Dark Fantasies

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Chapter 17: Continued Dreams

I don’t know if wintering at the castle would be a good idea, or even if it can be done this late in the season, but if you want to try, we need to get a LOT more vegetables put together, because the snow gets really deep in this area, I would say. Even though it has melted some...” Amelia added a few seconds later as she studied the landscape outside the opening of the cave, shielding her eyes with her hand from the glare of the sunlight on the snow in the meadow.

This conversation was happening after he had finally found his way back to the meadow after having been gone for more than a month; lost in a blizzard that lasted for more than a week, and had given Joanna and Amelia both nightmares about his death, though they had had Vlad with them to help search for him when he had gone missing.

And Raven was simply glad to have been allowed to return to them after wandering alone for so many days. In the back of his thoughts, Joanna knew that Raven was amazed that he hadn’t been spotted by the dragons while he had been lost, but perhaps if they had, they had thought him no threat, she thought.

Amelia, it was after school ended for the summer, not early spring, but you’re right. We should be moving on. And now that Raven is back, we can do that, so long as you give the swinu that I got yesterday a bit more time to finish drying.

But I still think that we could manage to survive a winter here better at the castle than we could in this cave; after all there is always the food in the fields to work with, and there should still be dried foods in the caves under the castle itself if they haven’t been plundered. After all, it hasn’t been that long since there were people still living in the castle, so there should still be things they didn’t have time to take with them.

And with there only being four of us, I don’t see why we would need so much more vegetables than we currently have gathered. I mean, sure, we will need to gather more to replace what we eat, but it isn’t as though we were supporting a population the size of the numbers of people who live at Daddy’s house.

It would be more like supporting the population of Mom’s house, sis.” Joanna said and Amelia nodded thoughtfully, knowing that Joanna had made a rather well reasoned point.

Joanna frowned in her sleep, knowing that there was something wrong with what she was seeing right now, but she couldn’t place what it might be, at the same time, as she rolled toward Raven where he lay next to her, snoring lightly. But she could not wake up completely, she somehow knew, so she sank into her dream once more.

But what about firewood?,” Amelia had asked, and Raven agreed, thinking that he hadn’t seen much in the way of firewood when he had gone up to the castle with her that day.

But Joanna smiled and said, “Vlad and I spent part of one day the other day bringing firewood to the room that I was hoping we would be staying in, and there is plenty there for at least a month, if we’re careful. And there is more in the little building behind the front gate of the castle-- not the gatehouse-- but the one that would have been the warming room for the knights as they returned from the hunt.

That spot I filled as full as I could, in the hopes that it would be needed. It took me longer to bring the rest of the food that I had gathered into the smaller of the pantries off the kitchen, but there should be enough there, with the food that we have here, to last us for about the same month that our wood supply will last.” she added.

Is that what took you two so long to get back the other day?” Amelia gasped, aghast. “I thought you had been captured by those awful dragons!” she added, deeply shocked that Vlad would allow Joanna to risk herself that way without telling their campmates anything about it.

I wanted to surprise you.” Joanna said simply. “And I was perfectly safe. I didn’t see, hear, smell or feel them anywhere nearby. Not even flying overhead like last time I went there by myself And this time, Vlad was with me the whole time, so I wasn’t in any danger.” she added, rolling her eyes in disgust with herself for almost having gotten caught in her worry for Raven that day. And now, she began to have some idea of what was wrong, but she knew too that there was almost nothing she could do about it, save finish the dream, and try to wake herself up on the other side.

But she wasn’t sure how well she would be able to do, and she hoped that she was sharing this dream with at least one of her other lovers. And though she wasn’t aware of it, Raven was also seeing what she saw, as were Amelia and Vlad. And they knew that this dream—if indeed dream it was—would show them things they had never seen before.

At that, Raven burst out laughing, and said, through his laughter, “Well, if you have this all thought out, my love, then I guess it behooves us to at least go and see the preparations for an extended stay in the castle you have made for us and make sure they will work.”

Joanna just smiled as Amelia shook her head, then gave in and began chuckling too. “We probably ought to see about bringing the rest of our gear up to the castle too if we are going to see about wintering up there,” Amelia said, knowing that Joanna would be happier now that it had been at least settled to try.

Over the next week, the four of them brought their belonging up in small loads under the cover of night, each one beginning to feel like traveling during the day was dangerous for them, at best. But it was Joanna that found the tunnel in the back of the cave that allowed them to make the trip to the castle at any point, day or night in relative safety.

