A Big Shiny Blue Marble Ch. 31


Barrett grinned, "With power, I'm sure that I can get at least one old computer to run, though I might have to build several to get one that runs for a while. If I can find the server room for this place, I'll be able to get to some records someplace. The old internet might still be up. It's an ancient legend, but I'll bet it's still there, just not used much -- it all depends on power. If I can find what I have in the back of my mind, I'll be able to tell you where to look for one of the old mints -- where they stored gold. That's all a really big 'if' though."

Azrael looked at Vadren and then at Dahlgren and the others. "Welcome to Cheyenne Mountain," he laughed, "I think that we need Cha'Khah's husband here with us."


Barrett amazed them all, even Arrax, as he slowly worked to bring the old mountain to life on a very limited scale. But it did all work as he'd said that it might and after only one 'job' at a gold depository, they had enough to live far better than comfortably.

Late one morning, Cha'Khah was walking to her 'other ' home to see Barrett and bring him a midday meal of a few sandwiches, since he was busy harvesting in his greenhouse so that they'd all have vegetables for the week. They lived together with the others inside the mountain, but his old home was another place for them when they wanted to be alone.

Her life had turned into a happy existence with her husband. They'd had a few fights, the same as any couple might, and she laughed as she remembered the last one. She didn't mind fighting with Barrett. It always made them even closer and the sex began between them before it was even settled.

The late winter had brought some unsettled weather and the spring melt would come soon. She was thinking about that and all of the mud that would come into the house when she heard it -- the snarling and the cries. She was running the next second, flying over the snow.

She found a young female wild elf trying to hold off a pack of a dozen wild dogs. One look told her that this was almost over, or would be soon. The elf fought feebly, badly torn as she was, though out of the dozen, three lay dead and another four were well out of the fight.

What she saw drove Cha'Khah to fury in an instant, but she knew that she was far too late. The elf girl sagged to the snow as Cha'Khah sprang to her defense, throwing faerie fireballs to light up the dogs farther away, and slashing the nearer ones to pieces in her wrath. She could admire the wolves, and she could even abide the coyotes, not caring for those ones especially, but wild dogs were things which she now had a reason to hate.

Wolves kill by going for the throat most often. It was very much their trademark way. Coyotes tended to tear their prey apart, but at least it was a little honest as well. Dogs did the same thing, but to Cha'Khah's mind, from what she'd seen even before this, they tended to enjoy it far more.

But the snow was already red, and the smell of blood drove the pack crazily. The slaughter took her less than two minutes, but that wasn't the issue for Cha'Khah. It was that she'd heard them a little too late to be able to do much more good than to get them off of their victim. The conclusion to this was sadly obvious to her as she came closer. She was troubled as to why the girl had been losing this fight, but she saw that she was very weak as well.

Language was not an issue, they found that they could understand each other easily, "I am sorry, I only just heard your cries," Cha'Khah said as she knelt to see what she might be able to do.

The elf stared a moment. "I thank you for your aid, "she gasped, as she tried to hold what she could of her insides, while trying to ignore what lay around her. "I pass soon. I would be glad, but, ... help me in a different way, sister," she gasped through her teeth as she tried to move a little.

Cha'Khah stared at the tiny bundle a little under the elf in the snow. Now she had a clue as to how the dogs had managed to run her down as they'd done. The girl had been driven to make a hopeless stand.

"Where is the father?" she asked as she lifted the infant to give it to the girl, "Tell me where I must take the child and I will do it."

The elf smiled through her pain, "My great luck to find a Drow who I can see is different from the rest on my last day. The father was human, a young and learned mage that I loved, but our families, ...

My brother killed him and I was cast out. I sought to find work in the towns but none trust us. It must be the same for you sister. I have been growing weaker trying to keep us both alive in these strange woods. I still have one good teat, help me please. The other one is ruined now."

Cha'Khah nodded trying to look past the inevitable as she placed the mother's tattered arms around her child, "I cannot do much to help," she said very sadly, "other than to ease your passing if you have need. This is foul to see, an end such as this for one of us, and a mother with child as well."

