A Wild New World 8:
Trade Fair

by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for M/F, M/M/F sex
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Carmidin woke up to a low moan from his mate, and a warm mouth around his own cock. Without thinking, he reached down to fondle the hair of whoever was working him with their mouth even as he reached out with the other hand to draw Jaysa closer to him for a kiss good-morning.

An arm wrapped around him, keeping him in a good position for the blowjob he was getting. He could feel enough movement against him that he knew Jaysa was getting a handjob at the same time....

He had to give Selia one thing - she was definitely good for trying to keep them both happy. Her tongue rolled between his barbs, drawing a bit of pre from him before she switched over, taking Jaysa's cock in her mouth and using her hand to keep Carmidin hard.

"You know your stuff, for mostly playing with girls," the Puma moaned, keeping himself from thrusting into her hand too much. It was going to be a busy day. Until they actually got out of bed, it was leisure time.

"I learn fast," she grinned the next time she switched between them. "Besides, I thought you needed a wakeup call."

"Such a pleasant one too," Jaysa rumbled deeply in pleasure. "How about a Selia sandwich?"

"Sounds good," she grinned up at them, sliding up between their furry bodies and giving each of them a kiss. "Front and back?" She suggested, wrapping her arms around Jaysa's neck and pressing her rump against Carmidin.

"Or both up front," Jaysa suggested with a playful grin, running his hands along her youthful curves and drawing her on top of him.

"Oooh, I'm not going to complain," she grinned, kissing him and moaning as Carmidin shifted to sit up and rub against her back, his legs alongside the Maned Wolf's. They hadn't even been there a month and she was already feeling like she belonged with these people. Sex with these two was already a familiar pleasure laced with just enough newness to be thrilling.

"We'll try to keep it that way," Carmidin grinned, licking her neck as he slipped a hand between her legs to guide his mate into her willing body. She let out a soft moan of pleasure, kissing Jaysa tenderly as his shaft sank into her, pressing down on top of him and raising her hips a bit for Carmidin.

He continued to rub against her back and licked at her neck and jaw affectionately, then pressed two fingers into her sex, one to each side of Jaysa's cock.

She moaned deeply, squeezing down around the added fingers, but letting him stretch her out.

"I'm good for it," she promised him. "It'll be tight, but not too much."

"I like to be sure," he rumbled, withdrawing his fingers and using a hand to guide himself into her wet, tight body along with Jaysa as the Maned Wolf slowly thrust into her. "Oh damn," he moaned, shuddering at the tight heat and pressure of his mate against him inside her body

"Mmm... so good," she moaned, feeling the two shafts stretching her to her limits. They were the perfect size for this, just big enough that they could both thrust inside of her. "Feels like I was made for you two," she moaned deeply as Carmidin roared and shot his seed into her body.

"I, ugh, keep saying that, ah, about him," Jaysa panted, his eyes squeezed shut and long tongue lolling out the side of his mouth as he trembled and tried to continue thrusting without coming just yet.

"Maybe you both are," Carmidin grinned and picked up the pace.

"Must... oooh... must make you real lucky then, finding two perfect mates," Selia grinned, turning back to kiss him. "Almost as lucky as me," she winked, her breasts pressing against Jaysa's chest as the canine whined and thrust, then howled and spilled his balls into her body with his mate's seed.

"For all you say that, you're a tough one to get off," Carmidin continued to thrust and shifted his weight to one arm so he could fondle her breasts with the other.

"You're just to easy, kitty," she teased with a moan, squeezing down around them. She shifted her body, letting her clit rub against Jaysa's pelvis. A few more thrusts pushed her over the edge, and she moaned as her body milked their cocks and drawing another shot of come from the Puma as Jaysa began to squirm and whine as his oversensetized cock was stimulated to the point of coming dry.

"Maybe, but that's a trick," he grinned and leaned forward, over her shoulder to kiss his mate as he pulled out. "Canines don't come dry easily."

"Mmm ... couldn't do it without your help," she rumbled. "I suppose we have to get up soon, hmm?"

"Assuming we don't want to have someone check on us," Carmidin chuckled, looking down at his completely loopy mate with a bemused grin. "But why don't you lay back and let me clean folks up?" he purred and slipped from the bed to open a package of moist-wipes.

"I can think of a few better ways, if we've got time," she giggled, pulling off Jaysa with a groan and laying on her back.

"You are incorrigible," Carmidin laughed as he wiped his still-hard cock clean of their fluids.

"You're one to talk," Jaysa grinned languidly at him.

"What good's a sexy kitty if you don't have a libido to keep up with him?" Selia winked. "Oh! I have presents for you before we go," she grinned.

"Does that mean you'll wear ours now? Jaysa nuzzled her affectionately while Carmidin wiped between her legs.

"Mhm," she groaned softly at the attention to her still-sensitive loins. "I brought them last night, but I forgot for some strange reason," she giggled. "I hope you both like them."

"I can't imagine how you could forget," Jaysa snickered and gave her a sloppy kiss even as Carmidin knelt at the edge of the bed and began to lick her swollen sex clean, paying special attention to her clit. "I think kitty wants a snack before breakfast."

"Mmm ... I'm not going to complain," she murmured into the kiss. "Want me to take care of cleaning you?"

"Sure," he grinned, shifting up so his groin was near her head.

She licked his shaft clean with a grin of her own.

"I don't know why you all bother with any other way to clean up," she winked, taking him into her mouth and bobbing her head along its length, playing with his knot with her fingers.

"Because, ohh, if we didn't we'd never get out of bed," Jaysa moaned, trembling at her attentions.

"Which you can't afford to do," she teased, deep throating him for a few moments, moaning around his cock as Carmidin delved into her pussy with his own tongue.

"Which means you need to get him get you off," Jaysa moaned, closing his eyes and caressing her head. "Or you'll have to do it yourself."

"Mmm ... don't worry, he's... close," she whimpered, pushing her hips up against Carmidin's muzzle as she curled her fingers in his short hair.

"Good," Jaysa grinned and shifted to fondle her breasts and kiss her as her voice was lost to trembling whimpers.

Both males felt her body tremble as she came again, relaxing next to Jaysa on the bed when she was finished.

"Mmm ... love waking up with you two," she murmured lazily. "So, want to see your gifts?"

"You are a wonderful addition to our waking up," Carmidin purred as he licked his muzzle clean.

"I think so, before we get distracted again," Jaysa winked.

"But the distractions are so much fun!" She giggled teasingly, slipping out of bed and going over to where she'd undressed the night before, making an unconscious display of her lean, dark, furless body as she bent over to fish a couple of small wrapped packages out of her pockets.

"That they are," Jaysa grinned at her even as he and Carmidin began to dress with the swift efficiency of a lifetime of practice.

She handed them their packages before going to dress herself, watching for their reactions as they open the small boxes as she did.

"You have very good taste," Jaysa rumbled as he held up the three-stud amethyst and silver earrings. "You have a fine jeweler in town."

"So that's why Jaysa swiped my tail ring!" Carmidin exclaimed as he took out the small bracelet-like piece of bronze and silver with a silver rod through the lower quarter where it latched. It also had four sizeable amethysts in it, one for each quarter.

"Yap," he grinned at his mate. "I didn't know exactly what she had in mind, but the jeweler needed to see what a tail ring was before making one."

"I found the stones myself," she grinned. "I'm glad you both like them," she added, putting her brightly feathered hairpiece in.

