147 Chapter 144 Bath House
"Little Joseph, that was fantastic! My beloved, FIRE, is ecstatic he is able to help so many! Do you think I might be able to utilize the new bath house that was just finished?"
"They finally finished one?" asked Joseph, stepping aside with her and Stella to talk for a moment. It was almost supper time, and he was trying to think of a way to get Stella out of having supper with his mom until he could check in on her. She had seemed very frazzled earlier.
"Oh, yes! I helped to finish drying some of the foundations so the construction could be completed sooner. All of the mages are stretched so thin. I think it's fantastic that you are helping everyone so much!"
"You do realize, that I am trying to get my kingdom ready, so once I have the wastelands ready, we can move everyone and immediately have everything ready for people to live their lives, right?"
"Oh, little Joseph, you will make a wonderful king. You care about your people so much! It's a wonder you don't go ahead and take over these three human kingdoms right now."
"For one, I don't care for those nobles who are in power at the moment. Most of my time would be spent trying to deal with their shavist, and I'm not interested in that. I would probably just kill them all out of frustration. I've thought about that. Also, the people who live there, are used to certain social norms that I don't agree with. I'm willing to let those who wish to join my kingdom to migrate, as long as they follow my rules. If they try to bring their shavist ideas with them, I won't put up with it.
"For two, the three kingdoms are being torn apart by several demon factions that are trying to ruin the world. I fully intend to kill them all, but until then, I am working on bettering my own people. There's only so much I can do a time."
"I am surprised. I had no idea there were so many things still on your plate. Politics bore me, now that I don't have to worry about some noble trying to use me as a weapon or trying to kill me as a monster. I believe I will leave all of these things you speak of to you, as you seem to have a much better grasp of them, then I do. As for that bath…"
Joseph chuckled. "Of course you can try them out first. In fact, Stella, why don't you go with her? You enjoy hot baths, and it would give you an excuse to avoid the supper table tonight."
Stella seemed to consider his suggestion for a moment, then nodded.
"I don't think I'm interested in hearing your mother try to run your life again. She has none of the power that you and your father have, yet rules over the two of you as if she were a goddess. I don't think it's right."
"I know you don't like her approach, but she only does it because she cares about us, and feels a need to be in charge of something. I'm working on something special for her, as she hasn't really taken to anything I've suggested so far."
"Good luck, then. I'll see you back at the room, with cookies later."
He waved and headed off, leaving Stella standing with Selena.
The bath house was nicely decorated, as they stepped through the doorway. Intricate designs of fish and underwater creatures decorated the walls in the entryway. There were clear signs pointing in each direction, depending on the situation, and what was allowed.
To their left, was the bathing area for the men. No one under the age of twelve could go in there. To their right was the bathing area for the woman. Again, no one under the age of twelve was allowed. Directly in front of them were the bathing areas for children and parents. Nothing sexual was allowed in any of the bathing areas, under punishment of death, due to the sensitive nature of the establishment.
Stella followed Selena, as she knew the place well, and they headed right. The first room had benches for people to sit and shelves with partitions, for people to place their clothes and belongings while they bathed. Stella spied another sign reminding people not to leave things, and not to take things that weren't their own.
There were so many signs, she wondered if everyone who used this place would be able to read. As far as she knew, only the wealthy ever learned to read, but it didn't surprise her that Joseph expected everyone to learn.
Towels were already provided, along one wall, with clear instructions to please leave them when you left. There were even baskets to leave the dirty towels in when you left. She had to shake her head at all of this. When she was a child, before she met Joseph, or even Stu, it would never have occurred to her that such a place as this would be available to the public. She imagined once it became open for people to use, it would be busy all of the time.
Selena quickly stripped, wrapping a towel around her, and headed for the bathing area. Stella frowned as she realized her clothes would disappear when she removed them. Joseph wasn't here to magic new ones. This would be interesting when it came time to leave.
Heading into the bath house, wrapped in her own towel, she had to pause at the door because of all of the steam in the air. Selena was already in the water, leaning back against the wall. There were three pools to choose from, and she had entered the largest. Trays lined the sides of the pools, filled with different soaps and oils. It looked like the water was constantly being filtered, so it didn't stay dirty when someone used one type of soap.
Walking carefully through the steam, she saw that the water Selena was soaking in, was bubbling gently. Her first thought was that it had some kind of system to make the bubbles, but as she stepped into the water, on the first step, her tattoo that protected her from heat flared up and Stella realized the water was merely that hot.
"You have tattoos!" cried Selena in rapt fascination, swimming closer to see them, as Stella finished entering the pool.
"Yes, Joseph put them on me. They are all magic to protect me or allow me to do something of some kind."
"Even the one here, over your heart, that says Joseph?"
"Yes, that allows me to be able to find him, and step out of his shadow where ever he may go. He assured me it would always work, but I'm not sure. The few times I've used it, he hasn't been that far from me."
"That's fantastic! My lover can't mark me, this form is too fragile."
"Oh, Joseph and I aren't lovers, not yet, anyways."
"Are you waiting to finish maturing? I must admit, I'm not familiar with your new species type."
"I'm plenty mature, just not ready for taking that next step. Whenever I think about…certain things, I get uneasy, and that is not a feeling I enjoy. Joseph understands and is willing to wait until I am ready. I just wish his mother understood."
"Perhaps her problem is that she is only a mortal. While you and Joseph could live as long as you wish, she knows that life is a precarious thing. Did you know that her parents died when we were trying to make our way back to you and Joseph in the north?"
"That would definitely explain why she has been hounding and trying to control him so much."
"Well," Selena said with a chuckle, "Part of that is merely being a mother, and having trouble dealing with your child growing up so fast, and part of that is that little Joseph has never been like any child his age, at least since I met him a little over a year ago."
"That makes more sense. I had always wondered about that, but it's hard to talk to Joseph about these things. His perspective is just as skewed as my own, when it comes to parents."
"I would like to caution you, that more and more people are growing to fear the two of you. Little Joseph has grown vastly more powerful. If I had not known the two of you from before, I would even be scared of you."
"I've noticed some of the glances, and heard some of the mumblings. Don't worry, I will keep Joseph safe."
"Good, I will need him to keep these hot baths available for me when I decide to have my own children."
"And how do you intend to do that?" asked Stella, incredulously.
"I have not figure that out yet, but I am sure a day will come, when I do."