A Big Shiny Blue Marble Ch. 06


She might have had a bad and humble start, but little Nahl'een was considered by many to have a bright and important future. Ny'Zeille sighed. As loving and thoughtful as her son was in his role as her father, what she needed now was something like a mother.

"What happened?" she asked her son, "You say that you didn't mount her?"

Ny'Zeille watched him shake his horned head and she smirked, "More the fool her then. How did it go wrong – if it was even going rightly?"

He looked a little uncomfortable, "I made no attempt at mating, Mother. There was a bit of intimate play between us, nothing more. I, ... I found that I liked her very much. I wouldn't have tried to mount her, not without her knowing at all what she was lying with. I won't do that. It might have gotten somewhere at some point, but I think that I must have gone to this shape sometime in the night or something, and she saw me as I am like this."

He shrugged, "I guess it was enough to close any door that she might have wanted to leave open.

I followed her to see where she would go, and after claiming the bounties on the ones that she was there for – the ones that I was there to kill, she went to her home – that farm. I was waiting for her there, since I took my horse back, and then I spoke with her."

"Who killed the ones?" she asked.

"We both did," he said, "she took two and I killed the four. I allowed her to take the strips of skin that she needed to claim the bounties, that's all. When I spoke to Selena, I learned that she fears what I am. I guess that I made a mess of trying to tell her about Nahl'een, and I grew frustrated, seeing that she wouldn't hear me anyway, so I left."

The demon smiled a little, "Selena, is it? How familiar you make it sound. I can tell that you still like her a little."

He nodded, "Selena Meadesbreath." He sighed and she caught it.

"So how did it end? You just left?"

"No," he said, "I knew how she felt about – what I am, and I thought that if she was like that, then I had no hope to get it into her head that there might be some things that she holds superstitions about and that they rule her thoughts and actions. There was no point to it. And if I cannot get her to the point where she would feel comfortable only standing to talk with me, then what chance was there to tell her of my daughter? I told her that I had more to say, but that I could see that she wouldn't hear it, so I told her that if she wanted to know, then she had to seek me out. I am done with talking to a frightened stone."

"Very well then," Ny'Zeille sighed, "I feel a mild desire in me to interfere – "

When she saw his face, she laughed and he knew that she'd led him on for a moment. "I never would, Dahlgren. It's only a tempting thought, that's all. But I know that it wouldn't do much more than harden her heart even more.

Let her be then, living in her stupidity and blindness. The loss is hers, after all. You should forget that you ever met her. You know her name, which was what you set out to learn. Call it a draw and move on. There are plenty of females here on this world, and though you won't believe it, many of them are far brighter than this Selena fool.


They sat at dinner, the three of them, and his mother was proud of her family. They listened as Nahl'een chattered about the things that she'd seen and what she'd learned. She didn't say much about her lessons, but that was only because to her, they were chores, the same as they would be to any child her age.

But her lessons were important, and her grandmother asked her questions relating to all manner of things. Finally, she tossed a bread roll into the air and held it there with her mind.

Dahlgren groaned. It was the last of the bread rolls and he'd had his eye on it, if neither of the others expressed any interest in it. He guessed that he'd have to settle for another slice of the bread.

"Take it, Nahl'een," Ny'Zeille smiled, "Hold it there as still as you can."

The little girl beamed and nodded, grasping it into her control instantly. Her father looked around the table for something else to eat, knowing that he'd likely not want the roll in a little time. It might end up on the floor in the corner, or it just might be hopelessly crushed the way that the last one had been a week or so ago.

But nothing like that happened and the roll hung there in space, perfectly still, as though it were on a pedestal.

"Very good," the older female smiled, "Not even a little tremor as you took it. Now, what will you do with it? I think that you ought to find the line, Nahl'een. Find a line through the middle. What is it called?"

"The axis," the girl said very quietly, her concentration plainly evident on her face. The roll snapped into a different position and stayed there.

"Find another one now," his mother said, "Can you do it?"

The roll shifted instantly, and then went to the third axis in space and it began to rotate slowly there.

"Ah!" Ny'Zeille gasped in surprise, "So well done! Are you hungry now?"

"No," Nahl'een said a little absently, "What should I do with it?"

"Well," her grandmother smiled, "I can feel that your father was thinking of eating it. Can you bring it to him, so that it isn't harmed?"