Most of their belongings had been moved by that method by the time they planned to make the next obvious trip up the ridge to the castle, and that was going to be just Raven and Joanna at first while Amelia finished up the last few details of their move and brought in the last load of the supplies they had been gathering during the days. Vlad had said that the day they brought the final load to the castle, he was planning to head out on his much delayed errand to destroy the pieces of the phylactery, so neither Raven nor Joanna was expecting to see him for a few days after they were settling in at the castle.

Or at least, that building over there on the left is what I’m calling the Keep for now.” Joanna added with a laugh as she pointed to a particular building in the center of the structure of the walls as they headed, hand in hand, toward the hole in the wall she had used to gain entry the last day she had been there before. The tunnel in the cave opened in one of the underground storage chambers that wasn’t too far from the kitchens they knew, but the Keep was a slightly different structure, specifically attached to the walls of the castle, and the entrance to the largest part of it was to one side of the main body of the building that housed the Great Hall and the kitchens that Joanna and Vlad had discovered on their initial foray here several days ago.

Climbing a long, winding stair with many smaller doors leading off it on the landings, they found themselves in what appeared to be a Great Hall large enough to accommodate many hundreds of guests at any one time, and crossing that open space, they wandered into what had been—at one time—a kitchen of grand enough proportions to match the Hall.

In the Hall there had been a raised dias, and in the kitchen, there was one whole wall that was filled with a line of thick walled brick faced ovens that looked like they would be sound enough to use, and large enough to roast several honkers at the same time, and Joanna was already composing recipes to use them for preparing dishes for feasts, though she knew they likely wouldn’t be here long enough to be able to host one. And to Joanna, the dust on the dias showed all too plainly the tale of Vlad’s proposal, but Raven didn’t seem to notice it; which kind of surprised her, but in many ways, she was very glad.

Off the kitchen, there were several small rooms with wooden and sturdy stone shelves that Joanna was positive were pantries and storage cellars. There was an enormous worktable in the middle of the long room, and it looked almost as though it had been designed to seat a regiment, and dominated the space it was in, though they could both tell that it was only a work table.

There were sturdy hooks overhead that looked just like the pan rack at home—except much longer-- and Joanna knew that they had been built to do the same job here, though she could tell-- simply from observing the way it was constructed-- that this building was more than half a dozen centuries older than the house her family lived in in Shadow Valley. And their house there had stood for almost two thousand years already, she knew.

But this place had only stood empty about ten years, she estimated, from the levels of dust on the floor; her footprints from the day before were clearly visible in the dust and they had been undisturbed over the course of the night.

And she wondered when she would be able to get to the lower levels; the spaces under the castle where they had stored the items they knew they weren’t going to be able to take with them when she and Petr and their retinue were able to move on from here. Then she wondered where that memory had come from; the only member of her family who had been named Petr had been Lady Szuszanna’s husband, and so far as Joanna knew, she hadn’t been here. But Joanna wondered in that instant if there wasn’t something more important going on in that memory slip; if perhaps she was Lady Szuszanna reincarnated, then she shook her head impatiently, knowing that it wasn’t likely to be the case. But even if she had been, she knew that it didn’t help her get to the lower levels any sooner.

She knew how to get down there by herself, unless something had happened since they had been away... But she knew that her current companions would take it amiss if she simply vanished while they were exploring, and went below by herself.

They would come looking for her she knew, but, at the same time, she knew that there were rooms they mustn’t find ways into by themselves. Those rooms were dangerous places that she herself had promised Vlad she would not go to alone in the castle because of the magickal guardians he had set in place before they had left...even though he had given the castle to her before they had continued on their journey.

The reasons she had come back was because of the scrolls and the yarn... then Joanna cocked her head, a questioning frown on her face as she thought, scrolls, yarn? What scrolls? I don’t know anything about any scrolls being here. Or yarn for that matter... she thought as her frown deepened.

Then it occurred to her where they might be; the storage room in the lowest level of the cellar, the northernmost corner of the room, but toward the top of the stack of crates as an image of the crate she sought flashed across her thoughts and she sighed in relief.

Then she shook off the odd thoughts, and a few seconds later, Joanna wondered aloud why the worktable in front of them had survived the passing of the centuries when so many of the other furnishings clearly hadn’t.