"We very much do," Carmidin purred and kissed her tenderly before he brought his tail around and removed a thin rod from two-thirds up the length so he could close the tail ring with it's bar in the piercing.

"They are lovely." Jaysa agreed as he put the stones and their fine chain connections in three of his ear piercings.

"Then let's all go and show off," she smiled, giving each of them a kiss back before leading the way down.

Keldina looked over to the side curiously as she noticed more newcomers she hadn't met yet. The one who really caught her eye was the metallic-scaled Crocodile.

"He is very impressive," Joran murmured.

"Definitely; let's go meet them, see what they're looking for," Keldina smiled. "You know how easy it is to get lost, especially if they find the pleasure slaves," she teased him.

"That only happened once," he muttered, blushing deeply as they turned to go meet the new members of the PEF.

Keldina didn't take long to decide that one of the two tri-colored Wolves was the group's leader, though she couldn't decide if it was the dominant male or the female. It was the male who turned to her when she and Joran approached.

"Hello," she smiled. "I'm Keldina Longstriker, and this is my husband, Joran. You must be with Carmidin's people," she offered. "I don't think I've seen you around town before, are you new arrivals?"

"A few days ago," the big tri-colored Wolf nodded. "We are staying as the contact for the Alliance among the Builders. I am Cardin, my mates are Kyatee and Aloen," he motioned to the other two tri-colored Wolves. "We are the Wildercawl pack. The metallic male is Kweti, a Cameridin, and Windancer is our flyer and best hunter, a Flying Fox."

"A pleasure to meet you all," she smiled. "Are you here shopping, or just looking around?" She asked them cheerfully.

"Mostly looking, but we're not past shopping," Kyatee grinned and offered her hand to the couple. "You're Selia's sister?"

"I am," she smiled.

"We're actually looking for a housekeeper to make up for losing her," Joran chuckled. "Care to join us? We could show you around."

"I'd love to," Kyatee grinned. "I've gotten the impression that we won't see another trade fair like this for many years to come."

"Count me in," Windancer piped up.

"Yes, that would be a fine thing," Kweti's deep, gravely and measured voice held approval. "The generals have spoken very well of you and your sister."

"This big? No way," Keldina grinned. "We've got people from all through our territory here today, and they'll probably be here the better part of a month before they head home. We don't usually have a slave market here, but we've got enough people selling here to make it worth our while," she explained, leading the way to that part of the impromptu market. "Guards and hunters are off to the right, craftsmen down the middle, housekeepers and pleasure slaves down the left." She led the way down the aisle to the left, where probably half a dozen different tents were set up.

"Pleasure slaves?" Kweti rumbled in distinct interest.

"Hedonist," Windancer teased the powerful reptile.

"Someone to oil and polish my scales, tend the fire and sate my desires is simply what civilization means," the Cameridin replied.

"There is the option that Carmidin and Jaysa took," Keldina pointed out with a chuckle. As they walked down the row, they saw several different prospects, male and female. Most of them were dark-skinned, like the Builders, though a handful of them were paler. There were examples of all sorts of different builds; stocky individuals, slender ones, one or two who could actually be called plump... each was dressed to best show off their bodies, though some were wearing more than others.

"Anybody who's dressed over their breasts and sex is primarily a housekeeper," Keldina explained. "Usually a copper band or necklace on a housekeeper means they're open to 'full duties' as a mate."

"We would be looking for a housekeeper primarily," Kyatee said firmly. "Someone to clean our home, clothes, cook, get food and other daily needs from the market. How can one tell how someone ended up a slave?"

"Yes, Colonel," Kweti agreed. "We will see how much a pretty girl for me would cost. I am not without funds of my own."

"You prefer a male or female?" Joran asked Kyatee, considering the offerings.

"I prefer a female to dote on me, one with some meat on her bones," Kweti said. "For the housekeeper, I doubt any of us care about gender."

"Agreed," Cardin nodded. "Skill and trustworthiness are far more important."

"The easiest way to tell is to ask, but most of them here are debtors, I'd wager," Keldina explained. "Most Builders are."

"How trustworthy would the average one be?" Kyatee asked as she looked over those on display with a calculating eye much more concerned with how much she trusted them.

"Very - you really don't want to try running away from your owner when it's as long a trip to the next town as it can be from here," Keldina explained as they considered the slaves on offer. An athletic young man met their eyes, dressed in a loose leather dress, cinched tightly around his waist, with a copper necklace on.

In the next tent over, a stocky, well-rounded young woman seemed to have heard Kweti's comments, and was eyeing him up. The Cameridin noticed that, while her ample breasts were uncovered, she was wearing a loose skirt that showed one plump leg when she stretched it out for him; she was wearing a copper bracelet too.

The Wolf nodded and focused in on the young man before stepping up to him. "Tell me your story."

"Yes sir," he nodded. "My name is Jaina. I come from Dayla Shoals, where my family ran into hard times during the recent poor fishing. I went into service to pay their debts and make sure they were secure until the fish return; I have three years left on my contract, and I'm willing to stay longer if my Master wished to hire me or take me on as a part of the household," he said politely.

"What are your skills of note?" she asked.

"I am a good cook, and I keep a good house," he told her. "I was raised to be a housekeeper after my parents realized I wasn't going to be worth much as a hunter. I prefer the woman's role in a household, and in bed, though I've been told I'm not bad either way."

"I have two good males to keep me satisfied in bed, though I suspect it may be popular with some of the others," she gave a knowing nod to Aloen. "Are you familiar with the local value of foodstuffs and home goods that would need to be bought regularly?"

"I would be quickly," he promised. "Particularly with a gathering like this going on. I haven't been to Aecra's Bluff before, but it's not hard to learn."

Kyatee nodded. "Thank you," she said before turning to look at others, unwilling to choose before she knew the field. It was an opening that Kweti and Joran used to move over to the next tent, where those who were as much for pleasure as housekeeping.

"So what are the rules about having them demonstrate their skills?" Kweti asked Joran as they separated from the others.

"You'd have to speak with the slaver," he chuckled. "And make sure you've got the permission of anybody else who's got a claim on your bits. You'll probably have to pay a higher fee than you would with a local hooker, but that's a matter of courtesy rather than anything else. It'll usually be considered when you make an offer later, if you do."

"No one has claim on my bits," he chuckled with a deep, amused rumble. "A fee is not unreasonable. I do prefer to know the skill of what I am paying for. How much would be reasonable for a display of massage and polishing skills?"

"Mmm ... one of those small, polished garnets you have would probably be a good offer," Joran said, considering what he'd seen Kweti had. "Probably be able to get a little more intimate massage for it too, if you wanted to."

"Understood," the powerful reptile nodded and looked over the slaves on display, his attention drawn back to the stocky, well-rounded female he'd noticed at first. "What is your name, pretty?" he asked politely, though he was not as egalitarian in tone as the Wolves.

"Mairie, sir," she blushed and tried to flirt a bit, emphasizing the curve of her hip and fullness of her breasts.

"Are you skilled with polish or massage?" he asked her, even as he noted who he expected was her owner came closer, though he kept a discreet enough distance for now.

"With massage, sir," she offered, shifting so that her skirt slipped to the side and showed him her sex as well, her dark pubic hair neatly trimmed. "I haven't polished living people before, but I imagine it's similar?"

"Yes," he nodded, considering her thoughtfully before turning to her owner. "I would like a demonstration of her skill before I decide to buy."