The small half-demon nodded, "I think so, ..."

There was a tiny bit of doubt in there and this was what now worried Dahlgren. He hated it when she played with her food – or his, more correctly.

He was now very glad that they weren't having soup.

But she surprised him and set it down very carefully on the small plate next to his dinner plate.

He was impressed, and he heaped praise on her for what she'd been able to learn. It was obvious to him that she'd been practicing.

"Tell me, Granddaughter," Ny'Zeille said a little carefully, "Have you been practising in your room?"

Nahl'een nodded.

"What is the heaviest thing that you have lifted so far while you practised?"

The little one's reply startled them.

"Shaevre," she said.

At that point, the hellhound in question got to her feet from where she'd lain in the corner by the fire and padded out of the room. She was in no mood to play any part in a demonstration.

The two adults stared for a moment.

"Hard to do. Shaevre moves in the air," the girl said, "Will you stay, Gramma? I can show what I can do. If you stay."

Ny'Zeille leaned forward thoughtfully, "I imagine that it would be hard if she won't hold still."

He nodded when his mother looked at him questioningly, "You know that you're always welcome. Nahl'een always misses you when you're gone. Please stay as long as you have the time for."

She nodded with a sideways glance at the girl, "I think that I'd better, and it would be such fun, wouldn't it, Nahl'een?"

Nahl'een was in heaven – or what passed for it in her mind.


They'd left Nahl'een in her bed with their goodnight kisses and gone to sit in front of the great fire. They spoke of many things, none of which were anywhere near to what his mother really wanted to speak about. He was her son and he knew his mother well. She was just waiting to make certain that Nahl'een was asleep.

After about an hour, he got up and walked silently through the halls to his daughter's room. It was in total darkness and he could hear her regular breathing as she slept. What he felt of her inside him told him that it was so as well.

The only illumination at all in the chamber came from Shaevre's glowing red eyes as she regarded him from where she lay beside the bed. He smiled and nodded, walking away.

"How much does the hound, Shaevre weigh?" his mother asked, as she sat before the fire leaning back against the huge form of Arrax, her hellhound. She stroked his head absently and he rumbled occasionally in his quiet pleasure.

"I don't know," Dahlgren replied, scratching his head, "I guess I'd say about two hundred pounds, maybe a bit more."

"Two hundred sixty-eight of these pounds that you mention," Arrax said before going back to appearing not to be listening to them. Arrax was one of the very few of his kind who could speak in human tongues while in this shape.

Her eyes opened a little wider. "Do you know what she has done? It is nothing for almost all of us to be able to lift something into the air as children. It is to be expected – along with many broken things that come from it. But there is a limit, Dahlgren. There is a limit which almost none can go beyond, and that is one's own weight. It becomes a matter of physics then, doesn't it?

The heavier the article, the more effort, and also the greater the chance that the lifter only pulls themselves toward what is to be lifted. Even a human cannot pull something toward himself that is heavier than he is. He would only move himself, and not the article. This is the same thing. To lift Shaevre, Nahl'een should only be able to feel herself being pushed down by her own effort.

Your little girl asleep there in her room has already broken that rule. At the age of what? Not even six years old? She can now lift things into the air which are heavier than she is and not be moved herself? I must stay now, if for no other reason than to see what she can do and to guide her, along with you.

Other than one of the Great Ones, there have been only three who could do this at such a tender age – and I count Nahl'een onto the pile.

He nodded, wondering what might come of this, "You and I."

"So, there lies the trouble," she said. "Not only must we teach her a great deal of control for a little one to be able to manage, we must also report it before it is seen, and then there will be questions, Dahlgren. Those questions must have answers.

"They will want to know how she came to be. Since we are the only ones who are known to have had this sort of ability at a young age, we will be looked at. I was nowhere near when she was birthed, and it would have obviously been marked by many if I had been with spawn. Who was the one who impregnated her mother then? It most certainly could not have been me, and you were with me elsewhere when it happened, so it cannot have been you – not that you would have done such a thing. So who was it?

It is widely known and it has been confirmed that you dealt death to all of the vermin who came to that farm. Somewhere in that heap of bodies, there was one with a great deal of power that was not known about. It makes everyone nervous."

