Summary: The royal princes and princesses are back. Only this time they really have to stop the demon menace, one way or another.
Original trio was here: http://voracity.e-fic.com/xover/princess%20academy1.html or on the old misc page under related pairs that aren't a series.
Categories: Buffy Stories & Crossovers > Avengers, Buffy Stories & Crossovers > CSI/NCIS, Buffy Stories & Crossovers > Supernatural, Buffy Stories & Crossovers > Other Comics/Anime Characters: None
Series: Pretty Princesses of The Joined Kingdoms
Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes
Word count: 42327 Read: 70014
Published: 06/25/2016 Updated: 06/25/2016
1. Part 1 by Voracity2
2. Part 2 by Voracity2
3. Part 3 by Voracity2
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.
Xander got off the boat, nodding at his people. "Get Mac's head guard. We have two prisoners for them." One of the guards ran off. The majority of the guard with them off-loaded and went to rest from the trip. It had been a bit bumpy. Mac himself came riding up with his generals. "Mac. Feeling better?"
"Much. We fought off that poisoning fairly easily. Who do you have?"
Genjo looked at him then pressed something to his head and chanted. Mac moaned but the possession left him while he choked. Genjo looked at the generals. "I can call Consort Castiel." They fled. "They're possessed like Consort Castiel handles," he announced.
Mac shook his head, groaning as he rubbed it. "That is not a sensation I ever wanted to have. Thank you, Genjo."
"Welcome." He pointed. "Two prisoners."
Xander pointed and snapped. His people helped Mac offload the two prisoners. "Thank you, boys." He looked at one general. "I noticed the eye thing on you too." That one glared. "I know damn well you have green eyes. So change or leave him. I hate having to nominate generals and we need two unless you can find Asherton."
The general moaned as the demon left him and his people. Including one helping Mac. Mac looked at him. "Why are they coming here?"
"You'd have to ask them," Xander said. "I can do that if you want."
"No, we can handle it." He walked the prisoners off.
"Any idea why the roads were so clear of even the working girls?" Xander asked.
"No," Mac said, looking at him. "Where was this?"
"That green roof'd in by Horatio's border."
"That inn always has working girls. They like to tell Stella about their children and villages." He frowned. "That's weird. Bring it up at the meeting tonight."
"I can do that," Xander promised, looking at his spouse. "Go get the kid?"
"She and everyone showed up to protect each other," Mac said with a smile. "She's been talking non-stop with Abby and Stella."
"I think they're great role models for her as a queen," Xander said. "Stella's a strong, upright, moral queen. Abby's more fun but very ethical and strong willed. Plus a bit more flirty like my daughter will probably be if the blood tells." Mac smiled at him for that. "It could happen." He mounted his horse, looking around. "We're going to Mac's castle," he announced. "Two in front, two guarding behind. The rest range around us in case the prisoners try magic or something stupid. That way I can kill them for it. I'm tired of stupid for the next little while and I'm about to kill the rest of the stupid in the universe if I see it happening." He looked at the non-demoned general. "Have we had anyone I have to handle for breaking the rules about civilian contact?"
"We had one," Mac said. "He was very drunk so didn't get very far before the civilian knocked him out. He woke up tied naked, upside down from a branch to Stella standing there. He'll never do it again, Xander." Xander smiled at him for that. "It won't happen again and the cross-training went very well. I'm highly impressed."
"Cool. I'm glad they were so good." He rode off with Mac to talk to him. The prisoners were behind guards.
It wasn't a long ride. Maybe two hours. Mac's kingdom wasn't that large, maybe a day and a half ride's width wise and two length wise. They had split from Horatio's kingdom long ago about some meaningless fight. They rode up into the main town and people were staring. Xander waved. Mac waved to a few, who all cheered. Mac smiled at one guard. "We have prisoners for the convergence meeting."
"We can get irons up there, Sire." He nodded at Xander. "King Xander, your daughter is in with our healers taking her daily lesson with Princess Gregory."
"Thank you. I worry about her." The guard smiled. Xander leaned down. "I can see the demon," he hissed. "If it wants my daughter, I'm going to kill them all." The demon fled, and the guard shook his head. "Are they watching my daughter?"
"No, King Xander. They do not want to deal with her or you."
"Then why all the demons?" Mac demanded.
"They have plans to take some control."
"If they want to follow Zemo's lead, I'll be damned," Xander said bluntly.
"No, they want total control, not a kingship or to be a warlord, Sire." He looked at Mac. "They want to be the only higher power."
Xander snorted and pointed at Genjo. "They might have a problem with that."
"I'm sure the demons will handle it somehow, Sire. I'm not sure I want to know how. The one I had in me wouldn't know that. He was just a foot soldier."
"Thank you," Genjo said. "Are my relatives here?"
"Only your mother, Sire."
"Thank you." They rode on. Guards came out to get the prisoners. Xander pointed his sword at one, making him back up. Genjo cleared his throat. "Xander?"
"I can see a particular image on his pendant. I have no idea why they think hydra look like an octopus but I'm about to summon one so they can get a good view for future artwork purposes. And for fun for them." The guard winced as his people checked it then put him into irons too. Xander looked at Mac. "Sorry. I seem to keep jumping in."
"No, I'm all for it. I know you're not going to hurt my kingdom, Xander." They walked inside and got them rooms to freshen up in. Mac went to the meeting room. "We're just now back. Xander and Genjo will be here in a moment." He leaned on the table, looking at Dean and Castiel. "Why are there demons everywhere trying to take over as the only deity of choice?"
Castiel blinked. "There are?" he demanded.
Genjo walked in. "We've banished them in that other kingdom, in this kingdom, on the boat, which nearly wrecked the boat overnight." He looked at Dean then at Sam as he walked in. "Your father's somewhere between your mate's people and mine hunting that same demon."
"He's done it before," Sam said, settling behind Dean.
Xander stumbled in and sat down, rubbing his forehead. He looked up at Alan. "Good, you're not possessed yet, we don't have an army of demons who're trying to take out Cas's family that're going to invade here and take out us all and rape my daughter, and others can handle it." He looked at Castiel. "No one's seen your brother."
"Shit," he muttered. Dean moved to help Xander with Sam. Castiel nodded. "Let me go call the home." He hurried off to call that in. Paul was stubborn but oh well. "Brother," he said. "Xander has had to deal with many demons, of our sort instead of Dean and Xander's sort, that are trying to take out our family. Also the same vision stated Gabriel is missing thanks to them and they wish to take out our whole family then put themselves up as some sort of pantheon."
His brother blinked a few times. "It's pleasant to see you as well."
Dean stomped into view. "Xander saw legions of them," he said. "Including coming here to take over all the kings and take out his daughter to make Xander fight them harder. They think it'll make him lose his battle focus."
Paul nodded once. "That's bad."
"Sam said they had to depossess people in that country and all the way here. Black eyes, smell funny, wanting to have the same status your family used to in the older pagan days."
Paul frowned. "That's bad. I will call the others to talk. Where are you, Castiel?"
"King Mac's kingdom. The joined kings sent Xander to deal with the civil war starting just over the border because he could tell them all to shut up," Dean said dryly. "Which he did. They had an alchemist trying to take over with a specialist army." Paul groaned, shaking his head. Dean looked at one person in view. "Cute eyes," he said dryly. "Where's Gabe?"
"Gone." She smirked. "We will still win because we don't die. That child will not bother us and most of us would not dare go near that child. Why would we create a greater challenge against our rules?"
Paul looked at her. "Who are you?"
"One of the demons," Castiel said. "I can almost feel the taint from here." He looked around and lunged at a page, who squealed and ran but the real demon came out laughing and Castiel fought him off.
Dean waved as he hung up, shooting the demon. "I've had enough of them."
"We may not be able to stop them immediately," Castiel noted.
Xander came out limping, looking evil. He called home. "The fucking demons are trying again."
"They said they weren't going to try your daughter because it'd make you evil," Dean quipped.
"Too late." He stared at him then at the picture. "Get into my barn full of engineering things. Get more of them up to fix my father's cracked ideas as well. Apparently those demons want a full war and they're going to make it by making a feint toward my daughter. I didn't need the vision of them attacking her." The general shuddered, shrinking away from him. "I want it in place by the time I get home or at least knowing why it's not."
"Yes, Sire!" He hung up and ran off. He may be a general but he knew what Xander in a snit could do. "Sire said to pull out his demon hunting gear and ideas for the engineers to look over, get one up here to look at the things his father dreamed up when he had some hostage. The demons are going after his daughter and others." A few flinched and they had black eyes. "Take them out if they're possessed and can't be cleared." They did that and searched everyone in the kingdom. They had the coven make capturing vessels.
The engineers weren't happy to be summoned there but they knew Xander was in charge and why this was so important. They sent a few trainee engineers and Princess Charlie to help. The first ones there were complaining until they saw what it was then they screamed for help from their people. Apparently one of them had been mean while he was a hostage. They had new types of explosives, siege engines, and things they couldn't identify. By the time the instructors got there the next night, the trainees realized they were seeing some warped genius moments that were scary. And some nice things that King Xander had thought up to help his friends hunt demons.
Xander met the demons who had sent for him, sneering at them. "So, you decided to try my people now."
"You are not worthy of us but you will bow, mortal."
Xander snorted, shaking his head. "No I won't."
"We have your worst nightmare," one said, snapping his fingers. His father lumbered forward.
"We already knew he had been freed but we also know about the demon he summoned. Pity but I'm not his relative in the least." He stared at them. "He doesn't worry me."
"I have your daughter," his stepfather sneered.
Xander pointed toward his home castle. His daughter was with Queen Abby and Stella but he didn't need to know that. "She's studying. I doubt that." The demon lumbered forward, making Xander cut his head off. "Huh. I didn't realize I had been looking forward to that instead of letting him be tortured until he picked his chance to die." He looked at the demons, who were staring. "By the way, I'm the son if King Arant, not him." He grinned. "He's not a relative of mine."
The demons shared a look then one lunged at him. Xander ducked the blow and spun, killing the guy from behind. "He's good," one of the demons said. "But tainted."
"No. The pathetic lump had me possessed a few times," he said dryly. "It just makes me meaner." He smirked. "You don't want to try here. We've dealt with your kind for generations and won."
"Big words, Mortal."
"Oh, I'm sorry, you don't know me. I'm King Xander." He smirked. "You really should run." They laughed and tried to attack. Xander's machines helped him win. The demons were dying when Castiel stomped out to handle them. "Your relatives?" he asked politely.
"Fighting among themselves. They think they should take up their old duties," he complained.
"Great. So these are like their cousins?"
"Possibly," he admitted. He looked at Xander. "I do not want to kill my relatives but it may be necessary."
"No, in that case, you ask the rest of us, Castiel. Some of us will take them out for you." He patted him on the back. "Dean's like a brother to me and you're his consort. We like you for that much even if you were uptight like your father." He winked and walked off. "Burn them," he ordered his people. They had been ready to back him up. "We don't need more demons polluting our countries. Get the coven to work on the protections please."
"They are, Sire," one shouted. The infantry cleaned up the mess with a large bonfire. A few of them lowered their heads for their former leader's corpse going on it but otherwise they were quiet as they cleaned up the mess their king had made.
Castiel watched it burn and sighed. "This is not going to be pretty." He walked off. He went to talk to Alan. They had fallen back to Xander's kingdom because it was better protected against all this mess. They would've went to his with Dean but it was too far out of the way of everything. "King Alan, I have talked to my brother," he announced when he got let in.
Alan looked up at him from his book. "You just turned formal like some of them so it's got to be bad." He put his book aside. "How bad?"
"Paul and others think they should take up their old duties again to beat off these ones. It's an ideal my father had been trying to push before he died." He sat down with a sigh. "I do not want to take out my relatives. Xander offered but it is not his fight."
"They brought it to all of us, Castiel." He patted him on the arm. "Have you told Dean?"
"He was listening. So was Genjo. His people will not be amused." He looked at him. "I do not know if my people can stand being taken over and it would almost have to be that way if my relatives push their agenda."
Alan nodded. "That would be bad, yes. Do you have suitable cousins?"
"No. Not many that I know I can trust not to subtly fall into place due to pressure." He rubbed over his face. He didn't see Alan's eyes changing but Sam was let in and stared. Alan's demon flowed out, trying to choke him.
Sam leaned out. "Get Princess Gregory now. The demon inside King Alan is trying to choke him and we need to open an airway." The guard called for him and he came running while Castiel was trying.
Gregory knelt beside him. "Sam, knife." He handed it over. Gregory opened a bottom airway and stuck a straw into it. Alan gasped but the demon gave up and left. "Breathe," Gregory ordered. "Just breathe, Alan." He nodded, breathing. "Close your mouth. You have an airway." He panted through it instead. "Good. Now, calm down." He looked at Castiel. "Your people's idiots are just as bad."
"I know. We were talking about that until Sam came in."
"Sam can tell demons, they seem to draw him," Sam said dryly. He helped Castiel up. "Are you all right?"
"Are you?" he demanded. "You are very unSam like."
Sam grinned. "Yeah, I'm good. Just very mad." Castiel hit him with holy water, making Sam stare at him. "Go make sure Dean's free." He looked at Gregory. "Want help taking him to your house?"
"Please. Too many stairs." Sam hauled Alan up and helped him out to there. Don came running but that was usual. He was a protective first born son. Gregory swatted him. "Leave it. He was nearly choked by a demon. I had to open it so he could breathe. We can close it later."
Genjo watched them go then went to call his family. "Father," he said with a bow. "We have serious news."
"You could not write?" he demanded calmly.
"Castiel's family has been taken over by demonic ideas. There's demons trying to take out the other kings so they can take over the status King Paul's people used to hold." His father winced. "There are higher level, not our level but their level, demons half of everywhere. My mate has had numerous visions. King Alan was nearly taken out and we have protections here. Demons have to be possessing someone to get into this country."
"That is bad news. We can be on watch for them."
"Black eyes," his mother said. Genjo nodded. "Do the chakras work?"
"Barely," he admitted. "They're not our sort. They'd be the direct opposition to the former Angelician lines. Called up to counter their old powers. King Michael wanted to start them regrowing that way before he died. King Paul clearly wants to join that." His father winced but nodded. "They have come for everyone. We would be standing in their way as we're outside things."
"We can search for their sort," his mother agreed. "We will be doing so immediately."
"Xander's coven has made capturing vessels for the higher level demons."
"We can do that," his father agreed. "Our priests can. Are others going to be so challenged?"
"They already are but we're the only one that's outside that level of faith." His father hummed. "I do not want to see anyone's country decimated but we fear it may happen."
"King Paul's people certainly would be in danger," his mother agreed. "We will allow them to temporarily relocate if they must run," she decided, looking at her husband. "We will call the priests together, Genjo. Is your mate well?"
"Many visions and they keep making him more and more angry." He grimaced. "He took out many of the demons earlier by fire."
His father grimaced. "That's nasty," he decided. "Be safe, my son. Come home if you need to." Genjo nodded, bowing. "Do be safe and if you have to send your stepdaughter, we will gladly guard her."