"An end of some sort comes to us all," the girl sniffled, "I think that mine has been coming to me for a time. I have done my best but we are starving. I barely make any milk at all. Please, ... I do not know how to ask it and I mean no insult, ... please do not sell her. If you would, ..."

"Never," Cha'Khah replied, as she reached to hold the girl's hair back for her, "I will do what I can for her, I promise it. Only give me names for you both, my sister, so that I might tell her of her brave mother one day."

She found herself meaning her words very much as she looked on with regret. Given what was spreading through the dirty snow around them and the torn flesh which was everywhere on the mother, Cha'Khah knew that the babe was likely only a few minutes from being orphaned.

The elf girl bent her head to kiss her child's head and then gasped her way through a spasm of pain, "Xunafae I am, and Mo-Wenn she is. Tell her for me that I loved her. Where we came from does not matter. There are none there who are worth the knowing that I pass.

She took a few labored breaths to speak and she looked down at her babe, "Her father was Aldred. I have been seeking a mighty mage of your kind who is said to have perished down below. But I feel that he lives on the surface. Vadren his name is and he was a friend to Aldred and me. I knew him first and took him to my bed whenever he came, but he disappeared and then Aldred was my male. I have been searching with a hope that he might want an elf girl."

As she spoke, Cha'Khah's mouth fell open, remembering the way that her cousin would drift away sometimes when they were exploring the surface with Azrael to meet them later when they returned to go below again.

Xunafae looked up searchingly, "Who are you, sister? I feel that you are a mother yourself."

"I was," Cha'Khah said quietly, "for a few moments before the matron of my house took my girl from me to sell her. I do not live in the underground, Xunafae. My name is Cha'Khah, and my man is a human.

Vadren is my cousin."

"My luck has not failed me then," the girl whispered as her tears began, "It has only grown more unkind. I am close, but I surely will not live to see him again. Take Mo-Wenn with you, Cha'Khah," the dying one sobbed, "Do what you can for her and help me in my end." Her chest heaved as she fought to hang onto her life for a moment longer and Cha'Khah drew her blade to make this easy for her.

Cha'Khah held her hand to the girl's torn cheek for a moment and they looked at each other, "I swear to you that she will know of you. I will raise her as my own. Only nod to me when you are ready, Xunafae."

The girl gasped as her world turned darker, but she didn't nod yet, "The moon and the stars bless you friend, may they watch over you both. I wish that I could have known you more ... Tell her ... that I loved ... tell her ... -"

Cha'Khah sheathed her blade with one hand and reached as the poor mother passed so that the infant wouldn't roll further into her mother's gore as her arms relaxed in death. She set the child across her knees a little as she closed dead girl's eyelids. "I will also tell her that her fine mother passed with no aid from another in the passing, as befits the wild courage of her kind -- and my own."

After a thought, she reached and removed the string of wooden beads from the girl's neck and she saw the one that had been worn on her wrist lying in the snow nearby, its thin leather thong torn. She picked it up as well and looked from the baby to the mother, "I swear to you that I will do what I can, and first I must keep this little one's life inside of her. Seek your rest, sister. I know nothing of mothering, but I know one who does and I will do as I am able."

She stood up and looked at the tiny face and the huge green eyes which looked back at her, "I wish that I had known more of your mother than only her name and yours. Only do not cry out in fear of me. That would be a little unkind, but I would understand."

As she hunted for anything that she might be able to use, she cursed to herself, "Such a foul thing. Who would turn from their sister and daughter in her need?"

She had her answer, of course. Many of her own kind weren't much better, and a whole lot of them were far worse.

She found little, other than the girl's blades and some swaddling rags, but they were clean and dry, so she did her best to change the infant, wiping away the bit of her mother's blood which had seeped through. The child didn't cry or fuss, but only looked at her as though in wonder as Cha'Khah sheathed the elf's long knives and pushed them into her belt so that she could give them to her daughter one day.

Cha'Khah smirked, "I wait here as I look, as though expecting you to pronounce some bit of wisdom to me. It would be a help, for I have none to give you."

With a wave and a few whispered prayers, she cast the body of the unfortunate mother into flame and commended her spirit to her deity. As she watched, holding the child, she suddenly burst into tears, remembering the daughter who had been taken from her almost as soon as the cord had been cut.

