Chapter 129: Taking care of Business (and working overtime)
When Garth got back to the Bergstrom manor, he was exhausted, having done three trips back and forth between L.A. and S.D. All he wanted to do was collapse into bed and pass out, maybe bug Bel for a meeting with some of his afterlife buddies.
Whoever they are.
Garth knew he had some, just couldn’t remember who they were.
Wait a minute, couldn’t I just have Bel repeat after me? Memory is weird.
Garth’s limp arm settled on the doorknob of the Bergtrom Manor, and he leaned against the door more than actively pushing it open.
Beladia, I’m begging here, all I want to do is go to bed. I’d be happy with just getting some sleep.
And maybe a blowjob.
I’m not asking for much.
Garth stumbled into the main hall of the manor, and found himself being stared at by no less than two dozen whores…along with a severely irritated looking Brenda, a couple of her nieces, and Edward Bergstrom (The real one).
Where’d Paul leave that fancy crossbow? I’ll shoot myself in the head.
“Right,” Garth said, slapping himself in the face to wake up. “Job opportunities.”
“Mr. Smith,” Brenda said, her mouth set in a thin line. “Would you mind explaining what these whores are doing here?”
“Yes,” Garth said, dragging himself to the nearest couch, where a young woman with large brown breasts, and wide hips that nearly spilled out of her clothes scooted aside for him.
Garth plopped down on the couch and leaned back, nearly passing out from being comfortable for the first time in twenty hours, since he’d been assassinated early this morning.
When Garth managed to force his eyes open again, everyone was still looking at him, so it must not have been that long.
Garth glanced to the side, where the Indian woman was watching him curiously. Indian facial structure wasn’t Garth’s favorite, but he was a man of broad standards, so she was relatively cute, all things considered.
Except for her nose, which seemed to have been broken repeatedly, and squashed to the side.
“Got’cher nose.” Garth reached out and broke it again.
The nose healed so quickly the woman could only let out a startled yelp before the pain was gone and her nose was straight again.
“Right,” Garth said, looking back at them. “Job opportunities. I don’t want to beat around the bush. Most of you are going to continue working in the fast paced, exciting world of spreading your legs for money.”
“But we’re going to make some changes.”
Garth glanced around the room and spotted a large, fancy looking plant that complemented the main hall’s décor.
It looked heavy and Garth didn’t want to get up.
“Ed, stop fawning over them and bring me that plant.” Garth said, throwing his legs up over the arm of the couch and turning sideways to use the woman’s breasts as a pillow.
Brenda looked furious.
The former street rat-cum-Bergstrom bastard child reluctantly got up from between the two young ladies and fetched the massive pot, grunting as he picked it up and hauled it over to Garth.
“There we go.” Once the plant was within easy reach, Garth tore it out of the pot, spraying himself and his pillow with dirt.
Garth spat out a bit that got in his mouth and tossed aside the decorative plant, getting started on his spell.
Something with a decent amount of surface area. A fern would do nicely.
“Now, could you whores decide amongst yourselves on who the three bravest, most selfless, altruistic women among you are? I’m not interested in someone who’d bail on you given the chance, or abuse their power, because believe me, they’re going to have that temptation. Think carefully. I want whores who are invested. Bonus points if they got hurt trying to stop the kidnappers this weekend.”
As the whores conferred among themselves, Garth turned his attention to a single mote that only he could sense.
Let’s see. Ahem. Your job is to leak a mildly addictive chemical cocktail into the air that will inhibit male aggression, inflame lust and boost energy, sensitivity, trust and generosity. In short, I want you to make their Johns docile repeat spenders. I know aggression and lust are a little tough to tease apart, but I’ll count on you.
On the flip side, I want you to dull female anxiety, boost confidence and energy. I know, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, but you can do it.
Make your new home a great place to forget about your worries and fuck.
…And spend money.