"I may. They have made feints toward her and that is what has pissed my husband off the most. In one of the visions they were taunting him that they were going to attack her."
"That would upset any thinking being," his father agreed. "Especially a parent. Send her if she needs guarded. We'll warn others." He hung up and rang a gong beside his seat. "I need all the higher priests immediately. Also, we will be testing everyone for demons." His wife went to start doing that. She had been trained as a nun and could do that telling herself for their palace's people. He looked at one priest when he came in. "King John rests with you, we need him as well," he said quietly.
"He's already coming, Sire," he said. "He knew it was a problem with demons. Things have been disturbing meditations with odd visions of horrible things."
"Yes, the ones that were meant to go against King Paul's sort." They all grimaced. "They are trying to take out humanity so they can be in control. King Paul's people aren't against that war from what my son just announced." They looked at each other. "They have been trying all the other joined kingdoms." The priests nodded. "We will search each and every single person for that sort of demon. Today if possible. We may have need to take in refugees from King Paul's kingdom. Also, Priest Sanzo," he said with a nod at one old priest who wore the same markings his son wore. Those marked as rebirths of former Gods or Goddesses were the real higher ranks, the family and kingdom had taken their name from their status. "You may be guarding a young princess they have made moves toward. I'm told she has healing skills."
"I have heard of your grandchild, Sire," he said. "She is more than worthy to be guarded as she rides an elemental spirit. I believe off the lines that John Winchester rides."
"Excellent. She was a very sweet, smart young woman when we met," he agreed. "We have been warned they have nearly taken out King Alan. We do not want them here. It was noted we are not of their sort of faith so we would be a roadblock." They nodded and went to start that today. They had priests in other countries they needed to contact as well. Their usual fighting methods might not be as useful but it was something they could help with.
Xander looked at the note that had been mailed to him and Sam from Gabriel before he had disappeared. He tapped it a few times then looked up at Sam. Who nodded. "We can do this."
"I sense bad thoughts," Genjo said as he walked into the office. He took the letter to read. "That would not work. It could hurt the people more."
"Or we could use it to put protections on the average person in King Paul's kingdom," Sam said. "They have a hole near there."
"Wouldn't you have to use that hole for that?" Genjo asked.
Sam nodded. "It's heavily guarded but near our border with them."
"There had been a tiny kingdom there at one time," Xander said. "Your father might do that. He's closer."
"I fire called him to let him know. He's mad and he thinks they have to be taken out by hand."
"I'm worried that plan could make the demons stronger and King Paul's family weaker," Genjo said.
"Then we use the one here for that," Xander said quietly. Genjo gaped then glared. Xander stared back. "Sam and I here. Dean and Castiel there?"
"Their people are the most impacted," Sam agreed. "Castiel making that sort of wish for help on that power may help the most."
Genjo considered it. "I know almost nothing about those."
"I talked to his sister Elizabeth. They had her tied in a tower but a priest got her down," Sam said. "She's safe but not healthy. She's the one that told Gabriel to tell us that. She also said that a third area was known about and should be used as well to add to the strength against both sides."
"I have no idea who could do that," Xander admitted. "Your dad?"
"He could. Queen Buffy could," Sam said. "She fights demons. She and my father could probably work together and protect each other." Xander nodded. "That may be the most dangerous sort since it's in a cave in the former Rosenburg kingdom."
"That sounds even more risky," King Alan said as he walked in. His throat was bandaged but he was fine now. "What plan do we have beyond sending the two better higher level fighters out?" Xander handed over the letter. Alan sat down to read it, grimacing but nodding. "That's risky, I was right." He looked at Genjo then at Xander and Sam. "Do we have a choice?"
"Fighting like we have been," Genjo sighed. "I don't know of any other methods. We won't have a huge battle this time."
"No, we won't," Xander said. "There's very few people they can't take over. Dean and Cas would be in danger but not the most danger. Sam and I can do the one here or I can do it with Genjo and Sam can back his brother up. John and Buffy would have the most trouble."
Alan considered it. "Bring this to the kings, Xander." He nodded, getting up. They all went to the meeting area. "Before Princess Gabriel went missing, presumed dead, he mailed a letter with a plan to defeat all this to Sam and Xander," he announced. Everyone stared at them until Xander handed over the letter. "We have ideas of how to fight it."
"What sort of power point is this?" Horatio asked.
"It's an open spot to the powers of the universe," Xander said. "We have one here. It's why my stepfather could summon that stupid demon."
"Which is now dead," Genjo said. "Thankfully." Xander grinned at him. "We can have someone go pack up his old tent."
"That's cold," Jethro said.
"No, cold would be putting up a monument so no one else tries what he did," Xander said. "Cold wouldn't be cleaning up the mess so the centaurs don't have to deal with it."
"Point," Jethro said. "Are we sure he's dead?"
"He was at the battle this morning," Xander said. "They called him to help. I'm pretty sure I beheaded him and they burned him at the end."
"If he's not, then the demon in him is probably gone and we can end his punishment," Genjo said. "Before it wasn't that safe."
"We heard," Mac said with a grimace. "Very nasty."
Xander nodded. "He did it to others."
"True. Which is why I didn't protest that punishment." He took the letter to read. "Interesting. Do we know where they are?" Xander and Genjo both nodded. "Can we easily do this?"
"There's one that's not very safe to get to. One's up just outside Dean's borders," Xander said. "One's near here. That's why the original kings set up here. They were into that stuff."
"So one's very dangerous," Mac said, handing the letter on. "Who would be getting that one?"
"We figured Dean and Castiel for that one by them," Xander said. "They're familiar with the area. I'm familiar with the one near here thanks to having to redo all the protections a few years back. The other one.... We were thinking maybe John if he's fit and maybe Buffy?" He looked at her.
She took the letter out of turn to read it, grimacing. "I do not want that sort in my kingdom." She handed it to the person between her and Stella. "Where is it?"
"Cave of Choices," Genjo said. "In the land of Rosenburg." Buffy winced. "Which is why it's so dangerous. There's almost no protections there from anything coming at you two. Plus the cave is said to be guarded by some sort of higher being that can kill you."
She nodded. "I can help fight that. I learned a lot about fighting demons to protect my people and my little sister is thankfully out of danger now so if something horrible happens, I'll get to see my mom again."
"You're not going alone," Xander told her. "Dying isn't the point."
"No, it's not," she agreed with a smile. "Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome, Buffy. We don't want you to die. Your sister's neat but squealy. Your secondary council would try to run her over until she shot them all."
She laughed. "Maybe." She looked at the others. "Don?"
He nodded. "I could go with you and John," he agreed. "That way at least one of us gets through."
Alan looked at him. "You're not used to demons."
"No but I've helped hunt our criminals before. It's part of my duty to protect my people, Dad."
"It is and I'm proud but you scare me shitless when you do that stuff."
"Hopefully it'll be the only time." He looked at Xander. "Can you handle the one here?"
"Yes. I'll have either Sam or Genjo with me."
"So you're trained in mythical things," Horatio said. "Genjo is, Sam, Dean, and Castiel are."
Xander nodded. "We can send Sam to back up his brother and Castiel. I barely know anything about the mystical things unless I've had to research it, like when we had to reset the protections on the kingdom."
"Are there others who could do that easier?" Horatio asked.
"Some priests," Genjo said. "They're not hardy enough to get to them for the off-site ones."
"It's in the castle?" Mac demanded.
"Under," Xander said with a small grin. "It's directly under the wedding night room under the castle itself. It's sealed off."
"It probably leaks just enough to be the reason for the fertility rates on wedding nights in that room?" Stella asked.
"Which is one good reason why we moved the wedding night room," Xander quipped. "I'm just glad I didn't get Genjo pregnant that night." Genjo rolled his eyes with a glare at his spouse.
"That would've been something huge since it hasn't happened in nearly two hundred years," Alan said dryly. "Have you been in that room, Xander?"
"My stepfather had me born in there."
"Oh." He nodded once. "That's why you're the one that did the protections?"
"Had to be someone of the bloodline."
"How are they set?" Mac asked.
"Every year near the winter solstice I get to hit eight places around the kingdom in a day's time to bleed a tiny bit on the runes."
"Wow," Stella said. "Can you do that in a day?"
"Yeah, there's a path that's pretty fast if you have some good horses. I change about every two plinths. The last one's here."
"So it's cut, bleed, ride, bleed, ride," Mac said. Xander nodded. "Much blood?"
"Not really. A good few drops. I have one that I keep reopening that day then I get it bandaged that night."
"Huh," Horatio said. "I had no idea how those were done."
"Specific runes on a plinth that's stuck deep into the ground," Genjo said. "Redoing them a few years back was a horrendous problem."
"Kind of, yeah," Xander agreed. "I'm glad we found out before it gave them a permanent in through them."
"They could have?" Stella demanded.
"My stepfather's possessing demon, that he summoned, tainted them. That's why they had to be redone."
"Eww." She grimaced, looking at Mac. "Can we do that?"
"We may be able to. I'm not sure if it's totally necessary once this is done with."
"Better to be safe than sorry," Horatio said patiently. "How hard is it to make those?"
"Not very," Genjo said. "Castiel's sister Elizabeth helped the most with ours and she's just recently been saved from her family. She's in one of my people's temples."
"So is John," Xander said.
"Good," Alan said. "Are there any other alternate ideas?"
"Will this definitely work?" Stella asked. "No other options that could work better?"
"No," Xander said. "I've been trying to figure it out and I haven't. Cas hasn't. Dean and Sam haven't. Then we got Gabriel's letter. Even the covens we've worked with don't have any ideas."
"Could they do this instead?" Mac asked. "Instead of risking so many of us?"
Xander shook his head. "Has to have the right to protect people. They've taken over some protection duties but ...."
"It's the king's duty to protect their people," Horatio said. Xander nodded. "I do not like it, I think it's relying on things that are from very old ways that no one trusts any longer, but I don't think we have another method."
Alan looked at the others.
"I agree," Don said. "I don't think we have another one. Xander's been hiding in some library."
"Full of stuff on demons," Xander said. "It's locked up. A lot of it I got from John."
"It's sad we have to go back to magic instead of modern things," Stella said. Mac nodded. "But I'd rather have something old instead of nothing."
"How soon?" he asked Xander.
"I can call John tonight. It'll take two days to get down there. About a day and a half for Dean and Castiel to get up to theirs. Sam could figure out a way to follow quickly. I'm the one that'd be waiting and worrying."
"All right. Does it have to be done at the exact same time?" Buffy asked.
"Same day. Not simultaneous," Genjo said.
"Good. So we need us to be in place in three days." Xander nodded. "Then I need to head out tonight."
"I'm sending guards with you," Xander said.
"Yours are stretched thin," Mac said. "We have some of ours that can help." Buffy smiled and nodded.
"I have a guard unit too," Don said. "I'm going with her so they can join us." Buffy grinned at him and nodded again. "Good. Let's head that way. Get John?"
"I'm going to call him now," Genjo said, going to do that. He called that temple, nodding at the old priest. "We need John of Winchester to head to the Cave of Choosing. He's to meet Prince Don and Queen Buffy there. It will help end demons causing problems."
"I will tell him."
"He needs to be there in three days."
"That may be more of a problem."
John stepped into view. "Dean has Impala. I have one of her daughters."
"There's a spot like here in that cave," Genjo said.
"I can handle that. We know how to handle it?"
"She's got instructions with Don."
"I can hurry there, Genjo. My sons?"
"Going to the one near your home."
"Understood." He left, going to bow to the priests. "Thank you for healing me."
"You are welcome and important in the protection of us all, John of Winchester. Do not forget that," one said in a wheezy, old man voice. "It's important."
"I will be. Thank you." He bowed again then left. His horse was being saddled for him. "Hey, Girl. Let's go see Queen Buffy and Prince Don." He mounted up and turned her, cantering off. "I know, Pickup. You're a good girl and we can get there in time." He patted her neck. This was going to suck. Even worse than a demon battle in another country had.
Dean and Castiel ran into their first problem at the small country's border. The mystical spot of power that led back to the powers of creation was in that tiny country in an ancient wreck of a manor house. Dean stared at the guards, who had been possessed. "We're coming in."
"The king says no visitors."
"Really? Which king?" Dean demanded.
Dean smirked. "Name him."
The guard glared. "It won't matter to you, hunter."
Dean shot him. "Yes it will." He shot the other guard with his banishing gun, a wedding present from Genjo. They opened the gate and rode through. There was a good chance that the king of that country was possessed already. So they needed to hit the hole as soon as they could.
Castiel looked at him. "Expedient but not nice."
"Could they be saved?"
"Probably not and it would have taken hours," he admitted. "Are there others?"
"You ask like I can feel demons," Dean quipped.
"Point. I can't feel many nearby."
"That may change as we get closer," Dean said. "We need to speed up anyway. It's almost a full day away by the map." They sped up. Impala was keeping herself at the mare that Castiel was riding's speed. This wasn't hospitable lands but the roads were relatively smooth.
Buffy and Don found the cave they needed. They moved around it to find John's horse tied up and tied theirs, heading inside. John's horse still looked tired so he wasn't there for very long. "John?" Buffy called. "We're here."
John leaned out of a room. "There's a rock fall."
Don stared at him. "You're possessed? Now?" The demon smirked, coming out. Buffy stabbed him with the dagger Genjo had blessed. The demon fled John. "Sorry," she said. "Necessary but sorry."
He held his side, wincing but nodding. "It was. It wasn't going to let me go easily. Thank you."
"Rockfall?" Don asked.
"Small one." They moved into the right area. He pointed. "I can feel power there."
Buffy frowned as she felt around. "We need to go that way. There's something shiny feeling."
"Do we need shiny feeling power?" Don asked. "I have no idea about any of this."
"We need to check it out, make sure it's not something higher powered or something," Buffy said. She carefully climbed over the rocks, going that way. The guys followed her. "What are you?" She stared at the large doorway looking thing in her way.
"Ancient gateway," John said. "Magical gate to somewhere. They're mythical but used to be in a few places." He came over to read it, frowning. "This is a gateway to ...looks like Pasha Ambrose and his kingdom of Starklandia?"
She blinked. "Okay. So not dangerous?"
"Probably not," Don said.
"Good," John agreed, going back to the area they wanted. They found the walled entry like Xander's kingdom had. "Here it is."
Buffy looked up then at him. Then around. "Power's that way."
John considered it then nodded. "It is." He moved over there. "Xander's has walls."
"Yeah but he had people who wanted to use it," Don said. "This one had to be hidden and made a myth about picking new gods or something. The book about this stuff was weird."
Buffy grinned. "If it wasn't weird, mages and alchemists wouldn't look for it."
"True," Don agreed. They climbed over a few more rocks and into an open room. A shiny, bright room that had no lights, lamps, or torches. "I'm guessing the reason it's shiny is why we're here?"
John nodded, gritting his teeth. "Yes it is."
Buffy looked at him. "If you're still possessed I'll have to sob on your sons for mercy."
