Archive for May, 2010

Leafsong’s Diary 31.5 – A question

Query: Will my husband appreciate this stylish cloak I hand-sewed for him, embroidered with the words Don’t you wish your lifemate was hot like me? ?

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Leafsong’s views on her family: Melarian Gladefall

Melarian Gladefall (My father):

At first appearance, my father appears to be every inch the successful owner of a lucrative and expansive trading corporation. The Gladefall Herb Empire has branched out from its original premise (selling low-cost, all-natural herbal remedies); to general alchemical and olfactory production, and the addition of an international import/export service. Of course, the import/export service is just a smokescreen for the true purpose of the shipping network – the trafficking of restricted substances, and fencing stolen goods. There’s a reason why us Gladefalls hate tax season with such vehemence: it takes a great deal of effort to reconcile the obvious wealth of the GHE with the relatively minor profits made from peddling headache cures and constipation remedies!

My father dresses more flamboyantly than any Kaldorei male I’ve ever met. He always wears robes in regal shades, such as deep mauve with golden trim, fur-lined cloaks imported from Winterspring. His hair is perfectly coiffed and styled, his beard oiled into a spiral and adorned with a single crystal bead. To others, his voice appears calculatingly deep and thrilling, carefully manufactured to send tremors down any potential client’s spine. Rings cover his fingers, a Gladefall seal gleaming like a blob of molten elementium on his right knuckle. He exudes a sense of self-righteousness as powerful as any Highborne lord, and – unless one knew better- one could easily mistake him for one of noble blood.

We Gladefalls know better, though. Our patriarch is no more a Highborne lord than I am Sargeras, Destroyer of Worlds. The jewellery he claims as family heirlooms were obtained in the past five years in assorted sordid ways, no doubt pried from dead men’s fingers or plucked from strange vaults. The “Gladefall seal” is a modern creation, as is my father’s voice itself. His silver tongue is a product of hours of elocution, although he is not perfect at it and sometimes he will slip up and betray a hint of his true heritage. He only allows himself to fully lapse back into coarse Nighthaven slang when he is alone with us.

It would be silly for him to continue this pretense for the benefit of my brothers and I, when we have seen him dressed in little more than sackcloth and scraps of leather. It is the greatest fear of my father that someone outside the family will discover that, less than ten years ago, the charismatic mastermind behind the GHE was little more than a street peddlar, living in the poorest district of Nighthaven and surviving off the kindness of strangers. He is terrified that the lightning-quick expansion of the GHE from street stall to international market, (currently attributed to his own renowned business acumen and genius) will be revealed as the product of a rich man’s donation. Gold, not guile, was the true catalyst of the Gladefall Herb Empire’s success.

Ten years ago on the breezy slopes of Hyjal, a wealthy exile stumbled across a ragged, dirty girl, gathering wild steelbloom for her father to sell off a blanket. Her feet were bare and bloodied from climbing the craggy path which connected the mountain to the neighbouring region of Moonglade. The wealthy man gave her a gold coin to buy a pair of sandals. The next time he saw her, she was still barefoot. Over the next few weeks, he learnt that the girl’s father was attempting to gather enough capital to purchase a business license for a small herb shop. The exile had nowhere to spend his fortune, so continued to give her gold in increasingly large amounts. One day, she stopped picking flowers on the slopes of Hyjal, and he eventually forgot that she had ever existed.

A decade later, they met by chance in Shattrath City. He had been given a dispensation by the Darnassian Council, and had his lands and citizen rights restored. She was no longer a barefoot peasant, but the daughter of a prosperous merchant who had won a prestigious and extremely lucrative Cenarion Circle contract. The success of the GHE had been celebrated from Darnassus, to Auberdine, to Astranaar; as new branches opened their doors and clients flocked to partake in this ‘Elune-blessed’ new venture. Look at what I, Melarian Gladefall, have accomplished by myself. The Goddess is smiling on the Gladefall family.

