Archive for November, 2010

Leafsong’s Diary 29.11 – Aftermath

My children are safe and unharmed. My husband is well. The events of the past week have shown me that these are the things that I really truly care about, at the end of all things.

I had often idly wondered what I would do if I found my house and worldly possessions crumbling around my ears, all the things which I worked so hard to get. I always used to think that I would scrabble around for my belongings until the floor literally caved beneath me. I would not let the earth claim one single copper coin!

But when that last devastating quake tore the world apart and something -I know not yet what, I have heard talk of dragons- blazed the world with it’s fury, I had no other thought in my head except for the safety of my family.

Shyla, who wouldn’t come with us when we fled Stormwind, is missing and presumed dead. Our home, the GHE: SW, is at the bottom of the Stormwind Harbour. The Park itself has been blasted from the face of the city, and nothing remains there now except charred rubble. It is not only the Stormwind branch that has suffered such a fate; the GHE branches in Feathermoon, Auberdine and Ashenvale have also been destroyed. Ban and Lolli, thank Elune, were spared. My father is already drawing up plans for a second GHE branch in Darnassus, and a new one in Winterspring. I think he sees this devastation as further proof that the gods do not favour him; and he views this as a challenge, rather than a setback.

Ah, Shyla! Childhood friend, cousin, beloved aunt to my children; why wouldn’t you come with us when we begged you? I know why, you truly believed that staying behind to run the GHE: SW alone would endear you to my father, that perhaps he would disown me in favour of you. Three years ago I would have been at your side, clinging to the business we had built up, right up until we were blasted out of existence. I do understand your ambition, Shyla, might even have died to defend it – then. But not now! Not with my family and my children. Not now that once more my belly begins to rise. Shyla, darling, your ambition killed you as surely as any draconic fire. I love you vastly but I pity you more. I wonder if she regretted it at the end? Or if she fell to her death still clutching the GHE cashbox. I have prayed for you, cousin, and I will never forget the lesson you taught me.

We have returned to Stormwind, my husband, babies and I. I am still unsure what my father wishes for me to do, though I am sure that I don’t want to run another branch myself. We are not in the city centre as we were last time, but in a tenant’s cottage on some farmer’s property on the city outskirts. There are trees around us, and it is quiet and peaceful. We are within a stone’s throw of the city, yet we could be in the middle of the Redridge foothills. It is a good place to bring up children, though I shan’t grow as attached to it as I did the old one. How foolish to obsess over bricks and wood and plaster, to think that “home” is a structure rather than a state of mind. I like the house, it is small and warm, and it had a back annex for my grandmother. I don’t know yet what I am going to do with myself, with no business and no studies. Others will laugh at me and say- you have four (soon five!) children under the age of three. You have enough to do! I suppose they’re right, really.

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(Ed.: This continuation of the previous entry was also penned by A.S on behalf of L.S. A.S queries the point of writing this entry at all, since the intended purpose of keeping a diary was to improve L.S’ dubious literacy. L.S insists that it be written anyway.)

Ashamal Shalah’aman has a face like an elekk.
Ashamal Shalah’aman has a face like an elekk.
Ashamal Shalah’aman is going to savagely beat his wife unless she stops being a little fu-

Enough of that silliness. So yes, I was about to talk about the babies. My babies! They are coping with all this upheaval far better than their mother. I took them all to the shore the other day to watch the fishermen. Analith’s speech is progressing by leaps and bounds; he solemnly informed me the other day “No mo veg, Min’da. Want cake.” At two and two months! My husband is very proud of his precocious baby and is spending a lot of time with him. Goddess knows what he is teaching him (Ed.: Nothing that need worry you, darling.) Mirae still doesn’t speak much, but her looks more than make up for it. It is actually quite insulting when I take her out, to see people look from her face, to mine, back to hers, incredulous. YES, I REALISE THAT I AM NO BEAUTY. (Ed.: You are beautiful to me, sweetheart!) Hmph. The twins are adorable, just beginning to crawl. They have a markedly different temperament from intense Analith and solemn Mirae; they are fat and jolly. Flora never stops giggling and babbling, and stays wide-eyed and awake late into the night. Loredar is the quieter twin, but even he will break into squawks and squeaks whenever he spots someone he knows. And I’m with child again, it seems.