"My boys don't often have mercy. It's a weakness," John said. "If you have to sob on them, try for Sam."
"He is the nicer son," Don agreed sarcastically. "And Xander can ask him for leniency."
"Good idea," Buffy said. They carefully moved toward the center of the light. Though something wasn't right. She walked off, finding something. "Hmm, maybe this is why this is the most dangerous hole," she said quietly.
Don climbed up behind her and stared at the creature. "I have no idea what that is."
John looked around her other shoulder and groaned. "Yeah, that's a problem. You can't kill those, kids."
Buffy winced. "Can we talk to it?"
"Not sure," John admitted. "I've only seen myths of this in some ancient books."
Buffy looked back at him. "Is that the power point or is this room?"
"I'm not certain," John admitted. The large creature down there lifted his head, staring up at them.
"Sorry to wake you but we're having to defeat a lot of really large demons that're trying to take out people," Buffy said. "Are you able to understand us?" The creature glared. "I'm guessing that's a no." She looked at Don then at John. "There?" They nodded.
"Great," Don said. "Just great." Well, it looked like he'd have to become a heroic prince. "Tell Dad I'll miss him," he said quietly. "And pull Charlie away from his math."
John nodded. "You'll probably make it when I won't. You're younger."
Buffy snorted. "I'm hoping it doesn't like maidens. I'm barely not one but still."
Don patted her on the back. "It probably would keep maidens hostage instead of killing them. Most people don't consider maidens a threat." She grinned up at him. "Okay, let's... Are we on the right day?" John nodded, so did Buffy after checking her pocket watch. "Then let's find the power point so hopefully we can just distract this big thing while the other of us makes that request and prayer."
"I'll take diversion," Buffy said. She looked at Don. "I'm a bit better than you."
"Sure," he agreed. "You are a bit better at sword work." John nodded, he had helped train her. Don only had regular sword training, not demon hunting training. They carefully moved down toward the power point. The shiny room behind them lit up brighter, which hindered their diversion plans. Of course, everything was against them doing this.
The Knights that were still angry with Xander for handling things without them all looked at the doorway that suddenly lit up with a light behind the doors. "Anyone got any clue?" one of them asked. "I've only been here for a little over a year and I thought that led to a closet."
The oldest knight, who was under a curse and considered a god by some, nodded. "That is a gateway. I know not to where."
"Don't you dare open it," one of the head knights ordered. "We don't need more problems."
"Stark, shut up," another knight said. "Really." He got up to look at the edges of the door. "There's runes from somewhere else. I don't recognize them."
Thor got up to come look. "Those are to the ancient Kingdom of Fraza." He frowned. "It leads to an act of valor that requires aid," he read. "To a point of great power that should not be bothered except in dire circumstances." He looked back. "Shall we help then?"
"No, we shall not," Stark said. "No one's asked for our help."
The other knight general stood up and walked over to look at the doorway, listening. "I don't hear much beyond a roaring noise." He stepped back. "Anyone who wants to go, armor up. Someone guard the door to make sure it doesn't come back through." He winced when he heard a female shriek. "There's people."
"We can go," Thor agreed, grabbing his special battle hammer and armor to put on. Then his hat. The others armored up and grabbed weapons. Stark and a few others stayed back to see what was going on. Thor stepped through first. He was the largest and therefore the biggest target. "What goes on here?" he demanded.
Buffy looked up. "We need to make a request to the power point to stop the demons trying to kill everyone. Who're you?"
"I'm Prince Thor."
"I'm Queen Buffy, this is Prince Don, and that's King John being beaten to death. Can you do something to draw the thing's attention since it's ignoring me?"
Thor nodded, climbing down to help the king down there. "Well met."
John winced as he looked over. "My son mentioned you."
"I have met your son?"
"Oh!" He nodded. "That's interesting."
"The higher demons that bothered them are trying to take out everyone." John got free of the claws, holding his leg. "Buffy, now." She fired off the special crossbow Xander had handed her. Then she lunged in with a sword. Don moved behind the beast, trying to find the marked spot.
"There," Thor ordered with a point then he hit the beast with his hammer. "Not many have seen the Best Thanos in many lifetimes."
"I don't care what it's name is," Buffy said. "We have got to make that guided call. John, fall back." He moved out of her way. The knights fell in to help them get around the creature to give Don time to find the spot.
"It's under the rear right foot," Knight General Rogers ordered. "There's a floor marking." Bucky stepped through and jumped in to land on the beast's back to beat it on the back of the head.
"Thanks," Don said, stepping onto it himself and making the quick version of the guided request. John limped over to lay a hand on his arm and add his own request. They heard something scream outside. The beast screamed back and tried to get out of the cavern. The light from that one room burned it.
Buffy got cut and swung at the claw, breaking it off. "Don't cut the clothes. It's hard enough to find cute things to fight in that won't leave me flashing people!" She cut another claw off. The beast moved away from her so it could turn enough to bite her. Bucky slugged it. She grinned up at him. "Thanks. Don, we good?"
"We're good," he said, helping John up. "He's clawed."
"We have military healers not that far away and if they're possessed I'm going to send them after my mother to be her honor guard in the afterlife. She's probably bored by now anyway." She pushed back her sweaty hair, smiling at them. "Thank you, guys. It was great help." They retreated to the glowing cavern. Bucky was looking at John's thigh, tying a bandage out of his shirt over it. Buffy looked. "That's bad. Don't make me tell the boys, John."
"Shut up, Buffy, before I sign a death bed command for Sam to marry you anyway."
"Sam's way too smart for me," she quipped. "And way too horny thanks to that poisoning." John glared at her. She grinned. "I need a normal sort of guy, not a Sam sort of guy. But thanks anyway. Maybe Dean if he was still single but I couldn't get between him and Castiel. My mom would be horrified from her afterlife if I was their creamy filling." He snorted, holding pressure on his thigh. She grinned at the others. "Thank you for your help. Hopefully it'll stop all the demons. If you need wards and things, John's son Sammy is really good with them. They even remade the ones in Xander's kingdom a few years back."
"You still will not win," a male voice called through the air.
Buffy looked up and waved with a grin. "Aren't you stupid since you made all the really badly mean ones stubborn enough to turn meaner. I'd run if I were you, if only so Genjo doesn't hit you with his fan." The demonic voice snorted.
Don looked up then at her. "Quit making it mad, Buffy. We're too tired to fight it."
She looked at him. "Get John to the healers." He glared at her, standing up. She stared back. "Your dad's going to stomp on something. Shouldn't you tell him it's not necessary to ask your little brother to make evil things instead of math things?"
"Yay." She pointed. "It's here. Go. Now. Take him to the healers." Don groaned but looked then helped John up and out. "If I die tell my sister to have class like Queen Stella, not be bouncy like Queen Abby. I love the woman, she's great and all, but I want my sister to be more uptight and hopefully single so she doesn't draw people like I do."
"Yeah, whatever," Don snorted. "I'm marrying her off to half a military troop the day after we bury you." He helped John out of the cavern, looking around. "Please don't be possessed," he ordered Jethro's military troop.
"Hell no," one of them said.
"Good, then come get King John. Queen Buffy's in there fighting a demon." They came down to get the king and help Don go defend the kingdom. "Buffy?"
"Shut up, Don. It's trying to hide."
"Sorry." They walked in and Buffy shrugged but waved with a grin. "They had healers."
"Good. Great even." She turned and threw the round weapon Xander used to carry, and taught her to use, at the shadow the demon was hiding in. It shrieked in pain. "Oh, yeah, we had it blessed before I came." She followed to beat it. A few of the knights moved to help. The military guys helped by making sure nothing else could come in to help that demon. A female one showed up and got killed. A female goddess showed up and nearly got cut but she glared and that soldier backed down because she was scarier than King Jethro.
The goddess clapped. "Very nicely done, Buffy." She grinned back at her. "Move, dear. That takes a higher power and you didn't bring any of my nerdy prince's guards with you." She stepped forward, her ankle bells tinkling in the silent cave. She touched the demon's head, making it scream and explode. "Messy but useful." Of course none of the mess hit her.
Buffy panted, looking at her. "Will Dean and Cas need that?"
"Sam can. I've blessed him." She winked at Bucky. "You're adorable." She looked at Buffy. "Get John to a true healer. There's one in the town up from here," she said with a point. "Before he dies." The military guys called that out. She helped Buffy up. "You did an excellent job," she praised, smiling at her. "You do my ways proud even if you don't pray out for me."
"Is my mom happy?" she asked quietly.
"I'd hope so. She's not with our kind. She's with Castiel's kind." She kissed her on the head, knocking her out. "Don, do get her poisoning cured soon, dear." She patted him on the cheek. "Such a nice prince, and your brother's a cute little geek. We enjoy him." She faded out as she walked off.
Don cleared his throat. "That was what looked like the Sanzo Kingdom's Merciful Goddess." He picked Buffy up. "C'mon, let's get that poisoning cured before you die and I have to find people to marry your sister."
"We can help," Bucky said. "Do we have healers?" he asked Steve.
"Not that sort. We're more doctors than healers."
"We have both," Don said. Steve Rogers nodded. "We can handle it, hopefully. Thank you for the help. I'd be more effusive but..." He lifted her.
Steve smiled. "We can help." They got her out of the cave with them. The door got kicked shut.
Thor looked up once they were outside. "I have not seen these lands in many years."
"They used to belong to the Rosenburg kingdom but they were taken out by a witch who was infected by one of these demons," Don said. "Guys, she's poisoned." The healer left with them ran over to help her. "Genjo Sanzo's Merciful Goddess said so."
"That's bad," the healer said, moving to test her. "Did she say what kind?"
"The demon or the Beast Thanos," Steve said.
The healer blinked. "Damn it. We don't have manuals on those." He did what he could while they hurried her to that same healer. Thankfully they had some Asclepian healers on the way too and they intercepted that group. "She's poisoned," the healer stated. "This is Queen Buffy."
One of the healers stayed with them administering some anti-toxins. The rest hurried off to help King John.
The others followed with Don telling them what was going on. Thor was wincing but the others were happy it was being solved somehow. They had been more freaked out by the demons that King Xander had fought off than the alchemist and his army.
Dean and Castiel walked into the old manor house. There were a lot of murmuring voices. "Ghosts," Castiel said quietly.
"We have plenty of rock salt," Dean said. He looked back at Sam, who had caught up with them.
"I've got plenty too." They nodded. "Power that way," he said with a point. They headed to the back garden area. There was a pretty bower that the hole was inside. Under a tree that would eat you. As they came to ghosts, who came flowing out to blame them for things that happened before they were born, they dusted them with rock salt. Only a few made the boys pause. Sam looked at Dean when he froze up. "Dean?" he asked quietly.
"Mom," he said, blinking at her. "Why are you here?"
"I'm here because I'm a bit stuck," she said. "But it's my own doing, dear. I was helping fight off something." She floated closer, patting him on the cheek with a smile. "I'm proud, Dean. You've become the man I always hoped you were." She kissed him on the forehead. She looked at Castiel. "He's cute. I won't even be mean and demand many grandchildren. They'd drive your father nuts." She floated over to Sam, smiling at him. "I missed you, baby. You were still tiny and with me all the time when I had to leave to come save others." Sam blinked at her. She smiled and kissed him on the forehead. "You'll have better luck than I did, Sammy." She looked at Castiel. "It's never over with but it'll hold it off for a few centuries if you win, son-in-law. You can do this. Even if they get injured. They want Sam for his gifts and Dean for their army. Are you strong enough to protect them?"
"I hope I am," he said quietly. "Thank you for your blessing."
She smiled. "You look cuter in the crown than I ever did, Castiel. We appreciate you with my bigger baby boy." She kissed him on the forehead too. "Be safe. They're tricky." She looked at Dean. "If they get Sam, they have you, then they have a general," she said as she faded out.
Dean looked at his brother. "You tell Dad."
Sam nodded. "Yeah. We can tell him then run." They heard their mother laugh and hurried forward. The ghosts turned into demons trying to stop them. A few were stronger and it took Castiel to banish them or Sam casting at them. They ran into three last ones. Sam stared at one. "King Michael, that's unexpected." The former king laughed. "But it figures."
Castiel stepped in front of them. "We will be banishing this attempt. Otherwise, you'll have to face Xander."
"We know how to yank his strings," the second demon said behind Michael's shoulder. "We require your consort, Castiel."
"Sorry, my ass belongs to him, not you," Dean said, firing his banishing gun at that one. "Have fun, Uriel." He glared at the third one, who only smirked and got out of the way. "You're not like them."
"No, I'm not," he agreed smoothly. "But I'm quite amused. I also know not to do something to make the most stubborn even worse." Michael turned to glare at him, trying to hit him. The demon disappeared. Dean hit Michael. Castiel banished him with Sam. He finally went up in a gout of flame so they moved to the tree. Dean looked at it then at Sam. "How?"
"Doorway," he said with a point at the mouth. They winced but climbed in, weathering the slimy insides to make it to the glowing tiny spot. Sam stepped onto it to make the guided prayer. Outside the tree everything lit up in a bright light. They climbed out and the house looked like it should have residents. They hurried out and took their horses from the new groom.
Castiel looked at him. "Were you cursed?" The groom nodded. "I'm happy we could free you. Are there others?"
"The demons tried to win. Now they won't, sire." Behind him the house went up in flames and the groom walked into it. "Now we're free," he said before he closed the doorway.
Dean shuddered. "That's so wrong."
"Yeah, it is," Sam agreed. They rode off together, Castiel on Dean's other side. "Home or Xander's?"
"Xander's," Dean said. "So we can report to the others."
Castiel nodded. "To make sure it's ended." Dean reached over to poke him on the shoulder, getting a look back. "I am not upset that my father was a demon. He became one of his own free will."
Dean snorted. "Yours and mine will sometime have a knock-down, drag out fight."
"Probably," Castiel agreed. "If we're lucky we won't have to witness it."
"Who was the other one?" Sam asked.
"Not sure," Dean admitted, looking at his consort.
"I've seen his picture in my lessons about evil. I believe his name was Crowley."
"We can handle it," Dean decided. "Even if I turn into Dad and make that my mission in life like he did the one that got Mom."
Sam looked over at him. "No. You can't leave Castiel that way, Dean. It's miserable for your consort."
"I'd go with him," Castiel said.
Sam looked at him. "Which means I'd be ruling the country." They groaned and shook their heads. "Exactly." They sped up a bit once they got to the main road.
Xander came out of the closed off areas shaking and having Genjo holding him up. The scroll around Genjo's neck was moving by itself like it was agitated and Xander looked like he was nearly dead. Genjo didn't look all that pleased and he looked like he had been in a battle. "Gregory!" Genjo yelled. He came out of the nearest room. The scroll attacked him. "Huh. I'm guessing you're not our Gregory."
Stella came jogging over. "He good?"
"No," Genjo said. "Get Hakai please, Stella." She sent a page for him and got them sitting on the stairs. His team showed up from the kitchen. "The plea's made. The demons have been stronger longer than we expected, and one's not on their side. It's messing up his plans," he sneered. "King Michael was one." Hakai winced but took Xander from him to check over. "It's on his right side, just under his liver."