All might still have been well, if only Ashamal Shalah’aman and Leafsong Gladefall had not crossed paths once more. Before long, she had fallen pregnant with his child, and out of obligation he had taken her as his lifemate. Ashamal was far from stupid, and knew that the incredible fortune of the GHE was due to a fortune of a kind other than Melarian’s natural business acumen. He only brought it up on rare occasions (usually when his wife was being particularly ungrateful or obnoxious), but it was a reminder frequent enough to unsettle Melarian. I know the secret behind your success. The GHE is not successful because it is blessed by Elune, it is successful because your daughter sold herself for gold on the slopes of Mount Hyjal.

And this is why my father and my husband can never get along. My husband knows that he is the one responsible for the GHE’s success, and my father knows that – no matter how high he may rise – there is someone out there who can send him tumbling back down. My husband is the only one outside the family who knows that the success of the GHE is built on prostitution, deception, and petty theft.

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Back in the GHE:SW

“Now sling your hook or I’ll break your neck!”

Leafsong slammed the front door enthusiastically, her cheeks scarlet. Analith, who loved it when his mother got a face like a tomato, let out a delighted cackle and clapped his chubby palms together. She scooped him up and deposited him beside Mirae in the pile of as-yet unsorted hessian sacks crumpled in the corner. Mirae shot a disapproving look at her brother, then resumed chewing on her fistful of sungrass. A moment later, the door to the back room creaked open an inch, two pale eyes squinting warily into the main shop front. Leafsong jerked her head irritably, inhaling deeply in an attempt to calm herself.

“You can come out. You better not ‘ave pocketed nothing.”
“Who was that poor soul, and what had he done to cause such appalling rudeness? ” A slender Kaldorei man slid around the partially-opened door and navigated his way across the cluttered floor, perching on the edge of the counter. Rubbing his fingers over an unshaved chin, he arched a brow at the tall, agitated girl.

“City commerce representative. They want to upgrade this branch from ‘small‘ business category to ‘medium’ business category” Leafsong hissed, with venom usually reserved for the tax collector. The flush gradually spread from her face, down her neck, to her chest.

Faelnor shrugged a shoulder elegantly, brushing his fingers over the dusty countertop.

“Isn’t that a good thing? Means that you’re making a good income.”

“Do we look like a medium sized business, cousin?!”

Leafsong spread her skinny arms in entreaty, her eyebrows quivering, encompassing the cramped shopfront; the sacks piled in every corner; the precarious stacks of crates which lined the walls; the vials and jars packed onto every flat surface.With an outraged huff, her finger swung over to an upturned box, carefully placed at the foot of the stairs. As Faelnor slid himself along the counter to view the contents of the container, he was surprised to find two newborns sleeping soundly in a woollen blanket.

“We don’t even have room for another crib upstairs. My babies are sleepin’. In a BOX.” Leafsong spat, her fingers curling in rage. The ferocity of her tone awoke Loredar, who opened silvery eyes and eyeballed his mother in vague alarm. She immediately rearranged her features into a comforting, if slightly fixed, smile, and wriggled her fingers at the infant. Loredar, reassured, closed his eyes once more; and Leafsong’s smile mutated into a vicious snarl as she swung back round to face Faelnor.

“This is not a medium sized business. I bet those fuc- those fiends at the Stormwind Herb Company reported me! They’ve hated me ever since those rumours started about them diluting all their potions with murloc urine to lower costs. They don’t even know that was me!”

Faelnor rolled his eyes at her soundlessly, clearly uninterested in the politics of petty business rivalry. Crooking a long finger, he drew her attention to a roll of parchment discreetly slid from the pocket of his cloak. She paused in her ranting, her eyes sliding over to his.

“What’s that?”
“Come here.”
What is it?”
“Just take a look.”

She stared at him stubbornly, her pale expression unreadable. They gazed at one another for a moment, before he relented and waved his fingers, lightly.

“It’s a commission, alright?”

Her eyes widened and she brought her hands defensively up to her chest for a moment, tugging at the grubby collar of her threadbare shirt. Mirae let out a gurgle and she bent over, kissing the little girl on the soft crown of her head. A moment later she turned back to face Faelnor, her brow furrowed.

“I ain’t doing it. I’m too busy.”
“Your father sent me.”
“Why can’t Ban or Lolli do it?”
“Your brothers are occupied with the Steamwheedle negotiations. You know that, cousin. They’re not available.”

She stared at him helplessly for a moment, her fingers working at the hemline of her shirt.