"What do you have in mind?" The middle-aged man asked, considering the strange customer and his apparent level of wealth. "Nothing that'll leave a mark, unless you're willing to pay for it."

"Her skill at massage, and how well she can polish my scales," Kweti said simply. "If she does well, I also wish to know if she is compatible in bed."

"Hmm ... you have your own gear for the polishing?" He asked him. "I don't know if we'd have what you'll need."

"I do," he patted a pouch on his belt.

"Well, I'll have to ask for a small fee to cover the time she'll be off the block, unless you'd rather try her out here," the bearded man pointed out. "What do you have for trade?"

"I don't mind out here, but I prefer privacy," the great reptile chuckled deeply and fished out a small polished garnet of deep red. "It is flawless."

"A moment?" The merchant asked, holding out his hand and holding it up to the sun when Kweti handed it over. "Quite nice... if you've any restrictions on what she can do, let her know. Otherwise, my tent is open to you," he said, unhooking the rope across the front of the display area and to the flap in the back where Mairie was now standing.

Kweti nodded and stepped in, letting Mairie show him into a small but private space cordoned off by canvas walls. All it contained was a straw mattress on the floor, but that was all it really needed for what it was for. "The polish and cloth," he handed her the pouch he had patted earlier before stripping down without any hint of modesty.

It gave her a good look at a body that was more unusual than most of the Alliance folks, but still understandable. His design was very reminiscent of the great saltwater crocodiles that hunted the coastal waters, but in bronze, gold and copper with just a tiny bit of silver. It wall all easy to understand until her gaze went down the rich chocolate-bronze plates ranging from the width of a finger to the width of her hand that covered his front from tip of his chin to the tip of his tail to between his legs and saw nothing but plates.

"If I may ask, sir, are you male or female?" She asked, taking the pouch and looking at the gritty paste inside. "Should I put this on with my hands, or the cloth?"

"I am male, a bull Cameridin in my prime," he stretched upwards and puffed the muscles around his throat and back of his neck in a display that made many a female of his own kind swoon. "It can go on either way," he said as he lay on his back on the mattress. "But the cloth is like more effective," he told her and reached down to a spot just above his hips to depress one of the plates slightly. "Cameridin keep their sensitive bits protected until aroused. "If you do well, you will see."

"Yes sir," Mairie nodded took a moment to feel his chest and muscles, getting a sense for how hard she'd have to push, and where his major muscle groups were. Much to her relief, he seemed to be built much the same on the inside as other people.

"My name is Kweti," he said with a soft, sighing hiss as he relaxed and let her work out what she needed to.

"You'd prefer that I use it?" She asked and began to push and rub the plate-covered muscles of his chest first, putting a good amount of pressure on his thick hide as she worked out just how much like metal they really were. The feel was slightly metallic, but much more like normal lizard hide than she'd originally expected.

What really startled her as she began to work was the realization that he felt cold, even beyond the thickness of the scales protecting his body.

"Yes, I do prefer my name," Kweti grinned down at her, or at least she thought he did. He was hard to read an expression on his crocodilian face. "I would like to know more about you, while you work."

He made that gurgling sort of cooing hiss again, a sound she'd be deathly afraid of in the wild, but just the way his body was relaxing under her attentions, and the warmth her rubbing was creating, convinced her it was a sound of approval, if not outright pleasure.

"Of course, Kweti," she smiled, working down his belly slowly. "I'm a mother, I suppose you should know that first, though my Master has taken in my children in exchange for my service. Technically, my contract is for the next fifty years, but it may as well be for life."

"You traded your freedom to have your children have an advantage you could not give them free," he nodded, shifting with a low rumble she was sure was of pleasure. "How old are you?"

"About twenty-six," Mairie said. "I've had three children, but my husband died, and I needed another way to raise my children. You don't disapprove?" She asked him, starting to work back up his torso before moving away briefly to scoop up some polish on the cloth and selected a plate near his belly that he could see to work on. She was sure a full body polish was at least an all-day event, if not longer, though if she did part of him each day in a rotation, she could keep him quite shiny.

"No. It is quite an honorable choice," Kweti said easily. "Do you think you will want more children eventually?"

"Perhaps, but not without permission from my owner," she said easily. "Not intentionally, at any rate."

"Would they be the responsibility of your owner by default?" he asked as his muscles melted in delight at her warmth and efforts. He knew his cock was swelling inside him, but it hadn't slipped out yet.

"It would depend on what he set up with the father, unless they were his," she explained as she kept her circular rubbing to a small part of the plate as she tried to gauge just how much more of a shine was possible. "If they were his, then they would be," she said as she got her first look at his penis as the flared, pointed tip began to emerge from between two belly plates just above his hip bones.

"Reasonable," Kweti said, watching the results of her work with lazy, pleasured interest. "I understand you are also a housekeeper?"

"I am," she nodded, then chuckled as she decided she was at the best she'd manage, moving on to the next part. "I did raise three children and care for a husband."

"You won't need to do much, the Wolves are buying someone for that," he explained. "Your duties will primarily be to tend the fire in my room and see that it is always warm and ready for me. As I'm sure you felt, I am not very warm on my own. I get lethargic and grouchy when I'm cold. Fort Maric was positively hellish. Well below freezing even in high summer."

"A shame we're not back home," Mairie chuckled. "It was always nice there. But I will do as you ask, if you purchase me. Do you want me to keep polishing, or take care of elsewhere?" She asked, touching his penis lightly with one hand.

"I go where I'm assigned," Kweti said with even acceptance. "And yes, I think it would be good to find out how deep you can take me, once you arouse me fully."

"I'm sure I can handle you," she smiled, running her hand up the slick underside of his cock. "Do you prefer to be on top, or otherwise?" She asked, wrapping her fingers around his bulbous tip as he swelled.

"On top, once you are fairly sure I won't break anything," he rumbled deeply, the large muscles around his neck puffing up. "Not all races can take a mature Cameridin."

"Understood," she smiled, leaning down and breathing on his shaft. "You want me to use my tongue?"

"Use anything you wish," he rumbled, his thick tail swaying slightly as he grew under her fingers.

She ran her tongue up the furrow in the bottom of his cock, fondling what she thought were his balls with her fingers and squeezing his head lightly. It earned her a tremor along his body and his cock jumped against her tongue.

"Mmm, yes, you have fine instincts," he rumbled deeply.

"Lots of practice," she winked. "I'm not a fully-trained pleasure slave, but I like I think I'm just as good as most of the younger ones."

"Twenty-six seems young to me," he chuckled and shifted. "Lay on your back, spread you legs."

"How old are most girls when they start, where you come from?" She asked him, laying down on the mat and spreading her legs for him, setting her skirt to the side and watching as he settled above her.

"They can as young as twenty," he grunted and vibrated his entire body with a subsonic rumble as he drove into her in a single hard stroke. "Most don't until their forties or fifties though."

"Mmph! About fourteen," she told him, groaning as he sank his cock into her sex. She wasn't incredibly aroused yet, but she was used to this enough that it didn't hurt... a little uncomfortable, and definitely an unusual shape though! The bulb at his tip curled up neatly behind her g-spot, drawing a low moan out of her as she started to milk. That she part could definitely get used to. The vibration as he began to thrust deep and hard was intense too.

It wasn't long before her juices were plentiful and the vibration as his hard plates pressed her clit down made her whimper and wish he'd fondle her breasts. This felt good enough she might actually come if he kept at it long enough!