"Got it," Hakai said. "Do you have any?"
"Two or three slices but nothing huge. A few of the demons were downright mad that Xander was bucking their ideology. Me they sneered at until the chakra came out."
Goku looked at him. "Demons suck," he reminded him.
"Especially when they have plots," Genjo agreed. "Anything happen beyond the not Gregory?"
"Everyone else is in the safe room," Goyjo said quietly. "It sealed? I can feel power." Genjo pointed at Xander. "You didn't close it?"
Xander glared at him. "It tried to molest me again. It *loves* me. It wants my ass more than any incubus or my spouse. So no, I closed it back up."
"Okay," he said, stepping off since Genjo had glared at his irritated spouse.
Xander looked at his consort and blew a kiss. "Sorry, honey, but the incubi love me more than you do."
"That's because you can make them squeal like inn girls," he said dryly. "Hakai?"
"He'll be okay." He looked at him. "Get him some bandages, Goku, then tell the others they're out."
"Don't mention King Michael," Xander said quietly. "It's a huge problem and I'd like to tell Castiel about his father first."
Goku nodded, going to the kitchen first then to the kings' room. "They're out," he said as he opened the door. "They're okay. A bit banged up. Princess Gregory was demon infected." Gregory snorted from his corner. "Or they were pretending to be you. Xander's got a cut just under his liver but Hakai has it. Genjo's pissed off. Xander's livid, and just told his spouse that incubi loved him more but the hole loved him best." Gregory groaned, shaking his head. He looked at the other kings. "Some demons showed up and he said he'd come talk to you once he's cleaned up." He left, closing the door again.
"Sounds like Xander ran into drama," Mac said dryly. "He is very good at it."
"I think that's why he married a Sanzo," Horatio said dryly. "They're all about the drama."
Alan looked at them. "Not nice, boys."
"Sorry," Horatio said. "But true." There weren't any of the ones being talked about in attendance right now so he could be blunt.
Mac nodded a bit. "Sorry for the wisecrack, Alan. It's not polite."
"You know Xander never plans for drama," Gregory said. "It's drawn to him, like trouble and demons are." The others smiled at that. "Do we have word from the other two spots?"
"Not yet," Alan said. "We can call the nearest areas to check in a few hours." He hoped his son was all right. His son was a good prince but not a great warrior. He was a normal prince who was taught to lead people and find problems in his kingdom. Hunting demons was a bit worse.
In the South, Buffy looked up when the healer stepped back. "Am I going to live to spare my sister?"
"For the moment, yes, Queen Buffy." She sat up with a groan, holding her side. "You're going to be sore."
"I can see that," she said dryly. "Is Don fine? And John?"
"Prince Don's fine," he reported. "He had a few combat injuries but not that many. King John...he's in a bad way but may not be fatal."
"His sons were going to the same sort of spot up by their kingdom," Buffy said.
"We can call his castle to see if they can be found."
"Everyone's at Xander's castle," Don said as he walked in, pulling on a shirt over the bandages. "They're waiting on reports."
Buffy nodded. "We can do that. Are we calling?"
"No," Don said. "We need to make it in person."
Buffy nodded. "Let me get a quick wash and I'll be diplomatic." She limped toward the bathroom and came out wearing a loaned shirt and chest armor piece, a borrowed pair of pants, and had her weapons back. She had pulled her wet hair back into a low bun and looked better than she felt. She walked into the room with the knights. "Thank you for your help. It was important we made that plea." She sat down and put her sore leg up. "We have teams going to the other two spots like that one."
"Are you all right?" Steve Rogers asked.
She shook her head. "It's been a long day and I'm about to nap like I'm a kiddy princess again. But we have to go up there to report in. We're gathered in Xander's kingdom because it has the best protections against demons."
Steve looked at his people. "Thor?"
"I can go with them," he promised. "Scott?"
"I can go," he agreed. "I don't have anything scheduled this week." He looked at the others. "You guys?"
"I need time to rest, not be in a saddle," Bruce said.
The other two looked at each other then nodded. "We can go as emissaries," Black Widow said.
"We can even be diplomatic," Clint said from beside her.
Buffy snorted and waved a hand. "We're not always diplomatic or even polite. Sometimes we're downright snarly at Pelgar and a few others. He's kinda...nuts. But his people love him at the moment so..." She waved a hand around. Don walked in. "You good to ride?"
"Nope, but Jethro's people brought a carriage. They knew we'd be tired."
She frowned. "How many were possessed?"
"Not a single one. Queen Abby made sure personally."
She smiled. "I like Abby. She's a bouncy, fun queen to look up to as a role model. Stella's a bit more uptight than I am. Or my mother was."
Don nodded, smirking some. "Let's load up if you're coming with us. We have two carriages going back that way. It's a little over a day's trip by the most traveled road. The healers will bring John behind us, Buffy."
"Sure." She stood up with a wince. "At least I won't fall out of my saddle when I sleep. That'd suck with how sore I already am." She smiled. "Do you guys want to ride with us or ride?"
"We can ride with you," Scott said. "We didn't bring horses."
"Okay." They walked out together. Buffy frowned. "Isn't that Xander's carriage that's a siege engine?"
"No," Don said. "It's the bigger version he brought to Charlie's wedding because it'll fit six people taking a nap." He looked at the driver. "Have you been checked for a possession?"
"Yes, Prince Don, and so have the horses."
"Thank you," Buffy said with a wave. She climbed in and into a corner to sleep.
Don looked at the others once she was snoring. "She's only been a queen now for a few years," he said quietly. "But she's good at it." They nodded at that. "Go the fast way so we can tell King John's sons he's injured," he called.
"Yes, Prince Don. Right up the main roadway." He rode them off, shaking his head. He wasn't usually a driver for this carriage.
"Remember the dip by Buffy's people," Don called. "The carriage will get stuck in the mud again."
"Yes, Prince Don."
Don shrugged. "She has a huge dip in the middle of her road that gathers mud and traps horse shoes." They all grinned at him. "It's natural contours and no one's told her how to fix it when she asked."
Thor nodded. "Those things happen to all areas." They rode on. The other carriage had the other two knights and a few of the healers in case they needed them. That carriage turned into a siege engine. Just in case you know.
Genjo walked into the meeting room, kicking the door closed behind him. "I have something to note that Xander will be telling Castiel about before he comes in." He looked around. "It's not pretty but we met up with former King Michael. Who was a demon."
"Possessed?" Mac demanded.
"No." Alan stiffened, staring at him. "He was a full demon. This was partially his plan to get his family back to the old levels of worship. He admitted it when I taunted him. We had an ancient demon that had nothing to do with the plan and was helping us because this was upsetting his plan." He sat down in his usual seat. "The one with King Michael wasn't Paul but it was Paul's little brother." Alan grimaced but nodded. "We called Paul and he found Michael's journal when we asked and said he might have been used by one as they had his form. It was in his journal. Paul went on a ranting fit at me for daring to tell him that information he read for himself. He's vowed that we're going to die for it. Xander stepped into view and told him why it was going on. He had sensed something from the third demon about why somehow."
"Is he well?" Alan asked.
"Relatively. He got stabbed a bit. We both got injured but we're fine. Or will be by tomorrow."
"Any news on the others?" Alan demanded.
Genjo nodded. "We hung up with Paul and got an almost immediate answer from the healers down there. King John is seriously injured. They brought him in passed out on a stretcher. Don's fine, Alan. He's a bit banged up but nothing horrible. Buffy was a bit poisoned but the healers handled it. They're on their way back. Buffy said she felt Dean's take hold too during their battle."
Alan relaxed. "So maybe it's done?"
"As far as we can tell, their attempt to regain power for both sides is countered. That's not saying someone won't get a new idea in their pointy brains. That third demon said he wasn't going to because it upset his ideas of control and he didn't want to go up against Amellisame."
Alan blinked a few times. "Why?"
"Healers," he said. "They're important."
"Her father has visions," Jethro said. "Abby said that's important."
Genjo nodded with a smirk. "Healers, touch healers especially, and seers are both high on the hit list but also high on the 'if you fuck with 'em they'll pay you back in ways you'll wish to Goddess never happened'. And if she's anything like her biological father, she's going to prove it."
Alan nodded, grinning slightly. "Yes, she can. I thought it was being a girl."
Stella shook her head but she was smiling. "She is very much like Xander in the way she processes information and asks questions. Watching her learn new things gives me great hope that some day Xander may be a bit more normal."
"Not if those demons piss him off again," Genjo said dryly. "Maybe our future kids, Stella."
She smiled. "Is your surrogate already carrying?"
"Next year. Let her get settled into her studies. Though we need a nanny. Xander and I both realize we are not good with children."
Mac nodded. "We'll send over the one Lindsey hated but was good, Genjo. Before that child becomes a future warlord."
"Thank you. I'd hate to have to teach it to meditate to cure that problem," he said dryly. He heard screaming outside. "Or maybe entwine it to my guards to make them follow her instead. SHUT THE FUCK UP!" he bellowed. "We're having a discussion!"
"Sorry," Hakkai called from the hallway. "Messenger's here from Abby."
Genjo went out to get it, handing it to Jethro. He opened it. "She and Amellisame are on their way up. Not because of demons but because someone decided they should be overthrown as my wife and they wanted the kid to raise as a proper heir for me. Where is Tony?"
"Helping my kingdom," Alan said. "Your other son?"
"Tim's watching over our academy. There's a few kids that former King Michael had to free from demons wanting to own them."
Genjo nodded. "Charming parents."
"Yours?" Stella asked.
"Mine are pissed off and promised to let a temple guard the kid for a few weeks if we needed them to and offered to let me come back to take up a royal house in the middle of nowhere so they don't have to be bothered by our lack of uptightness. I'm a bit less stiff than the rest of the family."
"We noticed," Jethro agreed. "Let me go call Tony." He got up and walked out, finding Xander sitting on a chair in the hallway. "That good?"
"I couldn't make it up the stairs yet," he admitted. "One of the things that hit me was a poison thorn and I'm waiting on the anti-toxin to finish working."
"Gregory," Jethro called. "Xander just admitted he was poisoned and he's waiting on the anti-toxin to work."
"Fuck, he's dying," he muttered as he limped out to check on Xander. He was his most favorite patient of irritation. Genjo followed to come help.
Jethro called his older son. "Any word and your stepmother's on her way here."
Tony blinked at him. "For some reason that tiny kingdom had a lot of fires suddenly and Prince Dean was reported to have just crossed the border headed your way with the other two." Jethro nodded, smiling slightly. "Any good news from down south?"
"Not really. We know Don's fine. John was seriously injured."
"Okay. I can spread that." He looked behind him. "Prince Don is slightly injured but not critically. King Jethro said he's fine by reports." A few people cheered. He looked at his father again. "Any other good news?"
"Not yet. We know the one here happened."
"Good. Let us know. People are getting antsy but we only found a few demons."
"That's fine. We'll be making announcements tomorrow evening probably." Tony nodded and hung up. Jethro went back into the meeting room. "Tony said a few people are antsy so we'll be making announcements tomorrow, Alan. Why are your eyes black?"
"The demon came back," Stella said. Her eyes were black. "They're very understanding."
Xander walked into the room and bled on something in the corner, making all the demons scream. "Get out of my kingdom before I come down there," he growled. He stared at Horatio. He had the top demon. "You're not even in the right one. His spouse is going to fuck you up." Genjo walked in with his team to banish the demons. A few screamed but they all left as they got released.
Xander smirked at the one in Horatio. "You don't want to keep pissing me off. I haven't even begun to find the depth of my anger or my levels of evil. I can make you all *very* sorry in *many* ways. You have no idea what you're playing with. Hell, you didn't even realize that Horatio's not the head king." The demon fled out the window, leaving Horatio gasping for breath.
Goyjo looked at him. "Can you please be less evil so your consort can calm down?"
"Not while this is going on and endangering my daughter. No." He smirked. "I'll be the evil bitch queen of the kings if I have to."
Genjo stared at him. "If you do, I'll have to banish you."
"Well, gee, dear, then what would you do?" he asked dryly, smirking at him. "Having to do everything with Sam."
Genjo considered it. "Fine, we'll just exorcize you instead. I don't want to sit in your seat with Sam. Sam might be more cuddly."
Alan laughed but it sounded a bit bitter. "Now we know why you two work so well together." He looked at them. "Boys. Can we stop the demons for good?"
"Yes, but it'll take a true heir to the line bleeding on a mark," Xander said, walking off. He called King Paul's kingdom, getting glared at. "We need Elizabeth or Gabriel or someone like them to go bleed on your altar stone to reset things. Because we forgot that step."
He groaned. "Someone true to the line go bleed on the family's altar," he yelled.
"Going!" a male voice called. "There's a field!"
"It'll take someone with some power. Like Elizabeth or Gabriel," Xander told him.
"Fuck," Paul muttered. "Bring back my sister Elizabeth. She can do it." Someone ran to get her from her safe spot of being a hostage. They had 'rescued' her from the temple she had been hiding at a few days earlier. She got carried down the stairs, still in chains, and taken to bleed on the altar.
"Elizabeth, if you don't, the demons will win," Xander said. "Then you have my word you can be safe here if you survive."
She smiled and nodded. "I can do that. Thank you, King Xander." She walked through the field. Her chains fell off and suddenly she was unbruised and less dirty. Her hair that had been bleached by magic was now back to the original color. She cut her palm to lay on the stone, chanting a quiet, lilting phrase. Things lit up around her and she smiled up. "That's good to know. Yes, I can ascend to hang out with you, Brother. It will be stopped by our grace and their grace." She disappeared in a flash of light.
Xander groaned. He hung up and went to talk to the others. The demons were gone. Genjo was relaxed. His team was relaxed. Xander couldn't feel any. He fell down into a chair. "Elizabeth ascended in a glow of light."
Alan blinked. "That's a myth."
"Not exactly apparently," he shot back.
"She was one of the last sane ones in that family," Genjo said. "The other sane ones apparently wanted to protect her." He flopped down, looking at his consort. "Shouldn't you be in bed?"
He stared at him. "There's things I gotta do."
"Go to bed," Horatio ordered with a point. "We need more sanity so we're using your consort for the moment."
Xander rolled his eyes but heaved himself up and huffed off to let the nagging princess sort nag him into bed for now.
"I'll try to remember that I was taught tact," Genjo said dryly. "It's not high on the list of skills I remember all the time."
"That's why you and Xander are so good together," Stella said with a smile for him. "Because he has no tact at all."
"He said at one point in time he borrowed some of Sam's," Genjo said sarcastically, smirking at her. "He also nearly named Sam his diplomat."
"Sam, Don, and Tony are pretty much everyone's diplomat," Jethro admitted. "We call for them when we need to do diplomatic things with people we wouldn't put up with."
Alan nodded. "Everyone does. It does get Don a lot of attention too." He smiled. "At least my sons have tact most of the time."
"Xander once looked at an older king and told him to grow up because he was acting his age instead of the king's age," Mac told Genjo. "He was about ten." Alan laughed, remembering that one.