But Raven was able to explain that as he explored the recesses of the nearest pantry; it was too heavy to have been moved when the other pieces of furniture had been stolen or moved, he said over his shoulder as he explored further into one of the rooms that she thought had likely been a pantry in its original incarnation, when the castle’s original occupants had lived there.

Anyone who wanted to try would need either a crane or a dragon to have moved the thing. And she wondered if he was looking for secret passages or hidden doors with his thorough investigation of the currently empty pantry. But if he was, he didn’t seem to find anything, and he quickly returned to her side by the worktable.

And the castle clearly wasn’t inhabited by a dragon, he laughed. “At least, not at the moment,” he added as he chuckled. When she gave him a look that clearly asked why he thought that, he chuckled again and said, “Simple, baby. Not enough damage to the main structure of the buildings. Though there would appear to be enough room for at least a young dragon in at least this room...” he added seriously, and she swatted him playfully.

Oh.” she said. Then she shook her head as she added, “You’re right. I should have thought of that myself. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t in the area, Raven. Remember what we’ve seen so far. Those ice dragons are scary!” she added with a shiver, hugging herself to still her shivers at the thought of the dragons they had already seen, and hoping they were far away at that minute, though she knew it wasn’t likely.

He hurried to her to wrap her in his arms to warm away her shivers, knowing that she had been deeply worried by her experience with the dragons, even though it had only been at a distance. And he knew that he didn’t want any of them to encounter those dragons any closer, any more than either of the girls did.

And it occurred to her in that instant that she knew there were three hidden staircases on this level alone, as well as at least six secret doors, some of which led to storage levels below their feet, though she wasn’t certain how she could have known that, and she wasn’t sure that she wanted to test the theory until they had Amelia with them once more.

However, the room where the scrolls were was her real goal, and she knew it, though she knew too that it wasn’t too likely that she would be able to get there anytime soon. Besides, she knew that it wouldn’t be safe for her to open it alone; there had to be at least two of them present when she opened it—the lock wouldn’t respond if less than two of the Blood were present in any situation where she might be tempted to open the chest. Not the lock on the room, exactly, but more the special lock on the chest itself, she knew.

But all that would wait until the three of them were able to get to the lower levels, and that wouldn’t happen, Joanna knew, until after the three of them had explored enough of the upper levels for Raven to feel comfortable in the castle, and for Amelia to have actually seen the inside of many of the rooms on the upper levels for herself.

And Joanna knew that couldn’t happen until after she and Raven had finished looking around up here, and she had convinced Raven that it was safe for the three of them to spend the rest of the winter here before they headed home. They all knew that they would have to head home in the spring if they wintered out here, but Joanna had wanted the time to explore the place a bit, now that she was finally able to bring Raven up here to drop off their loads openly.

However, she knew too that it wasn’t too likely that she was going to get too much exploring done, because she knew that to fully explore the building would require all three of them to be focused on the project, and she knew that Raven wanted to do other things while they were there today after they had put away the food that they had brought with them.

But though Joanna could happily have spent the rest of that day exploring the extent of the kitchen and the pantries, as well as the echoing vastness of the Great Hall and any rooms off that open space that were still intact, Raven’s mind was clearly on other things as he leaned in to kiss Joanna again, whispering in her thoughts, ◊ Being alone with you is such a turn on, lover, that I can’t help myself. I want you so much, Joanna.

And if they can’t see us, they won’t be able to do anything about us being here, now will they?◊ he added, showing her some of what he wanted to use the work table for as they kissed deeply against the table’s thick edge.

She gently pushed their packs further into the cover of the table with the edge of one foot as they continued to kiss, knowing that what he had in mind might be a little too energetic for some of the mushrooms they had gathered on their way to the castle this morning, and she didn’t want them to be crushed.

But, at the same time, she knew they were going to have to explore the rooms sometime soon, if they were to have any idea if the castle was going to be usable as a winter shelter. Which-- she had thought-- had been one of the main reasons for the two of them to come up here today, besides moving more loads of the food they had been gathering into the pantries. And she knew too that there were several hidden staircases, and secret doors that branched out from the pantries and the kitchen itself that led to the lowest levels.

Though she could feel the way her body responding the way it had always responded to having Raven nearby, she could also feel something else, tugging her in the direction of the lowest levels of the castle, and the exploration that needed to happen before Joanna was willing to head back to Shadow Valley again.