She'd had one look, only one look.

Chak'Khah raised her head and loudly asked for help from her goddess. "If this one is for me, then I need a little aid myself. Please do not allow this one to fall through my fingers as well before I learn what I must know to care for her."

She struggled a little to open her armor so that she infant could stay warm against her and then she pulled her cloak close as she looked down. Her tears fell on the little girl's cheek and she brushed them off quickly, "Your life has not been very long and you have already come to your worst day. I will do what I can to see that it is not your last."

Holding the child to her, Cha'Khah made her way as quickly as she could to see her husband. She felt tiny movements against her breasts and she heard the little one's cooing and when she'd heard the first little giggle, Cha'Khah stopped and they looked at each other for a moment before it came to the Drow that the little thing enjoyed the bouncing of the ride.

Cha'Khah laughed softly and wiped new tears from her face, "Then let us begin, Mo-Wenn," she said, "at least I am given a drowling dalharil who likes a little adventure. If you had a say in the choosing of me, little one, then I can say that you have chosen well for a mother to raise you. You will not pass from boredom."

As she walked up the slope to their home, she caught sight of Barrett and called out to him to come quickly. By the time that he reached the house, he found his bride sitting on the couch with the infant on her bare front where she still held the child inside her armor as they giggled at each other.

When she'd finished telling of what had happened, she nodded toward the tiny girl, "She is a Tu'rilthiir, half-Rivvil and half-Wild Elf. So far, she is such a happy little thing, but soon she will miss her mother."

Her smile vanished then as she grew serious. "I need to ask you something, Barrett. You are my husband."

He sat down next to them, "I don't even want to hear it," he smiled to her, "I already know what you'd say."

She shook her head, "I must ask my husband. I wish to keep her and raise her as our dalharil -- daughter, sorry. I had a daughter born to me long ago and she was taken from me to be sold or worse. I never knew her, and it has been my pain for a long time. Today, I find this lost little one in the arms of her poor dying mother and I gave my word.

I will keep her, Barrett. I ask that you help me to raise her. I know that I ask much from you, since we are not long in our own beginning and I will need your help to even keep her alive at the start. I have no milk to give her. Will you take her as your own with me? Will you be her father? I should have said it in there, but, ...

Please husband, I ask this."

Barrett's expression didn't change, "I guess I understand why it's such a big deal to you to ask, Cha'Khah, but you know that you didn't need to. I'll help, you know I will."

He watched as the Cha'Khah made the infant laugh a little. They both looked so happy for the moment.

"We have only spoken once of making little ones," she said, "I know you would wish for this with me, but I did not expect one to land in my arms. Is there room for her with us, you and I?"

"Yeah," he nodded, "You're making too much out of it. Sometimes you just have to accept and go on. Today I have a new daughter, and a lot more to do. We love each other, she'll have all that she'll need."

"Thank you, Barrett, "Cha'Khah smiled through her new tears, "Each day, you show me more wonders of you. Thank you."

He smiled in wonder, "She's such a little doll."

Cha'Khah nodded and then she smirked, "A little doll who thinks that my breasts are the best things in the world to play with. It reminds me of someone. She is half Rivvil. Are you missing any male relations? She might be related to you, the way that she enjoys herself here."

"No," he said after pretending to think on it. "I was thinking that she might be related to you somehow, Cha'Khah. She's got your ears, you know."

His wife glowered a little at him, "I know that I must learn to live without my famous withering curses, which can sour milk by themselves. Our girl disarms me. That is all that saves you now."

Her comment caused his eyes to open and a smile crossed his face, "As it happens, I even have a way to help you begin," he laughed as he thought of it, jabbing his finger into the air, "I've got Nancy."

"Nancy?" she asked, "You mean the goat?"

Barrett nodded, "The one whose milk I use to make the cheese that you love so much, but soon, you'll get less cheese, I'm afraid."

"What are you talking about?" Cha'Khah asked, "The drowling is no goat."

