Nathandiel

Copper Kisses

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"So small . . . you look like a little doll." He whispered as he laid with the infant on his chest, rubbing it's back with delicate fingers that seemed so large next to such a tiny thing. He occasionally lifted his head to take a deep hit of his wonderful, new smell. Even with the tangy breeze from the ocean gusting through the windows of the room in Ratchet, it wasn't enough to crowd out the perfect smell of a new baby.

The sun was setting on the coast and bringing the end of the tiny boy's birthday to a close. "Little one," he whispered and the tiny boy curled a little more into the slight smattering of hair on Nathandiel's chest. "Born in the bowels of the Undercity, pulled from the womb of a dead mother, a child without kin . . ." He traced the edges of one of the infant's small, pointed ears; perfectly crafted and yet deformed for adhering to neither a human nor an elven aesthetic--it was somewhere in the middle. The child had lost it's mother, it's whole family really, and yet it did have kin, on both side of that ocean. His people were both the elves of the north and the humans of the west, but it was Nathandiel's fear that neither would have him that made him unwilling to reveal the child to either.

"The Grim will kill him on site," Baalthemar had said after he'd gotten a good look at the little boy and seen both what he was and what he was not. They'd met in the Undercity and Baalthemar had been surprised by the little child. "That's a baby, why do you have a baby?" He asked. Nathandiel hadn't thought much about what he'd done, only that he'd done it and that the child needed feeding and attending to. For once in his life he was moving purely on impulse instead of planning; it hadn't occurred to him that he wouldn't be able to take the baby to the Grim.

So they'd gone to Kalimdor, to the ocean town where goblins were far less interested in a man's business than they were in his pocket money. They'd taken a room, and the reality of the situation had started to sink in: there was a child with no name, no parents, and whom Nathandiel was completely unwilling to surrender to an orphanage. Beyond these things his worries had been only to obtain supplies, a place to keep the child, and ultimately . . . to bestow upon the child a fitting name.

"Kieran. . . . ," He whispered, curling a palm around the baby's little skull; it was small, still slightly mishapen from the birth, and very crushable. "Kieran 'Aqarib Almayit." He frowned to himself. "The dark one with dead kin." His frown deepened. "Dear God's above child, we failed you there." He chuckled lightly and the baby--Kieran--squirmed and let out a small squeak as he yawned. They really hadn't been sure what to name the boy.

Baalthemar had named himself once he'd been old enough to do so and the 'name' he'd been known by prior to that had been flattering or meaningful enough to place upon the orphan's head. Nathandiel did not want to give the child a name from his own people, but he'd put forth 'Kieran' as an option, a wise woman from the haunted south of his home who had spoken a different dialect had called him 'dark one' once by calling him Kieran. Baalthemar had offered the rest of the name, his experience with different cultures and tribal dialects having given him the tongue to craft one. It was a fitting name, but also a bit frightening.

'Kieran' would do for the little boy, if only because he had such dark hair. "I might still call you 'Little Prince'," he confessed to the boy. "So small and so sweet, born so bloody in such a great city." To this the child only passed wind. "Good man." Nathandiel praised him. It didn't smell yet, a baby's innards were not yet infested with the bacteria needed to make their wind unpleasent, at least until they'd had at least one real, productive movement.

Soon though. Soon you'll be having blow-outs and painting your nurse in poo.

This made him smile, but the smile turned cold. A nurse. Kieran would need a nurse, preferrably a nurse that was nursing. Did he know of a pregnant women that far along that he could . . . could get? Had anyone had a baby recently? His eyes flitted side-to-side, unseeing, as he thought it out. He'd sent Baalthemar to get supplies for the child before he went to the cabin to finish it with haste--they had a wee one now that needed a safe place to be small, and weak, and soft; all the things that had made poor Baalthemar so frightened when he'd held the child.

But suppliers need someone to adminsiter them. He needs a breast, a soft and pillow breast to latch onto. He needs a woman's songs and woman's delicate fingers to clean his bum. He needs a nurse.

So Nathandiel needed a woman, one that either wouldn't be missed, or that could be cajoled into cooperating long enough to care for Kieran in his most vulnerable time.

A fingernail found its way between his teeth, with the infant in his care he didn't dare smoke, but Lord how he wanted to, how he wanted that smoke to fuel his thinking. He'd gotten into something difficult, something with consequences, something that complicated everything from how he would spend his time to when, and if, he could go home. It wasn't too late to back out, to take Kieran to the orphanage and deposit him with a matron who would do her best but ultimately fail to give him all that he needed. It wouldn't be his fault, he hadn't made the child, he'd always done right by his own children so why should he care for a mutt, half-breed whose mother had possessed the poor judgement to create him in the first place and then the audacity to die on his table? It wasn't his problem. It wasn't Baalthemar's problem. He coudln't ask Baalthemar to deal with a baby, they were two men and Baalthemar was young and--

--Kieran passed gas again, so violently and so loudly that it sounded like an old musket going back-firing. The baby was instantly in tears, instantly screaming at the complete unrighteousness of a world where his slumber had been interrupted by something as foreign as digestion.

Nathandiel stopped chewing his fingernail and laughed, making the bare infant on his chest quake as it screamed. He sat up and cradled it, letting Kieran cry as he stood and rocked the boy, suppressing his involuntarily laughter as he started to sing to the boy, to sing it songs that he sung to his own son, songs no child in an orphanage got to hear.

He didn't know what he was going to do yet, but he wasn't going to take Kieran to the orphanage; Kieran 'Aqarib Almayit; the dark one with dead kin, had bigger, more important problems--like the rude interrupting of farts on such pleasant evening. Those were problems Nathandiel could help him with.

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The farm was in worse shape than Nathandiel had expected, but still better than he had feared. Drinn wasn't there, not that he had really believed that she would be, but he had hoped.

That maybe, just maybe, you were just hiding out for a while and you were okay and you had a really good reason for disappearing and leaving me. Just maybe.

Kieran made a fussy noise in his basket--a re-purposed dresser drawer from a dresser that hadn't had all of it's drawers anyway. Apparently neither Drinn nor Atticus had possessed particularly extensive wardrobes.

They didn't leave much behind either.

He put a hand in the drawer and stroked the little baby's cheek until he calmed, he wasn't quite awake yet and having his cheeks pet seemed to be something that little Kieran liked. Nathandiel had padded the drawer with the blankets he'd brought from the Undercity and one of his spare shirts. It hadn't turned out be a half-bad bassinette for the baby. He wondered momentarily what Drinn would have thought to have seen him with a baby.

...its looking more and more like I'll never know.

Fuck her. Fuck all that. He pushed the thoughts of her aside. She had been a good lay, she had been good company when he'd been so very alone, and she had proven to him that he could love another woman after he'd thought he never would--for those things he would be eternally grateful, but she had not been loyal and he had mattered far less to her than she had to him.

That's okay. That's how the world works.

Kieran farted and Nathandiel chuckled, the rude little noise pulling him from his Drinn-related melancholy by the gassy little boy. It had gotten easier and easier to not only not think about Drinn, but to stop thinking about her whenever he did. He supposed that was how grief and loss worked, eventually they just worked out.

"I think she'd have liked you though," he said to Kieran. "Farty little piggy." He'd checked the baby out when he'd had privacy and done his best to make sure it was healthy. Infants had not been is specialty, but he'd been put through the paediatric bullshit in school alongside every other cunty doctor that had picked a childhood-related specialty. Kieran was a healthy baby boy at six-pounds-eight-ounces, not bad for a little elf.

He almost dozed as he waited, sitting on the bed where Drinn and Atticus had slept, a hand on the infant whose mother had died, and a fire working its way into a righteous roar in the abandoned fireplace. He couldn't take Kieran back to the garrison, not with someone like Syreena around. Baalthemar was working overtime to finish the most important parts of the cabin, parts that now included a nursery and place to keep the nursery's nurse.

Nathandiel had sent a request for records to the home medical office in search of women who'd recently delivered, were about to deliver, or who should have delivered. He was mostly hoping for the latter, someone that hadn't had their child at a registered facility with a registered physician, someone who had already fallen through the cracks, someone no one would notice was gone. At least no one that mattered. He'd found a way to send a similar request back home. Ideally, he was in the market for home-grown cattle to look after Kieran.

Home-grown tits for this boy, please. A man needed to start off life with a good boob in his mouth, how else would he know which ones to go after when he was grown?

Speaking of boobs and the lack of any good ones, Baalthemar was positively afraid of Kieran. He'd looked like an old family dog, sat upon by a kindle of kittens that it was just not allowed to snap at--and didn't, because it loved its master. Baalthemar loved Nathandiel, so he'd held the baby. Nathandiel had hoped that teaching him to burp the baby would soften him up, but he'd just looked terrified. Nathandiel had been disappointed at first, mad even, but then he'd really thought about it. Baalthemar hadn't had a childhood of his own, he hadn't had parents, and he hadn't ever had a safe place to learn about being responsible for anyone but himself, especially something so small and helpless, so destined to die without help.

Baalthemar hadn't questioned what Nathandiel had done, he hadn't hesitated to step up and make plans to help. That had been heavy shit, even more than Baalthemar's insistence to "save" Nathandiel. He was willing to helping with a baby. Had that meant that they were officially partners? Had that meant--

--He looked up quickly, eyes narrowing as a knock came to the old door. He'd lost track of time, the sun already down. "Doctor Dah'orei?" What a stupid fucking name. He rolled off of the bed and got to his feet, straightening his clothes and brushing aside his cloak as he went to the door and unlatched it. He was momentarily pleased that Atticuss had built a good door because the latch was shit.

"...Hi?" Slenn looked up at him, a slip of a woman if ever there was one, but she was a good nurse and cared more about patients than she did about duty. If her breasts had been more bountiful, and corpulent with milk, he'd have picked her to be Kieran's nurse. His eyes fell to her slight chest. Good thing he'd brought bottles of formula.

She'll do for tonight though.

He met her eyes again and favoured her with a dazzling smile. Even at sundown he could see her blush. He was getting older but he could still make girls turn that flattering shade of pink that they all could. "Please..." he stepped aside and held out an arm, his well-bred manners taking over.

He made sure she was settled with Kieran--a "patient" she was so delighted to have for the night she said she might not give him back--and left her with money, food, a weapon and an exit plan, should anytihng happen while he was gone. He promised to be back as soon as he could, that he thought he'd be back before morning. She had nodded absently at all that he'd said, too focused on the little boy and giving him his first bottle of the evening. "This is important." He said. Kieran had stolen his thunder, the little boy's rolls too cute for Nathandiel's charm to hold the lady's attention.

"I know..." She looked up at him finally and beamed again, "Nothing could be more important than your child." She looked back down at Kieran who gobbled greedily. "I'll take care of him." She promised.

Your child. She'd assumed it was his. Maybe just another man who'd knocked up another woman who had dumped the fruits of their mutual fuckery at his door step. It happened sometimes.

"Oh yes. Oh yes, you. Daddy is being such a worry wort." Slenn spoke with that singular baby language that most adults were prone to falling into when addressing the very small. "Daddy can go do his business. Kieran and Slenn will have a perfect evening full of bottles and sing-songs and fresh, dry, diapers...." She gave Nathandiel a sly smile. "Daddy can go...," She added, not being subtle about her hint.

He hesitated, but only for a moment. His gut told him Slenn was good and that the house was good. The baby was safe and he could go and meet Baalthemar and attend to the bloody business of adults.

"Ok..." he turned to the door, stopped, and went back to the woman and child. He bent over and smoothed the baby's fine hair back before kissing the top of his head. Slenn melted visibly.

"I'm not his father..." He confessed in a whisper, though he wasn't sure why. "He's not mine."

"....He is now," Slenn said, and when he looked into her face she didn't seem so slight anymore. Nor were her words. He left quickly.

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*************Warning Adult content*************

Nathandiel had changed his life, in more ways than he could have thought possible. And now he had saved a child from a life that Baalthemar had known all too well, he had given this little boy a family.

Nathandiel had been a father before, and was a doctor he knew all the things he should know to take care of a child. How to hold it, how to care for it… Baalthemar knew only one thing. That this little pink blob of flesh was weak, and it needed to be protected. Kieran 'Aqarib Almayit. An old name for a young soul, a name with weight a name that his enemies would fear. Baalthemar grinned at that thought.

Baalthemar readied himself for their hunt, they needed twenty women for Desim’s bath, and perhaps one for the child. Lots of bodies for the meat wagon, he had stashed near undercity. And he knew the perfect family to start off with. The Highshield family. Countess Deyalle and her hateful daughters. He grinned.

Nathandiel had taken one of his nurses to care for Kieran while the two gathered their grim harvest, but something tugged at Baalthemar’s mind. The child will be safe… fear will keep her in line. He told himself in his mind. Focus, you have work to do, there is killing to be done.

Baalthemar removed his tabard as Nathandiel entered the bedroom, he was in full combat gear when Baalthemar turned to him. “We need to be careful, masks on and tabards off. I’ve tangled with the Silvermoon guards before but this will be private security. They will have their wits about them. If they know someone is coming we won’t catch them flat footed.” Baalthemar said knowing Nathandiel knew the plan well. “I know Baalthemar, we won’t be seen…” Nathandiel paused to look at him, before he added. “You won’t be captured and at the mercy of these women again.” He placed his hand on Baalthemar’s shoulder to reassure him.

Baalthemar smiled weakly, and nodded. “Put your guild rune stone in this.” he pulled a small metal box from his belt and handed it to Nathandiel. “The box will stop Grim from tracking us, better they not know where we hunt tonight.” Nathandiel placed his rune stone in the box next to Baalthemar’s as the blond man shut and locked the box. “Everything is set. We have a meat wagon in Undercity that will help us with the bodies once we knock them out, and I have scouted a hidden shore that should be good to store them until we can move them to Undercity… all we need to do is slip in and grab them.” Baalthemar said as he put the box back on his belt.

Nathandiel grinned, “So we are going to the estate first I take it?” Baalthemar nodded, “Yes. Can’t risk their guards getting wind of something taking girls in the night and moving them.” Nathandiel slipped his mask over his face pulling it down to his neck. “Still the same amount of guards on duty?” he asked. Baalthemar relaxed as he coated his daggers with poison, “Yeah, patrol routes haven’t changed, but there might be more inside… with all the daughters there, the Countess will want extra protection.”

Nathandiel started to check his blades. “Will the powder work?” he asked as he looked over to the bags of toxic powder Baalthemar had created from a toxic plant that he had explained had a unique milky sap, that when dried and crushed into a powder could be used as a powerful sedative. “Yeah, it will knock them out until we wake them… that reminds me.” Baalthemar put down his daggers and handed Nathandiel an odd looking root from his belt kit. “Chew this. It will be very bitter and you’ll want to be sick, but keep the sap and pulp down. It will counteract the toxin in the powder, otherwise you might end up like our prey tonight.” Nathandiel took the root and forced himself to chew the foul thing, Baalthemar did the same.

The two of them finished with their gear and headed out to Silvermoon under the cover of night.

As always, it was a warm night in the Eversong woods, and as such windows were open to allow lush and expensive silk curtains to flow in the gentle breeze. Baalthemar and Nathandiel slipped past the perimeter guards without trouble, and had started their climb into the main house.

Baalthemar focused on the job, he ran the plan over in his head as he climbed. Sneak in, remove the guards outside the dining room, and make for the upper floor. Drop down on the feasting women and pelt them with toxic powder. Kill the guards inside the room. Take the prey to the shore. Hide the bodies and get the others girls. Simple enough he thought. But we only have a short window to work with. Two maybe three hours and then dinner was expected to be over, and people would come looking for the Countess. Baalthemar was lost in thought as he crested the edge of a balcony as a guard turned to face him. Shit. He moved quickly to drive a dagger into the guards throat, Nathandiel quickly followed up with a hand to cover his mouth to stop any death rattle he might have.

Nathandiel gave Baalthemar a gentle knock on the head to remind him to focus, Baalthemar shrugged and moved the body out of view.

As the two worked their way around the house they removed any guards they came across, Nathandiel showing off his skill dispatching them with clean cuts and smooth movements, while Baalthemar offered up his more brutal and blunt method. Together they cleared the hallways outside the dining room and then setup on the upper floor that overlooked the dining table.

"Pretty house." Nathandiel said, wiping a blade off on one pant-leg. He looked at Baalthemar. "...you look good in it." He teased with a lift of one brow.

They got into position above the women, readying themselves for combat. Baalthemar watched as Nathandiel scanned the room, he spotted the six guards and the two extra that sat hidden behind the Countess. The two exchanged a look and a sly smile before they dropped onto the table, breaking plates and spilling wine.

A cloud of white powder coiled around the women as the toxin attacked their lungs and eyes, it forced its way inside their blood streams. The guards rushed to their aid, only to be met by blade and dagger.

Nathandiel leapt off the table, gracefully dispatching a young guard before he had a chance to unsheathe his sword, the thud of his body against the floor drew the attention of the others. On the other side of the table Baalthemar lunged at the closest guard, his momentum knocking the man to the ground as Baalthemar quickly sheathed his poisoned daggers under the man's ribs.