"That does not surprise me any," Genjo admitted. "He's told that to a few of his military people too."
Queen Abby and Prince Amellisame got out of their carriage the next morning. Amellisame smoothed down her skirts as she looked around. She noticed the flag. "What's that blue one?"
Abby looked up then at her. "In your step-grandfather's time, it meant he had a hangover. Anymore it means that everyone's healing after a battle so to be more polite than usual."
"Oh, so same function, different reason," the young prince said. "Good to know." They heard a carriage and she looked. "I believe those are yours, Abby."
"They are. Go inside, dear."
"No, I'm the native prince so I should greet them. You go inside. Jethro needs snogged." She snorted but walked inside, pointing at guards to go guard the young one. Abby realized the little one was very stubborn and starting to come into her own as a prince so greeting people was a harmless exercise if she wanted to do it. She walked over to stare at the people getting out. "Hi, I'm Prince Amellisame. Who're you?" she asked the first one.
"I'm Knight Scott Lang," he said, shaking her hand with a smile. "I have a little girl about your age."
"Cool, I could use more penpals. Stepfather Genjo's people write everything because they consider calling them rude. So I'm really good at having penpals. I have one in King Steve's kingdom too." She smiled.
"I'll give her your address so you two can write." She smiled and nodded. "Are the others up?"
"Probably at breakfast. DON!" she squealed, hugging him. "You're okay!"
"I'm fine, Ami. I'm really okay. Don't pounce Queen Buffy, she's sore."
She snorted and waved a hand like Genjo did. "She's not my big brother sort. I'd never pounce her unless she's my stepmother." She hugged him again. "Queen Abby and I just got here."
"We can go eat and then report," Don promised, walking her that way.
"Hold on, I have to do diplomatic things since I'm the crown prince," she said. She got free and walked back, smiling at the other one coming out. "I'm Crown Prince Amellisame. Who're you?" she asked with a smile. Alan said her smile was her best feature.
"I'm Prince Thor, child."
She smiled and shook his hand. "Welcome to our kingdom, Prince Thor. Have you been here before?"
"No, I have not." He looked around. "It's a charming castle."
She smiled. "I didn't have a thing to do with that. Or Daddy." He smiled and patted her on the head. "If you want to freshen up, I'll get someone to show you to rooms. Guards, where's the majordomo?" she called, tilting her head to the side.
"He was possessed, Prince," one of the doorway guards said in a normal voice. "We've sent for the head housekeeper to open rooms for them. She'll be right here, sirs."
"There's another carriage," Don told him. He smiled. "Our father?"
"Is in his room," the other doorway guard said. "King Xander's being fussed at. Consort Genjo is in his house with his team. Not even Goku's gotten up to eat yet."
"That's almost amazing," Don quipped. He got out of the way. "Miss Havins, is my room still open?"
"It's kept ready, Prince Don. Prince Amellisame, yours is ready as well." She smiled and nodded. "You should go freshen up."
"There's more visitors coming so I should be diplomatic like Uncle Alan said to be," she said. "Then I'll go change clothes and pet my horse then have breakfast with someone."
"Yes, Prince." She smiled at the other two. "We haven't met you before. How many rooms will you be needing?"
"Two more of us come in another carriage with a few healers," Thor said. "Plus King John comes after them with even more healers attending him."
"I can arrange that. Boys, get Melat from the kitchens to attend them please. She's sweet and speaks a few languages." One of them went to get her for them. "I see the other carriage, Prince."
She bounced a few times and put on a big smile when they stopped, walking over. "Welcome to our kingdom. Who're you?"
One of them stared at her. She smiled back. "I'm Knight Widow."
"Wow, Daddy told me a story about you taking out someone evil," she said with a smile, shaking her hand. "Welcome to our kingdom. Is he your mate?"
"This is Knight Hawkeye."
"Welcome." She shook his hand as well. "This is our head housekeeper. She can find you a room to freshen up with since my dad is still in bed and so is Uncle Alan." She looked. "Ooooh, it's Dean and Castiel. Excuse me but they're favorite kinda uncles." She ran over to pounce them, vaulting from his stirrup to catch him around the neck.
"Nice pounce, kiddo." Dean cuddled her. "You're a great girl."
"Of course I am. Uncle Alan makes sure of it," she quipped. She carefully jumped over to Castiel, making his horse flinch some but she calmed it down. "Are you okay? Are you injured like Daddy?"
"No, we're all fine, dear. Sam's behind us." She smiled and kissed him on the nose before sliding down and running back to vault herself up onto Sam.
"You little tree squirrel," Sam teased but cuddled her. "We're just fine, dear."
"Good. You'd better be!" They dismounted, letting the stable people have their mounts so they could go inside with her. "Are their rooms clear, Miss Havins?"
"Yes, Prince," she said, trying to hide her smile. "They're kept ready in case they show up."
"Cool. Thank you. I'll escort them inside so I can check on my father too."
"That's fine, Prince." She smiled at the newcomers. "She's fostered with King Alan," she said quietly. "She's learned a lot from him."
Knight Hawkeye smiled. "She's adorable."
"She and Cassie can become penpals," Scott said with a grin. They got led up to rooms to clean up. Someone woke up Buffy so she could have a real bed. They'd come together later.
King Alan smiled at their guests. "Welcome to the latest kings' convergence meeting for the Joined Kingdoms, Knights." They nodded back. He looked around. "Do you know everyone here?"
"Barely," Knight Widow said.
"I'm King Alan. I'm in charge of the meetings because I've been in my seat the longest. This is King Horatio, King Mac and his wife Queen Stella, that is Consort Genjo and his spouse is somewhere?" he asked dryly.
"Someone found a new dragon," he said dryly. "The new military person panicked so Xander went to find it and send it off or shoot it if he must. The generals wanted to talk to him anyway about the losses due to the demons. Plus the lack of higher beings like diplomats." He looked over. "Xander has changed the military in useful ways so they're more peaceful but they're still scared of his temper."
Prince Thor smiled but nodded. "He seems to have one."
Alan nodded. "Sometimes but usually only when he has to or someone screws with him. That's how he took out his stepfather." He pointed. "This is King Pelgar. This is Princess Reid, standing in for King Aaron since he was already here. This is Princess Anna of King Paul's kingdom because they're in disarray thanks to the demons. This is ...I don't remember which Sanzo you are," he told them.
"I'm Priest Toren," he said with a nod for everyone. "Our king and queen are both very busy making sure the demons did not bother us overly well." He looked at the consort at the other end of the table. "I have letters for you."
"Thank you. It saves the messengers a lot of work." Alan smirked. "We have a lot of mail coming from my people to others since they do like to write." The priest smothered a smirk at him. They all heard screaming and he sighed, getting up and going to the door. "I know the king's handling a dragon but why is there screaming *this* time?" he demanded quietly.
"There's a beast in the gardens!" a maid shrieked.
Genjo sighed but went to look then looked at her. "She's a human, not a beast, and if you consider people who are different that wrong we can replace you when we replace those that had been possessed." She stomped off crying. He looked at the young woman. "She's stupid," he said.
She smiled. "It figures. I did have the huge feathered thing up to look through it." She pointed.
Genjo looked at it then at her. "I don't want to know what his stepfather thought that was for. Do you or the engineers need any help?"
"No, Consort Sanzo. Thank you for the offer. Do you need Charlie back?"
"If he wishes. Is my stepdaughter out there?"
"In the barn the last we knew."
"She is mad over her horse." He walked off shaking his head. He went back into the meeting room. He let Buffy in as well. "She had a feathered telescope looking thing." He sat down with a huff of irritation. "Amellisame's in the barn and they offered to send up Charlie if you wanted, Alan."
"I'm shocked she's not with him," he admitted. "Huh." He smiled. "Feeling better, Buffy?"
"Much. Thank you for letting me rest." She settled into a seat, smiling at the knights. "Welcome to our meetings to complain about things and figure out what Xander, Dean, Sam, or John are fighting this time." Stella burst out laughing but nodded.
"Sometimes we meet to hear the end of that issue," Alan said. He looked at the others. "Dean, did your request go all right? Any complications?"
"We ran into a few possessed guards," Sam said. "But Dean banished them with his banishing gun. The house the hole was in is a bit of a problem."
Dean nodded. "The house had a ton of ghosts. Including our mother. She said she had been sent to do the same thing right after Sammy was born." Alan looked horrified. "I haven't been able to ask Dad yet, but she didn't say it was the exact same reason."
"Oh, dear," Alan said. "So it could've been just a specific demon or it could've been more?"
"The demon menace in our kingdom has been there forever," Sam said. "We figured on the ride here that it had to be a specific demon instead of a general problem. We have no idea if Dad would know or not. It's said she disappeared right after putting me down for the night. We were told she died in a fire."
Alan nodded once. "All right. That's interesting to note. Have you three talked to Xander yet?"
Genjo looked at Dean. "We saw Michael," he said quietly. "And Uriel."
"So did we," Sam agreed with a nod.
Dean nodded too. "Is that what Xander wanted to talk to Cas about?" Genjo nodded. "Yeah, we saw him too."
"I don't know why," Sam admitted. "We didn't get much from them outside the fact they wanted Dean to join them."
"They thought I'd be a great host to fight the demons," Dean said. "I don't know *why*. I thought I was pretty damn good at it already."
"Maybe they thought you could carry some sort of gift from their line since you're mated to Cas," Horatio said, looking thoughtful. "The one that possessed me had ideas about taking out Xander but nothing else."
Dean nodded. "He's a roadblock that could become complicated," he agreed.
"Would you want to go against Xander?" Mac asked him.
"No," Horatio agreed, smiling at his friend. "Not really. I'm very glad Xander didn't turn out like his stepfather. He would've managed what Tony didn't. We'd all be his higher level nobles."
"He could use some," Genjo said. "And diplomats." Someone else screamed. "Do not make me come out there!" he yelled. The screaming stopped and babbling started. He tipped his head to listen. "Hakkai has it." He rolled his eyes. "This palace is much more lively than ours," he told the staring priest from his people.
"I can see that. Plus less decorated."
"His stepfather destroyed all the decorations," Jethro said. "Supposedly there were hidden assassins behind them all."
"He was drunk," Genjo said. "Xander told me he had food poisoning on top of his usual drinking habit."
Stella shook her head. "I'm happy he never did more than leer at me so I didn't have to beat his ass for him." Mac scowled at her. "The one time he had me hostage, he wasn't local for more than a day."
"I know. That's why we got there then. Or else you would've been a hostage for another week."
She smiled, kissing him on the cheek. "Thank you, Mac."
Alan and Horatio went 'awww' with Dean. She smirked at them. "Dean, you and Cas can be that cute too."
"He hates to even hold hands in public," he shot back with a grin. "We're only that cute at home in private."
At the new screaming Genjo sighed and got up, stomping out there. "What the fuck, people!" he shouted. "We are trying to have a meeting." That same maid broke out crying and ran from the room. He looked the guards. "Well?"
"The crown prince tried to bring her horse inside," one of the guards said. "She wanted to get him something special from the kitchen."
"Horses are only allowed in the castle if there's an attack," he told Amellisame. "And the kitchen has an outer door in the gardens." She smirked and waved. "Go get Charlie and come to the meeting. That way you're bored as punishment." She laughed but ran off. He looked at the guard. "I can tell you're possessed."
"Not that kind," he said dryly with a smirk.
"If you touch her, Xander's going to find you."
"We don't want to touch her. We're hoping she keeps things steady. We're just watching what's going on." Genjo pulled his banishing gun and shot him.
Amellisame walked in with Charlie. "That's why I made the maid scream, because he had those same gross looking eyes."
"Good idea, tell us next time." He pointed. "We're holding a meeting, Charlie. They don't even have calling stations."
"That's interesting. Maybe they have ideas we don't." He walked in there with her. "Genjo found another black eyed demon and banished it," he announced. She had the maid scream to draw him out." He sat down and she curled into his lap. "You're being very good."
"Thank you." She smiled. "My boy Cougar is very happy that he got carrots and things. He's been a good boy just like Uncle Ian said he could be."
"He has been, yeah," Dean agreed. "Impala's probably really happy with how good of a boy he is, Ami." She smiled. "Your dad back yet?"
Alan looked at her. "We're among other people, including visitors," he said quietly. "Use more formal language."
"Yes, Uncle Alan."
"Thank you, dear." He smiled at the others. "I'm fostering her because it's too dangerous for her to be with her father all the time."
"We get that fully," Knight Hawkeye said. "Any kid around us stays with their other parent." He pointed at Scott.
Buffy smiled at them. "Some day my kids will run up to Alan to teach them things like manners too. I didn't learn enough from my mother. I realized that yesterday." She frowned but let it clear up. "Alan, maybe you should set up a real prince and princess academy to teach them how to rule things. I liked ours for all the dancing lessons and it not being too hard to learn things at but you do it so much better. You proved it with Don and Amellisame. We consider Charlie special like a healer or a doctor so we let him be in his own special category."
"I'm a healer too," Amellisame said dryly. "I'm still going to be a good queen, Queen Buffy. Though, you're right, he's very good at teaching me how to do that."
"Maybe when I retire and let Don handle things, dear," Alan said, patting her on the head.
"Better not be for years yet," Don said dryly. "I don't want your seat yet, Dad."
"I'll retire in five years unless I have grandkids to show the right way, boys." He smirked at his elder son. "I'll let Charlie slide on that because Ian hasn't found a nice surrogate yet. You...." He smirked.
"Damn it," Don muttered.
Jethro looked down at him. "If you still want Tony as a spouse, we'll send a few surrogate candidates. Abby's doing the same bouncing in waiting for grandchildren."
"Cas and I both said we'd train any kids in how to protect themselves and fight," Dean said with a smile for him.
"I'd help Charlie teach them things academically and Xander would teach them a lot too," Sam quipped.
Don looked at him. Then he shook his head with a sigh, looking at Charlie. "When is your husband finding you a surrogate?"
"When I'm out of school," he said smugly. "You're older, Don."
Don muttered something under his breath. "Gee, thanks, Chuck."
"Welcome." He hugged the little prince. "Buffy, any luck since we're on dating things?"
"Not a bit. My last one was dangerous and nice to me but I was told repeatedly he was not consort material and some of my nobles ran him off."
"You were dating a guy named Spike," Stella said. "Of course they did, Buffy."
"No one has any cute, nice, good enough cousins to introduce me to." She shrugged. "He was there. Sam's too brainy for me, and so is Jethro's other son Timmy. Alan doesn't have any more kids."
"We have a half-brother," Dean said. "We can introduce you."
"He was involved and taken over," Genjo said then coughed. "Someone reported they're still trying to get him free. He's tied up in a temple up country in yours."
Dean nodded with a sigh. "That figures. Something about this family does draw them. We don't even have the same reason as Xander and they still come."
"Well, a lot of his people did breed into your kingdom," Horatio quipped with an evil smirk for them. "It could be back somewhere in the lines."