"There is another possibility," he said, "though it is unlikely, and I hate to even bring it up."

"Yes," she said, "there is. I was about to mention it. Could either of her parents have had power? Pure humans cannot possess it naturally."

Dahlgren looked very uncomfortable indeed after another moment's thought.

"Look at it this way," Ny'Zeille said intently, "Once they learn of this, the questions will arise about how a little one with such ability came to be spawned out of the rape of a human woman. Since you and I cannot have had anything to do with it, more questions are the only path forward for them. They will seek for any known and living examples of the little one's bloodline, and when they think to act, Dahlgren, they will send their Ranger to bring that one to them, since it is unlikely that any of them will choose to come here.

It would be worse if they did come, wouldn't it?"

He nodded with a sigh. He'd been thinking the very same thing.

"What then, son?" she asked, "You know the one that they would seek. I can feel that no matter what you might wish to tell me, or what you want to tell yourself even, you still have some sort of feelings for that one.

It would be easier if you didn't, but it remains truth that you do. How will it feel to you to bring her there, knowing that she will be examined by them, knowing that by the time that they are finished, she will have nothing left; no pride to hide behind, no dignity, not anything much of a will? How will you feel, because if she displays any of those things, it will be seen as merely other small defenses which must be ripped away to get at the core?

Oh, you can do it, Dahlgren, because you are a Ranger and you must do as you are commanded. Even one of their Rangers cannot withstand them. To disobey brings instant destruction, no matter where you might be, and there is no defense against that command."

She shook her head, "You'd do it, even if you wanted to die, you'd do what was ordered. But how would you feel about it, knowing what would happen to her?"

She leaned forward, "You don't need to answer. I know how you would feel all too well. We both know that there would be nothing personal to it for them, nothing of good or evil, only that there is something here which could upset a balance somewhere and as such, it must be examined by them, quantified and known. After that, their attention would shift elsewhere, but what would be left?"

She sat back and smiled a little, "So, all that there is to do is to ask the questions ourselves, in a manner which will take a bit of time, since she certainly will become at least a little uncooperative at some point, but it will leave her all of the things that would otherwise be taken from her."

He shook his head.

"What?" Ny'Zeille asked her son, "What have I said? You would not do this to save her mind? Her body? All that she might lose to them? What sort of son did I spawn and raise, to have grown so cold and callous that –"

Dahlgren smirked at his mother, "You have raised a son, Mother, who knows you all too well. You have managed, in your inimitable and scheming way, to use a set of circumstances in order to try to arrange that I meet with her again. Well I will have none of it. We have only just learned of this ourselves. Nahl'een has only just learned to do this now, certainly within only the last week, so there is still time."

"Time for what, Dahlgren?" his mother smiled at him innocently, "Time for you to get past what small hurt that she might have done to the feelings of a mighty Ranger such as you? You have seen death and slaughter. You have even been the cause of some of it in retribution. Don't try to tell me that whatever way that she snubbed what you felt could stop you from doing what you know is right, before something happens to someone that you know and still have a little feeling for.

Pull the dummy out of your mouth and don't look so petulantly at me. I'm your mother. It hasn't worked on me since before you were Nahl'een's age, not that you ever did it much.

If you won't see this Cesspool Ditchbreath woman, then – "

"Selena," he said slowly and clearly, rolling his eyes, "Selena Meadesbreath."

"There, you see?" she beamed at him, "You do care after all. But don't you trouble yourself Ranger, if you haven't the courage to seek out this one imperiled and unimportant ditchdigger, then I will."

"Ditchdigger?" he tilted his head at her, "Where did that come from? She's a bounty hunter and a rogue – a good one, too."

"Oh, who cares?" Ny'Zeille grinned a little, "I guess that I got stuck on her name. And if you say that she's a rogue, well that's only a fancy name for a human with sticky fingers to me."

"Her name is – "

"I know what her name is," his mother grinned, "I only wanted to hear you say it. You sound so much like your father when you're sticking up for someone that you care about."

"I don't –"

"Oh shut up, Dahlgren," she smiled as she got up and walked over to him. "You're digging a hole here. Goodnight." She kissed him and waited as Arrax got to his feet and they walked off together to the room where she always slept whenever she visited.

He sat alone in front of the fire for a long while, staring into the flames.

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