Nathandiel watched his blond lover fling himself at the next guard, he smiled and relaxed into a balanced fighting stance, his years of gymnastics had allowed him to react quickly to most attacks. The guards slowly moved to surround Nathandiel, the dark haired man waited for them to regain their courage and attack. "Tick, tick, tick...," he murmured, eyeing each of them.

Baalthemar grinned, the blood from the second guard was still warm on his face. He could feel it slide slowly down his cheeks as he turned to meet the other guards. “More” he said to them as they readied their next assault. He didn’t wait for them to get into position, he was lost to the blood-lust. His prey stood there like cornered lambs for the slaughter.

Nathandiel feigned a lunge toward one of the men. When the man didn't advance, Nathandiel dropped his arms to his sides and sighed. “Come now. Attack me." He gestured for the man to come at him. "....this is boring.” he taunted in a whisper, with a slight smile on his face as if he and the man shared a secret. It only took one guard to lose his cool for the attack to start, Nathandiel showed off his sword and dagger style of combat, he moved through the combatants with a fluid-like grace, his dagger slipped between armour and into soft flesh while his sword parried their attacks against him. After the flurry of action Nathandiel emerged from the melee, he calmly brushed his bangs back into place and fixed the fit of his clothes. He stepped over a fallen guard to meet up with Baalthemar.

Baalthemar finished off the final guard with his boot, the man’s skull caved in under the force. Nathandiel cluck his tongue. “You seem to have stepped in something,” he said casually. Baalthemar turned to face him, “Yeah, once we get outside I’ll clean this filth off my boots, let’s help our new guests to the shore.”

The two men started their work, taking the women to the boundary of the estate to avoid any guard patrols, the thought struck Baalthemar as he worked. We must look like bandits, stealing away with our ill-gotten loot. He patted the rump of the woman he carried over his shoulder, her limp arms flopped against his thigh as he made for safer grounds. Quietly he whispered to the unconscious elf. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you and your family have a good time with us.”

Nathandiel raced back to Baalthemar with the final woman over his shoulder. “That's it, we're done here. These bitches are heavier than they look,” He said, slightly out of breath. Baalthemar nodded. “Alright, let’s get them hidden, then we can gather the others.” he turned and smiled at Nathandiel. “I’m glad you helped me with this. You were stunning in there.” Nathandiel dropped the woman next to the others, he stretched and bent backwards until something cracked. He sighed in relief, glad the limp weight of the woman was gone. “You weren’t so bad yourself, you do like to make a mess though, don’t you?” Nathandiel smiled at the blond elf and reached out to kip-up Baalthemar's chin with an affectionate wink. "Silly boy."

Baalthemar grinned at Nathandiel. “You left just as many bodies as I did, just as dead.” Baalthemar sat on the small pile of unconscious women and relaxed.

“Yes, but your side of the table looks like a slaughter house,” Nathandiel said as he spread his thighs and straddled Baalthemar's lap, chin-raised as he looked down at the man beneath him. "Such a messy boy." He whispered before lifting Baalthemar's chin and kissing him softly. "You taste like copper..." he murmured, nipping lightly at Baalthemar's lower lip.

Baalthemar smiled and pressed his forehead against Nathandiel’s. “Do you want to have a little rest before we move these to the shore?” he asked.

Nathandiel lifted Baalthemar’s face to get a better look at him. “I would love that, but we have so much work to do and you are a proper, bloody mess… when we get the little piggies home we can relax, and then I'll do things to you." Nathandiel slid off of Baalthemar's lap, stood and eyed him salaciously. "Are you gonna drive this wagon or what? Such a task is so far beneath me..."

Baalthemar smiled and nodded, “You’re right, as always, Angel white.”

The meat wagon hit a bump and shook Nathandiel awake from his light slumber, he looked over their haul, a mass of flesh. Twenty young blood elf women--well nineteen young women and one hateful bitch, but enough for a deep bath of blood. He looked at Baalthemar as he drove the wagon to a hidden part of Silverpine forest. Baalthemar looked over to Nathandiel, “When we get these stored away, I’ll cook us something simple and we can relax in the bath--a regular bath. What do you think?”

“I think that sounds wonderful. A good meal and a hot bath with a hot, silly, messy little boy named Big Bad B.” Nathandiel grinned, managing to show nearly all of his teeth as he bestowed upon Baalthemar a new name. He patted Baalthemar's thigh. "...don't forget, I can't leave the boy child too long though." His eyes were apologetic.

Baalthemar nodded, “I want to try something else for desert too. I grabbed a bottle of that Shadowmoon sugar pear stuff you like, I’ll make a sauce out of it, and we can try it over some ice-cream or pudding.”

Nathandiel smiled. “I like the sound of that; Big Bad B and his Beautiful Sundae Treats. Mmmhmm.”

Baalthemar brought the wagon to a stop and set about getting the large transport ready to hearth. “I might have a woman for us too. She has a little one and is breast feeding her… the trick will be when to grab her. I think if we show her Kieran she will let her guard down enough for us to take her to the cabin.”

Nathandiel hopped off the wagon and helped Baalthemar secure the grim cargo. He looked at Baalthemar through narrowed, suspicious eyes. There was a pique of curiosity behind them that was visible even in the darkness. “Oh?....Who is she?” Nathandiel asked. Baalthemar checked the last rune on the wagon. “Her name is Siané.”

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She was soft like the mature petals of a lily flower, her skin darker and rich, it's colour did not lie about the taut, creaminess of her flesh, the fine, soft hairs on her cheek . . . or the stretch of such beautiful tissue as it stressed against the point of his knife--just under her slender, lovely neck, where it could push through and into her mouth and then up into her nasal cavity, or perhaps just be pulled clean across her gently beating jugular vein.

Siané Dawnlight--if he had her name right--seemed perfect: youngish, healthy-looking, pretty. She'd even given birth to a healthy child just three weeks prior. It had been a small, halfling girl that she'd gifted with the awful name of Jehosamine. The mother was a halfling herself and her child a watered-down mutt so he did not count the poorly-chosen name against her or her motherly calibre; the bitch just had poor taste.

"Don't move . . . don't move at all." He whispered, the knife at her throat and a hand clapped over her mouth. She froze within his arms, his surprise embrace from behind was both intimate and wholly unwelcome. He could smell her, so close as they were, and inhaled as he settled his face near hers. She smelled faintly of soap. ". . . and don't you drop my Kieran or I'll do far worse to your daughter before I drop her off the edge of this floating city." His voice was icy, even in his own mouth. There was a deadly heartlessness in it that he hadn't heard in a long, long time.

Siané only stiffened, quivering as her breaths became shallow and quick. She looked at Baalthemar, the large elf who held her daughter and watched on without any seeming concern as she was accosted by Nathandiel. Poor thing is scared, but not for herself, she's scared for the little girl with the awful name.

That was perfect. Just perfect. A woman with a well-formed maternal instinct and who froze under threat rather than reacted. She really had been a good choice on Baalthemar's behalf. Nathandiel was pleased with his male lover and all that he'd done to find them a woman for Kieran.

Nathandiel smiled and rested his temple against hers. "You're good with children my dear--not so good with judging the danger of strangers, but your intelligence is not what interests me . . . . Are you going to behave? If I take my hand away from your pretty mouth will you be a good, quiet girl?"

"Yes." Her voice was muffled agianst his palm, the breath from her nose hot, and her pitch barely as harsh as that of a church mouse.

He took his hand away from her mouth and slid it down into the front of her dress, down into the depths of her bust where he hefted one generous breast. It was warm, soft, and yet firm with milk. He groaned gently as if aroused, and had there not been a bench between them he would have pressed against her so she could feel how much bigger than he he was. She only quivered, still and silent as he molested her, testing the firmness of one nipple and running his palm over the petal-soft flesh that surrounded it. He rolled her nipple between his thumb and forefinger as he spoke, wondering vaguely what shade of pink or brown such a soft nipple was going to be.

". . . Do you know what I want?" He asked softly.

". . . W-what?" She asked, her eyes fixed on her child. "What do you want?"

He was silent for a moment, rolling, pinching, and tugging gently at her taut nipple. It was a good nipple. He removed his hand and brought his fingers to his nose and inhaled her scent deeply, making a subtle of show of it so that she would feel him invading her space even further. He put the fingers in his mouth, the taste of leaked colostrum unoffensive to his taste buds. She only shook. He nuzzled her cheek softly, almost affectionately. "I want you to do . . . whatever I say, when I say it, and I will take from you whatever I want . . . when I want it, whatever it may be." She whimpered in the back of her throat but didn't move. "Right now I want you to look at your daughter, at your tiny, perfect, healthy little girl. Go on look." He lifted the tip of his blade up further against her skin.

"Pretty thing, isn't she?" He asked, his own eyes on the tiny child. "I bet she'd be very pretty if she gets the chance to grow up. You'd like her to do that, wouldn't you? To grow up?"

"Y-yes . . .please." Siané begged and he could see the tiny crystals of tears brimming along her blonde lashes.

He moved around the bench to face her head-on. He wanted her to see his face, to see his eyes, and to know that he meant the words he said. ". . . you'd like her to do that with you around, wouldn't you?" He asked, lifting the knife just a bit further and forcing her to raise her chin. "Because you if aren't around, I'll be around, and I love me some pretty girls, let me tell you . . . I enjoy pretty girls in ways the God that made them never intended for them to be enjoyed." He held her chin and brought his face only an inch from hers. "Do you doubt what I'd do your pretty little girl?" He asked.

Siané inhaled shakily. "No." she squeaked and he could see that she didn't. He studied her face, aware of Kieran in her lap and the way the boy child cooed, happy with her and oblivious to his surrogate father's depravity. She was good, and she was afraid of him, but more than her fear of him she was meant for mothering and he felt oddly confident that the soul within the woman before him was as pure a soul as he would find. She would do.

". . . Good." He stood, and took the blade away. "Stand up."

She did as she was told, her eyes never leaving her precious child, held so precariously in Baalthemar's strong arms. The little girl didn't fuss, she was a well-behaved baby and Nathandiel was glad that Baalthemar had persuaded him to let Siané keep her. He needed a woman to care for Kieran, but he didn't need to kill her child. So long as she knew that he would, everything would be fine.

He proceed to pat Siané down. "Anything on you that I should know about?" He asked, stealing inappropriate gropes of her breasts, rear, and the sweet spot between her thighs as he searched her. He had no interest in fucking her, but he wanted her to worry that he did. He wanted her to know that her body was now his and he would do whatever he wished with it. If his mind changed and he decided that he wanted her in that way, he would have her, but his interest right then was simply to make her . . . uncomfortable.

"A-a hearthstone . . . and a communicator." She confessed, avoiding his eyes.

He checked her pockets and produced the items, crushing the communicator under his boot and grinding into the stones of the Dalaran walkway. He handed the hearthstone back to Baalthemar to deal with, for Nathandiel knew little of magic.

"Her necklace too." Baalthemar said. "It's magic."

Nathandiel looked back at her with narrowed eyes, as offended by the item as her failure to admit to it. "Is it now? You know I dislike liars." He took a step back and reached into Jehosamine's bundle to fish out one of her fat little hands. He selected a finger and brought up his knife.

Siané was instantly alight with panic, though she kept her ground and her clutch on Kieran firm. "No, I didn't lie! I didn't know--you didn't tell me!" She protested, the pitch of desperation in her honey-sweet voice delightful to the darkness in Nathandiel's soul. "Please don't, don't hurt her. You wouldn't, please . . . no . . ."

"The worst lies are those of omission." He told her calmly. He ran a thumb over the tiny nail of the tiny finger. The little girl only cooed, as if amused by his touch and perhaps amused also by the shine of the object so near to her, the object she had not yet learned to associate with pain and fear, that she could only make her as yet unformed giggle.

". . . Nathandiel . . . we don't want a screaming baby in the middle of the park, it will call unneeded attention." Baalthemar warned, but he didn't step away and he didn't take the baby out of danger. He offered reason, but did not divert Nathandiel.

"Please . . . please sir, you said you were a paediatrician . . . you wouldn't hurt her . . . not because of a mistake." She pressed. "Here! Here take it" He looked back to see her yank the necklace from her slender throat and extend it, her fist shaking. "Please take it! Just don't hurt Jeho . . . please don't hurt my baby. . . ."

He lifted one brow and shifted from the little girl towards her mother, reaching out to take the necklace. He held it up, tilting his head as he examined it, and then handed it to Baalthemar. She'd made a mistake but she'd rectified it. Inside of him the experienced soldier told him to take at least a fingernail from the infant just to show her that he didn't play games, he didn't count strikes, and he punished in place of warning.

But she's perfect. And she's terrified.

And Kieran likes her.

He took Jehosamine from Baalthemar and the little girl cooed with delight. He slid towards Siané, clutching her little daughter to his own breast, within which beat the heart of a man who could summon all of his sins and all of his impurities when the need arose. "Omit again and I shall omit a finger." He said coldly.

Siané nodded and a single tear escaped from one of her grey eyes as she looked at the bundle he held. He aimed his knife at Kieran. "You'll go with Baalthemar now, Jeho will stay with me." He could see her panicking behind her granite-coloured eyes but fighting to keep it down. He could empathize--he'd have felt that acid-flash of panic too if his child had been taken and then withheld but such a man. "The safer you keep my Kieran . . . the safer your Jeho will be." He promised.

As Siané held Kieran and did as she was told, climbing onto Baalthemar's back when he became the black, winged cat creature he sometimes became, he watched her carefully. She looked back at him and at her daughter, her eyes longing. He took hold of the same tiny hand he hand threatened to truncate and waved it at her."Bye bye Mummy. I can't wait to see you again. Please be good Mummy, while I stay with my new friend." He spoke in a high, childish voice. But his eyes were ice and lost of any innocence.

When they left he looked down at the small girl and smiled, this time with genuine pleasure at holding a infant. She really was sweet. It would be a terrible shame if Siané failed and he was forced to do away with such a pretty, healthy, delightful little girl.

"What a shame it would be indeed, my sweet." He placed a single, chaste kiss on the baby girl's forehead. "What a shame indeed."

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What kind of idiot kept on trusting people, again and again, no matter how times something bad happened because of it? Apparently, whatever kind she was.

Siané just couldn't help it. It was who she was. Literally; but that was a long story. One they probably wouldn't be able to make any sense of if they read her diary, which had been in the things they'd taken away, but she didn't think they'd ask her to explain. They didn't care about her as a person, no matter how kindly Baal treated her. She was just a figure. A mother figure, which both of them had probably sorely lacked growing up.

Still, this time, she had gotten more than just her own person in danger. She was responsible for someone else now, and that tiny little individual was the only thing that mattered. Siané was supposed to keep Jeho safe, and she'd failed.

Why hadn't anywhere she'd gone been safe? Not Sanctuary Garrison, not Tirien's manor in Stormwind, not Borrowed Time base. Even busy Dalaran, around the corner from Sanctuary's new guild house, had proven treacherous. Maybe if she'd been able to go to Xandric's garrison, if Zakael hadn't forbidden it... but he had because he didn't believe that was safe either.

Siané gazed around the room that had been allotted to her and Jeho. It was modest but curiously warm, outfitted in a rustic décor. A small bassinet stood near the bed. Her precious baby was in her arms again, and she didn't want to ever let go. It made her sick to her stomach even now, remembering the dark cold in Nathandiel's eyes when he'd seriously considered cutting the infant's tiny finger off.

If it had been herself, Siané could have handled it. Maybe it wouldn't have looked like handling it, as she certainly would have begged and pleaded to try to spare herself the pain and being maimed, but after the fact, she would have recovered. Not so when it had been Jeho. Not when it had been the most innocent, helpless being, that she herself had put in danger.

And that was why everywhere she had gone hadn't been safe. Because everywhere she went, she was there, and her judgment had never been good. Her heart demanded that she risk herself; her nature required her to gamble on the goodwill of others.

Siané looked down at Jeho, sleeping soundly in her mother's arms.

“I'm so sorry,” she whispered.

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************Warning Adult content! ******************

Nathandiel had asked Baalthemar to talk and to enlighten him as to why he was in a foul mood at the cantina. Nathandiel sat and listened as Baalthemar confided in him. Baalthemar told him how he was frustrated, and how he fought hard to find people worthy of his trust, and how that slowly ate away at him.

As Baalthemar explained, his voice turned cold and cruel. When he talked his voice carried the weight of bitterness and anger. Nathandiel looked sad as Baalthemar spoke and he reached out to touch him and offer comfort. Baalthemar sighed and smiled, that was all he needed to see: that he was loved and needed. “Are you frustrated?” Nathandiel asked playfully as he moved to sit on Baalthemar’s lap.

Baalthemar pressed his forehead to Nathandiel's and sighed. “Yes.” he finally said.

Nathandiel lifted Baalthemar’s chin and looked at him. “Please? Take it out on me and feel better.” Nathandiel implored.

Baalthemar tilted his head, “Are you sure?” he asked Nathandiel. Nathandiel smiled at him and gave him a slight nod, Baalthemar grinned and picked the dark-haired man up and threw him over his shoulder headed toward the bedroom with his black-hair booty. Nathandiel giggled triumphantly at this. “That’s a yes then,” Baalthemar said while Nathandiel kicked his feet and feigned struggle.