As for my husband and I, we have never been closer. This crisis has brought us together in our purposes for once; I am not obsessed with the business, nor he with the Horde. We are single-minded in our goal: to protect our family from this catastrophe.

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Leafsong’s Diary 22.11

(Note – This entry was dictated by L. Shalah’aman to her lifemate A. Shalah’aman, on the grounds that it was a particularly long entry and it was unfair to expect her to “do it all.” Hence why this entry contains immaculate spelling and embodies grammatical perfection.)

Oooh! What an eventful week. I don’t often start my diary entries with an “ooooh”, but this week has been truly worthy of one, trust me! As of this moment, I’m writing this entry (Ed.: Lies!) from the balcony of my husband’s lovely Darnassian waterfront home.

He is rolling his eyes and huffing at this, but it’s true, it doesn’t feel like a family home- not yet, at least. We simply haven’t spent enough time here, like we have in the GHE:SW. This house is so fancy, and it’s in such a classy area;
I feel like I’m a burglar. I keep putting paperweights and little ornaments in my pockets reflexively as I wander around (Ed.: Ah, mystery solved! Can you return these objects please, some of them are very old.) The house very much reflects my husband’s bachelor life, pre-mate and pre-child. Very beautiful, very ornate, but with lots of sharp edges and open balconies. I’ve had to string fishing net everywhere to stop Ani from plummeting into the waterway.

Speaking of the bachelor lifestyle, I’ve just remembered!! This house was where I caught my mate doing NAKED ARCHERY with a priestess!! Scandalous! (Ed.; Ah, yes! Silvana. Terrible aim, but fine figure. And I wasn’t your mate at that time.)

And why have we left Stormwind? What, after Scarlets, Horde, Scourge, cultists and earthquakes, could have finally driven us out? Well, diary, Stormwind is now under attack from the elements themselves. And the city defences are absolutely worthless! A portal will spawn – anywhere!- with no warning, and spew forth hurricane force winds, tidal deluges, whirlwinds of flame and rolling boulders. The canals have flooded, an entire street of wooden houses in Old Town were burnt to a cinder, and still more have collapsed due to their foundations being pounded by quake and angry beings of stone. Several people have been blown to their deaths from the harbour walls due to sudden malicious gusts. I have great faith in my husband; I would trust him against man, monster and machine- but when the world itself rises against you in rage, arrows are useless.

These elemental portals, I believe, are opening all around Kalimdor too. So far, Darnassus has been spared, which is why we have retreated here. I don’t know what we’ll do if they do come. I haven’t heard from Ban or Lolli in Feathermoon, though Shyla has written twice.

Ah, but I feel bad about Shyla. I know that she is ambitious, but to choose to stay and run the GHE: SW alone? I wouldn’t wish to be in the Park at this moment for ten thousand gold coins. I begged her to come with us, but she brushed me off with a strange light in her eyes. I know that she wants to be a Gladefall and to have my father adopt her, but choosing to stay amidst that turmoil? My mate believes her to be insane (Ed.: She’s a greedy fool.), but at least my grandmother has accompanied us to Darnassus. Thank Elune she has- I can’t look after the babies alone.

Speaking of the babies-

(Editor’s note: At this point the humble writer got bored of writing and decided that he would rather mate his wife instead.)

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The night was closing in on Darnassus as shadows descended on one of the city’s most exclusive centre districts. One of the dwellings, a spacious two-storey pavilion blazed from within like a lantern, lit by a fortune’s worth of candles. A chill autumn breeze rustled through gauzy veils that draped across the house-pavilion’s length; the only shields that kept the exposed dwelling from prying eyes, curious as to the occupants of these affluent homes .

Leafsong, clutching a bulging wicker basket of market-goods, turned onto the avenue that wound its way slowly between the luxury lodgings. A mounted sentinel followed close behind her, a predatory look on the handsome woman’s face as she crouched low in the saddle. Her eyes were fixated on the gawky, suspicious looking adolescent female; whose patched dress and general demeanour did not suggest that she belonged in such an privileged district. Leafsong, uncaring, continued to trudge along wearily; the handle of the basket digging into her fingers as she cursed the second melon she had rashly added at the last minute. The glow of two dozen candles caught her eye and she looked up, her jaw dropping as she took in the sight of the Shalah’aman family home, ablaze with light.