"I've got a half a pail of milk," he said, "I was just finished milking Nancy when I heard you. Look, one of us is a warrior and one of us is a farmer. Just sit and keep her amused. I'll be right back. And then you wrap her up and we'll go see the others. You need to show off your uh, dalharil, I think you said, and I need Arrax' mind. I've got an idea. On the way, I'll tell you what's what and what we can do for, ..."

He looked at her blankly, "Does she have a name? She must, I think."

"Mo-Wenn, the mother told me," Cha'Khah said, "a pretty name for a pretty dalharil -- and since you have shown yourself to be such a fine male to me yet again, Barrett, I wish to consider her our dalharil.

Fine," she said, pretending to scowl, "I must trust my farmer husband. Hurry."

As they walked, Cha'Khah's mouth fell open, "Really? This is no time to make fun at me, Barrett. Mo-Wenn will need to eat soon. I do not know why she is not screaming for her mother's breast now."

"I'm serious," Barrett said, "I know it'll work, I just need the way to deliver it, that's all. People have always used goat's milk. You'll have to decide what you want, but that ought to work too, unless Drow women are really different from humans -- I mean in more ways than their sweet dispositions to their husbands."

"Put your arm around me," she smiled, "I must think on it, but first, I will be amazed at my wonderful man again. You say that you have no power, and then you work magic and make everything work for us all. I trust you and I wish to believe you, it is just not something that I would have thought of. I never had the chance to think like a mother before."

"I'm telling you, it was done long ago every day. I read about places for foundlings -- babies who had been abandoned or left alone in the world because their mothers had died from one thing or another. Those places hired nursing women to feed the children, but there were always problems, because well, women can talk and ask for more money, can't they? Places like that ran on good will and shoestrings.

So a lot of those places used goats and donkeys. Hell, I'm sure that if I cleaned Nancy's udder really well, I could just hold Mo-Wenn there and she'd get all that she needs -- well, if Nancy wasn't such a nervous girl. She's too fast to kick before she figures out that she likes to give milk. She settles down then, but at first, she's just nasty."


The others gathered around to see Mo-Wenn, who was still a happy little thing, staring and laughing at them all, though she looked a little nervously at Arrax for a moment until he stepped away. Whatever had made her uneasy did not apply to Shaevre though. She reached out for her and stared at the pawed hand that held hers for a minute.

"We can get her started on a little milk right now," Rachel said as she took a clean dishtowel out of her laundry hamper. She washed a small saucepan carefully and poured a little of the goat milk into it. She twisted one corner of the towel into a little cone and then she dipped it into the milk and touched it to Mo-Wenn's lips. The baby remembered her appetite then and plainly wanted more.

"Here," Rachel said to Cha'Khah, "You're her mother now. Hold her like this and you feed her. What do you know of her? I don't know anything about elf girls, but if she was human, I'd say that she's about three and a half to four months old -- maybe a little more, since she's got such a sense of humor, laughing and giggling the way that she does. If I'm right, then she's gone hungry a lot. She's a little small for that age, but like I said, I don't know spit about elves."

She moved the rags aside and looked at Mo-Wenn's body for a moment, "Yeah, I'm right. Time for you to make up what she's missed. Are you going to only feed her goat milk? I mean you can, there's nothing wrong with that, but, "she pointed, "what about those?"

Cha'Khah stared, "I have no milk for her, Rachel. I yearn to be able to feed her like that. I would never need to worry then, would I? But I cannot make milk with a wave of my hand."

She looked down and dipped the towel again, "I fear to lose her. She is like a chance for me to do this rightly at last. I bless her poor mother for the gift and I already love her."

Rachel smiled as she put her hand on Mo-Wenn's head to caress her of a second, "You won't lose her," she grinned, "I won't let you lose her.

Look, you've got a goat, so you've got something good for her to eat. I'm sure that one of us will come up with something better than a dishtowel for her. But you can make your own milk, Cha'Khah, any woman can -- and you gave birth once. Even a woman who hasn't given birth can make milk. It just takes a little while to get started. All you need is a hungry mouth working them for about twenty minutes each, maybe six times a day, just as though she was on them. She can help herself, but she'll get frustrated at first, since nothing will come.

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