(NSFW) And Then There Were Three

Perhaps encouraged by their mana siphoning, her labor was short. Her contractions wracked through her, powerful and merciless, as if her body was that of a beast’s, ferocious and not her own. Lellith’s imps fluttered around her, but each push seemed to fill Mirium’s head with ice and fire, and she only knew that once she came to awareness again, the imps were in different locations around the room.

“Keelath–tell her–help!”

He had faithfully stayed beside her, holding her hands as each spasm went through her. Unlike the first time, when she had Evelos, he was silent, his face grim. It was almost as if he blamed himself for the difficulty she was having, but Mirium didn’t have the space of mind to soothe or chastise him.

Childbirth for an elf was more than just the physical removal of the child from her womb. All the connections she had built between their souls had to come tearing away, the very first of the child’s becoming his own person, apart from her. Evelos’ had been relatively painless; like his father, his consciousness had already been directed towards the next adventure, and letting him go was like the releasing of a horse begging to be raced. Medi had been more painstaking, a gentle excising of this connection, then that one, a promise to see her on the other side as each tie fell away like a first cutting of a child’s hair. Medi had then slipped out, shivering and weepy, but both of them had rejoiced in the newness of her life once Mirium held her in her arms.

But Aubraan was stubborn, unyielding, a solid mass that wouldn’t move no matter how much she strained. She cut through one connection only to find he already had latched on with another. He was slowly suffocating her as her contractions took more and more of her energy and breath away, to no avail.

Suddenly Lellith was there, dancing in and out of the spiritual web between Mirium and her son even as her hands lightly brushed Mirium’s in the real world. She quickly surveyed Mirium’s progress with a tut.

“This won’t do,” she said.

Breathless now, Mirium tried to indicate the problem, but it was like her words had been stolen away, even from her mind. Aubraan was drawing on her, she realized muzzily. With all the mana he had lacked as he was growing, now he sought to sate himself on her before he dared face the world. Mirium knew with sudden certainty she would die of it.

“No charge this time,” said Lellith with sudden decisiveness, and Mirium didn’t have the presence of mind to ask her what she meant. The warlock’s presence pulled from her mind, and there was an intense pulling feeling in her midriff to match. Mirium screamed, blind to what was going on except for the certainty she must tear in two.

Suddenly Aubraan was gone, and the pressure eased. Mirium gasped and grasped for him, but she could only find Lellith, who slapped her fiercely back into darkness and then turned her attention away from Mirium. 

Gone! Mirium wailed internally. The trailing ends of their connections were limp and stringy, like the tattered ends of a sheared rope left blowing in the wind. Dead? Gone! Beyond her was a deep, dark emptiness, that not even Keelath’s love could fill.

She felt weightless, adrift, unattached to anything in this world. And why not? What did it matter? Her baby, her life, was gone.

The shock of something wet and warm being thrust into her arms brought her back to the present. Lellith had put a wriggling bundle onto her chest, and Mirium only slowly recognized it as her baby. On recognizing so, she anxiously checked Aubraan over. He had all his fingers, his toes, and his skin was the red and purple of a normal newborn, not some deformed freak’s. Mirium began to sob in relief, and Aubraan latched on to her, sucking at her breast greedily.

Lellith slapped her again, this time physical palm to physical face. “Don’t let him drink you dry!” she scolded, and Mirium swallowed. It was easier now, to taper off the supply of the mana now that Aubraan was a being outside of her. He howled in fury at being denied, but his flailing was as weak and ineffectual as a…well, as a newborn, Mirium thought. Yet she still felt his weight in her weariness. She shifted him to her other breast and then went limp as he seemed to find some contentment in being physically sated at least. She again ran fingers over his skin and limbs, awed by his wholeness, his completeness. He was a little part of her, but with all the potential to become something much greater.

She looked up, eyes seeking Keelath’s. He had held back while Lellith did her work, and still did now while she cleaned up the bloody afterbirth that might otherwise tempt his bloodlust. Lellith snapped her fingers and the mess disappeared into a portal–perhaps to a demonic realm where felhounds would fight over it, Mirium thought with a shudder–then, looking oddly at the two of them, she departed the room. There was a wistfulness in the old warlock’s eyes that surprised Mirium, but she didn’t have time to think of it, as Keelath approached.

“Are you alright?”

“I will be.” Her reserves were low, and she felt ready to sleep a week, but she was no longer dangerously so. She’d recover.

“And he?” said Keelath, voice trembling. “Our son?”

Mirium unfolded her arms so Keelath could see. He stared, his concerns melting from his face into a look of wonder. Mirium smiled. It was the same look of eagles as when Keelath had beheld their first son, Evelos.

“You can hold him,” she whispered.

Keelath picked Aubraan up. The baby gave a mewl of displeasure, but Keelath barely seemed to notice his flail–not like her in her weariness, Mirium thought. He at first held Aubraan at arm’s length, inspecting, then tucked him against his chest, with the smoothness of an old skill now remembered.

“Welcome,” Keelath murmured thickly. “Welcome to the world and our family.”

Aubraan opened his eyes–the gray of an elf who had yet to be imprinted with a magical essence after birth–and looked up at the death knight.

Mirium giggled. “It seems like he’s asking you to bring it on.”

“Much like Tyrric did,” Keelath returned–both the comment and the baby to her arms.

Mirium clasped the baby to her and felt complete. Aubraan wiggled unhappily.

“He’ll be a colicky one,” Keelath warned.

“Perhaps,” said Mirium, looking down. Now that she was dry, Aubraan suckled on her knuckle imperiously. “He’s as I would have expected Talthan’s child to be.”

“Don’t curse him with that name,” said Keelath quickly.

“…no,” Mirium murmured at length. “More like Tyrric, as you said.”

“Tyrric’s blood,” Keelath agreed, and there was foreboding in his gaze as he turned away. Mirium held Aubraan a little closer, and let her worries leak away. There would be enough time for that later.

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