Posts tagged story

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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“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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“What’s that? Show min’da.”

Analith held up the roll of parchment proudly, displaying an incomprehensible  navy scribble and three pink dots. Leafsong narrowed her eyes at it, leaning forward with a hand on her stomach.

“Well, that’s pretty crap, if truth be told. What is it meant to be, baby?”

At this, her husband interjected irritably from across the room: “He’s only eighteen months old! What do you expect, a masterpiece?”

Analith, unperturbed, pointed a chubby finger over to where his father was hunched over the desk. Leafsong followed his arm, then let out an undignified cackle.

“Haaa, how unflattering for your an’da. And he always viewed himself as such a handsome, if aging, gentleman!”

Aphel shot her a withering look over the wire-rimmed spectacles he used for perusing the weekly news-scrolls, his jaw stiffening. She met his gaze innocently, her eyebrows rising.

“Oh, don’t complain. It could be worse – um, probably. Is Mirae still alive beneath all those scrolls, or have you suffocated her?”

Aphel moved the parchments on his lap to one side, revealing a dozing Mirae. At the movement, she opened an eye, blinking crossly. Aphel shrugged and covered her back up again, returning to the Auberdine Sentinel. Leafsong snorted to herself, then with some difficulty pulled a roll of parchment over to herself. Stealing one of Analith’s crayons (much to his rage) she began to do her own sketch of her husband, resting the yellowed page on her swollen stomach.

Some time later, Aphel folded his spectacles shut and placed them on the desk, coming to his feet with a now-slumbering Mirae on his hip. Wandering over, he placed a hand on his wife’s shoulder, peering down at her work. A moment later, he recoiled with an exclamation.

“What the- I look like a demonic entity!”

“Well, that’s what you look like first thing in the morning.”

“What is all that red smoke embroiling in the background.”


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She crossed her legs on the blanket, leaning back against the pillows. Mirae, curled up on her lap, clenched the hem of Leafsong’s blouse in her chubby fist drowsily.  Analith was sitting up against his mother, banging his wooden horse on the blanket with a demonic expression on his features, miniature replicas of his father’s. Aphel himself was sitting at the foot of the bed, bent over a hastily-tugged over chest, scratching away at a roll of parchment with a worn quill. His shoulders were hunched and his brow furrowed, the edges of the curling sheet pinned down with various GHE vials.

“Story time!” announced Leafsong loudly and abruptly, causing Mirae’s eyes to bug out in alarm. Pulling out “The Lost Little Saber” from beneath the pillow, she cleared her throat and ignored the derisive snort from her husband’s turned back. Analith dropped the abused horse and crawled over, his mouth hanging open in curiosity.


“Yes, book time. Story time.”

Leafsong cleared her throat, narrowing her eyes at her husband, before opening the book at the earmarked chapter.

“And so, the little saber looked up at the green-haired kaldorei.

“Oh, please help me!” begged the little saber.

“Why should I help you?” replied the green-haired Kaldorei.

“Because I can’t find my way home!” bleated the saber, sadly.

The Kaldorei looked down at the saber, thoughtfully.

Alright, I’ll help you. For a flat thousand gold fee.”

The little saber’s eyes nearly popped out. “I can’t afford that! I don’t have that kind of money!”

The Kaldorei nodded, thoughtfully. “I’ll lend the thousand gold to you, with a twelve percent annual interest rate over three years, plus a thirty gold loan fee, cash up front- ”

Aphel let out a derisive snort, turning around and pushing his glasses up his nose.

“That’s not what the book says. You can’t even read it! You’re just making that up.”

She stuck her tongue out at him, defiantly. “Well, this book is crap. I’m just making it more interesting!”

“Interesting for you, maybe, goblin.”

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She lay on the counter, her hands folded over her protruding stomach and her gaze directed at the ceiling. The shop front was unusually quiet; the front door firmly closed, an unevenly lettered sign reading “CLOSSED FOR INVANTORY-TAKIN” hammered to the wooden frame. The muffled noises of the Park barely penetrated the reinforced walls and door, which (thanks to her husband) appeared more suited to a vault than a humble herbal remedies supplier.

