-22-  Busy Day Off

“They don’t sell beds here, do they?” I asked, clearly having been taken for a ride while browsing the furniture here and not seeing any. For the record, the furniture was limited to armoire-style cabinets, a few desks, and some chairs. That was it.

My wife is beside herself with laughter, while Jaxan has turned around completely and likely laughing to herself so as not to offend.

“And when, my lovely wife, were you planning on telling me?”

“Mmm… eventually?”


“Mmhmm.” She nodded, then burst out laughing again.

I sighed. Well, a trip to a craftsman’s shop was inevitable anyway, so I’ll just have to see if there is one with a bed in stock, or if one can be made quickly. As much as I’m for adult education, at least pretend to be asleep while the wife and I are doing it, okay Jaxan?

When it came to foodstuffs, Zedron has what I want, but for everything else, not so much. I had thoughts about remodeling the ground floor bakery area. Two or three industrial sized shelves to store everything, a display case for prepared products, and some tables and chairs for customers to sit down at and perhaps enjoy a bite to eat before leaving.

While we’re not a restaurant, giving it a bit of a café feel would definitely work to our favor, I think. Our current finances have us sitting at roughly Eleven gold coins after the costs of ingredients. While I would love a multi-rack oven, even I think that’s impossible right now.

“Tally, what does a building cost to be constructed?”

“Depends on the size, but anywhere from ten to forty gold coins I imagine? This is of course if you’re talking about having people build something the size of our home. Why do you ask?”

“Just a thought for the future.”

“Oh?” She leaned into me closely, planting a kiss on my lips. “Thinking about our future? A bigger place for more little ones?”

I wrapped my arm around her waist.

“You seem to be keen on the idea of getting plump with a child rather quickly, Mrs. Ashford.”

“Mmm, is there something wrong with wanting more children with the man I love?”

“You don’t think it’s too fast?”

“Gar, I want to have a lot of children. I want to be surrounded by at least a dozen grandchildren when I’m old. That’s my dream, and one I thought long lost… Having a large loving family. With you now, it’s definitely possible. So, what would you like more of, sons or daughters?”

“It doesn’t matter to me. I’m sure they’ll all be wonderfully bright children.”

She then turned her head, towards the young girl who came along to browse the store with us. “What about you, Jaxan? Sons or daughters?”

“I’ve never given it much thought, Mistress. I’ve never had a suitor to have those kinds of talks with.” Jaxan said while keeping her head down. “Maybe over the course of helping the Mistress with her new children, I will come to know the answer.”

“What do you think, Gar?” My wife asked me.

“I think it’s a pity there’s so much of an age difference between her and Trev that marriage is unlikely. Not that I’m trying to plan his future out at all, but with a girl as clever as Jax, I could see your son quite happy.”

“What do you mean unlikely?”

“There’s a ten year age difference between them, and Jaxan would probably prefer someone closer to her own age. She’d be what… twenty five before that would be possible? Then there’s the matter of knowing him since he was a brat. I’d think she’d always say something along the lines of I remember changing your pajamas when you were a child. I don’t think any man really wants to be reminded of such embarrassing things throughout his life.”

“Then what if she had a daughter?”

“Well, she won’t be able to because of the circumstances, right? The gap would still be there, just in the other direction.”

“I feel like this is similar to Mrs. Windie’s problem. The second wife her husband wishes to take is about ten years younger than both her and her husband.”

“So it’s a common practice to marry with such an age difference?”

“Mrs. Windie has already given birth to three of her husband’s children–all boys mind you, and she’s getting to the age where it’s harder and harder to conceive any more. The circumstances surrounding the marriage aren’t all negative, either. The young woman in fine being the second wife, and she’s quite skilled in playing instruments. I’d imagine having the nights filled with beautiful music before bedtime would be quite enjoyable.”

“How does that kind of polygamy work? Do they all share the same bed, or would she have her own room?”

“A wife’s place is in her husband’s bed, Gar.”

“So… it would be a large bed?”

“Yes, a large and very warm bed.”

I whistled.

“I’m glad all I want is you. I don’t think I’d ever be able to keep up with two wives.”

“Would you object to Trevorkane if he had two wives?”

“Not particularly. Why do you ask?”

“If we continue being successful, it’s not unreasonable if the household finances were good enough for him to do so.”

“It’s a financial thing?”

“You wouldn’t take a wife if you couldn’t support her and the children she’d bear, now would you?”