◊Don’t you feel it too?◊ he asked plaintively in her thoughts as she caressed him suggestively through the heavy fabric of his jeans as they continued to kiss in response to what he was doing to her.

◊Of course I do, but what about Amelia?she asked as she slipped out of her heavy coat under his hands as he eagerly helped her undress.

◊Amelia will be fine. If she needs us, she will call us. Right now, I have you all to myself, and if you’re interested in what I have in mind for at least part of the afternoon, we’ll both have fun. I have a couple new shapes I’ve been practicing, and I thought you might wanna try them out too.

After all, why else do you think I brought you up here, if not to be... intimate in as many of these rooms as possible? If not downright dirty...!◊ he said in her thoughts; their lips had only parted for a few seconds at a time as he had shucked out of his innermost shirt, and she had shed the top half of her long underwear just as quickly.

Removing the lower half of her garments was the work of only a few more seconds, and she saw his clothes falling just as quickly from him as hers had fallen from her as she eagerly climbed up onto the table and turned to face him before she laid back.

Vlad found his attention sharpening as this image formed in his thoughts, and he knew that this would show him something that he needed to know.

At first, she didn’t know which shape he was going to start with, but a few seconds later, what appeared to be a large gray Greater Horned Lupo was eagerly sniffing her crotch, then slipping his very large tongue between her legs as she quickly slid onto the edge of the table, and spread her bared legs for him invitingly as she lay back onto the table.

And, as it penetrated, she cried out in delight, “Oh, yes! YES!!” as the lupo slid it’s tongue in and out of her for what felt like hours and she experienced deep climax after climax in waves.

After the first few orgasms, she felt him sliding free of her vagina, and drop, then she squealed as it slid into her asshole, “Oh!! Oh yes, YES!!!” as he slipped back and forth within her again until she could feel her orgasm building and building again, erupting over her like a flood once more as his tongue slid out of her body once more.

Then, the lupo rose up on his hind legs, and carefully placed his giant paws on the tops of her shoulders, pinning her to the table as he slid his member into her well-lubed passage, allowing his “knot” to slide into her vagina as well, after the first long, slow stroke as she lay beneath him, tossing her head on the hard surface of the table, her back arched up to meet his thrusts with pressure of her own, moaning in ecstasy as he licked her breasts while thrusting slowly deeper and deeper into her this time.

Her next orgasm had been building for several minutes, and just as he erupted within her, she felt herself cresting the edge of her own release, as she cried out his name, “Oh, yes, YES Daniel!!” as he began shifting back down to his normal size within her. And, as she was coming down from the place her orgasm had sent her mind, she could feel him thrusting gently within her still, rocking like he couldn’t make up his mind whether or not he wanted to continue.

Daniel?” she asked, mildly confused. Usually, when he began a session of loveplay, he wasn’t diffident like this. She opened her eyes to find him shifting again, but this time, she didn’t recognize the form he was taking at first.

∙ ∙ ∙ ∙ ∙ · ∙ · ∙

It was only when he had it finished that it was recognizable to her; the dragon from her dream at Winter Coronation, and he only had the barest beginnings of the head of his member within her. Her eyes flew open wide in surprise, and he smiled toothily at her. He had gotten the exact reaction he had hoped for from her with this shift; now it was time for the rest of it, he thought.

Then he began to slide into the first stroke, and her mind came apart again with the same deep and wild delight she had felt in the dream when the dragon had invaded her as his shaft slid slowly in and in and in as deeply as it had in the dream.

And one of the last coherent thoughts she had as he was pleasuring her this time was that she hoped he would be willing to go anal with her this time, but this was something that would do in the meantime. And they would find out later that this shape would serve him well in days to come.

The pleasure continued as he thrust into her as slowly and deeply as he could, and she knew he was glad he had been practicing this shape; this was one shape where time was no impediment to both of them reaching orgasm. Then, she decided she didn’t want to think anymore, just enjoy what he was doing to her.

Seeminglyhours later, they had moved out into the Great Hall, and they were up in the air as Raven completed one last shift; this time to a Griffon as he slowly thrust gently again, and she shivered in astonishment as her orgasm burst over her almost instantly, and she felt herself going limp within the circle of his talons.