From beneath her came the sounds of her grandmother and cousin conversing quietly as they began the painstaking task of cataloguing every lone seed, vial and alchemical tool in the GHE:SW. The one advantage of being this huge with child she thought to herself, grimly, was that you could be excused from the more menial side of business.

A cackle from below drew her attention, and she directed her gaze down to the floor, where Analith and Mirae were sitting in a pile of sacks. A tray of earth sat between them, which Analith was gouging happily with a wooden spoon. Mirae, thumb in mouth, watched agog. Beyond them, hunched-shouldered on a wooden chest, sat her husband. The lantern threw shadows on his lined face as he bent over a tiny metal device, no larger than a finger, his brow furrowed in concentration. His wire-framed glasses slid down his nose as he adjusted a miniscule screw, wielding a gyrospanner with precise expertise.

She coughed, but he made no effort to look in her direction. Instead, pushing a greying strand of hair away from his face, he discarded the gyrospanner in favour of another intricate engineering tool. She coughed a second time, louder, still to no avail. Sitting upright with a slight struggle, she cleared her throat in a manner which could only be described as ferocious. He looked over at her, one eyebrow poised like dagger.

“Are you diseased?”


“Then why the unnecessary noise?”

She scowled at him, folding her hands over her stomach as the material jumped slightly. “I was trying to get your attention.”

Setting aside his tools, he came to his feet and crossed the room, circumnavigating the two babies, coming to a halt in front of his wife. He bent slightly, lowering his face to align with hers. She continued to scowl at him as he brought a hand to each cheek, rubbing her forehead gently with well-worn thumbs.

“What is it, wife?”

“My brothers – Ban and Lolli – are coming to visit tomorrow. For Mirae’s birthday.” She yelped as his hands tightened on her face, his eyes blazing with sudden wrath.


She pushed his hands away, gripping his fingers with her own long ones.

“I told you about it before, remember!?”

“You did not!” Her husband’s voice was high with rare agitation.

“I did!”


“Last night!!”


“When you were SLEEPING.”

He looked at her, his jaw sagging slightly, suddenly looking every one of his eleven thousand years. She looked back at him defensively, her eyebrows raised.

“And you have to be civil, this time.”

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Leafsong crouched behind the counter in the GHE: SW branch, her tongue sticking out in concentration as she wielded the tiny brush in her hand. Mirae, her small feet drumming on the floor, gazed up at her mother with slight trepidation. Leafsong shot her eyebrows up, questioningly.

“Why’re you giving me dirty looks, baby?”

Mirae’s small, fine-featured face contorted into an expression of mild alarm, her round eyes swiveling towards the implement in Leafsong’s hand. Leafsong glanced at it, then shrugged a bony shoulder.

“It’s a brush, not a spiked mace. I ain’t gonna hurt you. Come ‘ere-”

Mirae attempted to make her escape, but her mother was too fast for her and shot out a hand, grabbing a pudgy foot and dragging the baby towards her, sliding over the well-worn wooden boards. Mirae looked petulant, spreading her arms like a starfish and twisting her head around, making plaintive noises of objection. Leafsong pulled the baby up onto her rounded belly with a grunt, and gently turned the small chin in her direction.

“Now, stay still. You’re a year old now. You’re old enough, so stop fussing!”

She dipped the tip of the brush in the rounded glass pot which sat beside her crossed legs, pulling up a blob of silvery liquid. Mirae, eyes wide, sat as still as a rock as Leafsong carefully began to daub the brush over her cheeks.

“Look, you can be like your min’da-!” Leafsong whispered quietly, careful not to touch the baby’s long eyelashes. She held her breath as she painted a delicate whorl on Mirae’s right cheek, then moved her brush over to repeat the pattern.

Mirae gazed up at her mother, solemnly, her lips slightly parted. A moment later, she let out an almighty —


Leafsong stared down at her ruined handiwork in dismay. Mirae looked faintly bemused, then let out a giggle at the other’s distraught expression. A long silver streak dashed horizontally beneath her nose, turning what had been two symmetrical traditional markings into a fancy attempt to mimic facial hair, complete with sideburns and moustache. Leafsong pursed her lips tightly for a moment, her twitching foot sending the pot rolling beneath the counter.

“…Right. Well, I ain’t doing that crap over.”

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