“What about my pa, then? Why can’t he do it?”

Faelnor picked up a stuffed saber doll, turning it over in his hands idly as he fixed her with his pale gaze, so similar to her own. The ear was chewed and hanging by a string; he began to methodically tug at the exposed stuffing.

“Don’t be ridiculous. My uncle is a busy man, and he expects his children to do their part for the family business. You’re a Gladefall, aren’t you?”

She scowled at him, stepping over and extracting the saber doll from his hands. “Of course I am.”

He waited for a moment, the corner of his mouth tugging upward in a knowing smile. Finally, she hissed through her teeth, squeezing the saber in a death grip. “Show me.”

Out of habit, Faelnor glanced about to check that no-one was in earshot. Gesturing her closer, he unrolled the parchment and grinned, waiting for a response. Inadvertently, Leafsong sucked in her cheeks in admiration, her eyes widening. Faelnor grinned at her savagely as she snatched the parchment, holding it up to the suspended lantern to peruse it more thoroughly.

“Nice, isn’t it? I knew a girl wouldn’t be able to resist a piece of jewellery like that.”

She scowled without moving her eyes from the image, her head tilting to the side. “I don’t care about that. I care about how much it’s worth.”

He threw his head back in a laugh, reaching out to rub her wrist in an over-familiar manner.

“There’s a streak of goblin in you wider than the Southfury River, cousin.”

She slapped his fingers away irritably, allowing the parchment to curl back into its original form before tucking it into the pocket of her trousers.

“You’ve got what you want. You can leave now” she muttered, turning her back on him and hunching her shoulders

He smiled at her once more, enjoying her discomfort. “Just saying farewell to my little nieces and nephews.”

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Loredar and Flora

She clung to the ropes slung around the tree trunks like a desperate, drowning woman; her contorted body gouging earthy swathes in the grass as she writhed. Lake Elune’ara lay placid before her, the ancient lake’s calm surface reflecting the terror and pain in her face; her usual solemn and watchful features disfigured into something  horrible and unrecognisable. Her hair hung in a sweaty tangle, the dark strands clinging to her pallid cheeks like spidery blood vessels. She let out yet another muted cry of pain, her throat now hoarse, unable to muster the strength for a full-blown shriek. Her abdomen clenched once more as another powerful contraction took hold, squeezing and twisting the muscles of her lower body, every nerve ending screaming as the mass in her belly forced itself lower. Another gout of blood and mucus stained the sodden grass, her slender thighs slick and crimson.

In the indeterminable pause between contractions, she raised her head weakly, mustering her strength to look down beyond her bruised belly. On seeing the extent of the viscous mess between her legs she let out a hiss of fright, her pale eyes searching her husband’s face. He gazed down at her, his face carefully constructed into a mask of reassurance, the lined corners of his mouth turning up as he continued to murmur soothing platitudes. She whispered entreaties in return, her words coming out tangled and broken as she pleaded with him brokenly to help her, that she couldn’t do it, that she had changed her mind and didn’t want any more children. Too late he replied grimly, the bones in his hand moving as she clenched his fingers with her sweaty, blood-stained deathgrip. Too late.

A contraction stronger than any before twisted her gut and she arced upwards, her hips rising in the air as an animal moan escaped her curled lips. With a wet rush, a slimy mass dropped into her mate’s outstretched hands. It uncoiled, pale and bloody, the slick cord tangled around it’s neck. A moment later the lifegiving cable was severed and he was swabbing the mucous from the infant’s mouth and nose as it let out a bewildered, high-pitched wail. Tears began to pour down the man’s face as he held the tiny, reddened newborn, showing it to his exhausted mate as she slumped back against the grass in momentary peace. It’s a boy. It’s Loredar. My son: he is perfect. She opened her eyes for a moment, a burst vessel turning the left one an angry scarlet, the corner of her mouth tugging upwards as she reached out to touch the infant’s blood-slick head.

The temporary reprieve ended as abruptly as their son had arrived. She let out another howl, her palms scored by friction burn from the clenched rope. Her agonised screams did not seem to bother the new infant, who had been swaddled and tenderly laid on the grass, blinking solemnly with the round, grey eyes of his mother.

