Posts tagged IC

Leafsong’s Diary 9.6

I should be surprised when something hideous disrupts the balance of my life, really. But I still can’t believe that the circumstances in which I am living now (so different from what they were ten years ago!) are truly real. Which is why I’m not shocked when something awful happens, which threatens to ruin everything.

My husband and several members of his guild have been affected by some terrible curse, bestowed on them by persons unknown. It is the most awful kind of curse, one which not only causes physical pain, but a slow descent into madness. It is like the sweating sickness which occasionally descended on Nighthaven’s poorest district, my old home. First it causes lightheadedness; then increasingly powerful waves of drowsiness. Then sleep comes, and on waking, the mind is utterly destroyed. He has lost soldiers to it already. And my husband has it. My husband!

It is a terrible thing, to feel so helpless. What is the use of my father’s business if not one single remedy or potion can cure it? The floor of the  GHE:SW is scattered with half-empty vials and herbs, all of which are useless. Useless! My mate is keeping a brave face, so that he doesn’t scare me; but I can tell that he is not used to fighting an enemy which he cannot see, one which dwells inside him. He hasn’t seen any of the babies for two days. My grandmother has moved to an inn in the Old District, as her immune system is weak from debilitating illness in her youth. Shyla is helping me to look after the babies, as my husband cannot. My mate has not slept for two days, either. He keeps injecting himself with adrenaline to keep himself awake. I am worried for his heart.

I have lived for three hundred years without my husband; but after two years with him, I cannot imagine life without.

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Leafsong’s Diary 2.6

I can’t believe they finally made good on their threat to expel me from my druidic classes! Just because I’ve made negative progress in the past two years (Seriously – my last term report queried whether it was possible for a brain to physically devolve in the span of twenty four cycles), they’ve rejected me. I’ve been disgorged like…like a bad apple. At least rotten fruit has the potential to be turned into crabapple jam. I’ve got no potential at all! I’ve been tossed out in front of my peers, all of whom looked on gloatingly as they danced around in their already-achieved animal forms.

Alright, perhaps they didn’t all dance smugly in their druidic forms to celebrate my departure. I wasn’t really seeing straight when I left, you know? I wanted so badly to be able to show them all that someone from the poorest background, with no prior education, could accomplish just as much as anyone else. I used to dream about it when I was younger, and the legislation passed to allow females to undertake druidic training. I never thought I’d get the chance to do it, of course, never thought that any of us Gladefalls would be able to escape the streets. But I did get the chance, I had my chance, I had two years and I failed. I knew that I didn’t have any natural talent, but I thought that I could learn. But I had other things to do as well, right? I had a commitment to my family. To my family business!  My husband tried to reassure me that it wasn’t over, that I could resume my training once the babies were older. But what Shan’do would want to take me on now? I’m a liability. In fact, I’m a PUNCHLINE. Accidentally instructing your own roots to strangle you is now called “doing a Leafsong”. IT’S NOT FAIR. IT’S NOT FAIR.

Ironically, although part of my life is in the gutter, the other parts have never been better. The GHE:SW is doing well, especially with the summer sale season (Normally I hate holding a sale, but since the “sale” is just listing goods at their original price, as opposed to their usual 150% markup, it’s not so painful). My husband’s military activities are on a hiatus, and he is home nearly every evening. Analith is learning how to identify pictures on pieces of parchment, and Mirae’s vocabulary has expanded (she can now say “pretty girl” when looking at herself in the mirror). The twins are – well, they’re newborns, which means that they don’t do anything except eat, excrete, sleep, and cry. And stare at you, with their little round eyes. Quite alarming, actually.

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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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Leafsong’s Diary 21.5 – In which Leafsong is experiencing growing pains.