Baalthemar swatted Nathandiel’s rump as they entered the bedroom where he threw Nathandiel onto the bed. “Clothes off. Now.” Baalthemar ordered as he gave Nathandiel a predatory grin. Nathandiel slowly stripped off his gear, being a tease and making a show of himself while Baalthemar paced impatiently at the foot of the be like a caged beast waiting to be let out.

Nathandiel wiggled out of the last of his clothes and followed Baalthemar with his eyes as he paced. “Your turn.” Nathandiel said with a sly grin of his own, peering at Baalthemar from behind his black bangs.

Baalthemar removed his combat gear as his blond hair fell over his naked chest and crouched down to pounce onto the bed then on top of Nathandiel, pinning him to the mattress with a strong hand curled around his throat. Baalthemar’s other hand reached for Nathandiel’s hips and pulled him closer, ready to descend upon him.

“Wait, let me uh--” Nathandiel twisted under Baalthemar's grasp and grabbed the oil beside the bed. He made himself ready and then gave Baalthemar a nod to proceed. Baalthemar grinned and moved forward, he pressed his body to Nathandiel's and brought them together, making Nathandiel gasp. “Please… I said rough… not dry...” he handed Baalthemar the oil and Baalthamar made himself ready too.

Baalthemar grinned and slowly moved his hips forward. “Ready now? because I’m going to sheath myself in you soon.” Nathandiel’s eyes grew wide and he quickly applied oil to his hands and made them both extra ready. “Good boy.” Baalthemar purred as he parted Nathandiel’s legs and splayed his fingers over Nathandiel's lower abdomen.

Nathandiel winced and whimpered as he let his head fall back when Baalthemar brought them completely together, he was quickly silenced when Baalthemar tightened his grip around his throat. “You. Are. Mine.” Baalthemar said, he hilted with each word. “Now, tell me who you belong to.” Baalthemar relaxed his grip on Nathandiel’s throat so that he could speak.

Nathandiel lifted a brow, a touch of inherent defiance in his eyes as he half-moaned his answer. “...you.”

Baalthemar smiled and ran his thumb across Nathandiel’s lips. “Open.” He demanded.

Nathandiel opened his mouth and extended his tongue in a suggestive manner, Baalthemar put his thumb on the waiting pinkness. “You. My dearest. Are going to have. A long night.” Baalthemar promised, a sweet threat that he sealed with a kiss.

They didn't move together so much as Baalthemar moved into Nathandiel--who graciously accepted him, as promised, baring all of Baalthemar's desire and frustration with unconditional welcome. Baalthemar picked up his pace, the hard movements eventually knocking Nathandiel's skulls against the headboard; Baalthemar reached out to push against it with his arms and this had another effect, it pushed their connection deeper than it had ever been before

A low guttural moan escaped Nathandiel as his eyes started to roll back and his body started to shake as Nathandiel neared his peak. Baalthemar laughed softly, some of his cruelty gone as he leaned over to kiss his lover, watching while Nathandiel endured his rapture. “You like that?” Baalthemar asked with a wolfish grin. “It felt like you did, you gripped me so tightly” he added.

Nathandiel opened his eyes slowly and nodded. “Yeah, that was… intense” his voice soft. “Good, I’ll speed up and see how long you can last.” Baalthemar said with a playful grin. Nathandiel grinned back and lifted his chin, welcoming the onslaught as Baalthemar lifted his hips up to meet his again. Lewd sounds softly encased the bedroom as Baalthemar started to vent his frustration against Nathandiel’s rump.

Baalthemar sighed and gently patted Nathandiel’s buttocks, his dark haired lover had offered himself and teased him with a playful wiggle of his rump. In the hours since then, the strength from Nathandiel’s arms had given out and so he had fallen onto his chest, his arms buckling, while Baalthemar continued his assault.

Baalthemar looked down at him and enjoyed the sounds Nathandiel made when Baalthemar was hard and lifted him off his knees; A low and primal moan that brought a wide smile to Baalthemar’s face. “You are doing well, my love.” he said as he leaned down to kiss Nathandiel’s back.

“Please… let’s take a rest. I need some water.” Nathandiel muttered into the damp bed sheet. His resolve hadn't faded, but his stamina had fled.

Baalthemar wiped his brow and slowly removed himself from Nathaniel, the second their joining was broken Nathandiel rolled onto his side and sighed with relief as he was left to recover. “Bring me water and ice…. Please?” he asked as he pulled a sheet over himself.

Baalthemar stretched his legs and rolled his shoulders. “Would you like anything to eat? I can get you some fruit.” Baalthemar added quickly with a sly grin ”you’ll need the sugars for energy.”

Nathandiel returned the playful grin, “I don’t know, I feel quite full already," he gave his own bum a spank. "I had a big piece of meat for dinner.”

Baalthemar smiled and waved a finger at him. “Where do you get these awful puns from?”

Nathandiel shrugged, feigning ignorance. “Oh, some boy, he has a knack for telling them at the worst times.” He bit his lower lip and eyes Baalthemar salaciously; his body may have needed a rest but his mind was still firmly on it's knees. Baalthemar grinned and headed toward the kitchen to prepare some food and drink for the two of them.

A thought struck Baalthemar as he returned to the bed. I wonder if Siané can hear us… I didn’t lock her in. Baalthemar stole a look over to her door and smiled as he found it ajar. I wonder if she is watching? Baalthemar offered a small wave to the door just in case their guest was enjoying the show before he headed back to Nathandiel.

Baalthemar returned and looked at his lover, Nathandiel sat up and watched as Baalthemar placed the food beside them. Baalthemar grinned as an idea came to mind. “Before we eat, I have an idea to help cool you down.” Baalthemar said with a slight grin.

“Oh, what do you have in mind?” Nathandiel asked. Baalthemar placed his hand on Nathandiel’s chest and gently pushed him down onto his back. Nathandiel watched as Baalthemar placed a piece of ice between his teeth and started to gently kiss his way down Nathandiel's chest.

By the time the ice had melted, Baalthemar was below Nathandiel’s hips, and all thoughts of food or water had been banished from his mind while Nathandiel sipped at a drink and his blond lover showed his more tender side. Baalthemar favored Nathandiel with his mouth, he wanted to show Nathandiel his gratitude for his willingness to be used to vent his anger.

The dawn’s light slowly crept into the cabin and over Baalthemar’s face, he blinked and looked down at Nathandiel who was still in his arms from the night before. Baalthemar smiled and felt for the first time in days that he could finally relax. I’ll spend time here, with you and the children. I’ll build up our home and enjoy myself here; everything else can wait. He grinned as he planned his week at the cabin. Baalthemar hugged Nathandiel and fell asleep again, content with himself and his lot.

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It wasn't easy taking care of two newborns full-time. Siané sympathized with mothers of twins. Both babies never seemed to sleep at the same time, and she was lucky to get a couple hours of sleep in a row for herself. She had been spoiled having Zakael around for awhile to help when she had.

Not that the two “fathers” here did nothing. They were happy to help care for little Kieran and even Jeho fairly often, when they weren't out, doing Grim things, or secluded with one another, doing other things. But caring for two babies was a lot of work, even for three people under ideal circumstances, and these weren't exactly those.

Baal'themar tried to make her feel at home. He'd been happy to accommodate her pescatarian diet when she'd admitted to him she didn't want to eat meat. He never raised his voice or his hand to her, never made threats, and always tried to rationally explain to her how they were acting in her best interest. In a way, it was scarier than Nathandiel.

Nathandiel was erratic, sometimes bursting in on her to check that she was taking adequate care of Kieran, quick to eye her with suspicion and quicker to remind her that she and her daughter were at his mercy. It was easier somehow to deal with his near-violent unpredictability than Baal's slow march on her sanity.

She'd appealed to Baal to let her go, once, right after they arrived at the cabin, but only once. His response had told her all she needed to know about the dynamics that would be in play under this roof. Since then she had done nothing, said nothing to speak of other than what they wanted, except occasional things like mentioning her pescatarian diet to keep them from getting too inquisitive. As far as they saw, she was completely cowed and under their control.

The rocker glided smoothly on its rails as she held Jeho in her arms, the babe finally drifting off to sleep. Kieran slumbered in one of the cribs. Early morning light filtered in through the drapes after what had been a very long night. The nursery was well-appointed with everything one might possibly need for two babies, and a nice en suite that connected to her own bedroom. She spent most of her days here, not spending any time to speak of in any other parts of the house except what was required. Out of sight, out of mind, if possible. She knew from Tassha/Vionora's memories how to survive.

Surviving was what she had to do. Nothing else mattered. She had to stay alive, so she could get Jeho out safely. Her pride, however much she had, was inconsequential. Her need for privacy, her need for autonomy, for freedom, for security, to see her friends and loved ones and to do meaningful work, they didn't matter. She could set those needs aside as long as necessary. In practice, there was no difference between being cowed and what she did now. But deep down, she was only biding her time.

Zakael, Xandric, Sanctuary, Twilight Empire, someone would come. It had been several days already; Zakael was surely going crazy with worry by now. They'd find something, pick up her trail in Dalaran, talk to the shopkeeper or pedestrians on the street that day and get a description of the people she'd been seen with. Something. They hadn't been outside very long, but Zakael wouldn't gave up until he found her, and Jeho.

Xan... She'd told Xandric she'd be away for some time, raising Jeho with Zakael until the babe was old enough for Siané to feel comfortable leaving her alone for long enough stretches of time to visit. He wouldn't know, wouldn't realize. But maybe Zak would talk to him. Probably not for the right reasons... but they'd figure it out. They had to.

Sanctuary, Kex'ti and Commander Julilee, would be looking for her as well. If they found out who'd taken her, they'd take all necessary diplomatic measures to force the Grim to hand her back over. So would Twilight Empire, she thought, though she had never done a good job of keeping them notified of her schedule, and they'd probably be the last to notice her absence, or find it significant – especially knowing Jeho had arrived. Xandric probably wouldn't involve them either, not having the patience for diplomacy, nor the mindset for asking for help.

There was Tirien, too. He'd come to save her when she was Vionora... But he was busy, out in the world looking for his father's malevolent artifacts. Still, if he found out she was in danger, he would want to help.

And if no one came... she would wait, but she would take an opportunity to escape if it arose. She didn't delude herself into thinking one would for a long time, but if she earned their trust, maybe eventually.

There came a tap at the door. Siané looked up, startled out of her near-doze. Baal was there, giving her one of his kind smiles. “I need you to write a letter,” he said.

Edited by Siané

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She was pretty enough, though the size of her Siané 's breasts had more to do with Nathandiel's opinion of her than her face. Her face was plain. The men that had mounted her had clearly done so more for what she had below her neckline than above it.  In addition to her plain face ,  her skin was too dark, though he did allow himself to briefly wonder what her dark skin would look like as it met his own, paler flesh. 

Then he pushed that thought away. Violently. 

He watched her from the keyhole as she fed Kieran. The tiny boy gobbled at her breast with an eagerness that encouraged him. Nathandiel had worried about the child, he was healthy but he’d be healthier with more fat on him. Siané’s milk would help. Real, mother-made milk was better for babies.

At least that’s what they say these days, Lord knows what the word will be ten years from now.

He wiped perspiration from his upper lip. He’d been squatting at the keyhole longer than he’d meant to and the strain on his haunches had become somewhat exerting. He’d been brushing his teeth, clean from a bath and a shave when he’d heard one of the babies crying. He hadn’t quite yet learned whose tears belonged to whom, but he would. Either way, crying babies bade him to check in on his captive.

Baalthemar had left the house, and while Baalthemar was keen to leave Siané’s door open in hopes that she would feel more welcome in their home, he was keen to lock it. He didn’t trust magic and he didn’t trust her not to pack-up her baby and wander out into the grounds if only to have her self torn down by one of the bear sculptures and dumped in the pit to rot, a flaccid woman with a topping of dead baby. 

What if she pulls that with Keiran in tow? He’d wondered and stopped brushing immediately. He’d leaned out of the bathroom, listening, brush still stuck in his mouth and wedged between his cheek and teeth. We shouldn’t have given her a window. That bitch doesn't need a window. She doesn't need anymore sun. 

He’d moved out into the hallway, bare feet treading silently over the wooden floor, and when he’d reached the nursery he’d put his hand on the door knob, ready to thrust it open and glare at her. She shrunk when he glared at her. She shut up and behaved when he glared at her. It was a useful tool. Baalthemar wanted him to let up on her, to try being nicer to her, but Nathandiel had found that each time he looked at her he was actually mad at her,' mad her for what was often some inexplicable reason. He was mad at her for her fingernails, for her hair style, for the way she held the baby – or didn’t hold him. He was mad at her for doing the right-side of the diapers first, for patting the powder instead of sprinkling it, for not smiling when she should have been.

She just made him mad. He didn't know why. Maybe it's her plain fucking face. 

He'd closed his hand around the doorknob when he’d felt that rage rise up into the back of his throat, clashing with the minty tingle on his tongue—why hadn’t she’d shut the kid up? The other was starting!—when he took a steadying breath and squatted, tilting his head so he could peer through the keyhole at her so he could see what she doing wrong. 

But she hand't been doing anything wrong and was still there, paste drying to a scale at the corner of his mouth and foamy bubbles on his lips. She’d quieted both children and had the good sense to feed Kieran first. He’d told her that she would feed the boy first, always, no matter how loudly her little runt cried—Kieran got the first feeding. Always.

Siané stood and patted Kieran’s back. She took him to the crib—

—and the rage flared again. It flared and caught, grabbing at the tendrils of his self-control and catching.

He spat and dropped the toothbrush as he tore the keys from his pant’s pocket and burst through the door. “You didn’t burp him! He doesn’t go to bed until he burps!” He shouted, closing the distance between them in only five long strides. He snatched Kieran from her, deaf to her words, and struck her, his palm connecting so cleanly with her cheek that the clap of pale flesh on dark cracked like a bolt of thunder. There was a beat of silence and then both children began to wail. 

“You burp him before you tend to your pup.” He snarled. “You take care of Kieran first. Always first. If your daughter proves to be too needy I’ll make sure she doesn’t need you anymore.”

He didn’t wait to ask her if she understood, he thought she did. He held Kieran closely and hurried from the room, angered by her and her insolence and angry with himself for making the children cry. 

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Nathandiel woke abruptly, a breath caught in his throat as he sucked in, his eyes clicking open with such efficiency and speed they could have been mechanical. The bedroom was dark, the moonlight from the bank of windows along the second half of the furthest wall- his wall – offered enough muted luminosity for the familiar objects of his bedroom to cast their familiar shadows.

The box clock on the side table ticked efficiently, marching to the crystal beat set from within. His glass of water was still full; Nathandiel could not go to sleep without a large glass of water standing ready at the bedside. His pocket watch and his glasses laid neatly at the base of the black lamp. He’d fought for black lamps, he had a fondness for lamps and light fixtures in general, but Clara had opposed the black metal filigreed lamps and their cube-shaped shades. They were too nontraditional and there were too many hard-lines in their bedroom.

Clara.


His stomach pulled in and his chest hitched. He curled inward on himself, shrinking into the pillow and blankets--the large, poofy, down-filled blanket his wife had bought him and that he had dubbed "the sleepy thing," much to their mutual amusement. He waited. It wasn’t real, it was a nightmare. None of it was real. It was all so familiar, the shadows an the lamp and he way the moon game in through the windows. Nothing so bad could be so real when so much was the same. 

Clara. Clara died. My wife died.

My wife died.

He’d repeated that over and over since he’d found her dangling heavily from the other light fixture he’d fought for in their bedroom, the one on the ceiling above the bottom corner--her corner--of their bed.. He didn’t dare turn onto his back and look up at it. Or rather, look up at where it had been. The inspectors had removed it when they’d collected her body and taken her way, after they'd taken their pictures and poked through the couple's belonging, after they'd forced him to wait outside and treated him as a homicide suspect. 


“Nathandiel…”

His intake of breath was weak and high-pitched, the hairs on the back of his neck standing up at the sound of that voice. Slowly he turned onto his other side and faced his wife's side of the bed. She was there…but she wasn’t. It was empty space and yet he was sure she was there, and while the voice he’d heard had been in his mind, he’d still heard it.

He held out his hand and it remained empty but he felt her take it. He looked at her not-there face and thought he saw her smile. Smile like she had when things had still been good, when they’d loved each other foolishly and still been making memories together. She smiled at him like she had all the time in the world to smile at him and like there was no reason not to. She smiled like she had before the resentment had crept in, before they’d revealed their ugly sides and repelled one another, before their son had died.

“I’m sorry,” He whispered, and he felt her hand on his cheek. “I’m sorry you died. I’m sorry this happened to you.”

He felt her nod at him. Tears so new and diluted that they tasted of water rather than salt crept down the tracks they’d carved in his cheeks; he’d stopped bothering to wipe them away days before when they just hadn’t stopped. Tears were just part of his face now. 

“I love you forever.” He whispered and closed his eyes, believing that she told him to, that she hushed him and told him to rest, that she promised it would be better in the morning—it always was. They’d see each other again when his time came and that yes, he had to stay behind. No, he couldn’t follow. Not yet.

He wept until he fell back into sleep and when he awoke the next morning he felt like she really was gone. Like she’d left him in the night and that he was, finally, completely alone. His mate was dead. 