But, before her vision faded completely, she felt something brushing over the tip of her nose, and she sneezed, forcing her to open her eyes and grab for consciousness once more as he flicked his tail across her face once more, hoping he had succeeded in distracting her from fainting as he filled her again and again.

And several days later still, they settled to the ground once more, with her in his talons and his member still filling her as Raven shifted back to his proper shape, Joanna sighed as she settled into his embrace, “Raven... that was... incredible. I didn’t know... that you could do that...!!” she murmured as he tightened his arms around her, only vaguely aware that he was still within her.

He was still thrusting gently as he kissed her deeply again and the orgasm that had been building between them crested over them like a wave that felt to Joanna like she was floating, wrapped in his love. And she knew from the way he was breathing, that he felt the same way.

Joanna wished that they could continue like this forever, but at the same time, she knew that not only did she want to explore more of the castle while they were there, they had to get back to Amelia as soon as they could. Then, she realized that she had been shaken out of ‘the mood’ by something outside their union, and she reached toward Amelia instinctively, hoping that she was in a place where she was sure that she was safe from the possible dangers of the area, particularly the dragons which they had seen overflying the castle.

Joanna was unaware of having whispered, “Something’s wrong...” though she hadn’t finished the sentence.

And Joanna knew that Raven had felt it too, when she felt his ribs move in a nearly silent whisper, “Amelia! Oh blessed lady, be safe, baby!” as he drew in and released a hitching breath as he slipped out of Joanna, just as Joanna whispered, “There is something coming...!”

Joanna knew he wasn’t ashamed of what they were doing; it was simple common sense that they not be linked when the trouble came to where they were as they both could sense that something was. But nothing seemed to happen for several seconds, and they both knew that they should get dressed as quickly as they could.

They had both finished dressing in the kitchen a few seconds before they both heard the staggering footsteps that could only have belonged to their other lover, and Joanna hurried to where Amelia was going to come into the large room as Raven blew out a huge, almost growling sigh of relief and shifted back to his proper shape from the defensive shape he had taken, and watched Joanna shift the color of her skin back to her proper skin tones once more as they both recognized the steps on the stones of the floor.

Oh my Goddess, oh my goddess...!” Amelia was gasping as she staggered into the room, snow cascading from the packs that hung from her shoulders and covered her back. Breathing hard, she staggered over to the table and stood leaning against the edge as she struggled to get her breath back, her head hanging limply. “That was so scary!!” she whispered over and over between deep, ragged gasps for air, as both Raven and Joanna stared at her in shock.

What is it, sweetheart?” Joanna asked with a frown as she came to her sister’s side, adding, “What happened?! And where is Vlad? Did he get off on his errand okay?” as she wrapped her arms around as much of Amelia as she could reach around the packs. Raven joined them as Amelia threw her arms around Joanna with a sob of relief, whimpering, “I’m so glad you’re okay... both of you.” And they both realized she was shaking and crying as they held her, and Joanna gasped as images of their meadow filled with dragons began pouring from Amelia and into her thoughts. But the entire time Amelia had thought that Vlad was behind her, so if he wasn’t, she didn’t know where he was.

Then it crossed Joanna’s mind that he had told her he was going to check the destruction of the pieces of the phylactery today. And she did her best now to close her mind to her sudden worry for his safety, knowing that he was out of range of being able to help her, or be helped by her until he was able to get back to where they were.

Did they see you?” Raven whispered urgently, knowing that if she had been seen, the dragons would know there were people in the castle and their last refuge would be lost; they would have to abandon everything they had built here and begin teleporting home almost immediately, he knew. And judging by the panicked glance she threw his way, Joanna knew it too.

Though at the same time, Raven knew that she was likely to be getting more and more worried about where Uncle Vlad had taken himself off to... but they had to be more concerned about the dragons until Uncle Vlad could get back to them. And if he was gone, then he was likely to have left on the errand he had said about needing to finish before Raven had left on his nearly disastrous hunting foray.

And Amelia shook her head weakly, flapping her hand limply, as though to deny the thought that she had been seen as she had escaped the cave and made her way to the castle.

No, no. I only saw it as I looked back from that overlook beyond the third turn of the tunnel from the cave, after I moved the stones to cover the entrance of the tunnel we had made, and protect our retreat. I got everything out that was left, including a few tiny scraps that you may have missed that would have confirmed our presence if they had been found inside the cave. And I wove a completely different scent trail to confuse them so that they will have to take more time trying to track down what may or may not have been in the cave.