A few moments later, Ashamal Shalah’aman looked up from his book as his wife burst in through the curtains, pummelling her way through the flimsy fabric with a look of fury on her face. Dropping the wicker basket on one of the velvet chaises, she rotated slowly, taking in the lit lanterns hanging from the ceiling and the flickering candles lodged in ornate holders on the walls. The colour of her face had flushed from its usual sallow pallor to a blotchy apple-red.

“WHAT IS THE – meaning of this?!” Her initial bellow slid into a venomous whisper as he put a finger to his lips, nodding to the slumbering, blanket-covered forms in the crib beside their bed. In the Darnassian fashion, their sleeping quarters were on the lower storey; the elevated living room affording the better view of the city. Lifting the half-moon glasses from his hooked nose, he discarded the book and crossed the room to take his furious mate in his arms.

“Darling, you were longer than I thought,” he said as she went rigid against him, her eyes bulging with the effort of not erupting. “It’s tedious being unable to leave the house. When is your grandmother returning from Dolanaar?”

She wriggled for a moment, then tipped her head the slight angle needed to look him in the face, being only an inch shorter than he.

“Why are there so many bloody candles lit?! You know the rule is one per night. Those ain’t the soap wax ones, they cost a buggerin’ fortune!” she snarled, curly hairs escaping from her untidy bun.

He divested her of her (his) leather coat, expertly turning her around and guiding her down onto the chaise. Ignoring the old pain in his knee, he sank down before her, taking her cold hands in his.

“My fledgling mate,” he said patiently, rubbing his thumbs over her frantically twitching fingers. “I play to your pretence of poverty in Stormwind well enough, don’t I? I don’t protest when your insane budgeting means that I must read to the light of a single paltry candle. I don’t complain about our cramped quarters, nor the fact that we share our bedroom with the weekly shipments, nor that our little twins sleep in a crate.”

She gazed at him stubbornly, the star-cut lantern hanging behind her head illuminating her finely-cut features. He stroked the twisting locks that dangled behind her ears, his fingers coming away with a smear of earth. When his wife did bother to wash herself, she rarely did so thoroughly.

“You know that we do not lack funds. Elune has blessed us with monetary fortune as well as familial bounty” he reminded Leafsong gently, taking a seat on the velvet cushions beside her. She relented silently, her narrow shoulders losing their rigid cast. Reaching down for the basket by her feet, she lifted out something awkwardly wrapped in a scarf, passing it to him. He took it, raising a faded eyebrow, and unwrapped the package to reveal an ornate, dual-pronged bookmark.

“I knew you lost your old one,” she informed him solemnly. “So I got you a new one!”

He turned the wooden fork over, to see Darnassus Public Library etched on the handle. She looked defensive, her own eyebrows shooting up towards the patterned ceiling.

“What? You’re the public, ain’t you?”

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The streets of Stormwind were unusually quiet for a Saturday mid-morning. Many shops had not bothered opening the shutters, their owners either fled, in hiding, or vanished. The Trade District, usually a bustling centre of commerce, was deserted. The piping birdsong was, eerily, the loudest sound on the street that day. The increase in cultist activity in addition to the frequent elemental invasions, had prompted many to stay locked safely in their houses.

Leafsong, who had woken especially early to bag some bargains at the cheap fruit stall, was exceedingly annoyed to find that the owner had not bothered to even set up shop that morning. Having dragged herself out of the warmth of bed just as the first weak rays of sunlight filtered into their bedroom; she had pulled on the first thing to hand (an unsuitably thin shirt for the time of year) and stumbled, half-awake, across the Park and caught a ride on a punt to the marketplace. Out of spite, she had spent too much money on the only stall that had opened, one run by a manic-looking gnome.

Gloomily clutching her new revolving goggles, she wandered past the quiet auction house. The advertisement board was only half as full as usual; and she took some pleasure in plastering a plethora of GHE leaflets over the flyers of several rival alchemists. Cackling quietly to herself, she passed beneath the stone archway, glancing up and down the canal to try and spot a free punt. There were none to be be seen, many boatmen too afraid to take out their craft with the increasing frequency of the earth tremors. Sighing inwardly, her pointed face set, she began to make her way back towards the Park.