 

 

Edited by Nathandiel

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Depending on how you looked at it, a slap was an improvement. Nathandiel hadn't held a knife to her neck and threatened her life, or gone near Jeho, just threatened the babe in words alone. He felt comfortable enough to give his temper reign without fearing he'd lose control of her. From Tassha's memories, Siané understood how that could work.

Still, he was so angry, for little reason. Sometimes it seemed like just looking at her made him mad. Beyond ensuring she did her best to accommodate his every single wish, Siané wasn't sure how to placate him. Was he unsatisfied without a sign of rebellion to quell? Or did he resent feeling like a monster when she reacted appropriately to his treatment?

She would have to tread carefully figuring out what he wanted. The last thing she wanted to do was err.

Earlier

“A letter?” Siané said uncertainly.

Baal'themar walked into the room. He walked softly, like a cat, and stopped next to the rocker, looking down at her and Jeho. “Yes,” he said, “can't have your lover looking for you, or thinking you're at risk of harm.”

Siané looked down to hide the crushed hope in her eyes. “Okay,” she said, and carefully got up to go over to the other crib and lay Jeho down. She lingered for a moment to ensure the babe would stay asleep, then looked up at Baal.

“Once we are done, you and I will go for a walk and get some fresh air while Nathandiel looks after the children,” he told her.

That made her freeze for a moment. Both Nathandiel and Baal had helped out with the children, but never when she wasn't nearby. But what choice did she have? She couldn't very well refuse. Biting her lip, she nodded.

He smiled warmly at her. “Don't worry, you and Jeho are safe here, and I won't let anything happen to you.”

Putting a hand on her shoulder, he guided her out of the nursery and to the study. It was a well-furnished room, and one she hadn't been in before. Seeing the heavy wood desk, she moved over and seated herself there, taking a sheet of parchment and placing it in front of herself. Then she paused. “...What do I write?” she asked.

He set out the quill and ink for her. “Write that you and Jeho are taking a trip to think about your future. You don't feel safe, and you feel that travel is a good way to keep you and the baby from coming to harm.”

Xandric wouldn't like that. Siané hesitated. Baal'themar interpreted her hesitation differently.

“Please don't try to mask any secret messages or personal stories that might tip someone off that you are here,” he said, stern, but not cruel. “Otherwise, we will have to start all over again.”

She winced a little. She wasn't clever enough to figure out a way to do that, anyway. Bending over the parchment, she started writing.

Baal looked over her shoulder. “This is addressed to the wrong person,” he said. “You have an elf lover not by this name.”

Siané blinked, then blushed. “Zakael isn't – he's not my lover. He's Jeho's father, but we're not...”

Baal laughed softly. “You told me you and the other one broke up, so this... Zakael is the one I would like you to write to.”

It had been complicated. Certainly she and Xandric had agreed to... take a break of sorts. But he would still become concerned if he didn't hear from her for long enough. But Zakael was the first she had expected to be alarmed by her absence. Siané drew out another piece of parchment and started over. Zakael would likely accept this explanation, considering the attack that had taken place at Borrowed Time base only days before she disappeared, but... “...Will I get in trouble if he doesn't believe it?” she asked.

“No,” Baal said. “If you try your best and he ignores you, then he will get into trouble. As I said, you are safe here.”

She froze again. “He'll get in trouble?”

“Anyone who attempts to remove you from here will be in 'trouble', yes. But once you get settled here, you can go out and see them,” he told her.

Siané looked up at him uncertainly, sidetracked despite her concern for Zakael. Did he mean it? Her other hand rose to her collarbone to where he had put the mark on her that made the wards accept her. The magical protections wouldn't let her leave, though. A half-formed thought chased itself in the back of her mind, but she had to return her attention to the letter. She signed it, trying not to sound too stilted, but honestly unsure how she would have signed off on such a missive. Hopefully Zakael wouldn't find it suspicious.

Baal picked it up and looked it over. “I'm putting my trust in you, Siané, that this is not a trick... and that you have tried your best here.”

She felt herself pale a little. “I... I don't want him to get hurt.”

“Good.” He smiled down at her gently. “Now, I'll send this later; for now, let's enjoy some time outside. Would you like to get changed?”

“Okay,” she said, and got up. While she changed into clothes more suitable for the outdoors – Nath and Baal had provided her with plenty of clothing – she heard Baal move around the kitchen, packing a lunch for them. When she emerged, she could hear Nathandiel in the nursery, singing to the children. She looked toward the nursery door, then to Baal'themar.

“We shouldn't be long,” he said, and ushered her outside.

Thoughts of Jeho preoccupied her mind as they took to a path through the woods. Grizzly Hills was a verdant place in the summer, with birds in what seemed like every tree, squirrels running underfoot, and soft-faced deer staring at them without fear. No wonder Baal had no problem providing for all of them. But Siané couldn't enjoy it, fretting over Jeho. Surely her baby would be safe. Nathandiel had seemed a little charmed by her. But what if...

“I think they will like it here,” Baal said, “the children. It's nice, no real fighting out here.” Siané didn't respond right away, and he went on. “No one to tell them they are wrong for being born...”

Siané glanced at him for a moment. He was smiling, genuinely happy at the idea. Siané thought of her own unhappy upbringing in Silvermoon. In a way, he wasn't wrong. But she couldn't bring herself to agree. Thinking she should say something despite that, so as to not be rude, she offered an anodyne, “Isolation can be nice.”

He looked back at her. “So much more with family,” he said.

She wasn't sure how to respond to that. Family... Family wasn't something she knew. She just had people she cared about, and Jeho.

But Baal looked away and said, “Come, let me show you a nice spot Nathandiel and I enjoy.”

They soon arrived the top of a hill that looked over a fork in the river. Fish jumped in a pool below, and the warm sun was gentled by a cool breeze. It seemed like there wasn't anyone else around for miles. Siané watched as Baal set out the lunch for them, and when he sat down, she lowered herself to the ground as well.

“So,” Baal said, “speak your mind. You have been far too timid.”

Her mind went blank. “...Like... what?” she ventured.

“Well, I did kidnap you and your child... Thoughts?”

Siané blinked once, taken aback. Baal watched her, unbothered, as he picked at one of the fish cakes. Disconcerted by his gaze, Siané looked down.

“I guess... this is my life now,” she said carefully. Even if he didn't believe she was that cowed, he might be satisfied by her submissiveness, she thought. Picking up a fish cake for herself, she nibbled on it to avoid meeting his eyes... eye.

“Would you have come and helped like this if I had just asked?” he said.

That gave her pause. She looked up at him again, before her gaze lowered to his tabard. He and Nathandiel hadn't been wearing their guild tabards in Dalaran, but they did now. There was no paucity of people who would have strongly warned her away from them on the basis of that affiliation alone... and her own experiences to boot, as much as she believed in trusting people. “I don't know...” she finally admitted. “I don't think... anyone would have let me, or that... I would have thought it was a good idea.”

He nodded. “Yes, you should know that the Grim have nothing to do with this.”

That wasn't a surprise to her, and not because of the isolation. She hadn't thought about it when Baal had first mentioned Kieran was half-human, but somewhere along the line she had realized what that would mean to his guild. She nodded slowly. “That's why you have to be so sure of me... because of Kieran.”

“Yes. I can't risk anything happening to him, and I can't trust anyone else with his care...”

“I would never do anything to put him in danger,” she said, the words coming out before she thought about them. She realized she was looking up at him again, and he at her, and quickly looked back down at the fish cake.

He gave her a weak smile. “Trust is a hard thing to earn, Siané. I hope that one day you will see that we... only want what is best for our child.”

She nodded again, obediently accepting what he told her without question. She picked up the teapot and poured them both cups of the honeymint tea he had brought. He took his cup with a slight not of thanks.

“You might not do anything to put him in danger,” he said, “but can you say the same for others? What of Shokkra? Or people like her? What about Jeho's father? Would he not move the sun to find his little one... and if he finds out the Grim have taken her and you... what then?”

Siané frowned unhappily. She wanted to say that they wouldn't have had to worry about Zakael if they hadn't kidnapped her, but that probably wouldn't go over well, and she didn't have the nerve. Instead she said, “Why are you in the Grim, then?” It was a different sort of challenge, one more expected. “They believe Kieran should die, or he'll grow up to be an enemy of the Horde.”

Baal sat back. “I have kept a great many secrets from the Grim and I will continue to do so. What they don't know won't hurt them.”

Not only was Siané fairly sure the Grim would disagree, but it wasn't an answer to her question. Still, she wasn't about to press him. For some moments, they both sipped their tea in silence.

“You'll learn more about me in time,” Baal said eventually. “For now you only need know one thing.”

She looked back up at him. There was very little she knew about him. She had heard someone say he'd cut out his eye for the Grim. And she had seen his demonic, twisted hands, and heard him mention that he'd grown up on the streets, without a family. Despite the fact he had never threatened her, and had only ever treated her with kindness, she didn't delude herself into thinking she knew him.

“I will not hurt you or your child, but I can't let you leave yet.”

Siané nodded, again obedient, but her gaze moved to the direction from which they'd come. Jeho was still alone with Nathandiel. She had almost forgotten for a few minutes. Surely she was fine. She had to be fine.

“What other questions do you have?” Baal asked, interrupting her thoughts.

She shook her head quickly. “I don't have any questions...”

“Oh?” he said. “You can speak freely.”

Her concern hadn't exactly been a question, but he clearly wanted her to ask something. She cast about for a line of inquiry. “Um... did you... build the cabin yourself?”

“Yes. I had to ensure it was well-hidden, can't have people knowing where it is.” He chuckled.

“That must have taken a long time...” Siané said.

“It took time, but I enjoyed the work and it has paid off well, I think... A well hidden home, safe from... 'people'.”

“People?” she repeated, puzzled by the emphasis he had put on the word.

“You know what I mean,” he said, looking at her. “'People who would cut you open to see if you had a half-blood child.”

She bit her lip. She hadn't believed him, that night in the tavern when Khorvis and Shokkra had been threatening to do just that, and he had offered to help. How different would things be now if she had? But before he had told her about Kieran, her experiences had been just enough to keep her cautious. “The Grim captured me and tortured me before,” she said abruptly.

She didn't know why she decided to tell him that. His eyebrows rose. “What?” he said. “Oh... so you must have thought the worst when we took you...” Siané nodded a little, and he looked down at his tabard, his ears drooping with what seemed to be genuine dismay. “Oh sweet Siané. I didn't know. I'm sorry.”

“But I... I thought you were different. That was why I agreed to meet with you. I don't judge everyone the same.”

He laughed softly, wry. “But then we take you and keep you locked up... It is the same thing. Less pain, but still a captive.”

Siané looked down, unconsciously crossing her arms over her chest. They had threatened her baby, and Nathandiel had molested her too, but he didn't seem to think that those things were a problem. Maybe it was because she was so calm about it, he thought she was strong enough that such things didn't really shake her. But maybe it was because he didn't really think those things were wrong.

And that was why she couldn't trust him. No, more than that... She couldn't trust him even if she dared believe he knew right from wrong. Because she couldn't take that risk. Not with Jeho here to take the brunt of it if she was wrong.

She couldn't afford to be naïve anymore. Not when someone else would pay for it.

They made a little more small talk after that, and then headed back to the cabin. To Siané's relief, Jeho was just fine, and appeared to have slept entirely through Nathandiel's babysitting. She quietly resumed her duties.
 

Edited by Siané

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The little girl’s stupid name annoyed him. “Jehosamine” Nathandiel muttered as undid the infant's nappy. “You sound like a food supplement.” The little girl only watched him with big eyes, eyes he was surprised could actually see him. She was so new, yet she'd grown well and was healthy. He'd taken the time while Baslthemar had gone out with the milk jugs to examine the infant and he'd been pleased with the result. She'd cried when he'd taken her blood and she screamed when he'd given her jabs, but he'd found those shrill little lungs encouraging—bolstered titty milk had grown those strong little air bags, titty milk he now had on lockdown.

Jehosamine pooped on his hand, adding to the little pile he'd already gone into her diaper  to clean. He cocked a brow. Children were disgusting, useless creatures…but he liked them. “I deserve that.” He whispered to the little girl. “Stealing you and your mum. I know, I'm a bad man. I need your mum's breasts though. I need her soft skin and her attentive touch. I need you too.” He smiled down st the little girl as he crossed her ankles and lifted her up off of her diaper. He wiped her up quickly, but gently, careful to stroke her in the right to direction. Hr took a moment to inspect her skin for rash or wear down before powdering her. When he slipped a fresh nappy under her he leaned down and kissed her toes.

Tiny, delicious little toes.

“Don’t worry Watermelon. I don't want to take these little toes.” He promised. He did her up and lifted her, grinning at her as he did so. She was a pretty child—contrary to popular politeness they weren't all pretty. But she was.

She was warm against the skin of his bare chest and she didn't fuss as he carried her, taking a few minutes to walk with her and speak nonsense, tell her she was pretty and precious and special—the first lies all children were entitled to. When she seemed to doze he took her to her crib and laid her down, careful to keep her neck aligned with her shoulders.

Kieran was awake but he wasn't fussing so Nathandiel went into Siane’s washroom to soap his hands. When he caught his reflection in the mirror he frowned—

--and there was silence. He’d been singing. He blinked several times as he looked at himself and felt a wash of various emotions move over him; glee, peace, hope, and grief. He’d been singing Alexander’s songs, his lullaby’s, and he’d been singing them to the children that they hadn’t been written for.

Would Alexander mind? Did he? Nathandiel turned to his right, hands gripping the basin as he felt the familiar, but long absent, presence of his dead son. He saw nothing, but he felt Alexander in the corner by the towel rack, looking at him. Was he smiling? He felt so close and while all of Nathandiel’s senses told him that his child was not standing there, his other sense, the one that men chalked up to speculation, told him very firmly that his boy was smiling at him. His son was smiling at him in that way that he had when Alexander had known something that his Daddy didn't. 

He swallowed the lump in his throat down a tightened gorge. “…I loved you.” He whispered, as he always did when he spoke to his boy. He hadn’t felt Alexander like he did right then in a long time, but he still spoke to his boy, nearly every day. “…I miss you.”

Whenever Alexander came, either as the sudden certainty of a presence or just as an unbidden thought brought on by memory, Nathandiel always told him the same things: he loved him, he missed him, he was scared to go on without him, but that he wasn’t ready to join him and he’d do his best to finish up and get to Alexander and his mother just as quickly as God allowed.

Am I doing good though?  Is that why you're smiling at me? Is Dad being bad?

His eyes narrowed. Was Alexander shaking his head? Nathandiel scoweled. He did not want his perfect, innocent boy and the mental projection that Nathnadiel conjured to become the face of his conscience. “…I know it’s wrong.” He said. “Its not her fault. I don’t want a woman here. I don’t want Kieran. . . but . . . I do.” His shoulders slumped and the presence of his son offered him no direction.

He wasn’t doing good. He was taking a detour on his way to finish his life, care for his business, get back to Daniel and possibly carve out a subtle happiness with Pascal—if Pascal would still have him. He wasn't supposed to be making a new life to replace his old one, he was only supposed to be waiting to die. He was in the Grizzly Hills with Baalthemar and now a baby . . . and another baby belonging to another woman. He’d gotten side-tracked with Drinn, who he should have gone looking for so he could take her home with him and just get on with it. He didn’t wish to die, but he did want to get to the end so he could be with the ghosts that haunted him.

He stayed in the bathroom for some time, however long it took for Baalthemar and Siané to return. He still felt Alexander in the washroom but he left him there to greet the couple. Siané entered the nursery and averted her eyes. What had they been talking about? His eyes narrowed at her and he willed the anger she inspired to come—but it didn’t. He reached out and took her hand instead, aware at how it trembled in his as he guided her over to the cribs. “She was a very good girl, but I bet she would like some Mommy time. Please also care for Kieran, we’ll come back to collect him later so you can have some time alone with your daughter.” He hesitated and then kissed her shoulder lightly. “Thank you.” He whispered softly, unable to meet her eyes. 

He hurried away from her and set his sights on Baalthemar, his anger redirected even as he felt Alexander watching from beside the towel rack. He snatched up Baalthemar’s wrist and led him from the nursery, unconcerned with locking it and marched him to their bedroom.

Before he pushed Baalthemar down onto the bed face-first, he said only one thing. “I need you.” And then he had him. Like an animal. And he felt better after. 

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*************Warning Adult content*************

 

Nathandiel and Baalthemar walked into their bedroom, Baalthemar watched Nathandiel shift awkwardly in his armour. Baalthemar had enjoyed tormenting his black-haired lover. His pale skin turns a wonderful shade of pink when he is teased in public, I’ll have to do this more. He thought to himself.

Nathandiel turned and grabbed Baalthemar by the collar. “That was cruel. Making me do that with all those people around.” He still had a rose tint to his cheeks, Baalthemar smiled and gave Nathandiel his usual playful grin. “It was, and from the looks of you. You enjoyed it too.” Nathandiel grinned and pulled Baalthemar into a kiss.

“You’re mine. I warned you not to tease me too much… and now this ass is mine.” Nathandiel said, he added a firm slap to Baalthemar rump to make his point. Baalthemar tilted his head. “Oh, is that so?” Baalthemar leaned in to softly bite at Nathaniel's neck. “Then you best tie me down, or I’ll continue to torment you…” Nathandiel pushed Baalthemar onto the bed and turned to get something to bind him.

