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Lilly opened her eyes, the sun had moved again. She stretched and yawned and moved over a few feet. 

“Aaah, this is so nice.” She murmured, as she settled back down upon the were-sheep rug and basked in the warm sun. She wondered how the sun could be so warm, even in the cold of winter. She peeked about with one eye and supposed it had to do with being in a luscious mansion her hero husband constructed. She rolled over on her back, and patted her stomach that was full of exquisite, gourmet fish. She licked her lips, tasting the slightest hint of her breakfast and sighed.

“Get out of my sunshine, Tapal.” Lilly grumbled as she felt a shadow fall over her.

“C’mon! C’mon! Get up, Sister! Get up! You are always napping. Play with me!” Tapal whined.

Lilly snorted and rolled back on her stomach, hoping the annoying crow-tengu would leave her alone. 

She sometimes felt a deep resentment that her hero husband took on multiple mamono as his own. She often felt a terrible, burning jealousy whenever he fancied, or spent time with (as he called them) “her sisters.” 

Lilly released a silent belch into the rug, grinning as she smelled the lingering scent of her savory breakfast. 

Ah well, being married to a hero had its ups and downs. 

“Eeeenie, Meeenie, Miney, Moe… Catch a tiger by the-”

“Go ahead, I dare you!” Lily growled, extending the claws on her paws and feet. She fumed, gritting her teeth. She was proud of being a Jinko! And yet, somehow, this bird-brained Tengu always got under her skin with her stupid tiger jokes.

“AAAAH!” Lilly screamed as freezing cold water was splashed all over her back. 

“Tapal!” Lily roared and lunged, this time it was enough, she was either going to maim, or kill that damn bird. She launched herself right towards that laughing feathered menace, even though she knew this was what she wanted! 

(POV BREAK)

Tapal giggled as she flew in circles above Lilly’s head. She felt a certain anxiety about what would happen in the long term… but ah! She was having way too much fun to care too much about it.

She giggled, dive-bombing and swopping about the mansion, making Lilly chase her around and around. 

She was glad her husband had had multiple mamono as his own. She wondered how boring life would be without others around to keep her company. And besides, Lilly needed to be taken down a few notches, thinking she was the best because she was the first wife. Peh! 

Tapal grinned about all the fun times she had with her husband, and how often Lilly would look disapprovingly upon them both… well, not him, always her.

-Oh no! 

Tapal just barely missed knocking into her husband’s sea-crystal chandelier. 

-Whew! 

“No! Oh no! Don’t!” Tapal shrieked as Lilly pounced again, right into the chandelier.

-Crash-

Tapal held onto the staircase railing and looked. She gasped as Jinko looked up at her with a face full of betrayal and rage. 

“Look at what you made me do!” She roared.

She felt awful, but a chuckle bubbled up in her and burst out as roaring laughter. 

“Oooh! You’re in tr-ou-ble!” She hooted. “I’ll bet husband makes you sleep in the drafty attic, and eat porridge like he did the last time!”

Lilly’s face paled, probably dreading the thought of being denied meals in the master-kitchen, and not being able to sleep in the bedroom where the fireplace was, or at least in the warm mansion.

“This wasn’t my fault!” Lilly frothed, pacing back and forth, “Why can’t you ever let me be! I just wanted to relax! I’ll- I’ll get you!” Lilly roared and pounced again. She crashed into the railing, splintering the beautiful, rich wood. 

Tapal felt her insides turn to ice, maybe this time she did go too far. As she flew, Lilly’s attacks and lunges became closer and closer. She felt the first burning indications of getting tired starting to set in her lungs and wings as desperation started to set in. 

This chase was different than any other. Lilly came after her with complete abandon, and disregard for anything but violence. She broke down doors, smashed into whatever was in her way, tore down curtains, clawed up rugs, and flung furniture at her, shattering the pieces into the walls. 

“Oh please! Please! Oh!” Tapal begged, as she fumbled with one of the window locks, desperate to get out of the house. She was out of breath, and her wings ached, and begged for rest. 

Squawk!i” Tapal screamed as Lilly’s last pounce connected with her side, catching her at last, and pinned her to the ground.

“No!” Tapal begged, desperate to catch the wind that was knocked out of her. “No! Please!” Tapal cried out as Lilly raised her clawed paw, her eyes filled with blood lust. 

Wock!

“Bad Kitty!”

Tapal let out a relieved breath as Lilly slumped over, unconscious. 

“Oh! Neela! Uh, how was your shopping trip?” She said, feeling even more terrified as Neela looked down upon her, a broom in her hands like a sword. 

“Wait! Wait! What are you doing?” She cried out, holding her arms out as the angry Kikimora raised the broom up.

Wock!

“Bad birdy!”

(POV BREAK)

Neela surveyed the carnage. The entire house was a wreck! By all mamono, how could those two do so much damage?

“Hmmmm, I suppose Tapal caught a tiger by the tail?” Julia mooed as she placed the groceries and supplies on the hallway table.

“I suppose so.” Neela sighed, “And looks like she couldn’t hold on, either.” She looked to Julia, she was the most recent addition to the household, and the only one who got on the best with her. 

“Hmmm, I suppose Lilly thinks that more sisters means she is valued less by master?” Julia sighed, placing the groceries away in the enchanted closet that kept foods cold and fresh, as if picked the same day. 

“Maybe, but that’s no excuse to fly off at the handle.” Neela sighed, picking Tapal up and motioning with her head for Julia to follow with Lilly. 

“Neela, I know you like attending to the house, but… may I help, just this once?” Julie said with a friendly smile.