"Probably," Sam agreed. "We'll figure it out some year." Dean nodded at that. Castiel and Xander walked in together. "You guys okay?"
"Dragon got sent back," Xander reported. "Before she did more than start to build a nest." Alan winced. "She's heading toward Buffy's kingdom and I paused to fire call them that she was nesting so probably wouldn't bother much. She just couldn't nest in the city center around the statue." He sat down, looking at his mate. "Everything okay?"
"Bit of screaming but otherwise only one demon and he said he was watching things because he didn't want to face you down."
"Good. I'd like a vacation from beating demons." He looked at Castiel. They had talked on the ride to the dragon. Then waved at his little girl. "Want to come sit with me?"
"Nope. You're dirty, Dad. You need to bathe and change clothes. There's visitors you know."
"They saw me the first time stomping in to capture their idiot alchemist, dear. They know I'm not the polite sort I hope you turn into." She grinned.
Alan nodded. "She does a good job, Xander. She's a great little girl." Xander smiled at him for it. "She suggested I set up a way to train any future prince and princesses from any of us."
"We'll have some with a surrogate soon," Xander quipped. "But she'll have custody with the nanny because I'd ruin a kid. They'd turn into Dean."
"I'd be teaching them meditation and things that may ruin their fun years," Genjo agreed. "I don't understand children anyway. Goku might become attached to them and not give them up."
Amellisame looked up and shook her head with a sigh. "Goddess save me from drama," she muttered then looked at her stepparent. "Stepmommy, you do okay with me." She smiled. "Goku's neat but he'd never understand teenage girls so you'd be safe then. Just have another one for him to play with." She stared at him.
He gave her a slightly evil look. "I thought I told you to call me step*father*, Amilisame."
"You did." She smiled. "But you're being a big old girl like Auntie Stella's cousin is."
Stella snickered, nodding. "She's married to a Sanzo." Mac groaned but nodded the kid was right.
"At least she didn't say you were like the one we hosted the wedding for, dear," Xander quipped, trying not to smile. He had to duck the fan but Genjo hit him anyway. "Ow! Mean!"
"Good. You deserve it." He sighed, looking at Alan, then at Stella. "I know the one she speaks of. It's nice her husband tempered her dramatic tendencies before he presented her at our court. My father would never understand and my mother may faint from the drama." She burst out laughing but nodded harder.
"People," Pelgar complained.
"Sorry," Xander quipped. "We needed some levity after the last few months. It's this or a good old fashioned pagan celebration in the woods." Pelgar blushed, shaking his head.
Stella smiled at her spouse, who smirked back. "We have one of those coming up."
"If we leave tomorrow we can get back there in time for it, barely."
"That's nice." She looked at the others. "Okay. Any new revelations?"
"Two things," Xander said. "Yes, the pleas worked. They have to hold off for three generations." Dean looked up and said a silent 'thank you'. "Castiel and I talked. It is not the same thing that got your mother, Dean. That was about wanting Sam as a sacrifice." Sam leaned closer, staring at him. "Apparently there's a prophecy of you being the perfect sacrifice to start off a major demonic coming back event. We found this out when Elizabeth showed up in semi-ghostly form on the road. So your mom was saving you from the demon coming for you. That related back to wanting that she mentioned this time."
"Oh, that's nice," he said, staring at Castiel, who nodded. "Can they still come?"
"We're not sure," Castiel admitted. "She wasn't sure. We do know that they'd have to take you and physically sacrifice you."
"So, hey, if you're snatched you'll be saved really fast," Buffy quipped.
"The house with the hole up by us burned," Dean said. "After we made our plea it released most of the ghosts and they burned the house with them in it."
"That demon is high but not as high as that third one that showed up for both of ours," Xander told him. "That one was guy in charge demon."
"Okay," Dean agreed. "Is he after my little brother?"
"No. He's got ideas but they hinge on us not being there to stop him."
"Ah! Good." He smiled a bit and nodded. "Can we beat him?"
"If someone can forge a new demon killing weapon," Xander said. "Like the trio's weapons only more our style." Dean stared, licking his lips. "We had one. It's empty. Your father had it hidden around here somewhere."
"It was a banishing gun with special bullets."
"Super shit," Dean muttered.
"If we can make a new one somehow, we can help. Genjo's guards weapons will be passed on once they're too old and trained someone." Genjo nodded at that. "His scroll passes on to the next anointed one. So we just have to get our kids some."
Dean nodded at that, looking at his brother then at Castiel. "You guys have a lot of really good craftsmen."
"We do," he agreed. "Some of ours worked with some of the ones in Sanzo's kingdom to make those three's weapons."
Genjo sat up. "All we knew is they were given them from a special temple. Not anything on their making."
"I wrote to them to see if they knew anything about them," Xander said. "They sent a book." Passing books for information was a habit that the Sanzo kingdom had that many thought was annoying but Xander had all them copied anyway just in case someone in the future needed them.
"I have the book right now," Castiel told Dean.
"So, future need, somewhat needed soon, is a special weapon being made," he decided. Xander held up two fingers. "Two. Yeah. Your future grandchildren will probably need one."
"When she's old enough to need them, she's getting my guns," Xander said. "That way she can shoot any boys that want to bother her."
Alan coughed, staring at him. "She's already learning with the guards, Xander."
"Yeah but there are slimy assholes in the Ascelpian kingdom who would want to practice their anatomy lessons on her. I don't want her to find herself with one and not be able to ruin their chances as a great doctor, Alan."
"Which is why I have her training with the guards, Xander." He stared at him. "She'll be fine. You can teach her how to shoot if you want but she won't need a huge weapons cache over there. They're used to princes and princesses with gifts showing up."
"Fine." He pouted a bit at his little girl.
"Of course I'll learn how to shoot but I'm only bringing a trunk with me to their academy. Princess Gregory said that's all you could bring. I won't need many formal clothes though so that'll save room in the trunk. Ballgowns take up *way* too much space."
"Yes they do," Buffy agreed with a nod. "I have a few that Mom never got to wear in my closet and it takes up half of it." She looked at Stella. "We're having a founding anniversary coming up."
"Your mother threw a ball for that every decade," she said.
"Oh. How do I do that?" she asked.
"We'll go over it," Stella promised. "Half of it your people would have to do for you." She smiled. "That way you don't have to hand write invitations. I learned that lesson after my wedding."
Mac nodded. "I couldn't feel my hand for a week after my few. I'm very happy my majordomo does mine."
"I need a new one," Xander said. "But we only throw the three balls a year." He frowned, looking at his consort.
"Sixteen weeks," he said without having to see the confused look. "They've already got them done."
"Welcome." He looked at Sam. "Are you my assistant and his diplomat again?"
"I can be if Dean doesn't need me."
"You're one we send out for that," Stella said. "We send out Xander for anything harder than diplomatic. We send you, Abby, or Castiel on other diplomatic things depending on who they are."
"We do support each other's kingdoms very well," Pelgar said. "Who is that little kingdom in the sea that we have trade arrangements with?"
"King Steve," Xander said. "He's very nice, a warrior, their kingdom doesn't have the prince curse, and our surrogate came from there."
He nodded once. "That's nice. His spouse?"
"Consort Danny and he's from Mac's kingdom," Genjo said. "Very nice man most of the time. Has sense, unlike Xander and Steve. Has a daughter that Amilisame writes to."
"I have a trade deal with him for some flowers that are hugely stinky but pretty," Buffy said with a smile for him. "They keep bugs out of the house when you plant them under windows."
"Interesting. Don't you have glass windows?"
"Yes but we open them for breeze during hot times and the flowers keep the bugs out."
"Reasonable. Princess Charlie, when are your sort going to create something to cool rooms?"
"We have fans but they need turned like the older fire spits," he said. "We're trying to update them so they don't need turned."
"Good. Let us know please."
"Thank you." He smiled at Alan. "It's good that your son is such a credit to your kingdom."
"He is. I'm really proud of Charlie and his mind." He smiled at his son then at Pelgar again. "He's helped Amilisame learn a lot as well. She'll be very smart when she goes to her healing training."
"Do we allow healers to be queens?" he asked.
"King Aaron never had it stop him," Princess Reid said dryly. "Nor do the rest of us."
"Yes, but she's a healer, not a doctor," he said. He looked at Xander.
"That's up to her. We have plans on about three other heirs," he said. "If she desires to stay a healer instead, that's her choice to make when she's old enough and if the crown hits her head."
"Would the healing duties get in the way?"
"Princess Gregory only sees people maybe two days a week," Genjo said. "I doubt she'll be doing more than that as our country's healer."
"Excellent then. I hope she'll be a credit to your real lineage, Xander."
"Me too. There weren't many healers in the family but her mom's had a few." He shrugged. "I'm just happy she's not a sorcerer."
"Me too," Amilisame said dryly. "That'd suck." The visiting knights all cracked up at that.
"If so, maybe some of our kingdom's lesser nobles would be nice to you," Dean said.
"Uncle Dean, I'm not ready for boys yet or babies. I won't be ready for them until well after I'm out of my training. Even then I might not be ready for babies. That'd be a problem for them so ask me when I'm old enough for them?"
"I can do that," he promised. He grinned at her. "Are you coming to us next summer?"
"Don't know. Am I supposed to?" she asked, looking at Alan.
"If you want. We're doing a diplomatic visit them over the usual trade treaties we renew every five years. It usually takes a month."
"Okay, I can go on that. I can train with you guys then."
"That'll be cool and I'll teach you how to shoot so your dad doesn't have to."
"Okay." She smiled at him then at her dad. "Right?"
"Yeah, that's fine, dear. If you want Dean to teach you stuff, I'm with that. He's good at it."
"Cool." She smiled, getting off Charlie to hug Dean then her father. "I'm still learning stuff from you." She hurried back to Charlie's lap to cuddle him. "You need cuddles since Ian's not here."
"He's guarding the academy," he agreed.
"Did the demons bother you?" Xander asked.
"No. They were probably scared of what they'd do since we were having exams then. We were all tired and cranky for the last few weeks." Alan winced.
"I wouldn't want to invade then either," Sam agreed. "All the giant thinkers would get mean."
Charlie nodded with a grin. "Speaking of, they wanted to know what your stepfather was thinking, Xander."
"I have no idea but I'll try."
"Thanks. There's some weird things out there, like the metal centaur female."
"He was probably trying to lure one to torture," Dean said dryly.
"Probably," Xander agreed. "Or trying to capture seed. He was demon tainted."
"Maybe," Dean agreed.
"Actually, with some rites, that is possible," Castiel said. "I'd have to see his journal to make sure."
"He was barely literate," Xander said. "He burned half the library one night when he decided he was cold." Castiel and Genjo both moaned and Charlie whimpered. "We saved a lot of them but they're in the damaged room," he told them.
"I know someone who'd adore to come restore some," Charlie said. "I'll send for him tonight. He won't even need more than a helper, room, food, and someone to make sure he eats occasionally."
Xander looked at Genjo, who nodded. "We can probably do that," Genjo agreed. Charlie smiled and nodded, getting up to go call them after looking in the damaged area of the library. It was a huge room. That guy was going to go nuts.
"Thank you for giving so many of his classmates projects. They've been looking for some," Alan said.
Don groaned. "They'll never give up now."
"They fixed the siege engine carriage," Xander said with a grin. "It got stuck when they looked at it."
Don nodded, looking at him. "How many failed projects do you have stored?"
"He had ideas. I had a few ideas but mine are handy usually."
"That large, gray barn?" Genjo told him. "It's full of his stepfather's former ideas. Xander's are in a small corner room of it." Don groaned again but nodded. Alan was trying not to smile.
"We wanted to look at some of the demon hunting gear," Castiel said. He looked at Dean.
"We can do that after the meeting."
Alan nodded, bringing it back to the point at hand. Princess Reid had a note about the bards in his kingdom but Xander told him how to give the bards information the easiest way. They had someone here who could do that for them. Aaron was giving the bards funny looks again.
Xander smiled as the visiting knights walked into his office. "Give me two minutes. It's a request from someone." He went back to reading the scroll, grimacing. "That's not a great idea but we can change it." He made his notes on the bottom and rang a bell. "For the waiting guy who owns the inn," he told the page, handing it over. "If he can't read my handwriting yet again he can ask me tomorrow after petitions." The page nodded and left. Xander waved a hand. "Sit, people. I'm not the formal, stuffy king like Pelgar is."
"Are all the meetings that way?" Scott asked.
"No," Xander said. "Some are a lot more tense. That was mostly stress relief. We all needed some considering how many of them got possessed."
"I can see why that happens," Widow said. She looked around the room then at him. "You do good for not being a warlord."
"My relatives weren't warlords until my stepfather. Way back at the beginning of the line there were mages. Then we took over an area and protected it, and gradually built up a kingdom. Then it shrank a lot as others decided they wanted to be their own people and our lines got too big. Right now our borders are about where they were in my great-grandfather's time. I looked it up and adjusted it to put it on some rivers for ease of the border."
"After you killed your stepfather?" Knight Widow asked.
"Before. I went behind his back to start peace treaties with everyone once I was a teenager and had the skills to do that. They all agreed, my stepfather had to go first, but my older half-brother was the same sort of imbecile his father was. Thankfully he died before the stepfather was overthrown." He smiled. "I made sure he suffered as he did to others. Then we found out he played with demons."
"What happened to the rulers in the area where that gateway is?" Thor asked.
Xander grimaced. "Their princess. She was lured into magical abuse by my stepfather. We found that out after we went to take out the sorceress that had taken out her family and replaced them with zombies." Thor grimaced. "She had me repoisoned with something at the suggestion of an alchemist. She had caused other problems. She sent some demons after her arranged mate, we're still not sure why since it was a succuba."
Thor nodded. "So she caused harm."
"She caused a lot of harm. We in the kings' convergence decided she had caused too much harm. We went down there to capture her for trial. And to save her girlfriend of the moment. She's with the coven in King Aaron's land because she wasn't involved in any of that. That's when we found out her parents were zombies and half the castle was infected with demons. That led us to finding out my stepfather played with them." Xander looked at him. "Seriously bad story over all but that's the highlights."
Thor nodded. "That is a good reason," he said. "Who takes care of it now?"
"We split up the former kingdom to the ones around it. We used the former castle as the center point of the split. It was a crossroads anyway. She only had a few cousins and they were either not suitable due to problems, because she had one nutty aunt that was talking to her plants like they could be her lovers, and a cousin who was a nun in a temple but she took a vow of not talking to get away from us telling her about her cousin."
"So your group broke it up fairly," Hawkeye said. Xander nodded. "Did you know her before then?"
"A long semester at a princess academy. She and Buffy were closer friends. Willow said she had some care for her people and she was proving it somewhat but her spells gave Buffy's mother brain cancer." They all winced. Thor shook his head with a sigh as well. "So, no. This was after the huge demon battle my consort was preordained to handle. That really most of us jumped into as well."
Widow nodded. "I have heard minor things about it but it was a well fought battle."
Xander nodded. "I snuck over with a lot of the military. Four guys with special weapons can't take on thousands of demons. John was there, me and Sam traveled together. Castiel showed up to be with Dean about halfway through. Buffy was there. Don was there."
