First off I want to say thank you to taco1085 for editing my hot garbage. Please everyone give him a thumbs up for taking on this task. Second, I want to thank you the readers for following my story, without you Mathew and Felicia's story would never come to light. As in all previous stories, all the errors are mine. All characters are over the age of eighteen. I am going with a centaur's age like humans. This will be a short chapter due to the holidays.
Mathew teleported Felicia, Rebecca, and his mother-in-law, Perth to the roadway just in front of the Fellis barn in Midvale. It was Perth's first time teleporting. She had a little of bit of apprehension, but the instantaneous change in location was the only thing that disorientated her. But once they were firmly standing in front of the big barn, she was ok. Even with the slight vertigo, she did like this way of travel. Two days on a dusty road or arrive instantly, fresh and clean was worth the momentary discomfort.
Mathew looked around. Making sure everything came with him and checking on the ladies. He saw Tarn come charging out of the barn to see who arrived. He slowed down and walked up, "I should have known it was you." Then nodded, "Mom, why are you here? Is something wrong at home?"
Perth took her bag from Felicia, "Nothing is wrong at home Tarn. Just missed your father. Do you know if he is back from today's meeting?"
"Yes, just got back a half an hour ago."
"Wonderful," she replied and walked towards the main house.
Mathew looked at Tarn, "What time do you say it is?"
Tarn frowned at Mat. "Just past the third hour. What no fancy spell that tells you the time."
Mathew laughed at him, "I don't have to answer that stable boy."
Tarn laughed as he turned to go back to work. Mathew turned to Rebecca, "Do you need a hand packing your stuff for tonight?"
Rebecca looked at Mathew, "A stallion packing his new mate's clothes?"
Felicia laughed, "You are going to have to get used to our Herd Master and mate, doing un-herd Master things. I will go with Rebecca and help her Love." Felicia moved to in front of Mathew and gave him a hug and a sensual kiss, then whispered, "Go take a nap. You're going to need your strength for tonight."
When she let go of him, Rebecca stepped up and did the same. "Until tonight, my mate. Then you can properly claim me as you see fit." She looked down, "as a herd 'Master'."
Mathew laughed and kissed her again, "I see Felicia has been telling you things."
Rebecca blushed, "She isn't the only little centaur with that fantasy."
Mathew looked at Felicia, then Rebecca, then back again. "Go both of you or I will not get a nap." He gave both a light tap on their rumps as he walked towards their bunk house. Once there, he removed his shirt and pants, laying his sleeping pad down on the fresh rush mats he laid down in just his socks and underclothes. Rolling the rush mat under as a pillow he laid back closing his eyes.
Mathew woke several hours later when someone knocked announcing dinner. He jumped up and dressed. Touching the farm's clairvoyance spell, he still could feel the calm from the grove that welcomed him as he closed his eyes earlier.
Mathew walked through the serving line. He was glad to see a beef and rice dish and a green leaf salad. He skipped the five-grain dishes and filled two small bowls of both. He was eating at the kiddy table when he felt a hand on his shoulder, as he was turning.
"Thank you, son," Sir Fellis said as he hugged Mathew. "You don't know how much I have missed my mate. And your bringing her, like you did, just added to the surprise. Thank you."
Mathew smiled, "Just thinking of your mental health dad."
Johnathon laughed, "Thanks, but now I have to worry about the farm and how Rullis and the boys are by themselves."
"I wouldn't sir," And Mathew touched his head, "I had expanded my farm's clairvoyance spell to cover your farm and some. With just a thought, I or Felicia can look in and feel how everything is going."
Johnathon looked surprised, then smiled at him. "Thank for looking out for me and my herd."
Mathew grinned up at him, but before he could say, your welcome, Perth came up and took Johnathon's hand. "Let Herd Master Lindrose eat in peace Johnathon, he needs all of his strength for tonight."
Both stallion's laughed. Mathew was about to stand up and greet Perth, but she pulled Johnathon's hand. Looking at Mathew she said, "Don't you dare, sit there and eat. Silly human mannerisms."
Mathew smiled as they walked towards the serving line. They stopped at each group, offering words to everyone as they drifted towards the serving line. Not bothering those eating, just offering words of greetings or warm hellos. Making sure each family or group felt part of the herd. Their easy pace and brief stops at each group said a lot, the warm smiles as they left said even more. Mathew watched them, learning how to be a herd master. A simple lesson, that told him a lot.