A moment later, a crimson fern unrolled from the center of the pot of dirt, causing Garth to giggle uncontrollably, drawing a lot of strange looks.
The Red Fern.
“That…is an excellent name for a brothel.”
But would it be shitting all over a decent Y/A book about ‘coon dogs, along with native American myths?
Garth didn’t really care.
A couple minutes later, the three bravest, most respectable whores stood in front of Garth in his office. Each and every one of them had some indication of a beating. Split lips, black eyes, and broken noses.
They were all a bit older than the others, maybe in their late twenties, old enough to have some forethought, but not too old for sex work.
The girl on the left was Justine, brown hair, brown eyed, crooked teeth and a bit dumpy. In the middle was Claire, with stringy blonde hair, broad hips, and a scar on her lower lip. On the left was April, another brunette with darker skin, a strong jaw and a modest figure.
They can’t all be Sandi.
To be fair Sandi, and every other succubus presented an image that was a composite of every feature Garth’s mind perceived to be attractive or sexually available. Not just hot, but asking for it.
That was kind of hard to measure up to.
“Agh,” Garth rubbed his eyes before reaching into his desk, yawning. A moment later, he pulled out a shoebox filled to the brim with purified physical Heartstones. About two million credits worth, bought by the Bergstrom family on Garth’s dime.
“Now before we get started, I want you all to take a vow of secrecy, for your sake and that of your friends. What happens in here stays here.”
One by one, they agreed, swearing not to breathe a word of it.
“What do you make of these?” Garth asked them, opening the box.
“Heartstones.” Claire breathed.
“Yup. Your new job is going to be secret bouncers. If events like this weekend ever happen again, I’ll expect the three of you to risk your lives to protect your friends. Do you think you can do that?”
The three of them glanced at each other, then back at Garth.
Justine said, “We already did.”
Garth smirked, pushing the box forward. “Wanna win next time?”
The first week after Garth got back was a non-stop blur of running from problem to problem, putting out fires. Garth thought he was going to spend the rest of his life rushing from one emergency to the next, but things finally started to slow down for him after the first week.
The expedition into the Green Hell was an abject failure, sent scurrying back to the safety of Santo Descanso in a matter of days due to a series of poor planning decisions and untimely coincidences, such as food rotting, and animals getting sick. A few men were nearly killed by close calls from a Skyfish attack that effectively crippled the expedition, putting the final nail in the coffin.
It was determined that had there been any Garthspawn in the ruins of L.A. they would have seen signs of them, or they were dead.
Although many men got sick, poisoned or injured, there were no losses.
To the east, the expedition into the desert uncovered evidence of a large number of people travelling on foot, but was forced to turn back when losses to the local wildlife became too great.
The redheaded guy with the mustache that had been running through the streets in a panic with his baby was actually the patriarch of one of the nine council families, Curt Mcdonnell. They were a rather accomplished family of smiths and tinkers, slowly expanding what could be done with valuable magical minerals. They were also one of the few families with the ability to perform magic: Stunted, pathetic magic suited only for making enchantments, but magic all the same. If anyone could make the parts Garth needed, it would be them.
Garth made a point of visiting the baby every few days.
Never hurts to make friends.
After losing eighteen killers in one day at the ambush, the Dentons backed off, giving Garth some breathing room to get situated. He deliberately avoided a confrontation with them while shoring up his power in the city’s underworld.
The mine was again filling the Bergstrom’s coffers once Garth flipped the smugglers over to his side and started making regular trips through the dungeon himself. The profits would have been incredible, but Garth was saving the majority of it for personal use.
The Red Fern started out making him a piddly twenty thousand the first week, but the second drew in sixty thousand. Reviews were good and Garth expected that number to continue to skyrocket.
Paul was as good as his word, thoroughly tanking the Green Hell expedition, and dealing with the fallout in such a way that attention was drawn away from the possibility of
After a week, Garthspawn reappeared as if they’d never left, confused and uncertain, but generally well cared for.