Baalthemar removed his clothes while Nathandiel watched him, when he was finished Baalthemar gave him another grin. “You just going to stand there? I thought you were going to make me pay for teasing you?” Nathandiel smiled softly and crawled over his lover and bound his hands to the bed. Baalthemar tested the binds. “Not bad. But you are still dressed you won’t get much done with your pants on.” he said with a slight laugh.

Nathandiel grinned wide. “Oh you have a big mouth… I am going to find a good use for that later, but for now I think a little payback is in order” he said as he pulls a large bottle of Strange Remedy, the bottle had a soft cream coloured fluid that snaked its way around the dark green drink. Baalthemar’s eye went wide. “Oh yeah, You’re going to feed me that?” Nathandiel uncorked the bottle and grinned, he forced Baalthemar’s mouth open and poured the entire bottle down his throat.

Baalthemar willed himself to drink all the fluid that Nathandiel forced into his throat, but by the time he finished the burn of the alcohol had caused his eye to water slightly and he coughed. “Is that the best you got?” he said in defiance. Nathandiel laughed and pulled a second bottle out. “Still so talkative” he said as he poured the second bottle down Baalthemar’s throat. This time Baalthemar choked, and coughed. The alcohol hit him hard and his world started to spin.

Nathandiel watched as the alcohol washed over his blond lover. “There, you are much more pliable when you’re drunk.” he said while he peeled off his own clothes. Baalthemar looked up at him and watched him free himself from his pants. “About time.” he said with a slur. “Show me what you got.”

The night was a symphony of lust, Nathandiel vented his anger on his defiant lover, while Baalthemar teased and mocked every chance he got. Even when his mouth was full he would give Nathandiel a bite or growl to remind him he wasn’t completely submissive.

Dawn broke through the trees of Grizzly Hills, and the woodland animals started their day. Baalthemar and Nathandiel slept with their legs entwined. Baalthemar slowly opened his eye and looked at his lover cuddled into his chest, his body ached but he enjoyed being with Nathandiel.

Baalthemar took some time to watch Nathandiel sleep. His slow rhythmic breathing and slight movements reminded Baalthemar of a wild beast at rest that dreamt of the hunt. With his arms still bound Baalthemar could only rest his forehead against Nathandiel, he wanted to hold him to his chest but this would do for now. “Sleep well my beloved angel white.”

Edited by Baalthemar

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Nathandiel wasn’t sure what it was about Baalthemar that kept inspiring him to urge the young man to take him. Nathandiel wasn’t had, he did the having; yet with Baalthemar he truly enjoyed giving the younger man power over him and watching him explore what he could do with it. There was something sweet about the way he blossomed into the aggressor when Nathandiel behaved in a right tart manner towards him, egging him on and even taunting him a little. Sometimes he asked for it out-right and was rewarded with the deepest of blushes on the blond boy’s face.

I’m having it now. God am I ever.

He grit his teeth as he was pressed against the rough barrel-centre of the giant tree, his cheek pressed into grooves of old, wizened bark, accepting him as he accepted Baalthemar from behind. Baalthemar’s breath was hot on his shoulder and his teeth sharp at his ears, the grunts of effort from the other man were threatening but also endearing, especially when he pressed his mouth to the back of Nathandiel’s neck and kissed his nape as he held him place.

He held Nathandiel in place as if it had been his idea to put Nathandiel there.

No. Nathandiel had asked for it and led Baalthemar to the tree of his choosing, eager to feel what it would be like to be caught between an immovable object and an charging horse. It truth it hurt a little bit, in such a sweet, delightful way though; the way running beyond one’s limits caused a sweet burn in the chest and a delightful cramping in the sides, under the ribs, that could bring tears to the eyes and encompass one’s whole being.

He cried out as he was turned and forced—delightfully so—to look into the burning eyes of the youth he had ensnared; the pretty blond was delicously red-faced and sweaty, working hard to be a stellar lover. The etch of effort on Baalthemar's face made Nathandiel love him just a little bit more--he tried so hard to be good to Nathandiel.

You're a very good sweet boy. 

Baalthemar picked him up and pinned him against the tree, Nathandiel's bare parts pressed into the rough, unwelcoming surface of jagged bark as hot, wet, soft kisses took his over his mouth. He curled around Baalthemar, locking himself dutifully as he would expect and boy beneath him to do. He also enjoyed the opportunity to show Baalthemar how he should behave when Nathandiel had him; in an odd way his submission was a little like teaching. And really, all good teachers did their best when they supported their pupils from a humble place below. 

He didn’t care much for the penetration, what he cared for was the way their bodies came together, the sounds they made together, the way he had to hang on or risk failing to do his part and land them in a tangled heap of limbs and silliness. Even with Baalthemar in charge right then, he wasn’t really. When the boy got closer, his sounds becoming distressed, Nathandiel guided him to safety of his neck while he looked up through the canopy above and smiled at the stars. They watched from above as Nathaniel got his way. Again.

Edited by Nathandiel

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“. . . or . . . you could get the nurses to do it; that is what they’re for.” Nathandiel leaned back in his chair, letting his head fall back against the rest so he looked at Sidus Tel’Inthar from upside down. The well-built blond, Mharren Sil'Orah's silly little fellow, frowned at him with disapproval.

Turning that frown upside down aren’t we? That his current perspective made Tel'Inthar's frown into smile tickled something mischievous in Nathandiel's belly. 

“Mharren say’s you’re good with children and you should do it.” Tel’Inthar said. 

“Mharren is wrong.” Nathandiel said quickly, his expression becoming grim. 

This seemed to delight Tel’Inthar, that upside-down frown that had become a smile became a frown again when Tel'Inthar grinned.  While Tel’Inthar was Nathandiel's junior, he was putting it to Sil’Orah and she was their superior, so while the brat couldn’t override anything Nathandiel ordered, he could derive pleasure from picking at him, poking at the sores that he'd learned about from Sil'Orah. 

“Just do it. She want’s it done by supper.” Tel’inthar had the audacity to check his pocket watch to add to his point before dropping the stack of charts on Nathandiel’s desk. Nathandiel glared through narrowed eyes as he watched the bastard leave his office. 

“Entitled cunt, aren’t you?” 

He sat up, the sudden shift in equilibrium igniting dark spots before his eyes as his world was righted on it’s correct axis. The stack of charts was large, though they were each thin. He ran his fingers down the edges, making a quick estimation. There were at least fifty charts, likely more. 
And all so thin. That meant they were new detainees.

He took the first folder off of the top of the stack and opened it, putting his feet up on his desk. He blinked at the photograph and the identifying information. “D.O.B. a.p.x. . . June? Age: a.p.x. seven years?” He looked back at the door after Tel’Inthar as if there might have been an opportunity to ask for more information, but the man was long gone. The chart was woefully incomplete, even for a new detainee. 

He turned back to the chart. The little boy depicted was thin, his eyes sunken, and his hair shaven away. There was no innocent curiosity or oblivion in the boys eyes, just . . . emptiness. Seven was young for a new intake of workers but perhaps Tel’Inthar had gotten the writ wrong. Wouldn't be the first time. Tel'Inthar was terrible with administrative duties. 

Then again, there is that thing they’re building in Silverpine, that thing with what I bet will have many small, tiny parts that small, tiny hands can assemble. His stomach soured. 

A flip through several more charts confirmed his suspicion. They were all children, none older than eleven, only one with a properly recorded birth certificate and two with actual names instead of serial numbers. People were under the terrible misconception that unwanted children all went to orphanages where nice matrons took care of them and "heroes" dropped in once a year to visit and give meaning to their lives for a fleeting afternoon. The truth was that there were too many children, either abandoned or just orphaned, that ended up lost in trade. There was no shortage of such tiny bodies to exploit with all of the fighting on all of the borders, not to mention the ones that were born in captivity. These ones looked like they had been moving as a group for a while, the penmanship on the travel records belonging to the same hand over several years. They might have been a mass purchase, or just a rotating unit. Trafficking was a curious trade to him, but not one he cared to involve himself in beyond what was necessary. 

He shook his head as he drew up the mass order for the vaccines, checking the stamped yellow cards in the charts against the age schedules. He took the opportunity to draw up orders for vitamin injections, oral supplements, delousing, and fortified tonics to be given to them twice daily before work commenced. He couldn't change their plight in life, but he could be a conscientious physician when establishing their basic treatment for however long the children were to be with them. 

Sil’Orah would grant him his requests for additional administrations beyond the cleanings and vaccinations, she wasn’t a soulless monster, but she might object to his order for fixed calorie minimums. Food was expensive, and she might have trouble from the coin counters above getting a minimum 1,700 calorie per head per day diet approved—but he’d insist. Children didn’t have just fatigue to deal with when they worked, they were growing! Working them had its own moral issues, but failing to fuel them was just stupid. 

He treated himself to a cherry lollipop while he worked, rolling the hardened syrup over his tongue as he filled out forms, the scratch of his quill competing with the music from his phonogram. Sil’Orah wasn't wrong, he was good with children and he would be the best surgeon on staff to deal with a shipment of them, but these weren’t really children, not the kind he’d been trained to work with. These were small little bodies brought to the Undercity for working purposes, for labour. What lives had they had that he could appeal to with his usual antics of comedy, silliness, dancing, and creative finger puppets? Surely “play” had not been a part of their lives. 

He removed the lollipop form his mouth and considered it. The two lesbian women--Amalyn and Sinlanna-- had taken the one he’d offered after his assertions that everyone liked candy. He'd really just liked the visual of one of them putting their pretty mouths around the red ball of sugar and suckling. He lifted a brow. He didn’t often have the opportunity to reward his patients with candy anymore, and if everyone liked them then surely even the soulless ragamuffins would. Having something to ply them with while he poked, prodded, pinched, and punctured them in the morning would be immensely helpful. 

He smirked and popped the lolly back into his mouth, parking it against his cheek as he drew up an additional order for candy. Sil’Orah would approve it just to see what he did with it. 

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Kieran was sleeping, right next to him in the big empty bed. Baalthemar was away doing . . . well he didn't know or care what Baalthemar was doing. The woman was in the nursery with her baby, and he was in the bedroom with the baby he'd taken, doing his best to feel close to it but also feeling removed. Perhaps it was just that Kieran wasn't really his, and that he hadn't given much thought to taking the baby, and only that he needed to or it would end up somewhere bad. He'd gotten tired of all the bad. 

"You're sweet though." He whispered, pinching one of Kieran's feet gently. "Anyone would be happy to have you." 

Kieran made him think of Alexander, which made him think of Clara, which made him think of home and Daniel and his own father--of family. He missed them. What he wouldn't have given to visit his father in his study and put his head in his Dad's lap and simply be soothed, even at his age. Parents had a way of making the whole world make sense, even if they confessed that it didn't make any sense; it was still soothing. 

Baalthemar was nice, Kieran was lovely, The Grim were good, but none of them had been part of the plan. He'd had a plan with Drinn, but she'd gone away, and then he'd been left with no plan and no way to get home which meant he was flying blind while trying to placate his own longing to stop measures.  

What did he long for? Well he was sure that he longed for comfort and safety, but he longed for meaning and happiness more than anything else. What meaning did his life have without his son or his wife? When they'd died he'd thought he'd had none. Pascal had helped him to see otherwise, but then he'd been whisked away from home and Pascal and made to go elsewhere. He'd lost his meaning again.
 
He'd endeavoured not to make any attempts to find meaning when he'd arrived in the Undercity, but then he'd met Drinn, and she'd coaxed him to go to The Grim, and there he'd met others. Meaning had an awful, cruel way of flirting with a man and leading him on, only to leave him and let him wonder why he had fallen for it again, but without meaning there was no happiness, so the foolish man continued his pursuit. 

"Meaning is that promise that Hope makes," he whispered to Kieran. "And she's a lying bitch working on behalf of Luck, 'cause really, it's that mischevious bastard that decides about the ultimate prize that meaning brings--happiness. And not all of us are meant to be happy, but Luck will still send Hope to trick us into playing the game that allows us to be fodder for those that are selected to be happy so that we can carve out their kingdoms and build their walls for them so that they can take their happiness for granted. The happiness of others is made from the sadness and disappointment of those unselected, unselected by Luck and the games he plays."

Kieran only blinked at him in the wake of such rambling.  

". . . I'm not sure I want to be fodder anymore." He confessed quietly. "I tried, I'm just not very good at it, and I really don't buy that there is meaning in suffering." He scoffed lightly. "That's a convenient cop-out that Luck and Hope thought up when they realized that some people that they kept fucking over had figured out that they were never going to have meaning or be happy and asked why they should keep bending over. They had to give them a reason to keep playing so that the people that were going to have meaning and be happy would have them to staff their mansions. That's how they made meaning and happiness into two separate things, that way they could trick those that were due to be unhappy into settling for the illusion that they, at least, still had meaning even if they were not happy." 

Kieran yawned, unconcerned with Nathandiel's sermon. It was an innocent confirmation that the sermon, like Nathandiel, was meaningless. 

Nathandiel smiled and curled around the infant, a hand on it's warm belly. " . . . shut up old man?" he prompted. "Shut up and rub my belly? Tell me a story?" He kissed the infant's cheek. "You're meant to be happy, I can tell. So sure, I will pretend I have meaning in my sadness by making you happy." 

Nathandiel rubbed the baby's tummy and told it a story, about a prince and princess and happy ending. Maybe that's the loop: that endings are what happiness is made of. Maybe when it ends, maybe then we're all happy. He considered the gravity of that possibility while Kieran slept. 

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*************Warning Adult content************

This would be an interesting little show. Siané had not seen the first signs of a fever on Jeho, and while she had used magic to remove any problems, Nathandiel had never trusted magic. And she had failed to tell him when she had first noticed something off. So, she was going to be taught a lesson.

“Come come now, princess-maker, I promise it won’t be so bad,” Nathandiel said.

Siané was hesitant to kneel. Already divested of her dress, her arms crossed and face flushed, she stood beside Nathandiel, who was sitting on the bed, a patient look on his face and a flat-backed wooden hairbrush in his hand. It was apparent she needed a little nudge, so Baal’themar walked over and gently but firmly helped her kneel and bend over Nathandiel’s knee. It didn’t take but a fraction of his strength. Returning to his spot by the door so he could get a good view, he studied their soft guest while Nathandiel started his lecture about why it was necessary to reward naughtiness with spankings.

“Well, don’t leave the poor thing waiting,” Baal’themar said when the conversation meandered.

Nathandiel tested her first with a small, sharp smack of his hand before moving onto the hairbrush. The sound of the unyielding wood striking soft flesh filled the bedroom, interspersed with admonishments Siané was made to repeat. Baal’themar had supplied Nathandiel with the tool to enforce his will on Siané, and as he watched he felt himself tighten. Not entirely unwelcome thoughts infected him, bringing with them a heat and fog in his mind.

Memories of his own spanking at Nathandiel’s hands came to mind, the sting of each strike and the dull ache after the beating was over. Vivid images tugged at the corners of his mouth and forced him to grin and blush slightly. “You do enjoy this don’t you?” Baal’themar asked Nathandiel after the last strike faded away.

Siané answered before Nathandiel could even open his mouth, her voice barely a whimper. “N-no.”

Nathandiel tilted his head at her. “...He meant me, sweetheart.” He slowly drew his fingernails over her tender skin and gently blew across her exposed flesh, and either his words or his actions made her wince.

Baal’themar moved to see her face. In spite of her claim, her face matched her rump; both glowed red, one from repeated strikes from Nathandiel’s stern arm, and her face from the effect these spankings were having on her. Baal’themar smiled and knelt down in front of her. “What should we do with her now?” he asked as he wiped away some tears from her cheeks. Siané looked away from him, the embarrassment clear on her face.

Nathandiel carefully pulled Siané’s undergarments back up, careful not to catch the band on the offended flesh. “Nothing terrible. She’s sorry.” He maneuvered her to stand up and stood and walked to the closet. Pulling out one of his dressing gowns, he wrapped it around her, guiding her arms into the sleeves and tying the sash. Then he took her face in his hands and held her red cheeks. “Oh...such tears. Aren’t you sorry?”

Siané looked back at Nathandiel, eyes still wet and inflamed. “Yes...” she whispered like a scolded child. “I’m sorry...”

Nathandiel just smiled at her. “Good. Now...if I find that you’ve healed the red welts on your pretty bum I will be most displeased and I will do things to you that not even the greatest of light-wielders could fix. Do you understand?” he asked with a still-pleasant tone.

“Y-yes,” she said as she looked down at the ground.

Nathandiel grinned and lifted her chin slightly. “Now pick up your new hairbrush, it’s what you will use on those pretty blonde locks.” Siané bent down to pick up the brush obediently, then looked at him uncertainly, holding her new gift in her hands. Nathandiel turned to Baal’themar and cocked his eyebrow. ”...do you have anything to add?”

Baal’themar shrugged and said, “She looked inviting while you were spanking her.”

Siané’s eyes went wide, but she remained silent. Nathandiel looked at Baal’themar and gave him a sly smile . “Inviting?” His lover’s dark hair slid down and fell over his eyes. “You’d like her?” he asked.