“Is this coming from the woman with two children who took in a stray from the alley and paid him two copper coins a day when she could barely support her own family?”

She slapped me on the arm.

“Don’t you twist things. This and that are completely different!”

I reached around her and placed my hands on her plump derrière while staring her right in the eyes.

“Whatever any of the children’s personal happiness is, I’ll support them. But my personal happiness is only with you."


“Yes, my love?”

“Need I remind you, that they don’t sell beds here?”

I gave her posterior a firm grope.

“What a pity…”


“So, what do you think Zedron?”

“I think I need to consult with the Magic Tower, to be perfectly honest.”

“Magic Tower?”

“Yes. You had mentioned needing proper pictures for each of these cards, correct?”

“That would be ideal, but is that possible?”

“I believe so, but I would need to contract with some mages for what you are talking about. The cost…”

“Is it harsh?”

“The startup cost would be, yes. We’d need a number of skilled artists as well. But within a few months, the profits I dare say would be as deep as the star ocean.”

Astronomical profits, eh? It’s good to hear that opinion from a master merchant.

“Now, of the booster packs, Gardavan, tell me.”

“They would be random assortments of ten cards. Three basic monster types, one evolved type, two item types, two trap types, and two mana types. Certain cards would have a mark indicating rarity, of which there would be five ranks.”

“Explain the rarity to me.”

“Cards like the item type Cure Potion would be of common rarity. It would be standard in any deck, but an Elder Cure Potion only found in a booster pack would be a ultra-rare, the fourth proposed rarity level, as that card when used would restore all health to a monster type. The five rarity levels would be common, rare, super rare, ultra rare, and legendary.”

“Elder Cure Potion? There was no such card in any of the three decks. I have checked them all.”

“Yes. That’s the point, they don’t come standard in the prefabricated decks. If a child wishes to have an advantage in the game, they must take the risk to purchase a booster pack. Then if they get lucky and obtain one, they could change out one of their Cure Potions to the Elder Cure Potion and gain an advantage with it. The same would be for the mana types. A Starlight type of mana which would be considered a special type of mana that acted as any type necessary. This is for cross-type play, decks that feature more than one type of mana.”

“This keeps getting more convoluted. But at the same time…”

“I know. That’s the insidious nature of the game. The infinite variety of playstyles and deck construction.”

Zedron began to breath heavily as he stroked his beard.

“Gardavan… I… may need to ask you for some time…”

“Take all the time you need.”

“A bed of platinum coins… hoh! You, my dear friend, may have just given us all an imperial platinum mine! ”

“Right. I’ll keep coming up with cards for now, and we can meet again to discuss the finer details.”

“Indeed so. I will summon you when I have made a number of arrangements so you can explain it all to the relevant staff… Ah, there is good news. Come a week later, and there will be many more things from the southern isle back in stock.”

“More bananas?”

“I have sent a mage who commands the cold to bring back many things I was unsure about the first time. Hopefully none of it is damaged, but I will ask for your help at that time.”

“Sure. If that’s the case, I would be thrilled if there were coconuts.”


I described them to Zedron. Large furry nuts which grew on trees and had a white interior.

“Are they special?”

“They have uses for things I’d like to bake with, otherwise the juice and milk found within are an acquired taste.”

“I shall let you know. Will you create for me a set of each deck so that I may take it to the Magic Tower?”

“I’ll get right on it, and send Trev to bring it to you when I’m done.”

“Excellent. Then, is there any further business?”

My wife stepped in at this point.

“We need a craftsman. Someone good with both wood and metal.”

“Easily done. Visit Martelby over on Hammerfall Street.”

He took out a piece of paper and wrote something down on it quickly, rolling it up, stamping it with a wax seal and handing it to my wife.

“Thank you, Zed.”

“Anything for you, my sweet. Gardavan, my wonderful niece and nephew, I do look forwards to a… what was it… rematch?”

Both of the kids seemed thrilled to have found another potential player. For the record, both Nefe and Trev each played a game, and each of them thoroughly crushed Zedron. But then, that’s expected when they’ve had almost a week to get the hang of it.

“Now then, shall we go visit the craftsman?” I said, hoping to make the most of the one day off we had.

With everyone in tow, and a list given for things to be delivered later on, we all headed to the craftsman’s shop out some ways over on Hammerfall Street, where most of the smithies lie in Arondale.

When we arrived, an ox of man was swinging a huge hammer down on some glowing orange metal placed on an anvil.

Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang.

