Deimos kicked the door of our apartment open and stomped in. Kicking her shoes off by the entrance, she began pacing from one side of the living room to the other. Her expression was like a thundercloud that threatened to spit lightning at any moment.
I smiled wryly and entered after her, inspecting the hinges for damage. Thankfully, these apartments were made to military specification and sturdiness was prioritized over cost or aesthetics. It looked like we wouldn't have to bear the reputation of damagers of public property.
Phobos and Ceres filed in after me. Phobos went over to Deimos while Ceres just collapsed onto a cushioned chair bonelessly. It had been an exhausting few hours for her.
"Calm down, Demi. It's all over now." Phobos said placatingly.
Deimos stopped her pacing and turned to Phobos. "Calm! How can I be calm Phi-Phi? Didn't you see how they treated Ceres?"
Phobos' eyes narrowed but she shook her head. "Of course I did. But that was because they didn't know the entirety of the matter. They saw her tails and drew premature conclusions. Once they were fully informed of the situation, they stopped aiming at her, didn't they?"
"They stopped aiming at her, but they didn't give her the reward she deserves, ya. They just brushed off all her contributions like they were nothing!" exclaimed Deimos, outraged on Ceres' behalf.
Testing the hinge by swinging the door a few times, I shut it, kicked off my boots and entered the room. "It's not just that," I said, "I feel it was premeditated. By making an issue out of her status, they wanted to dodge her reward. The assisting forces seem to be quite partial to the Swayamvar candidate that arrived along with them. He was probably the one inciting them in secret."
Ceres lifted her head off the back of the chair she was sprawled on and looked at me in surprise. "Husband, you noticed?"
The corners of my lips twitched. "Would it kill you not to sound so surprised? I admit, I 'cheated' a bit by using my senses. With the amount of smugness radiating off that guy, it's a wonder I can't sense it all the way here."
"He-he," Ceres chuckled and laid her head back down on the backrest and closed her eyes. "And here I was thinking that my husband had suddenly become a master schemer and didn't need me anymore."
Phobos turned pensive, "I guess he wanted to downplay Husband's role in all this. He didn't want him receiving such a huge windfall of merit before the Swayamvar even started."
"What's wrong with him?! The entire region is at war and all he can think about is a competition?" Walking up to Ceres, she gently tugged one of her tails that was hanging limply over an armrest. "Why aren't you more upset, ya? Both of you risked your lives out there while the brat was hiding in the barracks over at their section of the border."
Ceres swatted Deimos' hand with another tail to free the one in her clutches then shrugged nonchalantly. "Just a petty person. No need to bother with the likes of him. And you forget, the one judging our worth isn't him. Neither is it the Generals. Since this event has been blown up to such epic proportions, news of it will travel straight to the Emperor. He will surely investigate the circumstances of the matter. We'll get what we deserve."
"Actually," I added as I walked out of the kitchen with a plate of refreshments, "we should thank him for so blatantly singling us out while praising the rest of the members of the Expedition." Setting the tray down on the table, I continued, "This way, anyone who harboured resentment against Ceres will feel ashamed to trouble her further. What actually surprised me was how light the Heavenly Wolf Mercenaries' reaction was to the death of their princess and her husband. I think even our soldiers mourned her and Steven more."
Phobos swallowed the biscuit she had been eating and wiped the crumbs off her mouth. Taking a seat on my lap, she leaned her back into my chest. "I looked into the Heavenly Wolf Mercenaries while you were gone," she said.
"The thing is, there are mixed opinions about Hei Lian. She is the daughter of the Sun Wolf, but she is also a female Alpha. And that isn't looked on kindly in their culture. She was even steadily reforming their society to balance gender roles. And that, didn't make her very popular among the male cultivators. If not for the support of her grandmother, she wouldn't have been able to keep her position of the heir. The reason she volunteered for the mission was probably to improve her prestige.
"So, while the Heavenly Wolf Mercenaries are lamenting the loss of their only Alpha, they are also relieved that she didn't come back. She's quite pitiful."
The image of a figure in dark armour wreathed in black flames floated up in my mind. Indeed, quite pitiful.
Laying the back of her head on my shoulder and burying her face into the crook of my neck, "Husband," muttered Phobos, her voiced muffled due to her lips touching my skin. "I missed you."
Linking my hands around her waist, I kissed the top of her head and took in the floral scent of her hair. There was no way I hadn't noticed that her dark circles had grown more pronounced and the unhealthy pallor of Deimos' skin. These two hadn't been sleeping well. "I missed you too." I said, softly.
"No fair, Phi-Phi. You're being sneaky." Deimos complained and two soft and warm mounds enveloped the back of my head as she hugged me from behind. "I missed Master too."
I couldn't help but chuckle. Grabbing her hand, I kissed her palm. "And I, you, my sweet thing."
"So energetic…" muttered Ceres sleepily as she curled up in her chair with three tails covering her like a furry blanket while the fourth acted like a pillow.
"Oi! Sleep on the bed. You'll hurt yourself sleeping like that." I admonished.
"Nnn…" she mumbled incoherently.
Sighing, I lifted Phobos off my lap and placed her on the sofa. Working out of Deimos' embrace, I went over to Ceres and unceremoniously shouldered her.
"Aaaah!" she shrieked in surprise and struggled in my grasp for a bit before giving up and hanging like a limp rag over my shoulder.
As I walked towards our bedroom, I paused with my hand on the handle of the door. I was a bit surprised at my own actions. I had met Phobos and Deimos after nearly ten days, our longest separation after our marriage, and the moment I saw Ceres uncomfortable, I instinctively prioritized her, even working out of their embraces to do so.
This… wasn't good.
Turning back towards the two girls, I found them staring at me, Deimos pouting sullenly with puffed cheeks, Phobos with her eyes wide in shock.
Thinking fast, I schooled my face into a lopsided grin. "What?" I asked in a teasing manner, "I thought you girls would be a bit more eager to join me in bed." Shrugging, I turned back towards the door, "Apparently, I was wrong and you'd prefer each other on the sofa. Night then."
Opening it, I stepped into our bedroom. Leaving it open, I walked over to the bed and deposited the lethargic Ceres on it. Just as I finished covering the sleepy girl with the duvet, I heard the sound of rapid footsteps and my two wives burst into the room.
Phobos stalked towards me, her hips swaying sultrily and her yellow eyes flashing dangerously. "Hey Demi, don't you think Husband has become a bit too flippant in his time out of our sights?"
Deimos nodded with a mischievous grin on her face as she circled around from the other side of the bed. "Ceres had a bad effect on Master, ya. Phi-Phi, I think he needs a bit of re-education."
I felt a tingle up my spine as I saw Phobos' eyes light up. With a sigh, I resigned myself to my fate. The punishment was deserved for favouring one of my wives over the others, even for a moment.
I am Mars Felidae, husband of Ceres, Deimos and Phobos Felidae. And I love my wives equally.
For that is the only way.
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