Baal’themar gave Nathandiel a wolfish grin. “Perhaps. But that is up to her. I don’t take by force…”

Nathandiel rolled his eyes and looked at Siané. “Go back to your room and pleasure yourself while your bum is still red, endorphins will help with the pain.” He waved her away.

Siané looked a little confused but quickly moved to leave, not hesitating to be away from the men.

Nathandiel called after her. “And Siané… you will brush your hair one hundred strokes on each side, every night… with THAT hairbrush!” He pointed at her new gift before giving her a slight grin.

“Okay... Yes, Nathandiel,” she responded, barely audible before she disappeared into her room.

Nathandiel then turned his attention to Baal’themar. “Now I’m going to spank you, but just for fun. ‘Don’t take by force,’ pfft,” he scoffed. “I’ll take you by force.”

Baal’themar blinked. “I don’t. You know my past. If she is willing, then I’ll be forceful, but never force her.”

Nathandiel grunted and pointed at his blond lover. “Get into bed,” he said as he picked up one of the other hairbrushes Baal had brought over earlier. “Testing time.”

Baal’themar blushed and started to undress.

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Grief was a matrix of conflicting desires and feelings. One the one hand he wanted to be alone, forgotten, to curl up under his blankets and just disappear—but he also wanted attention, he wanted reassurance and to be checked on. When bystanders did their duty and inquired about how he was doing, he answered honestly and out of spite. 

How dare you ask me a question you don't really want to ask. How dare you subject me to politeness.

But when someone who ought to have come and inflicted their condolences upon him failed to do so, he waited, growing angrier and angrier that they had not done their duty like every one else. Neither those that offered condolences nor those that ignored him really cared, and perhaps that was why he held their approaches against them—for not really caring. They were all cunts simply for being able to care about him the way his lost one had. 

And yet why should they? They’ve not wronged me. They care little, if at all, for me, because I cared little, if at all, for them. My whole life was the ones I’ve lost. My investment in the ground now. I resent these people, both kind and uncaring, simply for having been lucky in their investments.

He resented them also for taking their happiness for granted--just as he had done before he'd lost it. To covet was the rightful sin of all men and all men were blind to it until they'd lost what they'd seen blindly every day. Then they could see for others, and hate them for their blissful blindness. 

He knew this was true. Misery loved company, not pity from the happy. Every one of his peers who had shown up at Clara’s funeral with their family in tow had been a bastard by virtue that they were not receiving his condolences and that he was in a position where he could only accept the attention from them that he craved—and hate them for having that power over him. He hated them for having something he wanted, or somethings that he wanted. Things he’d had and then lost. He hated them for changing from friends and family and colleagues to substitutes. That was not the role he had given them, and he felt wretched of himself when he found that he was tempted to re-write their roles. 

She had power over me because I gave that to her. You have power over me because I'm weak, wounded, alone, and so terrified I’d accept a word of kindness from those amongst you I am less than indifferent towards, those of you that I hate. The person that acknowledged my existence and my experiences is gone, and I'm desperate to be acknowledged, to be wanted, appreciated, or even just tolerated. By someone. 

He hated that he was settling for someones. But it wasn't their duty. Their duty, if they were dutiful people, was only to offer condolences, nothing more. Those that did were sometimes people he didn't know, but people that knew grief, and so they knew something of him that he had never wanted to know of them. Grief was now something he had in common with others that he never wanted to have in common with anyone.

I don't want to be a part of this or for this to be a part of me. Nights alone with a glass of liquor and a sneer drenched in tears as I resent them and hate myself, nights of talking to ghosts that aren't there, of resolving to stop this madness, to take responsibility for my own happiness and make something new—only to weaken when I see that even though you're gone, you still make them all seem so ordinary. 

Ordinary. That was the real problem once you’d met someone that was extraordinary, they put the rest of the flock in the right light and once the extraordinary person was gone, there was still a lingering brightness that kept one from seeing anyone else in as good a light. 

He missed his wife. It had gone sour between them. It had gone sour for them. But he missed her. She was his mate and he didn't think he'd ever have another. Somehow the specialness of any future mate was not enough to soothe his understanding that what he'd had that was special with Clara would never be special again. Their inside jokes weren't inside anymore because there was no pairing to permit reciprocity. Their interests were no longer shared because conversations were one-way. Comfort was impossible because there was no one to offer it. Proximity was gone, his electron in the pair was orphaned and he rotated in his shell alone and unbalanced, an unnatural ion that could only cause reactions instead of maintaining stability. He could only contribute to an increase in entropy in the universe instead of stand fast as an agent of symmetry and to count towards the maintenance of order. He was a charged species now and so he could not fall into line with the atoms that had previously been his fellows in their molecular communities. There was no place for him on the table except as a superscript. 

He was a creature now of chaos—they were angels of order. They were how it should be, he was how it could be. And it was bad, all because he'd lost his mate.

"There can’t be anything worse than this . . . can there?" 

The wall offered no answers. 

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*************Warning Adult content *****************

(( The music is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cPG1t52GgI ))

Nathandiel came home to the cabin, his body ached after work. It was late and the children were in bed and their ‘mother’ was likely getting rest while the two babies were quite. He looked around for Baalthemar, he found dinner waiting for him by the fire but his blond lover wasn’t anywhere to be seen. He picked at his food with a fork, then a sound softly crept up to him..

 

“Music?” Nathandiel tilted his head to hear the barely audible sound. It came from somewhere in the study… Nathandiel picked up his plate and went in search of this music. He entered the study and knew immediately where his lover must be.

 

“What are you doing in the basement?” he asked himself before he flicked a hidden switch and entered the basement. As soon as the door to the basement swung open the music became louder. Nathandiel grinned and walked toward the sound picking at his food lazily.

 

He passed their guests, each cell held a soft-skinned elf woman. Some were awake, most were unconscious and unaware of their fate. Nathandiel walked to the entrance of the main chamber, the place where Baalthemar worked.

 

An old goblin record player was belching out music as loud as it could. An old human song... A love song, full of joy. It invited people to swing their hips and dance. It was very out of place in the dark, cold and stone hell he was standing in.

 

Nathandiel leaned against the entrance to the chamber and watched Baalthemar, the blond elf was half-naked and stained with blood it splattered his chest and his hands were wet with gore. He held his favourite blade--and old and worn fishing knife. Nathandiel ate slowly as Baalthemar worked, he seemed to be cutting one of the girls, her face must have needed to be changed. Or so Baalthemar must have thought.

 

Baalthemar tapped his foot to the music and started to sing along, as he pulled at the lips of the girl. With a careless joy he tossed the soft flesh over his shoulder and continued his work. “These lips need to go, my sweet. Then we can see about making that smile nice and wide.” he said as he pulled on her upper lip, cutting into it, careful not to slip and slice into her nose.

 

With a sigh Baalthemar removed her lip and tossed it toward its sister on the ground. “There we go, now you can’t pout and stamp those feet to get what you want anymore.” he said with a grin.

She gasped and fought against the blood flooding into her mouth.

 

“I know, talking is going to be hard, but I’m sure you’ll scream just fine.” Baalthemar added as he started to slice into the flesh of her cheek. On cue the screaming started, it sounded wet and thick, the blood in her mouth made breathing hard let alone screaming out for help or yelling curses at Baalthemar. Nathandiel grinned and finished picking at his food before he walked over to his lover.

 

Nathandiel slid his hands around Baalthemar’s waist and held him, swinging his hips with him as the two danced to the music. Nathandiel felt Baalthemar’s warm skin and the wet blood as he ran his hands over his chest. “Thank you for dinner, my sun.”

 

Baalthemar grinned and leaned back into Nathandiel’s embrace. “I’m sorry I couldn’t wait to get down here and start working again.” Baalthemar said as he put down his knife and turned to Nathandiel. “Dance with me.” he asked as the two swung their hips to the music.

 

Nathandiel sighed and let Baalthemar move them to the tune, he was glad to be home again, glad to be against the warmth of his lover… even if he was currently covered in blood. Nathandiel pressed his face to Baalthemar’s chest and closed his eyes. The two danced in the dimly lit chamber enjoying the music and the small moment spent with each other.

 

Baalthemar leaned down and kissed Nathandiel softly. Nathandiel smiled and pulled him close. “Let’s get you washed up, you smell like a butcher.” Nathandiel said with a sly grin as he tugged Baalthemar toward the exit. “She can wait. Let her enjoy herself while we take some time for a hot bath.”

 

Baalthemar looked back at the woman and nodded and followed his dark haired lover out of the basement.

 

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     "Someday you'll see your daddy again, Jeho. He loves you very much. He misses you, I'm sure of it."

     Siané was changing Jeho's diaper, speaking softly to her, when the knock came at the door. The door was open, as it always was, and when she turned she saw it was Baal'themar there. It was a relief that it was him and not Nathandiel, though, she thought upon reflection, Nathandiel probably wouldn't have knocked. "Hello," she said.

     He smiled one of his kind smiles and said, "How is she?"

     "Oh, she's lovely," Siané said, automatically placating. "She's a nice, easy baby. Of course, so is Kieran. They're both good babies." She paused, worrying over what he might have heard a moment ago. "I only said that about her daddy because you said something about visiting, once. I didn't mean..." His eyebrow rose, and she hastened to explain. "I'm not... I'm not going to try anything.."

     Baal'themar rubbed his chin, then crossed the nursery to stand next to her at the changing table. Siané's hand was resting on the wiggling Jeho, and she realized she had moved when she'd first become of his presence to partially maneuver herself in between him and the baby. His gaze, however, was focused on her and not her daughter. "Tell me, Siané. Would you stay with us if I let Jeho be with her father?" he asked.

     Siané froze. It sounded like a trick question to her. If she said yes, she was admitting she was unhappy and that they had reason to be suspicious of her; if she said no, she would seem like she didn't care about her daughter's safety in the face of the threats that Nathandiel had made and continued to occasionally make. The facade only worked so long as the threats were never directly confronted. She tried to think of what to say. "I... I'm not unhappy here..." she said lamely.

     Her captor raised his hand to gently touch her face. "But you would be happy if she was safe with her father... I can see that even with only one eye," he said.

     Siané looked down. "I'm just... afraid..." she admitted. "I know you wouldn't hurt me, but Nathandiel... he threatens her all the time..."

     He nodded, a grin coming to his features like he was about to offer her a treat. "If there was a way for you to send little Jeho back to her father and you to still be bound to us, would you be willing to do it?"

     She looked back up at him, searching his... eye. "I'd do anything to make sure she was safe..." she said softly, tentatively.

     "Anything... I can work with that." His voice had become huskier, and he moved closer to her. His hands shifted to rest on either side of her neck, slowly drawing nails over her skin under her hair. Siané remained frozen, not daring show any reaction that he might construe as either rejection or encouragement. But then Jeho made a little sound, she half-turned to the baby, and Baal let her move away from his grip. "Finish up with Jeho," he said, "and we can talk about how you will be bound to me."

     He walked out of the nursery, and Siané set about finishing redressing Jeho. Carrying the baby over to the crib, she cuddled her for a moment. Jeho had started smiling more and more often, and it pulled on Siané's heart every time the little baby girl did it. She would do anything to let Jeho be able to smile forever. "I love you," she whispered as she laid her down in her bassinet. Giving the swing a small push, she watched long enough to ensure the baby would be happy drooling and staring at nothing in particular for a little while before turning to follow Baal out of the nursery to where he had gone into the dining room.

     The dining table was already set up for a dinner for two. A small brazier kept several dishes warm in the center of the table. "Come, sit and eat," Baal said. "We can talk over a meal."

     He watched her until she chose a seat, and then took the seat next to her rather than across from her. Siané served herself a small portion of food, even though she wasn't hungry; Baal left his plate empty. "Thank you..." she murmured.

     "What do you know of blood magic?" he asked.

     Siané blinked. She had come across more than a few kinds of magic in her life, including the rare feral and twilight magics, but blood magic, while not as rare, was one she had never associated with. "Not very much, actually," she said.

     Baal leaned against the table. His form somewhat dwarfed the chair in which he sat, but he seemed at ease. As he spoke, he watched her. "I know some magic that could bind you to my will. You would be safe, but if I needed, you would be mine to control... If you want, we can see about setting up this ritual, and then once complete, we can hand back Jeho without worry about you fleeing."

     Bound to his will. Siané's eyes widened as the memories hit her. Vionora waking alone, the sense of something terribly, terribly wrong... the realization that her ability to control the one thing in her life she could had been taken away. The capitulation that had followed. Becoming aware she was touching her side, Siané dropped her hand, but she was too stunned to respond.

     "Speak your mind, Siané," Baal said. "You have a voice, please use it."

     Jeho. It would mean Jeho would be safe. Siané focused on Baal, speaking immediately. "Of course. Yes." Then, worry hit her again. She had just effectively admitted she was afraid for Jeho's safety. What if he was just testing her? Testing to see if she trusted them yet? "I mean, I know you wouldn't hurt her... and Nathandiel means well of course, he's not a bad person..."

     He nodded, seeming unconcerned. "Then you will be under my control? You understand what that might mean?"

     "Yes, I do," Siané said. It wouldn't be the same as that. No, it would be more like what Accalia had done. Malhavik had trapped Vionora's soul; Accalia had bypassed Tassha's will. Those memories were older, and had been semi-healed by the time Siané got them. Whatever happened, Siané would be able to make peace with it in time. "I... I've... seen similar things done before," she said. "Just not with blood magic." And even if it was worse, it didn't matter, because Jeho would be safe.

     "Your will would be your own, but your body would be like a puppet," he told her. "I could make you do lewd things for hours and you would have nothing but a smile on..."

     Siané dropped her gaze, her face reddening in embarrassment at the idea. She poked at the food with her fork. "If that's what you want from me..." she said quietly.

     "Want, yes," he agreed lightly, "but what I need is a caring mother for Kieran." After a moment he asked, "Do you think you could make a life here with him?"

     She glanced back up at him, trying to read his face and guess what answer he wanted. He'd said before that all he really wanted a family. That was what all this stemmed out of, for him. He just... didn't understand that this wasn't how it worked. "I could..." she began, only to realize she didn't want to risk trying to explain to him. "I could," she said instead, more definitively, like a statement.

     He smiled his gentle smile, pleased. "So be it. I'll see about getting things ready. You'll be bound to this place... Travel will be allowed, but I'll ensure that any attempt to speak of it will be stopped in the most entertaining way I can think..."

     Siané felt herself blushing again. She had no doubts that what he would find entertaining would be mortifying to her. But at least he wasn't threatening to cause her pain or harm. Trying to seem as acquiescing as possible, she nodded obediently.

     A wolfish grin was coming to his face as he continued entertaining the thought. "Hmm... it might take work, but I think I can craft a spell that would work..." He bit his lip as he thought. "Yes. Something that would show off your assets and keep you from talking." Apparently this was enough to start causing him embarrassment, however, as he coughed and changed the subject. "What of Zak -- he will demand to know where you have been. Are you willing to push him away to stay with us?"

     "I... pushed him away before. He respects me, he won't interfere," Siané said. It was true. If she phrased it as her own wishes, he would respect them. He had always been good to her.

     "Good," Baal said. He leaned back. "Would you like to try out something that will give you a taste of the control I speak of?"

     Siané paused, dubious. Whatever it ended up being like, it wouldn't change her mind. It was her only option to see to Jeho's safety. But maybe seeing what it was like briefly now would help her be prepared for when it was permanent. She nodded. "I... I guess..."

     Baal grinned again and got up to go into his and Nathandiel's bedroom. Siané waited, no longer bothering to pick at the food. It was quiet in the nursery, both babies asleep at the same time. She'd normally take the opportunity to sleep or bathe, but she wasn't about to tell Baal she wasn't interested in his company.

     He returned with a small vial, handing it over to her and retaking his seat. "Drink this," he said. He watched as she unstoppered it and carefully sipped it down. It tasted a little coppery, and she didn't feel anything different after it was done. Setting the vial down, she looked at him uncertainly. He smiled and leaned against the table again, clasping his hands atop its surface.

     Then she felt it. Strong, warm hands clasping her waist. She gasped and jumped far enough to bump the table, making the dishes rattle. The feeling didn't abate, moving to stroke her neck. She raised a hand in shock, feeling nothing there but her own skin. "Oh... oh!" she said. Baal'themar, still smiling, spread his hands to show her that nothing was in them, and that they were definitely not touching her. "How...?" she said.

     The phantom touch moved down her shoulders, stroking gently. It made her shift in her seat. "You drank some of my blood," Baal said. "I can use it to make you feel things that are not there... or control your body."

     "I... I see," she said. The way he just watched her, as though he were doing nothing else, was unnerving. The invisible touch moved down her arms, stroking gently. She wasn't sure what she was supposed to do with her body.

     Baal laughed. "Nathandiel has felt these... 'hands' as well. But I won't do that to you unless you ask me nicely." His grin returned, slowly and wickedly.

     Siané ducked her head, blushing at the thought of asking him to do anything like what he was implying. She tried to focus as the touch moved all the way down to her hands, then back up to her shoulders. "And it... it sounded like you could make compulsions... for even when you're not around?"

     He nodded. "That is what the ritual will be for. I will give you more of my blood, and make this effect last longer and be much stronger. Then, a ward to stop you from telling others and make you... use your mouth in a better way than telling secrets."