Neela felt a small outrage at Julia, to have the Holstaur help with the household chores felt like she was barging in on her way to express her love for master. But- She sighed and flinched as an expensive mirror crashed to the ground. 

“Well, just this once.” 

Together they cleaned the house in record time, chatting and passing the time away. 

“Well it looks as good as it can be.” Julia mooed. “And Lilly and Tapal are still out cold.” She nodded in admiration. “You really hit them hard, harder than you ever have before.”

Neela felt a small blush rise to her cheeks. “Well- good heavens! How on earth is Master going to take all this? I am worried. Lilly’s heart breaks whenever Master gets mad at her, you’ve never heard her cry before when she was punished and only allowed to eat porridge for a week!” Neela sniffed. “And it wasn’t her fault that time- and I’ll bet it wasn’t entirely her fault this time either!”

“Well, It’s not like Lilly is so perfect, you know. Remember when she put stink bugs in Tapal’s sandwiches? That was horrible, and she thought it was funny.” Julia sighed as she placed the last load of debris away into the waste box that would be removed by the hired service in the morning. “Do you think there’s anything we can do to appease master?”

Neela sighed, “I really wish I could think of something. We’ll just have to see what master is like when he gets- ”

“Hey everyone! I’m back!”

“…back…”

(POV BREAK)

“Master!”

“Hello Master!”

I sighed, looking at my gorgeous Kikimora and Holstaur.

“Hey!” I said, stepping close to Julia, noticing she was in one of Neela’s outfits. “Neela, you let Julia help you with the chores?”

“W-well, um.” 

I hugged Neela and kissed her lips, feeling her face burn with heat as she blushed. “That is so kind of you, you are really generous.”

“Master-”

“And you, Julia” I said, pressing against her voluptuous body. “I know how much you like to sleep away the afternoon! Thank you for being so considerate to help around. I know Neela thinks of it as her exclusive duty, but this is just so… so…”

My jaw dropped as my vision focused on the absolute mayhem of my mansion. 

“What on Earth happened here?” I shouted, keeping my back to Neela and Julia. There were only two possible explanations for this… a tiger, and a crow explanation…

(Later)

“Well, what do you have to say for yourself?” I growled at Lilly and Tapal. They stood, heads bowed and sad faces.

They glanced at each other and back down to the ruined hardwood floor.

“Good heavens! Seriously, look at all this! The Sea-Chandelier, the vases from the Hinterlands! The drapes the Arachine queen made! The fire mirror from the lost civilization of Nes’! I swear, it’s like you almost went out of your way to destroy the most hard-won treasures I brought here!”

Lilly started to cry, and buried her face in her paws; a definite sign that the prideful, strong tiger persona was far, far away. 

“Master, it-it’s my fault!” Tapal bawled, her face also in her feathered wings. “I was the one who made Lilly mad. I shouldn’t have! Please! Do not make her eat porridge again! I couldn’t stand to hear her cry!”

What the heck? Tapal, distressed over mischief? Okay, so not only was the proud, strong tiger long gone, so was the childish, and playful crow who couldn’t care what happened, as long as she had fun. 

“No- it’s my fault! I should have played with Tapal once in a while! I just -oh! I don’t know I-”

I stood, dumbstruck as Tapal and Lily tried to blame themselves, instead of each other. This was… pure inanity. 

I couldn’t hold in anymore, and broke out in roaring laughter. 

“Husband?” Lilly said in a timid voice. 

“Master, what’s wrong?” Tapal said, also in a timid voice. 

“Now this is something I like!” I said, bringing both of my girls into a warm embrace. “You all, are finally getting along together, and all it cost me was a house full of priceless baubles.” I kissed them both on the cheek and winked. 

“Did you know that you girls are the most precious things I have?” I sighed, knowing that some of the responsibility also must fall to me as well. My girls have seen me so scarcely these past few months, and I knew it was getting to all of them. But more than them, it was getting to me. This last adventure was nothing short of boring and tiresome, and (though I will never tell them) almost took my life.

I no longer felt the rush and thrill of adventure, and when it was over, this time, instead of thinking about the next great quest, all I wanted, was a cup of tea, and to relax with my wives.

“Okay, well. I think only a little punishment is in order.” I said, pulling a stern face. Both Lilly and Tapal gasped but said nothing. 

“I think… I’ll just have to stick around, and make sure you two don’t get into anymore trouble.”

Their faces first went sad, then blank, then contemplative. Tapal was the first to get what I was talking about. 

“Master is staying? With us? Happy!” She squealed and wrapped her arms around my neck.

“Husband?” Lilly said, tears in her eyes. “After all this time, your wander-lust is satisfied?”

I nodded, and embraced Lilly. Of all my mamono wives, she had it the worst of the last five years. So I brought home a few more mamono, first Neela to help with the house, then Tapal, who I wanted so badly to be friends with Lily. 

“Goodness! Such a relief!” Julia mooed.

And Julia, a sort of neutral sounding board for all of my wives to turn to that was the most patient and neutral of them all. 

“Y-you’re really not mad?” Tapal whispered.

I looked at the house, and shook my head. “Nah. As long you gals don’t go off and wreck the place again.” I stretched and yawned. “C’mon, lets relax at in the hot tub.” 

Later, after a generous love-making session with all my girls, I reclined back, watching them play, fuss, and nibbling on sweet morsels of food. The steam from the hot tub rose, illuminated by the various glowing rocks around the waters edge, making my hot tub look like a mystical pool. 

I sighed, watching my breath mist in the freezing cold winter air, and knew that my adventuring days were over, and just beginning was going to be a long season of peace, joy, and love.