As she rounded the corner of the high-walled Mage District, there came the now-familiar deep rumbling from beneath her. Before she could run for the stronghold of the Stockade, the cobbles lurched beneath her and she sprawled forward onto her face in the mud, her hands over her head. Luckily, but a few moments after it had begun, the earth quieted and settled back to its customary placidness. Leafsong, spitting mud and rage, raised her head just as a blinding flash dazzled her. Squinting and turning her face away as she knelt upright, there came from somewhere before her the distinctive, throaty dwarven chuckle. Looking up, a dwarf clad in battered leathers and sporting a crackle monocle clutched a camera of gnomish design, his whiskered face suffused with glee.

“Sorry, lass!” he chortled, reaching out a hand to help her; which she ignored, seething, scrambling to her feet ungracefully. “I work for the Stormwind Gazette. Writin’ a feature on the disruption ta daily life in the city, due ta quakes and cultists and th’ like. You’ll be on the front page, girlie!”

She bared her teeth at him until he raised his hands, backing away. Brushing dirt from her bruised knees, she turned on her heel and strode off, muttering beneath her breath. Being crouched in the mud had unsettled her more than she cared to admit; it brought to mind recollections of when she had spent her days kneeling there, sores spreading on her kneecaps, hands held aloft and head bowed in humility.

She shook herself and moved on, idly lifting the gnomish goggles up to her eyes as she crossed the bridge.

The world turned red and mechanical. She froze in horror as trees turned into linear patterns, the canal waters a band of static, while a passer-by shrank into a green dot. She let out a moan of terror, just as the goggles were lifted from her face.

“What the f-ck?” stated a familiar acerbic voice. She turned to see her husband atop one of his riding sabers, swathed in winter leather and dangling the goggles from one contemptuous finger. She gazed up at him open-mouthed, mouthing silently.

“I must admit, the last thing I expected on my journey home was to come across my mate wandering around on a bridge in a state of distress, half-dressed and wearing a pair of goggles. Were you drinking at breakfast?”

“No!” she denied vehemently, her cheeks flushing. “I just – bought these ‘orrible fings, well, for no reason. I ‘ate them! I’m gonna take ’em back-”
She was cut off as the goggles flew over her head and landed with a splash in the murky depths of the canal.

“You will not; you’re coming home,” he stated casually, bending over to haul her up before him on the pommel of his saddle. Another cold wind whipped through the canal district and he wrapped her up in the front of his long leather coat, turning the saber’s head towards home.

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New Art by Jessica Marie of WRA!

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New story!

Over at Aphel’s blog =) A very well written piece, set in the Highborne era.

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The tangled alleyways that snaked through Stormwind’s Old Town were a place that no respectable citizen would ever contemplate visiting. Leafsong, who never contemplated referring to herself as respectable, entered the twisting passages with a faint sense of trepidation. When she had first established the GHE in Stormwind, she had spent hours acquainting herself with the notorious inhabitants of Stormwind’s poorest district; memorising faces and making contacts. She had found much in common with the human city’s criminal element, being from a similar background herself. Indeed, she felt that the scheming desperates of Old Town were far more relatable than the lofty priestesses and Druids of her own race.

However, nearly two years had passed since she had last visited the deepest bowels of the alleyways. She had faithfully continued to visit up to the sixth month of her first pregnancy, meeting clients and making deals; until her mate had followed her one night, gaped in disbelief, and forbidden her from returning. The next night, in lieu of her actual self, she had sent Lindel Windvine; one of the GHE’s longest-serving retainers. He had proved surprisingly competant, and had continued in the role; returning weekly to the GHE: SW with new clients, new contacts, and news on the newest faces on the grey market scene.

That was, until two weeks previously, when he had disappeared without a trace. His mate, a slender, quiet Kaldorei male with the sad eyes of a Taunka, had confessed his worry to Leafsong. Leafsong had proceeded to throw a tantrum (much to the amusement of her watching babies), wailed, delayed, hand-to-head; but had finally capitulated and agreed to look into Lindel’s mysterious disappearance.