She reached up beneath him, squeezing her own breasts as she kissed his powerful chest, squeezing down around his cock and savoring the way it felt to have his huge, slick shaft pounding into her. It had been entirely too long since she'd had a chance to enjoy sex this much - she actually hoped she'd be purchased at this rate!

He began to rumble audibly, the vibration increasing until she gasped and cried out, her body tightening around him outside of her control. She was still deep in the throws of her orgasm when he grunted and slammed into her several times as his seed exploded into her body.

She clung to him, her fingers curled around his scales as she trembled and milked his cock until he was finished.

"Mmm ... you approve, Kweti?" She asked him, nuzzling his chest.

"Yes," he rumbled and pulled out before standing and wiping his cock clean with a small cloth from a pocket on his uniform's top. "I do approve. I will buy you if your owner is reasonable."

"Thank you," she smiled, relaxing back and making a sensual display of the way he had used her body. "Do you want me to clean up?" She asked him, trying to keep the thrill at having such a lover as her master to herself until it was finalized.

Kweti cocked his long, flat head slightly as he regarded her and thought about it.

"I like you marked as you are," he rumbled with a hungry look at her body before he finished dressing and went out to deal with bartering her price.

"I take it you approved?" The man chuckled as he came out. "You scared off some of the browsers."

"My apologies," Kweti said honestly. "Yes, I do approve. What are you asking for her?"

"No worries, they weren't likely to buy much right away," he said, shaking his hand to dismiss the worries. "I've been asking for a similar exchange, in slaves, education for her children, or the funds to care for them in style; I assume she's told you about them?"

"Yes, she said they were why she sold herself," Kweti nodded thoughtfully. "How old are they?"

"The oldest is eight, the youngest five," he explained. "They're seeing the market with my guards at the moment, though I could have them come back. It might be awkward for you to take them in though," he pointed out. "With having their mother in the position she'd be in, for your household."

"I have contacts that will educate them as diplomats," he explained. "They are young enough they should take to it well enough. It is a position of significant influence if they do well, and a good living even at low grades. They would have the finest education the Alliance offers."

"How long would it take to arrange this?" The slaver asked him curiously.

"I should be able to arrange all the details within a few days," Kweti said easily. "They can stay with the PEF officers until then."

"That sounds reasonable to me," he nodded. "You've got yourself a bargain, though if I hear that you've treated the kids poorly or backed out on it, I do arrange repossessions," he said, offering Kweti his hand, no threat in his voice despite the message.

"They are far more useful to me and my commanders if they grow up liking us and learning well," Kweti assured him and shook his hand firmly. "I expect they will be able to buy their mother's freedom within the decade."

"Take her along with you then; I'll have the children prepare when they come back later," he promised. "Where do you want to meet them?"

"Where the PEF vehicles are parked, outside the inn," he decided easily. "They will eat with us if they are there before dusk."

"They'll be there," he promised as Mairie stepped out of the tent. "Enjoy your new pet, sir," the slaver said, inclining his head to Kweti. "If you want your mark put on her anywhere, have the one who does it come to me for payment."

"I understand," the Cameridin nodded and turned to Joran. "Did you see where the others went?"

"The Wolves are where we left them, and the winged one wondered off to look at the trained animals," he said easily.

"Let's go find the Bat," he chuckled and followed Joran.

When they were well out of earshot of the slave tents, Mairie worked up her courage to speak.

"Master Kweti, did you mean what you said about my children being able to buy me after only ten years?" she asked with a tremor in her voice.

"If they study and work hard at their training, yes," he nodded without any doubt in his tone. "Granted I would give them a special price, because they would be buying your freedom, rather than trying to buy you."

"You really have a position in your Alliance that could benefit my children that much?" She asked him, surprised to have met somebody like that.

"Yes," he nodded easily. "They will be raised to be diplomats, if they have any talent at it. It is the job I do. It does not come with much political clout, but the money and contacts are very good."

"Your diplomats don't have to be the children of the ones that came before them, then?" Mairie walked alongside him as they walked out into the main market, still topless, a sway in her hips that was clearly meant to be attention-getting. Fortunately, she wasn't the only person in town who was topless; while nudity didn't seem to be the norm, it seemed to be accepted, at least for this celebration.

"No, no one has to be the child of someone in the field, though it does help to have contacts," he said. "The schools are good at working out what you are good for. They will have some catching up to do, but tutors will help with that."

"Schools?" She asked him blankly. "For normal jobs like that?"

"Yes, in the Alliance everyone goes to school to learn the basics. Literacy and math is required to function in our society. Generally from age five to seventeen it is required by law, and most go to college for another four to ten years."

"Will it be a problem that mine haven't been to school before? They were learning from my husband and I until he died."

"There are tutors that will help them catch up," he promised. "They will always be a little behind those who grew up, but they will have an advantage when they return to Ayrth as diplomats. If they work hard, it will even out in the end."

"I'm sure they will," Mairie nodded, then looked at him curiously. "Return to Ayrth? Where would they go otherwise?"

"To Cyros, the heart of the Gre'and Alliance," he said without actually explaining it was another world.

"That wouldn't mean they had to return to Ayrth ... is there some sort of spiritual journey involved?"

"No," he shook his head.

"Are you saying that Cyros is a world other than Ayrth?" Joran asked him directly.

"Well, yes," Kweti nodded to him.

"We'd thought it was just a place over the sea, beyond the areas we'd reached," Joran murmured.

"Our nearest base is," Kweti told him. "In the frozen wastes to the north."

"That's what you told us," he nodded. "How did you get here from your world?"

"There is a portal between out worlds there," he said. "It took us many years to learn how to use them."

"They didn't tell us about this because you're worried we'll find out about them too?" Joran asked, his tone neutral.

"If that were true, I wouldn't have," Kweti pointed out evenly. "No one asked why tropical races come from the frozen wastes before."

"We'd always figured you just came through there, from a warmer place beyond. Or from the Secret Cities. Seems fair enough though," he added, relaxing a bit. "I'm sorry, it's hard to leave my work behind sometimes."

"True with all good protectors," the Cameridin nodded.

"Joran! There you are," Keldina grinned as they met up. "Come on, I want to show you a housekeeper I found, she's a wonderful girl."

"Yes dear," he chuckled. "Kweti, your friends should be that way," he motioned further along the road they were on. "Just listen for the dogs."

"Thank you," he inclined his head to the two humans as the group separated.

Rama and Roma, along with three other Engineers and two warriors, made a nervous but determined way through the festival atmosphere of the market to where the Alliance folks had set up their booths, a dozen in all, that offered the wide variety of goods that they had to offer. From food to tools to metal and decorative stone to what had every Engineer there; books.

Even knowing they weren't likely to find much in the way of scientific texts, they wanted to see what was there. Large eyes darted around, keeping an eye out for any sign of danger as they approached the Alliance's stalls and the welcome sight of more than two dozen other Engineers, mostly clustered around the bookstall.

"Welcome!" the slender-fingered Frilled Lizard, one of three people tending the stall, chirped at them happily. "What can I interest you in today?"

"We're not entirely sure," Rama admitted, looking around the displays. "What subjects do you have, generally?"

"Guidebooks to the alliance races, language guides, cooking, basic scientific textbooks, books of artwork and photography of many subjects, fiction, mythology and more," he said with obvious pride. "We have both printed, mass produced books, and hand-crafted ones."

"The textbooks," Rama and Roma said simultaneously.

"To start with, at least, please," Roma added, remembering his manners.