They were interrogated pretty harshly for a while, but eventually, The Exodus was just something that had happened on this crazy planet called Earth.
Then Garth got The Book, giving him an in-detail accounting of each noble family in the city, from the mouths of their concubines.
Now Garth had a blueprint of the entire city’s underworld, more complete than any one person could hope to get in their entire lives. All he had to do was tug on the right strings and they’d fall all over themselves.
After the second week, the Descanso Academy reopened, and Garth saw Alicia for the first time in awhile, standing behind her while the principal announced the plan to instigate more field trips, since the noble kid’s parents seemed to relish the idea of anything that might toughen their children up.
And if they died, hey, that’s why they had dozens of them.
Wonder how long that mentality is gonna last.
“So what’s the standing orders back home?” Garth asked, going through the fencing motions with Alicia, admiring the way her slow-motion lunges accentuated her glutes.
“You want me to spy on my family?” She asked, brow raised.
“Spy is a strong word.” Garth said, slowly stepping in as he pushed her blade upward. They wound up face to face, his lips inches away from hers. He could feel her breasts pressing against his chest, and a small part of him demanded that he take another step forward and touch more of her.
God, I need to get laid in real life, Garth thought, almost magnetically drawn in. Beladia wet dreams weren't going to cut it much longer
Alicia smirked, her vibrant blue eyes twinkling before she gave him a slow motion headbutt.
“I was thinking more along the lines of,” Garth said, clutching his nose dramatically and staggering away. “If there was a party line, like ‘Let’s leave him alone for now’, or ‘do not engage’…not asking you for details, just hoping you could fill me in a little.”
“That’s too bad…” she said, with mock sincerity as she pantomimed stabbing him to death, while he slowly succumbed.
“E tu, Brute?” Garth said, before falling limp.
“This is swordsmanship training, not a goddamned play!” The instructor shouted into Garth’s ear.
“Could’a fooled me,” Garth muttered, rubbing his ear once the instructor had moved on.
“People who don’t take their practice seriously are the first ones to die!” The instructor shouted, scanning the practicing students with her hands on her hips. “The Principal has upped the stakes for you upper classmen, and the Williams family is hosting another ‘field trip’ on their property.”
“Some of you..” She glanced at Garth. “May get killed, especially when you act like fighting is a joke.”
Alicia offered Garth a hand up, the soft skin of the back of her delicate hands at odds with her rough calluses.
“Whatever she’s planning, she’s not saying anything to any of us.” Alicia admitted. “So, I don’t know, expect the unexpected, I guess?”
“Could just be you she’s not talking to.” Garth said, rubbing the dirt off his butt.
“You’re my favorite, remember?” Garth said with a grin. “Why would they include you in any plan against me?”
Alicia’s jaw dropped, then she went red and bonked him on the head with the wooden sword.
Warning! Subject is wanted by the Core for war crimes. Authorities have been alerted!
Apostle of Beladia & Pala
Blessings: Photosynthesis, Temperature resistance, Empowered Plant Magic, Pheremones, Hyper-fertility, Unscryable, Empowered Illusion Magic, Deceitful, Shadow Affinity
Class: Neophyte Phytolich
Skills: Mana Boost, Mana Channel, Mana Wielding, Spell Theory, Delayed Spell, Recursive Spell, Enchanting, Divine Lantern Style, Create Life,
Spells: Control Plants, Design Plant, Force Armor, Forestwalk, Create Fire, Haste, Plant Growth, Teleport, Polymorph, Fly, Shrink, Summon Nature Spirit, Force Shield, Fireball, Telekinesis, Magic Jar, Heal, Illusion, Floating Eye, Scry, Stone Shape, Wall of Stone, Create Water, Warding, Charm, Clarion Call, Operant Conditioning, Bark Skin, Cleanse
Evolutions: Mana Sight, Resilient Mind, Mind palace, Memory Lane, Plant Biology, Control Weather, Racial Advancement.