The only thing I couldn’t do much about was the trampled dirt in the cave, and the flattened spot where the tent had stood, but what I did was to scuff up the dirt with other stones, trying to mask my scent, in case that was how they hunt.

I don’t think they will figure it out, but we should lay low here for a while to be sure they don’t head this way.” Amelia said, still breathing hard as Joanna and Raven quickly peeled her out of her packs.

And it will give me time to rest, in case they do return. Because if they do, I have to insist that we begin heading home as soon as I have rested enough to begin teleporting us back.” she said firmly, nodding as Joanna guided her to a seat on one of the chairs that she had brought in from what had once been a bedchamber, handing her a bottle of water they had gotten from the well that morning after Raven had pronounced it safe to drink.

I agree.” Raven said, looking sternly at Joanna for a few seconds. But to his surprise, Joanna simply said quietly, “Yeah. I agree. We should head back, but only if they seem like they are coming here. After all, Uncle is expecting us to wait for him here.”

Then she added, “But I should tell you now, I haven’t seen anything so far since we have been here that would suggest that they had been here before this, so I’m not even sure that they knew where ‘here’ is.”

(Note to self: Joanna is meant to find several treasure rooms while they are there, one with one of her ancestress’ religious symbols in it that she takes home for comparison to the ones that actually made it to Shadow Valley. And the pieces here actually belonged to Joanna in a previous life, so make it easy for her, but a bit more complicated for anyone else. Also, Joanna opens the chest with the scrolls, but she also finds five or six very large crates with what appears to be ancestral forms of yarns, obviously hand-spun and in colors that no one knows how to achieve anymore, though Joanna suspects that they were produced by way of different kinds of mushroom dyes. There is the cotton variant, wool, linen and silk and many animal hair fibers, in many skeins that are much larger than the ones that are currently available.

And Joanna thinks that she has possibly found some of the same materials that the scrap of cloth that was wrapped around the holy symbols was constructed of, when she finds a plant fiber yarn she can’t identify, in a color that she has no words to describe in six other crates near the skeins of yarn that she can identify. Also, there are many different weights of yarn, from the heaviest of carpet weight to sewing thread like she used to make her wedding dress, in large enough amounts to replicate the feat in several different colors.

It changes color with the lighting, the mood of the wearer, the weather that it is exposed to; shows elements of all colors and none; and is different yet under water, though it doesn’t absorb water worth a damn. It is lighter than either cotton or linen, warmer in the winter than wool or silk, yet cooler in the summer than either cotton, silk or linen.

And in the same room, she finds bolts of cloth that was obviously woven on one of the looms that was covered in similar cloth to the cloth over some of the crates, but the cloth is slightly different yet, in that it shows movement without moving, and can reflect the patterns of the dreams of the wearer.

If the holy symbols in question were in the possession of Lady Szuszanna, that means they must have belonged to her daughter, Elizabeta, or possibly Petronella after Lady Szuszanna’s passing. And that would make one of them Joanna’s incarnation from that generation. But I was angling to get Elizabeta’s daughter’s first child; Iiovannia as Joanna’s first incarnation with the Lathom family... though that doesn’t make her the first one that he has found over the course of his search.

Hmmm, could Vlad have been traveling with them because Lady Szuszanna was actually the first of the Lathomiers that actually was an incarnation of Joanna? That puts the two of them in the Valley at the same time, at the beginning, even though Vlad is still many millennia older than their arrival in the Valley.)

(Note: Finish their dream of exploring the castle here.)

And talking of Raven, Joanna finds out in this story that since she is related to Raven distantly, she eventually will be able to use some of the same abilities that Raven can; she learns to shift her shape as well, but it takes her a bit longer to learn some of the shapes than it did for Raven.

And since he will be her teacher, she will also likely be learning the various sexual techniques that go with the new shapes, and that was where the fourth dragon came from that was in the dream that the passion group shared ahead of the blood orgy that is supposed to be taking place just ahead of Advent. It is either one of Joanna’s forms that showed up in the dream about it, or it is Chary, making her first appearance since Nightterrors and Divine Dreams.

But Joanna won’t know about that orgy for a number of months yet, because the blood orgy is set for the Advent season.