"Of course," he nodded and pulled three books from a display. "Biology, physics and earth sciences," he put them down on the counter for the group to look at.

"How many of them do you have?" Roma asked as his twin and the others skimmed through them quickly, considering the information inside.

"A dozen copies of these books and some of the others," he clicked in amusement. "I was warned they would be popular, and they are. I can get more."

"What are you interested in for a copy?" He asked, considering the funds available and looking through the books himself as he had the chance.

"The equivalent of three silvers in goods I can trade per book for these," he showed them a one-ounce ingot of silver.

"How much would these be worth to you?" He asked, reaching into his pouch and pulling out a small pouch of powder, handing it over. "They are cooking spices."

The lizard nodded and motioned to one of his companions, a sleek spotted female feline.

"Value?" he asked her, handing the pouch over for inspection.

"How would you use this?" she asked, sniffing it and checking out the fine filaments of deep red.

"Very lightly," a taller woman nearby offered, turning to look at the bargaining. "That's Calua spice - turns food a beautiful shade of red, and it's got a rich, spicy flavor to it. You use too much and it'll make food bitter, but a pinch or two for a good sized pot and it'll have a great bite."

"We usually use a bit more, but it's a personal taste thing," Roma shrugged. "It makes a good dye too, but you have to use a fair amount of it."

"Twenty silver," the feline decided. "That may change as we learn what kind of demand there will be at out other stops."

"It won't be hard to find a taker," one of the warriors suggested, considering the books. "These are the mass-produced ones you mentioned?" He asked, considering the Lizard and Cat as he brushed back black hair.

"Yes, that is why they are only 3 silvers each," the lizard nodded as the feline left him with the bag of spice to tend other customers, mostly other Engineers. "The hand-made books can easily rate a hundred times that."

"Could we look at some of your books on mathematics, and some of your poetry samples?" The warrior asked, considering what he was saying, and what was likely to make for a better bargain for them. He'd learned long ago that the Engineers weren't the best bargainers, but this sort of deal would be difficult for anybody to value properly.

"Of course," the Frilled Lizard shuffled through their collection and produced four more books, then another five from a different pile. "These are some basic math books. Introduction to Mathematics, Geometry, Algebra and Beginning Calculus," he indicated each in turn, knowing the words didn't translate well. "Each assumes that you know what came in the previous books."

"Same price as the others?" He guessed, looking at them as the Engineers considered their contents as well. "You probably wouldn't sell these to anybody here but the Engineers," he offered.

"I wouldn't expect to," he acknowledged. "The Introduction to Mathematics and Geometry books are a silver each, the Algebra and Beginning Calculus and two silvers each."

"So, for a set of those, and the science books, you would usually ask for ... mmm ... about 12 in silver?" He suggested even as he realized bartering with someone without facial expression could be tricky.

"Fifteen," the Frilled Lizard corrected with an easy tone.

"Selling seven of them all at once wouldn't be worth a slight discount?" The warrior countered, raising an eyebrow. "Particularly when they're books you won't sell that easily to most people here?"

"I can sell them easily elsewhere, though," he pointed out politely. "They are in high demand."

"How far do you plan to travel, while you're in this area?" He asked him. "I'd thought you were just set up here, for the Gather, not making this part of a longer route?"

"We are not planning to travel elsewhere in this area, but back home they can be sold very easily," the Frilled Lizard explained. "Just about everyone buys one. It would be nice to not haul them back, but not enough to take a loss on them. I can make a deal on them, but not that little."

"What would you ask for two sets? I'm sure we'd be purchasing at least that, and likely more over the course of your stay here," the Builder pointed out. "As you said, they'll prove popular, and we've got more Engineers here than just my current charges."

The Frilled Lizard considered the selection, what he'd been told their trade was worth, and made his choice. "Two of each math book, one of each of the others and your choice of one more small math book for this bag of spice. If you come back for more, we will remember that you are a good buyer."

"That seems reasonable to me," the warrior decided after a few moments to do the math in his head.

"A third basic one seems like the place to start," Rama suggested. "Good groundwork, and we don't risk missing anything when we come back again. Thank you for the offer," he said politely.

"You are welcome," the Frilled Lizard nodded to the small, huge-eyed Engineer. "Thank you for your business," he said as he made a pile of the twelve books and offered his hand to the warrior to shake on the deal. "I am Urrarin. I will give you a good deal when you return for more. If we do not have enough of any book you want, I can have them shipped here in a few days for a portion of their value up front and the rest on delivery."

"We'll speak with the lead Engineers, see what they're interested in," Roma nodded as the warrior shook Urrarin's hand firmly. "We might have a big order for you, coming up."

"Thank you," he ruffled his frill lightly. "I hope to see you again soon."

"You will," they promised, taking their books and heading off after dividing them up amongst the group so they'd be easier to carry.

"Looks like the bookseller will be doing well," Keldina chuckled as she, Joran, and their new housekeeper made their way through the streets. "So, care to do a bit more shopping, or want to take her home right away?" She asked her husband.

"I think I'd like to shop," he decided. "We'll never get a better opportunity to see what these Alliance folk have to offer. Their prices must be reasonable, with how well they seem to be doing."

"Sounds good," she nodded. "So, where to start? I don't suppose they told you anything more about what they'd be bringing in?"

"You're the one that's always talking to them," he teased even as he scanned the collection of stalls. "I can smell the food though, and it looks like weapons, armor, clothing and all manner of crafts. Bit of everything they are willing to trade, I expect."

"Why don't we start with checking out weapons and armor then," Keldina suggested. "And you were the one checking out the pleasure slaves along with the lizard," she teased, kissing his cheek. "You think we should pick up some extra clothes for Meni?"

"At least a couple sets," he nodded as the three of them walked towards the two stalls that had bows, blades and the stiff clothing that they were calling armor.

"After this then," she nodded, looking through it all. "How would this stop anything?" She asked, looking at what the Alliance was calling armor. It didn't make much sense, compared to what they used. No metal in it at all, just stiff cloth. It wasn't even as strong as leather from the feel or it.

"It is a combination of the material, called kaidon, and the weave," the female Grey Fox explained easily. "It only light armor," she acknowledged. "It works best against slashing knife attacks and the horns of animals. This heavier version," she shifted a vest four times thicker to the fore, "this one can stop an arrow or bolt at fairly close range, and can even protect against a large animal stomping on you. I have a display here that you can see it at work."

"Can we test it ourselves?" Keldina asked the Fox, considering it curiously.

"On the sample, please," she directed her attention to a small pile of squares of the material, each the length of her forearm, backed by two inches of something fairly heavy. "The vests are made of the same design as the sample squares, which are backed by a padding designed to mimic the body when worn."

She nodded, looking at it.

"Have you tested it against one of our crossbows?" She asked.

"Not specifically yours, but the heavy one will stop one of our compound bows at three paces," she offered, motioned towards the weapons stall next to hers. "I understand the power is similar."

Keldina raised a dubious eyebrow. "I'll take a look at those next, but I'll stay with the samples here. How heavy is the full suit?"

"That would have to be a custom order, but the vests do not weigh much," the vixen quickly sized Keldina up and produced a heavy vest of the correct size. "Please try it on."

She tried it on, considering the vest, probing the stiffer points she could find. "Reinforcing plates?" She guessed. "The whole thing isn't half as heavy as our armor is," she observed.