“Excuse me?” I called out. The man turned to look at us and nodded, but returned to his hammering. Well, I didn’t want to interrupt it if it was at an important stage. The Smithy itself was large, and there were many things strewn about. Samples of his work, perhaps?

After a few more minutes, there was a large hiss, followed by a cloud of steam, and then the man put down his tools and walked over to us. He was shirtless and the pinnacle of what it meant to be brawny. Clean shaven and bald, but with a kind uncle’s face.

“What brings you here?” he asked, jumping straight to the point.

My wife handed over the letter she got from Zedron. He opened it up, scanned the contents, and then tossed it over his shoulder before speaking. “Earliest I can do a thing won’t be until the ‘morrow.”

“That’s fine.” My wife answered. “We’re in the market for a bed.”

“For you and your man?”

“No, for our household…”


“For her.” She said, gesturing to Jaxan. “She’s a woman of age and needs a suitable bed since she’s moving rooms.”

“Ah, so the lass is a young woman now? I don’t have any beds made at the moment, and making one for her size, considering she probably has another growth coming… three days.”

“That quickly?”

“Aye. Ol’ Zeddie says to take good care of you. So three days is the best I can do, unless you want inferior craftsmanship.”

“Not at all. Three days is fine. What will it cost?”

“I just do the frame, mind you. Shouldn’t be more than three silver coins. Five and I can arrange for the mattress and pillow.”

Jaxan seemed worried when she heard the price.

“Can you deliver it to Thalica’s Bakery over on Flatmound?”

“Alright.” He agreed, and then paused. “Didja say Thalica’s on Flatmound? The place with the raisin cookies?”

“That’s us.”

“Bugger all! I was quite fond of ‘em when this Madame offered me one the other day. Nice sort, was wanting to look into having a crib made.”

“Was it Mrs. Windie by chance?” My wife asked, describing her friend.

“Aye, that’s the one.”

“Then I’ll make sure to have a fair amount of them put aside for you when you come to deliver the bed.”

“Hm, how about two days then? I suppose I can push back a few things...”

“Three days hence will be fine. I’d rather the quality be good.”

He flexed a bicep.

“Then leave it to ol’ Martelby! If there’s anything else you want, just let me know then.”

“We will do that. Thank you much for your time.”

We left the craftsman’s shop, and his last words made me think that perhaps I could get a few items made that would make things a bit more convenient?

The next stop was to somewhere Tally was familiar with. A seamstress’ shop.

“Callonika? Are you here?”

“Just a moment!”

There was a small crashing sound heard, followed by some light profanity, and then the appearance of a really small girl about Nefe’s height.

“Tally!” she squealed and quickly ran over to hug my wife.

“I haven’t seen you in ages!”

“And whose fault is that? You know where my bakery is!”

“I can’t help it. I’m drowning in my ideas, sometimes I forget to eat or sleep for days at a time. Come for a new dress, or something for the children?”

“Hearing you say that is going to make me feel guilty for what I’m about to ask.”

“Oh, come off it. I love making clothes for you. You have such a nice body an’ all. Can’t speak much for myself, you know?”

To coin a phrase from Earth, she was a DFC Loli.

“Gar, this is Callonika.”

I had to look down at her.

“Pleased to meet you, Callonika.”

“Oi, what’s with the stiff greeting, Gardy?”


“Cal, let me borrow you for a second.” My wife said and quickly grabbed her hand, pulling her back into the curtained back room from which she had popped out of.

Gardy? I certainly don’t recall having ever met her before.

Tally’s head popped back out of the curtain long enough to call for Jaxan to join her. Ah. It was ladies’ measurements time. As to my wife, Jaxan is a woman, it wouldn’t be proper for her to be measured in the open.

Well, of any child reaching the age of double-digits, that’s something that should be expected. I’m haunted by the fact that my sister was always comfortable enough around the house to wear the skimpiest clothing. It drove me crazy during puberty. Putting the fact that she was my older sister aside, as a guy catching a glimpse of a nice pair of womanly assets through a thin white tank top with no bra anywhere in sight… I’m not proud of what I had done when in my bed at night with the lights off.

But you can’t change the past. If I were to compare my sister to my wife… I’m happy to say sorry sis, but she’s got you beat stone cold in every department. And I’ve never had to waste a drop of my special frosting, because she’s like some kind of succubus with that.

Jaxan had come out with my wife and the short-stacked seamstress Callonika wearing a nice two-piece dress similar to my wife’s daily work dress. The blouse-and-skirt combo. An off-white top with a tan skirt that went past her knees.