But he will also be teaching her some of the finer points with many of her new shapes, and he will be teaching her how to use the abilities of the shapes; (use elements from their conversation by the fire on the ledge all those years ago, the one just before the divine dreams) and that will lead to other births. Specifically the birth of ideas regarding the shapes her characters can take in the stories she writes, but also perhaps her own children in the second or third iteration as well.

Of course, it could also be ideas for her taking the shape of her characters for various situations, like book signings, or for hiding from the members of the Brotherhood when they come to attack the family in later stories, which they will do. And if the abilities aren’t used for hiding from the Brotherhood, then they will likely be used in situations where she or Raven or Amelia will be forced to hide from one of the other enemies that she has acquired by becoming Vlad’s wife. And there are several of them, though she doesn’t know the names as yet.

She will eventually, and even if Vlad doesn’t remember many of them at the minute, they will be showing up in this, and other stories in this series as time passes. Which, regardless of the thought that it sometimes seems slowed in the stories, time is still passing at the normal pace.

And quite a few of Iollio’s acquaintances and Vlad’s oldest enemies are still lurking out there, willing and eager to take over where he left off in torturing her family, specifically Barius and Lord Howard, or Osbourne, the individual known only as the Master of Shadows, or another who Joanna refers to as the Dancer in the Flames from some of her more obscure nightmares, the Dark One (I have plans for him in later story elements, and I think he and the dancer are one and the same, if he isn’t an element of Iollio), the dragons Corricopax, Slavinina, and Copperwind, or worse yet, the Engineer, or the Puppeteer.... Hell, even the Lich King’s current manifestation from his home plane could take more of an interest in her family before all is said and done with this set of stories.

After all, the Deformed is already making appearances in this story, so some of the others can’t be too far behind, as far as I can see. Of course, he is more after Petrova, but when he figures out that Amelia is the reincarnation of Petrova’s Grandmother, and Joanna is the reincarnation of his target from Mergoin, then trouble can’t be too far behind, can it? Regardless of his agreement with Lilitia and the ‘arrangements’ of the Patriarch to have him stay away from her...!

Amelia will be having more dreams about the club in Mergoin—and they will be gradually becoming more vivid-- and so will Joanna, and eventually, both will see the Deformed killing Lisle. And then, the Deformed makes an appearance in the actual story. And that means that will need to be written out.

But it might not be in this story; though it will likely be written in a story that takes place in the same year, but wasn’t told about during the party, of which there will be many, I suspect. There are several like that which have happened already, which have been mentioned in this story, but not covered in detail.

Of course, too there are other developments to be recorded; Amanda’s new girlfriend, and Chione’s relationship with her lover moving to the next level, for examples. I think that the union between them will produce a stronger passion between Amanda and Amber, and of course, the second will likely produce a new vampyre for their family, though it will take time for Brekona to be ready to join the family. There will be more than one wedding ceremony before that happens, I think; Richard and Jayne, and possibly even Amanda and Amber, as well as possibly even Brekona and Chione.

But I don’t know if Amber and Amanda will be involved in the passion group, or rather if Amanda will stay involved in the passion group with the arrival of Amber. Maybe there will be several encounters for both of them before Amanda invites her to experience the group; but Amber has a secret too. She is an incarnation of Bastela, I think, and she was sent for Amelia, Raven and Joanna to share with Amanda. But I am not sure how much of this will turn up in the story that is currently being told. It could be in another story that was happening at the same time.

And of course, this is the time frame that the orgies that Joanna dreamed about when she was younger with the dinosaurs and the minotaur-- as well as with many other partners—happen, both at events and at home, as well in her dreams again. But this time the dreams are hers alone, not shared with anyone.

Over the years before this story, Joanna had also borne Raven several litters of lupo cubs, and several different colors of dragon eggs when he was in his other forms, though they haven’t tried some of the other air forms, or the water forms as yet. And of course, Zoe will be making more of an appearance as an adult.

They will eventually have children of all those forms, but it will be several centuries down the road from this story, or even in the next story that gets written about Joanna’s adventures. The only ones that show up are a few of the lupo cubs, in their adult forms as messengers at the century party, and as protection details when Joanna goes to Zeke’s place for a couple days after her actual birthday party. The one exception to the rule is Zoe, her griffon daughter with Raven. Zoe will be one of the more important ‘guests’ that show up at the party, but she will be a bit late for the day that Joanna, Amelia and Raven come with the myrasti home after being attacked by the hunting party of the Brotherhood.)

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