221 Chapter 218 Play Date
"I'll talk to you later," Stella said stiffly, and her mother, suddenly deflating as she seemed to realize Stella was not pleased, nodded in understanding.
Disappearing from view, before she even left the room, she watched her mother look around for a moment, then shake her head and return to doing the dishes. At least these kids get dishes to need washing. Gritting her teeth, she turned and left. She still needed to talk to Stu about the food prep for the wedding. Joseph was going to have the FOOD college handle most of it, but Stu was in charge of the cake. She wasn't going to let him mess it up.
Joseph walked through, into the elven capital, in front of the palace. He had thought about teleporting, but figured it would be a little too sudden. Gate gave people more time to mentally prepare. At least that was the theory he was testing out. Honestly, the elven guards looked stunned speechless but nobody dropped their weapons or stumbled, so Joseph wasn't sure the difference was enough to bother with.
"I came to see the royal family. You can let them know I'm here," he said to the nearest guard, making a little shooing motion when the guard didn't move, but then he turned and ran.
The city looked much livelier. He had wanted to get back sooner, but stuff just seemed to keep happening. Some of the elves on the street stopped to stare at him, but he got that in his own kingdom, so he was somewhat used to it. The forest was cycling mana now, so stepping into the kingdom felt somewhat pleasant, like stepping on soft grass barefoot.
Mana began to coalesce on his left, and a very nice-looking elf appeared. He remained semi-transparent, like a hologram projector on its last legs.
"Hello, elven god."
"Hello, Joseph. May I ask why you are visiting?"
About that time, the king arrived, coming down a set of stairs, rather out of breath, and stopped to stare. His gaze traveled first to Joseph, then to the god, before going back to Joseph again.
"I am adjusting to my new form for a few days before I head to the world tree," Joseph replied to the god with a smile. "I told Stella I was going to come play with my siblings before we were wed. The royal elven family was to be invited as well," he added.
He pulled a golden invitation out of his pocket dimension and turned to hand it to the king.
"There's not many of these," chuckled Joseph as the king took it.
"Do you mind if I take them to another realm? The royal family, I mean," Joseph said, turning back to the god.
"What do you mean?" asked the god, wrinkling his forehead.
"If I take the elven royalty to another realm for the wedding, will it cause problems? Do you want to come? I wasn't planning to invite any gods, but I'm ok with you, TIBBLES, or ENACRA coming. I didn't think you would have recovered enough to manifest yet, so I didn't figure you could make it."
"Well, I'm recovering quite quickly now, thanks to the boost you gave my avatar."
"Good, remember to pay for that when you get better."
The elven god's face lost a little color, which was interesting because he was partially transparent. "Don't worry! I will. I expect to pay you back before the gnomish god."
"That's good. King, you should say something."
"What happened to you?"
"A lot. Are you going to invite me in to see the kids?"
"Um, yes. Both of you please come this way."
"It is fine. I only wanted a chance to talk to Joseph because he arrived so suddenly."
Joseph smiled at the god, "Worried?"
He flinched, and responded with, "O-of course not."
"Relax. It's the kingdom my little sister and brother are going to rule. I wouldn't break it." Joseph rolled his eyes before turning to the king as the god quickly disappeared.
"King of the elves, what sort of things are you offering, in exchange for Laeroth being able to train other mages? I only told him I'd teach him. I never agreed he could pass that knowledge on."
The king looked at Joseph with wide eyes, and swallowed. "I'm not sure just yet. Let us go inside and discuss this?"
"I believe the queen is busy changing, so as to be presentable to you. She is a tad worried about the weight she gained during the pregnancy, so her daily sword practice has picked up rather enthusiastically," said the king, making small talk as they worked their way through the castle.
Joseph was amused at the surprised looks of the maids, and knew there would be a lot of gossip going around for a while. As they entered the children's room, the nanny looked up and freaked. She let out a loud, "EEP!" that woke the two babies, sleeping in their crib. She backed into a corner, as far from him as possible, and one of the guards caught her as she hit the wall and fainted.
