(NSFW) And Then There Were Three

This post is NSFW (Not Safe For Work) due graphic imagery related to childbirth and sex. More on the level of PG-13 than R I think, but you hath been warned!

On a more friendly note, the ideas about how elven pregnancies work here is a headcanon. Most RPG universes give no indicator of how the nitty-gritty of populations, lifespans, and reproduction works among the different species, and this is something that’s been on my mind as I finish the writing for the Talmenor sourcebook and try to inject a bit of realism into it. So, some of this is an exploration of that, just as much as it is the relationship Keelath and Mirium have with their children. (For those interested, this would probably most reflect the physiology of the wuyon’mar race in Talmenor.)

To make this post more friendly for my blog, I removed one of the overt sex scenes from the writing. I might still post up that excerpt, but have to give some thoughts on how to tag it, as I don’t want to inadvertently violate one of the Google Ads policies.

Author’s Note

Mirium settled herself carefully on the edge of the beach in Lellith’s magical hotel. Her time was drawing closer and she felt unwieldy; her back and feet ached from the extra weight. In some ways, she was glad to be spending her pregnancy here, in a remote corner of the universe. It was a change to being remarked on in public, with her obvious condition inviting questions and well wishes from most people she passed. She had never cared for a lot of attention. Part of her still wished to hide herself from, so someone else remarking on her was…was…

Intrusive. Frightening. When it really shouldn’t have been either.

Aubraan shifted inside her, and she hugged herself, hugged him, closing her eyes. Elves experienced pregnancy more intimately than many of the other races. The baby’s soul pulsed in her mind’s eye. He was so quiet compared to Evelos and Medyfivol. Sometimes that meant the child wasn’t getting enough mana or magical energy, as elves needed to develop properly. Yet she had done the meditations, feeling the power of the Light and touches of arcane and nature swelling inside her, inside the babe, and yet it hadn’t caused any emote from him. A shift of his limbs, like gas in her abdomen, sometimes, but not the sudden giggle or curiosity in her mind from her passenger. She worried.

She was fairly certain it was due her earlier void contamination, but the healers had assured her it had not affected Aubraan negatively. Was it then that her baby was to be a halfwit? Due her bearing him relatively late in her life and through somewhat artificial means? Was that her just deserts for her greed for another child?

It was an awful thought, and one of the ones she hid from. She felt Aubraan stir again, but painfully, pushing a foot or little elbow into her side. She patted at it until it shifted back in again, then she sighed. She had come down here to do another meditation for Aubraan, but she wasn’t doing too well at that, really. She drew her feet under her and tried to relax, focusing on her breathing, on the ebb and flow of the magic around her, latent in the world and in the leylines, far underground…

Mirium smelled the death knight before she saw him. She knew the warmer weather favored both insects and a faster rate of decay in Keelath. Still, she got to her feet and hugged him, turning sideways now so he could still hold her head close to his jaw without her belly getting in the way. They kissed, and she focused on the softness of his mouth and firmness of his jaw, hiding her uneasy thoughts deep inside again.

“It seems you’re a little bigger everytime I see you now,” said Keelath.

“If I weren’t pregnant, I would be insulted,” Mirium returned, and made to sit down again.

He sat nearby, and his soul also seemed a relaxed quiet glow beside her. Aubraan responded, giving another little roil, and Mirium put her hand on top of her stomach to calm him. Keelath tentatively felt for him too, and though Mirium could have told him he was making the pressure worse, she smiled, glad to know the two were getting acquainted through the soul binding. 

Glad the father of her baby this time would be present in their lives and not abandon either one of them…

“I think you were right,” Keelath said softly.

“Hm?”

“I feared this. You told me not to worry, that it would be fine. That I would find new purpose in another son. And you were right.”

“Planning his knighthood ceremony already, dalah’surfal?”

Keelath snorted. “I learned from Evelos already not to expect a certain life path from my sons. Though it would make me proud if he were to become one, regardless.”

Mirium leaned into him. “He’ll make you proud regardless of what he chooses.”

“Yes.”

His certainty was a little shower of pleasure inside her. She let go of her cloud of worries. She touched Keelath, marveling at his solidness once again–he was real, he was returned from the dead, and he was hers. Everything would be okay again. She had to believe that. Everything would be okay…

“Why are you crying?” He was surprised, concerned.