"Do you often have to deal with demons?" Scott asked.
"Not really. Now and then they make a move. Dean deals with a lot more than we do but in this kingdom we have a few extra thanks to King John cursing my stepfather." He smirked a tiny bit. "That was his way of paying my stepfather back for being a drunken ass. We had to take one out of the crown the day of my coronation."
Scott laughed. "That's gotta suck."
"Yes it does. Thankfully Sam, Dean, and John were all there that day," he finished dryly. "John and I aren't friends but we're friendly. Frankly, since John got me poisoned the first time, I'm not real happy with him. That and he's kind of an ass when he wants to be, especially to his sons. I like his sons a lot more than I do John."
"You do lead a much more hectic life than we do," Hawkeye said.
Xander smiled. "It's all the wacky that happens up here in the Joined Kingdoms. Genjo's family has time to meditate each day for hours on end. I don't know how unless they don't deal with a lot of real people petitions. Alan only has to deal with a few things a week. Horatio and Mac have a few problems with illegals and criminals showing up from other countries and the head family does hunt them down to find them with their guards. John mostly stomps around his castle grumping and missing his former wife. Me, I still take self defense practice with my guards and work on the horses for the military."
"That's wise," Widow agreed. "Because people could attack you for your stepfather."
"Which is why my daughter sometimes calls Alan daddy. It's safer for her and to be honest, she's doing better up there than she would down here. He's used to really smart kids. I'm used to really smart assed kids. She's about halfway in between sometimes."
Thor smiled. "She's delightful."
"Thank you but I can't claim most of that. She's been with Alan since she was about four and I overthrew my stepfather. She had been in a cell downstairs. He didn't realize who she was, but her stepmother was my tutor and her actual mother was my tutor."
Thor nodded. "Things can happen when a bad ruler appears."
"Yes they can. Including hangover flags to warn people," Xander agreed with a grimace. "I still have to have someone go pack up his enclosure out there." He made a note to send out. He looked at them. "Sorry."
"It happens," Hawkeye said. "Is it really safe up here?"
"Most of the time, yes. We haven't had a lot of problems, even from the demons. Abby had some that showed up to dance with her. Buffy killed a few in her castle. John's kingdom has half of them it seems. We've had some incursions but otherwise not really a lot of problems. We had a problem with people wanting my stepfather back. We had a problem with people wanting the power from me. They lost of course. We haven't had too many problems. We had a boring year until the demons popped up."
They nodded. "We would like to set up friendly relations," Thor said.
"Sure, we're all for treaties and trade agreements." He smiled. "Sam handles a lot of those for everyone. He's got the mind for it." He leaned on his elbows on the desk. "What sort of treaty?"
"Just a peace one for now," Hawkeye said. "Though we've heard you offered to take in refugees?"
"I have. Not only because it's the humane thing to do but because a lot of the people this far north could really use learning about others and maybe even learning to like them so there's new blood in the kingdom. We've started a farmer switch with a few areas but if more people wanted to come join us we're not against that. Even if we didn't need the new blood, I still would've offered. I've seen how wars affect areas. I hate seeing how normal people are affected by horrifying things. It's one reason why I never wanted to be a warlord."
Widow smiled but nodded. "That's a humane thing and a reasonable thing." She shifted to cross her feet. "We may not mind a switch. Though your people do rely more on magic than machines as we do."
"We have machines. That varies by area. Genjo's people don't hardly have any machines to do anything outside of time pieces. We have a lot more. Alan has a lot, mostly thanks to Charlie. Dean's...not as much but they have a lot to run things that you never see."
"We can understand how Alan's kingdom does," Scott said. "We have Stark for that."
Xander smiled. "I heard from his former instructors."
"We have to deal with them now and then," Widow admitted. She looked at the others then at him. "Our...arguments are not fully done with yet."
Xander nodded. "Civil wars never are. There's always people who get stuck in the past." She nodded. "We still welcome anyone who wants to move this way. Land's cheap. Villages are nice. Mac's kingdom has some in the mountains. Stella's family has a lot of fishing ones. We have a lot of farms around here but we barely have some hills. Pelgar..." He winced. "We're not friends. Or really more than polite. Or with the Roshmathen family."
"We saw that," she agreed. "Is it going to a war?"
"No. I won't let it come to a war or if they try, I'll stomp it. One of those two tried to claim things that my stepfather took as ransom for certain family members of the others in the meeting. Even though we had proof they belonged to others. She got all huffy about that and about who I am. We corrected her on who I am. Her diplomat demanded we dig up my grandfather to do another paternity test." She winced. "We trade with them."
"Understood," Thor agreed. "We are not against our people coming up here to get out of the strife."
"Some of our cities are a bit crowded," Scott said. "Especially with some buildings being destroyed during a battle."
"We'd love to host people, temporarily or permanently. We give bards half priced rooms in this kingdom. King Aaron just hosted their bi-yearly bards convention. Buffy likes the bards because ours spreads news and concerns." They nodded. "Our main cities aren't as large as yours was. Outside Mac's main city or possibly Horatio's. He's had some growth recently due to one of Stella's family's islands having a natural wave disaster that took out half the island. They were closer to his country than Mac's. We'd all pretty well welcome new people. Yours aren't that far off what ours are like so they shouldn't have a lot of shock. We can easily work out agreements while everyone's here. I can summon Alan if you want."
"Please," she said. "For the morning?" He nodded, ringing the same bell to get a page. He handed over both notes. "Thank you."
Xander smiled, writing the names on the folded over papers. "For them tonight please."
"Yes, Sire." He hurried off with them, going to King Alan first since he was planning on leaving in the morning. "Sire," he said while knocking. "Message from King Xander." Alan's son Charlie took it with a smile, giving him a tip. The page smiled and ran off to the other one.
Charlie looked at it. "They're wanting to make a refugee agreement."
"We have everyone here but Horatio," he said, considering it. "Go tell the others and we'll let Mac decide for Horatio. He's allowed that before and he's had a lot of refugees recently." Charlie went to do that. Alan smiled, relaxing in his chair again. Amellisame was in her own bed again. Hopefully it'd be a peaceful night.
The knights made it home a few days later. They had borrowed a carriage to the docks in King Mac's lands and had rested the whole way back. They walked into their ruling room and nodded at the two generals glaring at each other from ends of the table. Thor put down his hammer extra hard on the table, looking at them. "We had an eventful meeting after the excellent battle."
General Rogers looked at him. "We got the message saying you were doing diplomatic things. Did it go well?" He sat down.
Stark glared at them. "What took you so long?"
"After the battle, we had to travel back for their kings' convergence," Knight Hawkeye said. "Plus stay for a royal funeral." Stark grimaced but nodded. "But it was good seeing how they worked."
"They do have agreements in place, they are mostly friendly," Knight Widow said. "And they're actually very nice people to work with." She took her seat at the table. Thor took his seat then Scott and Hawkeye since they had to walk halfway around it to sit. "The Joined Kingdoms, which is not all of them on that continent but a great many up to the upper mountain range, all have a convergence of kings. They meet routinely to work out any problems, work on treaties, bring up problems, and to nag Xander about demons." Steve grimaced. "They're not native to his kingdom but he is one of the kings they rely on to be more militant if necessary."
Scott nodded. "He's stepped back from his stepfather's former ways to a less military oriented country but they keep in battle readiness if anyone needs their help. Xander's treaties with the others promise military help if they need it."
"As we saw when the nearest kingdom asked," Stark agreed.
"That would be King Mac. His wife, Queen Stella, is from those fisher folk with those islands," Scott said. "She's a pisser. Seriously smart, funny, kind, and hot."
Knight Widow smiled and nodded. "She is and a good role model for the only young prince we know about being in existence." She looked at the two generals again. "Most of the other children were older."
General Rogers considered it. "So like our ruling council only theirs are multiple kingdoms and they make joint decisions about problems." She nodded. "Are they settled?"
"Very. The convergence has been going on for over two hundred years. It even lasted while Xander's stepfather was rampaging around as a warlord. Thankfully Xander had sense as a younger teen and made treaties for when he overthrew his stepfather."
"Great," General Stark agreed. "Anything good that we can use in case we need it?"
"We're not that dumb," Knight Hawkeye said. "Because if we attack one of them, then they all show up to help. Just like with that one battle in the west we heard about? It was Consort Genjo's ordained battle and everyone showed up. Including King Xander from a sick bed where he had just healed somewhat from a coma." Stark winced. "Though the little prince was cute."
"She was," Scott agreed, grinning at him. "Really adorable. I'm going to let Cassie start to write her." He looked at Stark then at Rogers. "They have differences. A few of them hate a few others. They're socially sniping at each other during meetings. They'll still defend each other. Even without a treaty."
General Rogers nodded. "That sounds healthy of them. Did we work on any agreements?"
"Yes," Knight Widow said.
"As many of ours need new blood, so do they," Thor said. "We worked out a refugee treaty and relocation plan if some want to travel that way instead to get away from the damage and battles. Almost all of the kingdoms would welcome them and we have information on what each kingdom is like. The Sanzo kingdom is fairly...uptight."
"A little less sour than the Angelican kingdom," Hawkeye agreed. "They're the ones that used to be worshiped as angels in the far distant past. They're why the demons caused problems up there."
"The Sanzo kingdom is the temple out by the far docks's people," Scott said with a point in that direction. "They also don't like to call each other, they just write. Which is why Amilisame writes so well, she was writing her stepfather."
"They know a lot about other kingdoms," Knight Widow said. "Including that island country off to the south west, King Steve's lands. They have treaties with him for fruit and flower products. Plus the flowers Queen Buffy likes because it keeps bugs out of the house. When he was captured by a sorceress, someone asked Queen Stella to send help so she sent King Xander."
General Stark grimaced. "All that way?"
"Yes," Thor said. "A bit of a ride and a ship but they freed him and worked out multiple treaties so others wouldn't have to travel. Then Princess Sam handled the rest with King Steve's consort."
"He's one of their joined diplomats," Hawkeye said. "He's nice, about the same age as Xander. Educated. Knows how to protect himself. His father, King John, was the one who died after the battle we attended and his brother took over with his consort."
"So they do have real same sex marriages," Steve said. "That's nice."
"Very nice," Scott agreed. "Some of them are more...robust than others. Xander and Genjo are pretty much like nagging brothers at times with each other but Dean and Castiel got caught in the kitchen pantry. Twice." Steve tried not to laugh. Widow did laugh.
"King Alan's younger son, Princess Charles, had his husband show up and they ended up in the barn full of old inventions," Hawkeye said. "None of the engineers even blinked. They just nodded, smiled a bit, and went to work on something out of sight."
"That shows familiarity with that couple," Stark agreed dryly. "He's an engineer?"
"He's a math person and he helps the engineers," Thor said. "He's well liked by all of them. Plus the young prince."
"Is that weird for them? With the named positions?" Steve asked.
"No more so than it is for us," Widow said. "That's been going on for over a thousand years."
"That makes sense then," Steve agreed. "Are the princes strong?"
"Very," Hawkeye said. "Prince Don, King Alan's oldest, was in the battle we went to help with, helping Queen Buffy and King John."
"She's the newest on the throne but we underestimated her," Widow admitted. "She's not helpless or as dumb as she pretends to be."
"Tactical of her," Stark said. "Do we have a map?" Thor pulled one out of his pack to put on the table. It was labeled with each country. "That's nice."
"Prince Amellisame helped," Thor quipped. "It was teaching her the various areas." He stood up to report on each one, their rulers, and their uptightness level.
Stark leaned back in his seat. "Very interesting. So if we wanted to weed out some of our overpopulation, we can easily send them up there to an area they'd like."
Rogers nodded. "That is good to know. The nearest ones?"
"King Horatio's had some influx from Queen Stella's people thanks to a tidal wave hitting one of their islands," Hawkeye said.
"Those two families help their guards hunt down any bigger problems to their kingdoms," Scott said. "Including murderers. The ruling family is expected to help with that."
"They also have a lot of unmarried higher nobles who are looking for suitable spouses," Thor said. "Queen Buffy needs one to carry on her line. Some of the others need some for their prince and princesses."
"King Xander needs fewer relatives," Hawkeye quipped. "His dad fathered over three hundred children over his life." Both generals winced. "And they're mostly spoiled in his kingdom. Almost all his nobles are wanting more power again. The one we saw show up to ask Xander for an official position he vowed he was going to drown him in the moat Queen Stella suggested he put in around the palace."
"He was rather whiny," Widow agreed. She pushed back her hair. "I sparred with King Dean. He was...not bad. Very suitable."
Scott nodded. "I couldn't beat him when I tried."
Thor nodded. "I found him most suitable. King Xander as well. Plus some of Consort Genjo's guard. One's rather young but has temper problems."
"We also met one of the coven that's above his kingdom," Widow said with a nod at their magic oriented knight. "They're bitches."
She smiled. "He said that."
"There's one other coven that sounds nice," Widow told her. "They're in King Aaron's kingdom. Also, that king is a mind healer," she said, looking at Steve. "His whole adopted family is."
"Not natural?" Stark asked.
"He has a son from a former wife," Hawkeye said. "The others were adopted into his family in the Ascelpian kingdom while he trained."
"No. He's the sort of mind healer who puts the most horribly maimed away," Widow told him. "One of those sort took out his wife."
"Damn," Steve said. She nodded. "Is he tense?"
"He's new to the crown, he's a distant cousin to the old line, who were horrid rulers. He was in his education and teaching while that went on. He came back to handle it and took in the remaining royal child that had been left there. He instituted education and training for the other former royal and noble children in his kingdom so they learned to do better. He'll judge them once they're adults."
"That's reasonable," Stark decided.
"Sometimes new lines will take out the old ones," Steve said. "That's good to see."
"They are mostly fair," Widow told him. "Not easy, but fair." He nodded. "King Xander had to replace a number of people due to demonic possession. It's been settled for three generations."
"So their grandkids can be taught," Stark said sarcastically. "Why is that happening?"
"They're going against King Paul's people," she said. "They want to take them out and rule in their older pantheon instead. Thankfully we know they're not angels any longer."
"Did they lose any nobles beyond that one king?" Steve asked.
"No. He died from an injury during that battle," Scott said. "He had healers but they could only handle it for a few days."
"Could our sort of doctors help?"
"They had both sorts," Hawkeye said. "Including a few who could touch heal." Their witch gasped, leaning forward. "It's not unknown. Hakkai has that gift. The one that showed up as a guard? Him."
"Also, the little prince has that gift. They were talking about her future training," Thor said. "No one had any qualms about her gifts and ruling later once it was pointed out she could work a few days a week as a healer."
"She's fostering?" their witch said.
"Yes. It's safer," Widow told her. "She was about three when he overthrew his stepfather. It was safer if they didn't come after her to get him back for taking power. She's with King Alan and he is excellent in training her. She's smart, a bit mouthy, but caring. She loves her horse, which is an elemental spirit, more than anything but that family. Some day she'll make an excellent queen."