Joseph paused as they cried only for a moment, then sat up to see what was going on. The boy had placed himself in front of his sister, probably by pure chance, but Joseph chose to believe it was to protect her, and gave him a nod.
"Good job, little brother. Hello, little ones. I'll introduce you to sister Selena at the wedding. I'm sure you'll like her," he said softly, looking down at them. They were sitting up already, and able to crawl.
The girl looked at him with wide eyes and gave out a giggle, that seemed to surprise her brother, who turned to look at her.
Joseph switched to ancient fey to speak with the babies. Both of them stood up and looked around. Stats for babies this small are normally 1-3, so suddenly gaining 5 in each allowed much better conversations.
"Hello, little ones," he said.
His sister looked at him, and with a grin exclaimed, "Pretty!"
His brother, however, was less trusting, glancing around the room at his father, and the maid, before back to him. "Who you?"
"I'm your big brother. I came to play and bring presents."
They both looked excited about that. Joseph vowed to watch over them to make sure they didn't get kidnapped. He knew for a fact that a nine-year old could get into the palace. The fact that it had been Stella was irrelevant in his mind. Taking out two pacifiers, one glowed blue, and the other gold, he held them up in front of the babies.
"Pick one," he said with a smile.
His sister quickly grabbed the gold one, and his brother lunged for the blue. Joseph was glad they weren't fighting over them, but wondered if he should be worried about his little sister liking the gold one a little too much? A sound behind him heralded the queen, and he turned to greet her.
"Hello, queen," Joseph said, cheerfully, as the babies popped their pacifiers into their mouths. Their eyes lit up in blue and gold every time they sucked on them.
The queen smiled at him, and turned to the babies. "You brought toys?"
"Pacifiers. They help babies calm down, but don't let them switch pacifiers. They will slowly dissolve and they will absorb the magic inside them. They will get slight glowing patterns, and be enchanted, making them stronger, faster, smarter, and healthier as the pacifier is used up. They will act older than their age because of this, but you have to remember to let them play and do stuff appropriate for their age."
"How are they standing?" asked the queen curiously, moving past the king who was frozen in place.
"Oh, I buffed them. They're as strong as twelve-year-old humans at the moment. That way we can play more. I'm not very patient. I didn't want to wait six years for them to be tough enough we could tickle."
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They tried to walk across the soft mattress of their bed to the queen, but kept falling down, so they decided to just crawl over to her. She picked the two of them up as they giggled around their pacifiers.
After snuggling for a moment, the both of them wanted down and so she quickly set them down before she lost her grip and dropped them. Being stronger meant she couldn't hold them as easily. Reveling in their new freedom, the two made their way over to him.
Joseph knew that they had been awakened from their nap, and wanted to be able to play with them. The king seemed to be watching everything unfold in a distracted way, and Joseph knew that he was still thinking on the trade for having Laeroth trained, so he focused on the babies, sitting down on the floor to play with them safely. The queen took it all in stride, sitting on the floor as well, despite the elegant gown she had on. At least they were on a rug, instead of the bare floor. Moms were tough.
"How can we thank you, for everything today?" asked the queen, after several hours of play.
The babies had finally laid back down for another nap, completely exhausted once his buffs wore off. The king had joined them after the babies started talking, exclaiming as loudly as they could, "Momma! Dadda! Big Brutha!"
"Give them extremely happy childhoods, but don't spoil them too much. That's my job," he said with a grin.
The queen laughed softly.
"I came to play with them today, pass over the pacifiers, and invite you to my wedding. It will be under the world tree, in another realm, but I'll provide transportation. I would like you to attend with the babies. You can bring Laeroth and up to 3 guards. Details are on the invitation."
The queen nodded, as Joseph turned to the king. He seemed to be a little out of it, but was better after playing with the babies a little.
"I stopped buffing the babies when they went to sleep, so they can't play like that again for a while. Remember to come up with something appropriate for letting Laeroth train others."
The king nodded, again getting that lost look in his eyes. Joseph knew he was panicked because he wasn't sure what he could possibly offer someone who had casual conversations with gods.