He was still thinking of that, when someone set three dinner bowls next to his. Looking up he saw Tarn, Beatrice and Cherill standing there.
"Where is the runt Mat? You kick her out in anticipation of you newer mate?"
"Tarn!" Cherill exclaim, "Be nice."
Mathew laughed, and then just smiled at Tarn, "She went with Rebecca to help gather her things."
"So you really are taking a second mate?" Cherill asked.
Mathew nodded yes, "Rebecca Lynn Drewsdaughter."
Cherill smiled at Mathew, "You're a good stallion, Mathew Lindrose, to open your herd and heart to her. She would have not found a mate here in Midvale. You were the best catch in Oak Valley, Mathew."
"Hey now," Tarn exclaimed.
Cherill laughed and put her hand on Tarn's, "You, my love, are a better stallion because of your friendship."
Mathew watched Tarn look at Cherill and sort of melt in her look as all four ate dinner.
Beatrice couldn't take it anymore and said, "Oh gowds, you two. Get a stall!"
Mathew started laughing as he started picking up the bowls with Beatrice's help. They carried the empty bowls to the wash station. Before the women could snag Beatrice to help wash, he snaked his hand into hers and pulled her outside. Walking towards the gather circle, he reached into his pouch and pulled out Rullis's letter.
"Rullis asked me to give this to you."
"What does it say?"
"I don't know Bea, I didn't look. It was for you, but knowing Rullis, it is probably some bad poetry and gushy words of how much he loves you."
Beatrice stopped and opened the letter. After reading it, she groaned, shaking her head. Then carefully folded it, putting it in her pouch. "You were right, bad poetry and gushy words. Oh, how I love that stallion!"
Mathew shook his head and started towards the gather circle, "You are just as bad as your sister, get a stall!"
Beatrice laughed and trotted up to Mathew and took his hand walking out to the gather, "Cherill is right Mat, you were the best catch in Oak Valley..., only if you were a little taller."
Mathew laughed and wink at her, "Just remember we tiny humans have other uses."
"You could be my bath attendant any time, Mathew Lindrose." Then looked around to make sure no one was close to hear. "And I will let you stare at my chest all you want. And if you are real nice to me, might even let you wash them."
Mathew laughed, "Beatrice! Really." Then he pulled her over to a table with several large jugs of sweet tea. He decided a change in subject was in order or he might get in trouble with Bea. So he asked her about how it was like growing up with two moms. She described a very similar centaur home life that was what he was used to seeing in Sir Fellis's household with the one exception of having two moms to give her life advice. The one thing he glean from Beatrice was that Merrill Peterson only slept with one wife a night.
As more of ladies came out to the gather they settled into distinct groups, Cherill and Tarn came out and joined with Mathew and Beatrice. He entertained them with stories of his growing up. About having spells that failed and some, with more hilarious results. He found a break and excused himself when Jocelynn Duncan came out. Walking over, he nodded to her.
"Master Mage Lindrose, or is it Herd Master Lindrose?"
Mathew grinned, "Herd Master mage Lindrose?"
Jocelynn Duncan laughed, "That is a quandary Master Mage Lindrose, one I will have to think on."
Mathew pointed towards the walkway in front of the cabins, "Can I beg for a moment of your time?" She nodded and turned, walking that way. Mathew let them take a few steps before saying, "I am told that you were a wise person to ask advice from." He saw her nod from the compliment, so he went on.
"As you know, I grew up in a human household and only been to your brother's long house and introduced its life style dynamics. He only has one mate, I have never been inside a longhouse that stallion had two mates. Most human only have a single wife or mate, if you will. I hoped you can offer some advice before my mate and soon to be second mate arrive."
Jocelynn turned and smiled at him, "If only some stallions would learn to ask for advice like you, life in some people's long house would be so much easier. You may, or may not know that my late stallion Duncan had two mates. Thus two long houses. My sister mate Kaylin was a jealous mare. At first we got along, all three of us shared a stall, and our mate's love, but over the years, she turned bitter as Duncan came more to me for advice and comfort. So I might not be the best person to ask how to keep two mates happy in one longhouse."
"I am sorry, I didn't know."