"Yes, and extra padding over the light one," the vixen nodded. "Lighter, or smaller, are effects we do well. Many of the items we have on offer may not be much of an improvement in protection, range or power, but are smaller, lighter or can be produced more quickly. If you would like to fire a heavy bow, or your crossbow, at a sample, you are welcome to. You may also take a knife to it."

"Anybody here with a crossbow?" She asked Joran, looking around. "Why don't you help Meni find some clothes, we'll meet back here in a few minutes?" She offered as she handed the vest back to the vixen.

"Of course," he nodded, watching her hurry off. "Meni, go look at a clothes, I'll catch up in a minute," he told the topless woman before turning to the vixen. "How much would one of those heavy vests cost?" he asked a little more cautiously after she was out of earshot.

"A heavy vest for either of you would be worth five of these stones," she showed him a good-sized, rough-cut ruby. "They are complex to build and require very special and expensive material, but they have saved countless lives."

"Thank you," he nodded, concealing his reaction, unsurprised but not sure if they'd be buying today at any rate, not just after picking up a slave. He turned to find Meni, who was looking at the clothing that was definitely a bit out of her normal class.

"Oh, Master Joran," she smiled brightly when she spotted him walking up to her. "Would not Mistress Keldina look lovely in this?"

"Uhm... yes, but she'd probably kill me if I bought it for her," he chuckled, considering the outfit of silk scarves that were strictly for bedroom intent, he was sure. "Anything for you?" He asked her.

"I am sure I could make good use of several of these for you, but they are quite fine for a slave," she ducked her head. "The Alliance did not bring the simple dresses I would look for."

"Well, let's look at what they have in the practical end of things, at least - we might not be able to find something for you, but we could find something for Keldina and you could take the old outfits," he suggested, leading the way around. "If we can't find anything before she's back, we can look at some of the other vendors afterwards."

"Of course, Master," she went to work, not the least bit oblivious to the looks the equine vendor was giving her.

"Are there any particular jobs you are looking for clothing for, sir?" the vendor caught Joran's attention. "Hunting, smithing, construction...."

"My wife is a hunter and warrior," he explained. "Though Meni here is a housekeeper, if you have anything that would be suitable for that."

"Housekeeper," he seemed honestly surprised, but quickly overcame it. "For hunting, there is little better than our camouflage suits," he quickly directed Joran to a loose full-length jacket and pants in a complex pattern of greens. "It can make you nearly invisible in the jungle when you hold still, and difficult to spot even when moving."

Joran considered them, inspecting the fabric, taking a sniff of the material. He'd have to wear it for a couple days so that it smelled right for hunting, but the material would help to conceal them.

"How much are you asking for these?" He asked. "And do they need adjustment before they're worn?"

"Two silvers," he showed a one-ounce ingot of silver. "Or the equivalent in trade," he gave Meni meaningful eye. "Adjustments would depend on how well you fit one of the basic sizes," he said, giving the human an apprizing look. "I would say they you wouldn't need any. Your build is fairly close to a 14SW," he shuffled through his piles and produced a set. "It is one of my best sellers. If you would like to try it on, you are welcome to use the space behind my stall," he motioned to a tent flap that was propped up, showing a small room beyond it.

"I'll consider it, though she's too new to trade away already," he chuckled. "I don't suppose you have anything that would be practical for housework, and attractive at the same time? It's mostly what we're looking for here."

"Mmm," the white and scroll paint Horse considered his selection, mostly on the fantasy side. "That is not the kind of clothing I have, though there is this," he brought out a corset that supported the breasts while exposing the nipples and upper curve and had a skirt long enough to cover her privates, but only just, and was pretty clearly meant to be worn without anything under them. The fabric was solidly woven cotton, died a pure black with white trim. "It is very well constructed and should last her several years of daily wear if cared for. Very sexy, yet based on what housekeepers do wear in an area we trade with."

"Would it be a problem to try on?" He asked, considering the outfit and what little it would take to make it a little more suitable. It could be handy if Meni ever ended up playing nursemaid to children of theirs.

"Not at all, sir," the huge equine, motioned them to the back room. "Please, try both on and see if they are to your liking."

"Thank you," he nodded. "Come along, Meni," he said, taking the camo outfit and heading back to the changing room to try it on.

He was taking in the way the sexy outfit complemented Meni's well-rounded figure when he heard the Horse yell something, then heard his wife's voice as the merchant explained where he was.

A moment later she slipped under the curtain to check out their finds. "Well, I can see what's on your mind," she laughed with a wink and kissed his cheek. "Those could be nice for hunting, once they aren't so new."

"It was all they had that was even close to useful," he chuckled, kissing her cheek back. "And that's what he thought too," he nodded, changing back into his own outfit. "Wanted to wait until you were back until we went looking for anything a little more suitable for Meni, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to see how what they had worked," he explained. "They have a pretty good eye for fit, it seems."

"With how much they vary, I'm not surprised," she chuckled. "Ready to see what that armor does against a real weapon?"

"Certainly," he nodded. "I have a feeling we'll be able to rent Meni out for a while here, if we want to pay for anything," he chuckled, folding up the camo outfit and carrying it back to the table along with the one Meni had been trying on before returning to the armor booth and waiting to get back up front.

"These Alliance folk do like the curvy girls," she chuckled as they walked out and handed the two outfits back to the Horse.

"They can see the curves," he pointed out with a chuckle. "Though I think it'd only be fair to let Meni decide, in this case - she didn't sign on to be used like a party favor," he pointed out.

"That one might well ruin me for other men," Meni couldn't help but giggle. "But I don't mind in general."

"We'd just have to be sure we got your worth you of him then," Joran winked. "For now, let's see how well that gear holds up. Shouldn't really have to stand up to our grade that well, but it'd be good to know if it could take them, just for the reassurance value."

"Yeah; if they can take one of our bolts, they might stand up to Javarro arrows," Keldina agreed as they got back to the armor dealer's stand. "Make exploring that region a lot safer."

"There are heavier grades of armor available," the vixen said as she motioned them behind her stall to a short target range with a square of heavy armor on the center of the target. "They would be special orders, however. It is not something I normally carry."

"We don't end up needing it that often," Keldina offered, cocking her crossbow manually rather than activating the boiler. "The people who've got better gear than ours are in the middle of Amza territory, not a group we run into often. It's just very nasty when we do," she explained, taking careful aim at the sample.

"Understood," the vixen nodded. "Fire when ready. That is a sample of the heavy armor. After a strike like that, I would expect it to need some repair before taking another hit in the same location."

Keldina nodded, then fired, placing the bolt squarely in the middle of the sample. The bolt hung there, but only the tip had penetrated, caught in the middle of the armor plate, before it's own weight pulled it out.

"If you'd like to take a couple more shots to see what that does, you are welcome to," the vixen offered.

"All right," she nodded, flipping on the boiler and letting the pressure build before she squeezed off several shots, only the last one punching through the armor when it hit a pre-weakened point.

"Very impressive," she nodded, turning off her weapon.

"Thank you," the vixen inclined her head. "Kaidon armor is extremely effective for it's weight."

"How much of its defensive value is in the armor instead of the plates?" She asked.

"Roughly two thirds is the armor," the vixen explained. "The plates are primarily to stop projectiles like arrows with a significant mass and small sharp point."

"There are other options besides the metal plates," a Cat from a nearby stall pointed out. "For stopping arrows and such, at any rate, though knives can still be a problem. A silk shirt might be a little more expensive, but it's lighter, and usable for more than just armor."