"I still like Queen Abby," Hawkeye said. "She's fun."
"She is," Widow agreed. "Very lively. Jethro's last wife," she told Steve. "A bit pale, dark hair, slightly weird clothes. She adores Jethro and is a good mentor with Queen Stella."
Stark nodded once. "Strong rulers are good in most cases as long as they're fair."
"The engineering college and the bard's college have both been made their own little city states so no one can pressure them," Widow told him. "It let them tell some kings to go away."
"Though quite a few were in Xander's kingdom looking over his stepfather's weird idea barn," Hawkeye quipped.
"His stepfather wanted someone to make a mini catapult to throw bombs. They made one but it's not very useful. King Xander's idea of using a wrist mounted crossbow to throw grenades, much more useful."
Steve blinked a few times. Stark sat up. "He has one?"
"He used it here," Scott said.
"Huh. I didn't see that." He looked at Steve. Who shrugged back. "So if we want to make treaties?"
"We can contact them. Or we can announce a visit. Or we can wait on Queen Stella to come visiting in four months," Scott said. "She said their yearly vacation is coming here this year to meet us all."
"She'll be bringing any treaty attempts to work on them," Widow said. "She's like a nicer version of me without the warrior skills."
"We saw her knock down and apprehend a spy," Thor said with a smile. "She was very good at it." The others who had went nodded.
"So the queen helps chase down higher level criminals," Stark said. "That's... interesting. Unusual but interesting."
"Horatio's male spouse and his whole family do the same," Hawkeye said. "His spouse got injured so he had to leave sooner. Mac covered for him." He snapped. "We saw that fire calling system. Very handy."
Thor nodded. "It was indeed. A bit of a potion, some preset locations and others you can call in an emergency."
"I'd like to hear more about that."
"If *you* write," Scott told Steve. "The engineering school will send a catalog. Not if Stark writes, but if *you* write...." He smiled at him. "They remember him. The instructor that came up to help the ones in the barn remembered him because he used to room with General Stark and he was not fond of him."
"Putting it mildly," Widow said dryly. "Something about psychotic drunk assholes with ideas." Stark glared at her.
Steve considered it. "Do they have many things we can use?"
"They have new systems to spread hot water through a castle that's a bit different from ours," Hawkeye said. "They also have grenades we don't. Siege engines we don't."
"Some guns we don't," Widow said. "I tried King Dean's weapons. They were handy and useful. Banishing guns aim a bit weird but they're useful in their own ways."
"So maybe it would be useful," Steve decided. "I'll write a letter later."
"Or I can," T'Challa said from his seat in the corner. "I could probably use the same sort of things." He leaned forward. "Are they looking for real treaties?"
"Yes," Scott said. "They've got trades worked out for food things that they can't grow in their own areas with each other, treaties about switching farmers around so they could get new blood and ideas, and ones for mutual aid if they need it. They seem pretty fair for the most part."
Steve grinned. "Bucky said King Xander was really nice to him. Made sure he was safe. Princess Gregory nagged a bit and was a bit sarcastic."
Widow looked at him. "When did he start using understatements? Princess Gregory is more than a bit sarcastic. It seems to be his native language." Hawkeye laughed. "At least he didn't hit on you."
"He did," he said with a grin. "But he took the 'I have a woman' answer nicely enough."
"Princess Gregory and a few others asked Xander for sanctuary so they tend to hang out there," Hawkeye said. "He even has a couch in his throne room for them to hang out on so he has someone to talk to."
"King Xander has been the defacto ruler for years because he was handling things when no one else was," Scott said. "He started orphanages. He keeps track of farm lands. He set up a wedding place so everyone would quit borrowing his castle."
"It's nice," Hawkeye said. "I went on that tour with his consort. It was his way of punishing him for being an annoying ass while drunk one night. King Xander does not taken drunks well."
"No he doesn't," Widow agreed. "Though that's reasonable with his stepfather being one."
"So they're good, they're decent rulers, and they're mostly nice people," Steve decided. They all nodded. "It sounds like we could easily send refugees up there and maybe even farmer exchange candidates too." He looked at Stark. "We could use the same new blood they could."
"How would one man father over three hundred spawn?" Stark asked.
"For men it only takes a few minutes," Widow said dryly. "He was over sixty when he died."
"Probably something like what got King Xander. Which was Gentrus," Hawkeye said. He pulled out a report at the groan, tossing it to Knight Bruce. "How their healers and doctors treat it. Including the possible uses of a succuba or incubus if no spouse or lover is around. All the way through how to treat the coma that King Xander had been in from a second poisoning."
"He survived?" Knight Bruce said. He picked up the notes to look over, skimming it for now. "Huh. I didn't know that about the build up."
"I was told his got so bad no one could touch his bare skin. The succuba they have trapped helped," Hawkeye said. "I found her by accident while wandering one night."
Knight Bruce nodded. "Not that weird I guess." He went over it in more depth. "Hmm. Notes from the Ascelpian kingdom's methods and other methods." Thor pulled out a book to toss to him. "Oh, nice, on various poisons." He took it to look over. "That's very handy. Thank you, Thor, and you, Clint."
"You're most welcome," Thor said.
"If we have a major problem, would King Mac show up?" Steve asked Widow.
"If he could. He has some excellently trained military for his mountain kingdom. Xander has allowed cross training with his people whenever someone wanted. While they waited on us, they did some. Mac praised them to Xander while watching the units at the convergence work out together."
"They brought guard units?" Stark asked, leaning forward. "That could mean they don't trust each other."
"That was more about the demon issue," Hawkeye said. "They all had guards to protect them on the way to Xander's protections."
"Oh. So they're good together?"
"Yes. Apparently the warlord thing let his father take over some of their militaries to train them too," Widow said. "He wasn't a good warlord, had many stupid plans, and was a drunkard on top of it. They had a hangover flag for his castle."
Steve nodded once then sighed and pointedly did not look at the other general, who drank more than anyone thought. He looked at her instead. "So it's possible we can ask for aid if we need it?"
"It's a clause in the treaty we already have. Xander insisted. They have the same sort of 'if you ask, we'll do what we can' clause with King Steve as well."
"Interesting." He opened it to look it over. "Someone has very nice penmanship."
"Consort Genjo," Scott quipped with a grin. "They all agreed he had the nicest and tiniest script."
"To some it's an artform," Bruce said. "I've met a few Sanzo priests. They do things like calligraphy."
Steve smiled. "That's a neat hobby at least." He went over it, handing it to T'Challa, who read it and nodded before handing it on. Stark took it last to look over, not looking displeased. "They seem to have made themselves look like allies."
"They have," Stark agreed. "Strong ones." He looked at the map. It was most of that continent. "What about the ones not in their little group?"
"A few of them are backwards and indignant," Widow told him. "They would not want to join. A few have open invitations for when they're ready." She pointed at small kingdom that wasn't colored in. "That one wanted to be by itself. They have an open invitation. These ones above King Alan are smaller duchies almost instead of kingdoms but they're self ruled and happy about it. Warrior mountain people as he said. He has peace and aid treaties with them, plus trade ones so they can trade freely without extra fees. They insisted from what he told me.
"This larger one up top has not really made overtures but they have sent a few supposed bards to check things over. They've heard stories of aliens, technology, and ice dragons. They haven't wanted to send anyone up to talk to them since they didn't want to appear pushy. The Sanzo kingdom is the closest and that was their choice." Stark grimaced but nodded once. "These ones down here, they're on friendly terms with.
"King Reginald's kingdom is nice and friendly but not part of the convergence. He doesn't seem to care much about things, very insular, but their last king was killed by a poisoning. They have things we could easily trade for and King Mac told me about them. He has contracts with them about food trading." Both generals nodded. "These two ..." She tapped them.
"You've seen those kingdoms that're totally cut off and people are starting to look funny?" Hawkeye asked. "That's them."
"They're the reason they didn't want trade agreements," Widow agreed. "They like being by themselves and being locked into their kingdoms with only one pass for entry or exit. They've refused everything but medical aid in the past."
Steve grimaced. "That's not sound tactically."
"Or genetically," Bruce agreed.
"One of them has people who're slightly blue," Hawkeye said. "Mac went on a mission to see if they needed anything. They go about once a decade. Not even King Reginald's people trade with them."
"That's really uptight," Stark said.
"They like the arts. Mac said that they liked music and arts."
"Huh," Stark said. "That's interesting. What about these ones on the edges?"
"They have treaties and they're peaceful. They're not part of the convergence but Xander said he had peace and mutual aid treaties with as far away as these people," she said with a point at one country. About two over from the edges of their group. "His stepfather had tried to conquer there and lost. When he went to apologize for the old man, sent by him, he told them about how his stepfather was someday going to die a gruesome death. He said they told him to send artwork of it. They're not aggressive with each other and if they asked, Xander would probably send help to them. He said the ruler there was like a good version of what a good warlord could be. His stepfather hated being shitty by comparison."
"King Elinius isn't a pushover but he is fair," Steve said. "I met him once. He's very firm and his people treat him like he's a minor god."
She nodded. "I remember meeting him. He didn't even stare at my chest and he praised me for being a warrior. His wife won his hand by combat she said."
"That's harsh," Scott said. "The toughest warrior woman wins his bed and the rest..."
"Lead his armies," Steve said. "He has a high level of female warriors." He smiled. "I wouldn't put it past King Elinius to have people in King Xander's kingdom to see how he turned out." He looked at them. "How do surrogates work for them?"
"The standard way probably," Stark said dryly.
"Not all men who like men can bed women," Hawkeye said firmly, glaring at him. "I trained with one who couldn't." He looked at his general. "When I asked a maid she giggled and said they shoot into a dish, use some sort of sucking tube, and squeeze it into her. Though Xander's not against sleeping with women."
"If he got poisoned with Gentrus, he's probably not against sleeping with much outside a dragon," Stark said.
"No, he's got a concubine and she's squealy," Widow said. "Sanzo has his team in his house with him."
"Sanzo priests are almost all celibate," Bruce agreed. "Sometimes to the point of horrified about being touched on the hand."
"He's not quite that bad but he is mostly celibate. It was arranged after Xander's coronation. There's rumors of Sam helping him but the same rumors state King John sent that son, who he poisoned with it first, to infect Xander."
"That's harsh," Stark said, shaking his head. "Not even my father was that harsh."
"Kings Xander and Dean, Princess Samuel, and Consort Castiel took their planned day off hunting in the woods. They all came back pouting that Castiel had killed the bigger prey, then they gave it to the local orphanage," Hawkeye said with a grin. "Hunters aren't trained as formal warriors or military people, just to get it done."
"Xander and Dean's sparring match was very fun to watch," Widow said with a smirk. "Both of them were more playing and bragging about things while they traded blows. Dean got to win because Xander got distracted by his daughter, who gave him this mean kitty smirk and told her daddy Dean had to win sometimes. It'd make him feel better and Castiel was looking forward to treating his booboos." Scott burst out laughing, shaking his head. "Then she went to fuss over her horse again."
"She sounds neat," Steve said with a grin.
Widow nodded. "Very much so." The doors were shoved open and someone stomped in. "Did we summon you?" she asked dryly.
Sam smiled. "No. We found one of your evil things trying to make time on Stella so she cold cocked him. She sent me to bring back the pathetic mess of human." He waved and his guards dragged the man in chains in. "She had no idea who he is but he said he was one of your generals."
"He wanted to be one," Stark said. "That's Osborne. He was discredited for being an evil dick."
"Stella doesn't put up with any dicks outside Mac's." He grinned and handed over a letter. "Amilisame sent a letter introducing herself by messenger."
"I saw the sixteen messengers from Genjo's people over a day's time," he said, taking it with a smile. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Did you guys know you had a kraken nearby?"
"No," Widow said. "We hadn't. Where?" He pointed. "We can check that out. Thank you, Princess Samuel."
"Welcome." He grinned at her. "If a prince named Tobias writes, he's part of Jethro's old line that almost died out and was unsuitable until him. He's harder than Jethro but about alike in most ways. He was just too far down to take the crown and didn't really want the headache. He had his daughter just start writing the kiddo. Or if a prince named Neareth writes? He's an absurd dick that thinks he's a bard and can't rhyme much less sing. He dresses like a bard in a comedy troupe on stage, complete with bells, and he never takes a bath."
"Thank you for that warning. Was he going to?"
"I think a lot of the eligible princes might try. And a few of the princesses." He grinned. "It's nice to meet new people that you don't already despise for being stupid. That's why half of everyone is single. That and Xander's stepfather." He waved. "Let me get back to Queen Stella. She's teaching me how to make fish stew when I get back." He left, leaving them their evil dumbass.
"And that was how most of them are," Hawkeye agreed. "With each other at the very least."
"Huh," Steve said, nodding with a grin. "He does seem very nice."
"Xander's very goofy at times," Scott said. "But he's fun. He's smart and he knows what he's doing but he's very much goofy when he's not being official. He, his daughter, and their horses with Dean's horse, all played tag one night when she couldn't sleep. She ended up sleeping between the horses in the field and thought it was great the next day."
"Isn't that dangerous?" Stark asked.
"Not with two elemental spirit horses there," Scott said. "Hers is downright possessive of her. Impala, his mother and King Dean's horse now, is protective of her and others she likes. She walked up behind Castiel to lick his hair for him. He just sighed and told her he had bathed that morning, to go lick Sam. She nipped him gently then went to bathe Sam in the gardens where he was reading. He just let her until she was nudging him to come play instead of reading."
"Does being an elemental spirit give them extra skills?" Steve asked. "I know nothing about magic."
"They can travel faster if they wish," Widow said. "I asked. Impala has had normal horses and special foals. Cougar was her last foal. Dean and Xander have trained a number of her regular foals to be excellent horses for cavalry and hunting uses. I watched him training his next mount and the little guy was stubborn but doing the exercises when he was prompted. Then he'd demand treats or go walking off if he didn't get them. He said he's young but he'll do in about a year. He named him after one of Genjo's sisters."
Steve smirked. "Was he pleased with that naming?"
"The horse? I don't know. Genjo snorted and said they'd have to geld him to make him like his sister since the little one would someday get sex and his sister never would even without her vows as a nun. The foal came over to nibble on his robes and got swatted with the closed battle fan. He kept doing it anyway until Xander made him leave his poor consort alone. Goyjo joked about that horse being the most making out Genjo had in years and got beaten for it. He tried to avoid it but Genjo can fight if he wants to and he did that time. Hakkai just sighed and told him not to give him more work."
Steve burst out laughing. "So they're actually really relaxed most of the time and the warrior we saw when King Xander was here is his usual battle attitude?" They all nodded. "Good to know. We could use more allies."
"They're farther away but we could use trade partners," Stark decided. They got down to making a new trade agreement. Scott went home to see his little girl and former wife, telling her about who he had met so she could have a penpal. She liked that idea. They could all use new friends.
The End. I hope.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Any original characters or plot are the property of the author. No claims are being made as to the actions or orientation of the actual actors, and none of this is meant to say anything about them. No copyright infringement is intended. No money is being made from this work.