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“Is she up yet?”
“What do you think? She’s still in bed.”
“Still? Well, she had better get up. I’ve fed the oldest two, but the little ones need feeding, and I can’t help them there.”

Elurina Gladefall, eight thousand years old but as formidable as an Elder, emerged from the doorway of her cellar room with Mirae on her hip and Analith clinging to her leg.

“She’s still bawling up there?” she queried in her oddly refined tone, incongruous to the lowborn tongue of her Gladefall progeny.

Shyla nodded grimly from her position behind the counter, sorting through the week’s paperwork. Although she was secretly delighted that the onus of running the GHE: SW had fallen upon her, she was not too pleased with the masses of paperwork that came with the managerial position. The twins were in a bassinet beside her, making small snuffling sounds of hunger. Flora was chewing her brother’s forehead gummily. Elurina growled under her breath, shaking a squeaking Analith from her leg and depositing Mirae neatly on the sofa beside her prized mirror. “This is ridiculous; it’s been two days!” The family matriarch’s handsome, almost Highborne features were contorted into a snarl as she grabbed the bassinet and stormed upstairs to the master bedroom.

“Girl, you get out of bed right now, or so help me, I’ll throw you out the bloody window myself” she bellowed, bearing down on her granddaughter as she lay huddled on the bed.

Leafsong made a pathetic sight, unwashed for three hairs, her broken cheekbone distorting the right side of her face. Both skinny arms were swaddled in trailing, grubby bandages from shoulder to elbow, and one of her eyes was swollen shut. The other eye was pink and watery, watermarks cutting through the dirt on her face. Exhausted from bawling like an infant for incessant hours, she was now sobbing wordlessly, her small fists balled.

Although she hadn’t spoken about what had happened during that expedition up to the scourged land of Tirisfal to gather gloomweed, she had left there with her mate and returned, distraught and battered, without. Elurina and Shyla, after the initial shock (Ashamal had been older than all three Gladefall women combined and had had twenty lifetime’s worth of combat experience) had taken their young relative in and tended her wounds with a combination of GHE remedies and cheap local healers. After the first night, where she had screamed the house down for her mate; she hadn’t spoken a word or eaten a thing. Elurina was thoroughly fed up of it – her husband was surely dead, but she had known him but three years. A love of merely thirty months was nothing to weep this copiously over.

“Child, you look at me right now and stop being so bloody selfish,” She crossed to the head of the bed and grabbed her granddaughter’s pointed chin, tilting her face upwards. Leafsong eyed her sulkily, her mouth contorting. Elurina glared at her, the older woman’s still-attractive, fading features blazing.

“Your mate is gone, it’s very sad. Goddess knows, we’ll all miss that lucrative and wealthy man. But, you’ve done well- you’ve got children on him, four strong and healthy babies; and you’ve got his fortune. Wasn’t that what it was all about in the beginning, remember? Though I suppose it was too much for us to throw a silly little girl in with an attractive (and rich) man and expect her not to lose herself to him. Anyway – you don’t need to worry. We’ll help you with the babies, you know that. They’re Gladefall flesh and blood. But you are still their mother. You have to pull yourself together, girl!”

Leafsong sniffled wetly, her face crumpling as she dissolved into fresh sobs. Elurina raised her eyes to the ceiling, where a faded Florian poster was tacked to the beam.
“Gods-damned it, how is there any moisture left in you? Look, we’ve run out of bottled milk for them.”

She reached down to pluck a squirming Flora from the bassinet, lying the baby down in Leafsong’s lap. Flora began to instinctively burrow against her mother, pushing her chubby face against Leafsong’s grubby cotton shirt. Leafsong stopped wailing, and Elurina eased her tone slightly, encouraging the girl.
“That’s it. Look after your baby, Ashamal’s children”

Leafsong swallowed a hard lump in the back of her throat. Her limbs felt stiff as she sat up slightly, reaching to pick up Flora and hold her to her chest. Elurina sat beside them and reached out to open the front of Leafsong’s dirty shirt, allowing the baby to begin nursing, cheeks moving hungrily.

Leafsong wiped her nose on the back of her hand and looked down at the little girl, who was gazing intently up at her mother’s face as she fed, round eyes the same haughty amber as her father’s. As the baby settled into a contented rhythm, her young mother turned her head to look at her grandmother, who was soothing an impatient Loredar.
“They took me away from ‘im, Granny,” she breathed, her face as pale as her diluted grey eyes. “I begged ’em to let me stay, but they wouldn’t.” She swallowed thickly, her mouth twisting. “He looked- he looked like he had given up, he looked old, he looked -defeated. I wanted to stay with ‘im but they dragged me off. It ain’t fair!” she cried suddenly, her eyes flashing as she raised her head. “For someone so proud, so strong, to end his life in a crumpled heap on the floor, aged and alone, it ain’t right. How could Elune let that ‘appen, eh? He was her most loyal servant. I hate her, I hate her!”

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Aphel said,

    Poor Leafsong 😥 Got tears in my eyes.

  2. 2

    Delaynee/Aryssia said,

    I feel so sad now 😦

    I do love your blog though.


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