"How much less is the lighter armor?" Keldina asked, taking in the completely accepting way the vixen took the comment that could have cost her a fair amount of money.

"About fifty silver, or one stone," she showed the warrior the rubies she had shown her husband earlier. "Most of the cost is in the kaidon, not the plates."

"Understood," she nodded, considering them. "Would I be able to try each on, see how they compare for weight and movement?"

"Please do," the vixen smiled warmly and led them to the front of her stall, through the not-so-small gathering of warriors watching the display with real interest. "They come in twenty-three standard sizes, three of which I have seen among your people. For an additional five silver and any cost of special material like the silk, I can take your measurements and have one custom made to your specifications.

"Would you be able to quote a final price before the agreement was finalized?" Keldina asked, following the vixen and trying on the offered light vest, surprised at how light it really was.

"Yes," she nodded with certainty. "I may need to contact my suppliers back home, depending on what was desired, but I could give a final price within a day, two at the most."

"Thank you," she nodded. "Would there be any sort of a price discount for purchasing a large number? The city may wish to place an order with you."

"Absolutely," the vixen said eagerly. "I can work a very good deal for that kind of large purchase."

"I'll bring it up with the Elders," she nodded. "Do you handle the weapons as well, or is that somebody else?"

"While I can take an order for weapons, if you want to work a deal, you will need to talk to Jean," she nodded towards the Brown Bear sow that was currently showing off the uses of various kinds of cooking knives to a small group of women. "Or her son, Greg."

"Thank you," she nodded, taking off the vest and returning it. "It's much lighter than any armor we have that's worth anything," she said approvingly.

"I hoped it would be," the vixen smiled. "We can make full body suits as well. They are just not commonly desired."

"I'll bring it up," she nodded. "Thank you again," she said, walking over towards the other stall, where the Bear sow was giving her demonstration, watching it with idle curiosity. It seemed more complicated than at all necessary to have so many different kinds of knives, but she supposed with as much specialization as she had gotten the impression went on in the Alliance, she wasn't terribly surprised.

"Would you like to look at some of the weapons?" a young male Brown Bear asked.

"Yes, please," she nodded, turning to face the teenaged Bear. "Are you Greg?" She asked him politely.

"Yes, ma'am," he said politely. "Are you interested in bows or knives?" he asked. "You seem to have quite an impressive one there."

"Yes, but very noisy," she chuckled. "At least when I'm using it fast. I can use it for hunting, but the full kit's a little cumbersome. I was hoping you'd have something quieter for that?"

"Oh yes," he smiled brightly and brought out four crossbows ranging from what might well have been for a child, or very small person like the vixen next door, to a monster that his mother or a Polar Bear would likely use. They were all camouflage in finish and of a material she couldn't easily identify. "The main difference between them is draw weight and the size of the bolt they can take. What size of game are you after?"

"Typically, we're after tapirs or capybara, though sometimes we have to take down larger prey," she explained. "On occasion, something twice the size of an auroch; you saw them on the way in?" She guessed.

"Yes, for that you'd need the heaviest one," Greg patted the monster that was as long as she was tall. "Assuming you use basic hunting bolts and body shots at least. With poison or explosive bolts, or an incredibly good shot to the eye, you could likely take something that big down with the medium one," he touched the second largest one. "For tapirs ... that's a rodent about your weight, correct?"

"Yes," she nodded.

"A medium should do for those," he told her. "Anything larger should use the heavy one," he touched the third largest.

"May I try the draw?" She asked him, taking up the medium one and testing it.

"Of course," he nodded and turned to pick up a handful of bolts for it. "You can use the same target as before, if you like."

"No need," she said easily, taking off the heavy backpack of her usual crossbow. "Just need to get a good draw...." She took a moment with the lever, cranking it back, nodding as the pulleys took over.

"How much heavier is the full one, or does it just have a longer lever?" Keldina asked him, carefully letting the draw down.

"It is meant to be used by someone large, like my mother, or be mounted," he explained. "It does have a longer lever, but aiming it would be exceptionally difficult for someone much smaller than her."

"I understand," she nodded, setting the bow down. "Do you have something in a standard bow, with a heavier draw? Most warriors are more comfortable with crossbows, but I started on a regular composite, myself."

"Oh yes," Greg nodded before considering her carefully. "Long, medium or short bow?"

"Short would be easiest to use on the hunt, but I'll consider a long bow as well if the draw's anywhere near the heavy one you have there," she said, nodding towards the crossbow.

He hummed and considered the selection before returning with two bows, one short and one long. "This is the strongest pull on a short bow we make, and the long bow is as powerful as you can likely draw."

"All right," she nodded, taking a moment to try the short bow, grunting as she tried it. "Obviously been a while," she murmured, letting the draw down carefully. "Have to practice more with a straight draw before I go hunting with one."

"It is quite a different set of muscles than the crossbow," the adolescent Bear nodded. "Is that comparable to what you were expecting?"

"Yes, I think so," she nodded. "I haven't used one regularly for years, getting soft," Keldina chuckled. "It should do the trick though, and it's easier to carry than a full crossbow and boiler. Would it be possible to reinforce on either end, for close-in combat?"

"That it would be, and while it would never be a good hand to hand weapon in my opinion, it can be reinforced, even bladed, as an emergency weapon," Greg said thoughtfully.

"That's what we do with ours," she nodded, letting him see the crossbow she'd brought for the test. "Reinforce the bow, and end the tips with blade that have nocks for the string."

The Bear considered the modification, his mind working on other variants. "You know, if they are expected for use in combat, a transparent shield could be added to it as well for a significant amount of protection and very little extra weight. It would work best on the heavier bows or crossbows for the city walls, but could be useful for combat as well."

"A transparent shield?" She asked him dubiously, not sure what you'd make one out of.

"Yes," Greg paused, trying hard to come up with a way to explain clearsteel to someone who didn't even have plastics yet, and might not even have glass. "We can make a very hard substance that is light and transparent. We call it clearsteel, but it doesn't really have anything to do with steel."

A sharp whistle from the armorer's booth caught his attention over Keldina's head, and he ducked his head in embarrassment and apology. "Neena doesn't think we'd be allowed to do that."

"Alliance rules about trading new technology?" She guessed. "I understand; we have our own rules, though they don't really seem to apply here."

"Yeah," he nodded. "You could still do it with highly polished and reinforced crystal for the wall defenses, but it would be really heavy for moving around with. Would you be interested in a short bow? We also make a variety of arrows that are good for different targets."

"Yes, and I'll take a look at those," she nodded. "Should I come back later, when it's less busy?" She offered. "I've already taken up a great deal of your time."

"You are welcome to come back, but talking to customers is why we are here," he did his best to smile warmly at her, and dearly hoped it didn't come across as scary as he knew it could if he did it wrong. "Your interest has gathered more," he motioned to those watching her reaction to the weapons, and clearly taking it as a good gauge of their value."

"All right then," Keldina chuckled. "Let's look over the arrow types you have; we mostly work with broad heads and field points, ourselves."

"They are the most common," he nodded and pulled out the display roll of their arrows, mostly different in the shape of the head. "There are also barbed ones for fishing, armor piercing, poison capsule, corkscrew's that shoot a long bladed corkscrew into the target on impact," he began explaining the more unusual designs on display.

"How would the poison capsule work?" She asked him curiously, considering the small-tipped arrows he'd shown her. "There's no way to get it inside the target if it's inside the arrowhead."