"That is alright Master Mage Lindrose, it was a long time ago, and water under the bridge. I think her bitterness stemmed from the fact that she and Duncan never had colts, while he and I had three beautiful daughters. But that is not what you want or need to hear. My best advice is love both equally. Never show favoritism, when asking advice, ask both. Listen to both, and never, go to the stall angry. If it takes all night, talk it through."
Mathew nodded, "I guess you answered my other questions too."
"And what was that Master Mage Lindrose?"
"Sleeping arrangements and making love with your second wife in the longhouse."
Jocelynn looked down at Mathew and smiled, "It is easy to forget the social and domestic differences between a centaur home and a human home when all you know is one or the other. I should have guessed what type of advice you were seeking. I take it you never seen, or heard a centaur couple making love while you were staying at someone's long house. Nor seen the sleeping arrangements of a stallion with two mates?"
Mathew shook his head no.
"Johnathon might have been a better person to ask these types of questions. I imagine he is more familiar with social and domestic differences of the two lifestyles. Since he grew up in a centaur home, yet lived in a human world for many years in the High King's service. Yet I see your asking of him these types of questions might put a strain on your father-in-law, son-in-law relation. Social behavior between stallions, and stallion and mares is more my area of specialization, since I have had a lifetime of observations to go on."
"But, I can offer you some advice that I give young mares entering a household as a second mate. Do not be afraid to have sex, or make love to your mates in front of each other. That includes any quirks or kinks you two might share. I tell the young mares it is ok to discuss that in front of their sister mates with their stallion. This is a bounding moment, which they should share. It strengthens the herd. There is nothing to be ashamed of in making love with your stallion."
"It is ok to argue with your sister mate and or stallion, but don't take sides. Once again, do not go to your stall's with angry thoughts or words inside of you. Talk it out before going to your stall, even if it takes all night."
"Felicia has told me some things of your relations together, in private, so don't be mad at that, yet she told me you run a spell at home that allows you two to talk to each other over great distances, mind to mind. And that you two can share thoughts and emotions through this spell. My advice to you is get your second mate attached to this spell as soon as you can, it will help you understand her, and she, to help learn how you and Felicia have learned to live together."
"As to sleeping arrangements, always sleep between your mates, you three are a herd. Don't let minor things separate you three. Or you will eventually build a second long house for one of your mates." She nodded towards the second long house, "And that my dear Mathew will doom your herd."
Mathew looked at the second long house, he never seen inside of it since it was closed up. He had wondered about it, but he thought the Fellis clan was big enough to warrant a second long house.
Jocelynn followed his look, "Since combining Duncan's herd and Johnathon's we only open it during the holidays now. For me, it is a constant reminder of how not to run a herd."
Jocelynn looked up at the same time as Mathew did. They saw a large group of Centaurs walking under the iron arch. "Come, we need to join the rest of Johnathon's herd and welcome our guests. And maybe next winter holiday, when you three come, you can offer me your insights on how you three have made your long house a home."
They joined Johnathon and his gathered herd as Herd Master Barret Anderson walked around the corner, followed by what must be most of his herd here in Midvale. Mathew stood next to Sir Fellis as herd Anderson spread out on the other side of the circle. Felicia had walked around and slid up next to him as Herd Anderson spread out in front of herd Fellis.
Sir Fellis nodded, "Welcome Herd Master Anderson, and welcome Herd Anderson to our longhouse. Please roam freely as guests."
Barret Anderson nodded to Sir Fellis, "Thank you Herd Master Fellis, and herd Fellis for guest rights." Then turned to Mathew.
Felicia mentally fed him the words to greet Herd Master Anderson. "Herd Master Anderson, herd Anderson, Welcome to Herd Master Fellis's long house, please roam freely."
"Herd Master, and Master Mage Lindrose, Herd Anderson, thank you for guests' rights and will tread with care on Herd Master Fellis's estates. I have brought your mate home along with your presumed second mate. Drew Anderson, and mate Shawnee Anderson, Rebecca Lynn Drewsdaughter will you step forward?" Mathew watched as a tall barrel chest centaur with dark hair and brown coat stepped forward with a dark-haired mare in his arms. She was an inch or two shorter than her stallion. Her narrow frame contrasted from her stallion. She had a beautiful narrow face with full lips and an impressive chest. She had a narrow second hips, Mathew could tell where Rebecca got her looks from.