She felt something give from deep within her, and knew that she could not continue. As she capitulated under despair, her body took control and wrung the second infant from between her legs, with a horrible tearing sound. She let out another howl of pain as her husband received the second infant into upturned hands. More blood and plasma followed in a gush, unrestricted now by any blockage, and she moaned. Her hands curled over her deflated belly, bruised and sore, as she felt her husband shove something inside to stem the flow. What had been a pulsing and throbbing heaviness had been replaced with an aching, tender hollowness. A second cry, more strident than the first, punctuated her half-drugged haze and she opened a single eye to see her husband holding up a small, angry infant with a spring of curly blue hair. Flora, said her husband with a rarely-heard quaver to his voice, she is also perfect. You are perfect.

She felt far from perfect, she thought to herself grimly, shifting up a fraction on the grass and stifling a cry of pain. The horrible gushing seemed to have abated, but her pelvis felt as if it had been torn out and trampled by a herd of charging elekk. Feeling her husband’s strong arm around her shoulders, helping her to slowly sit upright, she managed to grip an infant in each sweaty arm. A moment later she felt the familiar, tugging sensation at her chest as they began to nurse. Breathing out unsteadily, she closed her eyes once more and rested against his shoulder, taking comfort from his solid presence.

“I want Analith and Mirae.” she insisted after a moment, her voice barely above a whisper. Her mate nodded, stroking the twin heads in turn tenderly, his eyes red. “I’ll send for them tomorrow. Our family will be complete.”

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Leafsong’s Diary 26.5 – In which Leafsong is too fat to move (almost).

I wish my husband hadn’t told me that old story about the Kaldorei who sat at his desk puzzling over the mysteries of the universe for such a long time that he turned to stone. I had been in bed for about twenty seven straight hours before he mentioned that little gem. My mate and I are in his Darnassian house, where I have been resting these past few days. We went to the Temple this morning, and my husband offered up two prayers for my safety to Elune, for the upcoming birth. He only did so after I requested it; at first he attempted to brush me off with a “It’s not necessary”. It’s nice that he has such confidence in my immortality. I am not so sure.

I think that it is going to be soon. I have been pregnant twice before, and I know that feeling, the one that whispers that it won’t be long now. My back is aching, and the weight in my belly is shifting, lowering itself deeper in my pelvis. I don’t know whether the nausea I feel is due to the pregnancy, or to a sense of impending doom. I still don’t know how it is going to happen – I mean, I know what is going to happen, I’ve done it twice before; but I’ve never had this sense of absolute terror.

Mirae, my husband cut her out of my belly while I was asleep, but I’ve had such horrible dreams about that (usually involving my anatomy-ignorant mate accidentally removing some vital organs), that I have absolutely forbidden him to even contemplate it. With Analith, the first one, he came naturally – because I didn’t know any better. I didn’t think it was going to hurt so much. Someone told me that the moment of his birth would be the happiest moment of my young life. It wasn’t. I don’t even remember it properly, that whole horrible night is just a blur of sweat and tears and bleeding out onto the snow, and a horrible gnawing and tearing pain. I remember shrieking like a banshee, and my husband’s terrified, helpless face. I’d never seen him look so scared before.

Is that what it is going to be like again? Only with two? Does that mean that it will last longer, because there are two of them? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. I should have listened to the healer, when she came on her visits to check my belly. I shouldn’t have got distracted counting the gold teeth in her mouth and calculating how much they would be worth.

I wonder, if it came to saving me, or the children, which my husband would choose?

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(( Back! ))

(( Back from minibreak going around various Fundy national parks. After walking more in the past three days than I have in the past three MONTHS, my feet are killing me and I am covered from head to toe in insect bites. I suppose I was like a walking buffet to the flying wildlife of the park. Well I am glad that I managed to cater to their individual tastes (!!!).

ICly, Leafsong has retired to Darnassus for the final few days of her pregnancy. Now the size of about six barges, she is only able to loll around on a bed, Jabba-style, while bitching incessantly. She is going to (reluctantly) give birth tomorrow, which should be hilarious. I think poor Aphel is in for a long night! So, there will be a new post tomorrow. ))

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Away!

Taking parents to log chalet in middle of CANADIAN woods till Tuesday. New post then, if haven’t been eaten by bear.

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