"There is a spring behind the capsule, much like with the corkscrew. When it impacts, the capsule is shattered and the liquid pushed outwards into the wound," he showed her small groves on each side.

"I see," she nodded. "So the poison would have to be added on as an additional order?" She checked.

"Only if the capsules can't be made locally, or we can do it for less," Greg said as he quickly disassembled the arrowhead from the shaft and the head into two parts. "You just slip it into this space and screw it back together. The arrow is reusable, as are most of them. The incendiaries work the same way, though for obvious reasons they're not as reusable."

"Obviously," she nodded, considering them. "They're made out of metal?" She asked, considering the material of the shaft.

"Yes. One called aluminum," he nodded.

"What are the advantages over a wooden shaft?" She asked him.

"Weight, durability, reusability, they don't rot, warp, absorb water or rust. If it's broken beyond repair, you can melt it down and make more, or make something else," he said. "The only disadvantage I know of is that you can't make one in the field, but that's true with any advanced design. You couldn't make that bow in the field either, for all you could make a good bow if you know how."

"What is it made of?" She asked him curiously. "I wasn't able to identify it."

"Several materials, but primarily stuff we call carbon-fiber. It's basically what it sounds like. Carbon that has been made into fibers, then glued, compressed and woven into a final form."

"I can understand why it wouldn't be something you could make in the field," she nodded. "Better than wood in the same ways the arrows are?" She asked him, considering the flex in it, and the quality of the arrows. "Do the arrowheads work regardless of the shaft?"

"Yes to both questions," Greg nodded. "Whether the bows are truly better is a matter of long, hard and vicious debate among users, but the vast majority in the Alliance use these bows, not wooden ones. As I understand it, the wooden bow is favored by those who want to feel more in tune with their weapon and use it as a matter of pride and tradition. These bows do take some of the work, and can be fitted with sights, scopes and gadgets that don't work on a traditional wooden bow."

"Any of them useful for hunting?" She asked him. "By the way, this is my husband, Joran, and our housekeeping slave, Meni," she said, indicating the two with her.

"Greetings," the Bear inclined his head to the pair before turning his attention back to Keldina. "From personal experience, I find the scope very useful," he reached under the counter to bring out a metal tube with glass on both ends. "It is a series of lenses that allows you to see much further away than normal. It's particularly useful when you start with less-than-great sight."

She looked through it, considering the way it would probably mount on the bow, and work in the field.

"How fragile is it, in the field?"

"Well, it won't take a tapir stepping on it, but they regularly survive being dropped fifty feet and I know folks who live off the land who have had the same one for decades of daily use. Is there an example you have in mind?" Greg asked.

"That was mostly it," she chuckled. "I'd rather not get to rely on an expensive piece of gear that'll shatter if I drop it while I'm out hunting."

"I understand," Greg nodded firmly. "Everything we carry is meant for hunters. None of it is that delicate. The most risk it would be at would be if it was dropped onto a spike of sharp stone and landed lens down. You could step on it, on it's side, and it would likely survive, though I couldn't."

"Does it interfere with the function of the bow at all?" She asked, looking at the mounting mechanism and how it would attach.

"No ma'am," he extended his hand for the bow and sight. "It fits here," he attached a small base to the bow by taking out an nearly invisible pin for a place to attach it and set the scope on the newly attached mount just above where the arrow would sit. "It takes a bit of practice to get used to firing through the scope, but it can be a huge range advantage."

She nodded, extending the scope and trying to see how it would work.

"You look through the circle, and the dot is where it should hit?" She guessed.

"Exactly," he nodded. "That is a 6x scope. We make them up to 10x for bows, and 15x for crossbows. The higher the number, the more it magnifies the target."

"Do they get in the way when you're shooting at shorter ranges?" She asked him, letting down the draw again.

"It would probably be useless under ten paces or so, but I've never had any issues at close range. If you would like to arrange for a demonstration so you and some of the other warriors can fire our bows and crossbows, with and without scopes, on a proper range that goes out to their maximum distance, we would be pleased to provide the weapons, arrows and ranges," Greg offered. "To show as many of the warriors as wish to watch what they can do and hear from your experience."

"Sounds good to me," she nodded easily. "When would be a good time?"

"Would tomorrow morning be too soon for such a gather?" he asked politely.

"Not at all, I don't think," she smiled. "You'll want to let others know, when they come through - try and get warriors from outside the Bluff."

"We will spread the word," he nodded. "Would you like to buy the bow today?"

"What would you be asking for the full kit, along with a dozen or so of the corkscrew arrows?" She asked him curiously.

"Twelve silver," he showed her a one ounce silver ingot.

"A moment," she said, turning towards Meni.

"Would you consider a few nights with him?" She asked quietly. "And the rest of his family that's here with the business?"

"Sure," she nodded, taking in the teen's mass. "Especially for hunting gear."

"Thank you," she nodded, then chuckled. "Don't worry, you'll get your chance at the horse soon enough," she winked, turning back to the Bear. "Would you be willing to cut the price for a few nights with our houseservant, to use as you wish as long as there's no permanent harm?"

Greg blinked in surprise, clearly tempted as he took a solid look at Meni before he turned to his mother to exchange a few quick words in low, guttural tones barely recognizable as language.

The big sow looked Meni over, but her gaze lingered on Joran before replying to her son.

"Mother is curious if your husband might be available in the negotiation," Greg said politely.

"Joran? It's entirely up to you," Keldina offered. Normally she wouldn't suggest it, but... well, it was his choice. They'd hardly agreed to total monogamy when they married, it was one of the reasons she'd picked Meni; they both found her attractive.

"No," he shook his head. "Nothing against her, but I prefer not to trade for that."

"Not a problem," Greg assured him quickly. "Ten silver, and Meni for two days."

"How about eight of these, and you have her for three?" Keldina counter-offered, pulling out a handful of assorted small gems, mostly star sapphires and rubies of reasonably good quality.

"May I?" he asked politely to see the stones.

"Of course," she set them on the counter for him to inspect and select eight.

He motioned to his mother for a final acceptance, since stone quality was an issue.

"You have a deal, ma'am," he smiled and put the other stones in her pouch when the big sow nodded and returned to the knife sales. "Here are your arrows," he pulled out 16 of the corkscrew arrows. "I look forward to seeing you on the field tomorrow."

"Thank you," she nodded, wrapping the arrows. "Would you like Meni to stay here, or come to your rooms tonight?" She asked him easily.

"I'd like her to stay," Greg said. "She'll be good to chat with when things are slow," he glanced at the crowd. "If they get slow," he chuckled.

"Good luck... and if they do, she's good for more than just conversation without anybody noticing," Joran winked. "A pleasure doing business with you - we'll be here tomorrow for the demonstration."

A Wild New World 8: Trade Fair

NC-17 for M/F, M/M/F sex
Het Level is HighHet Smut Level is High
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Low
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

73 KB, Story is Complete, Series is in Progress
Written February 4, 2009 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Ayrth, Gre'and Alliance

Primary Races: Human, Maned Wolf, Puma, Reptile, Wolf

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). All Original Characters, Crossover, Master/Slave (Consensual), Relationship (Cross Species), Slavery (Legal)

Pairings: Carmidin Sul/Jaysa Tumrin/Selia (M Puma/M Maned Wolf/F Human), Kweti/Mairie (M Croc/F Human)

Blurb: With positive relations with the Builders of Aecra's Bluff well-set, the Alliance sends a group of traders there along with a permanent embassy.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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