Drew nodded, "Herd Master and Master Mage Lindrose, I have been informed by my Herd Master that you have asked for my daughter join your herd as a second mate and apprentice mage."
"Herd Master Anderson, Drew Anderson, Yes. We ask for the hand of your daughter Rebecca Lynn Drewsdaughter to formally, join, Herd Lindrose as a second mate, and an apprentice mage."
Berret looked at Mathew and Felicia, then over to Drew, who nodded yes, and then he looked at Rebecca. "Rebecca Lynn Drewsdaughter, Herd Master and Master Mage Mathew Lindrose is asking for your hand. As a mare of age, and in her majority. Do you wish to join Herd Lindrose?"
"I do herd Master Anderson."
He nodded to Rebecca as Shawnee took her hand and kissed her, then placed it in her stallions hand, who kissed his daughter on the cheek, then handed her hand to Herd Master Anderson who kissed her hand then stepped over and placed her hand into Mathews. "Herd Master, and Master Mage Lindrose, with consent from all parties, I place Rebecca Lynn Lindrose into your care and herd."
Mathew looked at Rebecca, "As Herd Master of Herd Lindrose, I welcome you to our herd and promise to take care of all of you needs. As your mate, I promise to love and respect you, and place your want's, and needs before mine. As your Master in magic, I promise, as my apprentice, to teach and nurture your magic with the best of my ability. I promise to teach you all of my magical knowledge and skills. I will help prepare you for your journeyman rank. I will not fail you in this endeavor until you reach said rank or volunteer to leave your magical studies."
Rebecca did not know what to say, so he mouthed it.
"I accept you as Master in magical studies as outlines in Master apprentice agreement. I accept you as my mate and herd Master."
Mathew smiled and leaned over and kissed her. "Welcome, my newest mate." Mathew turned and held a hand out to Felicia. When she took it, they all three held hands, and Mathew said, "Herd Lindrose."
The two different herds moved in to congratulate them. Mathew stepped up and met Drew and Shawnee, Rebecca's parents. As the handshakes and pats on the back subsided, someone placed an ale in his hands, Mathew turned to see who put it there. Tarn winked, "Just plain lager Mat."
Mathew took a drink and nodded. The girls slipped away to put Rebecca's bags in the tiny long house. Mathew mingled with the two herds. Not familiar with Herd Anderson, he met several members who did farming to construction. Mathew mentally remembered the names of those that did long house construction. He didn't know if Herd Fellis had someone that was in the construction business, but he mentally put that down to ask. For now, the little house suited him and his tiny herd. But they would need a longhouse for all the young colts and student mages.
Felicia and Rebecca slip up next to him and each took an arm as he was walking from one group to another. Talking to everyone he could. They ran into Ambassador Zane Goldenroot with two new elves in tow, a Torrance Copperbranch and Mikala Silverleaf, who were journeymen mages and now assigned as aids to General Fellis and Clan Master Benton. This was Rebecca's first meeting with the elves, but flawlessly copied Mathew and Felicia in bowing to the two new arrivals. He inquired of what they thought of Midvale so far. Both laughed and told different stories about adapting so far.
Torrance felt like a little kid again, with the doors and buildings so much taller. "So far, walking the town is taking my perspective a little bit of getting used to."
Mikala said, "I had forgotten to pack several personal items, so I went down to the general store, I could barely see over the counter. Truly a child in an adults world again. I must say, it is refreshing to see two lovely centaur ladies our height."
Zane whispered something to Mikala, "Really just mares?"
Felicia laughed, "Yes Mikala, the proper pronoun is 'Mares'. It is refreshing to see a couple of MARES our height. It is ok to use mares in describing female centaurs, we centaurs don't mind, my people term lady or ladies as human or elven women."
Mikala put his hand to his chest and bowed, "Forgive me for using the wrong pronoun in describing you lovely mares."
Felicia knelt to him, "Not at all, just helping you fit in."
"Speaking of fitting in," Zane said, "I have enlisted Torrance's and Mikala's help for tomorrow, in testing the young colts."
"Wonderful," Mathew said, "I was thinking of having Rebecca write the family names and colts then direct them to us and we can shout out the mana count when we test them."
Zane frowned, "If you don't mind I would suggest that she make the master list but issue each a scrap of paper with a number on it, then each mage can write the mana each colt has and save the shouting for the herd Masters circle. Also that way the parents only have to remember a single number for the next day."