“It’s just…this is what I wanted for Medi. I would meditate and wish Talthan would come to see her, see me–that we’d bring her into awareness of the world together.”

“He never did?”

Mirium swallowed. “He did once. Maybe twice. It was…cold. He seemed only interested for clinical reasons, like he was performing some kind of experiment. How many times had she kicked? What kind of mana had I siphoned to her? Had I tried less Light and more arcane? …well, now I know what he was after. I should have wondered why he didn’t ask me to give her Shadow magic, even back then.”

Keelath encircled an arm atop hers, both about her belly in a protective gesture. “I agreed to this child for his own sake,” said Keelath, “and because I wanted you to be happy again, to have another in our family.”

“I know,” said Mirium, swallowing hard. “Some days I wonder when I’m going to wake up and find it was all a dream.”

“It’s not,” soothed Keelath.

“It’s not,” agreed Mirium, and convinced herself by hugging him hard, feeling the sharp ends of his bones and the softer stretches of muscle between them. Breathing in his scent, tinged with rot as it was, kissing his cheek and neck.

He ran his fingers through her hair with a gentleness belying his undeath and murderous past. “I love you,” he said. “It will be okay. I look forward to meeting him properly, when it’s your time.”

“Two weeks, maybe one,” Mirium murmured. 

Keelath rumbled an acknowledgement that she felt more than heard.

Aubraan made an inquiry. A tiny confused pulse of worry and curiosity. Mirium gasped at the touch of his mind on hers, looking down. She joined up to him, gently, gently, like touching the quivering flank of a fawn before it leaped away. She felt Keelath link in right behind her, supportive, faintly in awe.

Then as quick as he had appeared, Aubraan’s awareness faltered and folded back into baseline thoughts of Mirium’s heartbeat and the darkness of the womb. Mirium let out a soft sob of despair, clinging onto Keelath physically and mentally until the moment of their lovers’ magic faded, and she was reduced once again to only knowing him through the flesh. 

“I’m worried for him. For our baby,” she told Keelath. “Something’s wrong with him.”

He nodded reluctantly, not agreeing, but he was also concerned by what he had felt. “He seems weak.”

“He’s been through so much…”

“Mirium.” Keelath reached down to cup her chin, her cheek, tugging her head up to meet his gaze. “It’ll be okay. Just focus on eating well and siphoning mana into him. Maybe he’s just a late bloomer. Tyrric had been a little quiet in the womb as well.”

“He was?” asked Mirium.

Keelath shrugged. “So Mother told me. Perhaps it was to soothe my feelings when I couldn’t feel his presence. We had been conceived so close together; she was superstitious we might grow into each other too much if she allowed me too near him at that period. I guess we did a little anyway as we grew up together.”

“I don’t guess it’d be obvious if our children are supposed to be very alike or not, not like horses where you can compare each foal to the last…” She closed her eyes, lifting her head so the sun fell on it. “Alelsa must have had her twins by now. I sometimes wonder what it’d be like to have two. Or if we were to have more. Four, even five…”

Keelath shook his head in disbelief. “Three isn’t enough?”

“Well. I know we intentionally never had any but Evelos. When…when you died and he left Quel’Thalas… I felt…barren. So when Talthan offered, I leapt at the chance. I wanted that connection again, that special bond. Sometimes I wonder now if it was more than just luck that I conceived so quickly. It had been like a dream. He had mentioned wanting more after Medi. I had told him I didn’t know if I could have another so soon and he had seemed…angry about it somehow. And then he was so cold towards Medi that I thought I should never try another with him, that it wouldn’t be fair to a child…”

“Mm, we had been content with just Evelos, hadn’t we been? Later you would say having a child was such a bother, and that you didn’t want to interfere with your work with the horses by growing heavy…”

Mirium nodded. “And it is a bother. Look at me! …I wouldn’t change this, though, not for an instant.”

“Evelos was the heir, strong and well schooled. We hadn’t the need for another.” Keelath looked at her oddly. “Do you remember that decision? Our wedding night?”

Mirium looked back at him, smiling slowly. “Yes….oh yes,” she remarked softly.

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