     Light, it seemed his life mission to make her blush. She couldn't stop. But this... this wouldn't be bad, not compared to what he could have done. He wasn't unkind. She would have done it anyway, even if it had been Nathandiel who would have had control of her, if it meant Jeho would be safe in Zakael's arms; but Baal at least seemed to want her to be happy, if in a way that didn't understand why it wasn't so simple as this. 

     Her gaze landed on his hands, still on the table. The skin was stretched tight over claw-like fingers, tipped by talons. She had never asked him why his hands looked like that, but at times she found herself inadvertently staring, like now. She looked away, but he had already noticed.

     "Ask," he said. 

     The invisible hands moved to her neck again, tracing gentle lines up and along her jaw before sliding down her sides. Siané fidgeted, biting her lip. "Ah..." she said. "Oh, I just... it's none of my business..."

     He laughed again. "If you are going to be living with us, you'll need to get into our 'business' and get to know us."

     Did that go both ways? "I don't like to pry..." Siané said uncertainly. He raised his eyebrow, and she hurried to say what he wanted. "But, um, if you want to tell me..."

     He smiled, pleased. "Do you know of the trials supplicants must complete to become full members of the Grim?" he asked.

     The touch had slowed, but was creeping over her hips. Siané clasped her hands in her lap. "Oh, um, not really."

     "There are three, but for this story the only one that matters in the Trial of Sacrifice."

     "Sacrifice?" she asked. She looked down at his hands, wondering what he had sacrificed to cause something like that.

     He nodded. "We give up something of ourselves for the Grim... I gave them my afterlife."

     Her head whipped up to look at him in shock, the phantom touch momentarily forgotten. What he said shocked her to her very core. She herself had narrowly escaped such a fate, and to hear that he had chosen it stunned her. "Your... soul?" she said.

     Seemingly wanting to keep her attention, the hands stroked downward, over her thighs. Siané winced a little, but Baal'themar spoke as though nothing were happening. "A part of my soul and an eye to bind my soul to an object, yes." He tapped his eyepatch.

     "To an object?" she asked, distracted again. Vionora's soul had been bound to a soulstone. It had both been the reason for her death, and what had given Siané a chance to live. Yet Baal had done this to himself, willingly. She almost couldn't believe it. Why would he have done that to himself? Why would he make such a sacrifice? Didn't he think he deserved better...?

     "An item to allow future Grim to summon me from the afterlife," he said. "But that isn't what did this." He wiggled his fingers, and Siané blinked. "This was an experiment on the effects of a drug... Wreave. A demonic drug that eats away at the soul of the user and twists them into a demon."

     Siané had known of Wreave. She had helped in the battle that had taken down its distributor, Mr. White, and in the beginning Kex'ti had consulted her regarding the Twilight about it. But she didn't say anything about that. Instead she asked, "Is there no way to reverse it...?"

     "Not that I know of," he said. "And I need to be careful around fel energy too. Too much and the changes could start again."

     The touch of the phantom hands had settled into a rhythmic stroking. It was almost relaxing, like a massage. Siané found herself keenly focused on the problem Baal was presenting. He was hurt, and she wanted to help him. "I used to be fel-tainted... more than the average Sin'dorei, I mean," she said. "But I was able to be cleansed of it. The monks at the Peak of Serenity helped."

     It had been Xandric who had taken her there, and helped her confront her fears and erase the taint that Malhavik had forced onto her a lifetime ago. The thought of Xandric brought a pang to her heart. He would be so worried about her, now, having not heard from her in so long.

     Baal'themar rubbed his hands together, tracing the outline of bones under skin. "Sadly this corruption is part of me now. Removing the demonic part would be like taking what little soul remains."

     Siané paused, remembering when her soul had been barely a shred either. But Xandric had helped with that too. "My problem was similar, but there were some entities willing to help me..." she said.

     "What happened to you?" Baal'themar asked curiously.

     The hands brought themselves back to her attention as they moved over a sensitive area of her legs. "I.. ah..." Losing the thread of the conversation, it took her a moment to find it again. "I died."

     He blinked, taken aback, then smiled. "It didn't stick, it would seem."

     The hands trailed lightly, suggesting a very distracting destination. Siané took a breath, unable to stay focused on the conversation, her replies becoming rather unilluminating if correct. "Most of my soul was devoured by an Ancient. I had to get help to become a... whole person... again..."

     Her gaze focused on him watching her, and in that moment she remembered that he knew exactly what he was doing to her. Her face tingled with the strength of the blush that hit her. 

     "How did you get into that?" he asked, his head tilting with innocent curiosity. "Ancients eating souls? Sounds like a good story."

     "It's... a long story..." she said, shifting in her seat. A small whimper escaped her throat, involuntarily, and she avoided meeting his eyes.

     He watched her squirm for a moment longer before asking, "Would you like me to stop?"

     "I.. um..." Was it another trick question? What if he didn't want her to say no? Would he be angry? Would he start to think that the happiness he wanted was impossible, and decide to sever loose ends? She swallowed. The only way to show him what it was supposed to be like would be to be honest. She wanted to believe he would appreciate that. "Yes, please," she said softly.

     The touch faded away. Siané slumped a little in relief. Watching her, Baal said, "Perhaps another time when you are feeling better we can resume this little game... I do enjoy these types of games, watching a partner squirm and fight to control themselves."

     Her blush hadn't abated and with statements like those it wasn't about to. She didn't reply, looking down at the table and fidgeting with the cloth of her dress's skirt. Just like Vionora always did. The realization made her stop. 

     Vionora had been in compromising situations before. A part of her had relished it. The same part of her that had led her down the road of self-destruction, and taken others with her. Siané never, ever wanted to be like that, yet certain things still made her... react. There was a reason she'd been drawn to Xandric, with his temper and brute strength. But that had been safe. Xandric would never, ever do anything to her without her clear and enthusiastic consent. Siané didn't seek out situations where her will would be compromised, where she had to surrender. Did she? She had accepted Baal's invitation to meet, to bring Jeho... Was that why? Because part of her knew it would end up like this?

     I'm not her.

     Baal leaned back again. "When you are ready, write a letter to Zak and tell him you are going to let Jeho stay with him. We can arrange a meet up after that."

     Jeho. Jeho should never have gotten mixed up in this. Nothing else mattered but fixing that, making sure the baby was safe. Siané nodded. They spoke briefly about the details of how such a meeting would go, before Kieran started fussing in the nursery. It was time to go back to taking care of the babies. Siané let herself focus on them. Whatever she was, whatever happened to her, didn't matter, so long as she didn't get anyone else hurt.

Edited by Siané

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Nathaniel pushed down the front of his pants, released himself and put his hand to work. It was forced, but he was determined to make it work again. It worked just fine, the problem was that once he got to the peak, he got stuck on a plateau--if he was lucky. If he was unlucky, which was often, he went tumbling back down the mountain into the valley of the sexually unsatisfied. 

 

He hadn't touched a woman in a proper way since Drinn, at least not in a proper way that also aroused him. He couldn't look at the woman he and Baalthemar kept, she was too motherly, though he had come to find that Baalthemar took a liking to her. That made him a little bit jealous, but in a fun sort of way. If only he had also found her so enticing, it would have made an interesting game to watch them together while he grew angrier and angrier until he took them both. But he couldn't look at her like that, not when she held the baby so tenderly and not when she was clearly so very sad. Sad women were fucking downers. 

Sad. He was sad too. That was the real axe that went into his wood. He was missing Drinn, just as he missed Clara. He missed the women he was comfortable with, whose pleasure he'd held above his own. He always made a point to ensure his partners went first, but often it was for his own satisfaction that he satisfied them at all. Pleasure to his partners could only be offered freely when he felt great love for them. He loved Baalthemar and their pairings were lovely, though often they were just the savage rough-and-tumbles of two men just looking to get off (those were damn nice too), but he wasn't a pure nancy, he never had been; he'd always liked women, always wanted them, and certainly always wanted them more then men. 

But there is no woman and I've gotten nothing but ass for months. I'm forgetting what its like to sink into the tenderer of the meats. 

He tried thinking about Clara's generous bottom, he tried thinking about Drinn's perfectly-sculpted lips, he even dug back to Elaine and her expert use of her frontal ballistics descending upon his face--but then there was Clara's tears and Drinn's hidden sadness. He tried to salvage the climb, grasping at rocks and any shoots that emerged from the slope of the burg; tits, thighs, eyes, and nipples as sweet as sugar cookies, but still he tumbled. 

He turned onto his front, one cheek swallowed by the pillow as he used his hips against the mattress, but he bed didn't buck back, it didn't swallow or even scramble away when the most natural of dances just got too damn good. He nearly found his way back to the top, the sun visible and the image of an eager tangle between his wife and the elven woman he'd come to love conjured from the desperation of his deprived mind, but then they looked at him, together, and they were both angry with him, their lovely features tainted with scorn and disdain. 

He cursed, stopped, and beat at the pillow several times in frustration. He wasn't going to get off, not tonight. He laid on his belly and let his birch roll back into the swamp down in the valley below.  

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---For Faylea---

"Come, come skitter bug. Skitter bug, skitter bug, skitter bug boo." Nathandiel beckoned the tiny eight-legged creature towards him from where he squatted at the end of the table, the lip of the old wood under his nose and his eyes wide.  

He reached over the table and lowered his hand slowly until just the very tip of his middle finger touched the coarse bristles on the top of the creatures ungainly midsection. From where he was positioned he could see it's tiny, terrible little mandibles clack quickly together and apart again as it was touched. It's facial projections undulated as if searching for the offending source of stimulus as he pet it with reverent affection. 

"This is my table Skitter Bug Boo." He murmured, eyes wide as he watched the tiny monster from the very plane upon which it stood. 

The spider started to move towards him and he fancied that his gentle pets enticed the creature in his direction, made it eager to meet the godly giant that tickled it's back bristles. Here came a new friend, someone to spend time with. 

He cupped his hand against the edge of the dissection table as the spider reached it. It was light, nearly weightless in his hand. He lifted it as he stood, offering his other hand, one-over-the-other and creating an endless length of palms to flee across as it tried to keep running. He examined it under the light, ignoring the balded head of the dead man on his table as it pressed into his groin when he bent over to get a better look at his catch. 

"Hello Skitter Bug Boo." He said softly. "No getting away now. Dropping in on me unannounced just won't do." 

He opened his mouth wide, the hinges of his jaw crunching and the tendons creaking over the joints, and brought his hand to his mouth. Skitter Bug Boo ran into his mouth, over his tongue and collided with his uvula. When he closed his mouth he fancied that he felt those little back bristles of Skitter Bug Boo's against the roof of his mouth, right before he crunched

Skitter Bug Boo was in pieces, a spurt of something a bit warm amongst the harder bits, like the cherry goo in a fancy chocolate, oozed from his tongue to his teeth as he moved the broken pieces of his new friend around. Skitter Bug Boo was full of tingly stuff that felt a little like menthol medicine and tasted just about as good. 

"Bye Skitter Bug Boo." He said, speaking as he chewed. He swallowed, cleared his mouth with his tongue, and swallowed again. He wiped his mouth on the back of his arm. "Drop in again sometime. Bring more friends...."

I like friends.

He went back to work. 

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“Hey! Look at me! I'm not a dentist either but this our fucking job so we're going to do it! Yes?” Nathaniel looked up at Mharren, his eyes wide as she shouted at him over the cries of their patient. “Open. His. Fucking. Mouth, please!” She tapped her finger towards the patient's mouth with one gloved finger. Even with her lower face hidden behind her surgical mask her green eyes were sufficient to convey her irritation. Her long white eyebrows furrowed into a V that came to a head between her eyes, accentuating the irritation in her eyes. “Do it now or I'll stab you with the anesthetic.” She jabbed the needle at him; a long slender syringe, it's sharp so long it looked more appropriate for a spinal injection than anything involving one's face.

“Why are we using anesthetic again?” Sidus Tel’thar asked from his place at the head of the patient’s table. He would be assisting and had been all too eager to attend the procedure—Tel’intgar admired his cougar mentor, Mharren, and delighted in playing nurse for her. 

Mharren cast an even more displeased look upon Tel'Inthar than she had on Nathandiel. She's squirted some of the anesthetic at Tel’inthar. “Have you ever removed a whole set of teeth in a patient with no juice? No? Neither have I!” She was plenty irritated now. “Hold him down! Open his mouth! Put in the block! And let's fucking do this!” Her eyes widened as if she had favoured them with an excited smile, sans humour. 

Nathandiel and Tel’intgar exchanged a glance and gave each other a curt nod. It was time to get on with it, if only to make her happy. Tel’inthar held the patients head, one arm around his neck and the other across his forehead. The patient fought so hard against his restraints that the whole table shook and for a moment, just one, Nathnadiel was glad that Tel'Inthar had come to hold down their patient. 

Nathaniel pulled at the mans lips and the teeth came down, nearly taking the tips of his finger off. Shit. The screaming stopped, replaced with a high pitched muffled mewling as the wide-eyed patient clapped his floppy pink lips together and put his oral cavity on lockdown. 

Angered then himself, Nathandiel snatched at the mans nose, plugging the cartilaginous nostrils and earning a squeal so high in tone that it hurt his ears--but still the  man didn't open his mouth. Nathandiel twisted. “I will break your nose, cut your lips off and knock out you fucking teeth of you don't open the fuck up!” He shouted st the man. 

There was a beat of silence. 

The mouth opened. 

Nathaniel deposited the bite-block into the wedge of the mans back teeth so quickly it was over before he realised that the man had tried to bite him again, his attempt stopped by the wedge. He'd felt the jaw compress, but the teeth hadn't met. Once the block was installed, the three surgeons were granted a three-finger clearance into the tender and defenseless mouth of the man before them. 

"One might say this one is all bark and no bite," Tel’inthar said with a little chuckle as he relinquished his hold on the patient—who began to struggle more, panicking fully and bucking in the chair. He shook his head from side to side, sweaty black hair flying. 

“Suction you moron, he's chocking on his own saliva because he can't swallow.” Mharren said, her voice almost lost over the racket, but not so diminished that Nathnadiel didn't hear the boredom in her tone. 

Nathaniel did as he was instructed but passed the duty off to Tel’thar. Nathandiel was a miserable nurse, he relied on them very heavily during procedures of his own and had always failed to retain any of the handy tricks they had tried to teach him. He only ever got in the way of other physicians and much preferred to work alone. In this case, he was present only to perform the extractions. Mharren had injured her elbow while away from the Undercity and she hadn't thought that she'd be of sufficient strength to yank the teeth free of the bones in the patient’s jaw. She wouldn't let Tel’thar do it because “he's still only a fellow,” or so she'd said when she'd slunk into his office earlier that day. 

He'd rorted with a snort and “yes. And a fully licensed fellow at that. It's just teeth, make him do it.” 

But no, she'd wanted him to do it, as if he'd done anything more than the basics of dentistry. There was a reasons that dentists were different creatures with different colleges--they did different things.  He'd spent the late morning reviewing procedural manuals on field and rural dentistry, looking for an approach that would allow him to do what he needed to do without being too complicated.  

Now that the patient couldn’t close his mouth, Nathandiel fit him with a lip re-tractor, exposing every single one of his long whitish teeth and all of their imperfections. From the nose down he looked like a skull, just a death’s gr--regardless of his distress. Individual’s with lip re-tractors in always looked morbid to Nathandiel, he’d take a gutted patient over grinning one any day; one just wasn't meant to see that many teeth on a face.  

“If you don’t stop fussing I will bolt your head to this table.” Mharren informed the patient. He only squealed, but became very still. “Good. Stay still or this will go very poorly.”

Nathandiel smirked behind his mask. Mharren was always somehow remarkably impatient but humane, she detested waiting but would insist on it to ensure a patient's comfort. Contrary woman if ever I met one. She must have driven Drinn insane, and Drinn her, in return.

Thinking of Drinn made him sad so he focused on the teeth. The bright, white, drying teeth. 

He watched as Mharren aimed the needle tip at the back of the patient’s jaw, angling down into the webbing towards the ear-line down deep in the back. When she pushed the needle against the delicate pink tissue--so pink it reminded him of a labia--the patient let out a whine like an abandoned kitten. “It'll be over soon.” Mharren murmured, her attention on applying the nerve block depsite that deep hidden nature of kindness bubbling up in in an attempt to betray her cold exterior. “I don’t have topical, they didn't’ have any at the chemist's closet. I’ll be fast.” She spoke absently, the way physicians often did when they were only distantly monitoring the distress of their patients, focused instead on performing their procedures properly. 

Nathandiel was a bit of a shit anesthetist when he needed to be one; putting a patient out was fine, he only ever had to do the math and then have someone else watch his patients. Nerve blocks though, they were something else, they were precision work that required both excellent luck and pristine knowledge of anatomy, for almost all blocks were done blind without imaging; blocks were done based on a best-guess, and they were only done by those with the licenses to guess well. A license he had, but still knew that he'd only barely earned. Bedside anesthesia was not his forte. 

Mharren though, that cunt’s hands were only steady when she worked. She was a miserable but functioning drug addict—a character type not totally uncommon such institutitional environments—but once she was in theatre, one couldn’t tell what afflictions might reside in the good doctor. 