Hence why she was spending the evening in Stormwind’s grimmest district, instead of curled up on the sofa happily counting the week’s profits. She hurried through the twists and turns, remembering the old short cuts, meeting no eyes. She recognised several faces, many of them sporting new scars or other signs of wear, but they showed no sign of recognition in return. Catching the silvered flash of a blade in the corner of her eye, she quickened her pace, mouth set in a tight line. Dressed in her threadbare, much-patched clothing, her hair bundled beneath her cap; she blended in as well as a seven foot, rail-thin Kaldorei possibly could.

“Well, well: Twiggy Gladefall.”

The old greeting stopped her dead in her tracks, and she glanced behind her, warily. An old dwarf was sitting cross-legged on a barrel, merrily puffing away at a long pipe, bright eye eyes twinkling. Leafsong inwardly cursed Lindel, then forced her mouth into an unnatural grin, crossing over the slick cobblestones.

“‘Ello, Tumpty” she said cheerily between clenched teeth, taking in the sight of the rotund, smirking dwarf. He leered at her, chewing the end of his pipe maniacally.

“Here’s a good one” he hiccuped, his whiskery face tilting towards hers. “What’s the difference between a Gladefall and a Kaldorei woman?”

She inwardly wished for a crack to open up in the cobbles and consume him whole.

“I dunno. What is?”

“A Kaldorei woman has beauty, class and grace! WAAAGH HAR HA HAGH”

As he collapsed into convulsions, Leafsong vehemently wished him dead, her mouth contorted into a grimace. Gradually his chortling faded away and he squinted at her, appraisingly.

“So, settled down with a couple of sprogs are we?”

“SPROGS, what does mean?”

“Bairns, y’silly lass!”

“…. What does mean?”

He made a vague cradling gesture and finally she understood and nodded, knowing the network well enough not to be disconcerted that they kept tabs on her.

“I’ve seen your man around,” he said after a few moments of silence, fiddling with his tobacco pouch. “Mean old bugger.”

She nodded again, gloomily, thinking about the piles of cash waiting to be counted at home. Reminding herself that those piles had been slightly smaller with Lindel’s absence, she cut across the old dwarf as she was about to speak.

“Tumpty, eh. You know my man Windvine.”

He glanced up at her sharply, his fingers coming to a pause on the buckle. “Perhaps.”

She met his eyes for a moment, then continued.

“‘E go missin’. This does not please me: he is valuable asset.”

As he pondered to himself, Leafsong nudged her bare toe between the cobblestones, gouging a channel in the caked mud. Finally he cleared his throat and she looked up.

“I could not tell you what I know, watch you ask around Old Town all night, but I got a soft spot for Kaldorei lasses- even skinny, shapeless ones.”

She watched him quietly, her pale eyes fixed on his face. She had the sinking feeling that he was about to request a payment for his troubles; and began inwardly calculating how much she was going to dock off Lindel’s wages.

“And in addition to that, there’s a very scary man pointin’ a gun at me face, so I don’t believe I got much choice in the matter.”

She swung around in alarm.

“The mean old bugger was just passing,” snapped Ashamal in perfect Common; the grey streaks in his hair appearing silver in the moonlight. He held the gun with one deceptively casual hand, eyes the muted amber of a falcon.

Leafsong waved at him feebly and he shot her a look of pure evil. In their native tongue, he berated her: “You shouldn’t have come here alone, it’s far too dangerous.”

She shrugged at him and he exhaled, irate. “Let’s just extract the information from the midget and leave.”

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Leafsong’s Diary 5.11

My mate insists that I resume my diary-writing practice of an evening, as he claims that my literacy has “decreased substantially” since I stopped. I dunno how he can judge such a thing, though, since my literacy has always left much to be desired. I don’t know how far you can decrease from ‘absolute crap’, anyway. But, seeing as he is standing over me with a glower at this exact moment, guiding my hand – I can’t exactly protest. He even put the babies to bed so that I would have this hour free to write.

So, what to write? We have gradually settled back down into our old routine, before the horror of the Sunguard incident. My husband is still recovering from his injuries, he was hurt far worse than I, but has received the best care and attention. I am happy to say that I took good care of him during his convalescence. I was unselfish and looked after his needs before my own; it is only right, he is far older than I. His dire injuries don’t seem to have dented his confidence, the opposite in fact – he seems even more impassioned and determined than ever. His recovery hasn’t come soon enough, what with these repulsive little “cultists” blabbering their inexplicable nonsense everywhere. Literally, it’s nonsense to me, my knowledge of Common doesn’t include doomsayer vocabulary. For which I’m grateful. They seem to have the rest of Stormwind in a frenzy though.