Every time that Mirae takes a wobbling step and plunges flat onto her face, I literally feel her pain in my nose and cheeks. I didn’t know that becoming a mother would mean that your children became literal extensions of your being. When Analith manages to fit the square block through the square hole and the round peg through the round hole, I feel his immature cackling as a blazing, fierce joy. When Mirae is unsettled by something (which, seeing as she is a huge coward and is scared by shadows, spiders, and things which move quickly, occurs quite often), I feel nausea in the pit of my stomach. And whenever one of them cries from sadness or pain, I am overwhelmed with despair.

When I was still pregnant with Mirae, I didn’t think that I would be able to love her as much as I did Analith, the firstborn, the precious son which my husband had so longed for. I thought that it wouldn’t be possible to give this new baby the same quantity of love that I had given my precious baby boy, that my simple, uncomplicated heart could not contain any more. This view may have been influenced by my brother, Ban – the oldest of us three – who told me that he had noticed a general diminishing of affection towards himself from our parents, when the second (Lolli) and third (me) child arrived. But when Mirae was born, it was if my heart had grown in size. I didn’t need to transfer any of the love I bore Analith to this new baby; I could continue to love them both in vast and equal amounts.

The twins are due to be born in just over a week. I am bloody sick of being so vast: if they dare to be even a day overdue, I shall find a way to induce them out. It is not fair, especially since my lifemate’s guild is full of willowy, slender beauties. I feel like Elekk-Girl beside them. You’d think that being a mother for the third (fourth-twins?) time, I wouldn’t be nervous anymore, but I am. I woke up every thirty minutes for the first three months of Analith’s life, to check that he was still breathing. I did the same thing for Mirae, and I shall do the same thing for the twins. Flora and Loredar. My husband is being a trogg and refusing to let me name the boy Florian, after the Kaldorei wall scroll pin-up with the flowing locks and loincloth. Hmph. I may ask again after the birth, when he is dewy-eyed and cooing over the newborns (and therefore manipulable). Who can resist the fluttering eyelashes of the radiant post-birth glowing Leafsong as she rests, fragile and delicate, against the cushions???

Obviously the above is a hilarious jest. Post-birth Leafsong is a sweating, bloody, red-eyed, insane-haired, puce-faced, foul-mouthed mess. More likely to throw a pillow than rest sweetly against one.

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Idea

“Ay, ‘usband!”

Aphel looked up, spectacles sliding down hooked nose, his eyebrow shooting up in question. Leafsong dropped “Rejuvenation! and You: Beginners Guide to Druidism” facedown on the counter and fixed him with a questioning stare.

“Would you try attacking me and the babies? Jump at us from around a corner with blade drawn?”

His jaw sagged slightly, before his hands rose in resignation. “I’m not even going to try and decipher your motives myself. Why the fu- (he glanced over at Analith and Mirae, playing with a wooden saber in the corner) – why in damnation’s name would you want me to attack you? You’re big with child.”

She scowled back at him, defensively covering up her bloated stomach with the discarded text.

“I have noticed that, thank you. But no, no- d’you want to hear my reasoning behind it?”

“Please, enlighten me.”

“Well” she said triumphantly, rhythmically drumming the cover of Rejuvenation! with her fingers. “If you attack me, then my rational mind – that which is stoppin’ me from mastering anything vaguely druidic – will shut down. My primal instincts will take over. I will be filled with the raging maternal urges of the bear, protecting her young. And thus. My body will be transformed! And I won’t get expelled from my classes! BAM!”

She punctuated her words by slamming the text down on the counter beside her, causing Analith and Mirae to jump and rotate their eyes in her direction, alarmed. Aphel’s brow furrowed and he paused before replying, carefully.

“Do you actually think that that would work?”

Her gaze met his defiantly for a moment, then dropped to the floor; her shoulders slumping in defeat.

“Noo-ooo. But I got to do something, don’t I? Especially after that debacle where I tried to heal your druid friend and ended up exploding a seed inside his nose.”

Aphel let out another snort, reaching down to part his squabbling infants. Leafsong gnawed at her lower lip for a moment, then grimaced.

“I bet he ratted me out to the Circle. Shan’do Theridran was giving me foul looks this morning at class. ….More foul than usual, anyway.”

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