“Shhh.” She whispered behind her mask as she pulled back slowly, depressing the rest of the punger and leaving a trail of anesthetic as she withdrew, a last minute deposit. A thought occurred to him that was as intrusive as unwelcomed penetration: he imagined leaving behind such a trail inside a woman after having her.  

She withdrew the needle and handed it to him. He took it and dropped it into the kidney dish on the table next to him and handed her the next syringe so she could repeat the block on the other side of the man’s lower jaw. The nerves in the lower jaw were easy . . . they were all innervated by a single nerve. Applying the block under the ear on both sides took out sensation from the entire mandible, giving the oral surgeon plenty of free play area. 

“You can do the top ones.” She said. “They’re easier.” 

When she was done she got up and moved around to sit next to him, she would be his nurse while he did the extractions. But before he could do them he had to take care of the top teeth and block each of the maxillary nerves—fourteen in total in this particular man—with tiny little jabs of anesthetic, each one fiery and unwelcome in the absence of a topical rub before hand. He opted to move quickly as he jabbed, the patient was in tears. He was only on the fifth tooth when the monitor’s alarms went off and the three physicians looked up--in his case with a needle still inside the the patient's gums. The man's heart rate had jumped up significantly, as had his respirations. 

Such alarms and red numbers no longer elicited fear or anticipation from Nathandiel. Sensitivity to such dire things as a failing heart or a hypoxic chest had been worn away from his repertoire fairly early. People died, they died in bad ways--all of them--and where he was, they didn't heal anyone. They only took to them to that dying place, often in as much pain and agony as they could. When they did bring someone back from the beyond the veil, it was only to hurt them again, and so if those alarms elicited anything from him it was hope that his patients were dying, and that they'd go so far beyond that he wouldn't be able to bring them back. 

“It's just the epinephrine in the shot.” Mharren assured him. “He was already upset, keep going.” 

He snapped his fingers for the buccal mirror but Mharren already had it waiting for him. He took it in hand as if he really knew what to do with it—the undead had little use for dentists so it fell to the surgeons to deal with such things and more than one had admitted to making it up as they went along—and he inspected the first of the molars he desired to remove. He stuck a finger inside the man's mouth, feeling the prominences of the tooth and noting how strange that was, to put a finger into something so soft and hit cusped bone--none of the other orifices presented a finger with such a find. He turned returned the mirror to Mharren and went to work, using a levator to dig down into the gum line around the tooth and hook it. He flexed as he gained purchase and began to rock the tooth, loosing it from its socket. The gums wept blood as he moved the flat head of the levator around the tooth, dipping below the gum line and twisting, rocking, and lifting, loosening the tooth from the bone as he moved. 

Four minutes of wrenching and rocking had earned him a light sheen of sweat on his forehead and arms. Tel’Inthar was good about suction and it made it much easier to tune out the patient and the people around him and just focus on the work. The back teeth would be the worst, anchored in with more legs around the root. When the tooth finally unlocked form the socket it was audible, a sound so wrong that it my his stomach lurch. 

“Ugh.” Tel’Inthar groaned. Nathandiel popped the tooth and it fell onto the patinet’s tongue, anchored only by a thin, twisted string of bloody tissue. He removed the tools and went to snag the tooth with forceps when the patient sucked it down, swallowing it. 

Nathandiel sat back, perturbed. The patient laughed, a strange, strangulated sound ruined by his opened dry mouth. ". . . ught not to have done that friend.” Nthandiel said, meeting the patient’s eyes finally. “We need all twenty-eight of those. . . .”

“Isn’t it thirty-two?” Tel’Inthar asked. 

Nathnadiel shook his head. “He’s had his wisdom teeth out. Thirty-two teeth in a bundle is part of how they’ll figure out which son they’ve lost.” He leaned forward and jabbed a thumb into the patient’s belly. “I’m content to wait for that tooth to make it's way to the rear exit . . . but if you swallow any more of them I’m going in directly to get them back.” He dragged the gloved tip of his finger over the man’s tummy as he eyed him, a gentle touch that was almost fond in its longing to go right through the soft belly meat and into the sac of muscular tissue that now held the bit of bone and enamel. 

There was a beat of silence and the patient looked away. 

Nathandiel smiled. “Hold still now. . . .” He tucked into the table and set in on the next tooth. “Thirty-one teeth more to go. . . .”

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"Bad things are happening," Nathandiel said. "It hasn't come to Northrend yet, and it may not, but I just want us to be safe." He explained to Siané as he packed up Kieran's things. She only stared at him, silent, as usual. 

That's not quite fair, sometimes she talks. Maybe she's depressed about her baby.

Maybe, and somewhere deep down he was sorry for that, but she had opted to let the kid go. He would have been quite happy to have let her keep the little girl with them. Now she was resigned to mothering Kieran, and he wished her to do a better job. He'd thought that if she had her baby she'd do a better job just as a side effect of having her own baby, but then she'd sent the baby away. And Baalthemar had agreed. 

"Get your things Siané, please." He tried to use an even tone with her. She hadn't seemed worried about the invasions in Azeroth, about the world at large, or about anything beyond her bedroom and the contents of her own head. He wondered if she regretted letting Jehosamine go: she'd gone to her father. Was his home as free from demonic invasion as Nathandiel's and Baalthemar's? 

Siané got her bags and followed him out of the nursery, down the main stairs, through the house, and down into the basement. It was colder down there, and while he'd down his best to make it more welcoming it was still bare and indicative of the previous tenants. "I'll make it nicer soon." He promised again. He'd kept promising to make the ugly basement a decent place to stay. 

He'd removed the girls and the tools and the supplies--all the things that had made the basement sinister. He'd brought down furniture and candles and sacks of dried goods. Once she was settled with her things he'd bring down the crib and her rocking chair. The beds he'd brought down would accommodate the three of them if they needed to stay in the safety of the basement. He'd seen the demons and while he wanted to pretend he wasn't worried, he was. They could really end up stuck down there. Worse, Siané would end up stuck at the cabin when neither he nor Baalthemar was home. He wanted her to be safe, and he wanted Kieran to be safe. They needed to be able to hold-out on their own if the cabin was compromised.  

She sat on one of the beds and held the little boy. Kieran was desperately fond of her. Kieran loved him and Baalthemar, but he also loved her, and that had done much to ameliorate the impatience that Nathandiel often felt with Siané. Things hadn't gone quite the way he'd planned, but she had turned out to be just what he'd wanted: a loving mother figure for the child. He'd gotten the feeling that there was magic in Kieran, something he couldn't nurture and neither, really, could Baalthemar. But she could. He wanted her to. 

He took in the surroundings, the dank atmosphere and the small windows. He intended to craft removable covers for them so that she could have light and air, but shield herself if something bad came. There was plenty of food and she was free to go upstairs if she wished. The bathroom was stocked and he'd done his best to add little flecks of light-hearted decor, but she was still in a basement and he'd told her to stay there until further notice. When he and Baalthemar were home she could spend more time upstairs, but "a tear in the sky could come any time. Its best you stay down below, best you be ready," he'd told her. 

"I'll...I'll make tea." He offered, not sure that would help the look on her face but not sure what else to do. He'd stay downstairs with her for a bit and then get back to moving things. When Baalthemar came home he'd have to explain why he'd moved her. Hopefully Baalthemar wouldn't object.

Hopefully agrees and we stay closer to home.

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Baal’themar and Nathandiel had enjoyed a night at the pleasure palace, Nathandiel had felt unloved and worried that Baal’themar had ran off with someone else… or worse, gotten hurt fighting demons. Baal’themar did his best to show Nathandiel how he felt, and promised to be at home more.

The cool night air softly whipped around them as they flew over swamp-land and gnarled trees toward their home, Baal’themar had taken from as a large stone panther, a form that he used to travel with Nathandiel. The two men had chosen to fly home enjoying the time alone, in the crisp Northrend air.

Nathandiel sat on his back lazily watching the horizon. A sound like thunder shook him from his daydream and he sat upright and looked toward the direction of the sound.

A soft whistle was the only warning Baal’themar got before something large and fast shot past him toward the ground, he had to jerk his body to avoid the object.

Whatever it is, it lacks the fel-green glow of a Legion weapon. Baal’themar thought.

Nathandiel held on tight and let slip a curse as he fought to keep his grip. His curse was followed by a thunderous crash as the object slammed into the swamp under the two men.

Baal’themar dove down toward the impact site, Nathandiel leaned into the dive keen to see what had disturbed his daydream. Baal’themar landed in the mud and waited for Nathandiel to hop off his back. In a cloud of smoke the tall blond elf stood next to his lover, and the two men headed toward the object that now rested in the soggy muck.

Twisted and cracked steel met the two men as they approached the strange metal box, Nathandiel walked over to the box and kicked at it, a low hollow sound rang out, followed by a soft whimper. “There’s something inside this thing!” he yelled to Baal’themar.

Baal’themar frowned and helped Nathandiel pull the metal box onto it’s side. “This thing has hinges…” Baal’themar nodded to two thick metal hinges and what looked like a bolt holding a door shut.

“If this is a door then we better get it open and see what’s inside,” Nathandiel said with a grin.
 
The two men worked on removing the pins for the hinges with the few items they had on them and anything heavy from around the area. In time brute force and stubbornness won and the door gave way to what was inside.

A grease covered goblin woman lay unconscious, her small body had bounced around inside the steel coffin when it came to an abrupt stop in the swamp. Nathandiel’s doctor instincts kicked in and he started to check on her.

“She’s still alive… but she needs to be taken care of fast.” He turned to Baal’themar. “She’ll need to stay with us.” Baal’themar grinned. “How often does it rain cute girls? I think we can make an exception for her…”

Nathandiel carefully picked her up in his arms, she was limp like a tattered ragdoll. Soot and grime covered her face and clothes. Together they activated their runestones and the soft green light enveloped them all.

As the green light faded they stepped out into the basement. Nathandiel had taken the time to change the hearth stones summoning point, the safety of the basement being the logical choice.

Nathandiel rushed over to the now clean and unused stone operating table and set the woman down. He worked quickly to remove her clothes and clean up her wounds.

“She’s got a haemothorax, I’m going to need your help,” Nathandiel said as he waved him over. “Will you check on Siané and Kieran while I get her ready please?” He asked.

While Baal’themar checked on Siané and the baby, he palpated the tiny woman’s chest. He turned her onto her side, small green breasts slumping, and raised one arm over her head. “Baal’themar! I said check on, not linger!”

He didn’t have a full theatre, but he had the basics. The little green woman was unconscious--which was lucky for her. Travel had taken too much time. He went to the cabinets and took out supplies. Sadly, the nature of what Baal’themar’s basement had been created for had not been the comfort and cleanliness of a standard hospital. It took some searching, but eventually he found a local anesthetic. He wondered momentarily if Baal’themar had stocked that by accident; sparing his playthings from pain seemed counter intuitive.

Baal’themar returned while Nathandiel was washing the little woman’s side: up her arm and down to her waist. He put on gloves and palpated the area he intended to cut into again. “You’re my nurse, come assist me.”

Baal’themar frowned but came to his side. “I said you’re my nurse--you don’t stand on the business side of the table. Go on around.” Baal’themar did as he was told and stood opposite him. “Hold her please,” he instructed, dipping the needle of anesthetic into her flesh. “This will help a little bit, but once I cut through muscle...well...she might wake up.”

“Wake up?”

“Wake up. I’m gonna cut into the space between her lungs and her ribs and drain the area.” He looked at Baal’themar. “If that doesn’t wake her up, we’re looking at a head injury.” He smirked.

He performed the placement of the tube quickly. It wasn’t a proper tube, but the procedure was ancient and could be adapted to suit one's needs. The poor girl did wake up, right when Nathandiel jammed his gloved fingers into the wound he’d made to poke around and spread the incision. “Hold her…” he repeated calmly. “Hold her…”

When the drain was in place he held the opposite end out to Baal’themar. “Open your mouth,” he demanded. Baal’themar shook his head. “Open.” Baal’themar took the tube in his mouth. “Now suck.” Baal’themar frowned but did so. When the blood and debris made it to Baal’themar’s mouth he spat, sending up an arch of purple and red that splattered across the floor with a heavy thwack.

“Good.” Nathandiel took the drain back as Baal’themar wiped his chin, and let it drain freely to the floor; he’d find a bucket or a jar after. He sutured the tube in place, hushing the poor woman and assuring her that she was alright, that she was safe, that things were looking good, and that while she’d been in a terrible accident she was a very tough, little cookie.

When he was done he wasted no time in setting up an intravenous line and administering pain medication from his travel bag. He gave her a sedative and set to cleaning her up. When she was out, he had Baal’themar carry her to one of the beds and cover her up. “I’ll need you to go to the Undercity to get some supplies,” he told Baal’themar as he filled a large bucket halfway with water. He brought it over and set it beside the bed and redirected the free end of the tube into it. The water seal would prevent air bubbles from tracing back up the line and into the woman’s chest. “I’d go, but someone that knows what to do should stay with her. We might even need Siane to do some of her--” He wiggled his fingers. “--magic.”

Baal’themar looked over the wounded woman and nodded. “Tell me what supplies you need and I’ll get them for you.” Nathandiel left the bedside to write a list for Baal’themar.

“These should all be in the same place where we did your physical exam,” he said as he handed Baal’themar the list.

Baal’themar read over the list and sighed. “I’ll be back shortly. It shouldn’t take me long to steal this stuff and leave,” he said as he readied himself to head to Dalaran. “I’ll get Siané to come in on my way out.” Baal’themar turned on his heel and headed out to Undercity.

Siané appeared shortly afterward. “Kieran is sleeping,” she said hesitantly, her gray eyes moving to the unconscious goblin female. Whatever she inferred was going on, she didn’t object to. “You needed me to…?”

Nathandiel made a grimace of distaste. “Heal her,” he said, indicating the goblin. He went over to the basin to wash his hands, as though that would help with the taint accrued by asking for magic to be performed. “I don’t want all the effort we went through to be for nothing. Make it quick so you can get back to Kieran.”

“Okay,” Siané said in that dull way she did, and went over to the goblin. Nathandiel watched her covertly while pretending to be busy cleaning himself up. She did her best to summon the Light but Nathandiel had seen better healers. Still, it was better than nothing, and the unconscious goblin’s breathing seemed to grow easier.

“Now get,” Nathandiel said, making shooing motions that also doubled as air-drying his hands, and Siané lowered her gaze and went back to the cell that was currently outfitted as a nursery for Kieran.

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(The following takes place near the waterfall above Orgrimmar)

Baal'themar sat down after Fayleah had vanished, his world seemed to spin, his mind still raced. He had told her so much about him... had she been listening when he cried out to Elora? The thought of her brought with it a fresh wave of pain and sorrow. He looked into the water as it rushed off into the depths below the cliff. "Elora..." he whispered to the dry air.

 

He looked at his hand, and slowly made a fist with his gloved fist. He had changed so much, it seemed like a life time ago that she died but there were times where it would come back to him with a rush, and it would overwhelm him with the depth of the sudden pain. He dreaded the times that he was able to remember... but then. "People change" he remembered Fayleah's words. "You are right, we do. And not always for the better..." he removed his glove and looked over his twisted flesh.

 

"You're a monster!" the thought of Hendrick and his how he suffered brought a clarity to him. "Yes... I'm sorry Elora, but I have changed... I'm a monster. But I'll keep working... I'll be something to fear, I'll be the thing that would make even the filth that hurt you would be afraid of." Baal'themar closed his fist tight, he felt the tips of his finger nails break the skin of his palm. "Forgive me Elora, but I can't be the same boy you loved. He died with you in that hell." Thick lines of blood ran down his arm and the pain from the wound burned as Baal'themar clenched his fist harder. "And I'll not pretend to be him." he un-clenched his fist his palm was wet with blood it coated his fingers and palm.

 

*In the depth of his mind*

 

The woman with golden eyes, watched in horror as her work started to come undone. "No! You can't give in!" she screamed into the void. Slowly, a sound met her ears, she turned in a panic and hoped that her fears weren't coming true.

 

In the distant darkness of Baal'themars' mind a huge shape slowly rose up. A wolf like beast, massive and corrupted took its first steps. Its thick fur slick with oil like tar, its filth dripped into the void. The woman watched as the beast took in a deep breath, the sound of air as it rushed into the beast’s lungs gripped her with horror. She knew well what this meant, she had failed... her attempts to turn Baal'themar from his darkness had only caused him pain and confusion, his will and his soul so misaligned...

 

The beast finally howled, the sound was deafening it rolled out from the void like a storm cloud over mountains, endless and indomitable. The woman crumbled under the overwhelming power of it. Her failure was complete, her form splintered into shards and scattered be the monstrous howling.

 

*In the real world.*

 

Baal'themar watched the blood drip onto the dry soil, the ground so parched for water in spite of the running water only a few meters away. He felt... free, his choice to embrace what he had become was long overdue. It was time to share his new found perspective with Nathandiel.

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The Twisting Nether Gazette is a role play forum for characters on the RP-PVP servers Twisting Nether and Ravenholdt.  We have been active since November of 2005, a few months after the Twisting Nether server originally went live.  Our purpose is to provide a safe and inclusive environment where role players can meet and interact with each other, and, of course, post their amazing role play stories, art, bios, and journals.

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