo said. Then he turned and hit Goku as hard as he could across the back of the head. "You, stop it."
Xander looked at him. "Are you feeling an evilness?"
"I am. I don't know why." He looked outside. "I think you have a zombie."
"Maybe," Xander admitted. "You're sensitive like that, Genjo. I just handle it if you can't."
He walked off shaking his head. He headed outside. "Sure, a zombie horse and rider," he said, pulling his banishing gun to kill them both. He looked at the stallion. "Don't touch those. They're dead. No possible foals." He walked off shaking his head. "The zombie and his dead horse are both really dead."
"Thank you," Steve said. He looked at the others. "Can we clean up?"
"Sure," Xander agreed. "We can go rest at an inn or camp in a field." Steve looked at him. Xander stared back. "Not like it's the first time."
"I've camped many times," he said. "Widow?"
"I can show them to an appropriate inn," she said, going with them. It would let her keep them in view in case they had other bad ideas. They were weird to her in many ways.
Steve looked at Stark then at the others. "We will clean up. We'll talk. Then we'll meet with them tomorrow." Everyone nodded at that.
Stark nodded too. "I can agree it's a good plan for tonight."
Everyone moved to clean up the mess in their meeting room. There were a lot of messy parts. The prisoners were taken away to be treated for injuries and questioned. The one alchemist had been dragged with their visitors. Widow could watch over his incarceration to make sure it was humane for now.
Overqualified, Mouthy Princesses.