My children are all well. Analith is progressing well with his speaking, though it’s rather disconcerting to hear the beginnings of sentences from his babyish lips. It seems like only a few days ago that he was nursing. Now he is demanding food with high, imperious, confident commands: “Anliff food, food me!” He’s so like his father. Though I don’t think I’ve ever heard my husband yell FEED ME, FEED ME. Mirae is slowly growing in confidence, I’ve been taking her out for strolls around the Park and she’s actually opening her eyes to look at her surroundings now, rather than just curling up in a ball and whimpering. The twins are – well, they’re just coming up to five months old, and they’re plump and happy. They’ve also begun to sleep through the night, which makes me happier than you would BELIEVE.

In business news, I’ve lost track of my best underground contact. It is very annoying, he has been working for the GHE and my father for close on five years now; and has brought in a healthy proportion of business. That’s the trouble with these off-the-books fellows, the ones who deal under the table and operate outside the usual business channels. They go missing, all the time.

Still, it’s rather tedious to recruit new ones. I’m a mother now, I can’t be hanging around in taverns and alleyways like I used to. I might ask a few of my old contacts, see if anyone knows what happened to the man.

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Recuperation continued

For the second day, the GHE shopfront stood still and empty. It was the longest period of closure since the Scourge invasion two years prior, and Shyla was beginning to feel uneasy. Although the majority of GHE sales were conducted through the medium of mail order; there was something inherently comforting about the bell jangling over the door, the bustle of bodies and the rustle of exposed coinpurses. If it had been up to her, the GHE would not have shut its doors in the first place. But Leafsong had insisted, and she was still -on paper, anyway- the manager of GHE:SW; hence, her word was final. Shyla sighed to herself as she scrubbed the already gleaming counter for the fourth time that morning.

“Onty” said Analith suddenly from behind her, unusually stealthy for such a rotund infant. “Onty, luk.”

Shyla smiled and crouched down to eye level with her young nephew, skirts trailing over the polished floorboards

“Morning Analith,” she chirped, patting the little boy’s inky-blue waves. “What have you got to show Aunt Shyla?”

He beamed gummily at her, opening a chubby fist to reveal a semi-squashed green beetle.

“Bug.” He let out a slightly maniacal cackle.

Shyla grimaced, then injected sugar into her tone.

“That’s lovely, baby. Why don’t you go show min’da and an’da?”

Analith thought for a moment, then wheeled about and toddled off towards the hollow shelter beneath the stairs.

“MIN’DA!! An’da, luk-”

Mirae, playing with a stuffed saber at the foot of the bed, shot him a look of disapproval. Leafsong’s tousled head appeared from the lumpen mass of blankets, yawning.

“Ah, what time is it- oh, hullo Annie. What’ve you got there?”

Analith held out his smeared palm, and Leafsong let out a squawk of horror.

“EUGH, oh, Annie, that’s so nasty!”

She swung bare legs out from beneath the blanket, as Ashamal sat up beside her. His injuries were beginning to mend, but his ordeal had exhausted both mind and body and he still spent the majority of the day resting.

“What has the boy done now?”

Leafsong picked her way delicately over the detritus scattered on the floor; more cautious since her impromptu plunge into the twins’ cot.

“He’s got some sort of- creature, insect, fing -I dunno- on his hand.”

Ashamal snorted, gingerly testing the mobility of his bandaged arm.

“He’s a little boy. That’s what they do.”

“Is it?” asked Leafsong, nonplussed, knowing as much about children as she did about the inner politics of the Burning Legion. “Well, it’s ‘orrible.”

Tickling Mirae as she passed, Leafsong peered into the twins’ crib. Flora was still asleep, Loredar was occupied with a woollen glove. As he looked up at his mother, he hurled the glove onto his sister and flailed his arms, cooing. Leafsong plucked the squirming baby up and, turning, deposited him on his father’s chest. Ashamal grunted slightly as the weight of the fat little infant pressed against his wound.

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