I happened to think she looked good in it.

“You look lovely, Jax.”

She blushed nervously.

“S-surely n-not…”

She squeaked suddenly when the small seamstress slapped her rear end. “Take the complement, lassie! Even if there’s not much up top, you have a fine quarterdeck right ‘ere! Har har har!

The seamstress then walked over to the children.

“Alright you lot, in the back with you both.”

Both of the children and their mother went back behind the curtain to get measured. Jaxan remained outside together with me, fidgeting nervously.

“Something bothering you, Jax?”

“…I’m not beautiful, Gardavan.”

“So you say, but what’s your criteria? What do you think it is that makes a woman beautiful?”

“It’s beauty, Gardavan. For a woman that means having an attractive face and shapely body.”

“That’s it?”

“We’re talking about beauty, what else would it be?”

I could only shake my head. “Jax, beauty has many forms, but right now you what you’ve described is called subjective beauty. Focusing only the external appearance, you’ll quickly run into a problem with it, which is that people all have differing opinions on what beauty is to them. For instance, your face has some freckles on your cheeks just below your eyes. There are men who find a woman with freckles irresistible, far more so than any pristine face without a single blemish. Then there’s the matter of your chest. Some men like a lithe body type that doesn’t appear obscene and threaten to spill out of every dress. Then there’s also something as simple as your hairstyle. I personally think that it being short cut would accentuate your face in a way that your long hair being left to drape down or tied back in a ponytail never could.”

“You don’t think my freckles make me appear homely?” She asked genuinely.

“Not at all. It gives off a bit of a rural tomboyish look.”

“So I look like a boy?”

“Not entirely, there is most certainly a feminine shape to your face, and your body. But that’s because everyone is different and unique unto themselves. The way you look now, even if Thalica had freckles, she wouldn’t have the same tomboyish feel to her that you do. That’s something called gap moe.”

“Gap moh-eh?”

I nodded.

“It means that from what people would expect the general appearance of a woman to be, plump top, plump bottom, long hair, and clean face… you’re different, and to someone you’re the perfect fit to their tastes.”

“You said there were other forms of beauty. What are they?”

“There’s objective beauty as well, which is to say… Jax, do they have pageants or some kind of event where a number of girls are put on display and a crowd decides which among them is the most beautiful here in Avondale?”

“There is such a thing at the Harvest Festival. It’s held once a year before winter arrives.”

“Then objective beauty is the person who most closely meets a general criteria born of mutual consensus. Ah… let me make that less confusing for you. A crowd would say a woman of good facial appearance, a shapely body, and perhaps… lustrous long hair would fit the criteria of objective beauty, but with many women fitting within the criteria, the points of beauty need to keep being refined until by a process of elimination, only one person who meets all the agreed upon points of beauty is left. The ideal form of beauty. But even though that person might be beautiful to the general public, they might not be attractively beautiful to each individual in it. Just like how clothes change fashion, so do people’s concepts of ideal beauty.”

“That’s… confusing. Are there any more types of beauty?”

“There is, and the last one is perhaps the most important of them all. Inner beauty.”

“Inner beauty?” She asked, a curious look on her face now.

“A woman’s temperament. How she conducts herself, how she is charitable to others, her work ethic. The sheer amount of effort she puts in to every little thing, like her daily raising of the children or her caring for a sick husband…. Things like that. Inner beauty goes a long way, because you can be attracted to an ideal beauty, but if she’s a cold and callous woman who gossips about everything and becomes spoiled rotten and violent. Who would care how beautiful she is on the outside when she is so hideous within? Even a homely woman shines the brightest in a man’s eyes if he can see that light reflected in her heart.”

Jaxan lifted her head up to look at me. I had given her a warm smile for positive reinforcement of this truth. I didn’t think she was homely in any such way, she just didn’t have much confidence in herself. Perhaps if she did, she wouldn’t have ended up a slave. At the very least, I hope to help her gain some for when it’s all over, that she never wind up as one again.

The children returned, dressed in the same clothes they were wearing.

“Alrighy, Gardy, it’s your turn now.” Callonika said, beckoning me to behind the curtain. “Tally has some ideas as to what would look nice on you.”

And so I was measured for clothes, and Tally, in a bit of playful fun, did a little extra measuring of her own when Callonika’s back was turned.

Did I measure up?

Her giggles remained a mystery…