Galway brought his family to the Valley in the summer, months later than he’d originally hoped, but he’d wanted them to have a house to come to in this place he wished for them to call home and it took that long to get one made. Given the sheer number of dwellings that needed to be built, it still would have been waiting if he hadn’t told Stria she could do whatever she wanted in its creation. The temptation had been too much for the earth sylph to resist and she’d made for him a house six times larger than anyone else’s on her own time. It was bizarre to the point of caricature, but he didn’t think his large family would mind moving out of their former, tiny little cottage and into it.
He went and got them, and the excitement at seeing the new house went a long way towards making up for the long winter and spring where his wife and children didn’t know if he were alive or dead. Iyala, however, had assured him that he would not be doing that to them ever again. Given the new position in the Valley’s Council that Galway had been offered, he was sure that was a promise he could keep.
“Dad, it’s so huge,” Nelson gasped, staring in amazement at the mushroom shaped monstrosity while his various younger brothers and sisters crowded around him. Half of them ran squealing to explore, the others looked more dubious.
A boy stood by the entrance to the house, hands in his pockets and watching all of them with bright-eyed interest. He was a beautiful lad, even in the plain tunic and pants he wore. Leon had suggested that they put the battle sylphs into uniforms so that people would be able to recognize them, but Galway was of the opinion that wasn’t necessary. He could tell what the lad was, though, he thought with a smirk, he hadn’t known when he first encountered him back in the woods.
Nelson and a few of the other boys saw Heyou and looked at him with the immediate suspicion of teenagers. Iyala did as well and glanced at her husband.
“Who is this?” she asked, with a tone to her voice that said she already knew the answer.
Galway smiled. “Meet your newest son.”
Iyala shook her head, but she was used to her husband bringing home foundlings and most of the youngsters running around them now were adopted. She loved them all and he didn’t think it would matter to her at all that Heyou was a battle sylph.
Nelson puffed up his chest and stalked towards his newest sibling, who was grinning back at him in a way guaranteed to make a boy want to fight to see who was the leader. “Who are you?” he demanded.
“Heyou. Who are you?”
“Nelson. I’m the oldest so I’m in charge. You have to listen to me.” The younger boys watched, eager to see what happened.
Heyou grinned even wider and Galway could feel his delight through their bond. He hadn’t ordered Heyou not to hurt anyone, but he trusted the battler not to and he knew that Heyou was aware of that. “Nah.”
Nelson blustered, all indignant at the slight, and within seconds, he and Heyou were pummeling each other while the other boys circled them and shrieked encouragement.
Iyala sighed, leaning against her husband. “This does seem to be the sort of welcome we give, isn’t it?” she mused, sounding more than a bit amused.
Galway put an arm around her shoulder. “It is.” He chuckled. “Come, my dear. Let’s leave them to work it out amongst themselves. There’s something I should probably tell you about Heyou.”